Thursday, November 05, 2015

Cathar country continued: Peyrepertuse and Quéribus (aka amazing views)

I didn't want to overload with too much information earlier on, but maybe I should have said something earlier about what the whole Cathar heresy was about. It was basically a dualist outlook, which divided the universe into good and evil, each ruled over by a Good God and an Evil God respectively. The Cathars identified all of the material world as falling under the sway of the Evil God, and hence rejected any materialism such as sex or the accumulation of wealth, at least for the priestly Perfect class. Since they rejected the physical body as a creation of the Evil God, they treated men and women equally, as genderless spirits trapped in physical bodies. The Catholic Church, with its vast material wealth, perhaps understandably did not take too kindly to these doctrines and launched the Albigensian Crusade against them in 1208. The rest is long and complicated history, but finished up with the Cathars being more or less wiped out and the formally fairly independent rulers of southern France, most of whom were not actually Cathars themselves but were tolerant towards them, being either deposed or brought firmly under the control of the French crown.

The stand-out visit of our trip was to the château of Peyrepertuse, which lies at an altitude of about 800 metres in the foothills of the Pyrénées. Although in ruins, it covers an area as large as Carcassonne, and is today divided into two distinct areas, which I think are the main castle and the keep, which offers amazing views of the main fortress and the valley below. The walk up is not as steep as at Montségur, but you do face a second climb up the Saint Louis staircase (named after the French king who further reinforced the site after capturing it in the crusades) to get to the keep.

Part of the climb up the St. Louis staircase



Looking down from the staircase to the main castle

There were spectacular views from the edge of the Keep area




After we climbed back down from Peyrepertuse, we headed to nearby Quéribus. Quéribus was definitely the smallest and least impressive-looking of the castles we visited on this trip, but it also gave amazing views of its surroundings, particularly as it is perched on its rock in a very compact way, allowing you to see in all directions. Peyrepertuse is visible from Quéribus and vice-versa, although I'm not sure you can pick out either in the photos I've posted. Its exposed position also meant it was extremely windy up there - not really the place to be wearing a light summer dress. I had to hobble up the stairs trying to hold it down most of the time we were up there.









6 comments:

  1. If Cathars rejected sex, how come there was more than one of 'em?

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    1. "At least for the priestly Perfect class"...

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  2. Is that Mount Doom in the background?

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    Replies
    1. I tried to figure out what that was, but didn't

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  3. Great post. xx (And phew - those stairs!!)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, they do look pretty extreme in that photo! (And that's not the whole staircase.)

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