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History of Segur

SEGUR, safe place, protected and defended place. Indeed it seems that, very early, from the 8th century, on the place was established a defense, even a stronghold, built with wood and rocks.

The first castle built in the 9th century saw the birth of the first viscounts of Limoges... In the time of Charlemagne, Limousin was a vast county whose administrator, the count, appointed by the sovereign, resided in Limoges.


From the middle of the 9th century, the counts moved away from Limousin to live in Toulouse, Clermont or Poitiers. It was at this time that territories and jurisdictions were entrusted to their representatives, the vice-counts, in other words the viscounts. There was therefore, henceforth, a Viscount of Limoges to whom the entire territory was not entrusted.


Limousin was shared between a number of other viscounts, each established on a naturally fortified spur. For example, for Bas Limousin, a viscount was installed in SEGUR, another in Comborn and another in Tulle. In the Middle Ages, Limousin had four illustrious viscounts; SEGUR, COMBORN, VENTADOUR, TURENNE... and the song of the troubadours still resounds.

The first viscount house dates back to 876 with Eudebert and Foucher. In the 9th century, Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine, would have established Foucher (Fulchérius) viscount of SEGUR. To face the invasions of the Normans, men coming from the shores of Sweden, Norway or Denmark, Foucher would have directed the work of fortification of the castle of SEGUR and ordered the defense. 

At the end of the 10th century, the marriage of Guy, 1st son of the viscount of Limoges, with his cousin Emma, daughter of Adhémar, viscount of SEGUR, achieved for centuries the fusion between the two viscounts and made the castle of SEGUR one of the fortresses major Limousin.


Although SEGUR was never the capital of the Viscount, it is undeniable that the Viscounts often resided there. Very quickly they installed families of vassal knights there as well as a certain number of officers responsible for dispensing justice and administering the castellany on their behalf. These vassals will be in charge for several decades of the publication of royal edicts, the collection of taxes and justice. 

In the 12th century the Viscounts of Limoges became for a certain time vassals of the crown of England when Henri Plantagenet became the holder. 

It was in 1177 that, to take back SEGUR from the English, a certain Lothar would have destroyed the castle on the order of Raymond II Viscount of Turenne. Richard Coeur de Lion, son of Henri Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who became king of England, died in Chalus in 1199.

Marie, daughter of Guy VI, married Arthus de Bretagne in 1275. This alliance linked the Viscounty of SEGUR to the Duchy of Brittany for two centuries.

During the Hundred Years War SEGUR suffered English domination.

In the first half of the 15th century, Viscount Jean de Bretagne, known as "de l'Aigle", a famous captain in the service of the King of France, was appointed lieutenant-general in Limousin by King Charles VII. Viscount of Limoges, he thought of making SEGUR the general seat of his appellate justice. He died in 1452. His wife, Marguerite de Chauvigny, died in 1473. She was buried in the chapel of the Château de SEGUR.

It was at the Château de SEGUR that the marriage of the last heiress of the viscounts, Françoise de Bretagne, with Alain d'Albret was celebrated. One of their 8 children, Jean d'Albret, was born in SEGUR. He will be the first of the Albret family to become King of Navarre by marrying Catherine de Foix. Jean was the ancestor of Jeanne d'Albret mother of Henri de Bourbon who will become Henri IV. The viscounty of SEGUR / Limoges was united to the crown of France by King Henri IV who was the last viscount of SEGUR.

But what gave "brilliance" and fame to SEGUR was, obviously, the Court of Calls, this institution of which the city was legitimately proud and which functioned from the 15th century until 1750.

There has always existed in Ségur a seigniorial justice of the 1st degree: Ordinary justice of which we find traces in many writings. It was probably Alain d'Albret who endeavored to restore the viscount's authority. He took up residence in Ségur from 1468 to 1522 and obtained from the king the privilege of establishing a court of appeal in this place intervening, as its name suggests, between the ordinary seigniorial justices and the Royal Parliament of Paris. Any appeal against a court decision taken in one of the 150 seigniorial jurisdictions of the county of Périgueux and the viscounty of Limoges had to be debated before the Court of Appeals of SEGUR before possibly being brought before the royal parliament.


S EGUR knew from then on a feverish animation with the influx of magistrates, plaintiffs and pleaders, who lodged permanently or temporarily in the houses and hotels of the borough. This explains this great wave of constructions of quality residences, relatively numerous, some of which still exist today. Most of these residences, served by elegant spiral staircases in local stone, have magnificent rooms decorated with monumental fireplaces.

The Court met in a building, now gone, which was located on the fairgrounds not far from the Notre-Dame bridge. Sometimes subject to the vagaries of the river, the court had to find refuge in neighboring houses.

This court functioned until January 1750 when a royal edict put an end to it in favor of a seneschalsy in Saint-Yrieix.

SEGUR thereafter crossed the revolutionary period without major jolts like many other Limousin cities. Nevertheless, we will remember the destruction of feudal titles, which were burned in 1793 on the fairgrounds.
In 1795 the castle, which belonged to the Hauteforts, was bought for 30 francs by a certain Gabriel Dumas Lavareille who, after having been a farmer in the family and administrator of the royal stud farm of Pompadour, had become mayor of SEGUR.


SEGUR...Small Corrézien village, as if fallen from the sky, more than picturesque, all made of old stones, in the hollow of a gentle valley where the Auvézère flows - or Haut Vézère - This sometimes capricious little river, surrounds in one of its loops the rocky peak where the old castle is nestled. Houses and mansions of character nestle gracefully at the foot of the building, giving the whole a subtle charm coupled with an unspeakable magic. "SEGUR"... safe place, sécuritas, sécurus, all the etymology can be found there in the familiar and patois expression... "Qué plo ségur"...

When Henry  III of Navarre became King of France under the name of Henri IV, this one attached, in 1607, the viscountcy of Limoges and Ségur to the royal domain. This event was at the origin of the significant weakening of the dynamism and influence of the village. Despite everything, the decoy court continued to operate, but less intensely, until the middle of the 18th century.


Its abolition in 1750 in favor of the Seneschal of Saint-Yrieix, put an end to the animation that the village knew during the previous centuries. Little by little magistrates, notaries and bourgeois families, whom the interruption of this court of justice hit hard, moved away from Ségur.

The village slowly took on the appearance of a quiet town while retaining an important craft and commercial activity, benefiting for several decades from the dynamics driven by the old court of justice. The revolutionary period saw the destruction of feudal titles, burned in public places.


In the 19th century and until the middle of the 20th century, Ségur was a rural town whose activity was essentially linked  in the countryside and in agriculture. Crafts and shops of all kinds are particularly developed there. Around 1870, all the trades were still present in Ségur. The village had nearly 1000 inhabitants who could live in complete autarky.

Thus  notary, hairdresser, farrier, doctor, clog maker, wheelwright…  could meet in one of the many shops in the village - 4 grocery stores, 2 bakeries, 5 butchers, 3 innkeepers, 3 innkeepers, 3 haberdashery, 2 hardware stores...


These "craftsmen" who were the wheelwrights and the blacksmiths, were a precious help to the  farmers, for the repair or manufacture of carts and dumpers, for strapping wheels, for the manufacture or repair of drawbars or  drawbars, for the repair of the harrow and the plow, manufacture of wheelbarrows...

In 1920, Ségur still had 850 inhabitants. It was a rural town with an important activity linked to its river until the middle of the 20th century. 3 mills were still working in 1900. The Richard mill upstream, the Saint-Laurent mill in the center and the Grimal mill downstream. These mills listed on the Cassini map (1740) are said to be "Founded in Title" with regard to the inalienable right to water acquired for these mills which operated with hydraulic power transmitted by mechanical wooden assemblies. Their main activity was to make flour for local bakeries. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, these mills also crushed apples for the manufacture of cider but they also produced walnut oil.

In 1907 The Saint Laurent mill, which is located in the center of the village, was transformed into a mill with 4 levels of building height. This allowed the removal of the millstones and the installation of a grinding system, with metal fluted cylinders, accompanied, on the top floor, by sieving systems called "planchisters".
This important transformation has made it possible to significantly change production while leaving the hand to the miller who regulates and ensures the quality of the artisanal flour.


In the 1920s, the Moulin Richard, the furthest upstream on the Auvezère, had the particularity of producing electricity with a dynamo. This made it possible to install the first public lighting in the town.

Here is the story in a few lines: In 1922, the owner of Moulin Richard decided to put an end to his job as a miller and to sell the mill. In 1923 the Mayor of Ségur, the parish priest and a young craftsman from the Commune, Mr. Robert Breuil, decided to buy the mill in order to install a power plant there. The 3 friends form a limited company and launch a subscription to the population. The results obtained exceeded their hopes; they recover enough money to launch their project. Mr. Breuil takes care of the structural work, the installation of the turbine, a regulator and an alternator, equipment powerful enough to provide a direct current of 110 volts in driving force. The work was carried out smoothly and everything was ready for the inauguration which took place on the last Sunday of September 1924, the day of the patronal feast of Ségur. This is how the light from the first bulbs was able to fall from the street lamps to illuminate the main street. A great first for the time. At nightfall people came from neighboring villages to "see" the electricity in Ségur.

The Syndicat d'Electrification de Lubersac put an end to this great adventure. The factory stopped in December 1930 after 6 years of service. Ségur was, at the time, one of the first municipalities in the canton to have electricity!

A now extinct profession was closely linked to the proximity of the river. 2 persons
  exercised the painful profession of dredger and seller of sand. Each of them supported a family of 4 people. River sand was, and remains, premium sand. Indeed, clean and of high quality, it is highly sought after by building professionals for the finishing and manufacture of concrete blocks. The profession of flirt required some physical qualities. The equipment was limited to 1 flat-bottomed boat, 1 pole, 1 large shovel and above all 1 dredge. The dredge can be likened to a large scoop pierced with small holes for the flow of water. It was better, too, to have an unloading dock. The man left early in the morning when the river permitted. After carefully choosing the place, the boat was tied to a tree or one of its branches on the edge of the bank. The sand was dragged up and deposited on the floor of the boat. From time to time it was necessary to bail out to lighten the load because the sand was wet and the excess water flowed into the boat. Then came the moment of making the blocks. The annual maintenance of the boat was essential for the durability of the equipment and this was done in summer with the complete tarring of the hull.

Until the middle of the 20th century, the communal school had 3 separate classes and 3 teachers who strived to transmit knowledge and education to the children of the village and the surrounding area. The young schoolchildren who lived in the countryside left early in the morning and did not hesitate to travel several kilometres, morning and evening, to come to school. It brought together no less than 80 students. The teaching ranged from the preparatory course to the last year of preparation for the much sought-after examination of the Certificate of Primary Studies. The classes therefore consisted of several levels. For children who lived far away, lunch was taken on site or at the small inn on the corner, at "la Margot".

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