The Lost Will of 1644
From: RENNES ET SES DERNIERS SEIGNEURS by RENE DESCADEILLAS
At the beginning of the 18th century they (the principal lords of the Languedoc) were divided into three branches:
- The Rennes branch, descended directly from Simon de Montfort's adversay, Isarn d'Hautpoul, by Pierre-Raymond, who in 1422 married Blanche de Marquefaves de Rennes;
- The Felines branch founded by Auger d'Hautpoul, 2nd son of Guillaume-Pierre and Hermeninde de Poudens, born around 1388;
- The Salette branch, issuing from the main line by Pierre, 2nd son of Georges and Izalguier Germond around 1525 (1).
The Salettes hardly had any contact with the elder branch. Isolated in their own land between Gaillac and Lavaur, the Hautpoul-Salettes, who from the very first included several councillors to the Parliament of Toulouse, remained in that town.
The Hautpoul-Felines lived in their chateau at Felines in the heart of the Minervois region in the diocese of St. Pons (2). These fiefs came to them from their founder, Auger, who had acquired them by a deed of exchange dated 9th May 1418. To his nephew, Pierre-Raymond, the very same whose marriage four years later created the Rennes branch, he gave Hautpoul, Labruguiere and Ausillon in return for the Felines lands, Ventalou and Cassagnoles, which he coveted. The Hautpoul-Felines, whose fief was elevated to a marquisat in 1734, were wealthy lords.
The Hautpouls of Rennes, who represented the senior branch, were less favoured in their relationship with fortune. Their archives disappeared, probably in the fire of 1212 which ravaged their home. However, at the end of the 14th century it was still possible to go back quite a bit to justify the posession of the fiefs since the 11th century. At that time a vitally important document existed establishing the Hautpoul geneaology. The will of Francois-Pierre, Baron of Hautpoul and Rennes, husband of Marguerite de St Jean de Pontis, daughter of Franols and Catherine de Voisins. It had been registered on 23rd November 1644 by Captier, the notary at Esperaza, and was assumed to have been lost for along time. The notary, Jean-Baptiste Siau, of Esperaza, refused to reproduce it for Pierre-Francois d'Hautpoul of Seyres. "If, as i believe", he wrote to him, "you are in a position to show the original to the trustees, i will willingly make the journey to Montpellier to show it and to bring it back afterwards. It would not be wise on my part to let a will of such importance out of my hands ...'(3).
What became of this document? It has been looked for in vain today, for it patently established, and it never appeared in the minutes of the notary who kept it. It would free us of the uncertainty that has hovered over so many points of the Hautpoul genealogy for a long time. In any case, it was known to Hozier de Serigny, judge of arms, who collected all the deeds he could put together from 1337 and gave a certificate on 30th April 1781 (4).
The last known revision goes back to the 4th January 1689 when M. de Bezons upheld a final judgement on the nobility of Blaise I d'Hautpoul. He was the son of Francois-Pierre and had split the Barony of Rennes to provide legitimately for his brothers; Jean and Antoine, assigning St Just to the first and Montferrand to the second. That left him just Rennes, Granes and Le Bezu, enough so long as he was not burdened with a family. His wife Marie-Lucrece du Vivier de Lansac, whom he married on 10th July 1640, had given him ten children - two girls and eight boys, five of whome had died in service during the wars of Louis XIV (5). The eight soldiers, said an anonymous undated note that we found in the Terrasse papers had 'ruined their family having bought or raised more than ten companies"(6).
The eldest, Henry d'Ausillon, who died fourteen months after his father, could not inherit the estate, the assets of which amounted to 225,000 livres. The order for the final settlement fell to his widow, Marie Dupuy, Henry's heir, but a fiduciary heir, that is, a trustee. On 24th February 1699 she paid the lawful portion to her brothers-in-law, Canon Charles and Blaise (7) giving them the land of St Just et Bec "with all the rents and revenues (as was their due)"
1) Villain, op.cit and d'Aubals, Pieces fugitives; II, part 1 Jugermens, pp. 151 et sq. - La Chenai Dubois, Dictionnaire historique de la Noblesse VII, 725 - Courcelles, Histoire genealogique heraldique des pairs de France, III, art. d'Hautpoul. - La Roque, Armoiral de la Noblesse du Languedoc vol. 1, pp. 254 et sq. - Genealogie des Hautpoul -Felines drawn up on the order of the general marquis Alphonse-Henri d'Hautpoul-Felines in 1861 (Archives of the A de Martin family, Narbonne), and Versailles, salle des Croisades part 1, p11, no. 40. The Hautpouls bear or with two fesses in gules, accompanied by sic cocks in sable, the right foot raised, crests, beaks and bards gules and set of three, two, one. Cf Genealogical tables nos 1 and 2.
2) The Olonzac district of Beziers today. Cf Genealogical table no. 6.
3) Arch. Aude. Fonds Mouyren Minutes of M. J-B. Siau, notary at Esperaza. On the back of Siau's letter the marquis d'Hautpoul has written in his own hand: 1644. Now, Villain dates this will of 1644 or this opinion is much more plausible.
4) Villain, op.cit.
5) Ibid cf-genealogical table no.2
6) Arch. Aude. Fonds de Terrasse (Montesquieo-Roquefort), 2156-7 and Villain, op. cit., 17 cf> genealogical tabe no.2. Unfortunately space does not allow the printing of al the geneaological tables attached to this item, which, the purposes of this edition, i have transalted only the text referring to the origins of the Hautpoul family, the 1644 will, its possible ramifications and its disappearance.
Above illustrations published by Louis VAZART. Used with permission.