In the eleventh century Montaillou belonged to the counts of Foix.  By 1226, like Usson, it had come into the hands of Bernard Alion, who in 1236 cemented his allegiance to the anti-Crusaders by marrying Esclarmonde, the daughter of Count Roger Bernard of Foix (d.1241).  The castle passed to Alion's brother in law in 1258, after Bernard was burned alive as a heretic at Perpignan.  The walls are then said to have been doubled in thickness by Foix, though there seems no trace of such thickening.  In 1318 the whole village was arrested on the orders of Bishop Jacques Fournier, the former Cistercian abbot of Fontfroide.  He was later to become Pope Benedict XII and because of this his voluminous notes on this inquisition was kept in the Vatican until the present day.  This allowed Emmanuel Le Roy Laduire to detail the life of the village from 1294 to 1324.  The castle was ordered demolished by King Louis XIII in 1638.

On another craggy ridge end site, the castle has a rectangular tower on its highest point to the south.  This tower was at least three storeys high, although all features, other than the bare walls with putlog holes and the remains of two small apertures in the long north wall, have long gone.  The walls are thin and the masonry is almost in herringbone style, although the south wall is totally missing.  The style points to an early, maybe pre eleventh century construction.  Beneath the keep is a rectangular bailey to the NE.  This retains vestiges of revetment walls of uncertain date.  Below to the east are outer works in no better condition. 

Why not join me 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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