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
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.
in trying to keep this in chronological order of a sorts, here's what
I found so far:
The most recent updated info will be in red type.
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).
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.
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.
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.
remains found at Les Eyzies
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.
northern Frankish King Clovis, by defeating the Aquitainian Visigoths
in 507 AD, became the first King of Gaul. Thus began the Merovingian
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.
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
Middle Aged Wars and the Knights
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
is why it is believed Friday the 13th is unlucky. It was for the Templars!
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
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.
Holy Grail across the Atlantic
de Talleyrand-Périgord and the French Revolution
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.
I don't think that "eat cake" comment went over too well...
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 .
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.
the People" by Eugène Delacroix
got at least 30 k's of text on notepad about Charles-Maurice, so if
you want to read more click here
and the World Wars
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.