Mythologie du Trésor de Rennes
pages 85-86 (1974):
As for the history of Rennes and the surrounding countryside, we won’t even try to refute the arguments that he [Gérard de Sède] presents. Such a task would be tedious in the extreme. We shall simply draw attention in passing to certain naiveties that are surprising in someone who has made it his profession to investigate the past.
“We will not try to explain”, he says, “why the Blanchefort title passed not to the eldest daughter of François d’Hautpoul, Marie, who had married her cousin d’Hautpoul Félines, but to the youngest of her sisters, Gabrielle, who had her husband Paul-François-Vincent de Fleury adopt the title.”
This is quite a simple matter. It’s based on what has always been the guiding principle of French aristocracy: ‘No land, no title’. The land of Blanchefort and the ruins that rest upon it form part of the seigneurie of Rennes-les-Bains, the dowry of Gabrielle: to ownership of this seigneurie is attached the marquisate of Blanchefort. As is only natural, Gabrielle’s husband legitimately added to his own existing titles that of Marquis de Blanquefort. This also explains why the Fleury family, having lost the land of Rennes-les-Bains, did not themselves bear this title.
As for the will of 1644, there could be a thousand reasons why it has been kept secret for so long.
The most obvious reason seems to us to have been the dishonesty of successive notaires, who pretended to have mislaid it and then found it again every time a d’Hautpoul needed it. At the present time, the handing-over of this indispensable document could involve a considerable sum of money that they certainly wouldn’t hesitate to lay claim to if someone offered it to them.
Elisabeth d’Hautpoul, if she thought that she needed to have the documents ‘deciphered’ and to separate those titles that rightly belonged to her family from those that did not, clearly did not understand that what was actually needed was to have the documents ‘read’, as these are legal documents from the Middle Ages written in Low Latin: they can only be read by the ‘féodistes’, people who specialise in the reading of old manuscripts. This profession has only half-disappeared since the French Revolution, as the ‘féodistes’ have been replaced – in our egalitarian society – by the graduates of the École des Chartres [archivists/palaeographers] who almost alone today are capable of reading these texts.
If Elisabeth d’Hautpoul did not want to release these documents either to her sister Marie, who needed them to have one of her sons admitted to the Order of Malta; nor to her cousin Pierre-François, who had to furnish proof of his noble ancestry in order to purchase admission to the États de Languedoc, it was because she was afraid (and rightly so in our opinion) that her sister would not wish to have the documents preserved because she was her elder, or because her cousin, who dreamed of stealing a march on all the other Hautpouls, would never have given them back to her. She was right: these documents were and should have remained the property of the senior branch of the family, the Hautpouls of Rennes, and they should not under any circumstances have been allowed to become lost among the collateral branches of the Félines or Seyres.
These are simple facts, and we refer to them only because they are relevant to the book that we have devoted to the subject of Rennes, and from which M. de Sède has quoted on several occasions (in the previously published René Descadeillas, Rennes et ses derniers Seigneurs, 1730-1820. Contribution à l’étude économique et sociale de la baronnie de Rennes (Aude) au XVIIIe siècle; Toulouse, Privat, 1964 (Bibliothèque Méridionale, tome XXXIX).