Cathar castles: Montsegur

The Cathar castle of Montsegur sits on top of a limestone peak (or pog in Occitan) at around 3000 feet. Here several hundred Cathars held out for 10 months against the besieging French army of over 6,000 men in 1243-44.



A view of Montsegur from Tower Rock in 2011. The French army took this small peak to the east of the pog and erected a catapult there to bombard the castle.

Montsegur from Tower Rock

Montsegur from Tower Rock

My boys in the Meadow of the Burned in 2011. When the Cathars surrendered, over 200 chose to be burned alive in a bonfire here rather than renounce their religion.

The Meadow of the Burned, Montsegur

The Meadow of the Burned, Montsegur

A monument to the Cathars who died in the Meadow of the Burned. The cross is the Occitanian or Cathar cross.

Cathar Cross

Cathar Cross

The snow capped peaks of the Pyrenees can be seen from the castle.

420 Montsegure 7It is claimed that the rising sun lines up with this window in the Keep on midsummer day.

410 Montsegure 6Montsegur has been identified by some as the Grail castle Monsalvat or Munsalvaesche in the tale of Parsifal:

Only a castle stands completely alone,
supreme reward of earthly desire.
Whoever seeks it, searches eagerly but
never, alas, to find it.
And yet there are many who strive for it.
Or is it still unknown, Lord?
Its name is Monsalväsche.

Wolfram von Eschenbach (c.1210). Parsifal.

Not far from Montsegur is the fortress of Roquefixade. Halfway along the road between Foix and Lavelanet, it stands out against the sky on the highest point of a rugged cliff.

450 Roquefixade 2011Montsegur and Roquefixade are about 30 km east of Foix in a fairly remote valley. They are shown on the map below in light green, towards the bottom left.

Cathar country

Cathar country


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