Last modified: 2021-07-01 by ivan sache
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Flag of Troarn - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 1 October 2011
The municipality of Troarn (3,717 inhabitants in 2008; 1,153 ha) is located 15 km west of Caen. The former municipality of Bures-sur-Dives was incorporated into Troarn in 1972.
Troarn developed in the 11th century on a small hill, on which Roger I de Montgomerie built a collegiate church and established 12 canons from the nearby town of Conches. His son Roger II de Montgomerie the Great, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, replaced in 1048 the church with a Benedictine abbey dedicated to St. Martin. The abbey church was consecrated on 13 May 1059 by Odo de Conteville, Bishop of Bayeux and half-brother of William the Bastard / the Conqueror. William stayed several times at the abbey and increased its goods in Caen and Falaise. The abbey owned the town of Troarn and most neighboring villages and lands, as well as salt marshes and domains in England. Roger de Montgomerie's first wife was Countess Mabel of Bellême, depicted by the chronicler Orderic Vitalis as a criminal and cruel women. Among several crimes, she deprived Hugues de Souher from a family castle; as a retaliation, Hughes and his three brothers beheaded Mabel in her manor of Bures-sur-Dives in 1077. Mabel's son, Roger de Bellême, expelled the monks and looted the abbey. The abbey was placed under the Royal patronage in 1117, being visited in 1269 by St. Louis, and in 1563 by Charles IX and his mother Catherine de' Medici. The abbey was occupied and looted several times during the Wars of Religion; in 1562, Admiral de Coligny's Protestant troops seized the town of Troarn, expelled again the monks, stole the church silverware and vases, as well as the bells, and eventually burned down the cloister. The abbey was eventually suppressed and demolished in 1789 during the French Revolution. Most of its stones were reused to pave new roads.
Troarn and Bures were destroyed at 65% in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy. In the night of 6 June 1944, paratroopers from the 8th Parachute Battalion grouped near Troarn. Major Roseveare, leading a small commando, crossed the town under German fire and blew up the bridge on the Dives. Troarn was abandoned by the Germans only on 17 August. It took ten years (1948-1958) to rebuild the two villages.
Ivan Sache, 1 October 2011
The flag of Troarn (photo, Municipal Bulletin of La Guerche-sur-l'Aubois, June 2007) is white, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, "Azure three fleurs-de-lis or a border gules eight bezants argent", in the center. The shield is surmounted with a baron's coronet and placed over an abbot's crozier.
These are the arms of the abbey, indeed the arms of the Counts / Dukes of Alençon. The House of Valois-Alençon originated in Charles II (1297-1346), Count of Alençon and son of Charles de Valois. The abbey of Troarn was linked to Alençon via the nefarious Mabel of Bellême, who was the daughter of William of Talvas, lord of Alençon.
The arms of Alençon are the Royal arms of France, with the red bordure as the mark of cadency of the House of Anjou, and the bezants as a second mark of cadency for the House of Alençon. The coronet represented as a metallic torus decorated with pearls belonged to a Baron. There is no straightforward link between Mabel of Bellême and the subsequent Dukes of Alençon from the House of Valois.
Pascla Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 1 October 2011