The world of medieval Occitanie


The Pays d’Oc region was not united by its politics in the Middle Ages, but rather by its culture and its language. In this region of southern Europe, which goes from the Atlantic to the Alps and from the north of the Massif Central to the Pyrenees, people spoke the language of Oc, or more precisely, the different dialects that come from the Occitan language. This Romance language was the language of troubadours and literary creation, and, together with Latin, that of the notaries and communal administrations. This lasted until French began to take hold, first of all in written language, at the beginning of the 16th Century, via the prestige of the French monarchy.

The Middle Ages saw the economic and cultural explosion of Europe. Here, as everywhere, towns and the urban elite were developing. The countryside and peasantry were also growing. Romanesque and Gothic art give birth to masterpieces of architecture, sculpture, painting and even music. Under the all-powerful leadership of the Roman Church...

In terms of politics, two great powers clashed in Occitanie: the counts of Toulouse and the Catalan counts. But this principle antagonism was actually a multiplicity of alliances and rivalries, between two vassal lords or more, and sometimes all of them at once... conflicts were numerous, long and complex.

The Albigensian Crusade would put an end to this dissension. The Crusade, initially waged for religious reasons, became the defining event n the mediaeval history of this region, not only for its violence but also for its political impact: a border began to emerge at the South, a border for the kingdom of France.

Peire Vidal
Livre des comptes
Extrait plafond peint de l'abbaye de Saint-Hilaire
Le Martyr de saint Nazaire
Paysage autour de la Cité médiévale de Fanjeaux

A flourishing economy

Land was being cultivated, the forests cut back, and villages were built around churches or châteaux, especially during the 11th and 12th centuries.

The former mound of Prouilhe, overlooked by Fanjeaux, bears a windmill dating from the early 13th Century. It is the oldest trace of this type of building in the whole region.

The rivers’ courses were developed by water mills. Mills were used to grind cereals and process fabric, as was done in several mills attached to the Templar preceptory in Douzens. The textile trade was very important and widely found in the Cathar workshops. They were nicknamed the ‘tisserands’, or weavers. The other source of wealth was mining. The Corbières and the Montagne Noire mountain ranges house silver and iron mines that had been operated since Antiquity. The goods were moved around and exchanged at very lucrative fairs and markets.