Medieval Cross of Sergeac
Sergeac, one of these beautiful villages you wish you had discovered earlier!
However, a superb cross – croix hosanaire – marks the turning to the small road that leads to it.
Croix Hosanaires were funeral monuments and often marked the site of a mass grave or an ossuary.
Most stood on a column and stone base.
Hosanne or Ozanne is the name of the holy box tree branches left at the foot of the cross on Palm Sunday.
However, the medieval cross of Sergeac is quite unusual, because it doesn’t mark a burial ground.
Its purpose was indeed to show travelers and pilgrims the path that led to the commanderie, as the area would then have been covered by a thick forest of oaks.
Sergeac, a former Knights Templar Commanderie
Sergeac is perched above the river Vézère and therefore never floods.
This prime location has attracted men since the Gallo-Roman era.
The many vestiges found in the village show that it was inhabited without interruption from that epoch until the late Middle Ages.
Foundations of Roman houses, as well as a Visigothic necropolis, were indeed uncovered during the construction of the church in the 11th century.
Elie Rudel, Lord of Bergerac, bequeathed the land of Sergeac and all rights related to it to Géraud Lavergne, the Commander of the Knights Templar Order in Périgord.
Lavergne founded the commanderie in the second half of the 13th century.
Sergeac was the largest Templar commanderie in Périgord.
However, all changed for the worse for the Order of the Knights Templar when Philip the Fair had them arrested in 1307.
Accused of heresy and idolatry, the Templars were sentenced to death after a 7-year trial and their Order suppressed in 1312.
The Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar and two other dignitaries were burned at the stake on March 18, 1314 on the Square du Vert Galant in Paris.
All their commanderies were subsequently bequeathed to the Order of the Hospitallers of Saint-John of Jerusalem.
In 1316, the Hospitallers took over Sergeac under the leadership of their commander Guillaume de Crémirac.
Crémirac took residence in the manor, which became known as Hospitum Cramiraco.
The Hospitallers fortified the village at the beginning of the Hundred Years War in order to protect men and cattle from the English raids but also bandits who roamed the countryside.
Sergeac, a listed village
Peace and quite has since returned to the region!
The village is still laid out around the former Commander’s House – Manoir de Cramirat and the church.
The magnificent fortified manor – today privately owned – boasts outstanding architectural features.
These include the large round tower located in the courtyard, but also several grotesques (sculpted human faces) on some of its facades.
The Hospitallers not only fortified the village, but also the church in order to turn it into a fortress-shelter.
The impressive fortified church underwent further attacks during the Wars of Religion.
It still bears traces of the various conflicts in its stones, but the Romanesque porch fortunately escaped destruction.
Picturesque old limestone houses, mostly roofed with lauzes ( limestone slabs) border the tiny and narrow village lanes.
Sergeac has a unique charm!
It seems that nothing has much changed since the Middle Ages.
The whole village is listed and protected by severe building regulations.
There are therefore neither trade nor gift shops!
A small museum of local prehistory and archeology was founded in one of the village houses.
It exhibits the various artifacts uncovered in the cliff of Castel-Merle, a cave located at the rear of the village.
Sergeac is definitely a Must Visit!
Department of Dordogne
Coordinates: Lat 45.002830 – Long 1.106500
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