The Cathars

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In the south of France not far from Marseille is the old province of Languedoc where in 1208 the people were condemned to death by Catholic pope Innocent III. In 1209 a papal army of more than 30,000 soldiers descended on the region under the command of the papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux and the French noble Simon de Montfort. The soldiers had been sent to exterminate the Cathar religion and gain control of the region. The killing went on for some 35 years claiming the lives of thousands of men, women and children.

The doctrine of the Cathars was basically Gnostic, they were spiritual Christians. The Catholic churches fear of the Cathars was in part caused by the Cathars knowledge of the bloodlines of Jesus, which was in conflict with the churches propaganda of the crucifixion. The Cathars were also said to be the guardians of a great and sacred treasure, associated with an ancient knowledge. The Cathars also regarded Mary Magdalene as the Grail Mother. They believed that the god of the Catholic church was not the true god, but Deus Mundi the god of the the material world, also known as Satan. This, of course, incurred the anger of the Catholic church.

The Cathars were tolerant of other people's religions and believed in equality of the sexes. Their belief in equality of the sexes was a major problem for the Catholic church which was srictly patriarchal.

The Cathars believed in the New Testament, recited a slightly modified Lord's Prayer, had a welfare system for the poor, elderly and sick, as well as their own schools and hospitals. They didn't worship in regular churches, prefering open fields and the homes of followers.

At first Pope Innocent III allegedly tried pacific conversion, and sent a number of legates into the Cathar regions. They had to contend not only with the Cathars, the nobles who protected them, and the people who respected them, but also with many of the bishops of the region, who resented the considerable authority the Pope had given to his legates.

In the first significant engagement of the war, the town of Béziers was besieged on 22 July 1209. The Catholic inhabitants of the city were granted the freedom to leave unharmed, but many refused and opted to stay and fight alongside the Cathars. The entire population of the town was massacred. Peace was signed in 1229 and the Inquisition was set up to erradicate the remaining Cathars and their supporters. The last significant stronghold to fall was Montségur in the Pyrenees, resulting in the burning of 200 Cathar Perfects.

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Write the questions, then click on the Show question button to compare. Your questions may differ to those given.

Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux and the French noble Simon de Montfort commanded the papal army.

The killing went on for some 35 years.

They regarded her as the Grail Mother.

He was the god of the material world and the Catholic god according to the Cathars.

Yes, they were tolerant of other religions.

Yes, they recited a slightly modified version of it.

The entire population of the town was massacred at Béziers.

It was set up to erradicate the remaining Cathars and their supporters.

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