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The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages

The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages [Kindle Edition]

Sean Martin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Catharism was the most successful heresy of the Middle Ages. Flourishing principally in the Languedoc and Italy, the Cathars taught that the world is evil and must be transcended through a simple life of prayer, work, fasting and non-violence. They believed themselves to be the heirs of the true heritage of Christianity going back to apostolic times, and completely rejected the Catholic Church and all its trappings, regarding it as the Church of Satan. Cathar services and ceremonies, by contrast, were held in fields, barns and in people’s homes. Finding support from the nobility in the fractious political situation in southern France, the Cathars also found widespread popularity among peasants and artisans. And again unlike the Church, the Cathars respected women, and women played a major role in the movement. Alarmed at the success of Catharism, the Church founded the Inquisition and launched the Albigensian Crusade to exterminate the heresy. While previous Crusades had been directed against Muslims in the Middle East, the Albigensian Crusade was the first Crusade to be directed against fellow Christians, and was also the first European genocide. With the fall of the Cathar fortress of Montségur in 1244, Catharism was largely obliterated, although the faith survived into the early fourteenth century. Today, the mystique surrounding the Cathars is as strong as ever, and Sean Martin recounts their story and the myths associated with them in this lively and gripping book.

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More About the Author

Sean Martin is the author of the bestselling The Knights Templar: The History and Myths of the Legendary Military Order (2nd edition, 2009), and has appeared in a number of Templar-related TV programmes, including The Trial of the Knights Templar (Channel 5) and The Templars' Lost Treasure (National Geographic).

His other books include The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics (2nd edition, 2010), The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages (2005) and Andrei Tarkovsky (new edition, 2011), a study of the great Russian director. His latest book is New Waves in Cinema (2013).

As a filmmaker, he co-directed the documentary Lanterna Magicka: Bill Douglas and the Secret History of Cinema (2009, released on DVD and Blu-Ray by the BFI), the short film A Boat Retold, featuring writers Robert Macfarlane and Ian Stephen (2013), and the feature film Folie à Deux (2012).

He is also a poet, and won the 2011 Wigtown Poetry Prize. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Introduction to Catharism 5 Jun 2005
By A Customer
Sean Martin's book on The Cathars is a worthy follow-up to his best-selling book on the Templars. Like the Templars, Martin in this book recounts what we know of the Cathars, and also deals with the myths surrounding the sect (i.e. that they possessed the Holy Grail) without being judgmental about them.
Overall, the book takes a deeply sympathetic pro-Cathar view-point and differs from most other treatments of the subject by including chapters not only on the south of France, where Catharism what as its strongest and where the Albigensian Crusade took place, but also includes material on the Cathars in Italy and Bosnia. Martin also puts the heresy in the context of the development of dualism, and also of the church reforms of the High Middle Ages.
The book is easy to read and clearly written. All in all, a perfect introduction to the subject.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cathars 27 July 2009
By John Rodenbeck
I've lived in Cathar country 1987 and have watched this medieval sect, known then chiefly through the distinguished fiction of Zoë Oldenbourg, become both an international rage and a major local tourist commodity. I own 18 non-fiction titles specificallyabout them, including Otto Rahv's early study (1933), Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou (1978), which introduced important new material from the records of the Inquisition, and three recent books by Anne Brenon, the acknowledged doyenne of Cathar studies.
For my money, Sean Martin's The Cathars is by far the best of the lot. Though small and utterly readable, it is the widest in scope, treating the Cathars correctly as part of a far wider European movement and explaining in detail their beliefs and practices, as well as their unfortunate history, all without recourse to mere legend or to the amateur scholar's "presumably possible likelihood." Sean Martin is a poet and writes with a poet's trenchant conciseness, letting the mere facts have their own impact.
The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cathars 5 Jun 2009
Having recently travelled to the Languedoc region, specifically researching Bernard Sermon 1210 of Le Bezu, I purchased this book to get a better insight into the Cathars. I found it a fascinating read and would recommend it to others.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful Itroduction 11 Dec 2009
My son is a medieval historian and, after travelling in southern Grance, I asked him about the Cathar heresy. He recommended this book as a useful starting point for the general reader. It is a aasimple, but not simplistic, introduction to the nature of dualism and the ruthless crushing of the Cathars. Even today, as the author demonstrates, the Cathar rebellion and the crusades against it have shaped the hostility between nothern and southern France. For those who want to understand the nature of this heresy and its ruthless destruction, this is the book to start with.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lucid account 29 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book tells all the essential facts concerning the Cathars in a well written and lucid way. It doesn't go into unecessary detail but doesn't miss anything of importance to the general reader. As an introduction I would recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage, persecution and the human spirit 18 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Buying this was a result of reading Kate Mosse's 'Labyrinth' trilogy, set in the Languedoc, and wanting to know more of the Cathars. I chose this book as the most likely to give me an all-round summary of the subject and I was not disappointed. Sean Martin begins by outlining the belief-background of the Cathars, and this is perhaps the most complex part of the book to read, with its explanations of Dualism and other heresies. What follows though is a gripping and sometimes heart-breaking account of the Cathar story, their struggle for existence and their eventual demise.
Martin explains how the first wave of persecution came with the Albigensian Crusade (Mosse's theme), followed by the Inquisition, which virtually completed their extinction. He concludes with the story of how Catharism in its different incarnations spread to other parts of Europe, surviving longer there.
Readers may also wish to do what I did and go to Google Images and enter some of the place names in the book. Many of the Cathar sites are beautiful and impressive (Carcasonne) and a few are almost beyond belief (Montsegur).
The story of this non-aggressive group of believers and the vicious judgement that was brought down on them is deeply moving. They were violent and heartless days when human suffering, torture and death were of no account. Ethnic cleansing was not invented in the 20th century.
This is a concise book (170 pages) and you don't need an interest in religion to enjoy it. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in human history or who wants an insight into one of the most lurid and tragic periods of the past.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital introduction to the Cathars 31 July 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book an ideal introduction to a subject I know little about. It is clearly written for non-academics like myself yet contains all the information you need to get a firm grasp of this difficult subject. It focuses upon the concept of dualism and the origins of Catharism and although it devotes most of the book to France, it also covers Italy in the final chapters. Recommended !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By magster
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having retired to the south west of France I recently read Rosemary Bailey's book on life in this region during WW2. It was an eye opener and revealed much about persecution,betrayal, belief and myth in this area. It was an excellent fictional read based on some factual evidence. Wanting to know more about the earlier history I found this little book.
It is essentially another book that communicates persecution, betrayal, belief and myth but grounded in fact. I was unable to put it down until finished. Being a scientist that relies on accuracy and precision this book provides just that. However as senior citizen with increasing memory loss it would have helped a little to have a time line line at the beginning to enable contextual referral.
A great read. Thanks
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy book to read considering it's a history book
An easy book to read considering it's a history book. All you need to know about the Cathars, and how cruelly they were treated. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Blue and white
5.0 out of 5 stars Great way to learn about the Cathars.
Interesting read about a dark period in the history of Christianity. Very readable, not too in depth for the casual reader.
Published 14 days ago by eyevan
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
Very interesting and well written I thought. A massive amount of information. Particularly interesting having recently visited some of the Cathar castles in the Languedoc (which... Read more
Published 21 days ago by A. G. W. Dickinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Dense with information and heavy going but informative.
Published 29 days ago by buxom
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Was ok with limited information on Cather Society
Published 1 month ago by Bill Roberts
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good
I read this because I have read a trilogy of Kate Mosse's books which were based in the Languedoc region, and I wanted to find out more about The Cathars. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
an extremely good read which as a person with a little knowledge on the subject I found illuminating. Read more
Published 2 months ago by rick davies
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting book
this is a very interesting book about a partitioned reader I knew little bit about but it puts into context my only gripe is a little bit long
Published 6 months ago by william
3.0 out of 5 stars The Carhars
I have not read it, but hope to do shortly, I will let you know when I have read it.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. S. Durden
5.0 out of 5 stars A book
Good tech stuff, helps clear ones historical hang ups in this area, quit a lot of words, but that is what a book is.
Published 9 months ago by cookey3971
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