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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazomg History, July 14, 2011
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This review is from: Massacre at Montsegur: A History of the Albigensian Crusade (Paperback)
Once upon a time, while researching at Honnold University Library in Claremont, California, I discovered an amazing book: "Massacre At Montségur A History of the Albigensian Crusade" by Zoé Oldenbourg. I tried to buy a copy but found it was "out of print." I might find copies if I traveled to Toulouse. I not only bought the book there, I learned that many present day residents remain Cathars.

I spent several days at the crumbling ruin of the fortress. The solitude allowed me to absorb the echos of phantom voices from the thirteenth century. Oldenbourg describes Cathar women as well educated, cultured, well to do, permitted to inherit family property--apparently modern.

She brings Cathars to life as actual people. They supposedly had treasure of gold hoarded underground. Or perhaps the treasure consisted of books--Gnostic Gospels about secret teachings of Jesus. Probably both, and the latter description made them out to be HERETICS, the central theme of the book. That word encouraged the Catholic authorities to arrest them, interrogate them, torture them and burn them at the stake.

The Cathar Pure Ones were known as Perfecti. They meditated, fasted, refused to kill, ate no meat or animal products, wore black robes but seldom in public. Cathars faced tragedy when Catholic authorities arrested, inquisitioned, tortured and burned the Cathar Pure Ones or perfecti at the stake.

Oldenbourg brings this turbulent era to vivid life. Readers not familiar with this time and culture will learn much about a fascinating historical period and will recognize that many of the same conflicts exist today.

Reprints of "Massacre at Montségur, A History of the Albigensian Crusade" can be found at Amazon.com--among the thousands of marvelous books available there. Before long, my fictional version of Catharism, tentatively titled "Not She Which Burns," will be available at the same Amazon.com location.

Jeanneclaire, author
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