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Franche-Comté (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2004-07-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: franche-comte | lion (yellow) | rectangles (yellow) | billettes (yellow) |
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[Franche-Comté]by Arnaud Leroy

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History of Franche-Comté

Franche-Comté was originally called county of Burgundy, which was different from the duchy of Burgundy. The name Comté was then used in the feminine (la Comté), and this use was kept in the name of la Franche-Comté, which should have been in modern French le Franc-Comté. Therefore, le comté is the cheese produced in la Comté

German emperor Friedrich Barbarossa inherited Franche-Comté in 1155. The province was then successively allocated to the houses of Ivrea, Hohenstaufen and Chalon.
In 1295, king of France Philippe le Bel bought the county of Burgundy and granted it to his son Philippe le Long as his apanage. The name of Franche-Comtéappeared for the first time in 1366. similar to the Swiss Franches-Montagnes, the name expressing the aspiration to freedom of the inhabitants of the area.

In 1384, Philippe le Hardi, son of King of France Jean le Bon, who had already been granted the duchy of Burgundy as his apanage, married the heir of the county and unified it with the duchy. The four great dukes of Burgundy struggled against the feudal lords in Franche-Comté and increased the powers of the States and the Parliament

In 1477, the last duke of Burgundy, Charles le Téméraire, died and his enemy, king of France Louis XI, invaded Franche-Comté. In 1493, Charles VIII retroceded the province to Maximilian of Austria, who had married Marie de Bourgogne, Charles le Téméraire's daughter. In 1598, Isabelle, daughter of king of Spain Philip II, married the archiduke of Austria.
The inhabitants of Franche-Comté were rather happy with the very distant Spanish and later Austrian administration, which allowed them a de facto independence. For instance, the city of Besançon was a kind of independent municipal republic, since Emperor Rudolf II 'confirmed' a chart granted by an earlier emperor without noticing the chart was a complete forgery. Therefore, the Comtois were scared when the kings of France increased their attempts to reincorporate them into the kingdom of France.

In 1635, Richelieu ordered the invasion of the Franche-Comté because his enemy Gaston d'Orléans had found shelter there. France appointed Swedish mercenaries led by Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, who totally trashed the province during the so-called Ten Years' War.
In 1648, by the Peace of Westfalia, Mazarin, on Louis XIV's behalf, withdrew from Franche-Comté, which became a neutral territory. Twenty years later, Louis XIV 'claimed' Franche-Comté was his inheritance from his defunct wife Maria-Theresa of Austria. After the invasion of the province, Louis XIV retroceded it to Spain. He eventually incorporated Franche-Comté to France in 1678 by the treaty of Nijmegen.
The great Comtois hero of the time was Jean-Claude Prost (1607-1681), a merchant from Saint-Claude who started a guerilla in 1636 and resumed it in 1668. In 1674, Prost was about to be captured but could flee to Milan, which was then a Spanish possession, where he died seven years later. Prost was better known by his nickname of Lacuzon. In the local patois, cuzon means worry, and the nickname refered to Prost's severe face.

The Principality of Montbéliard, now in Franche-Comté, was incorporated to France in 1793.

Ivan Sache, 27 January 2003

Description of the flag of Franche-Comté

The banner of arms of Franche-Comté is:

D'azur semé de billettes d'or au lion du même, armé et lampassé de gueules, brochant sur le tout (GASO)

In English:

Azure billetty a lion rampant crowned or armed and langued gules

The arms of Franche-Comté are those of Otto IV, palatin count of Burgundy in 1286. This Otto IV is not the German emperor Otto IV who was defeated by Philippe-Auguste in Bouvines in 1214.

Ivan Sache, 27 January 2003