A little history of Pont-Saint-Esprit bridge

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The bridge - ©ignis / CC-BY-SA The bridge - ©ignis / CC-BY-SA
Pont-Saint-Esprit bridge Bridge

Raising bridges

Pont-Saint-Esprit was called Saint-Saturnin-du-Port in the Middle Ages. From September 1265, Alphonse of Poitiers (king of France saint Louis’ brother) launched the construction of a bridge over the river Rhône.

Don Jean de Tensanges, prior of Saint-Saturnin-du-Port and lord of the city, laid down the first stone of the bridge on the left bank of the river. Special monks raised it: Who? Bridge-building brotherhood! Religious who made vow to build roads and bridges, to ease travelers’ life! In French, we call them pontifes, from pont, ″bridge″!

A bridge over the Rhône

The bridge was only completed in 1309… The book L'art de vérifier les dates des faits historiques, des chartes, des chroniques et autres anciens monuments, depuis la naissance de Notre-Seigneur (part 9) says that Saint-Saturnin’s inhabitants raised that bridge and named it Saint-Esprit (″Holy Spirit″), because they drew their inspiration directly from Heaven… well, well, well!

Hey, by the way… What does this bridge looks like? He’s 1000 metres long, he has 22 semicircular arches. In the 17th century, two gates used to close the two tips.

Petit blanc!

King Philippe the Fair ordered in 1310 to use the believers’ charities to maintain the bridge. And he did something, too: he created the petit blanc, a special tax which took ″5 crowns for each gramme of salt which goes up the river Rhône. In 1737, it was equivalent to 10000 livres a year″, says the book L'art de vérifier les dates des faites historiques, part 9.

And also!