Chateau de Coustaussa

The Chateau de Coustaussa has an extremely rich history in particular for the period of the crusade against the ‘Albigensians’. Its proximity to the village of RLC could make of it a key element for the comprehension of it’s business. The name of this village nested on the banks of the Sals comes from Latin ‘custodia’ which in Latin means ‘the guard or the watcher’. It is towards 730BC that for the first time the name of this village of Razes appears, in full wisigothic period.

The surrounding area seems however to attest of a Gallo-Roman establishment in particular to the condamines. The place is named frequently and discovered vestiges of the Roman epoch in the South of France. Although the ruins of the chateau are those of the masonry built in the XIIth century and altered again in the XVIth century, it is probable that one Celtic then wisigothic existed before on this rock hill making it possible to lock the valley.

It is about 1155, that the Viscount Raymond Trencavel, Viscount of Bezier, Carcassonne and count of Rhedesium (Razes) made a gift of the village to the viguier (law officer in Provence and Languedoc) of Rhedae, Pierre de Vilar. and that they built their fortress in 1157 on the rock in the west of the village. The castle was composed of a of rampart of 100 meters in length by 40 meters in width, 10 meters in height. This rampart protected the principal body, a 45 meter length building and 15 meters in height, surrounded by a series of walls of defense to the hillside, particularly towards the sals. The access to the chateau was done by a door located at the south accessible by a slope from stone and a drawbridge, the passage was protected by a trap intended to crush the intruders. The catch of the chateau of this door was almost impossible.

One considers it with that of Bezu (Albedun) as one of best strengthened razes. That did not prevent its capture in 1170 by the king d’Aragon who had taken and just plundered Rhedae. In 1210, the small son of Pierre de Villars took it by combat, in the valleys of Sals against the troops of Simon de Montfort and by the lords of the surroundings areas. Demolished, a small troop sheltered behind the walls of Coustaussa but in numerical inferiority, they evacuated the place by the underground passage (underground and passing under the sals towards the guet today a small bridge it would go up towards reindeers, the chateau and Blanchefort according to L. Fedie) during the attack of the barons of the North, who once climbed the walls found but the place empty.

The crusaders took again their progression towards the Chateau de Albedun. In 1211, the population of the village is destroyed against the wishes of the invader, the punishment was brutal. The men-at-arms were massacred and they expelled villagers of the village, the troops seizing all their personal goods. It is probable that some goods of value of the cut off villagers, were hidden in the enclosure of the chateau so that the crusaders could not seize it. This fortress of Coustaussa spent (several) times in the rebellious hands of lords between 1214 and 1244 (in particular Sicard de Durfort, Pierre de Fenouillet and a family member of Barbera). In 1231 he was conceded with the seigneur de rhedae pierre de voisins resident of the chateau d’arques recently rebuilt. About 1250, the stronghold of coustaussa was allotted to the lords of the country of Sault Montesquieu de Roquefort. (High valley of the Aude). Very little inhabited the castle degrading itself to become unusable by the time of the XVIIeme century.

The end approaches for the old fortress when its owner, Mr. Azais living at the village of Arques , decides into 1819 to destroy the frames in order not to have to pay a tax on land. It does not stop there, the building is sold stone by stone in 1820 by leaving only the current ruins. In short the castle remained unoccupied from approximately 1650 till now.


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