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         Section I - Rennes-le-Château before Bérenger Saunière

From the Visigothic to the Carolingian era

In the second half of the 6th century, the ancient oppidum of Rhedae found itself on the frontier of the Visigothic kingdom, a position which gave it a role of prime strategic importance. It would appear that the town was at that time the capital of the pagus Rédensis, although this idea is contested by some authors.

Earliest documentary reference (798) Rennes-le-Château appears for the first time under the Latin name of ‘Redas’ in Parænesis ad judices (‘Exhortation to Judges’), written in verses by the Bishop Théodulf of Orleans (c. 750–821).

 

Did you know…? Louis Fédié (1815–1899) claimed that Rennes-le-Château was formerly a Visigothic capital boasting up to 30,000 inhabitants. Subsequent historians and archaeologists have expressed doubts about this figure, which they consider exaggerated.

 

Documents

Jean Astruc, Mémoires pour l’histoire naturelle de la Province
du Languedoc
, Guillaume Cavellier, Paris 1737, p.182. 

Louis Fédié, "Rhedae" in Le Comté de Razès et le diocèse d’Alet, 1880. ›  

Gaston Jourdanne, "Les Wisigoths" in Mémoires de la Société des arts
et des sciences de Carcassonne
, tome IX, 2eme part, 1899, pp. 101-103. ›  

Guillaume Besse, Histoire des ducs, marquis et comtes de Narbonne, autrement appellez princes des Goths, ducs de Septimanie et marquis de Gothie, Antoine de Sommaville, Paris 1660. 

Guillaume Besse, Histoire des comtes de Carcassonne, Arnaud Estradier, Paris 1645. 

Further reading

William Stephen Gilly, Vigilantius and his times, Burnside & Seeley, 1844.

Jean Fourié, Rennes-le-Château : L’histoire de Rennes-le-Château
antérieure à 1789
, Jean Bardou, 1984. ›  

M. de la Pijardière, Chroniques de Languedoc - Revue du Midi historique,
archéologique, littéraire et bibliographique
, Vol. 4, Montpellier, 1878, p. 112. ›  

© 2009-2014 All rights reserved • Texts Antoine Captier, Christian Doumergue, Mariano Tomatis

Contributors Corjan De Raaf, Patrick Mensior, Octonovo, Morgan Roussel, Paul Saussez, Marcus Williamson.

Translation Karen McDermott Art Director Mariano Tomatis