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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Carcas

Legendary, flourished circa 760, Carcassonne, France

Legend states that in 760, when Pippin III, king of the Franks, laid seige to all of southern France, Carcassonne was the last territory to remain independent. King Pippin decided to surround the city and wait for the people to surrender under threat of famine. It was Dame Carcas, however, widow of the lord of Carcassonne, who saved the city. She took the last pig and fattened it up with the last grain left in the city, then sent it over the wall. When the army saw how well-fed the pig was, they assumed there was enough food behind the impregnable walls of Carcassonne to avoid famine, and retreated. Dame Carcas then rang the city’s bells in celebration, hence the name “Carcas sonne,” meaning “Carcas rings” in French.