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Yvré-l'Évêque (Municipality, Sarthe, France)

Last modified: 2021-07-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Yvré-l'Évêque - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 11 April 2021

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Presentation of Yvré-l'Évêque

The municipality of Yvré-l'Évêque (4,196 inhabitants in 2018; 2,761 ha) is adjacent (east) to Le Mans.

Yvré-l'Évêque is named for Evracius, owner of a large estate in the Gallo-Roman period, and for The bishop (évêque) of Le Mans, who had a manor in the village.
Evracius / Yvriacus was first mentioned in 616. Excavations performed in La Bourdasière in 1867 and, more recently, during the building of the A26 highway, have yielded remains of a Gallo-Roman settlement. The building of the episcopal manor is credited to bishop Hildebertus, in the early 12th century. Henry IV stayed in the castle in 1589. The castle was eventually sold and destroyed in 1840.
In 1793, the municipality was renamed to Yvré sur l'Huisne; subsequently known as Yvré lès Le Mans, Yvré-l'Évêque re-adopted its original name during the First Empire.

During the Franco-Prussian War, the charge of the Auvours plateau took place on 11 January 1971 in Yvré-l'Évêque. Under the snow and a freezing cold (°C), General Gougeard (d. 1886), at the head of the soldiers of the Army of Brittany, auxiliary army to the Army of the Loire, retook the Auvours plateau from the enemy, at the cost of heavy losses, before dropping out following the orders of the General Staff. According to his last will, Gougeard was interred under the monument commemorating the battle, along with a hundred of French and Prussian soldiers.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 24 April 2021

Flag of Yvré-l'Évêque

The flag of Yvré-l'Évêque (photo) is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Quartery per saltire, 1. Gules a crozier or issuant, 2. Azure a fleur-de-lis or, 3. Argent a lion sable, 4. Vert a fess wavy Argent charged with an isolated six-arched bridge sable", and the name of the municipality below.
The arms were designed in 1983. The upper quarter recalls the episcopal domain and castle. The left and right quarters are derived from the arms of the abbey of L'Épau. The inhabitants of Yvré insist that the abbey, usually presented as located in La Mans, stands on their municipal territory.

The royal abbey of L'Épau (website) was established on 7 February 1229 by Berengaria of Navarre, widow of Richard Lionheart. Despoiled by her brother-in-law, John Lackland, Berengaria eventually recovered the domain of L'Espal in 1204. The first Cistercian monks, led by Abbot John, settled the abbey in 1230. Berengaria died the same year and was interred in the abbey church. The monastery was consecrated in 1234 by Geoffrey de Laval, bishop of Le Mans and placed under the joint patronage of the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Baptist. The building of the main parts of the abbey was achieved in 1280 but additional works continued until 1360.
In March 1365, during the Hundred Years' War, the abbey was burned down by the inhabitants of Le Mans to prevent its occupation by the English. Initiated the next year, recontruction took more than 49 years because of the lack of funds. Nearly deserted even before the French Revolution, the abbey was acquired on 15 June 1791 by Pierre Thoré, a short-lived mayor of Le Mans in 1794, and transformed into a hemp and flax washing workshop. His son, Charles Thoré, reconverted the former abbey into a farm in 1835; he increased the meadow irrigation system set up by the monks, digging 5.5 km of channels supplying water to an area of 64 ha, but did not care for the historical buildings.
When the former abbey was acquired on 30 October 1924 by the Guerrier family, the Ministry of Arts registered the church, the sacristy and the monk's hall as historical monuments to prevent their suppression. The restoration of the church, started in 1938, was stopped by the war; in 1943, the Germans expelled the owners and transformed the buildings in a garage for trucks.
In 1947, the former abbey was acquired by the Institut des Orphelins d'Auteuil, which eventually sold it on 1 January 1959 to the Department of Sarthe. All the remaining buildings were registered in 1961 as an historical monument.

The lower quarter represents the Stone bridge (15th century) spanning over river Huisne and the neighboring meadows.
A bridge already existed there in the Gallo-Roman times. In the 9th century, pilgrims heading to Yvr&eacut; to retrieve the relics of St. Liborius, bishop of Le Mans, witnessed the miraculous healing of a deaf-mute while he crossed the bridge. The present-day's "Roman Bridge" was revamped in the 19th century.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 24 April 2021