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Dauphiny (Traditional province, France)


Last modified: 2007-02-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: sauphiny | dauphine | dolphin | fleurs-de-lis: 6 (yellow) | dauphin |
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[Dauphiny flag]

Flag of Dauphiny - Image by Pierre Gay, 6 July 2000

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History of Dauphiny

Dauphiny was inhabited by the Allobroges and the Voconces. It was conquered by the Romans in the IInd century BP, and several Roman colonies developed there, especially Vienne (Valentinopolis).
Dauphiny was later invaded by the Burgunds and then allocated to Lothaire after the share of the Carolingian Empire. Included in the short-lived Kingdom of Burgundy, the area was then splitted between several feudal and ecclesiastic lords.
In the XIth century, count Guigues I d'Albon incorporated to his domain Lower Dauphiny, Grésivaudan (the rich valley of Isère, upstream from Grenoble), Champsaur (the upper valley of the river Drac), which were all ceded by the Bishop of Vienne, and Briançonnais (upper valley of the river Durance, including the town of Briançon). During the XIth and XIIth centuries, several monasteries and abbeys were founded in Dauphiny, the most famous being the Great Charterhouse built by St. Bruno in 1084 in the "desert" of Chartreuse.
In 1192, Guigues VI d'Albon took the title of Dauphin. He added the region of Embrun and Gap to his domain, as well as Faucigny, a province of Savoy, after his marriage with the daughter of Count Pierre II in 1268. In 1343, Faucigny was retroceded to Savoy, whose power was increasing.
In 1349, the last Dauphin Humbert II negociated the "transportation" of Dauphiny to France. Humbert was an ambitious spendthrift: he supported several religious foundations, founded the University of Grenoble and sponsored a rich court. He went on Crusades and came back bankrupted, his wife and son having died during his leave. He decided to resign and to sell his state.
King of France Philippe de Valois signed with Humbert three treaties to organize the transfer of Dauphiny to France. The King paid Humbert 300,000 guilders and promised him a life annuity of 24,000 pounds. Dauphiny was granted as his apanage to the elder son of the King, who should bear the title of Dauphin. The bill of sale, called Transport du Dauphiné à la France, was signed on 16 July 1349 in Lyon. Humbert took the cloth of the Dominican order and died in 1355.

In 1515, King François I appointed Bayard, the "fearless and blameless knight" (chevalier sans peur et sans reproche) Lieutenant-General of Dauphiny. Pierre Terrail, lord of Bayard, was born in Pontcharra, near Grenoble in 1476. He fought very bravely during the Italian wars, and François I asked him (Bayard) to knight him (the King) on the battlefield of Marignan (1515). Bayard was killed in 1526 by an arquebus stone in Romagnano Sesia.
pays d'état to pays d'élection, which means that it was placed under direct administration by an Intendant appointed by the King. In 1763, the Parliament of Grenoble refused to acknowledge the Royal Decrees that increased the taxes.
In 1788, the Tiles' Day (Journées des Tuiles) took place in Grenoble. This event can be considered as the first mass action of the French Revolution. A session of the States Generals was scheduled in Grenoble for 21 July 1788 and immediatly forbidden. The assembly, composed of 50 clergymen, 165 nobles and 325 representatives of the third estates, met in the neighbouring city of Vizille. They voted a resolution requiring the reestablishment of the Parliament of Grenoble; an official convening of the States General of Dauphiny, which should vote the taxes; and the individual freedom for all French citizens. Vizille can therefore be considered as the birthplace of the French Revolution.

Ivan Sache, 12 January 2003

Flag of Dauphiny

The banner of arms of Dauphiny is (GASO):
Ecartelé : au premier et au quatrième d'azur aux trois fleurs de lys d'or, au deuxième et au troisième d'or au dauphin d'azur crêté, barbé, loré, peautré et oreillé de gueules.

The English blazon (Brian Timms) does not explicitely describe the dolphin:
Quarterly first and fourth azure three fleurs-de-lis or second and third or a dolphin azure.

These arms are a combination of the Royal banner of France and the former arms of Dauphiny. They were adopted after the transport of Dauphiné to France.

Ivan Sache, 12 January 2003

Dauphiny, the dolphin and the Dauphin

The complex relations between Dauphiné (as a province), Dauphin (as a title) and dolphin (as an animal) are explained by M. Pastoureau [pst98] as follows.
During the feudal period, the County of Viennois, which became later more or less the modern Dauphiny, was not part of the Kingdom of France. Its ruler was named in documents Count (comes) and sometimes Dauphin (delfinus) of Viennois. There was also a Dauphin both in Forez and Auvergne, but the origin of the name is obscure.
In the first half of the XIIIth century, the Dauphin of Viennois adopted canting arms with a dolphin. This dolphin was a stylized fish with a curved back, a large head and a trunk, and had a spiny dorsal fin. It was also frequently crowned because the dolphin was then considered as the king of the fishes.
In 1343, Dauphin Humbert II was bankrupted and had no descendants. He ceded all his possessions to one of the sons or grand-sons of the King of France and received money and a life annuit in exchange.
On 16 July 1349, Charles de France, grand-son of Philippe VI, became Dauphin du Viennois. Charles used a shield with quartered arms of France and the County of Viennois (D'or au dauphin d'azur, oreillé, crêté et barbé de gueules), and was progressively named the Dauphin.
Beginning with Charles VI, the County was given to the eldest son of the King, who was also the putative throne heir. When the heir was not the King's son, he was not called the Dauphin. Dauphin was an usual abbreviation, the correct title being Premier fils de France et Dauphin du Viennois (First son of France and Dauphin of Viennois). The title of Dauphin de France, popularized during the reign of Louis XV, never existed.
The most famous Dauphin was Louis XVII (1785-1795), the son of Louis XVI, who mysteriously died in captivity during the Revolution. His tragic life motivated several romantic legends about him, and several impostors showed up and claimed to be the Dauphin, the most famous of them being Naundorff, a watchmaker of German origin.
The word dauphin is used as common name in French to designate the putative successor of someone important, especially in politics, and even to nickname the team ranked second in a championship.

Ivan Sache, 9 August 1999

Bicolor flag of Dauphiné

[Simplified flag?]

Bicolor flag of Dauphiny - Image by Stefan Schwoon, 30 August 2001

On the place de la Bastille in Grenoble, there is a display of flags of four kinds: the French national flag, the European Union flag, and two other bicolor flags, vertically divided red-yellow flags, that is the municipal flag of Grenoble, and vertically divided blue-yellow flags.
I guess that the latter flags represent Dauphiny, since those colours occur prominently in the banner of arms of the province.

Stefan Schwoon, 30 August 2001