THE LORDS OF PECH RIGAL
by Jean Lartigaut, historian
Located on a "Pech" (hill in ancient local dialect), overlooking the junction of the Bleou and St Clair rivers, the castle of Pechrigal or Perrigal is a relatively important, and well preserved, construction which originates, for its major part, in the XVIth century. It certainly deserves a serious archeological research.
It would be unwise to believe, seeing the relative importance of the castle, that the lordship who owned it was preeminent since this lordship was always very modest. Its origins remain quite vague because of the disappearance of the Archives of Pechrigal which were kept by Mr. Daynac in Gourdon. Some of the personal records of the Lords of Pechrigal ended up, nobody really knows how, in the hands of Mr. Pierre Gary, an historian from Souillac. After his death, towards the end of the Second World War, his collections were dispersed. We had the opportunity to view some of the documents of that collection in an antique shop some time ago. These documents are bound to disappear in turn, swallowed by the great Parisian antique trade. This is why we thought important to assemble these notes, even if it remains difficult to accurately report the adversity falling upon this little lordship.
The name of Pechrigal appears for the first time in 1354 and seems to be linked to the nearby village of Barradesques: a piece of land and an adjacent wood in the Parrish of Saint Clair located at la barradesquas sive puech rigal joining the wood of noble Pierre de Casatou, Lord of Gourdon. While he was at the repaire (castle) of Pechrigal on March 7, 1368, he bought two setiers de rente from Guillaume de Gavis, Lord of Concores and of Linars. The son of the great lawyer of Gourdon, Fortanier de Casatou, sold in 1396 the Lordship of Saint Clair to Galtier de Pelegri. However, he kept for himself the lordship of Pechrigal with all the justice. We would like to know more about this new loss of sovereignty of these co-Lords of Gourdon who became, through marriage, Earls of Salviac, but that sale is only mentioned in a later record. It is certain, in any case, that the destiny of Pechrigal became separated in the XVth century from the Lordship of Saint Clair which belonged, from then on, to the Ricard de Gourdon and to the Peyronenq, Lords of Saint-Chamarand.
It is surprising to see that in her last will dated March 25, 1397, Berthrande de Ychier or Ythier, of the Concores family, gave to her husband, Hughes de Lopdat, among other castles, the domain of Pog Rigual, in the Parrish of Saint Romain, with the obligation for him to give the sum of 50 Gold Francs to the Brothers Minor of Gourdon so they could build a chapel to Saint Francois. In his monography (history) of Masclat, Albe tells us that Berthrande was first married to Pierre-Jean de Casatou. Be as it may, Pechrigal was thus vested to the Casatou's.
The subsequent record creates some difficulties. In effect, it is known only from a short analysis mentioned in a document of the XVIIth century and by a questionable translation questionable translation of the same period. On December 8, 1460, in Salviac, Marguerite de Casatou, widow of Raymond Bernard de Durfort, and their son, Antoine de Durfort, Lord of Boissieres, sold to Maitre Geraud de Valle, Bachelier es decret (Clerk of the court?) of Gourdon, the domain of Pechrigal with all its justice, the castle with its towers, houses, poultries, gardens and other construtions for the price of 15 gold ecus from Toulouse and the weight of 3 deniers. The sellers, however kept for themselves 10 sols d'acapte. In the same contract, they vested to the same Geraud all the belongings of the domain for the payment of 10 quartons of flour and 20 sous. The deed was registered by Poderos, Notary of Salviac in the presence of Guion d'Ussel, Lord of La Fontade, the usual witness of the deeds executed by the Durfort's.
The new Lord - and emphyteote - of Pechrigal, Geraud de Valle or Laval, belonged to a family of lawyers of Gourdon. His position was Leutnant of the Senechal, and judge of Cougnac, L'Abbaye Nouvelle, La Fontade, Saint Projet, Concores, Reillaguet, Masclat, Prouillac, Peyrilles, Uzech, Salviac, Loupiac, Camy, Peyres etc. He had purchase form Gui de Gourdon, Lord of Peyrilles, the estate of the d'Agran family in the Parrish of Saint Germain and exchanged it, in 1467, against the domain of Gaughac, in the subdivision of Peyrilles.
After the accensement of Pechrigal, the domain of Pechrigal was divided in fourth and rented out but the "Lord" reserved for himself the tower, the garden and the uncultivated land.
The deed of 1460 was creating an ambiguous situation which will continue for two hundred years. There were, in fact, two Lords of Pechrigal: on one hand, the heirs of Marguerite de Casatou. And on the other hand, the successors of Geraud de Valle who will always maintain that they are the full owners with all the justice.
Antoine de Durfort, son of Marguerite de Casatou, Lord of Boissieres and Saint Germain, and Earl of Salviac, had given to noble Arnal de Durfort, his bastard son, the castle of Puech Rigalh, near Gourdon, and all his rights on the castle of Borbo, with cens on the village of Borbo for the marriage of Arnal with Jeanne de Gaulejac, daughter of Berthrand, co-lord of Frayssinet, and widow of regretted Pierre de Ondradieu, residing in Moissac. On February 8, 1495, without providing any explanation, Arnal declines this donation in favor of his father represented by one of his legitimate children, Bernard de Durfort.
A few years later, on March 28, 1497, in the castle of Catus, Antoine de Luzech, bishop elected and confirmed, count of Cahors, and, nobody knows why, Lord of Pechrigal, appointed his Attorney, Jean de Bodosquie, a merchant from Cahors, to exchange his domain of Pechrigal with Jean de Pelegri, ecuyer, Lord of Vigan, La Mothe -Cassel, Fages, Saint Sauveur, and Ussel. The deed was recorded by Maitre Pierre Vilaris, Notary in Catus, in the presence of Pierre del Garric, a merchant from Ussel. The exchange took place on April 4th, in the castle of Septfons, residence of the Durfort's, in the Parrish of Saint Germain. Bodosquie sold 10 quartons of flour , 20 sous and a pair of gelines de cens on the domain of Pechrigal and received from Jean de Pelegri an equivalent cens on the domain of del Colombie alias d'Usel et de las bitarellas, in the Parrish of Payrignac but subdivision of Salviac.
Jean de Valle sold, in 1515, the domain of Pechrigal to Michel del Peyronenq, Lord of Saint Chamarand, co-Lord of Frayssinet and Saint Clair, with all the justice and as it was sold by Marguerite de Casatou. On September 27 of the same year, the Lord of Saint Chamarand gave it, as donation, to his sister in law, Marguerite de Durfort, widow of Marques del Peyronenq. The domain is sold as it was accensed by Marguerite de Casatou.(one can note that the uncertainty resulting from the deed of 1460 still persists). The witnesses were Jean de Valle, licencie, et Bertrand Tustal, a merchant from Gourdon.
Pechrigal belonged after that to the Peyronenq's, since on October 16, 1573, Pierre del Peyronenq, Lord of Saint Chamarand, sold to sir Guillame Seguy, a merchant from Gourdon, for a price of 6,500 pounds, the domain and the lordship of Pechrigal, including houses, land, uncultivated land, pastures, woods, barns, lakes, two mills, etc etc, with all the justice, high, middle, and lower. It appears from the inventory, that the domain located in the subdivision of Gourdon and of Saint Clair was divided in two entities: one centered around the lower mill was contiguous to the road from the bridge of La Roquette to Salepissou. The other, more important, included the high mill , and the castle with all its outbuildings. It was adjacent to the lands of Barradesques, Mont-Jouve, Rouillac, the road from Gourdon to Cahors, and the road from the bridge of La Roquette to Saint Clair.
The new Lord of Pechrigal was coming from a family of merchants from Gourdon and Le Vigan which became important towards the end of the XVth century. Guillaume Seguy had also bought the lordship of Campagnac in the Parrish of Saint Romain. His son, Jean, abandoned the family business to pursue a military career which led him to the nobility. He played a role during the "troubles", the war of Religions. We found evidence of it in the record of the Criminal Court of Gourdon who, on May 25, 1590, took the statements of various witnesses, the most notorious of which is an ex-resident of Le Vigan, Maitre Jean de Pojade, merchant and general attorney of the City of Gourdon, 56 years old, possessing 1000 ecus, and presented by Guillaume and Jean Seguy, ecuyers, Lord of Campagnac and of Pechrigal.
Pojade first stated that the Seguy's had always been catholic, and that Jean, the son, had been occupied staging war to those of the R.P.R. ( Reformed Protestant Religion). He was even a member of the detachment assembled by the Monsieur de Clermont, Senechal (governor) of Quercy, to go to "France" where the catholic troops were fighting the German army who had come to help the Huguenots. To confirm his statement, the witness certified that his son, Jacques Pojade, who had participated to this expedition, sent him back an injured horse. We learn after that that Jean Seguy had been the victim of the Protestant garrison of Domme, who had rampaged the domains of Pechrigal and of Maillol. Later on, the witness had seen him leave Gourdon with the troops assembled by Monsieur de Clermont, , who took Mont Domme. After this victory, the Lord of Clermont had to suffer a humiliating defeat: during the night of May 12, 1590, a Sunday according to reports, the captain Panelot, followed by eleven soldiers, captured the castle of Pechrigal by climbing the walls. He reached the window of a bedroom where slept a certain Antoine Molinier who later reported the events. This servant was forced by Panelot to show him the room of Jean Seguy. The door being locked, the protestant captain ordered to open it or he would put a bomb against the door and kill the Lord of Pechrigal. He, eventually opened the door. He was captured and, without giving him the time to dress up, was taken to the castle of Mechmont de Guerre, where he was detained for 7 or 8 days, then freed after payment of a ransom of 2,000 pounds. During his detention, the soldiers of Panelot partied at Pechrigal, looting the coffers of Seguy and those of Catherine de Boisse, his wife, taking the horses and the weapons, and aggressing the farmers, many of which filed a complaint in the Court of Gourdon.
After these difficulties came new problems for the Seguy's: they had to defend a court case against Francois d'Albareil, General Commander of the siege of Gourdon, who was challenging their title to the domain of Pechrigal. Finally, in 1595, a decree from the Parliament of Toulouse confirmed their title and gave Francois d'Albareil only the 10 sous d'acapte set aside by Marguerite de Casatou in 1460.
A transaction executed on April 16, 1648 in the castle of Pechrigal, between Pierre Victor d'Albareil, Lord of Saint Clair, and Jacques de Seguy, lord of Pechrigal, brought an end to this dispute. Seguy bought the right of the d'Albareil's and in particular the 10 sous d'acapte for the price of 1,950 pounds. The full ownership of the domain was thus restored for the Seguy's. They merged through marriage with the Lagrange-Gourdon who had also started as merchants in Rocamadour in the XVth century and had settled in Gourdon a little before 1500 as lawyers.
In 1782, Pierre Glandin, attorney and judge of Saint Projet, Masclat and Le Vigan, purchased from Marc Antoine de Lagrange-Gourdon, lord of Floirac and Lavercantiere, the castle of Pechrigal and the domain of Maillol for the sum of 79,000 pounds.
The last lord of Pechrigal was from a family of merchants from Saint Projet which claimed to be originally from Lorraine. The first known one was Maitre Jean Glandin, A law graduate, who owned the domain of Bourret in Saint Projet, and who, according to abbey Foissac, had worked for the Lord of Clermont as maitre d'hotel. In fact, we found his name as witness in two deeds executed for the first one in 1613 in the castle of Saint Projet and for the second one in 1621 in the castle of Clermont.
One could think, but it would be wrong, that Pechrigal is only a crumb fallen from the so well provisioned table of the lords of Gourdon. This powerful family, after the major difficulties starting at the end of the XIIIth century, ended up loosing the whole of its wealth. The domain of Gourdon was dismantled and transferred to foreigners or to ex subjects such as the Engoleme's and the Vassal's at Vaillac and Frayssinet, the La Roque's and the Aurioles's at Saint Chamarand and Saint Cirq Bel Arbre, etc. In Gourdon itself, where the consuls where the main beneficiaries, powerful merchant families, the Ricard's and the Casatou's, received a portion of the domain.
During the 100 Year War, the families who had taken advantage of the demise of the family of Gourdon, faced difficulties of their own, if not a complete ruin. Many domains changed hands during the XVth century. Fortanier de Casatou first sold the domain of Saint Clair. His daughter, Marguerite, who had sold the domain of Pechrigal to Geraud de Valle, then separated from the domain of Salviac the castle of the Repaire, Parrish of Saint Martial, and sold it to "a certain Poget", probably Maitre Guillaume du Pouget, Notary in Gourdon, married to Alamande de la Manhanie, Lady of Nadaillac and of Nabirat, and herself the heir of an old family of merchants from Gourdon known since the beginning of the XIVth century. While are about to disappear the previously so numerous Engoleme's (they were more than 12 co-viguiers of Gourdon at the end of the XIIIth century), and that vanish completely so many little families such as the Agran's in Saint Germain, the Fages' in Peyrilles, etc, the Tustal, aka Ricard merchants of Cahors and of Gourdon, purchase, among other domains, the castle of Costeraste and a portion of the domain of Gourdon. Meanwhile, the merchants of this town step up their investment in land or real properties. The Lagrange's in Salviac, the del Brehl's in Nozac, Roufillhac and Prouillac, the Leygue's who become co-lords of Prouillac and of the Castella. Other merchant families, the Marsis',Laval's, Reganhac's, Palot's, Constantin's, Lapeze's who do not obtain a noble status, still own numerous lordship.
Men from the cities, merchants or lawyers from Cahors, carved themselves important domains in the wealth of the Gourdon family. We have already mentioned the Tustal's.
We could add the du Sirech's, who used to be butchers in Cahors, co-lords of Uzech around 1470, before settling in Salviac. The du Garric's, initially merchants selling fabrics, and, in the following century, Earls of Uzech. Such a replacement of the families of lords always happened but only the periods of major changes draw our attention.
In the XVIth century, the d'Albareil's became notorious, who claimed the castle of Pechrigal. They believed they were issued from a noble family from Rouergue. In fact, they were peasants around Montfaucon around 1440, then, very quickly, notaries. Some settled in Gourdon around 1500: notaries and a shoemaker (this trade was relatively rich). The leader of the family, Francois, Leutnant General, had bought a number of domains, more particularly around Pechrigal: Saint Clair, Coupiac, a part of La Fontade, and the castle of Costeraste of which he bought the justice from the Earl of Salviac.
Like the Seguy, the Camy, also merchants in Gourdon in the XVth century, became nobles, these two families basing on canonicats of the Le Vigan chapter.
We have made a point to give their place to the Lords of Pechrigal in the vast trend of replacement of the rural leadership which shook the province of Gourdon during the XVth and XVIth centuries. We feel that by doing so, we better convey the feeling of instability and the diminished importance of ancient feudal families: the Durfort's, the d'Ussel's, the Hebrard's confronted with the arrival of merchants and lawyers. The victory of towns over the country, in other words.
Among these merchant dynasties who found their new strength in the economic development and in the vitality of local legal centers, some like the Seguy's in Pechrigal or the Camy's in Le Vigan were beautifully able to transform their confortable position of merchants into the far more uncertain future of military life.
As far as the domain of Pechrigal is concerned, it remained what it was from its inception: a diverticule (accessory) of the Lordship of Saint Clair. Its owners, whose "merum and mixtum imperium" applied to a few hectares, will take almost two hundred years to erase the original flaw, the impurity introduced by the deed of 1460, and to forget the 10 sous d'acapte owed to the Earl of Salviac. A noble domain, should have owed, in such a situation, only a token present such as a pair of spurs or white gloves.
In the end, Pechrigal is only one example, among many others, of the extreme dilution of the legal powers following the demise of the great feudal powers but this is true only in theory. In effect, since the last centuries of the Middle Age, royal emissaries repeatedly and continuously diminished the feudal powers until they became devoid of any substance..