“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bloody Montségur

Pictured below is the mountain fortress of Montségur, which lies in south western France in the Languedoc region. The fortress pictured dates from around the 17th Century, however a much earlier fortress once stood on the site, a fortress that was once home to the Cathars.

The Cathars were a religious sect that were considered heretics by the Catholic Church and, as such, the Catholic Church set about a 45 year-long military campaign (the Albigensian Crusade) to eliminate the Cathar faith from the Languedoc region. Towards the end of this campaign in May 1243, the Cathars of Montségur (including a fighting force of circa 100 men), were besieged by around 10,000 men of the French Royal forces. The siege lasted around nine months until March 1244, when the Cathars eventually surrendered.

As the story goes, the terms of surrender offered to the Cathars were, renounce your faith and go free, or retain allegiance to your faith and be burnt alive. Bizarrely enough, it seems that around 200 hundred of the Cathars besieged in Montségur decided to retain their faith and walk willingly into the mass bonfires that had been built to burn them. Even stranger, it is said that some of the non Cathar residents in Montségur adopted the faith in the last couple of weeks of the siege, in full knowledge that by doing so would result in their painful death by fire!

The siege of Montségur is also linked to the myth that during the siege, a small band of Cathars smuggled a great treasure out of the fortress and away from the besieging forces. In some tales, this great treasure was rumoured to be the Holy Grail itself!

These pictures have also featured on Andrew May’s Forteana Blog.

Pictures, France (May 2010).

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