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Île-de-France (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: ile-de-france |
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Flag of Île-de-France - Image by Pierre Gay, 2 February 2003

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History of Île-de-France

In 486, Clovis (Chlodowig), King of the Salian Franks from Tournai, defeated in Soissons Syagrius, the last Rex Romanorum. After having defeated the Alamans (c.495 and 505/506), the Burgondians (500) and the Visigoths (Vouillé, 507), he unified the former Gaul as the Kingdom of the Franks, which is the origin of the name of France.
The territory that would later be known as pays de France was much smaller than modern France, being limited in the south by the rivers Seine and Marne, in the west by the river Oise, in the north by the river Thève and in the east by the river Beuvronne. These borders are the origin of the name Île (Island)-de-France, even if historical Île-de-France rapidly extended beyond its original borders.

Following the share of the Carolingian Empire in 843, the Francia Occidentalis allocated to Charles the Bold included the territories located west of the rivers Meuse, Saône and Rhône. The Duchy of France (or Île-de-France) matched more or less the aforementioned pays de France and had for dependencies the Counties of Orléans and Étampes.

Île-de-France is the area were the Capetians progressively overthrew the Carolingians and founded the modern Kingdom of France.
At the end of the Carolingian era, the royal power was extremely weak; the king was elected by an assembly of the barons and prelates of the kingdom, who selected among the pretenders the one who would better serve their own interests rather than a strong-minded prince.
In 887, the Diet of Tribur overthrew the Carolingian Emperor (881-887), King of Germany (882-887) and King of France Charles the Fat, because of his incompetence to resist the feudal lords and the Northmen.
The Diet appointed two kings. Odo (c. 860-898), Count of Paris and Duke of France, was the son of Robert the Strong (d. 866), Count of Anjou and Blois, who is considered as the root of the Capetian dynasty. Odo successfully defended Paris against a Northmen assault in 886. He had to share the power with Charles III the Simple (879-929), posthumous son of the Carolingian King Louis II the Stammerer (877-879), The rivalry between Odo and Charles III ended with Odo's death in 898. In 922, Robert I (c. 866-923), Robert the Strong's second son, was elected King of France in Reims by the lords of the kingdom who wanted to overthrow Charles III. Robert I was killed in 923 in Soissons during a battle against Charles III. Robert I' son, Hugh the Great (c.941-956) defeated Charles III in Soissons in 923 and overthrew him.
Duke of Burgundy Rudolf was then elected King of France (923-936). After Rudolf's death, Louis IV Transmarinus (c. 921-954), son of Charles III, was elected King of France with the support of Hugh the Great, who later revolted against him but was defeated in 948. Lothair (941-986) succeeded his father but was challenged by the Duke of France, Hugh Capet (c. 941-966), son of Hugh the Great.

Louis V the Indolent (c. 967-987) succeeded his father Lothar as the last Carolingian King of France. After his death during a hunting party, the assembly of Senlis offered the crown to Hugh Capet, upon request of Adalbéron, Archbishop of Reims. The claims of Charles, Louis V's uncle and Duke of Lower-Lorraine, were rejected and Hugh was given the royal unction in Noyon on 3 July 987. This dynastical change remained rather unnoticed, but Hugh reorganized his small kingdom, founding a hereditary dynasty by appointing his elder son as his successor.
The nickname Capet and the dynasty name of Capetians was coined only in the 12th century. Hugh was a secular abbey in Tours and he might have kept a relic of St. Martin's cloak (capa). Before this, the Capetians were called the Robertians by reference to Robert the Strong. The Capetian dynasty reigned over France until 1792 through different branches but without interruption. After his deposition, Louis XVI was ironically called Louis Capet to highlight the suppression of the nobility titles and privileges. Accordingly, his wife Marie-Antoinette was called the Capet widow after the king's execution.

The name of Île-de-France, seemingly coined in the 14th century, is mentioned in Froissart's Chronicles around 1380. Île-de-France was then divided into the 13 Bailiwicks of Chaumont-en-Vexin, Beauvais, Clermont, Senlis, Crépy-en-Valois, Villers-Cotterêts, Soissons, Laon, Melun, Nemours, Montfort-l'Amaury, Mantes and Meulan. Île-de-France as an administrative division was formed after the Hundred Years' War, in the middle of the 15th century. It included the former feudal domains of pays de France, Parisis, Goële, Brie française (the other part of Brie belonged to Champagne and was called Brie champenoise), Gâtinais, Hurepoix, Pincerais, Mantois, Vexin français (the other part of Vexin belonged to Normandy and was called Vexin normand), pays de Thelle, Noyonnais, Soissonnais, Sellentois, Valois and Laonnais.

The modern Region Île-de-France excludes most of the historical province of Île-de-France. The eight first bailiwicks listed above are now in the Region Picardie (departments of Oise and Aisne) and the Capetian town of Soissons, Noyon, Senlis and Crépy-en-Valois are not included in the Region Île-de-France.

Ivan Sache, 2 February 2003

Flag of Île-de-France

The flag of Île-de-France is a banner of the arms, "Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or", assigned to the province by Jacques Meurgey in his Notice historique sur les blasons des anciennes provinces de France (Historical note on the coats of arms of the ancient French provinces, 1941).

The modern flag of Île-de-France is similar to the Royal banner or banner of France. The first king to have used a semy of fleur-de-lis on his arms (France ancient) was Louis VII the Young (1137-1180), Eleanor of Aquitaine's first husband. In 1376, King Charles V the Wise (1364-1380) adopted the France modern arms, with only three fleurs-de-lis as le signe de la benoîte trinité (the symbol of the ingratiating trinity).

The fleur-de-lis of the banner of France are shown in the banner of arms of some French traditional provinces which were given by the king to one of his brothers as his appanage (Artois, Anjou, Berry etc.). The chief of France appears on the municipal arms of the bonnes villes, the "good towns" whose Mayor was invited to the crowning ceremony.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009