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Dinan (Municipality, Côtes-d'Armor, France)

Last modified: 2023-11-11 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: dinan | castle | ermine | léhon |
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Flag of Dinan - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 January 2022

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Presentation of Dinan

The new municipality of Dinan (14,075 inhabitants in 2015; 871) was established on 1 January 2016 as the merger of the former municipalities of Dinan and Léhon (3,072 inh.; 473 ha).
There are two possible origins for the name of Dinan, both of them reflecting the geographical location of the city. Divonantos has been related to the Gaulish words divos (holy) and nantos (valley). The other possible origin relates Din-An to the Celtic word din or dun, the short form of dunus, originally a hill dedicated to a god, later an oppidum and eventually, latinized as dunum, a city on a hill. An could be the short form of the name of goddess Anna, the mother of all the Gaul gods and protector of the wet places.
Dinan was an important crossroad during the Roman times. The lords of Dinan were mentioned for the first time in the 10th century. A century later, the Arab geographer Idrish described Dinan as "a holy city with a stone wall".

Dinan was seized by William the Conqueror in 1065, as shown on the Bayeux Tapestry: following the rebellion of Conan, Count of Brittany and vassal of Normandy, William invaded Brittany with his (then) friend Harold. The Tapestry shows Conant presenting the keys of the city to William and Harold on the point of his lance. A modern interpretation of that campaign is that William took the pretext of Conan's revolt to show Harold how powerful he was.
Dinan became a Breton Ducal city in 1283. During the War of Succession of Brittany, Dinan chose the Blois party, and the city was besieged and seized by Count of Montfort, who built there a donjon.
The city was attacked several times by the English, to no avail. A famous episode involved Constable Bertrand Du Guesclin (1320-1380), who was born in the castle of La Mothe-Broon, near Dinan. In 1357, Duke of Lancaster besieged the city, which was defended by Du Guesclin and his brother Olivier. During a 40-day truce, Oliver was captured out of the city by Thomas of Canterbury, who required a ransom of 1,000 florins. Since Olivier had left the city during a truce and without arms, his capture was an act of perfidy. Bertrand Du Guesclin asked to solve the dispute in a single combat between Canterbury and himself, placed under Lancaster's presidency. Du Guesclin won and Canterbury was sentenced to pay 1,000 florins to Olivier and was banned from the English army. Du Guesclin met during that episode Tiphaine Raguenel and they married.
Du Guesclin died in Auvergne near Châteauneuf-de-Randon on 13 July 1380 and had required to be buried in Dinan. His body was embalmed, the entrails being buried in the church St. Laurent in Le Puy. However, the embalmed body deteriorated on the way back to Brittany. In Montferrand, the flesh was boiled and separated from the bones, and buried in the church of Cordeliers, which was eventually destroyed in 1793. In Le Mans, close to Brittany, a Royal officer ordered to transfer the body to the Royal necropole of Saint-Denis, near Paris, and kept the bones. The heart was spirited away and sent to Dinan, where it was buried in the church St. Sauveur.

During the 15th century century, the city walls were strenghtened. The city was given municipal rights in 1418. The General States of Brittany gathered in Dinan 15 times from 1352 to 1718.
Weaving mills were built in Dinan in the 18th century, but Dinan was mostly known for being the most pleasant and aristocratic garrison City in France.
The city walls and the 15-16th century old city have been preserved until now and Dinan is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in France.

Dinan is the birth city of Auguste Pavie (1847-1925), a diplomat and explorer who incorporated most of Indochina to France when he was Commissioner in Laos (1893-1895); Théodore Botrel (1868-1925), a chansonnier famous for La Paimpolaise and other patriotic songs; and Yvonne Jean-Haffen (1895-1993), a painter of Mathurin Méheut's school, were also born in Dinan.

Ivan Sache, 6 January 2019

Flag of Dinan

The flag of Dinan is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules a castle or masoned sable a chief ermine" (photo, 2019).

The castle of Dinan was mentioned for the first time in 1040. The municipal arms are derived from a seal belonging to Charles of Dinan "Montafilant" (1370).
[P. Rault. Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98]]

Ivan Sache, 17 November 2002

Banners in front of the city hall of Dinan

Several banners can be seen in front of the city hall of Dinan: banners of arms of places (Dinan and the former commune of Léhon) and banners of arms of famous families or personalities in Dinan,

Banners of places

[Flag]         [Flag]

Banners in front of the city hall of Dinan: places - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 21 January 2022

(1) Banner of the arms of Dinan (fr-22_di.gif)

(2) Banner of arms of Léhon, a former commune now part of Dinan.
Léon (3,000 inhabitants, 4.73 km²) was merged into the commune of Dinan on 1 January 2018.
Léhon was shaped by the hand of the monks, who established their monastery in a meander of the Rance. King Nominoë, founder of the Benedictine abbey in 850, and successive lords richly endowed the monastic establishment. The relics of Saint Magloire ensured the spiritual influence of the religious center until its closure during the Revolution. Recent excavations in the gardens of the abbey have revealed a covered canal linking the buildings to the Rance which flows below. In the 12th century, the lords of Dinan erected their fortress on the rocky outcrop to protect the conventual goods and the passage over the Rance. The castle was dismantled in the 17th century.
The arms are blazoned Gules a bend ermine, between in chief a crozier's volute Or issuant from the band, and in base a castle of same open Sable.
On the arms are the crozier of Bishop Magloire, Patron Saint of the Abbey, and the Towers of the castle separated by a band of ermines. The coat of arms of the town was made by Claude Haley, stamp engraver in 1981.

Olivier Touzeau , 21 January 2022


Banners of families and personalities

[Flag]         [Flag]         [Flag]         [Flag]        [Flag]

Banners in front of the city hall of Dinan: places - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 21 January 2022

(3) Banner of arms of the house of Beaumanoir (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website)
The House of Beaumanoir is an extinct family from Brittany, who took its name from a castle built in 1212 in the parish of Evran. This Breton family took possession of the barony of Lavardin in the middle of the 15th century. The Beaumanoir family received a title of Marquis de Lavardin in 1601 and died out in 1711. The main branch of the house of Beaumanoir was linked by wedding to the house of Dinan n the 14th century, and in another branch Jean II de Beaumanoir du Bois-de-laèMotte was governor of Dinan in the early 15th century.
The arms of the House of Beaumanoir are blazoned Azure, eleven billets Argent placed 4, 3, 4.
The banner in Dinan has 18 white rectangles : 4, 3, 4, 3, 4.
It can be compared to the flag of the commune of Evran, a vertical banner inspired by the arms of the Beaumanoir where the billets are placed 4 + 3 + 2 + 1.

(4) Banner of arms of the house of Chateaubriand (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website)
The history of Châteaubriant (later Châteaubriand) begins at the beginning of the 11th century when Brient, son of Dame Innogwen, (envoy of the Count of Rennes) built a fortress on a motte on the banks of the river Chère intended to continue the fortification of the border of the Marches of Brittany. A city developed around the castle and was called Châteaubriant (now in Loire-Atlantique department, see: The primitive House of Châteaubriant became extinct in the 14th century. One of the best known family members was Jeanne Louise de Belleville, Jeanne de Clisson also known as the Lioness of Brittany who married her first husband, 19-year-old Geoffrey de Châteaubriant VIII and had two children. The barony of Châteaubriant was inherited by the House of Dinan.
The lords of Châteaubriant originally bore the arms Gules, semy of pine cones Or or Gules, papelonny Or. During the battle of Al Mansurah, an episode of the Seventh Crusade, the lord of Châteaubriant saved Louis IX of France. The King permitted him to replace the pine cones with fleurs de lys, the royal French symbol. The coat of arms was henceforth Gules, semy of fleurs de lys Or.

(5) Banner of arms of the house of Coëtquen (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website)
Between Rennes and Dinan is the national forest of Coëtquen. It is at the origin of a family name among the most influential of the Breton nobility. Former banner and ramage of the house of Dinan, extinct in the family of Combourg (Durfort-Duras), it is best known thanks to Raoul V de Coëtquen (1370-1440), governor of Dinan, then admiral and marshal of Brittany. Great diplomat (deliverance of Richemont), he negotiated several truces with the English on behalf of the Duke of Brittany. But also Jean II de Coëtquen, Chamberlain to the Duke and Grand Master of Brittany, Extraordinary Ambassador to France, Governor of Dol and Dinan in 1491, Advisor to Kings Charles VIII and Louis XII.
The arms are blazoned: Bendy Argent and Gules.

(6) Banner of arms of Duguesclin (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website)
Bertrand du Guesclin (c. 1320 – 1380), nicknamed "The Eagle of Brittany" or "The Black Dog of Brocéliande", was a Breton knight and an important military commander on the French side during the Hundred Years' War. From 1370 to his death, he was Constable of France for King Charles V.
Bertrand du Guesclin was born in Broons near Dinan, in Brittany, first-born son of Robert du Guesclin and Jeanne de Malmaines. His family was of minor Breton nobility, the seigneurs of Broons.
After fighting a duel with Sir Thomas Canterbury at the successful defense of the city of Rennes against an English siege in 1356–57, du Guesclin was awarded a pension by the future king Charles V in December 1357. Appointed captain of Pontorson, he remained in the service of the French royal house of Valois. He fought in many battles (1359–63), being twice taken prisoner, and won a major victory at Cocherel in May 1364, defeating the troops of Charles II the Bad, king of Navarre, and taking prisoner Jean de Grailly, captal de Buch, an ally of the English. He suffered a severe loss at Auray in September 1364, being taken prisoner after Charles, duc de Blois, whom he was supporting in the War of the Breton Succession, was killed. He was ransomed for 40,000 gold francs. In 1366 and in 1369 du Guesclin led the compagnies (bands of mercenaries) into Spain to aid Henry of Trastámara, natural half brother of Peter I the Cruel, king of Castile, in his attempt to overthrow Peter. In 1370 Charles V recalled him from Spain to fight the English at Limoges. By 1373 he had given the French several major victories. He spent his remaining years on smaller expeditions against scattered English forces and mercenary bands and died besieging an enemy fortress.
The arms of Duguesclin are blazoned Argent a double-headed eagle displayed Sable beaked and armed Gules, overall a bendlet Gules.
These are also the arms of the commune of Broons (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website).

(7) Banner of arms of Charles Pinot-Duclos (source: see also Drapeaux de Bretagne website)
Charles Pinot Duclos (1704 – 1772) was a French author, born in Dinan; he became a member of the Academy of Inscriptions in 1739 and of the Académie française in 1747, being appointed perpetual secretary. The citizens of Dinan appointed him mayor of their town in 1744, though he was resident at Paris, and in this capacity he took part in the assembly of the estates of Brittany. Upon the requisition of this body the king granted him letters of nobility.

Olivier Touzeau , 21 January 2022