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Châtillon-sur-Seine (Municipality, Côte-d'Or, France)

Last modified: 2023-12-09 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Châtillon-sur-Seine - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 4 June 2021

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Presentation of Châtillon-sur-Seine

The municipality of Châtillon-sur-Seine (5,347 inhabitants in 2019; 3,315 ha) is located 80 km north-west of Dijon.

Châtillon-sur-Seine was already settled in the pre-historic, pre-Celtic, Celtic and Gallo-Roman times. The Mt. Lassois oppidum, located 6 km from the downtown, was an important center of settlement in the Bronze Age. The museum of Pays châtillonnais houses a reconstruction of the chariot burial excavated in 1953 in Vix, a village located 10 km north of Châtillon, and the Vix treasure, composed of funeral offerings. The so-called Vix crater is the largest known metal vessel (160 cm in height) from Western classical Antiquity.
The Gallic tribe of Lingones quickly accepted the Roman invasion; Châtillon, one of their three strongholds was already at the strategic junction of many roads.
The crypt of the St. Vorles church still contains a reputed oratory founded by Saint Desiderius in the first centuries AD while the first scholia date from the 6th century. In the 8th century, people fortified the Castell hill, the town's namesake. In 886, Gilon de Tournus, bishop of Langres, had the relics of St. Vorles transferred from Marcenay to Châtillon in order to protect them from the Norman raids. Spared, Châtillon became an important place of pilgrimage and the political, economic and religious center of the region. The town was split into two two districts: Chaumont, dependent on the counts of Burgundy, and Bourg, dependent on the bishops of Langres. In the 10th century, the first Valois ruler made of Bourg the seat of the Bailiwick of the Mountain, a prosperous region where drapery and steel industry thrived. From the 11th century, Châtillon was one of the 17 towns of the kingdom where merchants and industrialists freely managed their activity; for the next 600 years, wool and tapestry trade in the suburb of Courcelles competed with that of Troyes. With the approval of the bishop of Langres, from 1168 the city built two fortification, one in the north to protect Chaumont, the other in the south to protect Bourg, which remained two spearate, often rival entities all along the Middle Ages.. The two enclosures, one belonging to the Burgundians (Chaumont), and the other (the Bourg) belonging to the Bishop of Langres, lasted throughout the Middle Ages.
In 1184, Châtillon was besieged and seized by Philip I Augustus, who captured Odo III, the eldest son of Duke of Burgundy Hugh III. During the Hundred Years' War, the town was almost destroyed by French troops on 15 July 1475.
In 1586, a new district established between the two arms of the Seine, connecting Bourg to Chaumont, erected its own ramparts. In 1594 the two districts elected a common mayor and three years later the population required the suppression the castle. The three fortification systems were united ina single one with the construction of bastions. The reunion of the two districts was confirmed in 1638 Louis XIII.

At the end of the First Empire, the town hosted from 7 February to 11 March 1814 the Congress of Châtillon, during which the ambassadors of the allied powers negotiated with General Caulaincourt, Napoleon I's representative.
In 1822, Marshal Marmont, lord of Châtillon, modernized the foundry of Sainte-Colombe, paving the way for the advent of steel industry via Compagnie des forges de Châtillon-Commentry and Neuves-Maisons, established in 1862. The use of coke and increased importation of foreign goods caused the decline of steel industry. After 1880, only the sites of Sainte-Colombe and Chenecières were still operated despite the construction of the railway.
During the First World War, Generalissimo Joffre set up his headquarters ar the Cordeliers convent of Châtillon, where he issued on 5 September 1914 the order for the First Battle of the Marne.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 4 June 2021

Flag of Châtillon-sur-Seine

The flag of Châtillon-sur-Seine (photo) is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules a castle argent masonned sable a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis or".

The castle makes the arms canting and refers to the old fortress built in the 13th-14th centuries as an outpost of the Duchy of Burgundy. Upon request of the inhabitants of the town, Henry IV had it demolished in 1598, leaving only a few towers that still stand today, quite ruined (photos).
The tradition says that King Louis XI granted the chief of France to the town as a reward for its loyalty when Maximilian of Austria attempted to seize it. Like many other claims of grants of the chief of France, this one is spurious.
The oldest known representation of the arms of Châtillon appears in the Recueil de blasons peints dating back to the 16th century, shows a field gules charged with a castle argent, represented in perspective with four angle towers, in chief three fleurs-de-lis or - placed directly on the field gules, not on a chief azure (image). The same armorial contains different coat of arms with a genuine chief of France (for instance, Rouen).
The fleurs-de-lis are no longer shown on subsequent depiction of the arms of Châtillon-sur-Seine. The armorial La description des villes et villages de France redacted in 1669 by Father Pierre de La Planche, priest and librarian at the Paris Oratoire, depicts arms featuring the castle with four angle towers, represented in a somewhat stacked perspective (similar to its rendition in the modern arms) (image). The Armorial Général depicts the arms as "Gules a tower argent" (image). The Armorial des villes du duché de Bourgogne qui ont entrée aux Etats, a manuscript dated 1700 kept in the Municipal Archives of Dijon, depicts (folio 034) similar arms featuring a castle with two towers flanking a fortified gate, but without the chief of France (image).
Traversier (Armorial national de France, 1842) shows a red shield with a four-towered castle, but writes "A description adds: in chief three fleurs-de-lis or", here again, not a chief of France, probably referring to the armorial from the 16th century.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 4 June 2021