The Info List - Cotentin Peninsula

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The Cotentin Peninsula
(French pronunciation: ​[kotɑ̃tɛ̃]), also known as the Cherbourg
Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy
that forms part of the northwest coast of France. It extends north-westward into the English Channel, towards Great Britain. To its west lie the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
and to the southwest lies the Brittany
Peninsula. The peninsula lies wholly within the department of Manche, in the region of Normandy.


1 Geography 2 History

2.1 Roman Armorica 2.2 Medieval history 2.3 Modern history

3 Economy 4 Culture 5 References 6 Other sources

Geography[edit] The Cotentin peninsula is part of the Armorican Massif[1] (with the exception of the Plain lying in the Paris Basin) and lies between the estuary of the Vire river and Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel
Bay. It is divided into three areas: the headland of Cap de la Hague, the Cotentin Pass (the Plain), and the valley of the Saire River (Val de Saire). It forms the bulk of the department of Manche. Its southern part, known as "le Marais" (the Marshlands), crosses from east to west from just north west of Saint Lo
Saint Lo
and east of Lessay
and marks a natural border with the rest of Manche. The largest town in the peninsula is Cherbourg
on the north coast, a major cross-channel port. The western coast of the peninsula, known as the Côte des Îles ("Islands Coast") faces the Channel Islands. Ferry links serve Carteret and the islands of Jersey, Guernsey
and Alderney
from Dielette. Off the east coast of the peninsula lies the island of Tatihou
and the Îles Saint-Marcouf. The oldest stone in France is found in outcroppings on the coast of Cap de la Hague, at the tip of the peninsula.[2] Cotentin was almost an island at one time. Only a small strip of land in the heath of Lessay
connected the peninsula with the mainland.[3] Thanks to the so-called portes à flot (fr), which close at flood and open at ebb[4] and which were built in the west coast and in the Baie des Veys, on the east coast, the Cotentin has become a peninsula. The Côte des Havres lies between the Cape of Carteret and the Cape of Granville. To the northwest, there are two sand dune systems: one stretching between Siouville-Hague
and Vauville, the other one stretching between Cap of Carteret and Baubigny. History[edit]

Roman Armorica

Roman Armorica[edit] The peninsula formed part of the Roman geographical area of Armorica. The town known today as Coutances, capital of the Unelli, a Gaulish tribe, acquired the name of Constantia in 298 during the reign of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus. The base of the peninsula, called in Latin
the pagus Constantinus, joined together with the pagus Coriovallensis centred upon Cherbourg
to the north, subsequently became known as the Cotentin. Under the Carolingians
it was administered by viscounts drawn successively from members of the Saint-Sauveur family, at their seat Saint-Sauveur on the Douve.[5] Medieval history[edit] King Alan the Great of Brittany
(d. 907) waged war successfully on the Norsemen. As the result of his conquests, the Cotentin Peninsula
was included theoretically in the territory of the Duchy of Brittany, after the Treaty of Compiègne (867) with the king of the Franks. The Dukes of Brittany
suffered continuing Norse invasions and Norman raids, and Brittany
lost the Cotentin Peninsula
(and Avranchin
nearby) after only 70 years of political domination. Meanwhile, Vikings settled on the Cotentin in the ninth and tenth centuries. There are indications of a whaling industry there dating to the ninth century, possibly introduced by Norsemen.[6] They were followed by Anglo-Norse and Anglo-Danish people, who established themselves as farmers. The Cotentin became part of Normandy
in the early tenth century. Many placenames there are derived from the Norse language. Examples include La Hague, from hagi ("meadow" or "enclosure"), and La Hougue, from haugr ("hill" or "mound").[7] Other names are typical: all those ending with -tot (Quettetot..) from topt "site of a house" (modern -toft), -bec (Bricquebec, Houlbec..) from bekkr "brook", "stream", etc. In 1088 Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, enfeoffed the Cotentin to his brother Henry, who later became king of England. Henry, as count of the Cotentin, established his first power base there and in the adjoining Avranchin, which lay to the south, beyond the River Thar.[8] During the Hundred Years War, King Edward III of England
Edward III of England
landed in the bay of La Hogue, and then came to the Church of Quettehou in Val de Saire. It was there that Edward III knighted his son Edward, the Black Prince. A remembrance plaque can be seen next to the altar. Modern history[edit]

assault map of Normandy
and northwest coastal France

The naval Battle of La Hogue in 1692 was fought off Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue
near Barfleur. The town of Valognes
was, until the French Revolution, a provincial social resort for the aristocracy, nicknamed the Versailles of Normandy. The social scene was described in the novels of Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (himself from the Cotentin). Little now remains of the grand houses and châteaux; they were destroyed by combat there during the Battle of Normandy
in World War II. During World War II, part of the 1944 Battle of Normandy
was fought in the Cotentin. The westernmost part of the D-Day
landings was at Utah Beach, on the southeastern coast of the peninsula, and was followed by a campaign to occupy the peninsula and take Cherbourg. Economy[edit] The peninsula's main economic resource is agriculture. Dairy and vegetable farming are prominent activities. Along the coast, aquaculture of oysters is a growing industry.[9] Cider and calvados are produced from locally grown apples and pears. The region hosts two important nuclear power facilities. At Flamanville there is a nuclear power plant, where the second European Pressurized Reactor in the world is being constructed, with commissioning delayed to 2016 or later. COGEMA La Hague
La Hague
site, a large nuclear waste reprocessing and storage complex operated by Areva NC, is located a few miles to the north, at Beaumont-Hague. The facility stores all high level waste from the French nuclear power program in one large vault. Nuclear industry provides a substantial portion of jobs in the region. The roads used for transport of nuclear waste have been blocked many times in the past by environmental action group Greenpeace. Local environmental groups have voiced concerns about the radioactivity levels of the cooling water of both these nuclear sites, which is being flushed into the bay of Vauville; however, the emitted radioactivity is several orders of magnitude below natural background levels and does not pose any hazard. There are two important naval shipyards in Cherbourg. The state-owned shipyard DCNS has built French nuclear submarines since the 1960s. Privately owned CMN builds frigates and patrol vessels for various states, mostly from the Middle East. Tourism is also an important economic activity in this region. Many tourists visit the D-Day
invasion beaches, including Utah Beach
Utah Beach
in the Cotentin. At Sainte-Mère-Église
a few miles away from the beach, there is a museum commemorating the action of the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division. The Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg is a museum of oceanic and underseas subjects. The main attraction is Redoutable, the first French nuclear submarine, launched in 1967. Culture[edit] After quitting political life, the political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) retreated to the family estate of Tocqueville where he wrote much of his work. Due to its comparative isolation, the peninsula is one of the remaining strongholds of the Norman language, and the local dialect is known as Cotentinais. The Norman language
Norman language
poet Côtis-Capel (1915-1986) described the environment of the peninsula, while French language poet Jacques Prévert
Jacques Prévert
made his home at Omonville-la-Petite. The painter Jean-François Millet
Jean-François Millet
(1814-1875) was also born on the peninsula. The Norman language
Norman language
writer Alfred Rossel, native of Cherbourg, composed many songs which form part of the heritage of the region. Rossel's song Sus la mé ("on the sea") is often sung as a regional patriotic song. References[edit]

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^ Rolet, J.; Jegouzo, P.; Ledru, P.; Wyns, R. (1994). "Intracontinental Hercynian Events in the Armorican Massif". Pre-Mesozoic Geology in France and Related Areas IGCP-Project 233: 195–219. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-84915-2_20.  ^ Bay of Écalgrain and Bay of Cul-Rond Website "Lithothèque de Normandie" ^ Les Parcs Naturels Régionaux. Editions Gallimard. Page 176. ISBN 2-74-240573-9 ^ hydraulic heritage : les portes à flot (französisch) ^ P. Chesnel, Le Cotentin et l' Avranchin
sous les ducs de Normandie, 911-1204, 1912, noted in C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale English Monarchs), 2001:51ff and map, xviii; there were two brief interludes when it was declared a countship. ^ DeSmet, W.M.A. (1981). "Mammals in the Seas: General papers and large cetaceans. Whaling During the Middle Ages".  ^ Twelve essential old Scandinavian words (old Norse) in placenames of Normandy
(R. Lepelley. Caen University) Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Hollister 2001: ff. ^ Catherine Berra (29 May 2013). "Basse-Normandie : le développement de l'aquaculture à l'étude". France 3 Normandie. FranceInfo. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 

Other sources[edit]

portal Normandy
portal England portal Middle Ages portal

Renaud, Jean: Les Vikings et la Normandie (Ouest-France. 2002) ISBN 2-7373-0258-7 Renaud, Jean: Les dieux des Vikings (Ouest-France. 2002) ISBN 2-7373-1468-2

Coordinates: 49°30′N 1°30′W / 49.500°N 1.500°W / 49.500; -1.500

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 246607