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Creully (Municipality, Calvados, France)

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: calvados | creully | lions: 3 (red) |
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[Flag of Creully]

Municipal flag of Creully - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 5 September 2005


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Presentation of Creully

The municipality of Creully is located 20 km north-west of Caen, 12 km east of Bayeux and 10 km south of the Channel.

The name of Creully might be related to the Anglo-Saxon word churl, meaning peasant. Creully is the seat of an ancient barony, whose origin may be tracked back to the formation of Normandy in the Xth century. The first Baron de Creully claimed to be a descendant of Rollon, the Norwegian chief made Count of Normandy by King of France Charles III le Simple in 911 (treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte). Rollon shared his new domain among his brothers-in-arms; Richard, often presented as his second son or his nephew, was given domains in Cotentin and Bessin.

Richard's second son was Haimon le Dentu (the Toothy); Haimon was the lord of Creully, Evrecy, Mézy and Thorigny. He probably built the early fortress of Creully near 1040. Haimon was a very powerful lord and joined the revolt against William the Bastard, claiming that the natural son of Duke Robert le Diable (the Devil) could not be Duke of Normandy. Haimon later rallied William and helped him in his struggle against King of France Henri I (c. 1008-1060, king in 1031). In 1046, during of the battle of Val des Dunes, near Argences in the south-west of Caen, Haimon hit Henri I and and knocked him over from his horse. A French knight who had recognized Haimon killed him one year later to avenge his king.

Haimon was succeeded by his son Robert Fitz Haimon, who founded the St. Gabriel's priory. Robert was a brilliant warlord who served William the Conqueror in the battles against Henri I, for instance in Mortemer in 1054. He took part to the Hastings expedition in 1066 and commanded the army sent by William to subject Wales. After his victorious campaigns, Robert owned big domains both in Normandy and Britain. He went to the Crusades with Robert Courte-Heuse, William's elder son; back to Normandy, he attempted to solve the conflict between Robert and his brother Henri, who had been crowned King of England as Henry I. Fitz Haimon was hit on the head by an arrow during the siege of Falaise and lost part of his intellectual abilities. He died in England and was buried in the monastery of Tewkesbury.

In 1107, the domain of Creully was transfered to Robert of Gloucester, the natural son of Henry I and Sybille Corbet. The castle was rebuilt anf fortified; during the Hundred Years' War, it was fiercely disputed between the French and the English, who kept it from 1417 to 1450. The barony of Creully belonged to the Sillans family from 1508 to 1681, when it was purchased by Colbert (1619-1683), Louis XIV's Minister of Finance.
After the Normandy landing in June 1944, the castle was used by the BBC as its headquarters; the first programs after the landing were transmitted from the XVIth century cylindric tower which dominates the walls of the castle. The municipality of Creully purchased the castle in 1946.

Creully was liberated on 6 June 1944 by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. The Canadian soldiers moved up to the bridge on the river Seulles, north of Creully, strongly defended by the Germans. The other bridge, east of Creully, was even more defended. However, the D company was able to seize and cross the bridge, an act for which Lieutenant Jack Mitchell was awarded the Military Cross.
The castle of Creullet (also located in Creully, but not to be confused with the fortress) was built in the XV-XVIIIth century. A legend says that it was built by young Louis XIV for a miss Le Héricy he loved much; unfortunately, the last miss Le Héricy died years before Louis XIV could fall in love with her. The plans of the castle and of the gardens were attributed to Mansard and Lenôtre, respectively, but there is no evidence of this but stylistic. After the liberation of the village, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery set up his headquarters on 8 June for two weeks in June 1944. His sleeping caravan was kept under the trees to the right. The front lines were two miles to the left. On 12 June King George V, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of War Marshal Smutz visited. On 14 June, General de Gaulle met Montgomery in Creullet. Upon the King's return to London the British press described the chateau's location so completely that the Germans started shelling the area forcing Montgomery to abandon the site and move to Blay near Bayeux.

Sources:

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2005


Municipal flag of Creully

The municipal flag of Creully is white with three red lions placed 2 and 1.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, which are, according to Brian Timms:

D'argent à trois lionceaux de gueules, 2 et 1.

That is:
Argent three lions rampant gules.
These were of course the arms of the Barons de Creully, known since the XIIth century, and said to date back at least to 1046.
GASO gives different arms for Creully:

D'azur au léopard d'or.

That is:
Azure a leopard or.

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2005