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Hautefaye eg3.JPG
The church in Hautefaye
Location of Hautefaye
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Coordinates: 45°32′15″N0°29′39″E / 45.5375°N 0.4942°E / 45.5375; 0.4942 Coordinates: 45°32′15″N0°29′39″E / 45.5375°N 0.4942°E / 45.5375; 0.4942
Country France
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Department Dordogne
Arrondissement Nontron
Canton Périgord Vert Nontronnais
  Mayor (20082014) Francis Michel Donnary
12.47 km2 (4.81 sq mi)
 (2016-01-01) [1]
  Density11/km2 (28/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
24209 /24300
Elevation139–206 m (456–676 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Hautefaye is a commune in the Dordogne department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in south-western France. It gained particular notoriety for a mob attack and murder of an innocent man, Alain de Moneys, at the time of the Franco-Prussian War, in mid-August 1870.

The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy or ayuntamiento in Spain. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

Dordogne Department of France in Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Dordogne is a department in Southwestern France, with its prefecture in Périgueux. The department is located in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees and is named after the river Dordogne that runs through it. It corresponds roughly with the ancient county of Périgord. It had a population of 416,909 in 2013.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.



Killing of Alain de Monéys

On 16 August 1870, France was losing the war against Prussia. Within three weeks, Emperor Napoleon III would be captured by the enemy and his regime overthrown by a self-proclaimed Government for National Defence.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Rural France, which had largely been faithful to Napoleon I and welcomed his nephew, was tense. Many rural residents were illiterate and depended upon news of the war from educated, often noble residents, which they resented.

During a fair at Hautefaye, matters turned ugly when an aristocratic cousin of a young nobleman named Alain de Monéys reported the war was not going well. Many villagers had been drinking and received the news poorly. They attacked the cousin, the Vicomte Camille Maillard Lafaye, son of the mayor of the nearby town of Beaussac. Frightened, the viscount and his party fled. In an alcohol-fueled patriotic fervor, villagers wielding pitchforks and cudgels turned their attention on young Alain.

They accused him of being a Prussian plant, a spy, and of financing Prussia in the war against France. They claimed he betrayed the emperor and nation. Both claims were in fact false, as Monéys was not a Republican and his patriotism was spotless, but a crowd gathered around him. The parish priest tried to calm the mob by offering drinks to divert their attention but, however well-meaning the effort may have been, it probably helped get the crowd even more intoxicated than they already were and more dangerous. The mayor, unable to show leadership in the face of drunken excitement, reportedly said "Eat him if you want".

For two hours, the mob tortured and battered Alain de Monéys. They nailed horseshoes to his feet and burst one of his eyeballs. The crowd finally burnt him in the village square (or a nearby lake bed), likely while still alive. It is alleged that those who took part in the killing collected fat dripping from his burning body onto bread, eating the resulting tartines. (The last statement has not been proved historical).


Some 600 festival attendees were implicated in the affair. On 19 August 1870, gendarmes arrested fifty people ranging in age from age 14 through 60.

On 18 September 1870, twenty-one defendants were informed of charges against them.

During 13–21 December 1870, perpetrators were brought to trial in the town of Périgueux. Nineteen were convicted, four sentenced to death. Judge Brochon, from the Bourdeaux Court of Appeals, presided over the Dordogne Criminal Court in this instance. Altogether, four individuals were judged to have primary culpability and sentenced to death, while another received a sentence of life imprisonment. Others received sentences ranging from six to eight years imprisonment with hard labour for their role in the atrocity. Another group was sentenced to a single year of imprisonment. One teenager, then aged fourteen years of age, was sentenced to six years in a reformatory, while a small child was acquitted.

Périgueux Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Périgueux is a commune in the Dordogne department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France.

Bourdeaux Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Bourdeaux is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

On 6 February 1871, the four participants judged most complicit for the murder of Monéys were guillotined in the Hautefaye village square.


In 1953, Lavaud Noemie, the last direct witness of the Hautefaye Affair, died at 92 years of age.

On 16 August 1970, a century after the tragedy and at the initiative of one of the villagers, the Hautefaye church held a "Mass of forgiveness" in the presence of descendants of the family of Alain of Monéys and those of his killers.

Jean Teule has since written an historical novel on the subject, Eat Him if You Like (2009: English Translation: 2011).


Historical population
1962 164    
1968 169+3.0%
1975 146−13.6%
1982 144−1.4%
1990 129−10.4%
1999 116−10.1%
2008 112−3.4%

See also

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  1. "Populations légales 2016". INSEE . Retrieved 25 April 2019.
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