Last modified: 2004-07-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: maine-et-loire | saumur |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Saumur is a city of c. 35,000 inhabitants, sous-préfecture of the departement of Maine-et-Loire, located on the confluency of the rivers Thouet and Loire.
The first settlement in Saumur was built around a fortified monastery founded by king of France Charlesle Chauve (823-877) to shelter the relics of the local evangelist St. Florent (IVth century). The monastery was trashed during the Norman invasions. In the XIth century, Saumur was strongly disputed by the counts of Blois and Anjou, until king of France Philippe-Auguste (1165-1223) seized the city in 1203. The castle was destroyed and rebuilt several times. It was totally rebuilt by Louis I, first duke of Anjou, at the end of the XIVth century.
At the end of the XVIth century and during the XVIIth century, Saumur became one of the most brilliant Protestant cities in France. King of France Henri III (1551-1589) offered the city as a place de sûreté [safety place] to king Henri of Navarra, later king of France as Henri IV (1553-1610). Henri of Navarra appointed as Governor of the city Philippe de Mornay, a.k.a. Duplessis-Mornay (1549-1623) and nicknamed by the Roman Catholics "the Huguenot Pope", who founded in Saumur the first Protestant Academy in 1599. After the assassination of Henri IV, a general assembly of the Protestant churches gathered in Saumur in order to strengthen their organisation. In 1623, king Louis XIII (1601-1643) ordered the demolition of the city walls in order to decrease the Protestant power. The golden age of Saumur ended in 1685, when king Louis XIV (1638-1715) revocated the Edict of Nantes, a.k.a. the Edict of Tolerance. Several Protestants fled Saumur and the Protestant temple was trashed.
In 1763, the Carabineers' Regiment owned by Monsieur, the king's brother, was sent to Saumur. The grounds built from 1767 to 1770 to host Monsieur's Regiment host nowadays the College of Cavalry, renamed since 1943 Ecole d'application de l'Arme blindée et de la Cavalerie. The Ecole Nationale d'Equitation (National College of Equitation), which includes the famous Cadre Noir, and whose duty is to train civil equitation instructors, was founded in Saumur in 1972.
In June 1940, the officers and the cadets of the College of Cavalry of Saumur heroically defended the bridges of the Loire river between Gennes and Monsoreau against the German troops from 18 to 20 June.
Saumur is the French capital of mushroom cultivation. Abandoned tufa quarries, in which relative humidity and temperature (11-14 °C) are quite constant, are extremely suitable for the production of champignons de Paris. Mushroom cultivation started during the Fisrt Empire and has became industrial: 800 km of galleries yield more than 120,000 tons of mushrooms per year, which represent 70% of the total French production.
Saumur is also known for its wines, white (either dry or sparkling) or red (Saumur-Champigny).
Ivan Sache, 22 June 2002
The municipal flag of Saumur is white with the greater coat of arms of the city in the middle and SAUMUR written below the coat of arms.
Arnaud Leroy, 8 December 2003
The coat of arms of Saumur is (GASO):
De gueules à la fasce contre-brétessée d'argent maçonnée d'argent, accompagnée en pointe d'une lettre S capitale d'or au chef cousu d'azur chargé de trois fleurs de lys d'or
The countercrenelled fess symbolizes the city walls, which were suppressed in 1623, after the last Protestant governor Duplessis-Mornay had been sacked.
The Latin motto of the city, placed on a scroll below the shield, is:Moenia fallunt hostem dextra domat tormentum
which translates as: The walls shall impose upon the enemy, courage shall tame the cannon.
The two horses supporting the shield refers to the Cadre Noir, the National School for Equitation.
Saumur was awarded the War Cross (1939-1945) for its heeroic resistance in June 1940.
Ivan Sache, 8 December 2003
by Ivan Sache
According to Franciae Vexilla [frv] (# 26/72, June 2002), Saumur also used a vertically divided blue-red flag.
Ivan Sache, 22 June 2002