A little history of Bernuy townhouse

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The courtyard - ©Balmario / CC-BY-SA The courtyard - ©Balmario / CC-BY-SA
Bernuy townhouse Town house

The foundations


Well, Juan de Bernuy, governor of Burgos, was a Spanish chap who came in Toulouse to try his luck, to trade pastel (woad). The Bernuy became one of the richest family in Toulouse! Juan even became mayor of his own district and owned several lands in the area.

The tradition said that our man even paid king François I’s ransom, who was kept prisoner in Italy: he even welcomed him few years later, here, in his house! This city house was raised on the foundations of the old hôtel des Balances, bought in the beginning of the 16th century by sir de Belbèze.

A city house completely altered by architects Guillaume and Jean Langlois, for Juan: they raised the high, high staircase tower (the city’s highest tower, higher than cathedral St-Sernin’s bell-tower!). In the past, the façade overlooking the street was crowned by crenelates and machicolations, destroyed in the beginning of the 19th century.

In the second courtyard, the entrance door is crowned by an angel holding a banner with Bernuy’s device: Si deus pro nobis, "God is with us". What’s amazing here, it’s this high hexagonal tower raised by Mériog-Cayla. A period document said that Bernuy was allowed to raise a tower higher than king’s prosecutor’s tower! Well, Bernuy was a mighty city mayor, after all...

The transformations


In 1530, Bernuy asked architect Louis Privat to re-raised the first courtyard, with nice arcades. In 1533, the house was completed and Juan welcomed king François I with great pomp!

Historian Dumède wrote: “In 1533, the king, on August 4th, had dinner at Mr. de Bernuy. Queen also came with about 100 ladies from the Court, and Bernuy gathered here the most beautiful women from Toulouse.”

They red a Royal poem to the king, wrote on purpose for this occasion: Quand l'astre des saisons sur la céleste voûte, Epand le feu plus vif de ses rayons plus dorés, Et qu'alors le printemps revient marquer sa route Par les Champs verdoyants et de fleurs diaprés, Alors du Languedoc l'honneur et la merveille, La rose entrouvre aux yeux sa robe vermeille, which deals about Languedoc's springtime, flowers and meadows...

Then, after Juan de Bernuy died, his son lived in the house. Then a Jesuit school moved here in 1566, dissolved in 1762. The townhouse nowadays houses the high school Pierre de Fermat, so we can’t visit the interior!

 

 


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