Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: vendee | treize-septiers | towers: 3 (white) | bushel (yellow) | wheat |
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Municipal flag of Treize-Septiers - Image by Ivan Sache, 20 May 2004, coat of arms from Heraldry of the World website
The municipality of Treize-Septiers (2,600 inhabitants in 2006; 2,184 ha) is
located in Vendée, in western Poitou. The typical landscape of the region, called bocage vendéen, is a mosaic of small fields
limited by hedges. The bocage is characteristic of the west of France
(for instance Normandy), although the bocage areas considerably decreased when intensive agriculture was considered the only viable
agricultural system. Recently, it was eventually understood that the
bocage was a well-balanced agro-ecological system and that hedges were
not only obstacles to tractors and combines but also efficient
windbreaks and biodiversity niches. There is fortunately a trend to
reconstitute the bocage where it had nearly been eradicated.
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 to 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" and 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 ("bushel"s), c. 150
liters. Sextier refers to sexter, "one sixth", and indicate that this
particular measurement system was designed in base 6. After the
Revolution, it was decided to homogeneize the units used in the
different parts of France to facilitate communication and trade, and the
metric system, in base 10, was designed.
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. In France, there are still several places 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 and saved 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).
Source: Municipal website
Thierry Gilabert & Ivan Sache, 22 May 2004
The flag of Treize-Septiers, as photographed by Hervé Prat, is
white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.
The municipal coat of arms of Treize-Septiers, designed by Étienne Brochard and adopted by the Municipal Council in 1974, is (GASO) Parti : au premier de gueules au setier d'or cerclé de sable, au second de sinople à la gerbe de blé d'or; le tout sommé d'un chef cousu d'azur chargé de trois tours d'argent, ouvertes du champ et maçonnées de sable ("Per pale gules a bucket or banded sable vert a garb of wheat or a chief azure three towers argent gated of the field massoned sable".
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.
Ivan Sache, 20 February 2009