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Things to See in the Languedoc:   Historic Cities:   Toulouse (  The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan. Tolosa)

Traditional arms of the City of ToulouseArms of the modern City of Toulouse, with the arms of France Ancient in chiefToday's weather and weather forecast for Toulouse, France. Click here for to open a website giving more information, in a new window First is has to be said that Tolouse no longer has any official connection with the modern Languedoc.  However the historical links are strong, and 800 years of political machinations designed to break them have failed. 

A village was created here by the Volques Tectosages in the 3rd century BC, near a ford over the Garonne River.  It was taken over by the Romans in 118 BC and became a great Gallo-Roman town.  In AD 418 the Visigoths took it and made it their capital - There were Kings of Toulouse at this time.  The Visigoths were defeated by the Franks in Vouillé 507.  The Counts of Toulouse date from this time, their House surviving until the annexation of their lands in 1271. 

French 80 centime stamp, 1958, showing the coat of armes of the city of Toulouse French 80 centime stamp, 1941, showing the coat of armes of the city of Toulouse characteristic pink toulouse brick - hardly changed since Roman times From the eleventh century Toulouse became an important centre, a focus for financial activity and major stopping point on pilgrimage routes to Compostella.  In the twelfth century a city council was formed - a unique arrangement for the time based partly on the Roman Senate.  Powerful merchants and financiers became senhors del Capitol (Lords of the Chapter) sharing power with the Counts of Toulouse - a symbiotic relationship which suited everyone involved, but which would horrify the feudal French when they annexed the county.  Even so, even to this day the City Hall is known as the Capitol and councilors are known, uniquely, as Capitouls.  They are still proud to use the device of the ancient rulers, the famous Cross of Toulouse

An important pilgrim route, the Via Tolosana (marked in blue on the right) led through Arles, St-Gilles, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert and Toulouse and crossed the Pyrenees to join other routes at Puenta-la-Reina, thence to Santiago along the Via Compostelana to Santiago de Compostela.

Another route, the Regordane (marked in green), led from Le Puy-en-Velay to St-Gilles, by way of the Cévennes, Alès and Nîmes. Some pilgrims came only as far as St-Gilles, the fourth most important pilgimage destination in Europe. Others went on to Santiago de Compostela along the Via Tolosana possibly taking a detour to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (While Compostela claimed the relics of St-James, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer claimed the relics of his mother, Mary)

Pilgrims and hikers still walk these ancient pigrimage routes. Click on the following external link for more information on walking the Regordane


During the Cathar period, the City was fiercely loyal to the House ofToulouse.  Toulouse was the largest, and most prosperous city in Languedoc. Rural areas were mostly opposed to the Church of Rome and sympathised with the Cathars, but Toulouse was split between the two. Free of control from any external government, its growing importance and increasing revulsion to the Catholic Church was making Toulouse an independent political and religious power in its own right, a potential rival to Rome. It was this power that so alarmed Pope Innocent III. He expressed his concern in a letter :

"…The ingrained corruption of abominable heresy continues to grow in Toulouse, breeding monstrous offspring... ulcers that do not respond to dressings must be cut out with a knife... Those who hold cheap the correction of the Church must be crushed by its power."

Some notable events concerning the city included a Cathlic-Cathar debate in 1145, an unsuccessful siege by Simon de Montfort in 1211, the rendition to the French Crusaders and establishment of Dominic Guzmàn's Dominican Order in the City in 1215, the revolt of the population against the French in 1216, the triumphal return of Raymond VI of Toulouse on 13 September 1217, a second siege by Simon de Montfort in 1218 during which he was killed, a third unsuccessful siege this time by Prince Louis in 1219. For further information about the role of Toulouse in the Cathar wars, click here





The central suporting pillar ("the Palm") in the Jacobins Church
View of Toulouse from the Gesta Tholosanorum (1515) by Nicolas Bertrand
The figure in the centre is the fictional founder of the city, a descendant of of Japhat. On the left is the then newplague hospital of Saint Sebastien


This is apainting of the wife Toulouse of a Toulouse pastel mercant called Lancefoc. Her name was Paule de Vigier (1518 - 1610). Her extraorinary beauty was widely recognised. King Francois I called her La Belle Paule.The Duc de Montmorency called her a wonder of the world. The Capitouls of Toulouse, in formal Chapter, decreed that she must appear in public on the balcony of the Capitole once a week to allow herself to be admired, which is the subject of this painting by Henri Rachou

Toulouse lies on the Canal du Midi, built by Pierre-Paul Riquet a notable Languedoc resident. The Canal is popular for boating holidays and through France's extensive canal network provides a way to get to the Languedoc from the Atlantic Ocean, Northern France and Mediterranean Sea.

Click on the following link for the role of Toulouse in the Cather Wars (Albigensian Crusade)


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