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French History Books - The Lauragais Story From The South Of France

Updated on June 14, 2015

My Book Review

The Lauragais in the South of France was a centre of Catharism and it is the Albigensian crusade that features primarily in most peoples historical knowledge of the region. The Albigensian crusade, headed by Simon de Monfort, being of course the mechanism that all but eradicated the Cathars in the most brutal of fashions. But there is much more to the Lauragais than the persecution of the Cathars, this history book explores the region's past from as early as Neanderthal man and as late as the Airbus presence in Toulouse. It is a truly comprehensive account of the History of the Lauragais and an excellent account of the significant role it played in the history of France and the creation of modern France.

There is no doubt however that it was the horrendous period circa the thirteenth century that is the focus of many tourists to the area and it is the 'Pays Cathar' with it's Cathar fortresses that is high on the priority list of must see places to visit. Some of these are in the Lauragais region and some slightly beyond, places like Rennes le Chateau, La Cite in Carcassonne, Montsegur, where the Albigensian crusade is said to have come pretty much to an end after some 34 years, Queribus and Peyrepertuse. All highly significant in Cathar history.

Visiting these places is and has become much more interesting having read about the history of the region and how it relates to France in general. But, as stated previously, there is more to the Lauragais than first meets the eye, you can find out about the German occupation and how wheat and woad provided the catalyst for industrial wealth in the region, long before Airbus and the aerospace industry was established in Toulouse. Many of the beautiful chateaus that exist in the area were funded by these older industries and in places like Castelnaudary you will see evidence of where the industries operated in the form of windmills and the recently refurbished Corn Exchange; or 'Halle aux Grains' to give it the correct French name.

An intriguing and fascinating look at French history, proving it's not all about Paris and the north

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The best line ever:

The proviso was crucial. Did Innocent understand that, by a stroke of the pen, he had just ensured that the French crown would acquire the Languedoc?

Extracts from the Book - History of France - The South

History of France in the south
History of France in the south

"The Treaty of Paris hit the Occitans hard. As heretics their lands were forfeited to the Catholic Church and nobles of northern France. The walls of Toulouse and thirty other fortresses were razed and their moats filled. Many were in the Lauragais: Fanjeaux, Avignonet, Laurac, Castelnaudary, Labécède, Puylaurens, Auterive, Verdun and Saverdun, some 30% of the total, confirming the important part the Lauragais had played in the event. Municipal freedoms (such as those of the Capitouls) were reduced. A new ‘University of Toulouse’ would teach orthodox theology as well as Aristotelian philosophy, thus dissolving the heretic movement. "

"Men could not live by Faith alone: windmills produced more bread, and were perfectly adapted to the windy Lauragais. In 1245 Pexiora and Besplas had them, and in 1255 one is recorded at St Papoul. By the time Montgiscard got its mill in 1309 they were all over France. Markets were held, as now, on different days of the week in neighbouring towns to avoid competition. Thus at Castel, market-days were on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whereas at Revel they were on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In old walled towns the market had been held outside the gates; in bastides it was inside. 'Couverts' (arcades) kept the rain off."

"Cold weather could not cramp the style of William Nogaret, the Lauragais' answer to James Bond. Born in 1260, at St Félix, he rose to be King Philip the Fair's right hand man. King Philip IV was called 'the Fair' for his beauty rather than his equity. William's father was a citizen of Toulouse, allegedly condemned as a heretic. The family held a small ancestral property 'of servile origin' at Nogaret, near Saint-Félix, from which it took its name. William rose to become professor of jurisprudence at the University of Montpellier, and in 1296 a member of the Curia Regis (king's council, or cabinet) at Paris. In 1300 he was sent on a mission to Pope Boniface VIII, of which he left a picturesque and highly coloured account."

"It was nearly two centuries since Eleanor of Aquitaine had married King Henry II of England, thereby amputating most of south west France from the French crown. It was now more than a century since the French Crown had got the Languedoc back, and Philip the Lucky and his advisers decided that it was time for another Great Leap Forward. It was time to get Aquitaine back."

Hugh Nicklin - Author of French History Books
Hugh Nicklin - Author of French History Books

About the Author

A Writer of French History Books

After studying Modern History at Oxford, Hugh Nicklin started his working career in England and then moved on to Wales, India and the Balkans.

He became more and more curious about the last days of the Roman world and finally moved to the Languedoc Roussillon region in the south of France where he could examine the history of the area in much greater detail. He has been a contributor of articles to both the Daily Telegraph and the Salisbury Review. He has also published another book on the 'History of Limoux' which has been marketed locally in and around Limoux since 2009. Following his success with this book he decided he would write the Lauragais Story and publish it on Amazon.

Watch this space for the digital version of the History of Limoux in digital format.

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