Cagot - Government


The nominal though usually ineffective allies of the Cagots were the government, the educated, and the wealthy. It has been suggested that the odd patchwork of areas which recognized Cagots has more to do with which local governments tolerated the prejudice, and which allowed Cagots to be a normal part of society. In a study in 1683, doctors examined the Cagots and found them no different than normal citizens. Notably, they did not actually suffer from leprosy or any other disease that would justify their exclusion from society. The Parliaments of Pau, Toulouse and Bordeaux were apprised of the situation, and money was allocated to improve the lot of the Cagots, but the populace and local authorities resisted.

In 1709, the influential politician Juan de Goyeneche planned and constructed the manufacturing town of Nuevo Baztán (after his native Baztan Valley in Navarre) near Madrid. He brought many Cagot settlers to Nuevo Baztán, but after some years, many returned to Navarre, unhappy with their work conditions.

It was not until the French Revolution that substantive steps were taken to end discrimination toward Cagots. Revolutionary authorities made clear that Cagots were no different from other citizens, and de jure discrimination generally came to an end. Still, local prejudice from the populace persisted, though the problem at least began to decline.

During the Revolution, Cagots had stormed government offices and burned birth certificates in an attempt to conceal their heritage. These measures did not prove effective, as the local populace still remembered. Rhyming songs kept the names of Cagot families known.

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