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Montfort-sur-Meu

 

Montfort-sur-Meu is a French commune located on the Meu in the department of Ille-et-Vilaine, in the Brittany region. The city has about 7,000 inhabitants for an area of 14 km2.

Montfort-sur-Meu is part of the community of communes of the Pays de Montfort and the Pays de Brocéliande.

 

Geography

Situation
The town of Monfort-sur-Meu is located in the west of France, in central Brittany, 30 km west of Rennes, the departmental and regional prefecture. The neighboring municipalities are Breteil, Iffendic, Talensac and Bédée. Montfort-sur-Meu is the capital of the canton of Montfort-sur-Meu.

 

History

Prehistory
The human presence on the territory of Montfort-sur-Meu is attested from the end of Prehistory; This is evidenced by its megalithic heritage, including the alignments of the Harelle, the covered alley of Beauregard, the menhir of the Coulon moor and the megaliths of the Bois du Buisson.

Gallo-Roman period
The territory of the town was occupied during the Gallo-Roman period, as evidenced by the discovery of a tegulae deposit at the place called Battles, and two monetary treasures dated respectively from the Upper Empire and the Lower Empire in the Prélong . A Roman road connecting Rennes and Carhaix crossed the territory of the town from east to west, climbing the Buttes de la Harelle to lead to the Bois du Buisson, before descending to the Iffendic basin.

Middle ages
Montfort was chosen, in the eleventh century, because of its strategic qualities, by Raoul I of Gaël, who had his castle built there for defensive assets, then erected a feudal mound on a natural mound overlooking the rivers of Meu and Garun.

From 1376 to 1389, the fortress was rebuilt by Raoul VIII and it was surrounded by four corner towers (it was destroyed in 1627). The city is consolidated by walls. The inhabitants enter the city through three doors: the Porte Saint-Jean, the Porte de Coulon and the Porte Saint-Nicolas. In front of each door, a suburb develops: Saint-Jean to the north-west, Saint-Nicolas to the east and Coulon to the south.

Modern era
French Revolution
On Sunday March 12, 1793, Montfort was besieged by a band of armed peasants.

The population is favorable to the changes brought about by the French Revolution, especially after the end of the Terror. The main revolutionary feast is the one celebrating the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI, accompanied by an oath of hatred for royalty and anarchy, celebrated from 1795. The foundation of the First Republic is also celebrated all the years.

General Vachot wrote on June 3, 1794 to the Committee of Public Safety in Segré: “I have exterminated and almost entirely destroyed the Chouans who were ravaging the districts of Broons, Saint-Méen, Montfort, Châteaubourg, Vitré, La Guerche, etc. ".

In May 1795, a band of Chouans led by Boulainvilliers cut the Trees of Liberty in the parishes around Montfort, Josselin and Ploërmel.

The nineteenth century
In the 19th century, the city became the sub-prefecture of Ille-et-Vilaine, so Montfort grew and carried out large-scale work, but many buildings, such as the Saint-Nicolas tower, were destroyed.

The twentieth century
The city was very affected by the bombings of the Second World War, from where sectors regrouping almost exclusively constructions of the twentieth century.

 

The legend of the Cane

This legend has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of the 15th century.

In the first version, the legend says that a young girl of unparalleled beauty would have been locked up in the castle by the Lord of Montfort. She then prayed to Saint Nicholas so that he could save her. Saint Nicolas having heard his prayer, transformed the young girl into a cane. She was then able to escape from the castle.
Subsequently, and for several centuries, a wild duck came every year around St. Nicholas' Day in the church and deposited one of its ducklings there as an offering to the miracle worker.
In the second version, the story says that around 1386, during the completion of the fortifications of the city, the lord would have locked up in his castle a young girl of remarkable beauty. She quickly understood the fate that awaited her, and, seeing the church of Saint Nicholas, she began to pray to the saint, promising that she would come to thank him in his church if she escaped. That same evening, she was able to flee.
Unfortunately, she fell into the hands of the lord's soldiers, who wanted to do what they assumed their master had done. She looked around to call for help, but saw only two wild ducks in the water of the pond (pond which has since been drained).
She repeated her prayer to Saint Nicholas, begging him to allow these animals to witness her innocence and to fulfill her vow every year in her name if she were to lose her life.

She managed to escape the soldiers, but died soon after, of fear, it is said. She was buried in the Saint-Nicolas cemetery.
Now, that same year, during the feast of the Translation, when the crowd pressed near the relics of Saint Nicholas, a wild duck entered the church with its ducklings. She hovered near the image of the Saint, flew to the altar, and greeted the crucifix. Then she went back down to the image of the Saint, and remained there until the end of mass. At that moment, she flew away, followed by all her ducklings except one, who remained in the church.
The story became so famous that, as evidenced by numerous documents over the centuries, Montfort-sur-Meu was called Montfort-la-Cane for more than 300 years. The appearances are recorded in the minutes several times. The last appearance of the duck dates from May 8, 1739. However, as only the archives after the fifteenth century have been preserved, there is a great lack of evidence, even if, as one clergyman put it, “formerly these facts had become so common that no longer bothered to point them out ”.