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Besançon (Municipality, Doubs, France)

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by
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[Flag of Besancon]by Ivan Sache


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Presentation of the city

Besançon was initially the Roman city of Vesontio (its ca. 120,000 inhabitants are still called Bisontins). After the dark ages of the Barbaric invasions, archbishop Hugh of Salins reestablished a powerful city in 1031.
The former suzerains of the city, the dukes of Burgundy, kept for only privilege a burial place in the city, and the archbishop, as feudal lord, recognized only the nominal authority of the German emperor.
However, the power of the archbishop was still to heavy for the citizens of Besançon. They conned emperor Rudolf von Hapsburg in 1290 by asking him to confirm a chart written by one of his forbears.The chart was in fact a total forgery but the emperor confirmed it and Besançon became a republic until the French invasion.

In 1635, Cardinal of Richelieu, "Prime Minister" of the king of France Louis XIII decided to invade the rich province of Comté. Richelieu's enemy, Gaston d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIII, had found shelter in Besançon, giving a "good" reason to Richelieu for the attack. The city was assaulted twice in 1668 and 1674, and became the capital city of Franche-Comté under Louis XIV.

Besançon was an important place of the industrial revolution of the XIXth century. Count of Chardonnet founded here the first factory of artificial silk (rayon) in 1890.

Besançon is the birth place of the writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885), the utopist Charles Fourier (1772-1837), the socialist theoretician Pierre-Joseph Proud'hon (1809-1865) and the brothers Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948) Lumière, the inventors of modern cinematography.

Source: Guide Vert Michelin Jura Franche-Comté (1992)

Ivan Sache, 9 July 2000


Description of the flag

The city of Besançon has a flag which is the reverse of the Belgian flag, vertically divided red-yellow-black.

Pascal Vagnat, 13 March 1999

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