Lady Carcass

We had to tell you about our symbol, Lady Carcass.
According to the legend, she gave her name to the city.

We must go back to the 8th century, when the Sarazins occupied the walls.
The city was under the yoke of Lord Balak when Charlemagne’s army came to mount the siege.
It was more Pepin Lebref for the story.
Balak, a name that will be found later in the Crusades in the Holy Land.

The siege lasted 5 years, according to legend and 7 according to the story, and Balak died there.
His wife, Dame Carcass decided to organize the defense, she was resourceful and courageous.
But successive epidemics carried his army. It’s not a
big deal. She was seen passing over a wall firing a volley of arrows from her bow, running from one tower to another, changing her accoutrement to throw a few crossbow tiles, swinging a few stones through the parapet.
So much so that the besiegers thought the city was always well guarded.
But little by little the resources ran out, the Germanic armies having ravaged the crops and plundered the surrounding area, there were not many provisions to maintain the siege.
In the city the situation is catastrophic, and we are already thinking about surrendering.
All that’s left is a lean piglet and a wheat ermine.
Lady Carcass grabs the little goret, gives it the grain and sends it over the wall
! The city’s populace, who don’t understand the ploy, thinks their last hopes are flying.
But when Charlemagne sees this grain-filled pig explode at his feet, he thinks the city is full of provisions, so much so that they are wasting them by throwing at them to taunt them.
He decides to leave the camp.
Lady Carcass seeing him away decided to ring the bells of victory.
Then Charlemagne’s lieutenant turns to the emperor and pats him on the shoulder
– Sire, Dame Carcass Sonne!

Do you understand the pun?
For history it was already Carcaso in Roman times. We didn’t go very far.

But that’s not the end of the story…
What moral would have been drawn from a story where a Sarazine princess would win against a Catholic king?
Turning around Charlemagne then saw Lady Carcass open the gates of the city, rush to her feet and prostrate herself.
She eventually offered him the city and converted.

It should be noted that the legend was born in the context of the wars of religions between Protestants and Catholics that set France on fire and blood.
Just like the origin of the sculpture that greets us at the entrance to the City.
Although today it is only his copy, the original is in the lapidary museum of the Castle.

We must go back to the tour of France of King Charles IX with Catherine de Medicis where they made a short stop by the city of Carcassonne.
It was customary to welcome the coming of a king to a city by building a monumental gate.
Two statues have reached us, the statue of the virgin, the copy of which can be found between the two towers of the Narbonnaise gate and that of Lady Carcass.

Look at her, she is rather coarse, little finesse in the features of her face, in the drapery of her dress, and yet we are in the midst of rebirth. This is the grotesque style, used as a direct speech to the king in the 16th century.

She wears a turban on her head, recalling the rank of princess Sarazine but also the rich textile industry that makes the city rich.
She has a generous chest in reference to motherhood.
And above all this Latin inscription
Sum Carcass which means “I am Carcas”

The message is clear
Sir’ no matter what prosperous and Protestant lower town, the origin of Carcassonne is the City and the City remains Catholic!

Yes it is the symbol of Carcassonne because the city has always known this duality, Bastide, City, lower city and upper city, the city of the people and the city of power, Protestant city against the Catholic city, today the everyday city facing the city Tourist. And in the middle, the old bridge, which over the centuries has witnessed all their quarrels and reconciliations.


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