Flag of Brittany

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Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg
UseCivil and state flag
DesignNine horizontal stripes alternating black and white with an ermine canton (sable, four bars argent, a canton ermine)
Designed byMorvan Marchal

The flag of Brittany is the unofficial flag of Brittany, a region in the northwest of France. It is called the Gwenn-ha-du, pronounced [ɡwɛnaˈdyː], which means white and black in Breton. It is also unofficially used in the département of Loire-Atlantique although this now belongs to the Pays de la Loire and not to the région of Brittany, as the territory of Loire-Atlantique is historically part of the province of Brittany. Nantes (Naoned), its préfecture, was once one of the two capital cities of Brittany. The flag was created in 1923 by Morvan Marchal.


The flag's dimensions are not fixed and may vary from 9 cm × 14 cm (3.5 in × 5.5 in) to 8 m × 12 m (26 ft × 39 ft). The flag is not only used by cultural associations or separatists but by other people. For years, the authorities considered the flag as a separatist symbol, but the attitude has now changed and the flag, no longer having any political connotations, can appear everywhere, even on public buildings, along with the other official flags. It is widely used throughout Brittany and can even be seen on town halls in the region. Because of the absence of legislation concerning regional flags in France the flag is also flown on sailboats and fishing boats. The design of the ermine spots can vary, but the version most frequently seen is shown above.[citation needed]

The flag was created in 1923 by Morvan Marchal. He used as his inspiration the flag of the United States, seen as a symbol of freedom.[1]

The nine horizontal stripes represent the traditional dioceses of Brittany into which the duchy was divided historically. The five black stripes represent the French or Gallo speaking dioceses of Dol, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Malo and Saint-Brieuc; the four white stripes represent the Breton speaking dioceses of Trégor, Léon, Cornouaille and Vannes. The ermine canton recalls the arms of the Duchy of Brittany.

The flag first came to notice by a wider public at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. It was adopted by various cultural and nationalist groups through the 1920s and 1930s. However, its association with nationalist and separatist groups during the Second World War brought suspicions of collaboration on the flag. A revival of interest in the flag took place in the 1960s. Since then, it has mostly lost an association with separatism in the mind of the public and become a widely accepted symbol for all Brittany and Bretons. The older ermine field flag and black cross continue to be rarely used, though, by some individuals and groups.

In blazons, the flag is Sable, four bars Argent; the canton ermine. Traditionally, coats of arms could be displayed as a rectangular banner, as well as on a shield.


Reference source[edit]

  • Kervella, Divi; Bodlore-Penlaez, Mikael (2008). Guide des drapeaux bretons et celtes (English: Guide to Breton and Celtic flags) (in French). Fouesnant: Yoran Embanner. p. 191. ISBN 978-2-916579-12-2. OCLC 251904166.