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Bresles (Municipality, Oise, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Bresles - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 22 July 2020

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Presentation of Bresles

The municipality of Bresles (4,051 inhabitants in 2018; 2,099 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km east of Beauvais.

Bresles was incorporated in 1015 to the county of Beauvais, Roger I, bishop of Beauvais, swapped with his brother Odo II the county of Sancerre against the county of Beauvais, becoming the 1st count-bishop of Beauvais, also Peer of France and Vidame of Gerberoy.
Philip of Dreux (1158-1217), a grandson of king of France Louis VI the Fat, was appointed in 1175 the 58th bishop and the 18th count-bishop of Beauvais. He soon left for the Third Crusade, fighting in Arsuf and Akkro in 1187 and being captured in Baghdad in 1190. Back to France, he fought against Richard Lionheart, being captured near Milly in 1197 and released five years later. Philip was part of the Albigensian Crusade in 1210, and actively supported his cousin, king of France Philip I August, during the battle of Bouvines (1214); he hit with his mace John Lackland's brother. Philip transformed in 1212 the manor into a fortress with a keep and moats. The fortress was partially ruined by the bishop's main opponent, countess Catherine of Clermont, allied to the count of Danmartin. As a revenge, Philip destroyed the countess' castle in La Neuville-en-Hez and restored his own fortress in 1214.

Ruined at the end of the Hundred Years' War (1453), the castle was rebuilt in 1498 by bishop Louis de Villers. Still a fortress, the new building was surrounded by a park, ponds and a garden. Bishop Odet de Châtillon made of the castle a place of culture; after he had converted to the Protestant religion, he was sacked and succeeded by Charles of Bourbon and then by Nicolas Fumée. The bishop was expelled from Beauvais by mayor Nicolas Godin, a fierce supporter of the League of nobles opposed to the accession of Henry of Navarre to the throne of France. Fumée retired in Bresles, where he welcomed Henry IV in 1589. The partisans of the League seized Bresles on 19 November 1590, looting the village and the castle and jailing the bishop. Lanoue re-captured the castle on 5 January 1591 on Henry IV's behalf. Repelled on 6 March 1591, the League party took over the fortress on 24 October 1591.
The League also captured the commander of the fortress of Gerberoy loyal to Henry IV. To release him, they asked the king to dismantle the fortresses of Gerberoy, Ons-en-Bray and Bresles, which he pragmatically accepted. On 28 October 1592, a representative of Beauvais stated that the moats had been filled up and the draw-bridge and towers put down, the garrison and the artillery were transferred to Mouy.

Destroyed by the Spaniards in 1636 during the Thirty Years' War, the fortress was transformed from 1699 to 1705 into a summer residence by cardinal de Forbin-Janson. The last remains of the feudal fortress were eventually suppressed. Damaged in February 1715 by heavy rain, as was the village, the castle was soon repaired. The slate roof was set up in 1779.
Acquired in 1791 by different owners, the castle was purchased in 1807 by the Municipal Council. In the late 19th century, the castle housed the municipal administration, the presbytery, the schools, and was also used to accommodate the school teacher and the municipal secretary.
The revamped castle was inaugurated in 1998. Valuable parts of the building, the bishop's room and the small library included, are yet to be restored. Ivan Sache, 7 February 2021

Flag of Bresles

The flag of Bresles (photo) is white with the municipal logo.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 29 April 2021

Former flag of Bresles

[Flag]         [Flag]

Former flag of Bresles, two versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 22 July 2020

The former flag of Bresles was vertically divided yellow-blue with a representation of of the coat of arms in the center.
The first version, spotted in front of the Towna Hall in 2010 (photo) and 2016 (photo), has the coat of arms charged with white cartels inscribed "Ville de / Bresles", and a drawing in white and black of the castle gate.
The second version, spotted in front of the multipurpose municipal room in 2013 (photo), features the shield with a white border.

The "genuine" arms of Bresles are those of Philip of Dreux, "Checquy or and azure a bordure gules", which are sculpted on the western side of the castle's porch and upon its entrance gate. The colored arms were used in the 19th century on municipal documents, but the bordure was dropped in the 20th century - or sometimes substituted by a white bordure.
[L'armoirie de Bresles et son histoire Bresles Info, No. 15, September 2019]

Ivan Sache, 7 February 2021

Banner of arms of Bresles


Banner of arms of Bresles - Image by Ivan Sache, 7 February 2021

A banner of arms was spotted in Bresles in May 1995. The arms without the borders are those of the Counts of Vermandois, another Capetian branch, who descended from king Henry I, while the Counts of Dreux descended from Henry's grandson, Louis VI.

Ivan Sache, 7 February 2021