History of the Château of Roquefixade
An earlier Chateau de Roquefixade was built in the 11th-century.
Its existence is attested in 1034. No doubt a village existed here
from the same period although it is not mentioned in surviving texts
until the 13th century.
The fist known lords of the castle are the seigneurs de Pailhès,
a branch of the family de Rabat, who all seem to have used the name
Bernard Amiel de Pailhès.
In 1180, a château is mentioned here, belonging to the family of
Villemur or Fourquevaux.
In 1200, Raymond de Pereille, Lord of Montsegur, married Corba
de Lanta, whose family owned Chateau de Roquefixade. This family
rendered homage for the fief to the Counts of Foix.
During the Cathar Wars the lords of Roquefixade fought beside their
liege lords, the Counts of Foix and the Counts of Toulouse. For
this reason, the village was razed by the troops of Simon de Montfort,
the leader of the Crusade.
Although the Chateau de Roquefixade did not play a pivotal role
in the Crusade, it became a retreat for the Cathar heretics after
the Treaty of Meaux (or Treaty of Paris) was signed in 1229.
Guilhem de Plaigne one of the key protagonists in the massacre
of the Inquisitors at Avignonet (1242) and a knight of the garrison
at Montsegur during the siege of Montsegur (1243-4) was living here
at Roquefixade in En 1246. Since he had built a chateau near Plaigne
in the Aude one might speculate that he felt safer here after the
fall of Montsegur.
There seems to have been a conflict in 1243 concerning rights over
Roquefixade and involving the Counts of Toulouse. Because of its
strategic importance, the château was integrated into the system
of defence for the Pays d'Olmes..
In 1258, the King of France and defined the frontiers with Aragon
in the traité de Corbeil. Roquefixade and Monségur, were fixed as
the south-west limit of the French territory.
In 1270, King Philippe III (le Hardi) bought the rights to Roquefixade
from Ro Raymond-Roger de Pailhès, in order to control the site and
defend the area.
Just two years later, in 1272, the occupants of the château give
their support to the Count of Foix during his revolt against Philippe
III le Hardi. In the same year the village is mentioned among the
goods of the Count of Foix.
When the Count of Foix surrendered the king seized the Château
de Roquefixade, but he seems not to held into it because in 1278
the château was purchased by the French King, who restored and maintained
the fortifications and installed a garrison. In 1302 the garrison
included a chatelaine (Castilian), a lookout (guetteur), a door
keeper (portier), a dozen sergeants and a number of guard dogs.
Roquefixade became a stronghold at the end of a line of royal fortresses
to keep watch on the territory of the Count of Foix.
The village (altitude 803 m) was purchased by the French Crown
ten years later in 1288. On the order of the sénéchal de Carcassonne,
Simon Brisetête (or Briatexte), a bastide was built here ("for the
exaltation of the Holy Catholic Church and the extirpation of heresy"
and called the Bastide de Monfort. It was given a royal charter
and certain privileges. Roquefixade then became the capital of a
territory of the Languedoc called Esponne, up until the French Révolution.
In 1463, Louis XI restored the château to Gaston IV, Count of Foix.
In 1632, Henri II, duc de Montmorency, governor of the Languedoc,
revolted against the Royal power, or more specifically against Cardinal
Richelieu. Roquefixade was part of the revolt. When Henri was defeated
later in the year, the French king Louis XIII visited the area on
his way to Toulouse for the Duke's execution.
Louis took the opportunity to order the destruction of Roquefixade,
as it serving no royal purpose, was costly to maintain, had a history
of rebellion, and might otherwise provide an operational centre
for brigands (like Termes). It was slighted along with the châteaux
of Montaut, Tarascon, and Labastide de Sérou.
In 1633, the lord de La Forest Toyras, royal governor of Foix,
ordered the Sieur de Caraybat to demolish the castle. The site was
used as a stone quarry, a "carrière de pierre". In the 17th century
the De Caulet, family, Capitouls of Toulouse, bought the seigneurie.
It then passed by marriage to the house of de Lévis when Marguerite
de Caulet, sister of François-Etienne, Bishop of Pamiers, married
Jean de Lévis, Baron of Lavelanet.
In 1675, the site was sold to Vital Guilhon de Lestang, baron de
Celles, whose family retained it until the Révolution. It was then
sold as a national asset (bien national).
Around 1792, it was sold as a bien national.
Château de Roquefixade has been listed as a monument historique
by the French Ministry of Culture since 1995. Archaeological digs
have been conducted since the late twentieth century.
Association Château de Roquefixade