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Égletons (Municipality, Corrèze, France)

Last modified: 2024-03-23 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Égletons - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 20 December 2020

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Presentation of Égletons

The municipality of Égletons (4,316 inhabitants in 2018; 1,685 ha) is located 30 km east of Tulle.

Égletons, probably named for the Celtic root *glett, meaning "a marsh", was once the capital of the powerful lords of Ventadour.
The first castle of Ventadour was erected around 1040 by Archambaud III (d. 1086), Viscount of Comborn and 1st Viscount of Ventadour. Archambaud was succeeded by his brother, Ebles I. His son, Ebles II the Cantor, a close friend of Duke of Aquitaine William IX (1071-1127) the Troubadour, indeed the oldest known troubadour of the time, initiated the Ventadour poetry school. He educated to lyric poetry the son of one of his servants, who became the famous Bernard de Ventadour (c. 1125 - c.1200). Ebles II was succeeded by his son, Ebles III (d. 1170), known as Eblon the Troubadour. Bernard de Ventadour seduced Ebles III's wife, Marguerite de Turenne, while her husband was in a crusade; back home, Eblon repudiated his wife and forced Bernard to exile to London.
Viscount Bernard I was erected Count of Ventadour in 1350 / 1363 and Count of Montpensier in 1356.

During the Hundred Years' War, the castle of Ventadour was delivered in 1379 by the felon Pons du Bois to Geoffroy Tête-Noire (Black-Head), a Breton mercenary who led a free company. The count's family was forced to exile to Montpensier (Auvergne). Geoffroy used the castle, manned with 400 soldiers and enough ammunition to resist seven years of siege, as a base for his further conquests, either from the French or English parties, in Auvergne, Rouergue, Limousin, Quercy, Gévaudan, Bigorre and Agenais. Upset, the Duke of Berry, lord of Auvergne, Rouergue, Quercy, Gévaudan and Limousin, commissioned in 1388 400 knights led by Guillaume de Lignac and Jean Bonne-Lance (Good Spear) to seize Ventadour. Injured during the assault, Geoffroy died after having shared his possessions among his officers and appointed his nephews, Alain and Pierre Roux, as his successors.
After several unsuccessful assaults, Guillaume Le Boutillier, Jean Bonne-Lance, Guyonnet de Saint-Vidal and Louis d'Aubière initiated a negotiation with the Roux brothers. With the support of the Duke of Berry, they offered 10,000 francs for the castle's restitution. The Roux set up an ambush to kill the Duke's representatives and steal the money, but they were themselves betrayed and caught with most of their officers. The castle's defenders soon surrendered. A few of them were summonly executed, while the Roux were brought to Paris, sentenced to death and publicly beheaded and quartered; following the use of the time, their quarters were exhibited at the four gates of the town.

The Ventadour lineage ended in 1500 with the death of Louis I, 6th Count of Ventadour. His daughter, Blanche de Ventadour (d. 1482), had married in 1472 Louis II de Lévis (d. 1521), Chamberlain of King Charles VIII. Their son, Gilbert I de Lévis , inherited the County of Ventadour. His son, Gilbert III de Lévis -Ventadour (d. 1591), Governor of Limousin (1571), Lyonnais and Beaujolais, was erected 1st Duke of Ventadour and Peer of France (1578).
Égletons' Gilded Age ended in 1599 when the Dukes of Ventadour transferred their headquarters to Ussel.
[Racines et Histoire, by Étienne Pattou]

The ruins of the castle of Ventadour are located a few kilometers south-east of Égletons, in the municipality of Moustier-Ventadour (451 inhabitants in 2017). The ruins, including walls, a circular tower, a square keep, entrance gates, and remains of a chapel and of dwellings, were registered on the national list of historical monuments in 1840.
[Plateforme ouverte du patrimoine]

Égletons boomed again in the late 19th century, in the aftermath of the inauguration of the railway station in 1880, and, mostly, under the tenure of Charles Spinasse (1893-1979; Minister of National Economy, 1936-1937; Minister of Budget, 1938) as Mayor (1929-1944; 1965-1977). Population increased from 1,754 inhabitants in 1929 to 3,500 in 1965. Inspired by his visits in the US, Spinasse hired architects from Paris to develop an urbanization plan, quite unusual at the time for a small rural town, including garden estates and educational establishments, mostly dedicated to Civil Engineering and sustainable wood industry. The Égletonsbusiness park (34 ha) is among France's biggest areas dedicated to sustainable forest management.
[Comité de jumelage Égletons-Uffenheim ]

Ivan Sache, 21 December 2020

Flag of Égletons

The flag of Égletons (photo) is horizontally divided (1:2) red-yellow, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, "Checky or and gules", the Latin motto "Inania Pello" (“I regret the vain things”) and the name of the municipality. These were the arms of the lords of Ventadour; the winnowing baskets (vans) supporting the shield make the arms canting.

The Viscounty of Ventadour was, from 1040 to the French Revolution, one of the four viscounties of Lower Limousin, together with the Viscounties of Comborn, Turenne and Limoges.
In 1971, the heraldist Robert Merceron (d. 1991) proposed to assign a coat of arms "Quarterly, 1. Or two leopards gules (Comborn), 2. Chequy gules and or (Ventadour), 3. Bendy or and gules (Turenne), 4. Or three lions azure armed and langued gules 2 and 1" to the department of Corrèze, whose territory matches quite closely Lower Limousin. Guy Quincy, Director of the Departmental Archives, pushed the proposal, which was adopted in 1975 by the General Council.
[Departmental Council]

These arms superseded the design assigned by Jacques Meurgey de Tupigny and Robert Louis in Marques symboliques des départements français, as "Ermine a bordure gules a bend wavy azure", which was never adopted. The proposal features the traditional arms of Limousin, indeed the arms of the Breton province of Penthièvre, brought by Arthur of Brittany in 1275 when he married Marie, the daughter and heiress of Gui VI, the last Viscount of Limousin. The bend wavy represents river Corrèze, the department's namesake.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 4 September 2005