Blesle is classified as "Most beautiful villages in France", a must visit!
The history of the village
The history of the village begins in the XNUMXth century with the foundation of a Benedictine abbey.
From the beginning of the Middle Ages, the establishment of the Lords of Mercœur places the village under dual authority: religious and secular, causing numerous disputes to appropriate the rights of justice.
It was around the year 880 that Ermengarde, Countess of Auvergne, mother of William the Pious, founder of Cluny, created in Blesle a Benedictine abbey, placed under the name of Saint Peter and the protection of the Pope. Few traces remain from this period. From the nobility, the nuns were headed by an abbess. Around the XNUMXth century, the nuns gave up community life to live alone or with their families, each in their own homes. These are built around the cloister which ends up disappearing. The endowments of the abbey are, from the start, very important and are located in Haute-Loire, in Cantal, Aveyron, Puy de Dôme and Lozère. Forty-two abbesses followed one another until the Revolution.
The old center preserves a varied architecture where the rich residences of the notables rub shoulders with many half-timbered houses, faithful witnesses of a formerly important commercial activity.
With the XNUMXth century the development of Blesle begins. In the XNUMXth century the increase in the population was such that the abbess decided to build a second church, known as Saint-Martin and reserved for the people. A whole working population ensured the life of the city. A craft of very first value grafted itself on the important rural fabric, supporting the development of the liberal activities.
In 1558, a decree of the king's council aggregates Blesle to the thirteen good towns of Auvergne, which allows its representatives to sit in the assembly of the provincial states.
Its prosperity continued in the 1638th century, with beautiful houses with a portal surmounted by a pediment, as well as the chapel of La Chaigne built in XNUMX on a pilgrimage site.
At that time Blesle had 2000 inhabitants.
Blesle also known to lay lords. The end of the XNUMXth century was marked by the establishment of the powerful barons of Mercœur, with whom the nuns thought they would find protection, Blesle having had to suffer from the great truck drivers. They built a fortress in the city, the keep of which was the main element, and took advantage of their strong position to encroach on the rights and property of the abbey. The abbesses had to come to terms with the lay lords and a long series of agreements and treaties ensued.
In 1321 the last lord of Mercœur died without a direct heir. A long succession crisis followed which ended in 1716 with the sale of the seigneury and the castle to Henri-Louis de Chavagnac, lord of the fief of the same name, located in the town of Auriac l'Eglise in the Cantal.
From the end of the XNUMXth century the population declined. Then with the Revolution, Blesle lost its abbey. Finally from the nineteenth century, the decline in the population, always constant worsens with the arrival of the railroad.