Well, it seems that I was on the right track about the Knights Templar and that I managed to interpret correctly the hints made by Sir Walter Scott about the militant monks. They were considered to be heretics by the beginning of the 13th century. When writing Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott dropped a very big hint as to why the Knights Templar ended up in demise, and why their stronghold in Languedoc (the Pyrenees) was beseiged. It was all about the Cathars. There were several hints in the novel Ivanhoe and I managed to pick up on those hints, thus my interest in the subject.
Now, I am here to tell you that I am not a fan of Dan Brown. I have not read his stupid Da Vinci code, and I have not seen the stupid movie. From the time that the Dan Brown novel had become popular I took the view that what facts I did learn had shown him to be wrong…. and my assessment is in fact correct…. not that I am an historian or anything like that.
By researching on the name Languedoc, I came across a lot of historical revisionism… and that is also a dig at Wikpedia. One of the worst offenders is a man by the name of Baigent. The issue here is that there is an attempt to cleanse the Cathar of their own impurities, and to make them out to be victims. What stood out in the matter that I was reading last night was the dismissiveness regarding the only primary documents that come from the Catholic Church. These documents are in fact the diaries of St. Bernard of Claivaux who was one of the Inquistitors tasked with rooting out the heretic Cathars. Yes, I prefer the historical documents over the work of people who dismiss this out of hand. The other thing I note is the bloating of the numbers who were actually killed. I would divide those numbers by the power of 10 to come up with a better idea of the population of Languedoc, and especially of the town of Beziers where the population was killed. The anti-Catholic element are prone to exaggeration.
Cathars were known as the Pure Ones. They were not Christian even though they had a baptism. They had only one sacrament, the Consolatum and that was consumed prior to death. Once the Consolatum was administered the person would refuse to eat or drink anything thus ending their lives. (It reminds me of the methods used for voluntary euthanasia where patients are denied food and water for several days until they die – this was the death sentence handed down to Teri Schindler-Schiavo by her husband’s selfish actions). The Cathars were dualists, believing in a God of Good, and a God of Evil, just like the Manichees. If you know the story of St. Augustine, then you would have heard about the Manichees and what the preached, because prior to his conversion tot he Christian faith, Augustine had flirted with the Manichees. The Cathars did not eat meat, thus they were vegans, but they did allow the eating of fish. The Cathars frowned upon marriage, and they frowned upon having children. You can draw your own conclusions about their sexual proclivities… I drew mine and it has left a very sour taste.
Dan Brown took some of they myths surrounding the Cathars to come up with his laughable and inaccurate novel, the Da Vinci Code. The Cathars did in fact use books that came from the early Christian period written by heretics of that time that made some outlandish claims about Jesus and Mary of Magdala, including the ludicrous claims that they were married and that they had children, whose descendants were killed during the 13th century. Those documents were unearthed at the Hag Nammadi around 1945. None of those documents should be taken as being verifiable with regard to being genuine Christian. There were oral traditions that had been handed down from the earliest of these heretics.
In being dismissive about the primary documents of the period, the writer of the Wikpedia article, as well as one other that I read last night, claimed that there was only what was available from the Catholic Church because the Church destroyed the documents of the Cathars. The problem is, that is utter b.s. and is nothing more than modern revision because these Cathars were nothing like what was claimed. They were not philosophers or anything like that!! Did they deserve to die the way that they did during that crusade against them? Probably not, but we need to have regard to the times in which it all happened, as well as the thinking of those who saw them as a menace and as treasonous as far as the State was concerned. It was not just about the Church or Christianity, it was about their open rebellion against the State that was the true issue.
Another point to make here is that there is in fact an estate that was owned by the Knights Templar in England. The name was not Templestowe, but was Neuhusan. The property had originally belonged to the Saxons, Dunstan and Glunier but it was given tot he Knights Templar by the king.
Catharism has been extremely difficult to root out and to forever have it deleted from society. Even today we have a rise in Catharism. Today it is known as Veganism. It is more than just being a Vegetarian and it involves refusing to eat eggs, fish etc. (Note some people do not eat eggs because eggs make them feel sick). These Vegans consider themselves to be morally pure even though they behave in an immoral fashion. They refuse to wear animal products and they bang on about animal rights etc. Their idea of morality is all about not killing animals. They behave in a cult like fashion, and if anyone should not follow their rules, well…. all hell breaks loose. However, it is their lack of sexual morals that makes them a real stand out and shows that they are just a modern version of the old Cathars who also lacked sexual morals even though they considered themselves to the the Pure Ones.
Ivanhoe actually contained some hints regarding these moral juxtapositions. It came through in the character of Brian the Knights Templar who kidnapped Rebecca. The point about Brian is the fact that he was a monk was not supposed to take on a wife, yet he wanted to marry Rebecca the Jewess. It also came through with the dialogue from the head of the Knights Templar, Beaunoir who was investigating Brian. There were hints within the dialogue that suggest the notion of Purity that one ascribes to the Cathars.