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Territoire de Belfort (Department, France)

Last modified: 2013-12-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: territoire de belfort | franche-comte | lion (red and yellow) | belfort |
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[Flag of the General Council]

Flag of the General Council of Territoire de Belfort - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 October 2009

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Administrative data

Code: 90
Region: Franche-Comté
Traditional province: Alsace
Bordering departments: Doubs, Jura, Haut-Rhin, Haute-Saône, Vosges
Bordering country: Switzerland (Canton of Jura)

Area: 609 km2
Population (2006): 144,600 inhabitants

Préfecture: Belfort
Subdivisions: 1 arrondissement, 15 cantons, 102 communes.

Territoire de Belfort is made of the part of the department of Haut-Rhin that remained French after the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany in 1871, as a reward to the heroic resistance (103 days) of the town's defenders commanded by colonel Denfert-Rochereau. The area had the status of "special territory" until eventually granted the status of department in 1922.

Ivan Sache, 14 November 2009

Flag of the General Council

Pascal Vagnat has seen on 26 September 2009 the flag of the General Council of Territoire de Belfort, hoisted in front of the Visitors' Center of Belfort.
The flag of the General Council of Territory of Belfort is white with the logo of the General Council.

The logo of the General Council of Territory of Belfort is made of a stylized lion with a carmine mane and an olive yellow face, flanked on its right by the writing "Territoire de Belfort" (carmine) / "Conseil général" (olive yellow), in italics. The "C" of "Conseil" is made of the mouth of the lion.
Vivre le Territoire (the review of the General Council), No. 76, December 2005 - January 2006, presents the logo as adopted on 15 November 2005.

The lion represents the Lion of Belfort, designed by the sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), mostly famous for the design of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
To celebrate the heroic defenders of the town during the siege by the Prussians (3 November 1870 - 18 February 1871), the municipality of Belfort commissioned Bartholdi, who proposed to append a huge lion to the wall of the citadel dominating the town. The rumor spread quickly to the town, so that the lion became the emblem of the town even before having been sculpted. Poems and songs were dedicated to the lion, and a national, patriotic fund created to pay the sculpture was equally successful with the Republicans and the Monarchists.

Recent research by the Curator of the Bartholdi Museum in Colmar has shown that the lion was not created from scratch; Bartholdi indeed reused elements of a project of monument to Marshal Moncey, one of the defenders of Paris in 1814. From the project that aborted in 1864, Bartholdi reused a scale model featuring a roaring lion raising a forepaw. Progressively, Bartholdi "tamed" the lion, portrayed as "driven back but terrible in its furor", but much less aggressive than in the early sketches.
Bartholdi studied lions at the Jardin des Plantes of Paris; an unsubtantiated tradition claims that his preferred model was the famous Brutus owned by the lion tamer Baptiste Pezon. In September 1875, the sculptor achieved the scale drawings of what he called his "baby" or his "monster". The erection of the lion started in spring 1876.

Achieved in summer 1880, the statue was never officially inaugurated; the French government pressured the municipality of Belfort to cancel any official ceremony that could be perceived as a provocation and a call to revenge by the Germans. Bartholdi inaugurated himself his monument with bonfires. Three weeks later, the bronze replica of the statue, in reduced size, placed on Place Denfert-Rochereau (named for the Colonel who commanded the defenders of Belfort), was inaugurated with a small bonfire and a silent military parade.
As stated by the sculptor in a letter to his mother, dated 3 September 1875, Bartholdi did not want his lion to be "annexated" by the partisans of the revenge against Germany. However, Place Denfert- Rochereau was in the 1880-1890s a main place of rallying for the French nationalists.

Source: Bartholdi, cet inconnu célèbre by Robert Belot, Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard

Ivan Sache, 29 October 2009