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Bressuire (Municipality, Deux-Sèvres, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Bressuire - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 February 2002

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Presentation of Bressuire

The municipality of Bressuire (18,436 inhabitants in 2007; 18,059 ha; municipal website), is located in the heart of the Poitou Bocage, 30 km south-east of Parthenay.

Bressuire emerged in the 10th-11th centuries as Castrum Berzoriacum, a settlement part of the Viscounty of Thouars, made of three parishes protected by a castle - today ruined - built on a small hill. In the 13th century, a second wall, with several towers and five gates, was built around the two parishes then located outside the castle's wall. Bressuire was then a wealthy town famous for its cloth, with a population that peaked around 10,000. In 1370, at the end of the Hundred Years' War, Bressuire was seized from the English by Constable Duguesclin.
Bressuire declined during the War of Religions, the town being completely destroyed in 1568. Cloth-making industry collapsed in the 17th century, causing mass emigration and a decrease of the population of the town down to 2,000. During the War in the Vendée (1793-1796), Bressuire remained a Republican stronghold in the middle of a Royalist region; assaulted in August 1792, the town resisted until 1793. The next year, the Republican army seized back the town and burned it to ashes. The resettlement of the town was slow, with only 2,685 inhabitants in 1841.
The building of the railway station of Bressuire in 1866 boosted the economic development of the town, then located on the cross of five regional railway branches (heading to La Roche-sur-Yon, Niort, Poitiers, Thouars and La Rochelle) and of two national lines (Nantes- Limoges and Paris-Les Sables d'Olonne - today the regional line La Roche-sur-Yon-Saumur). The cattle fairs of Bressuire became popular events; the building of a modern slaughterhouse (1938-1939) and the set up of refrigerated wagons allowed the direct sale of meat from the Poitou Bocage in Paris.

Source: Municipal website

Bressuire is the birth town of the master glazier and designer Max Ingrand (1908-1969), noted for its large-sized church windows set up in different churches in France and worldwide (USA, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Belgium); his >masterpiece, to be seen in the church of Yvetot, is considered as the biggest church window in Europe (1,046 sq. m).

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2010

Flag of Bressuire

The flag of Bressuire, white with a black double-headed eagle, is a banner of the municipal arms, "Argent a double-headed eagle sable").
In 1861, the architect Chevillard, commissioned to build the new Court of Justice of Bressuire, asked the Mayor Bienvenu which coat of arms should be sculpted on the facade of the building. The Mayor asked advice from the archivist and heraldist Borel d'Hauterive, who answered him on 16 July 1861 that the arms of Bressuire had been registered in 1701 on the Armorial Général (Royal Order of 1 July 1701).

The eagle recalls the arms of the Beaumont family, "Gules semy of ermine an eagle or". The Beaumont were lords of Bressuire from the 10th to the 16th century. Thibault of Beaumont, the first known member of the family ordered the building of the Notre-Dame church in 1090. The most famous member of the lineage, Jacques of Beaumont (c. 1420-1492), was appointed Chamberlain (1461) and Seneschal of Poitou (1489) by King Louis XI; in his letters, the king called him "Monsieur de Bressuire, mon ami" (Monsieur de Bressuire, my friend).

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2010