Montségur

montsegurThe occitan region endured sieges, massacres and the Inquisition during the bloody Albigensian crusade in the 12th and 13th centuries and Ariège was spared little of it. The spiritual movement called catharism developed in reaction to the corruption and disarray of the Church at that time. In stark contrast to the worldly, dissolute clergy of the era, the Cathars followed a rigorous interpretation of the gospels, with the most pious of the believers, called "Perfects", taking vows of poverty and celibacy and refusing to eat meat. It was their belief in dualism, however, that outraged the Church: according to the cathars, Satan had created the material world, with its pestilence, violence and hate, not God. Paradise could be gained after death only by rejecting worldly attachments during one's life.

The forces of the Pope and French monarchy eventually crushed the Cathars, culminating in 1244 with the siege of the fortress castle at Montségur, where 205 Perfects chose to be burned to death rather than renounce their faith. Take the 30 minute hike up from the base of the "pog" to see the ruins of the chateau and the spectacular view.

Many thanks to these photographers

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