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Cal Rossa and Taús. Remembering the origins

Cal Rossa stands in the low part of the urban pattern of Taús. Before its restauration, it was formed by the house, the land, the court, the farmyard and the straw loft, the human and economic uses of the family.

The Rossa’s combined the cerealistic agriculture of rye, the vegetable garden and potatoes, basic for the family subsistance, with the cattle, first and basically of sheeps and after a while the bovine, used for meat and milk production.et.

The last residents of Cal Rossa were the siblings Sala i Jou. Their mother was Amàlia Jou Ros, Cal Rossa’s heir, and their father Francisco Sala Garreta, son of Cal Querolà from Taús.  The paternal grandfather was born in Pallerols de Rialb, formed by isolated houses situated near the kermes oak of piermont, from the antique Urgell’s county, in the Rialb’s barony

Amàlia’s parents were Antònio Jou Moncortés, born in Taús on the 4th august 1859, and Antònia Bosch i Ros, also from Taús. They got married in Sant julià’s church on the 12th April 1882. Antònio Jou’s father, named Ignasi, was from Aristot de Naviners, today deserted in the riverbank of Urgellet; and his mother, Rosa Montcortés Benavent, was born in Taús. Antònio Jou’s wife, Antònia Bosch, was born in Ca l’Anton del Ninou in Taús. Her father was Ton Bosch, from Taús, and her mother, Maria Rosa, natural from Aldosa de la Massana, in Andorra’s valley.

The father of Rosa Moncortés Benavent, named Antonio, was born in Taús, and her mother, Francisca in Benavent, from the near region of Pallars. The name of the house, Rossa, might come from an evolution of Rosa Moncortés’ name who was the first lady of the house. But it could aslo come from the surname of the daughter in law who became ladyof the house later, Ros, that feminized would be Rossa. Another theory would be a possible relation with the hair colour of any of the founders

Whatever the origin of the house’s name was, the Rossa’s built their home at the beginning of the XIX century at the foot of Taús. At that time, a moment of demographic expansion, the areas of expansion of Taús were to the ends of the village, concretely at its foot and near the crossroads of the cattle path and the way that lead to the Gerri de la Sal’s abbey, spiritual center in Pallars, with Organyà and the near valley of Aguilar and the Segre riverside.

Almost surely the Rossa family came from Moncortés and settled at the foot of Taús, as a setller or village family. These denominations were for the non heir children that had the chance to receive their inheritance with land, to setlle a new home in the village where they came from. They had a transhumant cattle and acces to the communals, this allowed their to have a good economic evolution, with the purchase of new lands and the relation with families from the same village or villages placed on sites from the cattle path, like Andorra and Pallerols de Rialb. On the other hand, the houses placed on the outsides of the village could have the chance to have the land and the farming facilities in the same place like their home. This fact did not happen inother homes of Taús, settled in different places from their lands and courts.

 

 

 

Taús, differently from other mountain villages of the country, has a late appearance in the historic documents. The decree of consecration of the carolingian Cathedral from Urgell, signed theorically on the 839, does not mention Taús and any of the other villages of the Aguilar valley, only Noves.

Though the decree is most likely a fake, it draws an ordered territory, a reality earlier or daily from the moment of its first redaction which wanted to falsify some aspects.

The first mention of Taús can be found in the second decree of consecration of Santa Maria d’Organyà, from the 3rd june 1090. on of the members that signed it was Ramón Guillem de Taús, a member of the nobility bonded to the castle that crowns the center of the actual village. The bishop had the feudal right. Probably Ramon Guillem itself would have given it to him. The cleric stablished in his last will that this feudal privilege should pass to his brother jointly with the one that had in Castellbò by the viscount. These assignments can be signed up in the incipient fight for the territory control by the nobility of this part of the mountain, leaded by the viscount from Alt Urgell or Castellbò and the Urgell church. All this happened when the holder of the jurisdictional power, the count of Urgell, centered its domains to the south, to the plain land, and let through sales and donations the concentration of an strong episcopal control to the North, that soon entered in competition with the viscounts of Castellbò, the other great lords of the mountain and their alies, among which the ones in Taús can be counted. The delivery of these honors to the bishop could be the result of an arbitration to try to balance strenghts between the church and the local nobility.

Bernat de Taús, that will succeed Ramon Guillem, already mentioned on the 1116 like his ancestor, was a noble man from the Urgell County, bonded to the county and viscomtal power. Bernat was one of the witnesses of the donation and sale by the count Ermengol IV of all his possessions in Andorra and the Arcavell castle to the bishop.

Guillem de Taús, Bernat’s successor, it’s mentioned on the 1160 in the donation in feudal right that the bishop Bernat Sanç did in the Somont castle, situated nearby la Seu d’Urgell, to the noble Berenguer de Berguedà. Guillem might become more close the Urgell church as a consequence from the donations of the North castles by the counties to the bishops, most likely as an answer to the growing instability situation.
Most likely, Taús castle would be built in a feudal time, in the XI century, probably above another more ancient military facility. The defense line of Taús castle, the Castles and Sauquet, formed a territory administrated by a noble of the count’s confidence, of a rank inferior to the viscount. The territorial sctructuring with castles allowed to fix and administrate the villages of the surroundings. The named villages, with Saucadell, were a term that remained the same during centuries until the addition of Taús township and the addition of la Guàrdia d’Ares to the township of Noves del Segre on the 1972. The township of Noves was modified on the 1984 and than was named Aguilar valley. Of the actual vast township, Castellàs and Taús were not a part of the historically Aguilar Valley itself.

The marriage of Ermengarda de Taús with Arnau of Caboet made the relationship of the Taús closer to the lords of the Cabó valley, men of the Urgell bishop’s confidence, and lors of a vast territorial control that extended by Sant Joan’s valley, Civís, Ars and Andorra, which they had from the bishop in feudal right.
The lords of Taús structured an administrative wire centralized by castles that controlled a big part of the herd way that goes down the Pyrenees to the plain, and algo de way that connected the actual Alt Urgell with the monastery of Gerri and its salines. The salt extracted was vital for the domestic and the consume of the herd, and above all for the fabrication of the precious sheep cheese. Apart from the feudal right and jurisdictional right they had over their lands, the Taús most likely had properties directy exploited and also herds that experienced an incipent transhumance with the flat earth.

The lady heir of the Caboet house,Arnaua, got married, against the bishops will, with the viscount Arnau de Castellbò. He expanded and consolidated every feud control that grew with time from the riverside of Noguera Pallaresa to the riverside of Segre, taking a big part of the actual Alt Urgell and Pallars. All of this happened in front of the frightened presence of the Urgell bishop, who proved that his vassals, the Caboet, fusionated with their enemies, the viscounts of Castellbò.

The viscount Arnau, that professed the catharism, married his lady heir, Ermessenda, with the count of Foix. The union of the Castellbò and Foix houses built powerful trans-Pyrenean and mountaineer feud control, with a swallow that after centuries ended ruling the reigns of Navarra and France.

The residents of the plateau of Taús, ranchers and farmers, consolidate the center of the actual village around the feudal castle. At the top of the village it’s still possible to see part of the castle remains, which was placed inside the facades of the old rectory and the Pedró house. Later in time, the castle structures must have grown down.

As we can check, the village of Taús owes its origin to the construction and later expansion of this feudal castle bonded to the viscount of Castellbò. A street of the village still has the name of Barbacana. During the XIX and early XX centuries some houses had a possible relation with the old structures of the castle. This is the case of Cal Ferrer de la Barbacana, cal Torra and cal Torreta.

Most likely, the first Taús parish was in Sant Martí, far from the village, earlier castle, and from the direct control from its feudal lord. The actual parish, church of Sant Julià, was built in modern times in the middle of the actual centre of the village. We have to say, that this temple already appears mentioned as a parish in the pastoral visit of 1546. Sant Julià it’s an old advocacy, that could be related to the dissapeared church previous to the current one.

As we’ve seen, the residents of Taús, that surely worked as ranchers before the feudal times, though it’s not remarked by any document, were as vassals a part of the territorial administration of the viscount of Castellbò. This was divided in five parts or quarters: Castellbò, that was center of the lords land; Castellciutat, focused in the old castle, property of the counts and with a control that went from the valley of Valira, agglutinating the valley of Sant Joan, Ars and Civis, and also Estamariu, the Bastida d’Ortons and Adraent; Organyà, with the valley of Cabó, Sellent, Montanissel and Coll de Nargó; Tírvia, with Vallferrera and Coma de Burg; and Tialb, with Llessui, valley of Àssua and Baiasca. Taús was in the Castellbò quarter and because of its importance was a mayoralty, though in the XVI century the mayor was the same in the viscounts.

At the end of the middle age, the residents of Taús should discuss its comunnal issues in a common reunion, and also to delegate a manager toe the general counsil of the viscounty, one of the government tools of that extensive and lordly adminsitrative entity. The counsil met regularly after the ring of the bell of the old collegiate church of Santa Maria from Castellbò, in the cemetery of this old church. Taús sent the manager, their consul, that was the actual mayor.

In the official documents of the XVI century, exactly on the 1512, named Espill Manifest of everything in the Castellbò viscounty, was redacted by the local notary Pere Tragó when this administrative entity was added to the Aragon crown by Ferdinand the catholic, after being separated by the force through a cruel war that caused the castle of Castellbò destruction, of all the peninsular control of the kings of Navarra and counts of Foix. The addition to the aragon crown caused the end of the relationship with the kings of Navarra, the descendents of the viscounts of Castellbò and the counts of Foix. Though it started to be a part of the royal administration of the aragon crown, the viscounty of Castellbò lasted as administrative entity until the elimination of the lord privileges and the territorial structure in provinces in 1833.

Taús had on 1512 the next family heads: Joan Coll also named Buseu, Joan Sauquet, Bertran Soler, Pere Oger, Jaume Montaner, Pont also named Pericas, Vicens Sala, Joan Porta, Joan Rocha also named Ramoneda, Joan Castell also named Toni, Joan Caruyda, Bartomeu Pericas also named Roquer, Joan Rocha also named Rochafort, Joan Montaner also named Soledevila, and Bernat also named Pericas. The family heads from the Castels were Bernat Capdevila, Joan Ramoneda, Matia Montaner and Pere Turbiàs also named Soler.
At the time of the redaction of Espill, Sauquet and Saucadell, the other centers of Taús with the Castles, were deserted, most likel due to a direct consecuente of the alimentary crisis of the XIV century and the bubonic plague, as also happened in other places in the country and all around europe. Another little place deserted in that time was the old Canturri house. Near Taús, in La Guàrdia, we can still see the bases of the old village of Tragó, today it’s in the municipality of Cabó, deserted since the XIV century.

The urban structure (around the old castle and being a part of it, in a crossroad of the ways that lead from Noves and Organyà, near the river Segre to Gerri de la Sal, and the herd way that followed the diving line of the Segre and La Noguera Pallaresa), gave importance to Taús as a place to stop and stay. On the other hand, the good pastures in the council and close to Boumort and Cantó, was good for the summer concentration of ranchers from the area and the outside.

These factors let specialized works not related necesarily to agriculture and ranching be stablished in the area; as for example doctors, surgeons, tailors, shoe makers and leather workers. Even the blacksmiths number is unusually high, 4 houses worked as blacksmiths in a village that had during its highest moment 1875 residents.

The importance and situation of Taús was so important that in some moments of the modern age was considered a village to some public institutions. As it was for a pastoral visit in the middle of the XVIII century. The monk that visited the parish described all the time Taús as a village.

The road construction after the Civil War allowed a change in the echonomic system: the introduction of the dairy cow and the sale of its milk to the cheese industry of La Seu d’Urgell. Dairy cows and sheeps shared the same space meantime the distance to the regional capital, even the existence of the road, and the lack of services accelerated the depopulation of the region until today, a small village that fight not to lose the memory or the breath of life that so many people has given them with sorrow and work.

 

Climent Miró i Tuset

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