sexta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2008

St Puy . Gers. France

GAEC of Ordac
History of Saint-Puy

This is taken from a French text and I have tried to translate it as best I can, I will return to it a little latter, to try and make sense as best I can, of some of the logistics and incorporated and also my difficulty with the French grammer, which is immense. Still it is worth me posting as a means of historical record that I am sure will be of interest, I have also got photographs of the area and will obtain more general information to give a clear and more interesting view of this town.
Puy saint, small village of the South-west of France.
This small village made up of 616 inhabitants, of which an agglomerated population of approximately 200 inhabitants. Cradle of “Pushes-Rapière” and from the foie gras, this primarily rural commune extends its mixed-farming on the sunny surrounding slopes of predominantly calcareous relief of plates. Interest in the formation of the village, all would agree that it goes back into distant times, the exact origin of it is unclear and despite research, being carried out in the commune and its surroundings, the distant history still remains obscure. Information on the village and the castle is also limited: the only reference being the book of Judet of Combe and quotes from the study by Benoit Cursente, in his various works devoted to the Gascon villages, there are finally archaeological discoveries specified in “the review of Gascogne” and in “the Bulletin of the archaeological company of Gers”. Moreover, it is necessary to bear interest to the information transmitted by the memory of old which is often very relevant at raising interrogations and sometimes re solving queries left by the archaeological studies.
Saint-Puy, in the rural district of the Midday-Pyrenees, Department of Gers, District of Condom, Canton of Valence on Fall, covering 37 km2 for a density of 16h/km2. The village is located at the crossroads of the secondary roads: D654 - Condom/Fleurance and D 45- Castéra-Verduzan/Lectoure. Its altitudes minis and maximum amount successively to 87 and 220 meters.
At the time medieval, Saint-Puy was the capital of the County of Gaure until 1280, the time when Fleurance was founded. One note of interest is in the topographic situation, confirmed by the etymology of the name of the village, according to Judet of Combe, the primitive name of Saint-Puy was Sompoy of Latin Summum Podium, who wants to say climax , high plate. The castle of Saint-Puy is indeed built on a plate or terrace which dominates the city, and from where the glance embraces on all sides the horizon. This name, Highest Podium and of Summo Podio to the ablative, one made Sompodio and Sempodio. Sompodio gave Sompoy; then the name varied with the infinite one until Saint-Puy, this later name prevailing. It is interesting to know the reasons for which the name of Saint-Puy underwent all these transformations during time and in the book of Judet of Combe, an explanation of M. Adrien Lavergne is proposed to us : “I would be quite happy to teach you something on Saint-Puy… His true old name was Summum Podium, in Gascon Sum Pouy. As the letters M and NR make with little meadows the same sound, the Latinists of XIVème and XVème centuries forgot the name primitive, and translated the Gascon as if it were Soun (with NR) Pouy.
Here perhaps the explanation of the “Saint”. Initially Sant Pouy or Saint-Pouy then, Saint-Puy, by this corruption, the primitive name is completely modified. The original designation of climax, or the top of, has become a Saint of which none bears this name.
For Judet of Combe, the origins of Saint-Puy lose themselves in the darkness of time. This city must go back with Gallic and Garites about which César speaks. Indeed “Garites lived insulated in the forests, and they lived as poor in hovels, with the walls of mud and the roof thatched … In case of alarm, of unforeseen and sudden invasion from an enemy, they had constructed their huts on high ground with strengthened enclosures, true cities surrounded by solids ramparts, to take refuge with their families and herds”… It would seem appropriate that Sempuy, whose existence goes far back, was one of these fortresses, a city certainly exsisted at the time of Frédelon and of the first Counts of Moors, because it was the capital of this county at that time, it would thus be located around IX/X centuries, one is unaware if Judet of Combe was informed of the archaeological discoveries carried out in the commune, however, these discoveries give him reason.
With 2,5km in the south-east of the village, the Clamensac locality, the discovery in 1895, of a marble capital, deposited with the museum of the archbishop's palace. M.Despaux, note in Review of Gascogne 1895.
2 km to the North-West of the village, in the locality of Ordac, the discovery before 1976 of a “Gallo-Roman villa, the discovery being made during the widening of a local road: M.Labrousse, Information archaeological in Gallia, 1976.
With the locality SOULON, the meadows to the Southern limit of the commune: L.Mazéret formerly announced discoveries of polished axes, remains of iron weapons and tombs of the mérovingiens: Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927
3km to the south-east of the village and in the locality of Glesia, of Holy-Gem, the discovery, in 1812, of a tomb with a funeral inscription galloromaine, these being in three fragments: A.Lavergne, in Review of Gascogne 1885.
2km to the South-west of the village, many discoveries carried out by the land owner in the locality Cauboue (toponym derived from Latin canpona meaning “inn, tavern”) where, in addition to some polished axes, the owner discovered,in “Glésia” a beautiful mutilated head of bearded Jupiter and other fragments of sculptures representing an eagle and the bearded god thought to be Jupiter. On the same site, the owner unearthed fragments of amphoras, tegulae and several currencies…
These discoveries mark the site, without doubt, a place of worship on edge of the Roman way, Lectoure- Eauze: J.Lapart.
Some archaeological discoveries made recently in the Gers, are in the Bulletin of the archaeological Company of Gers, 1982.
With 3km in the South of the village, within the locality Lamazere, discovered around 1895, in shallow tombs (0,40m) containing a sword with two edges of 0,80m of length, two lances and two axes, one believed to be a tomb of the Early middle ages (VI/VII century), the objects related to the burial where undoubtedly not collected: S.D' Esparles, franques Weapons where also found in Saint-Puy: Review of Gascogne, 1896.
Within the Soulon locality, close to the southern limit of the commune, L.Mazé announced discoveries of polished axes, remains of iron weapons and tombs of the mérovingiens: Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927.
An element that would let us suppose that part of the village would date at least from the Roman time, is “the hydrous monuments in Gascogne Gersoise” published in the Company archaeological, historical, literary, scientist of Gers, mentions a fountain close to the castle, which, dating from the Roman time, always exists. This information was confirmed by people of the village.
The two authors whom have written about Saint-Puy (Judet of Combe and M.Dulin) stipulate that the village of the Middle Ages, consisted of two strong castles: manor house above and manor house below (the first being more important than the second). Today there remains nothing more than the castle top, the castle of bottom having disappeared.
The more elevated manor house being at the level of the current castle, on the mound, while the manor house of bottom was to be at the level of the church (cf. Benoit Cursente) information moderated by the inhabitants of the city refer to the lower castle being beneath the church. The city of Saint-Puy,thus referenced, show a true oppidum, defended by a frightening fortress, surrounded by solid ramparts, including a double bastion and four doors with crowned harrows of turns, doubt remains on the number of doors which kept this fortress.
In 1665, “the book of the deliberations of the Town of Saint-puy” counted six doors, perhaps more, if one adds that which M.Dulin speaks of, one known as that of Séchou, on which the weapons of the City were engraved. The fortress defended the city by including the belt of the castle, from the castle, Boulevard of North, the ramparts seemed to go down by the street known as Blaise de Monluc, prolonged by the Boulevard of the Baron´s Door, to fork by the Boulevard of the Ramparts, then skirt what today represents the road leading to Condom, stradling the church, the walls seem to go by the Boulevard of the Setting One( as I am translating this from the French, I must admit to not fully understanding the meanings to all these road directions) from this point, the incorporation of the lower castle inside the fortress, remains prone to guarantee, this assumption poses discussion on the existence of ramparts to the right, before the road, unless, supposing that the aforementioned ramparts crossed what constitutes this road and the probable existence of a second rampart. On the assumption of the inexistence of this lower castle, the ramparts would have to go by the Boulevard of the New Door. However, by considering the cadrastal map most recent, one notes that the street perpendicular to this Boulevard names Boulevard of the Tomb. However, it was of use at the XX century that the old ramparts are called – Boulevard, moreover, this street goes in the logical direction, towards the castle. It is known that the district located on the left of the village, existed and below was located the hamlet of the Tomb, however, information does not remain on the site of the ramparts, in conclusion, there exists no attributions for the old ramparts. Photographs taken in below the village, contradict this assumption, while revealing vestiges of walls, which let suppose traces of old ramparts, disregarding the fortress, it is of interest to surmise that the district to the left of the city was the hamlet of the Tomb, that mentioned in the Napoleonean land register, this hamlet, apparently located behind the martyrdom, at the intersection of the street of the walk at the Tomb and the Boulevard of the Tomb, the martyrdom did not exist at that time and to date, the locality - the Tomb - indicates a place below the way. The origin of this name, we think that people may have had to be buried at this place at the time of epidemics like the plague,however,research cannot has yet verify this opinion.

According to the study of Benoit Cursente, the village includes/understands three parts: Castelnau, a Borough connected with the church and a kind of Country house. What makes of Saint-Puy like Lectoure and Vic-Fezenzac one of the three villages built on this model?

THE CASTELNAU: located at the North-East, on a spur, this castle belonged to famous Blaise de Monluc like the adjacent Castelnau.
THE BOROUGH CONNECTED WITH THE CHURCH: It is the church which was used as the core with a strengthened enclosure, a radiating concentric structure, formerly called the lower Manor house.
THE COUNTRY HOUSE: Placed between the first two parts. A borough with the regular structures.
The CASTELNAU (named Manor house Above)
The date of the construction of Castelnau remains unknown. It is probable that this one goes back to the X century and the time of Frédelon, first count de Gaure and first Lord of the manor of Saint-Puy. The certainty is that a strong castle was built before at 1230, in effect, in the homage paid to the Count de Toulouse by Centulle Count d' Astarac, on September 3 of the aforesaid the year 1230, it is recalled that the Count of Toulouse had already made a gift of a stronghold, in Centulle, the castle of Saint-Puy (cf. Judet of Combe).
In 1272 the castle was destroyed following a disagreement between Géraud de Casaubon, owner of the ground of Saint-Puy, and the Count d' Armagnac who claimed to have rights on this same ground. To Casaubon, it proved that he held all its rights of king de France, this however was not sufficient to stop the disproportionate ambition of the count d' Armagnac, who was to combined with the count de Foix and attack the fortress, destroying its means of defense , they set fire to the Roman church, then devastated the city and its inhabitants, the castle was destroyed in that its roof was burnt.
Restored again by the King of France Philippe III, named the bold one, it took the name of “royal castle”. It passed under the English domination twice and returned, in 1425, to Charles VII, who made a gift of it to the Lord Charles d' Albret, whom subsequently made gift of it to “Mestre d' Hostel ” Pierre de Lasseran Massencomme Seigneur of Monluc. It was to remain in the house of Monluc until the XVIII century, when it was very dilapidated and in need of major restoration. There no longer remains a drawing of the castle which Monluc knew, the current castle, which may be visited, resembles nothing of the castle in the Middle Ages.

Notre Dame de Saint-Puy, directed church, formerly had the title of archidiaconé which it preserved until XV century. Moreover according to M.Dulin the district of the oratory, located outside the enclosure of the city, had a convent which would have reinforce the importance of the church.
This church was destroyed at the same time as the castle in 1272 and its rebuilding was probably in the same location, moreover, the church kept one of its Roman doors located at the west. Notre Dame de Saint-Puy existed at the time of the Roman occupation, this would seem to be confirmed by the dedication with the Virgin, the churches dedicated to the Virgin according to the title employed, supporting the dating of the church, in fact the Dame would seem to date the church towards XI century.
The parish church of Saint-Puy (Our lady of the Nativity) was formerly extremely well equipped until 1420. From the archaeological point of view the church misses one unit, that to the East side and would seem to belong to XVI century, with powerful buttresses supporting it, secondary constructions, vaults, sacristy are used as support the walls of the sanctuary and the nave.
The date for first building is unknown, it was put in place between two poles, a bourg, which draws a regular gridline, indeed the Boulevard de article 19, the street of the war, the street of dry and finally the Boulevard of the Baron´s door, date back to the same time, linking the item bourg ecclesial to castelnau. The Country house undoubtedly dates from XIII century but one is unaware if this urban element existed already, when in 1289 Edouard Ier manda, with his bayle to grant to the inhabitants of Saint-Puy, the uses and habits in legal matters of Fleurance.
Thus, the small village of Saint-puy probably finds his origin around the high-means - age. It is based on a clear but particular construction mixing Castelnau, the Borough connected with the church and the Country house. On the other hand uncertainties remain concerning its ramparts, reinforced by the lack of written and archaeological information.

Jean Castex, George Short, Louis Laspalles, Gascogne d' Autrefois, Editions HORVATH, 1981.
Postcard in black and white of a street in the village of Saint-Puy probably dating from the beginning XX century.
Benoit Cursente and Gilbert Loubes, Villages gersois, I. Around the church, A shade of the castle, collection “Strange Gascogne”, Room Publication of Agriculture of Gers.
Short passage on Saint-Puy with plan of the village dating from the XIXème century. Study on the construction of the village.
Benoit Cursente and Gilbert Loubes, Villages gersois, II. The country houses collection “Strange Gascogne”, room Publication of agriculture of Gers.
No the study on Saint-Puy but presence of a chart showing the origin of our cities and villages gersois of which Saint-Puy. Presence also of a chronology.
Benoit Cursente, castelnaux of the Gascogne Medieval one Passage on the town of Saint-Puy and his construction.
Mr. Dulin, historical Memory on the city of Saint-Puy, Condom, Dupouy Printer of the King, 1847.
Interesting study but the author is not based on any source or at least does not mention them, this is why one cannot take for proof the information contained in this book.
Judet of Combe, the castle of Saint-Puy, his former lords and the family of the Marshal of Monluc, Agen, 1903.
Meticulous study: the author quotes many examples and is based on quantity of works which unfortunately for the majority disappeared. Research was carried out on Judet of Combe that nobody knew, not even the files, and it was discovered that the author was a notary of Agen at the XIX century. Perhaps its load explains the loss of the documents that it used.
Andre Laffargue, Walks in Gascogne, visit at Gascon Monluc and his/her companions, 1980.
Short passage on the village of Saint-Puy.
Bulletin of the archaeological company of Gers, 1982 and 1983.
Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927.
Archaeological information in “Gallia”, 1976.
Review of Gascogne, 1883 and 1895.
Archaeological, historical, literary company and scientist of Gers
“Hydrous Monuments in Gascogne Gersoise”
Thanks with the Land register of the town of Condom and the personnel of the library of Saint-Puy.

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Condom Cathedral

Foie gras and safe sex
Robert Poulton on the charms of Armagnac
Robert Poulton
The Observer, Sunday 29 October 2000
Article history
Immaculately dressed, Christine Labatut-Joutet clambered into the small wooden pen at the rear of her farm shop, swapped her sandals for dainty white rubber boots and perched on a stool. She grabbed the nearest of seven large ducks skulking in a corner. Holding the bird between her knees, she tilted its head to straighten its neck, inserted a foot-long brass funnel, threw in a handful of wet maize - corn off the cob - and flicked a switch. A motor whirred into life, starting a screw in the funnel to deliver the maize from beak to crop without touching the sides. The duck looked undignified. We looked uncertain. Madame looked understanding.
We were in the village of Saint-Puy, in a part of agricultural south-west France which relies for economic survival on producing foie gras and Armagnac and attracting visitors to buy them. The tourist literature is heavy with hedonism. 'Prolong the pleasure,' it says. 'Taste the experience.'
Like most Brits, we had been influenced by the animal rights case against the force-feeding of ducks and geese to enlarge their livers. We were prepared to be horrified at Gallic insensitivity towards our feathered friends. But we found it impossible to cast the charming Christine in the role of Cruella de Vil. She was just so plausible.
'Ducks and geese are migrating birds and before migrating they gorge themselves with food and store it in their livers for the long journey ahead,' she lectured us. 'Farmed birds have lost the instinct for migration but they still have the same digestive system. Force-feeding does not hurt them because there is no obstruction in their necks, and they have a gizzard instead of a stomach.
'The ducks feed themselves normally in the open until they are four months old,' she said - for confirmation, we asked to see them ranging free - 'then I force-feed them with a half-kilo of maize each day for 12 days, then I kill them. In those 12 days the ducks themselves do not grow but their livers grow from 50 grammes to 500 grammes.' And then, as if to clinch her argument: 'If I didn't kill them, their livers would return to normal.'
The liver, and every other salvageable part of the duck including the gizzard and neck, is turned into pté, terrine, rillette, galantine or confit. We were invited to sample foie gras on a cracker with a local sweet white wine.
Madame was evidently sensitive to Anglo-Saxon attitudes. Before we left, she reassured us that the ducks she kept for demonstrations of force-feeding would be allowed to live. That's all right, then.
One of the best places to stay in Armagnac territory - at the risk of bumping into Terry Wogan who has bought a holiday home there - is Condom, the ancient second town of the department of Gers. It's peaceful without being too sleepy, charming without being prettified. The slightly dilapidated cathedral offers a catholic welcome to pigeons and bats as well as people.
Condom has nothing to do with a certain Dr Condom, who according to the French was the personal physician of Charles II of England and gave his name to the contraceptive sheath. Boringly, the name is a contraction of the Gallo-Roman Condatomagus. But the French are milking the coincidence for all it's worth. They have opened a shrine to the redingote (riding coat) anglaise , as they prefer to call the French letter.
The Exposition du Musée du Préservatif is billed grandly as the first step in creating an international cultural and scientific centre for contraception and the prevention of sexual disease. The more banal reality is a display of 'safe sex' publicity materials, an explanation of rubber tapping, a film promoting Durex, an engraving of Casanova 'blowing up balloons' and (while we were there) a member of the dirty mack brigade taking an excessive interest in a video on how to insert the female condom.
A comic line in postcards - marked réproduction interdite with unconscious irony - shows condoms on local landmarks including the cathedral spire.
But Condom should be enjoyed for its true qualities rather than its forced attempt at humour. These are best savoured on a warm September evening, along with a glass of Armagnac which - as the musketeer D'Artagnan, most famous son of Gers, insisted - is the best brandy in the world.
Markets, mermaids and distilleries. What to see in south-west France
• The village fortress of Larressingle with its display of replica medieval war machines and probably the only church to boast a stained-glass mermaid.
• The Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac.
• The fourteenth-century collegiate church at La Romieu, a Unesco world heritage site on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.
• The Cistercian abbey of Flaran, now an arts centre. You can reach it by boat from Condom.
• Don't miss Condom's market on Wednesdays for local produce, clothes and fabrics. Condom website: