Review (Guest): Massacre at Montsegur

5 Star, Atrocities & Genocide
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Zoe Oldenbourg

5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the Parameters for Modern Western Genocide, January 7, 2014

Herbert L Calhoun “paulocal”

Establishing the template for Christian Barbary

In January of 1208, a papal legate was murdered on the banks of the Rhone in southern France. A furious Pope Innocent III, accused heretics of the crime and called upon all Christians to exterminate heresy between the Garonne and Rhone rivers–a vast (now very popular wine-producing region) known as Languedoc — in a great crusade. This most holy of wars, the first in which Christians were promised salvation for killing other Christians, lasted twenty bloody years. It was a long savage war fought for the very soul of Christendom.

The author, Zoe Oldenbourg, born in St Petersburg in 1916 and educated at the Lycee Moliere and the Sorbonne, has produced a swift-moving, gripping novelistic narrative of this horrific crusade. Like others before her, she has drawn in part on thousands of testimonies collected by inquisitors in the years 1235 to 1245 and woven it into a stunning narrative.

These accounts based mostly on what ordinary men and women remembered, brings the story vividly to life. Oldenbourg argues that generations of historians have misunderstood the true meaning of this crusade. They erroneously assumed it was a war against the Cathars, the most famous heretics of the Middle Ages. However as she claims here, the Carthars never really existed? With a decidedly pro-Carthar bias, she argues that it was a millennial fervor about “ethnically cleansing” the world of heresy, coupled with a fear that Christendom was losing its grip as it was being eaten away by heretics from within – by people who looked exactly like other Christians but who acted, worshipped and thought differently than other Christians. This heresy in thought, religious practices and behavior, required being “put down” with especially reserved cruelty. As a result more than 250 of those who surrendered but who would not convert on the spot, were summarily burned at the stake. In responding to this fear, with divinely sanctioned genocidal impulses, Pope Innocent III fundamentally changed how Western civilization dealt with individuals accused of corrupting society by thinking and acting outside the orthodox religious box. This change, the author convincingly argues, led directly not only to a host of other “anti-Christian thought sins/crimes,” but to the divinely sanctioned slaughter called the Albigensian Crusade.

This signal event, arguably led to creation of the inquisition; the rise of an anti-Semitism dedicated to the violent expulsion of an elimination of Jews during the late 1500 Century; and even to the holy violence of the Reconquest in Spain as it conquered the New World. And without too much stretch of the imagination, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that it was precisely this kind of European Christian Barbary that was a prelude to and set the stag for the genocide of Native Americans; the hardened attitudes needed to maintain the brutal slave trade for more than 300 years, and surely greased the skids for Hitler’s industrial elimination of Jews 700 years later.

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