Fortified churches of the Rouergue

When warfare stalked the land, a fortified church offered security, as a troop of soldiers was likely to ignore it in search of easier pickings elsewhere. You can find fortified churches throughout France, with one fine cluster surrounding the city of Rodez.

At Sainte Radegonde, an existing 13th century building was enlarged in the 14th and 15th c. to give it a machicolated nave and towers above both transepts, in addition to a forbidding west tower (1). Inside, space above ground level was subdivided to provide 40 refuge chambers for villagers and their goods.
In the 15th c., the people of Souyri constructed a large refuge above the vault of their existing Romanesque church (2) whilst Boussac appears to have been completely reconstructed, with its fortified transept and chevet (3).

Inières (4) was built from the ground up in one campaign (1442-1455) but Saint-Sauveur de Grandfuel (5) is an earlier building fortified in the 16th c. Tempting though it is to blame the English and the Hundred Years’ War, most of these fortifications date from 1
well after the English had left the Rouergue, but when armed bands made it a very insecure place.

Further reading:

• J-C. Fau, Terres de Rouergue, Zodiaque, 1996, pp 155-158.
• P. Pécout, Les églises fortifiées du midi de la France, Sutton, 2006.
• J-M. Cosson, Sainte-Radegonde et Inières en Roueurgue, Rodez, 1991.
• Peter Harrison, Castles of God: Fortified Religious Buildings of the World, ISBN-13: 978-1843830665

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