Château de MAUVEZIN


Nebouzan was a viscounty formed in 1240 out of some detached territories from Comminges. It was made up of several enclaves situated in today’s Hautes-Pyrénées and Haute-Garonne departments.

In 1232, Gaston VII, Viscount of Béarn, inherited lands in Comminges from his mother: Balesta, Blajan, Larroque, Lespugue, Nizan, Saint-Plancard, Sarrecave, and Sarremezan. These parishes were detached from the County of Comminges around 1240 in order to create the Viscounty of Nebouzan.

The House of Foix-Béarn inherited Nebouzan through marriage and, as a result, Nebouzan became the object of many rivalries between the Houses of Comminges, Armagnac, and Foix-Béarn during inheritance conflicts, especially in 1263 and 1302. Saint-Gaudens and Miramont had been the property of the House of Foix-Béarn since 1225.

In 1271, the fiefdom of Aulon was incorporated into Nebouzan. In 1345, Gaston Febus and his mother bought Lannemezan, Escala, Pinas, Tuzaguet, Lagrange, and Luthilous from Géraud d’Aure. These parishes were re-attached to the fiefdoms of Cassagnabère and Aulon.

In 1373, the Duke of Anjou laid siege to the Mauvezin Castle. He re-attached Lutihous to it and gave both estates to the Count of Armagnac. It was the beginning of a new war between the Count of Armagnac and Gaston Febus. It ended with the peace treaty signed in Tarbes in 1377, which gave Febus the viguerie of Mauvezin and the fiefdom of Goudon in 1379.

After Febus died, Matthew of Foix-Castelbon succeeded him and re-attached the viguerie of Mauvezin to Nebouzan in 1393. He also incorporated his personal fiefdom of Sauveterre de Comminges into it. From then on, Nebouzan had found all of its territorial divisions. It retained that form until 1789.
Nebouzan became a pays d’états in 1443. The assembly brought together the following representatives:
  • clergy (presiding abbot of Nizors, abbots of Bonnefont and Escaladieu, representative of the college of canons from Saint-Gaudens);
  • nobility (eight barons including La Roque, Ramefort and Rodets, twelve lords and intendants from the castles of Miramont, Mauvezin, Saint-Plancard, and Lannemezan);
  • Third Estate, for which stood the consuls of Saint-Gaudens and 57 other communities.
The first known mention of the estates of Nebouzan dates back to August 2, 1448. They sat at least once a year to make decisions about the collection of the Taille and other royal taxes. They would discuss the amount, possible tax relief in case of ravages due to war or crop failure, they divided tax burden between the various parishes, and ensured tax collection. They also dealt with local business and elected the members of the Nebouzan administration.
The estates managed to keep their privileges until the 1789 Revolution.
They resisted the king’s agents in order to keep their privileges as franc-salé, which translates as “free-salted” — people who did not have to pay any taxes on salt; whereas Comminges had petit salé privileges, i.e. reduced tax rates.
They obtained the right of association, which meant communities were allowed to put together a union to fight for their interests as long as they did not contradict the king’s. In 1571, the Frontignes union was created to demand a new repartition of tax burden between parishes. Later, the ligue campanaire (bell league), whose bells would ring to warn of approaching troops, was created. It also organised community support in the aftermath of devastation.
They still resisted royal attempts to get rid of the estates to replace them with pays d’élections run by royal officials. Francis I tried in 1511 then in 1544. Henry II made one attempt in 1552. Henry IV created élections in 1603 but had to get rid of them in 1611. Only in 1622 did Louis XIII manage to enforce them for good, thus dooming the estates to disappear as they had no financial power left.