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Treize-Septiers (Municipality, Vendée, France)

Last modified: 2017-03-18 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Treize-Septiers - Image by Ivan Sache, 20 May 2004

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Presentation of Treize-Septiers

The municipality of Treize-Septiers (2,600 inhabitants in 2006; 2,184 ha; municipal website) is located in western Poitou.
Agriculture is the main activity in Treize-Septiers, with 28 farms and a cultivated area of 1,946 ha. Most farms produce meat and/or milk. No-ground farming (poultry, pigeons, rabbits, pigs) is done in 14 farms. The main crop is grain, whose yield have been increased due soil drainage. The average age of the farmers is 40, which is fairly low and promising for the future.

The name of Treize-Septiers is unique in France. "Treize" means "thirteen" while "Septier" is the local form of setier or sextier, a measurement unit used for grain and liquids before the French Revolution. Like all measurement units at that time, the setier varied from place to place and was also different for grain and liquids. The setier de Paris was made of twelve boisseaux ("bushels"), c. 150 liters. Sextier refers to sexter, "one sixth", and indicate that this particular measurement system was designed in base 6.
The oldest known form of Treize-Septiers is "De Tredecim Sextariis". The name of the village undoubtly refers to the quantity represented by thriteen setiers but interpretations of that quantity differ: the thirteen setiers might correspond to the area of the municipality, expressed by the attainable yield of grain, or, more probably, to the tithe due to the local lord.
According to the Dictionnaire des noms de lieux en Vendée by the anthropologist and ethnologist Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, treize (thirteen) comes from the Latin words tres ("three") and decem ("ten"), whereas septiers refers to sestier, a former measurement unit for grain. The word sestier or sesterée was also used to design a sown area. Therefore, Treize-Septiers probably designated a land by its area and not by the tithe it yielded. From a more general agronomical point of view, Le Quellec's explanation does make sense. In the former, autarcic agricultural systems, the count units were areas, numbers etc. and not money, which was extremely rare and kept for buying goods not produced locally. Several places in France are named after ancient measurement units of areas (for instance, arpents). Agricultural plots have often a name, which is very often related to their area.

In the 14th century, the castle of Ganuchères was built on a small hill near the village. The most famous lords of Ganuchères belonged to the La Roche Saint-André family, who settled in Treize-Septiers in the 15th century. In 1667, Gilles de la Roche Saint-André was appointed Head of Squad of the royal armies. Sacked and burned down in the 15th century, the castle was never rebuilt.

After the French Revolution, Treize-Septiers, like several Vendean villages that took the Royalist party, was attacked and looted by the "Hell"s Columns" of the Republican army.
In the 19th century, the inhabitants hardly survived because of the poverty of the granitic soil and the lack of adapted agronomic practices. Limited industrialization started some decades ago with the opening of a shoe factory (Arima, founded by former Mayor Ferdinand Jauffrineau) and a furniture factory (Chaudière).

Abbot Lelièvre (1874-1944), born in Treize-Septiers, wrote poems and theater plays. Serving as a volunteer chaplain during the First World War, he was injured in 1915 and got his left arm paralyzed, which earned him the War Cross and the Legion of Honour. At the end of his life, in Paris, Lelièvre hid several Jews, saving them from deportation.
The most famous citizen of Treize-Septiers was Vincent Ansquer (1925-1987), Deputy and Mayor of Les Herbiers for years. Ansquer was Minister of Trade and Craft Industry (1974-1976) and Minister of Quality of Life (1976-1977).

Thierry Gilabert & Ivan Sache, 22 May 2004

Flag of Treize-Septiers

The flag of Treize-Septiers is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.
The municipal coat of arms of Treize-Septiers (image

Thee name of the village can be "read" on the shield. The bucket most probably contains a septier of grain and the choice of thirteen wheat stems is probably not coincidental. The towers in chief might refer to the former castle of Ganuchères and to the La Roche Saint-André family.

Hervé Prat & Ivan Sache, 20 February 2009