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The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars, 1290-1329 Hardcover – 2 Nov 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (2 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670881627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670881628
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 532,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"There can be fewer better guides than this beautiful book, which lets an almost forgotten people, even through the filter of time and the Inquisition, speak for themselves." --"The Washington Post Book World" "In a feat of inspired scholarship, Weis transports us back to that world, conveying all of the high drama of ecclesiastical interrogations, covert ceremonies, and fiery martyrdom. . . . A book that will long haunt its readers."--"Booklist""This book reanimates the real world of the Cathars of seven hundred years ago in a way that is fresh, utterly modern, and pulsates with life."-Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, author of "Montaillou""""It succeeds enthrallingly . . . a moving evocation of an almost inconceivable faith."--"The Times" (London) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Praise for 'The Yellow Cross' by Rene Weis:
‘Refreshing and stimulating… the best account of the reality of Catharism we are likely to get in a very long time’ – The Times Literary Supplement

‘Brilliantly reconstructs the personal machinations and sexual intrigues by which the Cathars took over Montaillou, before falling victim to the Inquisition’ – Sunday Times, Books of the Year

‘A story with a powerful modern resonance, a story of treachery, betrayal, passion, greed, and heroism… my book of the year’ – Christopher Bland, Sunday Telegraph

‘Utterly absorbing’ – Daily Telegraph

‘In an utterly modern way, and with the freshness and vibrancy of real life, this book recaptures the Cathar experience in Languedoc 700 years ago’ – Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, author of Montaillou

‘As a history of a ruthless extirpation, it succeeds enthrallingly’ – The Times

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a vivid and unforgettable illumination of the fate of a small community which lived, loved and died over 600 years ago. There is no fantastical speculation here - just thorough and exhaustive scholarship, and the author's own humanity, which brings these individuals fully to life. I could not have believed I could have been touched so deeply by the fate of men and women whose bones are now dust.
Much rubbish has been written about the Cathars in the past few years - read this, and discover just what an insult this is to the memory of the last "Parfaites" of Europe.
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This is a highly researched and thoroughly written book on the last thirty years of the Cathars in Langedoc and the surrounding area, focused largley on the area around Montaillou. One thing that struck me on reading this book is the highly personal interest the author has taken in researching and writing it; it is evident the whole way through that it is a labour of love for the author. This enthusiasm really shines through in the book; no detail is missed, if it can add to the reader's understanding and enjoyment of the lives and times of the groups of families in and around Montaillou who persisted in the Cathar religion (or turned a blind eye to those who lived as Cathars) and who found themselves on the wrong side of the Inquisition.

The people are a broad range from good, honest and religious, to rogues and bullies, rapists and murderers. I would imagine that any area such as Montaillou, particularly in medieval times, would have had such a mix of characters and personalities. But these people also lived on the edge (or over it) of religious conformity and suffered the dread of being found by the Inquisition. The way of life, and the life these people lived, is of necessity fascinating to anyone interested in medieval history - the fact that these people live on in writings still available to us today is because of their religious beliefs which were captured by those not sympathetic to their religion or their way of life. The terror of being found; the horror of a death by public burning; would many people today be able to live like that?

I admit to getting totally lost in the chapter about the people of Montaillou - so many families, so inter-related and inter-married, and so many with similar names.
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Format: Paperback
An exceptional presentation based heavily on historical records. Weis refrains from undue speculation and lets the records speak. Nevertheless, his exquistive writing helps bring the story to life. Ironically, the Inquisitions own detailed records from 1290-1329 were preserved and enabled Weis to recreate many of the activities in the village of Montaillou, France.

Cathar religion is not the focus of this history, but elements of Cathar thought and practice are unavoidably present. The pluses and minuses of being a Cathar are presented, at least for the residents of Montaillou. Despite the asceticim of Cathar spiritual leaders, the sexual promiscuity of some Cathars is not glossed over.

Sadly, in this case, the reason for the Inquistions interest in Montaillou seems to have been, not primarily their religious difference but the reluctance of people in that area to pay the Church's taxes.

I read this book in 3 days, but I took a break after every 2 chapters or so because following all the detail challenged my focus. The amount of detail Weis was able to assemble is staggering. To his credit, he kept the story flowing. I've never read history at this fine a granularity. I never before was aware what life in medieval Europe might be like.

Weis seems superhuman. How he assimilated so many facts and presented it so clearly and vividly is far beyond my understanding. A work of this quality and power seem to me very rare [Another book on Montaillou, by Ladurie, may be even more detailed, enough to perhaps be of interest only to academicians, but apparently makes a heavily pro-Church interpretation]. Even if the Cathars are not your interest, I'd recommend this book for its extraordinary presentation of life in a medieval village. I've never before felt this connected to people of the Middle Ages: I'm very impressed by them
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Format: Paperback
I found this book absolutely compelling. I have read it three times and continue to dip into it. It is more interesting than Emmanuel Roy Laudrie's book on the same subject. It takes a more anthropological approach as opposed to Laudrie's social, political and economic stance. Weiss's updating and locating of events is thoroughly convincing. One can smell the bread coming from the foghana. It also has a fine hero in Pierre Maury. One more noble and good than the parfaits he follows.
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Format: Paperback
Well here I am again less than a fortnight from my first review and book on Catharism! This one has left me in tears, absolutely! At first somewhat confusing with the family ties

and links but then totally absorbing. I personally needed a good English dictionary to help me understand some of the text (but then I'm no intellectual) But what impressed me about the author was his total absorbtion into the day-to-day lives of these people: their loves, sexual preferences, hardship and

determination. I felt as if I've traversed those mountain passes and valleys of Pierre Maury and will now, of course,

hve to visit the area. Stay with this, its detail is so important to understnd the devastation of the final outcome.

Thank you Rene Weis !!
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