Sayantan Saha
Montsegur is a very small town located in Ariège department in southwestern France. As per archeologists and hiistorians the earliest settlement in this area was 80000 years ago during the time of the Neanderthals. This town with beautiful sunflower fields and rolling hills hides one of the dark secrets of human history. On a hill overlooking the town there is a 10th century fort which was the last stronghold of the Cathars. The Cathars were a peaceful group of Christians whose beliefs were a little different than the one prescribed by the orthodox Vatican City. Hence they were branded as heretics and Pope Innocent III had declared a crusade, popularly known as the Albigesian crusade to exterminate them. The Laungedoc area of South France was one of the major strongholds of these so called heretics and the castle at Montsegur was one of the last forts which they held on. In 1244 the Cathars were besieged by more than 10000 troops and on one dark and cold night, more than 250 Cathar priests were captured and burned alive in a giant pyre ending the resistance of the Cathars in the most brutal ways possible. People say that the sprits of these people still haunt the ruins of the “Cathar Castle in Montsegur” and there still hangs an air of melancholy in the surrounding of this little hamlet. There is also a small museum which one can visit while in Montsegur documenting the history of the town.