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Île-de-France (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: ile-de-france | fleur-de-lys: 3 (yellow) |
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[Ile-de-France]by Pierre Gay

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History of Ile-de-France

In 486, Clovis (Chlodowig), King of the Saliens Franks from Tournai/Doornik, defeated in Soissons Syagrius, the last Rex Romanorum. After having defeated the Alamans (c.495 and 505/506), the Burgonds (500) and the Wisigoths (Vouillé, 507), he unified the former Gaul as the Kingdom of the Franks, which is the origin of the name of France.
The territory which was later 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 Ile (Island)-de-France, even if historical Ile-de-France rapidly extended beyond its original borders.

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

Ile-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 and the king was elected by an assembly of the barons and prelates of the kingdom. This assembly 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 le Gros (the Fat; 839-888), because of his incompetence to resist the feudal lords and the Normans.
The Diet appointed two kings. Eudes (or Eude, c. 860-898), Count of Paris and Duke of France, was the son of Robert le Fort (the Strong; d. 866), Count of Anjou and Blois, who is considered as the root of the Capetian dynasty. Eudes successfully defended Paris against a Norman assault in 886. He had to share the power with Charles III le Simple (879-929), posthumous son of the Carolingian King Louis II le Bègue (877-879), The rivalry between Eudes and Charles III ended with Eudes' death in 898. In 922, Robert I (c. 866-923), Robert le Fort'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, Hugues le Grand (the Great; c.941-956) defeated Charles III in Soissons in 923 and overthrew him.
Duke of Burgundy Raoul (or Rodolphe) was then elected King of France (923-936). After Raoul's death, Louis IV d'Outremer (c. 921-954), son of Charles III, was elected King of France with the help of Hugues le Grand, who later revolted against him but was defeated in 948. Lothaire (941-986) succeded his father but was challenged by Duke of France Hugues Capet (c. 941-966), son of Hugues le Grand.

Louis V le Fainéant (the Idle, c. 967-987) succeded his father Lothaire and was the last Carolingian King of France. After Louis V's death during hunting, the assembly of Senlis offered the crown to Hugues Capet, upon request of Adalbéron, Archbishop of Reims. The claims of Charles, Louis V's uncle and Duke of Lower-Lorraine, were rejected. Hugues was given the royal unction in Noyon on 3 July 987. This dynastical change remained rather unnoticed, but Hugues reorganized his small kingdom and founded a hereditary dynasty by appointing his elder son a successor.
It should be noted that the nickname of Capet and the dynasty name of Capetians was coined only in the XIIth century. Hugues 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 le Fort. 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 highligh the suppression of the nobility titles and privileges. Accordingly, his wife Marie-Antoinette was called la veuve Capet (widow Capet) after the king's execution.

The name of Ile-de-France seems to have been coined in the XIVth century and is mentioned in Froissart's Chronicles around 1380. Ile-de-France was then divided into the thirteen bailiwicks of Chaumont-en-Vexin, Beauvais, Clermont, Senlis, Crépy-en-Valois, Villers-Cotterêts, Soissons, Laon, Melun, Nemours, Montfort-l'Amaury, Mantes and Meulan. Ile-de-France as an administrative division was formed after the Hundred Years' War, in the middle of the XVth 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 of Ile-de-France excludes most of the historical province of Ile-de-France. The eight first bailiwicks listed above are now in the Region Picardie (departments of Oise and Aisne) and the Capetian cities of Soissons, Noyon, Senlis and Crépy-en-Valois are not included in the Region Ile-de-France.

Ivan Sache, 2 February 2003

Description of the flag

The banner of arms of Ile-de-France is

D'azur aux trois fleurs de lys d'or

In English:

Azure, three fleur-de-lys or

The banner of Ile-de-France is the "royal banner" or "banner of France". The first King to have used a semy of fleur-de-lys (France Ancient) on his arms was Louis VII le Jeune (1137-1180), the first husband of Aliénor d'Aquitaine. In 1376, King Charles V le Sage (1364-1380) changed his arms for the France Modern, with only three fleur-de-lys as le signe de la benoîte trinité (the symbol of the ingratiating trinity).

The fleur-de-lys 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 apanage (Artois, Anjou, Berry etc.). The "chief of France" appears on the municipal arms of the bonnes villes, the "good cities" whose mayor was invited to the crowning ceremony.

Ivan Sache, 2 February 2003

The blue may be interpreted as the colour of St. Martin's cloak or the colour of the Virgin. Regarding the fleurs de lys, a huge documentation has been written, and there is no conclusion about this. These could have been peaks of spears or some other metal arms.

Pascal Vagnat, 28 August 1997