Do you know MAUGUE?? I am sure that many of you making researches on the Alsace History looked to the writings of this famous naturalist!! His writings help us to understand the ways and customs of our ancestors and he describes with humour the NATURAL HISTORY of ALSACE in 1726.

MAUGUE was may be born between 1657 and 1666 – He said he was an army doctor during 25 years and on September the 30th of 1725 the quartermaster of Alsace Mr de HARLAY wrote to Mr de BRETEUIL (BN French Collection 2601, page 93bis) that "the job of inspector for medicine, surgery, pharmacy and midwife in Alsace was created in 1699 by the Defence Minister in respect for good and faithful service given by Mr MAUGUE in the field hospitals."..

On 1732 and 1733 MAUGUE was always still working because it is at this dates that he noted his observations about « hay fever » written on page 174 of his « Natural History ».  He wrote this book during the first third of the 18th century "during the three years when summers were moderate giving to the country a good health for the inhabitants and much rest for the doctors."

He possessed arms which are showed in his ex-libris in the two volumes of the manuscript and on the frontispiece of the volume one which are:


"d’azur à un chevron abaissé d'argent et trois étoiles d'or en chef, soutenues d'une devise de même" (Armorial d'Alsace BN Manuscrits 32194 page 269)

In his book 1 chapter 1 – Topography of ALSACE or description of the country he describes our mountains and also our plain:

«From the foot of the mountains the Rhine, we can see a splendid plain covered with different grains, of tobacco, of autumn crocus, of poppy, of big cabbages, of turnips, of fruit trees, of pastures and finally so fertile, that the inhabitants could do without their neighbours, as they have all what they need on their land, and we can say as Fabronius says from the country of Hesse:

"Inde potis varios divinitus edere fructus

Hessia deque suo fructu servare colonos

Sat contenta suis vitae quorum indiget usus"

"Not only Alsace has enough to supply all what is necessary for people who live in, but also exports to the neighbours, and can do the same as did Sicily to Roman. Switzerland imports from Alsace a lot of grains. The King allows the canton of BASEL to import one hundred and eighty bags per week, and inhabitants who have some land in Alsace are allowed to take their harvest. The garrison KEL even German is also allowed to import four hundred and forty bags per month; wines, waters, brandy, tobacco, saffron, onions, hemp, cabbages and timber are exported to Bas-Rhin and Netherlands this one because they need wood for the building of their warships.

«The large area of pastures feeds a lot of livestock and we can count 100.000 cows and 50.000 horses... "

"The land which is between the Rhine, the Hart and the river Ill up to Strasbourg is very narrow and not fertile as there is not enough topsoil. We can see only meadows and not very good meadows as they are very often flooded with the Rhine. This land only produces rye. The land between the river Ill and the mountain, from the town Sulz (SOULTZ) of High Alsace up to two miles in front of Haguenau or up to Brumpt is plentiful with many kinds of grains, wines, and fodder. It is not the same for the land between SULZ up to BELFORT, following the mountain on a width of three miles as it is full of woods, and there are not a lot of ploughed fields as they are on rocks. It’s why the inhabitants cultivate the food for animals. The side of Alkirk, Elle, Morvillars, Basel and Mulhousen is better....

To be continued.....


The Alsatian (collection card Ancarpost –click on the card - France Apprill Serge Busiau copy forbidden)

MAUGUE always... or the origin of Bretzel!!!

STRASBOURG says Maugue is the most beautiful town of the country and of the Empire. Four thousand people are living there (population count made under the order of the Magistrate in 1709 in Strasbourg there was a total of 32510 inhabitants - Hermann historical, statistical and literary Notes on the town Strasbourg).

STRASBOURG is located at one quarter of mile from the Rhine in the middle of a large plain which looks like a garden as so well cultivated...  Each burgher has to pay taxes every year at the risk of confiscation (income taxes of the Republique of Strasbourg) in the case that the population count was wrong at the death, prevent them to do a big traffic, either they pay tallage on the population count, either because it is not allowed to a trader to undertake alone business, either if not stupid with a big ambition, they become only Magistrates… 

We find in the public office of STRASBOURG, as in ROME, consuls, great orators, quindecinvirs, tredecim, aediles (town councillors), pawnbrokers, collectors, we have a Chamber of thirteen deputies, one of fifteen deputies, one of twenty one deputies, a big and a small Senate (consuls were ammeistres, pawnbrokers stettmeistres –orators and collectors never have been in Strasbourg but there were triumvirs).


Interior of a house in Strasbourg during 18th century

When a good trader has reached the first taxes he neglects his business, and the artisan leaves his shop as soon as the office councillor allows him a sword…

Special features of the town are: breadbaskets of the Magistrate (a part of the granary abundance, a large building with 5 floors built on 1441 was always in good condition when MAUGUE was living. It is the shop of theatre sets) windmills (these windmills were designed to take the place of the watermills in case of lack of water and were in the granary abundance), the mill of the nine bends (mill of eight bends and no nine built on 1449, after the incursion of Armagnacs) which is in a bastion near the White Door, a cannon bearing the town’s coat of arms that we can see at the arsenal, splendid for its size, 96 Livres of Basel. It is called the pretty backer’s wife because it was given in 1519 by a backer’s wife and we can see the graphic representation on the low relief, holding in one hand a  twisted bread, a kind of cookie, that we call in German "brischte" (Bretstell = Bretzel).. It has been melted down on 1726.

Among the rarities of the town we have also the Krutzmann a statue found in the cathedral... the banner of the Pheningthurn....

As we are speaking about food, let and see what MAUGUE was thinking of Alsatian food:

In addition these foods are in connection with the climate where they sprout, they are coarse fare and sticky. These foods are spinach on Friday, turnips on Tuesday, raw or cooked turnips on Wednesday, beans on Wednesday, peas, cooked pears into jars with fat or fat streaky bacon called "schneits" (Schnitz) in German on Monday, rice, barley on Thursday, and cabbages specially with a firm heart which are turned sour and chopped as I will explain in the chapter concerning vegetables.

These cabbages which are turned sour and salt are called "surgrout" (served on Sunday) are the delights of dinner and the main food of the country with lentils served on Saturday.


Making of the sauerkraut in Alsace ( F. APPRILL’s personal collection)

Although dry, hard and not very delicious called in Germany or Netherlands stocfiche, I have to speak about it. It is the only one which is able to compete with sauerkraut! It is called "stock» from German which means stick and «fich" a fish. It is a kind of hake with a long and broad face; it is covered with broad scales of different colours with sallow lines. Its belly is whitish and its head small and round, its mouth with many teeth, its eyes are yellow, its eyebrows are green, and it weighs 1 kilogram.

They get dry till they are hard as wood, and we have before cooking to beat them with a harmer in order to tenderize them. We can say that in Alsace the inhabitants are not fond of delicious food, meat is badly cooked, meat stew not delicious and roast very dry. They eat not very much meat, they cook a soup where is floating a piece of beef of 1 kilogram aromatic herbs are not cooked with just put on pieces of bread when they pour the bubble. If they eat not very much meat, we can say that they eat very much bad meat...

Fresh or salt meat of pig is the main food all along the year. They cook great pieces of smoked sausages in the sauerkraut that they like very much. And we know that this meat produces a juice which is viscous and sticky which produces stomach upset. It is just for workers...


Small butcher’s shops in STRASBOURG

They eat a lot of fishes because they go fishing in the rivers and the ponds where the fishes are numerous. They only drink a verjuice or beer.

In addition of these nourishing foods they eat a white bread made with brewer’s yeast which is very difficult to digest, as the dough is rising too fast has not enough time to be well penetrated…

Extracts from la Revue d'ALSACE 1926 – Natural History of Alsace Provinces of MAUGUE written by J.HATT – Engravings are from the site STRASBOURG HISTORIQUE ET PITTORESQUE SEYBOTH.

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