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Vesoul (Municipality, Haute-Saône, France)

Last modified: 2022-02-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Vesoul - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 30 May 2021

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Presentation of Vesoul

The municipality of Vesoul (14,914 inhabitants in 2019; 907 ha) is located 50 km north of Besançon.

Vesoul was first mentioned in a document dated 899, as an elevation with a fortified watchtower known as "Castrum Vesulium". "Castrum" is a fortification while "Vesulium" is formed on syllable "ves", which meant "a hill" / "a mountain" in a language that was spoken before the Celts. From the Middle Ages, Moat Hill was crowned by a castle of great strategic importance. The first houses were built inside the walls of the castle. On the low hills hang the first houses which gave rise to the village, while grapevine covered well-exposed slopes. From the 13th century, Vesoul was surrounded by ramparts.
The siege of 1360 led by the Écorcheurs, armed bands who desolated France during the reign of Charles VII, stripping their victims of everything, decimated almost the entire population; in 1370, a troop of Germans destroyed the town but Castrum Vesulium still stood. Besieged on 17 March 1477 and again in 1479, the castle suffered a fire by the troops of Louis XI.
On 17 January1595, King Henry IV declared war in order to incorporate the French-speaking Franche-Comté to the kingdom of France. In February, Vesoul was besieged and considerably devastated by an army of 5,000 to 6,000 men; the castle was totally destroyed. After the Thirty Years’ War, Vesoul was incorporated into France in 1678 under Louis XIV by the first Treaty of Nijmegen.
In 1814, after the fall of the Empire, a buffer state existed for six monthes in Franche-Comté, including the Vosges and the Principalities of Montbéliard and Porrentruy, with Vesoul as its capital.
A huge cross covered with metal plates was erected in the 18th century on the site of the former castle to protect the vineyards, whose wine was very appreciated by the Dukes of Burgundy. During the French Revolution, the project to replace the cross by an obelisk in honor of freedom was never completed. To thank the Virgin for having protected the town from the cholera epidemic of 1855, the inhabitants built a chapel in 1857. The vineyards were nearly totally destroyed by the phylloxera in the 19th century.

Olivier Touzeau, 30 May 2021

Flag of Vesoul

The flag of Vesoul (photo) is white with the municipal logo, which is made of the municipal coat of arms, "Per fess, 1. Azure billetty a demi-lion rampant issuant or armed and langued gules, 2. Gules a crescent argent", and below the words "Ville de Vesoul" between two black horizontal lines.
J. Gauthier (Les sceaux et les armoiries des villes et bourgs de Franche-Comté, 1883) reports seals of Vesoul of the same pattern dated 2 May 1581, 18 December 1621, 10 June 1630, 2 January 1648, and 1788 (in full colors). The Armorial Général shows similar arms, but with the lower quarter azure instead of gules (image).

Pascal Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 30 May 2021