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Ornans (Municipality, Doubs, France)

Last modified: 2021-01-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Ornans, as used in Ornans (left) - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 February 2006; as used in La Tour-de-Peilz (right) - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 January 2006

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Presentation of Ornans

The new municipality of Ornans (4,385 inhabitants in 2016; 3,572 ha) was established on 1 January 2016 as the merger of the former municipalities of Ornans (4,357 inh.; 3,264 ha) and Bonnevaux-le-Prieuré (112 inh.; 308 ha).
Ornans is located 25 km south-east of Besançon in the valley of the river Loue, a tributary of the Doubs. Due to its ancient houses lined along the river, Ornans is often nicknamed the "Green Venice".

Ornans was mentioned for the first time in a charter dated 1151 but was granted its own charter only in 1244 by the Count of Burgundy (then la Comté de Bourgogne, later incorporated into the province of Franche-Comté, but different of the Duchy of Burgundy). According to the charter, Ornans was ran by a Municipal Council called magistrat. The Council was presided by the Mayor, assisted by four échevins (Deputy-Mayors) and twelve jurés (Councillors). The Municipal Council was elected every year by the householders older than 25. Among the richest burghers, the magistrat appointed 12 notables to check the finances of the municipality. Ornans was granted the right of asylum and strongly defended this right. The Parliament once arrested a refugee in Ornans and jailed him in Dole; the magistrat complained at Emperor Charles V, the remote suzereign of the country, who ordered the immediate return of the man to Ornans. The Comtois were known as quibblers. In Ornans, there were 1,500 inhabitants but eight lawyers, eight attorneys-at-law, seven bailiffs and six notaries. The municipal militia watched the city from the castle dominating it. The watch towers were so cold and windy that they were nicknamed engoule-vent (windsweep) or froidcul (cold ass). However, they were always volunteers to serve in the militia since a shooting contest hold every year exempted its winner from taxes.
Ornans was located on a strategic place along the so-called chamin saulnois, the road of salt. Salt was produced in Lons-le-Saunier and Salins and exported to Montbéliard and Switzerland via the valley of Loue. The lord of Ornans took care of the roads and the ford, later a bridge, over the Loue, and perceived a toll on each salt shipping crossing Ornans.

Ottp IV, the last Palatine Count of Burgundy (1237-1303), was born in the castle of Ornans. His daughter Joanna married King of France Philip V l (1316-1322). His grand daughter Joanna of France married Duke of Burgundy Odo IV, which was the first step to the reunification of the County and the Duchy of Burgundy. Otto's arms are used on the modern banner of arms of Franche-Comté.
In 1475, Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold (1467-1477) built near the gate of the castle "a kind of big donjon", with three floors each protected by a cannon, in order to repel a potential attack from Switzerland. Since the Swiss did not come, Charles invaded Switzerland and was defeated in Granson and Murten.

Ornans is the cradle of the Granvelle family. Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle (1486-1550) was appointed Minister by Emperor Charles V, as well as Imperial Marshal in Besançon and Councillor at the Parliament of Dole. His son Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517-1586) was appointed Bishop of Arras in 1540. Granvelle was one of the "Burgundian" councillors of Charles V during the Council of Trento and the redaction of the Treaty of the League of Smalkalde, signed by the Emperor and the Protestants after the battle of Mühlberg (1547). In 1550, Antoine succeeded his father as the Warden of the Seals of the Habsburgs and became a very efficient diplomat. He negociated with Count of Egmont the marriage of Philip II of Hapbburg with Queen of England Mary Tudor (1554); he wrote the speech given in the States of Flanders for the abdication of Charles V and the coronation of Philip II (1556), and contributed to the redaction of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, signed with France (1559). As a reward, Philip II appointed Granvelle Councillor of his half-sister, Margaret of Parma, Governor of the Low Countries. Granvelle took very unpopular measures: he increased the Spanish occupation troops, founded new inquisition courts, ruined trade with protectionist orders and ruled the country like a tyran. He was appointed Bishop of Mechelen in 1560 and Cardinal in 1561, but could not prevent the uprising of Flanders led by Count of Egmont. Accordingly, Philip II sacked him in 1564. The next year, Granvelle was member of the conclave that elected Pope Pius V (1566-1572). He retired in Besançon but showed up again as Vice-Roy of Naples in 1571 and President of the Supreme Council of Italy and Castile in Madrid in 1579. His last significant act was the negociation of the marriage of infant Catherine and the Duke of Savoy.

In 1674, Louis XIV invaded Franche-Comté. The Duke of Luxembourg, commanding 3,000, besieged the old castle of Ornans, which capitulated the next day, on 5 May 1674. The garrison was granted the honours of war but the castle was totally dismantled. Its only remains are a chapel and a few stones.
One of the last captains of the castle of Ornans (1622-1637) was the engineer, geometer and artilleryman Pierre Vernier (1580-1637). He is the inventor of the device called vernier. The device is made of two graduated rulers, the biggest being fixed and the smallest moving along the first. It is used to measure accurately the subdivisions of a scale. A circular vernier is used to mesure arcs. The vernier is an essential part of a calliper rule.

The most famous child of Ornans is the painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), whose birth house has been transformed into a museum. Several of his paintings were inspired by Ornans and its neighborhood, for instance Le Château d'Ornans, La Source de la Loue, L'Après-Dîner à Ornans and his most famous work, Un Enterrement à Ornans. Courbet is one of the founders of modern painting and his works were often violently rejected. Among his friends were the poet Baudelaire and the socialists Proudhon and Champfleury. The latter coined the word réalisme to define Courbet's painting. Delacroix called Courbet a revolutionary. L'Enterrement à Ornans caused a great fuss in the Salon in 1850 and was deemed macabre. In 1853, Les Baigneuses was the first non-academic representation of nudes; the painting was deemed "dreadfully ugly" and Emperor Napoléon III is said to have striken it with a riding crop. In 1855, the Salon refused L'Atelier; the painter showed it with some 40 other works in a booth called Le Pavillon du Réalisme. However, Courbet's ideas prevailed in England and Germany. The painter was eventually awarded the Legion d'Honneur, which he refused to remain loyal to his political opinions. After the Commune de Paris, Courbet was considered responsible of the taking down of the Colonne Vendôme, jailed and sentenced in 1873 to fund the revamping of the column. The only evidence against him was articles he had written against the aesthetics of the column, and it now admitted that he did not condone the violence of the insurrection. Courbet exiled to La Tour-de-Peilz, in Switzerland, and died in Vevey. His tomb was brought back to Ornans.

The erudite Beauquier, Deputy of Doubs, writes in his book Le Blason de Franche-Comté that the expression musique d'Ornans was used to designate a cacophony. The origin of this dates back to the 1840s, when King Louis-Philippe came to Besançon and reviewed the National Guard. The battalion of Ornans expected to be congratulated for its music but the King's son, Duke de Nemours, ordered them to stop playing, saying: "Dad says you made a terrible racket" (in the original French: "You are breaking Dad's ears"). The angry battalion came back to Ornans and they played a cacophony in the village of La Vèze, therefore the complete expression la musique d'Ornans passant par La Vèze.

Ivan Sache, 6 January 2019

Flag of Ornans

The flag of Ornans, as shown in Le patrimoine des communes du Doubs (vol. 2, Flohic, Paris, 2001), is vertically divided blue-red-yellow. The colors are taken from the municipal coat of arms, "Per fess, 1. Azure billetty a demi-lion rampant issuant or, 2. Gules a tower argent masoned sable".
The chief of the shield bears the arms of Franche-Comté, as it is the case in several other towns, for instance Luxeuil. The tower might represent the donjon built by Charles the Bold beside the gate of the castle of Ornans.

The flag of Ornans, as used in La Tour-de-Peilz, is vertically divided blue-white-red with the municipal coat of arms in the centre of the white stripe.

Nicolas Vernot, Pascal Vagnat, ND & Ivan Sache, 11 February 2006