|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Michel François|
|• Land1||37.16 km2 (14.35 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||2.9/km2 (7.5/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||09211 / 09300|
|Elevation||630–2,365 m (2,067–7,759 ft)
(avg. 918 m or 3,012 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
It is famous for its fortification, the Château de Montségur, that was built on the ruins of one of the last strongholds of the Cathars. The present fortress on the site, though described as one of the "Cathar castles," is actually of a later period. It has been listed as a historic site by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862.
The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to the stone age, around 80,000 years ago. Evidence of Roman occupation such as Roman currency and tools have also been found in and around the site. Its name comes from Latin mons securus, which evolved into mont ségur in Occitan, which means "safe hill".
In the Middle Ages the Montségur region was ruled by the Counts of Toulouse, the Viscounts of Carcassonne and finally the Counts of Foix. In 1243–44, the Cathars (a religious sect considered heretical by the Catholic Church) were besieged at Montségur by 10,000 troops at the end of the Albigensian Crusade. In March 1244, the Cathars finally surrendered and approximately 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the "pog" (mountain) when they refused to renounce their faith. Some 25 actually took the ultimate Cathar vow of consolamentum perfecti in the two weeks before the final surrender.
Later a new fortress was built by royal forces to guard the southern frontier.
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