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on 3 May 2013
On the face of it, this excellently researched volume on Heresy in Medieval Europe appears to be the sort of dry, scholarly book associated with history geeks. Obviously the reader will be someone who has an interest in history or, someone researching religious movements and the Albigensian Crusade in Europe. Hidden within however, is a revealing and interesting, story of how modern European states came into being while highlighting the anxieties, self-doubt and neuroses of medieval European society. Well worth a perusal by the general reader wishing to increase their knowledge of the European psyche.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2014
I have rather mixed feelings about this book. As a general reader I found it quite heavy going, and indeed it took me rather a long time to complete it, although i did learn much about the preoccupations of medieval europe, and the way in which accusations of heresy were used for political purposes as well by those who were sincerely motivated by a desire to resist, as they saw it, the work of the devil.

Taking each campaign of action against heresy in turn, the author shows how there was little in the way of an organised Cathar grouping, but that there was quite widespread support for a range of beliefs that were consdidered heretical by the Catholic church - refusing to eat meat, or to engage in proctreative activity were rather dangerous positions for people to take.

Overall this series of analyses can be a little pedanatic, as the author concedes in the afterward, but for those with strong knowledge of the period there is likely to much of interest and to stimulate further debate
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After reading around the growth of Christianity and the repression of various `pagan' beliefs, I found it interesting to consider the appearance of heresy; whereas various pagan belief systems had for centuries existed side by side, with the growth of Christianity it became more prevalent for those who were not Christians according to a prescribed and approved understanding of the same to be considered `outside' religion, or heretics. Pagans still existed, but if you were not pagan, and were not considered a `correct' Christian, clearly you had to fall somewhere else - you became a heretic.

By the eleventh century, from when the action in this book really kicks off, Western Europe was predominantly Roman Catholic, and the Pope and Church had representatives in every kingdom. During the eleventh century, proceedings against `heretics' picked up in a big way; yet, as the author points out, many of these proceedings were politically motivated against the ruler or powers that protected the victims that were accused of heresy. So heresy became a way to embarrass or undermine those in authority. There were also, of course, purely religious accusations - and those most well known during the medieval period were against the Cathars and the Waldensians.

This is a most interesting book, which gives the reader much to ponder. It is not particularly easy to read; not that it is a dense, scholarly book, rather that much of the work covers new ways of looking at concepts and new interpretations that you need to consider closely as you progress through the book. Thus, it is probably most beneficial to approach if you already have a working knowledge of Medieval Europe and some of the major features and players of the time.
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on 3 September 2012
This book is a new departure on this subject. Previously many historians have concentrated on understanding the belief systems
of the heretics. Where the sources survive this is still quite difficult to write as heretics suffer from a bad press composed mainly not by sympathetic writers but by their enemies. This is where this work starts as it explores the hostile context (where the sources survive)around each case written by opponents of the heresy. According to this historian this is a new departure for most medieval heresies. I always have before me the case of Jeanne d'Arc who was burnt for 'heresy' for military /political reasons by the English. This is fundamental in studying this subject as the scrutiny of source material deciding where bias lies is absolutely basic in historical writing. I remember the very first essay I was set as an undergraduate student at Portsmouth Poly was to decide how valid Machiavelli's view of Ferdinand of Aragon and Cesare Borgia was in The Prince. How previous historians have missed the hostile contexts of heretical groups remains to be explained. Lambert's work is still the very best on the Cathars as is Wakefield
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on 13 February 2015
Anyone wanting to explore the crusades against heresy should read this. Through analysis of prime source documents Professor Moore demonstrates that it was not a war against religious belief, but a battle for power and control. A great insight into the religious and lay politics of the period.

Unfortunately it demonstrates that human nature has not changed, only the weapons we use.
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on 22 February 2015
A glance through its pages reveals a well-researched book with very readable narrative. R.I. Moore can be relied upon to deliver a great read.
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