Originally devoted to Saint-Sernin, first bishop of Toulouse, the Saint-Hilaire abbey later took the name of Saint-Hilaire who was Bishop of Carcassonne during the 6th century, because relics of his mortal remains were apparently sheltered there.
It was during the medieval period that this locality grew in importance, the village spread around the abbey whose abbots were also the feudal lords.
Until the beginning of the 13th century, the abbey benefited from the protection of the Counts of Carcassonne. During the Crusade against the Cathars, however, the monks were accused of heresy and lost their autonomy and most of their property. The monastery itself was devastated by the Catholic Crusaders. In 1246, Saint-Louis, the French King, ordered the Seneschal of Carcassone to give back to the Abbot of Saint-Hilaire the lands which had been confiscated from Cathars.
By the 14th century, the abbey was in financial difficulty. Insecurity caused by the Hundred Years War meant the abbots had to finance the maintenance of the village fortifications, and the abbey started to decline.
According to tradition the abbey was the birthplace of the Blanquette de Limoux. During the 16th century, the monks elaborated a semisparkling wine which has become famous around the world.
During the 18th century, the French Revolution caused further financial problems for the Abbey and it was obliged to sell its land and possessions.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.