Zoom on Bertranges forest24 April 2018
LA CHARITÉ-SUR-LOIRE – BERTRANGES. Situated only a few kilometers from the town of La Charité-sur-Loire, the prestigious centuries old Bertranges oak forest has a long and interesting history which is evoked simply by the mention of its name.
LA CHARITE-SUR-LOIRE – BERTRANGES.
Situated only a few kilometers from the town of La Charité-sur-Loire, the prestigious centuries old Bertranges oak forest has a long and interesting history which is evoked simply by the mention of its name.
It starts back in the year 1121. In that year, the very devout Ermengarde de Narcy expressed her dying wish to donate most of her wealth to the Virgin Mary including the “Grande Bertrange”, the woods of her estate.
On 15th August 1121, her husband Hugues de Til Lord of Narcy, respected his wife’s last wish and solemnly donated this property to the Benedictine Convent of La Charité. And so the Virgin to whom the convent church was dedicated became, by canon law, the owner of the forest that was then renamed “Bertrange Sainte-Marie”.
For several centuries, the Benedictines from La Charité convent were responsible for the forest and its management.
In 1253 the convent acquired, probably through a donation, the woods that previously belonged to Etienne de Blancafort and his wife Agnès.
At that time the forest covered 6,000 arpents or around 3,650 hectares. Its specific size was mentioned in letters of depreciation from King Philip the Fair concerning the woods for which the Priory owned the rights.
To the east, its boundaries reached Chaulgnes and Raveau. To the south-east the Priory woods bordered those of Frasnay and to the north-east the Usages de Narcy, of which the Priory became the owner in 1364 (Petite Bertrange). To the west, its boundaries were those of today’s massif.
For several centuries, the forest in the county known today as La Charité was inextricably linked to this important massif. The regime of forestry exploitation had the primary objective of providing the local population, commerce and industries with wood because until the end of the 18th century, it was the only source of energy used. These industries had come to the forest’s edges because of the difficulty in travel and communication. We believe that the forges responsible for the enormous slag heaps around the forest’s edges date back to the Gallo-Roman era.
Photo: ©Christophe Deschanel