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Aiguefonde (Municipality, Tarn, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Aiguefonde]

Flag of Aiguefonde - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 19 October 2006

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Presentation of Aiguefonde

The municipality of Aiguefonde (2,752 inhabitants; 1,931 ha including 1,000 ha of woods; elevation 192-795 m a.s.l.) is located in the south-west of France, 5 km west of Mazamet, on the southern side of the Montagne Noire (lit., the Black Mountain). The municipality includes the 14 villages of Aiguefonde, Saint-Alby, Calmon, La Roubinarié, Lacalm, Les Vignals, Roussoulp, Lafontblanque, La Seignarié, Fontalba, Le Causse, Le Cabanat, Cargo-Miol and Le Vacant.

The dolmen locally known as la peyra estampa (in Occitan, the image-stone) is located in the municipality of Aiguefonde in the place called La Récuquelle, at an elevation of 732 m. The horizontal stone of the dolmen is 4.70 x 2.10 x 0.70 m. An equilateral triangle of side 0.17 m was carved on the intersection of the two medians of the upper side the stone, with its angles pointing eastwards, southwards and westwards. The stone is supported by three ovoid pillars of diameter 0.70-1 m and height 0.55-0.70 m. The dolmen was reported in 1880 by Alfred Caraven-Cachin in the Bulletin des Antiquités de Castres (2, 2, 33-34); the author gives a complicated explanation of the symbology of the dolmen, said to represent a tetrad made of the higher power and the three lower powers that contribute to the order of the universe. "Accordingly", the dolmen would have been dedicated to the Gaul god Belen and have been placed on an old Celtic way linking the two sides of the Montagne Noire.
A few remains of the abbey of l'Ardorel, founded in 1124 by Cécile de Provence, Viscountess of Béziers, and once owner of several domains in Aigueonde and the neighbouring villages, can still be seen in the middle of a forest.

Source: Municipal website

Saint-Alby is known for the well where Elisabeth Sirven was found dead in 1762. The Calas and Sirven affairs are two of the famous campaigns successfully set up by Voltaire againt intolerance and miscarriage of justice.
On 12 October 1761, Marc-Antoine Calas was found hanged in his father's shop in Toulouse. The cause of his death was never elucidated but the rumor quickly spread that Marc-Antoine had been killed by his parents, who were Protestants, because he wanted to become a Catholic. His father Jean Calas was sentenced to death and put on the wheel in 1762. The philosoph Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet, 1694-1778) first believed that the Calas were fanatic Protestants; however, he carefully analyzed the minutes of the trial and found several inconsistencies. Accordingly, he was convinced of Calas' innocence and wrote the Traité sur la tolérance à l'occasion de la mort de Jean Calas (1763); the sentence by the Parliament of Toulouse was quashed in 1764 and Jean Calas was officially rehabilitated the next year.

The Sirven affair was a replica of the Calas affair. On 3 January 1762, Elisabeth Sirven, the mentally-ill daughter of a Protestant notary, was found dead in the well of Saint-Alby. Previously, Elisabeth had been found in a convent ruled by the Black Ladies, who were specialized in the forced conversion of Protestant girls. Sirven publicly denounced them, which was probably the origin of the plot set against him, in collusion with the local justice. In 1764, the Sirven could left just in time before being sentenced to death and exiled to Lausanne (Switzerland). They met Voltaire, who immediatly understood that a second Calas affair was in process. He hired a lawyer in Paris to remove the case from the Parliament of Toulouse and started a press campaign; he published in June 1765 the Avis au public sur les parricides imputés aux Calas et au Sirven and forwarded it to several foreign princes. Voltaire was helped in the two affairs by the clark Etienne Noêl Damilaville (1723-1768), who could use the ministerial seal for his correspondence, therefore avoiding censorship. On 23 January 1768, Sirven's request was rejected by the King's Council, which preferred avoiding to limit the powers of the regional parliament. Voltaire advised Sirven to surrender, which he did in 1769. In the meantime, Chancellor Maupéou inaugurated a liberal policy in Paris, which spread to Toulouse. The Parliament was in great need to erase the shame of Calas' sentence and Sirven was released on 11 December 1769; on 25 September 1771, the Parliament quashed the 1764 sentence and the whole family was rehabilitated and compensated.

Source: Magister website

Ivan Sache, 19 October 2006

Flag of Aiguefonde

The municipal flag of Aiguefonde, as communicated by the municipal administration, is vertically divided green-blue-white.
These colours are also used in the municipal logotype, according to the municipal website, green symbolizing the mountains and blue the waters.

Arnaud Leroy && Ivan Sache, 19 October 2006