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Duchy of Berry
Duché de Berri
Flag of Berry
Province flag
Coat of arms of Berry
Coat of arms
Berry in France (1789).svg

Map of Berry in 1789
 • TypeProvince
King of the Franks / King of France 
• 1101–1108
Philip I
• 1774–1790
Louis XVI
Governor of Berry 
• 1466–1482
Jean III de Vendôme
• 1760–1789
Louis Joseph de Bourbon
Historical eraEarly Modern
• Established
• Provinces dissolved
Preceded by
Succeeded by
County of Berry
County of Bourges
Today part ofFrance

The Duchy of Berry (French pronunciation: [beʁi] (listen); Occitan: Barric; Latin: Bituria) was a former province located in central France. It was a province of France until departments replaced the provinces on 4 March 1790, when Berry became divided between the départements of Cher (Upper Berry) and Indre (Lower Berry).


The ancient province of Berry with the communes and départements.
The ancient province of Berry with the communes and départements.

Berry is notable as the birthplace of several kings and other members of the French royal family, and was the birthplace of the knight Baldwin Chauderon, who fought in the First Crusade. In the Middle Ages, Berry became the center of the Duchy of Berry's holdings. It is also known for an illuminated manuscript produced in the 14th–15th century called Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

In later times, the writer George Sand spent much of her life at her Berry estate in Nohant, and Berry's landscape and specific culture figure in much of Sand's writings.

The Duchy was governed by the Duke/Duchess of Berry, who after 1601 was a senior member of the French royal family. The title of 'Duke of Berry' was by this period divested of territorial significance, and instead held by princes of the royal house, the last of which was Charles Ferdinand d'Artois.[1]

In c.750, the Counties of Berry and Bourges were created by the King of the Franks. In 843, the County of Berry became part of the Royal domain or crown lands controlled by the king. From 878 to 892, the county was part of the County of Auvergne, but became independent once more in 893. In 972, the County of Bourges was reduced to a Viscounty as the Viscomte de Bourges, and in 1101 was annexed by France. In 1360, the county was raised to a duchy as the Duchy of Berry. In 1221, the Seigneuries of Châteauroux and Issoudun were annexed into the duchy.[1][2]

The first governor of the province appears to have been appointed on 14 March 1698, when Adrien Maurice de Noailles, Duke of Noailles became military governor when he was only 19 years old.[2]

In 1778, Louis XVI convened the provincial assemblies of Berry, and considered expanding the assembly to other provinces, but abandoned this idea after experiencing the opposition of the privileged classes in Berry.[3]

In 1790, when the former provinces were dissolved, the Duchy of Berry was split between two departments: Cher in Upper (eastern) Berry and Indre in Lower (western) Berry. Some communes also became part of the Allier, Creuse, Loiret, and Loir-et-Cher departments as well.[1]


The governors of French provinces during the Ancien Régime were typically military commanders and provided military oversight in the region. This included recruitment, movement of troops, and – if needed – dealing with civil disobedience. Below is a list of the governors of Berry during its time as a province.[2]

Duke of Berry

Main article: Duke of Berry

In October 1360, the title 'Duke of Berry' was created by King John II of France for his third-born son, John of Poitiers. The duke was followed by several members of the senior royal family, establishing a tradition of the duke being a member of the House of Valois. In 1505 however, the last Duchess of Berry Joan of France died of natural causes and the title was merged into the royal domain. In 1527, the title was re-created for Marguerite de Navarre until the title was once again dissolved in 1601 following the death of Duchess Louise of Lorraine.

In 1686, King Louis XIV re-created the title for his third grandson Charles de Bourbon, however the title was dissolved following the death of the Duke in 1714. In 1754, Louis XV re-created the title for his grandson Louis-Auguste de Bourbon (later King Louis XVI), who dropped the title in 1765 when he became Dauphin. In 1778, Louis XVI one again re-created the title for his nephew Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry. In 1820, the title was finally dissolved once more when the last duke was assassinated.

While Berry was a province, the Duke of Berry was de jure leader of the area. The dukes included:

Coat of Arms Portrait Name Other Titles Tenure
Arms of Charles de Berry.svg
Vivien - Charles of France, Duke of Berry - Louvre.png
Charles de Bourbon
31 July 1686

5 May 1714
Arms of Charles de Berry.svg
Van Loo, Louis-Michel - The Dauphin Louis Auguste, later Louis XVI
Louis-Auguste de Bourbon
23 August 1765

20 December 1765
Arms of Charles dArtois
Danloux - Charles Ferdinand d
Charles Ferdinand d'Artois
24 January 1778

14 February 1820


The name of Berry, like that of its capital, Bourges, originated with the Gaulish tribe of the Bituriges,[4] who settled in the area before the Roman armies of Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. The name of the tribe gave name to the region, often mentioned in Medieval Latin sources as: Bituria.


La Brenne, located west of Châteauroux and east of Tournon-Saint-Martin in the Indre department, is a region which of old straddled on the former provinces of Berry and Touraine, and is now a protected natural area (Parc naturel régional de la Brenne) as well called Pays des mille étangs, because of its many ponds created since the 8th c. by the monks of the local abbeys for pisciculture.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Berry" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 809.
  2. ^ a b c "Provinces of France to 1791". Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  3. ^ Peter Kropotkin (1909). "Chapter 5". The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793. Translated by N. F. Dryhurst. New York: Vanguard Printings. The weapon used by Louis XVI, in preference to all others was deceit. Only fear made him yield, and, using always the same weapons, deceit and hypocrisy, he resisted not only up to 1789, but even up to the last moment, to the very foot of tile scaffold. At any rate, in 1778, at a time when it was already evident to all minds of more or less perspicacity, as it was to Turgot and Necker, that the absolute power of the King had had its day, and that the hour had come for replacing it by some kind of national representation, Louis XVI could never be brought to make any but the feeblest concessions. He convened the provincial assemblies of the provinces of Berri and Haute-Guienne (1778 and 1779). But in face of the opposition shown by the privileged classes, the plan of extending these assemblies to the other provinces was abandoned, and Necker was dismissed in 1781.
  4. ^ Compare: Miroglio, Abel; Miroglio, Yvonne-Delphée, eds. (1978). "Berrichons". L'Europe et ses Populations [Europe and its peoples] (in French). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff (published 2012). p. 157. ISBN 9789400997318. Retrieved 31 December 2017. [...] en fait, Berry vient de Bituriges; ainsi se nommaient les ancêtres gaulois des Berrichons. Le premier nom de Bourges fut Bituricum.

General and cited sources