Fort Lagarde        

Prats de Mollo, France                
One of several such forts nestled in the Pyrenees on the border of France and Spain, Fort Lagarde started its existence as a signal tower, the Tour de la Garde, built in 1307. The tower was part of a network of such structures, which communicated with signal fires by night and smoke by day, to alert authorities of potential nefarious doings. In this era the region that is now eastern Spain and southern France made up the Crown of Aragon, a maritime-based kingdom that would include a large part of Italy by the end of the 14th century. Prats de Mollo was a fortified city, benefiting from the trade that ran along the river Tech, which is now the boundary betwixt France and Spain.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees ended a war between France and Spain that raged from 1635 to 1659, and left France with more land along its southern border, including Prats de Mollo. French King Louis XIV (1638-1715) was pleased with his new acquisitions but hoped to do more territory swappin' with Spain in the near future, so saw little point in expending much thought, effort or money in the Pyrenees...this region, he figured, might well be traded back to Spain anyway.

Spain felt much the same way about the Pyrenees: They had unfettered access to the region, and in the 1660's spared no effort in infiltrating and stirring up trouble along the border.

In 1667 the French government reestablished a tax on salt, called the gabelle, that had been repealed in 1292. Folks along the border rebelled (encouraged by Spain), and it took three years and a large contingent of Royal troops to quell the revolt. Prats de Mollo had been a center of the rebellion, and as punishment its city walls were taken down. Vauban visited Prats de Mollo in 1679 and made plans for a fort based on the old watch tower. Fort Lagarde was built from 1680 to 1686, though funding issues prevented the fort from achieving its full intended Vaubanny glory. Some improvements were made in the early 1690's, and the result is what we see today: Incomplete, but still pretty.

On January 21 1793, French King Louis XVI was beheaded in Paris. France rapidly did the only responsible thing in such a situation by declaring war on just about all of its neighbors. Spain yelled "YIPPEEE!" and charged into the Pyrenees, instantly taking Fort Lagarde, which they would hold until the following year, when the French regained all of the territory lost at the beginning of the conflict.

After the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), the Spanish/French border lost much of its old excitement, and Fort Legard just kind of sat there until it was disarmed and declared a National Monument in 1925. In 1976 fort was purchased by the town of Prats de Mollo and refurbished, and today it is open for visitors.

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Fort Lagarde?
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Thanks to Google Maps for the image!