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“Ruined Castles and Phantom Memories” is a pictorial edition featuring the remnants and remains of several Middle Age castles in southern France and particularly within the Languedoc region. Each image frames the ruined monuments and elevated structures of 12th century France occupied by members of the once vibrant Cathar movement. Desolate and foreboding, these staggering monoliths bear the sole testimony of the Cathar race, effectively exterminated in the 14th century by the Catholic Church during the Albigensian Crusades.

The finely crafted masonry and vaulted remaining pillars cast expansive shadows across the soaring landscape. Time brakes to a halt enabling the viewer to understand the allure of simplistic elegance and majesty. The principal fortresses photographed include the castles of Peyrepertuse, Queribus, Chateau de Thermes and the Abbey of Saint Hilary. The stark photographic severity examines the ravages of time, warfare and neglect.

Photographer Marques Vickers lived in the Languedoc region between 2005-2009, while capturing these portrayals.

Guillaume de Peyrepertuse resisted submission to the Catholic Church and was excommunicated in 1224. He built the castle at the end of the 13th century. The fortress later defended the French border against the kingdom of Aragon and then Spain until the 17th century.

The castle was the site of numerous armed conflicts until finally decommissioned as a border fort with the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 after having lost its strategic prominence. It was abandoned during the French Revolution and left to decay with the elements.

The castle was another strategic border protector with Spain until 1659. It is often regarded as the last Cathar stronghold. The Cathars avoided bloodshed by the pursuing French army by abandoning it before their appearance.

Chateau de Thermes
Aloft amidst its high elevation and fortified by deep ravines, the fortress was seized during the first Albigensian Crusade. Most of the combatants and residents were forced out by depleted water and diminished ammunition supplies amidst an extended drought.

The French government used it as a royal garrison to defend the borders with Spain. Abandoned and then reclaimed by a band of bandits, the group terrorized locals during the mid-seventeenth century. Their activities were halted abruptly when the walls were blown apart by canon fire issued by royal decree.

St. Hilary Abbey
A medieval Benedictine monastery features an attractive cloister and important Romanesque artworks inside including the sarcophagus of St. Sernin by the Master of Cabestany.

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"Ruined Southern France Castles and the Cathar Religion" TIME: 5 Minutes, 16 Seconds