Last modified: 2006-12-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: dordogne | eymet | castle (white) | stars: 2 (white) |
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Flag of Eymet - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 23 July 2006
The municipality of Eymet (2,552 inhabitants in 1999; 3,125 ha) is located in the south-west of France, in the southernmost part of the so-called Périgord pourpre (purple). The region of Périgord more or less matches the department of Dordogne (préfecture, Périgueux). Périgord is traditionally divided into four "coloured" subregions: Périgord blanc (white, around Périgueux), Périgord noir (black, around Sarlat), Périgord vert (green, around Nontron) and Périgord pourpre (around Bergerac). Périgord pourpre, watered by the river Vézère, is a region of orchards and vineyards (Bergerac and Monbazillac).
Eymet was built in a curve of the river Dropt as a bastide protected
by a fortified castle. According to Encyclopaedia Universalis, a bastide was originally a
wooden tower used for the assault of a fortified place; however, the
usual meaning of bastide is a fortified city newly built in the
Middle Ages. In the south of France, such a bastide had an economical
role as the center of a small production area but mostly a military and
political role, especially during the Hundred Years' War. In most
cases, the lord who founded the bastide built the gates, usually two,
on each end of the main street, whereas the inhabitants of the new city
built the fortified wall and took care of it. Several bastides were
made of a simple levee crowned by a fence; in the more elaborated
bastides, called bastides murées (walled), the city wall was made
of the backside of the houses built adjacently.
Guide Vert Michelin Pyrénées Aquitaine says that most of the 300 bastides in Aquitaine and Gascony were built between 1220 and 1350 and were often based on a paréage (peerage) contract between the King and a local lord or between an abbot and a local lord (such a peerage explains the weird status of the Principality of Andorra). The main bastide builders were Alphonse de Poitiers (1249-1271), Count of Toulouse and brother of King of France Saint-Louis; Eustache de Beaumarchais (1272-1294), Seneschal of Toulouse under Kings of France Philippe le Hardi and Philippe le Bel; and Edward I Plantagenet (1272-1307), Duke of Aquitaine and King of England. Most bestides follow a rectilinear plan (but there are a few circular and triangular exceptions) sometimes shaped by topography. The urban architecture of the bastides was very advanced compared with the crowdy and dirty towns in the Middle Ages: there was a big central square with the market hall, the houses had only one floor and the main streets were 8-m wide.
Eymet was founded in 1270 by Alphonse de Poitiers. The bastide was
fiercely disputed by the French and the English until the battle of
Castillon (1453) and the reconquest of Aquitaine by King of France
Charles VII. According to Froissart's Chronicles, on 1 September 1377,
Jean de Beuil, lieutenant of Constable Bertrand Duguesclin (who
besieged the neighbouring city of Bergerac), attacked an Anglo-Gascon
troop near the southern gate of Eymet; several English drowned
themselves in the river Dropt; the place of the event has been now
since as Trou des Anglais (English Hole).
In 1535, Eymet became a Protestant stronghold. Henri de Navarre, later King of France Henri IV, often stayed in Eymet. On 15 March 1588, he wrote a letter to his mistress Corisande (Diane d'Andouin) saying: Je vous envoie mille millions de baisers d'Eymet (I am sending you thousand millions kisses from Eymet).
The city wall, built in 1320, was suppressed in 1830. Remains of the wall are still visible near the donjon of the XIIIth-century fortress. Eymet had in the past a river port, from which wood, wine and grains were shipped to Bordeaux via the rivers Dropt and Garonne on barges locally called gabares. During the Second Empire, the wines produced in the region of Eymet (Haut Pays) were quite famous in Bordeaux.
Ivan Sache, 23 July 2006
The flag of Eymet can be seen on a photography taken during the ceremony of twinning between Eymet and the Italian city of Grumello del Monte (note that the French Mayor wears incorrectly his Mayor's scarf: it should be red-white-blue for the viewer instead of blue-white-red). The flag is white with the municipal coat of arms surmonted by VILLE D'EYMET and surmonting BASTIDE DU PERIGORD.
The arms of Eymet, as shown on the flag and the Eymet unofficial website
are Gules a castle triple towered argent in chief two mullets of the
same, with the year of foundation, 1270, in base.
GASO and Brian Timms give completely different arms:
Ecartelé : au premier et au quatrième d'or aux trois pals de gueules, au deuxième et au troisième aussi d'or aux deux vaches de gueules passant l'une sur l'autre (GASO);
D'or à trois pals de gueules écartelés d'or à deux vaches paissant de gueules, accolées, acornées et clarinées d'azur mises l'une sur l'autre (Quarterly first and fourth or three pallets gules second and third or two cows in pale gules gorged horned and belled azure) (Timms), that is quarterly Foix and Béarn. However, Timms says that these latter arms were adopted in 1783 and mentions the earliest arms of Eymet, derived in 1308 from the municipal seal: "... a castle triple towered ... in dexter chief a mullet ..." Therefore, the arms currently in use seem to be (or to be derived from) the earliest arms of Eymet.
Ivan Sache, 23 July 2006