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Massacre At Montsegur: A History Of The Albigensian Crusade [Paperback]

Zoe Oldenbourg
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

Feb 2001

In 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a Crusade against a country of fellow-Christians. The new enemy was Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, one of the greatest princes in Western Christendom, premier baron of all the territories in southern France where the langue d'oc was spoken. So began the Albigensian Crusade (named after the French town of Albi), which was to culminate in 1244 with the massacre of Cathars at the mountain fortress of Montségur.

This Crusade was the Catholic Church's response to the rapid growth of a rival Christian religion in the very heart of Christendom - the religion of the Cathars (or 'pure ones'). These heretics drew their strength from the consciousness of belonging to a faith that had never seen eye to eye with Catholicism and was more ancient than the Church itself. From the beginning this religious war was to show all the characteristics of a national resistance movement, so that in the end it was not just the survival of the Cathar faith that was at stake but also that of the Languedoc itself as an autonomous and independent region of France.

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Massacre At Montsegur: A History Of The Albigensian Crusade + The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars + The Albigensian Crusade
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842124285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842124284
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A best-selling history of the Third Crusade, when the Catholic Church waged war against heretics in its own ranks

About the Author

Zoé Oldenbourg was born in St Petersburg in 1916 and was educated at the Lycée Molière and the Sorbonne in Paris.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, informative read 20 July 2009
The book is an exciting read and gives a depth and breadth of research, and erudition, that is hard to find on this subject. She follows through from the roots of the movement, its social and political context of the time, and its sister movements such as the Vaudois or Waldesians that were to be persecuted by the Catholic Church all the way through to the 16th century. But most of all, this is a history of the Catholic Church and the beginning of the Inquisition.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jonathan Sumption's book on `The Albigensian Crusade' does not list Zoe Oldenbourg's 1961 account in its bibliography, and yet her `Massacre at Montsegur' was apparently the first populist account of the Cathars in the English language (translated by the classical scholar Peter Green). There has been, of course, volumes upon volumes of further research conducted since then, and it is difficult to gauge how well Oldenbourg's account stands up to current academic thinking about the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade. Oldenbourg was at a loss to account for Raymond VII's acceptance of the Treaty of Meaux, for example; are we any the wiser in the twenty-first century? This book covers both the subjects of the Cathars themselves and the crusade against them in some detail, and is written in a clear and lucid style.

This question of style, I think, is the key to the book's continuing popularity. It is certainly of its time: outwardly educational in tone without being hectoring, it has the sense of informing with only a slight hint of being patronising. She poses her own questions, as if these are what the reader him- or herself has been asking (and they often are), before then going on to answer them in systematic form. One also feels that the author is speaking directly to the reader, as if she is both telling an interesting tale but also not refraining from giving her personal views on certain events and subjects.

A few examples of the latter include her unforgiving account of the role of St Dominic - she accuses the Dominicans of originating the tactics of the modern police-state - and how the defeat of the Cathars was "a crime against the Spirit". The author demeans her own sex when, writing of Blanche of Castile, she describes "a woman, a member of the weaker sex ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great overwiew 5 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book gives you a great overwiew of the albigensian crusades and is a great start for someone interested in this period of turmoil between the church of Rome and the Cathars. I find it to be well written and researched and giving an insight into politics and life in the midi versus the rest of France and gives you a better understanding and foundation for further reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is a well written and interesting read that combines historical facts with a fluent writing style worthy of an adventure writer. It covers the period of the inquisition against the Cathars in the Languedoc in the 12th and 13th centuries and reveals the politics behind the campaign to destroy Catharism. It is evident that the author sympathises with the Cathars whom she depicts as the heroes even though they were seen by the Church at the time as heretics who should be burned to death for their belief in an alternative doctrine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-Informed And Solid, but PLEASE...... 26 Nov 2011
There's much in Zoe Oldenbourg's book to be positive about. It is thoroughly researched and facts tumble off the pages at a pace that makes them easily digestible but nutritious. With a few reservations that I will come to she has a good insight into the people who were involved in this unpleasant but formative period of history in the Languedoc and a good understanding of the region and the privations it experienced during this period. The events of the period are clearly explained. In many ways this could have been an utterly reliable and 'cornerstone' volume about a period of history in which religion and politics mingled to deadly effect.
The author is way too partisan. Her admiration for the Cathar "perfecti" is way too unquestioning. And that provokes the cynical side of my nature in a way that I don't like, and I start to mutter to myself as I read, "So let's see, these "unworldly" "spiritual masters" who think that the created world is the realm of Satan make it a priority to get their gold out of Montsegur?" and much more in that vein. Let me be clear - I hold no brief for the Catholic church in this matter; it's behaviour was brutal. Yet Ms Oldenbourg's partisan reportage actually had me rooting for Simon de Montfort!
3 stars for solid historical knowledge, clear writing and an enthusiasm for subject
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