Château d'Agel was first mentioned in 1100. In the early 12th century the area was rocked by the scandal of the Cathar Wars or Albigensian Crusade. A local form of Christianity was becoming ever more popular and according to some had already become the majority religion of the area. The Catholic Church regarded it as both a heresy and a threat. The 'heresy' was strongest in the county of Toulouse and all over Languedoc, where vassals of the Count of Toulouse refortified a line of castles to protect themselves against Papal forces. Agel was one of that line of castles refortified to resist the Pope's forces.
The Crusade against the Cathars, led by Simon de Montfort, raged throughout the Languedoc. In Simon's bid to take nearby Minerve in 1210, the château d'Agel was almost entirely destroyed by fire. In July of that year, Minerve fell, and the 180 Cathars who had taken refuge there met their end on a burning pyre.
The Treaty of Paris, which annexed Languedoc to France in 1220, put an end to the Crusade. Guiraud de Pépieux, who had escaped the massacre, set about restoring the château for his descendants. Notarial records dating back to the year 1300 mention another Guillaume de Pépieux as Lord of Aigues-Vives and Agel.
The architecture of the Château d'Agel reflects its continued use over the centuries. Thus for example window styles, vary from the tiny windows of the stark 12th century fortress to the beautiful windows of the Renaissance with ornamental balusters and capitals. During the 17th century, Renaissance embrasures were replaced on the principal frontage by broad bays with small squares in the style of Trianon.
By the first half of the 20th century, the Château had fallen into disrepair, and the northern wing in particular had become a ruin. In the 1960s the Ecal family began the task of restoring the property and its gardens to their former glory. Today Château d'Agel is a grand hotel.References:
The Château Comtal (Count’s Castle) is a medieval castle within the Cité of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact. The Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a 'Cathar Castle'. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel's castrum at Bèziers and then moved on to his main stronghold at Carcassonne.
The castle with rectangular shape is separated from the city by a deep ditch and defended by two barbicans. There are six towers curtain walls.
The castle was restored in 1853 by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.