The Chatelaine of Montaillou
Based on records that were locked in the Vatican archives for nearly seven hundred years, this is the compelling, true story of Beatrice de Planisolles and the last Cathars of the Languedoc.
When she is married at sixteen, Beatrice becomes the Chatelaine of Montaillou where a revival of the Cathar heresy is gathering momentum. Widowed at a young age, Beatrice has an affair with the village priest, Pierre Clergue, and she is drawn into the subterfuge and intrigue surrounding the heresy. The curse of the yellow crosses, her father's punishment for his Cathar beliefs seems to be following her, but she escapes the dangerous hot-bed of heresy that Montaillou has become by marrying again and moving to the lowlands.
In 1317, a new Bishop Inquisitor, Jacques Fournier is appointed to seek out and destroy the Cathars and their supporters. His systematic and rigorous approach terrifies all who encounter him. Beatrice is summoned for questioning by him and the book starts as she walks towards this first interrogation. She is retained as a prisoner in the Bishopric in filthy and degrading conditions, with the threat of torture hanging over her for nine months. She is interrogated on eight separate occasions. Her remarkable life story and the fate of the last Cathars are revealed as the story moves towards its final, tragic denouement.