Medieval Europe Castles: Photos of Medieval Castles In France
Some of the most fascinating castles in France are in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, north of Perpignan.
They are popularly known as Cathar castles (although many of them were built after the Cathar Crusade).
Catharism was a medieval religious sect that emerged in Europe in the tenth century and flourished for over four hundred years, before being wiped out after vicious persecution.
The Cathars rejected parts of the old and new testament, were antimaterialistic and pacifist, critical of the corruption of the established church. The Cathars settled primarily in the Languedoc, around Carcassonne, Albi and Toulouse.
Medieval Castles in France – Lastour
The Roman Catholic establishment saw the growing popularity of Catharism as a major threat. In 1208 the Pope, Innocent III, proclaimed Cathars as heretics, and persuaded the King to launch a crusade to crush them.
What followed was more than thirty years of war, where approximately 500,000 Languedoc civilians – both Cathars and Catholics, were brutally massacred. The Crusade culiminated in 1244 with the siege of the castle at Montségur.
Many of the castles in this region of France were in fact built before or after the Cathar era, as a line of defense along the border with Spain; nevertheless some were used as strongholds or places of refuge for the Cathars.
If you’re interested in visiting medieval castles in France, try the Château de Peyrepertuse, which is one of the largest and best preserved in the area. The walk up to the castle isn’t too strenuous (about 15 minutes).
Château de Peyrepertuse
Nearby is the castle of Quéribus, the last of the Cathar strongholds to fall, in 1255. This castle would have one of the longest and steepest climbs, but if you’re up for it, the view makes it all worthwhile!
Medieval Castles Pictures – Quéribus
Other recommended castles include Puilaurens, Lastours, Montségur and Castlenou.
So, if you’re looking for a change from the famous french castles of the Loire, we’d highly recommend visiting the Languedoc.
For more medieval castles pictures and medieval castle life, check out our Castles in France Pages!
More Cathar Castle Information Resources
The Cathar Castles of the Languedoc: History, photographs, maps, site plans, source documents, roles in the Albigensian Crusades (Cathar Wars) including castle sieges, and the development of the Medieval Inquisition.