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The Simiots were lion-bodied and monkey-headed monsters who terrorized the inhabitants of Vallespir in the middle Ages. They came out of the forests to invade towns and villages, without fear of men. These diabolical creatures climbed the roofs descended through the chimneys. They seized children and kidnapped them to devour them in the mountains.
Real monkeys in the Pyrenees mountains?
“Chronicles after the tenth century contain the naive account of the popular terrors which invaded Christian Europe at the approach of the year one thousand. The legend occupies an important place. But it seems that the Vallespir was particularly tested around this time. No doubt he experienced a catastrophic flood followed by famine.
Driven from their lairs by hunger and floods, wild animals: wolves, bears, wild boars, wild cats… wandered day and night in the countryside in inhabited places and attacked people. Through them we thought we saw monsters of strange shapes, unknown in our mountains.
The old chroniclers and the local tradition called them "simiots" because they looked like monkeys.
According to Jean Ribes
Legend borrowed from the Romans? Wild men?
Some hypotheses relate to a monster borrowed from the Roman bestiary. Others that it would be wild men or survival of Neanderthals in the Pyrenees (yeti). Moreover, during the bear festival, the man disguised as a bear was, at a certain time, called Simiots. At the end of this party, it is shaved to restore its human appearance.
Anyway the legend, wants the Simiots disappeared when the relics of Saint Abdon and Saint Sennen arrived. They were brought back in a sarcophagus (the Holy Tomb of Arles-sur-Tech) from Rome by Father Arnulphe. But that's another story…
The castle of Simiots
It is said that the Simiots had established their camp in the ruins of the Rocabertí Castle (In the Albères, La Jonquera). A traveler surprised by a snowstorm asked them for hospitality. To warm himself, the man blew on his fingers, which greatly intrigued the Simiots. Suddenly they served him a very hot soup, and they saw him blow again on the soup, but to cool it this time... Faced with these contradictory facts, the Simiots concluded that the traveler must be a wizard and threw him out!