Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

The Cathars: Background information when reading The Bone Clocks

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Bone Clocks

A Novel

by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell X
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 640 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 656 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Cathars

This article relates to The Bone Clocks

Print Review

In the fight between the Atemporals and the Anchorites, The Bone Clocks frequently references the Cathars.

Albi, FranceThe Cathars were members of a religious sect of Christianity that flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries in southern France and northern Italy. They believed in a dualistic theory of religion, with good and evil on opposing sides, and attributed all the wrongdoings in the Old Testament to the evil God. Believing the material world was bad, they believed in asceticism as a path to God. Since not everyone can follow the strict principles of asceticism, adherents to the Cathari way of life were divided into regular believers and a higher order of men and women who renounced all material goods but still performed basic services. The Cathars believed in reincarnation and didn't eat meat.

The Cathar sect grew roots in the province of Languedoc in the south of France, which was already known for its culture of tolerance. As Cathari beliefs became increasingly implanted and spread in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, their popularity became seen as a threat to the Catholic Church. The disdain felt by both groups was mutual. Believers in asceticism, the Catharis frowned upon the Catholic church's adoption of elaborate rituals complemented by bejewelled finery.

Pope Innocent III and the massacre of the AlbigensiansThe Catholic Church believed the town of Albi in southern France to be the Cathari stronghold. This lead to the Cathars being labeled the Albigenses. Calling the rise of the Cathars a heresy, Pope Innocent III decided enough was enough and launched a systematic attack against them. The kings of France took up this cause in later years and the prolonged fight, which killed thousands of Cathars and Catholics, came to be known as the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229).

fortress where Château de Montségur once stoodThe Languedoc was decimated. In addition to the countless lives lost, in the mid-thirteenth century, a Cathari stronghold, the fortress of Château de Montségur near the Pyrenees, was destroyed. Many Cathars moved underground and some fled to Italy. The Cathars lingered through the 14th century and mostly disappeared early in the 15th. Even today vestiges of the sect, including the ruins of Château de Montségur, remain. The region still attracts tourism dollars with this history.

City of Albi, where the Cathars lived, courtesy of Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner
Painting of Pope Innocent III excommunicating the Albigensians and massacre of Albigensians from the British Library
The current fortress where the castle of Montségur once stood, courtesy of Ceesharp

Filed under People, Eras & Events

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Bone Clocks. It originally ran in September 2014 and has been updated for the June 2015 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket: Icarus
    Icarus
    by K. Ancrum
    The titular protagonist of K. Ancrum's young adult novel Icarus lives a double life that mixes the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Familiar
by Leigh Bardugo
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a spellbinding novel set in the Spanish Golden Age.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.