The Albigensian Crusade: A Historiographical Essay

The Albigensian Crusade:A Historiographical Essay

By Eric O. Rummel

Perspectives in History, Vol.21 (2005-6)

Introduction: By the beginning of the 13th century an insidious heresy swept through the Languedoc region of southern France. These apostates, called Albigenses, or Cathars, preached an unorthodox ‘heretical’ version of the Christian faith that spread quietly and powerfully from town to town. It led to a bloody and fearsome act; one perpetrated by Europeans on fellow Europeans: The Albigensian Crusade.

This comparative historiography is a careful attempt to examine the state of scholarship on the Albigensian Crusade. With no primary sources readily available, a close inspection of a large number of secondary sources proved invaluable in gaining an understanding of this event. Even then, one is left with questions, for scholars do not always agree.

Four points of contention arose from this survey: the nature of the Cathar heresy, the reason that local Latin Christians had no part in the persecution of the Cathars, the origin of the call for the Crusade, and finally the explanation for the strange events at Montségur.

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