The first seigneurs of Turenne appeared in the 9th century. Turenne became a state in its own right following the crusades and, as one of the greatest fiefdoms of France in the 14th century, the viscountcy of Turenne possessed complete autonomy throughout the middle ages until the 18th century. Until 1738, the viscounts acted as true sovereigns, levying taxes, minting money and creating nobles. Turenne was a state within a state.
The castle, now in ruins, stands on the top of the rock on the steep, conical hill that is unmistakeable when seen from a distance.
The domain of Turenne occupied the territory limited by Perigord noir, Bas Limousin and Quercy and notably controlled the movement of cattle between the plateaux of Limousin and of Quercy. Its power was greatest in the 15th century when its principal fortified towns were Argentat, Servières, Beaulieu, Gagnac, Martel, Saint-Céré et Turenne as well as the bastides of Bretenoux and Puybrun and the towns of Carennac, Vayrac, Curemonte, Meyssac and Collonges. The domain comprised 100,000 inhabitants in 18,500 dwellings, 111 parishes and 1200 villages, making it one of the most powerful vicomtés in the kingdom.
On 8 juin 1738, Turenne was sold to Louis XV to settle the gaming debts of Charles-Godefroy, the last viscount of Turenne of the family of La Tour de L'Auvergne. This brought to an end the last independent fiefdom of France. Future viscounts henceforth became tax-paying subjects of the king who ordered that the fortress of Turenne be reduced.
Nowadays, you can see:
* César's tower (13th century), the clock tower (14th century) and
vestiges of the fortress