Molières during the Early Modern Period
After the foundation of the bastide of Molières at the end of the 13th century and its turbulent beginnings in the 14th century, few written traces are available on the evolution of our village from the 16th to the 19th century.
Fortunately, the parish and civil registers can be very useful in understanding the evolution of the population, as can the notary archives! People who are closely interested in the history of our village often still find fascinating information in them. The following text is written by Claire Veaux and taken from a brochure published by the association “Les Amis de la Bastide de Molières” in 2012.
From 16th to 18th century
It was in the 16th century that conflicts between Huguenots and Catholics ravaged this small town, causing ruin from which it never really recovered.
Life under the “Ancien Régime” (before the French revolution) must have been similar to that of many other villages, somewhat isolated from the valleys, major communication routes, and centres such as Périgueux or Bergerac.
We know that in 1789, Molières was under the leadership of the lord of Biron after having successively lost its status as a free royal town and having been under the control of various lords. The archives tell us that this commune participated in the elections of judges and deputies to the Convention in Cadouin. In 1790, it was the mayor of Molières, Mr Matasse, living in the chartreuse of Sautet, who was an elector of the canton at the departmental assembly.
Molières in the 19th century
In the 19th century, more than 800 people lived in Molières, mainly from agriculture.
- Wine production was a major item: 1/20th of the land provided a good red wine sold to the local barkeepers or exported via the Dordogne river.
- Animal husbandry, particularly that of fat pigs, enabled animals to be sold at fairs.
- The forest provided a significant source of income. Chestnuts were harvested and exported dry, and the wood was sold to the forges of Sainte-Croix and to the boat builders of the Dordogne river.
Few improvements in cultivation techniques, without fertiliser or machinery, were made at this time.
Large pockets of clay provided the raw material for two potteries which employed about a dozen of workers. The various pots and pans were sold at the fairs of the neighbouring cantonal capitals. It is difficult to identify with certainty the objects “made in Molières”.
In addition to oil, the walnut trees provided wood for several clog makers. Five weavers (the “teyssiers”) went from house to house to make linen or, more frequently, hemp or wool cloth: this was for the clothes used by the peasants. The cotton was bought from the peddler.
With a school set up in a private house, nineteen beggars, four cabarets, a notary, a veterinarian, a doctor, a priest called “desservant” and his vicar, and all the other usual craftsmen of such a community, here is a quick portrait of our 19th century bastide.
History of Molières
Most of the images on this page are from a private collection of postcards.
The images marked with a ¤ come from a collection of photos made available by villagers during the preparation of a photo exhibition about the village. It has been impossible to trace the origin of all these photos. If any of the photos used here belong to you and you do not want them to be used, or if you wish to be credited, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to respond to your request.