La Gimbrère was a seigneurie, that is a manor for a nobleman, a manor with privileges. The associated noble title was seigneur or lord. A seigneur became knight, chevalier, or in Latin miles, only after active par­­ticipation in military actions. At a meeting of the nobility of the county of Fezensac in Justian in 1286 Ber­trand de Lagimbrera, miles, was present. The rights and freedoms that the Count would grant to his feudal tenants were being discussed. A few years later the rights and freedom where actually laid down. Documented was for example the judicial competence of the nobility. Specific rules were given for kinds of criminal offence, punishments and the appointment of judges and bailiffs.

The Count and his four Barons had the highest jurisdiction, la haute justice. After that followed the nobles who were owner of a castrum antiquum et populatum seu castellaria nobilia et antiqua, a very old fortified and inhabited place or very old noble castle. They possessed la moyenne justice (the middle juris­dic­tion). The rest of the nobility possessed only a very limited jurisdiction: la basse justice. In a trial in 1544 la Gimbrère shows to have possessed la moyenne justice. This and the fact that miles Bertrand de Lagimbrera, joined the meeting in 1286 in Justian indicates that la Gimbrère had a knightly fortification, that then already was considered to be ancient. Knowing the style of fortification in the 10th – 12th centuries probably was initially a motte-and-bailey castle.

A motte castle with court or bailey
The salle noble of Lesquère (Lectoure, Gers) On the left the changes from later centuries

A vassal had obligations to his feudal lord, in particular to provide military assistance. In 1639 it is documented that the lord of la Gimbrère, then Louis de Troncens, seigneur de Blousson et de La­gim­brere), stayed away from an arms inspection in the county of Fezensac. Apparently, he could not buy off his service, what would have meant the end of his ownership of the manor. In 1656 a Jacques de Philip seigneur de Lagimbrere appears in a notarial deed. And we found that in 1741 the last lord of la Gimbrère, Pierre de Philip de Lantian, écuyer, seigneur de la Gimbrère, passed away. The middle-class family Bedout from Jegun bought the estate and named itself (Bedout) Lagimbrere, but the existence of the noble manor came to an end.

Was there a castle of Gimbrère? Well, in a certain way. There is evidence for the existence of a “motte castle”, although it must have been a modest version. There is evidence, also architectural, that a successor, a kind of residential tower, in French a salle noble, has existed. In the Gers many of this type of towers can be found. Like the towers that were built in the Netherlands in the period of 1250-1350 they have a limited defensive character. They were mainly built as a status symbol for the gentry. In the court order of 1544, la Gimbrère is called a salle noble. Nowadays only a few salle nobles are recognizable in their original form. Most of them are transformed into a bigger castle or a country house

One of us has had a guided visit in the present house by monsieur Michel Porterie, one of the owners. His brother Bernard Porterie has a forge (Les Forges de la Gimbrère) on the site. During a recent renovation of the house a wall became visible with brickwork that was typical for the 13th century. Nowadays it is an inner wall, but then it was one of the outer walls. What in first sight seems to be a homogenous country house, is in fact a good example of a salle noble, that became unrecognizable by all extensions and additions. La Gimbrère, too, has apparently experienced various phases of construction, partial destruction, repair and addition.

The present house with the company Les Forges de la Gimbrère