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Limousin (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2019-12-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: limousin |
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Flag of Limousin, two variants - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 26 April 2003, and Ivan Sache, 5 May 2003, respectively

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History of Limousin

Limousin is the ancient pagus lemovicensis, named after the Gaul tribe of Lemovices, also the origin of the name to the capital of Limousin, Limoges. In the 9th century, Limousin was incorporated to the Duchy of Aquitaine and transfered to England through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Philip II Augustus reconquered Limousin in 1208, Louis IX (St. Louis) retroceded it to England in 1259 and Charles V reconquered it again in 1369.
The Viscounty of Limoges, nominally part of Limousin, was de facto an independent feudal state. In 1275, Mary of Combron, daughter of the last Viscount, married the heir of Brittany, later Duke Arthur II. In the 15th century, Limousin was owned by the Albret family, and was therefore incorporated to the royal domain by Henry IV, son of Joan of Albret, in 1589.

Limousin was later a généralité, which was administrated from 1761 to 1774 by Turgot.
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l'Eaune (1727-1781) was a liberal economist inspired by the Physiocratic doctrine. He dramatically reformed Limousin by promoting its economical development: several roads were built to link the province to the main towns of the kingdom, the tax system was made more equitable, a veterinary school was opened, the merinos sheep and the potato were introduced. Turgot published in Limoges in 1766 his Réflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses, in which he explained the central role of cerealiculture for the national economy. In 1774, Turgot was appointed Contrôleur général des Finances and State Secretary to the Navy. He suppressed the taxes between the provinces and tried to establish free trade and industry. When he planned to suppress several kinds of privileges, he was disgraced by Louis XVI, to whom he predicted hard times.

Limoges has given its name to the verb limoger, which means "to dismiss". During the First World War, Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, was so upset by the lack of clue of several generals that he exiled them to Limoges, far behind the frontline. The story has been mostly forgotten but the words limoger and limogeage are still in common use, especially for politicians and sports coaches.

Ivan Sache, 26 April 2003

Flag of Limousin

The flag of Limousin is a banner of the arms "Ermine a bordure gules", which were 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 flag is used eother with a semy of ermine or 11 ermine spots placed 4+3+4.

The ermine spots were "brought" by the marriage of Duke Arthur of Brittany with Mary, the heir of the Viscounts of Limousin.
Meurgey recalls the arms ascribed to the province in the Armorial Général (and never used) as "Argent per pale chapé gules and argent".

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 14 June 2009

Flag proposal for Limousin

Local historical associations recommend to use another historical banner of arms, "Per pale, 1. Or three lions azure, 2. Bendy or and gules.
These alternative provincial arms were the arms of the Limoges-Turenne family (1148-1291). They were adopted, if not used, by the former Regional Council of Limousin. These arms are also shown on the departmental arms of Corrèze, which were adopted by the General Council of the department, then presided by Jacques Chirac.

The designed was proposed by Jean Varnoux (1913-1995), parish priest in Palais-sur-Vienne, in the book Penthi&zgrave;vre ou Limoges : essai historique, héraldique et sigillographique sur les armoiries du Limousin (1965).
A member of the anti-German Resistance, Varnoux was deported to Mauthausen. He survived deportation and related his experience in the books Monographie du kommando de travail de Melk. Basse-Autriche (1991) and Clartés dans la nuit. La résistance de l'esprit. Journal d'un prêtre déporté (1995).
[Le Populaire du Centre, 7 January 2019]

Hervé Rochard, Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 13 January 2019