The fortresses of Villerouge-Termenès, Termes, Quéribus and Peyrepertuse are among the emblems of medieval heritage and evoke the tormented history of Catharism. Catharism is another Christianity, which appeared in Europe around the year XNUMX.
The arrival of Catharism in Corbières Minervois
This religion opposed two creations: that of the good God, eternal and spiritual, and that resulting from a bad principle, our temporal and material world. Likewise, she considered that the soul was imprisoned in the earthly creation. She could free herself from it thanks to baptism by laying on of hands, called consolament, prerogative of the clergy, called "Good Men" ou "Good Ladies". The Cathar preachers were well accepted, from the XNUMXth century, by the Occitan gentry. The purity of their Christianity and the quality of the spiritual message of these "Good Christians" enabled them to attach a large part of the population, nobles and peasants.
Faced with this success, the Roman Church first sent preachers. Despite heated contradictory debates, they were quickly overwhelmed by the structuring of this religion. Indeed, Catharism was reflected, argued and offered to the world the face of humility and Christian poverty. The authorities were able to take stock of the phenomenon.
The crusade against the Albigensians
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Innocent III, was only waiting for the right moment to trigger on the Christian land of the South, the Crusade against the Cathar heretics. Placed under the command of Simon of Montfort, the military troops surged on the South, from 1209. Massacres and abuses began on the lands of the Viscount of Trencavel, from Béziers to Carcassonne, via Minerve, tragic place of the first collective pyre of the Crusade. In Corbières Minervois, resistance is organized. The family of Terms was one of the most powerful in Languedoc and protectors of Catharism. The village and the castle were also among the sites attacked by the Crusaders from the early days of the Albigensian Crusade. In 1210, Raimond de Termes resisted Simon de Montfort for three months. The lack of water would have overcome the resistance alone, when a providential storm replenishes the cisterns. Unfortunately, water proves to be the carrier of disease. It was one of the longest and most epic events of the Crusade.
Quéribus et Peyrepretuse are in turn possession of the Counts of Besalu, Barcelona then the Kings of Aragon. In the 1224th century, they asserted their resistance. Guilhem de Peyrepertuse was excommunicated in 1240. When the castrum of Peyrepertuse surrendered in 1241, Quéribus still held out. Indeed, it housed Cathar monks. Benoît de Termes, deacon of Razès, took refuge there and died there in 1255. Quéribus was the last bastion to fall into the hands of the French in XNUMX, held at all costs by the indefatigable Chabert de Barbaira.
The holy inquisition
From 1230, as if to complete the military occupation, the Catholic Church instituted the Holy Inquisition. These ecclesiastical courts were responsible for fight against the Cathar heresy within medieval society. Men, women, the living and even the dead were heard and judged. No one was safe from denunciation (true or false). The Inquisitor relied on testimonies and confessions to deliver his sentences: from acquittal at the stake to prison. In nearly 100 years, Catharism was eradicated from the minds. Is the Villerouge-Termenès castle, residence of the archbishops of Narbonne, which turned the last page of the Cathar tragedy. This exceptional site, in the heart of the village, saw the last hours of the last Cathar, Guilhem Bélibaste, who was burned alive there in 1321.