De Les Cagots

The Cagots

In the Middle Ages, Cagots were a French population wrongly accused of carrying diseases. Because of those accusations they were despised, humiliated, persecuted and marginalized from society. They were forced to live only among themselves, outside the villages and had to wear distinguishing features, mainly the red foot of a goose sewn to their clothes.

They were forbidden to be armed, to mingle with the rest of the population and even to be married. In churches, specific spaces were reserved for them (small entrance forcing them to bend down, path marked with goose feet, specific stoup etc.). The host was given to them from a distance with a stick and they weren’t authorized to receive sacraments. Most occupations were forbidden to them, apart from the work of wood. They were often carpenters (we especially owe them the framework of Notre-Dame recently burned down). They were not in control of their economy, were prohibited from trading and forced to work at imposed rates, sometimes derisory, not to say for free. Their word had almost no value. During trials, the cumulative word of seven Cagots was worth the voice of a single citizen.

After several centuries of struggle, the Cagots obtained a gradual rehabilitation, to finally be considered as full citizens during the French Revolution before being fully reinstated and melted into the population. With hindsight, historians explain this injustice only through the irrational fear of illness.

If you too are a Cagot, use the sticker to display your goose foot!