This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Guyenne and Gascogne (Traditional province, France)


Last modified: 2003-07-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: guyenne | aquitaine | gascogne | guyenne-et-gascogne | lion (yellow) | leopard (yellow) | lions: 2 (white) | lions: 2 (red) | sheaf | bigorre | rouergue |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

Guyenne (Aquitaine)

History of Guyenne (Aquitaine)

Aquitania (from Latin, aqua, water) was divided in three provinces by the Romans.
Clovis incorporated it to the Kingdom of the Franks in 507 after his victory of Vouilléover Alaric II, King of the Wisigoths. Aquitaine was then a Duchy, whose most famous Duke was Saint Guillaume le Grand (c. 755-812), also Count of Toulouse, who stopped the Moors and retired in the abbey of Gellone he had founded and which is known today as Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. Guillaume became the hero of several medieval chansons de geste, in which he is nicknamed Guillaume au Court-Nez (with Short Nose).
Charlemagne made of Aquitaine a Kingdom in 781, which lasted until 827. Aquitaine was later a Duchy, ruled by the Poitou dynasty (Guillaume III Tête-d'Etoupe, 951-963 ; Guillaume IV Fierebrace, 963-994 ; Guillaume IX the Prince of the Troubadours, 1086-1127 ; Guillaume X, 1127-1137).

In 1137, Crown Prince of France Louis, later King Louis VII, married Aliénor (Eleanor) d'Aquitaine and incorporated her Duchy to France. Aliénor was the unique daughter of Guillaume X and brought France as her dowry not only Aquitaine but also Périgord, Limousin, Poitou, Angoumois, Saintonge, Gascogne and the suzereignty over Auvergne and the County of Toulouse.
In 1152, Aliénor was repudiated by Louis VII, and remarried with Henry II Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and leter King of England (1154). Aquitaine was therefore incorporated to the Anglo-Angevin Empire. The French Capetian kings were able to reincorporate Aquitaine to their domain for only short periods in 1294 (Philippe IV le Bel), 1324 (Charles IV le Bel) and 1369 (Charles V le Sage).
In 1345, the Hundred Years' War began in Aquitaine. By the treaty of Brétigny (8 May 1360), Aquitaine was given to the English, who called it Guyenne and created a Principality there in 1362. In 1380, the English possessions were reduced to the area of Bordeaux and Bayonne. In 1453, the Bureau brothers defeated the English troops led by Talbot in Castillon-la-Bataille, near Bordeaux. This was the last battle of the Hundred Years' War. In 1469, King Louis XI granted Guyenne to his younger brother Charles as his apanage. Guyenne was eventually incorporated to the Crown in 1472.

Ivan Sache, 1 February 2003

Description of the flag

[Guyenne]by Arnaud Leroy


The banner of arms of Guyenne is:

De gueules au léopard d'or, armé et lampassé d'azur (GASO)

In English:

Gules, a lion passant gardant or (Brian Timms)

The origin of the arms of Guyenne remains mysterious. There is an hypothesis that it is related to the arms of England, but this is false. Other sources say that the leopard or was attributed to AliÈnor d'Aquitaine.

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 1 February 2003


History of Gascogne

The original name of Gascogne was Vasconia. The Vascons were an ancient Iberic people who settled between the Pyrénées mountains and the river Ebre. They were repelled by the Wisigoths and settled in the plains located north of the Pyrénées. The Vascons gave their name to the Gascons and the Basques, as well as to Gascogne and Biscayne.
In 778, Charlemagne created the Duchy of Aquitaine. In the south, the Duchy of Gascogne was established in 872. The latter Duchy was rapidly dismembered into several feudal states, including the Counties of Armagnac, Fezensac, Astarac, Gaure and Pardiac, and the Viscounties of Fezensaguet and Lomagne.

In the XIth century, Gascogne was incorporated into Aquitaine (or Guyenne) and formed with it the province of Guyenne-et-Gascogne. My sources do not agree on the process and year of incorporation. GASO says that Bernard d'Armagnac took the whole Gascogne in 1069 but was defeated the next year by Duke Guillaume VIII d'Aquitaine. The Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe Siècle says that when Duke Béranger died in 1036, Gascogne was transfered to his nephew Eudes, Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine. The Guide Vert Michelin says that the Duchies of Aquitaine and Gascogne merged in 1058.

Ivan Sache, 28 January 2003

Description of the flag

[Gascogne]by Arnaud Leroy

The banner of arms of Gascogne is:

Ecartelé : au premier et au quatrième d'azur au lion d'argent, au deuxième et au troisième de gueules à la gerbe de blé d'or liée d'azur (GASO)

In English: Quarterly, first and fourth azure a lion rampant argent second and third gules a garb or (Brian Timms)

These arms do not have any historical significance. They were granted by Louis XIV in 1696 in order to be registered in the Grand Armorial de France. This Armorial is the source of several municipal coat of arms, some of them being used on municipal flags. The Armorial was mostly a way to raise funds for war, since municipalities, corporations etc... were obliged to register their arms and had to pay for this. When no historical arms existed, news arms were created de novo in order to fill the gaps in the Armorial.

Ivan Sache, 28 January 2003


The pays of Bigorre has for coat of arms on a yellow field two superimposed red lions tongued blue.

Jaume Ollé, 4 January 1999

Bigorre corresponds to a large part of the department of Hautes-Pyrénées. The coat of arms of Bigorre has been proposed as coat of arms of the department.

Pascal Vagnat, 4 January 1999


The arms of the pays of Rouergue are:

Gules, a lion rmapant or

Jaume Ollé, 4 January 1999

Rouergue corresponds to a large part of the department of Aveyron. The coat of arms of Rouergue has been proposed as coat of arms of the department.

Pascal Vagnat, 4 January 1999

Use of "honour flags" in the South-West of France

I was recently in the South-West of France (department of Dordogne to be more specific) and I noticed there a custom I totally ignored before.
In every village, a tall pinetree trunk is erected in front of the house of a representative (usually a member of the municipal council). All branches are cut, excepted the uppermost ones, which are eventually replaced with green ones if they die. Tricolour flags (often a pair) are added on the top of the "mast", where they flank a rectangular shield, with a tricolour border and the words "Honneur à notre élu" (Honour to our representative). I saw the same kind of "mast" in front the "municipal building" (not the city hall, but a building where the inhabitants of the commune can meet), with several flags and the words "Honneur à nos élus" (Honour to our representatives). In front a restaurant, whose owner was municipal councellor, the words were "Honneur au patron" (Honour to the landlord).
Such "masts" were visible in all villages I came across. They seem to stand there for the whole duration of the mandate of the representative.

I do not know the origin of this custom and the geographical area to which it spreads, but I never saw such "masts" in other parts of France.

Ivan Sache, 30 May 1999