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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power & religion - a poisonous combination
I liked this, a relatively short book which shows how power, politic and religion combined to savage effect in early 14th century France. If I knew more about the Cathars and the political issues around the Languedoc then I would have probably got more out of it but even with my stunning level of ignorance I found it interesting (particularly the first half)...
Published 22 months ago by Jo Brookes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Friar of Carcassonne
It was much more factual and very dense . Hard going but nonetheless, fascinating.

I probably wouldn't recommend it unless someone really wanted to know about that particular time in history.
Published 11 months ago by Bling


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power & religion - a poisonous combination, 17 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Friar of Carcassonne: The Last Days of the Cathars (Kindle Edition)
I liked this, a relatively short book which shows how power, politic and religion combined to savage effect in early 14th century France. If I knew more about the Cathars and the political issues around the Languedoc then I would have probably got more out of it but even with my stunning level of ignorance I found it interesting (particularly the first half).

it gets four stars because it was a little dry particularly around the middle of the book, its for history buffs I think rather than generalists and you need to know about the Cathars to get the most from it - which is a warning not a criticism really.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicious biography, 18 Sep 2011
This reviewer has been an interested follower of Stephen O'Shea ever since he published "The Perfect Heresy" eleven years ago. A historian whose pen has been erudite rather than prolific, he is able to bring dry historical scholarship to his public in a manner that is both enthusiatic and accessible. So it is with "The Friar of Carcassonne", a text a scant two hundred pages long with a further fifty of Notes, that serves to bring a forgotten champion of the Cathar cause back to the conscious memory of History that he deserves. A Fransiscan friar who sought to correct the terrible wrongs he found in the actions of the Dominician inquistion during the turn of the fourteenth century, Bernard Delicieux is no "civil libertarian" but a man who "saw a grevious wrong and summoned up the courage to try and redress it. In this he was a man for all seasons-but still just a man." (pg204)
The story of Bernard Delicieux is the story of the final struggles of Languedoc to retain autonomy in the face of French pressures; the story of tumultous times for the Papacy; yet, ultimately, it is the story of one man's failure. A personal failure that represents a tale of heresy which, around the time of his death, led to the fall of the Templars and a huge schism in the Medieval Church as spiritual grace sought to consolidate secular power against the Kings of France.
O'Shea's text is divided into three parts. The first sixty pages are concerning the world of Bernard Delicieux. Told in a manner that successfully attempts to set the tones of anger and resentment that cut the undercurrents both of the world of Franciscan and Dominican friar, and of the Cathar Good Men and Women and the Inquisition. O'Shea is able to succinctly draw the key concerns, both political and spiritual, of the Papacy and its feuding with Philip the Fair of France. In the struggle for power over men's souls and wealth, both sought to shape Western Intellectual tradition. The Friar Preachers and Friar Minors competed for land and wealth whilst Pope Boniface sought to prevent the French King impounding or taxing his wealth. Into this mix came men of power such as Guillame de Nogaret who sought the downfall of Boniface, and Bernard Saisset whose own conflagatory nature set the ground for the rise of Friar Bernard Delicieux. In contrast, the Pope prepared to exercise the greatest weapon in his arsenal: namely that of excommunicating the King of France. In this time of revolt, that culminated in the Outrage of Anagni, Bernard Delicieux saw a chance to press for Languedoc's freedom from the intransigent ideology of the Dominicans. The rise of the inquistion - a lowercase spelling that O'Shea is painstaking to point out - was the inevitable culmination of the previous two centuries of a Church that moved every closer to a doctrine of fear with which to control the laity. The Hounds of the Lord gave the chance for ungodly men such as Bishop Bernard de Castanet to persecute hundreds simply for personal gain, hiding behind the unforgiving skirts of a Papacy that had become focused purely on self-preservation through the proclamation of heresy. In the late 1280s lawyers from Carcassonne who had loudly argued against the depravations of the inquisition in Languedoc and the Church's "disruptive role in civil society" (pg56), were now given a totem in the hated "Wall" prison newly built in the town. It is no wonder that the tinder box of revolution only needed a charismatic leader to lead it. A leader it found in Bernard Delicieux when a secret Accord listing men that the inquisition wanted to interrogate provoked a riot during the Papal Jubilee of 1300. It is during an attempt to secure the men that we first learn of Bernard: a fiery, gifted rhetorician with a sense of moral outrage that found a groundswell of support. So began the enmity between the Dominician Bernard Gui and the Franciscan Bernard Delicieux.
The second part deals with the years of revolution, from 1299 to 1304. Drawing suport for Carcassonne with the men of Albi, Delicieux found himself - sponsored by Jean de Picquigny - able to directly petition the King at Senlis in a brilliant example of coercive oratory. By securing the King's favour he was able to blunt the determined press of the Dominicians in late 1301 but never quite able to remove it entirely. Delicieux's fammous sermon in 1303 is given full exploration by O'Shea; equally the counter by Geoffroy d'Ablis. The building pressures forced Philip's hand later in the year and he came to Toulouse with his Queen. It is here Delicieux made his mistake by overtly threatening rebellion against the King if he did not act against the inquistion. References to the raw recent secession of Flanders was too fresh in Philip's mind and, whilst it did not set him against the Franciscan, it meant further support would no longer be forthcoming. Delicieux's subsequent attempt to coerce the Prince of the Kingdom of Majorcan to open rebellion failed before it started and Delicieux found himself removed from the political scene. Spending the next decade of his life he rose to prominence within Languedoc, though the historical record becomes rather more thin, emerging at the end as man whom the Dominician-led Papacy finally sought their revenge by bringing him to trial.
The final part deals with 1305 to Bernard's trial and death in 1317. His trip to Avignon to defend the Spirituals of Languedoc became the chance his enemies needed to arrest him and his trial began in Carcassone on October 2, 1317. Led by Bishop Fournier of Palmiers, months of alternating torture and questioning wore down Bernard over time until he finally confessed to whatever his enemies wanted. Consigned to incareration for the remainder of his life, he died at an unknown time whilst the secular powers under the new Philip V of France sought to have his execution carried out.
O'Shea is immensely readable. This reader knows little of this period, but the focused nature of the biography - especially the five key years of Delicieux's life - provokes curiosity to read more about the Inquisition, the Cathars, Languedoc, and Philip the Fair of France. It is this that makes the book successful. The notes show a huge amount of research, the scholarship is presented in a manner that keeps the pages turning. A faint whiff of excitement laces the end of each chapter, encouraging the reader to start the next. By the end, we are left wanting to know more about Bernard Delicieux, the man, the person, the leader of a moral protest against the Church that inspired only fear in the world it sought to control. We learn about the struggle of spiritual and secular power through the slant of one man; but that, in itself, is useful. Of course, we should look to understand the Dominician viewpoint in order to gain a balanced view. The key is that O'Shea has resurrected the memory of a man who deserves to be remembered, of a time that deserves greater consideration, and piques an interest in the twenty-first century reader that proves the success of what he has written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Friar of Carcassonne, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: The Friar of Carcassonne: The Last Days of the Cathars (Kindle Edition)
It was much more factual and very dense . Hard going but nonetheless, fascinating.

I probably wouldn't recommend it unless someone really wanted to know about that particular time in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, readable history, 9 May 2013
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This review is from: The Friar of Carcassonne: The Last Days of the Cathars (Kindle Edition)
This is a really good book. Told in a very readable style, yet packed with fact and evidence. It does help if you know a little about the Cathars, but it would still be enjoyable if you didn't.
The story reads at times almost like a novel, and whether this is a good or bad thing depends on how you like your history. For me, it worked well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars heavy going, 22 Jun 2013
By 
Sandra (Scunthorpe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Friar of Carcassonne: The Last Days of the Cathars (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this book but in parts it was a bit heavy going. Not a relaxing holiday read, but a good meaty book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of many good books on subject, 3 April 2014
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good but only to specialist, might enlarge knowledge of are for visitors but only those who like history. No good for beach readers
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5.0 out of 5 stars Religion vs religion who wins?, 8 Mar 2013
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This book reminds us that those who act in the name of God usually act in the most un-godly way. They also tend to use the involvement of the Lord as a smokescreen to hide their more earthly based ambitions.
Here we have a French Monarch eager to suppress these Cather pests once and for all to finally consolidate a single, united kingdom under his reign. The Pope of course needs to eradicate these religious communities - they threaten to undermine the Church and it's authority - and in doing so, undermine his position.
Shout, "Heresy!" and every unemployed Crusader, crazed bigot, acquisitive real estate king and army, inquisitor, torturer and un-desirable cruel psychopathic crook will answer the call. And so they did, marching under the banners of our merciful god to show no mercy to anyone.
Together the King and the Pope represent a formidable duo. Not since The Templars were decimated have they acted so comprehensively to commit mass murder. Not since the destruction of The Templers was such a thorough decimation achieved.
This book is excellent. It takes us to the heart of Catharism with insight, warmth and sympathy and a very real sense of the loss of these individuals, their lives and beliefs.
Man's inhumanity to man - sadly this is a fine example.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, cheap, a good bargain!, 3 Nov 2012
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I did this as a trial and was very satisfied. The book was extremely interesting, I downloaded it immediately and the photos in the book are great!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking on the Inquisition in medieval France, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a fascinating account. I had not previously heard of Bernard Délicieux, but on the book’s evidence, he deserves to be rather better known than he appears to be. Born sometime between 1260 and 1270, he was a Franciscan friar, an individual blessed with a strong sense of fairness - but living in a turbulent world. Defending the people of Carcassonne against the manifold injustices perpetrated there by the Inquisition (run by the rival Dominican order), he achieved a notoriety that brought him to the attention of French king Philippe IV. Anxious to secure the loyalty of recently-annexed Languedoc to France, the king took Délicieux’s side, though the friar was not successful in securing, quid pro quo, the release of those the Inquisition had unjustly imprisoned. In a battle that embroiled popes in the struggle against the French monarchy, and led Délicieux into an unwise alliance with the son of the king of Majorca (at that time ruling neighbouring Roussillon), the fate of this intriguing rabble-rouser was sealed when political and religious in-fighting led to his fall from favour and the dredging up of old accusations. Imprisonment, torture and death followed quickly.

Stephen O’Shea tells the story of Bernard Délicieux really well, in a wonderfully clear and engaging style, with a historian’s objectivity that keeps properly in check his obvious sympathy for the man. He vividly evokes the political and religious currents of the time, as well as the depradations endured by those unfortunate enough to suffer the attentions of the Inquisition – a thoroughly corrupt institution whose activities seemed more about settling scores and acquiring the property of the condemned than anything else. Colour photos of key sites where the action took place, as well as reproductions of artists’ depictions of some of the main protagonists, enhance the text, as do the fulsome references and bibliography.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Whig Interpretation, 29 Nov 2011
I am a big fan of Stephen 'O Shea. The Perfect Heresy had me making more trips to the Languedoc (Ch. Peyrepertuse / Queribus especially, well worth the climb) and Sea of Faith got me to the Mesquita in Cordoba and a desire to check out Byzantium again! His approach is engaging, detailed and human.

Alas he has succumbed to the toxic Whig Interpretation this time. That as taught to me as an undergrad, 'interpreting the past in the light of the present' naughty naughty! The Inquisition and the established Church are simply painted pitch black - shades of grey and contemporary value interpretations would have made them more sinister in composite I think.

So for me, playing to the gallery wicked cruel and amoral Inquisition is a bit less appealing than bad stuff and here's why and how. Of course the Inquisition left a great deal of archival material to be mined (cf The Yellow Cross) but I kinda don't appreciate being told what to think. I'd prefer the material well presented in a more balanced way as 'O Shea can, and quite superbly when he chooses to.
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