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Meung-sur-Loire (Municipality, Loiret, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-21 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Meung-sur-Loire]

Flag of Meung-sur-Loire - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 3 October 2011


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Presentation of Meung-sur-Loire

The municipality of Meung-sur-Loire (6,122 inhabitants - Magdunois - in 2008; 2,035 ha) is located 15 km south-west of Orléans.

Meung is located on the northern bank of river Loire, on the borders of the regions of Orléanais, Beauce and Sologne. There were some six ways converging to the place in the Gallo-Roman times. The local tradition says that the Romans built a small fort on the site of the subsequent castle; in 407/408, the Alans would have burned down the fort and the neighboring settlement before crossing the Loire and invading most of Gaul. Later on, St. Liphard, born around 477 near Orléans, retired in an hermitage located near the fountain named for him and contributed to resettle the area; his disciples drained the marshes, cleared the woods and canalized the brooks known as Mauves. After the saint's death in 565, a small town emerged around his grave.
Meung appeared one century later in history, as Magdunum ("fortified market"). St. Liphard's hermitage became a monastery of local fame, subsequently increased to a canons' chapter, and the oratory built on the saint's grave became a basilica. In the 11th century, Meung was a feudal domain ran by the Bishops of Orléans. Manassès de Garlande, Bishop in 1146-1185, built a first castle flanking the collegiate church. Manassès de Seignelay, Bishop in 1207-1221, built nearby a brand new castle protected by four angle towers. The castle was modernized and increased several times by the next Bishops, so that it eventually had 131 rooms.
Meung became a wealthy town, particularly famous for its river port, its wine and its millers; flour was transported to Orléans by the "Meung donkeys". The stone bridge built over Loire by Manassès de Seignelay was both a symbol of power and a main way of crossing the river. King John the Good crossed him in 1356, on his way to the disastrous battle of Poitiers. In 1429, Joan of Arc seized the bridge to "visit, after dinner, those of Meun". The bridge crashed down around 1500, being rebuilt only in 1836.
From the four gates that gave access to the medieval town, only the Upper Gate (Porte d'Amont), erected in 1629 and restored in 1870, has been kept up to now. This was the honor gate, where the Municipal Council met. The clock's gate, placed on the town's side at an unknown date in the 19th century, has an odd dial including 61 minutes.

The poet Jehan de Meung (Jean Chopinel / Clopinel, c. 1240-1303) is the author of the second part of the Roman de la Rose (Miroir des Amoureux), completing and contradicting the first part (Art d'Aimer) written by Guillaume de Lorris. While Guillaume followed the codes of the courtly literature and described the lover's quest in a fabulous universe, Jehan de Meung took a satiric point of view, stressing his deep contempt for women. His work was severely criticized by the "feminist" writer Christine de Pisan and the theologian Jean de Gerson, who accused him to mock marriage and chastity.
Another medieval poet, François Villon (1431-?) was jailed in 1461 in the cul de basse-fosse (dungeon) of the castle of Meung. Villon was member of a gang of rascals called Coquillards; he was jailed in Meung either because he had been involved in a theft committed in a church or because he had played theater while being a clark. The amnesty proclaimed when Louis XI was crowned King of France saved him from the Meung jail but he did not calm down. Back to Paris, Villon was sentenced to hanging the next year but eventually banned. He related all the events of his hectic life in several ballades and testaments, which are considered as masterpieces of the French medieval poetry.

However, the fame of Meung in literature is to be credited to fictitious characters, the Three Musketeers and Commissaire Maigret
Alexandre Dumas' novel The Three Musketeers (1844) starts as: "On the first Monday of the month of April 1625, the town of Meung, where the author of the 'Roman de la Rose' was borne, ...". The young Gascon noble d'Artagnan, on his way to Paris where he expected to join the King's Musketeers, is humiliated in Meung by two people who would later appear as agents of Cardinal de Richelieu, as the Count of Rochefort and Milady de Winter. The last scene of the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1993) takes place in the castle of Meung.
Commissaire Jules Maigret, a main character of Georges Simenon's novels, spent his vacation in Meung-sur-Loire and retired there. The novel Ceux du Grand-Café is located in Meung, without explicitly describing any real place of the town.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 3 October 2011


Flag of Meung-sur-Loire

The flag of Meung-sur-Loire is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The arms are "Argent three roses leaved and slipped vert 2 and 1". These arms were rediscovered in the early 1980s in the Armorial Général d'Orléans (1640). Their origin is unknown, even if a link with the Roman de la Rose via Jehan de Meung has been suspected. Beforehand, the municipality used the arms adopted in 1961 by the Municipal Council, "Quarterly argent and gules a cinquefoil countercolored all over".

Pascal Vagnat, 3 October 2011