BASTIDE (Provençal bastida, building), a word applied to the fortified towns founded in south-western France in the middle ages, and corresponding to the villes neuves of northern France. They were established by the abbeys, the nobles and the crown, frequently by two of these authorities in co-operation, and were intended to serve as defensive posts and centres of population for sparsely-inhabited districts. In addition, they formed a source of revenue and power for their founders, who on their part conceded liberal charters to the new towns. They were built on a rectangular plan, with a large central square and straight thoroughfares running at right angles or parallel to one another, this uniformity of construction being well exemplified in the existing bastide of Monpazier (Dordogne) founded by the English in 1284. Mont-de-Marsan, the oldest of the bastides, was founded in 1141, and the movement for founding them lasted during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, attaining its height between 1250 and 1350.
See E. Menault, Les Villes Neuves, leur origine et leur influence dans le mouvement communal (Paris, 1868); Curie-Seimbres, Essai sur les villes fondees dans le sud-ouest de la France sous le nom de bastides (Toulouse, 1880).
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