Posts Tagged ‘Mont-le-Grand’

Ebulo de Montibus, by Michael Ray

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Michael Ray writes:

Ebulo de Montibus or Ebal de Mont of Mont-sur-Rolle, Vaud, Switzerland

The motte/donjon of Mont-le-Grand, Vaud

The motte/donjon of Mont-le-Grand, Vaud

Last weekend I was due to meet a retired professor of medieval history from the University of Lyon who was going to help me locate the collegiate church of St Catherine built by Peter de Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford 1240-68, at Aiguebelle in the Maurienne, Savoy.  However he had car trouble and was not able to come.  We carried on to Aiguebelle but, after an extensive search, we found nothing.  On returning to England, I discovered that the foundation was actually at Randens, a nearby village, but there may be no remains.

View from the castle of Mont-le-Grand

View from the castle of Mont-le-Grand

However, the trip to Savoy was not completely wasted.  The day before, with the help of a guest at a wedding at the Chateau de Mont vineyard at Mont-sur-Rolle in the Swiss canton of Vaud, we were able to find the remains of the castle of Mont-le-Grand.  This was the home of Ebal II de Mont who came to England with Peter of Savoy and is known in our records as Ebulo de Montibus.  First mentioned in England in 1246 (CCR 1242-7, 487), his initial mention in the Fine Rolls was in April 1250 when he was respited for scutage for the manor of Ewell (Surrey) (CFR 1249-50, no.268).  As Huw Ridgeway noted, Ebal was chosen in 1251 by the Queen and Peter to be a companion of the twelve-year-old Lord Edward.  He might have acted as his Chamberlain and as Steward.  Later Ebal served Henry III himself as Steward of the Household from 1256 (the date is challenged by Ridgeway who puts it as much later).  His fellow steward was another Savoyard, Imbert Pugeys.  Ebal was Constable of Windsor castle in 1266.  Between 1251 and 1262, he witnessed at least eighty-seven royal charters.  He was dead by 1268 when the Queen was one of his executors.  Like so many of the aliens, Ebal married a widow:  Joan de Bohun, of the senior but non-comital branch of the family, had first wed Stephen de Somery and then Godfrey of Crowcombe, a prominent curialis.

The castle at Rolle, Vaud

The castle at Rolle, Vaud

The castle is on the wooded slopes of the Jura mountains, high above Mont-sur-Rolle along an unsigned and unmarked trackway but the bailey is set out as a picnic spot.  On the motte there are three story-boards and, from it, there is a magnificent view of Lake Geneva as far as the Jet d’Eau fountain at Geneva.  To the south, across the lake, is the line of the Alps.  No stone work survives above ground but there are extensive earth works and the castle must have been a formidable presence dominating the east-west route from Lausanne to Geneva along the north side of the lake.  However, Peter of Savoy built a fine stone castle on the lakeside itself at Rolle, and this still exists and is in plain view of Mont-le-Grand.