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(June 18-22, 2009)

Uri Cogan


Francois Cochin

The Ancient Saint-Aubert

Saint-Aubert-sur-Orne, Basse Normandie, France

June 21, 2009

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© 2009 Francois Cochin, All Rights Reserved.

Here is what you can read on the informative panel of the site:

I - Historical survey

In prehistoric times, it was possible to ford the river at this place and close to the bank a few huts were built. Such was Saint-Aubert at the very beginning.

The first village grew slowly and shortly after the founding of the Mount Saint-Michel Abbey, in 966 by Duke Richard the First of Normandy, monks coming from this abbey built a chapel before A.D. 1000.

Between 990 and 996, the same Richard the First, the grandson of the Norse Viking Hrolfr, asked William of Volpiano, the Abbot of Saint-Benigne Abbey of Dijon, to come and reform Fécamp Abbey. As a thanks offering, he gave him Saint-Aubert with its dependencies.

Between 1031 and 1035 Duke Robert the Magnificent confirmed this donation, and before 1058 his son, the famous William, who later became William the Conqueror, did the same thing.

However, Saint-Aubert was very far from Dijon, and to exploit such a dependency was not easy for the monks of Saint-Benigne. Therefore in 1096, by a charter of Robert Courte-Heuse (William the Conqueror's eldest son), was decided an exchange. Gerento, Abbot of Saint-Benigne Abbey of Dijon, gave Saint Aubert to Gislebert of Coutances, the Abbot of Saint-Etienne Abbey, recently founded in Caen by William the Conqueror, and he received in exchange Saint-Hyppolite of Combertault (in Burgundy) that was a possession of the monks of Caen.

On March 14th, 1102, this exchange was approved by Pope Pascal the Second in papal bull.

From now on the parish of Saint-Aubert was a dependency of Saint-Etienne Abbey until the French Revolution.

II - The ancient Village

The first village, the owners of which were peaceable monks instead of warlike lords, grew very much in the course of time, and its population increased more and more. According to the census of 1-1-1810, 639 inhabitants lived in this village (169 boys, 188 girls, 113 men, 114 women, 15 widowers, 34 widows and 6 soldiers). Since then it has always been decreased.

Before the French Revolution, there was a vicar with two curates, a bailli and his lieutenant, a "tabellion" (notary), and sometimes a fiscal prosecutor, a sergeant, a solicitor and a jailer! and of course craftsmen, farmers, innkeeper, miller, and so on.

By the side of the church (built at the end of 16th Century to replace the chapel destroyed during the Religion Wars), with churchyard, it was still possible to see at the beginning of our century the presbytery, the courthouse with jail, the notary office going back to 1524, the village mill, a pub and a few tumbledown cottages.

And yet this old village was condemned before the end of the last century. A new church was indeed built on the plateau and village center settled at this place, that was much more easy to reach. From then on the village was going to be deserted inexorably. The last inhabitant left shortly after 1950 to enter an old people's home.

Thus, at this place that had been so lively for so many centuries, nothing is remaining but the mill, now a second home, and quite a lot of ruins, among which ruins of old church, harrowing remembrance of the days of yore.

Europe / France

Lat: 48° 47' 48.67" N
Long: 1° 19' 53.4" W

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Medium. Nearby, but not to the last decimal.

Pentax *ist DL + Pentax SMC DA 18-55 @ 18 mm f/11
IR Shoot
Nodal Ninja 5 (NN5) pano head + Nodal Ninja R-D16 rotator and Gitzo tripod
Stitched on an Apple MacBook Pro 15,4" @ 2.16 Ghz with Autopano Giga

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