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Rezé (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Rezé - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 19 January 2002

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Presentation of Rezé

The municipality of Rezé (42,368 inhabitants in 2018, therefore the 4th most populous municipality in the department; 1,378 ha; municipal website) is located in the southern outskirts of Nantes.

Rezé was established by the Romans as Ratiatium. In 56 BC, Caesar defeated the Armorican coalition led by the Venetes with the support of the Santones and the Pictones. The territory of the Pictones, part of the province of Gallia Aquitania was extended northwards up to the left side or river Loire, and Ratiatum was founded as the capital of the new territory. Across the Loire, the Namneti established Condevicnum / Portus Namnetum (Nantes), part of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis.
Ratiatum was erected along the river, covering an area of more than 1 km in length and 300 m in width. Its port contributed to it wealth, which peaked in the 3nd century. Ptolemy (II, 7, 5) writes that "the Pictones' most important towns are Limonon (Poitiers) and Ratiaton (Rezé).

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Rezé declined and was superseded as Nantes as the main regional center. The town probably remained a religious center; Bishop Adelphius seated at the Orléans Council called in 511 by Clovis I. Remains of a paleo-Christian basilica, maybe the see of the Merovingian bishopric, were found in Rezé in 2002.
Ratiate was incorporated in 851 to the County of Nantes during the period of Viking raids. One century later, the Viscounty of Rezé was established as part of the new feudal system; two feudal castles were probably erected in Rezé-bourg and Pont-Rousseau.

From the 12th to the 15th century, the lords of Rezé were involved in the wars of succession of Brittany, which resulted in several sacks of the town. In 1285, Olive, widow of Mathieu de l'Isle, offered her possessions in the islands to the Knight Templars, therefore the probable origin of the toponym Knights' Island.
In 1397, Duke of Brittany John IV granted the privilege of fishing in river Loire to the inhabitants of Trentemoult, Bouguenais and Nantes' Saint-Croix parish.
In the middle of the 15th century, the lords of Rezé were involved in the war that opposed King of France Louis XI to the Dukes of Brittany and Burgundy. The southern bank of the Loire, Rezé included, was invaded by bands of mercenaries who ruined it. The Viscounty of Rezé was transferred to the Guémadeuc family.
During the 16th century, Rezé, and, especially, Trentemoult, re-emerged thanks to the economic development of Nantes. In 1616, however, Bouguenais and Rezé were occupied by the royal troops, while Viscount Thomas de Guémadeuc was beheaded the next year.
In 1653, Yves de Monti, descendant from a Florentine lineage, acquired Rezé from the Marquess of Goulaine. The County of Rezé was erected 20 years later for Yves II de Monti.

In the middle of the 18th century, Rezé was composed of some 40 villages and hamlets. Most inhabitants were wine-growers, except in Haute-Île, which was settled by workers and masters employed by the Mint in Nantes, and Trentemoult, the fishers' village. During the reign of Louis XV, industrialization of Rezé was initiated with the opening of a fertilizer manufacture in La Morinière. Several merchants and shipowners of Nantes, grown richer and richer through triangular trade, built in Rezé wealthy manors locally known as "follies".
At the end of the 19th century, Rezé experienced a demographic boom due to the opening of a tramway line to Nantes and a railway line to Pornic. From 1876 to 1911, population increased from 6,849 to 9,424 inhabitants. Rezé was connected to the other bank of the Loire by the Roquio steamships.
The French architect of Swiss origin Le Corbusier (1687-1965) built in 1959 in Rezé a "residence unit".

Ivan Sache, 14 May 2021

Flag of Rezé

The flag of Rezé (photo) is a banner of the municipal arms, "Azure a nave or with a sail ermine on a sea vert. A chief lozengy or and argent four barullets azure."
The chief is made of the arms of the lords of Rezay in the 13th century. The ship recalls the town's maritime past, while the ermine spots represent Brittany.
[Association généalogique vertavienne]

Fabien Chébaut, Pascal Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 14 May 2011