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Dompierre-sur-Mer (Municipality, Charente-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2020-01-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Dompierre-sur-Mer - Image by Ivan Sache, 22 July 2019

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Presentation of Dompierre-sur-Mer

The municipality of Dompierre-sur-Mer (5,387 inhabitants in 2016; 1,835 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km north-east east of La Rochelle.

Dompierre appeared around year 1000, as Dominus Petrus, around a church dedicated to St. Peter. The place, however, was settled much earlier; a tumulus allegedly existed in La Motte. In 1997, during the revamping of the church's neighborhood, sarcophagi dated to the Merovingian or Carolingian periods were excavated.
The Maillezais abbey, established in Lower Poitou in 1010, founded in the 11th century the Petit Maillezais priory in Dompierre. The Benedictine monks introduced grapevine cultivation in the area, which was hardly cultivated before the 10th century. The abbey of Saint Léonard des Chaumes was subsequently founded in the village, "chaume" meaning here "barren ground". Wine-growing remained the main source of income in Dompierre until the destruction of the vineyards by the phylloxera at the end of the 19th century, being then replaced by fresh and vegetable and grain cultivation.

The domain of Dompierre was sold in 1364 by Geoffroy Vigier to an English priest, Jean Ladhart; confiscated on 6 February 1369 by Charles V (r. 1364-1380), the domain was offered to the Knight of Mareuil. After the liberation of La Rochelle from the English by Constable Du Guesclin (1372), Charles V offered Dompierre to Jean Chaudrier (1323-1392), as a reward for his decisive contribution to the capture of the town. Mayor of La Rochelle (1359, 1362, 1366, 1370), Chaudrier presented to the captain commanding the English garrison a document allegedly signed by King Edward III (r. 1327-1377), ordering a review of the troops on the main square. The captain recognized the seal, carefully forged, but had to trust Chaudrier since he was illiterate. Eagerly waited by the militia of La Rochelle, the garrison surrendered without fighting. After a long lawsuit, the ownership of Dompierre was confirmed on 30 August 1399 to the Mareuil family.

In 1646, Jacques Archambault (1604-1688), his wife Françoise Toureau (1599-1663) and their six children left the hamlet of L'Ardillère (now part of the municipality of Saint-Xandre, at the time depending on the parish of Dompierre) for Nouvelle France. Archambault was granted on 15 September 1651 the concession of Cap Rouge by the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France; he settled the next year in Ville-Marie, a fortified town that had been founded in 1642 by some 50 colonists. Archambault was commissioned on 11 October 1658 by Governor Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve to dig a well of five feet (1.52 m) in diameter and with a stable level of water of two feet (60 cm) "in the fort's parade ground". This was the first well established in the Island of Montreal; the well driller was paid with 300 pounds and 10 brandy jars. Soon famous as a well diviner, Archambault was commissioned to dig another five wells between 1658 and 1668, and probably much more.
After an old map of Ville-Marie found in New York in 1956, archeologists started in 2002 to excavate the site of the early fort of Ville-Marie; Archambault's well was eventually identified in 2004.
[Jacques Archambault, premier puisatier de Ville-Marie]

Jacques Archambault is the single ancestor of all the Archambault in Quebec. The Archambault patronym (today, 6,500 people, therefore the 212th most common patronym in Quebec) was transmitted by its junior son, Laurent (1642-1730).
Jacques and Françoise's great-grandchildren, the brothers Jean, Joseph, Pierre and François Archambault, founded the town of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu on a concession acquired on 15 June 1724 by their father, Pierre Archambault, from François-Antoine Pécaudy, 2nd lord of Contrecœur.
[La Gloriette, October 2017]

Dompierre was once known as the gate to La Rochelle; in the early 19th century, the village was crossed by the only road that served La Rochelle from Paris. Used by all kinds of heavy vehicles, the road was in such a bad state that the inhabitants of the remote hamlets could not access the town to go to the church. To facilitate communication between the safe and affluent port of La Rochelle and the rest of the country, a project of canal connecting La Rochelle to the North Sea via Paris was drafted. Approved on 6 August 1847, the maritime canal connecting La Rochelle to the river port of Marans, on the Sèvre Niortaise, was completed in 1884. Convicts dug in Dompierre the 900 m long Saint Léonard tunnel; this caused the drying of the neighboring wells, whose depth had to be increased.
Flat-bottomed barges hauled by men or horses completed in 8 hours a route of 24 km. Traffic peaked to 5,701 tons in 1887. The building of the railway connecting La Rochelle to La Roche-sur-Yon in 1871, paralleling the canal, caused the decline of navigation, which soon disappeared. The railway station (subsequently suppressed) was built above the tunnel; the town was renamed to Dompierre-sur-Mer, in spite of not being located on the shore, for the sake of differentiation from other places of the same name.

Ivan Sache, 22 July 2019

Flag of Dompierre-sur-Mer

The flag of Dompierre-sur-Mer (photos) is white with the municipal logo.
On the logo, the town's name is written without hyphens, "Dompierre sur Mer", instead of the official, hyphenated form, "Dompierre-sur-Mer". Strictly speaking, this would refer to the town, as a geographical place, not to the municipality, as an administrative entity.

Ivan Sache, 22 July 2019