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Dampvalley-lès-Colombe (Municipality, Haute-Saône, France)

Last modified: 2022-02-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Dampvalley-lès-Colombe - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 31 May 2021

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Presentation of Dampvalley-lès-Colombe

The municipality of Dampvalley-lès-Colombe (116 inhabitants in 2019; 626 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km east of Vesoul.
Dampvalley is located near (old French, "lès") Colombe-lès-Vesoul. The village is located in the valley, once mentioned as a canyon, of river Colombine, but its name has nothing to do with a damp valley. Like another village named Dampvalley-Saint-Pancras, it is named for St. Valerius / Valére / Vallier, Deacon of Langres, who was allegedly killed by the Alemanni near Port-sur-Saône. In the Middle Ages, the village was known as Danvallier, a name cognate to Dampierre (for St. Peter) and Dambenoit (for St. Benedict).

The area is of very ancient settlement, as evidenced by archeological remains that yielded local legends. The Pierre-qui-vire dolmen is said to rotate thrice during Christmas' night, unveiling a rich treasure, therefore its name, lit. Rotating Stone. Of 2 m in diameter and 70 cm in width, its main stone was allegedly used to perform human sacrifices. No trace of either fire or burial was found during excavations performed in 1946, though. Julius Caesar is believed to have water his horse in a well located in the neighborhood. Walnut trees, quite abundant in the village, "originate" in walnuts fallen down from the luggage of Roman soldiers; at least, this story has some indisputable background, since walnuts were introduced in Gaul by the Romans.
Part of the domain of Montaigu, which was controlled from a castle located on a neighboring hill, the village of Dampvalley was burned down in 1635 during the Thirty Years' War by Swedish mercenaries. They eventually found out the Cotelotte Cave where the villagers had taken shelter and moved their goods; five fierce farmers, Simon Blanc, Jean Rapin, Étienne Rosey, Charles Chalon and Jacques Collieux repelled the troop. In 1644, Turenne's soldiers slaughtered all the villagers but Thérèse Rosey, who had hidden in the wheel of the mill located near the old bridge.

In July 1856, a wolf scared the inhabitants of Dampvalley, injuring several of them. Reported in the local Journal de la Haute-Saône dated 15 July 1856, the events were aired in the national newspaper Moniteur Universel, No. 201,on 20 July 1856. On 6 July, the wolf cruelly bit the old woman Bernard; courageous witness Anne Riche repelled the beast with a big wooden stick. Four hours later, the wolf assaulted the young girl Beaupoil while she was picking strawberries; the girl was saved from death by her mother and widow Maurice, who hit the wolf with big stones. Another hour later, the Gentil sisters were attacked while cutting grass with sickles, which they used to injure the wolf. The withdrawing wolf stumbled on another two people. The next day, while a wolf hunt was organized, forest ranger Viroz injured once again the beast with his sword. The exhausted wolf came across the Sautot children; the elder brother hid his younger brother and sister and hit the wolf with his hoe. The knocked-out animal was eventually captured and triumphantly brought to Vesoul. The Préfet officially awarded 20 francs to Anne Riche as a reward for her bravery.

Ivan Sache, 26 February 2022

Flag of Dampvalley-lès-Colombe

The flag of Dampvalley-lès-Colombe (photo) is almost square, white the the municipal arms, "Per bend sinister wavy argent and vert, 1. Vert a mill wheel or, 2. Or masoned sable a palm vert per bend sinister", reaching the edges of the flag.

The palm is the attribute of the town's namesake, St. Valerius. The village is represented by the stylized representation of a stone wall, which recalls the Madonna sanctuary and the cabordes.
In the center of the shield is river Colombine, whose charming valley is one of the attractions of the village, in its general northeast-west orientation.
The mill wheel recalls that a woman hiding under a mill wheel was the only survivor of the massacre of the village population by Turenne's soldiers in 1644.

The tradition reports that Valerius, Archdeacon of Langres, left the town with a few pious people. He was martyred in 411 in Port-sur-Saône, where the bishop of Langres had a chapel, or a basilica, erected to honor him, probably later than the 6th century. Completely rebuilt in 1845, the chapel has been used since 1996 as a cultural space.
[Patrimoine en Bourgogne-Franche-Comté]

The sole source for the life of the reputed martyr Valerius (d. 4th or very early 5th cent.?; in French: Vallier, Valère) is a legendary Passio seemingly of the eleventh century (BHL 8496). This makes him an archdeacon of Langres under its famous bishop St. Desiderius (Didier; d. ca. 356) and has both of them killed by barbarian invaders under a legendary Vandal king named Crocus, supposedly a leader of the genuinely attested irruption of Vandals and Sueves into Gaul in 405. The Passio forms part of the so-called Crocus-cycle of Gallic Passiones; as a guide to actual events it is hopeless. In Vincent of Beauvais' thirteenth-century account of Desiderius' martyrdom under Crocus the deacon who is killed with him is named Vincent.
Medievally, Valerius was venerated widely in Burgundy, especially at Langres and at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Pierre at Molesme. The latter came into possession of his putative relics at some time prior to 992. It still had them in 1307, when the head was placed in a bust reliquary and the remainder in a new châsse. At the abbey of Notre-Dame at Molesme Valerius is absent from the calendar of ca. 1175 but present in that of ca. 1250, when he was honored with a twelve-lesson feast.
Valerius (at left) before Crocus as depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Langres (after 1481; Chaumont, Mediathèque de Chaumont, ms. 33, fol. 481r).
[John Dillon, JISC@Mail, 22 October 2018]

The Madonna statue was erected in the aftermath of the cholera epidemic that killed some 10,000 people in Haute-Saône between May and October 1855. Several parish priests who had obtained protection by the Blessed Virgin erected rewarding monuments known as "cholera crosses".
In Dampvalley, priest Christin vowed to erect a monument would the epidemic spare the village; the disease, which had already killed eight villagers, immediately disappeared. The good priest acquired or was offered plots covering 50 ares on a hill dominating the village; under his guidance, the villagers and pupils from the neighboring schools built with stones a step pyramid of 18 m in base and 10 m in height. Completed on 1 January 1856, the monument's truncated top was crowned by a statue of Madonna made of cast iron, of 180 kg in weight. A Way of the Cross was designed to reach the monument, sponsored by villagers whose names are engraved on the stones supporting the crosses. The statue and the crosses were blessed on 4 May 1856 by parish priest Boilloz, from Vesoul, in a ceremony reportedly attended by more than 2,000 people. After the death of priest Christin in 1887, the Madonna's Field was inherited by his niece Marie Christin; on 3 June 1896, the new parish priest Paul Courtois acquired the plot for 20 francs on behalf of the parish. The sanctuary was completely cleaned and restored in 1989, and the Madonna Festival has been organized every year on 15 August since then.
Cabordes are small, conic huts made of dry stones, once common in the local vineyards. They were used by winegrowers to store their tools and take shelter in case of unclement weather.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 22 February 2022