Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Encounter with local history

Today, in St-Laurent-en-Royans, I met up with an 80-year-old former politician, Gérard Sibeud, to talk about local history. He was the Gaullist député (member of parliament) for the Drôme département from 30 June 1968 until 1 April 1973. During those five years, he was a member of the UDR party (Union des démocrates pour la République).

For many years, Gérard Sibeud was the mayor of St-Laurent-en-Royans. In 1997, he was the founder and initial president of the so-called commmunity of eleven communes located in the Drôme part of the Royans region: Saint-Jean-en-Royans, Saint-Laurent-en-Royans, Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans, Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans, Saint-Thomas-en-Royans, Oriol-en-Royans, Saint-Martin-le-Colonel, La Motte-Fanjas, Rochechinard, Léoncel and Échevis.

We had planned to talk about Royans history in general, but the principal motivation of this encounter, for me, was to evoke a great scholar who was responsible for the rare historical texts concerning our region. I am referring to a Catholic priest, born in St-Laurent-en-Royans: Abbé Jean-Louis Fillet [1840-1902]. See my article entitled Place with a name [display] concerning this man. Gérard Sibeud gave me a copy of the following poor-quality photo (which I saw for the first time today), which would appear to be the only existing image of Abbé Fillet.

[Click here to see the original photo before I cleaned it up.]

Gérard Sibeud married a woman named Fillet who was a descendant of the Abbé's family, and she inherited the old farm where the future priest was born. And that's where my meeting with Gérard Sibeud took place this afternoon. This property looks out across a plain towards the bare hillock where the great medieval castle of the Bérenger family, called La Bâtie, once stood.

I was pleased to find that Gérard Sibeud was enthusiastic about my suggestion that we should look into the possibility of publishing a modern edition of the collected Royans monographs of Abbé Fillet.

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