Moutier and the Moutier-Grandval Abbey
2 April 2022
The site of the town of Moutier (until 1 January 2026, belonging to the canton of Berne, from this date on to the canton of Jura) is the famous gorge, which has a geological significance of European importance.
Moutier lies at the foot of the Jura and Rhine valleys and is the gateway to the Pierre-Pertuis Pass, which links Alsace with Italy via Saint-Maurice, Martigny and the Great St. Bernard Pass.
For this reason, the abbey of Moutier-Grandval was founded in the middle of the seventh century by the abbot of the monastery of Luxeuil (in present-day France-Comté). The abbey of Moutier-Grandval grew into an influential intellectual, artistic and religious centre.
King Rudolf III of Burgundy (977-1032) donated the abbey in 999 to Adalberon II, the prince-bishop of Basel. The bishops of Basle were allied with the Burgundian kings. The city was part of the Kingdom of Burgundy, founded in 888 and stretched from the Vosges to the Mediterranean and from the Saône to the Reuss in Switzerland.
Rudolf III died in 1032, and the Holy Roman Empire acquired the kingdom and, thus also, Moutier. The Prince-Bishopric of Basel of this Empire continued until the French invasion in 1792 and 1797.
After that, the area of the prince-bishopric was first divided into French departments and, after the defeat of Napoleon by the Congress of Vienna, was mostly allocated to Canton Bern.
The abbey had long since disappeared. The Reformation was the direct cause of its closure and demolition in the 16th century.
However, the name and fame of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey have been preserved due to some exceptional works of art, among others, the 11th-century frescoes in the Chalière chapel, the world-famous 8th-century Moutier-Grandval Bible, the Alcuin Bible, which is on display in the British Museum in London, the Romanesque vaults of the Collegiate Church of Moutier and the seventh-century Merovingian cross of Saint Germain, kept in the Delémont Museum of Art and History.