During the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine on 21 and 22 September, the owners of the Chàteau de Montgey will be offering visitors a rare chance to see inside their historic home.
Pierre Bouyssou and his wife Sophie have spent over forty years researching the story of their château. As Pierre told me when I interviewed him for my book about the Lauragais, this is a home with at least two thousand years of history. Parts of the foundations date back to Roman times – probably the remains of a watchtower, or maybe a small temple because the name Montgey is believed to derive from Mons Jovis, the Latin for Mount Jupiter.
The Chàteau de Montgey was built more than eight centuries ago by a powerful local family called the Roqueforts, and during the Albigensian Crusade, Jourdain de Roquefort was the lord of Montgey and a staunch Cathar. One evening in April 1211, several thousand crusaders halted for the night in the fields below his walls. Newly arrived from Germany, they were on their way to join Simon de Montfort at the siege of Lavaur. Jourdain watched them pitch their tents for the night and decided to send word to Toulouse. In response, the Count of Foix and his son set out from the city with a band of soldiers and mercenaries. On their way to Montgey their ranks were swollen by thousands of local peasants who joined them once they understood what was afoot.
If you want to know what happened next, Pierre and Sophie Bouyssou will tell you if you go to Montgey on 21 or 22 September between 14.00 and 17.30*. You will also find the full story, much of it told by Pierre, in ‘Lauragais: Steeped in History, Soaked in Blood’ But to give you a clue, on your way to the château stop at the crossroads in the centre of Auvezines. There you will find a stele with this inscription: ‘Ici et aux environs reposent 6000 croisés surpris en embuscade fin d’avril 1211’ (‘In this place and nearby rest 6,000 crusaders ambushed towards the end of April 1211’)
Oh, and don’t forget to ask Pierre and Sophie about their ghost and some sticky moments with the Black Prince!
* Times as announced by Revel tourist office. Montgey is situated 50km to the east of Toulouse and 10km north-west of Revel.