SOME TIME AGO, I decided to try to shed light on the relatively obscure relationship between Occitan poetry and mysticism and the mentality of medieval Germany. Only when I had the occasion to test this thesis in Occitania itself did I discover the pathway that led directly from Montségur, Occitania’s “Temple of the supreme Minne,” to Wildenberg near Amorbach, the location of the castle of Wolfram von Eschenbach—the greatest of all German poets of the Minne. Then I understood that the German and Occitan worlds, so distant and yet at the same time close to each other, could not be fully contemplated in their sublime beauty without recognizing that the mysticism of the Minne had a deep Celtic-Germanic undercurrent.
Catharism was a dualist movement that extended throughout Europe. In order to remain within the boundaries that I set down for this work, I have not dealt with the fact that Cathar sects from the Balkans to Cologne and Toulouse were all organized in a similar fashion in order to be strong in their decisive fight against Rome and Paris, powers that had threatened them for some time. I have also omitted the generalized belief that Occitan Catharism—the Albigenses—was a branch of the Bogomils, or heretical Slavs. In this respect, such an opinion, in no way irrefutable, can be read into any work on Catharism, and above all in the works of Schmidt and Döllinger, and compared with my own thesis. I was very interested in bringing the native element of the Cathars to the forefront of my book, highlighting facts that until now have never been fully brought forward, outlining them with precision and exactness in the area of the link—to my judgment, overdone—with Catharism of Eastern Europe. I wish to expressly underscore this.
The present work could not, and did not pretend to be an exhaustive study of this subject. It is true that it claims to place different aspects within a single perspective. This has conditioned its composition, which is similar to a travel diary through the mountains, castles, caves, and books (more or less ancient)—a structure that will encourage experts to examine the subject material with a magnifying glass.
I am hoping to bring out a second work soon, a continuation of the present one, about Conrad von Marburg, the German Inquisitor. In it, I will refer to the influences of German Catharism on German mysticism into the modern-age (Novalis) Catharism that had thousands of followers in my native land of Hesse and the length of the Rhine, from Cologne to Basel. Some ideas already appear in this work.
I have to thank my teacher in Giessen, Baron von Gall, who first encouraged me to investigate the subject of the heretics. Years passed until circumstances allowed me, in an unexpected way, to travel to the Pyrenees and precisely to Montségur. After a stay of several weeks in the vicinity of that ruined castle, and goaded on by the legend that said that the last Cathars were locked in a cave in the Ariège, I moved to Ornolac in the Sabarthès, where I had the luck to meet as competent and comprehensive a “Trevrizent” as I could ever imagine: the specialist in prehistory, Antonin Gadal, custodian of all the caves of the Sabarthès (with the exception of those found in Niaux and Bédeilhac). Over the years he has been conducting intense and polished research work. Not only did Monsieur Gadal arrange for me to undertake, without any inconvenience, all the expeditions that I felt were necessary in the caves (which are today declared national monuments, and consequently under special rules for their preservation), but he also put his rich library and personal museum at my disposal. He indicated that he intends to publish the results of his investigations sometime soon. Although they are specialized works of prehistory and speleology, they will nevertheless serve as complete support for my affirmations. It is an enormous satisfaction for me to be able to thank Monsieur Gadal here, and pay homage for his disinterested help.
I would be committing the sin of ingratitude if I did not express acknowledgement for my friends in the Pyrenees, who in the most diverse ways pushed forward the birth of my book.
The Countess Pujol-Murat, whose ancestors gave their life in the defense of Montségur for their homeland invaded by the enemy, and who counts among them Hugo De Payens, founder of the Order of the Templars, and, worthy of special mention, the great Esclarmonde de Foix, familiarized me with the heroic past of Montségur. I would not conclude my list of my Occitan friends without mentioning Messrs. Bélissen, Roché, Palauqui, Meslin, and Maupomé, who helped me with great gusto.
Finally I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and those at the library of the University of Freiburg for their services.