When Villerouge-Termenès burnt alive Guilhem Bélibaste, the last Cathar in History

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The castle - ©Michel wal / C-BY-SA The castle - ©Michel wal / C-BY-SA
Villerouge-Termenes castle Castle Cathar castle Tragic destiny Execution

Termenes, Cathar castle. Yes, Cathar. Fierce struggle. Dust and blood. The castle was indeed the quiet witness of a bloody episode. The bloody story of the last Cathar in France’s history, burnt alive at the foot of the fortress in 1321. 77 years after Montségur’s stake, which sacrificed 200 Cathars and put an end to the heresy. His name? Guilhem Bélibaste. Damn, Guilhem… how did we get to this?

A man at stake in Villerouge

Our story began when Guilhem accidentally killed a shepherd from Villerouge-Termènes, during a fight. Desperate to find forgiveness, he became a Cathar. And shoo, he went in Spain. The Catholic church thought they killed all of those heretics, in Montségur’s stake. Nooo, sorry! Look, there still was this Bélibaste, that religious authorities started to hound!

For that, they sent a chap in search of him, Arnaud Sicre. The son of a Cathar burnt in Montségur, whose all possessions were seized. Arnaud accepted the mission… maybe the Church would give him back his fortune? He found Guilhem in Spain, get along with him and laid his cards on the table: his aunt in Andorra wanted to see him, pretended Arnaud. He had to come back home.

Then, he throw him into the jaws, near Foix: but Guilhem refused to renounce to his Cathar faith!! Never… he’d rather die! And he died… in the castle's courtyard… Burnt alive one day of August 1321, a torrid summer day. A carefree day, with a blue, blue sky… but in the air, we only heard dreadful yells of a man burning on a stake. A plaque inside the castle echoes the event.

The Cathar museum

The first mention of the castle dates back to 1110. Its story was very quiet… Bishop of Narbonne owned this castle during 8 centuries... It's a fortress flanked by big round towers on each corners. The biggest one is 20 metres high. In 1994, Villerouge city owned the castle and created a museum about Cathar history.