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Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (Municipality, Manche, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-29 by ivan sache
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Flag of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2021

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Presentation of Cherbourg-en Cotentin

The municipality of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (80,616 inhabitants in 2015; 6,854 ha) was established on 1 January 2016 as the merger of the former municipalities of Cherbourg-Octeville (36,673 inh., 1,426 ha,; established on 1 March 2000 as the merger of Cherbourg and Octeville), Équeurdreville-Hainneville (16,992 inh., 1,283 ha; established in 1965 as the merger of Équeurdreville and Hainneville), La Glacerie (5,875 inh., 1,870 ha), Querqueville (5,095 inh., 556 ha), and Tourlaville (15,981 inh., 1,719 ha).

The origin of the name of Cherbourg is dubious. The chronicler Jean de Marmoutier (12th century) claimed that the town had been built by Julius Caesar. The earliest mention of the town dates back to 11th century, as Caesaris Burgus, Caesar's town!
Cherbourg is an important military port, sheltered by a huge sea wall which was built from 1783 to 1853. The building of the military port started under Napoléon I, but the port was inaugurated only in 1858 by Napoléon III. The artificial harbour of Cherbourg is the largest in the world.
The arsenal of Cherbourg is constituted of the military port and the Direction of vessels building, specialized in submarines.

During the Second World War, the 7th Corps of the US Army seized the port of Cherbourg, which was obstructed with floating mines and partially destroyed. The port was refurbished extremely quickly and progressively replaced the artificial port of Arromanches for the resupplying of the Allied troops. The seizure of Cherbourg (26-27 June 1944) was a major event of the Battle of Normandy, because it allowed the unloading of heavy equipment necessary to carry on the Battle. From 12 August 1944 onwards, the pipeline PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) linked Isle of Wight to Cherbourg and provided oil for the Allied troops.

Cherbourg has inspired several moviemakers such as Marcel Carné (La Marie du Port, 1950), Jacques Demy (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, 1964), François Truffaut (Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent, 1971), Joseph Losey (Les Routes du Sud, 1978), and Éric Rohmer (Le Rayon Vert, 1986).

Ivan Sache, 25 March 2002

Flag of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin

The flag of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (photo) is white with the municipal logo, dark purple (CMYK 63-100-0-62).

Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2021

Former municipalities



Flag of Cherbourg-Octeville - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2021

The flag of Cherbourg-Octeville (image) was white with the municipal logo, in dark purple (CMYL 63-100-0-62).
The musical seagull was the emblem of Cherbourg-Octeville. The flight of the bird alludes to the situation of the town in deep sea and the port that opens in the middle of the English Channel. The five lines, which represents a musical staff, remind that in Cherbourg-Octeville everything is music: the cry of the seagulls that dance between sky and sea, the sirens of the ships, and the melodious song of the waves.

Pascal Vagnat, 3 March 2021

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flag of Cherbourg, two versions - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 25 March 2002

Cherbourg once used a blue flag with the municipal coat of arms in the center. The town also used a banner of the municipal arms.

Michel Hersent, 25 March 2002



Flag of Équeurdreville-Haineville - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2021

The former municipality of Équeurdreville-Haineville (16,392 inhabitants in 2018; 1,283 ha; unofficial website) was established on 10 September 1964, with effect on 1 January 1965, as the merger of the former municipalities of Équeurdreville (9,624 inh. in 1962; 408 ha) and Haineville (2,118 inh. in 1962; 803 ha).

Équeurdreville was known in the 11th century as Scheldreville, a name maybe formed on the Danish word "skeer" / "skyar", meaning "a rock in the water", or on "shelder", "covered with scales". The village was subsequently known as Eschedreville (1175), Esquiendreville, Esquedreville, Esqueurdreville, and, eventually, in 1717, Équeurdreville.
The design of the War Memorial of Équeurdreville was the matter of a long dispute that started in 1920 and ended only on 18 September 1932 with the memorial's inauguration. The municipality turned down different proposals designed on the usual model praising war and heroism. The statute sculpted by Émilie Rolez, Professor at the Cherbourg School of Arts, features a mourning widow and her two children and the pacifist motto "A curse on war".

Haineville, known in the 11th century as Hainevilla, subsequently Henvilla and eventually, in 1467, Haineville, was probably named for a local ruler named Hagino.

The flag of Équeurdreville-Haineville (photo is white flag with the town's logo, fuchsia (CMYK 4-98-25-0).


Former flag of Équeurdreville-Haineville - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 March 2021

The flag of Équeurdreville-Hainneville (photo) was white with the municipal coat of arms, "Per fess, 1a. Azure three escallops or in bend, 1b. Gules a tower or, 2. Gules a four-arched bridge or issuant from a base wavy vert", and the name of the municipality. On the flag, the lower quarter of the arms is represented as "Vert a four-arched bridge or".

The original arms of Équeurdreville were retained by Équeurdreville-Haineville after the merger with Haineville. These were the arms of the abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Vœu, located in Équeurdreville, the fleurs-de-lis in the first quarter being replaced by three scallops.
[Unofficial website]

The abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Vœu , founded in 1145 by Empress Mathilda (1102-1167), Henry V's widow and Geoffrey of Anjou's second wife, was consecrated in 1181. The name of the abbey (Our Lady of the Vow) refers to a vow made by the Empress during a violent storm. Algarus, Bishop of Coutnces, offered the abbey to Augustinian monks. Looted and burned down several times during the Hundred Years' War, the abbey was restored by canons in 1450-1460, the abbey church being rebuilt in 1464. Damaged during the Wars of Religion, the abbey declined after the the appointment of commendatory abbots, which started in 1583.
Suppressed in 1774 by a Royal Decree, the abbey was requisitioned in 1778 to house the Duke of Harcourt, Governor of Normandy, during the building of the Cherbourg Harbor. Louis XVI stayed there during his inspection of the building site. From 1793 to 1866, the abbey was used as the hospital of the Navy, and subsequently, as the barracks of the Infantry of the Navy. Burned in 1944 by the withdrawing Germans, the abbey was acquired in 1961 by the municipality of Cherbourg and fully restored.
The remains of the abbey were registered on 9 September 2002 as an historical monument.
[ Ministry of Culture]

The arms of the abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Vœu were "Per pale, 1. Azure a fleur-de-lis or, 2. Gules a tower or in base a four-arched bridge or over a base wavy vert. The shield superimposed to a crozier in pale and surmounted by a baron's cap."
The fleur-de-lis recalls that the abbey had the royal status and that the abbot was co-lord of Cherbourg with the king of France.
The tower indicates that the abbot exercised feudal rights. He seated at the Exchequer of Normandy, the duchy's fiscal and administrative court, and was lord of Cherbourg, Barfleur, Bretteville, Brix, Gatteville, Hardinvast, Helleville, Herquevile, Jobourg, La Haye-d'Ectot, Les Pieux, Le Theil, Le Mesnil-au-Val, Nacqueville, Neuville, Octeville, Saint-Paul-des-Sablons, Sainte-Geneviève, Sainte-Trinité;-de-Jersey, Sideville, Siouville, and Vasteville.
The bridge represents the former Hommet island, where the abbey was located.
The cap recalls that the abbot was baron of Cherbourg, Sainte-Geneviève and Neuville.
[ Victor Le Sens. 1867. Notice sur les armoiries de l'ancienne abbaye de Notre-Dame-du-Vœu de Cherbourg. Mémoires de la Société impériale académique de Cherbourg 9, 127-128]

The arms of the abbey are featured on the seal used by the bailiff appointed by the abbot, probably in the 15th century. The seal, superimposed to the abbot's crozier, represents a fleur-de-lis, a fortified castle and a bridge, surrounded by the writing "S. BAILLIVIE OBLIG ABBIE DE VOT". Colors are not specified.
[Émile Le Chanteur de Pontaumont. 1855. Sceau de l'abbaye du Vœu de Cherbourg. Recueil des Travaux de la Société de Sphragistique de Paris 4, 60]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 6 March 2021