Originally, the bailiff (Le bayle in Occitane Language) was the Landlords’ agent, taking care of administrative and legal matters. He was an officer who both carried a sword and wore a robe and he rendered justice in the name of the King or of a Landlord. He could be from any social class or rank and he performed functions of a legal or financial nature as well as control over the territory he served.
The bailiff, represented the Landlords’ ecclesiastic or royal authority depending on the bastide’s origins, and had the job of making sure that decisions made in the name of the authorities were respected. He welcomed newcomers and made sure they were properly installed in the bastide. He was responsible for the construction of certain public or private buildings. He also collected the various taxes owed to the founders and the ensured the application of justice.
The bailiff worked in collaboration with the council. Originally chosen from among the ordinary population, the persons holding this job weren’t liked by the local population because of their rôle in tax-collecting or distributing the hardest jobs.
Bailiff territories were established during the 12th Century in the royal domain, notably by Philippe Auguste. Previously, royal commissioners were the ones who rendered justice, collected taxes and heard, in the name of the crown, the peoples’ grievances against the Landlords.
Their jurisdiction, regularised at the time of the Capétiens, was at first extensive, but their abuse of the powers they held obliged the kings to reduce their territories. Towards the 16th Century, the role of the bailiff had become simply an honorary one.
The franchise charters given to the people of Valence in 1276 clearly set down the bailiff’s prerogatives, to which were added those of councillors from the bourgeoisie of the village and these were renewed every year.
THE BASTIDE’S SECRET
The bailiff: «I have power, that’s true, but I also know when I must obey my superiors During an apparently ordinary construction, supplementary funds had to be found to satisfy the Count and the Abbott. Who would have thought that there were so many cavities in this limestone? » Word 9/11 : well.
The surveyor will tell you more if you go to him, a few metres away at the, Porte de Flaran !