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Chateau de Montailloutourist information guide
Address: Château de Montaillou, Montaillou, 09110
Tel: + 33 (0)4 68 20 31 91
Opening Times: All year
Not much remains of Chateau de Montaillou, apart from a 45m high tower, built to facilitate communications with the more widely known Cathar stronghold of Montsegur.
Chateau de Montaillou is, however, inextricably linked to the Cathar Inquisition of 1233. Although Simon de Montfort persecuted thousands of Cathars he did not completely wipe them out. The diehards withdrew to more remote destinations and Chateau de Montaillou, sitting at an altitude of 1354m, proved a good hiding place.
The Catholic Church, realising that it had to implement strict measures to completely eradicate the Cathars, set up the Inquisition which used terror and torture to extract confessions from the Cathars. The monks and priests kept meticulous records of Cathar testimonials and particularly rich are those of Montaillou.
Chateau de Montaillou was still harbouring Cathar sympathisers as late as the early 14th-century. In 1308, there was a Cathar resurgence led by Authie (see Chateau de Lordat). Chateau de Montaillou was sealed off and the inhabitants arrested. Interrogations were held in 1308 and again nine years later. The hearings were conducted by Jacques Fournier, who later became Pope Benoit XII. His records are an interesting account of medieval life in the Ariege.
In the mid 13th-century, Chateau de Montaillou changed from being a seat of local power to a frontier fortress. The tower probably dates from this time. Chateau de Montaillou, not unlike other Cathar castles was left to crumble away in the 17th-century.
Today, Montaillou is the focus of extensive archaeological digs which unfortunately can't be visited yet by the public. However, Chateau de Montaillou boasts splendid views of Cathar castle country and creates an eerie atmosphere of past events. Check with the mairie in Montaillou for historical reconstructions and conferences that take place in the Summer months.