A short history of

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Before 1500

In the vicinity of Saint-Germain-of-Calberte, the oldest remains are on Mount Mars, on the side of which this village is located. Tombs, trunks, menhirs and especially many cups (small cavities dug in the schist) were discovered on the peaks of this mount. The meanings of these cups remain unclear.

On the side of Mount Mars, at Saint-Clément site, some recent excavations have shown out the foundations of a Gallo-Roman villa. A hospital monastery was in this site, as some documents of the XII century announce it. This hospital was destroyed in 1240, during the war of the Albigensians and no trace remains anymore about it. After the failure of this structure, its stones were likely used for building some sheep-folds in the vicinity.

The population descended from the mountain towards the valley, and they followed the “drailles”, which are ancient ways connecting the Massif Central to the Mediterranean areas.

The oldest documents concerning the origins of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte go back to 1310. They indicate that a community of monks founded there an establishment, which was in the North-East of the present catholic church and which depended on the monastery of Sauve. Another establishment was in a lower place, at the site “La Garde”.

These establishments were on relatively broad flat parts of the mountain slope. Some people think that the name “Calberte” comes from this situation, ‘cale’ meaning well exposed place and ‘berte’ meaning green. It seems that these monks also initiated the installation of the site ‘les Calquières’, which is on the southern side of the mountain.

In 1321, a small hospital was founded on the site of the present Vacation village. In 1362, the church and a stadium were built under the aegis of pope Urbain V, who came from the Cevennes (exactly from Grisac, close to Pont-de-Montvert).

About 1350, Saint-Germain-de-Calberte counted seven “homes” on the higher street. From 1360 to 1500, the village extended towards south-east and the lower street.

Between 1500 and 1800

About 1540, Saint-Germain-de-Calberte welcomed the first breezes of the Reformation. A Protestant church was built in the center of the village. The builder was a former bookseller in Geneva, the labor of which, joint with a unique example of good life, got so much profit that in a short time, he brought to the Lord the people of Saint-Etienne-de-Valfrancesque, of Pont-de-Montvert, of Saint-Privat and other places inn the vicinity, Theodore de Bèze reports (Book III of the year 1560 in its ‘Ecclesiastical History’). This Protestant church was destroyed, later. There remains from it, only one wall portion, which is perpendicular to the street, at the houses Manen and Daumet.

According to the old land register, in 1647, the main noble men and lords of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte were: Simon de Plantavit, the Lord of la Bastide, the Baron of Cadoine, the Lord of Maleirargues, the Lord of Fabrègue.

About 1660, disorders burst between Protestants and Catholics. The parish of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte then counted 623 Protestants and 80 Catholics.

At that time, the village was used as a center for grouping the inhabitants of the farms and surrounding hamlets, which were shaved by order of the King. A garrison of the royal troops protected this center.

In 1667, the Abbot of Chayla founded a seminar which counted up to eighty boarders. From there, he radiated and used to go and make his inspections in all the Cevennes.

The Wars of Religion started in July 1702. On the 27 of that month, the remainders of Lord François Langlade of Chayla, former priest of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte, inspector of the missions, killed at Pont-de-Montvert by the “religionaires” of Saint-Julien-d’Arpaon, are buried in the church, opposite the main altar, at an equal distance between the vaults of Notre dame (Our Lady) and of Sacré-Coeur (according to a monograph written by a teacher of Mende, 1885). On January 1th, 1703, the village was attacked by the “Camisards”, who set fire to some houses, but were pushed back.

In 1713, the markets were built, likely close to the present post office.

In 1714, the hospital was renovated and widened, thanks to the funds afforded by Marchioness des Portes. It remained on service until the French Revolution. Then, it became the property of the Welfare Office.

About 1792, after the French Revolution, the church was, for a moment, converted into salpetre-works (yielding nitrates), then into a club. It seems that the Reason had there an altar (Teacher of Mende, 1885).

At that time, all that could remind the catholic worship was doomed to destruction: the bell-tower was cut down, the bells, the tables, the sacred vessels and a part of decorative sacerdotal things were sent to the district of Florac. Any remaining furniture and all that did not have a monetary value, were burnt on the public place, under the joyful shouts of a crowd who was highly excited about it, and who was a majority of Protestants.

Under these circumstances, a wooden, magnificently carved pulpit was attacked, but it still exists today. A lion which supported it was removed and burnt. According to the tradition, corroborated by the traces of these acts, while a fanatic mutilated the reliefs (on the sides of the pulpit), which represented Christ and the Gospels, with the blows of his axe, a wood glare spouts out to his face and burst his eye. And these admirers of the Reason making revive, for a while, the faith of their fathers, believed in a sign of a divine revenge and stopped their acts of brutality (Teacher of Mende, 1885).

In 1790, Saint-Germain-de-Calberte became the chief town of a canton, including the communes of Saint-Germain, Saint-Andre-de-Lancize and of Saint-Martin-de-Lansuscle.

In 1793, the name of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte changed, and became Cote-Libre. At that time, the fortifications of the various castles were shaven: that of Cadoine, that of la Bruyère the donjon of which were dismantled. The castle of Polastron was sold for the profit of the State. Various parts coming from the elements of these castles (mullions, lintels, granite warheads, etc.) were dispersed. They have been found in various dwellings in the vicinity of the village.

After 1800

In 1825, the current Protestant church was built.

In 1830, the village got a public fountain and a basin, which were close to the church.

In 1840, the silk spinning mill, located in the lower street, was equipped with a steam engine.

About 1845, the population reached its maximum : two thousand inhabitants. But about 1880, this number started to decrease. Then, the village of Saint-Germain counted 380 inhabitants, the hamlet of La Bastide 50, that of Cadoine 40 and that of Liquière 38, so the total number was about 500 inhabitants.

A traveler discovering Saint-Germain-of-Calberte at that time, wrote “The top of the mountains and their slopes are entirely sterile and naked. It is only when one goes down into the valleys that one starts to meet some rare weak chestnuts and some dwellings, which were very often isolated from one another, hooked on the rocks on the edge of the chasms of which the depth gives the vertigo”.

Between 1880 and 1905, Saint-Germain-de-Calberte became a junction of roads. A town hall with a district court was built, at the site of the present post office. The cemetery, which extended on the present square of war memorial, was transferred out of the village.

In 1901, the triangular pediment on the church was replaced by the current bell-tower.

According to Elisée Liquière and Maurice Roux

The Web site ‘Le Livre d’histoire’ , which is devoted to the Monographies ‘Collection des villes et villages de France’, gives information on the history of Saint-Germain-de-Calberte, as well as that of the other communes of France.

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