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Elbeuf (Municipality, Seine-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Elbeuf - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 7 February 2021


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Presentation of Elbeuf

The municipality of Elbeuf (16,205 inhabitants in 2018; 1,632 ha) is located 25 km south of Rouen.

Elbeuf was first recorded in the 10th century, on a map of Richard I of Normandy, under the name Wellebou. It passed into the hands of the houses of Rieux and Lorraine, and was raised to the rank of a duchy in the peerage of France by Henry III in favour of Charles of Lorraine. The last duke of Elbeuf was Charles Eugène of Lorraine.
The first cloth mills in Elbeuf were created around 1514. Jean-Baptiste Colbert created in 1667 the Royal Fabric Manufacture of Elbeuf.

Olivier Touzeau, 7 February 2021


Flag of Elbeuf

The flag of Elbeuf (photo, photo) is vertically divided light blue-yellow, charged in the center with the municipal arms, "Per pale on a base vert, 1. Or a patriarchal cross gules supporting a grapevine vert fructed purpure, 2. Azure, a beehive or beset by bees of the same".

The patriarchal cross is a reference to the house of Lorraine.
The grapevine recalls that Elbeuf had once a few vineyards. Sales of Elbeuf wines are first documented in 1440; "Ellebeuf grapevine walls" were recorded in 1527. In the western part of the village, the Grapevine Hillside was listed on the municipal cadaster until 1830. Clos (vineyards) are mentioned in two different places in 1589 and 1608 respectively. A "hut in a field planted with grapevine and fruit trees near St. Stephen church" was recorded in 1634. A western borough of Elbeuf is called Mesliers, maybe for the Meslier grapevine used to produce white wines. While wines produced in the neighboring town of Freneuse were quite famous, wine production in Elbeuf was most probably family-oriented. Wine-growing tradition disappeared from Elbeuf in the 18th century, some say because of grapevine diseases, most probably because of harsh winters.
[Le Journal d'Elbeuf, 6 December 2015]

First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte paid an official visit to Normandy in autumn 1802. The First Consul re-activated the tradition of the royal visits; most of all, he expected to assess the results of his administrative, political and religious reforms in Normandy, a rich region where trade had resumed after the peace treaty signed with England in Amiens on 25 March 1802. Particularly interested in industry, Bonaparte met in Rouen representatives of several corporations, the Elbeuf cloth manufacturers included. This probably prompted him to go to the town on 3 November (12 Brumaire of the Year XI), a visit not part of the original program.
Bonaparte visited Louis Delarue's cloth mill and Lambert's dyeing factory. Very impressed, the Premier Consul said: "This town is a beehive, fortunately without hornet. Magistrates are pleased to govern laborious men; work provides both social rest and individual happiness".
The quote is given under No. 6,411, "Speech of the First Consul when visiting the Elbeuf manufactures", in the record of Napoleon I's correspondence published upon order of Emperor Napoleon III by the Imperial Print between 1858- and 2869, in no less than 32 volumes!
[Jacques-Olivier Boudon. 2002. Le voyage du Premier consul en Normandie. Études Normandes, 51:2, 7-22]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 20 June 2021