About the life of French towns in the middle ages and later

Toulouse consuls (they were called capitouls)
Toulouse consuls (they were called capitouls)

For the most part of the second millennium of the Christian era – until the French revolution – many towns of France were quasi-independent entities administrated by a group of so called consuls.
The consular power increased in time and while at the beginning the consuls responsibility was limited to the administration of the police and the set up of certain taxes, towards the 18th century the consuls were in charge of all the aspects of the town’s administration save the army.
Below follow some examples of the rules instituted by the consular bodies (they come from the archive of the town of Limoux – an ancient town in the southwest of France).
These rules are interesting in themselves as well as give an image of the life of the townsmen during the late-medieval and early modern times:
1. Regulation – created in year 1236 – of the tax paid to the town’s gatekeepers by the merchants who were bringing goods into the town. The goods concerned were animal skins – squirrels, deer, sable, wild cats and otters – apparently in grand demand at the time as well as wool and dye products. The payment was according to the number of donkeys/horses/oxes the goods were brought in or if they were brought by humans, the number of persons carrying them.
2. Towards the 12th century the townsmen were authorized to dispose of their property by selling it or leaving it under the testament. The testament was to be written under the supervision of a cleric.
3. Still towards the 12th century the consuls establish the fees paid to the priest for the celebration of a wedding: and it is to be according to the fortune of the grooms.
4. Regulation regarding the town’s heralds. The heralds were to make free announcements in the name of the king, local lord and the consuls but to perceive a monetary fee – proportional to the importance of the message – from the private citizens that were hiring them to announce “personal” news. The herald was also – in the case of ordinary citizen – to receive a bottle of wine for each announcement.
5. The consuls were fixing the price of the bread (there were 3 qualities of bread produced).
6. When a public work was done in the town each citizen was paying his part according to the …part of the city the work was done.
7. The age of majority was …10 years old. After that age a person was responsible for his/her acts and had to pay his/her own fines!
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