Saint Martin de la Mer,

A small town, between Saulieu and Liernais.

Although the name ‘Mer” (Sea) conjures up the thought of something great and blue, Saint Martin is far from the sea, and probably is named after a simple pond in the hamlet of La Mer. In old documents, the spelling of the name varies with the era.


The names of St Martin de la Mer and its hamlets

Parrochia Sancti Martini de Mari , 1290 (G748, f°55, v°)
Sanctus Martinus de la Mer, 1291 (Charmasse, registry ev of Autun, p 57)
St Martin de la Mer, 1400 (Arch Nat , T 201 180)
Saint Martin, et n'y a ou duchié que la tourt de Conforgyen, 1476 (B 11510, f° 176)
Sainct Martin, 1574 (C 5128 bis, f° 41)
Sainct Martin de la Meit, 1597 (Arch Nat G 8 1239)
Sainct Martin de Conforgien, 1599 (C 4744 f° 216)
Sainct Martin de la Mare, 1624 (C 4758 f° 5)
Martin de la Mer ou Martin la Mer, French Revolution

One also finds : St Martin de la Mare, de la Mart, de la Mert, de la Mère, St Martin en Nivernais

In 1789, St Martin de la Mer and Macon were in Nivernais, bailliwick of St Pierre le Moûtier, election of Nevers (other hamlets in Burgundy). Its church, under the term of St-Martin, was the seat of a cure of the diocese of Autun, archfather of Saulieu. The seigniory belonged to the Duc of Nevers.

Conforgien, hamlet,

Cofergen, 1148-1162 (Fontenay, H 574)
Confergin, first half XIIth c (register of Fontenay f° 16)
Conforgen, 1173 (Charmasse, register of Autun p 37)
Confergeoleum, 1175 (S. Benigne, H 42)
Corfergen, 1171-1189 (Fontenay, H 574)
Confergien, 1202 Conferogeem, 1264 (Charmasse, register of d'Autun p 196)
Conforgeul, 1266 (ibid, p 55)
Confergeou, 1267 (Charmasse, register of Autun p 106)
Confergeyum, 1290 (ibid, p 78)
Conforgien, 1474 (B 11724 f° 59)
Conforgyen, 1476 (B 11510 f° 176)
Conforgien, 1771 (Seguin)

An old stronghold; it was used as a meeting place for the huguenots; a tower which remains has been mentioned since 1476; in the XVIIIth century one called it the ‘Tower of the Sermon’ (Courtépée, IV, 130)

In 1789, Conforgien is in Burgundy.

Mâcon, hamlet,

Macon, 1241 (Charmasse, register of Autun p 161)
Macons, 1291 (Charmasse, register of Autun p 57)

In 1789, Mâcon depended on the province of Nivernais.

Island, hamlet,

Yelent, 1210 (B 10470)
Yllant, 1260 (Charmasse, register of Autun p 73)
Lord Seguin d'Illan (B 11525)
Ylant, 1433 (G 61 f° 97)
Yllam, 1476 (B 11510)
Yllan, 1537 (G 66 f° 270)
Island, 1783

Ancient fiefdom of the chatellenie of Cellier-Rouge (Dumay, military state, n° 256).
I n 1789, Island was in Burgundy, receipt of Autun; it was dependent on the parish of St Leger de Fourches

Source: Topographic dictionary of France – Cote d’Or - 1924



In 1786, when this history starts, Saint Martin de la Mer is located in a kind of "peninsula" in the Duchy of Nivernais that sticks into Bourgogne.
On the map of the Duchy of Burgundy dated 1770, this enclave appears even completely detached from Nivernais. On other maps of the same period, as the one opposite, there is a passage connecting St Martin to the remainder of Nivernais.

The border between Burgundy and Nivernais was in fact often fluctuating and varied with the wishes and exchanges of dukes and counts:

  • The chatellenie of Liernais is yielded to the Duke of Nevers in 1210.
  • January 13, 1476 an exchange is concluded by which the Count Jean of Nevers yields to Guillaume de Villiers the seigniories of Liernais (to which St Martin belongs) and St Brisson, and receives from him that of Champallement and other neighbouring parts (CHAN K537a-1) .
  • In 1780, the duchy of Burgundy exchanges with the Duc de Nevers the chatellenie against other fiefdoms located at Saulieu. In 1786, the first year of this story, the chatellenie of Liernais (and St Martin) are thus in Nivernais.

    Therefore in 1786, when this story began, the land of Liernais( and St Martin) were part of Nivernais.

This enclave is made up of the hamlets of Lavaux(lt), St Martin, Macon, La Mer, which belong to the parish of St Martin, and the hamlets of Villars, Pierre-Pointe, La Guette and Vouvre, which belong to the parish of Liernais (of which a part is in Burgundy, and a part is in Nivernais)..


St Martin is located on a route known since antiquity as the "Via Agrippa", which connected former ancient Rome to the septentrional borders of the Roman empire. St Martin is not cited on these old maps, but the cities located on this route: Auxerre (Autessio[durum ]), Avallon (Aballo), Saulieu (Sidoloco/Sedelocus) and Autun (Augustodunum) are quoted on the Table of Peutinger, and the route of Antonin (3rd century). This "Via Agrippa" crosses St Martin in the hamlets of Mâcon and Champrun.



This ancient route will remain for a very a long time, one of the principal road axies of France, and the Paris-Lyon trek will use this road passing by both Saulieu and Autun via St Martin until the first quarter of the 19th century which will see the route thru Autun disappear to the gain of the actual present path of the RN 6.

Saint Martin and its hamlets were described by several local writers. To access these descriptions, click on the corresponding icon.

Among them are:

  • in 1774 Claude COURTEPEE, an abbot born in Saulieu in 1721, in his "Description générale et particulière du Duché de Bourgogne",
  • in 1867, Jean-François BAUDIAU, priest of Dun-les-Places, in "Le MORVAND ou essai géographique, topographique et historique sur cette contrée"
  • in 1869, Joseph GARNIER, in his "Nomenclature historique des communes, hameaux, écarts, lieux détruits, cours d'eau et montagnes du département de la Côte d'or"
Ecclesiastical delineation
Parish of St Martin de la Mer Archfather of Saulieu Archidiaconé d'Avallon Diocese of Autun


Parish of St Léger de Fourches Archfather de Saulieu Archidiaconé d'Avallon Diocese of Autun


Seigneurial delineation

Lord of Mâcon : in 1786, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Lazare ESPIARD of MACON

Châtellenie de Liernais

Duchy of Nivernais

Lord of Conforgien

in 1786, the duc de Choiseul-Praslin

Châtellenie of Conforgien Duchy of Bourgogne
Lord of Island Châtellenie de Comté de Saulieu - Duchy of Bourgogne
Lord of Island Châtellenie de Comté de Saulieu - Duchy of Bourgogne






Judicial delineation

Lord of the manor-Judge of civil , criminal affairs, police matters , and forest officer of the chatellenie of Liernais Royal court (bailiwick) of Saint Pierre le Moutier  
Town of St Martin de la Mer Canton of Liernais District of Arnay sur Arroux (Arnay le Duc) District of Beaune Department of the Côte d'Or (Dijon)


Surface area: 2322 hectares, including 500 of wood.

Population: appr. 800 inhabitants (in 1867, before the rural migration takes place).

Today, and since the Revolution, St Martin is in the department of the Cote d’or

See: St Martin in 21st century.

Saint Martin de la Mer is in the Burgundy Region (within the meaning of the current administrative areas). It is even the true barycentre of this region!

Saint Martin de la Mer is in Morvan

Map of Saint Martin