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History of Fougères

History of Fougères

Fougères owes its origin to its imposing castle, installed over a thousand years ago on a rocky outcrop surrounded by the waters of the Nançon river which served as a natural moat. It is made up of two towns: the Lower Town, surrounding the castle and the church of Saint-Sulpice, on the right bank of the Nançon stream; and the Upper Town, on the left bank of this stream, with the Saint-Léonard church, the Town Hall and the Belfry.


The medieval town then developed at the foot of the castle on the banks of the Nançon river where the first artisanal activities appeared: drapery, tannery, dyeing.

The fortress is surrounded throughout history by a belt of ramparts and towers (11 towers in total) in order to ensure the safety of the inhabitants of the Upper Town who, militarily independent, also build a court and a Hotel. -de-Ville to acquire administrative and judicial power. This autonomy will also be reflected in the erection of the Belfry in 1397.


Until its attachment to France in 1448, Fougères fell prey to the Wars of Succession. In turn, English and French seize it.

In 116, Fougères was besieged by Henry II of England, who ruined the castle. The latter was rebuilt in 1173 in stone by Raoul II de Fougères.

On the night of March 23 to 24, 1449, François de Surienne, a Spaniard in the service of England, took the town and the castle by surprise. After a siege of 2 months orchestrated by the Breton troops commanded by Prince Pierre brother of the duke, the English surrender and leave Fougères.

In the 18th century, successive fires destroyed the intramural center which was subsequently rebuilt in granite.


The Industrial Revolution around the shoe industry gave birth to the parish of Bonabry: Fougères then became the shoe capital.

At the end of the 19th century, the shoe makers were then oriented towards a new production: the leather shoe. The arrival of the railway in 1863 and the establishment of 60 shoe factories will increase the population from 11,000 to 25,000 inhabitants.


Whether in the shoe industry or in the glass industry, workers from Fougeres have developed meticulous know-how that has led to cutting-edge technologies: example of Carl Zeiss Vision, formerly Ouest Optique, which has refocused in high-end glass, thus setting up a laboratory in Fougères dedicated to digital glass machining.

With this desire to use recognized skills, Sagem Communication set up in Fougères in 1969, and today employs nearly 700 people. To these companies are added; the Otima company, which manufactures metal casings and frames for electronic components and produces finished products; the Brittany Fizeau Optical School as well as the Bertin hearing aid school; and finally the School of Haute Horlogerie which trains more than 200 students in microtechnology and electronic professional drawing.


Jean-Ambroise Baston, Count of La Riboisière born in Fougères, made brilliant studies at the college of Rennes, then became an officer in the artillery regiment which Napoleon Bonaparte later entered. They soon got in touch and became friends. La Riboisière took part in all the wars of the Revolution and the Empire, and contributed powerfully to the success of the great battles of Austerlitz, Jena, Friedland, Wagram, and La Moskowa. Appointed Count of the Empire in 1808, he was elevated in 1811 to the dignity of first Inspector General of Artillery. At the battle of La Moskowa, he lost his second son, a young officer with a future. "Here," he said, seeing it hit, "There is a bullet which will kill the father and the son." He died in Koenigsberg on his return from the Russian campaign, and was later buried at the Invalides. His heart rests at the Château de Monthorin in Louvigné du Désert!

Born in Fougères, Armand Tuffin de la Rouërie covered himself with glory in America under the name of Colonel Armand, during the War of Independence, where he became a friend of Washington. Back in Paris, he became the ardent defender of Breton privileges. In Saint-Ouen-la-Rouërie shortly before 1789, he founded the Breton Association which in 1791-1792 prepared an insurrection, a counter-revolutionary movement. Betrayed by one of his friends, he was tracked down and died of exhaustion at the castle of Guyomarais (Côte d'Armor) on January 30, 1793. He was beheaded post-mortem.

Georges Franju was born in 1912 in Fougères, which he left as a teenager for Paris. Passionate about cinema, he turned to the creation of posters then met Henri Langlois with whom he founded the film library. From 1958 he directed several films including "The Head against the Walls", "Thérèse Desqueyroux", "The Faceless Eyes" and "Judex". He died in 1987.

And of course without Alexandre Coupé, a historian in his spare time from the city of Fougères ... nothing jumped to be written or told ... his anecdotes are legends and his way of telling them to you is unique in the world ... he knows and will fascinate you with thousands of anecdotes about HIS TOWN .... because, as he ususally says ... THIS IS MY CITY !

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