Martin M. Miles

Martin M. Miles

Posted on 10/13/2013

Photo taken on August  1, 2011

See also...


Louis the Pious
Wars of Religion
brotherly love
style saintongue
Via Turonensis
Saint Arediu
Arède d'Atane
Pepin I of Aquitaine
Edict of Nantes
Abbaye royale
Battle of Taillebourg

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Matha - Saint-Hérie

Matha - Saint-Hérie 

Monks, lay brothers and workers from the Benedictian Abbaye royale of Saint-Jean-d'Angély (20kms northwest), started to build this church end of the 11th century. The Benedictian abbey, part of the cluniac network, had been founded by Louis the Pious´ son Pepin I of Aquitaine in the 9th century. Given up during the Viking raids, the abbey grew rich, famous and important, when the Via Turonensis developed. Thousends of pilgrims followed that way and as a relic of John the Baptist was kept in the abbey, this was a major halt on the "chemin". The abbey sponsored the building of dozends of churches in the Poitou.

The church was dedicated to Saint-Hérie (aka "Saint Arediu", "Arède d'Atane"). The village around the church was consequently named "Saint-Herie" before it got merged into the small town of Matha.

During the 100 Years´War, the area changed hands a couple of times, before the "Battle of Taillebourg" 1242 (30kms west) ended the "Saintonge-War".

The Wars of Religion were even worse for Saint-Hérie. Only the facade and the southern wall of the nave survived the fury. Matha was a stronghold of the Huguenots, who were evicted and exiled after the "Edict of Nantes" got revoked in 1685. Following that all protestant churches existing in the town got leveled to the ground.

Many small details of the facade may be reconstructed after the mutilation, but the portal is beautiful. There are some nice, but strange capitals.

Two lions, who share a single head and only have a jount mouth, share a yummy meal in brotherly love. They devour a poor human being. The person looks unhappy and frightened, he tries to hold on for dear life, what is understandable.