Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Books on the Cathars, Catharism and the Albigensian Crusade


 

 

 

General Reading

Intermediate Reading

Academic Reading

Source Documents (in translation)

Historical Revisionism - Advanced Reading

Books in French

Novels and Other Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

GENERAL READING

 
Cathar Books: Massacre at Montsegur: a history of the Albigensian Crusade, Zoe Oldenburg
Massacre at Montsegur: a history of the Albigensian Crusade

 5 stars: highly recommended

Zoé Oldenburg 

Highly recommended. Not specifically about Montsegur but rather about the history of the Cathars in the Languedoc. Excellent introductory text.

The Original version is in French, but the English version is well translated so you'd never guess.

Zoe Oldenburg was originally a novelist, but this is a sound work of nonfiction (and built her an instant reputation as an historian).

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Massacre at Montsegur: a history of the Albigensian Crusade, Zoe Oldenburg

Cathar Books: Massacre at Montsegur: a history of the Albigensian Crusade, Zoe Oldenburg
Cathar Books: The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, Stephen O'Shea
The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars

 4 stars

Stephen O'Shea   

Walker & Co; (2001)

This account of tale of the Cathars of the Languedoc and their destruction is sympathetic, evocative and sometimes witty. Catharism is presented as "a pacifist brand of Christianity embracing tolerance and poverty". Rejecting the authority of the Church, and claiming a series of contrary beliefs, it was considered "perfect heresy" ie complete and utter heresy. Nobles, monks, popes and kings star in this story of the "abattoir Christianity" of conflict encompassing religious and secular motivation over decades. The book's recreations of of siege warfare are particularly good. Operational methods of the Inquisition are clearly explained.

This is an accessible text for non-specialists, but it is sound history, drawing on modern scholarship and providing good notes.

Stephen O'Shea is a Canadian historian, who was inspired to write this book after traveling in France.

Paperback: 352 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.03 x 7.91 x 5.57 Publisher: Walker & Co; (August 2001;    ISBN: 0802776175

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, Stephen O'Shea
Cathar Books: Montaillou: village Occitan, 1294-1324,  Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Montaillou: village Occitan, 1294-1324    
 4 stars: highly recommended

 

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie   

A century after the Crusade against the Cathars, a local Catholic bishop discovered that that Cathars were still flourishing. He had a whole village arrested and interrogated in his role as Inquisitor. Unusually, he was actually interested in the truth and recorded a wealth of detail about his unfortunate victims. This Inquisitor, Jacques Fournier, was promoted from Bishop of Pamiers to Archbishop of Narbonne and later elected Pope. His records found their way into the Vatican archives, where they were studied in the twentieth century by the French historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. Le Roy Ladurie has produced an astonishing, gripping, unique, work of history  by collecting details about ordinary village life of a fourteenth century rural community.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Montaillou: village Occitan, 1294-1324,  Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

Cathar Books: Montaillou: village Occitan, 1294-1324,  Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Cathar Books: The Albigensian Crusade, Jonathan Sumption
The Albigensian Crusade

 4 stars: highly recommended

Jonathan  Sumption 

 Faber, London, 1978)

Excellent history, and a brave attempt at making the case for the behaviour of the Roman Church. This book by the well know historian and English barrister (now a Supreme court judge) takes a much more informed view of the international politics of the period than most other works available. One of the many unforeseen consequences of the Cathar Wars and other actions by Pope Innocent III was the beginning of the creation of European nation states - and consequently the shape of modern Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Albigensian Crusade, Jonathan Sumption
Cathar Books: The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last 
        Cathars, 1290-1329, René Weis
The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars, 1290-1329

 4 stars: highly recommended

René Weis 

A century or so after the start of the first Cathar wars there was a short lived resurgence of the Cathar faith in the areas around Foix. (Another aspect of this resurgence is related in Montaillou - see above). Weis's book is about this resurgence.

The yellow cross of the title is a reference to to the yellow crosses that Cathars were obliged to wear by the Inquisition as a mark of public penance - similar to the yellow badges that Jews were obliged to wear as a mark of infamy, and a contrast to the red crosses worn by heroic crusaders.

One of the saddest and most moving parts of the story is that concerning a man called Belibaste, the last known parfait in the area. Having led a colourful life, and having failed to live up to the high standards expected of a parfait, he nevertheless opted to die a most appalling death at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church rather than recant his faith, and spent his last days on earth trying to reconvert the erstwhile friend who had betrayed him to the Inquisition.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last 
        Cathars, 1290-1329, René Weis
Cathar Books: The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade, Michael Costen
The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade

 4 stars: highly recommended

Michael Costen

A good all round work on the subject, though some reviewers have criticised it for an alleged pro-Catholic bias in its presentation and selection of sources.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade, Michael Costen
Cathar Books: Chasing the Heretics: A Modern Journey Through the Medieval Languedoc
Chasing the Heretics:   
A Modern Journey Through the Medieval Languedoc

 4 stars: highly recommended

Rion Klawinski

Not so much a history of the Cathars as a travelogue, using the Cathars and their history as a background. Something of a curate's egg. In its favour this book is well written, and mentions a lot of information not available in other popular works. Presumably this information is garnered from the leaflets available at the various sites the author visited. He is particularly good at ferreting out locations that often go unvisited by those following standard Cathar trails. Notable finds are the memorial at Lavaur, the well at Minerve, and the Chapel of the Rosary at Muret. As well as providing easily digested information about the Cathars, this book will undoubtedly appeal to visitors unfamiliar with the spectacular area where the Cathars lived. The author is also clearly sympathetic to the Cathars, as are almost all most authors of books on the subject (with the notable exception of Jonathan Sumption).

On the other hand the author has clearly not done a great deal of historical research. The bibliography is spectacularly thin and there is little on Cathar doctrine. Mixed in with the usually reliable facts are several blunders and some notable omissions. For example he quotes from the Song of the Cathar Wars but attributes the quote to Pierre des Vaux de Cernay. He is scathing about an English translation of a book by Michel Roquebert, apparently unaware that the original version (which he could easily have found) is an excellent work by a leading French authority on the subject. He can find not the "faintest excuse" for the atrocity at Bram, clearly unaware of the similar smaller-scale atrocity by the other side shortly before. He quotes Arnaud Amaury, but does not know that Amaury is the source of the number 20,000 given for the men, women and children massacred at Beziers, imagining that someone had subsequently inflated what was in fact a later, lower, independent estimate. He notices one piece of graffiti in Occitan, but must have missed dozens of others. He does not seem to be aware that the Counts of Toulouse came from St-Gilles, nor that the town was the fourth most important pilgrimage site in Europe. Also, he seems unduly affected by the weather. If it rains in any place he visits, then he takes against it in an almost superstitious way. One gets the impression that if he had visited St-Gilles on a sunny day and learned of the close link with the Counts of Toulouse he might have formed a completely different opinion of the place.

Still, overall this is a good book. Recommended as an introduction for those new to the history of the Cathars. Not for scholars.

Paperback: 217 pages.
Poor bibliography. Patchy notes. No index. One b&w map.
Ruminator Books (April 1, 2000)
ISBN-10: 1886913382
ISBN-13: 978-1886913387

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Chasing the Heretics: A Modern Journey Through the Medieval Languedoc

 

 

 

 

INTERMEDIATE READING

 
The Cathars in The Languedoc

 4 stars: highly recommended

Malcolm Barber

An excellent book, but probably for academics and those who already know something about the Cathars.

Covers the area well, with interesting information on Catharism in Italy, the larger religious context, and modern Catharism. It traces the origins and spread of Dualist ideas, assesses their attraction, and describes the reaction of the ecclesiastical and lay authorities in the form of preaching campaigns, crusades, and inquisitorial investigations.

A fascinating account of the development of religious belief and attempts to suppress it, touching on the nature of evil, the ethics of warfare, and the use made of history by later generations. The book will appeal to those interested in medieval perceptions of the world, the Crusades and the Inquisition.

Malcolm Barber is Professor of History at the University of Reading. He is the author of two books on the Templars, The Trial of the Templars (1978) and The New Knighthood (1994) (Both also highly recommended).

 

Paperback: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.00 x 6.75 ;
The book is illustrated
Publisher: Pearson Longman; (July 27, 2000);
ISBN: 0582256615

 

 

 

 

Cathar Books: The Cathars in the Languedoc, Malcolm Barber

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Cathar Books: The Cathars, Malcolm Lambert
The Cathars (The Peoples of Europe series)

 4 stars: highly recommended

Malcolm Lambert.

Blackwell Publishers; (June 1998); 

Another excellent text which traces the origins and spread of Dualist ideas, assesses their attraction, and describes the reaction of the ecclesiastical and lay authorities in the form of preaching campaigns, intellectual refutation, crusade, and inquisitorial investigations.

Though richly illustrated, this is for the enthusiast rather than the general reader. The author takes a chronological and regional approach (covering doctrinal material as the need arises). He covers heresy in Western Europe before the eleventh century and the Bogomils and early appearances of Catharism in the Rhineland. He goes on to the rise of Catharism in the Languedoc and the Roman Catholic Church's response to it (Innocent III, the crusade, and the Inquisition). The book extends to the revival of Catharism around the beginning of the fourteenth century, and also deals with Italian Catharism, and the fate of the parent Bosnian Church.

Lambert notes that in Italy, unlike the Languedoc, conflicts over doctrine split Cathars into separate camps, and their survival for so long was largely attributable to the unwillingness of independent city-states to grant church authorities the powers needed to exterminate what the Roman Church saw as heresy.

Malcolm Lambert was a Reader in Medieval History at the University of Bristol in the U.K. He retired in 1991 but continues to write excellent history.

Paperback: 368 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.02 x 6.03 Publisher: Blackwell Publishers; (June 1998);    ISBN: 063120959X

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Cathars, Malcolm Lambert
Medieval Heresy - Popular Movements from Bogomils to Hus  

 

Lambert, Malcolm;   

(Edward Arnold, London, 1977)

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 
Cathar Castles,
Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1300

 5 stars

Marcus Cowper, illustrated by Peter Dennis
Published by Osprey Publishing Limited, ISBN 978 1 84603 066 6
 

An invaluable little guide to the Cathar Castles of the Languedoc. Recommended for anyone planning a visit to one or more of these fortifications.

The book steers clear of the usual inaccurate tourist guff. Cowper is a medieval historian with a good grip on the intricacies of medieval warfare and of events during the Wars against the Cathars.

Illustrations by Peter Dennis are also excellent.

The book is historically accurate and as a field guide it is the best currently available.

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300
Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy

 5 stars

Carol Lansing

Catharism was popular throughout Occitania, including areas that we now regard as part of Italy as well as those we now regard as parts of France.

This book explores the place of Cathar heresy in the life of the medieval Italian town of Orvieto, as well as Florence and Bologna. Based on archival research, it details the social makeup of the Cathar community and argues that the heresy was central to social and political changes of the 13th century.

According to this book, the late 13th Century repression of Catharism by a local inquisition was part of a redefinition of civic and ecclesiastical authority.

Power and Purity will appeal to historians of society and politics as well as religion and even "gender studies".

Carol Lansing is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy

 

 

 

 

ACADEMIC READING

 
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Heresy, Inquisition and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc

 

Chris Sparks
York Medieval Press

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Medieval Quercy

 

Claire Taylor
York Medieval Press

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
Heresy and Heretics in the Thirteenth Century

 

L.J. Sackville
York Medieval Press

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
Texts and the Repression of Medieval Heresy

 

Edited by Caterina Bruschi, Peter Biller
York Medieval Press

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145-1229

 

Beverly Mayne Kienzle
York Medieval Press

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
The Medieval Manichee,
A Study in the Christian Dualist Heresy

 4 stars: highly recommended

Steven Runciman

(Cambridge, 1947)

A classic account by a master of the subject of the Dualist heretic tradition in Christianity from its Gnostic origins, through Armenia and Byzantium, to Europe.

Pauline Christianity had to face a Dualist sect founded in the mid-third century A.D. by the syncretic prophet Mani. Within a century of Mani's death Manichaean churches were established from western Mediterranean lands to eastern Turkestan. Though Manichaeism failed to supplant Pauline Christianity, the Church had been badly frightened; and it gave the epithet of 'Manichaean' to the churches of Dualist doctrines that survived and flourished into the late Middle Ages.

Cambridge University Press, London, 1960.

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300
The Other God:
Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy

 5 stars

Stoyanov, Yuri;   

Yale, Nota Bene

 

This is the definitive work on Dualism in the English speaking world. It explores the evolution of religious dualism, the doctrine that cosmos is a battleground between forces of good and evil - as also is humanity. The book traces the evolution of Dualism from late Egyptian religion and the revelations of Zoroaster and the Orphics in antiquity through the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mithraic Mysteries, and the great Gnostic teachers to its revival in medieval Europe with the suppression of the Bogomils and the Cathars. Integrating political, cultural, and religious history, Yuri Stoyanov illuminates the dualist religious systems, recreating in vivid detail the diverse worlds of their striking ideas and beliefs, their convoluted mythologies and symbolism.

Paperback: 476 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.30 x 7.70 x 5.01 Publisher: Yale Univ Pr; (August 2000);   

ISBN: 0300082533.   

 

 

 

 

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The Albigensian Crusade: An Historical Essay

 

Jacques Madaule (Translated into English by Barbara Wall)

 

 

Hardcover: 177 pages
Publisher: Burns & Oates; First English Language Edition edition (January 1, 1967)
ASIN: B000XHXR8M

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

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Society and Government at Toulouse in the Age of the Cathars

 

J H Mundy

This monograph continues earlier explorations of the social, economic, political and religious history of Toulouse in the earliest period for which the archives house adequate documentary materials. A second and more interesting intention is to show that there was more to the spread of Catharism than can be attributed to the intellectual or moral weaknesses of the Catholic communion or to the theological or mental attractiveness of Catharism and other dissident cults or religions. The present book and several previous ones (two published by the Pontifical Institute) have noted that religious divergence expanded and flourished when the town's well-to-do were building a semi-popular oligarchy at the expense of local princely power, a movement reaching its apogee shortly before the end of the Albigensian Crusade in 1229..

528 p., 175 x 260 mm, 1998
ISBN: 978-0-88844-129-4
Hardback

Pontifical Institute of Medieval studies, Toronto, 1997

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

The Repression of Catharism at Toulouse:
The Royal Diploma of 1279

J H Mundy

 

Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 088844074X
ISBN-13: 978-0888440747

Pontifical Institute of Medieval studies, Toronto, 1985

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 
     
Albigensian Heresy (2 vols)

 4 stars: highly recommended

H J Warner

In vol. I the Sources of the Albigensian Heresy are traced, and its tenets and system described. In vol. II an account is given of its suppression by Crusade and Inquisition, the former an adaptation of military measures originally taken against enemies outside the Church; the latter, a development of legal measures against enemies within the State.

H J Warner is, or rathwer was, The Rev H J Warner and his theological training - presumably Anglican - shows. This is a book for academics, full of detail and citing sources, often in Latin. Unfortunately it is not always clear when his text refers to Cathars and when to Waldensians as he discusses both flavours of "heresy" in detail despite the title of the book. Some of the terminology is also a little difficult, largely because of changing conventions - for example Peter Des Vaux de Cernay has his name rendered as Peter de Vaux-Sarnai.

The first volume was published in 1922 by MacMillan - reprinted with revisions by The Book Tree in 2007.

Paperback: 332 pages
Publisher: Russell & Russel, New York, 1967, Kessinger Publishing, LLC (March 10, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0766133192
ISBN-13: 978-0766133198

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300
     

 

 

 

 

SOURCE DOCUMENTS IN TRANSLATION

 
Heresies of the High Middle Ages

 5 stars: highly recommended

Walter L Wakefield and Austin P Evans (Translators & annotates)

Columbia University Press, New York, 1969

More than seventy documents, ranging in date from the early eleventh century to the early fourteenth century and representing both orthodox and heretical viewpoints are included.

This has not only reports of the heresy hunters on various 'heresies' of the middle ages. It includes what remains of the literature of the Cathars: the version of the Ascension of Isaiah, the Secret Supper of John which they had from the Bogomils, the Lord's Prayer and rites of consolamentum, and the entire Book of the Two Principles a theological defense of radical dualism.

The Book of Two Principles provides a systematic, detailed, consistent, and well thought-out philosophical and theological argument for dualism.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300
The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade: A Sourcebook

 5 stars: highly recommended

Catherine Lèglu, Rebecca Rist and Claire Taylor, (Editors)    

Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group: London & New York, 2014. 2016

Aimed at students and scholars alike, the documents it discusses – papal letters, troubadour songs, contemporary chronicles in Latin and the vernacular, and inquisitorial documents – reflect a deeper perception of medieval heresy and the social, political and religious implications of crusading than has previously been attempted. The reader is introduced to themes which are crucial to our understanding of the medieval world: ideologies of crusading and holy war, the complex nature of Catharism, the Church’s implementation of strategies to counter heresy, the growth of papal inquisition, southern French counter-strategies of resistance and rebellion, and the uses of Latin and the vernacular to express regional and cultural identity.

This timely and highly original collection not only brings together previously unexplored and in some cases unedited material, but provides a nuanced and multi-layered view of the religious, social and political dimensions of one of the most infamous conflicts of the High Middle Ages. This book is a valuable resource for all students, teachers and researchers of medieval history and the crusades.

 

 

 

 



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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300




Heresy and Inquisition in France 1200 - 1300

 5 stars: highly recommended

John H Arnold & Peter Biller, (Translators & annotators)    

Manchester University Press, 2016

Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300 is an invaluable collection of primary sources in translation, aimed at students and academics alike. It covers some 70 documents, selected so as not to duplicate the previous two books reviewed (except where this a good reason to do so). It covers a wide range of documentation and is divided into eight sections, each devoted to a different genre of source material: "Heretical" texts, extracts from Church chroniclers, Catholic treatises, sermons, letters, papal bulls, council records and canons, legal consultations and inquisitors' manuals, and inquisition registers. Each source is introduced and explained, and the translated texts are accompanied by references to modern commentaries.

All in all, an invauable resource for serious students of Catharism, including contemporary debates concerning the subject.

paperback, 508 pages + good index.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathar Castles, Fortresses of the albigensian 
        Crusade 1209-1300
 

 

 
Cathar Books: The Song of the Cathar Wars.
The Song of the Cathar Wars.

 4 stars: highly recommended

 

William of Tudela and an Anonymous Successor (J. Shirley, translator,)   

(Aldershot, 1996.)

A contemporary history of the Albigensian Crusade. This is a poem, originally written in Occitan and later translated into French. This version is the first translation into English of this key text.

This is a prime source of information about the First Cathar Crusade, the House of Toulouse, medieval warfare and early heraldry.

If you try to compare the English and French translations, beware that the French translations are rather free, while the English one tries hard to remain faithful to the original..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Song of the Cathar Wars.
The History of the Albigensian Crusade / Histoire Albigeoise
The History of the Albigensian Crusade /  Histoire Albigeoise

   5 stars: highly recommended

Peter Des Vaux de Cernay  (English translation by W.A. & M.D. Sibly)    

(The Boydell Press, 2000. Pbk. ISBN: 0851158072.)

This is a contemporary account of the Cathar wars, written by a cleric sympathetic to the crusader cause. It is interesting as much as anything as a demonstration of how badly twisted the religious mind can become by unthinking adherence to the misconceptions that motivate it.

There are several French translations, but this is the first English one.

The English translators' extensive footnotes convert this work from a piece of medieval bigotry into a superb historical resource.

 

 

 

 

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The History of the Albigensian Crusade / Histoire Albigeoise

The History of the Albigensian Crusade / Histoire Albigeoise
Cathar Books: The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens
The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens

 4 stars: highly recommended

William of Puylaurens (English translation by WA Sibly and MD Sibly)   

William of Puylaurens' Chronicle, here translated into English for the first time, is one of the main contemporary accounts of the Cathar Crusade. It describes heresy in the Languedoc in the early 13th century; provides a narrative of the Crusade; and outlines the growth of the Inquisition and the attack on Catharism which followed, including the siege of the Cathar castle of Montségur in 1243-44.

This translation is accompanied by an introduction, full notes, appendices, and a bibliography.

WA SIBLY is a former Domus Exhibitioner in Classics at Balliol College, Oxford; MD SIBLY read history at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens

 

 

 

 

REVISIONIST HISTORY

 
 

Books about the revisionist theory that Cathars never really existed, until they were created by Catholic Inquisitors.

 

 




The Formation of a Persecuting Society:
Authority and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250
   

 4 stars: highly recommended

Robert I. Moore,    

Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd ed. 2007.

The tenth to the thirteenth centuries in Europe saw the appearance of popular heresy and the establishment of the Inquisition, the expropriation and mass murder of Jews, and the propagation of elaborate measures to segregate lepers from the healthy and curtail their civil rights. These were traditionally seen as distinct and separate developments, and explained in terms of the problems which their victims presented to medieval society. In this stimulating book, first published in 1987 and already widely regarded as a classic in medieval history, R. I. Moore argues that the similarities in the treatment of these and other minority groups cannot be coincidental. Rather, all are part of a pattern of persecution which appeared for the first time to make Europe become, as it has remained, a persecuting society.

In this second edition, R. I. Moore updates and extends his original argument with a new, final chapter. Here and in a new preface and critical bibliography, he considers the impact of a generation's research and refines his conception of the "persecuting society" accordingly, addressing criticisms of the first edition.

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: <i>The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance 
              in Western Europe, 950-1250</i>
A Most Holy War

 4 stars: highly recommended

Mark Gregory Pegg    
Published by Oxford University Press, 2008,

ISBN978-0-19-539310-1

This book is probably best suited to readers who have already read at least a few books on the Cathars.

The style can be just a little florid for an academic history - it is not always clear what the author means to say. Indeed after several readings I was still not certain about the central premise of the book. The blurb on the back suggests that the Cathars never really existed, and there are hints in the text that the whole Cathar "heresy" was conjured out of nothing by the Catholic Church. (From later academic papers, it is clear that this is indeed Pegg's thesis).

It would have been good to have had a clear formulation of the author's thesis - along with a clear exposition of the evidence to support it. Scattered through the book are occasional attempts to discredit sources that apparently undermine the central thesis, but there is no structured argument and no explanation of how other apparently contradictory facts can be squared with the thesis. For example how could western Cathar beliefs and practices so closely match those of Bogomils and other eastern Gnostic Dualists if there was no connection, and when Catholic writers knew little about them.

The style is generally very readable, but there are a few weaknesses. Extensive asides about military logistics could be interesting but come across as intrusive. One of the phrases of the chronicler Peter Des Vaux-de-Cernay is cited over and over again (the Crusaders "walking like Him [Christ]). It is a striking phrase and could be used to good effect a few times, but not dozens of times. Another of Peter's phrases "God's athlete" referring to Simon de Montfort is used once or twice without explanation. Other equally striking phrases are not mentioned at all. For example, Peter Des Vaux-de-Cernay is forever talking about the Crusaders' murderous activities as "God's Business", but Pegg does not mention that phrase. Similarly, he goes into great detail about the Occitan concept of cortezia, but mentions only in passing the far more important concept of paratge.

Still, these are minor complaints. This book is well worth reading. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: A Most Holy War by Mark Pegg


The Corruption of Angels: The Great Inquisition of 1245-1246

 4 stars: highly recommended

Mark Gregory Pegg,    

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Over two hundred and one days between May 1, 1245, and August 1, 1246, more than five thousand people from the Lauragais were questioned in Toulouse about the heresy of the good men and the good women (more commonly known as Cathars). Nobles and diviners, butchers and monks, concubines and physicians, blacksmiths and pregnant girls - all men (males over fourteen) and women (females over twelve) - were summoned by Dominican inquisitors Bernart de Caux and Jean de Saint-Pierre. In the cloister of the Abbey of Saint-Sernin next to the basilica which still stands, they confessed before scribes and witnesses whether thehad ever seen, heard, helped, or sought salvation from the heretics. This inquisition into "heretical depravity" was the single largest investigation, in the shortest time, in the entire European Middle Ages.

Mark Pegg examines the sole surviving manuscript of this great inquisition with unprecedented care to build a richly textured understanding of social life in the Languedoc in the early thirteenth century. He explores what the interrogations reveal about the individual and communal lives of those interrogated and how the interrogations themselves shaped villagers' perceptions of those lives. The Corruption of Angels is a major contribution to the field. It shows how heretical and orthodox beliefs flourished side by side and, more broadly, what life was like in one particular time and place. The writing is good, but Pegg has a definite agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: A Most Holy War by Mark Pegg

The War on Heresy Faith and Power in Medieval Europe

 4 stars: highly recommended

Robert I.Moore,    

London: Profile Books, 2012.

 

The war on heresy obsessed medieval Europe in the centuries after the first millennium. R. I. Moore's vivid narrative focuses on the motives and anxieties of those who declared and conducted the war: what were the beliefs and practices they saw as heretical? How might such beliefs have arisen? And why were they such a threat?

In western Europe by AD 1000 heresy had barely been heard of. Yet within a few generations accusations had become commonplace and institutions were being set up to identify and suppress beliefs and practices seen as departures from true religion. Popular accounts of events, most notably of the Albigensian Crusade led by Europe against itself, have assumed the threats posed by the heretical movements were only too real. Some scholars by contrast have tried to show that reports of heresy were exaggerated or even fabricated: but if they are correct why was the war on heresy launched at all? And why was it conducted with such pitiless ferocity? To find the answers to these and other questions Bob Moore returns to the evidence of the time. His investigation forms the basis for an account as profound as it is startlingly original.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cathar Books: <i>The War on Heresy Faith and Power in Medieval Europe</i>

Cathars in Question
(Heresy and Inquisition in the Middle Ages).

 4 stars: highly recommended

Sennis, Antonio, ed., (Contributors: John H. Arnold, Peter Biller, Caterina Bruschi, David d'Avray, Jörg Feuchter, Bernard Hamilton, R.I. Moore, Mark Gregory Pegg, Rebecca Rist, Lucy J. Sackville, Antonio Sennis, Claire Taylor, Julien Théry-Astruc, Yuri Stoyanov).    

York: York Medieval Press, 2016.

For centuries Cathars have been recognised as a distinct gnostic and Dualist Christian sect with a long established organisation and body of doctrine. A few historians have recently challenged this paradigm, arguing instead that "Catharism" is a construct, mis-named and mis-represented by generations of scholars, and its supposedly radical views were a fantastical projection of the fears of orthodox commentators. This volume brings together a wide range of views from the most distinguished international scholars in the field. Focussing on dualism and anti-materialist beliefs in what is now southern France, and in Italy and the Balkans, it considers a number of crucial issues. These include: what constitutes popular belief; how (and to what extent) societies of the past were based on the persecution of dissidents; and whether heresy can be seen as an invention of orthodoxy. At the same time, the essays shed new light on some key aspects of the political, cultural, religious and economic relationships between the Balkans and more western regions of Europe in the Middle Ages.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Cathars in Question (Heresy and Inquisition in the Middle Ages)

 

 

 

 

 

FRENCH BOOKS

 
 
L'Epopee Cathares    

 

Roquebert, Michel;   

(Privat, Toulouse, 1971-1994) 5 vols.

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 
La Vrai Visage du Catharisme    

 

Brenon, Anne;   

(Loubatieres, Toulouse, 1991)

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 
Les Femmes Cathares    

 

Brenon, Anne;   

(Perrin, Paris, 1994)

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 
Le Catharisme: la Religion des Cathares    

 

Duvernoy, Jean;   

(Privat, Toulouse, 1976) 2 vols.

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 
Registres d'inquisition de Jacques Fournier;    

 

Duvernoy, Jean, ed.   

annotated translation into French of the Jacques Fournier's Inquisition records from Pamiers,    1318-1325

(Mouton, Paris,1978) 3 vols.

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 
Cathar Books: Histoire des Cathares
Histoire Des Cathares

Michel Roquebert & Catherine Bibolleet

 

Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Perrin; TEMPUS edition (May 23, 2002)
Language: French
ISBN-10: 2262018944
ISBN-13: 978-2262018948

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

Cathar Books: Histoire des Cathares
Cathares   

Yves Rouquette 

  (Loubatieres, Toulouse, English edition, 1992)

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

Montségur, Les cendres de la liberté

Michel Roquebert


 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

La Vie Quotidenne des Cathares du Languedoc au XIII siecle

 

Nelli, Rene;   

(Paris, 1969)

REVIEW TO FOLLOW


 
Ecritures Cathares: textes preCathares et Cathares    

 

Nelli, Rene;   

(Paris, 1968)

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 
La Chanson de la Croisade Albigeois,   

 

Martin-Chabot, trans., ed.;   

translation from the 13th century account in the original Occitan, one of the few remaining contemporary records

(Belles Lettres, Paris 1976) 3 vols.

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 


 
 
Histoire des Albigeois   

 

Peyrat, Nicholas;   

(Paris, 1870-2) 3 vols.

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 
 
Light and Shade in the Country of the Cathars    

 

Roquebert, Michel & Bibolleet, Catherine;   

(Privat, Toulouse, 1992)

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 
 
Rituel Cathare: texte critique, traduction et notes   

 

Thouzellier, C.;   

(Paris, 1977)

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 

 

NOVELS and OTHER

 
The Chatelaine of Montaillou
 4 stars: highly recommended
Susan E. Kaberry .

 

This idea behind this novel is clever. Like all clever ideas, one wonders why no one thought of it before. The author has taken a series of inquisitorial depositions from 1320 involving Beatrice de Planisolles (the eponymous Chatelaine of Montaillou) and filled out a convincing story around them. Chapters alternate between first person accounts in the present quoting from inquisition registers, and third person accounts of the past events that led up to Beatrice being arrested for heresy and witchcraft.

The book is well written and easy to read. There are, inevitably, a few historical errors. Jacques Fournier was not appointed as inquisitor - as a bishop he was able to create, and did create, his own Episcopal inquisition in his own diocese. There is also the common error of referring to baptized Cathars as "priests". Mostly these errors are minor. And on the other hand there are lots of fascinating accurate details, often also based on Fournier's registers. (People picking lice off each other's bodies was an intimate social occasion in this milieu).

Beatrice is a compelling character, even seven hundred years after she lived. Her personality shines through - her noble status, her sexuality, her human weaknesses, her responses to difficult situations. The pervasive consequences of having to wear yellow crosses is also well portrayed, as are the personalities of Fournier and of the Dominican inquisitor who sits in on interrogations.

Overall, this book gives an extremely good idea of many aspects of medieval life. It also shows how Fournier's inquisition operated, and how it could so easily break people even without overt violence. This is a notable achievement, especially for a first novel.

Highly recommended.

 

Published 2015

FeedARead.com Publishing

ISBN: 9781785108945

The book is available from www.FeedARead.com

 

 

 

 

 

Cathar Books: A Most Holy War by Mark Pegg
Divine Vengeance

 4 stars: highly recommended

D.W.Koons .

This novel covers the initial phase of the Albigensian Crusade, directed against the territories of Raymond-Roger Trencavel. The crusade provides the background for an evolving love triangle, the fictitious main characters featuring in real events and interacting with real historical characters. Simon de Montfort is particularly well drawn, though his military abilities are perhaps underestimated.

The book is well researched, with lots of historical detail - you can still visit many of the sites mentioned - Béziers, Carcassonne, Prouille, Bram, Lastours, Minerve, Lavaur, Toulouse - and see specific places mentioned in the novel such as the well at Minerve.

Some of the events are concertinaed, presumably to help move the plot along. So for example several sieges of Toulouse become a single siege, timed as the first, but featuring events of the third. There are also a few errors. Cathar perfects were not priests. Nor were they "credentes". The military leader of the crusade until after the fall of Carcassonne was not Simon de Montfort, but Arnaud Amaury (or Almaric). He is presented as a bishop, though he was at this time an abbot (and the head of the Cistercian order). The author also seems confused about the feudal system and appears not to have understood the connection between counts and their counties, which grates in a few places. On the other hand most of these errors are likely to be noticed only by history buffs. The main theme - the destruction of a whole culture by the Church - comes over clearly, as do some of the complexities of the conflict.

The title of the book, incidentally, is taken from the words of Almaric's letter to Pope Innocent III describing the events at Béziers in 1209 as "divine vengeance".

Overall, a good read.

 

Published 2016

Bygone Era Books Ltd

Denver, CO, USA

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Divine Vengeance
Troubadour, Song of the Lark, and
The Troubadour’s Tale: Song of the Crusades

 4 stars: highly recommended

Clara Pierre.

Troubadour, Song of the Lark is the first of two volumes, the second being The Troubadour’s Tale: Song of the Crusades. They are about the life of Gaucelm Faudit, a real troubadour whose life spanned the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Not much is known of him, but Clara Pierre had an excellent imagination and was a scholar of the period and of the Occitan language.

Twelfth century France is on the verge of war, a high stakes battle for the minds and souls of its people. The Languedoc will soon be fought over by the kingdoms of France to the North and Aragon to the South. Excesses of the Catholic hierarchy are giving rise to a growing Cathar religious movement, which will provide a trigger for the coming conflict. Into this world rides Gaucelm Faudit, a romantic young rogue whose greatest wish is to write poems and set them to music. Gaucelm finds his way into the powerful courts of Toulouse, Ventadour, and Courthézon, and into the arms of a prostitute who will follow him wherever he goes. Based on historic events and the real troubadour who chronicled them, Troubadour is a powerfully told story of conflicted loyalties and the ruthless leaders who will do anything to control their subjects.

The books are available from www.troubadour-books.com

 

 

 

 

 
Cathar Books: Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars
Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars

Jean Markale   

This book purports to show that Catharism is not simply a heretical Christian cult as it is often portrayed, and examines evidence for the existence of a lost Cathar treasure and its possible connection to the Holy Grail. Four Cathar Perfects carried a "treasure" out of Montsegur the night before its fall, a fact that led rebel Huguenots of the 17th century and members of Hitler's S.S. to believe that an enormous treasure or some weapon of awesome spiritual power lay hidden somewhere near the ruins of the former Cathar stronghold.

Unfortunately we have no idea what the Cathar "treasure" was. It might have been a small amount of money, or even a book. In other words, this is a book for conspiracy theorists.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1 edition (September 2, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0892810904
ISBN-13: 978-0892810901

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars

Cathar Books: Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars
Dans l'ombre Des Cathares (Broché)

Claudie Duhamel Amado & Emmanuel Amado

 

Cathar novel in French

 

 

REVIEW TO FOLLOW

 

 

 

 



The Secret of the Tarot - How the Story of the Cathars Was Concealed in the Tarot of Marseilles

 4 stars: highly recommended

Robert Swiryn

This book presents a case that the familiar Tarot cards associated with Marseilles contains numerous references to Catharism in the Languedoc and to historical figures involved in the Cathar Crusades. The book is well researched and contains much useful information about the Cathars and about the Tarot.

Evidence of a connection between the Tarot and Catharism is largely circumstantial. Whether or not the author evinces enough evidence to clinch the case for such a linkage is a matter of opinion - you will need to read the book to decide for yourself. Either way, it is still a good read.

Paperback. 274 pages. Illustrated in black and white. Published November 2010. Useful bibliography. Scholarly footnotes. Concise index. Published by Pau Hana Publishing. ISBN 13-978-0615304380

more at www.thesecretofthetarot.com

 

 

 

 

 

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The Good Man's Daughter

 3 stars: recommended

Roger Stokes


This is an English novel set in the Languedoc in 1243-4, and traces the life of Elouise the daughter of a Cathar Perfect. For readers who like their history presented as fiction it gives a good introduction to Cathar beliefs and how the Roman Church persecuted the Cathars for those beliefs. The book also shows the devastating effect of the atmosphere of persecution on a community, perhaps better than any straight factual history can. It also gives a good idea of how the last vestiges of Catharism survived in the Pyrenees and the role of shepherds in its survival.

Some of the background is drawn from actual events - for example, the siege of Montsegur in 1244 and the arrests at Montaillou around 1309.

There are a few questionable historical details, Albi was not at this time the seat of an archbishop; the locals would have had Occitan, not French names; Counts took their titles from counties not towns; medieval nobles did not normally eat daily breakfasts, certainly not early in the morning. But these are quibbles.

The characters are perhaps a little black and white, but then the historical events and motivations were black and white. There has to be a sharp contrast between on the one hand people who opt to die an agonising death rather than renounce their pacifist faith, and on the other hand people who choose to inflict agonising deaths on hundreds of others ("with great joy" as the Catholic chroniclers put it) for the crime of disagreeing with them.

 

Matador Paperback, 2011

282 pages

ISBN 978 1848766 662

 

 

 

 

 

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Cathar Books: Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy

 

   

 

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Title: Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
url: http://www.cathar.info
Date last modified: 8 February 2017

 

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