The Battle of Muret -12 September 1213

Muret is a town of over 23,000 inhabitants situated in the outer suburbs of Toulouse.
Exactly 800 years ago, on the 12th of September 1213 Muret was the theatre of a famous battle – known in history AS “the battle of Muret” – whose outcome was decisive in the future shaping of the south west territorial borders of France to the contour they are nowadays.
The battle opposed a coalition of local south west lords: Count Raymond VI of Toulouse, Count Raymond-Roger of Foix, Count Bernard IV of Comminges and Gaston VI, Viscount de Béarn all four under the leadership of Peter II of Aragon their overlord (and Raymond’s VI brother-in-law!) to the northern barons’ armies – the so called crusaders – headed by Simon de Montfort Seigneur de Montfort-l’Amaury, 5th Earl of Leicester.
The battle takes place against the background of the crusade led in the beginning of the 13th century in the south of France by the papacy against the catharism – a heresy that was developing at the time in the region and whose aficionados were protected by the southern lords.
However the political ambitions were such that not only the northern lords, the crusaders, were animated by a dual goal: the eradication as urged by Pope Innocent III of the catharism from the southern regions of what is now France and the pursuit, in the process, of territorial aggrandizement but also King Peter II of Aragon – known as Peter the Catholic – was helping his vassals, the very protectors of the heretics, in the hope of expanding his kingdom on the northern slopes of the Pyrenean Mountains.
In the case of the battle of Muret it is interesting to mention that it was Peter of Aragon and not Simon de Montfort – perceived by the history as the agressive, ruthless military comander – who initiated the assault of the town on September 8, 1213, the town being at the time protected by a small garrison loyal to Montfort.
On hearing of this attack Simon de Montfort who was then in Fanjeaux – some 80km south east of Muret – raises his troop and arrives in Muret on September 11.
The decisive battle took place on the 12th of September, 2013. It was a bloody combat where more then 15,000 warriors lost their lives among them Peter of Aragon himself.
The battle marked beginning of the unification of the south with the kingdom of France and for the defeated party the end of the dream of a grand kingdom of Aragon stretching on both sides of the Pyrénées.
To celebrate the 800th anniversary of the battle of Muret the association “Passerelles Muretaines” re-created during the weekend of September 15, 2013, on a plain near Muret, not only the fight itself but also the medieval war camp conditions. A special attention was paid to the conformity of the combatants’ equipment with the ones of the 13th century – with one notable exception: the war horses were not armored (apparently for their own comfort).
The battle was re-created with the help of volunteers who trained for the representation during the 3 previous years.

*For more information about the history of catharism – and images of the most important cathar castles go to: Short History of Catharism

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