The story of Rignac
Around 1007, the abbey of Conques already owned property in the parish of Rignac, including a pond and mills. In 1051, Alquier proposed donating the church to the abbey, but in the face of opposition from Géraud and Humbert de Belcastel, the co-seigneurs of Rignac, offered it instead to the cathedral of Rodez. However, after negotiations with the abbot, the seigneurs agreed to donate the church to Conques, along with two associated farrmhouses.
The original Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre fell down in 1285, according to the records of the archbishop of Bourges who made a pastoral visit there the following year. The building seems to have been rebuilt in two stages: the steeple was rebuilt some time after 1418 but the church was not consecrated until around 1460. The Abbé Boutonnet, parish priest of Rignac from 1836 to 1851, became bishop of Basse-Terre in 1862.
During the Carolingian period (7th-10th centuries), Rignac was the administrative centre of a viguerie. Its position, on the borders of the neighbouring Causse and Ségala areas, probably explains its historical importance as a market town. The seigneurie was controlled by the counts of Rodez. The Belcastel family and the Berti, seigneurs of la Pardelle, were co-seigneurs of Rignac. The Count of Armagnac, who was also count of Rodez, visited Rignac on 3 December 1383.
The Etats de Rouergue (annual assemblies) met here several times during the 16th century. In 1473, King Louis XI, who had confiscated the properties of the counts of Armagnac, gave Rignac to Imbert de Batarnay, who two years later gave it to Béraud de Murat, seigneur of L’Estang (of Goutrens) in exchange for Morestel in the Dauphiné region of eastern France. In the 16th century, the seigneurs of Cassagne-Beaufort and of Buisson-Bournazel were co-seigneurs of Rignac.
The counts of Rodez had a castle in Rignac. There were a captain and a judge. The town received incomes from a toll bridge, the Pont de Monnaie (the money bridge). The town was fortified with ramparts from very early days: there are records of a moat in 1247. The walls were repaired in 1571. In 1590, during the wars of religion, the protestants attempted a surprise attack, but they were repelled by the captain, Durieu.
After that, peace allowed the development of commerce. Fairs were important in the period known as the Ancien Régime (from the 15th century until the Revolution). Various crafts were practised in the area, including hosiery, hat making and small-scale tannery. In the 17th century, Rignac had a salt warehouse.
In the vicinity :
La Garissonie : the land of the Dominican monks of Rodez.
La Pradelle: the hideaway of Géraud Berti (1430), and subsequently of the Belcastel, Bernard and (in the 18th century) Puel de Besset families.
Mirabel: The church of Saint-Félix was at one time annexed to the church of Saint Félix in Anglars. It became a separate parish after the Concordat in 1801. Mirabel belonged to co-seigneurs: the Mirabel family (1080-1219), the Balaguiersne (13th-14th century), the Saunhasc (15th century) and finally the Buisson-Bournazel family (15th-18th century). Little remains of the original chateau; part of it has been incorporated into the present-day church. According to tradition, the ancient tomb of the seigneurs was on the rock where the earliest castle was built in the 10th-11th centuries.
Montredon: the seigneurie of Berald Buffet (1328).
Pont de la Monnaie: formerly de la Moleda or de la Moneda (perhaps because its was on the route of Roman road called the Via Munita), this was a medieval toll bridge, the tolls being shared by the counts of Rodez , the seigneur of Belcastel, and Bonnecombe abbey. The bridge, extremely ancient, was rebuilt in 1336. In the 13th century there was also a hospital called l’Ospital de la Moleda
Recoules: seigneurie of Pierre de Marcenac in 1433.
(From an article in the publication ‘Sauvegarde du Rouergue – Le canton de Rignac’, by Jean Delmas, Director of Archives of the department of Aveyron.)
Translation: Sarah Donovan