Exhausted: who were these forgotten inhabitants of the Pyrenees?

This article is dedicated to a forgotten people: the exhausted. Not surprisingly, its name doesn’t ring a bell. Her story is something mysterious and to some extent dark, but if so, it’s because she tried to end it on purpose.

And the point is that talking about exhaustion is still considered a bad or undesirable thing in some parts of the Pyrenees. Elsewhere, no one remembers them.

    The mysterious story of the exhausted

    We know that the exhausted lived in the western part of the Pyrenees, between what is now France and Spain. The first records date from the 13th century, And already in these the exhausts are called an inferior breed. They were known as “the untouchables”.

    However, the history of this group is very fuzzy, and its opacity is due to different factors, but its demise as a people prevented it from having at least any kind of oral history.

    In addition to their disappearance as a collective, they wanted to forget their history. In fact, in the end, it was they themselves who tried to make this happen. At the time of the French Revolution, many were exhausted or descended from it they went so far as to loot the local archives to erase all traces of information on their ancestors. It is believed that many emigrated and others ended up being assimilated into the general population.

      Living in apartheid since the 13th century

      In medieval times, the exhausted were not allowed to mingle with other people, having to live apart from others. They have been isolated over the centuries, and when a thunderstorm entered a city, they had to signal their presence. Like lepers, they had to ring the bell.

      It has traditionally been associated with exhaustion with a certain type of plague. A so-called “white plague” is documented, which was allegedly hereditary in nature and would only affect them. In addition, the bad smells attributed to them that they were forbidden to devote themselves to earning a living by certain jobs (Agriculture, breeding or anything that could mean contagion).

      Not being allowed to enter most trades or professions, they were pressured into doing jobs such as construction or music. But it seems that one of the professions which they were obliged to assume with particular eagerness was that of loggers, and they ended up being good carpenters over time.

      They made barrels for wine, coffins for the dead and even Pyrenean churches from which they were partially excluded. They could enter churches, but they had their own doors to access them separately from the rest.

      Prohibitions and persecution

      It is undeniable that there were bans on very strange exhausts. For example, while the peasants went barefoot, they were forced to cover their feet, Because they would have been distorted. They were also not allowed to touch parts of public buildings such as bridges.

      Knowing the rarities of the style, it’s no wonder the exhausted were not allowed to eat with the non-exhausted. They were even prohibited from marrying other members of society. This led to marked inbreeding for centuries.

      Some have said that the exhausts were psychotic and even cannibalistic, and sometimes fanaticism was brutally applied to them. There is evidence of terrible concrete acts against them in the early 18th century. For example, his feet were pierced with sharp pieces of iron to dare to cultivate the fields and many others were burned at the stake.

      Basically, if there was a crime in a village, it was usually blamed on the exhausted, just as it was with women who saw themselves as witches.

      Who were they and where did they come from?

      As we have seen, there have been a lot of absurd ideas about burnout, but most of the information comes from “Scientific examinations” carried out by French doctors of S. XVIII.

      So, what we do know is that there was a group of people who lived apart from others, as they apparently had to be repudiated for some serious and unknown reason. People discriminated against them for a specific reason that no one could remember. Besides, they would have been despicable because they would have expressed faults and diseases in their body.

      But who were the exhausts really? Where do they come from? Below we will see the 4 most serious assumptions that have been made so far.

      Hypothesis n ° 1: leper

      There are several historians who have dedicated themselves to trying to solve the mystery of exhaustion. One of the theories that exist is that they were simply contagious lepers or their descendants. This would explain why some things could not be exhausted. But this contrasts with several sources which they describe them as healthy, even robust individuals.

      Hypothesis n ° 2: slaves

      Another hypothesis is that the exhausts were glasses slaves, A Germanic people arrived in what is now France in the Middle Ages. The etymologists deduce that the escapements, known as “cagots” in France, could owe their name to “cani Gothi”. It means “dog glasses”. Although it is also believed possible that its name derives from “shit”.

      Hypothesis n ° 3: carpenters

      In 2008, the British writer Graham Robb formulated a new theory through the publication of his book The discovery of France: a historical geography. Robb believes that the exhausts were originally a guild of carpenters who worked very well with wood. This new hypothesis goes in the sense that commercial rivalry generated fanaticism against them.

      Hypothesis n ° 4: Saracens, Cathars or any other isolated human group

      There is also the belief that you are exhausting them they are the descendants of an ethnic group that has been left isolated at some point in history. It is believed that this may have been a group of Saracens, Arabs who remained in this region after the eighth century Muslim invasions of what is now Portugal, Spain and the south of the France.

      The faithful are also associated with Catharism, The geographic center was located in Occitania. This Christian doctrine criticized the fact that Catholicism had abandoned evangelical ideals and exposed gold in its churches. Thus, in the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent III declared what became known as the Albigensian crusade to eliminate “heretics”, which allowed him to be the incorporation of Occitania into France.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Aguirre Delclaux, MC (2005). You exhaust them. The end of a curse. Madrid: Flint Publishing.
      • Bell, G. (2008). The discovery of France: a historical geography. New York: WW Norton & Company.
      • Fabre, M. (1987). Le Mystère des Cagots, cursed race in the Pyrenees. Pau: MCT.
      • García-Egocheaga, J. (2003). Cursed minorities: the unknown story of the other peoples of Spain. Madrid: Susaeta Ediciones.

      Leave a Comment