Author: Sophy Burnham
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2002
Rating 4.5 Crowns
A Novel of the Cathars
In 1243–44, the Cathars (a religious sect considered heretical by the Catholic Church) were besieged at Montségur by 10,000 troops at the end of the Albigensian Crusade. In March 1244, the Cathars finally surrendered and approximately 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the pog when they refused to renounce their faith. Some 25 actually took the ultimate Cathar vow of consolamentum perfecti in the two weeks before the final surrender.
In the days prior to the fall of the fortress, several Cathars allegedly slipped through the besiegers' lines carrying away a mysterious "treasure" with them. While the nature and fate of this treasure has never been identified, there has been much speculation as to what it might have consisted of — from the treasury of the Cathar Church to esoteric books or even the actual Holy Grail.
|The Castle of Montsegur|
It is as the fugitive forever running from the 'black crows' of the Inquisition that Jeanne looks back and tells her story. The author has created a chilling atmosphere of a time when people lived in constant fear, unable to trust their closest family and friends, for the easiest way to avoid suspicion was to point the finger at someone else. The violence, the tortures and terror the Church inflicted on the people is horrible to read about but there is throughout the book a beautiful spiritual thread of love and hope .
Googling the author I discovered her writing does have strong spiritual elements which may not appeal to some people but I thought it was lovely. A story of true faith and courage, of unexpected love and unexpected betrayal during a dark period of history and a novel that will be sure to appeal to historical fiction lovers. This is another book that has never seemed to receive much attention and I take every opportunity to shine the spotlight on and recommend.
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