QR Yronde-et-Buron 8
Le Bouchet Abbey
The Bouchet Abbey has been mentioned since the end of 12th century. This location is where several Counts of Auvergne, aristocratic families and religious dignitaries have been buried since 1190 to 15th century.
It remained the burial place of most of the Counts of Auvergne until Anne of La Tour d’Auvergne Bertrand VI of la Tour d’Auvergne’s granddaughter and her Scottish husband John Stuart Duke of Albany decided to be buried in the Sainte-Chapelle in Vic Le Comte.
The abbey was built in the new count’s territory near its capital Vic Le Comte more precisely near its count’s castle in Buron.
The name of the new abbey kept changing during centuries. The Cistercian monks called it Val Luisant or Vauluisant which is mainly found in writings, that is referred to its place in the bottom of a sunny valley (vallis – Lucide). However civil sources mention it as Le Bouchet.
This latter choice of name illustrates the legendary part of the abbey’s creation originating from a wish by Robert VI: boshet meaning a thicket which has miraculously appeared in front of him to escape his enemies.
A slow construction
The abbey was probably founded in 1190 by Robert VI of Auvergne to be buried there with his wife the Countess Mahaut of Bourgogne.
The first confirmation of the Cistercian house dates back 1192 when the supreme pontiff decided to protect Valluisant monastery.
The new abbey was thus governed by the Cistercian order.
The abbey was consecrated in 1197 by Robert the bishop of Clermont who was also the son of the Count of Auvergne. From then on, all the Counts of Auvergne were buried there. Throughout its history the abbey profited of the protection, donation and legacy of a huge number of high-ranking people allowing the construction of new buildings.
A first-rank abbey
Since 13th century, the abbey has appeared as one of the priviledged witnesses of the chancellery of the counts of Auvergne. The Father was regularly named in testamentary provisions and sometimes designated as an executor of wills. Thus, in 1257, the Father of Bouchet abbey was chosen to be an arbitrator in a conflict between Robert V and his brother Guillaume. This role remained paramount until 15th century.
Moreover, in its history the abbey received protection, donations and gifts not only from many high-ranking people and the counts of Auvergne but also from the older branch of the counts of Auvergne namely heirs apparent of Auvergne among them Guillaume I, Robert I with his wife Alix, Robert III and also many high-ranking local vassals such as Guy IV, count of Forez, Astorg lord of Moissat, Bernard of la Tour or Agnon of Meymont lord of Olliergues.
Organisation and architecture
It is difficult to determine with certainty the layout of the monastery buildings. The area might have been organised around the church and a cloister where texts mention burials.
Remains discovered along the stream of La Palle indicate the existence of varied hydraulic constructions that confirm the use of an aqueduct channelling the water of the stream. The monks also possessed fields, grounds, vineyards, windmills, woods, pastures, gardens, areas for fishing and livestock farming.
The abbey may have sheltered monumental tombs of several counts of Auvergne descending from the branch of Dauphins and their wives, and members of the aristocracy and of the clergy.
The end of the Abbey
The abbey had known a huge increase before declining from 18th century. The French revolution destroyed it. It was dismantled in 1791 and sold as a national property. Numerous carved stones can be found in the walls of houses. Its bell can be seen in the chapel in Buron.
The « Saint-Denis » of the Counts of Auvergne
A mortuary chapel built in the minster housed imposing tombs of most of the counts of Auvergne in 14th and 15th centuries, their wives, members of the local nobility as well as dignitaries of the clergy, just like the basilica of Saint Denis which is the famous necropolis for the kings of France.
Today although none of these mortuary monuments can be seen, some are known thanks to drawings that can be traced back from 17th to 18th centuries as well as etchings published in 1708 in the book l’Histoire généalogique de la maison d’Auvergne by Étienne Baluze.
These documents show the decorative wealth of the tombs. Sarcophagus covered with recumbent statues featuring the dead person praying were settled on a pedestal or moved in tomb niches. The most striking monument shaped as a gothic pinnacle housing a sarcophagus and its incumbent statue appears to have been one of Robert VII’s sons count of Auvergne.