languedoc roussillon

Carcassonne

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Carcassonne became famous in its role in the Albigensian Crusades, when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army of Simon de Montfort forced its citizens to surrender. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city’s surrender, held in his own dungeon and allowed to die. Montfort was appointed the new viscount. He added to the fortifications. Carcassonne became a border citadel between France and the kingdom of Aragon (Spain).

Buste de la Dame Carcas devant la porte narbonnaise

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The legend of Lady Carcas attempts to explain the origin of the name of the city of Carcassonne.

History says that Charlemagne’s army was at the gates of the city facing the Saracens. A princess was at the head of the Knights of the City after the death of her husband. This is Princess Carcas. The siege lasted five years.

But early in the sixth year, food and water were becoming increasingly rare. Lady Carcass would take inventory of all reserves remaining. The villagers brought him a pig and a sack of wheat. She then had the idea to feed the pig with the sack of wheat and then precipitate it from the highest tower of the City outside the ramparts.

Charlemagne and his men, believing that the city was full of food even to the point of wasting pigs fed with wheat, raised the siege. Seeing Charlemagne’s army to leave the plain before the city, Lady Carcas elated by the victory of her stratagem decided to ring all the bells of the city. One of the men of Charlemagne then exclaimed: “Carcas sonne!” (it mean’s “Carcas rings”). Hence the name of the City.

Lady Carcass is a purely imaginary character. The legend that dates back to the twelfth century, was written in the sixteenth by Jean Dupre and rewritten in the seventeenth century by Guillaume Besse and Guillaume Catel. Charlemagne did not make the siege of Carcassonne, his father Pepin having already taken the Saracens in 759