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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Christian Massada in Southern France

The Fire and the Light
Glen Craney, Brigid's Fire Press

Back in the late 1100's Occitania or better known as Southern France was a free land with it's own official language and it was not French. Occitania was also home to a sect of gnostic Christians called the Cathars. The Cathars branched off a group of people called the Bogomils who came from the Baltic region. The Cathar doctrine was different from the Catholic doctrine in a variety of ways. In the Cathar view the God of the old testament was a evil god who created and ran the the world. The material worl was a prison for our souls and the objective was not to go through another life time but to be able to descend to heaven in a robe of light. That was the object of Jesus's life and resurection. The Catholics twisted this they believed. Of course the ideological differences would spark an even known as the Algibensian Crusades. The Cathars were eventually wiped out and Occitania was eventually taken over by the French under King Louis. The Occitanians lost their last bit of freedom during the 1240's.

The story starts off in the Occitanian city of Foix. Esclarmade is being tested for her initiation in the school of love. In Occitania Troubadors are free to go around and sing their love to young maiden. The love is not always requited. One such Troubador is named Folques de Marseille and his objective is Escalarmade. Needless to say she turns him down and chooses a Templar as her poetic champion. The Templar is poor poet yet he somehow bests Folques. Folques in his dissappointment decide to join a Catholic order called the Cistercians. These monk are out to get the Cathars. They pervade Occitania insearch of them. In Rome Folques and Almaric conniove a plan to invade Occitania with Pope permission to conquer Occitania. Mean while Esclarmade becomes associated with this group while hiking in the caves of Montsegur. She also find out her mother belonged to the sect before she disappeared. In a space of time covering the 1190's all the way to 1244 many things will happen.

Escalarmade will become a perfecta in the Cathar sect. She will fall in unrequited love with Guillhelm the Templar, win a debate against the Catholic church, be forced into a marriage after Gulhelm loses a fight and lose a child to the Catholic Church. Occitania will become over run and much like the inquisition Occitania will be over run and Cathar s will be burned at the stake like witches were. Cities are devasted and forced into submission. Humanity at it's cruelest.

Montesgur becomes a temple for the Cathars and it is there that a final confrontation takes place. The ending is not happy as you can well imagine. Esclarmade's son ends up joining the Dominicans and pursuing the fight against the Cathars. Occitania gets over run. Excelent piece of historical fiction with great attention to details. This is one well worth the read. Too bad the author has not come out with any other books.

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