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

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The Château de Montségur is probably the best known of all Cathar Castles. It is famous as the last Cathar stronghold, which fell after a 10 month siege in 1244. A field below the hilltop castle is reputed to be the site where over 200 Cathars were burned alive, having refused to renounce their faith.

A building on this site sheltered a community of Cathar women at the end of the twelfth century. Early in the thirteenth, Ramon de Pereille the co-seigneur and Chatelain, was asked to make it defensible, anticipating the problems to come.

The present ruin is open to the public, as is a museum in the nearby modern village of Montségur. There is an entrance fee for both.

The Château de Montségur

Montsegur

 

Getting There: Montségur is in the Ariege, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, not far from Lavelanet, due South from Mirepoix.

Montségur lies at   42°52'35" N,   1°49'51" E on a pog (a volcanic pluton) at an altitude of 1,207 meters. The castle is owned by the Commune of Montségur. There is an entrance fee, which also covers entry to a museum in the nearby town.

Guided Tours
Cathar Castle Tours

Mairie: mairie.montsegur@wanadoo.fr
Tel: 05 61 0110 27

Tourist Information Office:
Tel: 05 61 03 03 03

Google map showing the location of Château de Montségur

 

 


plan of Montségur

Montsegur plan
 
 

 

 

Google map showing Château de Montségur

 

 

History of Montsegur

 

The earliest signs of human settlement in the Montsegur area date to the stone age, around 80,000 years ago. It was also occupied by the Romans. Evidence of Roman occupation, including Roman currency and tools have been found around the site. The Occitan name Montsegùr (French Montségur) comes from Occitan mont ségur (Latin mons securus) which means "safe hill". In the Middle Ages the Montsegur region was ruled by the Counts of Toulouse, the Viscounts of Carcassonne and finally the Counts of Foix. Little is known about the fortification until the time of the Albigensian Crusade. Archaeologists call this early castle Montsegur I.

The name in French is spelled Montségur, and in Occitan, Montsegùr.

In the early thirteenth century the lordship of Montsegur was shared between two cousins, Raymond de Péreille and Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix. In about 1204, Raymond de Péreille decided to rebuild the castle, which had been in ruins for 40 years or more. This as a prescient act in view of the Crusade launched against the people of the Languedoc just a few years later. Rebuilt, the castle became a centre of Cathar activities, and home to Guilhabert de Castres, a Cathar bishop. This castle is known to archaeologists as Montsegur II and has the strongest claim of any castle to the title "Cathar Castle".

In the first half of the thirteenth century, the fortress at Montsegur was the object of four sieges. The first in 1212, led by Guy de Montfort, brother of Simon IV de Montfort was unsuccessful, as was the second in 1213, led by Simon IV de Montfort himself.

In 1215 , the Lateran Council cited the fortress at Montsegur as a den of heretics. It became a refuge for dispossessed Cathar families ("faidits") seeking shelter from the depredations of the Catholic Crusaders. The role as a shelter for faidits from the Cathar Church grew in 1229 following the Treaty of Meaux-Paris under which more Occitan nobles were dispossed, including Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix, cousin of Raymond Péreille, who became the military commander of Montsegur.

In 1233 Montsegur became "the seat and head" (domicilium et caput) of the Cathar church. It provided a refugee for morer "faidits" - lords who had been stripped of their lands and goods by the Roman Church. These faidits, counterparts of the more recent maquis, continued to wage a guerilla war against the invaders.

Montségur housed about 500 persons within the castle precincts and in the adjacent village perched on the mountainside.

Under pressure to comply with the requirements of the Church, Raymond VII made a token attempt to capture Montségur in July 1241 - apparently to demonstrate his orthodoxy to the King of France. This was the third unsuccessful siege of montsegur since 1212.

MontsegurIn 1242 a putative uprising was organised as part of a coordinated plan against Louis IX of France agreed by Henry III, King of England. The Holy Roman Emperor, The King of Aragon ,Raymond VII the Count of Toulouse, the Count of Foix, and the dispossessed Viscount of Carcassonne. For various reasons the whole enterprise fizzled out, and almost the only notable achievement was a raid by 50 or so warriors from Montsegur who killed two inquisitors, William Arnald and Stephen de Saint-Thibéry, along with their retinue, at Avignonet on 28 May, 1242.

Following the massacre at Avignonet, the Council of Béziers in 1243 decided to destroy the last vestiges of Catharism. The Cathar sympathisers responsible for killing the Inquisitors at Avignonet were known to have come from Montségur. The Council therefore decided to "cut off the head of the dragon" by which they meant to take the château at Montsegur, the last remaining major centre of Cathar belief. The château, perched on top of a majestic hill (called a pog), had already been reinforced.

Keys found at MontsegurIn May 1243, a year after the Massacre at Avignonet, Montsegur was besieged by a fourth time, on this occasion by Pierre Amiel the Archbishop of Narbonne, and Hughes des Arcis, Seneschal of Carcassonne for the King of France. Together they represented the Pope and the French King joining forces once again to eliminate heretics.

Hugues Des Arcis led about 10,000 royal troops against Montsegur which was held by about 200 faidit fighters. Also inside were around 300 others - around 200 parfaits and parfaites who as pacifists took no part in the fighting, and 100 or so other refugees, generally family members (non-Parfait women and children).

The initial strategy was to besiege the castle in expectation that water and supplies would run out, a strategy that had worked well for the crusaders at Carcassonne, Minerve and Termes. The defenders at Montsegur were well supplied and in spite of the presence of 10,000 - 20,000 besiegers, kept their support lines open, supported by many of the local population. For months, defenders were free to come and go, allowing reinforcements into the castle.

MontsegurThroughout the Summer and Autumn, the siege was unsuccessful. Eventually the French forces decided to attack the castle directly, a difficult task due to its well protected location high on a massive limestone rock. After many failures, Basque mercenaries skilled in mountain climbing, scaled a cliff face on the eastern side of the summit during the night. The climb had seemed impossible so the position on top had not even been provided with a look-out. From here it was possible to haul up further men and weapons - enough to take the strategically critical nearby post at a tower (French tour, Occitan tor) at a point known as the Roc de la Tour. From the Roc de la Tour the French slowly fought their way a mile or so up a slope towards the castle.

Stones chiselled into spheres as amunition for trebuchesBy the end of January, under the direction of a Catholic bishop specialising in war machines, the French were able to construct trebuchets to bombard the defenders' outer barbican. The defenders summoned an engineer to build a trebuchet in an attempt to destroy the attackers' trebuchets, but to no avail. By mid February the French had taken the barbican, allegedly facilitated by the tretchery of a local. They now dismanted their trebuchets, reconstructed them on the barbican, and started to bombard the castle itself. [Incidentally we know this by piecing together sketchy written records and physical surviving evidence - trebuchet stones and crossbow quarrels, and even some skeletons]. Meanwhile, the refugees living in houses outside the walls of the castle were forced to move inside, making living conditions even more difficult.

Two weeks later the crusaders made an attack which only just failed. The defenders accepted that their position was impossible. The two Lords of Montsegur, Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix and Raymond de Péreille negotiated the surrender with the French maréchal Guy de Lévis (who would become the new Lord of Montsegur after its rendition). They surrendered on 2 March 1244 having negotiated a truce of two weeks, after which the Parfaits would have to abjure their faith or burn alive. During this two week truce, two to four perfects (sources disagree about the number) escaped over the castle walls, taking with them the Cathar "treasure". Nothing more is known about the nature of this treasure, a lacuna that has been filled by a large amount of fanciful speculation, mainly on the part of mystics whose knowledge of Catharism is less than comprehensive.

For the perfects at Montsegur, these last two weeks were spent praying and fasting. A number of the garrison and others decided to join the ranks of the 200 or so perfects, and received their consolamentum on 13th March, bringing the total number of Cathar believers destined to burn to around 225. The most moving part of later Inquisition records about this period recount the parfaites giving away their personal possessions to their non-parfait friends and relatives - clothing, jewellery, spices and so on.

At the end of the two-week truce, all those trapped in the castle were allowed to leave except those who would not adopt the Catholic faith, which, as at other defeated Cathar strongholds, meant all of the Perfects. On 16 March all of the parfaits, led by Bishop Bertrand Marty, left the castle and went down to a field where a pyre had been erected. There were too many victims for individual stakes so a pen had been built with piles of firewood inside. The perfects mounted the pyre and perished, passing, according to one Catholic source, from the flames of this world directly to the flames of the next. The nobles among the victims were all related to each other. They included three generations of the seigneural family - grandmother, mother and daughter. As always on such occasions, churchmen song hymns of joy and gave thanks to God.

MontsegurUnder the terms of the surrender, the remainder of the defenders, including some who had participated in the murder of the inquisitors at avignonet two years earlier, were allowed to leave. Among them was Raymond de Pereille. Like all other survivors he was questioned by the Inquisition (one reason we know as much as we do about events here).

Catharism continued in the Languedoc for many decades but it had lost its head and seat, and, under the pressure of the Inquisition, adherents moved to other places, notably Aragon or what is northern Italy, where conditions were less oppressive, at least for the time being. Montsegur II was destroyed and a new French castle, a royal fortress, was built on the site. This one, known as Montsegur III, guarded France's new border.

Today's ruins are those of the French border fortress Montsegur III. Despite this, you may well hear alleged experts on the Cathars expounding theories not only that the Cathars built this castle, but that for religious reasons they built it as a solar temple, in a perfect alignment with the rising sun.  - perhaps a distorted version of the fact that the keep and and one wall are aligned on a South-east - North-west axis.

At the base of the mountain, in the "Prat dels Cremats" ("Field of the Burned" in Occitan) a modern stele commemorates the death of the victims. It is inscribed "Als catars, als martirs del pur amor crestian. 16 de març 1244" (Occitan for "The Cathars, martyrs of pure Christian love. March 16th, 1244").

Another monument stone by the road reads in French

:

EN  CE  LIEU   LE  16  MARS  1244  
PLUS  DE  200  PERSONNES  ONT  ÉTÉ  BRULÉES.
ELLES  N'AVAIENT  PAS  VOULU  RENIER  LEUR  FOI.

 

IN  THIS  PLACE   ON  16th  MARCH  1244
MORE  THAN  200  PEOPLE  WERE  BURNED
THEY  CHOSE  NOT  TO  ABJURE  THEIR  FAITH.

 

The story of the siege of Montségur is one of the most moving of all the tragedies associated with the war against the Cathars.  Even the most hostile writers were struck by the significance of events at Montségur, when against expectation the ranks of the doomed Parfaits increased during the two weeks' truce.

The Castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862. The puòg (or pog) on which it sits was listed in 1883, and archaeological remains and the outer lines of defense were classified in 1989.

 

 

 

Architecture

 

The site is spectacular, and well worth a visit, but information is a bit thin at the site.

Montsegur front entranceThings to note:

  • Not all castles had drawbridges. Montségur, like many others, had an external doorway far off the ground, with a wooden access ramp that could be removed or destroyed whenever a siege threatened. (See modern counterpart to the right)
  • Go through the postern gate and turn left. You can see the foundations of some Cathar buildings (the original village of Montségur) behind the present castle. These are the houses that had to be evacuated after the Crusaders took the barbican.  If you look carefully you can see the vestiges of staircases between the different levels.
  • If you carry on anticlockwise with the castle walls on your left, you can get to the donjon (keep) from the outside.
  • .A single loophole (arrow slit) in the wall of the donjon, covers the courtyard.
  • From the castle walls you can see the modern village of Montségur miles below.
  • You can just see the castles at Puivert and Roquefixade from the keep if you know where to look.
  • At the bottom of the pog on which the Castle sat is a monument next to the field where 225 Parfait were burned alive.   .  

Some architectural researchers have claimed that the dimensions of the present castle ruins demonstrate that it was designed on the basis of the English rod (canne Anglaise) which is consistent with it have been rebuilt by the family of the new lord of the manor after 1244, the Guy II de Lévis, Marshal of the Faith.

 

The French have a word for the act of burning people alive - they call it a Bûché. There is no exact counterpart in English. The nearest we have is burn at the stake. You may see the word translated in some literature as massacre or occasionally left as bûché in English translations.     

 

The arms of the Counts of FoixThe arms of the Counts of ToulouseThe arms of the Kings of AragonMany visitors take flowers, usually red and yellow, the colours of Aragon, of Toulouse and of Foix, to whom the victims all owed their allegiance.  

 

 

aerial view of Montségur

ariel view of Montségur on its pog
 

Montségur courtyard

Montségur courtyard
 

Montségur stele memorial

Montségur stele memorial
 

view of Montségur

Montsegur
 

Montségur walls

Montsegur
 
 
 

The Massacre of Montsegur

by Forrester Roberts

 

Montsegur

 
 

Arms of the modern town of Montsegur

 

aerial view of Montségur on its pog

Aerial view of Montsegur
 

How Montsegur II might have looked

 

The Ruins of Montségur III

Montsegur III

 

Montségur walls

Montsegur walls
 
 
 

 

 


GUIDED TOURS OF CATHAR CASTLES OF THE LANGUEDOC

You can join small exclusive guided tours of Cathar Castles
led by an English speaking expert on the Cathars
who lives in the Languedoc
(author of www.cathar.info)

Selected Cathar Castles. Accommodation provided. Transport Provided.

Cathar Origins, History, Beliefs.
The Crusade, The Inquisition, and Consequences

Visit the Cathar Tours Website for more information

 

 
location of Montsegur
     
 
 

The Massacre of Montsegur

a later artists impression of the mass burning at Montsegur.
 
 
 
 

Le Bûcher de Montségur, 1960, by Jacques Fauché, oil on wood, 118 x 75cm

Crusaders (or Dominicans ?) on the left supervise the burning of Cathar Parfaits on the right.
White doves represent the Holy Spirit leaving the Cathars as they die.

The pog of Montségur is shown in the background.

 

Accommodation at Montségur

 

Camping overnight at the site of the castle is forbidden. There are however places to stay in the nearby village of Montsegur, and nearby. Among them are

La Taillade de Montségur: High quality chalets, built on spacious plots, bordered by shrubs and trees to maintain privacy, and integrated with the landscape, combining the freedom of camping with the comforts of a holiday cottage.

 

Montsegur - the Story Game

 

Montsegur gameThe tragedy at Montsegur is remembered today in many ways. One of them is a story game invented by Frederik J. Jensen, called "Montsegur 1244"

The game is based on the events from the start of the Seneschal's siege, and introduces real historical characters such as Joudain du Mas. It also gives a good introduction to Cathar belief.

For more, visit http://thoughtfulgames.com/

 

Raymond de Pereille au cachot, 1960, by Jacques Fauché,

oil on wood, 73 x 54cm

Raymond de Pereille, Lord of Montségur, in prison

 

 

Photographs

 

Illustration of what Montségur II might have looked like

 

Montségur

 

Illustration of what Montségur II might have looked like

 

Montségur

 

Model of what Montségur II might have looked like

 

Memorial stele at Montségur - The crosses and pentangles are modern fantasy

 

Climbing the pog at Montségur

 

Memorial Stone at Montségur.

Memorial Stone at Montségur. It reads, in French

IN  THIS  PLACE   ON  16th  MARCH  1244
MORE  THAN  200  PEOPLE  WERE  BURNED
THEY  CHOSE  NOT  TO  ABJURE  THEIR  FAITH

 

Montségur

 

Montségur from the East - an usual angle. Most tourists do not visit the barbican.

 

Montségur

 

Montségur - plan view

 

Museum at Montségur

 

Montségur - Dawn through the arrow loops

 

Montségur - Sunrise on 18 June

 

Model of what Montségur II might have looked like

 

Illustration of the successful siege of Montségur in 1244

 

Illustration of the successful siege of Montségur in 1244

 

Illustration of the successful siege of Montségur In 1244

 

Illustration of the successful siege of Montségur In 1244

 

Montségur

 
 

Museum at Montségur

 
 

Montségur on the walking route, Route of the Cathars, GR 107

 

Montségur on a Sentie Cathare (a Cathar track)

 

Another Illustration of what Montségur II might have looked like

 

Montségur, Chateau and modern village, from the air

 

Montségur

 

Montségur

 

 

Montségur

 

Museum at Montségur

 

Museum at Montségur

 

Montségur, Chateau and modern village, from the air

 
 
 

 

 

 

Cathars Surrendered to the Crusaders at Montsegur in 1244

 

On 16th March ,1244, the besieged refugees at the Château of Montsegur who refused to abjure the Cathar faith were burned en masse at the foot of the pog. Around 25 had taken the the Consolamentum three days previously, so becoming Parfaits or Parfaites, and knowing that this sealed their fates. They are regarded as martyrs by modern Gnostic Churches.

Sources differ on the the number of victims. The Chronique de Guillaume de Puylaurens, gives the number as 200; the Chronique de l'Abbaye de Berdoues, states 205; The Chronique de St-Paul de Narbonne 215; and Gerard de Frachet 224. These chronicals do not attempt to list all the victims, so historians have had to piece together a partial list, mainly from Inquisition records.

As far as I am aware, sixty-three individuals have so far been identified by name. The names of those who recieved the Consolamentum on the night of 13th March 1244 are marked with a ‡.

 

 

Raymond AGULHER

Parfait

at Tarascon in 1204 and present at the Château of Montsegur from 1234.

Guilleme AICARD

Parfait

Resident at the Château of Montsegur from 1234 with his wife and three sons. 

 

Pons AIS

Parfait

present at the Château of Montsegur from the start of the siege, where he was a miller.

 

Pierre ARAU

Parfait

 
 

Bernard d'AUVEZINES

Parfait

 
 

Raymonde BARBE

Parfaite

from Mas Saintes-Puelles, sister of Parfait Raymond du Mas (Raymond de Na Rica).

Raymond de BELVIS

Parfait

Crossbowman from Arnaud and seigneur of Usson.  Arrived at the Château of Montségur around May-June 1243. 

 

Arnaud de BENSA

Parfait

From Lavelanet, sergeant, wounded end of February 1244, received the Consolamentum March 4.

 

Etienne BOUTARRA

Parfait

 

BRESILHAC

Parfait

Dispossesed knight from Caihavel.  Present at the Château of Montségur from 1236.

 

Pons CAPELLE

Parfait

from Gaja.  parfait arrived at the Château of Montségur around 1242 with his son, a sergeant.

 

Guidraude de CARAMAN

   
 

Arnaud des CASSES

Parfait

Knight and seigneur of Les Casses.  A believer since 1220 and a parfait before 1243.

 

??? CLAMENS

Presumably
a Parfait

Present at the seige.  Around 13 March 1244 is named as having transfered Church treasury into the custody of Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix. 

 

Jean de COMBEL

Presumably
a Parfait

Knight from Laurac.  Believed to have accepted Consolamentum during the truce.

 

Saissa de CONGOST

Parfaite

From the seigneural family at Puivert Parfaite from 1240. Householder on Montségur.

 

Raymonde de CUQ

Parfaite

Sister or cousin of Berenger, the seigneur of Lavelanet.  parfaite at Lauran in 1230.  Lived with Corba de Pereille at the Château of Montségur.

 

Guillaume DEJEAN

Parfait

parfait from Tarabel, ordained deacon at the Château of Montségur.

Guillaume DELPECH

Parfait

Sergeant.  Arrived to reinforce the Château of Montségur May 21, 1243. 

Arnaud DOMERGUE

Parfait

of Laroque d'Olmes.  Sergeant residing at Montségur since since 1236 with his wife. 

Bruna DOMERGUE

Parfaite

wife of Sergeant Arnaud Domergue. 

 

Rixende DONAT

Parfaite

of Toulouse.  parfaite.

 

India de FANJEAUX

Parfaite

A Lady from theLahille branch of Fanjeaux.  parfaite in 1227 and householder at Montségur.

Guillaume GARNIER

Parfait

Cow herder from d'Odars near Lanta and a believer since 1230.  Sergeant at the Château of Montségur in 1243. 

 

Arnajud-Raymond GAUTI

Parfait

knight from Soreze and Durfort.  Believer in 1237.

 

Bernard GUILHEM

Parfait

 
 

Etienne ISARN

Parfait

of Casses.  At the Château of Montségur with his brother.

 

Raymond ISARN

Parfait

brother of Etienne.

 

Guillaume d'ISSUS

Presumably
a Parfait

knight and co-seigneur of Montgaillard in Lauragais.  Believer in 1230.  Present at the Château of Montségur since 1243 and reported "burned."

 

Jean de LAGARDE

Presumably
a Parfait

Condemned by the Inquisition in Moisac in 1233 and escaped to the Château of Montségur. 

 

Bruna de LAHILLE

Presumably
a Parfaite

sister of Guillaume.  Believer in 1234.  parfaite at Montségur in 1240

Guillaume de LAHILLE

Parfait

Dispossesed knight from Laurac.  Defender of Castelnaudary against Amaury de Montfort in 1219-1220.  At the Château of Montségur from 1240.  One of the leaders of the massacre of the Inquisitors at Avignonet.  Seriously wounded 26 February 1244.

 

???? LIMOS

Parfait

Presumably from Limos ( Limoux)

Raymond de MARSEILLAN

Parfait

Dispossessed knight from Laurac.  Believer in 1232. 

 

Bertrand MARTY

Cathar bishop
at Toulouse

From Tarabel. . Head of the Cathar Church at the time of the seige.  Known to be at the Château of Montségur in 1232 and reported "burnt with all the others."

 

Guillelme MARTY

Parfait

From Montferrier.  Baker at Montségur

 

Pierre du MAS

Parfait

From Mas Saintes-Puelles, parfait in 1229 and reported present at the Montségur in March 1244.  Assumed to be among those executed.

 

MAURINA  (MAURY) 

Parfaite

 
 

Braida de MONTSERVER

Parfaite

Related to Arnaud-Roger de Mirepoix.  Believer in 1227, and received the Consolamentum during a grave illness in 1229 at Limoux.  Arrived as a parfaite at the Château of Montségur in 1240.

Arsende NARBONA

Parfaite

Wife of sergeant Pons NARBONA.

Guillaume NARBONA

Parfait

Squire to Raymond de Marseillan, and brother of Pons Narbona.

Pons NARBONA

Parfait

of Carol and Cerdagne.  Sergeant.

 

Raymond de NIORT

Parfait

parfaite from Belesta.  Arrived clandestinely at the Château of Montségur in October 1243 with a letter from the Cathars of Cremona in Italy.

 

Arnauld d'ORLHAC

Parfait

from Lavaur.

Corba de PEREILLE

Parfaite

Wife of Raymond de Pereille.  mother of Esclarmonde de PEREILLE,

Esclarmonde de PEREILLE

Parfaite

daughter of Raymond and Corba de Pereille. 

 

PERONNE

Parfaite

arrived at the Montségur in 1237.

 

Guillaume PEYRE

Parfait

sergeant, agent of Raymond de Pareille.  With CLAMENS, consigned the Cathar treasury at the Château of Montségur to Pierre-Roger Mirepoix on March 13, 1244.

 

Guillaume RAOU

Parfait

 
 

Alazais RASEIRE

??

From Bram.  Captured at the Château of Montségur and returned for execution by fire at Bram.

Jean REY

Parfait

From Saint-Paul-Cap-de-Joux. Courier.  Arrived at the Château of Montségur on January 1, 1244, bearing a letters from the Cathars of Cremona. 

Pierre ROBERT

Parfait

Merchant from Mirepoix.  Believer since 1209 - arrived at Montségur 1236.

 

Pierre ROBERT

Parfait

Assisted in the Consolamentum of Raymond de Ventenac, mortally wounded in 1243.  Possibly the same as the other Pierre ROBERT from Miropoix

 

Martin ROLAND

Parfait

Brother of sergeant Bernard de Joucou and uncle of the Narbona brothers.  Believer in Lavelanet in 1232 and a parfait at Montségur in 1240.

‡ ?

Bernard de SAINT-MARTIN

Parfait

Dispossessed knight from Laurac. One of the leaders of the massacre of the Inquisitors at Avignonet.  Believed to have received the Consolamentum with the knights Guillaume de Lahill and Brezihac de Cailhavel.

 

Raymond de SAINT-MARTIN

Parfait.and deacon.

 
 

Pierre SIRVEN

Parfait

assistant to Cathar Bishop Bertrand Marty.

 

???? TAPAREL

Parfait

 
 

Rixende de TELLE (or TEILH).

Parfaite

Mother superior of the Parfaites at Montségur during the siege.

Arnaud TEULY

Parfait

from Limoux.  Arrived at the Montségur before February 14, 1244. 

Raymond de TOURNEBOUIX

Parfait

Sergeant. 

 

Marquesia UNAUD de Lanta

Parfaite

Believer since 1224 and ordained a Parfaite at the Château of Montségur in 1234.

Ermengarde d'USSAT

Parfaite

Believer at Montségur from 1240. 

 

 

 

Montsegur in Popular Culture

 

An excellent book about the Cathars is Massacre At Montsegur: A History Of The Albigensian Crusade by Zoe Oldenbourg - which is good history, and well written.

For more good books, and reviews of them, click here

 

If you prefer fiction you might be interested in some of the following. None of these represents reliable history, and some are pure fantasy.

  • Gérard Bavoux, Le Porteur de lumière, Pygmalion, 1996
  • Henri Gougaud, L'Expédition, Éditions du Seuil, 1991
  • Michel Peyramaure, La Passion cathare, Robert Laffont, 1999
  • In Peter Berling's pentalogy The Children of the Grail and in Julia Navarro's La sangre de los innocentes, the siege of Montségur is described.
  • In Dan McNeil's novel The Judas Apocalypse, set just after the landings at Normandy during the Second World War, a German archaeologist and a group of American soldiers go looking for Cathar treasure removed from Montségur.
  • Antoine, Pierre, Marie, duc de Lévis Mirepoix, Montségur, Albin Michel, 1924
  • Sylvie Miller & Philippe Ward's novel The Song of Montségur (Le Chant de Montségur, 2001) .
  • Kathleen McGowan's novel The Expected One incorporates the story of the Siege of Montsegur.
  • Kate Mosse's novel, Labyrinth also describes the besieging of the Cathars at Montsegur.
  • E. D. deBirmingham's novel, Siege Perilous revolves around the Siege of Montsegur
  • Hervé Gagnon, Damné, Hurtubise, 2010, France-Loisirs, 2011

Music

 

Iron Maiden published a song titled "Montségur" on their 2003 album Dance of Death - see below

German thrash metal band Paradox's album Heresy deals with the persecution of the Cathars.

The Era albums allude to the history of the Cathars, and the first album mentions Montségur on its cover.

 

 

Below are the lyrics of a song by Iron Maiden called Montségur (from the Dance of Death album) inspired by Bruce Dickinson's holiday stay near Montségur.

I stand alone in this desolate space. In death they are truly alive.
Massacred innocence, evil took place. The angels were burning inside.

Centuries later I wonder why. What secret that they took to their grave.
Still burning heretics under our skies. Religion still burning inside.

At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.

As we kill them all so god will know his own. The innocents died for the pope on his throne.
Catholic greed and its paranoid zeal. Curse of the grail and the blood of the cross.

Templar believers with blood on their hands. Joined in the chorus to kill on command.
Burned at the stake for their soul's liberty. To stand with the Cathars to die and be free.

The book of old testament crippled and black. Satan his weapon is lust.
Living this evil damnation of flesh, back to the torture of life.
The perfect would willingly have died at the stake and all of their followers slain.
As for the knowledge of god they had claimed. Religion still burning inside.

At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.

As we kill them all so god know his own. The innocents died for the pope on his throne.
Catholic greed and its paranoid zeal. Curse of the grail and the blood of the cross.

Templar believers with blood on their hands. Joined in the chorus to kill on command.
Burned at the stake for their soul's liberty. Still burning heretics under our skies.

As we kill them all so God WILL know his own. Laugh at the darkness and in God we trust.
The eye of the triangle smiling with sin. No passover feast for the curse of within.

Facing the sun as they went to their grave. Burn like a dog or you live like a slave.
Death is the price for your soul's liberty. To stand with the Cathars and to die and be free.

At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.
At the gates and the walls of Montségur. Blood on the stones of the citadel.

 

 

 

Some useful positions

The keep: N 42.875998, E 1.832820
Vestiges of the barbican: N 42.87545, E 1.83389
Position where the Basques scaled the sheer cliff face: N 42.878286, E 1.840318

 

 

 

 

 

 

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