The Cathars are fashionable these days. This movement of allegedly heretical Christian peasants and minor nobility drew the attention of suspicious religious authorities from the mid-twelfth to the mid-fourteenth centuries in the eastern Mediterranean lands of Languedoc, Catalonia, and Lombardy. They and the successful inquisitorial campaign against them have generated three new books in English and the expanded reissue of a classic volume on the Gnostic and dualistic doctrines ascribed to them.

The more that is published about the Albigensians—as the Cathars are also known— however, the less seems to be reliably known of them, and that is a problem for serious students. All that can firmly be stated is that bloody crusades were conducted against a supposed heresy, and that a large quantity of documentation assembled by their inquisitors is the only resource we have for study. Most of this information was extracted under...


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