Perigueux's Short History
Périgueux - the "Prefecture" of the Dordogne department (population just under 30,000) lays on the site of the former Civitas Petrocoriorum, a flourishing Roman city - whose vestiges are still very visible - built during the Roman occupation of Aquitaine in the first centuries AD.
Périgueux is also the capital of the region known as "Périgord blanc" (white Périgord).
As Christian religion spread in this region a monastery and a church were built on the hill (called le puy Saint Front) - next to the roman city - a hill where Saint Front was buried.
In the 12th and 13th centuries the old religious buildings were replaced by a Romanesque style basilica. The new church became not only a stop for the pilgrims on their route to Compostela but also the center of a thriving town - called Ville du Puy-Saint-Front - that formed around. The new settlement unites on 16 September 1240 with the Cité that was still in existence on the location of the former Roman city to form Périgueux.
The treaty of union mentions among other things that*:
- The two towns are to forget past reciprocal insults and injuries (on the condition that the owed rents are continued to be paid).
- The new city will be governed by elected mayor and consuls and each citizen has to swear - at the age of 15 - to submit to the laws of the consuls.
- The two cities are to preserve their respective fortification and a new fortified wall is to be built between the new sites, but the open markets are to be kept in their old separate locations.
- The news will be also announced by the heralds in two separate places in the Puy-Saint-Front and the Cité.
- The bells of the towns will signal in the same time the closure of their respective portals
- And finally the units of measure will be the same for the two locations.
The new urban entity was the feudal vassal of the Earl of Perigord - at the time of the famous de Talleyrand - to whom each Christmas the city was to pay 20 Pounds.
During the Hudread Years Wars (1337 to 1453 between the Kings of France and the Kings of England) Périgueux town was loyal to the French King while its Earl became an ally of the King of England. As a result Archambauld Count of Perigueux was in 1399 dispossessed and the title and the county given to the Duke of Orleans the brother of Charles VI the King of France.
During the religious wars the town is occupied by the Huguenots for 6 years between 1575 and1581.
The city of Périgueux preserves today the marks of its tumultuous but rich history. The history interested traveler can still visit the ruins of the Vesunna Temple - the Roman Water Godess, the traces of the ancient amphitheatre and the "Norman Gate" erected in the late Roman Empire.
On the Saint Front Hill is situated the Medieval Town with its many narrow streets, donjon topped houses and its crown jewel: the Saint Front Cathedral.
. * Source Histoire de la ville de Périgueux et de ses institutions municipales jusqu'au traité de Brétigny, 1360 / par R. Villepelet