first remnants of life around Mazamet were traced back to the Paleolithic
ages (20.000 B.C). Many remnants were found in the caves around.
(5.000 to 2.500 B.C), the Neolithic men, cultivators and stock breeders
replaced the hunters-gatherers. At the same time in Egypt, the Pharaohs
were having the pyramids built...
from the copper age left many megalithic monuments such as dolmens,
and, more rarely, menhir statues...
scientists think those statues were the representation of
gods or leaders, because of the attributes (such as the dagger)
carved upon them.
came the great Celtic invasions with the Volques, who celebrated
the dead, brought pottery, and the work of metal. With the Ruthènes,
they were the origins of the Gallo-Romans who lived in the
region right after Vercingetorix's defeat in 52 BC. The only
remnants one can still see today, are a few forges in the mountain,
and a Roman way joining Mazamet to Hautpoul (The walk from Mazamet
to Hautpoul, is about 1.30h long, and goes across a part of the mountain.
All along the path, one can see the paving stones left by the Romans.
Hautpoul is built on a granite crest which dominates all the valley),
which was probably used to carry salt and tin. This quietness was
disturbed by the arrival of the Visigoths, founders of the
village of Hautpoul in 413 AD, under the reign of king Athaulf
can still see today the remnants of their stay in the walls
of the castle in Hautpoul, with a special fitting of the
stones, called "fish-bones":
Those fittings may also be found in the most ancient part of the Medieval
City of Carcassonne, which was occupied by the Visigoths too,
and located on the other side of the Black Mountain, in the Languedocianplain
Francs and the Middle Ages
the reign of Clovis, the Francs chased out the Visigoths
to Spain, and settled in the walls of "Alt Pull"
which became "Hautpoul"...
the middle-ages, the "Hautpoulois" (around Hautpoul)
remained like that. In 1212, Izarn of Hautpoul, was
seduced by the doctrine taught by those pairs of men wandering through
the country from castle to village, and living out of begging:
crusade, their castle destroyed, the inhabitants
of Hautpoul went down in the valley along the shores of the
Arnette river, and founded Mazamet...
there comes the legend...
upon a time, a Lady lived in this country. Nobody knew whether she
was a fairy or a princess. She knew how to talk to the birds, and
was very beautiful. Every day, she combed her beautiful golden hair
with a golden comb, gazing at herself in the clear water of the stream.
One day, she bent down too much, and the golden comb fell into the
stream with a tuft of golden hair. The Lady screamed, buried her face
in her hands, and cried a long time. When she opened her eyes again,
she saw that the water of the Arnette was shining with thousands of
golden stars, and that houses had risen along its shores. Then her
tears dried, for she was deeply happy to see such a beautiful landscape..."
16th century and the Religious wars
are many origins to the name "Mazamet", and they
have drawn many polemics. Therefore, I won't discuss those details.
I'm going to explain now what became Mazamet after its creation...
did not become a real city before 1509. The inhabitants of the region
who had a tough and rebellious nature, and who were far from any central
power, were again seduced by the spirit of opposition and tolerance
of the Protestant reform. It actually reminded them the vivid memory
of Catharism. Once again, the region was torn apart by the bloody
Religion Wars. Under the reign of Henri the 4th,
it calmed down a little, but the massacres started again under the
reign of Louis the 13th, and Mazamet was destroyed
in 1628 by the armies of prince of Condé. It raised back from
its ashes though, but it did not know any real peace before the end
of the 17th century. It was then that the influence of
the Protestant mentality started to change Mazamet. The revocation
of the edict of Nantes had forbidden all the leading citizens
of Mazamet to be notary, lawyer,... they became then traders. At the
beginning of the 18th century, Mazamet was therefore producing
much textile. At the end of the French Revolution, the Protestant
citizens of Mazamet were citizens like others, despite their religion.
the 19th Century to nowadays
men were going to mark the economical recovery of Mazamet: Pierre-Elie
Houlés, a cloth manufacturer, and Maréchal Soult, President
of the Council in 1832, and who was born not far from Mazamet. At
the head of his ministry, he decided to ask the industrialists of
Castres and Mazamet, to manufacture the army clothes. Thanks to the
dynamism and the cleverness of Pierre-Elie Houlés, the manufacturers
of Mazamet obtained the market, and increased the textile activity,
which had also an effect on the international side, with the world-wide
few months before his death, Pierre-Elie Houlés ordered two
"balls" of "woollen-skins" from Argentina. It
was the beginning of the biggest adventure of Mazamet: the birth of
This activity never stopped improving, pulling
along another industry:" Mégisserie".
the 1970's, they built up Mazamet's wealth, but this is another story...
to the late Michel Bourguignon, Mayor of Mazamet until December 2002,
and whose book inspired those lines.