Last modified: 2006-05-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: herault | montpellier | disc (red) | throne | blessed virgin | baby jesus | letter: m |
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Municipal flag of Montpellier - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 June 2001
Source: Mairie de Montpellier
Montpellier is a city of 229,055 inhabitants (1999 census), prefecture of both the department of Hérault and the Region Languedoc-Roussillon. Montpellier is therefore the eigth largest French city, just before Bordeaux. The population of the city doubled during the 40 last years.
In 985, a local lord named Guilhem was granted two manses (estates) by his suzereign, the Count of Mauguio. One of these estates was a hill called the Monte Pestelario, on which the Guilhem dynasty thrived. In the XIth century, Montpellier was a small fortified city with a castle and a church, which indicated some importance. In the beginning of the XIIIth century, the city was reorganized by building new city walls linking Montpellier, the seigneural city, and Montpelliéret, the bishop's city. A faculty of medicine and a law and art college were created, and Montpellier got its own currency (sceau des consuls).
At the end of the Guilhem dynasty, Montpellier was incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon but was de facto a kind of republic with a Chart of Customs and Liberties. In the middle of the XIVth century, Montpellier was sold to the king of France, who was not really interested in the development of the city.
In the XVIth century, Louis XIII sent troops to establish peace between the Catholics and the Protestants. In the XVII-XVIIIth century, Montpellier was the capital city of Lower-Languedoc. Several town houses, churches, as well as the theater and the general hospital were built.
In the XIXth century, the development of wine-growing caused an increase in the wealth of the city and a new urban reorganization, with the building of the Court Hall, new churches and the railway station, and the rebuilding of the theater. However, the development of Montpellier was stopped by the phylloxeera epidemics and later by the overproduction of wine.
Montpellier had two golden ages. The first one occurred before the incorporation to the Kingdom of Aragon. Montpellier was then the second largest city in France, owned trade posts in Tyr, Akkro, Tripoli and Armenia . Its universities were among the most famous in Europe. The second golden age of Montpellier occurred in the XVIIIth century when Richelieu and later Louis XIV increased the power of the intendants and made of Montpellier a regional capital city.
The Sainte-Anne borough has kept medieval houses, as well as the
borough of l'Aiguillerie. The Towers des Pins and de la Babotte are
the only two remains of the 25 towers wich were linked by the city
The old city of Montpellier was mostly built during the second golden age of the city and several town houses have been preserved (Hôtel Jacques-Coeur, H^ptel de Montcalm, Hôtel de Manse, Hôtel de Varennes, Hôtel Saint-Côme). In the outskirts of the city, the aristocrates and bourgeois built in the XVIIIth centuries manors called folies (follies), such as the castles of Flaugergues, la Mogère, l'Engarrand and la Mosson.
The XVII-XVIIIth century downtown was recently completely restored and the big Place de la Comédie, locally known as l'Oeuf ('the Egg') because of its shape, became the hot spot of Montpellier. Modern architectural groupings (e.g. Antigone) were designed by the Catalan, post-modern, neo-classical architect Ricardo Bofill and harmoniously appended to the historical center.
At the end of the XVIth century, Henri IV founded in Montpellier the first Botanical Garden in France, which was then dedicated to the study of medicinal herbs. In the XVIIth century, a mail was created near the Botanical Garden in order to place Louis XIV's equestrian statue. The water castle and mail of Peyrou were designed by Jean-Antoine Giral, member of a local architects' dynasty. At the end of the XVIIth century, a triumphal arch linking the mail and the city was built by d'Aviler after plans dranw by François d'Orbay.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 5 May 2003
The city hall, a huge concrete building not really in harmony with the surrounding buildings, has three poles on its flat roof:
On the main square in front of the city hall is displayed a row of flags.
Ivan Sache, 24 June 2001
Flag with the municipal coat of arms - Image by Ivan Sache, 24 June 2001; coat of arms after GASO website
The flag on the roof of the city hall refered above bears the municipal coat of arms on a white background.
The coat of arms shows on a blue field the Blessed Virgin holding Jesus and sitting on a golden throne. The uncial letters A and M, in silver, placed in chief, stand for Ave Maria. In the bottom of the arms is a white escutcheon with a red roundel, which was the blazon of the Guilhem dynasty.
Source: GASO website
Ivan Sache, 24 June 2001