The ruins of Paracols

At the time when the troubadours sang of the exploits of the valiant knights clad in iron and the loves of the noble chatelaines, the inhabitants of Molitg were under the domination of the lords of Paracols.

ruins of paracols


On an almost inaccessible peak, at the foot of which the Castellane meanders murmuringly, stood a fortress whose keep defied the sky, a veritable eagle's nest where the lords of Paracols took shelter; and the clanging of weapons, the sounds of horns and olifants, which constantly echoed up there, made the poor inhabitants of the mountain shudder.

The feudal residence is now nothing more than a ruin; from time to time tourists will contemplate these old mysterious walls, this dismantled tower which contains a world of memories and which recalls a perhaps glorious past.

Wild plants grow on the ground trodden by valiant knights and noble lords; owls fill with their guttural calls places where cries of war and pain once resonated. During the beautiful summer nights, when the moon projects the gigantic shadow of the peak on the valley and the dark faces of the castle stand out against the clear sky in sharp and precise outlines like shadows chinese, the locals believe they see a white ghost wandering on the steep rocks.

The vision passes, slow and mysterious, arms raised, as if to cast anathema on the old ruin. And in the evening, among the children, who, with gaping mouths, listen attentively, the old women explain in a low voice this nocturnal apparition.

The people of the country saw a very distinguished woman arrive one day accompanied by a charming little girl: they were, it was said, descendants of the kings of Granada. The mother, Guillema, was surrounded by the greatest consideration, by religious respect, because she made some predictions whose realization struck the naive and superstitious minds of the peasants, and she was called the “soothsayer”.

Returning from a hunt, Baron Guillem-Bernard de Paracols met the beautiful Guillema and her beauty seduced him; her hair flying in the wind and crowned with flowers, the young girl herded a goat while humming a monotonous tune in a strange dialect. Guillem dismounted, declared his admiration for her and pinched a wild flower into her blond hair. Some time later, he secretly married her and bore her a child.

But it was not long before he forgot his sermons of love and fidelity; the young abandoned wife died overwhelmed by pain. From then on, the peasants saw Guillema always sad and silent, surrounding with care the young child who was being fed by her goat, then one fine day the grandmother and the child disappeared.

One morning in April the peasants were jubilant, they had dressed in their finest festive clothes: Baron Guillem Bernard de Paracols married Aldoncia, daughter of Baron de Domanova. The main courtyard of the castle was covered with boxwood garlands and strewn with flowers: all day long people celebrated gaily and danced balls to the sounds of bagpipes and flageolets.

Finally night arrived: following the custom of the country, the bride's closest relative danced with her, picked her up in a jump and placed her on his shoulder to carry her into the bridal chamber, while the women ran with them. water, wine and anise cakes. The young wife had barely been placed in the hands of her attendants when an old woman in mourning stood before her.

The livid lord of Paracols immediately rushed to protect the young bride, but he was sharply called out: “Back off, Guillem-Bernard! the stranger told him. And turning to the trembling wife she added: “What should we think, Madam, of a knight who violates his faith? Lord of Paracols, I return to you what belongs to you: your son, your legitimate heir, the child of my beloved daughter!

And, saying these words, she presented to the forbidden bridegroom a beautiful sleeping child whom she had hidden under the folds of her cloak. Then raising her hand towards Christ, she uttered words of curse to the young lord, predicted the annihilation of his race and disappeared, in the midst of general consternation….

Years followed years and Aldoncia had two beautiful children, Bernard and Sibilla, who were her joy and her pride. The memory of the old woman's anathema continued to haunt the Baron de Paracols: the existence of his first child preoccupied and tormented him like a terrible nightmare.

One day the Paracols castle was besieged by Spanish bandits. Baron Guillem, paying his own money, went around the ramparts himself. He heard the sound of voices in the shadows, and hearing a few words by chance, he understood that he was threatened and immediately had the soldier who was plotting with the enemy arrested. But the traitor maintained an obstinate silence to all questions, even in the face of threats of torture. So they prepared to undress him to flog him, when they noticed with astonishment that it was a woman. It was Guillema, the “soothsayer”. Exasperated at being recognized, she insulted the lord of Paracols.

— “Hit, executioner, I laugh at your blows, for many years I have lived under your roof, lowering myself to the role of servant, watching for the hour of my vengeance. And today, dressed in these soldier's clothes, I was able to approach the enemy to deliver you and yours. Your race will become extinct. Your son Bernard will die tomorrow, because I poisoned him! »

Faced with such provocation, Baron de Paracols jumped in anger, sword in hand, but a dull sneer stopped his arm and he ordered the old shrew to be whipped. Guillema endured the painful blows of the strap without weakness.

— “Guillem de Paracols, you will never again find your eldest son, the child of my beloved daughter, the one who was to perpetuate your race. He is valiant, this one, because he has royal blood in his veins.

— “Tell me where he is,” cried Guillem, “tell me or I’ll kill you.”

— “Ah! I take revenge, cursed knight. Hear this tumult, felon: it is the enemy who is coming. He will burn your castle and you will perish under his blows.

The baron immediately had Guillelma locked in a barrel lined with nails and shards of glass and had her thrown over the rampart. Leaping from rock to rock, the barrel fell into a chasm which was then called Gorch de la Mossa (chasm of the servant).

According to Guillelma's prediction, an arrow struck the Baron of Paracols and mortally wounded him. His son died in terrible suffering. The castle, partly burned, was pillaged and ravaged by the Spanish: only the Baroness de Paracols and her daughter survived the disaster. As for Guillelma's grandson, Raymond de Paracols, after having lived for a long time in the monastery of Saint-Martin du Canigou, he ended his days in a cottage in the Molitg valley, very close to Paracols and the Gorch de la Mossa which gave him brought back such sad memories.