Illustrious characters of the Périgord

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533 at the Château de Montaigne- 1592 at the Château de Montaigne). After studying law, he was an adviser at the Court of Aids in Périgueux and then at the Bordeaux Parliament, where he met and became a faithful friend of Etienne de la Boétie. On the death of his father, he sold his parliamentary office and retired to his château. He gathered the fruit of his reflections from his meditations and his European travels, undertaken to try to cure his kidney stone disease, in his famous Essays. Elected Mayor of Bordeaux by King Henry III, he took part in the Wars of Religion and tried to bring King Henry III and Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV, closer together. Constantly enriching his Essays, he laid the foundations of European Humanism.

Pierre de Bourdeille, known as Brantôme (circa 1540 in Bourdeilles – 1614 in Saint Crépin de Richemont). Son of the Baron de Bourdeilles, he grew up at the court of Marguerite of Navarre, sister of Francis I. He received from King Henry II the commendation of the Abbey of Brantôme in the Dordogne. Enlisted in the royal army, he fought in the Wars of Religion and then against the « Turk » in Morocco and Malta. His military career came to an end when he fell off his horse on his estate. Disabled and reclusive, he became a chronicler, a tasty memorialist of his time, so agitated, divided between war and love.

Jacquette de Montbron (1542-1598). Sister-in-law of Pierre de Bourdeille and favourite of Catherine de Médicis, who had become a widow, she found herself at the head of her estates straddling the Périgord and Angoumois. Her taste for the Arts and Letters was expressed at the court she maintained around her and in her involvement in the architectural design of her castles, including that of Bourdeilles. Jacquette de Montbron thus favoured the introduction of the Renaissance and the development of humanism in Périgord.

Albert Dujarric-Descombes (1848 at Périgueux – 1926 at Périgueux). A trained notary and tireless historian of the Périgord, he is one of the founding members of the Périgord Historical and Archaeological Society and a corresponding member of the Historical and Scientific Work Committee attached to the Ecole des Chartes. His commitment to the preservation of heritage also led him to become the second Capiscol of Le Bornat and Majoral of Félibrige, i.e. the president of the Félibréen school of Perigord defending the Occitan language and literature in Perigord.

Georges Bonnet (1889 in Bassillac – 1973 in Paris) A Perigordine politician from the Radical-Socialist party, he was one of the few to have sat in parliament under three republics between 1924 and 1968. He was also minister fifteen times between 1925 and 1940. A pacifist, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs and an ardent defender of the Munich Agreements in 1938, but he voted full powers to Marshal Pétain in 1940. Appointed to the Vichy National Council, he was worried about the resistance fighters and the German occupiers. He then went to Switzerland in 1943. He did not return to France and politics until 1955 after the amnesty laws. He became mayor of Brantôme, deputy for the Dordogne, specialist in financial matters and foreign policy until 1968.

Illustrations :

– Photograph by Georges Bonnet in 1937 (Harris & Ewing photograph, Library of Congress)

– Lithography by Jacquette de Montbron

– Lithography by Michel de Montaigne

– Lithography by Pierre de Bourdeille

– Photograph by Albert Dujarric-Descombes