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The last untouchable in Europe - History of the Cagot People in the Pyrenees

Camino(s) past & future
Norte from Irun - Santander + Primativo from Oviedo (May/June 2018)
An interesting profile in The Independent of the last woman who identifies as a "Cagot", which were an untouchable caste of peasants in France and Spain prior to the French Revolution

Includes a nod to the Caminos as a likely migration route for these populations, whatever their origin.

The last untouchable in Europe
The only living Cagot traces the roots of her pariah people, who endured centuries of brutal prejudice for reasons no one can even remember


Camino is about empathy. Not about entitlement.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Yes this forgotten group of people. What a sad history.
This information about the Cagot pops up regularly in a newspaper article and I for one am " glad " for this.
We need to talk about this even if society feels embarrassed by it .
" Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
Thank you for this. Most interesting. But I notice the article is dated July 2008. I wonder if there is anything more recent. I definitely must do some research on this.
I didn't notice the date at first. So for example Graham Robb's "The Discovery of France" about the history of France was indeed published in 2007 and not "last year" which would be 2017 for the casual reader.

I had never heard of the Cagots and how these people had been treated as outcasts for centuries. I find it a bit hard though to be convinced that there's any direct connection to the pilgrimage ways to Saint James as such, as the Independent writer guesses. Other than that people of all sorts moved along the roads and paths in the Pyrenees. There was apparently a similar caste (I think that's the best description) in the Bretagne at the opposite end of France, called Cacous or Caquins; the Wikipedia article is available only in French.
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
Interesting stuff. DNA testing might unravel some of the mystery - it would help in confirming Marie-Pierre's theory that the Cagots were descended from Moorish soldiers.
I don't know how reliable this internet source is. It says: However, some DNA analysis has proven that Cagots are not genetically different from other populations in the Pyrenees. In his book The Discovery of France, Graham Robb says that the Cagots are unremarkable in terms of their genetics.

If that's correct, it's strange that this is not mentioned in the article, despite the fact that Graham Robb's book is mentioned.
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
What's interesting - not really clear from the article - is that it is a form of discrimination that persisted on the local level and in remote areas. Both king and pope acted against it well before the French Revolution.

“The 'cagots' revolted against the injustice they were suffering: in 1514, the 'cagots' of Béarn made a representation to the Pope Leo X. The Pope [...] published a bull instructing that these populations be treated 'with kindness, in the same way as the other believers', and charged an official, Juan de Santa Maria, with executing the Bull. Despite the favourable arbitration of Charles Quint in 1524, this formal equality would still be refused to the 'agots' of Navarre for a long time.”
That's the ugly side of legend and tradition. Gone from the Pyrenees and the Béarn now but alive and well in many other forms and many parts of the world.
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
At the risk of getting accused of being a detective again :cool:: The Independent article of June 2008 is written by Sean Thomas who also writes under the name of Tom Knox and who published a nearly identical article two years later in the Daily Mail under this name, due to the fact that, at that time, he had just published a thriller and later bestseller "The Marks of Cain" where the history of the Cagots plays a role. Nothing wrong with all this, of course.

I found this worth reading: 'Chimeras that degrade humanity': the cagots and discrimination, 2014, by Daniel Hawkins, uploaded to www.academia.edu. It's a revised version of a paper that was submitted as a dissertation for a Masters in Early Modern History at Kings College London.

It seems that Mme Manet-Beauzac is mistaken in her belief that Cagots looked different. They didn't. And something else: You may find images copied from old postcards on the internet that claim to depict a Cagot - in all likelihood, it doesn't. It's a person who suffers from congenital hypothyroidism, a condition not unknown in the Western Pyrennees.
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Camino(s) past & future
Planning on startting first time at e d of april start of may
It is said ( prob untruely ) that they were rumoured too be the result of the muslim crusaders and native people of those times shall we say "bonding" during the 700s up too 900s and the rumours stuck and thats why the cagots were unduely discriminated against in the later centuries because of this i.e after the crusades it was predominantly christians/catholics that inhabited these regions and were victorious in the region.
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Burgos, Camino Frances (2012 - 2018)
It has long been known that the Cagots were genetically indistinguishable from the rest of the population. The reasons for their ostracism is a mystery. You can still find rural churches in SW France with Cagot doors.

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