Prompted by the murder of his legate, in 1209 Pope Innocent III launches a crusade – not against the infidels of the East, but against fellow Christians living peaceably in the south of France. They are the Cathars, regarded as heretics by the Roman Church, and the sect is flourishing. Thousands of knights, landless younger sons, mercenaries and assorted riff-raff pour south with Christian zeal to exterminate men, women and children because they have different beliefs. A dilemma soon arose: How to tell a Cathar from an orthodox Catholic?
Lovers Bräida and Jourdan are torn apart when Carcassonne falls to the crusaders. Jourdan joins the resistance while Bräida flees with her family to the relative safety of the Pyrenees, neither knowing if they will see one another again. But Bräida is not safe in her mountain retreat, because the Church has found an answer to its dilemma – the creation of the Inquisition. No one can escape its diabolical clutches.
This is a story of faith, endurance and the love of liberty in a time of unimaginable cruelty.
My book is also available on Amazon. It will come as no surprise to the reader that Amazon is screwing around. If I try to add the link to .com it goes to .ca – Canada. If I try to add the link to .co.uk it goes to .com.mx – Mexico. These are the two countries where I live, but since I published at .com I ought to be able to link to my book there. Apparently, Amazon has decided I can’t! I am beginning to wish I had published with Ingramspark.
Crusading fervour was at its height in the medieval period. ‘Free Jerusalem!’ Death to the infidel!’ ‘God wills it!’ These were the rallying cries that drove men – and some women – from their homes, to mortgage their lands, to risk their lives in arduous travel and then face the Saracens in battle. But, as we know, many were diverted along the way by the promises of Venice, the riches of Constantinople, attacks on Jews and never made it to the Holy Land. Of those who did survive the trek, the great lords were at least as interested in carving out principalities for themselves, as they were in freeing the holy places. Lesser men were greedy for loot to take home.
In the early 13th century, Pope Innocent III, who is considered one of the most powerful of the medieval popes, proclaimed a crusade. Not against the infidel in the Holy Land but against French Christians in Languedoc. It is known as the Albigensian Crusade and was directed against a people who believed and practised their religion differently than Orthodox Catholics: a heretical sect called Cathars. As a bonus, to stir the zeal of prospective crusaders, who might have preferred the Holy Land, Innocent offered them any land taken from Cathars – land, incidentally, of which King Philip II was suzerain.
One could recognise a Saracen by his brown face and mode of dress, but how to tell a Catholic from a Cathar, unless the latter was discovered during one of their rituals? But did it really matter? Is it true that Arnald-Amalric, Abbot of Citeaux said during the assault on Beziers, ‘Kill them all. God will know his own.’? Whether he said it or not, the French knights went at it with crusading zeal. Thousands of Cathars went to the stake. Many more thousands of orthodox Catholics were killed in battle, during sieges, or by execution.
The Albigensian Crusade is a shameful episode in the history of the Church, and the subject of my new book.