Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Carcassonne (Part Two).

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

View of the Mediaeval Citadel and vineyards.
FrançaisCarcassonneFrance, vue de la Cité Médiévale, vignes.
Author: Harry.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse, or Saint Nazarius and Saint Celsus (Basilique Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse de Carcassonne), is a Minor Basilica, in Carcassonne, Southern France, listed as a national monument of the country.

It was formerly the Cathedral of Carcassonne, until 1801, when it was replaced by the present Carcassonne Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne).

The original Church is thought to have been constructed in the 6th-Century, during the reign of Theodoric the Great, King of the Visigoths. On 12 June 1096, Pope Urban II visited the town and Blessed the stones used to build the Basilica; construction was completed in the first half of the 12th-Century.

It was built on the site of a Carolingian Cathedral, of which no traces remain. The Crypt, despite its ancient appearance, dates from the new construction. The Church was enlarged, between 1269 and 1330, in the Gothic Style, largely at the expense of the Bishop of Carcassonne, Pierre de Rochefort.

The Exterior was largely renewed by Viollet-le-Duc, while the Interior has largely remained in the original Gothic Style.

FrançaisCarcassonne (Aude - France), la Cité Médiévale dans son écrin de verdures.
DeutschCarcassonne (Aude - Frankreich), die mittelalterliche Stadt in seiner grünen Seite.
EnglishCarcassonne (Aude - France). The Mediaeval City.
EspañolCarcassonne (Aude - Francia), la ciudad medieval con su agradable verde paraje.
Photo: 14 June 2004.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1849, the French Government decided that the City fortifications should be demolished. This decision was strongly opposed by the local people. The Mayor, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and Prosper Mérimée, an eminent archaeologist and historian, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument. The Government later reversed its decision and, in 1853, restoration work began. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the architect, was charged with renovating the fortress. Viollet-le-Duc's work was criticised during his lifetime as inappropriate to the climate and traditions of the region. After his death, in 1879, the restoration work was continued by his pupil, Paul Boeswillwald, and, later, by the architect Nodet.

The Citadel was restored at the end of the 19th-Century and, in 1997, it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

The first signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3,500 B.C., but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the South – became an important trading place in the 6th-Century B.C. The Volcae Tectosages fortified the Oppidum.

English: The Citadel at Carcassonne.
Français: Panorama de la Cité de Carcassonne vu depuis le Pont-Neuf
Photo: 21 March 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jondu11.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Carcassonne became strategically identified when Romans fortified the hilltop, around 100 B.C., and eventually made the Colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the Northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. In 462 A.D., the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic King, Theodoric II, who had held Carcassonne since 453 A.D.; he built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the Northern Marches: Traces of them still stand. Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the Basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire.

In 508 A.D., the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish King, Clovis. Saracens, from Barcelona, took Carcassonne in 725 A.D., but King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759 A.D.

A Mediaeval fiefdom, the County of Carcassonne, controlled the City and its environs. It was often united with the County of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a County probably lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first Count known by name is Bello, at the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three Centuries.

The fortified City of Carcassonne
and the Pont Vieux,
crossing the Aude river.
Date: 2005.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jplavoie. Jean-Pierre Lavoie (c), 2005.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, Viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last Count of Carcassonne. In the following Centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the Counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse. In 1096, Pope Urban II Blessed the Foundation Stones of the new Cathedral.

In 1240, Trencavel's son tried to reconquer his old domain, but in vain. The City submitted to the rule of the Kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Kingdom of Aragon, under the Treaty of Corbeil (1258). King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor, Philip III, built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable.

During the Hundred Years' War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the City in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town. Carcassonne became famous for its rôle in the Albigensian Crusades, when the City was a stronghold of the Occitan Cathars. In August 1209, the Crusading Army of the Papal Legate, Abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his City's surrender, and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new Viscount. He added to the fortifications.

Français: L'expulsion des Albigeois de la ville de Carcassonne en 1209,
miniature extraite d'un manuscrit des Grandes Chroniques de France.
English: Expulsion of the Albigensians from Carcassone in 1209.
Image taken from Grandes Chroniques de France.
Artist: Workshop of Boucicaut Master.
Date: Circa 1415.
Current location: British Library.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the Border Province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne's military significance was reduced. Fortifications were abandoned, and the City became mainly an economic centre that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source, quoted by Fernand Braudel, found it "the manufacturing centre of Languedoc".

The fortified City consists essentially of a concentric design, with two Outer Walls, with fifty-two Towers and Barbicans to prevent attack by Siege Engines. The Castle possesses its own Drawbridge and Ditch leading to a Central Keep. The Walls consist of Towers built over quite a long period. One section is Roman and is notably different from the Mediaeval Walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these Towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th-Century and is still known as "The Inquisition Tower".

Čeština: Bazilika Saint-Nazaire v Carcassonne.
Français: La basilique de Saint-Nazaire de Carcassonne.
Photo: 3 July 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Harmonia Amanda.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Carcassonne was struck off the roster of official fortifications, under Napoleon and the Restoration, and the fortified Cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French Government decided that it should be demolished. A Decree to that effect, that was made official in 1849, caused an uproar. The Antiquary and Mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer, Prosper Mérimée, the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year, the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, already at work restoring the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, in Carcassonne, was commissioned to renovate the place.

FrançaisCarcassonne (Aude - France), la basilique Saint-Nazaire (XI/XII/XIXe siècles).
DeutschCarcassonne (Aude - Frankreich), die Basilika St. Nazarius (11/12/19. Jhdt).
English: Minor Basilica of Saint Nazaire, Carcassonne, France.
Photo: 14 June 2004.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1853, Works began with the West and South-West Walling, followed by the Towers of the Porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the Cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the Towers and the ramparts, where Viollet-le-Duc ordered the destruction of structures that had encroached against the Walls, some of them of considerable age. Viollet-le-Duc left copious notes and drawings on his death in 1879, when his pupil, Paul Boeswillwald, and, later, the architect Nodet, continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne.

The restoration was strongly criticised during Viollet-le-Duc's lifetime. Fresh from work in the North of France, he made the error of using slates and restoring the roofs as point-free environment. Yet, overall, Viollet-le-Duc's achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.

Historically, the language spoken in Carcassonne, and throughout Languedoc-Roussillon, was not French, but Occitan (King Richard I of England's native tongue).

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