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Saint-Cyr-l'École (Municipality, Yvelines, France)

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Saint-Cyr]

Flag of Saint-Cyr-l'École - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 4 July 2005

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Presentation of Saint-Cyr-l'École

The municipality of Saint-Cyr-l'École (17,562 inhabitants in 2012; 501 ha; municipal website) is located just west of Versailles.
Saint-Cyr is named after a Christian child martyrized by judge Alexander. Having his dayjob, Alexander was sentencing Christians to death when Cyr, aged five, ran into the court and shouted: "I am a Christian, too!". It took half an hour to the judge to catch the child. Since Cyr did not stop yelling he was a Christian, the fed-up judge smashed the child's head against a wall. St. Cyr's cult spread all over Gaul, and there are more than 40 villages and cities named after him in France.
L'École (The School) refers to the Military College founded by Napoléon.

At the end of the 11th century, the monks of the St. Geneviève's abbey in Paris cleared and evangelized the valley of brook Ru de Gally. They founded near the brook a chapel, a priory and a farm. In 1156, Robert III, Bishop of Chartres, founded the Notre-Dame-des-Anges monastery near the village church of Saint-Cyr. The chapel was rebuilt in Gothic style around 1650 and a gate was added to the abbey, decorated with the arms of France supported by two angels.

The building of the palace of Versailles and its park, started in 1660, caused the suppression of the village of Choisy-aux-Bœufs, whose inhabitants emigrated to neighbouring Saint-Cyr. The village counted then 200 families.
In 1683, Queen Marie-Thérèse (1638-1683, Queen in 1660) died; andLouis XIV (1638-1715, King in 1643, with personal power in 1661) secretely married Madame de Maintenon (1635-1719). Françoise d'Aubigné, Marchioness of Maintenon, was the grand daughter of the Calvinist poet Aggripa d'Aubigné (1552-1630), a brother in arms of King Henri IV. She converted to the Roman Catholic religion and married in 1652 the writer Paul Scarron (1610-1660). Once a widow, she was appointed governess of the children Louis XIV had had with Madame de Montespan (1640-1707). In 1679, Madame de Montespan, compromised in the Poisons' Affair, was disgraced and succeeded by Madame de Maintenon as the official king's favourite.
After the marriage, Madame de Maintenon exerted a strong influence on the king, whose rule eveolved to a personal, religious dictatorship. The Gilded Age of the festivals, comedy, dance and music in Versailles was over. In her letters, the terrible Princess Palatine (Charlotte Elisabeth of Bavaria, 1652-1722), Louis XIV's sister-in-law, nicknamed Madame de Maintenon "Madame de Maintenant" (Madame of Now) and "Madame l'Ordure" (Madame Filth).
In 1685, upon request by Madame de Maintenon, King Louis XIV created in Saint-Cyr a college for the filles pauvres de la noblesse (poor noble girls), nicknamed les demoiselles de Saint-Cyr. The building site, directed by the royal architect Mansart, started on 1 May 1685. In 1686, Madame de Maintenon was officially appointed founder of the Maison royale de Saint-Louis. The poor noble girls were given there an industrious and strict education, which was very innovative at that time. After the death of the king, Madame de Maintenon retired and died in the Maison de Saint-Louis.
Closed by the Convention in 1793, the college and transformed into a military hospital until 1798. The Notre-Dame-des-Anges abbey was sold as a national good in 1792 and partially destroyed; the department of Seine-et-Oise purchased the domain in 1882 and transformed it into a readjustment center for young people. The former Maison Saint-Louis was transformed into a secondary college (prytanée) in 1802 and into a Military College by Napoléon in 1808.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Saint-Cyr was one of the main centers of French aviation. The Brazilian airman Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) flew from Saint-Cyr to Buc on the Demoiselle light aircraft. After this exploit, the aircraft manufacturer Deutsch de la Meurthe found the Aerotechnical Institute in 1911. Next year, an air base was set up in Saint-Cyr, named for to the pionneer of aviation Charles Renard (1847-1905).
During the First World War, Saint-Cyr was a place of repairing for aircrafts, employing 4,000 civils and soldiers in 1917. Captive balloons were manufactured there until 1928. In 1937, the air base was transformed into a special warehouse for technical vehicles. The airfield of Saint-Cyr was reopened to civil trafic in 1947. It is one of the last remaining historical airfields close to Paris. Managed by the Paris Airport Authority (Aéroports de Paris, ADP), the airfield has two airstrips (920 and 860 m, respectively) and 19 hangars.

During the Second World War, Saint-Cyr was completely destroyed by air raids. Only 25 out of 1,130 apartment buildings resisted the attacks, which killed more than 300. Saint-Cyr was awarded the Cross of War with palms in 1950; the official award ceremony took place in 1995.
In 1947, Saint-Cyr had only 4,457 inhabitants, as opposed to 8,000 in 1939. The city was rebuilt in the 1950s style. After the transfer of the Military College to Coëtquidan (Brittany), the ruins of the historical buildings were abandoned. In 1963, General de Gaulle, then President of the Republic, convinced the municipality to rebuild the College. It houses today a Military Secondary School.

Ivan Sache, 30 June 2005

Flag of Saint-Cyr-l'École

The flag of Saint-Cyr, hoisted at the entrances of the town, is white with the municipal coat of arms surmounting the name of the municipality in black letters. The border of the argent / white shield is not shown on the flag.

The municipal arms of Saint-Cyr are "Argent a latin cross flory azure semy de fleurs-de-lis ensigned by a crown or between in base two shakos with plumes proper".
These arms are derived from those of the Military School, which have the shakos omitted.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 30 June 2005