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[:RU]Castles France: Carcassonne — last relic of the era of giants[:]

[:RU]You know, I recalled the walled city? I thought he reminded his famous streets of Mont Saint-Michel (Mont Saint Michel), remember how we brodioli this amazing building at night, but let’s get back to our topic.

France, for its history, culture and customs are always attracted to him. So much intersected in this amazing, extremely interesting country. But in France there is an unusual, mystical (and because attracting more) Languedoc-place. This area is in the south, on the border with Spain. This wonderfully rich, varied and fertile region since ancient times was at the crossroads of two great military (and later trade) routes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic through the Aquitaine and from Iberia in the heart of Europe. Oddly enough, but this is the fertile region conceals many mysteries.

For one of them, we will try to get closer.


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In the heart of Languedoc is a unique structure of the military and defensive architecture — the castle of Carcassonne — more precisely, no lock, and a huge citadel or fortress. The spectacle, appeared before the eyes of the soldiers, merchants and travelers, affects its strength and power, pomp and grandeur. This fortress could accommodate ten normal (for the view) locks. But it turns out that this is not an isolated castle, and the city with fortifications have not seen any traveler of the time, towering above the river Aude, and therefore more powerful and impregnable. The river separates the upper town with its historical part of the Lower. The latter, a modern city, is small (with a population of only 46 thousand inhabitants).

No castle, no lock is not possessed such a powerful 2-row 3-kilometer wall at fifty two towers, one form of which made any tremble. It was the last relic of the century giants who went into oblivion. Carcassonne. Eto- «book in stone», which traces the history of each era and which can be well to study the history of military architecture from the ancient Romans to the XIV century.

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The Romans settled here in the II century BC, erecting a small fortified camp on the site of ancient Celtic settlement tribe Volsky. Next, the original settlement was expanded by building new defenses. In the documents of the Roman Empire, the town was mentioned already in the 20 BC The next four centuries — a time of peace and prosperity for Carcassonne. After the fall of Rome, the city was captured by the Visigoths. It Carcassonne for 300 years has been their great «headquarters» to 725 years. During these three centuries the Visigoths were able to restore and modernize the walls of the citadel. But in 725, the unexpected hike Saracens undermined the influence of the Visigoths, displacing them from their own center — Carcassonne. It is associated with the Saracens many legends of the citadel. One relates to Charlemagne, who for five years has blocked the fortress, trying to starve the city to death. According to legend, which tells you all karkassonets, wife of a Muslim king Balaaka, nicknamed Lady frame after starving the garrison defending the fortress alone. She fashioned a dozen soldiers and dolls for a few days shelled positions of the attackers.


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Finally, feed grains last remaining pig, who dropped to the foot of the tower. Belly Pig ripped and the soldiers saw the grain. Charlemagne was stunned by this and ordered the siege of the city. Lady frame was overjoyed. She began playing the trumpet, thus teasing Franks and emperor. Karl did not hear the sounds of victory, but his armor-bearer said to him, «Sir, frame invites you» («Sire, Carcas te sonne»). So, according to legend, was born the name of the fortress — Carcassonne. However, there was no answer, as in the besieged city remained dying grain and pig? Legend, you know! So it was or not, but now anyone can contemplate byustovoe image Ladies frame on one of the pillars of the bridge in front of the gates of Narbonne.

After the death of Charlemagne, his empire began to shake fragmentation and feudal sovereignty has led to what the Languedoc gradually gained independence. At the beginning of the XIII century, this area was not part of the French kingdom, was the length of Aquitaine to Provence and the Pyrenees to the Quercy. So, Visigoths and Franks fortification erected farther from the original Roman masonry, somewhere to bend it under him. The second wall, which arose later, there was a death trap for those who are trying to seize the city — was between the two walls were destroyed by hail of stones and arrows. The distance between the towers of the inner and outer walls were placed on the length of the arrow’s flight. With the constant improvement of small arms «death trap» became increasingly perilous.


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Languedoc-managed noble dynasty, the most influential was the Count of Toulouse and the clan Trankeveley. By its significance in the Languedoc with its culture, tolerance in religion, love of beauty, in particular to the songs (it was a country troubadours, which are taken very respectfully — even arranged match troubadours), had in the then Christian world of their own kind. Carcassonne has reached its power under the rule of a powerful dynasty Trankeveley, grown rich on trade with the Middle East, they provide peaceful trade routes. It is this broad, peaceful and rather profitable commerce paved the way for the emergence in the eleventh century in the Languedoc Cathar or Albigensian doctrine (named town of Albi in the north of the Languedoc). This shift in the history of political schisms will then, wars, the Inquisition and mass beatings of residents of the Languedoc.


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Lifework Clan Trankeveley was the construction of the castle Komtel (Castle in a castle or chateau in French) and the Basilica of Saint Nazaire. It is this church became the main stronghold for the doctrine of Qatar, is growing rapidly in the Languedoc. I must say that for Qatar (from the Greek kataros-net) came from the Balkans, from the territory of present Bulgaria. Their doctrine was based on the basis of Eastern religion, dualism, the central tenet of which is on the one hand — the existence of God the Good, the creator of all the spiritual, the other — the devil, the creator of the material world, that is, a man with his vices, and, consequently, of the church. Basic teachings were quite strict. Preachers Qatar were ascetic in everything; Cathar religion could confess only those who held «comfort» — the only sacrament recognized sect. These dedicated, or «perfect» in black robes and tall, peaked caps and astrologers saw the people of Languedoc.

Their austerity, lack of «material interest» strikes the eyes of all who saw wealthy holdings of Christian (Catholic) Church in this fertile region. Papal religion shaken by such an obvious enemy. The Roman Catholic Church did not enjoy particular respect in the Languedoc. In Catholic churches sometimes for several years did not celebrate Mass. Corruption Catholic monks repelled not only the nobility, but also simple peasants. Not surprisingly, in the Languedoc, in the free edge, quickly spread new, devoid of many conventions, the doctrine of the Cathars, or Albigenses, or «Waldensian» (or poor people of Lyons) — on behalf of the merchant Pierre Waldo of Lyons, gave their property by declaring a general equality, poverty and asceticism. Cathars denied the dogma of the resurrection of Christ, declared a hoax all the Christian sacraments, but his own «comfort.» Their love of nature evoked approval from hardworking and benevolent people.


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Trankeveli, built for the 1130 castle Comtal, driving royally 20000th population, watched the «blind eye» to the burgeoning influence of the Albigenses. They favor, in something and kindness, play later with one of Trankeveley cruel joke. The castle Comtal Trankeveli first used «machicolations» — shelter defenders (wooden galleries), which allows to keep fighting while watching the foot of the wall, under which often did saps while remaining protected. This innovation of military architecture was borrowed by other castles in Europe. In addition, the entrance to the Chateau Comtal closed semicircular barbican (another fortification with tower), built before the moat and the bridge to the castle. The moat was filled mostly with water. Another outer Barbican was even a death trap than the inner moat between the two walls before the gates of Narbonne. It was located by the river and was a part of the wall, which seemed more affordable than others. But the attackers who dared to climb over its walls, waiting for the huge round stones, which the defenders rolled out with a high wall and cast directly on the head of the unfortunate. It was the devil millstone, he leaves behind only porridge from the bodies and weapons. As you can see, Carcassonne, with its fortifications gave the impression of an impregnable stronghold. But is it? At the beginning of the XIII century Pope Innocent III, concerned the growing influence of Qatar, for fear of losing their «flock» in Languedoc, to send a missionary delegation led by sogladataem, a Spanish monk Dominic Guzman. But all attempts of Catholic monks in vain. They are convinced that «the heresy of Qatar» has already covered a vast territory: Messrs. Albi, Toulouse, Foix, Carcassonne, Montsegur. Their eyes do not seem to paradise, and the «hellish inferno.» It is not only the «perfect», but also simple peasants already asserting that «the world is eternal, it has no beginning and no end.» One of the main commandments of the Albigensian reads: «Do not shed blood!». It plunges into a frenzy of Catholics, they recognize that it is heresy!


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But an even greater dissatisfaction with the papal mission cause catarrh word of the cross «Krest- is not a symbol of faith, but an instrument of torture. Ancient Romans crucified people and the early Christians did not believe in the cross! «. This is the last straw Catholics. The mission returned to Rome empty-handed. Dominic Guzman, watching the catarrh, as opposed to their austerity creates the Order under the name (Dominican), more severe and austere. In 1209 in Languedoc, Carcassonne sent a papal legate Pierre de Castelnau, who was killed by one of the gentlemen of the suite Count of Toulouse. His subsequent death — the last straw of patience Innocent III and the Papal Curia. Pope announces crusade against heretics and appealed for help to the French King Louis IX the Holy. Trankeveley, like many other wealthy people of Languedoc, outraged secular claims of the Church, the sale of indulgences and other «expansion of Catholics», so they show interest and sympathy for the Cathars. Albigensians found worthy defender of their faith in the face of Count Raymond-Roger Trankevelya. Crusade northern barons included 200 thousand people, of whom 20 thousand knights. Pope provides the ability to capture the land to the knights, so it was a campaign not just for the faith but for profit. Raymond-Roger Trankevel, received the news of the Crusade, he learns that their army in the town of Béziers has destroyed 20 thousand peasants. There, during the massacre one of the soldiers asked the papal legate Abbot Arnold of Citeaux: «How to identify where a Catholic, and where a heretic?». What gets truly Christian response: «Kill all, for the Lord knows their own!».


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Count Trankevel issued a decree: «I suggest that the town, roof, bread and my sword to all who are pursuing, who remained without the city, the roof or without bread.» Carcassonne collected hundreds of Qatar and their followers. August 1, 1209 the Crusaders came to Carcassonne and settled near the river Aude, thereby cutting off the city from the water. The siege. The Crusaders have begun rolling out siege weapons, one of which was a terrible trebuchet. This siege weapon could hurl stones weighing 10 kg or more at a distance of up to about 800-1000 meters. Precipitated even managed to break through the defenses Carcassonne, breaking one section of the wall, but the defenders of the citadel, at the time of the triumph of the Crusaders drove them out of the captured break defense. Trankevel and his men had a strong resistance, despite a tenfold numerical superiority of the besiegers.


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It took 12 days and nights of the siege, when in Carcassonne ended last water. Then Trankevel left under a white flag to the enemy for negotiations, but despite the knightly code of honor of Raymond-Roger was seized and on the orders of the baron Simon de Montfort was taken into custody. So Carcassonne due to lack of water and high treason quickly passed into the hands of the enemy. A prisoner in chains, Earl Trankevel was put in prison of his own castle Comtal, which could not stand the test of hunger and died three months later. His possessions and took the title of his enemy, the leader of the Crusade baron Simon de Montfort, who turned Carcassonne into their «headquarters». After he seized dozens of settlements Qatari Languedoc in a short time, as they say «on one hellish breath.» In 1218 the Crusaders laid siege to Toulouse, but the siege it was killed by Simon de Montfort. There is a theory that the stone, which accurately hit him, was released by women Toulouse. Note that the mother of Count Raymond-Roger was the Countess of Toulouse. In Carcassonne castle Comtal preserved plate depicting the siege of Toulouse and death of Simon de Montfort. King St. Louis IX in 1229 personally led the Crusaders. But it did not help. Qatari war dragged on. Looking ahead, I will say that the last Cathars are burned at the same time when the «fall» Order of the Knights Templar. But it will be only at the beginning of the XIV century


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. To this theme we will move later. In 1240 the Crusaders attacked Trankevelya son, but was defeated. «But the fact that the sword could not try to achieve a cross!» — So expressed his thought Pope Gregory IX. In 1233 he sent his agents to Carcassonne for exposing heretics. Thus, the citadel was the «fortress of the Inquisition.» Dominic Guzman and his Dominican Order became military power of the Holy Inquisition in Languedoc. After more than 30 years of incessant wars, beating the nobility and the common people, the Languedoc was a pitiful sight. Paul had not plowed, towns, villages, castles destroyed; the country turns into a merry troubadours edge eternal Catholic funeral. It remains the last «stronghold of faith» committed «- the castle of Montsegur, located on a steep cliff. It is associated with the last prayer of all those who recognize the Qatari views. But Montsegur «falls» in 1244. Rome with his religion victorious. But even four years of the Inquisition will carry out «acts of cleansing from defilement.» King Philip the Bold, son of St. Louis, this even ordered the construction of the tower in 1280 the Inquisition in Carcassonne. But Qatar «heresy» was not completely destroyed. We will return to this, dear reader, in the second essay about the secrets of the Languedoc.


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Defenses Carcassonne played a crucial role in the Hundred Years’ War, when the Black Prince, son of King Edward III of England, tried to grab the Languedoc. But the walls of the citadel proved to him «too tough». However, the Iberian agreement of the XIII century, the border was moved south of France, thus negating the strategic importance of Carcassonne. It began to decline. By the beginning of the XIX century the castle was abandoned and destroyed. And only thanks to fervent appeals famous historical writer Prosper Merimee, and public opinion, the French Government again drew «a look» at Carcassonne. In 1844 to its restoration and reconstruction begins the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc. Thanks to his enthusiasm unique monument saved. According to some accounts, several priests, Qatar managed to escape the Inquisition, and secretly keep their faith close to Carcassonne. Even argue that if the Pope did not declared a crusade, this religion would spread everywhere in Europe, Carcassonne and could become the second Rome. Yet Carcassonne — this is the greatest achievement of the military architecture of the early Middle Ages. Few castles and fortresses can be compared with him, except that of the Order of Knights of St. John Castle Krak des Chevaliers in Syria and strength Rumelihisari in Istanbul.


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If you, dear reader, to introduce the same opportunity as me to visit in Carcassonne, be sure to visit the citadel of the day and late at night. And an evening stroll with the start of the XIV century Old Bridge over the River Aude. Go to the foot of the fortress among total darkness and silence, you will hear only the sound of their steps. And you will rise above the mass of the walls and towers of Carcassonne, cleverly illuminated. Imagine yourself among those storming the impregnable stronghold and trust more experience you will not get anywhere else! Carcassonne will not leave you indifferent. Believe me. NB in ​​Carcassonne often make films of historical and adventure genre, in particular, the «Robin Hood — Prince of Thieves,» «Musketeer» and others.


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Entrance inside the fortress free, congestion is prohibited from 10.00 to 18.00.
To visit the castle Comtal need to join official trips (daily from April to September — from 9.30 to 18.00, October to March — from 9.30 to 17.00, the cost — 6.5 euros).
The bell tower of the Basilica Sep-Nazaire is open from mid-June to mid-September, from Monday to Friday — from 9.00 to 11.45 and from 13.45 to 18.00, on Sunday — from 9.00 to 10.45 and from 14.00 to 16.30.


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