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Puivert castle: a deadly legend and Eleanor's troubadours

The entrance | Txapulín / CC-BY
Cathar castle Castle Siege Festivities Legend Eleanor of Aquitaine Peire d'Auvergne Puivert castle

Have at those heretics!

Hear ye, hear ye, the story of the noble castle of Puivert! The family of Congost raised the first fortress in the 12th century.

But they were Cathars followers, in the family, like many other lords in the area…

Quite apart from the fact that in 1208, pope Innocent III launched the Crusades against Cathars: have at them!

And soon, a terrible army of knights coming from Northern France, led by Simon de Montfort, seized heretic castles little by little: Puivert wasn’t an exception.

It was a real piece of cake: in 1210, Pons de Bruyères, Simon de Montfort’s lieutenant, besieged the fortress within 5 days!

Well done, our lieutenant was rewarded: he get Puivert and gave it to his son Jean.

This one already had a vast land called Kercob. Ker what?!

The Kercob was a very strategical place located near the Spanish frontier (Aragon at that time), remain of lands taken to the Cathars, with huge privileges.

So Jean re-raised the castle, in 1310.

Centuries and families went by (the Voisins, the Joyeuse, the Roux), and Puivert was even raised to a marquisate in 1680… before the fall (ouch) during the French Revolution and the demolition of towers.

The water sowing death

Let’s talk again about Jean de Bruyères! The legend says a big lake was at the bottom of the castle, long time ago.

But in 1280, Jean started huge excavation works in order to lower the water level.

The tradition says he did this because of a pretty princess; Jean was terribly in love with her!

She was called the “White Lady” and she often came near the lake to meditate, sat on a stony chair.

But with rains, her throne get flood! Very upset, she asked Jean to do something…

So, for the love of her pretty lady, Jean launched the excavation. But rocks surrounding the lake collapsed and the dyke violently broke.

The water started to flood the valley, a deadly water that sowed desolation, like in villages of Chalabre and Mirepoix.

Lilting accent and bagpipes

The Musicians' Room

Come on, now! In the keep is a beautiful room, called “the Musicians' room”.

Bases are decorated with sculpted characters representing musicians: bagpipe, lute, harp players… A decoration made on purpose!

Because in Puivert, a famous cour d’amour, a "love court" used to stand, where all the upper crust came, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine.

People came to listen the most talented and famous troubadours, letting out a stream of verses with their powerful voice and their lilting accent…

Nice parties, like the one in 1170 for the coming of Alphonse VIII de Castile. He came towards Bordeaux in order to met his future wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine and king of England’s daughter.

And that night, best troubadours gathered in Puivert to sing their poems… like the one written by Peire d’Alvernhe, Chanterai d'aquest trobadors (I’ll sing about those troubadours”), who ended by: Ce vers a été composé au son des cornemuses à Puivert, parmi les chants et les rires..., “Those verses were made to the sound of bagpipes in Puivert, among sings and laughs”.

Peire d'Auvergne, troubadour

Let’s talk about Peire in Puivert, the one who wrote Chanterai d'aquest trobadors

He came from Auvergne (Central France). He was a well-read guy, son of a bourgeois from Clermont-Ferrand.

He wrote gorgeous and witty poetry, and he knew it! He prided himself to be the best of the troubadour...

He went about his business in the court of king of Castille, in the court of countess of Narbonne or count of Toulouse… and ladies always hosted him!

The visit of Puivert

We enter the castle after 500 metres of a steep path: phew!

Once we reach the summit, we’re reward: the New castle (14th c.) and its 35 metres keep!

Inside, the Guards room, the Lower room, the chapel and of course the gorgeous Musicians rooms. We also can climb on the terrace to get a nice breath of fresh air… enjoy the view!

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!