History(ies) of Occitania: the charivari and the ride of the donkey in Villasavary (Aude) in 1745.

Big black donkey from Berry at the Horse and Donkey Pole in La Celle-Condé. (©Wikipedia)

In order to ridicule a beaten husband or a slanderer, it happened that the unfortunate was hoisted by force on a donkeyto the sound of musical instruments and thus shamefully paraded through the whole village, escorted by force and exhibited under the jokes, laughter and jeers of the population.
Louis Viguier made the bitter experience of it, for having dared to mock the youth of Villasavary. It took him very badly. The youth and the population will make him regret it at the cost of his pride.

March 6, 1745

On March 6, 1745, Sieur Louis Viguier, draper from Fanjeaux, filed a complaint with the seneschal of Lauragais “saying that on the 3rd of March, Ash Day, being in the place of Villasavary and in the house of Master Toulza, notary, at four o’clock in the evening, to be present at a deed of sale, a troop of about thirty people, inhabitants of the place, armed with guns and bars, headed by Sieur Picard, a bourgeois, Sieur Rouch junior, also bourgeois, and the named Toustou, shoemaker, came to surround the house of Master Toulza. Some of them entered and went up to the apartment where the sale was taking place. The sieur Toulza would have been there to ask them what they wanted and to ask them to stop the loud noise they were making so that he could work quietly.

To which it would have been answered on the part of the assembled that they were angry with Louis Viguier. The sieur Toulza having returned to his study and the act having been passed and signed, the sieur suppliant would have presented himself to the crowd and would have asked them what they wanted. They answered him that he had only to go down into the street and that we would tell him.
Having descended and left, he would have asked them again in a gentle and quiet way what they wanted of him: the sieur Picard, for all answer, and disguised as a judge, would have read a certain writing by which he affirmed that he was condemned to ride on a donkey. Louis Viguier replied that he was not one of them, that he was very surprised at such a procedure, that his business called him elsewhere and he would have urged them not to follow their unjust claim.

“Good shots”

Far from leaving him, four of them would then have seized him and with force and violence would have hoisted him on a donkey that they had intended for him. He got off twice, struggling, but he was recaptured with double violence and put back on the donkey. He complained with reason that they had hurt him badly in the most sensitive place of the man and that they had torn the sleeve of his coat. The named Toustou, taking the floor, would have impressed him by telling him that if he spoke any more, he would soap his coat with good strokes of the bar, so that the supplicant was obliged to do by force what he did not want to do willingly and had the affront of being paraded on the donkey in all the streets of the place, scented by the smoke of the horns whom they threw into a basin half-filled with fire (carried by a child) and having finally led him to the gate of the village, they would have made him drink by force and would have banished him, so to speak, from Villasavary. »

The leaders of this charivari are all young people between the ages of 16 and 33. Questioned by the judge, all claim that it is a good prank that was done without violence and with the consent of the person concerned.

Louis Boyer, bourgeois, 16, says that on March 4 “he joined on horseback Sieur Picard, Sieur Rouch, Sieurs Labrugade, Fourtanié, Paul Andrieu dit Toustou, Jean Maurel, Guillaume Ajac dit Tarquail, the named Minard del Cayré , sieur Astré and Hyacinte Rigaud who were at Pierre’s, they wanted to put sieur Borrely, merchant of this city, on a donkey but having learned that he had left, it is said that sieur Viguier, merchant of Fanjeaux, was in the venue. Having all gone for a walk, they stopped in front of Mr. Toulza, notary, where Mr. Viguier was, who having gone down into the street, several of the troop told him that he had to get on the donkey, to which he replied:
Gentlemen, I have business, please spare me!
And the others answered him that he had to go up there, which he did, laughing. After touring the village, we went to Penavayre (innkeeper) where we asked him to drink. After which he drank and then they asked him to supper. The Sieur Viguier thanked them, saying that he had urgent business at home, and they accompanied him four paces away. They left each other with great displays of friendship and joy on both sides”.

“Gentlemen, who are you mad at? »

Sieur Philippe Rouch, bourgeois, 22 years old, declares that “on the said day, having rejoiced with some of his friends, they walked around the place, wearing dressing gowns and Sieur Picard, a black skirt. To continue the entertainment, they resolved to have Mr. Viguier ride on a donkey.
Viguier came down from the notary’s to rejoin the troop which demanded him and said:
– Gentlemen, who are you mad at?
-It’s up to you, said Philippe Rouch, we want to share the pleasure with you, we want you to get on the donkey!
Viguier replied that it was too late and that he was on foot!
“We will accompany you, we will give you horses.
Viguier said he didn’t want to go up there. But after the Sieur Picard had read a certain writing, he repeated to him that he had to go up there and he called two peasants who were there, to whom he said:
– We have to get him up there!
And then, one or two of them pretended to take it and Viguier assured him that it was not necessary, that he would go up there voluntarily and immediately he perched on the donkey.
Her sister having arrived, she took the guarantor with the hair, who begged her to stop, neither of them being very much in a condition to pay her politeness, being all tipsy (drunk), and the young lady continuing to tug at her. hair, the sponsor said to her, taking her by the arm:
– Since you use it in this way, you will walk with us and you and I will be at the head of the procession!
The younger Ribeyran came up, taking the young lady by the arm:
– Believe me, these gentlemen are not too cold-blooded, something could happen to you, come with me!
Some women told her that she had nothing to fear for her brother.
She followed him. Viguier mounted on the donkey, the sponsor and the others went instead and being in front of the sieur Monerie, the sieur Labrugade having fired his last shot, said:
-I have no more powder, I must send for some!
The said Viguier told him that it was not necessary, having taken a powder horn out of his pocket, he gave him some and they immediately continued their way to the Porte Saint-Pierre and to Penavayre, the innkeeper, where they were, Viguier aims with the guarantor and the others”.

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“You are condemned to ride the donkey!” »

Jean Louis Picard, bourgeois, 26 years old:
“The said day, he was with a troop of young people rejoicing, walking around the place, sometimes some riding the donkey, sometimes others and even a few other people, four of the young people were carrying a gun and shooting in the air from time to time. During this time of entertainment, someone saw the sieur Viguier and said:
– Here is the scoffer of the youth of Villasavary, he should be put on the donkey to teach him not to make fun of it but, they say, he has business, he must be left to finish it.
When he had finished his business, having left the notary, he asked who was blamed, he was told that it was his and someone said to the respondent:
– Judge, read! Wearing two black skirts, he read a certain paper after which someone said to Sieur Viguier:
– You are condemned to ride on the donkey!
After the ride and arrived at the cabaret, he got off the donkey and wanting to go away, the sponsor and the others said to him:
How, sir, would you like to leave us without a drink? Would you be mad at us?
– No, gentlemen, I am not at all and to show you that I have no grudge against you, although I do not care to drink, I will nevertheless drink with pleasure to prove to you that I am glad to have rejoiced with you!
He had a drink brought to him and a few others did the same, they toasted together”.

The defendants, all in connivance, therefore affirm that Louis Viguier willingly lent himself to the ride. However, the testimony of Bertrand Valette, priest of Fanjeaux, present at the signing of the act at the notary’s, confirms the violence suffered by Louis Viguier:

“They wanted to make him ride on a donkey, which Viguier not wanting to do, several took him and hoisted him by force. When he got down, he told Toustou that he had hurt him, so Picard, addressing the crowd, shouted:
-He resists! Take the gentlemen and put the force on the donkey!
So many took him and mounted him by force. Viguier’s sister having wanted to take the animal’s halter to prevent it from walking, Rouch threatened her with the bolt of his rifle, saying outrageous words to her and saying that she would also be put on it, which forced Vergues to pick it up and move it away to avoid a mess. One of these people there carried the basin under the nose of Viguier, having put fire in it with horns, then they walked Viguier mounted on the donkey in all the streets of the place and accompanied him until outside the city“.

On April 23, the Seneschal condemned Messrs. Picard, Rouch fils, Fourtanier, Boyer, Astré, Paul Andrieu, Jean Maurel, Hyacinte Rigaud and Guillaume Ajac to appear at the bar of the court on a day of hearing in order to ask forgiveness for the insult to sieur Viguier. They will all be jointly and severally condemned to 500 pounds of reparations, damages and interest towards Viguier.
A joke that cost a lot!
As for Louis Viguier, his shame was indelible. We can assume that he did not seek to reappear anytime soon in Villasavary!

History(ies) of Occitania with Frédéric Juillet

Every Sunday, Frédéric Juillet publishes a column on Actu.fr devoted to the deeds and gestures of our ancestors in Occitania.
Professor of history and genealogist in Toulouse, he feeds on documents compiled in the various departmental archive centers of Occitania and pulls them out of the deepest drawers of history. For the most part, these stories are untold.

Source: AD Aude, court records, B2643.
Modernized spelling and syntax. Visit his story page on Facebook Genialogy and find many true stories in her book “Stories of women and mothers in the 16th-18th centuries” published by Sydney Laurent.

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History(ies) of Occitania: the charivari and the ride of the donkey in Villasavary (Aude) in 1745.