The history of Moyon
Moyon, a pleasant little village, was in other times an important Barony, and due to this fact possesses a history really interesting.
The name “Moyon” originally celtic or pre-celtic leaves us to think that a village already existed in this area in the Gallic period. Later, Moyon was a part of the possessions of William the Conquerer - the Duke of Normandy, bearing the name “Cour de Moyon” (courtyard of Moyon). This man set himself up as the Baron and gave it to one of his faithful companions to thank him for his help in maintaining his power in Normandy in 1047. He took the title of Baron Guillaume 1 de Moyon (The Baron William 1 of Moyon).
Besides Moyon, his lordship’s land spread out to the actual communities of Tessy sur Vire, Beaucoudray, Villebeaudon, La Haye Bellefond, Le Mesnil Herman, Le Mesnil Opac - which was actually a total of 6,000 hectares compared to the 2,374 hectares today. These small market towns created the borders on hilltops, flat land, or even on the banks of a river, which made Moyon the center of this natural protection device.
A wood of 400 hectares is also part of the community. Moyon possessed equally in it’s own area - a Royal Office of Weights and Measures, with certain exemption and freedom, - a very important judge. There was a sergent and solicitor, and he gave the King the service of eleven knights.
At the time of the conquest of England by the Normands in 1066, William of Moyon who was particularly illustrated, received the counties of Dorset and Somerset. In this last county, a castle was erected at Dunster facing the sea, and became the headquarters of their land in England.
His oldest son succeeded him under the name of William 11, then there was William 111, William 1V, and eventually Renaud 1.
At the annexation of Normandy by France in 1204, this last successor had the choice to be the king of France or the king of England - which would give up his rights in Normandy. These rights being confiscated, he set himself up permanently in England where his descendants would have an important role in the country. The direct ancestry finished in 1404. So in 1204 the Barony of Moyon came back to the kingdom of France which he gave to his administrator, Guérin de Glapion, to thank him for his good duty in the surrender of Normandy. The donation was for the whole life of the administrator, so in 1220 he was still in the hands of the King of France. In 1233 Saint Louis exchanged with Henri d’Avaugour, Moyon for Pontorson. His son Alain d’Avaugour sold Moyon to Agnés, the widow of Olivier Paisnel.
After almost a century of uncertainty the Barony of Moyon found itself back after the games of succession in the following families: the Paisnel, the d’Estouteville, the Matignon, and the Grimaldi.
A few words about these families: The Paisnel, a famous English-Norman family had not taken part with the King of France, like the Moyons, and they lost their rights in England. The d’Estouteville, old Norman roots which rose again at the foundation of the country. They became the defenders of Mont Saint Michel against the English in 1425 to 1434. The Matignon, which the hotel in Paris with the same name was their Parisian home, were equally the Count of Thorigni, military governor of Cherbourg, Chausey, Granville .... Lieutenant General of Normandy, Baron of St. Lo ... The Grimaldi Prince of Monaco, due to the marriage of Jacques de Matignon with Louise Hyppolite Grimaldi, the only heiress of Monaco. It was the first signature of little Louis XV and the Regent for the approval of the marriage. Their son Honoré 111 of Monaco who lived in the Castle of Thorigni where he raised horses, was deprived of his rights of Moyon during the French revolution. However, the title stayed with the princely family and Prince Albert 11 of Monaco is the actual Baron of Moyon.
Of this ancient history, Moyon has only retained a few of the remains. Just the remaining base of the church bell dating from the X111 century, the furniture and statues in the church from the XVI and XVIII centuries (parts of them are reproductions of very good quality), as well as the stained glass round the choir which are coats of arms. The whole of the church was strongly revised in the XIX and XX centuries (nave and choir).
One can see still several farms of character (domains) of the XV and XVI centuries which belonged to the castle. The first feudal castle was destroyed during the hundred year war (started XIV), and it is still possible to see the mounds and the moats. The manor which replaced it was destroyed soon after the French revolution. It had a chapel and a dovecot. During the second world war, the market town, including the top of the bell tower of the church, was destroyed. These destructions happened during the liberation of Moyon, due to the attack by the 29th US division in the direction of Vire. According to the evidence received from veterans, this liberation happened between the 28th of July and the 1st of August 1944 by the 116th infantry regiment, the 227th artillery, 69th armoured light division and probably the 743rd tank division. We still don’t know the other military units.
In the image of its important past, Moyon has re-grown from its ruins and its dynamism is recognised again.
Established in the rural environment, the milk cattle rearing has since a long time enlivened life every day. Before there were very many farms occupying the territory. Although they have become fewer, they are still important and well structured. The farming co-operative is large, a market centre and milk store and a milk factory makes up the new rural countryside.
The craftsmen occupy two spaces of work including farm nourishment and building work. A large range of commercial closeness ensures the stocking of services. A doctor, a nurse stay in place, a chiropodist and a physiotherapist create a good structure of care. The presence of a retirement home makes it possible to look after our old people. In spite of the considerable reduction of farmers, which causes a change in character in the community, Moyon has enlarged the town with new houses to welcome new inhabitants.
Sports grounds of football, tennis and bowling, Village Hall, walk pathways, library, information center, several sports associations and leisure centers contribute to the animation of Moyon.
All this gives the little town of 1,020 inhabitants an area very agreeable to live in and discover.