Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry

'Family History Research' - Chapter 29
The family in the Auvergne

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Chapter 29

"He watches from his mountain walls" TENNYSON 1809-1892

The family in the Auvergne

Four departments make up the Auvergne Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dame. About 1200 AD part of the Delaforce family moved east from the GIRONDE and North East from Gascony towards modern CANTAL.

They had little choice, as they had owned the village of La Force in the Perigord (West of Bergerac). The next chapter is a digression on La Force. The French King Philip IV now controlled the area, as Edward I had refused to take Philip’s suzereignity seriously in 1293 & the Delaforces were driven out of La Force for their participation in the English military effort. However, this was not unappreciated & was compensated by Edward I by land in this area. Edward did regain his duchy in 1303. The loyalty of the Gascons to the English crown was not secure. Their loyalty was contingent on the English ability to support it & they definitely preferred to be Left Alone. They had not been very keen when Edward, as the heir to the English throne, was given Gascony to run. Edward’s marriage to Eleanor of Castile was a means of ‘reconciling’ the Gascons by threatening their rear.

Around the capital town of AURILLAC they built three chateaux called Fourcès (St Mamet-la-Salvetat), LA FORCE near the village of ROUFFIAC, Canton of St SIMON, 10 km NE of Aurillac and at LES FORCES, Canton of FREIX-ANGLARDS 20 km due North of AURILLAC. Finally another LA FORCE chateau was built in Champs (Quartier de MARVALD) NE of MAURIAC.

The CANTAL is remarkably beautiful, famous for its ‘MONTS DOMES’ some 60 relatively new volcanoes (about 10,000 years old) and of course for its cheese!

The reasons for the move (of part of the family) are complex. The ALBIGENSIAN Crusade was launched in 1208 and was a most severe religious persecution - not only in ALBI but for most of the Languedoc.

The Delaforces had been English subjects since Eleanor of Aquitaine’s dowry of the Gironde and Gascony were handed over in 1154 to England. In 1204 King John lost Normandy to the French: perhaps the Delaforces felt less secure as a result. King John imposed severe taxes on his subjects in France.

King Phillip II Augustus of France then annexed Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou very early in the 13th century. In 1214 King John’s army with many Gascons amongst it, was defeated at Bouvines near Lille in the North.

Other factors were trade, plague and marriage: AURILLAC was on one of the main pilgrim routes to St James of COMPOSTELLA in northern Spain and MAURIAC further north was near the river Dordogne: both of these possibilities would have appealed to the Merchant Venturers in London (1250-1300) One of the early Delaforces may have married into an Auvergnian family. Finally Plague swept the Dordogne & Gascony in 1279 and decimated the population. The Chateaux in Auvergne are supposed to date from 1284!

The sources for the Auvergne genealogical data are:-

(1) the Inventaire-Sommaire in the Archives in Aurillac (also in the British Museum library)
(2) summaries from the Inventaire of MAURIAC, LAVANDES, SOURNIAC and MADIC
(4) Two local historians: Ambroise TARDIEU ‘Dict. d’anciennes families de l’Auvergne” “Noblessi de chevaliers connu dès 1284 existait en core en 1366”
(5) J-B BOUILLET "Nobiliare d’ Auvergne vol III"
(6) "Revue de la Haute Auvergne" historical series
(7) AIGUEPERSE "Celebrites de l’Auvergne"
(8) De RIBIER "du Chatelet et ses collabareteurs".

Since it is clear that though the family had four strongholds in the Auvergne (now alas completely ruined, see right), they were as always most mobile and in the 15th century their activities outside the Auvergne were considerable. No effort has been made therefore to construct a family tree specifically relating to the Auvergne. The information found is presented as a chronological diary:-


1211 DIONYSIUS FORSENATO was a Milite (military title) of AURELIANSIS/AURILLAC


1215 JEAN de FORTET was living at LANOBRE/BORGUE (modern BORT-LES-ORGUES) near LA FORCE Chateau NE of MAURIAC.


1254 JEAN de FORTET perhaps son of (2) above was CONSUL of AURILLAC, the capital, shown as “JOHANS FORTETZ, cossol d’AORLIAC’ sold a house to Pierre Amblart for “cent sous du Puy”.


1254 Ad(hemarus) or AYMERIC FORTETZ lived in Aurillac.


1284 Pierre FORTET, Mandatoire du Roi, in Aurillac.


1284 BERNARD d’ESFORCIA and brother AYMARCUM FORTET in Aurillac.




1295 BERNARDI LAFON; ASTORG II (ARNOLD) del FORN, PETRI del FORN lived in the diocese of Claro MONTENSIS.


1295 ETIENNE DELFAUS (SAINT ETIENNE is patron saint of Aurillac), was a “Conseilleur du consentement des habitants d’Aurillac” i.e. elected “afin de les representer dans les procès nous entre la ville et l’abbé de Aurillac devant le pape (Pope) BONIFACE VIII et le roi de France.” The “Paix d’ Aurillac” ended the hundred years struggle for power between “les bourgeois” (i.e. ETIENNE, GUILLAUME, JEAN and the other consuls) and the Abbot of Saint Geraud backed by the Pope. In the original Charta of the Commons several Delaforces are mentioned.


1311 Pierre and Raymond de FORTET lived in Aurillac.


J-B BOUILLET has produced evidence that BERNARD and AYMERIC (also known as ARCHAMBAUD) had sons respectively of the same name (alive in 1281): that AYMERIC shown in 1291 had two sons Pierre and Guillaume: that HELlS de La Force in 1300 married Ebles de CHABANNES (a powerful local family who exist today). HELlS had a grandson called Pierre (about 1340-50): that BERTRAND born in 1445, married and had two sons PIERRE born 1472 and ANTOINE in 1475 (Pierre became PETER FORCE goldsmith of Canterbury and ANTOINE, Perkin Warbeck’s Companion, later Knighted, then lived in Paris as a member of Parlement).




1351 Jean de FORTET lived in CAZALS in Auvergne.


1350/70 RAYMOND de FORCES, Captain of the castle of LA FORCE near MAURIAC.


1384/6/7/96/1412/1425 and 1455 BERTRAND de la Forsa, Sieur de la Forsa (father and son) were Abbots of MEYMAC, Northwest of MAURIAC ?apud VENTADORUM? - Gallia Christiana.


1395 GUILLAUME de LA FORCE owned the Chateau at St SIMON on the River Jordanne, near Aurillac.


1392/4/6/8/9/1401/2 INGUERRAAUM (William) de FORCIACO was a Canon diocese of Cenomannense and PRIOR St Dionysius de CARCERE in the Auvergne.


1400 King Henry IV gave lands of Gaillard/Guillaume de FUSSAT of CONDAT and BARBANS to Hughes Bowet (no reason given).


1465 BERNARDUS del FORN, sutor (sutler or tailor?) and BERTRANDO de FORTETI ‘etiam dicte ville mercatoribus Aurillac’: father and son were tailors - the father was to die at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.


The family de FORSAT of the Auvergne had a crest of “De gueules à une fleur-de-lys d’or”.


J-B BOUILLET wrote ‘DE LA FORCE - le fiet de La Force relevant de CHARLUS-le-Pailloux et avait donné son nom a une famille d’ancienne chevalerie en 1284”. Charlus is a chateau 15 miles north of Mauriac. The Delaforces also paid allegiance from Mauriac to Ventadour, a formidable chateau fortress, for a time owned by a brutal Breton Count called Geoffrey Tete-Noir.

The Auvergne became French property in 1453, if not before and King Charles VII was an unacceptable master to some of the Delaforces. The Bernards, father and son, left the Auvergne and there are no records available after that date. The chateaux are now sad ruins overgrown with trees and ivy.

There are two small villages with château/fortress/manor-houses call LA FORCE in the Auvergne. One at SAINT SIMOND, north of AURILLAC and CHAMPS de MAURIAC, Puy-de-Dôme.

Right: The Church in Meymac looks as pristine as it must have when the two Bertrand de la Forssas were the priests.

Meymac Church

BERTRAND de La Force and ARCHAMBAUD were wine growers in 1284 of the FIEF de la Force owned by the Duchy of VENTADOUR. In 1297 AYMERIC de la Force owned it with his sons PIERRE and GUILLAUME. After 1300 HÉLIS de la Force inherited. Pierre de la Force, his grandson, left only a daughter who in 1366 married GEORGES de SANTIGES. Their son BERTRAND de SANTIGES changed the name to de la Force and he and PIERRE and ANTOINE, his children appeared in actes of 1445, 1472 and 1475 under the name de la Force. Their descendants made hommage to the Counts of VENTADOUR. It appears probable that SIR BERNARD de la Force 1436 -1510 (approx) and his son ANTHONY (see chapter 23) were the same as BERTRAND and ANTOINE. BERTRAND was ENGLISH Ambassador to the Court of King Ferdinand of Spain and became Governor of the Tower of London. Sir Anthony was a diplomatic envoy like his father, both had houses in London.

In 1651 ANNET PARIZOT was Seigneur de la Force. Another ‘bourgeois of AIURILLAC’ PIERRE PIGANIOL later became Seigneur de la Force. His son, JEAN-AYMER PIGANIOL de la Force, was Governor of the pages of the Count of Toulouse in 1709 but went to live in Paris in 1751 and sold the chateau to GUY de l’OLM, Seigneur de Lalaubie. JEAN-AYMER PIGANIOL de la Force, a famous writer 1669 - 1753 came from the AVERGNE “belonging to a noble family, near Chateau des ROUAUDIERES, MONDOUBLEAU. Phillipe DELAFORCE, son of PHILLIPE, architect to the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV, 1700 - 1750 was probably from the same family as PIGANIOL. (Piganiol was a Caumont, ref Larousse 1870. Ed).

The other LA FORCE village, in MAURIAC, Puy-de-Dôme belonged to the ROUSUILLON family. Since 1628, it has been in the hands of M. Edmond MATTIEU LA FORCE family. M. Edmond is (1980) Mayor of BEAULIEU in Cantal and has proof of ownership. In 1639 ‘le Sieur de la Force of the ville/chateau de Salles en ROUSILLON’ was killed at the river Segre (SAINTAGE region)

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
©1980-2004 Patrick Delaforce. All rights reserved Last revised 18/12/2005