The preceptory of Bernay

Translation : Andrew Zolnai
No pictures available

France, Charente-Maritime Department

France, Charente-Maritime Department, around 20 km au north-east of La Rochelle, commune of Marans.

The preceptory the Templars founded in Bernay around 1230 w originally a donation made in 1227 by Hugues de Nuaillé, lord of Bernay and of Luché, and confirmed by his suzerain Guillaume de Surgères(1).
The Templars then added a chapel to this house, where some brothers were admitted from the diocese of Saintes, as declared it during their questioning by the pontifical commission.

La commanderie de Bernay sur la carte de Cassini
The preceptory of Bernay on Cassini's Map
Source :

The inquiry about Hospitallers estates dated from 1373 gives us informations that the preceptory of Bernay was a member of the preceptory of La Rochelle, but also that it had always its preceptor, named Brother Jean Robin.

As all the others preceptories in the area, The Hundred Years' War, the plague and other disasters at the time strongly reduced the income of Bernay.
A great part of arable lands and meadows reverted to their wild state, the vines produced only a sixth of their previous production.

The religious Wars in the 16th century have caused damages to the buildings and the destruction of the chapel, as testified in the minutes of the Prior's visit in 1564.
At that moment, the Brothers Hospitaller in charge of Bernay restored part of the arable lands that laid fallow, and even extended the estate buying 30 arpents of arable lands.
From this moment, the name of Bernay was repelaced by that of two farms : "le Grand-Bernay" and "le Petit-Bernay".

During the second half of the 17th century, the minutes of two Prior visits mention that the buildings were in poor condition. In 1699, the minutes of an other visit mentionned that the buildings were in good condition and had been restored a while ago.
Nowdays, the hamlets of Le Grand Bernay and Le Petit Bernay still exist, and the present buildings were built atop the remains of ancient ones.

Notes :

(1)He is probably Guillaume V Maingot "Le Jeune" of Surgères, son of William IV and Berthommée of Allemaigne. He is born around 1200 and died in 1241. He is the lord of Surgères and of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne.

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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