July 28, 2005

The Massacre of the Cathars at Montsegur. In 1244 a few hundred Cathars held out for 10 months in their mountain fortress against 10,000 soldiers. It was a pretty interesting period in church history. Rome started the Medieval Inquisition in response to the Cathars. And the direct cause of the massacre at Montsegur was the assassination of some Inquisitors at Avignonet by Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix, a dispossessed lord and Cathar who was sort of the main military guy at Montsegur. Although the current ruins on top of Montsegur are from a later period, they are still a striking sight on the granite pog on which they stand. Lots more info about the Cathars here.

Also, here are a few nice pics from a visitor to Montsegur. (a tripod site, if that matters).

  • I bet the postman hated them too. You wouldn't volunteer for the storming party up that would you?
  • Doesn't look as though you could grow much of anything edible on that tor. Good stuff! I know I read about in a Cartland book 30 years ago, but I didn't ratain much of it.
  • Good post. Thx.
  • Not just the Inquisition. The Pope caleld a full Crusade against the Albigensians; this crusade is offered as the source of the expression, "Kill them all; God will know his own". It should be known as the Fifth Crusade, since that's where it falls in the chronology, but the numbered crusades are generally used to refer to Church-sanctioned slaughter of those in the Middle East, rather than Europe. About the only good thing to come of this was the portrait of medieval life you can read in Montaillou. (Not that the sufferings of the Cathars were unique vis-a-vis the Crusades. As well as the stated aim of exterminating Muslims in the so-called Holy Land, the Crusades involved large-scale slaughter of Orthodox and other Christians in the Middle East, attacks on the Byzantine Empire that contributed the fall of this last outpost of the Roman Empire, and massacres of Jews in Europe as well as the Middle East)
  • In many ways it was part of the unification of Francia into France. Most current accounts tend to be very sympathetic to the Cathar cause. Sadly, we didn't have a Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism at the time.
  • This is one area of history that I really want to read about one day.
  • Montsegur is an incredible place - my family have a holiday home a few miles from there. The view from the top is amazing, what's even more spooky is if you drive a circle round Montsegur about 15km away you can see it popping up here and there. What's incredible about Montsegur is trying to imagine how they held out in this tiny place for a whole winter while under siege. But the castle at Peyreperteuse is even higher and more inaccessible and more beautiful. Dan Brown fans/haters should also be aware that Rennes le Chateau Chateau is also nearby
  • Et in arcadia ego.
  • wasn't buried cathar treasure (or buried secrets) one of the theories about how saunieres got all the cash?
  • Genealogies, so they say. But the pillar in which Sauniere was supposed to have found documents is still in the church there and the hollow in it isn't very big, hardly big enough to fit scrolls let alone treasure. Still, no one has come up with a real explanation of how he made all those upgrades to the church etc.
  • I thought he had a scam taking money for hundreds of masses (he advertised in newspapers) he never actually said. Or am I confused?
  • Umberto Eco has a lot of fun at Cathar conspiracy theorist's expense in Foucault's Pendulum as I recall. I've not read the Dan Brown but I get the impression it's a fairly feeble book by comparison.
  • "..Or am I confused?" I know not, my liege. The only thing I've ever read on the matter is 'The Holy Blood & the Holy Grail' which was fairly dodgy research-wise. "..I've not read the Dan Brown but I get the impression it's a fairly feeble book by comparison." Everything is feeble compared to Umberto's work. All I know is that if European Christianity had evolved based more upon on the Cathar philosophy rather than Pauline doctrine, it may well have been a happier millenium.
  • What's your excuse A_C? Don't you have two hours to waste? (kidding! i'm kidding!) Anyway, there is a wealth of recent scholarship on the Cathars; here are some reviews of books for those interested: Citation: Dawn Marie Hayes . "Review of Malcolm Barber, The Cathars: Dualist Heretics in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages," H-Catholic, H-Net Reviews, June, 2001. Citation: Dawn Marie Hayes . "Review of Jonathan Sumption, The Albigensian Crusade," H-Catholic, H-Net Reviews, February, 2001. URL: Citation: Kathryn A. Edwards . "Review of James B. Given, Inquisition and Medieval Society: Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc," H-France, H-Net Reviews, December, 1998. URL: I know that I've edited at least one or two more reviews in the last six months but I can't finnd them right now. If one follows the www.h-net.org links to the H-Catholic discussion boards, there are related threads there.
  • the da vinci codefoucault's pendulum for dummies though i also think eco owes a debt to ra wilson.
  • "I know that I've edited at least one or two more ..." An editor!!! /makes sign of cross /hiss /withdraws to prolix shadows
  • copyeditor. Keeps me off the streets in the summer.
  • Part of my comp exams readings included Rene Weis' The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars' Rebellion Against the Inquisition, 1290-1329 (Vintage Books, 2000) and Joseph Strayer's The Albigensian Crusades (U of Michigan Press, 1971). Neither make for light reading, but if you like your historical facts and nitty gritty details, you may enjoy these. The "fortified Gothic" cathedral of St. Cecilia at Albi is one of my favorite medieval structures. Great post, as usual, un-
  • Fascinating. Completely new to me.
  • -Un, just that picture was worth two bananas. A flagon of mead and cockpunch* for ye! *Cockpunch is verily a good thing.