Peyrepertuse Castle is a ruined fortress and one of the Cathar castles of the Languedoc located in the French Pyrenees just over an hour from La Souqueto B&B.
The name Peyrepetuse is derived from Pèirapertusa, Occitane meaning Pierced Rock.
The castle ruins are impressive, set high on a defensive crag. From the approach road it is difficult to see where the rock stops and the castle starts.
The castle was built in the 11th century on a site dominating the Corbieres and the sea. The main part, resembles the prow of a ship, running along the top of an 800m (2,600 ft) high crag. It houses the church of Sainte-Marie and the governor’s residence.
The lower part of the castle was built on a strategic location by the kings of Aragon in the 11th Century and the higher part by the French King Louis IX later on, after the area was annexed to France. The two castles are linked together by a staircase. The castle lost importance as a strategic castle when the border between France and Spain was moved in 1659, causing the castle to be abandoned.
It was never subjected to attack during the Crusade against the Cathars. Nevertheless, it was surrendered to the French Crusaders 22nd of May 1217, reclaimed again as the balance of power changed. Guilhem de Peyrepertuse, was excommunicated in 1224 because of his refusal to submit to the Catholic Crusaders. He surrendered after the siege of Carcassonne (the Viscount of Carcassonne, Guilhem’s suzerain, having failed to retake Carcassonne from the French invaders in 1240). Peyrepertuse became a French possession the same year.
Visit the Chateau Queribus from our B&B in Languedoc.
Near neighbour to Peyrepertuse, the castle at Queribus started life around 1000 as a ‘Spanish’ castle, being on the northern frontiers of Aragon / Barcelona territory. In an extremely dramatic location on top of a rocky pinnacle in Languedoc-Roussillon, the castle comprises a donjon (keep) and a chapel, and various other rooms and remaining defensive walls.
The castle was one of the last refuges of the cathars, who arrived here after being driven from Montsegur in 1244, and lived under the command of cathar leader Chabert de Barbaira. It was 11 years later in 1255 that they were forced from Queribus. Even at that point they avoided the army sent to defeat them – the surrender of Chabert was accepted instead – and many escaped quietly across the border to Spain, thus avoiding the terrible penalties exacted on cathars elsewhere.
Later it was to become one of the five defensive castles in the region that defended the border with Spain – a role that continued until the border moved southwards, following the 1659 Treaty of Spain.It is important to note that a significant part of the defences that we now see at Queribus castle date from this later role, and did not exist at the time of the cathars.