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The Perfect Heresy

The Life and Death of the Cathars

By Stephen O'Shea

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Format: Paperback, 272 pages, Main Edition
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 May 2001
Eight hundred years ago, the Cathars, a group of heretical Christians from all walks of society, high and low, flourished in what is now the Languedoc in Southern France. Their subversive beliefs brought down on them the wrath of Popes and monarchs and provoked a brutal 'Crusade' against them. The final defeat of the Cathars was horrific with mass burnings of men, women and children in the village of Montaillou in the Pyrenees.

About the Author

Stephen O'Shea is a Canadian historian and journalist. His earlier books Back to the Front: an accidental historian walks the trenches of World War I and The Perfect Heresy: the Life and Death of the Cathars were acclaimed as popular history at its best. He lives in France. Click here for his webpage.

EAN: 9781861973504
ISBN: 1861973500
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.2 centimetres (0.28 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Sarah on
The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars is a splendid historical look at the 13th Century Crusade and Inquisition undertaken by the Catholic Church to rid the Languedoc of the Cathars.

The Cathars were a dualist Christian faith popular amongst the people of the Languedoc for their pious lifestyle of poverty, tolerance and spiritual guidance. They preached against the material world, and outwardly expressed their disapproval of the wealth accrued by the Catholic Church.

The Cathars were a truly amazing and resilient people, yet the indiscriminate force beared down on the people of the Languedoc by the Crusaders, combined with the cunning of the Inquisitors eventually saw the Cathar faith disappear and be relegated to the pages of history.

Stephen O'Shea's description of the events that took place during the this period of history are brilliant and read like a novel. Never does it feel like an academic textbook. O'Shea's determination to get the Cathar story right is evident from the first page to the last, and he goes to great lengths to debunk the myths about the Cathars that surfaced during the Victorian Era, were mis-used and abused by the Nazis, and embellished by the hippies in the latter half of the 20th Century.

The story of the Cathars is one violence, persecution, determination, and above all else: faith. It also acts as a reminder of "the dangers of the absolute", and is simply fantastic.

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