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Bourg (Municipality, Gironde, France)

Last modified: 2024-04-20 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: gironde | bourg |
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Reported flag of Bourg - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 6 May 2022

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Presentation of Bourg

Bourg (2,283 inhabitants in 2021; 1,054 ha) is a commune in the Gironde department.

Bourg was created in the 4th century by the Paulin family. First a very important commercial center, it later became a fortified city. At the beginning of the 5th century, the Visigoths invaded Aquitaine, and established themselves very strongly in Bourg. This was the era of the great invasions: over the next four centuries, this region was successively ravaged by the Merovingians, the Gascons, the Saracens, the Carolingians and the Normans.

During the Hundred Years War, Blaye, the military key to the defense of Aquitaine as the last fortified bastion downstream from the port of Bordeaux, was taken and retaken several times by the belligerents. Bourg contracted, in July 1379, a defense alliance against French troops with Bordeaux, which favored numerous commercial exchanges with the Gironde capital. The upper town subsequently welcomed kings Charles VII, Charles IX and François I. Louis XIV also resided there during the Fronde from August 27 to October 2, 1650. Following the revolts of the Fronde, Louis XIV ordered the destruction of the citadel and the ramparts of the turbulent city in 1664.
In 1723, a charterhouse was built on this site by the architect Étienne Dardan (known as Francoeur).

Old stone quarries located in the cliff, under the castle of the citadel, were transformed into oil tanks in 1939. Seven tanks 44 to 65 meters long were then dug, to a height of 11 meters under the ceiling and 8.50 meters wide. In June 1940, the German army took possession of it. It stored there petroleum products delivered by Italian freighters until 1944. An Italian tanker, the Clizia, was scuttled by the Kriegsmarine in August 1944. Its wreck still lies in the Dordogne river.
In 1963, the city had the charterhouse of the citadel rebuilt, keeping only the exterior walls.

Olivier Touzeau, 6 May 2022

Coat of arms of Bourg

In 1453, King Charles VII authorized the city to bear the arms of France.
The arms of Bourg were emblazoned as follows: Azure three fleur-de-lis Or 2 and 1. They were in use until the Revolution and under the Third Republic, but their representation then evolved, with the addition of a bordure Argent. The arms of Bourg are blazoned today: Azure three fleur-de-lis Or, a bordure Argent.

Olivier Touzeau, 6 May 2022

Claims of grant of arms or chief of France have to be considered as allegations unless documented evidence is provided. For Bourg, a report is found in "Histoire de Bourg-sur-Gironde depuis sa fondation jusqu'en 1789", published in 1898 in Bordeaux by Émile Maufras (1851-1925). "Charles VII then sought to reward Bourg for its loyalty and hospitality; he granted to the town, for ever, the preservation of ancient privileges and allowed it to bear the arms of France plain, supported by two lions." [source]

In the foreword of his book, Maufras admits to be "a simple reader of texts, quite experimented", who "transcribed what he could have read and deciphered here and there". A notary found oh history and member of local scientific societies, Maufras has remained famous as the pioneer of prehistoric research in Saintonge. In his book, he carefully quotes his sources but does not question them.
Maufras quotes as his primary source for the royal grant "Histoire de la ville de Bordeaux", published in Bordeaux in 1771 by a Benedictine monk, Charles-Jean-Baptiste Devienne (1728-1792). The good monk is extremely prolific in his writing and provides all kinds of analytical details on the facts he reports. As for the royal grant, he is much less affirmative than in Maufras' rendition. The footnote of p. 90 says "Maybe as a mark of consideration for its loyalty, Bourg was allowed to bear the arms of France plain, supported by two lions, a unique and honorable privilege the town still enjoys" [source].

The arms without the bordure argent are featured in the Armorial Général [source].

Ivan Sache, 7 May 2022

Flag of Bourg

According to French vexillologist Pascal Vagnat [website], quoting Hervé Pinoteau in Le chaos français et ses signes, PSR éditions, 1998, photo p.255, the flag of Bourg was white with the arms (without the bordure).
I could not find any evidence of the current or recent use of this flag

Olivier Touzeau, 6 May 2022