I have a new author website. This has some information about me and my books with direct links to where they can be obtained. It is called " Jean de Beurre - Author " You can find it here http://jeandebeurre.webs.com/
The Pyrenees mountains stretch for 480km from the Atlantic
coast across to the Mediterranean forming an impressive
natural frontier between France and Spain. They rose from
beneath a shallow sea millions of years ago when the
European and African continental plates collided. Since then
the gigantic glaciers that covered most of Europe during the
last great ice age have shaped the magical natural features
we see here today.
The Pyrenees mountains are
not just a geographical barrier between France and Spain,
but a divide of culture, climate, flora and fauna and way of
life between two very different countries. The Pyrenees are
one of the last wilderness areas of Europe and can only
really be appreciated on foot.
The Capcir plateau offers hiking trails to short walks and Capcir and Haut Conflent are traversed by the GR10 and HRP (marked long distance footpaths) linking Hendaye to Banyuls.
"The Cathars were heretics without a name. The word Cathar is a
slang name, used by Catholics as an insult. The words Perfect, the
elect, and Credentes for the followers are similarly lifted from
the annals of the Inquisition. They called themselves Good men,
Good Women or simply Good Christians. They were,
undeniably, dualists who believed that there were two Gods – the good
God of the spiritual world and the Bad God of the material world.
Accordingly the material world was of no interest. They believed that you
had to reach a spiritual enlightenment in order to finally reach the Good
God. The Catholic Church with its sacraments, relics, rules and
prohibitions was seen as, at best, an irrelevancy to the Cathars.
Catholics had simply missed the point.
The Catholic Church in Languedoc was a sad mess at this time, the
late 12th Century. Corrupt and worldly Archbishops and Bishops led a trail
of usury, ignorance and malpractice right down to the average village
priest, who probably had a few concubines and was woefully ignorant of the
substance of Christianity. In comparison the wandering Perfect were
ascetic, saintly men who ate no meat, were celibate, learned and lived as
simple, wandering artisans. They had little difficulty winning adherents.
But while dualism was rife throughout southern Europe there were special
reasons for its success in the Occitan; as mentioned, the Church was
feeble, but the feudal system had not thrown up the central organisation
it had in Northern France and England. The ancient custom of dividing land
equally between all children, men and women, had seen to that. Cathar
Perfect could be women as well as men, and many of the leading lights of
Catharism were noble women of limited, but independent means. The Occitan
was a fragmented, independent state, not easily controlled or regulated.
And so the Dualist faith thrived. In many mountain villages Dualists
were in the majority while in towns like Carcassonne or the region’s
capital, Toulouse, Cathars and orthodox Christians (and indeed, Jews,
remarkably enough) rubbed shoulders happily, each content to worship their
Walking in Capcir
Some of the best walking in Europe can be found in the Pyrenees with
the summits attainable for most relatively fit walkers. There are plenty
of well maintained footpaths and marked trails that criss cross this mountain range from coast to coast. This photo was taken by one of the many small lakes in Capcir.