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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cagot \Ca`got"\ (k[.a]`g[-o]"), n. [F.] One of a race inhabiting the valleys of the Pyrenees, who until 1793 were political and social outcasts (Christian Pariahs). They are supposed to be a remnant of the Visigoths.


n. (context historical English) A member of a persecuted minority in south-western France.(attention en expand this def: persecuted religious minority? ethnic minority? what?)


The Cagots were a persecuted and despised minority found in the west of France and northern Spain: the Navarrese Pyrenees, Basque provinces, Béarn, Aragón, Gascony and Brittany. Their name has differed by province and the local language: Cagots, Gézitains, Gahets, and Gafets in Gascony; Agotes, Agotak, and Gafos in Basque country; Capots in Anjou and Languedoc; and Cacons, Cahets, Caqueux, and Caquins in Brittany. Evidence of the group exists back as far as AD 1000.

Cagots were shunned and hated. While restrictions varied by time and place, they were typically required to live in separate quarters in towns, called cagoteries, which were often on the far outskirts of the villages. Cagots were excluded from all political and social rights. They were not allowed to marry non-Cagots, enter taverns, hold cabarets, use public fountains, sell food or wine, touch food in the market, work with livestock, or enter the mill. They were allowed to enter a church only by a special door, and during the service, a rail separated them from the other worshippers. Either they were altogether forbidden to partake of the sacrament, or the Eucharist was given to them on the end of a wooden spoon, while a holy water stoup was reserved for their exclusive use. They were compelled to wear a distinctive dress, to which, in some places, was attached the foot of a goose or duck (whence they were sometimes called "Canards"). So pestilential was their touch considered that it was a crime for them to walk the common road barefooted or to drink from the same cup as non-Cagots. The Cagots were often restricted to the trades of carpenter, butcher, and rope-maker.

The Cagots were not an ethnic group, nor a religious group. They spoke the same language as the people in an area and generally kept the same religion as well. Their only distinguishing feature was their descent from families identified as Cagots. Few consistent reasons were given as to why they should be hated; accusations varied from Cagots being cretins, lepers, heretics, cannibals, to simply being intrinsically evil. The Cagots did have a culture of their own, but very little of it was written down or preserved; as a result, almost everything that is known about them relates to their persecution. Their cruel treatment lasted through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Industrial Revolution, with the prejudice fading only in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Usage examples of "cagot".

All around and above them, wet and dripping, the walls were encrusted with aragonite crystals that glittered as Le Cagot moved the flare back and forth.

He was used to moving through caves freely, leading and carrying minimal weight, while the powerful Le Cagot bore the brunt of their gear.

Le Cagot would now be at the most difficult feature of the ascent, a double dihedron at meter point 44.

Le Cagot, a bull of strength and endurance despite his fifty years, always went down first, sweeping up as he made his slow descent, clearing ledges and dihedrons of loose rock and rubble that could be knocked off by the cable and kill a man in the shaft.

And it was galling to the priest that young Basque cavers, boys who should have chosen their idols from the ranks of the priesthood, told stories of his spelunking exploits and of the time he had crossed with Le Cagot into Spain and broken into a military prison in Bilbao to release ETA prisoners.

His body instinctively tightened in kinesthetic sympathy for Le Cagot.

The name he gave to his persona was borrowed from the Cagots, an ancient pariah race of untouchables who had practiced a variant of Christianity which brought down upon them the rancor and hatred of their Basque neighbors.

The Cagots sought relief from persecution through a request to Pope Leo X in 1514, which was granted in principle, but the restrictions and indignities continued to the end of the nineteenth century, when they ceased to exist as a distinct race.

Hel and Le Cagot took turns down in the shaft, clearing rubble from the narrow ledges, chipping off sharp outcroppings that threatened to abrade the cable, breaking down the triangular wedges of boulders that blocked off the shaft.

All around and above them, wet and dripping, the walls were encrusted with aragonite crystals that glittered as Le Cagot moved the flare back and forth.

The poet in Le Cagot had confected for himself the role of the miles gloriosus, the Falstaffian clown—but with a unique difference: his braggadocio was founded on a record of reckless, laughing courage in numberless guerrilla actions against the fascist who oppressed his people in Spain.

When they were together on the flat slab just after the crawl between two counterbalanced boulders that was later to be known as the Keyhole, Le Cagot struck off a magnesium flare, and the stygian chaos of that great cavern was seen for the first time in the numberless millennia of its existence.

I know that I am free to go to Bayonne or Paris whenever I wish—and I have a good time when I do go—but day to day, despite your attention and the delights of your conversation, and despite the bawdy energy of our friend Le Cagot, it is lonely for a woman whose interests and appetites have been so closely honed as mine have been.

Because their misshapen bodies were considered funny, they became the strolling musicians and entertainers of their time, and most of what is now called Basque folk art and folklore was created by the despised Cagots.

Le Cagot had snatched open the door of the bathing room and entered, bringing unwelcomed cool air with him.