Steeped in history, romance, toil and strife, the mediaeval bastions scattered around our local area have become known as the Cathar Castles, although many were actually built before the Cathar era.
Pope Innocent III condemned the Cathars as heretics in 1208 and persuaded the French king to mount the first of many “Albigensian” crusades, named after Albi, a Cathar stronghold. Predatory northern nobles, led for a decade by the notoriously cruel Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, descended on the area, pillaging towns, massacring Cathar and Catholic civilians alike, and seizing the lands of local counts. The effect of this brutality was to further unite the Cathars and their Catholic neighbours in southern solidarity against the barbarous north. Though military defeat became inevitable with the capitulation of Toulouse in 1229 and the fall of Montségur in 1244, it took the informers and torturers of the Holy Inquisition (formed especially for the purpose) another 180 years to snuff out the flame of Catharism completely.