Cathar Concepts

[singlepicid=36 h=320 w=240 float=right] In the context of the developing concepts of nationhood, Ximene has little doubt that Occitan has the right to be considered a Nation.
“What makes a state? Speaking the same language; having the same culture, worshipping the same god, living in an area clearly delineated by natural features, being prepared to group together for mutual defense? By all these criteria there is a state of Occitan.”
However other parts of Occitan are under the control of the Plantagent family, rulers of England and of Aragon. Ximene believes that an alliance with either one of them could be of advantage.
Occitan is admired by some but attacked by the Church of Rome not just because of its adherance to the Cathar faith but also because of its unique culture.


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Both formally and informally, it is a world controlled by the rules of the Courts of Love. These courts are a woman’s world, into which a man may enter, but only if he accepts the rules. The link between the Courts of Love and the Cathar faith are tenuous but the effect is to give women complete control of every sexual encounter, something the Cathar faith itself demands.

The reason for this is that to meet the Cathar belief that the conception of children should be limited it is necessary to ensure that women are totally control of all sexual activity. If a man wishes to pay court to woman, then he must visit her and in front of friends and family make his suit publicly. Even if the woman accepts the suit it will only be allowed to progress at a place and time of her choosing. This situation is not abhorrent to Cathar men. They know the rules and that even after marriage, it is socially acceptable to seek relationships with other women. The big difference between Cathar and Roman worlds is of course, that even after marriage it is socially acceptable for women to encourage male admirers.

Extracts from De Amore by Andreas Capellanus 1186

The website medieval spell summarises the writing of Capellanus.

1.Courtly love is sensual. Andreas Capellanus defines love as a passion arising from the contemplation of beauty in the opposite sex, and it is on this definition that the whole system rests. The sensual element contrasts with the high ideals of conduct and character presented in parallel throughout the book, but this discrepancy is according to the love as it was practised by the courtly society. Though essentially impure, it was yet exalted as ennobling of every virtue.
2. Courtly love is illicit and, for the most part, adulterous. In the courtly love system marriage has no place. It is the first law of the longer code, which frankly states that a woman cannot plead marriage as a sufficient excuse for denying a lover’s petition.
3. A love, sensual and illicit, must be secret and furtive. The shorter code lays this down as a law. The longer version adds, as the reason, that a love which is divulged rarely lasts. Despite the moral laxness of the society out of which the courtly love grew, there were many to whom these ideas were morally repugnant.
4. In order to meet the requirements of the courtly system, love must not be too easily obtained. This principle is seen at work when the capriciousness of the lady is causing all the lover’s woes as they are described in the poems of the troubadours.
According to Capellanus, love should always be associated with courtesy and largess, being always banished from the domicile of avarice. He believes that love makes the rude excel in grace, and those of low birth show a noble character.
No breach of the rules could be more serious than for a lover, woman or man, to be unfaithful. This idea also appears in other erotic literature of the period, as well as in the following centuries. Supplanting was also strictly forbidden.
Sensualism aside, the high position held by woman in the society of the time, and the reverence with which she was regarded caused the high ideals of the courtly system. This stands, not only in matters of etiquette, but of honor as well. Though sensual love underlay the system, voluptuousness was regarded as killing the real love, and the lover was required to show nobility of character and moderation in all his conduct.

The writings include general observations on the nature of love:-

No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
No one can love unless he is propelled by the persuasion of love.
Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.
The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
When made public love rarely endures.
That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
A new love puts an old one to flight.
Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
Love can deny nothing to love.
A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates
A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.

An then for those who take part in the ritual of the courts of love, twelve commandments.

Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.
Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.
Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.
Thou shalt not chose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.
Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.
Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.
Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love.
In giving and receiving love’s solaces let modesty be ever present.
Thou shalt speak no evil.
Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs.
Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.
In practising the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.

It must be stressed that Marriage here means the Cathar contract of marriage not the Roman Church’s Sacrament Of Marriage, which is a totally different and to Cathars very threatening. By 1350 however most Cathars submit to a Roman Marriage to avoid attracting the attention of the Inquisition. The Roman marriage has little or no significance.
See History /The triumph of the Roman Church For More information on sacramental marriage

Culture/36/Court life/290 Attendance at court was central to social life. The court attracted people of rank, intellect and sophisticated tastes, and was a centre of learning and culture. Its members were wealthy, privileged and overwhelmingly preoccupied with the securing of patronage and the accumulation of material luxuries.

Display was what mattered, they dined in style on rich and novel cuisine, drank to excess, and dressed in extravagantly fashionable and colourful clothes, women’s necklines were very low and often left their breasts half bared, while young men wore such clinging hose beneath their short jackets (paltrocks) that little was left to the imagination.

Elaborate headgear, shoes with long pointed toes, trailing sleves and belts slung seductively low on the hips completed these ensembles for both sexes and a profusion of jewellery was de rigueur. Not surprisingly these pampered gaudily attired courtiers shocked the King’s more sober subjects not only by their revealing dress but also by their licentious conduct.

Alison Wier – Katherine Swynford -The court of Edward III

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Young Cathar people are elevated to the status of “Credentes” in their sixteenth year in ceremony known as “The Progression”. In ‘The Secret Journey’ we see Ximene’s Progression through the eyes of Joan of Kent.

The ceremony is in a format, which symbolizes a court of love. Girls and boys demonstrate that they have learned the necessary etiquette and therefore are ready to move on to “The Transition”.

Culture/36/The Transition/268 Practical experience in how to give and receive pleasure.

There is no sin in sexual activity and sexual pleasure however it is gained. Sexual Pleasure is the good god’s way of giving us a small sample of what ultimate union with him will be like. This then becomes a key point of difference between Cathars and the Roman Church. Because it is such a vital aspect of the religion, all young Credentes are given instruction in how to give and receive pleasure. This includes practical experience, under tuition. Generally this is with someone of his or her own age, and of his or her own choice. It is intended to be a fulfilling and liberating experience and usually it is. For a minority the almost clinical nature of the instruction separates sexual pleasure from love and affection. When this does happen the damage caused is difficult to repair.

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The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.