About Durfort Castle
The Château de Durfort is a ruined (possibly) 11th century castle in the commune of Vignevieille in the Aude département of France.
The present ruins are those of a strengthened habitat, including a chapel, dwellings with rectangular windows and a tower. High thick walls, cellars and wells, arched rooms of square buildings, corner turrets, watch towers and a main tower are still visible.
There is no documentary evidence for the initial construction of this fortress. Around 1000 in France, fortified houses evolved from simple towers encircled by wooden palisades into the more resistant masonry structures (castles).
The earliest written references mentioning the castle date from the 11th century. In 1093, it was mentioned in a transaction between the son of the lord of Durfort, Bertrand, and the Abbey of Lagrasse. In 1124, Guillaume and Raymond, lords of Durfort, paid homage to Viscount Bernard Aton of Carcassonne, and in 1163, the lord of Terme paid homage to Viscount Raymond de Trencavel, for the castle of Durfort.
In 1209, the lord of Durfort sided with the Cathars through his alliance with Olivier de Termes. Simon de Montfort took command of the Crusade against the Albigensians and campaigned in the area. In 1215, the château de Durfort became the property of Alain de Roucy, one of his lieutenants.
The royal power confirmed its conquest of the region by building five large fortresses and a network of watch towers. The Château de Durfort was written into this defensive system, aimed at protecting the new frontiers of the Kingdom of France.
In 1241, Olivier de Termes submitted to Louis IX, and thus recovered a portion of his lands and castles, including Durfort. He seems to have given them to the former lords of Durfort. In 1243, Hugues de Durfort swore allegiance to the king, and, the following year, took part with the Crusaders in the siege of Montségur.
In the 18th century, the castle seems to have been abandoned but its isolated position served to preserve its ruins. Today, the castle is private property; it may be visited free of charge with prior authorisation from the owners.