Portraict au vray de la ville de Cleyrac, 1621
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René Siette

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Engraving published in Paris, at Melchior Tavernier, engraver of the King for the soft sizes, living on the Pont Nostre-Dame, under the sign of the Franc Gaulois, MDCXXI, with privilege of the King.
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The siege of Clairac by the royal army in August 1621 gave rise to numerous engraved representations, not to mention the accounts published in Le Mercure français and those written by the various participants and witnesses.

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Nearly 400 years ago, the city of Clairac had the pride of standing up to the king's armies for two weeks, besieged by the best regiments in the kingdom. From 23 July to 5 August 1621, the young King Louis XIII – he was not yet 20 years old – accompanied by the young Anne of Austria and the court, had to wait 15 days for the ramparts built by the Huguenot resistance to give way to the 400 cannon shots of his troops; it was only thanks to the undermining work carried out several nights by the Gascon Le Chesne that the army finally entered the town. It was then that Clairac's motto Ville sans roi, soldats sans peur (City without a king, soldiers without fear) took on its full meaning. Many people know that the word parpaillot probably appeared during the siege when the besieged appeared on the ramparts, dressed in white shirts to frighten the besiegers : “lou parpaillot, lou parpaillot…” (butterflies, butterflies…). What a paradox to have seen the king besiege a Protestant place of safety sheltering in its heart a powerful abbey donated by his father to the chapter of Saint-Jean-de-Latran!
Finally, the siege cannot be evoked without mentioning the poet Clairacais Théophile de Viau, but also the young Tristan L'Hermite, whose Le page disgracié, a key autobiographical novel, ends with the siege of Clairac in which he took part at the age of barely 20: “Enfin, nous arrivâmes devant une [Clairac] qui fit la sourde oreille aux hérauts, et l’on n’en fit pas les approches sans grande effusion de sang de part et d’autre.” Or, a little further on: “Les ennemis y venaient au combat avec autant de hardiesse que s’ils eussent été en aussi grand nombre que nous. Leurs femmes leur venaient donner à boire en de certaines barricades qu’ils défendaient avec aussi peu de crainte du péril, que si l’on n’eût tiré sur eux qu’avec des sarbacanes chargées de sucre : et c’était le pur effet d’un faux zèle qui les faisait ainsi devenir plus qu’amazones. (…) Il y en eut aussi souvent de punies de cette furieuse témérité ; je sais bien qu’une volée de canon en emporta un jour dix-huit tout à la fois, comme elles nous chantaient injures en lavant des linges sous un pont, et qu’il y en eut beaucoup d’autres qui montrèrent leur nez sur les remparts, à qui l’on apprit à se cacher.

To learn more about this historic event, one can refer to Daniel Christiaens' text “Le siège de Clairac en 1621” published in the proceedings of the colloquium Clairac et la réforme, edited in December 2019 by the Academic Society of Agen, to which the Société des amis de Clairac contributed.

This detail of the plan makes it possible to visualize our village 4 centuries ago:
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Although he was “engineer and geographer of the king”, little is known about the life of René Siette, sieur de La Goussetière, born at the end of the XVIth century, and died after 1648. As part of his charge, he performed many representations of the cities and fortresses of the kingdom. His son Pierre Siette was also an ordinary geographer to the king, to whom we owe the dewatering works of the Poitevin marsh ordered by Louis XIII around 1650.

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La prise de la ville de Clairac rendue à la discrétion du roy (…). Lyon, 1621.
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