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Cesson-Sévigné (Municipality, Ille-et-Vilaine, France)


Last modified: 2022-03-11 by ivan sache
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Flags of Cesson-Sévigné - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 3 October 2021

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Presentation of Cesson-Sévigné

The municipality of Cesson-Sévigné (17,082 inhabitants in 2019; 3,214 ha) is located on the river Vilaine, a few kilometers east of Rennes.

Cesson has been settled at least since Gallo-Roman times, as evidenced by the discovery in 2017 of a villa from the 1st century BC. The name Cesson could have been derived from a surname derived from old French Cessemerise, or from the Latin word cessonum, a “successor”. The most probable origin, however, is to be found in the old forms: Saxonis (11th century), Cesson (1152), Saxon (1153) derived from the name of the Saxons, Sesson (1185).
The local tradition, however, recalls that Cesson was established and named during no less than the creation of the world. God ended the creation by the most beautiful country, France, more precisely by France's most beautiful part, Brittany. After having established Rennes, God added nice environment for the leisure of the town's inhabitants, composed of a few meanders of river Vilaine, rich in fish, lined by trees and surrounding by meadows. Then he proudly admired his work and said: "We will never make something better, let us stop"; "Let us stop" being in French Cessons, from the verb cesser, "to stop".
The Benedictines of the abbey of Saint-Melaine owned the church of Cesson in the 12th century (before 1152) and had in this parish a priory. At the same time, the feudal family of Cesson was mentioned. The first lords of Cesson who appeared in the writings of the 11th and 12th centuries are the Cesson and Sévigné families. The family of Cucé is attested in the parish of Cesson from the 13th to the 15th century.

Sévigné is a former stronghold located on the Vilaine, upstream from Cesson, to the east, just on the edge of the town of Noyal-sur-Vilaine. Gaillard de Sévigné was mentioned around 1190. The Sévigné lineage starts with Jamet de Sévigné, listed as a knight in 1279. Guillaume IV de Sévigné was chamberlain of Duke of Brittany Jean V in the early 15th century.
Henri, baron and then Marquess of Sévigné (1623-1651) married on 4 August 1644 Marie de Rabutin, the daughter of the Baron de Chantal, better known as the Marchioness of Sévigné. Henri was killed during a duel with the Knight of Albret on 6 February 1651. Madame de Sévigné never married again. Her beloved daughter Françoise-Marguerite married in 1669 Count de Grignan, Leutenant-General of Provence, and moved with him to Provence two years later. Between 1671 and 1696, Madame de Sévigné wrote more than 1,500 letters, mostly to her daughter. She wrote the same way she spoke, that is with a very lively style. Her letters were a mixture of court gossip columns, confidences, fears, jokes and literary criticism. She spent only a limited part of her life in the court of Versailles, where she was isolated due to her unfailing support to Surintendant Fouquet, Louis XIV's unfortunate rival. However, her letters give a very interesting picture of the ordinary life in the Court (as opposed to the other great memorialist of that time, Saint-Simon, who was much more interested in the corridors of power). Madame de Sévigné's letters became rapidly popular and were rapidly disseminated everywhere, some of them receiving a nickname related to their content.
The last marquess, Charles de Sévigné (1648-1713) died without heirs; his niece, Pauline de Grignan, and her husband, Marquess Louis of Simiane, sold Sévigné to the Baron of Châteaugiron. Destroyed in the 15th century by a rival of Guillaume de Sévigné, the castle of Sévigné was never rebuilt and the lords of Sévigné moved to the Rochers manor (now Rochers-Sévigné), near Vitré.

In 1919, the Paris Chamber of Commerce pointed out that several French municipalities share homonymic or similar names, which caused much trouble in mail delivery, and required the public administration to amend the name of these municipalities for the sake of differentiation. Cesson, in Brittany, was often mistaken for Cesson, near Paris.
Article 2 of Law of 5 April 1884 details the amendment procedure: "The change in the name of a municipality is prescribed by a Decree issued by the President of the Republic upon request of the Municipal Council; the General Council shall be consulted and the State Council shall be heard [obeyed]"; The Municipal Council of Cesson proposed the new name Cesson-lès-Rennes, which was approved on 25 September 1919 by the General Council. The postal administration objected that the risk of confusion with Rennes was high, which would slow down mail sorting in post offices. Cesson-sur-Vilaine, proposed of 2 January 1920, was also turned out because -sur-Vilaine was already used by four municipalities and required by another two or three. The préfet of Ille-et-Vilaine asked on 26 January 1920 the department's archivist to find an elegant solution that would please everyone. On 31 January 1920, the archivist answered that "Cesson could be accurately renamed to Cesson-sur-Vilaine. However, would the Municipal Council adopt a less mundane name and recall an interesting historical memory,they could append to Cesson the name of the village of Sévigné, located on the municipal territory, as Cesson-Sévigné. Sévigné is the cradle of a family, which played from the 12th century a noted role in local history. The name acquired in the 17th century a shining illustration in the history of French literature."
The archivist's proposal was validated on 11 April 1920 by the Municipal Council and on 17 August 1920 by the General Council; the State Council did not object. The Decree prescribing the new name Cesson-Sévigné was eventually signed on 23 Avril 1921 by President Alexandre Millerand.

Ivan Sache & Olivier Touzeau, 3 October 2021

Flag of Cesson-Sévigné

The flag of Cesson-Sévigné (photo) is white with the municipal logo adopted in 2014, which includes a representation of the municipal arms.
Cesson-Sévigné also uses/used a white flag with the municipal arms (photo), "Gules a chevron argent cantonned by three billets of the same".

The arms were those of the Cucé family, as featured on a seal dated 1346 published by Dom Morice (Preuves de l'histoire de Bretagne, vol. 1). Little is known on this family but the names of Raoul de Cucé (1260); Nicolas de Cucé, squire, and his wife, Perronne (1270), and Roland de Cucé, knight, listed in 1278 on the chartulary of the St. Georges abbey.
The Cucé family merged with the Montbourcher family, so that the manor of Cucé belonged in 1427 to Bertrand de Montbourcher. The domain of Cucé was acquired in 1458 by Gilles Bourgneuf, whose descendants were prominent members of the Parliament of Brittany. Henry de Bourgneuf (1590-1660) was created Marquess of Cucé in 1643. The last Marquess of Cucé, Jean de Dieu Raymond de Boisgelin de Cucé (1732-1804) was successively appointed Bishop of Lavaur (1757), Archbishop of Aix (1770) and Archbishop of Tours (1802); elected in 1776 at the Académie française, he was created Cardinal on 17 January 1803 by Pope Pius VII.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 3 October 2021

Former flag of Cesson-Sévigné


Former flag of Cesson-Sévigné - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 October 2021

The former flag of Cesson-Sévigné (photo) was white with the former municipal logo.

Pascal Vagnat, 3 October 2021