For those of you that follow my Facebook page you may remember that last autumn I was honoured with being inducted into the Consulat de la Septimanie. An ancient wine brotherhood from the Narbonne area.
In January I shall be receiving a group of the San Franciscan branch of Chevaliers du Tastevin at La Maison du Rire for a tasting and presentation of the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Whilst they are in the region they will be meeting the Consulat de la Septimanie and so I have translated an explanation on the history and origins of the Consulat for them, here it is below.
Le Consulat de la Septimanie
Our objective is as follows: to promote the wines of La Clape and Narbonne, as well as the cultural heritage and patrimoine of Narbonne. Under Philippe le Bel (C12), the consuls were in charge of wine exchanges between the two districts (on either side of the Canal de la Robine). The consuls were the city magistrates (todays mayors). The outfits that we wear today are an exact replica of the costumes of the time, and it was in 1963 that the Grand Master, Mr Bouchous, created the Consulat de la Septimanie. The current Grand Master is Georges Savarin de Marestan, who has officiated since 2003.
Today serving the Narbonne region, the Consulat de la Septimanie aims to preserve and diffuse the cultural history of the ancient Narbonnaise wines. This area was known during the reign of Charlemagne as Septimanie, of which Narbonne is the capital. This objective is achieved in particular by organising, or participating in; all celebrations, meetings, tastings, trips, exhibitions, advertisements or any other event or activity that can serve the cause of our regional wines, both in France and worldwide.
One of the oldest brotherhoods in the Languedoc, the Consulat de la Septimanie was reborn in 1963 with the mission of promoting the wines of the Narbonne region, and more particularly the production of the Vignobles de la Clape, the Quatourze and the Côteaux de Narbonne districts.
The costume of the consuls is steeped in history. It is an exact replica of the one worn in the 17th century. A robe of red and black cloth, with a large white collar and black biretta. The medal is worn around the neck with a large red ribbon. It shows a rooster clutching a bunch of grapes between its claws, surrounded by the coat of arms of Narbonne.
The dignitaries bear the titles of Grand Master, Master Consuls, Keeper of the Seal, Grand Argentier, Chambellan, Maître Echansons, Massier, Standard-bearer, Grand Ecuyère and Epistolier.
The origins of the Consulat de la Septimanie:
The consuls of Narbonne, dating from the 12th century, appear in history as delegates both of the « people » and of the « lords ». With two consulates, that of Bourg and that of the Cité, divided by the Canal de la Robine. They were the city’s « Collegial Executives ».
In 1338, the union of the two assemblies was granted by Philippe V, and confirmed by Louis XI in 1470. The consulat was an integral part of the history of Narbonne until the Revolution.
It was in 1963 that the Septimanie Consulat was created in the form of a 1901 Law Association by Henri Bouchous, then President of the Narbonne Chamber of Commerce. Thus is reborn the body of consuls of old, with the mission of promoting the wines of the Narbonne region.
In the past centuries, these wines, so sought after, could only be sold to those who deserved it, as shown in the letter of Philippe IV le Bel, of May 11, 1292, reminding the Consuls of Bourg and the Cité that ‘they had’ the faculty to carry and sell their wines, provided that it is not to the enemies of the kingdom ‘
The successive Grand Masters:
1st Grand Master: Henri BOUCHOUS from 1963 to 1973
2nd Grand Master: Jean-Marie HERPE from 1973 to 1986
3rd Grand Master: Michel LEUCK from 1986 to 2003
4th Grand Master: Georges SAVARIN de MARESTAN from 2003 – current