Castles and Manor Houses Home Page

Cathar Castles
Château de Puivert
Semi-Ruined Medieval Cathar Castle in France

submit to reddit

 

 

Castle of Puivert ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about Occitan. Castèl de Puègverd)

 

The Château de Puivert is a Cathar castle situated in the commune of Puivert, in the Aude département of the Languedoc. This building, on top a hill overlooking the village and its lake, reaches an altitude of 605 m.

n the twelfth century a castle stood on this site, which had strong Cathar and troubadour  links. A meeting of troubadours took place here in 1170, and in 1185 festivities attended by the Viscount of Carcassonne and Loba, Lady of Lastours (Cabaret)

The castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1902. The castle of Puivert is still in relatively good condition.  It is privately owned, but open to the public and undergoing restoration. 

See separate sections below on:

Address / Maps / Location

History

Architecture

Photographs

Entrance with drawbridge and portcullis

 

 

Address


Address:
Château de Puivert
11230 Puivert,
Aude
France


Contact
Cathar Castle Tours
Tel from the US: 010 33 468 201142
Tel from the UK: 01 33 468 201142
Tel from France: 0468 201142
Tel other: + 33 468 201142
www.catharcountry.info
e-mail catharcountry@gmail.com

Film Location For:


The Ninth Gate (La neuvième porte) (1999)    Movie version of The Dumas Club, Directed by Roman Polanski. With Johnny Depp

Winged Migration (Le Peuple Migrateur) (2001)    Winged Migration

 

 

Google Maps

 

Small scale map showing the location of
Château de Puivert

Google map showing the location of
Château de Puivert

Large scale map showing
Château de Puivert

Location

 

The site is in the Quercob region, 60 km (40 miles) south of Carcassonne and 45 km (30 miles) east of Foix.

Phone : + 04 68 20 81 52 Fax : + 04 68 20 81 52. Opening times: April 1 to September 30. 8am to 8pm - October 1 to 31 March from 10am to 5pm

In the nearby village of Puivert you can visit the "musée du Quercorb".  (The Quercorb is the area around Puivert.)

Puivert lies at   42°54'44" N,   2°03'34" E

 

 

 

History

 

At the meeting of 1170 a troubadour called Peire d'Auvergne penned a satirical Occitan poem which concluded with the words

Lo vers fo fats als enfobatz
A puich-vert tot jugan rizen
This poem was composed to the sound of bagpipes
At Puivert among song and laughter

 

At the start of the Wars against the Cathars, the so-called Albigensian Crusade, Puivert's seigneur was Bernard de Congost. His wife Alpaïs had become a Parfaite before her death just a year earlier in 1208. 

In November 1210 the Castle was besieged (just after the fall of Termes) by Simon de Montfort, and fell after three days.  The dispossessed Congost family carried on the fight against the invaders.

Bernard died after receiving the Cathar Consolamentum at Montségur in 1232. His son fought on, participating in the events of Avignonet in 1242 and helping defend the Château of Montségur ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan. Montsegùr) in 1243-4.

In 1213 the seigneurie, now in French hands, was conferred by Simon de Montfort on one of his lieutenants, Lambert de Thury. Later it was allocated to Pons de Bruyère.

At the start of the 14th century, probably around 1310,  Thomas de Bruyère, grandson of Pons, built the present castle, to the east of the old "Cathar castle". His wife was Isabelle de Melun, daughter of a Grand Chamberlain of France, whose arms are still to be seen in the building.

One room has fine carvings of minstrels, and tourists are often told that troubadours played in this room.  This is absolute rubbish, but if you look behind the castle you will find the foundations of the earlier castle where troubadours really did play. 

 

The castle, 600 meters (1970 feet) above sea level, is sited on a green hill top (Puig-Vert). Perhaps the significance of the name is that most castles in the area are not on green hill tops, but rocky mountain tops.

Some points of note are:

  • the tower gate on the east side of the courtyard. You can see the de Bruyère arms (a lion rampant with a forked and knotted tail) carved in stone above the doorway. The bridge over the ditch would have been a drawbridge. You can still see the portcullis, and the two holes where beams would have projected to hoist the bridge.
  • the courtyard is 80 meters long and 40 wide (260 x 130 feet), surrounded by a curtain wall and the remains of six towers. In the Northwest corner is a postern gate (used for surprise sorties against besiegers) called the Chalabre Gate
  • the donjon (keep) is 35 meters (115 feet) tall and 15 meters (49 feet) across each side. On the west of the keep are traces of an adjoining building. Each of the four stories contains a single room, with a defensive platform at the fifth level. The keep comprises:
    • two lower levels with barrel vaulting
    • the third floor is the chapel. It is decorated with columns, mouldings and shields. The ceiling is rib-vaulted.   Note the keystone of the arch. In the wall is a piscina. It is not that usual to find chapels like this with rooms above them.
    • The fourth floor is a rib vaulted room, the culs-de-lampe sculpted with figures playing musical instruments. This is the so-called Minstrels' Chamber ("Salle des Musiciens"). The 8 musicians each play a different medieval instrument: bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, tambourine, lute, portable organ, psaltery, rebeck and cithern. The room is relatively well-lit - castle rooms typically have larger windows further up the walls.  Note the thickness of the walls, and the bench seats by the windows, the only part of the room that was really well let, where ladies would sew.
    • The fifth and top floor is a defensive platform and watch tower (guet), originally crenelated.

 

Medieval Musical Instruments
Hurdy Gurdy Portative Organ Cithern Psaltery
hurdy-gurdy portative organ cithern cithern
       
Lute Cornemuse Rebec Tambourine
lute cornemuse - bagpipes rebec or rebek tambourine
       

 

Of all the Cathar castles, Puivert is one of the best preserved. With its 35 meters high keep in which four splendid rooms are superimposed, its towers incorporated in its enclosure wall, this castle dominates the old glacial lake of Puivert below.

You can climb to the top of the donjon (keep) from where you can see the Quercorb plain to north and the peak of Bugarach to the east. To the west you can just see Montségur with the the high Pyrenees behind it. The pall of black smoke rising from Montségur on the morning of 16 March 1244 would have been clearly visible from here.

The castle was classified as an Historic Monument (Monument historique) in 1907.

 

 

Ruins of the Earlier Chateau
adjacent to the existing Château de Puivert

 

Access to the Walls of the Château de Puivert

 

Silhouette of the Château de Puivert

 

Intramural tower, Château de Puivert

 

Gate with portcullis, Château de Puivert

 

Vaulting in the Keep, Château de Puivert

 

Aerial view of the Château de Puivert

 

 

 

Architecture

 

The curtain wall, pierced with arrow slits or loopholes (flecheres), extends some 175 m. In plan the grounds are rectangular with a surface area of around: 3,200 m². A moat which separated it from the plateau is almost indistinguishable today.

The main entrance to the courtyard is through a square tower situated in the canter of the east wall. Of the original towers there remain:

  • the keep (the best preserved part of the castle).
  • a smooth round tower in the Northeast corner
  • a rough (bossed) round tower in the middle of the north wall
  • a square tower, with a windowed turret on the east side
  • the remains of a round tower in the Southeast

As well as the central gateway in the east wall there are two other gateways: one in the Northwest corner (defended by the keep) and another to the south of the keep giving access to the original castle on this site.

 

 
 

cousieges - Château de Puivert

 
 
 

Château de Puivert - Plan

 

Peire d'Alvernhe (Pierre d'Auvergne)

 

Peire d'Alvernhe is one of the best known troubadours.

Peire's most famous work is Chantarai d'aquest trobadors, a sirventes written at Puivert in which he ridicules twelve contemporary troubadours ("a poetical gallery") and himself. It has been conjectured that this piece was first performed in the presence of all twelve of the ridiculed poets in late Summer 1170 while an embassy bringing Eleanor, daughter of Henry II of England, to her Spanish groom Alfonso VIII of Castile stayed at Puivert (accompanied by her mother Eleanor of Aquitaine)

The obscurity of most of the twelve poets and the attack upon such personal characteristics as appearance and manners suggests that the parody was good natured and performed in the presence of all twelve victims.

The poem, a sirventes, is reproduced below with a few of the verses translated into English.

It concludes

This poem was composed to the sound of bagpipes
At Puivert among song and laughter

Peired'Alvernhe - BnF MS12473 fol.

 
 

 

   

Cantarai d'aqestz trobadors
Que canton de maintas colors
E-l pieier cuida dir mout gen!
Mas a cantar lor er aillors
Q'entrametre-n vei cen pastors
C'us non sap qe-s mont'o-s dissen.

I'll sing at those troubadour:
Who sing In many styles
And the worst one thinks he speaks well,
But they will have to sing elsewhere.
For mong them I see a hundred yokels
Not one knows if his song rises or falls.

D'aisso mer mal Peire Rotgiers,
Per qe n'er encolpatz primiers,
Car chanta d'amor a presen!
E valgra li mais us sautiers
En la glieis'o us candeliers
Tener ab gran candel'arden.

Thus Peire Rogier is unfortunate,
because he will be the first accused,
since he sings about love in public;
and he would be better off with a psalter
in church, or holding a candlestick
with a large burning candle.

E-l segonz, Girautz de Borneill,
Qe sembl'oire sec al soleill
Ab son chantar magre dolen,
Q'es chans de vieilla porta-seill!
Que si-s mirava en espeill,
No-s prezari'un aiguilen.

And the second [is] Guiraut de Borneill.
Who resembles a goatskin dried in the sun
With his weak. pitiful singing
Like the song of an old woman watercarrier.
And if he looked at himself in a mirror.
He would not think much of himself.

E-l tertz, Bernartz de Ventedorn,
Q'es menre de Borneill un dorn!
En son paire ac bon sirven
Per trair'ab arc nanal d'alborn,
E sa mair'escaldava-l forn
Et amassava l'issermen.

And the third [is] Bernart de Ventadorn.
who is a hand's width shorter than Borneill
His father was a good servant
Able to handle a laburnum bow well.
And his mother heated the oven
And collected brushwood.

E-l quartz, de Briva-l Lemozis,
Us ioglars q'es plus qerentis
Que sia tro q'en Beniven,
E semblari'us pelegris
Malautes, qan chanta-l mesquis,
C'a pauc pietatz no me'n pren.

 

E-n Guillems de Ribas lo qins,
Q'es malvatz defors e dedins,
E ditz totz sos vers raucamen,
Per que es avols sos retins,
C'atretan se'n fari'us chins!
E l'uoil semblan de vout d'argen.

 

E-l seises, Grimoartz Gausmars,
Q'es cavalliers e fai ioglars!
E perda Dieu qui-l o cossen
Ni-l dona vestirs vertz ni vars,
Que tals er adobatz semprars
Q'enioglarit se'n seran cen.

 

Ab Peire de Monzo so set,
Pos lo coms de Tolosa-l det,
Chantan, un sonet avinen,
E cel fon cortes qe-l raubet,
E mal o fes car no-il trenqet
Aqel pe que porta penden.

Pedro de Monzón from Castille

E l'oites, Bernatz de Saissac,
C'anc un solbon mestier non ac
Mas d'anar menutz dons queren!
Et anc puois no-l prezei un brac
Pois a-n Bertran de Cardaillac
Qes un vieil mantel suzolen.

 

E-l novens es en Raembautz,
Qe-s fai de son trobar trop bautz!
Mas eu lo torni en nien,
Q'el non es alegres ni chautz!
Per so pretz aitan los pipautz
Que van las almosnas queren.

And the ninth is Lord Raimbaut
who is too proud of his own compositions;
But I have I low opinion of him
Because he is neither joyful not warm:
That's why I esteem as highly the pipers
Who go seeking alms.

E n'Ebles de Saigna-l dezes,
A cui anc d'amor non venc bes,
Si tot se chanta de coinden:
Us vilanetz enflatz plages,
Que dizen que per dos poies
Lai se loga e sai se ven.

 

E l'onzes, Gonzalgo Roitz,
Qe-s fai de son chant trop formitz,
Per q'en cavallaria-s fen!
Et anc per lui non FO feritz
Bos colps, tant ben non FO garnitz,
Si doncs no-l trobet en fugen.

Gonzalo Ruiz from Castille

E-l dotzes, us veilletz lombartz.
Que clama sos vezins coartz,
Et ill eis sent de l'espaven
Pero sonetz fai mout gaillartz
Ab motz maribotz e bastartz,
E lui apell'om Cossezen.

 

Peire d'Alvernge a tal votz
Que canta de sus e de sotz,
E lauza-s mout a tota gen!
Pero maistres es de totz,
Ab c'un pauc esclarzis sos motz,
C'a penas nuils hom los enten.

Peire d'Alvernhe has such a voice
That he sings both high and low
And praises himself to everyone:
However, he is the master of all.
If he would make his wards a bit clearer.
Because hardly anyone understands them.

Lo vers FO faitz als enflabotz
A Puoich-vert, tot iogan rizen.

This song was made for bagpipes
At Puivert, while playing and laughing.

   

 

Royal Marriage

The meeting of troubadours at which and for which this sirventes was written was probably convoked as part of the celebrations to mark the forthcoming marriage of

Eleanor of England (13 October 1162 - 31 October 1214) was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. [baptised by Henry of Marcy]. When she was 14 years old, before 17 September 1177, Eleanor was married to King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos.

Her daughter, Blanch (de Castile) was married on 23 May 1200 to Prince Louis of France, who succeeded his father as King Louis VIII on 14 July 1223. Crowned Queen at Saint-Denis with her husband on 6 August 1223. Regent of the Kingdom of France during 1226-1234 (minority of her son) and during 1248-1252 (absence of her son on Crusade).

Her son, Ferdinand, was heir of the throne since his birth. It was on his behalf that Diego of Acebo and the future Saint Dominic travelled to Denmark in 1203 to secure a bride.

Critics believe that Peire d'Alvernha wrote the sirventes during the trip that an illustrious Castilian retinue took to Bordeaux in 1170. Alfonso VIII was to marry Eleonor of England, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitain. We have the name of the main Castilian ambassador to Bordeaux, Gonzalo Ruiz de Azagra, a Navarrese who became a vassal and courtier to Alfonso VIII. This solves the problem of "Gonzalgo Roitz" s identity, and links the sirventes and Peire d'Alvernha to Alfonso VIII de Castilla: Peire wrote "Chantarai d´aqestz trobadors" for and during Gonzalo Ruiz and Eleonor's trip to Castilla.

The festive occasion justifies the satire's cheerful and convivial mood, as well as the presence of so many troubadours: a royal wedding between the open handed Plantagenet clan and the powerful king of Castilla promised lavish patronage. The celebration attracted famous troubadours such as Giraut de Bornelh, Peire d'Alvernha, and Peire de Monzo, who probably came from the court of Alfonso II de Aragón, since this monarch intervened decisively in the wedding's organization. Alfonso VIII presumably rewarded all the troubadours in attendance regardless of where they came from, and through this generosity he laid the basis for his fame as a munificent patron. Peire d'Alvernha and his comrades obliged him, and thereafter celebrated Alfonso's virtues in their songs. Peire d'Alvernha's poetry proves that he had close relations with the Castilian court under Sancho III, and later under Alfonso VIII himself.

 

Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 


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

 

Photographs

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 
 
 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 
 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 
 
 
 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 
 
 
 
     

 

 

I want to   a   in      

 

 

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Château de Puivert

 

Peired'Alvernhe - BnF MS12473 fol.

 
 

 

 

submit to reddit

 

   ::::   Link to us   ::::   Castle and Manor Houses Resources   :::    © C&MH 2010-2014   :::   contact@castlesandmanorhouses.com   :::   Advertising   :::