Monday, December 4, 2017

Shadows of Montsegur, A Tale of the Cathars

A religious people are persecuted for their belief, driven from their homes, and must run from an extermination order issued by those who fear them.

There is truth in the saying that history repeats itself.

The year is 1144. Andreva de Beringer is joyful upon her uncle’s summons to leave the abbey in Toulouse, where she is novice, to care for her grandmother, but she arrives in Lavelanet to find a village gripped by the turmoil and terror of the Inquisition. While Andreva strives to hold on to her family, her faith, and her love, all around her Good Men (believers in the Cathar religion) must fight for the same—as well as for life itself. 

In the right place, but at a dreadfully wrong time, and under the wrath of the Inquisition, might this faith-filled but naïve girl be forced to witness the massacre and burning of every Cathar man, woman, and child, and also lose the young farmer she loves?

The venturesome reader, students of history, and those who cheer for the rights of mankind can learn from this seldom-told tale of medieval history at its darkest.

Is this so different from what is happening to our religious freedom mean today?

Available at Amazon and your favorite digital ebook sites.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Basilica of St. Sernin

In the beginning of Shadows of Montsegur, Andreva, a seventeen year-old novice at the convent affiliated with the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse, France, is summoned by her Uncle Bostel to the Ariege village of Lavelanet in southern France to care for her grandmother.

The original St. Sernin (or St. Saturnin) was built in the 4th century. The abbey no longer remains and the basilica was rebuilt between 1080 and 1120. It is now surrounded entirely by the city of Toulouse. It is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, if not the world. It is now listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the description: World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.

The unique spire of St. Sernin
the Ambulatory

Street market
Romanesque architecture
St. Sernin's tomb
St. Sernin was the first bishop of Toulouse, circa. 250.
Peter, James, and John
Side entrance
The crucifixion of Christ
North Aisle
Organ pipes
Stairway to ambulatory
Read more about this beautiful cathedral on Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interview with Medieval Author, Joyce DiPastena

One of my favorite Medieval authors is Joyce DiPastena. Her novels are Loyalty's Web, Illuminations of the Heart, and Dangerous Favor. She classifies her tales as historical romance, but with all the history and details she packs into each page, they are very historical.

 I am fortunate Joyce granted me an interview today!
Joyce, what started you writing about medieval times?
I fell in love with the Middle Ages during high school when I read a history book on the early Plantagenet kings of England called The Conquering Family, by Thomas B. Costain. I'd been dabbling with writing  stories in other time periods--I always seemed drawn to historical settings for my early writing attempts--but for some reason, this book especially intrigued me. When I went to college (the University of Arizona), I decided to major in history. I consequently took courses in many various time periods, but my heart always beat a little quicker in my medieval history classes, so I took every medieval history class I could find. At the same time, I began my first full length novel and also set it in the Middle Ages. And I've never really looked back. 
 What is it about the Medieval period that fascinates you and keeps you writing about it?
I don't really know why this particular period fascinates me so much. I'm fascinated by many time periods, ancient, medieval, Stuart, Regency, the American Revolution. But when it comes to writing, I just enjoy the medieval time period more than any other.

 What keeps me writing about it? There are still so many fascinating things to explore! My books so far have touched on subjects such as medieval illumination, medieval Arthurian poetry and medieval politics. I've just completed two short medieval stories that incorporate medieval carol dancing and medieval reliquaries (highly decorated boxes that held objects believed by the Catholic Church to be holy, such as fingernail clippings, locks of hair, even vials of tears from the original twelve apostles or the saints that followed them). 

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of topics available to research and explore and share with readers in a story of one sort or another. I think it will be avery long time before I tire of writing about this time period!
 What are your most trusted resources on details of that period?
I have a very extensive personal library of medieval research books that focus on multiple specialized topics, but here are some of the ones I find myself referring to for almost every story I write are:

The Castle Explorer's Guide, by Frank Bottomley
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks, by Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler 900 Years of English Costume, by Nancy Bradfield (I think this may be available under a different title now, but the same author)
English Costume from the Early MIddle Ages Through the Sixteenth Century, by Iris Brooke Medieval English Gardens, by Teresa McLean
A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century, by Margaret Wade Labarge
Thank you so much, Joyce, for the interview!

Visit Joyce's blog here.

Here are DiPastena's Medieval tales:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Names of Those Who Died at Montsegur

Who were those Cathars who died at Montsegur on 16 March 1244? Click here to go to the list. There are several of the time who recorded the numbers of martyrs as between 200-240. Only heaven has all the names recorded, but this link will give you some we know who definitely lost their lives at Montségur.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lavelanet, France

Shadows of Montsegur takes place in Lavelanet in the French Ariege department. The village was built at the foot of a castle called Castelsarrasin (not the village of Castelsarrasin) that belonged to the Count of Foix. The castle was destroyed when Simon de Montfort's army attacked the village in 1212, and then rebuilt, but again destroyed by war. The the castle was torn down in 1964.

On the left is a photo of the rebuilt castle before it was demolished, and on the right is its medieval fireplace.

The website I found the photos.
Here is another interesting site on Lavelanet.