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Beaugency (Municipality, Loiret, France)

Last modified: 2015-04-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Beaugency - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 June 2014

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Presentation of Beaugency

The municipality of Beaugency (7,580 inhabitants in 2011; 1,645 ha; website) is located on river Loire, 30 km south-west of Orléans and 30 km north-east of Blois.
The bridge of Beaugency, now with 23 arches and a length of more than 400 m, has been documented since the 12th century. A chapel dedicated to St. James was once built on the third arch, recalling that Beaugency is located on the Way of St. James. The tradition says that the bridge was built by the devil; as everywhere else, the devil, who had claimed for pavement the first soul that would cross the bridge, was fooled by the villagers who pushed a cat onto the bridge. Since then, the inhabitants of Beaugency have been nicknamed chats (cats).

Beaugency was in the 12th the prosperous capital of a domain depending on the County of Blois. The town resisted incorporation to the Kingdom of France until 1292. The town, which mostly lived from the toll perceived on the bridge, was protected by strong fortifications. The today's town has kept scattered remains of the old fortifications:
- the so-called Caesar Tower, indeed a square donjon of 36 m in height. The tower was burned down during the Wars of Religion while its vaults collapsed in 1840, leaving only the outer stone skeleton of the donjon.
- the Devil's Tower was part of the primitive wall of the town, erected in the 11th-12th century near the old river port.
- the Clock Tower, a former fortified gate of the second wall of the town. The municipal clock was placed on the tower in 1511.
- the Porte-Tavers, the southern of the last wall (12th century), considered as one of the best preserved Romanesque town gates in France.
The castle of Beaugency was erected in the 15th century on the remains of the medieval fortress by John the Bastard of Orléans (1403-1468), a brother-in-arms of Joan of Arc, who married Marie d'Harcourt and became lord of Beaugency. He built a castle on the remains of the old medieval fortress, where he would live for 17 years. The Notre-Dame abbey church, built in the 11th century, was the place of the council that proclaimed null and voided the marriage of King of France Louis VII with Eleanor of Aquitaine, who subsequently married King of England Henry Plantegenet.

The St. Firmin bell tower is the last remaining part of a church built in the 11th century and demolished during the French Revolution. It houses a peal of bells from the 15th century, which plays thrice a day the nursery rhyme Orléans, Beaugency, Notre-Dame de Cléry, Vendôme. The tune, known as carillon de Vendôme, was composed in the 15th century to describe the last possessions of Dauphin Charles (subsequently crowned as Charles VII, first known as "the King of Bourges" and then as "Charles the Victorious". Modern versions of the song were recorded by David Crosby and Laurent Voulzy.

Beaugency is the birth town of the physicist Jacques Charles (1746-1823). Appointed professor at the Sorbonne, Charles popularized the findings of Benjamin Franklin and of the Montgolfier brothers. On 27 August 1783, Charles and the Robert brothers released the first hydrogen balloon from the Tuileries garden in Paris; the balloon landed near the village of Gonesse, where it was destroyed by scared farmers. Elected at the Academy of Sciences, Charles studied gas physics. The Charles' law, aka the law of volumes, states that the volume of a gas is proportional to its temperature (V/T = k). The law was not published by Charles but by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, who credited Charles of the discovery.

Ivan Sache, 13 June 2014

Flag of Beaugency

The flag of Beaugency (photo, photo) is vertically divided blue-yellow.
The colours of the flag are derived form the coat of arms, "Fessy of six azure and or semÄ of fleurs-de-lis countercoloured"

Ivan Sache, 13 June 2014