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Bernard de Castanet

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

Bishop of combat, jurist, cleric of the Roman Church, Bernard de Castanet was a ’soldier of the papacy’ for Pope Clement IV, his Languedoc compatriot, imposing the Church’s power over the town of Lombardy from 1266 until 1267.

He was ambassador for the sovereign pontiff in the Rhineland between 1268 and 1270, before being nominated by the first Dominican Pope, Innocent V, as Bishop of Albi, charged with the restoration of order both in the clergy and in the souls of the people.

He established a veritable Episcopal Monarchy in his diocese on the model of the plenitudo potestatis demanded by the popes.

At the heart of the Berbie palace around a court of honour a double keep, ’la tour Mage’ which consisted of:

the old tour Saint-Michel, raised by a level which housed the Bishop’s private chapel and the official chamber. A new tower, the tour Sainte-Catherine, henceforth the Bishop’s residence.

The Bishop moved into la tour Mage, installing his chapel and his apartments. His previous residence, la Vieille Berbie, became the ecclesiastical court while the curtain wall was reinforced by two semi-circular buttresses (on the garden side).

Finally, he launched the construction of two curtain walls at the eastern and western ends of the palace rising up above the escarpments above the Tarn, annexing more land for the palace and providing a potential escape route towards the river.

The Berbie palace thus presented the uncompromising visage of undisguised power.

This remarkable prelate, associated with the inquisition; conducted two great heresy trials against the Cathars in 1286-87 and 1299-1300.

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