Beynac-et-Cazenac Art Works and History / firmly connected with its past, in relation to the rock on which it is built, is a beautiful village that has retained all its medieval charm.
GUSTAVE LOISEAU 1865 – 1935 PAYSAGE DE DORDOGNE “Beynac”
Beynac, the strategic importance of the Cliff and its plateau had a direct influence on………
the architectural approach to the defense works. Populated since the Bronze Age, this location was “naturally” protected and became the object of numerous desires. This limestone building, anchored on the banks of the Dordogne River, became the object of many pages in history. Even if the Vézère valley was known for its prehistoric remains from the many paleolithic sites, the caves and shelters built in the rock at Beynac also testify to the presence of reindeer hunters who had inhabited the area close to the river.
After the successive invasions by the barbarians and the Normans, feudalism was introduced from the 10th century, and Hélie de Beynac, the first known and registered lord, installed the first fortified presence (Castrum) in 1050. From the 12th century onwards his descendants, Adhémar, went to the crusades (crusades of 1147).
PEPIERE v.DIJK 1950 “Chateau-Beynac”
As a direct result of the marriage between Alienor d’Aquitaine and the future king of England, Henri Plantagenêt, Beynac, like all Aquitaine, English, was controlled by the count of Toulouse, a vassal of the king of France. The new king of England, Richard the 1st (the “LionHeart”) seized the castle (1197), because he could not accept the link with the count of Toulouse. His army found refuge in the central tower of the castle, but the Beynac family wasted no time and relived the citadel at the same time that Richard found his death (1199) at the foot of the ramparts of Chalus in the High Vienne.
Just forgotten the English king and his period of occupation, another army descended the valley and approached Beynac (1214). This time it was Simon de Montfort, the terrible knight and his army whose purpose was to destroy everyone who supported the Cathars. We are now in the crusades “Albigeois”. Just like their neighbors, the fort was under pressure, and even though Beynac was called “the Devil’s Arc” by the monk Pierre des Vaux de Cernay, the real reason for this conquest was simply to reclaim the land that was ruled by the Count of Toulouse . who was recognized as the main protector of the Cathar religion.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the warlike power of Beynac-et-Cazenac made it possible to become an important influence within the region. Pons, Jean-Bernard, Geoffroy, all these gentlemen of Beynac would participate and contribute energetically to the anti-English wars. At the same time, this ruling family succeeded in expanding its territory to Vézère.
1337, the 100-year war begins. The English and the supporters of the French crown have constantly bitten each other. Permanent skirmishes and guerrilla-like warfare, taking and regaining strengthened locations. Finally, in 1453, after a final victory by the French army over the English troops in Castillon, near Bordeaux, the valley restored peace. The countryside was in ruins, it was essential to rebuild and the renaissance period arrived. The castle decorated itself, the fortified wall around the village was opened allowing the construction of houses right down to the riverbank.
PEPIERE v.DIJK 1950 “Romantic boat trip, Dordogne”
In the 15th century Beynac-et-Cazenac was designated as a barony. With the three others: Biron, Bourdeille and Maureuil, the bronze of Beynac participated in the future politics and conflicts of the Périgord. The village made the best of this situation and expanded itself and strengthened its commercial infrastructure with the other townships and markets of the valley. The religious wars, however, also brought new suffering to the population, especially in the 16th century.
The district would suffer from attacks of the guerrilla type and the parish church of Saint-Jacques, in the village center, was destroyed and burnt down. The misery became so great that the unrest of the population began to grow ominous everywhere. Meetings were organized in the woods, the farmers’ uprising, the “croquants”, had begun.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the king decided to recognize the Beynac and Marquisat countries as thanks for the support their families gave to the French crown. Beynac took the “pendulum” and the last Protestant marquis, Isaac de Beynac, died in 1687.
With the arrival of new taxes and taxes, hard winters such as those of 1709 and 1710, this only contributed more to the genarl rebellion of the countryside. The people of Beynac joined the rebellious farmers from Saint-Vincent and Bézenac. They were nearly five thousand when they crossed the Dordogne at Castelnaud, marching on Sarlat. The slaughter was terrible. Beynac was split in two, those who lived in the fort and those from the village outside the walls … an air of revolution blowing.
In 1761, the last heir of the lords and barons of Beynac, Marie-Claude, married the young Marquis Christophe de Beaumont on the morning of 10 March. After eight centuries of history, the Beynacs line with Marie-Claude disappeared when she died in 1811 and left her behind as souvenirs of Beynac and her castle.