Massacre at Montsegur: a history of the Albigensian Crusade
Highly recommended. Not specifically about Montsegur but rather
about the history of the Cathars in the Languedoc. Excellent introductory
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).
The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of
the Medieval Cathars
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
Montaillou: village Occitan, 1294-1324
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.
The Albigensian Crusade
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.
The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars, 1290-1329
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.
The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade
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.
Chasing the Heretics:
A Modern Journey Through the Medieval Languedoc
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 theSong
of the Cathar Wars but attributes the quote toPierre
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.
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
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
Paperback: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.00 x 6.75
The book is illustrated
Publisher: Pearson Longman; (July 27, 2000);
The Cathars (The Peoples of Europe series)
Blackwell Publishers, 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
Paperback: 368 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.02 x 6.03
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers; (June 1998); ISBN:
Kill Them All!
ACHS, 2021 (second edition)
A book by the webmaster which assesses the question of whether
a Cistercian Abbot gave the famous command at the siege of Beziers
in 1209 "Kill them all! God will know his own".
For well over six hundred years the claim that the Abbot, Arnaud
Amaury, spoke these words - a claim made by a sympathetic contemporary
clerical writer - was accepted as fact. Historians over the last
hundred years have been more sceptical, often describing the story
of the command as "apocryphal". Almost no original work
on the question had been carried out by modern historians in the
English-speaking world until the publication of this book. McDonald
has written a monograph that provides a thoroughgoing reassessment
of the question. It presents new evidence, exposes the previously
unrecognised significance of existing evidence, and frames new arguments
that should shift received opinion among historians. It also ranges
over many aspects of mediaeval life, belief, warfare and crusading.
McDonald is a medieval historian specialising in the Cathars of
the Languedoc, and the crusades against them in the thirteenth century.
He writes on a range of topics including Gnostic Dualism, Occitania,
the Counts of Toulouse, medieval warfare, medieval inquisitions
and the Early Christian Church. His work is characterised by serious
scholarship combined with an entertaining style.
Paperback: 200 pages, also available as an ebook onKindle.
Medieval Heresy - Popular Movements from Bogomils to Hus
(Edward Arnold, London, 1977)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1300
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
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.
Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy
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
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,
Heresy, Inquisition and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc
York Medieval Press
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Medieval Quercy
York Medieval Press
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Heresy and Heretics in the Thirteenth Century
York Medieval Press
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Voltaire on the Cathars.
On the Crusade Against the People of the Languedoc
James McDonald (editor and translator)
This is an English translation of a French work on the Cathars
by Voltaire. His work on the Cathars and the crusade against them
was written as part of his extensive work on history - his Essai
sur les murs et l'esprit des nations. This was not an
essay in our modern English sense, but a monumental work of history
which changed the face of western historiography. Unique in its
time, it covers in 197 chapters the history of all continents and
all religions within the overall concept of a universal history.
Voltaires approach is radical and innovative: his aim is to
tell the story of human progress from the eighth century up to the
seventeenth century, and in particular the progress of human reason.
Parallel texts are given in the original French and in modern English.
Also included are explicative annotations, a brief biography of
Voltaire, and background information on the Cathars of the Languedoc.
Bones of Contention
This monograph concerns two intertwined histories. The first concerns
the earthly remains of Edmund, King of East Anglia (c. 841- 869)
and the second the earthly remains of three Dominican friars who
were assassinated in the Languedoc in 1242. In the world of medieval
Catholicism, both were seen as saints and martyrs, and their remains
were believed to be powerful miracle-working holy relics. By a series
of improbable events these remains appear to have been mixed up
in a church in Toulouse, and to have ended up in an English ducal
castle. This book unravels the two extraordinary histories and reveals
surprising aspects of England and France over more than a millennium.
Texts and the Repression of Medieval Heresy
Edited by Caterina Bruschi, Peter Biller
York Medieval Press
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145-1229,
Preaching in the Lord's Vineyard.
Beverly Mayne Kienzle
York Medieval Press, 2001
This book deals with the role of the Cistercians over 85 years,
spanning the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, during which their
role changed significantly, following Bernard of Clairvaux in switching
the order's focus from isolated meditation and prayer, to crusading
and warfare. Their new role was that of leading the Catholic Church
in its persecution of dissenters and "heretics", in particular
of the Cathars.
Oddly, this leading role has been largely neglected by theologians
and historians alike. This period is an exceptionally dark one for
the Church, and especially Cistercians and Dominicans, which might
explain the silence of theologians on the matter. The reticence
of historians is more difficult to explain, but in any case this
book is a most welcome addition to the range of serious works concerned
with the history of heresy, and with the history of the Cathars
in particular. It is the first book to deal fully with the role
of Cistercians as champions of the Crusade against the Cathars -
not just preaching crusade, but providing theological justification
for it, financing it, chronicling it, and supporting it in any way
they could - for example providing logistics and even military leadership
(another aspect that is often overlooked). All this is tied up with
the Cistercians leaving their safe cloisters in remote rural abbeys
for the wicked secular world, to preach to the great unwashed, in
many cases taking on roles such as preachers, university masters,
bishops and papal diplomats. She makes much of the five sermon texts
from the Cistercian anti-heretical campaigns during the period including
one from a little-known Cistercian monk, Hélinand of Froidmont.
The author, Professor Beverly Mayne Kienzle, teaches at Harvard
Divinity School and clearly commands absolute mastery over her subject.
The book is meticulously researched, and beautifully written, well
referenced, and it succeeds in presenting the big picture as well
as masses of detail. Like all products of the York Medieval Press,
the hardback is exceptionally well-presented and well-produced,
with a useful bibliography and good index. One topic covered only
in passing is the link between the Cistercians (and St Bernard in
particular) and the role of the Knights Templar, mentioned on page
80. In fact, the Knights Templar were initially set up as the military
wing of the Cistercians, though they soon went their own way. More
could be said on this, though in fairness most of the substance
would lie before the book's starting point in 1145.
Recommended for all serious scholars interested in the Cathars,
and more broadly for all historians interested in developments within
the Catholic Church in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Top
The Medieval Manichee,
A Study in the Christian Dualist Heresy
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.
The Other God:
Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy
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
Paperback: 476 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.30 x 7.70 x 5.01
Publisher: Yale Univ Pr; (August 2000);
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)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
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
Pontifical Institute of Medieval studies, Toronto, 1997
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
The Repression of Catharism at Toulouse:
The Royal Diploma of 1279
Pontifical Institute of Medieval studies, Toronto, 1985
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Albigensian Heresy (2 vols)
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 rather 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)
SOURCE DOCUMENTS IN TRANSLATION
Heresies of the High Middle Ages
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 Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade: A Sourcebook
Catherine Lèglu, Rebecca Rist and Claire Taylor, (Editors)
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group: London & New York, 2014.
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 Churchs
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.
Heresy and Inquisition in France 1200 - 1300
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 invaluable resource for serious students of Catharism,
including contemporary debates concerning the subject.
Paperback, 508 pages + good index.
The Song of the Cathar Wars.
William of Tudela and an Anonymous Successor (J. Shirley, translator,)
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..
The History of the Albigensian Crusade
/ Histoire Albigeoise
Peter Des Vaux de Cernay (English translation by W.A. & M.D.
(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
There are several French translations, but this is the first English
The English translators' extensive footnotes convert this work
from a piece of medieval bigotry into a superb historical resource.
The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens
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
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,
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
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
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.
A Most Holy War
Mark Gregory Pegg
Published by Oxford University Press, 2008,
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
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.
The Corruption of Angels: The Great Inquisition of 1245-1246
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 they had 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.
The War on Heresy Faith and Power in Medieval Europe
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.
Cathars in Question
(Heresy and Inquisition in the Middle Ages).
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
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.
(Privat, Toulouse, 1971-1994) 5 vols.
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
La Vrai Visage du Catharisme
(Loubatieres, Toulouse, 1991)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Les Femmes Cathares
(Perrin, Paris, 1994)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Le Catharisme: la Religion Des Cathares
(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,
(Mouton, Paris,1978) 3 vols.
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Histoire Des Cathares
Michel Roquebert & Catherine Bibolleet
Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Perrin; TEMPUS edition (May 23, 2002)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
(Loubatieres, Toulouse, English edition, 1992)
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Montségur, Les cendres de la liberté
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
La Vie Quotidenne Des Cathares du Languedoc au XIII siecle
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
Ecritures Cathares: textes preCathares et Cathares
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
(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
REVIEW TO FOLLOW
NOVELS and OTHER
The Chatelaine of Montaillou
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.
In this novel, Elmina begins life with a troubled childhood in
a medieval Occitan town - a childhood that turns her into a young
woman who dares to follow the stirrings of her soul. Her idealism
and love lead her to leave a Cathar school and follow Diminic de
Guzman, the man who will become Saint Dominic. As the world around
her erupts into the Albigensian Crusade, Elmina finds herself complicit
in its horror, and her emotional life begins to unravel. With the
aid of the counsel of her prior, Brother Noel, Elmina discovers
the origins of her lifelong fears and wrestles with questions that
are as divisive today as they were eight centuries ago: the nature
of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility
of reincarnation. With Elmina's Fire, Linda Carleton has succeeded
in recreating the challenges of an important if little-known period
of the High Middle Ages. In telling her compelling story of desire
and the human condition, she captures the world of the medieval
Catharism as well as the portentous events that were destined to
shape the modern world. If you have ever wanted to understand the
world of the Cathars, and what happened to it, you cannot do better
than read Elmina's Fire.
Publisher: She Writes Press (2017)
Paperback (330 pages)
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.
Bygone Era Books Ltd
Denver, CO, USA
Troubadour, Song of the Lark, and The Troubadours Tale: Song of the Crusades
Troubadour, Song of the Lark is the first of two volumes,
the second being The Troubadours 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.
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.
The Secret of the Tarot - How the Story of the Cathars
Was Concealed in the Tarot of Marseilles
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
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
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
ISBN 978 1848766 662
by "The Singing Nun", 1963
A jolly little song, in French, that presents the traditional Catholic
view of St Dominic and his role in extirpating the Cathar "heresy".
There is no mention of any historical events, not even the Crusade
or the Dominican Inquisition, just miraculous accounts, such as
the loveable St Dominic converting an anonymous heretic, and angels
delivering bread. There is a certain irony in repeated references
to "the good God" - an expression that smacks of the Dualist
"heresy" for which the Cathars were exterminated.
Jeanne-Paule Marie "Jeannine" Deckers (1933 1985),
known as Sur Sourire, or The Singing Nun, was
a Belgian singer-songwriter. For seven years, as a member of the
Dominican Order in Belgium, she was also known as Sister Luc-Gabrielle.
She acquired widespread fame in 1963 with the release of this song,
which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and other charts. The song
is a highly sanitanised account of the life of the founder of the
religious Order to which she belonged. Bullied by her fellow nuns
because of her success, she left her Order. Her royalties had been
paid to her convent but she was held personally responsible for
the associated income tax, and she committed suicide under the financial
pressure of Belgian tax demands.
In 1966, a movie starring Debbie Reynolds called The Singing
Nun about Sister Luc-Gabrielle was released. As so often, American
producers took liberties, glossing, sugaring, dramatizing and distorting
the story. In the film, a version of the song with English lyrics
(that had no connection with the original) was used. The film bombed
at the box office. There was also an undistinguished Italian film
about her, Suor Sorriso.
Awards: Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance.
Nominations: Grammy Award for Record of the Year, Grammy Award for
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Youtube - 1963 version of Dominique by Jeanne-Paule Marie
Youtube - 1982 disco version of Dominique by by Jeanne-Paule
Marie "Jeannine" Deckers, produced in 1982 by Marc Moulin
and Dan Lacksman of the Belgian electro band Telex. (film clip from
Youtube - An Italian version by another Singing Nun, watched
by some spectacularly unimpressed children.
Youtube - The trailor for the Debbie Reynolds Film - demonstrating
why the film bombed so badly.
Iron Maiden, 2003
This is the fourth track on the Album, Dance of Death, written
by Janick Gers, Steve Harris, & Bruce Dickinson. The lyrics
are credited to Bruce Dickinson.
The song is losely based on the fall of the Cathar stronghold of
the same name, in 1244. It is clearly well-intentioned, but does
not represent reliable history (the song has the Knights Templar
involved), so is likely to be of interest only to heavy metal fans.
Genre: Heavy metal
Massacre At Beziers
Wizz Jones, 1993
From the album: Late Nights and Long Days. This song is
exacly what the title says: an account of the massacre at Beziers
in 1209, the first serious action in the Cathar Crusade. The lyrics
artfully steers clear of anything explicit about the massacre, but
demonstrate a detailed knowledge of events. The message is conveyed
by allusions. And does guitar playing come any better than this?
Youtube - Wizz Jones - Massacre At Beziers, Live at the
Ely Folk Festival 2010
The Cathars of the Languedoc (Album)
Allan Baldwin, 2019
Nine instrumental pieces, all composed, produced and performed
by Allan Baldwin.
Masacre at Beziers
Tales of Inquisition
The Fall of Montsegur
Genre: Pop, blues, jazz, folk
A well produced album, with atmospheric instrument music, tracing
the history of the Cathars and the Crusade against them.
For more information, or to buy a copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org