Le silence a régné dans la cour du château en 2020 en raison des contraintes sanitaires.
Espérons que la fête de Mézerville aura lieu en 2021 et que l’Association NAMUKA pourra nous proposer un spectacle !

Historical background

13th century

Mézerville appeared for the first time in the deed of purchase delivered to Raimond-Roger, count of Foix, fiefs of Molandier, La Louvière, Mézerville, by Bernard and Sicard de Montaud (Doat, volume 169, fol.139-141), on the 6th of January 1208.

Sicard de Montaud, one of the allied crusaders took part in the siege of Toulouse in 1218. From the words of the “albigeoise” crusade song: we learn “At the head of the crusaders the count of Montfort bounded quickly forward, followed by Sicard de Montaud and his Gonfanonier (banner holder), Jean de Berzy and Foucaud…”. Sicard was wounded at Baziège in 1219, he was reunited with the count of Toulouse later on.

The fiefs mentioned above represented at that time the north-east border line of the Foix County. Sicard de Montaud was allied with Simon de Montfort probably to protect or to retrieve his property.

The count of Foix owner of the property, installed Pierre-Raimond de Rabat in Mézerville, probably with the title of noble lord. Suspected of catharism, he was interrogated by the inquisitor Bernard de Caux in 1246 (Bernard de Caux journal, Doat XXII, Jean Duvernoy translation):

«…the 9th of July 1246, Knight Pierre-Raimond de Rabat who lives in Mézerville, testifies under oath: I saw in Bélestat (between Saint Sernin and Mézerville), and in other places, “Parfaits” (a cathar monk), living openly. But I didn’t speak to them. It was about sixteen years ago.
- also I saw ”Parfaits”, by the name of Bertrand Marty (from Cailavel, in the commune of Belflou) and his friend in Montségur and with them Arnaud Roger, Bertrand de Congost, Raimond de Pereille and Corba his wife, but I did not see them worshipping. But I heard some of their preaching. It was fifteen years ago.

-also I saw in Fanjaux the “Parfait” Agulher in his own house but I did not speak or do anything with him.
He confessed to brothers Guillaume Arnaud and Ferrer, he admits the truth of his confession and abjured heresy and swore…
The witnesses Arnaud, prior of Saint-Sernin, brother Guillaume Pelhisson, Nieps, clerks and inquisitors, brothers Bernard and Jean were present.
Then he confessed to having worshipped, and also that he believed he worshipped “goodmen”. Same witnesses. »

In 1320, in the Jacques Fournier Inquisition register, an important person from Montaillou, Lady Béatrice de Planissoles, suspected of catharism was interrogated many times by the bishop. She tried to run away from the bishop‘s convocation in Pamiers, found shelter in Belpech and appealed to one of her ex-lovers, Barthélémy Amilhac, priest in Mézerville.

“He told me that I was wrong to run away, that I had to come back and appear before the Lord Bishop. I answered that I would not do it under any circumstances… The priest told me: if it is so, take this money and he gave me eight silver tournois… said that he would not abandon me until I was in Limoux. But that he had to be at the Saint-Etienne invention fair (August the 5th) in Mézerville before taking me to Limoux… I was delighted to hear that… We went myself, this priest and a sergeant from Belpech, to the Mas-Saintes-Puelles where I was arrested by the Lord Bishop’s people and brought to him.”

It is remarkable that nowadays the Mézerville parish church is still dedicated to Saint-Etienne, and that in 1738, it was a Sainte-Camelle chapel of ease. (Dictionary of the Aude Department by the abbé Sabarthès).

No trace of Mézerville’s history was found for more than one century. During that time the plague wiped out more than a quarter of the population.

15th and 16th centuries

 

 

Coat of Arms: according to the seals, a three branched alder (probably gold and the alder green). Crest: a palm facing hand.

Aulon’s coat of arms

At the Haute-Garonne Departmental Records, series B, a piece of information from 1486 was found proving that the Knight Jehan d’Aulon (1390-1458), king’s Counsellor and seneschal of Beaucaire, was the owner of Mézerville.

This information is in the records of the law suit raised by the grandson of Jehan d'Aulon against Hélène de Mauléon. The judgement of the proceeding decided to assign Mézerville to the grandson as it was a part of his heritage due to the marriage of late Jehan d’Aulon. Indeed, a previous piece of information was given by Maurice Vuillier in “History of the Mauléon family”. citing Hélène de Mauléon, lady of Caudeval, married on the 23rd of September 1428 to Jehan d’Aulon, knight, and lord of Mézerville, Peyrefite and Belesta.

Jehan d’Aulon, a person of great note according to Régine Pernoud historian, « is famous for being Jeanne d’Arc’s faithful companion » from Poitiers to Rouen as he was made prisoner with her. He was chosen by King Charles VII to take care of Jeanne because he was “the wisest knight and the most honourable person among his people”. He was given several missions of confidence by King Charles VII because of his close relationship with Jeanne. “At the time of his solemn entrance into Paris in 1437, he was holding the bridle of the King’s horse”. Then the Archbishop of Reims, Jean Juvenal des Ursins, called him as a witness during Jeanne d’Arc’s trial of reinstatement.

Medieval decapitation

The archives also mention in 1504 a Jean d’Aulon, grandson of the previous Jehan, as Lord of Caudeval and of Mézerville.

On the 23rd of June 1517, this Jehan d’Aulon was sentenced to have his head cut off and his goods were confiscated except a third which was left to his legitimate children!!

«…it is decided that as punishment and reparation for the crimes and evil spells committed by d’Aulon, the court sentences him to be attached by the neck to a cart and dragged in the streets of Toulouse… and after being brought to the stocks and decapitated, his head will be impaled at the “maladrerie” ( lepers' hospital) of Narbonne castle and his body will be hung at the gibbet of the Salade, his goods confiscated by the King except one third given to his legitimate children…»

The same day, Antoine de Sainte Colombe, his neighbour from Labastide (de Coulomat) was condemned to having his right fist cut off and was banished for ever:

« …it is decided that as punishment and reparation for the crimes and evil spell committed by Sainte Colombe, the court sentences him to be attached to a cart and dragged in the streets of Toulouse… and after being brought to the stocks and having his fist cut off, he will be nailed to a stake in Saint Roque… »

A son of Jean, Nicolas d’Aulon was again Lord of Mézerville in 1536. In 1551 he paid a tribute of vassalage to Catherine de Médicis in Castelnaudary for the whole seigneury of Mézerville, including all courts, high, middle and low and a quarter of the Saint-Sernin seigneury. (Aude’s archives, series B).

His daughter, Paule d’Aulon married Corbeyrand de Rigaud in 1562 and took the Castle of Mézerville as a marriage settlement.

We know that later, the Protestants plundered metairies (small sharecropping farms), of Mézerville and Sainte-Camelle. According to the Martimor family records, in 1571, Jean-Jacques de Rigaud de Villemagne, nephew of Corbeyrand de Rigaud, commanded a dozen soldiers in Mézerville, a catholic fiefdom.

By order of the marshal de Damville, he took possession of all the grain found in the neighbouring metairies to pay his soldiers that were defending his castle. Raimond de Martimort was never refunded. « In addition, this captain asked to pull down the walls surrounding these metairies to make sure that these converts to the Reformed Church would not build lookout turrets. » (Pierre Dufaut for Martimort family History).

17th and 18th centuries

Coat of Arms: azure, with rampant silver unicorn on the right and on the left a silver hand holding a palm leaf: red crowned chief decorated with five gold stars.

 

 

 

Coat of Arms picture. Detail of the crucifixion (the Cathedral of Mirepoix. Painting ordered in the 17th century by Pierre de Donault, bishop of Mirepoix. We can also see these arms on another painting ordered by Pierre de Donault, in a little church near Monbel Lake).

 

 

Corbeyran de Rigaud sold Mézerville to noble Barthélémy de Plaigne, co-lord de Plaigne, who died in 1613. Then the seigneury was sold to Jean de Donault, a burgess who had been ennobled because of his office as Treasurer of France.

In 1613, the seigneury of Mézerville included the castle, the dovecot, the woad plant mill, two windmills and 120 steres (approx. 42,35 hectares) of noble land, including the Caveroque metairies. Donault‘s family, originally from Saint-Ybars, were ennobled in the first half of the 16th century: among the descendants of this family were Chief Treasurers of France, two Bishops of Mirepoix and several Captains and Saint-Louis Knights.

What is the office of the Chief Treasurer of France, which the de Donault handed down from father to son, while remaining Lord of Mézerville. Here is the oath they had to present in front of the President of the Treasury of Toulouse:

You swear to God and to his holy Gospels

Noble Jean de Donault, chief Treasurer of France in the chancellery of Toulouse, received in 1625, as high lord administrator of justice, the act of homage of the Mézerville people. He, and in turn, paid homage to the King for this seigneury on the 9th of January 1635.

During the Revolution, François de Donault, captain of the first Musketeers Company, a Saint-Louis Knight, and Counsellor in the Parliament of Toulouse, was arrested and taken to Paris with his companion of Bourg, to be executed on the 17th of June 1793.

19th century

The de Donault family kept the castle until the year 1830. That year, the castle was bought by the de Mondini.

Jean de Mondini, first consul, was deputed in 1606 by the Mirepoix community to the Languedoc States.

Jacques de Mondini was given the office of head judge of the Mirepoix jurisdiction, on the 11th of May 1628.
Etienne de Mondini, born in Villeneuve d’Olmes (Ariège), received certificated letters confirming his nobility on the 5th of March 1827. They were registered by the Toulouse Royal Court on the 16th of July of that same year.

In 1830, Etienne de Mondini bought the castle with the metairies, ie. about 150 ha of land. His descendants kept it until the 1970’s, after having sold most of the metairies and left the building in a very bad state.

Coat of Arms: red, with a hart passing by, surmounted by three golden stars.

End of the 20th century in Mézerville

 

In 1975, Howard Gregory bought the castle and saved it by repairing the roof and the top of the walls.

Drawing by Janos Krasznaï,
when he visited the Castle in 2002.

Gaston Tissinier, a local historian, wrote in 1987: « For a long time, the small village of Mézerville owned the most remarkable monument of the Piège…For a few years, an American, M. Gregory spent a lot of money on restoring it. I’m afraid he got disheartened because he sold this estate that is part of our local heritage and now it is to be feared that sooner or later it will disappear, and it’s a real pity. »

M. Tissinier unfortunately died before seeing the renovation of the castle. As for us, let’s pay homage to the restoration work realised by M. Howard Gregory. Without his help, today the castle would have fallen into ruins.

candelabreHis daughter Rebecca Gregory, a sculptor, inspired by the severity of the building that she knew from her childhood, created an iron branched candlestick which we can see in the drawing room on the first floor.

Since 1995, Béatrice Steiner and Jacques Demichelis have undertaken to restore the castle while respecting the 15th century style for the larger part. Some research is in progress to try to bring to life some of the people that lived there

Mobilier d'Irma Jacoby

Irma Jacoby’s furniture

In the big lounge on the first floor, some German furniture typical of the 30’s has been displayed: two armchairs, a sofa, a table and a glass case. Béatrice’s family inherited this furniture in 1944 in dramatic conditions. It belonged to the Doctor Irma Jacoby, a German paediatrician, in hiding in France with her mother because of the antisemitic persecutions organised by Hitler’s regime.. Irma Jacoby, Carola Margulis and her husband, linked to the Steiner family, were arrested by the French police during the Vel d’Hiv raid in July 1942. They were transferred to the Pithiviers Camp, then to Auschwitz. Irma’s mother, too old to be deported, stayed with Mrs Steiner until her death in 1944, leaving her furniture to Béatrice’s family. We can read in the annex about the arrest of Irma, Carola and her husband, and about their transfer to Pithiviers: documents, letters, the moving appeal made by Monseigneur Saliège, Archbishop of Toulouse, who denounced the conditions of the Jewish families’ arrest and detention, and a short biography of René Bousquet who organised the Vel d’Hiv raid.

The work of art by Annabel Romero

Not to be missed, also in the big drawing room, is a work by Annabel Romero, who expresses herself in her own particular creative way because she can’t communicate with words. Annabel is an “autistic-artist”. From childhood, she has shown a surprising artistic talent, using all the materials she found (paper, clay, wool, various articles) to draw, sculpt and assemble. From her skilled fingers appear characters associating archaic figures with all sorts of objects in the surrounding world.

We regret that the association that took care of Annabel for a while did not want to encourage her talent. We deplore that today Annabel and her mother have to live in precarious conditions and alone in Toulouse without the help of a “therapeutic-art” structure that could support, protect and promote Annabel’s artistic production.

 

In the castle courtyard, we can see the big medieval construction machines that were restored by Jacques, passionate about the history of engineering. He also made the model of a windmill placed at the top of the castle’s main stairway. Intrigued by the discovery of a 7- spoked wheel in the castle, he was led to investigate some curious applications of geometry.

Our research discovered a prominent family by the name of Mézerville in Costa Rica. The original member of this family was a young woman, Amélie Coupé, probably from Mézerville and perhaps from the castle, who emigrated in the 19th century.

For a few years we have had a very warm relationship with them and the traditional family reunion will probably take place in Mézerville in 2006.

Annual meeting of the families "de Mezerville" in Costa Rica.

Annual meeting of the families "de Mezerville" in Costa Rica.

 

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