A little history of Vaison-la-Romaine castle

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The castle - ©Torsade de Pointes / CC0 The castle - ©Torsade de Pointes / CC0
Vaison-la-Romaine castle Castle

The city of Vaison

While Barbarians devastated the Roman city, counts of Toulouse decided to live on the rock, on the other bank of river Ouvèze, in the 14th century, to found the current castle. Then a city was born around this city, surrounded by powerful ramparts.

Inhabitants immediately moved from the right bank to the left one. But things became pretty difficult: yes, we had a bishop in Vaison, since the 3th century... and between those bishops and counts of Toulouse, it wasn’t a love story!

Wars... and peace?

They were always getting at each other. Yes, everything started in 1160, when count Raymond V besieged the city and plundered it. Here we go again in 1180! Why? Because the area became under the pope’s authority, so the Church owned Vaison!

This situation didn’t please our counts at all. So in 1185, Raymond VI’s henchmen raised a wooden keep on the Church’s land. The bishop destroyed it. Count Raymond VI kicked bishops out and reraised a stony castle in 1194, as a sign of no confidence!

The bishop stopped the building site and destroyed the foundations, threatening workers of an excommunication! The count turned up quickly and he was excommunicated. But he took revenge and kidnapped the bishop, ordering him to give him back his castle and Vaison city... No, no, no! shouted the bishop.

They finally made a deal: counts gave the fief back to the Church in 1190, on the condition that, after the bishop’s death, counts could get it back! When the prelate passed away, they didn’t wait for the end of the burial: they get back the city and rebuilt their fortress!

But the squabble wasn’t over, ooo, no: the bishop, at that time was called Raimbault de Flotte. The count wasn’t allowed to raise his castle, so the bishop complained to the pope! Further, Raymond’s henchmen murdered the legate Pierre de Castelnau...

Arrested, the count had to make amends, bare feet, wearing a simple shirt in front of Vaison church... Then the new bishop Faraud decided to talk with counts of Toulouse’s heir, Alphonse de Poitiers (king saint Louis’ brother), to resolve the problem. It was done in 1250.

The castle remained here and a new city was founded near it, the "upper town", the bishops’ seat from 1465. Under the Popes’ domination, Vaison fell to kings of France: the end of troubles...

Castle and Upper town

The castle is composed of a big square keep, of a southern wing links to the keep, of an Eastern wing. It’s in the Upper town: a nice walk to do! We go past the belfry (16th c.), the Old Market square with the public fountain raised in 1460 (the only fresh water spring of the city), the Jew’s gate who used to delimit the Jew district... And we have a nice view on Ouvèze valley!

And also!