Abbaye De La Bussiere

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History of La Bussière
From ‘Three Valleys’ to ‘Buxeria’

Surprisingly, this site is mentioned for the first time as early as 696 AD under the name of ‘Tres Valles’ in a document in which Ansbert, Bishop of Autun, bequeathed his lands in ‘Tres Valles in Pago Magnimonteses’ (three valleys in the countryside of Mesmont) to his Cathedral of Saint Symphorien.

Later, when the Cistercians established their abbey it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Notre Dame des Tres Vallees. The present name La Bussière originates from BUXERIA, the second part of the dedication adopted from the foundation of the Abbey in 1131  ‘Vallis Beatae Mariae de Buxeria’ (Valleys of the Blessed Virgin of Buxeria). The word ‘Buxeria’ was made by adding the suffix ‘Aria’ to the Latin word ‘Buxus’ and means ‘place covered with box trees’.

The name seems curious as today there are hardly any box plants in the location of the Abbey apart from low box hedges planted as borders in the Abbey gardens. An historian, Eugene Fyot in his book dedicated to the Abbey of La Bussière, pointed out that this could:
                                                                                  
‘simply indicate that long use of the box wood, without replanting, could have resulted in the progressive disappearance of the plants over time’. 3

This raises the question of what kind of intensive exploitation could have resulted in these shrubs being almost wholly replaced today by juniper scrub.

According to M Fyot it seems likely that it was the monks and their lay brothers who exploited the box woodlands as one of the local resources.

They would have used the boxwood ‘to make all sorts of everyday objects such as rosary beads, buttons, cups, spoons, etc. It makes excellent firewood and its use would have expanded with the use of lime kilns, as it burns at a very high temperature. In addition, the wood ash could be used in soap making and the small branches, complete with their leaves, being employed as bedding material.’ 4

Part2: The Eduens >
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