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Labastide-Clairence: (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) PDF Print E-mail
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43° 25′ 42″ N 01° 15′ 19″ W. 1999 population was 881. La Bastide-Clairence (Basque: Bastida Arberoa) is a small village and commune in southwestern France located in the former province of Basse-Navarre. This village is an interesting curiosity because it was built in 1314 by the king of Navarre, Louis le Hutin, a Gascogne, in the Basque speaking country, partly to counter an English bastide, Hastingues, built not so far away. A fort was built between 1283 and 1312 along the banks of the Joyeuse: Bastida de Clarenza. Bastide-Clairence, as well as its name points it out, was a strong city, the ancient and powerful fortress still existing in 1875. Bastide-Clairence increasingly received people from SW France going to shop, then refugees of Spain escaping the Inquisition, and from Basques cities and villages nearby. Another version concerning the origin of the city exists that settlers were pilgrims of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle called Francos. By 1700, the population was 2,000. If in the 16Ith century, the inhabitants do not speak Basque, but the Gascon, little by little they adopted the language and Basque usage. They had 320 houses and mills in the 17th century. From 1575 until 1789, Bastide de Clairence depended on lords of Gramont. The city contained an important Jewish community after the expulsion of the Portuguese Jews. Today even, the place des Arceaux and its houses with half-timberings receive numerous craftsmen. The styles include the labourdin style (houses with wall gable, roof in two slopes, facade in half-timbering of red or green colour on cantilevers, windows with mullions and sculpted lintels) and a style of houses "navarraises" (with roof in 4 slopes and doors in arch of arch). The inhabitants live by the ready-to-wear clothes industry of woolens and the [bonnèterie] and agriculture. Fairs on twelve days assure the prosperity of the city. Today, Bastide-Clairence boasts a glorious commercial past (hosiery, chocolate making). Today this largely unspoiled village, with its arcaded houses, is trying to make a name with high quality artisanal goods. The village, in the past called Labastide-Clairence, was rechristened Bastide-Clairence on June 25th, 1988. The Jewish community lasted about 200 years, from the beginning of the 17th century at the end of the 18th century. Refugees come from Spain and especially from Portugal, Sephardic Jews who became established at the end of the 16th century in Bayonne, where from they swarmed in the three small cities: Peyrehorade (received by the lord of Aspremont), Bidache, and Bastide-Clairence where the Duke of Gramont protected them. Often called "Portuguese", the Jews numbered 70 - 80 families in 17th century. They lived in a comparatively autonomous community indicated by the expression of "Jewish Nation" on the registers of the City and had a graveyard distinct from the Christian graveyard that was opened at the beginning of the XVIIth century. The number of Jews diminished distinctly in the middle of the 18th century, when they numbered only about fifteen families and no more than six in 1798. LaBastide-Clairence web site is [January 2008]


Cimetière des Juifs: Inscriptions on tombs, 62 of them, were raised from 1962 to 1964 by Professor Gérard Nahon. The most ancient tomb dates from 1620, the most recent from 1785. On 18 of them, the date of death is expressed in the Hebrew calendar. From 1659, all forenames are biblical: Jacob, Isaac, Benjamin, Esther, Sarah, Rebecca. Among surnames represented are Dacosta, Henriquez, Lopez, Nunez, Depas, and Alvares. The graveyard belongs to the Consistory Israelite of Bayonne. [January 2008

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