CATHARISM

SEVEN CENTURIES LATER

When in March 1244 crusaders conquered Montségur Castle, they thought that Cathar heresy had been finished. In fact, it happened like this but the legend and prestige of ‘bonshommes’ has been growing and exalting its mystical ideal throughout more than seven hundred years. This legend has risen from its ashes like a phoenix throughout the last centuries.


03.01.2009
Text: JAUME CLUET
Pictures: JAUME CLUET/JOSEP Mª ROSELLÓ

Occitania and the French Pyrenees were rarely frequented until hardly 30 years ago. Few people could not imagine that such an extensive public travelled there as it happens today. Why is there a collective interest in knowing the mysterious Cathar country? What are the visitors looking for? Maybe, capturing the essence that inspired the men of Pure Love? Or, remembering the historical places where the bloody Albigensian Crusade took place? It is probable that the immense amount of visitors is attracted by the landscapes flecked of defiant castles, which are genuine eyries, or by the delightful cities of Southern France (Le Midi).

In the middle of the 19th century, the poet Napoléon Peyrat proclaimed hundred years ago the old legend that would show the rebirth of the particular spirit of these ancient lands called Oc Country. This happened seven hundred years after the facts occurred here.

Indeed that prophetic legend was fulfilled seven centuries after the fall of Montségur that took place on 2nd March 1244. In the thirties of the last century, a group called The Friends of Montségur and the Holy Grail with names such as Déodat Roché, Antoine Gadal, Maurice Magre or René Nelli aroused the rebirth of Catharism. Today the state and local organizations of France have definitely and correctly assumed this great historical legacy.

We should analyse which type of interest has produced Catharism throughout the times from its fall. Curiously, the present-day theologians, sociologists, historians and philosophers wonder about the mystery that in itself represented the particular Cathar ideology as the ancient medieval inquisitors and chroniclers made.

We are going to see that their research departs from a crucial fact: the controversial Albigensian Crusade. The study of this crusade often puts implicitly aside the Cathar movement itself. Moreover, we will see how the perception of Catharism considerably changes throughout the different periods in the European History.

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