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Cendrine Marrouat Photography: Toulouse, France (5)

The end of the Pastel era saw the birth of French Wars of Religion. Those lasted for more than three decades -- until the publication of the Edict of Nantes (1598).

In 1562, street riots between Huguenots and Catholics claimed 3,000 lives. In the Saint-Georges district, 200 houses were burned.

During the second part of the 16th century, the local Inquisition continued its combat against heresy, burning at least 18 Protestants alive. The University of Toulouse, a centre of humanistic ferment, also reached the incredible number of 10,000 students!

Two plague epidemics hit Toulouse hard in 1629 and 1652. Those events forced the city and local parliament to cooperate in order to help victims:

"Most of the clergy and the wealthy left the city, but doctors were required to stay. Starvation led the remaining Capitouls to prevent the butchers and bakers from leaving.

La Grave Hospital accommodated those affected by the epidemic, quarantining them. The Pré des Sept Deniers also accepted many patients under hazardous conditions. Before closing its gates, the city attracted the poor with a medical infrastructure offering more hope than the countryside.

In 1654, when the second epidemic ended, the city was devastated. However, during plague-free periods two major projects were completed: the Pont-Neuf in 1632 and the Canal du Midi in 1682. Famine occurred in 1693." (Source: Wikipedia)

In the 18th century, Toulouse became a leading city in the field of law. It also took advantage of its new city planner.

Louis de Mondran designed parks inspired by English painters and philosophers, three of which still exist today -- the Boulingrin (or Grand Rond), the Jardin des Plantes, and the Jardin Royal.

The Cours Dillon, the façade du Capitole (1750-1760), and the Canal de Brienne (1770-1776) were also built during that century.

One major event shook the city in the 1760s. It is still remembered to this day.

One day, Jean Calas, a Protestant merchant living in Toulouse, found his eldest son dead in the family home. Despite the family claiming murder then suicide, rumours quickly spread that the father had killed him. Overwhelming evidence showed that only suicide was possible. Nevertheless, the court in Toulouse would not change its verdict.

"Calas was tortured in an attempt to get him to admit that he was guilty. His arms and legs were stretched until they pulled out of their sockets. Thirty pints (more than 17 litres) of water were poured down his throat. He was tied to a cross in the cathedral square where each of his limbs were broken twice by an iron bar. Yet with all this torture he continued to declare his innocence.

On March 9, 1762 the parlement (regional court) of Toulouse sentenced Jean Calas to death on the wheel. On March 10, at the age of 64, he died tortured on the wheel, while still very firmly claiming his innocence." (Source: Wikipedia)

Doubts about Calas' guilt remained. Voltaire launched a vigorous press campaign that led to his posthumous exoneration in 1765. The Calas family also received monetary compensation.

(The Calas Home still exists. It is located at 50 rue des Filatiers.)

After the French Revolution and the creation of départements in 1790, Toulouse lost some of its power. Rival city Bordeaux got the advantage...