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Bassan (Municipality, Hérault, France)

Last modified: 2021-07-11 by ivan sache
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Flag of Bassan - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 27 March 2021

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Presentation of Bassan

The municipality of Bassan (2,124 inhabitants in 2018; 679 ha; municipal website) is adjacent (north) to Béziers.

Bassan was first mentioned in 990 as villa de Baciano by the Brothers of St. Martha and the Order of St. Benedict. During this most troubled period, the local farmers must have established a fortified camp (castrum) in the most important villa of the region. Depending of Servian, the inhabitants of Bassan soon built a church dedicated to St. Felix (1118, subsequently dedicated to St. Peter) and a wooden enclosure, substituted in the 13th century by a stone wall protected by two fortified gates. The Northern Gate was walled in the 16th century when the village was increased out of the walls. Still standing, the Southern Gate was built in the 14th century. A smaller gate provided access to the road to Servian.
Bassan was divided into three fiefs granted to the bishop of Béziers. In the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade, Amaury de Montfort, who could not keep his father's conquests, offered Bassan to the King of France.
In the 17th century, the village was ruled by two Consuls elected for one year, assisted by a council composed of 10 members. The office of governor of Bassan, established in 1703, was purchased by Fabre for 6,000 pounds.

Bassan's local hero is the sculptor Jacques Villeneuve (1865-1933), who studied at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was awarded in 1900 a bronze medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition for a statue representing Industrial Arts.
The toad is Bassan's totemic animal, recalling a local legend portraying two young men from the village. Sent by the mayor to a neighboring village to watch a new plow, they were caught by night and rain when returning to Bassan. They took shelter under a huge fig tree, which provided them protection from rain and food. The younger man climbed into the tree and dropped as many fruit as he could. When eating the figs, one of the men heard a fig moaning but did not care much about it, saying: "You may want to moan, I will eat you anyway". The man indeed ate a toad, which gave him the runs and earned him the nickname of "Toad eater", subsequently "awarded" to all inhabitants of Bassan.

Ivan Sache, 28 March 2021

Flag of Bassan

The flag of Bassan (photo) is a tricolore flag, charged in the center with the municipal arms, "Vair a saltire lozengy or and azure", surrounded by "Commune de Bassan" in gilded letters.
The odd arms of Bassan are shown in the Armorial Général (image). The very same pattern, with different colors, is shown on the same folio and the next one for other places in Languedoc. This is, beyond reasonable doubt, a "serial creation" by Charles d'Hozier's zealous assistants, subsequently adopted by the municipality as an "historical design".

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 28 March 2021