THE FOUNDING OF VALENCE
In 1274, Géraud Count of Armagnac formed an alliance Gislibert, Abbott of the Cistercian monks at the Abbaye de Flaran in order to create the bastide of Valence under the terms of a contract or « paréage ». The creation of this new town was symbolised by the hammering of a stake into the ground with the coats of arms of the founders attached at a ceremony known as « fixatio palis ».
The paréage contract, (sometimes pariage) is an agreement between Landlords, associated principally for economic or commercial reasons. At the time when new mediaeval bastide towns were being founded, this type of contract was widespread. Paréages could be instigated by a count, an archbishop, a king, or through an alliance formed by any number among them.
Here, in Valence sur Baïse, Géraud, Count of Armagnac (a Landlord) decided in 1274 to found this bastide with Abbott Gislibert of Flaran (the Cistercian monks were the landowners).
The « pal » ceremony
To mark the founding of a new bastide, a celebration would take place organised by the founders of the chosen site and bringing together their representatives, influential or important people : this was the « pal » ceremony. Bishops, notaries, judges and local lords would be there along with ordinary people, these last being the future inhabitants of the new town.
At this ceremony, called « fixatio palis », a long stake would be driven into the ground and the coats of arms of the founders fixed to it. These events are cited in many of the contemporary texts including paréage contracts.
These ceremonies were also the occasion to hold a public reading of the Customs Charter (whenever it already existed at the time) to the future population. Town criers would continue these readings in the countryside surrounding the bastide so that those absent or undecided could be informed.
The naming of Valence
The prosperous town of Valencia in Spain gave Valence its name, in order that the bastide should be guaranteed a radiant future. Of the forty or so bastides in the Gers, six others are named for foreign towns : Fleurance, Miélan, Plaisance, Pavie, Barcelonne-du-Gers et Cologne.
THE BASTIDE’S SECRET
In Valence-sur-Baïse, there is a well-kept secret... Every character along the way as you discover the village, will reveal a little of what they know... put these clues together in order and they will enable you to understand what they mean and help you to discover the bastide’s secret. The characters will also give you a total of 11 words which form a sentence that will guide you to the answer...