CARCASSONE Carcassès (pays).
County in southern France; the town of Carcassone, now the capital of the Department of the Aude, stands on the Canal du Midi and on the River Aude, southeast of Toulouse and west of Narbonne. The Canal du Midi passes through the gap between the Pyrenees and the outlying hills of the Massif Central. Carcassone is one of the fortress towns along the route.
The County was one of the most important in the March of Gothia or Septimania after that had been recovered from the Arabs by the Carolingians in 759. A member of the comital family later became Count in the Spanish March and founded the County of Barcelona.
The County of Carcassone passed to a branch of the Counts of Comminges in 933, but when they died out in 1068, the title of Count passed to the Counts of Barcelona, though the power was held by the Trencavel Vicomtes of Albi and Béziers. The bitter feud that broke out within the Barcelona family in the 1080s allowed the Trencavel to consolidate their power and made the County merely a title.
The power of the Trencavel family was smashed in the Abigensian Crusade, Carcassone being taken in 1209. The Vicomte Raymond Roger died imprisoned there. His son Raymond was reestablished in 1224, but Amaury de Montfort, the son of the leader of the Crusade, ceded his rights to the King and by 1226 Louis VIII had established royal authority in Carcassone. A brief flurry by Raymond Trencavel failed in 1240 and in 1247 he finally renounced all his claims.
Carcassone thenceforward belonged to the royal lands of Languedoc. It retained a considerable strategic importance because the lands to the south and southeast belonged to the Kingdom of Aragón and then to Spain until they were ceded to France in 1659 when Carcassone ceased to be at the head of a frontier district.
The city of Carcassone was also the seat of a Bishop in the province of Narbonne until 1790. The diocese was suppressed in 1790, but restored in 1802.