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Chateau de Montsegurtourist information guide
Address: Château de Montsegur, Montsegur, 09300
Tel: +33 (0)5 61 03 03 03
Opening Times: All year except Jan | Admission Charge
Chateau de Montsegur is synonymous with Cathar history. It was built in 1204 on the site of a former fortress. Approximately 100 soldiers lived here under the watchful eye of Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix.
Chateau de Montsegur became a Cathar stronghold with religious leaders and disgraced Languedoc barons seeking refuge here. The fact that pilgrims flocked here from afar did little to ingratiate Montsegur to the Roman Catholics and French Monarchy. After the massacre of members of the Inquisition at Avignonet by Montsegur inhabitants, a siege of the citadel was ordered.
The siege of Chateau de Montsegur took place in July 1243. However, it took over 10,000 Catholic soldiers to besiege the fortress. The defenders of Montsegur (approximately 400 people in total) finally surrendered in March 1244. This was mainly due to Chateau de Montsegur's strategic position high on its steep-sided pog. Soldiers found it immensely difficult to advance up the slope and it was only with the use of a huge ballista that the castle walls were breached.
Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix surrendered on condition his garrison was spared and a two week truce was called. The Cathars remained opposed to the truce, however, and on March 16th marched out of the castle to throw themselves directly onto a bonfire. Over 200 Cathars died that day.
In 1245 the new Lord of Mirepoix, Guy de Levis II took control of the castle. A third castle was built towards the end of the 13th century and it is these ruins that visitors still enjoy exploring today. There are also fantastic views out over the valley of the Aude and St-Barthelemy massif.