Albi, Albigenses, Albigensian Crusade

Albigenses are inhabitants of Albi (a city located in the south of France, near Toulouse).
Albi belonged to the Viscount of Trencavel.
For some reason, at that time, the terminology of "albigenses" refered to "cathars". The Albigensian Crusade, therefore, means the Crusade against heretics who have spread to the Languedoc, rather than the crusade against the inhabitants of a specific city.

Banneret, banner

A banneret is a lord bearing a banner, which means, able to bring with him about 5 or 6 knights plus their squires and sergeants.


Capital of Catalonia. The counts of Barcelona became kings of Aragon in the XIIth century.
The name of Barcelona derives from Barcino which was given in honour of the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca father of the famous Hannibal.


A battle is a squadron of cavalry, usually composed of 10 banners. Knights and heavy cavalry fought at the front whereas less equiped horsemen fought at the rear.


A city located near Toulouse belonging to the Viscount of Trencavel.
Carcassonne was besieged in 1209 by the crusaders. The Viscount of Trencavel surrendered and was jailed in his own prison, where he died. Carcassonne is worth a visit, as both the castle and the city walls have been restored. It is probably the biggest medieval forteress left  in Europe.


Catalonia takes its name from Gothalonia when Visigoths settled there in the Vth century.
The province became a Marche of Charlemagne's Empire. It was then ruled under the counts of Barcelona.


Christian relegion.
From the Greek katharos "pure", or the Latin cattus "cat" (for witches rituals) or catharticum "purgative".
People who believed in the cathar religion. Cathars were considered heretics by the Roman Church. The inquisition called the most accomplished cathars as "hereticus perfectus". When captured they were generally asked to abjure their faith or be sentenced to death (sometimes they were sentenced to death after abjuring anyway).

Comte, Count, County, Earl, Earldom

Count, from the French Comte, from late Latin Comes (state officer).

The count is the ruler of a county (also called earldom or shire in England).
The count is the local king's deputy (see the feudal ranking).
A county very often represents a city with its surrounding land.

Duke , Duchy

Duke, from the French Duc, from Latin Dux (leader).

A duchy is often a former kingdom or independent nation which was joined to a kingdom or an empire (example: Aquitaine, Burgundy, Brittany, Lorraine, Austria, Normandy) . A duchy may be composed of several counties.
A duke is the ruler of a duchy. It's the highest rank among feudatories (see the feudal ranking).

Faydit, Faidit

A faydit is a lord who was found guilty of heresy (ie being heretic or protecting them), was deprived of his land and tracked down. His lands were given as a reward to crusaders.
All faydits fought to a certain extent. Some died defending their estates, some fled to join the court of Aragon, some resisted, others eventually tried to make peace with Church in order to recover their rights in which case they had to combat heresy, support the Church through donations to abbeys etc..., subsidize or join a crusade in the Middle East etc....

Feudal ranking / hierarchy

At the top of the hierarchy there is God, represented on earth by the Pope.
The Pope has the power to create new Kingdoms and Empires through coronation. He is also able to excommunicate Kings and Emperors (ie remove their divine right) and to preach a crusade against them.


They may be consirered as Pope's vassals.


The vassals hold their fiefs from their feudal overlod.
Because holding a fief became officially an hereditary charge from 877 (capitulary of Quierzy-sur-Oise), vassals tended to consider the land as their own property. Some even "sold" their homage. For example in 1067, Raymond-Bernard Trencavel, vassal of the Count of Toulouse, sold his homage for Carcassonne and Razès to the Count of Barcelona. In 1201, Peter II of Aragon gave the fief of Val d'Aran to receive homage of the Count Bernard IV of Comminges (also vassal of Toulouse).

Fief, lordship, baronie

A fief, aslo called baronie, is often a piece of land with a castle, but sometimes can be just a part of it. A lord of Carcassone in the XIIth century for example, granted to one of his knight a tower of the fortress as a fief, to which he had to ensure a guard duty.
There is another kind of fief. The "money-fief" which is basically a title attached to a pension without the land. The king had better control of money-fief lords than feudal lords simply because it is easier to stop paying felons than attacking their castles.
Money-fiefs were progressively put in place in France. This system contributed to replace feudality by monarchy (when all the lands belong directly to the king).

France / French / Franks

Theoratically, within the borders of the kingdom of France, any subject of the crown should have been considered as French (also called Franks during crusades in the Middle East), but in those days that was far from being the case. The genuine French were only those of the leading class society and those living in the area around Paris. The national identity will come later.
We read in books written during this period that crusaders were called French which meant that méridionals did not consider themselves French, although they were subjects of the crown.

Heresy, heretic

Belief contrary to Christian Church.
Anybody supporting or protecting a cathar was guilty of heresy.


Judicial institution for the persecution of heresy by special ecclesiastical courts. The Albigensian Crusade gave birth to the inquisition.

Languedoc / Languedocian

The area where people speak the "language of Oc" or the "Occitan language" as opposed to the "langue of Oil" spoken in northen France. The Languedoc is where the Albigensian crusade took place.
The Languedoc, in terms of province is actually only a part of a far greater area called Occitania, where this language was spoken widely. People living in Languedoc are Languedocians.

Marcher, Marche, Marquis

A Marcher or Marquis is the ruler of a March (also called Marquisat or Margravat).
In order to secure or expand the Kingdom, border counties were granted privileges. Those counties were called "Marches" (doorstep). A Marcher was entitled to own any land conquered from his enemy. This reward was an incentive for Marchers to expand their territory and enabled the Kingdom, at the same time, to have secure borders. For example, there were Marches on the Welsh border and on the Spanish border.
There are also examples as in Denmark (March of the Danes) or as in Ostermark (eastern March) which became Osterreich (Austria in English).
See also the feudal ranking.


Inhabitants of southern France. The word "méridional" designates those who fought against the crusaders. The word "méridional" may replace the word "Languedocian".
Méridional does not mean cathar, altough some méridionals were, or supported them.

Narbonne, Narbonnaise

Narbonne is a very old city located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Narbonne gave its name to the Roman province of ancient Gaul, the Narbonnaise. Later when Visigoths (western goths) were defeated by Clovis, King of the Franks, they moved their capital from Toulouse to settle in this region which was called Septimania ("Sept" means seven in French) in memory of the Roman VIIth legion which was settled there or because it contained seven cities (Narbonne, Béziers, Nîmes, Agde, Carcassonne, Maguelonne and Elne). Others crossed the Pyrenees to settle in Catalonia. Septimanie was eventually incorporated into Charlemagne's Empire and became the Margravat of Gothia (or Marche of Gothie) and turned later into the Duchy of Narbonne.


Language stemming from Latin.
"Oc" means "yes".
The Occitan language varied from one city to another, nowadays, to preserve the language, Occitan has been standardized and can be learnt at school.
The other meaning of Occitan is simply the name of inhabitants of Occitania.


Later in the history, all occitan spoken provinces were put togehter to form Occitania. This area covers more or less all the lands stretching between the River Loire, the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Mediteranean coast. It includes Gascony, Guyenne, Languedoc and other provinces.
However, Occitania has never been a political province as Languedoc was.

Seigneur, Baron, Lord, co-lord

A seigneur is a feudal lord holding one or several fiefs. In Languedoc, it was common usage to share an estate between children, even if there was only one fief to share.
The consequence was that many fiefs and castles became divided and soon belonged to several lords (36 for Montréal, 50 for Lombers, 34 for Mirepoix etc..). They were "co-Lords" or "co-Seigneurs". Some of them took the lead to run the fief as today's company shareholders.
As an example, the Principality of Andorra is still ruled today by two co-Princes.
The northern usage was generally to favour the eldest son, in order to keep each fief undivided. This usage was also followed by big estate owners in Languedoc.

Seneschal, Seneschalsy

A Seneschal is the governor of a place (city, county, duchy...) which is then called a Seneschalsy.
He is the deputy of his overlord, but his charge is not hereditary as it is for a comte.


3rd city in Europe after Rome and Venice. Former capital of the Visigothic Kingdom.
One of the most famous Counts the city had was Raymond IV of Saint-Gilles (1042-1105). He took the cross on the first crusade in 1096, leading southern crusaders to Jerusalem. It is said that he declined the offer to become King of Jerusalem. He founded the County of Tripoli instead.
During the Albigensian crusade, Toulouse withstood 3 sieges, in 1211, 1218 and 1229.

Viscount, viscounty

A Viscounty is simply a part of a County, generally a town and its outskirts.