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Montbard (Municipality, Côte-d'Or, France)

Last modified: 2022-02-28 by ivan sache
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Flag of Montbard, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 5 June 2021

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Presentation of Montbard

The municipality of Montbard (4,848 inhabitants in 2017; 4,637 ha) is located 80 km north-west of Dijon.

Montbard has been settled since the early ages. It was recorded as an important village around the 10th century. St. Alèthe (b. 1070), mother of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, was the sister of Count André de Montbard. Montbard was granted municipal rights in 1231 by Duke Hugh IV of Burgundy, becoming a place of frequent stays of the Valois dukes of Burgundy.

The famous naturalist Count Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707-1788) was born in Montbard, where he spent a large part of his life, making frequent trips back and forth to Paris where he directed the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants, better known as the King's Garden. Receiving scholars from all over Europe there, he welcomed Jean-Jacques Rousseau on his return from exile. In Montbard, he polished, the texts that would constitute his monumental work, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roy. He also developed the economy of his estate, establishing in 1733 a tree nursery and in 1767 forges producing cannonballs.
In all fairness, a significant part of Buffon's fame has to be credited to his loyal assistant, also born in Montbard, Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton (1716-1800). In 1745, Buffon appointed Daubenton, then a modest rural doctor, "Garde et démonstrateur du Cabinet d'Histoire Naturelle", that is, curator of the collections kept in the famous Cabinet du Roy. A careful observer and experimenter, Daubenton supplied Buffon with most of the material used in the writing of the first 15 volumes of the Histoire naturelle; he himself redacted more than half of the chapters of the treatise. In 1753, he pointed out the exact similarity between the skeletons of the man and of th horse, inventing comparative anatomy, for which Buffon would remain famous.
In 1782, Daubenton initiated the acclimatization of merinos sheep in Montbard; the revolutionaries credited him this successful attempt with the title of "Shepherd Daubenton". L'amélioration des bêtes à laine (1777) and L'instruction pour les bergers et les propriétaires de troupeaux (1782) are still reference books for sheep-breeders.
When the National Museum of National History was created in 1793, Daubenton, as the oldest scientist, was offered the chair of his own choice. He selected mineralogy and invented systematic mineralogy, proposing a classification of minerals - and other items kept in cabinets - based on scientific criteria rather than beauty, perfection and curator's curiosity. He worked on his Tableau méthodique des minéraux until 1796. Daubenton was also a great pedagogist; among his students was René-Just Haüy (1743-1822), the inventor of geometrical crystallography.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 6 June 2021

Flag of Montbard

The flag of Montbard, used at least since 2018 (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo,photo), is white with the municipal arms, "Azure two barbels addorsed or a chief per pale, 1. Azure semy de fleurs-de-lis or a bordure compony argent and gules, 2. Bendy of six or and azure a bordure gules", rotated orthogonallt, the chief covering 1/3 of the flag's length. The former flag of Montbard, used in the early 2000s (photo, photo), was white with the greater municipal arms, including branches and a ribbon with the name of the municipality.

Duke Philip the Bold reportedly granted on 12 August 1376 to the municipality of Montbard the privilege to include on the municipal arms, above the two bars (traditional canting arms), a chief charged with his own arms. The Armorial National de France (Traversier & Vaisse, 1842) reports the same grant, which would have been issued in Beaune, but with a slightly different description, "Per fess, 1a. Azure a fleur-de-lis or, 1b. Burgundy ancient, 2. Azure two barbels addorsed". The Armorial Général features simpler arms, "Azure two barbels argent addorsed" for "the Mayor and the Councillors of the Town of Montbard" (image).
Laurent Hablot, professor of Western Emblematic at the École Pratique des Hautes Études and former student of Michel Pastoureau, points out that princes seldomly granted addition of their personal arms on municipal arms. Among the few known examples, Aigueperse was granted the "chief of Berry" by Duke John of Berry around 1375 and Aix-en-Provence was granted the chief of Anjou by Louis III of Anjou in 1431.
The arms of the Burgundian towns that feature the "chief of Burgundy", Dijon excepted, are modern creations, designed long time after the Duchy of Burgundy ceased to be an independent state, in 1477.BR> [Departmental Archives of Côte-d'Or]

Olivier Touzeau, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 June 2021