Chènevière and Puybonnieux, Templar domains

Eglise de Chenevière, sur la commune de Pageas
Eglise de Chenevière, sur la commune de Pageas (photo Office de tourisme des Monts de Châlus)

It was at the time of the First Crusade that the military religious orders appeared. The most famous of them were the Templars and the Hospitallers, who fought alongside Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade. In the beginning they were orders of warriors who were both knights and monks at the same time. Their role was to defend the Holy Land and Christian pilgrims who were on their way to Jerusalem.

In time, these orders acquired great influence as well as enormous wealth, possessing numerous domains, not only in the Holy Land but also in Europe. They ruled these possessions like feudal lords by means of “commanderies” (estates under the control of a commander), which constituted their principal source of revenue.

In the Commune of Pageas, the villages of Chènevière and Puybonnieux were commanderies, belonging first to the Templars and then the Hospitallers. Little trace remains of these commanderies. However, the village of Chenevière has a small church typical of those founded by the military orders of the time: plain and austere. The village has some ancient houses, several having moulded windows which may have come from the former commandery, or perhaps from the castle at Les Cars.

At Puybonnieux, the Templar commandery was replaced by a huge estate whose buildings probably date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Some walls still define what was perhaps the old domain attached to the commandery. These lands belonged to the Order of the Temple until its dissolution at the beginning of the 14th century. They then passed to the Hospitallers, who became the Order of Malta. It kept its domains until the Revolution, during which, like all the benefices of the clergy, they were nationalised. Some place names still recall the presence of these military religious orders in the territory of the Monts de Châlus, like the Moulin du Temple near the village of La Jourdanie, in the Commune of Pageas.