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History of the Châteaux de Lastours

The word Lastours, comes from Lastors in Occitan, meaning ‘The Towers’.

The first known vestiges at Lastours date back to the Bronze Age. Ceremonial objects reminiscent of Mycean or Egyptian art were found here. These ornaments are indicative of the exchanges which took place between the peoples of the Cabardès and the Mediterranean

During the feudal period, the Castles were first mentioned in relation to the Cabaret family, in 1076. The Lords of Cabaret drew most of their wealth from the surrounding iron mines. The Castles of Cabaret, Surdespine, and Quertinheux, probably built in the middle of the 11th century, survived the tragic events of the Crusade against the Albigensians, ie the Cathars. At the time, the Lords of Cabaret seem to have been closely linked with the adepts of this offshoot sect of Christianity, in fact communal houses for Cathars prospered in the village. The Church declared the Cathars as heretics and a crusade against them began. In 1209 the village underwent attacks from the crusaders led by Simon de Montford, but resisted victoriously, that is until 1211 when the Crusader Bouchard de Marly was captured and freed in exchange to an end of the siege. Some years later, the Lords of Cabaret regained possession of their lands, and the castles became the centre of Catharism in the region. The active resistance by Pierre Roger, the Lord of Cabaret, kept Simon Montfort’s troops at bay for several years. In 1227 however, Cabaret was besieged by Humber de Beaujeu, and the Lords of Cabaret had to negotiate their capitulation after two years. At the end of the Crusade, the royal troops destroyed the village and the castles in retaliation. The castles were then rebuilt on the crest of the hills as royal fortresses, and the king of France asserted his supremacy by building a fourth castle, Tour Régine, giving the site its present aspect.

The Castles then became the administrative and military centre for six communities forming the Cabardés. The inhabitants were held to guard and maintain the castles, for which they were exempted from paying a tax. In the 16th century, the castles were occupied by the Protestants. The Marchal de Joyeuse dislodged them in 1591. After the French Revolution the castles were abandoned, however in 1905 they were classified as historical monuments by the French Ministry of Culture and, as such, were restored. Archaeological excavations are still taking place, and over the last twenty years, an enhancement programme has been active for the castles and ruins of the ancestral village.