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Vendée (Department, France)

Last modified: 2012-10-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: vendee | pays de la loire | heart (red) | cross (red) | sacred heart |
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[Flag of Vendee]         [Flag of Vendee]

Flag of the department of Vendée (left, usual flag; right, variant) - Images by Pascal Gross, 26 October 2009

[Flag of the General Council]         [Flag of General Council]

Flag of the General Council of Vendée, two wersions - Images by Jaume Ollé & Ivan Sache, 26 October 2009

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Administrative data

Code: 85
Region: Pays de la Loire
Traditional province: Poitou
Bordering departments: Charente-Maritime, Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Deux-Sèvres

Area: 7,016 km2
Population (2009): 616,707 inhabitants

Préfecture: La Roche-sur-Yon
Sous-préfectures: Fontenay-le-Comte, Les Sables-d'Olonne
Subdivisions: 3 arrondissements, 31 cantons, 282 communes.

The department is named after river Vendée (82 km), tributary of the Sèvre Niortaise.

Ivan Sache, 14 November 2009

Flag of the department of Vendée

The flag of the departement is vertically divided red-white with the logo of the General Council in the centre.
According to the Société Vexillologique de l'Ouest, the logo of the Général Council was created by the agence Carré Noir, who made also the logo of the towns of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Noisy-le-Roi and Sceaux.

Hervé Prat has made a photo of a variant of the flag, with the background plain white instead of red and white.

Ivan Sache, Jaume Ollé & Pascal Vagnat, 26 October 2009

Flag of the General Council

According to the Société Vexillologique de l'Ouest,the flag of the General Council is white with two vertical thin red and white stripes in the centre, charged with the logotype. The writing VENDEE CONSEIL GENERAL appears below the logotype.
The vertical stripes and logo are very commonly seen as car stickers but are not used as a banner.

Another flag of the General Council of Vendée is today much more popular, as hoisted on the boats that compete in the Vendée Globe race. The flag is similar to the flag of the department, with the writings "VENDÉE" and "CONSEIL GÉNÉRAL" placed in the bottom of the flag, countercoloured. Examples of the flag can be seen on photos, taken in 2008-2009, of Samantha Davies' Roxy and Dee Caffari's Aviva.

Ivan Sache, 26 October 2009

Logo of the General Council

The logo of the General Council was designed after the former coat of arms of the department, which adopted in 1943 by the French State (Vichy regime). The main attribute of the coat of arms is made of two interlaced hearts surmounted with a cross and a crown, the motto of the department being Utrique fidelis. While the very ancient two-heart symbol does not necessarily originate from the west of France, it was very commonly used before the Revolution on furniture and jewels in the region. Its simplest interpretation is reciprocal faithfulness. The cross and the crown are clear references to the Royalist insurrection of 1793 and to the Roman Catholic religion. The cult of the Sacred-Heart was spread by St. Louis-Marie de Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716) in Lower Poitou, which was then a Calvinist area.

The interpretation of the motto is less straightforward, utrique fidelis meaning "Faithful to Both". The motto can be read "Faithful Both to God and the King" or "Faithful both to the Blues [the Republicans] and the Whites [the Royalists]". In 1793, the insurgents wore the Sacred-Heart as a patch and used mostly parochial banners as flags. They had no time to design new flags, and the current symbol of Vendée was never seen on any flag during the Revolution. In 1944, Pierre Lanco, the designer of the coat of arms, explained that he had wished to symbolize the reconciliation between the Royalists and the Republicans. However, it is difficult to find any Republican symbol in the coat of arms, which was of clear Royalist and Roman Catholic inspiration. Note that the Petainist ideology was strongly anti-Republican and asked for the support of the Church. The return to the national roots and symbols was part of the myth of the National Revolution, although the French State was nothing but a puppet state under full German control.

In spite of its controversial origin, the logo of Vendée is now widely accepted and should be considered as based on history rather than ideology, even if the controversy resurfaces from time to time.
In March 1999, the association Une Vendée pour tous les Vendéens sued the General Council because of its logotype. The cross was considered as a religious symbol in contradiction with the state secularity (in France, state and religion have been separated since 1905). The Court of Nantes, however, validated the logotype stating that "the logotype does not refer to religion but to history [...]".

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2003

The Sacred Heart of Vendée

The Sacred Heart of Vendée is a plain red heart topped with a plain red Christian cross. The Sacred Heart was used during the Vendée insurrection between 1793 and 1796.
After the execution of Louis XVI, the Republican government of the Convention ordered the conscription of 300,000 new soldiers. In the region of Vendée, a general insurrection, led by noble and peasant leaders, bursted out. The "Catholic and Royal Army" (the "Whites", as opposed to the "Blues", the Army of the Republic) used a white flag seme with fleurs-de-lis, often charged with the words "Vive Louis XVII", referring to the young son of Louis XVI. The leaders wore on the chest a woolen badge with the Sacred Heart.

Ivan Sache, 20 November 1997