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Mérigot Marchès

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Mérigot Marchès was born in the Limousin about 1360 during the One hundred Year old war. The province of the Limousin passes between the hands of the French then of the English. At the time of each truce of the thousands of soldiers without employment nor money traverse the ways. They are delivered to the armed robbery. The two kingdoms use them as of the resumption of the hostilities. Mérigot Marchès becomes a frightening combatant before taking the head of a band of mercenaries. He uses his bravery and his talents of man of war to plunder and occupy of many castles in Auvergne. He is victim of a treason. Captured, He is considered and carried out in Paris in 1391.

Paris, July 1391: Mérigot Marchès is led in front of his judges… It is with relief that they saw the dark and sinister mass of the Grand-Châtelet. The troop made halt one moment in front of the counter which faced Saint-Denis street. A stench saturated the air with this district which was one of most unhealthy of the enormous town. A man challenged the watcher who drowsed on a balcony of the tower. The men of guard were warned. Later the doors opened and left the passage to the escort of Mérigot.


Le Grand Châtelet.



The lawsuit of Mérigot Marchès is the occasion to evoke his adventurous life… The troop traversed the countryside of the area of Ussel when a man named Poncet des Bois declaring servant of the lord of Ventadour met them one evening. He explained to them that his Master was miserly and that he had well badly paid him for the services that he had returned to him. He wanted to be avenged and proposed to lead the band of brigands to the castle and to open the doors.


Ruins of the castle of Ventadour (the Limousin

The castle of Mercoeur, close to the village of Ardes, was the residence of the countess Dauphine and of the earl of Mercoeur. He knew that the countess had jewels, money, crockery and invaluable fabrics. He knew the places well to have visited them a few times before when he had met the earl to negotiate an agreement. The earl had agreed to pay money to him so that Mérigot does not attack him. This kind of agreement was called a “pactis”. Informed of the absence of the earl, he decided to seize the castle in order to take jewels and money.


Keep of the old castle of Mercoeur (Auvergne)

He knew that the castle of Roche Vendeix was deserted and that his owner, the lord of La Tour, did not supervise it. The castle was at the top of a mountain culminating with more than thousand meters of altitude, dominating the small valley of the Dordogne river, surrounded by wood, hills and ravines. Mérigot engaged at once of work intended to reinforce the castle. While thus acting, he violated the agreements concluded between the two kingdoms and his promises.


La Roche Vendeix

Wednesday July 12, 1391: Mérigot arrive, his hands behind the back. The torturer, the axe in a hand, wait him calmly. Mérigot refuses the blessings of the priest who tightens a crucifix close to his face. He poses his head on the block. The spectators hustled themselves for better seeing.


Execution of Mérigot Marchès (BNF: National Library of France)

Mérigot had left such a memory of fear and hatred which the peasants hastened to dismantle the castle of the Vendeix Rock for fear the famous captain did not die. The hawkers started to tell the facts and misdeeds of the dreaded brigand. Very quickly, the legend seized the character. It was claimed that he had sold his heart with the Devil for five years in order to be with the countess Dauphine. Later, the storytellers added that at the end of the five years the devil gave him appointment with the foot of the cascade of Vernière, close to the village of Mont-Dore and got rid of him of precipitating him in the pit.



Tuilière and Sanadoire Rocks close to Le Mont Dore.



You can get the work with the editions Le Manuscrit in electronic form or paper book.

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