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The Cross of Toulouse and the House of Toulouse.

Arms of the Counts of Toulouse. Walford's Roll, Part1, c.1275. Oxford: Version II, Leland's. Bodleian MS Top Gen c1 (3117), Lelandii Collectanea. Click for a larger image in a new window. The city of Toulouse lies well outside the borders of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Anyone new to the area might therefore imagine that there is no connection between the two. On the contrary, there are very powerful links between all of the ancient territories ruled by the family of Saint-Gilles throughout the early Middle Ages. The family of St-Gilles, Counts of Toulouse, were once one of the most powerful families in Europe, ruling an area rather bigger than that then controlled by the King of France. To take one example of how strong the ancient links still are, their heraldic device, the Cross of Toulouse, is still in daily use throughout their ancient territories. You will see it everywhere you go in the Languedoc. The present four departements of the Languedoc all feature the Cross of Toulouse in their coats of arms - as do a further five departments outside the Languedoc. They were all previously part of the old Province of Languedoc, roughly corresponding the territories ruled by the medieval Counts of Toulouse.

Some people mistakenly refer to the Cross of Toulouse as the Cathar Cross. For others the Cross of Toulouse is inextricably linked to the language spoken in the Counts' territories, Occitan, the first modern literary language of Europe, the famous language of the Troubadours.

For yet others the Cross of Toulouse is linked not just with the Occitan language, but with Occitan culture. Occitan speaking areas share more than language: they share a history, a cuisine, architectural styles, traditional lifestyles, a cast of mind, and of course ancient allegiances. For some the Toulouse cross has been adapted as the badge of movement dedicated to establishing Occitania as an independent state. Supporters of Independence were not the only ones to consider the political detaching of Toulouse from the Languedoc, as one more in a long line of irritating attempts by the centralising French State to break the emotional link between an ancient capital and its traditional heartland.

Similar observations hold for Aragon and Catalonia. Catalonia belonged to the Kings of Aragon and Aragonese possessions north of the the Pyrenees ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan.  Pirenčus,  The Name in Catalan Pirineus,  The Name in French Pyrénées) once stretched to Provence. The old Aragonese County of the Roussillon might be called the département of the Pyrénées-Orientales now, but it is still strongly Catalan and many on both sides of the modern French-Spanish border look forward to reunion as an independent state. Its coat of arms is the coat of arms of the old Counts of Roussillon, and is identical to the arms of Aragon.

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Cross of Toulouse.
The Cross of
Toulouse