Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cordes Sur Ciel

Though Cordes sur Ciel is only a short distance from Albi, I would not have known to go there unless Marie (who works at the Priory) had recommended it to me.  It is renown for its arts & crafts, having some of the best artisan shops in the region.  It is also a remarkably well-preserved medieval village with a fascinating history! 

Following the Albigensian Crusades in the early 13th century, Inquisitors were sent into the region to hunt down heretics.  Many Cathars who fled from Albi took refuge nearby, in the hill-top village of Cordes sur Ciel, where they apparently received both the sympathy and protection of villagers. Not long after, however, Inquisitors reached the village, and began hunting down heretics there, too.  At least two people were identified as Cathars, and ordered to be burned for the crime of heretical depravity.

Legend has it that the villagers vigorously protested this death sentence, took hold of the two Inquisitors by the scruff of their necks, and threw them down a deep well where they plummeted to their death. Although this story has never been corroborated with historical evidence (!), a memorial cross was later constructed in the 16th century to commemorate the spot on which the Inquisitors were murdered (see left).  The well, which still exists today, is found in the central market -- a covered square or pavilion where merchants used to sell their wares.

Cordes sur Ciel prospered economically in the Late Middle Ages, and many of the buildings evoke the modest wealth of many of the people who once inhabited this village.   

Market square.

Surrounding countryside that lies below Cordes sur Ciel.

Visit to an artisan's studio

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