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Mâcon (Municipality, Saône-et-Loire, France)

Last modified: 2012-10-15 by ivan sache
Keywords: saone-et-loire | mâcon | fleurs-de-lis: 3 (yellow) | rings: 3 (white) |
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[Flag of Macon]

Flag of Mâcon - Image by Ivan Sache, 30 November 2011


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Presentation of Mâcon

The municipality of Mâcon (34,298 inhabitants in 2008; 2,699 ha) is located on river Saône, 70 km north of Lyon. Mâcon is often considered as the southernmost town of Burgundy. Due to its urban growth Mâcon incorporated the four smaller neighboring municipalities of Flacé-lès-Mâcon (1965), Loché, Saint-Jean-le-Priche and Sennecé-lès-Mâcon (associate municipalities, 1972).

Mâcon was founded in the 2nd century BC, as Matisco, near a ford on river Saône. During the conquest of Gaul, the Roman legions built a wooden bridge, replaced in the 11th century by the six-arched St. Lawrence bridge, a stone bridge fortified in 1221. The bridge, today with 12 arches, appears to have been increased around 1550, although the exact number of arches at that time has not been recorded. During the Wars of Religion, the Governor of Mâcon was the sadistic William of Saint-Point. After his lunch, he used to order Protestant prisoners to jump from the bridge down to the river, asking the audience to rank the jumps. The St. Lawrence bridge was one of the few bridges in the region not destroyed during the Second World War.

The County of Mâcon was in the 8th-13th centuries a powerful feudal state, in permanent struggle with the neighboring states (history, by Gilles Maillet).
The first known Count of Mâcon is Theudebert I (736-796), the son-in- law of Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel. Warin V (825-853) was involved in the Carolingian succession wars; originally a supporter of Lothar, he betrayed him for his father, Emperor Louis the Pious, and was rewarded in 835 with the County of Chalon. After the Emperor's death in 840, he took the party of Charles the Bold, assisting him in 841 in the Battle of Fontenay-en-Puisaye, fought by Charles the Bold and Louis the German against Lothar. He was rewarded in 843 with the Counties of Autun, Auxois and Duesmois, merged with its early domains to form the Marquisate of Burgundy, with Chalon as its capital.

In 879, Boso, Count of Mâcon and Chalon (877-880) was elected King of Arles, incorporating the County of Mâcon to the new kingdom. In 880, the Carolingians seized Mâcon; Bernard Plantevelue (880-886) was appointed Count of Mâcon and Lyon, ruling a big principality including Auvergne, Berry and Limousin. In 881, he rallied Emperor Charles the Fat rather than King of the Franks Carloman, which was a good choice since Charles was elected King of the Franks in 884, following Carloman's death. In charge of watching the border with the Kingdom of Arles, Bernard was killed in 886 when fighting Boso. His son William the Pious (886-918) revolted, together with the southern princes, against the new King of the Franks, Odo, and eventually recognized him as his suzerain in 893. In 910, William offered a big domain to the monk Berto (910-926), who founded the Cluny abbey; following William's last will, the abbey should obey only to the Pope and neither to the Count nor to the Bishop of Mâcon. Accordingly, Cluny became in the 13th century the "Second Rome" and the biggest abbey in the western world, including 10,000 monks living in 1,000 "houses" scattered all over Europe.

Viscount Albéric (927-943) incorporated to the County of Mâcon territories located on the other side of the Saône, that is in the German Empire. His successors would play on the rivalry between the Kingdom of France and the German Empire to rule their state quite independently; they also increased their wealth by perceiving tax on goods crossing the "border", here river Saône. From 1078 to 1156, the Counts of Burgundy were also Counts of Mâcon. In the 11th-13th centuries, the power of the Count of Mâcon and of the Abbot of Cluny was challenged by different feudal lords, the most violent of them being the lord of Brancion. In 1166, Counts William I of Chalon and Girart of Mâcon, Viscount Arnold of Dun and Lord Humbert of Beaujeu seized and looted Cluny. King of France Louis VII reestablished the abbot's power.
John of Braine (d. 1239) and Alix de Chalon (d. 1260), the last lords of Mâcon, sold in 1239 the County of Mâcon to King of France Louis IX (St. Louis), which incorporated it to the Kingdom of France.

Mâcon is the birth town of the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869). In spite of his career as a politician and diplomat in Paris and different European towns, Lamartine cherished his birth region, especially the wonderful "Lamartine valley", where he came back every time he could.
The village of Milly, located 15 km of Mâcon, was renamed Milly- Lamartine, for the modest house where the poet spent his youth, living in close contact with poor wine-growers and strengthening his religious and social convictions. The poem Milly ou la terre natale, including the famous verse Objets inanimés, avez-vous donc une âme, gives a vivid description of the house, which has been kept nearly as it was and is open to a very emotional visit.
In 1820, Lamartine inherited the castle of Saint-Point, where he spent most of his family life with his wife Mary-Ann Birch. He restored the castle in English Gothic style and welcomed there his numerous friends, including Victor Hugo, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, Alexandre Dumas father and son, and Eugène Sue. In 1829, Lamartine built on the border of the castle's park, close to the village's church, a big family mausoleum where all the family would be buried, including his niece Valentine de Cessiat-Lamartine (d. 1894), who attempted to preserve the poet's heritage and paid most of his debts. The "historical" part of the castle is also open to a very emotional visit (website), showing personal objects, including the famous 1848 Tricolore flag.

Ivan Sache, 30 November 2011


Flag of Mâcon

The flag of Mâcon (photo) is red with three white rings and a blue stripe charged with three yellow fleurs- de-lis on top. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The arms of Mâcon are "Gules three annulets argent a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis or".
Red is interpreted as the color of Burgundy. The three annulets symbolize either the walls of the Gallo-Roman town of Matisco or the three entities (Bishopric, County and Municipality) that ruled the town in the Middle Ages.
The arms usually shown for Mâcon lack the chief of France, which seems to be correct, since Mâcon is not listed among the Good Towns of France, allowed to add the chief of France to their arms. The arms with the chief of France are shown on the street plaques, however.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 30 November 2011


Société des Régates Mâconnaises

[Flag of SRM]

Flag of Régates Mâconnaises - Image by Ivan Sache, 25 September 2012

TheSociété des Régates Mâconnaises (website) was inaugurated on 6 September 1873, with a membership of 35. The club's basin, located on the Saône river, was used for the European Championships on 15-16 September 1894, club member Maurice Gresset winning the gold medal in skiff. The European Championships were organized in Mâcon in 1920 and 1951, with the first women's regatta organized by the International Rowing Federation. During the 1959 European Championships, a new oar was used, subsequently known as the "Mâcon oar".

The flag of Régates Mâconnaises is horizontally divided black-yellow-black-yellow-black-yellow-black with the French national flag in canton, covering three stripes in height and c. 40% of the flag's length (photo, 1 February 2008; photo, 28 January 2008).

Ivan Sache, 25 September 2012