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Eu (Municipality, Seine-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-22 by ivan sache
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Flag and ceremonial flag of Eu - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 15 February 2021

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Presentation of Eu

The municipality of Eu (6,771 inhabitants in 2018; 1,793 ha) is located 30 km of Dieppe.

Brionne. The county was a march protecting Normandy from invasion from the east. In 1050, William, Duke of Normandy, the future William the Conqueror and king of England, married Matilda, the daughter of the Count of Flanders, at the chapel of the castle in Eu. The chapel is the only part of this castle which still stands today.
In 1180, Laurence O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin and papal legate, fell ill at Eu on his way to meet King Henry II of England. He died there. Beatified in 1186 and canonised in 1225 as St Laurence, he became the town's patron saint. The Notre-Dame et Saint-Laurent collegiate church, named for him and the Virgin Mary, still holds some of his relics. In the 12th century, King Richard I of England, who was also Duke of Normandy, built the town walls.

The County of Eu was successively ruled by the houses of Normandie, Lusignan (1191-1260), Brienne (1260-1350), Artois (1350-1472) and Bourgogne-Nevers (1472-1477). It remained an independent fief of the French crown until 1472, when it was inherited by John, Count of Nevers. It was incorporated in 1477 into the Duchy of Burgundy; the same year, Duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle and king Louis XI seized his fiefs, Eu included, which were incorporated to the royal domain. The house of Cléves, which descended from Bourgogne-Nevers, was reallocated the County of Eu in 1491, to be succeeded by the house of Lorraine-Guise (1633-1657). In 1657, Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, aka la Grande Mademoiselle, acquired Eu from Henri II de Guise. When Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, Count of Eu since 1821, became King of the French in 1830, the County of Eu was reincorporated to the royal domain.

Louis-Philippe's grandson, Gaston d'Orléans (1842-1922), was granted the title of Count of Eu at his birth. Gaston married in 1864 Isabel of Braganza (1846-1921), Princess Imperial of Brazil. The Count of Eu served in the Brazilian forces during the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) as a Marshal of the Army; in 1869, he replaced the Duke of Caixas as the commander in chief of the army and won the decisive battle of Campo Grande. After the fall of the Brazilian Empire, Gaston and Isabel emigrated to France and lived in the castle of Eu. Banned from Brazil, Gaston d'Orléans could return there only in 1921, for the inauguration of the imperial mausoleum in Petr&ópolis. He died the next year during his second voyage to Brazil, where he had to participate to the celebration of the centenary of Brazilian independence. By his marriage, Gaston d'Orléans lost his status of French prince, and, therefore, of Orleanist pretender to the throne of France. By a family pact signed in 1909, the Orléans-Braganza withdrew any claim to the throne of France as long as branches of the Orléans house subsist.

Eu is commonly featured in crossword puzzles as a "town in Normandy", or "on the Bresle".
The politician and writer Jean Vatout (1791-1848), elected at the French Academy in 1848, was once famous for two Gallic songs, L'Écu de France ("The French shield", which can also be read "Les culs de France", "The French asses"), and, mostly, Le Maire d'Eu (original edition) ("The Mayor of Eu", which can also be read "Le Merdeux", "The Shitty"). The song, published in 1842, is not really a masterpiece of French poetry, but a succession of scatological allusions, in most cases based on words with double meaning, for instance, "lunettes" ("glasses", but also "toilet bowl"), "cabinet" ("office", but also "loo"), and, last but not least, "on voit, on sent la mer d'ici" ("The sea can be seen and smelt from here"), which can also be read "On voit, on sent la merde ici" ("Shit can be seen and smelt here").
Anyway, to prevent scatological puns, the mayor of Eu is usually not called "maire d'Eu" but "maire de Eu", or, better, "maire de la ville d'Eu".

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 20 February 2021

Flag of Eu

The flag of Eu (photo, photo, photo) is quartered yellow and red by a white cross, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, "Argent a lion passant gules". The words "Ville d'Eu" are written in black letter beneath the shield.
A square ceremonial flag with the same design, a more orange field instead of yellow, a serif font and letters in an arch beneath the coat of arms, and a golden fringe, is kept inside the Town Hall (photo).
The flag was undoubtedly inspired by the color of the Regiment of Eu, which served the King of France from 1736 to 1775. His colonel and owner was Louis Charles de Bourbon (1701-1775), Count of Eu, last Grand Master of Artillery. Created as the Regiment of Lemont in 1604, the regiment was mostly famous as the Regiment of Turenne, owned from 1625 to 1675 by Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount and Marshal of Turenne. In 1778, it was renamed to Regiment of Maréchal de Turenne, to be transformed in 1791 into the 37th Regiment of Line Infantry. Subsequently known as 37th Infantry Regiment, the regiment was disbanded in 1999.

The first municipal charter granted to Eu in 1151 features a lion passant on the seal, as the emblem of the mayor, and an eagle on the counter-seal, as the emblem of the town. The lion progressively became the emblem of the town. Municipal seals dated 1249 and 1308, respectively, feature a lion passant, while the matching counter-seals feature an eagle. The two animals are represented contourné, that is, looking to sinister. Since heraldic beasts are rarely represented this way, this must have been a seal maker's mistake that remained unnoticed.
Louis XIV's collection of engraved woods, kept in the Condé Museum, Chantilly, feature a lion passant. So does the Armorial Général (image).

The lion, however, was soon changed to a leopard, as featured on official documents issued before the French Revolution. The cover of the score of the aforementioned Le Maire d'Eu, published in 1908, also features a shield charged with a leopard.
In 1855, Mayor Lecomte set up on the frontispiece of the new Town Hall a shield featuring the old eagle (looking sinister), probably as a tribute to Napoleon III, but surrounded by two cherubs, as featured on the French royal arms. In 1873, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, the German-looking eagle was put down and the red leopard was re-established. The leopard was subsequently relocated in the shield's base. Engravers and printers progressively transformed the leopard into a kind of wild cat.

In the 1950s, the municipality committed Jacques Meurgey de Tupigny and Robert Louis to "rehabilitate" the arms of the town, which they did as "Argent a lion passant. The shield surmounted by a three-towered mural crown or and placed over an eagle argent. The War Cross 1939-1945 proper appended to the shield".
The lion was preferred to the leopard after a thorough screening of historical records. The eagle recalls the oldest seal of the town. The War Cross was awarded by Decision No. 11 issued on 11 November 1948.
[Les Amys du Vieil Eu]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 20 February 2021