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Friar of Carcassonne

Revolt Against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars

by (author) Stephen O'Shea

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Aug 2011
France, History
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
    List Price

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The dramatic story of courageous Franciscan friar who battled king, pope and Inquisition in his search for justice.


Nearly a century had passed since the French region of Languedoc had been put to the sword in the Cathar Crusade, but the stain of Catharism still lay on the land. Any accusation of Catharism invited peril. But repression bred resentment, and it was in Carcassonne that resistance began to stir. In 1300 a great orator emerged there to bring together the currents of resistance. Three years later the terrible prisons were stormed and the inmates set free. The orator was a Franciscan friar, Bernard Delicieux.The forces ranged against him included the ruthless Pope Boniface VIII, the Machiavellian French King Philip the Fair and the grand inquisitor of Toulouse, Bernard Gui (the villain of The Name of the Rose).


The Friar of Carcasonne, a compelling sequel to Stephen O'Shea's bestselling The Perfect Heresy, tells Delicieux's inspiring life and tragic story -- a story with contemporary resonance today. Bernard stood up to abuses of power, opposed secret trials, decried torture and inhumane incarceration. Drawn from the transcripts, which have survived from Bernard's trial, the wealth of everyday detail, the unfurling of events, even the conversations whispered and speeches given all are laid bare, allowing an unparalleled glimpse into the lives and hopes of medieval men and women. Only translated into English a decade ago, O'Shea has executed exhaustive research to produce this highly readable, almost cinematic narrative.

About the author

Stephen O'Shea is an historian and the acclaimed author of Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World, The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, and Back to the Front: An Accidental Historian Walks the Trenches of World War I. Born in Toronto, he now lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and France.

Stephen O'Shea's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Stephen O'Shea's The Perfect Heresy was a masterful history of the Cathars and the infamous crusade against them. This was a hugely complex period: [Friar of Carcasonne] usefully begins by setting the religious and political scene of the 13th century after the Albigensian Crusade, before detailing Bernard's brave personal crusade against the cruelty and corruption of the inquisitors."

The Independent

"Stephen O'Shea is more than a writer of historical narratives. He is designing engineer and pilot of a time machine that transports readers back in time 800 years or more...If this were the way history was taught in high school and colleges, we'd all aspire to be medieval scholars."

Providence Journal

"O'Shea is a gifted storyteller who seems unencumbered by the occupational addiction of some historians to whisper to one another about esoterica in the footnotes. He has a good story to tell and he tells it well�.No one will mistake this book for hagiography. O'Shea presents Delicieux with the warts fully visible, which makes his portrait all the more convincing and makes the wily friar with feet of clay all the more human and sympathetic."

"A Franciscan Brother stands up to the inquisition in Southern France, and the inquisition backs down!...O'Shea's thorough research and effortless writing exposes the political and economic side of the inquisition and its irreversible damage to the Catholic Church."

Kirkus Review

"This magnificent book, a compelling sequel to Stephen O'Shea's bestselling The Perfect Heresy, tells Delicieux's inspiring life and tragic story."

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