Post-classical history

Trencavel, Family

A noble family in southern France that was dispossessed in the course of the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) and its aftermath.

The Trencavels traced their origins to the tenth century, when Bernard was viscount of Albi around 918. In 1068 Raymond-Bernard Trencavel married Ermengarde, the daughter of the count of Carcassonne. Their son, Bernard Aton IV, became viscount of Carcassonne, Béziers, Albi, Razès, Nîmes, and Agde. Thus, during the eleventh century, by judicious marriages the family built itself a power base in eastern Languedoc with Béziers as the core of its lands. The Trencavels often divided the family possessions among sons; after the death of Bernard Aton IV, his domains were divided, with Roger (1130-1150) receiving Carcassonne, Albi, and the Razès, Raymond (1130-1167) receiving Béziers and Agde, and Bernard Aton (1130-1163) receiving Nîmes. Raymond inherited Carcassonne, Albi, and Razès when Roger died, and his grandson, Raymond-Roger II, became viscount at the age of nine, in 1194.

By 1179 the family had become vassals of the kings of Aragon. Despite this, when the crusaders entered Langue doc, the Trencavel town of Béziers was sacked by the crusaders, and its inhabitants were massacred (1209). Ray- mond-Roger II was expropriated by Simon of Montfort when Carcassonne surrendered, and he died in prison. He was unfortunate in that the crusaders were unable to attack the county of Toulouse immediately, because Raymond VI of Toulouse had submitted to the leaders of the crusade and done public penance for his defiance of the pope and his complicity in the death of the pope’s legate, Peter of Castelnau. Raymond-Roger was more vulnerable because his viscounty of Carcassonne contained many heretics, including numbers of Cathar sympathizers among the landowning nobility. In these circumstances it was easy for the crusaders to turn their energies against Raymond-Roger.

Raymond-Roger II’s son Raymond Trencavel was born in 1207 and spent his youth in exile in Barcelona. On the withdrawal of Amalric of Montfort from Carcassonne in January 1224, Raymond Trencavel was installed as viscount, but in the summer of 1226 he was driven out by King Louis VIII of France. During the revolt of 1242 he regained control of Carcassonne but was rapidly swept aside by the royal forces. In August 1246 he came to terms with King Louis IX. He relinquished his claim to the Trencavel titles and lands in exchange for the grant of a small estate, and he followed Louis to the Holy Land. In 1332 his granddaughter was living at Cesseras, near Minerve. Thereafter the family disappeared.

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