Ys

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A not-terribly-often-marked day of remembrance:
Ys
ajodasso
16 March 1244 - The Number and Names of the Cathars Put to Death at Montségur

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*raises hand* What's a Cathar? ^^;

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They were standing up to the Pope (well, his agents), and I kind of have to admire the guts that must've taken. They just wanted to be left alone. Sure, some of their beliefs were a bit odd, but...I don't know. They weren't going around saying, "You must join with us, or we'll kill you!" In this case, I really do come down on the sympathetic side of things. Plus, I'm a medievalist, and I've always found Catharism a fascinating heresy from a historical standpoint!

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I'm inclined to go easy on them - this was the thirteenth century. Now, I'm not going to go so far as to insult human intelligence and claim that there were no atheists and no scientists in the high Middle Ages; of course there were. But this was a time when religion was so all-pervasive that to say you didn't believe was worse than being a heretic. If you didn't agree with the mainstream option, then some variety of reformist heresy was your only option. I don't think it's wise to look at this issue from a modern/postmodern "enlightened" standpoint. They were, I think, doing the best they could given the circumstances.

I think this comment is very true, and I am also uneasy with the word 'barbarism'. To me that goes along with 'primative' as a gross oversimplification.

Sorry, not my argument, but I'm horrified by someone not being able to sympathise with "twenty thousand heretics...put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex" simply because they were religious. To me, that sounds pretty damn "barbarous".

(It also reminds me of a guy I knew at uni who disapproved of Remembrance Sunday on the grounds that no one should ever go to war and those that did therefore didn't deserve remembrance. Regardless of the culture in Britain in 1914 and how hard it would have been for many people to see any other possibility than fighting, he wasn't interested. War was wrong, they deserved what they got, it was - to him - as simple as that.)

Edited at 2009-03-17 02:23 am (UTC)

Like you, I found his response rather worrying, and I wanted to respond as tactfully as I could. My first reaction was rather more...bristling, I suppose, as some of those people were, I suspect, due to current research, very probably ancestors of mine (although I'd have been equally unsettled by the comment even if they weren't). Considering time and place, context, is so important when addressing issues like this. And I know it can be difficult for non-academics to remember or even realize that, but the phenomenon still startles me when I encounter it. We can't judge everything by modern standards; it's that simple. Thank goodness it's not as bad as when family and friends back at home get going about how ignorant and barbaric all the people in the Middle East are...*twitch* History, people. History. Do a little bit of contextual reading, and you'll learn a lot. And your perspective will [probably] shift in the process.

Thank goodness it's not as bad as when family and friends back at home get going about how ignorant and barbaric all the people in the Middle East are...*twitch*

This is partly what bothered me - it's not as if everyone with a religious belief died out in medieval times. While I might not agree, or even respect some beliefs, assuming that vast swathes of humanity are stupid (Richard Dawkins quote 'thought is an anathema to religion') is reductive and really quite dangerous. It's certainly not conducive to examination of belief, which is what one would assume atheists want. As for reducing historical events to such a cold perception of right and wrong, well that just scares me. (Although a good friend of mine honestly believes that if Israel and Palestine gave up God, peace would break out, so I know that seemingly reasonable people can indeed be that unforgiving.)

It's certainly not conducive to examination of belief, which is what one would assume atheists want. As for reducing historical events to such a cold perception of right and wrong, well that just scares me. (Although a good friend of mine honestly believes that if Israel and Palestine gave up God, peace would break out, so I know that seemingly reasonable people can indeed be that unforgiving.)

I would assume that, too. And the Israel/Palestine conflict isn't just about religious differences; it's about cultural, ethnic, and ideological issues as well. And I suppose none of us are entirely innocent in the way we present our opinions on these matters, either - there's always some piece of information lacking that might make all the difference in the way we perceive them.

(For instance, I know I've had my occasional tirades against religion within the context of American politics and voting.)

Thanks for that link. How fascinating. ...And, you know, desperately sad.

When I was four we lived in Toulouse for four months. We took a car trip to Montsegur, and I have this incredibly vivid memory of driving around the mountain and being completely unable to find a way up. It was twilight and so eerie and the experience has never left me.

It's one of my dreams to visit that place. By all accounts, it's just stunningly beautiful.

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...moi aussi, mais je sais que tu ne parles pas à moi ici ;) Je l'étudie depuis sept ans du lycée à l'université - et j'ai fait une échange avec une famille de Lille quand j'ai eu dix-sept ans. Je voyage en France assez souvent, dans le nord. J'adore Brétagne!

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Pas de problême. J'écris en français avec de la facilité raisonnable, mais c'est parler, vraiment parler, que j'ai besoin de practiquer (c'est pourquoi je voyage en France une fois dans l'année si je peux; j'habite en Angleterre jusqu'au moment, et c'est assez simple à faire des vacances sur "le Continent"). Moi, comme la littérature française, je préfère les chansons de geste mediévale - La Chanson de Roland, les lais de Marie de France, etc.

Ah, desolée! I actually refused to learn French at that age because I was afraid I'd forget English. I took five years in middle and high school, but I lost most of it when I took Italian in college, which I'm now also forgetting... vous direz la verité, bien sur!

You refused to start learning when you were young? *gasp* Trade me your childhood years! I would have given anything to have had the chance to start learning French earlier than I started (age 14).

To be fair, I was fourI The French school scared me, I had no other English-speaking friends and I honestly thought I would never know how to speak English again if I learned another language -- though by the end of the stay there I was pretty conversant. My mom always called it "West Virginia French," though, because of the accent. :)

I know that I've probably told you this a dozen times down the years, but my parents wouldn't let me start a foreign language until junior high because they thought it would distract me from "more important things." Given the field I've ended up in, French has been one of the most important aspects of my overall education. The mind boggles.

Yeah, I... I can't begin to comprehend an attitude like that. One thing we're never going to forgive my sister-in-law for is refusing to teach her (then) four-year-old daughter to read, even when she was begging to learn, because "she wasn't at the right age" and it wasn't acceptable for girls in her family to be smart. (Not that girls in her family have much problem with this... but I digress.) My niece is brilliant, but she had a terrible time learning to read when she was finally allowed, at six.

...yeah, don't even get me started.

...okay, wow, that's infuriating. My mother started working with me on the alphabet and teaching me to write as soon as I started talking and expressed interest in writing utensils, i.e. AT TWELVE MONTHS. And I have every intention of starting that early with the teaching if I ever do have a child. I remember the day it all clicked for me; I was three years old. I pulled a book off the shelf, opened to the first page, and the letters, after all my mother's working with me, made sense on the page. I said, "Mom - come here! I can read now!" And she said, "Are you sure?" (because up till that point it had been the flashcards and maybe very simple children's books) And I said, "Yes - " and read off the first sentence to her. It was the book adaptation of Disney's Dumbo, not a children's board-book - the sort they make with the words fairly dense on the page below the pictures for parents to read to kids. I remember how astonished and pleased Mom was. I mean, if you have even a reasonably intelligent/inquisitive child, starting early can only do a world of good. Families who insist on doing that kind of thing just...rrrgh.

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La problema è quando penso in un'altra lingua, non è più francese. Vero, è importante praticare, ma non ho quello raccordo con francese adesso. Mi dispiace -- ma buona fortuna! Certo ci sono comunità qui à LiveJournal per aiutarlo?

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...True, it's important to practice, but I don't have that connection with French anymore. I'm sorry -- but good luck! I'm sure there are communities here on LJ that can help you.

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My first novel's tentatively going to be set in the same time period and even (almost) the same geographic region. Fascinating times on the Continent, the 1100s-1200s...

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I only ever wrote to three authors growing up, and only one of them ever responded. One of the letters got sent back to me because the publisher's headquarters had moved and left no forwarding address. It felt like sending things out into the void!

Gnosticsm is so fascinating.

"Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own"

...yikes.

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