The fortified town was built in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse, a Cathar heretic, and is now a popular tourist spot. Until recently the town's name was Cordes, a word thought to come from the Indo-European root "corte" meaning "rocky heights."
In the 1229 Treaty of Paris Raymond VII of Toulouse conceded defeat to Louis IX of France. In 1241, Jeanne, the Count of Toulouse, married Alphonse II the brother of Louis IX and the Count of Poitiers. As a result, Cordes became a part of France in 1370 without ever having been militarily conquered. In 1436 Rodrigo de Villandrando pillaged Cordes as part of the Hundred Years' War.
The citizens of Cordes, having built their homes within the original 13th century ramparts, later escaped heavy damage during the religious wars at the end of the 16th century. As a result some excellent examples of 13th and 14th century gothic architecture have been preserved.
In 1993 Cordes was renamed Cordes-sur-Ciel to reflect the town's site on a hill above the clouds that cover the valley below.
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