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Saint-Florentin (Municipality, Yonne, France)

Last modified: 2006-01-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: yonne | saint-florentin | champagne | navarre | chains (yellow) |
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[Flag of Saint-Florentin]

Municipal flag of Saint-Florentin - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 11 July 2005

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Presentation of Saint-Florentin

The municipality of Saint-Florentin (5,846 inhabitants; 2,800 ha) is located on the border of Burgundy and Champagne (administratively in Region Bourgogne but historically in the County of Champagne), on the road from Auxerre (Burgundy) to Troyes (Champagne) and on the rivers Armance and Armançon and the canal of Burgundy.
The city is named after saint Florentin, martyrized with his disciple Hilaire by Crocus, King of the Vandals, in 406. Godelaine, sister of the local lord, is said to have kept the saint's relics and founded a Benedictine abbey to honour them. The city developed around the abbey. In 587, Queen of Austrasia Brunehaut was besieged in Saint-Florentin by Landry, sent by her great rival Frédégonde, Queen of Neustria. Frédégonde married King Chilpéric I after having suggested him to strangle his first wife Galswinthe, who was Brunehaut's sister. Frédégonde murdered Sigebert I, Brunehaut's husband, Chilpéric was murdered and his son Clothaire II captured Brunehaut, who was tortured for three days and tied by her hair to a horse put into a gallop.

Saint-Florentin became a Viscounty in the XIIth century and was incorporated to the royal domain in the XIVth century. Under Louis XV, it became a County, whose most famous lord was Louis Phélypeaux (1705-1777), who succeeded his father, Marquis de la Vrillière, as the Minister of the General Affairs of the Reformed Religion of Louis XV in 1725. In 1761, he was appointed State Minister, Secretary of the King's House and Minister of the Interior, which made of him Louis XV's Prime Minister. He was made Duke de la Vrillière in 1770. Malesherbes replaced him in 1775, and he still helds the record of the longest ministerial office in France (50 years).
In the past, Saint-Florentin was a fortified city, often besieged, seized and trashed. The fortifications were suppressed in the XVIIIth century; parts of ramparts and the Bells' Tower are their only remains. During the French Revolution, Saint-Florentin was renamed Mont-Armance.

The estate of Crécy, today located on the municipal territory of Saint-Florentin, is one of the oldest possessions of the abbey of Pontigny, the second daughter abbey of Cîteaux, founded in 1114. A text dated 12 June 1138 states that the grange (lit., barn, indeed a big estate) of Crécy formerly belonged to the canons of Saint-Florentin. The domain of Crécy was progressively increased; in the early 1300s, he spread on several hundred hectares. In 1598, the area of the domain was 300 ha, as it is today. From 1614 onwards, the estate was ruled by rich farmers on behalf of the monks of Pontigny. Crécy was sold as a "national good" in 1791 and purchased in 1834 by Baron Louis Jacques Thénard (1777-1757), a famous chemist who worked with Gay Lussac. Thénard discovered boron (B) in 1808, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in 1818; he also studied esterification reactions and proposed a classification of metals. Pontigny is located some 15 km south of Saint-Florentin; its (less known) abbey church is a jewel of early Cistercian architecture.

In 1970, the village of Avrolles, located a few kilometers west of Saint-Florentin, was incorporated into the municipality of Saint-Florentin. Avrolles was located in the Roman times on the crossroads of via Agrippa (Lyon-Boulogne) and the way linking Sens to Alise-Sainte-Reine (Alésia). The crossroads was watched by a fortified camp (oppidum) locally known as Barcena Camp and located on Mount Avrollot (194 m asl). Avrolles is shown as Eburobriga on the Peutinger's map (IIIrd century). Avrolles was later an important fortified city. During the Religious Wars, Avrolles was completely destroyed and rebuilt only as a village. In 1804, 112 houses of Avrolles were destroyed by a blaze. The current cemetary, built on the former site of the St. Béate's church, is said to be the place were St. Béate was martyrized c. 275.


Ivan Sache, 11 July 2005

Municipal flag of Saint-Florentin

The municipal flag of Saint-Florentin, as seen there, is yellow-orange with the municipal logotype and the writing, in black Arial letters VILLE DE SAINT FLORENTIN.

The municipal coat of arms of Saint-Florentin is (Brian Timms):
Per pale azure a bend argent double cotised potent counter potent or and gules chains in cross in saltire and in orle or.

That is, more simply, per pale Champagne and Navarre. In 1234, King of Navarra named his nephew, Count Thibaut IV of Champagne, as his successor. Champagne and Navarre were thus united. At that time, the County of Champagne was very powerful and Thibaut was a famous trouvere. Thibaut granted a chart to Saint-Florentin in 1231, at which time the arms of Champagne impaled with the arms of Navarre were adopted. The municipality refused to register its arms under Armorial General; the arms were reconfirmed in 1855.

The shield on the flag has a white "chief" with three thin black stripes. This "chief" is everything but heraldic, therefore the quotation marks: it comes indeed from the municipal logotype! Moreover, the bend in the arms of Champagne is grey and there is no hyphen in the name of the city, whereas it should be (Saint Florentin, instead of Saint-Florentin).
The flag is also hoisted in the neighbouring municipality of Vergigny, which is odd. The only reason for that hoisting is probably the railway station shared by the two cities (station of Saint-Florentin-Vergigny, on the Paris-Dijon snail line).

Olivier Touzeau, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 12 July 2005