Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Poligny - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 November 2011
The municipality of Poligny (4,254 inhabitants in 2008 - Polinois -; 5,022 ha) is located in the Jura mountains, 30 km north-east of Lons-le-Saunier.
Poligny was mentioned for the first time, as Polemniacum, in the
Treaty of Meersen (870), which shared Lotharingia, to which Poligny
belonged since 843. Poligny and the surrounding region were allocated
to Louis the German. Poligny subsequently followed the fate of Franche-Comté, being eventually incorporated to the Kingdom of France by the Treaty of Nijmegen, signed in 1678.
Poligny was originally protected by the Grimont castle, built on a rocky spur allegedly named "Grynie Mons" to recall a temple dedicated to Apollo Gryneus. King of France Louis XI fortified the castle to make of Poligny the administrative center of the region. The Dukes of Burgundy also considered Grimont as a stronghold, where they stored their charts, banners, jewels and seals, kept by the "Chart Treasurer", and also jailed their opponents; for instance, Jean de Granson, lord of Pesmes, who had revolted in 1455 against Philip the Handsome, was summarily sentenced to death and executed in the castle.
In 1561, the castle was damaged by a blaze and the dukes transfered all their treasures to Dole. During the invasion of Franche-Comté by Louis XIII in 1637-1638, the Grimont castle was fiercely disputed. In 1643, the inhabitants of Poligny were granted 6,000 golden pistols to demolish the fortress. Nothing has remained of the fortifications of Poligny but two towers that watched the former town walls.
Poligny is the birth town of Jacques Coitier (c. 1430-1506), the
personal doctor of King Louis XI. The chronicler Philippe de Commines
(Mémoire des faits du feu roy Louis onziesme, VI, 11) explains how Coitier kept the king under his control for 17 years; aware that the king would order his execution soon or late, he "predicted" that the king would not survive his doctor's death longer than the next eight
days. Voltaire summarized the case, writing that Coitier was as a big
quack as Louis XI was a big idiot, the king's idiocy being equal to
Poligny is the birth town of Charles Sauria (1812-1895), who invented in 1831 the phosphorus friction matches. Then a young student in chemistry, Sauria could not get the funds required to register the patent, which was registered the next year by the German chemist Jakob Friedrich Kammerer.
Source: Municipal website
Poligny is the capital of the Comté cheese, being the seat of the
Comité interprofessionnel du Gruyère de Comté (CIGC, website), founded on 11 June 1963.
Cheese production in the Jura mountains is a very old tradition, being already mentioned in Latin texts. A document dated 1319 mentions fructeries, that is the forerunner of the modern fruitières (processing farms). In 1380, the cheese were produced in grandes formes, that is great moulds (forme gave fromage, French for "cheese", via formage), indicating that a lot of milk was required, available only in a cooperative system or to rich landowners. In the 15th century, the revolted farmers obtained the suppression of the charts and the set up of a kind of local democratic system that would allow them to manage cheese production until the French Revolution. In the 18th century, several fruitières moved down from the mountains to the hillsides and the valleys; in 1880, when the name gruyère de Comté appeared, there were 1,800 fruitières in Jura, mostly with a seasonal activity. A fruitière was described as the emblematic element of Jura in the famous school book, Le Tour de France par deux enfants (G. Bruno, 1890; the patriotic book describes two young children leaving Alsace occupied by the Germans and discovering, step by step, the natural, agricultural and industrial resources of France, learning that every region of France brings its own contribution to the national heritage).
The name of Comté became popular in the 1920s, while the production area was delimited in 1952. In 1958, Comté was one of the first appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC - Controlled Designation of Origin) granted to a cheese, upgraded in 1996 into an European-recognized appellation d'origine protégée (AOP - Protected Designation of Origin). The production area is restricted to the departments of Jura, Doubs and Ain, and to a small enclave in Haute-Savoie, officially recognized in 1998; milk should come from Montbéliarde (95% of the herd) or French Simmental cows, fed exclusively with fresh grass in summertime and local hay in wintertime. Each of the 160 fruitières should collect daily the milk from the 3,000 family dairy farms located in a radius of 25 km only (on average, 18 farms per fruitière), this to preserve local differences. The further processing of milk and cheese maturation (4-24 months) is also precisely defined. The final product is scored by experts, the best quality cheeses being granted a green ribbon and the median quality ones being granted a brown ribbon. The low quality cheeses cannot be sold with the AOP label.
The sales of Comté cheese in France increased from 30,000 tons in 1990 to 47,000 tons in 2009. The main export markets are Germany (1,100 t in 2008), Belgium (830 t), the US (525 t) and Japan (50t).
Ivan Sache, 12 November 2011
The flag of Poligny, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is
vertically divided yellow-blue.
The colors are taken from the municipal arms, "Per fess, 1. Azure a semy of billets or half a lion argent (Franche-Comté), 2. Argent", confirmed on 7 September 1816 by King Louis XVIII.
Pascal Vagnat, Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 12 November 2011
Logo-flag of Poligny - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 November 2011
Poligny also uses a flag made of the municipal logo placed on a white
The logo of Poligny, designed in 1998 by Gilbert Duranton, from the Médiris agency (website), is "a signature for a young, human and dynamic town". Golden yellow and copper red stands for warmth, human touch and social interaction, representing also the two emblematic local products, the Comté cheese and the Vin Jaune (Yellow Wine, aka "The Jura Gold"). Green represents the Jura mountains and the natural environment. The yellow ellipse represents the heart of the town. The crescents represent dynamism and outward attitude. The whole emblem represents, therefore, a warm town well situated in the region and of easy access. The writing, made of a "very out-going and generous script", refers to the youth and the human dimension of the town.
Pascal Vagnat, Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 12 November 2011