Ruins of the Château de Canilhac in the Lot Valley. A room on the ground floor has been restored.Ruins of Château de Canilhac overlooking the Lot Valley
©Ruins of Château de Canilhac overlooking the Lot Valley
Discover the

Château de Canilhac

One of the most powerful baronies in Gévaudan!

Located in the Lot Valley, the small village of Canilhac, now known as Banassac-Canilhac after recently merging with the nearby commune of Banassac, was for many centuries the seat of one of the eight baronies of Gévaudan: that of the Lords of Canilhac, one of the most powerful in the region.

All about

Château de Canilhac

The Barony of Canilhac, stretching from Rouergue (now Aveyron) to Gévaudan, where they owned several castles, ruled over a vast and varied territory. Over the centuries, the family experienced many ups and downs. The château you can see today in Canilhac was already in ruins in the 17th century. However, recent restoration work has stabilized its condition. Come and discover the history of this barony and follow in the footsteps of this famous Gévaudan family.

Castle architecture

De Canilhac

The ruins you can visit are those of a castle probably dating from the 12th century, which was the stronghold of the Canilhac barony. A curtain wall can still be seen, where the variety of stones and the different fixtures, notably fishbone, indicate that the walls, which appear to be older, have been repaired many times. A lower, vaulted room has been converted to accommodate a part of the Town Hall, now transferred to that of Banassac. The presence of a fireplace upstairs indicates that this level was probably reserved for the lord. Unfortunately, the rest of the château is too ruined to recognize its original parts and functions.

History of the Barony

From the 8th century onwards, the lord of Canilhac was the “dominus” of the whole Gévaudan region: he kept the peace, guaranteed justice and defended the territory over which he had authority. Between 1050 and 1097, Albert de Canilhac pledged allegiance to the vicompte Béranger of Millau and Gévaudan. He took an oath to hold the castles of Canilhac, Saint-Laurent d’Olt and Saint-Aman, Brametourte and Les Hermaux. This gives us an idea of the family’s extensive domain.

In the 12th century, Louis VII the Younger granted the legitimate temporal sovereignty of Gévaudan to bishop Alderbert III, and the Canilhac family came under his authority. In the 17th century, the family declined. Bands of bandits, some of whom were henchmen of the lord of Canilhac, were accused of widespread looting, particularly in the Saint-Germain du Teil and Montjézieu areas.

In 1665, a court of exception, “Les grands jours d’Auvergne”, was set up to bring the nobles of the Gévaud region to heel. Five members of the family were condemned following the trials, but only one was finally executed, the viscount of Lamothe-Canilhac, in October 1666 in Clermont. In November and December of the same year, a number of Gévaudan personalities were again condemned, including the sieurs de Beauforts père and fils, marquis de Canilhac.

At the same time, private wars were raging in Gévaudan. The Canilhac family had lost some of its superb power. They sold their estate to the Marquis de Morangiès in 1748, who transferred the seat of the barony to his château at Saint-Alban, in the Margeride region.

Queen Ermangarde. A young woman of no great beauty, she was nonetheless renowned for her unparalleled generosity and kindness. She had married Geoffroy de Montaigut. A boorish, cruel and miserly man, he had married her only to squander her fortune. One day, he set off on an adventure while his wife, protected by her two faithful greyhounds, guarded the château and made their property prosper.

On his return a few years later, her greedy husband, intent on monopolizing the entire fortune, broke into his wife’s room with a dagger. She fell in fright and, believing himself to be a widower, Geoffroy carried her body to the basement of the château. Germain, a devoted servant, found her that very night, thanks to the flair of his two greyhounds.

The lady took her revenge the next day, entering her husband’s apartments in the evening, accompanied by the two dogs. They rushed at him and killed him before he had time to react. The mutilated body was left to the vultures on the castle terrace.

All about the castle

de Canilhac

in the Lot Valley

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