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Poigny-la-Forêt (Municipality, Yvelines, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Poigny-la-Forêt, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 11 June 2019

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Presentation of Poigny-la-Forêt

The municipality of Poigny-la-Forêt (949 inhabitants in 2013; 2,358 ha; official visitor's guide) is located 10 km north-west of Rambouillet and 30 km south-west of Versailles. The village was built in a clearing of the forest of Rambouillet, which still covers 88% of the municipal territory.

Poigny was known until the 16th century as Pougnis, a toponym of Celtic origin meaning "a meeting place". The village was first mentioned in the 10th century, as part of the domain of Hugh Capet. A Bull signed in 1158 by Pope Adrian IV confirms the rule of the St. Magloire abbey at Paris on the St. Peter parish church of Poigny. In 1197, Philip I Augustus granted the domain of Poigny to Jean de Rouvray. Regnault d'Angennes, a vassal of Charles VI, became lord of Poigny in 1400. The domain was erected a Marquisate for the powerful Angennes family; during the restoration of the parish church made in 1928, a crypt was inadvertently discovered, housing the tombs of five members of the Angennes family.
Transferred in 1706 to the Count of Toulouse, Louis XIV's son, the Marquisate of Poigny was incorporated to the domain of Rambouillet. Louis XV enjoyed hunting in Poigny, while Louis XVI purchased Rambouillet, Poigny included. During the Revolution, Poigny was a den of rascals, eventually pacified under the First Empire. After the abdication of Louis-Philippe, hunting rights in the forest of Poigny were leased to the highest nobility: the Prince of Ligne, the Marquis of Noailles and the Count of La Rochefoucauld hunted there with hounds. The 1848 Revolution was celebrated with the erection of a calvary surrounded by three pines, a symbol of liberty, today disappeared. Napoléon III did not care much of Poigny; hunt resumed with Anne de Rochechouart de Mortmart (1847-1933), Duchess of Uzès, who died in the neighbouring castle of Dampierre-en-Yvelines, and her friends, the Count of Fels and the Menier brothers, tycoons of chocolate industry.

In the 20th century, the parish church of Poigny often welcomed official guests staying in the castle of Rambouillet, one of the official residences of the Republic. Presidents René Coty and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing used to go to the mass in Poigny when staying at the castle. During the first summit of the G8, held in Rambouillet on 17 November 1975, the church welcomed Giscard d'Estaing's guests: the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, the German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, the US President, Gerald Ford, the Head of the Italian Government, Aldo Moro, and the Japanese Prime Minister, Takeo Miki.

The priory of Notre-Dame des Moulineaux (named for mills, moulins; presentation) was established in the 12th century in Petit-Poigny, an isolated place, by the Order of Grandmont. Founded by disciples of Étienne de Muret (d. 1124), an hermit who lived in the mounts of Ambazac (Limousin), the Order of Grandmont was sponsored by both the kings of England and France. In an undated charter, probably granted around 1170, Robert, Abbot of Marmoutier and the Chapter of St. Thomas in Épernon transferred the domain of Moulineaux to the Order of Grandmont, undoubtedly with the permission of King Louis VII and Count of Évreux, Simon III. The Order flourished under kings Philip I Augustus, Louis VIII and Louis IX (St. Louis); at the end of the 13th century, it ruled more than 160 celles (priories). The order's rule stated that the priories should be established in remote areas; property of land and cattle was forbidden, as well as any parish office. The main task of the monks was to pray and to welcome the poor. The lay friars, who worked hard and were hardly fed, revolted in the 14th century against the idle, "singing" monks. Pope John XXII was prompted to reform the Order: in 1317, 39 main abbeys were established; the Moulineaux priory lost its independence, being placed under the rule of the abbey of Louyes at Dourdan.
In 1576, Jean d'Angennes, lord of Rambouillet and Poigny, purchased the Moulineaux priory, which was suppressed the next year and transformed into a feudal domain. The priory building was transformed into a manor, while the chapel was left untouched. Forgotten for centuries and colonized by profuse vegetation, the Moulineaux site was re-discovered in 1846 by Auguste Moutié, an archeologist from Rambouillet, who searched archives and published the next year the priory's founding charter and cartulary. Further accounts of the history of the priory were published by Félix Lorin (1923) and Geneviève Hude (1982), two local erudites members of the Société Historique et Archéologique de Rambouillet et de l’Yveline.
The local association "Sauvons les Moulineaux" was recently established to preserve the chapel and the ruins of the manor. With the support of the association, the municipality of Poigny-la-Forêt is expected to purchase soon the site (1.5 ha), to restore it and to open it to the public.
[L'Écho Républicain, 7 April 2016]

Poigny-la-Forêt is a biodiversity hotspot, cherished by hikers and horse riders. The woods include some of the 28 most venerable oaks of the forest of Rambouillet, officially registered as "remarkable": the Granger oak (three stars, of regional interest), and the Champ des Épines and SARRAF oaks (two stars, of departmental interest).
Several places in the neighborhood are connected to historical events and local legends. The Jouanne Cross recalls the heroic behaviour of Gabriel-Alexis Jouanne, Mayor of the neighbouring municipality of Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines, during the Franco-Prussian War; taken as an hostage on 12 September 1870 by Prussian uhlans who had been attacked by lumberjacks, the mayor miraculously survived after having been abandoned in the woods. The Saint-Fort oratory recalls a miraculous source that gushed forth upon order of Fort, Bishop of Bordeaux, and healed a blind child; for ages, sick and crippled children have been bathed in the source on Whit Monday.

Ivan Sache, 12 May 2016

Flag of Poigny-la-Forêt

The flag of Poigny-la-Forêt is white with the municipal coat of arms. The name of the place is written in black letters beneath the shield.
The former flag of Poigny-la-Forêt, as reported in 2016, was green with the municipal coat of arms. The name of the place is written in golden yellow letters beneath the shield.

The coat of arms of Poigny-la-Forêt is "Per pale, 1a. Argent two keys or in saltire, 1b. Azure a tree eradicated proper, 2. Sable a half saltire argent. All over a boar or. The shield surmounted by a scroll or inscribed with 'Usque ad finem' [Latin, To the Very End] in letters argent. The shield surrounded by two branches of oak or."
The first quarter represents the village's patron saint, St. Peter. The second quarter represents the forest surrounding the village. The third quarter is taken from the arms of the Angennes family. The boar is a symbol of hunting.
[Official visitor's guide]

The Angennes family (presentation; genealogy) owned the castle of Rambouillet from 1384 to 1666. Jean I d'Angennes and his son, Jean II d'Angennes (1430-1490), Honour Squire of King Charles VII, rebuilt the castle, which had been destroyed thrice during the Hundred Years' War. Jacques d'Angennes (d. 1562) was a councillor and Captain of the personal guard of Francis I; he attended the king's death in the castle of Rambouillet. Nicolas d'Angennes (c. 1530-1611) served Charles IX, Henry III and Henry IV as a diplomat. In 1573, he attended in Krakow the enthroning of the Duke of Anjou (subsequently, King of France Henry III) as King of Poland and was appointed Vice Roy of Poland. His son, Charles d'Angennes (1577-1652), also a noted diplomat, negotiated two peace treaties with Savoy. Charles' wife, Catherine de Vivonne (1588-1665), aka the Marchioness of Rambouillet, established a salon in Paris, and, sometimes, in Rambouillet; the most famous writers of the time - Malherbe, Madame de Sévigné, Corneille and Voiture - were her regular guests. Her elder daughter, Julie d'Angennes (1607-1671), was offered the poetic anthology La Guirlande de Julie by her suitor, Charles de Sainte-Maure (1610-1690), Baron and then Duke of Montausier. After the marriage, she was appointed Governoress of the Children of France [Royal princes] by Louis XIV, while her husband was appointed Governor of the Grand Dauphin (Louis of France, 1661-1711).

The arms of the Angennes family are "Sable a saltire argent". They are reported, for instance, by Menestrier (Nouvelle méthode raisonnée du blason, ou de l'art héraldique, 1780), who states that the junior branch of the family styled lords of Poigny added a bordure argent around the arms.
The arms are featured, for instance, on an ex-libris of Renaud d'Angennes (d. 1424), Chamberlain of Charles VI, applied to folio 469v of a copy of the Grandes chroniques de France (image).

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 11 May 2019