We left the Mediterranean yesterday and headed inland to Cathar Country. The Cathars were a duelistic group
who ran afoul of the Catholic Church in 1209. They believed in a simple life free of Bishops control and worshipped 2 God's (1 good representing all the things you cannot see in life) (1 bad representing everything you can physically see). They also believed in reincarnation – you could only escape if you led a 'perfect' life free of material things.
Well St. Dominic tried to correct their beliefs thru rational preaching and Pope Innocent sent various emmissaries to negotiate a solution, but these efforts failed. When one emmisary was murdered, the Catholic Church had had enough. Pope Innocent hired various Knights from Northern France to come and exterminate the heretics. At Beziers, the lead knight was asked how can we distinguish between Catholics and Cathars – “Kill them all, God will know his own.” came the response. Several thousand were put to the sword and fire, and thus was launched the Inquisition.
Enough of that. We stopped in Narbonne and looked at the famous Cathedral and visited a huge covered market. We the toured the medieval Abbaye Fontfroid. It was built in the 1100s by the Cistercians and at its peak had 100 monks. Today it looks just like it did then – the hall where the monks slept and the meeting room where they would meet each day to hear instructions from the Abbot. The rest of the day was spent in prayer (8 times a day) and in total silence. Fantastic church and rose gardens.
Now in Carcassonne, a world heritage city where the medieval walled city sits on the top of the Hill. This is where many Cathars were hiding during the Albigensian Heresy described above. The city reached and agreement with Rome and the Cathars were eventually all burned. We are staying at the Notre Dame Abbey where the Pope celebrated a mass in 1096. Wonderful place. Heading out for a Canal de Midi cruise and will post some pics.