Cathar Castles   
Château de Marmande ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about Occitan. Castèl de Marmanda)

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Marmande was a bastide founded about 1195 on the site of a more ancient town by King Richard I (Coeur de Lion or Lionheart). It had passed into the hands of the counts of Toulouse, and was besieged three times during the Cathar crusades. 

Prince Louis (the future King Louis) arrived with 20 bishops, 30 counts, 600 knights and 10,000 foot soldiers, having joined the army of  the Pope's legate Abbott Arnaud Amaury. The city of some 7000 people fell after the first assault, and was sacked. The victors held a council and decided to follow Old Testament teaching - that men, women, old people and children should be executed. The massacre that followed shocked even the crusaders' own allies. 

Today nothing remains of the chateau here and very little of the city walls.

 

Marmande (in Occitan, Marmanda) is a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France.

 

The Taking of Marmande by the future Louis VIII during the Albigensian Crusade. Guilhem de Tudèle, Chanson de la croisade des Albigeois, early 13 century (BNF, Manuscrit français 25425 fol. 231)

Google map showing the location of Château de Marmande

 

 

In June 1219, the town had already been besieged for weeks by Amaury de Montfort when Louis, the king's son, Louis, arrived. Louis had been in England - and well on the way to winning the thone of England - largely at the invitation of the barons who had had enough of King John. But when John died suddenly in October 1216, the incomparable William Marshal stepped in as Regent for the infant King of England, Henry III. Not even kings relished the prospect of facing William Marshal and the whole purpose of Louis' presence in England was now gone. The young Louis was wise enough to make peace with and withdraw after a couple of quick but severe thumpings at the hands of Marshal.

Now Louis was in the Languedoc, a much better prospect for plunder having been exhaused by years of war waged by the French Catholic armies. He arrived with 20 bishops, 30 counts, 600 knights and 10,000 foot soldiers. 

The city of some 7000 people fell after the first assault, and was sacked.  The massacre that followed shocked even the crusaders' own allies.  Here is a contemporary account from the Song of the Cathar Wars (laisse 212): 

 

Google map showing Château de Marmande

 

E comensa•l martiris e•l chaplamens temutz
Que•ls baros e la donas e los efans menutz
E•ls homes e las femnas, totz despulhatz e nutz,
Detrencan e detalhan am los brans esmolutz;
Ela carns e lo sancs e los cervels e•ls brucz
E membres e personas maitadatz e fendutz
E fetges e coradas decebratz e romputz
Estan per meg las plassas, co si eran plogutz,
Car de lo sanc espars qui lai s'es espandutz
Es la terra vermelha e•l sols e la palutz,
No i remas hom ni femna ni joves ni canutz.
Ni nulha creatura, si no s'es rescondutz.
La vila es destruita e lo focs escendutz.
Apres no tarzec gaire que lo reis es mogutz
    per venir a Tholoza.

…terror and massacre began; 
Lords, ladies and their little children,
Men and women stripped naked,
All were slashed and cut to shreds by keen edged swords. 
Flesh, blood, brains, torsos,
Limbs and faces hacked in two;
Lungs, livers and guts torn out and thrown away -
Laying on the open ground
As if they had rained down from the heavens. 
Marshland and firm ground, all was red with blood. 
Not a man or woman was left alive, neither young nor old,
No living creature, except perhaps some well-hidden infant. 
Marmond was razed and set alight
Very soon afterwards the king [Louis] left
    for Toulouse.

 

 

 

Some Key Dates

726 — Saracens invasion.

844 — Norman invasion

End of the IX th Century — a castrum is built on the site of the present jardin du château.

Xth Century — a château is built in wood

1050 — a new château is built in stone « la mirmande ».

1182 — Richard the Lionheart, duck of Aquitaine accords a Charter of Customs to Marmande

1219 — During the Albigensian Crusade the town is burned and partly raised by Catholic Crusader troops led by de Montfort.

Between1271 and 1442 oscillates between being English and French

1324 — 1386: Construction of the second enceinte at Marmande.

1414 — Le King of France Charles VI, accords to Marmande the three fleurs de lys borne in chief on the arms of the town of Marmande for its fidelity to the French Crown during the Hundred Years’ War.

1442 — Marmande becomes definitively French

1548 — The inhabitants rebel (regretting their earlier decision) resenting oppressive salt taxes.( la Gabelle).

1561 and 1569 During the Wars of Religion the Huguenots, burn down the Fransiscan Friary and kill some of the Friars.

1576 and 1577 : the future Henri IV besieges Marmande.

1777 — the city walls are demolished.

1792 — The Countess of Marcellus is guillotined at Marmande “to set an example”

 

 


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