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3.9 out of 5 stars
11
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 31 December 2008
I bought this book before an out-of-season visit to Carcassonne and the nearby castles in November 2008. It proved to be by far the best guide to visits to the area, far better than those to be found once there in the castle bookshops, and more informative even than those written in French. The access and opening hours in the book were very accurate and useful, and the reconstructions of various castles superb and well researched. This book greatly enhanced this visit and added enormously to my enjoyment and understanding of the area. A big thankyou to the authors.
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on 16 September 2014
Very useful info for anyone visiting Cathar country in the South of France. The info in this book was well presented and enhanced our appreciation of the sites we visited.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2010
In his introduction, Marcus Cowper sets the essential political and religious scene in Languedoc that provided the impetus for the Albigensian Crusade. But the subject of this book is the castles that then featured during the crusade, and so Cowper's writing on the political and religious background is by necessity a little superficial, although very well-written nonetheless. The same can be said of a later section of the book, where Cowper looks at the differences between southern and northern societies and how the southern way of life changed forever, following its defeat in the crusade.

Cowper soon moves onto addressing the design and development of the castles, giving an overview of the history of fortifications in this part of the world from pre-Roman times through to the French royal fortresses of the early modern period. He remarks how the arrival of the French often resulted in the relocation of local populations so as to leave the garrison intentionally isolated.

Cowper follows this with a tour of five main sites (namely Carcassonne, Peyrepetuse, Queribus, Cabaret (Lastours), and Montsegur) and a number of lesser fortifications. Later he looks at the sites of the major actions: the siege and sack of Beziers in 1209; the sieges and captures of Carcassonne and Minerve in 1210; Termes in 1210; Lavaur in 1211; the sieges and changing of hands of Toulouse; and finally the capture of Montsegur in 1243-44. Cowper does not desist in narrating the nastiness of the fighting, telling us of the killing of women and children, the cutting out of prisoners' eyes, and the burnings at the stake of the heretics.

He ends his review of the castles and the times by looking at the aftermath of the crusade, the end of Catharism, and ultimately the end of the need for any fortifications in Languedoc at all following the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees between the French and Spanish.

The book is profusely illustrated with colour and monochrome photographs, and there are some excellent colour artistic reconstructions. Cowper provides advice on visiting the sites today as well as a list of further reading. In conclusion, this is an attractive but slim volume that provides an excellent introduction to the subject.
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on 5 October 2013
The book is very interesting and the pictures and diagrams are superb. I am really interested in this region of the Cathars.
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on 4 October 2010
This book delivers what it promises. And nothing more. But that's not a negative. The book gives a nice list of fortresses and castles in the area. There are good pictures, drawings and maps. The history part is ok, but that's not why we buy this book.
It gave me what I came for.
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on 29 July 2009
This is a brilliant overveiw of the area and the troubles that ensured. Excellent reading for those that are interested in the history of the area...and like me wish to travel the area and see for ones self the harshness of life as it might have been.
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on 31 December 2014
Good book. Particularly interesting for those visiting the languedoc
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on 25 February 2017
Nicely presented book with good illustrations, just disappointed on the size, bit on the thin side :)
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on 6 January 2016
Shortish scoot through this complicated period of French/ Toulousain history.
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on 26 December 2014
good service
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