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The Battle of Orthez

In 1808, Napoleon chased the Bourbons from Madrid and placed his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. This is a fatal decision. A bloody guerrilla fight undermines the French troops. Joseph had to leave Madrid pursued by Wellington's troops who, landed in Portugal, went back to Spain to inflict a severe defeat on the French at Vitoria in June 1813.

This defeat is decisive for the future of Pau.

The English army crosses the Bidassoa, occupies the Basque country and heads east. On February 27, 1814, on the heights of Orthez, 45,000 English soldiers found themselves facing 32,000 French soldiers, commanded by Soult.

Wellington's victory opens the road to Toulouse and the whole of the Southwest.

(Excerpt from the book "Le Cercle Anglais").

The beginnings of hunting

On May 18, 1814, Wellington's armies were at Pau.
The resemblance of the Bearn moors and their native lands quickly encouraged British cavalry officers to practice their favorite sport there: fox hunting.

When peace returned, many of them won over by the sweetness of life in Béarn returned to settle there.

Béarn has long had the privilege of retaining the only fox hunting crew, the "Hunting", of English and Irish tradition, the "Pau Hunt Drags". The story of this crew today uhistory in continental Europe merges with that of its "Masters" and the great riders who took part in it.

1840 - Le Pau Hunt Drags

theColonel WhiteandSir Henry Oxendenat their head, they form a crew: the Pau Hunt Drags was born
and war is declared on the foxes of the country.

Lord Oxendenthe founder was like all the English colony seduced by the Bearn landscape which reminded him not of England as is too often said but of the south of Ireland, a region very favorable to this sport of obstacles which is hunting. fox. As in Southern Ireland, the Pau moors of the time, planted with touyas guaranteed the perfect flexibility of the soil, never marshy, never frozen. 

In addition, the small Béarnaise properties were closed off by embankments, veritable small earthen walls surrounded by ditches, which constituted remarkable natural obstacles. The peasants, for their part, were delighted to be rid of the foxes which swarmed. Convinced that it was necessary to take advantage of these advantages as soon as possible.Lord Oxendenbrought in superb English horses and a pack of fox hounds and so the Pau Hunt Drags began its activities.

Unfortunately, the passion that the master had for his wife was more violent than that which the hunt inspired in him. WhenLady Oxendendied in 1842 her husband ordered the slaughter of the horses fed to the pack which was also to be executed after this feast.Dupontthe unfortunate piqueur who received this order did not have the courage to go through with his gesture. He saved twelve pairs of dogs. Thanks to them the Pau Hunt was able to live again andDupontserved him until his death.

The Masters which succeededLord Oxendenshared his taste for Béarn but they quickly discovered that the hunts had to stop at the end of March at the risk of seeing the horses contract touya fever in the event of heat.

Under the Second Empire the Pau Hunt was definitely launched. From that moment on, he welcomed distinguished guests such as theDuke of HamiltonwhoseNapoleon IIIlent the castle of Pau so that he could treat his guests honourably. (Pau Horse and tradition)

However, the Pau Hunt experienced a serious crisis in 1880.Count of Bari, son of the last king of the Two Sicilies,Ferdinand II, moved to Pau in 1879. He set up his pack and organized his own hunts, twice a week, competing with the Pau Hunt, so much so that in April 1880, the masterJohn Stewartresigns and the Company is dissolved. Aware of the damage that this situation could cause to the tourist season, Mr. de Monpezat, mayor of Pau, has the city bear the cost of staff and the maintenance of the pack while waiting for a solution._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

Gordon Bennettthe owner of the New York Herald Tribune, unblocks the situation. He arrived at Pau station on November 30. After a meeting at the Town Hall with the Count of Bari, the two members merge. The Pau Hunt is reconstituted andGordon Bennettbecomes interim master: he bears the expenses of the crew.

On December 5, he chairs themeetat Allées de Morlaàs. The seventy riders present set off from Andoins. At the end of thisrun, only ten remain in the saddle, includingGordon Bennettto whom is given thebrush(tail of the fox). (The English Circle)

Some Masters honored

It is impossible to pay tribute to all these boatswains. It should simply be noted that they were first English then American. A French finally obtained this title from 1893 to 1896, theBaron Lejeunestud officer. He helped to calm the timidity of the Béarnais who feared and laughed at the snobbery of the English colony. From 1896 to 1899, it was atBaron d'Esteof being a Master, his scrapbook (to be discovered partially below) testifies to all the activities of sporting life in Pau and the hunting appointments of the Pau Hounds, which he had carefully cut out and composed on more than five hundred pages!
This precious document is a nugget of historical information!

We certainly appreciated the generosity ofMH RidwayMaster in 1901 but we smiled while contemplating the gigantic stables which adjoined his villa Sainte-Hélène and which were intended to be a replica of those of Chantilly.

It was not Condé who wants, they said, but it was ultimately only superficial irony. In any case, the Béarnais now had a place in the crew, modest in number but nevertheless one of the most brilliant. No one disputed that theBaron de Palaminywas the best rider in the Pau Hunt and that his sheartMarion de Palaminycannot compete with the English amazons.

FH Prince and Henri de Vaufreland

The susceptibilities seemed completely calmed whenF.H. Prince, an American industrialist, became Master of the Pau Hunt in 1901. He was to remain so for thirty years. His considerable fortune allowed him to maintain an exceptional stable which his friends took advantage of to hunt alongside him and to receive every Saturday during the season, the full crew, in evening dress "red coat" of rigor for the Gentlemen :Edward VII, theprince henry,Alfonso XIIIand a number of archdukes thus profited by his hospitality. He was assisted in his duties by his Joint Master, a very distinguished AnglophileViscount Henri de Vaufreland. This one contributed by his friendly availability to bring down the last prejudices which still separated the Anglo-American sportsmen from their French counterparts.F.H. Princedid as much for the reputation of the city as the mayor of Pau,Alfred de Lasenceone day exclaimed:My dear Master, we will erect a statue for you next to that of Henri IV.".

F.H. Prince, lucid, replied with a strong American accent: "Yes but in small plou".

Shortly after, he had the pain of losing his sonnorman, died for the Allied cause in the ranks of the Lafayette squadron. An avenue in Pau now bears his name.