My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent book on the Cathars of Languedoc in the 13th century being persecuted by the Roman Catholic church and northern French nobles. The nobles of the South were tolerant and had cosmopolitan cities full of Cathars, Jews, Arabs and Christians. In consequence they grew rich and attracted the interest of northern French nobles wanting to plunder the South’s wealth. The Cathars were a vegan, ascetic sect of Christianity worshiping Mary Magdalene and the Rex Mundi (hell on earth). They grew too large in numbers that Pope Innocent III took notice and found Simon de Montfort, a low noble, to lead the Catholic army to eradicate the Cathar heretics, this was known as the Albigensian Crusade which lasted 20 years and killed up to a million Cathars.
The Albigensian Crusade resulted in the razing of Béziers, the defeat of Montvalent, Carcassonne and the fall of many other Southern cities and the persecution of those families who helped the Cathars. The last Cathar last stand was in the middle of the century (a generation after the Albigensian Crusade) at Montségur, a holy mountain citadel. They were under siege for 9 months till the city surrendered and around 200 Cathars were rounded up and burnt.
This book follows the story of the direct descendants of Mary Magdalene (the Holy Grail) and their intertwining fate with the Counts of Montvalent and Simon de Montfort. A family saga following two generations.
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