Cathar Castles: Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1244

Cathar Castles: Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1244


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Cathar Castles: Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1244 by Marcus Cowper, Peter Dennis

In the early 12th century AD a large area of present-day France was not under the direct control of the French king. In fact, the French king's direct authority stretched little further than Paris and the area immediately around it, the Ile de France. Many of the other regions were semi-independent duchies and counties, controlled by, amongst others, the King of England and the Holy Roman Emperor. One such area free from direct French control was the Languedoc, the area stretching from the Massif Central south to the Pyrenees, and as far as the river Rhone to the east. This area was under the loose overlordship of the counts of Toulouse, and by the beginning of the 12th century the whole region had become the centre of an early form of Protestantism called Catharism that flourished to an extraordinary degree and threatened the rule of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Innocent III, alarmed at this heresy and the unwillingness of the southern nobility to do much to uproot it, launched a crusade in 1209 against European Christians. The crusading army, represented the established Church consisting predominatly of northern French knights. They saw this as an opportunity both to 'take the cross' and to obtain new lands and wealth for themselves more conveniently than crusading to the Holy land. This, the Albigensian Crusade, became a brutal struggle between the north and the south of France as much as between orthodox Roman Catholic and heretic Cathar.

The inhabitants of the Languedoc had always relied for their safety upon a series of strongly fortified walled cities, such as Albi, Carcassonne, B_ziers, Toulouse and a large number of fortified hill-top villages and castles which dotted the countryside. These so-called 'Cathar Castles' now became the last refuge against the invading crusaders and the conflict developed into a series of protracted and bloody sieges that lasted for over 30 years. The author describes these two very different types of fortification, the walled city and the hill-top castle. He explains why they were positioned where they were, how they were built, and the defensive principles behind their construction, and also reviews how well they withstood the test of the Albigensian Crusade.

Related Titles

The Crusades (Essential Histories)

Medieval Siege Warfare (Elite)

French Medieval Armies 1000-1300 (Men-at-Arms)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781846030666
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 11/28/2006
Series: Fortress Series
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 650,281
Product dimensions: 7.25(w) x 9.88(h) x 0.17(d)

About the Author

Marcus Cowper studied medieval history at the universities of Manchester and Birmingham. He specialized in High and Late Medieval Church history, and received his postgraduate degree for a study on the impact of heresy in the locality. He has edited Osprey military history books for over seven years and is one of the editors responsible for the creation of the Fortress series. The author lives in Oxford, England.

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Cathar Castles: Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1244 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent reference source for the historian interested in the history of the region of southern France called the Languedoc and/or the history of the Albigensian Crusade. It is also an excellent resource for the tourist to this area interested in visiting castles and ruins or learning more about the background of sites already visited. This little book manages to concisely relay a great deal of background information on the causes of the Albigensian Crusade, the composition of the opposing forces, and the major personalities involved. It also devotes a specific section to the role and history of each major fortress/fortified town involved in this conflict. Anyone planning a trip to the Languedoc to see castles and fortresses will find the guide on the hours of operation, cost and point of contact for each of them of great assistance. Information on the Fortress Study Group (FSG) and on a Cathar web site and organization run by Histophile will be of interest to the enthusiast.
Somiaira More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a good overview of the sites. The author had obviously researched the topic. The first part is the sites themselves, and a brief history of them before the crusade, during and after. The second part of the book is a brief history of the war, quoting from Peter les Vaux de Cernay and Guilhem de Tudela and the anonymous author who followed him. Not an indepth book of course, as it's short, but it makes a great overview. My only beef with it, is that a lot of the pictures were black and white and small, so you couldn't really see detail. Small is fine, but color would have helped. If you're traveling to the Languedoc, and are at all interested in the Cathar sites, you should get this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hav not read but will
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