Siege of Montségur

Siege of Montségur
Part of Albigensian Crusade
Montsegur montagne.jpg
The limestone rock of Montségur
DateMay 1243 – March 1244
Location
ResultDecisive Royal victory
Belligerents
Blason pays fr FranceAncien.svg Kingdom of FranceCathars
Commanders and leaders
Hugues des ArcisRaymond de Péreille

The Siege of Montségur was a nine-month siege of the Cathar-held Château de Montségur by French royal forces starting in May 1243.[1] After the castle surrendered, about 210 perfecti and unrepentant credentes were burned in a bonfire on 16 March 1244.[1]

Background

Although the Albigensian Crusade had been concluded with the Treaty of Paris-Meaux in 1229, local resistance continued. The Cathar Church was still able to operate and oppose the Inquisition that pervaded the Languedoc. In 1233, the Cathar Bishop Guilhabert de Castres asked Raymond de Pereille for permission to make Montségur "the seat and head" (domicilium et caput) of the Cathar Church.[1]

As a haven for Cathars, Montségur gained symbolic and strategic importance in the resistance fight against the Catholic Church and the French forces in subsequent years.[2] In 1241, Raymond VII made a token attempt to capture Montségur, primarily to impress the King and the Catholic Church of his allegiance. At that time Montségur housed about 500 persons.[3]

In the context of Occitan resistance and possibly linked to Raymond’s efforts to free himself from the chains of the Paris Treaty, two representatives of the Inquisition, William Arnald and Stephen de Saint-Thibéry, as well as their companions and retinue were murdered by about fifty men from Montségur and dispossessed faidits at Avignonet on 28 May 1242.[4] This event led to the decision to send a royal military expedition to eliminate the stronghold.