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Meaux (Municipality, Seine-et-Marne, France)

Last modified: 2003-12-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: seine-et-marne | meaux | fleur-de-lys (yellow) | letter: m (yellow) |
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[Flag of Meaux]by Pascal Vagnat

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Presentation of Meaux

Meaux (to be pronounced simply 'Mo') is a city of c. 50,000 inhabitants, located 45 km north-east of Paris around a meander of the river Marne.

Meaux was initially a village settled by a Gaul tribe called Meldes. These Meldes gave their name to the city of Meaux, its inhabitants, called Meldois, and the neighbouring region, deslimited by the rivers Marne and Ourcq, called Multien . After the Roman conquest, the city increased in size and was mentioned by Julius Caesar under the name of Iatinum. It was located on the crossraod between two important Roman ways.
During the dark ages following the fall of the Roman Empire, Meaux was trashed several times, for example during the Barbarian invasions in the IVth century and two times by the Normans in the IXth century.

In 943, feudality was established in the north of France, and the county of Meaux was founded, which was rapidly incorporated into the powerful county of Champagne. At that time, such a county was more powerful than the small kingdom of France, whose territory was restricted to the traditional province of Ile-de-France. In 1179, count Henri le Libéral granted the citizens of Meaux a municipal charter. In 1229, the Treaty of Meaux, ending the Albigensian Crusade, was signed by king of France Philippe-Auguste and count of Champagne, on behalf of count of Toulouse.

In 1284, Jeanne de Navarre, count of Champagne's last heir, married king of France Philippe le Bel (1285-1314) and Champagne was definitively incorporated to the kingdom of France. In 1420, during the Hundred Years' War, Meaux was seized by king of England Henry V (1413-1422). In 1439, constable of Richemont reincorporated the city to France.

In the XIXth century, the economical development of Meaux was triggered by the digging of the Ourcq Canal (1803-1825), linking in 108 kms the rivers Seine and Ourcq, the introduction of sugarbeet cultivation in the area in 1806 as a response to the Continental System, and the inauguration of the railway line Paris-Meaux in 1849.

In 1914, the Battle of Marne took place between 6 and 13 September around Meaux. The Allied Armies, commanded by Joffre, stopped the German Army commanded by Moltke and forced him to withdraw.

As early as the IVth century, Meaux was an important (Roman Catholic) episcopal city. Some of its bishops played a great role in the religious history of France.
In 660, during a short period of peace, bishop Saint Faron founded the monastery of Sainte-Croix.
In 1351, the poet and musician Philippe de Vitry (1291-1361), one of the founders of the polyphonical school called Ars Nova, was appointed bishop of Meaux.
In 1516, bishop Guillaume Briçonnet (1472-1534), influenced by Erasmus, founded the Cénacle de Meaux, a group of religious humanists, which included the reformist theologians Guillaume Farel (1489-1565) and Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1450-1536). Due to the increase in religious intolerance in France, the Cénacle was dissolved in 1525. The area of Meaux was then trashed by a religious civil war which ended only on 1 January 1594, when king of France Henri IV entered ceremoniously the city and established the religious peace.
The most famous of the bishops of Meaux was Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704). Bossuet had been the Dauphin's private tutor before being appointed bishop of Meaux in 1681. Bossuet, as the unofficial leader of the French Roman Catholic Church, defended the religious politics of Louis XIV against the Protestants and condemned Fénelon's quietism. His sermons ('On Death', 'On the Eminent Dignity of the Poor') and funeral orations are among the most beautiful texts of the Classical period of French litterature. Bossuet's ability to distance on religious questions and his charitable behaviour in Meaux yielded him the nickname of the Aigle de Meaux (Eagle of Meaux).

The region of Meaux is also known for two excellent products:

  • The Brie of Meaux is a softcheese which was elected 'Prince of the Cheese' during the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), and should not be mistaken for the Brie de Melun, the Brie de Nemours and the Brie de Nangis, much less common.
  • The mustard of Meaux is still manufactured à l'ancienne.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 18 April 2002

Description of the flag

The municipal flag is avertically divided red-green with the municipal arms, also divided red-green, in the middle.

Last time I went to Meaux, maybe two years ago, there were long, vertical forked banners placed at the entrance of the city. The colours were light green and pink, probably because of sun fading. The coat of arms was shifted to the top of the flag, following the German example.

Ivan Sache, 18 April 2002

Coat of arms

The arms of Meaux are (GASO):

Parti de gueules et de sinople à la lettre M onciale d'or brochant sur la partition, au chef cousu d'azur semé de fleurs de lys d'or

In English (Brian Timms):

Per pale gules and vert overall the uncial letter M or a chief azure semy de lis or

These arms were ascribed by the Armorial Général, but at that period, it was known that the town had possessed the arms which it uses today de temps immemorial (from time immemorial). The letter M represents of course Meaux.

The arms were confirmed in 1821 by a royal Decree (lettres patentes) signed by king Louis XVIII.

Ivan Sache, 23 July 2003

Ceremonial flag

[Ceremonial flag]by Ivan Sache

On 28 February 2003, Ange Anziani, Mayor of Meaux, and Jean-Francois Copé, State Secretary in charge of the relations with the Parliament and spokesperson of the government, former Mayor of Meaux, officially gave the municipal flag to the Scouts of Meaux (Scouts de France).

The flag is white with the municipal arms in the middle and 'Ville de Meaux' written in black below the coat of arms.

Pictures of the ceremony, with the flag, can be seen on the website of the Scouts of Meaux:

Ivan Sache, 23 July 2003