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Republic of Saugeais (France)

République du Saugeais

Last modified: 2012-05-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: saugeais | crozier (yellow) | helmet (white) | spruce (white) | franche-comte | doubs | president |
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[Flag of Saugeais]

Flag of the Republic of Saugeais - Image by Jaume Ollé, 14 July 1998


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Presentation of the Republic of Saugeais

The Free Republic of Saugeais is located in the upper valley of the river Doubs, an area known as Val Sauget since the XIIth century. The republic is made of the 11 municipalities of Les Alliés, Arçon, Bugny, La Chaux-de-Gilley, Gilley, Hauterive-la-Fresne, la Longeville, Maisons-du-Bois-Lièvremont, Montbenoît, Montflovin and Ville-du-Pont.

In the middle of the XIIth century, Landry, Lord of Joux, decided to found and fund an abbey in the desert upper valley of Doubs. He gave land to Humbert, Archbishop of Besançon, who invited monks from Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune (Valais/Wallis, Switzerland) to settle there. The monks came with colonists from the Grishuns and Savoy, who brought their local languages which were still widely used in the valley in the beginning of the XXth century. The colonists met the local hermit Benoît, and the abbey was named after him. A monk called Norduin built the abbey, which was placed under St. Colomban's rule. The abbey remained under the control of the Lords of Joux. In 1508, the system of commende was established, by which the abbots percieved a rent but did not live in the abbey. The most famous of these commendataire abbots was Ferry Carondelet, a former councillor of Emperor Charles V fond of the Italian Renaissance, who richly decorated the abbey. The abbey was eventually closed in 1723.

In 1947, the Préfet of the department of Doubs, Mr. Ottavianni, came to Montbenoît to attend the recruiting board. He had lunch in the Hôtel de l'Abbaye in Montbenoît, owned by Georges Pourchet. As a joke, Pourchet asked the Prefet: "Do you have a transire allowing you to enter the Republic of Saugeais?" The Prefet asked for more details on the Republic and eventually answered: "A Republic must have a President. You are appointed President of the Free Republic of Saugeais." The President died in 1968. His wife Gabrielle retired in 1970 but remained active in Montbenoît, helping the parish priest to preserve the abbey. In 1972, a festival was organized in order to raise funds for the abbey preservation. During the lunch, Gabrielle Pourchet was elected by acclamation President of the Free Republic of Saugeais for the rest of her life.

Since her election, the President has appointed a Prime Minister, a General Secretary, two customers, 12 ambassadors and more than 300 honour citizens. A song written in Sauget patois by Canon Joseph Botillon in 1910 was adopted as the national anthem. A banknote was released in 1997, and the French Post Service celebrated the Republic with a post stamp in 1987.

Source: Website of the Free Republic of Saugeais

The Republic of Saugeais has a new President, as reported by Agence France Presse (AFP) on 30 January 2006. A council of some 30 representatives from the eleven villages forming the Republic gathered in Montbenoît, the capital of the Republic, and elected Mrs. Bertin-Pourchet as the President. Some 250 attended the inauguration ceremony held in the city hall of Montbenoît. The new President is the daughter of the former President, Mrs. Gabrielle Pourchet, who passed away on 31 August 2005, aged 99, after more than 30 years of Presidency.

Ivan Sache, 3 February 2006


Flag of the Republic of Saugeais

The Republic of Saugeais has a flag, arms and an anthem. The flag is vertically divided black-red-yellow, in proportion 2:3, with the coat of arms in the middle of the red stripe.
The arms are quartered: first, a yellow crozier on red; second, a white knight's helmet white on red; third, a white pine tree on blue; fourth, a blue river on green.
The colours of the flag may recall that some Germans settled this region in the past. They are also the colours of Franche-Comté and more precisely the colours of the town of Besançon.
An earlier flag of the Republic of Saugeais is white with the coat of arms of the Republic in the center and the writinh République du Saugeais.
The coat of arms of the Republic of Suageais was designed by Colonel Henri de Saint-Ferjeux in 1973. The cross represents the abbey, the helmet the Lords of Joux, the spruces the Jura mountains and the water the river Doubs.

Source: Website of the Free Republic of Saugeais


Flag of the President of the Republic of Saugeais

The President of the Republic has a car flag which is blue with probably the arms in the center. The colours of the Republic appear also in form of a sash with, in gold, the words "RÉPUBLIQUE DU SAUGEAIS". This sash is only for the President. There isn't any "civil" flag without the coat of arms.
Those entering the Republic of Saugeais shall show a laissez-passer with a ribbon in the colours of the Republic and the seal delivered by the President herself.

Tricolour ribbons with medals are given to the Honorary citizens of the Republic. To get this honour, you have to contribute significantly to the affairs of the Republic. The present President's car flag is the Republic flag, but is in use only for important ceremonies, because the President usually has no official car (in fact, the official car showed during TV-programs has to be loaned by a garage). A painted "civil" flag appears on the temporary billboards used by the customs. The customs officer wears a black cap with golden letters RS on it.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 27 January 2003


A Queen for the Republic of Saugeais

The hereditary Republic of Saugeais recently crowned its Queen. The inhabitants of Pontarlier have celebrated the return from Torino of the local biathlets. During the celebration, Christian Courtal, President of the Communauté de Communes de Montbenoît, crowned Florence Baverel-Robert "Queen of the Republic of Saugeais". Florence won the gold medal in the sprint race in San Sicario and the bronze medal in the team competition. This was her first victory in an official competition (after 17 podiums, therefore not so "unexpected"!) and the first individual gold medal for France in biathlon in the Olympic Games. The "girls from Albertville", Corinne Niogret, Anne Briand and Véronique Claudel, won the team race in 1992 but no individual title.
Florence, like many of her winter sport team fellows, is member of the Military School for High Mountain, located in Montbenoît, the capital city of the Republic. She is married with Julien Robert, bronze medalist in the team competition, and they live in Les Grangettes, in the heart of Saugeais. In spite of being very discrete and rarely speaking to the media (which show no interest for biathlon except every four years), she often says she is a proud citizen of the Republic of Saugeais. The President of the Republic of Saugeais said she was very pleased with the crowning: "Florence achieved something very great which contributes to the fame of our region."
A few pranksters have further suggested that the 2014 Olympic Games should be organized in Pontarlier.

Ivan Sache, 2 March 2006