Cathar Castles
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The Cathars

Catharism is an important part of our Medieval religious history. For the Cathars, the material world was a hell and a prison for souls which could only be saved in eternity. They preached the gospel precepts, with reference to the New Testament.

In the 12th century, the Cathar church assumed greater significance in the region from Cahors to the Mediterranean Sea. The Roman Catholic Church continuously tried to eradicate the Cathar heresy. In 1208, Pope Innocent III launched a crusade against the Heretics. The hostilities lasted until 1229 and it was Pope Gregory IX who, in setting up the Inquisition (penal legal system), encouraged the terror to give way to barbarism. It took almost a century for the Roman Catholic Church to eradicate Catharism and bring the South of France to submission.

Quillan and the Albigensian crusade

The Upper Aude Valley did not escape the repercussions of the Crusade. The archbishop of Narbonne, owner of Quillan castle, had difficulty in restraining one of his most rebellious lieges, Raymond de Niort. A member of the powerful family of Niort Lords who dominated the Pays de Sault, he owned important land and rights in Quillan and the surrounding area.  From 1220 to 1258, he opposed the crusades and the Archbishop while attending the Cathar church. He was therefore excommunicated after having been found guilty by the Inquisition and he was stripped of his assets. He found an ally in the Seneschal of Carcassonne, Simon de Montfort, a representative of the King. The King was himself opposed to the Archbishop’s claims. Seized by Montfort, the military chief of the Crusade, Quillan would only be handed back to the Archbishopric in 1280.
These episodes illustrate the conflicts of interest and power between the two driving forces behind the Crusade – Royalty and the Church.
Comité Départemental du Tourisme de l'Aude
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