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Boutigny-sur-Essonne (Municipality, Essonne, France)

Last modified: 2019-02-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Boutigny-sur-Essonne - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 3 October 2004

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Presentation of Boutigny-sur-Essonne

The municipality of Boutigny-sur-Essonne (2,979 inhabitants in 2013; 1,620 ha; municipal website) is located in the valley of river Essonne, 50 km south of Paris. The town is surrounded by woods, which are local remains of the old forest of Yveline, between the main forests of Rambouillet and Fontainebleau.

Several remains of the Prehistoric times have been found in Boutigny, especially in the rocky areas that dominate river Essonne. In 1953, a mural painting made of ochre was found in the Cave of Justice; the painting represents a bovine with a flecked fur or a horse. Before the Roman conquest, most of the region was inhabited by the Senones, whose capital was Sens, whereas the Parisii, whose capital was Lutèce, later Paris, lived in the north of the region. A Roman fortified camp might have existed above the hamlet of Audigers, in the southern part of the municipal territory. Boutigny was once known as Botegnacio, Boutigniacum and Botigniacum; the toponym was probably derived from the Roman anthroponym Botegnacus.

The domain of Boutigny was mentioned for the first time around 1200. Guillaume Le Chambellan, son of Adam II Le Chambellan, was Lord of Beaumont-du-Gâtinais, Mondeville, Boutigny and Fontenay-le-Vicomte. Boutigny seems to have been originally part of the domain of Château-Gaillard, named after a castle which is said to have existed in the south of the municipal territory of Boutigny, and then part of the domain of Marchais. During the Middle Ages, the domains of Boutigny and Marchais had several successive lords. In the 14th century, Anceau de Villiers was Lord of Boutigny; the domain was subsequently ruled by the Soignes family; on 12 November 1459, Denis de Traisnel purchased the domains of Boutigny and Marchais. His aveu (a kind of title deed) includes the description of the lands, mills, farms and houses that formed the domain; dated 12 May 1481, the aveu of Jacques de Renty, Knight, Lord of Montigny-le-Ganelon and Boutigny, includes several lands and buildings.

In the second half of the 16th century, the humanist Michel de l'Hospital (c. 1504-1573) retired in the castle of Belesbat, located in Boutigny, where he died. Michel de l'Hospital studied law and classics in the famous Italian university of Padua, where he was later appointed Professor of Civil Law. Due to his long stay in Italy and his appointment to the Roman Rota, he was considered as one of the most knowledgeable men of his times.
Back to France, he served the Grands Jours de Justice, a royal court that moved from place to place, in Moulins (1540), Riom (1542) and Tours (1546). L'Hospital was then elected First President of the Court of Finances in Paris.
In 1560, Regent of France Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) commissioned Michel de l'Hospital to reestablish the unity of the Kingdom of France and to reconciliate Catholics and the Calvinists. His attempt to gather a national council was torpedoed by the ultra-Catholic party led by the Guise family. L'Hospital expressed his program in a famous lecture given in the States General of Orléans. However, the program was considered too favourable to the Calvinists.
In 1561, Catherine de' Medici and Michel de l'Hospital organized a symposium inPoissy. Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici, on behalf of young King Charles IX (1561-1574), then 11 years-old, invited Protestant theologians, led by Thèodore de Bèze (1519-1605), and Catholic dignitaries, led by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-1572) to exchange their views. Presided by Chancellor Michel de L'Hospital (1507-1567), the colloquy ended without any consensus; his main outcome, the Edict of Saint- Germain, promulgated on 17 January 1562, did not prevent the massacre of Vassy (1 March 1562) and the outbreak of the Wars of Religion. The colloquy contributed to the initiation of the third session of the Council of Trent (18 January 1562-4 December 1563) and allowed the establishment of the Society of Jesus in France. Catherine de' Medici sacked L'Hospital, who was considered as the responsible of the inescapable religious war.
Soon called back by Catherine de' Medici, Michel de l'Hospital improved the finances of the kingdom by selling several of the goods of the Church. However, this could not stop the strong price inflation during the second half of the 16th century. L'Hospital's reform of the courts was much more efficient: he is considered as one of the founders of modern French law via the Edict of Moulins (1566).
In spite of his failure, L'Hospital has remained a main symbol of religious tolerance and humanism. He wrote several books and poems, his Épitres being compared to those written by the great Horatio, and supported the Pléiade, a group of humanist poets led by his old friend Pierre de Ronsard.

In 1789, the population of Boutigny was about 500. During the Revolution, the castle of Belesbat was owned by citizen Chestret, a firm supporter of the Revolution. Boutigny was incorporated into the department of Seine-et-Oise and remained there until the creation of the department of Essonne in 1964-1968.
The economical development of Boutigny started during the Second Empire with the building of the Paris-Montargis railway and the opening of sandstone quarries. The region was occupied by the Prussians in 1870, especially the railway station of Boutigny.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the increased demand for cobblestones and curbstones boosted the activity of the quarries: 300 of the 800 inhabitants of Boutigny worked directly or indirectly for the quarries. Every day, 15 to 20 freight cars ladenwith cobblestones and curbstones were sent to Paris.

Ivan Sache, 3 October 2004

Flag of Boutigny-sur-Essonne

The flag of Boutigny, manufactured by the local embroidery workshop L'Atelier de Laurence, is blue with the greater coat of arms of Boutigny, surmounted by BOUTIGNY SUR ESSONNE, in white letters arranged in an arched pattern.

The coat of arms of Boutigny is quite complicated. The waves below the shield represents river Essonne, whereas the reeds flanking the shield recall the marshy areas beside the main bed of the river. The green wave and tools in the yellow chief of the shield might be related to local watercress growing. The pile of black cobblestones probably recalls the sandstone quarries, whereas the two red tools might be related to stone extraction or forestry.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 October 2004