Want to see the city by day? Check out Carcassonne by Day! 🙂
So the Kookie and I went to the amazing fortified city of Carcassonne… and while I wasn’t logging my walk, we spent a long time walking around the city.
The Romans first fortified here during the time of the republic- Wiki says 100 BC. These towers date to probably 5 BC or so. O.O
All of these pics were taken with my happy Canon DSLR. 🙂
Walking around Carcassonne makes you feel like you are a part of something ancient.
What is amazing is that people still live here, and always have. For a girl form the new world, that is pretty special.
The French government had intended to tear Carcassonne down in the 1850s when it no longer had military significance and was in poor repair. Public outcry saved it, and a massive campaign, lasting 30 years began. In this pic you can really see the restored bricks.
Nothing prepares you for the scope.
And the fun you can have with the hot lights in your photo post production! 🙂
The Visigoths took control of Carcassonne in 465 AD!
And it grew….
Saracens took Carcassonne in 725.
King Pepin the short of the French tried to take the city back, in fact, he retook much land under Saracen control, but he never recaptured Carcassonne.
The Saracens were driven away in 760.
Raimand-Bernard Trencavel took control of Carcassonne in 1067 when he married the sister of the last count of Carcassonne. The Trencavel family ruled Carcassonne until one of the darker parts of the cities history.
Trencavel, as with many nobles of the Langeudoc was a Cathar family.
Cathars were – (from Wiki) a Christian dualist movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe, particularly northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries. Cathar beliefs varied between communities because Catharism was initially taught by ascetic priests who had set few guidelines. The Cathars were a direct challenge to the Catholic Church, which denounced its practices and dismissed it outright as the Church of Satan.
The King of France launched the Albigensian crusade around 1209 against the Cathar lands. While he officially did it to stamp out Catharism, this was a war of North against South.
The French kings knew they couldn’t take Carcassonne, so they created a terrible plan.
They took another city under the control of the Trencavel family, Bezier, on July 21, 1209. They ordered the Catholics and the Cathars to separate themselves and for the Cathars to surrender. The groups refused, so the forces under the the papal legate, Arnaud Amalric took the city.Cathars and Catholics alike were butchered.
According to legend, when asked by a Crusader how they should tell who was a Cathar and who wasn’t… Amalric said:
Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius (Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His.)
In a letter to the pope, Amalric said:
While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying “to arms, to arms!”, within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt…
Count Raymond-Roger de Trencavel knew that the forces of Amalric couldn’t take his city of Carcassonne, but he also knew his people would suffer terribly from a siege.
He arranged a surrender, provided his people were not harmed.
Amalric kept his word. The people of Carcassonne were spared.
Trencavel disappeared into a dungeon, dying mysteriously three months later.
The city became the property of Simon de Montfort, who increased the defences of the city.
Trencavel’s son tried to take the city back in 1240, but failed. In 1247, the city officially became part of France.
Another roman era tower. You can tell from the bands of red bricks.
During the 100 years war in 1355, the Black Prince tried to take Carcassonne. Even though the fortress was said to be impregnable, he thought he could capture it. He failed.
Roman tower again! 🙂
Carcassonne stood on the border between France and Aragon, defending the French border.
When the rest of Roussillon was transferred to France in 1659, Carcassonne was so far within the French borders that it’s importance as a military site ended.
But the city thrived on the wine and textile trade.
But by the 1850s, Carcassonne was in decline; the military no longer wanted to maintain a garrison there. The walls were in a dangerous state. But public outcry saved the city from demolition.
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was hired to restore the city.
The problem was that due to two fires in the city archives, there were no pictures of Carcassonne in its heyday.
Just fragments. So some of what you see today is accurate, and some is a romantic, Victorian ideal.
But it is all fabulous!