An historical background of Termes castle :
(as you also can find on www.payscathare.org...)
During the XIth and XIIth centuries, Termes was the seat of an important fiefdom. In 1061, the lord possessed the circumscription dominated by the castle: the Termenès.
Utilising different opportunities, the lords of Termes increased their territory, causing occasional conflicts, for example, with the Abbey of Lagrasse.
When the Crusades against the Albigensians began, the fiefdom spread from Arques in the west to Aguilar in the east. Raimond de Termes was thus one of the most powerful vassals of Trencavel, Viscount of Carcassonne. Implicated in the Cathar heresy, Raimond de Termes fought against the Crusade.
When, in August 1210, Simon de Montfort decided to force the ‘impregnable' castle of Termes into submission, it was one of the most crucial episodes in the Crusade. The defenders resisted for four months. Finally, however, it was the shortage of water and dysentery which forced the besieged to flee on 20 November, 1210… Raimond de Termes was taken prisoner and his possessions were confiscated and given to Alain de Roucy, a Crusader.
Temporarily recuperated by Olivier and Bernard de Termes during the collapse of the Crusade around 1223, the castle became a royal French fortress in 1228. Whereas the castle was progressively reinforced, the adjoining village settlement was evacuated in 1257. From that time on, Termes served as fortress defending the France-Aragon border: one of the ‘Five sons of Carcassonne'. The castle was occupied by a royal garrison for four centuries.
Olivier de Termes, son of Raimond, became famous for his many battles, whether they be against the French king, or, after his submission in 1248, as a Holy Crusader in Palestine.
The demolition of the castle was decided in 1652, seven years before the Treaty of the Pyrenees displaced the border further south.
The site was then forgotten until the first conservation measures were taken in the mid-20th century. It was listed as an Historical Monument in 1989.
Thanks to the work of some english historians and authors, you can read a translation of two essential texts wich tells more about the siege of 1210 :
- The song of the Cathar Wars
- The Historia Albigensis