The English have a particular fondness for Saint-Emilion wines. Why?
Because the famous Saint-Emilion Jurade was introduced by one of their kings, Jean Sans Terre! Back to 1199, at a time when Aquitaine was under English rule.
Saint-Emilion, the taste of autonomy
In 1152, when Aquitaine came under English rule, Saint-Emilion sought administrative, legal and financial autonomy. Since the arrival of the Benedictines, the religious influence of Saint-Emilion hasn’t stopped growing. The city has become, around the Collegiate Church and its cloisters, an important spiritual centre. The 1199 charter signed by Jean Sans Terre, in Falaise, recognized that power by creating the Saint-Emilion Jurade.
The importance of the Saint-Emilion Jurade
The powers of the Jurade extend to the eight parishes under the Saint-Emilion jurisdiction. It plays a central role in matters relating to winemaking. The institution supervises the production and the development of 'fine' wines. It holds the "fire brand vinetier" printed on each barrel. The aldermen also announce the "Grape Harvest". The members of the Jurade, who are the guarantors of the quality, act against rampant abuse or fraud and destroy the wines that are deemed unworthy. That way, the city of Saint-Emilion prospers, driven by the development of its trade.
Jurade, between war and peace
The creation of the port of Libourne in 1269 stimulated trade with England and the countries of Northern Europe. At first flourishing, these trade links were seriously disrupted by the end of the Hundred Years war and then by the religious wars. It was not until the advent of Henry IV in 1589, that peace was reinstated permanently. Its rights and privileges confirmed, the Saint-Emilion Jurade was able to concentrate on viticulture again.