Aude (11600) Population: 163 Altitude: 180 m
Lastours is a tiny village 15 km north of Carcassonne, in the deep valley of the Orbital river, on the southern flank of the Black Mountain (Montagne Noire). A pretty place in its own right, Lastours is best known for the four Medieval castles on the mountain ridge beside the village, and for its history in the Visigoth-Francs wars and the anti-Cathar crusades.
The four castles of Lastours were built in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Lords of Cabaret, and were named then the Tours of Cabaret &emdash; shortened now to "the towers", or Lastours.
The Cabardès is the name given to the area of hills north of Carcassonne to the Black Mountan (Montagne Noire), named after the Lords of Cabaret who defended the Châteaux de Lastours against Simon de Montfort in 1209.
There is now (since 1999) an AOC Cabardès wine.
History of Lastours
Prehistoric: There are number of nearby caves where prehistoric artifacts have been discovered, including the Grotte du Prestil, the Trou de la Cité and the Trou des Morts.
Bronze-age items discovered the Grotte au Collier included the tomb of a little girl, named the "Princesse de Lastours". Objects found in the girl's tomb evoke Mycenaean (Greek) or Egyptian cultures, indicating the local Cabardes traded with the Mediterranean world.
Gallo-Roman: The Visigoths invaded Provence from Italy in the 5th century, eventually conquoring all across the south of France and most of Spain. In the 6th century, the Visigoth invasion northward into Languedoc-Roussillon ended at the Black Mountain (Montagne Noir) chain, 10-15 km north of Lastours. Ten Visigoth tombs have been discovered here.
Medieval: Pierre Roger de Cabaret ruled here in the 11th century (first mentioned in 1067), and at that time the castles were a Cathar refuge and defense against the Albigensian Crusade. Simon de Montfort attacked twice in 1209, unsuccessfuly. Cabaret finally surrendered in1211 because the position of the Cathars in the area were insupportable because of other defeats in the region.
During the 1209 attacks, the Albigensian Crusader Bouchard de Marly was captured and held prisoner for two years, until the eventual surrender of the castles.
At the end of the Albigensian Crusade, the three Lastours castles and the village were destroyed by the Royal troups in reprisal. The king showed his supremacy by building a fourth castle, the Tour Régine.
• GPS: 43.331759, 2.380394
IGN (1/25,000) #2345 E "Carcassonne"
IGN (1/25,000) #2344 ET "Montagne Noire E, Mazamet"