Chasing the Heretics, A Modern Journey Through the Medieval Languedoc by Rion Klawinski
A useful and highly readable point of entry into the history of the Albigensian Crusade, a less-known chapter in 13th Century history wherein Pope Innocent III and his successors authorized and promoted a lengthy crusade against (and a brutal massacre of) heretical European Christians, the Cathars, and their neighboring Catholic defenders. The Albigensian Crusade set the stage for the assimilation of the Languedoc into the kingdom of France, and paved the way for the development of the tools of inquisition which would be used in the Spanish Inquisition and, as Klawinski points out, in the toolbook of secret police and despotic regimes well into the 20th Century and beyond. The rise of the mendicant Dominican order can be directly traced to Rome's urgent desire to combat the Cathar heresy in the Languedoc. Klawinski's book blends history with present-day travelogue, a combination that at times halts and interrupts the flow of the historical narrative, yet also contextualizes it and answers the question the author poses in the beginning: Do traces remain today of the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade? Recommended, especially for late-medieval history fans.