The Cross of Toulouse and the House of Toulouse.
The city of Toulouse lies well outside the borders of the
Anyone new to the area might therefore imagine that there
is no connection between the two. On the contrary, there
are very powerful links between all of the ancient territories
ruled by the family of Saint-Gilles
throughout the early Middle Ages. The family of St-Gilles,
of Toulouse, were once one of the most powerful families
in Europe, ruling an area rather bigger than that then controlled
by the King of France. To take one example of how strong
the ancient links still are, their heraldic device, the
of Toulouse, is still in daily use throughout their
ancient territories. You will see it everywhere you go in
the Languedoc. The present four departements of the Languedoc
all feature the Cross of Toulouse in their coats of arms
- as do a further five departments outside the Languedoc.
They were all previously part of the old Province
of Languedoc, roughly corresponding the territories
ruled by the medieval Counts of Toulouse.
Some people mistakenly refer to the
Cross of Toulouse as the Cathar
Cross. For others the Cross of Toulouse is inextricably linked to the language
spoken in the Counts' territories, Occitan,
the first modern literary language of Europe, the famous language of the Troubadours.
For yet others the Cross of Toulouse is linked not just
with the Occitan language, but with Occitan culture. Occitan
speaking areas share more than language: they share a history,
a cuisine, architectural styles, traditional lifestyles,
a cast of mind, and of course ancient allegiances. For some
the Toulouse cross has been adapted as the badge of movement
dedicated to establishing Occitania
as an independent state. Supporters of Independence were
not the only ones to consider the political detaching of
Toulouse from the Languedoc, as one more in a long line
of irritating attempts by the centralising French State
to break the emotional link between an ancient capital and
its traditional heartland.
Similar observations hold for Aragon
and Catalonia. Catalonia belonged to the Kings
of Aragon and Aragonese possessions north of the the
once stretched to Provence. The old Aragonese County
of the Roussillon might be called the département
of the Pyrénées-Orientales now, but
it is still strongly Catalan and many on both sides
of the modern French-Spanish border look forward to
reunion as an independent state. Its coat of arms
is the coat of arms of the old Counts of Roussillon,
and is identical to the arms of Aragon.
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House of Toulouse
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