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Mas Cabardes - Aude

The School at Mas Cabardes from the ‘ancient regime’ to today
From the work of Mme and M Costeplane
Edited by the Cultural and Sports Association of the Orbiel, Schools Building, 11380 Mas Cabardes Brochure No 6 – 1995

Under the Ancient Regime
Education under the Ancient Regime was the privilege of a middle-class minority and until the Revolution the greater part of the inhabitants of Mas Cabardes remained completely illiterate.

The first signatures appeared on legal registers around 1568. They were few and often badly written. Because of illiteracy, many signatories had to be content with making a mark or their initials. In the 16th and 17th centuries, there were often consuls who did not know how to sign their names. On the other hand, at the same time, women of nobility or of middle-class families had quite elegant signatures (Claire de Salles, Pierette de Roques).

Not only did the majority of the population not know how to read or write but also they could not understand, or else spoke very poorly, in French.  In 1606 the Rector of Plane translated his registers into the language of Oc. In 1682, in planning a preaching mission to Mas, it was advised that part of the instructions should be in patois (the locally spoken language).

In 1785 the mason Louis Guiraud, called as a witness to a court case, did not appear: ‘He did not realise he had to be present because he does not understand French very well.’

It is notable that during the 19th century, Father Gely, in 1877, said catechism in patois between the two regular masses. All the same, in the midst of such illiteracy, thanks to a small group of educated, cultivated bourgeoisie living in Mas, the village became a little intellectual centre among the neighbouring villages.

Majan, the priest of Salsigne, having been asked in 1792 to take the place of the priest of Mas, refused and wrote to the Syndicate Procurator of Carcassonne: ‘The parish of Mas needs an educated, enlightened, wise priest gifted with a thousand other qualities as well in order to bear fruit there... how would I have the presumptuous temerity to put myself in charge of more than 15 individuals, most of them more educated and enlightened than myself and capable of teaching me from their own erudition and experience...’

Education in the area was the responsibility of the Community. The regents (schoolmasters and schoolmistresses) were chosen by the Consuls and the people’s assembly. They were nominated for one year and their period ended usually on the feast of St John the Baptist. In order to take up the position, they had to ask for and obtain the agreement of the Bishop.

At the end of the year they could ask for a renewal of their position but this depended on a new approval from the bishop. To be a regent, it was necessary most of all ‘to be good-living and a good catholic’. The regents received a very small payment from the community who had also to provide accommodation. For many years the amount allocated to a regent was 30 livres (pounds) and the sum agreed for the rental of a schoolhouse was 12 pounds.

Other than the sum received from the community, the regent had the right to receive a fee from families, which varied according to the teaching given. In 1699, the regent of Mas undertook to ‘receive only 5 sols (cents) for those learning ABC, 8 sols from those beginning to read, 15 sols from those reading in French and beginning to write, 20 sols from those learning arithmetic.’

For a very long time the regents were not from the village, and at times came from far away but the modesty of their income explains why they often stayed only a short time in the village.

 In 1604 the ‘Regent of Mas’ was Charles Guytard. In 1639, Benoit Lacheze ‘regent said to be from the town of Bordeaux’. In 1649, ‘a certain regent called Jean Vaysin, a high-ranking priest and great philosopher’. In 1682, the Assembly General of Mas decided that a schoolmaster able to teach grammer, writing, arithmetic and general education of the youth was needed. Master Jean Ducasse, a scholar from the diocese of St Flour, came forward and offered to demonstrate his capabilities. At the same time, Master Jacques Boyer, chaplain, and Marc Antoine Maux, inhabitants of Mas, offered that one of them would teach grammer and the other arithmetic and writing. However, the assembly appointed Mr Ducasse and he began to teach after the feast of St John Baptist for the usual pay after having received permission from the bishop. On 9th August following, the Council let it be known that it had received a notification from the Senechal of Carcassonne. Jean Ducasse had made a complaint against Marc Antoine Baux who ‘tried to engender prejudice’ against him in the carrying out of his work.

The following year, in 1683, Marc Antoine Baux was given the regency and, as he lived in Mas, he offered to supply a schoolhouse free of charge. This generosity meant he was reappointed year after year until 1695. On the 28 August 1696 ‘this place being without a regency’, Pierre Meynard, from St Leger, a diocese of Grenoble, was appointed regent. Three months later he was replaced by Andre Richard, also a native of St Leger. In 1699, Master Combette, a regent ‘having left Caudebronde’ and Vincent Farret who was regent at the Cabrespine schools applied to work at Mas. In 1710, the regent is Jean Delort, of the diocese of St Flour. He died in Mas in 1714 at the age of 40. In 1720, the Community called upon ‘Sieur Algriere, a native of Carcassonne and regent of Cabrespine’ to come and teach the children of Mas. The new regent was a good catholic and in 1721 he was reappointed for a further year. In 1722, Vincent Farrat returns ‘a good-living man of high morals, very capable and also knowledgeable in Latin’.

In 1724, the Council is critical of the fact that in a parish as important as Mas they are unable to obtain a schoolmaster, and this proves that the community can no longer offer only 30 pounds as a suitable sum. (This 30 pounds will come up again soon in the budget, in the chapter on the supplementary payments) 1758, and Jean Gazel is regent, and in 1764 Joseph Bartholemy. In 1770 it is Mathieu Bessat, native of Pamiers. 1775: Louis Sujerlic, regent, often serving as secretary to Maitre (title for a lawyer) Jacques Cros. 1780: Guillaume Cavallie, native of Carcassonne, has already worked in Mas for a year. He is seen again in 1792 and in Revolution Years II and III. In 1783, Migeoule, a resident of Mas, is confirmed as regent. He remains in post till 1789. In 1788 his payment is 100 pounds. He is much appreciated by the Council, who express their pleasure each year and don’t stint in their praise of him. The first name of this regent is never mentioned. From 1784, there are a number of names of schoolmistresses. In most cases they are residents of Mas. Like the schoolmasters, they are obliged to obtain permission from the bishop to undertake teaching.

In 1784, the widow Bouguil, schoolmistress for girls, died and Mme Bonaure, nee Selaries, asks for and obtains the position. She doesn’t remain in post long because on 24 August 1784 the Council agrees upon Mme Sophie Dullars, wife of Sieur Roque ‘very capable and having gained good examination certificates from the Priest of St Vincent.’ In 1789, Mme Ferlue is nominated as being very capable of giving a brilliant education to young girls who have been in need of this for some time, there having been no schoolmistress at Mas. Several months later, Mme Ferlue left Mas and on the 4 October 1789 she was replaced by Mme Marie Lieussou ‘ who fulfilled her obligations in a brilliant manner.’

The payment for the schoolmistress at the time was 60 pounds. Certain wealthy merchants, considering the education given at Mas to be insufficient, sent their daughters to boarding schools in the towns. In 1775, Anne Miailhe is at the convent of the Hospitalier Ladies of Toulouse. The boys who are bound for professional careers undertake studies at Secondary School and beyond that in the appropriate faculty.

On 25 August 1784 ‘M. Boyer of Mas-Cabardes won the first prize for 6th years among the scholars at the Royal College of P.P. in Christian Doctrine.’

During the Revolution
The time of the revolution brought about some changes. The word ‘regent’ was replaced with the word ‘instituteur’ (instructor/teacher). The instructor was no longer required to be a good catholic but to give proof of being a good citizen. Teaching however continued to be in the hands of the Commune and its families. In 1791 the salary of the instructor was fixed at 100 pounds. In 1792 and in Revolution Years II and IV Guillaume Cavallie is instructor. He often undertakes the office of Clerk of the Court.

On the 1st Fructidor, Year VI, there is a rollbook of regular students at the primary school of the commune. The class sizes are small. The instructor, Jacques Becker, a Swiss, has a class of 15 pupils, even though there are 42 boys in Mas of school age. The instructress, Lucie Bidaud, who could have had 33 pupils, has only 16 and among these is a girl from Miraval.

Rollbook of pupils attending the primary school in the commune of Mas Cabardes:
Boys: Jacques Selaries, Pierre Selaries, Joseph Selaries, Louis Ferroul, Pascal Ferroul, Jacques Gaze, Marc Gazel, Auguste Bousquet, Baptiste Vitalis, Hyacinthe Miailhe, Jacques-Philippe Miailhe, Pierre Cros, Jean Sablairole, Francois Albert.

Girls: Anne Miailhe, Marguerite Bousquet, Emilie Bousquet, Rose Sablairole, Francoise Sablairole, Petronille Sablairole, Marguerite Selaries, Marie Tournadous, Rose Tournadous, Anne Albert, Catherine Courtiel, Marie-Anne Gazel, Marguerite Gazel, Francoise Migeoule, Marguerite Martin (de Miraval).

Books in use at the time in Mas are the history of ancient peoples and discourses on the French Revolution. The elected representatives of the commune expressed the wish ‘that the jury on public instruction would designate the most suitable books for instruction on republicanism so that the pupils can acquire the understanding of it’. They recognise the morality and civic spirit of their new instructors but it seems show slight uncertainty about their capabilities. The write ‘The schools of the canton come together to request, while not having much background research on experience gained by the current instructors.... that if the nation would allow an indemnity to instructors, primary schools would be better served; an honest ease (?decent salary) would attract the citizens’ (ADL 1044)

In Year VII the instructors are Jacques Becker and Marie-Antoinette Becker, his wife, both from Grenoble. In Year VIII, it is a former tailor, Antoine Troirieux who has taken the role of instructor.

After the Revolution
It is necessary to wait some years before the public education system at Mas becomes regularised again. In the statistics of 1808, it is apparent that there is no ‘entitled (official) instructor’ in Mas. That year, and the following ones, it is Marc Gazel who keeps things going. In 1820, more children are attending school. Of 30 boys of school age, 25 are attending and a smaller proportion of girls – 16 out of 24. That year, the Commune awards a payment of 120 francs per year to the instructor. This is increased to 200 francs in 1834.

The first known instructor, nominated by the Rector, is Pierre Maurel. He teaches at Mas from 28 February 1827 to 15 November 1836, on which date he is replaced by Jean Benazeth, who remains in post till 1850. After that date he stays on a while as an unpaid instructor. On the 1st March 1837, Jean Benazeth sends the Prefect a copy of the Rule Book used at the time in Mas, approved and signed by the Priest and the Mayor.

Community School, Commune of Mas Cabardes Rule Book Article 1:
The pupils must meet in the courtyard before entering the classroom.
Article 2:
The master having given the signal, the students must line up, and the master will inspect for cleanliness, note any absences, and will give the signal for entering the classroom. Each division (class group) will enter in an orderly fashion and stand before their respective benches. Article 3:
At a given signal, the pupils will kneel down, and the master will recite in French the Veni Sancti Spiritus and then give the signal to sit down.
Article 4: At a given signal, the wardens (school prefects) at each table will give out the exercise books and study will commence. (As to how time is spent, a summer timetable and winter timetable is planned. In winter the morning classes will start one hour later.)
Monday :
Morning 7 – 7.30 : Study; 7.30 – 8 : Writing; 8 – 9 Reading; 9 – 9.45 Arithmetic; 9.45 – 10.15 – Recitation Evening 1 – 1.15 : Study; 1.15 – 2 – Writing; 2 – 3 Reading; 3 – 4.30 History.
Identical to Monday except 9 – 10.15 grammar and 3 – 3.45 Arithmetic followed by 3.45 – 4.15 Recitation.
Wednesday :
As Monday
Friday :
As Tuesday
As the other days, except 9 – 10.15 Geography and 3 – 3.15 Cathechism

The entire class is divided into four divisions (groups) except for writing. Division 1 will come up to the master’s desk, read or recite, and then go back to their place to prepare for the next lesson. The same applies for all divisions and all subjects.

In 1850 Benazeth was replaced by Jean Baptiste Bonaventure Feuille who remains in Mas until 1854. From 1851, in applying the Law of Falloux which came into force on 15 March 1850, the Mayor in agreement with the Priest each year provides a list of children who, because of their family situation, should be admitted free into school. This list is submitted to the Prefect who accepts it after having often added some restrictions.

After this we find the following instructors:

1854 Etienne Roque; 1855 Louis Gabaude; 1856 Jean Baptiste Combes; 1857 Charles Bosc; 1857 to 1864 Jean Pierre Belloc; 1872 to 1904 Jean Baptiste Sylvestre. Until the 1920s Jean Oustric.

We are less well informed about the instructresses of Mas, and least so during the first half of the 19th century. Only two names have been found: Marie Barrou, parent of Jean Benazeth, and in 1852 Therese Seigne. On the 10th August 1856, there is no instructress at Mas and the Mayor, Frederic Masson, suggests that the commune ‘call upon members of a religious body’ and arrange to bring to Mas three nuns who would ensure the teaching of the young girls and also tend to the sick. This suggestion was accepted unanimously. It is left to the Mayor to choose which Order of nuns. With the agreement of the Priest, the Order of the Holy Family at Pezens was chosen.

Marie Chanbart, whose religious name was Sister Angela, took up residence in Mas with two of her Sisters. At first it was difficult for a small community with few resources. But Sister Angela, who worked particularly in teaching the young girls, was officially nominated on 2 November 1861. Their fees in 1869 as 2nd class instructress, were 400 francs.

The new School Regulations of 1881 which brought about free, compulsory and secular education were not applied immediately in Mas, doubtless owing to lack of qualified secular female personnel. On 9 September 1883 Sister Angela wrote personally to the Prefect to ask that Sister Adele (Marie Esquine) be nominated as an auxiliary instructress. This latter had a diploma qualifying her to teach primary level which she had gained on 16 June 1881. This nomination was justified by the size of class and the demographics of the local schoolgoing population which would allow a break-up into two classes. On 11 September, the academic inspectors gave a favourable opinion and on 12th the nomination was made by the Prefect’s delegate.

In 1885 the nuns left the municipal school and went to live in the Embry building, which had become the property of Canon Hyppolite Darzens (currently a presbytery). The arrival in Mas of a publicly-employed instructress did not prevent the ‘Sisters’ School’ from prospering. This now received boarders and was ranked as a boarding school. There were 3 boarders in 1881, 19 in 1886, 10 in 1891 and 12 in 1901. In 1886, Sister Angela abandoned teaching in order to dedicate herself to the management of the establishment and to the care of the sick. The two classes in the boarding school were now in the hands of Sister Adele and Sister Lorette (Marie Lagarde). The public school, under the management of a secular instructress, was mostly attended by the daughters of government officials. In 1891 the instructress was Marie Siman. After this, we find Mme Fargues (nee Alberny), Mme Chapert etc. The boarding school disappeared in 1904, during the ‘separation of Church and State’.

The School
A century would be necessary for Mas to have schools worthy of the name. In 1834, there is no longer a schoolhouse, as under the Ancient Regime, and so the municipality rented for 60 francs a house in the village. On 24 August 1834 the Municipal Council suggests buying a house and land near Salles Bridge belonging to Widow Delprat and to turn them into a school building. This choice is approved, and the next year the Act of Acquisition is signed in the office of Maitre Boyer. For 1500 francs ‘ in metal coin’ the municipality (the Mayor being Jacques Bousquet) became the owner of:
a) A house of one floor and part of a garden
b) A right of way in perpetuity

This building, for many years designated ‘the old school’ no longer exists since the floods of 1930. From 1850, the place was said to be insufficient and dilapidated. The Prefect, who must have received a complaint from a new teacher, asked that the school building be reconstructed. The Municipal Council held a special meeting to discuss the matter. After the meeting regret was expressed to the Prefect that his request could not be honoured. The commune had not enough money and could not afford more than an annual sum of 20 francs. It must be said that the previous instructor was content with the place, and taught there, and lived with his wife and four children and also made available an apartment to a private instructress.

On 27 June 1852, we find a new intervention from the Prefect. This time he requests the Municipal Council to

Leave the school house
Get a premises from the Mairie
Vote for a special tax imposition to cover the costs

The municipality (Mayor Mr Teule) once again opposed and refused the request.

On 18th October 1852, the Prefect renewed his demand. The Municipal Council once again rejected it, deeming it to be ‘inadmissible because too onorous’ but suggested cleaning up and repairing the existing house, which would cost 600 francs, or to construct in place of the old school a building which would contain a Mayor’s Office, a Justice of the Peace office, the school house and school building. This project would cost 6000 francs assuming the sale of the Mayor’s office for 2500 francs.

This second project garnered the most votes from the municipality and it was submitted to the Prefect for approval. It is not known what became of this proposal.

What did happen was that no improvement was made to the local school and in 1853 it was the Academy inspector who intervened with the Municipality. He had no more success than the Prefect, as he came up against a municipal administration who had limited funds and stated that they had ‘ to face up to more important matters...’

In 1856 the Mayor, Fortune Masson, who as a doctor was concerned with matters of hygiene, decided that the cleaning up of the local school building could be no longer avoided. ‘The building is no longer suitable for the task for which it was destined, the health of the young pupils is compromised, the ceilings are too low, the doors and windows badly maintained, fresh air does not flow through sufficiently. The building is too large for a school without a teacher’s lodging, and too small for an instructor to lodge there.’ The commune which ‘makes ruinous sacrifices in order to provide residence for the instructor’ cannot undertake the expense of such repairs. So subscriptions from the villagers are sought. They respond generously, and 148 signatures are gathered as well as 1920 francs in donations. That same year, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Pezens settle in Mas. They are given residence in a communal house and in order to cover the cost of settling them in, a further subscription is sought and a lottery organised. Things remained like this until 1871, when the Mayor, Louis Albert, suggests purchasing the house of the Masson family, in order to set up the nuns there and the school for girls. The resources of the commune once again being insufficient, they decide upon another subscription. To set an example to the people of his village, Louis Albert, puts himself down for 100 francs, as does Emile Sablairole. Casimir Boyer gives 50 francs. Alexandre Boyer, and Father Guillaume Gely, 40 francs each; the others give amounts between 0.50 francs and 30 francs. 73 families contribute, and the total raised comes to 712.50 francs. On 9 November 1872, the bill of sale is signed for 5900 francs, and the municipality becomes the owner of plots 200 and 196 on the old cadastral plan (rue Basse; le Foyer).

When a secular instructress is nominated for Mas, the nuns go to live in Embry House. The school building of the rue Basse, repaired and put into good condition, becomes the girls’ community school. It will be deemed insufficient as soon as the joint school building is constructed.

In 1872, boys replaced girls in the school at the mayoralty building and this was not long about being deemed insufficient. In 1879, the roll call of the boys’ school is 39 pupils, and according to the regulations, the dimensions of the classroom allows for only 34 pupils. Even allowing for excellent ventilation and orientation, it is still awkward to accommodate 5 or 6 extra pupils.

In 1905, the idea of constructing a joint school is taken up again, but too many vested interests enter into the game for the project to succeed. In particular it is impossible to agree on where to build. Two plots are put forward: the first at Columbin, Costeplane-Albert’s plot, which is the old school which was sold to the Costeplane brothers along with the adjoining plot (the owner being Fargues), or secondly in the rue Basse, the plot belonging to Anguille. In 1906, the Academy inspector agrees to the Anguille plot but the Municipal Council rejects this and proposes four new plots among which are the old cemetery and the convent building. Doctor Crouzet of Cuxac is consulted and he decides that the Anguille plot is the most appropriate. Defeating this, in 1908 the old cemetery is again proposed and in 1909 Lapeyre’s house (Roussac’s house).

The project is not abandoned, but the Municipal Council is divided at the core. Both parties are strongly opposed. One side wants the Anguille plot, the others proposes a plot beside the Theron stream belonging to Cenne and Izard (parcels 89 to 91). Those against the Anguille plot underline the danger of flooding there and decry the lack of fresh water nearby. From their perspective, those who are in favour of the plot on the rue Basse state that the presence of pupils could harm the water of the Theron if the Cenne-Izard plot is chosen. In the end these latter seem to win the day. Plans are drawn up for a building comprising a mayoralty, and two class rooms each large enough for 40 pupils. An area of land between 7 and 18 being plots 167 and 159 and having as its boundaries to the north the river, to the east some communal land, towards the Midi the rue basse and to the west Labeirie’s cafe has as the owner, Mme Augusta Tournadous, wife of Louis Boyer was asking for 6000 francs plus the present mayor’s office.

In 1910 the Primary School Inspector ‘comes up’ to Mas. He will not accept the rue Basse land unless some of the plans are modified. According to him, the most suitable plots are 198, 199 and 200. But the owners of these plots do not want to sell their buildings, in particular the butcher, A Philipot. In 1911 the construction project of a joint school still unaccomplished, they now think that they will maintain the boys’ school at the mayoralty, the girls’ schools being deemed to be fit for purpose. The Academy inspector is in favour of this project. The state is asked for a subvention of 15,000 francs. Plans are agreed – a new building consisting of two floors facing the square and one facing the little road. On the ground floor the mayoralty offices, on the first floor a classroom and a courtyard at the same level as the small street, and on the second floor the instructor’s living space. It needs to be built urgently, in 1910 a pupil evaded the supervision of the instructor and fractured his leg. While work is ongoing, it is decided to set up the school in the old presbytery in Church road.

On 26 September 1913 the Academy inspector comes to inspect the works and criticises the slow pace of construction activity. In 1914 war puts a stop to the work. In 1920, the extra cost of completion is such that it is decided to abandon the 2nd floor and let the instructor live in the old presbytery. Work continues slowly. In 1928 nothing has changed, the municipality requests from the mayoralty a subvention to continue with the work. The need for a new school building is more and more apparent, but it isn’t till after the floods of 1930 that the present joint school building is constructed on Avenue du Theron. On two floors, the ground floor consists of four rooms which can be used as classrooms, two on the girls’ school side, and two on the boys’ school side. The instructor’s accommodation takes up the first floor. Central place of the canton, Mas becomes an examination centre (certificate of studies). During the second world war, the school welcomed some refugees. Pupils grew food in their school grounds. In 1962, the Academy closed the Junior class. There are now 44 pupils in two classes.

At the end of the 1960s the student body reduced to a single class, deemed administratively a ‘classe unique’. The children attending gradually saw their rollbook decrease despite the bringing in of children from nearby villages whose own schools had closed in turn: La Tourette, Miraval, Roquefere, Labastide. At the end of the 1980s the schools of Lastours and Mas Cabardes joined up under the heading of the Intercommunal Pedagogical Regrouping of the Orbiel. The tendency of rollbooks to decline reversed. There were around 40 pupils between 4 and 6 at Lastours, the same number of pupils between 7 and 11 attended at Mas averaged over good and bad years. Added to this there were the ‘babies’ of 2 to 4 years in the care of an intercommunal minding service which was opened in 1991.