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The Cathars (Peoples of Europe) Paperback – 5 Jun 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (5 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 063120959X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631209591
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.1 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Catharism was the most radical of medieval heresies. Since it touched most areas of Europe in some degree, research on its character and fortunes makes formidable demands on the learning and linguistic ability of any scholar who tackles it, not to mention demands also on his judgement. Malcolm Lambert, well known for his lucid and authoritative writings on medieval heresy, is a match for this challenging task. His new book, The Cathars , is to be welcomed as the most comprehensive and up–to–date treatment of the subject now available in English." Alexander Murray, University College, London <!––end––>"Lambert′s command of the literature and his ability to integrate it into a coherent narrative are unmatched. His book deserves to become the standard account of medieval Catharism." Medieval Review "This is the first comprehensive study in English of the most mysterious and radical of medieval heresies. Malcolm Lambert ... ′combines scholarly investigation with lucid narrative.′" TD Book Survey "Malcolm Lambert, with deep erudition allied to pristine sensitive prose, masterfully narrates [the] distinctive history [of] the cathars ... The Cathars ... is, quite simply, indispensible." Catholic Historical Review

From the Back Cover

This is the first comprehensive account in English of the most feared and the most mysterious of medieval heretics. A crusade was launched to uproot them in the south of France, the Inquisition was developed to suppress them, and St Dominic founded his friars to preach against them. Their history and that of the medieval Church are inextricably mingled. This book puts the Cathars back into the context where they belong – that of medieval Catholicism. It studies the rise and fall of the heresy from the twelfth–century Rhineland to fifteenth–century Bosnia and the Church′s counteraction, peaceful and violent. Within the exposition, Italian Cathars are given their rightful place, a chapter is devoted to the puzzle of the Bosnian Church, and perspective is given to Le Roy Ladurie′s brilliant but wayward Montaillou . A final survey assesses the legacy of a heresy which still exerts its strange fascination. This book combines scholarly investigation with lucid narrative. It is, in short, historical writing at its best and likely to become the definitive account of a subject of enduring interest and importance.

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At the beginning of the eleventh century, leading churchmen in Western Europe had no living experience of heresy. Read the first page
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ms. V. Hoyle VINE VOICE on 5 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
Malcolm Lambert's reputation as one of the most thorough and erudite of medieval historians is only confirmed by his work in "The Cathars".
As in his seminal work, "Medieval Heresy", he successfully combines scholarly investigation with lucid, careful narrative. His emphasis is clearly on context, both societal and religious - why did Catharism flourish in spite of (or because of) the medieval Church, and how did the mediaeval Church respond?
The Domincan Order, the Albigensian Crusade and the Inquisition are all examined in response to these questions. The geographical and chronological breadth of his investigation is applaudable, effectively embracing the 12th - 15th century, from the north of France to Bosnia.
Several important chapters summarise difficult debates, including the role of Eastern Bogolmilism in the development of the heresy, the Italian schism and Le Roy Laudarie's somewhat controversial work on Montaillou.
Above all else, Lambert is a narrative historian - he excels at summary and explanation, rather than innovation. Yet that is easily excused given that his research is wide and impeccable, covering both a wealth of primary and secondary material in both English and French. As such, "The Cathars" is no doubt destined to become a somewhat definitive account of its kind.
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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Mar 2001
Format: Paperback
I would not hesitate to call this book pivotal in Cathar studies. I read it as part of my research on the Cathars and found it extremely well documented and researched, an accomplished book. Malcolm Lambert also wrote 'Medieval Heresy', in which gives a detailed but wide history of heresy around Europe, essential and fascinating background for anyone interested in the Cathars. It has been described as 'the best general book on the subject in any language'. 'The Cathars', more recent, places particular influence on this sect, while containing the thourough understanding of other heresies neccessary to give it depth and authoritative analysis. Lambert has worked with Walter Wakefield, previously England's leading historian on the Cathars. His book is rather dated now, but was so thouroughly researched, containing translations of medieval manuscripts that we can be sure that Lambert discussed his topic with an authority. Furthermore, Lambert has also read and analysed French historiography, again, rare for a British historian of this period. Therefore, 'The Cathars' draws up on a large amount of research, both old and new, and constantly questions previously conducted research and established ideas. What is so unique about this book is that unlike many on the period in English, it recognises the fact that Catharism was not unique to France, and contains innovative research and findings on their actions in Italy and on the Bosnian Church, for example.
It is important to realise, however, that 'The Cathars' will not provide 'easy reading', it is a highly analytical historical text and therefore not really aimed at the beginner, to whom I would recommended a more general history. I found the book hard to read myself, although very rewarding.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Yates on 19 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given that the theme of the book is the persecution of a large group of people in the most barbaric ways possible I found some of the author's opinions about the punishments meted out to them very offensive! I think perhaps he should try a little of his own medicine first before making such comments. The only trouble being he wouldn't be around to tell us of the result!

I've been disappointed not to be able to find anything detailed about the Cathars without such strong and offensive 'Orthodox' Bias. Their persecution it seems has not ended yet?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
54 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Compelling tale of heresy.... 19 Dec 2000
By Dianne Foster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
THE CATHARS by Malcolm Lambert, is very informative and extremely well documented with primary and secondary material. Mr Lambert was a Reader in Medieval History at the University of Bristol in the U.K. until 1991 when he retired to write.
Lambert says although some think the name Cathar is taken from the Greek word for "pure" it was probably applied by outsiders in reference to a Satanic cat ritual. The Cathars called themselves "perfects" and as far as is known they did not engage in rituals involving cats. In fact, they were vegetarians who avoided animal products. They were persecuted for their belief that Jesus and Satin were brothers, a belief considered heretical by the Catholic Church.
Persecution of the Cathars took many forms, the most violent occurring in France. In the 12th and 13th Centuries, the Capet family (Louis to Phillip the Fair) was in the process of uniting France under it's rule. The southern region, known as Languedoc, was resisting the Capets. At the same time, several Popes (Boniface, Innocent, etc.), were threatened by German Emperors from Frederick Barbarossa to Frederick II. The French Kings offered their protection to the Popes and in exchange, the Popes "authorized" the Capet family to subdue Languedoc, a Cathar stronghold. Their joint venture is known as the Albigensian Crusade.
Later on, the Popes sent church "inquirers" known as Inquisitors to investigate heresy in Languedoc. In reality, "untold numbers of persons" were probably not burned, but many died or were imprisoned. Of the more than 5,000 persons known to have been interrogated by the Inquisitors in Languedoc, about 50 were burned at the stake. Lambert says everything else is speculation since most of the records were destroyed.
In Italy, the Ghibellines were allies of the German Emperors and enemies of the Guelphs who supported the Pope. Although Frederick II had sworn to root out heresy, his "rooting" was lax. Many of the Ghibbilines were Cathars, and since they kept a number of Italian cities friendy to his cause so he had no great incentive to destroy them. When Frederick II died, both the Ghibellines and the Cathars were at risk. Some were burned, but many escaped to Bosnia. The Cathars in Bosnia lived a relatively peaceful existence until Islam crushed the Balkans in the 15th Century.
According to Lambert, the Cathars probably would have died out eventually anyway. They did not believe in sexual reproduction. Also, most people became Cathars owing to family connections and did not really understand the "dual-God" aspects of the religion. The Cathar theology was confusing anyway, and as people became educated, they fell away from Cathar teachings.
Lambert says the Cathars did not take vows of poverty as some have suggested. They were from all walks of life, nobles to maids. The attraction of Catharism lay in it's emphasis on simplicity in this life, and the emotional comfort the 'perfects' offered regarding death and the next life. In an age when many Catholic clergy were distant and aloof, and the emphasis of the church was tithing and the aqusition of material wealth, the Cathar perfects were seen as the "real" Christians. St. Francis of Assis suggested one way to rid the Church of heresy was to preach directly to the people and live exemplary lives of love and compassion.
The Inquisitors became very powerful after the 13th Century, until the 16th Century. Lambert says after the Cathars and other heretics were no longer a threat, "Witchcraft fell under the purview of the inquisitors." The result was "Malleus maleficarum" or the "bible of the witch-hunters." He says the "witch craze spanned the Reformation and blackens the reputations of Catholics and Protestants alike." Burning people was not exclusive to the Catholic Church.
34 of 44 people found the following review helpful
All good writers have a better editor. 24 Dec 1999
By John O'Groats - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book for academicians to use for research on a little known and less understood culture of the middle ages. It is full of very good and accurate information. But, it is seriously flawed in that it needs a good editing. If the publishers are considering a second printing, I hope they will first submit the manuscript to a professional editor.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Strong Content But Lacking In Presentation 10 Aug 2005
By Dave_42 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hate to give a book that contains such a wealth of information, such a low rating. However, there are many problems with this book that make it necessary. To begin with, the writing is very dry which makes it difficult to read, although it does improve later in the book. I also didn't care much for the organization. Lastly, the font used is small, and this makes it all the more difficult to read for any length of time. If you are studying the Cathars, then this is undoubtedly a good book to have as a reference. However, this is not a good book for reading about the subject, especially if you are looking for an introduction to the topic.
A book that is not well written. It leaves ... 30 Sep 2014
By Gale Rauschenberger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book that is not well written. It leaves a lot of loose ends and doesn't explain complicated relations. It just seemed incomplete and disjointed to me.
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