XVIth

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The 16th century

Blavet, like most other cities in the duchy, profited from the change of the social structure. Small landowners became more and more numerous and craftsmen and small shopkeepers populated the suburbs of the town.
In 1553, a new chapel dedicated to St Pierre, took the place of the romanesque chapel nearly in ruins. It was a small, sober and elegant building.
This chapel was pulled down in 1859 to be replaced by the present St Pierre 's, which keeps some of the old statues, particularly a Christ-with-bonds, and a St Pierre.
The port installations of Blavet remained very rudimentary in spite of the noticeable increase in the traffic. A dry - stone causeway called "the great causeway", a few meters long, jutted into the sea .
Low tonnage boats ran aground on the beach while the bigger ones anchored and unloaded their cargoes into launches plying between them and the coast .
The Driasker bay that offered a well sheltered stretch of water next to the carpenters and caulkers, was inexorably silting up with the mud brought by the Blavet River and mostly with the ballast left by the trading-boats riding at anchor to get their cargoes on board.

The religious wars (1562-1598)
In Lower Brittany, because of the osmosis between the congregations and the numerous low-clergy sharing the same socio-cultural values, Protestantism could hardly settle in. The language spoken there was an additional obstacle to the search of God in the Holy Scriptures. Paradoxically it is from the League that Blavet is going to suffer.

The League in Brittany.
Ever since 1563, brotherhoods and societies had sprung up in different parts of the kingdom, committing themselves to living according to the Catholic religion and to helping each other in case of Protestant insurrection. These defensive movements, mainly religious in the beginning, turned into political ones after the Saint Barthelemy massacres (1572) and tried to mobilize the Catholics headed by the Guise family .
In 1573, the people from Blavet distinguished themselves by fitting out, spontaneously and at their own expense, a flotilla that went to give assistance to the royal troops besieging La Rochelle kept by the Protestants. When the duke of Anjou who was at the head of the royal troops there, became later on King of France under the name of Henri III, he acknowledged their help by bestowing upon Blavet the privilège of the Papegaut in 1575..

Brittany was not very concerned by the League movements. But in 1582, the Duke of Mercoeur, was appointed governor of Brittany by his brother-in-law, Henri III. He was a staunch Catholic but with a wily nature.
After Henri de Guise's assassination in 1588 and Henri III's in 1589, tensions were in a paroxysm. As Henri III was childless, his rightful heir was the Protestant Henri de Navarre.
The Leaguers excluded "a priori" any non-catholic prince and gave their close support to those among them who were candidates for the throne.
Philippe III, King of Spain was no less ambitious. He claimed the throne of France and the duchy of Brittany for his daughter, Infanta Isabel, arguing she was the granddaughter of Henri II, grandson of Anne de Bretagne.

The people of Blavet, devoted to the King, declined the Leaguers' solicitations, particularly those coming from Jerome d'Arradon, the commander of Hennebont fortress, and in their town they welcomed the Seigneur de Coëtcourson, a partisan of Henri IV. The Duke of Mercoeur, came personally to attack Blavet. His troops got exhausted vainly on the retrenchment closing the isthmus, for the whole population was heroically taking part in the defence of the town.

But then three or four vessels disembarked soldiers from Mercoeur's party into the besieged city. The inhabitants were cut into pieces, without any account of age or sex, any possibility of running away, their only choice being to die either by the sword or by drowning.
The "guerze" (lament in breton) of Locperan has kept the remembrance of this slaughter. Mercoeur had what was left of the town set on fire (only the new church escaped the flames) then he offered the destroyed city to the Spanish with whom he was hand in glove. Conscious of the exceptional strategic position of Blavet, the Spanish brought an army of six thousand soldiers under the authority of Don Juan del Aguila. The old walls of the land-front were rapidly restored, doubled and completed with a fortress, (el fuerte del Aguila, (the Fort of the Eagle), right where the present citadel is For the people of Blavet, the Spanish occupation, which lasted from 1590 up to 1598, was a very gloomy period of acts of piracy, plunder and fires set to farms and cruelty towards the inhabitants. In the meantime Henri IV was trying to reconquer his kingdom. His military successes and his recent conversion rallied a certain number of leaguers to his party, among them the Arradon family. He was considering the attack of the Spanish entrenched in Blavet and had committed this task to the Marshall de Brissac when fortunately, on May 2nd 1598, the Vervins Treaty putting an end to the hostilities between France and Spain, relieved the people of Blavet from a siege to be and allowed Henri IV to receive a fortress without fighting.
Mercoeur submitted at last to the King who sealed this gesture by the wedding of his legitimised son, César de Vendôme, to the Duke of Mercoeur's daughter. The Duke handed over the government of Brittany to the King, in favour of César.

A peace era seemed to begin, King Henri IV ordered the dismantling of the Fort of the Eagle…

last modification : 05 26 2005