At the crossroads between the lands of the Lingons and those of the Attuarians, the people of the Mirebellois, who were numerous and ingenious, made the most of trade and commerce very early.
Searches undertaken between 1977 and 2007 in the Celtic and Gallo-Roman sanctuary of "La Fenotte" in Mirebeau sur Bèze showed that a thriving business had been going on since the Iron Age.
In Gallic times, it was at the heart of an area where met the borders of Eduens, Lingons and Séquanes. Some extremely rich and diverse furniture was exhumed during periods of excavation. Some interesting items are exhibited at the tourist office. Even before archaeological studies were completed it was possible to say that there had been a sedentary, religious population, and that the Romans had integrated the population without imposing their law.
The Roman era (Ist-IVth c. A.D.)
Another milestone in the history of Mirebeau sur Bèze: Legate Lapius settled in Mirebeau with the VIIIth legion and then built what is now the only excavated Roman military camp in France.
At this time, a crisis was started by the death of Nero. Some Gallic tribes, including Lingons (Langres) and Druids, had been planning to shake off the yoke of Rome.
The military camp was built by Lapius in 69 A.D. is a large rectangle (22 hectares) with rounded corners, protected by battlements, bordered by a ditch and flanked with towers every 35-40 metres. Four doors (one on each side), each protected by two U-shaped stone towers, provided access to two major pathways that intersected at the center of the camp. 8000 men lived there in wooden barracks for several years.
Order having been quickly restored by Vespasian, deployment of such a force was then rendered useless. While the settlement had been planned to last for thirty years, in Mirebeau it was abandoned much faster. The VIIIth legion moved up North to defend the borders of the Roman Empire, where Strasburg was later to be born.
The Franks and the Middle Ages (Vth-XIIIth)
The restoration of order allowed the construction of many Gallo-Roman villas (bulks of buildings including the landlord's dwellings and housines for workers and slaves, with farming purposes in our region) whose life and wealth were of a varying quality. Many are the work of former Roman soldiers. That of Renève was rebuilt several times. It supposedly stood for seven centuries, reached a climax of magnificence in the fourth and fifth century, and disappeared in 888, destroyed by the Normans.
In the spring of 614, some decisive events took place regarding the power struggles between the descendants of Clovis. The queen of Austrasia, Brunehaut, wife of Sigisbert I, grandson of Clovis, broke her journey in the region. Not far from there, her enemy Clotaire II the Young, heir to the kingdom of Neustria, camped with his troops on the edge of a small villa in Jancigny. Brunehaut was betrayed by her leudes (members of the aristocracy of high Middle Ages) who were displeased with a new tax collection. After being ridiculed by the soldiers, she was executed, attached by an arm and a leg to a fiery horse. A Merovingian cemetery with beautiful stone sarcophagi from the same period was only a few hundred meters away.
In 636, Duke Amalgaire, lord of the region, gave one of his sons the place known as Fons Besua (now Bèze) so as to found a monastery. It is a bushy combe from which sometimes spring turbulent waters. The few monks soon became numerous. Bèze became an abbey. The church of St Peter and Paul, the remains of which consist in a capital on top of a piece of column, measured at least 35 metres in length, like the cloister's gallery. Battlements protected these buildings, stables, gardens and winery. Outside an important village,grew, with battlements and its own eleventh century church dedicated to St. Remy. Both the village and the Abbey were destroyed several times: in 660 in the wars between the Franks, in 676 during the rebellion of Adalric, in 731 by the Saracens, in 888 by the Normans and in 936 by the Hungarians.
The latest reconstruction of the eighteenth century would not be spared in the revolution of 1789. A portion of the walls is now used as backfill for the road to Dijon. The thousands of books from the monks' library will be dispersed by the revolutionary committee of Is-sur-Tille.
At that time, the region, as throughout France, is converting to Christianity. Out of 21 villages in the township, 19 build a church between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries.
The Dukes of Burgundy (XIVth-XVth c. A.D.)
The Mirebellois is part of the duchy prerogative given to Philip le Hardi. Mirebeau sur Bèze takes advantage of the economic boom linked to the policy pursued by Jean sans Peur, Philip le Bon and Charles le Téméraire. Commerce, industry and the arts are growing, taking advantage of exchanges between the fiefdoms of the Duchy of Burgundy.
A master carpenter of Renève (Paganis Maillet) will be called for by le Hardi in order to build the chartreuse of Champmol in Dijon.
The region will remain a border between the Duchy of Burgundy and the Franche-Comté, part of the empire of Charles V. Many dungeons or strongholds ensure defence and protection of the inhabitants. Beaumont on Vingeanne, belonging to the family of Vergy, will be a link in this chain.
In 1477 the states of Burgundy are shared between France and the House of Austria. France accounts Burgundy. The Township belongs to the kingdom of France, but some villages take advantage of the vagueness of these boundaries and sometimes claim that they are French, sometimes that they belong to Franche-Comté.
From Louis XI to the revolution (XVth-XVIII)
In the seventeenth century, incursions on both sides of the border devastate neighbouring villages. It is the time of abductions for ransom and armed mercenaries. In 1636, two children from the family of Condé are abducted in the area, and given back without compensation shortly afterwards owing to movements of troops from the house of France. In retaliation, the camp of General Gallas (near Champlitte) is attacked. This part of the Hispano-German army is defeated, the cavalry reduced to nothing, and dishes of gold and silver, as well as the general's favourite, are taken for spoil. Gallas, furious, sweeps the valley of the Vingeanne, raking, looting, killing. The fortress of Beaumont on Vingeanne resists. Mirebeau sur Bèze falls after three days of siege. Gallas was stopped in St. Jean de Losne, but he repeated his abuses on the way back, though pursued by the royal army. Beaumont sur Vingeanne falls this time, its guard being diminished by illness. The village which included several annual fairs and competed with Bèze will not recover. This "30-year war" will end in 1659.
After a period of early troubled regime, the Sun King settles his authority and restores the peace with the help of Mazarin (seventeenth century). The strongholds turn to a better quality of life. The style of Versailles spreads to the country. In Beaumont sur Vingeanne, the abbot of court Joliet is building a foothold (from the same era: Arcelot, Talmay, Fontaine-Française). The country remains calm and prosperous. The population is growing (Renève has more than 800 inhabitants in 1770, now 420).
The spirit of the revolution is blowing, like everywhere else in the region. Even though not all the castles are razed, estates are sold. Many masterful alleys leading to the gates of the castles were diverted (Oisilly, Jancigny). At night, the sign mentioning God and King on the bridge of Renève is hammered out…
Modern Era (XIXth-XXIst c. A.D.)
New technologies are leading to industrialization. Factories move into the township. In Bèze, the Chambrette family transform minerals extracted on the spot and sell moulds, and later turn to tile-making. In Mirebeau sur Bèze, the tile-making goes from manual to mechanical. Mills are equipped with dynamos, their owners even supply electricity to the village. The word goes that in Bézouotte people would get up at night to see if the miracle was lasting.
The schools stand in the heart of villages with beautiful geometric facades, with buildings for girls and buildings for boys : there was no mixing genders at the time.
Nowadays, there are five School districts : Mirebeau, Belleneuve, Bèze, Beire and Renève, with public transport buses, kindergartens, nurseries and canteens.
Many parents work outside the township. Still, there remain an agricultural cooperative, small industries in Mirebeau sur Bèze, Arcelot and Bézouotte, and craft businesses. One or more cars have replaced horse hitches in people's yards, just like tractors on farms.
Most of the residents own their homes.