Deed of Habitation
In the name of God Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen. The year of incarnation one thousand five hundred and nineteen, and the thirteenth day of October..... Joyfully reigned the very Christian prince, François, by the Grace of God King of France and Count of Provence....
Thus began the Deed of Habitation agreed between Dom Antoine Taxil, the worker monk from the Lérins monastery on the Saint Honorat island off Cannes, who was prior of the Valbonne abbey and lord of the manor. There followed a list of the recipients, details of the location and how what was listed was to be shared out and, finally, a list of the assets that were reserved by the prior.
Here are some clauses from the Deed of Habitation:
The members of the community of Valbonne are required to pay an annual pension to the lord prior of 600 florins, in three instalments due at Christmas, the 1st of May and the day of Saint Michel.
These men can farm the pastures and use the mills and ovens, but their tenure is precarious and dependent on payment of the pension. They must pay a toll to the prior of a 15th of the annual harvest of wheat, rye, lentils, beans, chickpeas and other grains or vegetables including the hemp, flax and grapes grown on their plots.
The 112 houses and their stables will be exempt of rental charges, but the prior must authorise any new construction.
Each year, on All Saints Day, the men will pay two liards (farthings) for the vegetable patches allocated to them.
The prior of the abbey has the right to a tithe on the land in the Devenson area. He will be allocated a 13th of all grain and vegetables and a 20th of the hemp, flax and grapes grown there.
In other quarters of the commune, the right to a tithe is held by either the monastery of Lérins or by the bishop of Antibes. The prior holds the right to control the passage of livestock along a route that he chooses. Livestock is allowed to stay only one day and one night.
Residents of the commune should mill wheat and other grains without payment at the local mills in sufficient quantities to supply the lord of the manor, his household and his servants. They must grind and press the olives from the lord's land without being paid and they must bake in the village ovens sufficient bread for the lord's household whenever required.
The lord of the manor reserves the right to use water from the millstream and from the spring to water his pastures and gardens on Tuesdays and Fridays. He also reserves the right to a tax on all the fish, either fresh or salted, and on all the earthenware and glass jars sold in Valbonne by people from outside the commune.
The church of Notre Dame will be the parish church and is made available to the commune for that purpose. The lord will maintain in the church a chaplain and a clerk at his expense. The priest will be required to officiate at the church, to celebrate Mass on Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays and to educate the parishioners. In addition, the parishioners have the right to appoint an assistant "people's priest" who will assist the priest at services and who will celebrate Mass on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The commune may install a butchery, a baker's shop and tax them for its own benefit, providing that the prior is not involved. Individuals have the right to keep taverns and hotels.
The commune may rent out the mill, the oven and other communal possessions and the income is to be used for the common good. Individuals are not allowed to posses a mill or an oven exclusively for their own use, except for a myrtle mill or a mill turned by manpower.
In view of the lack of sand in the area, any inhabitant who discovers a supply on his plot is obliged to sell the sandpit to the commune at a fair price as soon as requested, so that the sand can be extracted for public use.
The lord of the major reserves the right to receive the entire head, including its ears and its fur, of every wild boar that has been hunted, a quarter from a deer or a hart caught in a net, and a haunch from those killed by arrows from crossbows.
The men of the community must begin to construct their house on the allocated site within four months of the lots being designated and must have them habitable by Saint Michael's Day. They are to build the village, its houses, streets, walls, entrance gates and ovens according to plans supplied by the prior.
The beauty and decor of the roads and thoroughfares must be safeguarded. Nobody may construct on the public rights of way any stairs, canopies, or cornices, on the front of houses or elsewhere, that project further than one and a half hand widths. If such protrusions are built the lord is entitled to have them destroyed, even if they have been in place for a long time.