When I was growing up, my dad would tell me our family name had a great deal of history, possible Royal connections, but he also said there was a great many massacres and guerilla wars throughout the middle ages. A lot of records and important documents were lost and/or destroyed during these wars. I would be hard pressed to find any info or to trace our bloodline back before the French Revolution. I spent many days looking in public libraries and archives.

Today with the Internet, you could spend minutes to hours and acquire the same amount of knowledge. A lot has surfaced but so much more is still missing, and most of the sites I've found are tourist sites with a small blurb on history. I have found this info also tends to surface in small 'spurts'. I usually have to wait for a couple of weeks to months before new info is available.

The different regions are named: Black Périgord because of truffles, White Périgord because of the rock color, Green Périgord because of landscape and Purple Périgord because of the grapes color.

So in trying to keep this in chronological order of a sorts, here's what I found so far:

Note: The most recent updated info will be in red type.

 

 

Prehistioric Times

Remains of Neanderthal man (80.000 years old) and Cro-Magnon man (35.000 years old) were discovered at different depths in the caves over the Vézère river. Louis Lartet in March 1868 found the remains of four adult skeletons, one infant, and some fragmentary bones.

I remember reading stories about the 20,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings near Montignac, but they've also discovered paintings in Font de Gaume near Les Eyzies and many others. Some of Europe's earliest art. Also discovered: Gallic dry-stone huts (bories), Roman remains, Romanesque churches, and rock shelters (cluzeaux).

Magdalenians settled in Les Eyzies 12,000 years ago where a castle has been built into the cliff face. Traces of their settling can still be seen, lodged between the the castle's two main buildings, where excavations were carried out at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a excellent look off to spot game animals, and probably attackers.

Not much else was known about the spot until the middle ages when this castle was first mentioned in 1585. Jeanne de Campnac's gave it to her youngest son, Jean-Guy de Beynac. Several years before, on 11th December 1578, Jean-Guy was given the right to build a fortified house wherever it suited him. Contrary to local literature, this solid structure was built relatively recently and the private family history of the Lords of Beynac involved in its origin.

The Beginning of France

Born in 63 BC, Augustus, a nephew of Julius Caesar, established one of the four ancient provinces of Gaul (the Celts): Aquitaine. The area was separated into three provinces in the 4th century, St. Bertrand de Comminges, Bordeaux and Bourges. Perigueux forms part of the Aquitaine region mostly to the south in the area of Dordogne ( the French name for the Dordogne is Périgord ) and contained the ancient city Vesone.

 

Cro-Magnon remains found at Les Eyzies

 

cave paintings

Lascaux cave paintings

During the Augustean period the capital town, the town fell to the Romans, who called it Vessuna after a local spring, the Vésone that became their divine safehouse. Vesuna, which became Perigueux in later times, was founded in the valley. The town ran along a low plateau and was beautified over the years by many majestic public monuments: amphitheaters, forum, temple and public baths. Very luxurious villas with refined decorations border on modest suburbs. Vesunna was still growing when the barbarians sacked it in 275. Crushed into a state of shock, Vesunna decide destroy its own temples and buildings for the stone and build a huge wall, contracting itself to the state of a small village.

The northern Frankish King Clovis, by defeating the Aquitainian Visigoths in 507 AD, became the first King of Gaul. Thus began the Merovingian Empire.

From 700 to 900 AD the Caroligian rulers, Charles Martel, Pepin the Short and Charlemagne, expanded Frankish rule in Gaul and central Europe. The father, the son and the grandson increased Caroligian power, culminating when the grandson, Charlemagne, was crowned by Pope Leo 111 on Christmas Day 800 AD as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Capital of Black Périgord, Sarlat became a city at the 8th century.

The city, in the southwestern part of the town, occupies the site of Vesuna, subsequently reduced by the barbarians to the famous small encampment, called the Civitas Petrocorium, from which the names Cité and Périgueux are derived. Puy-Saint-Front, on the east, grew between the 5th and 13th centuries around an abbey sanctuary containing the body of St. Front, the Apostle of Périgord, and the first bishop of Périgueux. As the city declined a new village of artisans and merchants grew up around the nearby hill (Puy) around the tomb of St. Front.

The Diocese of Périgueux had a remarkable relic: Pierre Raoul or Gérard, a parish priest in Périgord, brought back after the first crusade the Holy Shroud of Christ, entrusted to him by a dying ecclesiastic of Le Puy, who himself obtained this relic from the legate Adhémar de Monteil. The Cistercians ( a religious order founded in 1098 at Citeaux in Burgundy) had a church built in honor of this relic.

( The Cistercians were under the rule of St. Bernard and St. Stephen Harding. St. Bernard was a supporter of the Templars.)

 

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin

 

 

The Middle Aged Wars and the Knights Templar

In The 11th century the re-population of Périgord started . It was divided in two until the end of the Middle Ages: partly due to the Hundred Years War between the French and the English, and the religious Wars between Catholics and Protestants. This is why there are so many fortified churches, and castles. Many of them still in excellent condition .

Périgord formed part of the dowry that Eleanor of Aquitaine brought with her on her marriage in 1137 to Louis VII, the future King of France. Aquitaine became French, but fifteen years later when the marriage was dissolved, Eleanor got back her dowry and Two months later she married Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Lord of Maine, Touraine and Normandy, who shortly after inherited the throne of England which he ruled as Henry II. Aquitaine would stay in the hands of the English until the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453.

 

One of the many castles in France

 

One of the most interesting pieces of Périgord history is the connection to the Knights Templar. During their 200 year 'rule' the Knights were first to: established the first world banking system (some believe they Founded Switzerland) and put a military face to monasticism. They were without a doubt the single most influential and powerful of the religious military orders that were formed because of the crusades.

Armond de Périgord was a Grand Master with the Knights Templar in 1244, was fighting in Jerusalem against the Saracens.

Also believed is the connection with the Knights Templar and the hidden treasure on Oak Island. There is an old French settlement discovered in Nova Scotia possibly dating 12th century AD. It is beside a river, that forks, and at the end of each is an 'oak island'. The only two supposedly in the province. Since oak acorns don't float, some believe the islands are markers. There is an elaborate water trap ( and a very deep one too! ) on the more famous of the two islands. It is believed to be, by few, not a clever hiding place for treasure but a decoy. Possibly because The Knights Templar are also believed to have been in possession of religious artifacts such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Shroud of Turin or even The Holy Grail.

In the book "The Holy Grail across the Atlantic" discusses such a possibly. There are also Many books written on these incredible warriors.

Supposedly, in around 1296 Phillip IV Le Bel (the Fair) was broke and he knew of the Templars riches and wanted to get his hands on their wealth. He and the Pope Bertrand de Gotte (Clement V) had attemped to unite the Templars and Hospitallers, then conspired to make up rumors about the Templars and they were accused of spitting upon the Cross, of denying Christ, of permitting sodomy, of worshipping an idol, all in secrecy.

On Friday October 13th 1307, Phillip IV the Fair, (more like really unfair!) had the Templars rounded up for some made up crimes, tortured and killed them. In most of the other countries -- Portugal, Spain, Germany, Cyprus - the Templars were found innocent; in Italy, except for a few districts, the decision was the same. It didn't matter to Phillip.

This is why it is believed Friday the 13th is unlucky. It was for the Templars!

1314, Philip has Jacques de Molay (the last Grand Master) burned at the stake. Philip and Clement both die within one year of DeMolays Death. (I hope it was real slow too!)

Under English rule in the Middle ages Périgord (the French name for the Dordogne since Medieval times), was the cradle of the Hundred Years' War and legacies of this era are everywhere. Vast fortified churches, over 1000 castles & chateaux and the 'Bastides', the fortified towns built on the French and English front lines. The best of these being Domme and Monpazie. The Périgord regions was constantly being resized and conquered.

France fought England in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), which featured 17-year-old Jeanne d'Arc. Religious and political persecution, culminating in the Wars of Religion (1562-98), continued to threaten France's stability during the 16th century.

Also during latter half of the 16th century, as a result of the Religious Wars, there was a higher degree of violence in Périgord then in most regions.

 

pic of a knight

A Knight Templar

 

 

 

cover of book

Order the book

The Holy Grail across the Atlantic

 

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord and the French Revolution

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was born in Paris on February 2, 1754. Claiming to be a descendant of Adalbert, Count of Périgord and a vassal of Hugues Capet in the year 990, he was born into a noble family which was confirmed by royal letters patent in 1613 and 1735. His parents held important positions at the court of Louis XV.

In 1788, on the eve of the breakout of the Revolution, the Abbot of Périgord, further to his dying father's petition to Louix XVI, was named Bishop of Autun by the King. Charles-Maurice stayed only a little longer than three weeks in Autun, the time needed to be elected deputy of the clergy to the States General.

On July 14, 1789 Paris erupted. Angry crowds stormed through the Bastille, setting off the French Revolution. The National Assembly challenged the absolute right of the King and stripped nobles and clergy of their ancient feudal privileges, fracturing a social order that had endured for centuries.

In retrospect, I don't think that "eat cake" comment went over too well...

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was one of the signatories of the French Constitution enacted by the National Assembly and accepted by the King on September 14, 1791.

In 1793, The Reign of Terror had done a lot of damage to the connection with my family line. Many Clergy and Royal blood lines were lost, (or more accurately "CUT OFF") and a great deal of written information (land titles, deeds, anything really) were burned. The Law of Suspects (Sept. 17, 1793) defined those who could be arrested for treasonable activities; it was enforced by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Estimates vary as to the number of victims; thousands were guillotined, and over 200,000 were arrested. Representatives on mission, who were agents sent out by the Committee of Public Safety, had absolute power to enforce the terror, including the establishment of special courts. The counterrevolutionary uprising in the Vendée (Oct.-Dec. 1793), which was suppressed with a heavy loss of life, and revolts against the Convention in Lyon and several other cities served as a backdrop to the intensification of the terror of Jan.-Mar. 1794. In Nantes mass drowning called noyades claimed at least 3,500 lives. In June, 1794, the Committee of Public Safety introduced a new law, which strengthened the power of the Revolutionary Tribunal; the court could return only verdicts of either acquittal or death. Executions greatly increased .

Napoleon's iron-fisted rule almost got him killed in the early 1800's. He narrowly escaped two assassination attempts and a kidnapping plot, all somehow overlooked by his head of police, Joseph Fouché. By 1808, Fouché and Napoleon's former foreign minister Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord had joined in a plot against Napoleon.

 

liberty

"Liberty leading the People" by Eugène Delacroix

 

 

coat of arms

Tallyrand-Périgord coat-of-arms

Note: I've got at least 30 k's of text on notepad about Charles-Maurice, so if you want to read more click here

 

Modern Times and the World Wars

The first major prehistoric dig took place in Périgord in 1863 after some local contractors found human remains at Les Eyzies. When Lartet and Christy excavated the cave ( Richard's cave). After only a few months, several sites were discovered and excavated as they searched for more proof of prehistoric man's existence. (The discovery of the remains at Les Eyzies in latter half of the 19th century, and then at La Madeleine, led to a flood of archaeologists, who found this to be one of the richest sites in the world.)

 

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The First World War erupted in 1914 in northeast France and after two years of German victories, fell into the horrors of trench warfare. The United States entered the war in 1917 and helped France to victory. The Allies demanded generous restitutions and payments from the Germans, who resented the humiliation for years, and was one of the factors which sparked WWII.

 

 

 

 

Please keep checking back for updates.

2006: I'm still digging... Still the most I can find is Tourist sites with small blurbs of history. If you have any questions or comments or have any info or know of good sites on this subject or related, please e-mail me.

 

jar67peri

@
hotmail.com

 

I'm having alot of trouble tracking down any info between by grandparents birth and how our blood line got to Canada. I've tried to find info on those genealogy sites but I'm not having much luck. Also they don't have much of a guarantee of success for their costs. It's alot easier to find the general info.

I have been getting a few letters on different versions of Perigord spellings: "Peregord, also Perigoy, Perigory, Pedigo, Pediford. I've been told there are more.

 

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