Nerac - Encyclopedia

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NERAC, a town of south-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Lot-et-Garonne, 16 m. W.S.W. of Agen by road. Pop. (1906) town, 4018; commune, 6318. The town, once the capital of the dukes of Albret, is divided by the Baise into two parts, Grand-Nerac on the left bank and Petit-Nerac on the right bank. The river is spanned by a bridge of the 16th century, called the Pont Vieux, and by the Pont Neuf, of modern construction. Narrow winding streets often bordered by old houses ascend from the narrow quays on both banks. From the left bank a staircase leads to the Rue Henri Quatre, where stands a wing of the castle in which Henry IV. lived. A statue of the king stands in one of the squares. The former palace of the Chambre des Comptes is now occupied by the tribunal of commerce, the library and the museum. The church of Grand-Nerac of the 18th century and the church of Petit-Nerac of the 19th century offer no remarkable features. On the left bank of the Baise, above Grand-Nerac, market gardens have taken the place of the old gardens of the Sires d'Albret, but remains of the Palais des Mariannes and of the Pavillon des Bains du Roi de Navarre, both of Renaissance architecture, are left. The famous promenade of La Garenne laid out by Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre, stretches for more than a mile along the opposite bank of the river. The remains of a Roman villa, including a fragment of mosaic, have been found there. A road leads from the south end of La Garenne to the ruins of the feudal castle of Nazareth. The Château du Tasta of the 15th century is within a short distance of Nerac. The town has a sub-prefecture, and the industries include brewing and cork-working.

Nerac appears at the beginning of the 11th century as a possession of the monks of St Pierre de Condom. The lords of Albret gradually deprived them of their authority over the town, and at the beginning of the 14th century founded a castle on the left bank of the Baise. In the 16th century the castle was the residence of Henry IV. during much of his youth and of Marguerite de Valois, sister of Francis I., of Jeanne d'Albret, and of the second Marguerite de Valois, wife of Henry IV., who held a brilliant court there. Nerac, the inhabitants of which had adopted the Reformed religion, was seized by the Catholics in 1562. The conferences, held there at the end of 1578 between the Catholics and Protestants, ended in February 1 J79 in the peace of Nerac. In 1580 the town was used by Henry IV. as a base for attacks on the Agenais, Armagnac and Guienne. A Chambre de l'Edit for Guienne and a Chambre des Comptes were established there by Henry IV. In 1621, however, the town took part in the Protestant rising, was taken by the troops of Louis XIII. and its fortifications dismantled. Soon after it was deprived both of the Chambre de l'Edit and of the Chambre des Comptes, and its ruin was completed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

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