About Fort de Pitrès
Guiche was captured by the armies of the King of France on December 15, 1449, and Pitrès surrendered the next day. Bayonne was taken on August 20, 1451. The region and probably Pitrès were ceded to the Gramont family in 1485. The oldest text in our possession which quotes Pitrès, is an act of 24 September 1580 of the trustee of the Bayonne Chapter. At the time of the Renaissance, Fort de Pitrès was embellished with mullioned windows, but successive conservators have preserved the loopholes on the 2nd floor and the watchtower located on the west façade, which bear witness to its military origins.
The owners of Pitrès that we are able to trace are:
• In 1580 Bernard de Cruchette, who was a master carpenter of ships
• In 1678 Bernard of Commarieu
• In 1680 Jean de Bruix
• In 1720 Jean-Louis de Rol Montpellier
Bayonne mayors have come from these last three families, which proves both the noble nature of Pitrès and the wealth that was derived from the exploitation of its lands and the Bac. The oldest map where Pitrès is mentioned is the partition map of Saudan, April 10, 1639 between the Duke of Gramont, Bayonne and Urt. The domain of Pitrès was attached to the chapter of Urt and the island of Pitrès is thus historically a Basque land. Since the French revolution Pitrès is administratively attached to the village of Saint Laurent de Gosse but remains on the religious plan attached to the village of Urt.
The County of Beaumont-le-Roger was granted by King Charles II "the Evil" of Navarre-Evreux in favour of his brother Infante Luis I of Navarre-Evreux who had married the Duchess Jeanne de Durazzo, sister-in-law of King Charles III of Naples "the Little". His son Carlos I of Beaumont-le-Roger had married Anne Curten (Curton) Lady of Guiche (Guissens). He received in 1406 from King Henry IV of England certain rights to tolls on the river Adour. His son Luis II of Beaumont-le-Roger married Juana, illegitimate daughter of the King of Navarre, Carlos III "the Noble", who gave him the title of Count of Lerin. In turn, King Henry VI of England raised to the rank of Count of the Lordship of Guiche (August 8, 1444), renewed or confirmed by King Charles IX of France in December 1563. It is thanks to this excellent relationship between the Navarrese Beaumonts and the Kings of England that they received the "Fort de Pitrès" on an Adour island in front of Urt.
The title of Count of Beaumont-le-Roger was removed to the Navarrese Beaumont in 1378 by King Charles V "the Wise" in the context of the Hundred Years War because of the amicable agreements and collaboration between his brother-in-law Charles II of Navarre-Evreux and the kings of England. The “English Admiral” is Earl William (born 1312, 5th son of Humphrey, Earl of Hereford) who married (1335) Elizabeth of Badlesmere. William was created 6th Earl of Northampton in 1337.
He was present at the Battle of Sluys on 24 June 1340. He sailed to Brittany as King Edward III's Lieutenant in the summer of 1345. He fought in the 1st division, which was led by the Black Prince, at the Battle of Crecy (26th August 1346), and participated in the Siege of Calais. He was invested Knight of the Garter in 1349. He took part in the victory over the Spanish fleet off Winchelsea (August 1350), and in October was made Warden of the Scottish Marches. He was Admiral of the Fleet in the North. He was in Artois with Edward III (1355) and took part in the Expedition to France. William died the 6 of September 1360.
Sources: Atlas of the Historical and Cultural Patrimony of the kingdoms, counties and viscounts under the authority of Catalina I of Navarre Foix-Grailly-Béarn, LeBrel Blanco Foundation and www.mauriceboddy.org.uk
Located on the island of Pitrès at a strangulation of the branch of the river on the side of Landes
which was progressively filled by the alluvium of the Adour,
Fort Pitrès was able to control navigation on the Adour. Moreover, at the moment
when the river flow reversed, it was relatively easy to cross by ferry.
Fort de Pitrès history dates back to the 14th Century. According to oral tradition the fort was built by
the English admiral “de Pitrès” when the region belonged to the Earl of Beaumont,
a Navarrese lord under English rule. It was one of fifteen forts around Guiche castle
covering Bayonne which was under British rule at the time.