The original castle was possibly built by the Bezier family as in 1157 Raymond Trencavel Bezier (murdered 1167) granted Coustaussa to Peter Vilar (d.bef.1210).  The castle fell in 1170 to King Alfonso of Aragon (d.1195).  When Simon Montfort (d.1218) and the Crusaders advanced on the fortress after the successful siege of Termes in late November 1210, they found Coustaussa abandoned.  Apparently the garrison, under the young son of Peter Vilar, seeing what had happened at Termes, had fled.  Consequently the army continued on their way to try their luck at Puivert.  After finding Crusader rule intolerable Coustaussa, like many other Languedoc castles, rebelled in 1211.  This happened when Simon Montfort was at Narbonne with a crowd of newly arrived Crusaders.  They immediately went to Coustaussa castle and attacked it, forcing its surrender after a few days.  They then marched on Castelnaudry.  It seems likely that the Vilar family are the same as the Vivier family who were certainly holding Coustaussa by 1244, when they also had a house within Fenouillet castle.  The fortress passed to Peter Fenouillet of nearby Fenouillet castle and in 1367 to the Montesquieus by the marriage of Geraude Fenouillet to Saix Montesquieu.  The Montesquieus retained the lordship until the French Revolution.  The castle was apparently intact until the nineteenth century when its woodwork was sold.

The castle lies at the high point of a ridge at the west end of Coustaussa village.  It consists of two concentric, rectangular enclosures.  Both are now heavily ruined.  In the inner ward are the remains of a Romanesque loop which suggests the antiquity of the structure.  The ward has a low, square tower to the east, with the main body consisting of four main chambers running from east to west with a central block that forms a pair of transepts like a church.  Surrounding this is the outer ward which had a projecting rectangular tower to the north and a suite of rooms to the south.  The inner ward was rebuilt as a house that had at least one bartizan at the NE corner, the upper floor being of a different, thinner build than the lower two floors with the Romanesque window to the east.  The windows to the north look sixteenth century at the earliest.  The whole can be seen to be much ruined and much rebuilt.

Why not join me here and at other French castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

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