The Preceptory of Beauvais-sur-Matha

Translation : Andrew Zolnai
No pictures available

France, department of Charente-Maritime

France, department of Charente-Maritime, around 25 km north-east of Cognac and around 40 km north-west of Angoulême.

The origin of Templar presence at Beauvais-sur-Matha is very mysterious. The ancient deeds recovered form the archives are very odd and present anachronisms which allows one to doubt their authenticity.

Source :
The buildings of the preceptory
Source : Wikimédia Commons
One of these deeds mention a donation made by the King of France Louis VII in Angoulême's Cathedral during the Pentecost of 1151 in front of among others Hugues of Payns, Master of the Temple (though he died in 1136) and Gerard(1), Bishop of Angoulême (also died in 1136)...
An other deed mentions a gift to the Templars by Guillaume de Mauzé(2), seneschal of Poitou, in the city of Acre in 1150 in front of Eudes de Saint-Amand, Master of the Temple (though he won't be Master until 1171)...

The only true information available is that the preceptory were created in the middle of the 12nd century as shown by the style of the portal of the church which still stands.

During the 13th century, Brother Elie de Matirac, Preceptor of Beauvais is mentionned as witness in an deed dated 1231 concerning the Preceptory of Les Epeaux.
In 1295, a bourgeois from Beauvais bequeathed some properties in his will to the Templars. The preceptor at this time, Brother Pierre du Tours is mentioned as witness in this deed.
During the interrogations following the arrest of the Templars, several Brothers of the Order have declared to have been admitted in the House of the Temple of Beauvais, also named in archives as Temple of Baves or Banes.

Source :
The buildings of the preceptory
Source : Wikimédia Commons

The pontifical inquiry on the properties of the Hospital established in 1373 gives us some clue to the full strength of the preceptory : One commander, one knight, one priest, one deacon, three sergeants and five secular people : one priest and four workers.
At this time, five houses depended on the preceptory of Beauvais : Le Fouilloux, Boixe, Angoulème, Sallerit et Bourcelaine.
The Hundred Years' War and the great plague which raged in this second half of the 14th century caused a considerable impoverishment of the entire domain.
At the time of the pontifical inquiry, three of these houses were deserted and thus yielded no income. The output of the two others was reduced to producing a few bushels(3) of grain. The income of the preceptory was just enough to ensure its defence and its survival.
After the war, Beauvais' Hospitalers obtained in 1452 from the King of France Charles VII(4), several letters patent allowing them to organise four annual fairs at Beauvais and in 1460 a licence restoring the weekly market on Friday .
During the 15th century, archives mentionned that the preceptories of Châteaubernard and Angles were reunited to Beauvais.

The different reports of priests visits during the following centuries show the evolution of the preceptory and inform us how tasks evolved over time.
The templar preceptory was erected in a rectangular form. The different buildings and the walls were set out around a vast inner yard.
The chapel built by Templars was considerably reworked through the years. Of the original building remains only the west wall pierced by a portal in roman style, and a part of the south wall.
The house of the commander has almost completely disappeared. Located in front of the church, only some traces remain of the foundation of shelters built there.
The barn, still visible today, formed entirely the west side of the square. It was an integral part of the defencive system of the preceptory as shown by its remains in the walls and its location among the other buildings.

Notes :

(1)Gerard II of Angouleme. He is native of Blay in Normandy. Born probably in 1060, he was first tutor of the counts of Perigord, before becoming canon at the cathedral of Périgueux and being named bishop of Angouleme in 1101. In 1107, he is legate of Pope Pascal II for Aquitaine. In 1110, he commissions the construction of the new cathedral of Angouleme. In 1131, he supported the anti-pope Anaclet II against Pope Innocent II. He died in 1136.

(2)It would be William IV, Lord of Mauze and Marans. He is the son of Porteclie I of Mauze. He is born around 1135 and died in 1200 or 1210 (depending on the sources). He is seneschal of Poitou from 1176 to his death.

(3)A bushel is an ancient measure of the capacity of "dry" products, such as cereals, flour, etc. Its value varied according to the time and place, but was close to 12 liters.

(4)Charles VII of Valois, known as Charles "le Victorieux", is born in Paris on February 22th, 1403 and died at Mehun-sur-Yèvre on July 22th, 1461. He is King of France from 1422 to 1461. He is the son of Charles VI and Of Isabeau of Bavaria.

More references... Bibliography
  1. "Les Commanderies des Templiers et des Hospitaliers de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem en Saintonge et en Aunis"
    Anne-Marie Legras; Editions du Centre National de Recherche Scientifique 1983
  2. "Les Templiers dans le Sud-Ouest"
    Jacques Dubourg; Editions Sud Ouest 2001
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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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