A passionate history of the great war on heresy which dominated medieval Europe.
The great war on heresy obsessed medieval Europe in the centuries after the first millennium. R. I. Moore's vivid narrative focuses on the motives and anxieties of those who declared and conducted the war: what were the beliefs and practices they saw as heretical? How might such beliefs have arisen? And why were they such a threat?
In western Europe at AD 1000 heresy had barely been heard of. Yet within a few generations accusations had become commonplace and institutions were being set up to identify and suppress beliefs and practices seen as departures from true religion. Fears of heresy inspired passions that moulded European society for the rest of the middle ages and resulted in a series of persecutions that left an indelible mark on its history and culture. Popular accounts of events - most notably of the Albigensian Crusade led by Europe against itself - have assumed the threats posed by the heretical movements were only too real. Some scholars by contrast have tried to show that reports of heresy were exaggerated or even fabricated: but if they are correct why was the war on heresy launched at all? And why was it conducted with such pitiless ferocity?
To find the answers to these and other questions R. I. Moore returns to the evidence of the time. His investigation forms the basis for an account as profound as it is startlingly original.
R. I. Moore is professor emeritus of Medieval History at Newcastle University. His books include The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Western Europe 950-1250 , described by the Guardian as "One of the most influential and controversial books of medieval history of the last 20 years"; and The First European Revolution (2000) reviewed in History as "So well researched and argued that even though it asks the reader to accept yet one more period as revolutionary, it is entirely convincing." He is also the editor of the Blackwell History of the World series.
'Thrilling, unsettling, revelatory', Tom Holland, author of 'Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom'
'Beautifully written, measured, searching, and sublimely free from jargon', René Weis, Professor of English, University College London, and author of 'The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars, 1290-1329'
'A masterfully researched and deeply thought book that tells its exciting and still relevant story with verve and with sympathy for the victims of the war on heresy', Anders Winroth, Professor of History, Yale University, and author of 'The Conversion of Scandinavia'
'A brilliant and sobering meditation... The War on Heresy is a triumph', Conrad Leyser, Standpoint
'Moore makes a very powerful case ... If only half of his revolutionary new claims are accepted, every encyclopaedia entry on the Cathars will gave to be completely rewritten.', Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
'Moore's latest book is as good, and as provocative, as anything he has produced ... The book is one of the finest accounts of medieval heresy that you are likely to encounter ... serves to enhance Moore's status as one of the finest historians of medieval heresy.', Jonathan Wright, BBC History Magazine
'A very important book', John Arnold, History Today
'A lucid narrative, rich in anecdote ... elegant and intelligent', Nicholas Vincent, Literary Review
'Moore makes a very powerful case in this new study and if some of his revolutionary new claims are accepted, many views on the Cathars will have to be revised.', John Hinton, Catholic Herald
'Remarkable . . . a brilliant demonstration of the infinitely challenging truth that the questions we ask profoundly shape the answers we find', Helen Castor, THES
'A brilliant book', Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper
'The problem here is that of course our own scholarly constructions, not least of medieval Catharism, can be no less rickety [than fictional ones as in The Name of the Rose], an enduring problem recently tackled by one of the great heresiarch-turned-pontiffs of the field, R. I. Moore.', Andrew Roach and James R. Simpson, Heresy and the Making of European Culture: Medieval and Modern Perspectives