BEZIERS HISTORY

"Si Deus in terris, vellet habitare Biterris"

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ANECTODES

 In this evening of December 20, the sentinel positioned on the Béziers's ramparts sees, through the moon light, a troops' movement getting closer to the city's bulwarks. The captain of the guards is then warned. Not wishing to alarm the population at once, he decides to use guile to surprise the enemy. For that, he asks to a dozen of his soldiers to go to bring back the St Aphrodise's camel (its effigy which one usually takes out during the Ascension's holiday), which is inside the abbey's saint.

 The camel, intended to frighten the invader, is hoisted on bulwarks to be able to be seen as soon as the enemy will get closer. Already, twenty or twenty five enemy soldiers, of the most fearless, begin to position ladders along ramparts. The Captain gives then the order to raise the camel above the wall and orders to give it an undulation's movement. The vision of this "monster" stops down the enemy's ascent, frightened by this supernatural apparition.

 Taking advantage of this moment of terror, the captain orders to fire with muskets, at the poor aggressors and to throw stones on their ladders. Around thirty of them fall down under the projectiles. The rest of the troop, terrified and disorganized, flees with confusion and under the laughingstock of the Biterrois soldiers. The troops of the citadel, alerted by the noise, use their cannons to show they did not sleep and two thousand armed people crowds on ramparts definitively terminating this failed invasion.( source (only in French))


 This year, an enormous scandal shakes Béziers. "A grave affair of mores" headlines roughly "le Petit Méridional" of June 8. Underneath, an enticing subtitle: "75 girls and very little girls prostituted - the confessions - 7 arrests."

The place of the crime : the Villa of Arts; facts : procurers solicited everywhere for girls "prostituted or still pures" and brought them to the aforementioned Villa of Arts "where scenes of nauseating orgies occurred".

But the police looked after.

The story tells the fine discovery of the ballets roses : civilian dressed agents (ho the cunnings!) introduce themselves at the aforesaid villa.

They are - says the journalist who knows very well his job - received by the manageress with an excessive kindness. She believes - how turkey she is - these guests are serious customers. "The agents' shaved faces inspire to her an absolute confidence"; next : arrest, scandal. The affair is so important that some, in Béziers, begins to tremble. 13 year old "debauched" girls, that can cost a lot.

 In fact, the police throws a chaste veil on the clientele : five procurers and three women are arrested of which "the supplier" elegantly nicknamed "Jojo the Negress" who is - according to rumours - hardly known on the Allées Paul Riquet where she is engaged in activities the morality disapproves.

About the remainder : silence. "The police researchs", the newspaper says, "a Biterrois who would have spent - in the Villa of Arts - big amounts to be able to play some retrospected antique scenes - whose we prefer not to talk about - but which all were made of a very doubtful taste although they were renewed from the Classic art. Statement of the maid : "if one wants to arrest all the customers of the house, the police will have a lot to do !".

(extracts from "Le Languedoc au temps des diligences" by Jacques Durand and André Hampartzoumian)



Des Carmes jusqu'à Tourventouse
Toute cette ville est merdeuse
Et de Saint-Aphrodise au Pont
Qu'on le prenne en large ou en long
Où aller sans trouver de merde ?
De peur que la race s'en perde
Chaque jour des étrons tout neufs
A nos nez comme à nos yeux
Eclosent au milieu des rues.

From Carmes to Tourventouse
The whole city is full of shit
And from Saint-Aphrodise to the Bridge
Whatever you walk by length or by side
Where to go without finding of shit ?
As to be affraid this race disappears
Everyday some new turd
To our noses and our eyes
Hatchs in the middle of the streets.

 Although today the canine excrements replace the people's ones, we can see the problem persists for centuries. Cléric clarifies that at this time it's only possible to walk in the streets by lifting his dresses, by keeping watch to the windows from where the night pots' contents are thrown on the road.

 The worst was when it was raining : in Béziers, as all other Southern cities, people had the habit to defecate inside toilets arranged on roofs. As the sewer didn't exist, the excrements dried in the sun and smells were dissipated in airs. However, each time the rain was falling, all these excrements became liquid and flowed down the streets...
 It is only at the Empire's period that these "aerials privats" will be destroyed by municipal ordinance.


 At the beginning of XX-th century, Sérignanais (Sérignan natives) still had the nickname : "Red Paws".
 The supposed explanation of this nickname would result from a quality of vine: "Le Petit Bouchet".
 The grape was then crushed with foot and this vine's grain, very red, tended to color the vintagers' legs.

 


 It is a somber time that this one where the Duke of Montmorency and the Viscount of Joyeuse don't stop to fight each others. The campaign is invaded by bandits under or not the orders of the aforesaid two. Winters are icy, summers are hot and dryness alternates with floods. Black Death still hits. In this context, an Biterrois artisan, Louis Charbonneau, fourbisseur (gunsmith in cutting weapons), attempts to note all the different facts of his region. Here are some :

 From January 1583, Montmorency cheats to rig the Consuls of Béziers' election. The same month, he poisons a captain named "Arragon", Lunel's native, in pouring poison into his leeks' soup. The Captain survives and so alerts the police. Unfortunately the police realizes he is involved in the murder of a Lyon trader with the complicity of two other scamps : Mandaille of Frontignan and Petit of Aigues-Mortes. The three thieves are executed in February in Montpelier.

 On May, executions still continue : a bandit from Bédarieux, Baunnaure, is hung high. In June, in Nissan, a 15 year old young man who had fallen asleep in the suburb is devoured, during the night, by a roaming wolf.
 On August 12, a woman is hung to have cheated on her husband with one of her servants. The lovers had been arrested in Florensac. The servant - who was not the first to have debauched its mistress - is condemned to be whipped then sent to the galleys.
  On September 4, the bishop of Béziers embarks to Italy in... Sérignan ! This village, today in the middle of lands, was then a seaport.

 

 

 The year ends by numerous affairs of armed bandits who attack cities as Lodève. In spite of executions as two bandits' ones : Lacaze of Puimisson and Benezech of Narbonne, on December 30, the armed gangs continue to teem. So, Gabian is ransacked by Janique and his "brigandaux of the mountain".
 in 84, a Corsican company escorts the bishop through Béziers's streets. In the enjoyment, the soldiers fire with their arquebuses to celebrate Mgr. Thomas of Bonsi.
Result : a notable takes a shot and falls died on the stone floor. The same year, a soldier is hung to have slapped the deputy Fabri, a Béziers magistrate.

 To finish, a counterfeiter's gang from Montpellier, Delettre and Fustier, is arrested following the denunciation of a woman tired to be beaten. They benefited from the Ceyras mayor's complicity who had just the time to throw into a river his corners and the molds before fleeing.