QR Saint-Maurice-ès-Allier 2
The village of Saint-Maurice
An ancient village fort
In the period between the 14th and 16th centuries, which saw the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion, the villages of Limagne built their own fortifications. In these village forts, protected by an enclosure, there were rows of houses, known as loggia, built to provide temporary shelter for people and property. These loggias were often evenly arranged with narrow lanes running in between and were built around a castle, a monastery or a church. From the 17th century onwards, the loggias lost their defensive function and many were converted into agricultural sheds or wine cellars.
The 1830 cadastral map reveals the footprint of the former fort of Saint-Maurice. There were several groups of loggias around the church. Those on the outskirts were enclosed by gates, only one of which has survived. A tower can still be seen in a house located at the foot of the staircase leading to the church. Street names such as Impasse des Forts and Grande-Rue des Forts keep alive the memory of the fortifications in the village of Saint-Maurice.
- Cadastral map of 1830. Old loggias of the village fort arranged around the church. The line of the surrounding wall can easily be made out, as can one of the towers that punctuated it, still partly preserved (plot no. 49).
- Former gateway to the fort of Saint-Maurice, Place de la Halle
A wine-growing village
In 1890, vines covered 320 hectares of the commune, almost half of the entire surface area. It had been expanding rapidly since the mid-18th century, as evidenced by the wealthy winegrowers’ houses, accessible by an outside staircase and their wide vaulted porches to the vat room and cellar.
In 1860, phylloxera began ravaging the Languedoc vineyards, leaving the way clear for Auvergne wines to take advantage of a new outlet to the capital. This was the start of a golden era for Saint-Maurice. Every year, the villagers waited impatiently for the town council to announce the “ban des vendanges”, which marked the start of the harvest.
But in 1892, the Auvergne region was also hit by the parasitic aphid. Ten years later, three quarters of the commune’s vines were wiped out, leaving many families destitute. Between 1886 and 1911, the population of Saint-Maurice fell by 30%.
- In the church is a statue of Saint Verny, patron saint of Auvergne winegrowers
- One of the many winegrowers’ houses in Saint-Maurice
Due to geological features and the scarcity of springs, supplying water to the commune has long been a recurring problem and forms an integral part of its history. In the 19th century, it caused an unfortunate quarrel between the inhabitants of the villages of Saint-Maurice and Lissac, who felt they had been wronged, which led to the division of the commune into two separate factions in 1885.
Of all the fountains installed in the commune over the years, the fountain-washhouse opposite the town hall was the most remarkable. A carefully crafted wall topped with a pediment separates the fountain basin to the east from the washhouse to the west, slightly below. It was probably built shortly before 1830.
- It was probably built shortly before 1830.
A period of Resistance
In autumn 1943, Émile Coulaudon, one of the main leaders of the Resistance in Auvergne, set up part of the 1st Auvergne Free Corps in the old Montboissier château in Saint-Maurice. On 9 December of the same year, the “maquisards” (member of the Maquis) derailed a train at Les Martres-de-Veyre. Three days later, German forces overran Saint-Maurice, spreading terror and arresting 26 inhabitants. Of these, two were shot and eleven were deported, five of whom never returned. During the tragic incident, the castle and several buildings were set on fire. The château was restored in the 1970s.