Stories : Flavigny in images from times gone by

The music which accompanies these images is taken, with their Blessing, from the CD, The Violins of the Auxois by the musicians of the Union of the Groupes of Strolling Musicians of the Morvan, UGMM. Maison du Patrimoine Oral, 71550 Anost, 03 85 82 72 50, ..., who we applaud with thanks.

Comfrey or Field Larkspur, Burgundy 15th C.

Mustard pot from the beginning of the 18th C. work of a Flavigny pewterer.

Tin Pottery in Burgundy
by Roger Verdier and Daniel Alix
Edition Camosine. Nevers

5 Roof or ridge tile decoration

6 Door Latch with thumb piece

As far as one can make out circa1880. Since then, we know the Gauls a little better: they wore notably a torque (metal collar) around the neck rather than shells and breeches rather than trousers and a tunic worn around the chest etc...

Edouard Zier Drawing (1856-1924).

In the last century before our era, the Celts of La Tene III, after having suffered the ravages of the "Cimbres" and the «Teutons* Built or strengthened the Oppida, (fortified villages), notably Bibracte for the Eduens and Alesia for their followers, the Mandubiens. At the site of our village of Flavigny which constituted a fortified rocky spur there was probably a small Mandubian oppidum which suceeded a former neolothic village.

Veni, vidi, vivi

The Triumphs of Cesar

The Triumph of Cesar - I saw, I came, I conquered

Cesar astride a unicorn whose legs end in human feet.
It is possible that according to the custom, a servant followed him whilst repeating to the triumphant general, "Memento mori", "Remember that you are mortal"
The origin of this frieze sculpted in woodland pine : Château Velez Blanca, Andalucia 1510-1515 (detail). Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris
After their victory at Alesia (52 BC) the romans forced the occupants of the oppidums (fortified villages) to destroy their defences. There undoubtedly remained only one hamlet on this site until the day, maybe around IIC. when a patrician named Flavius or Flavinus established a country house and farmlands that he named Flaviniacum, that's to say belonging to Flavinius.

The settlement of the Burgundians at Ve, shaken by the collapse of their kingdom of the Worms under the combined blows of the Romans and Attila the Hun. They would even lose their King Gunther, the husband of the indomptable valkyrie Brunhilde reflected in the "Song of Nibelungen", written far from here in the 13th C.

In the stronghold that he inhabited, the Lord-Abbot burgundian Widerard (Widerardus, Waré or Guiré) founded the Benedictine abbey in 719. Around this an entire city sprang up over the centuries : lesser lords houses, clerks, servants, merchants, apothecaries ; homes and hovels, stables and asylums, pubs, drying ovens and a bakehouse, encircled by vineyards and the city walls.


The Louvre exhibits six 11C. arches from the old abbey church of Saint Pierre of Flavigny, including this one with strange tail biting quadrupeds with legs ending in something resembling fingers. The Master of the Flavigny workship is careful to include animal symbols on the front of certain arches. They reproduce themes which were current in the fabrics in circulation at the beginning of 11th C.
The early beginnings of Romanesque art in Burgundy.. Under the direction of Christian Sapin. Édition de l'Armançon , 1999.

(Louvre : Richelieu wing, Room 1, Romanesque culptures, access from Marly courtyard.


Legends and fables, spoken and imagined traditions still lead to learned arguments about the origin of the famous aniseed bonbons, the confectionery manufactured by the learned Benedictines assisted by the gentle Ursuline nuns. They were much appreciated by pope Jean VIII nicknamed Popesse Jeanne for his weakness in respect of the Church of Constantinople which upon his return from the Counsil of Troyes consecrated the abbey church of Flavigny in the autumn of 878. It is certain that he took with him 8lbs of aniseed from Flavigny to facilitate his return voyage to Rome from where he had fled a few months earlier. Let us hope that the discovery of this engraving will settle the argument: that the creation of this sweetmeat goes back into the mists of time. Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1504).

From the 13thC: construction of the new parish church in the "Gothic" style, dedicated to Saint Genoa, on the site of a romanesque church.


Saint Genoa (or Genest, Genesis, Génis), Roman actor. It is said that after having acted numerous times the conversion to Christianity of a Roman and then his martyrdom to amuse the Diocletien emperor, he ended up by converting himself and was martyrized soon afterwards (3rd C).
Patron saint of actors, celebrated on August 25th.
On the pages of the book which he is holding open is written in Latin: Remember from dust you came and to dust you will return.
But it is more likely that the saint to which the parish church is dedicated is Saint Genoa, bishop of Clermont (7thC) and thus only to the holy actor on the rebound.


Pilgrims entering the Church of Saint Genes in 15th C.

Re-enactment ordered by Jean-Philippe Lecat on the occasion of the publication of his art book - Le Siecle de la toison d'Or, Flammarion 1986

The inhabitants of Flavigny, then the capital of the district, having refused the construction of a station in the Ozerain Valley, escaped this kind of spectacle.
But of course the beautiful and healthy wet nurses from Flavigny that H Daumier had not wanted to see, contributed to the breastfeeding of baby Parisiens.
"From time immemorial, the Morvan was regarded as the land of milk par excellence. The Romans had already reported that the Gauls of Bibracte soaked their breasts in a fountain in Mont Beuvray to obtain a larger quantity of the milk which would nourish their children. Since then, the Christian descendents of these women were constantly sought after".

Consequently this brings to mind the Miracle of the Lactation of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux which took place, not far from here, in Châtillon-on-Seine, reported starting from the beginning of the 14C: Bernard, who was studying with the secular canons of St Vorles, was one day in prayer at the foot of a statue of the Virgin when he called "Monstra you ess matrem" (Show that you are our Mother): suddenly the statue became animated. The Virgin, upon pressing her breast a jet of milk reached his mouth half-open in ecstasy. Thus with these few drops he accepted the word of the Holy Scriptures and became a priest.
Among the many versions of this story, also called the Vision of Saint Bernard, the most conclusive painting appears to be that of the Portuguese artist Josefa de Ayala Figueira also said Josefa de Obidos (Seville 1630-Obidos 1684).

La Porte du Bourg, end of 14C - beginning of 15thC - formerly called Porte de Barme.

Originally this was the abbey gate with a drawbridge until 17thC. The postcard is signed Berthe, a new resident of Flavigny who Did not regard herself to be a 'pecknaude' (sic) (farmwoman)
Before the 14-18 war, Flavigny's inhabitants totalled more than 900.

Woman at the Well, Jean- François Millet, pen and china ink

And the suburb frequented by a fashionable holidaymaker

The gossip ...

The cleaning of cowshed

Look for the spots where these photos were taken before the 2nd World War

Louis Aubert, hurdy gurdy player between 1740 and 1780

Air du Coq, (violinist's tune) discovered in the 1970's on the corner of the table during a banquet in the Morvandelle.
The "coq" was the local village violinist who accompanied wedding parties in Flavigny and the surrounding villages at the end of the 19thC.

1, 3, 4, 5 : 
photos Jean-Luc Tahon
2 :
Pressed copper plate engraving reproduced by Jean-Luc Tahon

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