Last modified: 2004-07-31 by ivan sache
Keywords: puy-de-dome | villeneuve-lembron | lozenge (black) | stars: 4 (black) | scallops: 2 (yellow) |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Villeneuve-Lembron is a village located in the plaine of Lembron, a few kilometers south-west of Issoire.
The Villa nova (new estate) was created after clearing a part of the forest in the XI-XIIth centuries, as it occurred in several regions of France, then mostly covered with woods. The estate belonged to the Dauphiné d'Auvergne, a small feudal domain in Auvergne belonging to the duchy of Aquitaine. Knights of Villeneuve Astorg and Jean are mentioned in the XIVth centuries, but there is no evidence they lived in Villeneuve. The domain was then part of the châtellenie of Vodable, the capital city of the Dauphiné.
In 1435, squire Jean d'Aurelhe (Aureilhe) was allowed to fortify his
domain around a square tower dating from XIIth century. His relative
Rigaud (Rigault) d'Aureilhe, born around 1450, was a diplomat and man of
war, and was appointed maître d'hôtel by kings of France Louis XI,
Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I. At that time, the royal court
moved from castle to castle and the maître d'hôtel was more a court
manager than a modern maitre d'. Rigaud built a castle in Villeneuve
at the end of the XVth century.
The domain of Villeneuve became a baronny in 1501 and was later ceded to the family of Montmorin. In 1643, the castle was purchased by Isaac Dufour, trésorier de France, and later by the family Pelissier de Féligonde, which kept it until 1919. The castle was bought in 1937 by the French state and restored.
Until the end of the XIXth century, the most important activity in the village was wine-growing. All vines were killed by the phylloxera in 1890 and not replanted.
Villeneuve-Lambrun has therefore two castles. In the village, the Hôtel
d'Aureilhe, built by Jean d'Aureilhe, is a fortified area including the
Roman tower from XIIth century, the hotel from XIII-XIVth century, a wall
and other buildings from the XVth century. Buildings used for
wine-growing were added in the XIXth century.
Rigaud d'Aureilhe abandoned the medieval, fortified hotel, and built the new castle, which shows the transition between the late Middle-Ages and Renaissance. The castle is still robust (a simple square building with four angle towers) but was influenced by the castles built by Italian architects in the valley of Loire. Rigaud went with Charles VIII in the Italian Wars, which were a political failure but a great artistic and cultural success for France. The Italian fad was so strong in the court that most erudites announced that the French language would soon disappear because of pollution by Italian!
Beside its Renaissance furniture, which is kept in the Museum of
Decorative Arts in Paris, the main interest of the castle of
Villeneuve-Lambron are the wall paintings made for Rigaud d'Aureilhe.
These paintings show weird moralizing, allegoric scenes, with a written
explanation. The most famous of these scenes are the Dit de la
Chiche-Face and the Dit de la Bigorne.
The beast called Chiche-Face (lit., Meager-Face) eats only virtuous women, and is therefore very skrawny. Conversely, the beast called Bigorne (lit., Two-Horned) eats only virtuous men, who implore her to free them from their cheating wives, and is therefore very fat. These fairly mysoginic scenes were probably inspired by Rigaud's conjugal disappointments, which have been described by the Auvergnat novelist and folklorist Henri Pourrat (1887-1959) as follows:
Dans le Lembron, ce fut le château de Rigault d'Aureilhe, qui fut ambassadeur de Louis XI, Charles VIII et Louis XII. Il fut aussi cocu avec ostentation. Il suspendit dans sa galerie une fabuleuse collection de cornes [et représenta] la Bigorne, grasse à crever parce qu'elle fait sa proie des infidelès, tandis que la Chicheface, qui se nourrit des vertueuses, est maigre comme une épine de hareng.
In Lembron, this was the castle owned by Rigaud d'Aureilhe, who was ambassador for Louis XI, Charles VIII and Louis XII. He was also cuckolded with ostentation. He hang in his gallery a huge collection of horns [and pictured] the Bigorne, fat to kick the bucket because she eats unfaithful women, whereas the Chicheface, which eats vertuous women, is as meager as a herring spine.
Pourrat slightly misinterpreted the Chicheface and might have invented the collection of horns. In French, a cuckold is said to bear horns (cornes, which gave the old-fashioned word cornard) and there are several popular expression related to such horns. For instance, a howling wind is said to be able to dehorn oxens, or, more colloquially, to dehorn cuckolds. The cuckold is a traditional character of theater, probably inspired by the Commedia dell'Arte, magnified by Molière (Sganarelle), Shakespeare (Otello) and Crommelynck (Le Cocu Magnifique), not to mention the sardonic vaudevillists Feydeau and Labiche, who showed that adultery was the main social activity of the bourgeoisie of the Second Empire. Alfred Jarry made of ignoble Ubu the most pathetic cuckold ever, and some of the swearwords invented by Jarry are directly inspired by the horns: Ubu often says Cornegidouille !, and his infamous palotins sing the no less infamous song Cornes au cul, Vive le Père Ubu !.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 2 March 2004
The flag of Villeneuve-Lembron is quartered, I and IV yellow with five black lozenges arranged along the descending diagonal, II and III blue with two black stars surmonting a yellow scallop.
The yellow field with the black lozenges seems to be the Aureilhe's arms.
Ivan Sache, 2 March 2004