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Cendrine Marrouat Photography: Toulouse, France (4)

Toulouse is famous for its Capitouls.

The council of chief magistrates was born after Count Raymond IV's death (1152). Eight men were selected for a year to rule the state. The number increased to 12 in 1176 and 24 in 1222. Each of them represented a district of the city.

The Capitouls settled in the Capitole, the newly built town council headquarters. They "granted themselves the rights of police, trade, imposition and started some conflicts with the closest cities. Toulouse was usually victorious, extending the domination of the patria tolosana. Despite the intervention of the king, the administration of the Capitouls gave a relative independence to the city, for nearly 600 years, until the French Revolution." (Source: Wikipedia)

Only Catholic, married men of over 25 years of age, who owned a house in Toulouse and worked in a field like the law or trade could become Capitouls.

After a series of disasters, including the Black Plague, massive floods, and the Great Fire of 1463, Toulouse enjoyed a golden period known as the Pastel era (1463-1560):

"Pastel is the blue gold of Toulouse. During the Renaissance, it made the Toulouse merchants very wealthy. Today, pastel is again being used to colour textiles and in the manufacturing of cosmetic products, thanks to the dermatological properties of its oil." (Source: Office de Tourisme de Toulouse)

Many of the most beautiful private mansions -- "hôtels particuliers" -- were built in that era. The best example is Hôtel d'Assézat, near the Pont Neuf.

Unfortunately, woad was eclipsed by the discovery of indigo in India...