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Boutigny-sur-Essonne (Municipality, Essonne, France)

Last modified: 2005-03-05 by
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[Flag of Boutigny]by Pascal Vagnat

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Presentation of Boutigny-sur-Essonne

The small city of Boutigny-sur-Essonne (3,000 inhabitants; 1,620 hectares) is located in the green valley of the river Essonne, 50 km south of Paris. The city is surrounded with woods, which are local remains of the old forest of Yveline between the main forests of Rambouillet and Fontainebleau.

Several remains of the Prehistoric times have been found in Boutigny, especially in the rocky areas that dominate the river Essonne. In 1953, a mural painting made of ochre was found in the cave of Justice; the painting represents a bovine with a flecked fur or a horse. Before the Roman conquest, most of the region was inhabited by the Senones, whose capital city was Sens, whereas the Parisii, whose capital city was Lutèce, later Paris, lived in the north of the region. A Roman fortified camp might have existed above the hamlet of Audigers, in the southern part of the municipality of Boutigny. The name of Boutigny comes from the ancient names Botegnacio, Boutigniacum and Botigniacum, probably built on the Roman anthroponym Botegnacus.

The domain of Boutigny was mentioned for the first time around 1200. Guillaume Le Chambellan, son of Adam II Le Chambellan, was Lord of Beaumont-du-Gâtinais, Mondeville, Boutigny and Fontenay-le-Vicomte. Boutigny seems to have been originally part of the domain of Château-Gaillard, named after a castle which is said to have existed in the south of the municipal territory of Boutigny, and then part of the domain of Marchais. During the Middle Ages, the domains of Boutigny and Marchais had several successive lords. In the XIVth century, Anceau de Villiers was Lord of Boutigny; then the domain was ruled by the Soignes family; on 12 November 1459, Denis de Traisnel purchased the domains of Boutigny and Marchais. His aveu (a kind of title deed) includes the description of the lands, mills, farms and houses that formed the domain; dated 12 May 1481, the aveu of Jacques de Renty, Knight, Lord of Montigny-le-Ganelon and Boutigny, includes several lands and buildings.

In the second half of the XVIth century, Michel de l'Hospital retired in the castle of Belesbat, located in Boutigny, where he died in 1573. Michel de l'Hospital (c. 1504-1573) studied law and classics in the famous Italian university of Padua, where he was later appointed Professor of Civil Law. Due to his long stay in Italy and his appointment to the Rote court in Rome, he was considered as one of the most knowledgeable men of his times.
Back to France, he served the Grands Jours de Justice, a royal court that moved from place to place, in Moulins (1540), Riom (1542) and Tours (1546). L'Hospital was then elected First President of the Accounting Chamber in Paris.
In 1560, Regent of France Catherine de Medicis (1519-1589) asked Michel de l'Hospital to reestablish the religious unity of the Kingdom of France and reconciliate the Catholics and the Calvinists. He attempted to gather a national council, which was torpedoed by the ultra-Catholic party led by the Guise family. L'Hospital expressed his program in a famous lecture given in the States General of Orléans. However, the program was considered too favourable to the Protestants.
In 1561, Catherine de Medicis and Michel de l'Hospital organized a symposium in Poissy. The Catholics were represented by the Cardinal of Tournon, the General of the Jesuits and Cardinal-Legate of Este, representing the Pope. Théodore de Bèze represented Calvin. Inside the symposium, the "secrete conference" attempted to solve the most critical problems, which were the transubstantiation; the invitation to the Lutherians, refused by Calvin; and the representativity of the Jesuits. The outcome of the symposium of Poissy was a complete failure and an increased reciprocal suspicion.
L'Hospital attempted to solve the crisis by promulgating the January 1562 edict, allowing the Protestant cult in a few "safe" cities. The edict caused violent reactions, including the slaughter in Wassy (Champagne). Catherine de Medicis sacked L'Hospital, who was considered as the responsible of the inescapable religious war.
L'Hospital withdrew but was quickly called back by Catherine de Medicis. He contributed to improve the finances of the kingdom by selling several of the goods of the Church. However, this could not stop the strong price inflation during the second half of the XVIth century. L'Hospital was much more efficient in his reform of the courts and can be considered as one of the founders of modern French law via the Moulins edict (1566).
In spite of his failure, L'Hospital has remained a main symbol of religious tolerance and humanism. He wrote several books and poems, his Epitres being compared to those written by the great Horatio, and supported the Pléiade, a group of humanist poets led by his old friend Pierre de Ronsard.

On 24 July 1571, the domain of Boutigny was purchased by Robert Hureau. In 1699, the owner of the domain was Charles-Paul Huraut de l'Hôpital," Lord of Belesbat, Boutigny, Courdimanche, les Prés de Jarcy, Mainvilliers, Les Poullies and other places."

In 1789, the population of Boutigny was about 500. During the Revolution, the castle of Belesbat was owned by citizen Chestret, favourable to the Revolution. Boutigny was incorporated into the department of Seine-et-Oise and remained there until the creation of the department of Essonne in the 1960s.
During the First Empire, there were six big farms - that is owning one to three ploughs - in Boutigny, and a vineyard (57 ha).

The economical development of Boutigny started during the Second Empire with the building of the Paris-Montargis railway and the opening of sandstone quarries. The region was occupied by the Prussians in 1870, especially the railway station of Boutigny.
In the beginning of the XXth century, the increased demand for cobblestones and curbstones triggered the activity of the quarries: 300 of the 800 inhabitants of Boutigny worked directly or indirectly for the quarries. Every day, 15 to 20 freight cars full of cobblestones and curbstones were sent to Paris.

The railway station of Boutigny was once again occupied by the Germans during the Second Word War. The first soldiers of the US Army reached the neighborhood of Boutigny on 17 August 1944 and expelled the Germans from the station two days later. The American troops entered Boutigny, which had been abandoned by the Germans the previous day, on 23 August.


Ivan Sache, 3 October 2004

Municipal flag of Boutigny-sur-Essonne

The municipal flag of Boutigny was manufactured by the local embroidery workshop L'Atelier de Laurence. The flag is blue with the greater coat of arms of Boutigny, surmonted by BOUTIGNY SUR ESSONNE, in white letters arranged in an arched pattern.

The municipal coat of arms of Boutigny is quite complicated. The waves below the shield represents the river Essonne, whereas the reeds flanking the shield recall the marshy areas beside the main bed of the river. The green wave and tools in the yellow chief of the shield might be related to watercress production, which is common in Boutigny. The pile of black cobblestones probably recalls the sandstone quarries, whereas the two red tools might be related to stone extraction or forestry.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 October 2004

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