Last modified: 2016-02-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Poissy - Image by Ivan Sache, 28 June 2014
The municipality of Poissy (37,662 inhabitants in 2011; 1,328 ha; municipal website) is located on the west bank of river Seine, 30 km west of Paris, 10 km west of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and 25 km north-west of Versailles.
Poissy is among the oldest Royal towns in France. King Robert II the
Pious (996-1031), the second Capetian king, rebuilt the Royal castle
and set in 1016 the cornerstone of a church dedicated to St. Mary.
Rebuilt in the 12th century, the church was in 1214 the place of
baptism of future King Louis IX (1226-1270, St. Louis). His grandson,
Philip IV the Handsome (1285-1314), built a Royal priory and an abbey
church dedicated to St. Louis, suppressed long ago.
The refectory of the St. Louis priory, then the biggest hall in the kingdom, accommodated from 9 to 26 September 1561 a religious conference known to the historians as the Colloquy at Poissy. Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici, on behalf of young King Charles IX (1561-1574), then 11 years-old, invited Protestant theologians, led by Thèodore de Bèze (1519-1605), and Catholic dignitaries, led by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-1572) to exchange their views. Presided by Chancellor Michel de L'Hospital (1507-1567), the colloquy ended without any consensus; his main outcome, the Edict of Saint- Germain, promulgated on 17 January 1562, did not prevent the massacre of Vassy (1 March 1562) and the outbreak of the Wars of Religion. The colloquy contributed to the initiation of the third session of the Council of Trent (18 January 1562-4 December 1563) and allowed the establishment of the Society of Jesus in France.
Poissy developed as a wealthy town around the Cattle's Market.
Established by Royal privilege, increased in the first half of the
19th century to welcome every week more than 10,000 cattle's heads,
the market was eventually suppressed in 1867, when superseded by the
La Villette cattle complex in Paris.
The other hotspot of the town was the bridge on the Seine, which counted up to 27 arches and was fortified in the 17th century. Four grain mills were built upon the bridge. Fishers were allowed to attach their nets between the arches from sundown to sunset, while navigation was a priority during daytime. A toll was perceived both on river and land traffic, which made of the bridge a very profitable place. Air- raided on 26 May 1944, the old bridge was replaced by a new bridge erected upstream and inaugurated on 19 July 1952.
The industrialization of Poissy started in the early 20th century. The engineer Pierre-Joseph Grégoire established in 1903 a car factory, which produced until 1924 15,000 to 20,000 car per year. Poissy became an emblematic "automobile town" in 1938, when the French branch of Ford built a modern factory, subsequently taken over by Simca (1954-1963) and Chrysler France (1963-1978). Following the purchase of the European branch of Chrysler in 1978, Peugeot assigned the Poissy factory to the production of Talbot cars (1979-1986). Still owned by the PSA Peugeot Citroën group, the Poissy factory employs now 6,600 workers.
The house Les Heures Claires was built in Poissy from 1928 to 1931 by the architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) for the insurance broker Pierre Savoye, therefore its usual name of "Villa Savoye". The last of the "white houses" built by the Swiss architect, the Villa Savoye is a perfect illustration of Le Corbusier's five points of modern architecture: piles, garden-roof, free plan, windows longer than high and free facade. Inhabited by the Savoye family from 1931 to 1940, the villa was severely damaged during the Second World War; the municipality of Poissy acquired it in 1958 and transferred it to the French state in 1962. Registered as an Historical Monument in 1965, the Villa Savoye was restored from 1963 to 1997.
Ivan Sache, 28 June 2014
The flag of Poissy, hoisted in front of the Tourist's Office and of the Firefighter's Barracks, is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle, surmounted by the writing "VILLE DE POISSY" (Town of Poissy) in yellow letters outlined in black forming an arch.
The arms of Poissy (presentation) are "Azure a fish in fess argent between three fleurs-de-lis one in chief one in base and one issuant from the dexter flank or. The shield surmounted by a mural crown or".
The fish (French, poisson) makes the arms canting and recalls the past significance of fishing. The fleurs-de-lis recall the Royal origin of the town and its connection with the Capetian dynasty. The oldest known municipal seal, dated 1277, features a fish, without any additional charge. A single fleur-de-lis appears on the seal used in 1304. The municipal arms subsequently experienced several variations, always showing fish and fleurs-de-lis. The arms as used today are shown on a drawing dated 1640.
During the reign of Charles X, the town used arms showing the fleur-de- lis issuant from the dexter flank rotated, as if it was engulfed by the fish. This variant appears to have been modelled on a representation of the arms engraved in 1714 on the lid of the baptismal font of the collegiate church of Poissy.
The arms of Poissy appear on the plaque of the radiator grill (photos) of the Ford V8 F-472 (history), produced by the Poissy factory from 1946 to 1948 (7,293 cars).
Ivan Sache, 28 June 2014