20 April 2010

+JMJ+

Where in the World . . .

Q: Where did your reading take you this week?

A: To thirteenth century France, still reeling from the death of King Louis the Lion and facing an uncertain future with a new king who is still a boy. We know that he would grow up to be King St. Louis IX, but they certainly didn't. And boy, did they have other worries . . .

(See the other answers at An Adventure in Reading.)

As you can see, this isn't my meme, which has yet to be launched . . . or dropped . . . or revealed . . . or whatever verb applies where memes are concerned. But it's one of the inspirations for mine, and I had this post ready to link up to it for the past few days.

Last night, I reread some parts of The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars by Elena Maria Vidal--a story that could only have happened in the Middle Ages.


"I am worried, Mademoiselle.
This is wild country, full of witches--witches and heretics."


One major setting is the Castle of Mirambel, high in the Pyrenees. Since it is a fictional place, this is (probably) the closest we will ever get to it . . .

The Castle of Foix!
A medieval chateau in the same region,
also once a hotbed for the Cathar heresy


It must all look very civilised today, but over seven hundred years ago, the castle was surrounded by thick forests which became a second home to landless knights. Displaced by the Franks and angry at both Crown and Church, they were a danger to all travelers. Yet the real danger lay within the castle walls, where heresy was allowed to lurk and thrive.

Looking for images of medieval French chateaux, I learned that tours of "Cathar country" are very popular among people visiting France--and that, indeed, the Cathars themselves are very popular. I admit that I wouldn't mind lurking around a Cathar castle myself . . . but then again, my Horror movie IQ is pretty high and my chances of being "Final Girl" are even higher.

And let's be candid about the Cathars, shall we? It must seem very romantic to have held secret rituals in the dark of night, for fear of the churchmen who burned heretics at the stake . . . but in the light of day, the Cathars had a clear record of forcing parents to starve their own sick children to death and turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of young men and women.

Near the end of the novel, there is a mention of a set of questions being developed by the then-new Dominican order, meant to determine whether someone is truly guilty of heresy or a well-intentioned believer who was simply duped. The golden age of the Inquisition was about to begin . . .

Image Sources: a) The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars by Elena Maria Vidal, b) The Castle of Foix

16 comments:

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, E.! That photo of the castle is probably as close as one can get to how the castle in my book really looked! It is based upon the castle at Lourdes, which now has only one tower standing. I am deeply appreciative of your review!

Sullivan McPig said...

sounds like an interesting book and setting.
Let me know when you start your own meme so I will be able to join :-)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Elena: You're welcome! I'm glad to know I picked a decent castle for this post.

Sully: I've already placed the order for the badge. It should be ready by next week. =)

Oh, and I have a name for the meme, too!

LOCUS FOCUS!

What do you think? =D

Sullivan McPig said...

Ooh! I like that name, very cool. That's why I leave naming to others, I would never have come up with something like that.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

And this is why I ask for as much help as possible! =P

My friend Dylan suggested "Literary Locus Pocus"--and that was the springboard I needed for the name. =)

Tea said...

Wow! great stuff, you make me want to read the book.

christopher said...

Good posting ma'am, and great name too :)

Connie said...

What a great idea for a meme! The book you're reading sounds wonderful. :)

Grace said...

I've awarded you.

http://imaginationpluscreation.blogspot.com/?zx=de9bb159550adc3f

Grace.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Tea: Thanks! The book itself makes me want to read more history, so I know how you feel. =)

Christopher: Thanks to you, too.

Connie: It's definitely not your usual Historical novel!

When I get my meme up and running, I hope you'll consider joining, but no pressure! =)

Grace: Thanks! I'm off to check it out . . .

paul bowman said...

I got to read the first bit of this book free, yesterday, via Kindle for iPhone — here & there during the day, a par. or two at a snatch. Also a little about Cathars & their connections on Wikipedia. I'd enjoy slipping deeper into this picture of medieval Christendom. Hope I can read the whole thing some time. Thanks.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Great! =) I hope you like it.

Jen G. (The Introverted Reader) said...

Sounds interesting! I've been on a fantasy kick for a couple of weeks, but I'm ready for some historical fiction again. Am I supposed to be seeing a castle? Because I'm not. I wonder if that's something on my end. Hmmm...

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Well, it's a late thirteenth century castle in what was then a "rough" part of the country, so it would have looked more like a fortress. =)

I don't think castles started to look romantic for another few hundred years!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I just returned from Boston in Deception. I can't wait to post my review. It was SO awesome.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks for letting me know, Juju! =)