Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Cathar Castle Tours




Basic Tenets


Cathar Believers

Cathar Elect

Afterlife, Heaven & Hell

Other Beliefs

Cathar Ceremonies

Cathar Prayer

The Cathar Hierarchy



Albigensian Crusade

Who led the Crusade ?

Crusader Coats of Arms

Defender Coats of arms

Medieval Warfare






Cathars on Catholics

Catholics on Cathars

Catholic Propaganda

"Kill Them All ... "






Inquisition documents



Cathar Castles

Cathar Castle Photos



Early Gnostic Dualism





Historical Studies

Popular Culture

Catholic Inheritance

Protestant Inheritance

Cathar Vindications

Do Cathars still exist ?





The Catholic Side

The "Cathar" Side

Counts of Toulouse

The Cross of Toulouse



Detailed Chronology





A Cathar Glossary

The area governed by the Counts of Toulouse and their vassals covers a large part of modern France - almost a third of it. Throughout much of that area lie the ruins of castles that gave shelter to the Cathars in the thirteenth century and were besieged, often several times.

There are few material vestiges of the Cathars. Mainly, this is because they rejected and despised all material possessions. They had no church buildings, no chapels, cathedrals or abbeys. They has no gold chalices, no crosses, no reliquaries, no bejewelled mitres, silk robes or fine paintings or sculptures. They did have houses and cemeteries, but none of them survive. Their houses were pulled down, Baptised Cathars were burned alive. Their ashes were scattered in rivers to preclude even the possibility of their remains becoming holy relics. If they were already dead and buried, their bodies would be exhumed, and burned by the Inquisition.

Cathar towns like Fanjeaux have lost their city walls and many of their buildings. This leaves precious little to see. Cathar documents exist, but they are scattered around the world, from Paris to Dublin and the Vatican archives. Castles where Cathars sought refuge are mostly destroyed, often replaced by later French castles that are themselves in ruin. The one castle that could lay claim to being a "Cathar Castle" in the sense that it was fortified specifically to protect Cathars (Montsegur) was destroyed by the French and replaced by a new Royal castle, only the ruins of which survive.

If you know where to look (and Tourist Offices will be of little help here) you can still find chateaux that date from the Cathar period. And there are other vestiges too. Houses of the Inquisition have survived, as have cathedrals and churches where the Counts of Toulouse were flogged for their Cathar sympathies, the Abbeys where the Albigensian Crusade was planned. Cistercian, Dominican and Franciscan Orders still survive. There are also monuments to fallen Kings and crusaders, memorials to Cathar "martyrs", archaeological digs, the sites of various massacres, and so on. There is even a surviving castle that hosted a Cathar Council.

Not to be underestimated are many other survivals from the Middle Ages that we take for granted: the spectacular Pyrenees, vast forests, thousands of miles of trails the Cathars walked, the plants and animals they knew, the mountain air they breathed, the early morning mist flowing like water from one valley into the next that they too must have seen.

We even have their language, which was then called Roman, and which the French later called the Langue d'Oc, poets called Provençal, and modern scholars call Occitan. Not least is their enduring memory in the Languedoc: the of the flag of the medieval Counts of Toulouse flies everywhere throughout their ancient territories. Locals still recite from memory the scathing Occitan assessment of the hated Simon de Montfort from the contemporary Song of the Crusade. The Counts and their Cathar vassals are still remembered and locals affirm that "You are not altogether dead as long as someone remembers your name".

Today, there is a thriving Cathar tourist industry. Many communes own the ruins of the local castles and charge a small fee for entry. For your entry fee you get a small brochure, usually available in (imperfect) English, generally concentrating on the architecture rather than on history.

If you are interested in visiting Cathar sites in the Languedoc, you basically have two options:

  1. Read some good books on the subject, buy a map and spend a week or two travelling around. You will need your own transport (horse, cycle, motor cycle or motor car). If you have a few months you could even walk, as the Cathars did.
  2. Find an organised tour, run by someone who knows the subject.

Beware that there are very few organisations offering solid information about the Cathars and lots offering an assortment of "spirituality": holistic healing, reincarnation, mysticism, conspiracy theories, esoteric history, shamanism, mystery religions and so on.

For recommended books to read to get the most out of your visit, click on the following link for a recommend list of books in English

The webmaster offers personally conducted week-long guided tours each year. Click here to visit the Cathar Country Website for more information.


First page of Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews - Cathar Bible in Occitan, from Lyon


Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921)
La Délivrance Des emmurés de Carcassonne, 1879
oil on canvas ( 115 cm c 150 cm)
Musée Des Beaux Arts, Carcassonne, France






A medieval doodle of a Cathar being burned at the stake.

Bible moralisée Oxford-Paris-London
BNF Lat11560 f1v (Job) showing Franciscans watching a Cathar Consolamentum

road sign in Pieusse, Aude

Carcassonne - Château Comtal


Villerouge Termenes
staircase built within the thickness of a tower wall


Medieval window seat at Villerouge Termenes where the last known Cathar Parfait in the Languedoc was burned alive for disagreeing with Catholic theology.


Trencavel seal reproduced in stone in Béziers


The achievement of arms of Counts of Toulouse


Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921)
The Agitator of La
nguedoc, 1882
oil on canvas ( 115 cm c 150 cm)
Musée Des Augustins, Toulouse, France




Villerouge Termenes where the last known Cathar Parfait in the Languedoc was burned alive for disagreeing with Catholic theology.


Barbican, Aude Gate, Carcassonne

The Chateau Comptal at Carcassonne

Donjon d'Arques


Memorial at Les Casses where 60 Cathars were burned alive



road sign in Camon, Ariege
road sign in Minerve





Château of Foix, seat of the Counts of Foix


Barbican, Aude Gate, Carcassonne


Dominic Guzmán (with a halo), Arnaud Amaury, and other Cistercian abbots crush helpless Cathars underfoot - a sanitised version of the persecution of the Cathars






Further Information on Cathars and Cathar Castles



If you want to cite this website in a book or academic paper, you will need the following information:

Author: James McDonald MA, MSc.
Title: Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Date last modified: 8 February 2017


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