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Including Aiguilhe in Le Puy – The 1420 Project

At the foot of the Rocher, in the south towards Le Puy grew up a village of which there is evidence from the late middle Ages, or at least from the 14th Century onwards. It is testament to the success of pilgrimages to Saint-Michel that this independent settlement was able to come about despite its proximity to the cathedral town.

 

Aiguilhe became, and remains today, a community independent of Le Puy, although it has never been a separate parish (being part of Saint-Georges, a parish whose headquarters is within the cloister district of Le Puy itself), and is under the lordship of the cathedral chapter.

 

According to medieval criteria, Aiguilhe probably had the right to be called a town. In any case, Aiguilhe possessed the main attributes of a ‘bonne ville’ (a type of medieval town) or a ‘closed town’ as it was surrounded by walls. It was also included in the list of ‘closed towns of the bailiwick of Le Puy’ given by Médicis but it is implied that it formed a single entity with the cloisters of Le Puy, despite the fact they both had their own distinct walls. A drawing done by Martellange in the early 17th Century shows a country scene with minimal urbanisation; it is remarkable that the surrounding areas were even less built up than today.

 

 

During the 1420s - in the midst of the 100 Years War - the consuls of the Le Puy, had, for other reasons, new aspirations for their town. The chronicler Médicis conserved a text issued by these consuls, written in Occitan, the local language at the time, which puts forward an argument to be addressed to the future King Charles VII and his council. Among the advantages hoped for by the consuls, was the possibility of including the nearby Aiguilhe within Le Puy’s walls.

 

The objective was a military one, with relation to the Rocher. The Rocher had miraculously avoided being besieged by Bourgons shortly before in 1419. The town of Le Puy hoped that this extension would give it an important standing with the King. The accounts do not give the reactions of the inhabitants of Aiguilhe, if they were even made aware of the happenings. The political situation, however, changed rapidly and nothing came of the plans. Conversely, Aiguilhe has managed to keep its independence to this day.

 
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