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Sniff the culture of the Cathars in the Pyrenees and southern France. See the ancient ruins of castles and palaces. Explore the medieval architecture, learn about the Crusades and the Inquisition.

The Cathars

Since the 12th century the history of the Cathars (also called heretics) made useful contributions in the field. The ideas of the sect clashed with those of the Catholic Church. The attempts of the Pope to convert the Cathars, came to nothing. Early 13th century that led to bloody crusades and the inquisition against the Cathars. The massacre at Montsegur in 1244, when 225 Cathars at the stake were killed, is one example.

Later, they held only in and around Montaillou attached to the Cathar faith, until the Inquisition in 1320 again made a clean sweep. The inquisitors kept very detailed records of the interrogations of the people of Montaillou area. The reports were so accurate that in the seventies served as the basis for a fascinating, and later translated worldwide, reconstruction of the daily life of villagers at that time. This is in the book "Montaillou a heretic Pyrenean village in 1294-1324", by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie.

From the Château de Camurac you walk in about half hour to Montaillou. The remains of the old bastion are illuminated at night, as is the restored church near the old cemetery. The current residents are descendants of the Cathars, so that comparison of the names from the village to the cemetery names and names from the book.

Books on the Cathars and the castles

Other good books on the Cathars are "The Last Cathars" by Rene Weis, "The land of the Cathars" by Ankie Nolen. The last book gives not only a description of the time of the Cathars but also a good overview of castles and palaces in the area which can be visited.