GERAUT COUNT OF ARMAGNAC AND FEZENSAC
Géraud of Armagnac lived in the 13th Century, the time of Saint Louis and the last Crusades, after the end of the war against the Albigeois. When the king of England was trying to regain control of his French fiefdom of Aquitaine (soon to be La Guyenne) and when French royalty was moving to Toulouse with the intention of taking control of the region, Géraud did everything he could to reinforce his territory.
When Géraud (V or VI depending on who’s telling his story, 1235-1285) was born, France was being formed. At that time, Armagnac wasn’t yet part of France and was one of a number of independent counties created at the breaking-up of the Duchy of Gascony.
When in 1254 he inherited the counties of Armagnac and after a war of succession, he became lord of the lands situated at the frontier of English-held territories, (Condomois) and French (Pays de Gaure), at the height of the period of creation of the new bastide towns. A complicated situation arose between the Duke of Aquitaine and Henri III King of France in Bordeaux, who was himself a vassal of Alphonse de Poitiers Count of Toulouse and the King’s brother.
After settling accounts with the Condomois and in the context of great deomographic shifts, Géraud participated in the foundation of bastides, economic and eventually military settlements, that reinforced the northern frontier: Valence in 1274, through a paréage with the Abbott of Flaran ; Montfort and Saint Sauvy further east, but also Barran to the south towards the Astarac region. At the same time, Eustache de Beaumarchais, Seneschal to the King of France in Toulouse, created a network thus establishing the King’s authority locally, so that Fleurance, Mirande, Pavie, Cologne, Miélan, Beaumarchés surround Géraud’s counties, but remain outside his boundaries.
Géraud also reinforced his links with the Church notably from 1261 when his brother Amanieu d’Armagnac became the new Archbishop of Auch.
Constantly torn between Bordeaux and Toulouse, he remained faithful to the King of France. His son swore allegiance to King Edward of England in 1286, while his grandson Jean became Lieutenant General to the King of France for the whole of the Pays d’Oc .
A hundred years later, the House of Armagnac had never been stronger, having become the greatest power in the South-West, and Count Bernard VII was about to become the most powerful man in France and was soon to possess numerous powers in Paris.
THE BASTIDE’S SECRET
Géraud : «Times are troubled and everyone, even the most powerful, needs protection, whether for themselves or for their possessions. Sometimes walls aren’t enough to withstand the enemy and we need to find other solutions... » Word 1/11 : The.