After leaving the active professional life at the end of 1993 I was looking for an activity that I could do at home and that would keep my mind busy. Anything that had to do with Engineering or Management was excluded at priory, as I wanted a change. I thought that writing a book, or at least a document of the size and shape of a book, was what I was really looking for. In fact I had always wanted to write a book but I never had the time or the opportunity. Of course I did not know if I had the ability required to do it but at least I could try as time was available now and I also had the tools. I am not an expert in Personal Computers but at least I can use them to type. My first problem was to find the right subject and this was not easy, as I really had nothing in mind.
In September 1994 we decided, my wife and me, to go for one week holiday in the South of France to Canet Plage near Perpignan. A few days before we were due to leave we were invited to dinner by our old friends the Henry. As I was mentioning our next vacations to the husband he told me that he had just come back from a cycling holiday in the region. He suggested that, if we had the time, we would enjoy visiting the remains of the old “Cathar” castles. He enjoyed visiting them himself and was strongly recommending us to do the same. I must say that I had never heard anything about the Cathars but why not, if we could leave the beach one day…
Once in Canet Plage we found out that even if the weather was very beautiful it was really too windy to stay on the beach. So, why not? Let us go and see the remains of the old Cathar castles.
We first drove to Perpignan and from there we took the D117 road in the direction of Foix. In Maury we took the small road D19 leading to the Quèribus castle. We could see it from far away: a very imposing construction on top of a rock. We were soon wandering if we would be able to reach it, as it seemed to us that no road could be built on such a roc. But we were wrong, the winding and narrow road allowed us to drive up to about half a mile of the castle. We walked the remaining of the way on a steep stony path. It was not an easy walk but it was worth it. It is impossible to visit such a place without feeling that something important took place in it. Of course now the castle is very badly damaged and in great need of repair. But the atmosphere is so intense and the view on the country side so beautiful that it is really worth the effort.
The same day we also visited the ruins of Peyrepertuse and again we felt that we were in a very special place, full of history good and bad. The following days we visited the castles in Villerouge-Terménès, Termes, Puilaurens and Arques. Everywhere we had the same impression of visiting something important.
I bought some documentation during the visits and once back home I ordered some books dealing with the subject. I became very interested in the story of the Cathars and I immediately realised that I had finally found the subject of my future writing.
Many books have already been written on the subject. It is my opinion that most of them are too detailed and too specialised. They are written by Historians for other Historians. As I do not have this qualification I thought that my contribution should instead be to write the story for people more interested by what happened that by the accurate, precise and detailed minutes of story.
I soon realised that to limit myself to tell the story of the Cathars alone would be a mistake. I thought that it would be better to tell the story of more that one religious order -heretics and not- active during the 11th to the 14th century. I added some parallel stories that have apparently nothing to do with the subject but which are in fact linked to it as we shall see.
As a consequence I will deal with the following subjects:
- The Cathars who were members of a definitely heretic sect and as such destroyed by the Church.
- The Templars who belonged to a true Catholic Order. The Templars were accused of heresy, probably without any real reason and the Order was suppressed.
- The Hospitallers who are now generally referred to as the Knights of Malta. It was, and is still, a Catholic Order.
- The Rose-Croix and the Rosicrucians that show the link that always existed between Christians and masons.
- The Prieuré de Sion as an example of truly secret organisation if it ever existed.
- The incredible story of Rennes-le-Chateau.
- The importance even to day of the Merovingian dynasty.
A glossary of the main words used and a short description of the crusades complete the document. At the last moment I added a few lines on the legend of Gisors.
It must be clear that this document is not the result of personal research but it is only the summary of a bibliographical study. The main sources of information are given in the bibliography.