Brousse le Château
Brousse-le-Château is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France. It has been honored as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Since Roman times, Brousse le Chateau has had strategic value. Perched in its prominent position the present castle has architectural elements that date back to the 13th Century.
The village of Brousse is positioned on the confluence of the Tarn and the Alrance, with its 12th Century castle perched at the top of the old part of the village. The castle was built on the rocky outcrop by the Counts of Rouergue and was owned at various times by the Lords of Arpajon and the Armagnac family.
From the road that runs through the newer part of the village, one can park one's car and cross the pretty Roman bridge that crosses t he River Alrance, and climb up the cobbly narrow streets, with the medieval buildings up to the castle. To one side is the church with its fine tower that was fortified in the fifteenth century, built by Jean Arpajon III and his wife Anne de Bourbon Roussillon, dedicated to the apostle St. Jacques Maggiore. Anne de Bourbon was of royal blood. That is why you will see the emblem of Fleur de Lys within the church. In the cemetary there is an oratory that has a beautiful view over the river Tarn. (The area is well known for its trout!)
If you look up at the Castle you will see the Princess Tower. It is here in 1344 that Princess Hélène de Castelnau lived. She came from a noble family as her grandfather was Olivier de Penne – a fierce opponent of Simon de Montfort during the crusade against the Albigensians.
Jean d’Arpajon, who was in "love" with her, took her from her family, and forced her to live with him in the castle. He married her. Meanwhile her family took the matter to Philippe VI , who was at the time at war with Edward III of England (Hundred Years War). In 1347 Géraud de la Barthe, the King's captain, laid seige to the castle, but was initially unsuccessful, and pretended to leave, hiding in the woods that surrounded the castle. In the evening when the soldiers at the castle had lessened their guard, plucky Geraud, climbed the castle walls, and managed to get Helen away, and return her to her family. Its probable that at that time that the castle was burned, as later Jean complained to the government.
View of the lit chateau at night