Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/90

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CHAPTER V

ORTHEZ


Court of the counts of Foix—Froissart—Gaston Phœbus—Kills his son—And a cousin—Death of Phœbus—Evan de Foix—The bastards of Phœbus—Tragic death of Evan—Bridge over the Gave—Jeanne d'Albret—Her despotic actions—Flight to La Rochelle—Charles sends La Terride into Béarn—Jeanne invites Montgomery to her aid—He enters Béarn—Takes Orthez—Massacre The castle capitulates—Broken faith—Murder of ten barons—Slaughter of priests and monks—Catholic worship forbidden—Death of Jeanne—Castle of Belocq—Puyôo—Battlefield of Orthez—Retreat of Soult.


ORTHEZ has little to occupy it save to brood over its past. It is a dull town, without characteristic features, and it sulks because Pau the parvenue is flourishing, and flaunting, whilst itself, the venerable Orthez, the once capital, sits as a widow, desolate.

Till the fifteenth century it was the residence of the Court of the counts of Foix and viscounts of Béarn, whose castle of Moncada occupied the height above the town. A splendid pile it was, erected by Gaston VII, in 1240, after the pattern of a Spanish castle of the name that he had taken. This had proved to him a hard nut to crack, and he hoped to make the new Moncada by additional works wholly uncrackable. But the tooth of Time has broken it completely, and nothing of it now remains save the keep.

The town was astir and aglow when Gaston Phœbus resided in the castle. Froissart so describes it. Minstrels,