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Reilhanette (Municipality, Drôme, France)

Last modified: 2016-11-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Reilhanette - Photo by Ivan Sache, 8 October 2016

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Presentation of Reilhanette

The municipality of Reilhanette (134 inhabitants in 2013; 1,478 ha) is located in the Baronnies (northern Provence), 30 km south-east of Buis-les-Baronnies and 2 km west of Montbrun-les-Bains.

Reilhanette is built on a promontory watching the confluence of rivers Toulourenc (32 km) and Anary (8 km). The place was once of strategic significance,as the crossing of the valley of Toulourenc, heading to Buis-les-Baronnies, and of the old road connecting Avignon to Embrun and the Italian border.
The Romanesque church and the castle dominating the village were erected in the 12th century. The castle was ruined in 1560, during the Wars of Religion, by the Royal troops; for whatever reason, the church was not damaged.

Reilhanette was known as Reallani (1302, 1317), Reyllania (1306), Relliana (1317). The name of the village was subsequently changed to Reilhanette, probably as a diminutive form, for the sake of differentiation from Reillane, a much bigger village located 60 km southwards, once known as Reliana, Rilhona, Reilana. The name of the village could have been derived from relha, "a ploughshare", referring to newly cleared and ploughed land.
The domain of Reilhanette was ruled by noted local families, Puy-Montbrun (14th century), Agoult and Justas (15th century), Glandevès (16th century), and Rolland de Cantelmes / Cantelmi (17th-18th century).
[Baron de Coston. Étymologies des noms de lieux du département de la Drôme (suite). Bulletin de la Société départementale d'archéologie et de statistique de la Drôme. 1871. 6, 3-443]

The most famous child of Reilhanette is a fiction character, Tidou, one of the six adventurous teenagers featured in the series of books Les Six Compagnons (synoptic table), written by the prolific writer Paul-Jacques Bonzon (1906-1978). Bonzon is one of the most popular author of books for youth in France, considered as the reformer of the genre; Les Six Compagnons were translated into several languages (Wir Seche in German, Vi sex in Swedish, Seks kammerater in Danish) and adapted for foreigners learning French.
The first book of the series, Les Six Compagnons de la Croix-Rousse (1961), starts with the distress of Tidou, a teenager whose family has to leave Reillanette (as it was written at the time) for the big town of Lyon. The problematic adaptation of Tidou to his new environment is aggravated by the absence of his dog, Kafi, which had to stay in Reillanette. Tidou eventually meets a group of teenagers (the companions), who help him to bring back the dog to Lyon after all sorts of incidents. Tidou is a central character of the subsequent books, serving as the narrator in several of them. The quotation of Reilanhette is a discrete tribute by the author to the region where he settled in 1955 as a school teacher, and, later, principal, and lived until his death.

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2016

Flag of Reilhanette

The flag of Reilhanette, proudly hoisted over the ruins of the castle, and, therefore, visible from a distance, is yellow with the municipal coat of arms, "Per fess, 1. Argent a sun gules, 2. Azure a hunting horn or".

The upper quarter of the arms of Reilhanette is made the arms of the Blacas lineage, "Argent a 16-ray comete / star gules". On the flag, the star has 21 rays.
Marie Louise Françoise Rolland, the daughter of the first (and last) Marquis of Reilhanette (see below) married in 1764 Alexandre Pierre Joseph de Blacas d'Aulps. Their son, Pierre Louis Jean Casimir de Blacas d'Aulps (1771-1839), was appointed Minister of the Royal House (the "King's preferred Minister") by Louis XVIII in 1814. After the return of Louis XVIII in 1815, Blacas was made Pair of France, with the title of Count of Blacas d'Aulps; he was, however, soon disgraced and succeeded by Decazes, commissioned to promote a more liberal policy. Rehabilitated, Blacas was erected the 1st Duke of Blacas d'Aulps by Louis XVIII in 1821; he subsequently served Charles X, following him in exile and promoting the "Kingdom's Reform" aimed at re-establishing a Bourbon king on the throne. Blacas was eventually made Prince of Blacas d'Aulps in 1837 by the Emperor of Austria.
Blacas is among the most famous noble lineages in Provence, mostly known by the Blacas star, a big gilded star (1.25m in diameter) hanging to a horizontal chain (135 m in length, 150 kg in weight) connecting the cliffs overlooking the small town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Frédéric Mistral coined the name of "Blacas star" in the poem La cadeno de Moustié (The Moustiers Chain, part of the anthology Lis isclo d’or, 1885), claiming that the star and chain formed an ex-voto offered to the Blessed Virgin in 1210 by a Knight of Blacas, captured in 1249 by the Saracens during the battle of Damiette and released years later. Members of the Blacas lineage indeed joined the 7th Crusade during which the battle was fought, but there is no evidence that any of them was captured. The genuine origin of the star and chain, first mentioned in 1636, is still a matter of speculation.

The lower quarter of the arms of Reilhanette is derived from the arms of the Rolland lineage, "Azure a hunting horn or stringed argent three pales argent moving from the chief". On the flag, the horn is stringed or and the pales are omitted.
The Rolland family moved from Dauphiné to Comtat Venaissin and Avignon at the end of the 14th century; its alleged Burgundian origin, is not backed up by any bit of evidence. François Rolland married in 1564 Anne Alexandrine Cantelmi, the daughter of César Cantelmi, lord of Nyons. Their son, Pierre Rolland-Cantelmi, married in 1605 Antoinette de Peyre, the daughter of Anne de Glandevès, Dame of Reilhanette. He was erected Baron of Reilhanette in 1624. The lineage got extinct with Jean Joseph Félix Henri Rolland Cantelmi, erected Marquis of Reilanhette, who married in 1748 and died without male heirs (see above).
[Recueil de généalogies, pour servir de suite ou de supplément au dictionnaire de la noblesse... Vol. 15, 1786]

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2016