Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 17 Montsegur and the end of the Cathars

We enjoyed another lovely breakfast of fresh baked goods, homemade confitures and conversation as the four of us readied ourselves for the climb up Montsegur. The day opened with the promise of sun for a change and this time the gods lived up to our expectations.

We pulled out of Antugnac around mid-morning with Richard at the wheel and Pauline and Susan in the back seat with maps at hand to lead us deeper into Cathar country. My role, as I understood it, was to keep a close eye out for Inquisitors who might seek to dissuade us from our search for the heretics. 

The drive out of the Languedoc -- Montsegur is in fact in the Ariege Department in the Midi-Pyrenees -- took us more than hour or so, whizzing past gorgeous scenery and skirting hamlets that invariably brought out the question: "What do this people DO here?" One part of the answer, we surmised, was that outdoor tourism is very big in this part of France: hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and skiing undoubtedly provide some source of revenue for the locals and a means of relaxation for visitors.

We reached Montsegur a little before noon and began the trek up to the top. This time the walk was a bit more leisurely (in spots) than at Puilaurens but certainly longer: about 30-45 minuts versus 15-20 for the latter. But the weather was on our side this time: no rain just sun and blue sky.

Montsegur from the parking lot -- I wonder if the crusaders parked here as well
southwest toward the new village of Montsegur


north northeast
group meditations; probably not Cathars but clearly connecting with somebody
Castle interior: veery small and not the original one in any event - that was torn down shortly after  the massacre
Pauline and Richard
Pauline and Susan feeling the power of the stones
Susie and me
Richard, Susan and Pauline
The walk back down took just about as long since one had to step gingerly. One thing about the climb to the two Cathar castles we visited is that little effort has been put into making the path easy. But then it wasn't easy for the Cathars either. 

Their walk down, for some 200 of them ended just short of where the parking lot is now. They were herded onto a wooden scaffolding, which was then set alight sending their ashes and souls heavenward and effectively ending the heresy once and for all.

Yet it all seemed so peaceful so now. . . 

memorial to the heretics burned at the stake in the field just beyond the fence; looking southwest

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