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Cholet (Municipality, Maine-et-Loire, France)

Last modified: 2017-03-29 by ivan sache
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flag of Cholet, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 26 February 2017

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Presentation of Cholet

The municipality of Cholet (53,853 inhabitants in 2014; 8,747 ha) was the capital of military Vendée.

Cholet gained prosperity thanks to the installation of weavers there by Édouard Colbert, Count of Maulévrier, a brother of the great Jean-Baptiste Colbert. It then became an estate of Gabriel François, Count de Rougé and Marquess of Cholet, who developed the town and its economy.
During the early years of the French revolutionary wars, the town was at the heart of the counter-revolutionary struggle inVendée, culminating in October 1793 with the Battle of Cholet, which was won by the Republicans and followed by a period of brutal government repression.

Known for its woven fabrics, Cholet began the manufacture of handkerchiefs in 1736. Woven from linen or cotton, they were white with possible variants, such as borders or white and blue tiles. The well-known "Cholet red handkerchief", woven in red and white colors, was created in reference to the song by Theodore Botrel entitled "The red handkechief of Cholet" (1897), paying homage to the Vendéens one century later.
During the Battle of Cholet, Henri de la Rochejacquelein bore on his hat, on his chest and at his side, three Cholet white handkerchiefs, in order to be better identified by his men. Used to dress a wound, a handkerchief became red with his blood. Theodore Botrel wished to immortalize this act of bravery but the song attributed it, probably because of the need to rhyme, to General Charette. Originally perceived as a counter-revolutionary symbol, it became an emblem of the town of Cholet.
Taking advantage of the success of the song, the industrialist Léon Maret created the handkerchief described in the song of Botrel, red symbolizing the blood of the Vendéens and the white their legitimism. He then sent several models to the singer who advertised it and the town and industry of Cholet became known throughout France through this symbol.

Olivier Touzeau, 26 February 2017

Flag of Cholet

The flag of Cholet (photo) is red with the municipal logo, adopted in 2012. The red and white colours recall the Cholet red handkerchief. The logo also includes a small "(c)" for Cholet, looking like a truncated copyright symbol, and the catchword "L'entreprenante" (the entreprising [town]).

The former flag of Cholet was white with the former municipal logo. The graphic part of the logo shows a red dot for the town at the heart of a blue and green woven canvas (blue and green, between the sea, at c. 100 km, and the countryside.

The French flag (and only the French flag) was put at half-mast in front of the Town Hall of Cholet in september 2013 (photo). According to the Mayor (since 1995), Gilles Bourdouleix, then leader of the National Centre of Independents and Peasants, a tiny conservative-liberal party, the town was in "mourning of the Republic", in protest against the Prefect of Maine-et-Loire who had sued the mayor for glorifying a crime against humanity.
In July 2013, Gilles Bourdouleix stirred an important controversy because he had said about a group of Roma people illegally occupying a field, being himself irritated by fascist salutes they made to him, "So, Hitler didn't kill enough [of them]." On 22 July, these remarks were reported in the French newspaper Le Courrier de l'Ouest, which led to a significant political outcry against Bourdouleix. The Mayor was charged by the Criminal Court of Angers with glorifying crimes against humanity and defamation of the newspaper Le Courrier de l'Ouest. On 23 January 2014, Bourdouleix was found guilty of the charge. On 12 August 2014, Bourdouleix's conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal. On 15 December 2015, the Court of Cassation cancelled the sentence because his words had not been said in a context where he intended it to be public.

Olivier Touzeau, 26 February 2017