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Vendôme (Municipality, Loir-et-Cher, France)

Last modified: 2021-07-01 by ivan sache
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Flag of Vendôme, two versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 12 June 2014

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Presentation of Vendôme

The municipality of Vendôme (45,903 inhabitants in 2012; 3,746 ha) (16,849 inhabitants in 2011; 2,389 ha; municipal website) is located 30 km north-west of Blois and 170 km south-west of Paris (42 minutes by TGV).

Vendôme was in the Middle Ages the capital of a county established in the 10th century. The strategic significance of the country increased in the 11th century when taken over by Geoffrey II, Count of Anjou (1032-1056). The further counts of Vendôme successively belonged to the houses of Nevers, Preuilly and Montoire.
Bouchard VII (1364-1371) was succeeded by his sister, Catherine, who married Jean de Bourbon-la-Marche, Peer of France, and founded the house of Bourbon-Vendôme. Duke François II de Bourbon (1470-1495) was succeeded by his wife, Countess Marie de Luxembourg, who ruled Vendôme from 1495 to 1546. She embellished the town, building the St. James chapel, the St. Georges gate, the castle's collegiate church and rebuilding the St. Martin church. Their son, Charles IV de Bourbon, was made Duke of Vendôme in 1514 and Duke of Bourbon in 1527. His son, Antoine de Bourbon (1518-1562), married Jeanne III d'Albret, Queen of Navarre (1555-1572).
Henri IV, last Duke of Vendôme (1562-1589), incorporated the duchy to the Kingdom of France when crowned. The duchy was soon (1598) granted, as his appanage, to César de Vendôme, the legitimized sun of Henri IV and Gabrielle d'Estrées. César de Vendôme spent most of his life plotting against his half-brother Louis XIII and Cardinal de Richelieu; after a long exile in England, he eventually supported Ann of Austria during the Fronde and was appointed Grand Admiral of France (1651) and Superintendent General of the Navy (1655).
In 1712, Louis XIV reincorporated the Duchy of Vendôme to the Kingdom of France, arguing that Duke Philippe, as a Knight of the Order of Malta, could not own any title. The Duchy of Vendôme was eventually granted (1771-1789), as his appanage, to the Count of Provence, subsequently King Louis XVIII.
The posh Place Vendôme in Paris is named for the hotel built in the early 17th century by the architects Clément II Métézeau and Salomon de Brosse for the Dukes of Vendôme. The hotel had already disappeared when the Place Vendôme was revamped in the late 17th century, but the name of the place remained.

The Trinity abbey was established in Vendôme in the 11th century by Count Geoffroy Martel. Bringing back from Constantinople a Holy Tear, the count saw stars falling down from the sky into a fountain and decided to built a sanctuary there. The abbey church was consecrated in 1040, while the abbey was directly attached to the Holy See in 1047, being therefore free from the rule of the local lords. The abbots of Vendôme were awarded the title of aArdinal in 1063. Pope Urban II stayed in the abbey in 1096.
The Romanesque abbey church was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1271, the choir being completed in 1308, while the Romanesque transept was kept because of money shortage. The facade of the abbey was completed in 1506 by the architect Jean Texier, aka Jean de Beauce.

Vendôme was the seat of two historical trials.
From 26 August to 8 October 1458, King Charles VII presided in the castle of Vendôme a lit de justice (a special session of the Paris Parliament presided by the King). The felon Duke Jean d'Alençon, a brother-in-arms of Joan of Arc, who had betrayed the king for the English, was sentenced to death - but subsequently pardoned. The scene has been depicted by Fouquet in a famous miniature (image) highlighting the restoration of the Royal authority over the felon nobles.
The court of justice of Paris was relocated in February 1797 in Vendôme for the trial of the members the Conspiracy of the Equals. The conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Directoire government After two months of stormy debates, the leaders of the movement, Gracchus Babeuf (1760-1797; the editor of the newspaper Le tribun du peuple) and . Augustin Darthé (1765-1797) were sentenced to death and guillotined in Vendôme on 27 February 1797.

Vendôme is the birth town of Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Count of Rochambeau (1725-1807). Taught at the local French Oratorian college, Rochambeau was appointed Colonel in the French army in 1747; after the siege of Maastricht (1748), he was appointed Governor of Vendôme in 1749. In 1780, Rochambeau commanded the French expeditionary corps sent to support the American independentist led by George Washington. The allied armies won the decisive battle of Yorktown, fought from 28 September to 17 October 1781. Rochambeau was awarded the title of Marshal of France on 28 December 1791.

Ivan Sache, 12 June 2014

Flag of Vendôme

The flag of Vendôme (photo, no longer online) is horizontally divided red-white (1:3) with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. Another version of the flag (photo) is similar, but without the black outline framing the coat of arms.
The coat of arms of Vendôme is "Argent a chief gules all over a lion azure crowned or". These were the arms of the early Counts of Vendôme.

Ivan Sache, 12 June 2014