THE LAND OF PLENTY
For over three-hundred years (from XIV to the XVI century) a plant called the «pastello» (Isatis tinctoria) was responsible for the economic fortunes of the famous «Cockaigne triangle» between Toulouse, Carcassone and Albi.
The leaves of the «pastello» plant were pulverized and than kneaded into a ball called the còca. Còca assumed a negative connotation (cocanha) because the pulverized leaves were kneaded with urine. Out of this dried còcas, a concentrate was extracted called «agranat», which generated a dark blue dye, destined for the markets of Northern Europe, major cloth producers. Up to 60,000 tons of «granato» were produced a year, and sold in gold weight. This trade in pastello, regulated and controlled in all its productive stages by merchant corporations, generated great wealth for Toulouse and its surroundings. The region became one of the most prosperous of the time, to such an extent that the term «Land of Plenty» came to mean a mythical place, of immense wealth. It was during this period that the great monuments of Toulouse were erected, under the direction of the first «consuls» (communal governments). The spread of Protestantism in the region also dates to the same time, thanks to the close links made with Northern Europe. However whilst the pastel mills promoted the circulation of the bible, the town of Toulouse continued to remain profoundly catholic, while the surrounding areas (Montauban, Castres, Revel) were largely converted to Protestantism.