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Republic of Saugeais (France)

République du Saugeais

Last modified: 2003-08-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: saugeais | mitre (yellow) | helmet (white) | spruce (white) | franche-comte | doubs |
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[Saugeais]by Jaume Ollé

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Location and history of the Republic

The Free Republic of Saugeais is located in the upper valley of the river Doubs, an area known as Val Sauget since the XIIth century. The republic is made of the 11 municipalities of Les Alliés, Arçon, Bugny, La Chaux-de-Gilley, Gilley, Hauterive-la-Fresne, la Longeville, Maisons-du-Bois-Lièvremont, Montbenoît, Montflovin and Ville-du-Pont.

In the middle of the XIIth century, Landry, Lord of Joux, decided to found and fund an abbey in the desert upper valley of Doubs. He gave land to Humbert, Archbishop of Besançon, who invited monks from Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune (Valais/Wallis, Switzerland) to settle there. The monks came with colons from the Grishuns and Savoy, who brought their local languages which were still widely used in the valley in the beginning of the XXth century. The colons met the local hermit Benoît, and the abbey was named after him. A monk called Norduin built the abbey, which was placed under St. Colomban's rule. The abbey remained under the control of the Lords of Joux. In 1508, the system of commende was established, by which the abbots percieved a rent but did not live in the abbey. The most famous of these commendataire abbots was Ferry Carondelet, a former councillor of Emperor Charles V fond of the Italian Renaissance, who richly decorated the abbey. The abbey was eventually closed in 1723.

In 1947, the Préfet of the department of Doubs, Mr. Ottavianni, came to Montbenoît to attend the recruiting board. He took his lunch in the Hôtel de l'Abbaye in Montbenoît, owned by Georges Pourchet. As a joke, Pourchet asked the Prefet: "Do you have a transire allowing you to enter the Republic of Saugeais?" The Prefet asked for more details on the Republic and eventually answered: "A Republic must have a President. You are appointed President of the Free Republic of Saugeais." The President died in 1968. His wife Gabrielle retired in 1970 but remained active in Montbenoît, helping the parish priest to preserve the abbey. In 1972, a festival was organized in order to raise funds for the abbey preservation. During the lunch, Gabrielle Pourchet was elected by acclamation President of the Free Republic of Saugeais for the rest of her life.

Since her election, the President has appointed a Prime Minister, a General Secretary, two customers, 12 ambassadors and more than 300 honour citizens. A song written in Sauget patois by Canon Joseph Botillon in 1910 was adopted as the national anthem. A banknote was released in 1997, and the French Post Service celebrated the Republic with a post stamp in 1987.

Source: Website of the Free Republic of Saugeais

Ivan Sache, 27 January 2003

Flag and arms of the Republic

This republic has a flag, arms and an anthem. The flag is black, red, yellow vertically stripped. On the middle of the red field may appear the arms.

The arms are divided into four fields: the first shows the head of a mitre yellow on red, the second shows a chevalry helmet white on red, the third a pine tree white on blue and the fourth a blue river on green. The flag has the proportions 2:3. The arms are not very heraldic.

The colours of the flag may recall the fact that some German settled this region in the past. They are also the colours of Franche-Comté but more precisely the colours of the city of Besançon.

There has been before that flag, an other one, which was white with the coat of arms of the Republic in the center and the mention République du Saugeais.
Mme the President of the Republic has a presidential flag (car flag) which is blue with probably the arms in the center. The colours of the Republic appear also in form of a sash with, in gold, the words "RÉPUBLIQUE DU SAUGEAIS". This sash is only for the President. There isn't any "civil" flag without the coat of arms.
Those entering the Republic of Saugeais shall be in possession of a laissez-passer with a ribbon in the colours of the Republic and the seal delivered by the President herself.

Pascal Vagnat, 14 July 1998

Tricolour ribbons with medals are given to the Honorary citizens of the Republic. To get this honour, you have to contribute significantly to the affairs of the Republic. The present President's car flag is the Republic flag, but is in use only for important ceremonies, because the President usually has no official car (in fact, the official car showed during TV-programs has to be loaned by a garage). A painted 'civil' flag appears on the temporary billboards used by the customs. The customs officer wears a black cap with golden letters RS on it.

Ivan Sache, 5 August 1998

Description of the coat of arms

The coat of arms of the Republic of Suageais was designed by Colonel Henri de Saint-Ferjeux in 1973. The cross represents the abbey, the helmet the Lords of Joux, the spruces the Jura mountains and the water the river Doubs.

Source: Website of the Free Republic of Saugeais

Ivan Sache, 27 January 2003