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Forcalquier (Municipality, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: alpes-de-haute-provence | forcalquier |
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[Flag of Forcalquier]

Flag of Forcalquier - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 November 2011

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Presentation of Forcalquier

The village of Forcalquier (4,645 inhabitants in 2008, 4,276 ha) is located in the Southern Alps, 25 km north of Manosque.

Forcalquier is located in a basin once the cradle of the Sogiontii, a Celto-Ligurian tribe listed by Pliny as members of the Vocontii Confederation. After the Roman conquest, the region was crossed by the Via Domitia that linked Italy to Spain. The Bishopric of Sisteron-Forcalquier, established in the 11th century, covered more or less the former Sogiontii territory.

From the 11th to the 13th century, the Counts of Forcalquier, taking advantage of the complex political situation in Provence, established their own independent state. In the beginning of the 12th century, three lineages competed for the rule over Provence, the Counts of Toulouse, the Counts of Barcelona and the Counts of Urgel. Alazais (d. 1129), the daughter of Count of Provence William VI Bertrand (Count, 1053-1065) married Armengol (d. 1092), Count of Urgel in 1079 and took in 1110 the title of Countess of Forcalquier. In 1125, Provence was shared between the Count of Toulouse and the Count of Forcalquier; the County of Forcalquier included the towns of Embrun, Gap, Sisteron, Manosque, Cavaillon, Pertuis, Apt, Sault, Séderon and Veynes, while Avignon, Caumont, Le Thor and Pont-de-Sorgues remained undivided. In 1229, Alazais transfered her rights on Avignon and the County of Forcalquier to her grandson Bertrand I (d. 1144). Bertrand was succeeded by his son William II (d. 1209), who fought war against the Counts of Provence. In 1168 and 1174, Frederick I Barbarossa, the nominal sovereign of the region, confirmed William II as the Count of Forcalquier. In 1193, William abandoned his rights on the County, keeping only the usufruct, to his granddaughter Garsenda of Sabran (1180-1220), who married in 1193 Count of Provence Alfonso II of Aragon. William then attempted to take again control of Gap and Embrun, which he expected to grant to his granddaughter Beatrix, causing a war with Aragon. In 1209, the Count of Provence occupied Sisteron but failed to seize Forcalquier. The death of the two opponents stopped the conflict. The County of Forcalquier, except Gap and Embrun, transfered to Dauphiné via Beatrix, was inherited by Count of Provence Ramon Berenguer V the Great. In 1218, William of Sabran, another grandson of Bertrand I (1182-1250) seized Sisteron and Pertuis and usurped the title of Count of Forcalquier. The Archbishop of Aix forced him to give back the conquered territories but granted him the title of Count of Forcalquier.
Forcalquier is sometimes nicknamed "The Town of the Four Queens", recalling that Ramon Berenguer V married his four daughters to four kings. Margaret (1221-1295) married King of France St. Louis, Eleanor (1223-1291) married King of England Henry III, Sanchia (1228-1261) married King of Germany Richard of Cornwall, and Beatrix (1234-1267) married Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily. There is, however, no evidence that any of these queens ever visited Forcalquier.

Provence experienced a demographic and economical crisis at the end of the 13th century, aggravated by the epidemics of black plague that scoured Provence in the next centuries. In spite of being only the seat of a viguerie (administrative division), Forcalquier remained a significant place of trade, especially of cloth. The books of accounts of a local merchant, dated from the 14th century, are the oldest kept in France.
In 1481, Forcalquier revolted against the incorporation of Provence to France. Louis XI sent troops to bomb the town from a hill known since then as La Bombardière. Forcalquier revolted again in 1851 against Prince Louis-Napoléon's coup against the Second Republic; for ten days, several hundreds of Republicans challenged the new power and were eventually strongly repressed. Some 700 prisoners were deported to Algeria in 1852-1853, including the lawyer Marius Debout (1822-1884), already deported under Louis-Philippe, subsequently Mayor of Forcalquier in 1871-1878. Forcalquier was a stronghold of the anti- German Resistance during the Second World War.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 November 2011

Flag of Forcalquier

The flag of Forcalquier is red with three vertical yellow stripes.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules three pallets or". According to Louis de Bresc (Armorial des communes de Provence [bjs94]), these arms were probably granted the town in 1217, together with a chart, by Count Ramon Berenguer V. Like the arms granted to Aix and other towns in Provence, the arms of Forcalquier are derived form the arms of the Counts of Barcelone. Since Forcalquier was only the second town in Provence, its arms were distinguished from those of Aix, the capital, by removing a pallet. However, Forcalquier never accepted the brisure; the arms in use had four pallets, even if arms with three pallets were registered with the Armorial Général (II, 29; image, I, 343; registration fee, 50 pounds).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 November 2011