Bursins and the network of Cluny
3 November 2022
The history of the village of Bursins (canton of Vaud) is closely linked to the Kingdom of Burgundy (888-1032) and the Abbey of Cluny. The well-preserved church and village centre have their origins in this period. The church bears a strong resemblance to the church of Saint-Sulpice, a village near Lausanne. Lausanne was the diocese of Bursins in this period.
The first (Carolingian) church of Bursins dates from the 8th century. A Romanesque reconstruction took place in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Bursins is also the centre of a unique document. The first official mention of the village is in a document from 1011. Rudolph III, the last king of Burgundy, donated the village to the monastery of Romainmôtier.
Archives cantonales vaudoises
The deed is the oldest surviving document, which mentions the Burgundian king (966-1032) Rodulfi regis, Cluny and its abbot Odilo (962-1049) Odilonem abbatem de romano monasterio and Bursins (Brucins). This document of 1011 is known from later transcriptions.
In 1276, Romainmôtier, belonging to the order of Cluny, acquired other possessions in the region. In the 13th century, the prior built the fortified house that still stands behind the church. The Romanesque church was rebuilt and extended in the 13th, 14th and early 16th centuries. In 1536, Protestant Bern conquered Vaud (Le Pays de Vaud) from the Duke of Savoy, and the church became a temple.
The Saint-Martin Priory is still a remarkable architectural ensemble. Located at the highest point of the village and surrounded by patrician houses and the prior’s house from the 13th century, it is an impressive complex. The medieval castle Le Rosey and the beautiful landscape of Vaud are the settings of this town.
The European Federation of Cluny sites provides information on the extraordinary influence of the Abbey of Cluny (Southern Burgundy) across Europa from the 10th to the 18th centuries.
This abbey’s spiritual, artistic, economic, political and social influence was enormous, including in Switzerland. The French Revolution put an end to the abbey and its network. In Cluny, only a tiny part of the vast complex has been preserved.
The abbey and the monks of Cluny were behind the creation of hundreds of towns and villages in Europe. The European Federation is an essential cultural route of the Council of Europe. Bursins and 12 other Swiss towns are part of it.
Les Chemins de Cluny en Suisse/Cluny Wanderwege in der Schweiz is an eleven-stage route that connects thirteen monasteries in Switzerland: Bassins, Bursins, Mollens, Romainmôtier, Baulmes, Montcherand, Bevaix, Corcelles-Cormondrèche, Douanne (Twann), Ile Saint-Pierre (Insel St. Peter), Münchenwiler/Villars-Les-Moines, Payerne, Rüeggisberg and Rougemont.