Massacre at Montségur

Zoé Oldenbourg

translated from the French by Peter Green
Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1997 [1961]
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
In Massacre at Montségur Oldenbourg covers the entire Albigensian crusade, not just the 1243/1244 siege. Her treatment is expansive, narrating the military and political events in detail and providing information about Catharism and about the economic and social background. As one would expect from a first-rate historical novelist, Oldenbourg is also effective when it comes to explaining why people acted in ways which seem strange to the modern reader.

Her bias towards the heretics is unmistakeable, but it takes the form of obvious moral judgements and the occasional skewed interpretation rather than distortion of the facts. So the portrait of Raymond VI, count of Toulouse, is hagiographic, while the judgement on Simon de Montfort is only qualified because "the moral responsibility for his acts lies less heavily upon him than it does on those who had the power to bless and absolve them" — parts of Massacre Montségur read like a forensic indictment against the Catholic Church.

Massacre at Montségur includes references to the primary sources and a full bibliography, as well as a chronology and an excellent selection of black and white photographs.

June 1997

External links:
- buy from or
Related reviews:
- Joseph R. Strayer - The Albigensian Crusades
- Malcolm Lambert - The Cathars
- books about France + French history
- more French literature
- more medieval history
%T Massacre at Montségur
%A Oldenbourg, Zoé
%M French
%F Green, Peter
%I Weidenfeld and Nicolson
%D 1997 [1961]
%O hardcover, 16pp b&w photos, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0297819127
%P viii,420pp