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Royan (Municipality, Charente-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2024-01-06 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Royan - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2022

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Presentation of Royan

Royan (19,029 inhabitants in 2021; 1,930 ha) is a commune in Charente-Maritime department. Main city of the “Côte de Beauté”, at the heart of an urban area of 40,000 inhabitants, Royan is one of the main seaside resorts on the French Atlantic coast, with five beaches of fine sand, and also a marina that can accommodate more than 1,000 boats as well as an active fishing port.

Royan was founded during Late Antiquity, probably around the 5th century. From that time two distinct urban centers developed: Saint-Pierre, a farming village perched on a plateau overlooking the Gironde estuary, and the village of Roianum, camped on the Foncillon plateau, a strategic cape bordered by the estuary.
From the 11th century, Royan was fortified by the lords of Didonne. It became an English stronghold during the Hundred Years War, and the Black Prince granted its first privileges to the city, then governed by a college of twelve aldermen and twelve councillors. The city became French again in 1451, a few years before the effective end of hostilities (1453).
During the wars of religion, Catholics and Protestants disputed the city: Prince Henri of Navarre (the future King Henri IV) and the lord of Brantôme fighted under its walls, . In 1592, Royan was erected as a marquisate. The promulgation of the Edict of Nantes in 1598 made the city a place of Protestant safety. In 1622, the population rose up against King Louis XIII, who personally led the siege of the city. Roya submitted and obtained the forgiveness of the sovereign. The fortified town was razed in 1631 by order of Richelieu, the citadel dismantled, the ditches filled in.

The rebirth of the city only intervened with the fashion for sea bathing, imported from England at the beginning of the 19th century. The development of Royan as a famous sea resort was fostered by yachting, especially the regatta organized by the Société des Régates de Royan.

At the beginning of the “Belle Époque”, Royan became a modern city, frequented by eminent personalities from the world of culture, as well as by the upper middle class of Bordeaux first, then of Paris. Under the leadership of Mayor Frédéric Garnier, the city modernized, welcoming the railway (1875), inaugurating its tram network (1890) and building several casinos: the municipal casino (1895) was thus until its destruction the largest in France

At the start of the Second World War, Royan was an internationally known seaside resort, frequented by Picasso, Sacha Guitry... During the Occupation, Royan was a German fortress. As the end of the conflict became clearer, it became one of the last pockets of resistance of the Third Reich in France. As a result, it was severely bombarded on January 5, 1945: in the space of a few hours, Royan was reduced to smoking ruins: 427 inhabitants and 47 German soldiers were killed, 200 people were injured. New raids were carried out on April 14 and 15, during which nearly 725,000 liters of napalm were used. On April 17, the German commander of Royan capitulated. Royan was destroyed to more than 85%. Royan became a research laboratory on town planning. The city was rebuilt using the modernist techniques then made fashionable by the great architects of the time: Le Corbusier, Niemeyer. It thus became an original city, marked by the spirit of the 1950s, and was not long in being reborn to seaside life.

Olivier Touzeau and Ivan Sache, 3 March 2022

Flag of Royan

The flag of Royan is vertically divided B/Y with the full coat of arms in the center (photo, city hall, 2016; photo, city hall, 2019).

Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2022

Former versions of the flag

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flag of Royan, two versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2022

Before 2016, only the shield was in the center of the flag (photo, city hall 2015; photo, Congress Palace, 2015; photo, city hall, 2010).

Plain blue and yellow flags can also be spotted (photo, Congress Palace, 2017)

Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2022

Flag of Royan

The coat of arms of Royan is blazoned: Party per fess, the first per pale barry Or and Sable and Or a chevron Gules between three eagles Azure beaked and membered Gules, the second azure a galleon Or on a sea Argent. These arms combine those of the Coëtivy family, lords of the city in the 15th century, and of the La Trémoïlle family, from the 16th century.

Olivier Touzeau, 6 March 2022

On 13 December 1945, the municipality of Royan forwarded a sketch and a description of proposed arms of the town to Robert Louis, at the time hired by History Department of the Army. The first official arms of Royal are prescribed by a Deliberation adopted on 19 February 1952 by the Municipal Council:

Considering that the Coëtivy were lords of Royan in the 15th century,
Considering that Royan was transferred in 1501, by a marriage, from the Coëtivy to the La Trémoïlle, to be elevated by Letters Patented a Marquisate in 1592 and a Duchy in 1807;
According to the assessment emitted by the Departmental Archivist, who stated that combining the arms of Coëtivy and La Trémoïlle to establish those of Royan was "perfectly legitimate and even recommended",
The Municipal Council required that the Council of the Seal of France, upon advice by the State Council and the Minister of Justice, prescribes that the arms of the town of Royan and the depending municipalities are described as follow in the Armorial of the Towns of France and of the French Union.
"Per pale, 1. Fessy of six pieces or and sable (Coëtivy), 2. Or a chevron gules cantonned by three small eagles azure beaked and membered gules 2 and 1 (La Trémoïlle). Beneath the shield a scroll with La Trémoïlle's motto "Ne m'oubliez" [French, Forget Me Not]".

The document was validated as requested on 13 May 1952.

Deemed not fully compliant with the laws of heraldry, lacking crown and supporters, the arms were modified by a Deliberation adopted on 16 October 1964 by the Municipal Council. The modified design was submitted to "noted heraldist" Jacques Meurgy de Tupigny, who was also president of the commission that validated the arms.
"Per fess, 1a. Fessy of six pieces or and sable (Coëtivy), 1b. Or a chevron gules cantonned by three small eagles azure beaked and membered gules 2 and 1 (La Trémoïlle). 2. Azure a nave or on a sea argent. The shield surmounted by a naval crown and supported by two pine branches proper. Motto 'Ne m'oubliez'."
The director of the Departmental Archives emitted a negative recommendation, criticizing the general esthetic of the design, which did not prevent adoption since the rules of heraldry were respected.

The Coëtivy is a family from the lower Breton nobility.
In 1432, Prégent de Coëtivy, expelled from Charles VII's court by La Trémoïlle, abducted him. Supported by Charles d'Anjou, Prégent obtained from the king his "approval" as the king's favorite and had his brother, Olivier, appointed captain of the town of Saintes. Officially appointed Chamberlain in 1424, Prégent seized Dieppe from the English in 1435 and was appointed governor of the town. The next year, he seized Le Crotoy. Named Governor of La Rochelle in 1439, he was subsequently named Admiral of France, Captain of Saintes, and, in 1442, Count of Taillebourg.
Prégent was also tutor of Charles VII's three daughters and of his favorite, Agnès Sorel. His brother, Olivier, was knighted in 1450; the same year, Prégent was killed by a cannonball during the siege of Cherbourg.
In 1451, Olivier, Captain of Talmont, joined the army commanded by Dunois during the Guyenne campaign. He negotiated the surrender of Bordeaux and was appointed Seneschal of Guyenne and Governor of Bordeaux. In 1458, he married Marie, the daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel. As her dowry, Marie brought to Olivier 13,000 écus, the domains of Royan and Mornac, and the castle of Chamdolent. The same year, Charles recognized Marie as her natural daughter and offered her the dynastic name of Valois, as well as the arms of France with a bend sinister as a mark of cadency.
Marie and Olivier's daughter, Louise de Coëtivy, married in 1501 Charles de La Trémoïlle, who became Baron of Royan. In 1562, the castle owned by François de La Trémoïlle, from the Catholic party, was seized by Huguenot warlord François de Pons. During the second half of the 16th century, Royan changed hands several times. In 1633, Philippe de La Trémoïlle, Marquess of Royan, married Madeleine de Champrend. Hold at the time by the Protestants, the town was seized by Louis XIII, who had the castle demolished.
In 1821, the poetess Amable Tastu (1798-1855), in the book "La chevalerie française" offered to Louis II de La Trémoïlle, coined the motto "Ne m'oubliez pas", allegedly adopted by Jean de La Trémoïlle (1377-1479), lord of Jonvelle and Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
The year preceding his death, Marie Anne de La Trémoïlle (1676-1708) offered the Marquisate of Royan to his cousin Antoine François de La Trémoïlle (1652-1733), elevated Duke in 1707. The duke died without heirs, so that the title was transferred to another cousin, Augustin de La Trémoïlle (1686-1745). Georges de La Trémoïlle, a direct descendant of the La Trémoïlle junior branch, holds nowadays the (purely honorific) title of 11th Duke of Royan. (source: municipal website)

La Trémoïlle is an old noble lineage, which offered several first-rank soldiers and statesmen to France and Burgundy. The history of the lineage was described in great detail by Duke Louis V, Charles-Louis de La Trémoïlle (1838-1911), an historian, archivist and bibliophile, who was elected in 1899 at the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. The historian carefully analyzed the chartrier (archives) once kept in the duke's main residence, the castle of Thouars (Poitou) and subsequently transferred to the castle of Serrant (Anjou). From 1877 to 1906, he published 25 volumes derived from this material, starting with "Le chartrier de Thouars" (1877). The most significant part of his work is "Les La Trémoïlle pendant cinq siècles", composed of five volumes published between 1890 and 1896.

Duke Gui VI (Gui de La Trémoïlle, 1346-1398) was granted the oriflamme by Charles VI during the expedition led in 1382 against the English. He subsequently joined the Duke de Bourbon in the ... Crusade, was captured in Nicopolis and eventually died in Rhodes. A wise diplomat, he was awarded favors and annuities by the king of France, Pope Clement VII, Bonne de Savoie, Jean Galéas Visconti, and the Burgundian rulers Phplippe le Hardi and Jean sans Peur. Found of art and precious stuff, he rebuilt in 1396 the castle of Sully-sur-Loire, hiring Raymond du Temple, the personal architect of Charles V and Louis I d'Orléans. As the Grand Chamberlain, he was a prominent member of the chevaleresque and elegant court of Burgundy.

Duke Georges II (George de La Trémoïlle, c. 1427-1481), lord of Craon, served Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold but soon took the party of the duke's best enemy, king of France Louis XI. As a reward for his support during the Lorrain campaign that resulted in Charles' defeat and death, Georges de La Trémoïlle was offered most of wine stored in the duke's cellars,; he served as the king's envoy in occupied Burgundy and significantly contributed to the incorporation of the former duchy to France.

Duke Louis II (Louis de La Trémoïlle, 1460-1525), known as the Blameless Knight, is the lineage's most famous member. A brilliant military commander, he served kings Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I. He commanded the expedition sent to Brittany by Charles VIII against Duke François III and his allied, Duke Charles d'Orléans; the decisive victory of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier (28 July 1488) was the first step to the incorporation of Brittany to France. Appointed Admiral of Guyenne and Brittany, he used Ré and Noirmoutier islands, then its personal property, as a base for privateers chasing Moorish and English vessels. Famous for his pomps, Louis de La Trémoïlle organized sumptuous feasts for the reception of English ambassadors in the beginning of the reign of François I and for the marriage of Louis XII with Ann of Brittany. He commanded French troops during the battle of Marignan (13-14 September) 1515) and was defeated and killed in Pavia, on 24 February 1525.

The last duke de La Trémoïlle, Louis VI (Louis-Jean-Marie de La Trémoïlle, 1910-1933) died during a blaze in England. His goods and titles were shared between the La Trémoïlle-Royan and Ligne-La Trémoïlle branches. (sources: P. Fournier. 1915. Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. le Duc de La Tremoïlle. Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 59, 76-110 on - Official website of La Trémoïlle lineage).

Ivan Sache, 6 March 2022