Sarlat history Perigord Site Home - What's New? -Feedback - About Jack-  Travel/Art Links

Dordogne-Perigord

 

Sarlat and its history

back to Dordogne contents  

back to Jack Travel

 

 

One just needs to visit and discover the Dordogne Valley to understand why the Périgord is also known as the " Land of 1001 Châteaux ". Amid all these treasures is SARLAT, City of Art, where the color of honey is added to each ray of sun through the warmth of its stone buildings and is, without doubt, the gilt on the lily and where a guided visit will enchant you. It is likely that many other towns in France possessed as many curious and picturesque lanes, as many handsome buildings, but modernisation gradually destroyed these treasures of the past, and we can now rejoice that our city was miraculously saved thanks to a law promulgated on the 4th of August 1962 (loi Malraux) by which the old town received sufficient financial aid to undertake a programme of restoration, and now the old facades are again as they were under their magnificent stone roofs and the old quarters have been rescued from their lethargy by a lively and lived-in town. Our architectural treasures are here for your admiration just as the centuries have handed them down to us.
Said to have been inhabited since Gallo-Roman times, Sarlat became a prosperous city at the end of the 8th century under Kings PEPIN LE BREF and CHARLEMAGNE when Benedictines established a monastery there.
SARLAT had quite e tumultuous history, since Clovis, founded the first church at what is now Sarlat.. Carolus Magnus stopped here to give it a fragment of the true cross and some relics of certain Saint Sacerdos. An abbey was added in the 8th century and the village grew. It was nearly erazed from earth by the plague in 1147 when Saint-Bernard made his visit and cured several victims with blessed bread. After a century of struggle between the autocratic rule of the abbot and the merchants, a truce “livre de paix” was signed. As compensation, pope John XXII made Sarlat a bishopric in 1317, elevating the church to a cathedral.
The town suffered from the Norman invasions and then from the Hundred Years War owing to its position as a frontier region between the kings of France and England, The town, well fortified by its Consuls, withstood all attacks and only became English at the end of the first part of the Hundred Years War (1360) when, by the treaty of Brétigny, Edward III of England renounced his claim to the throne of France in exchange for the South West of France. Ten years later, the Connétable DU GUESCLIN chased the English from France and Sarlat re-became French.
As a reward of its loyalty and despite all, Charles VII granted Sarlat enough tax concessions in the 1441s to bring about its golden age and a building boom. Nearly all of its hotel particuliers, or town houses, were built between 1450 and 1500, which gives Sarlat that rare architectural unity.
After the religious wars, Sarlat was a prosperous city throughout the XVI, XVII and XVIII, but after that, too far removed from the main stream, like the sleeping beauty, it fell into lethargy for nearly 150 years, to wake up again only some thirty years ago when road transport supplanted river and railroad as means of communication.
In 1827, the town fathers, trying to improve the passage, and decongesting traffic, carved a long straight slice out of its heart to create rue de le Republique, better known as the “traverse”.

Bibliography


Le Périgord (1991)de Jean-Luc Aubarbier,Contes et légendes du Périgord (8 avril 1999)-Sites préhistoriques en Périgord, de Jean-Luc Aubarbier (1996), A Taste of Perigord (mars 1994), from Helen Raimes-Dictionnaire des châteaux forts par G. Penaud),Voyage dans la France des troglos par Saletat.