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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 September 2014
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. Not so different to what's still going on these days.
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on 29 March 2009
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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on 31 May 2017
Interesting and informative book on the lives, beliefs and persecution of the Cathars
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on 13 November 2014
good read
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on 18 September 2013
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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on 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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on 30 May 2012
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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on 5 June 2005
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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on 31 July 2010
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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on 11 December 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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