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Chaumont-en-Vexin (Municipality, Oise, France)

Last modified: 2019-01-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Chaumont-en-Vexin - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 4 March 2004

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Presentation of Chaumont-en-Vexin

The municipality of Chaumont-en-Vexin (3,047 habitants in 2007; 1,854 ha; municipal website) is located on the river Troesne, in the north of the Vexin Français.

Chaumont was built around a fortified camp (castrum), later a castle, erected on a natural hillock, and mentioned in 1112 as castrum calvimontis (The Bare Mount). However, the origin of the name of the town is disputed. Cambry claims that Chaumont comes from two Celtic words, chod ("a wood") and mon ("a mount"), recalling that the town was built on a hill originally surrounded by woods. Documents from the 11th-12th centuries list the town as Calvus mons, the bare mount, or Calidus mount, the hot mount (lit by the sun). Father Duplessis reports that some believe that Calvus mons recalls the local lord Robert the Bald (Robert le Chauve). Oudlette claims, without the least evidence, that the castle built on the hill was named Monchaux.

Chaumont was in the Middle Ages one of the thirteen bailiwicks constituting Île-de-France, the core of the then small Kingdom of France. The first known Viscount of Chaumont was Robert I le Roux (the Redhead), a.k.a. l'Éloquent (the Eloquent). A seal from 1211, kept in the French National Archives, is captioned s[igiluum] maioris [et] parium communie calvimo[n]tis, indicating that a town with a municipal organisation had already developed around the castrum at the time.

Located on the border with Normandy, Chaumont was a strategic place. The town belonged from 1325 to 1579 to the big domain owned by the Montmorency family, one of the oldest French noble lineages.
In the 15 century, the Saint-Jean Baptiste church was built on the hill in flamboyant style by architect Nicolas Jouette. Its characteristic square tower was added in the Renaissance and its stained-glass windows were placed in the 16th century. The church can be reached only by stone stairs built in the 14th century.

The castle of Bertichères was built in the same period in the eponymous hamlet. It was the residence of the Counts of Chaumont and, subsequently, the prefered residence of Monsieur (Philippe, Duke of Orléans, 1640-1701), King Louis XIV's brother. The castle is now a golf country-club with one of the best greens in Europe.

The Saint-Henri chapel, located in the Recollet convent (today the town hall) was the meeting place of the Sans-Culottes club during the French Revolution. In September 1792, the 12 representatives of the department of Oise at the National Convention were elected in Chaumont.
Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), novelist (Les Pléiades, 1874) and essayist (Essai sur les inégalites des races humaines, 1853-1855), one of the early promoters of the racist theories), was elected General Councillor of Chaumont in 1870.

Ivan Sache, 18 February 2010

Municipal flag of Chaumont-en-Vexin

The flag of Chaumont-en-Vexin, as communicated by the municipal administration, is vertically divided blue-white with the municipal arms surmounted by a yellow mural crown.
The arms designed by Robert Louis, "Argent a sun in his splendour or and in base a mount vert", show a green mount on a white field, surmounted by a personalized white sun with red rays. These arms are canting if we read Chaumont as chaud mont, "a hot mount". The same kind of canting coat of arms is used in Chaumont-sur-Loire.

Ivan Sache, 18 February 2010