Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. Catharism had its roots in the Paulician movement in Armenia and the Bogomiles with whom the Paulicians eventually merged. They also became influenced by dualist and, perhaps, Manichaean beliefs.
Like many medieval movements, there were various schools of thought and practice amongst the Cathari; some were dualistic, others Gnostic, some closer to orthodoxy while abstaining from an acceptance of Catholic doctrines. The dualist theology was the most prominent, however, and was based upon the complete incompatibility of love and power. As matter was seen as a manifestation of power, it was also incompatible with love. They did not believe in one all-encompassing god, but in two, both equal and comparable in status. They held that the physical world was evil and created by Rex Mundi (translated from Latin as "king of the world"), who encompassed all that was corporeal, chaotic and powerful; the second god, the one whom they worshipped, was entirely disincarnate: a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. He was the god of love, order and peace.
According to some Cathars, the purpose of man's life on Earth was to transcend matter, renouncing perpetually anything connected with the principle of power and thereby attain union with the principle of love. According to others, man's purpose was to reclaim or redeem matter, spiritualizing and transforming it.
This placed them at odds with the Catholic Church in regarding material creation, on behalf of which Jesus had supposedly died, as intrinsically evil and implying that God, whose word had created the world in the beginning, was a usurper. Furthermore, as the Cathars saw matter as intrinsically evil, they denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God. Cathars vehemently repudiated the significance of the Crucifixion and the Cross. In fact, to the Cathars, Rome's opulent and luxurious church seemed to them a palpable embodiment and manifestation on Earth of Rex Mundi's sovereignty.
The Catholic Church regarded the sect as dangerously heretical; faced with the rapid spread of the movement across the Languedoc region and the failure of peaceful attempts at conversion, which had been undertaken by Dominicans, the Church launched the Albigensian Crusade to crush the movement.
NameThere is consensus that Cathars was a name given to them and not one that they chose. Indeed, the Cathars had no official name for their movement, preferring to refer to themselves only as Bons Hommes et Bonnes Femmes (Good Men and Good Women). The most popular theory is that the word Cathar most likely originated from Greek , meaning "pure ones", a term related to the word Katharsis or Catharsis, meaning "purification". The first recorded use of the word is by religious authority Eckbert von Schönau, who wrote regarding the heretics in Cologne in 1181: ("Our Germany calls them Cathars").
The Cathars were also sometimes referred to as the Albigensians (Albigeois). This name originates from the end of the 12th century, and was used by the chronicler Geoffroy du Breuil of Vigeois in 1181. The name refers to the town of Albi (the ancient Albiga), northeast of Toulouse. The designation is misleading as the movement had no centre and is known to have flourished in several European countries (from northern Spain and Catalonia to Belgium, and from Italy to the Rhineland). Use of the name came from the fact that a debate was held in Albi between priests and the Cathars; no conclusion was reached, but from then on it was assumed in France that Cathars were supporters of the "Albigensian doctrine." However, few inhabitants of Albi were actually Cathars, and the city gladly accepted Catholicism during the crusade.
OriginsThe Cathars' beliefs are thought to have come originally from Eastern Europe and the Byzantine Empire by way of trade routes. The name of Bulgarians (Bougres) was also applied to the Albigenses, and they maintained an association with the similar Christian movement of the Bogomils ("Friends of God") of Thrace. Their doctrines have numerous resemblances to those of the Bogomils and the earlier Paulicians as well as the Manicheans and the Christian Gnostics of the first few centuries AD, although, as many scholars, most notably Mark Pegg, have pointed out, it would be erroneous to extrapolate direct, historical connections based on theoretical similarities perceived by modern intellectuals. Much of our existing knowledge of the Cathars is derived from their opponents, the writings of the Cathars mostly having been destroyed because of the doctrinal threat they supposedly posed to Christianity. For this reason it is likely, as with most heretical movements of the period, that we have only a partial view of their beliefs. Conclusions about Cathar ideology continue to be fiercely debated with commentators regularly accusing their opponents of speculation, distortion and bias. There are a few texts from the Cathars themselves which were preserved by their opponents (the Rituel Cathare de Lyon, the Nouveau Testament en Provençal) which give a glimpse of the inner workings of their faith, but these still leave many questions unanswered. One large text which has survived, The Book of Two Principles, elaborates the principles of dualistic theology from the point of view of some of the Albanenses Cathars.
It is now generally agreed by most scholars that identifiable Catharism did not emerge until at least 1143, when the first confirmed report of a group espousing similar beliefs is reported being active at Cologne by the cleric Eberwin of Steinfeld. A landmark in the "institutional history" of the Cathars was the Council, held in 1167 at Saint-Félix-Lauragais, attended by many local figures and also by the Bogomil papa Nicetas, the Cathar bishop of (northern) France and a leader of the Cathars of Lombardy.
Although there are certainly similarities in theology and practice between Gnostic/dualist groups of Late Antiquity (such as the Marcionites, Manichaeans and Ebionites) and the Cathars, there was not a direct link between the two; Manichaeanism died out in the West by the seventh century. The Cathars were largely a homegrown, Western European/Latin Christian phenomenon, springing up in the Rhineland cities (particularly Cologne) in the mid-twelfth century, northern France around the same time, and particularly southern France — the Languedoc — and the northern Italian cities in the mid-late 12th century. In the Languedoc and northern Italy, the Cathars would enjoy their greatest popularity, surviving in the Languedoc, in much reduced form, up to around 1325 and in the Italian cities until the Inquisitions of the 1260s–1300s finally rooted them out.
General BeliefsCathars, in general, formed an anti-sacerdotal party in opposition to the Catholic Church, protesting what they perceived to be the moral, spiritual and political corruption of the Church. They claimed an Apostolic succession from the founders of Christianity, and saw Rome as having betrayed and corrupted the original purity of the message, particularly since Pope Sylvester II accepted the Donation of Constantine (which at the time was believed to be genuine).
Human conditionThe Cathars believed there existed within mankind a spark of divine light. This light, or spirit, had fallen into captivity within a realm of corruption identified with the physical body and world. This was a distinct feature of classical Gnosticism, of Manichaeism and of the theology of the Bogomils. This concept of the human condition within Catharism was most probably due to direct and indirect historical influences from these older (and sometimes violently suppressed) Gnostic movements. According to the Cathars, the world had been created by a lesser deity, much like the figure known in classical Gnostic myth as the Demiurge. This creative force was identified with Satan; most forms of classical Gnosticism had not made this explicit link between the Demiurge and Satan. Spirit, the vital essence of humanity, was thus trapped in a polluted world created by an usurper God and ruled by his corrupt minions.
EschatologyThe goal of Cathar eschatology was liberation from the realm of limitation and corruption identified with material existence. The path to liberation first required an awakening to the intrinsic corruption of the medieval "consensus reality," including its ecclesiastical, dogmatic, and social structures. Once cognizant of the grim existential reality of human existence (the "prison" of matter), the path to spiritual liberation became obvious: matter's enslaving bonds must be broken. This was a step-by-step process, accomplished in different measures by each individual. The Cathars accepted the idea of reincarnation. Those who were unable to achieve liberation during their current mortal journey would return another time to continue the struggle for perfection. Thus, it should be understood that reincarnation was neither a necessary nor a desirable event, but a result of the fact that not all humans could break the enthralling chains of matter within a single lifetime.
ConsolamentumCathar society was divided into two general categories, the Perfecti (Perfects, Parfaits) and the Credentes (Believers). The Perfecti formed the core of the movement, though the actual number of Perfecti in Cathar society was always relatively small, numbering perhaps a few thousand at any one time. Regardless of their number, they represented the perpetuating heart of the Cathar tradition, the "true Christian Church", as they styled themselves. (When discussing the tenets of Cathar faith it must be understood that the demands of extreme asceticism fell only upon the Perfecti.)
An individual entered into the community of Perfecti through a ritual known as the consolamentum, a rite that was both sacramental and sacerdotal in nature: sacramental in that it granted redemption and liberation from this world; sacerdotal in that those who had received this rite functioned in some ways as the Cathar clergy — though the idea of priesthood was explicitly rejected. The consolamentum was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, baptismal regeneration, absolution, and ordination all in one. Upon reception of the consolamentum, the new Perfectus surrendered his or her worldly goods to the community, vested himself in a simple black or blue robe with cord belt, and undertook a life dedicated to following the example of Christ and His Apostles — an often peripatetic life devoted to purity, prayer, preaching and charitable work, or so it was claimed. Above all, the Perfecti were dedicated to enabling others to find the road that led from the dark land ruled by the dark lord, to the realm of light which they believed to be humankind's first source and ultimate end.
While the Perfecti vowed themselves to ascetic lives of simplicity, frugality and purity, Cathar credentes (believers) were not expected to adopt the same stringent lifestyle. They were however expected to refrain from eating meat and dairy products, from killing and from swearing oaths. Catharism was above all a populist religion and the numbers of those who considered themselves "believers" in the late twelfth century included a sizable portion of the population of Languedoc, counting among them many noble families and courts. These individuals often drank, ate meat, and led relatively normal lives within medieval society — in contrast to the Perfecti, whom they honored as exemplars. Though unable to embrace the life of chastity, the credentes looked toward an eventual time when this would be their calling and path.
Many credentes would also eventually receive the consolamentum as death drew near — performing the ritual of liberation at a moment when the heavy obligations of purity required of Perfecti would be temporally short. Some of those who received the sacrament of the consolamentum upon their death-beds may thereafter have shunned further food or drink in order to speed death. This has been termed the endura. It was claimed by Catharism's opponents that by such self-imposed starvation, the Cathars were committing suicide in order to escape this world. The consolamentum was a one time sacrament. Having received it, a dying person who showed signs of rallying would sometimes be smothered with his pillow in order to ensure his salvation. Other than at such moments of extremis, however, little evidence exists to support such Cathar practices more generally.
TheologyThe Catharist concept of Jesus might be called docetistic — theologically speaking it resembled Modalistic Monarchism in the West and Adoptionism in the East. Simply put, Cathars believed that Jesus had been a manifestation of spirit unbounded by the limitations of matter — a sort of divine phantom and not a real human being. They embraced the Gospel of John as their most sacred text, and completely rejected the Old Testament — indeed, most of them proclaimed that the God of the Old Testament was, really, the devil. They proclaimed that there was a higher God — the True God — and Jesus was his messenger. These are views similar to those of Marcion.
The God found in the Old Testament had nothing to do with the God of Love known to Cathars. The Old Testament God had created the world as a prison, and demanded from the "prisoners" fearful obedience and worship. This false god was in reality — claimed the Cathari — a blind usurper who under the most false pretexts, tormented and murdered those whom he called, all too possessively, "his children". The false god was, by the Cathari, called Rex Mundi, or The King of the World. This exegesis upon the Old Testament was not unique to the Cathars: it echoes views found in earlier Gnostic movements and foreshadows later critical voices. The dogma of the Trinity and the sacrament of the Eucharist, among others, were rejected as abominations. Belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, resulted in the rejection of Hell and Purgatory, which were and are dogmas of the Catholic Faith. For the Cathars, this world was the only hell — there was nothing to fear after death, save perhaps rebirth.
While this is the understanding of Cathar theology related by the Catholic Church, crucial to the study of the Cathars is their fundamental disagreement with both the Christian interpretation of the Doctrine of "resurrection" (cryptically referred to in Bible verse |Isaiah|26:19|NIV and Bible verse |Daniel|12:2|NIV) as a doctrine of the physical raising of a dead body from the grave. In the book "Massacre at Montsegur" (a book widely regarded by medievalists as having a pronounced, pro-Cathar bias) the Cathars are referred to as "Western Buddhists" because of their belief that the Doctrine of "resurrection" taught by Jesus was, in fact, similar to the Buddhist Doctrine of Rebirth (referred to as "reincarnation"). And it was this challenge to the Christian interpretation of the Doctrine of "resurrection", echoing the original conflict between Christian theology and the Gnostics over the meaning of the Doctrine of "resurrection", that eventually led to the extermination of the sect.
Social relationshipsFrom the theological underpinnings of the Cathar faith there came practical injunctions that were considered destabilizing to the morals of medieval society. For instance, Cathars rejected the giving of oaths as wrongful; an oath served to place one under the domination of the Demiurge and the world. To reject oaths in this manner was seen as anarchic in a society where illiteracy was wide-spread and almost all business transactions and pledges of allegiance were based on the giving of oaths.
Sexual intercourse and reproduction propagated the slavery of spirit to flesh, hence procreation was considered undesirable. Informal relationships were considered preferable to marriage among Cathar credentes. Perfecti were supposed to observe complete celibacy, and separation from a partner would be necessary for those who would become Perfecti. For the credentes however, sexual activity was not prohibited, but the creation of children was strongly discouraged, resulting in the charge by their opponents of sexual perversion. The common, English insult "bugger" is derived from "Bulgar", the notion that Cathars followed the "Bulgarian heresy" whose teaching entailed perverse sexual activities which skirted procreation.
Killing was abhorrent to the Cathars; so too the copulation that produced enslavement in matter. Consequently, abstention from all animal food except fish was enjoined of the Perfecti. (The Perfecti apparently avoided eating anything considered to be a by-product of sexual reproduction, including cheese, eggs, milk and butter.) War and capital punishment were also condemned, an abnormality in the medieval age. As a consequence of their rejection of oaths, Cathars also rejected marriage vows. Such was the situation, that when called before the Inquisition, one accused of Catharism needed only to show that he was married for the case to be immediately dismissed.
Such teachings, both in theological intent and practical consequence, brought upon the Cathars condemnation from religious and secular authorities as being the enemies of Christian Faith and of social order.
SuppressionIn 1147, Pope Eugene III sent a legate to the Cathar district in order to arrest the progress of the Cathars. The few isolated successes of Bernard of Clairvaux could not obscure the poor results of this mission, which clearly showed the power of the sect in the Languedoc at that period. The missions of Cardinal Peter of St. Chrysogonus to Toulouse and the Toulousain in 1178, and of Henry, cardinal-bishop of Albano, in 1180–81, obtained merely momentary successes. Henry of Albano's armed expedition, which took the stronghold at Lavaur, did not extinguish the movement.
Decisions of Catholic Church councils — in particular, those of the Council of Tours (1163) and of the Third Council of the Lateran (1179) — had scarcely more effect upon the Cathars. When Pope Innocent III came to power in 1198, he was resolved to deal with them.
At first Innocent tried pacific conversion, and sent a number of legates into the Cathar regions. They had to contend not only with the Cathars, the nobles who protected them, and the people who venerated them, but also with many of the bishops of the region, who resented the considerable authority the Pope had conferred upon his legates. In 1204, Innocent III suspended a number of bishops in the south of France; in 1205 he appointed a new and vigorous bishop of Toulouse, the former troubadour Foulques. In 1206 Diego of Osma and his canon, the future Saint Dominic, began a programme of conversion in Languedoc; as part of this, Catholic-Cathar public debates were held at Verfeil, Servian, Pamiers, Montréal and elsewhere.
Saint Dominic met and debated the Cathars in 1203 during his mission to the Languedoc. He concluded that only preachers who displayed real sanctity, humility and asceticism could win over convinced Cathar believers. His conviction led eventually to the establishment of the Dominican Order in 1216. The order was to live up to the terms of his famous rebuke, "Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth." However, even St. Dominic managed only a few converts, and in the end told them, "In my country we have a saying, 'Where words fail, blows will avail…'"
Albigensian crusadeIn January 1208 the papal legate, Pierre de Castelnau was sent to meet the ruler of the area, Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. Known for excommunicating noblemen who protected the Cathars, Castelnau excommunicated Raymond as an abettor of heresy. He was immediately murdered near Saint Gilles Abbey on his way back to Rome by a knight in the service of Count Raymond. As soon as he heard of the murder, the Pope ordered the legates to preach a crusade against the Cathars. Having failed in his effort to peacefully demonstrate the errors of Catharism, the Pope then called a formal crusade, appointing a series of leaders to head the assault. There followed 20 years of war against the Cathars and their allies in the Languedoc: the Albigensian Crusade.
This war pitted the nobles of the north of France against those of the south. The widespread northern enthusiasm for the Crusade was partially inspired by a papal decree permitting the confiscation of lands owned by Cathars and their supporters. As the Languedoc was teeming with Cathars and Cathar sympathisers, this made the region a target for French noblemen looking to acquire new fiefs. The barons of the north headed south to do battle.
MassacreThe crusader army came under the command, both spiritual and military, of the papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux. In the first significant engagement of the war, the town of Béziers was besieged on 22 July 1209. The Catholic inhabitants of the city were granted the freedom to leave unharmed, but many refused and opted to stay and fight alongside the Cathars.
The Béziers army attempted a sortie but was quickly defeated, then pursued by the crusaders back through the gates and into the city. Arnaud, the Cistercian abbot-commander, is supposed to have been asked how to tell Cathars from Catholics. His alleged reply, recalled by a fellow Cistercian, was "" — “Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own.” The doors of the church of St Mary Magdalene were broken down and the refugees dragged out and slaughtered. Reportedly, 7,000 people died there including many women and children. Elsewhere in the town many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice. What remained of the city was razed by fire. Arnaud wrote to Pope Innocent III, "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex." The permanent population of Béziers at that time was then probably no more than 5,000, but local refugees seeking shelter within the city walls could conceivably have increased the number to 20,000.
After the success of his siege of Carcassonne, which followed the massacre at Béziers, Simon de Montfort was designated as leader of the Crusader army. Prominent opponents of the Crusaders were Raymond-Roger de Trencavel, viscount of Carcassonne, and his feudal overlord Peter II, the king of Aragon, who held fiefdoms and had a number of vassals in the region. Peter died fighting against the crusade on September 12, 1213 at the Battle of Muret.
Treaty and persecutionThe war ended in the Treaty of Paris (1229), by which the king of France dispossessed the house of Toulouse of the greater part of its fiefs, and that of the Trencavels (Viscounts of Béziers and Carcassonne) of the whole of their fiefs. The independence of the princes of the Languedoc was at an end. But in spite of the wholesale massacre of Cathars during the war, Catharism was not yet extinguished.
In 1215, the bishops of the Catholic Church met at the Fourth Council of the Lateran under Pope Innocent III. One of the key goals of the council was to combat the heresy of the Cathars without explaining exactly what that heresy originated with: the Cathar's interpretation of the doctrine of the resurrection as meaning, "reincarnation".
The Inquisition was established in 1229 to uproot the remaining Cathars. Operating in the south at Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne and other towns during the whole of the 13th century, and a great part of the 14th, it finally succeeded in extirpating the movement. Cathars who refused to recant were hanged, or burned at the stake.
From May 1243 to March 1244, the Cathar fortress of Montségur was besieged by the troops of the seneschal of Carcassonne and the archbishop of Narbonne. On March 16, 1244, a large and symbolically important massacre took place, where over 200 Cathar perfects were burned in an enormous fire at the prat des cramats near the foot of the castle. Moreover, the Church decreed lesser chastisements against laymen suspected of sympathy with Cathars, at the 1235 Council of Narbonne.
A popular though as yet unsubstantiated theory holds that a small party of Cathar perfects escaped from the fortress before the massacre at prat des cramats. It is widely held in the Cathar region to this day that the escapees took with them le tresor cathar. What this treasure consisted of has been a matter of considerable speculation: claims range from sacred Gnostic texts to the Cathars' accumulated wealth.
Hunted by the Inquisition and deserted by the nobles of their districts, the Cathars became more and more scattered fugitives: meeting surreptitiously in forests and mountain wilds. Later insurrections broke out under the leadership of Bernard of Foix, Aimery of Narbonne and Bernard Délicieux (a Franciscan friar later prosecuted for his adherence to another heretical movement, that of the Spiritual Franciscans) at the beginning of the 14th century. But by this time the Inquisition had grown very powerful. Consequently, many were summoned to appear before it. Precise indications of this are found in the registers of the Inquisitors, Bernard of Caux, Jean de St Pierre, Geoffroy d'Ablis, and others. The parfaits only rarely recanted, and hundreds were burned. Repentant lay believers were punished, but their lives were spared as long as they did not relapse. Having recanted, they were obliged to sew yellow crosses onto their outdoor clothing and to live apart from other Catholics, at least for a while.
AnnihilationAfter several decades of harassment and re-proselytizing, and perhaps even more importantly, the systematic destruction of their scripture, the sect was exhausted and could find no more adepts. The leaders of a Cathar revival in the Pyrenean foothills, Pierre and Jacques Autier, were executed in 1310. Catharism disappeared from the northern Italian cities after the 1260s, under pressure from the Inquisition. After 1330, the records of the Inquisition contain very few proceedings against Cathars. The last known Cathar perfect in the Languedoc, Guillaume Bélibaste, was executed in 1321.
Other movements, such as the Waldensians and the pantheistic Brethren of the Free Spirit, which suffered persecution in the same area survived in remote areas and in small numbers into the 14th and 15th centuries. Some Waldensian ideas were absorbed into early Protestant sects, such as the Hussites, Lollards, and the Moravian Church (Herrnhuters of Germany). It is possible that Cathar ideas were too.
Later historyAfter the suppression of Catharism, the descendants of Cathars were, in some southern French towns, required to live outside the towns, and their defenses. They thus retained a certain Cathar identity, although they'd returned to the Catholic religion. This practice of separation, though increasingly uncommon, finally ended during the French Revolution.
Any use of the term "Cathar" to refer to people after the suppression of Catharism in the 14th century is a cultural or ancestral reference, and has no religious implication. Nevertheless, interest in the Cathars, their history, legacy and beliefs continues. The publication of the book Crusade against the Grail by a young German Otto Rahn in the 1930s rekindled interest in the connection between the Cathars and the Holy Grail. Rahn was convinced that the 13th century work Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach was a veiled account of the Cathars. His research attracted the attention of the Nazi government and in particular of Heinrich Himmler, who made him archaeologist in the SS. Also, the Cathars have been depicted in popular books such as The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail as a group of elite nobility somehow connected to "secrets" about the true nature of the Christian faith, although there is no critical proof of such secrets being kept.
Pays CathareThe term Pays Cathare (French meaning "Land of the Cathars" or "Cathar country") is used to highlight the Cathar heritage and history of the region where Catharism was traditionally strongest. This area is centred around towns such as Montségur and Carcassonne; also the French département of the Aude uses the title Pays Cathare in tourist brochures. These areas have ruins from the wars against the Cathars which are still visible today.
Some criticise the promotion of the identity of Pays Cathare as an exaggeration for tourist purposes. Actually most of the promoted Cathar castles are later royal citadels built upon razed pre-Cathar fortresses.
Modern-day CatharsSome of the locals in the Pays Cathare region identify themselves as Cathars even today. They claim to be descended from the Cathars of the Middle Ages. It can be safely assumed that many local people have at least some ancestors who were Cathars. However, the delivering of the consolamentum, on which historical Catharism was based, required a linear succession by a bon homme in good standing. As mentioned above, it is believed that one of the last known bon homme, Guillaume Belibaste, was burned in 1326.
Cathars in popular cultureIt has been suggested in some modern fiction and non-fiction books that the Cathars could have been the protectors of the Holy Grail of Christian mythology, especially in the books Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Labyrinth, and Vagabond.
- Zoe Oldenbourg's 1946 novel Argile et Cendres (published in English as The World is Not Enough) is a meticulously-researched historical fiction set in a Cathar community.
- The novel All Things Are Lights by Robert Shea takes place during the extermination of the Cathars.
- The 2005 novel The Colour of a Dog Running Away by Richard Gwyn contains a sequence that involves an encounter with Catharism.
- Babylonne, the protagonist of Catherine Jinks's novel, Pagan's Daughter is a Cathar, as are many other main characters.
- The novel Flicker by Theodore Roszak portrays Cathars at the heart of a mystery involving the use of secretive film techniques used to influence modern culture.
- The avant-progressive rock band Thinking Plague's 2003 album, A History of Madness is a concept album dealing with the Cathars.
- The song "Montsegur" from the album Dance of Death by Iron Maiden is based on the story of the Cathars.
- The music project Era explored some Cathari themes on its first eponymous album.http://era-music.artistes.universalmusic.fr/
- In the video game Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader, the main character meets and interacts with Cathars while travelling through France
- Catharism is mentioned by the main character in the 2007 movie Like Minds (Murderous Intent) directed by Gregory J. Read
- The Black metal band Darkthrone misspelled Cathar in one of their songs "Kathaarian Life Code" from their album A Blaze in the Northern Sky
- In 1989, the German thrash metal band Paradox released the album Heresy, a concept album entirely dealing with the Albigensian Crusade.
- The board game Carcassonne, has a mini-expansion entitled Carcassonne: The Cathars which adds four tiles showing the Cathars breaking down city walls. The tiles reduce the value of the city, but increase the value of the surrounding fields.
- The Treasure of Montségur — A Novel of the Cathars by Sophy Burnham tells of a young woman raised by Cathars who lives through the siege of Montségur.
- The persecution of the Cathars is presented as a Red Scare in an episode of History Bites.
- French singer-songwriter and guitarist Francis Cabrel has a song called Les Chevaliers Cathares (The Cathar Knights) describing the persecution and end of the Cathars, on his 1983 album Quelqu'un de l'intérieur.
- Heresies of the High Middle Ages, Walter Wakefield and Austin P. Evans. Columbia University Press ( October 15, 1991) Original source documents in translation.
- Bernard Gui, The Inquisitor's Guide: A Medieval Manual on Heretics, translated by Janet Shirley (Ravenhall Books, 2006). A new translation of the fifth part of Gui's famous manual.
- "Albigenses" by N.A. Weber.
- "Cathari" by N.A. Weber. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908.
- Histories of the Cathars: Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, trans. Barbara Bray, Vintage Books, 1979
- Montsegur and the Mystery of the Cathars, Jean Markale, ISBN , Inner Traditions, http://www.innertraditions.com/titles/momyca.html
- The Cathars, Malcolm Lambert, ISBN , Blackwell, 1998
- The Perfect Heresy, Stephen Shea, ISBN , Profile Books 2000
- Heresy and the Inquisition II Persecution of Heretics by Dr M D Magee, 12 December 2002.
- lastours The four cathar castles above Lastours.
- Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco, ISBN , Ballantine, 1988
- The Inquisition Record of Jacques Fournier Bishop of Pamiers (English translation by Nancy P. Stork)
- The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages, Sean Martin, Pocket Essentials 2005
- The Corruption of Angels: The Great Inquisition of 1245-1245'', 2001, Mark Gregory Pegg. (Princeton University Press, 2001) ISBN . A new and refreshing take on Catharism in Languedoc — argues against any kind of doctrinal unity of mid-13th-century Cathars.
- Jean Duvernoy's transcriptions of inquisitorial manuscripts, many hitherto unpublished
- Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy Carol Lansing (Oxford University Press, 1998). Cathars outside of Languedoc
- Tuez-les tous Dieu reconnaîtra les siens. Le massacre de Béziers et la croisade des Albigeois vus par Césaire de Heisterbach Jacques Berlioz (Loubatières, 1994). A discussion of the command "Kill them all, God will know his own." recorded by a contemporary Cistercian Chronicler.
- In France, an ordeal by fire and a monster weapon called 'Bad Neighbor' , Smithsonian Magazine, pp. 40-51, May 1991, by David Roberts. [Cathars & Catholic Conflict]
- David George's recently published "The Crusade of Innocents" (amazon.com ISBN ) has as its plot the encounter between a Cathar girl and the leader of the concurrent Chlldren's Crusade Stephen of Cloyes.
- CATHARS - Memories of an initiate, by the philosopher Yves Maris, AdA inc, 2006.
- Inquisition & Power by John H. Arnold. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0812236181 An excellent and meticulously researched work dealing with Catharism in the context of the Inquisition's evolution; analyzes Inquisitorial practice as the construction of the "confessing subject."
- The Origins of European Dissent R.I. Moore. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.
- Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe A collection of primary sources, some on Catharism, edited by Edward Peters. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980.
- The Formation of a Persecuting Society R.I. Moore. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.
- Inquisition and Medieval Society James Given. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.
- Petrus Vallis Caernaii, , Latin Text by Migne Patrologia Latina, vol. 213: col. 0543-0711. An history of the Albigensian war told by a contemporary.
- Cathar castles : interactive map
- Seals of Southeastern France
- Site of German Cathars (Katharer)
- Гора Монсегюр (Blessed Yohanne) and Мощевая Перпертуза
- Apostolic Gnostic Church of American Cathars
- Heretics Without Borders, A Society for the Study of Heresy in the Middle Ages
- Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies
- Antonin Gadal: L'Œuvre d'un homme inspiré par l'Esprit
- The paths of Cathars by the philosopher Yves Maris.
- Cathar and counter-Cathar writings from Gnosis.org
- The Cathars. Philosophy of the catharism by the philosopher Yves Maris.
- society Cathar Center
/*http://www.cathares.org/ Informative site in English/French.
Cathar Museum, Mazamet, France http://www.maison-memoires.com/
Centre d'Etudes Cathares/Cathar Study Centre Carcassonne, France http://cecnelli.unblog.fr/
cathar in Afrikaans: Kathaar
cathar in Arabic: كاثار
cathar in Aragonese: Catarismo
cathar in Asturian: Catarismu
cathar in Bulgarian: Катарство
cathar in Catalan: Catarisme
cathar in Czech: Albigenští
cathar in Danish: Katharisme
cathar in German: Katharer
cathar in Estonian: Katarid
cathar in Spanish: Catarismo
cathar in Esperanto: Katarismo
cathar in French: Catharisme
cathar in Western Frisian: Kataren
cathar in Korean: 카타리파
cathar in Icelandic: Katarar
cathar in Italian: Catarismo
cathar in Hebrew: קתרים
cathar in Lithuanian: Katarai
cathar in Hungarian: Katarok
cathar in Dutch: Katharen
cathar in Japanese: カタリ派
cathar in Norwegian: Katarer
cathar in Occitan (post 1500): Catarisme
cathar in Polish: Katarzy
cathar in Portuguese: Catarismo
cathar in Russian: Катары
cathar in Simple English: Catharism
cathar in Slovak: Albigénstvo
cathar in Slovenian: Katari
cathar in Serbian: Катари
cathar in Serbo-Croatian: Katari
cathar in Finnish: Kataarit
cathar in Swedish: Katarer
cathar in Turkish: Katharizm
cathar in Chinese: 阿爾比派