The Causses and the Cévennes
The Causses and the Cévennes were traveled, traversed, and inhabited since the Neolithic period (5,000 BC) by numerous and diverse populations, which notably raised livestock. In the Roman era, Cicero mentioned the “pecuarii” (livestock farmers) of Narbonnaise who practiced “l'estive” (their herds would graze on the pastures of mountain) as did the Languedoc herdsmen. A passage in “The life of Saint Benedict of Aniane” allows us to deduct that monks practiced the raising of sheep and transhumance from very early on. Starting in the 11th century, the monastic orders (Benedict, Cistercians) and the religious and military orders (Templar, Hospitaller) received mountain land to cultivate and graze the herds of the low country, besides the resident herds. Between the 17th and the 18th century, agro-pastoralism was characterized by small tenant farmer owners renting themselves out as 'brassiers' (Cereal, breeding 30 to 50 ewes for the fertilizer, wool, milk and meat); large domains were in the hands of nobles and the bourgeois, (Cereal, breeding 200 to 300 ewes for the fertilizer, wool, and cheese); and numerous peasants and proletariats without their own land resources, worked patches of land on the municipal and communal plots and offered their physical labor.