Following on from the last post i would like to draw attention to the work of Jean Alan Sipra. You can access his website HERE and among many of his interesting ideas and researches, Jean refers to the village of Esperaza and the possibility of ancient Esperaza being swept away by an ancient flood.
Jean Alan Sipra says; "Louis Fédié, whose erudition is a measure of intellectual honesty, is the author of interesting monographs on localities within the Razés, which include Espéraza. He contends that the original village was located downstream of the current location, in the district of Garnaud. To be sure, he asked the engineers responsible for the construction of the railway Carcassonne-Quillan, 1875, to report to it any remains they might encounter in this area. Pickaxes and navvies actually brought to light, in a place called Garnaud, substructures of buildings buried underground.
Historically, Ecclesiae Sanctae Mariae Asparazanus was founded by the Abbey of Alet, who had herself been endowed in 812 by Count Bera. The first document mentioning the religious establishment date of 1015. Thereafter, a village was established around the church and its history can be traced until 1145. After that date, according to Fédié, the town disappears and rebuilt upstream;, ie at its current location, at an unspecified date. He attributes the destruction to the Crusade, memory loss, which devastated the region in the summer of 1210. In fact there seems to be a period, troubled and uncertain, in which the town of Sparazan completely disappears for unknown causes And, for reasons that are not understood, it was not rebuilt in its original location, around the church, but largely upstream! It may seem discourteous to doubt Fédié conjecture, but it justifies an adverse comment. If the northern barons had destroyed the town and the castle, they would have been careful not to touch the church and church property! So there would have been no reason for that, those inhabitants who had escaped during the invasion, not to rebuild their houses around the church on their return. If they have not done is simply because it did not exist!
In fact, it seems that the whole town, including the church, had disappeared at a difficult time to identify, but without doubt before 1145. In the logic, it seems that a sudden natural disaster could have happened rather than human intervention, because the village suffers complete annihilation. The fact that the location of the original town is situated exactly in the vallée de Couleurs that significant substructures were found in the mud of the place, are clues to consider. A second index of the last occurrence of a natural disaster is the fact that there existed before, in the town of Espéraza, ponds whose presence is reported in le dictionnaire topographique de l'Aude de l'abbé Sabarthès. Without prejudice to their location in the basin since they disappeared, they could be a residue, and thus the "signature" of an ancient flood. As for the possible date of the disaster; if we reference the history of Carcassonne of Fédié, we learn that the year 850 was called, in the lowlands, one of the flood!"
Below is a pic. of ancient Garnaud and its placement geographically. Is it possible that the ancient Esperaza was washed away by flood?
On 21 September 1891 - Saunière made an entry in his diary. He wrote: “letter received from Granès, discovery of a tomb (“tombeau”), rain in the evening.” It is a famous entry for those who are interested in the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau.
The weather had been of some concern to Saunière. In the days leading up to the famous entry Saunière had recorded the following weather observations:
9th. violent wind, it's bad
10th. the wind redoubles in strength, the harvest is damaged
11th. the wind continues the same
12th. wind the same
13th. wind, rain, thunder and lightning
15th. nice weather,
20th. in the evening, Lightning, Thunder and rain
21st. découverte d'un tombeau, rain in the evening
22nd. Rain in the night
We also know the weather was extremely volatile at this time. On the 25th, 26th October, 1891 the bad weather culminated in a flood of the river Aude, and the department of the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales were devastated by terrible floods. Numerous and spectacular floods of rivers in the departments occurred and the municipalities of Rennes-les-Bains and Couiza, in the Aude high valley were hit very hard, as well as the towns of Limoux, Carcassonne and Narbonne and the entire coastal plain. [see HERE].
Below is an entry from Musique et patrimoine of Carcassonne - remembering these devestating floods. They say:
"On 25th October 1891, the department of Aude was completely devastated by terrible floods wreaking destruction, ruin and death. The most abundant amounts of rain fell in the Corbières following the Orbieu basin to that of the Aude and its tributaries upstream of Carcassonne. The very moderate wind of the northwest pushed the clouds above the mountains; their stay very long, which explains the strong rain accumulations in these areas.
The storm rumbled from 24 October continued until 8.30 in the morning with a dense and regular rain, coinciding with a rapid barometric depression peaking at 732mm8 on 25th October. It transformed city streets into torrent where 45mm of water was already present. After a lull at 12:45, the wind began to blow. At 3:20 p.m., another storm of extreme violence accompanied by lightning and thunder. Around 17.ooh, we measured ten millimeters of extra water in the streets. The rain stopped at 4 am; 180mm was measured so that in less than 20 hours, 281 millimeters of rain had fallen.
The Aude overflowed at 2 am, amounting to 8 meters over the water level. The water flooded all areas of the city spreading disorder and panic among residents.
"This is between eleven and two o'clock in the night that the Aude, extraordinarily swollen by rain falling continuously, began to spread widely out of it's bed The suburbs are inundated: all areas along the river were, in no time, transformed into islands with belted deep channels formed by the red and muddy water of the Aude. The water rushes into the cellars, in the corridors, in the apartments, even in beds, awakening suddenly those who had been peacefully asleep for some hours before. Many rushed to leave their homes, carrying some personal effects ..... others were identified in their apartments by a strong current and incessant, growing desperate cries for help, and during that time, the river continues its ravages, wailing in cultivated fields, breaking trees and fences, demolishing the walls and causing everything in its path to perish. And it rains...
The flood of Aude met and exceeded all previous floods marked at low water. The waters have advanced inside the city, up the street from the prefecture. That is to say, nearly 500 meters at least outside of the bed. The neighborhoods affected were, first, those vegetable gardens and those of the Palais, the Pont Neuf and the Old Bridge, La Digue and the suburbs surrounding the river bank, ascending beyond Montplaisir and Patte's feet. The gardens were submerged; they contained houses that had collapsed or are damaged, the residents were forced to climb on roofs waiting for rescue. All along the river, from Old Bridge to beyond the abattoir, one sees only the demolished walls, the collapse of land, pressed grids; Montplaisir's cabin was removed and swept away by the flood; the electrical workshop of the Southern Company, Mill Island, nearby factories, the gas plant, the plant Sainte-Marie, the Guilhem factory, Poitevin property, property St-jean, etc ... All this was visited by the water causing considerable damage.
We go to see the wash of the waves, & in those waves are objects of furniture, residential sections, the bodies of dead horses ... At the General Hospital, the basements and chapel were abruptly invaded by water that stood at the arches of the Old Bridge, and caused this place a collapse of 7 to 8 square meters. Immediately, we evacuated the children staying at the hospital and the other hosts; Mr. Delsol, lawyer, member of the hospices of the Commission, Mr. and Mrs. Delsol Sauzède organized relief and helped to preserve the people at this charity. Mothers are evacuated to the Hotel-Dieu where the water does not reach the rooms.
In Bellevue Street Mr. Lhuilier, the gym teacher, was awakened by the arrival of the water; he jumps out of the window and escapes by swimming. Near the abattoir is the Arbiade family rescued by a fisherman. In de la Digue, a cavalry captain, found refuge on the roof with his wife. Between the Pont Neuf and the Pont-Vieux, the dramatic rescue of the entire family Lasserre & others, rescued by boats manned by the gendarmes. In the Rue Basse, two women died: Marie Rigaud (born Andrieu) of 51 years; Adeline Andrieu wife of Jean Rigaud, 17, of Montreal. All streets were blocked by pumps that drain the water-filled caves. The loss of the inhabitants is considerable; many families are homeless. There is more telegraphic communications. The Maymou bakery suffered tremendously; horses, carts and various vehicles, wheat bags, bread heaps were washed away. All equipment of the Brewery Lauer is under water. In the Southern Power Company, new machines were broken and part of béal built to conduct water was crumbling. In neighborhoods of Trivalle and the Barbican, the small houses of local industrious workers' families were destroyed.
The old Limoux bridge after the flood
In Limoux it looked like a bombed city. Flooded streets full of slimy mud and cluttered with wrecks. The house called the Ark of the Old Bridge, completely collapsed. Two old women were buried under the rubble. An artificial buttress protected them. The house Cadenat, shoemaker, and Constans, owner, St-Antoine Street, Smalltown, are completely collapsed. The house of Mr. Lamouroux, rue Saint-Martin, praised Mr. Denat Cadet (butcher) has all the part facing the street collapsed. The side of the St. Martin Street threatens to collapse. The houses of Messrs. Butcher and Esteve are washed away. The mills of Maynard and Sournies destroyed. Old Bridge is almost in ruins. The gardens of the Sub-prefecture of the Hospice and the Presbytery are washed away. The sulfur plant is partially demolished. In M. Peyre, the water washed away 500 hogsheads of wine.The Castera Moula and cafes are destroyed. The house of Mr. Numa Trauque and part of that of Mr. Clercy, Blanquerie street, form a mountain of ruins and under this upheaval are 12 victims. This house was inhabited by Mr. Trauque, his wife, Mr. Ducasse, admits his young daughter, the family Raynaud comprising five persons, Mr. Cabanes (plasterer) and her daughter, Mrs. Saint-Loup and his son. On hearing the creaking of the house and unable to escape through the streets, they go up on the roof of Mr. Clercy, their neighbor. Mr. Ducasse goes first, Mr. Renier said Tillet (mason), their neighbor, is at his side and when they will make the rescue, a terrible creaking, with great cries resounded; Mr. Ducasse looks into the void to seize on those dear to him; he will disappear in turn; Renier retains and away from the place of the horrible disaster. Mr. Ducasse was going to save his wife, he held out his hand; the house collapses, Miss and Ms Ducasse are broken by the landslide. Mr. Ducasse was mad with grief. In the morning, we carried out the search for victims: Mr. Trauque (50 years) and his wife (29 years); Mrs. Raynaud holds entwined corpses of a son and daughter, aged 9. The disasters were so great in Limoux that the military authority comes to the aid of the city. The garrison of Carcassonne provides two platoons of dragoons and of Montpellier, a strong team of sappers.
Some examples in the department.
The railway is destroyed over a length of 160 meters, on the axis Carcassonne-Quillan. A Puichéric, half the village is flooded; several bridges were destroyed and 300 people in the street. Some of them took refuge in the church. At Lagrasse, two men are missing. The barracks and the houses are demolished. At Lastours, operating buildings of lead-silver mines were razed. At Conques, Orbieu and Rieussec the rivers overflowed. The house of the lower part of the village are under 1.50 meters of water. The bridge of Villalier is partly destroyed. At Trèbes the Orbiel emptied himself into the Canal du Midi, overturning the parapets of the canal bridge. In Luke, the bridge collapsed and the embankment Fabrezan bridge collapsed.
Even with my not so perfect translation one can see the utter devestation caused by the floods. And of course we have seen, in 1992, a smaller version of the flooding of the area and how much damage was done then in Rennes-les-Bains [for example the church cemetery was washed away!].
- Weather forecast
Printing Polère in Carcassonne (1892)
- L'Express du Midi
© Copyright / Music and Heritage / 2016
Michel Vallet, veteran Rennes researcher [aka Pierre Jarnac] has brought back his RLC news site and posted an interesting postcard from Rennes-les-Bains. Michel says: The question is often asked whether the appellative - the "Devil's Armchair" is a timely invention of Pierre Plantard and Gérard de Sede, or whether the name was from history and already known as such before Plantard et al arrived in the area. The name refers to a monolith, in the shape of a seat near la fontaine du Cercle in Rennes-les-Bains.
You can see HERE the question is answered by reference to an old postcard from Rennes-les-Bains. Dated to between 1920 - 1935 the message on the back from the sender indeed refers to the Fauteuil du Diable!
The above photo was taken around 1940 ..... and it shows the approach into the village of Rennes-les-Bains with one of its famous landmark's the Hotel de la Reine. This hotel is sited near to one of the famous hot thermal springs of which the village is even more famous. On the right side of the road one can clearly see the so-called Delmas cross - and it is conjectured that this cross was erected in commemoration of one of the priests of the village [he had been priest for around 60 years] after his death. He is well known to researchers into the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau because of a 'manuscript' he wrote in 1709. The manuscript describes various archaeological finds in the village.
Researchers often ask who originally put the Cross there and on what date? We know there were at least two priests by the name of Delmas living at Rennes-les-Bains. And in fact they were related to each other. The first, more well know one, was born in 1644. He became priest of Rennes-les-Bains in 1672. He died July 20, 1731 at the age of 87. If the Cross by the roadside is associated with this Delmas then perhaps the Cross was erected around 1731?
However, there may have arisen some confusion because it is:
"... the successor of [the first] Antoine Delmas ... [who] must be the priest who wrote a manuscript referring to excavations and research he had conducted - his name was [also] Antoine Delmas (1674-1737). This Delmas was likely a nephew of the first, often confused with his uncle, who was also an amateur archaeologist. He buried his relative at the foot of the great cross in the cemetery of Rennes-les-Bains and followed him to the grave six years later. He was no less passionate about archaeology . He contributed to some discoveries during excavations on sites in the village. All the discoveries of these two men were on the death of the second Antoine Delmas, transmitted to a monk of Sorreze." [See HERE].
The great cross must be this one here:
There are some strange oddities in the proliferation of Delmas Crosses in the vicinity of Rennes-les-Bains!
Whichever Delmas it was - at some point the iron cross in the village as shown in the photograph above became associated with a Grand Roman burial [mainly because of the Delmas manuscript of 1709 which refers to a marble cippe found at Rennes and which some associated with the tomb of Pompey] so did some think the cross marked a tomb of importance? Village gossip suggested that there was indeed a tomb inside the mountain behind the cross 'marker'
The original photo above is found on the official website for the village of Rennes-les-Bains. However note the diagram below:
This is a drawing from the following book: Stations thermales de l'Aude - Rennes-les-Bains. It shows the entry into the village of Rennes-les-Bains around the time the book was published - i.e 1874. It was written by Dr Jean GOURDON. As you can see - the Delmas Cross was not there in 1874. I have highlighted in yellow [see below] a section where i think the Cross should have been - one can make out some rockfall etc but i cannot see any marker of any kind, whether it be a cross or otherwise. So either the Delmas Cross was erected in commemoration much later or it had been removed by the time Gourdon published his drawing. The most we can say anyway, is that in 1874 the Cross was not there but in 1940 it was. This gives a time span of 66 years in which it was decided by persons unknown to erect a cross in tribute to a Delmas in the village.
It is the strangest enigma because there are no fewer than 3 other crosses dedicated to a Delmas! You can see the two pictures i am discussing side by side below, just click on picture to enlarge it.
I am currently working on an article for this site about the church of Mary Magdalene at Rennes-le-Chateau. And in fact HERE i posted a small piece from that article. I am interested in the terminology of the name of the church through the ages. Hence i had written:
"Rennes-le-Chateau was known since 1002 as Redae Castle, where a castle [castrum] is a building or plot of land reserved for or constructed for use as a military defensive position, or perhaps a castellum in its ancient sense - from the Roman - meaning a small detached fort or fortlet used as a watch tower or signal station. The Latin word castellum is a diminutive of castra ("military camp"), which in turn is the plural of castrum ("watchpost"); it is the source of the English word "castle".
Perhaps this little hill top village started life as essentially a defensive watchtower or signal station, with its early use already known and reflected as such in the name given it in 1002.
Local archaeologist Raynaud said: "It is unfortunately the case that there is a total absence of evidence of a Visigoth presence in Rennes-le-Château. 'Evidence' cited, such as the 'dalle des Chevaliers' and the pillar of the old altar can not be attributed to the Visigoths, but rather to the canons of Carolingian art. The remains of the walls that can still be seen around the land are from the Romanesque era (from the tenth to twelfth century).
The only things that "may" belong to the time of the Visigoths are fragments of fortifications that surround the village. Raynaud cites for example, "the portion of a dry wall belonging to a circular tower". This would allow the architectural element to date to the Middle Ages, and Raynaud's does not mean that we are dealing with a Visigoth fortification. As the only witness of a building of defense, it can be attributed to a period of instability - perhaps erected by local people to defend themselves from the arrival of the Visigoths or by the subsequent Saracen invasion of the eight century. What we can say with a good approximation is the fact that the ancient Roman oppidum was surrounded by walls to defend against any external threat".
In 1002 the whole area of ancient Septimania would have been ruled by the Carolingians. It was the time of the Reconquista. This also ties in with the Carolingian remains found by the archaeologists at RLC."
In the early 9th century, Charlemagne began issuing a new kind of land grant, the aprisio, which reallocated land previously held by the imperial crown fisc in deserted or abandoned areas. This included special rights and immunities that allowed considerable independence from the imperial control. Historians have interpreted the aprisio both as an early form of feudalism and in economic and military terms as a mechanism to entice settlers to a depopulated border region. Such self-sufficient landholders would aid the Counts in providing armed men to defend the Frankish frontier. Aprisio grants (the first ones were in Septimania) were given personally by the Carolingian king, so that they reinforced loyalty to central power, to counterbalance the local power exercised by the Marcher Counts.
By 1179 Rennes is now described as a town and then a villa, or perhaps a farm/country home/estate, or a large country residence/seat, villa or village. In 1185 the large villa [?the chateau at Rennes] is described as being on the territory and land of Beate Marie de Reddis [1400-50; late Middle English < Latin territōrium land round a town, district, equivalent to terr (a) land + -i- -i- + -tōrium -tory]. Beate Marie de Reddis means Blessed Mary of Reddis. We may ask which Mary? Does Blessed Mary not suggest the Virgin Mary? [Interesting to note here that Reddis as a name for Rennes-le-Chateau first appears in 1185, Viz the mysterious Sauniere parchments which detail Reddis Cellis etc. Are we interested in Rennes at around this time?]"
As you can see here i question which Mary is being referred to in the name of this territory. It struck me as somewhat strange that a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene would describe her as Blessed.
You can imagine my surprise when i saw the latest posting by my fellow researcher Patrick Mensior which post here below:
"In his topographical Department of the Aude dictionary, Canon Antoine Sabarthès gives the extract of a document of 1185 from the archives of the Haute-Garonne indicating that the Rennes-le-Château Church was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin: territorium Beate Marie de Reddis. The following century, this term shall be renewed in other forms: in 1246 Beata Maria de Reddas, and in 1255 Sancta Maria de Reddis. However, documents dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries show that the dedication to the Virgin Mary has [been changed] to that of Sainte Mary Magdalene. The exact period where this substitution took place is probably much older than the documents we have show ..."
The French goes on to discuss the name change thus:
"Extract from the minutes of the pastoral visit of 1808
One does not know the reason for this change [ie the saint the church is dedicated to] but Andrée Pottie, tireless reader, discovered in a study of 1936 published in the annals of Burgundy under the pen of Mr. Chaume [a section] which deals specifically with this topic:
"No doubt, during their history - documents are there to show - some of these buildings have seen changes [in] the word/s they received originally: but it is a fact, quite rare, and the ecclesiastical canons are to make it impossible" because "It was during the period that extends from the 5th to the 8th century that the saint [i.e the Blessed Virgin?] became the dedication of this Church - and after the dedication it can no longer be deprived of it without risk. The canonical laws also specify (and in this they will be punished) that no word must be replaced with a more ancient word, and that if a church is destroyed, it must be built with another, as much as possible in the same place, and dedicated to the same Saint. In the case of a new consecration, it is true, one sees sometimes introduced alongside the original saint, a second one will little by little take the first place of the first."
He adds that the change in name might have been due to the movement of relics, or the giving of 'hospitality' [?] to a Holy Body in the 'life' of the building. As Patrick said:
"Since it is known that in the 12th century, the Church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and later this term is lost in favour of that of Mary Magdalene, should we consider that this change was explained by the conditions Mr. Chaume mentioned?"
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.