Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Cagots

Cagots, a race of outcasts scattered among the population of S.W. France during the Middle Ages. Probably they were the descendants of the remnant of the Visigoths who escaped destruction by Clovis, or perhaps of the Saracens vanquished by Charles Martel at Tours; or they may have been a race with a hereditary taint of leprosy - a view supported by some recent inquirers. No doubt inter-marriage developed hereditary weaknesses among them. They were only allowed to enter a church by a special door, to take holy water from a special receptacle, and were not even permitted to walk barefoot, for fear they should contaminate the streets. The testimony of seven Cagot witnesses was counterbalanced by that of one ordinary witness; they were not allowed to practise any trade save that of a carpenter or sawyer, and of course were prohibited from dwelling in towns. These disabilities lasted till the Revolution. Similar populations under different names were found in Brittany, Maine, Auvergne, and elsewhere, and traces are said still to exist in parts of the Pyrenees.

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