by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph.D
This story is the one of Guilhem, born around 1260 in Saint Félix de Caraman (Languedoc) in Middle Age. The place is now called Saint Félix de Lauragais (Haute-Garonne).
His destiny reached a peak at Philip the Fair time (1285 - 1314). He lost his grandparents during the crusade of Northern France against Albigenses, also called "Cathars" (problably from the Greek "Katharos", pure)...who died around 1240 as it seems.
His grandfather's name was Raymond, but it's not known if his female-companion, Arnaude Trobada was his grandmother, as Cathars were against marriage considered as a selling - and not a sacrament at all. One thing sure, his grandparents were protected by small lords of Languedoc. And they were not burnt alive.
No, the problem arose after, through a posthumous trial made to them, leading to confiscation of the family goods and the loss of the noble title of the family.
Guilhem who had to follow his parents to Montpellier, had never forgotten the infamy accomplished by priests with the burning of his grandparents' coffins, and this public humiliation which was impossible to connect to the real God. And he swore to make them pay heavily one day !
Fleeing away to another town, for the sake of one's life and reputation, and not being anymore considered as the heir of heretics, was certainly an awful experience. He hated the Roman Papacy which was responsible of this in his eyes.
Almost everybody nowadays has forgotten the Crusade against Cathars (1209 - 1244, plus the epilogue of 1255 for Toulouse), initiated by the Pope and lead at the beginning by the obscure baron Simon de Montfort (c. 1150 - 1218), who was carrying a cross similar to the Templars' one.
As a matter of fact the French King Philip II (1165 - 1223) refused the Pope Innocent III (1198 - 1216) to participate it in 1209, and strongly advised high nobles not to participate either : he didn't want to associate the type of massacres and tortures he saw in Palestine in the badly used name of God, for nothing except greed behind Innocent III's propaganda for a "universal and christian republic" covered with blood.
Guilhem was seeing the Church of Roma as representing the bad principle (the Devil), and opposing the good one (God in the dualist religion of Cathars). We musn't forget he was the descendant of "Parfaits" (Perfects), which means his grandparents received the only and ultimate sacrament of Cathar religion through the without water ceremony of "Consolamentum". Cathars were knowing solidarity, and behaving freely and equally through the philosophy of "paratge", which was announcing already our modern principles of "freedom, equality and fraternity".
It is very difficult to know all the details of Cathars' beliefs, as a lot of documents have been burnt by the Inquisition, which officially started to operate in Toulouse from 1233.
What is remaining was kept secret in Lyons, which is why it is called "the secret rule of Lyons". We know they were recognizing only one christian gospel, the Gospel of Saint John.
Usually, this religion which didn't entirely disappear through ages, was seen as manichean, and connected with the "bogomiles" of Bosnia. Some parallels have been established also with the Iranian cult of the prophet Zarathustra (c. 1000 BC ?), who invented the conceptions we have about paradise and hell. Zarathustra was opposing the good God Ormuzd to the bad one Ahriman. Zarathustra promised he would come back after his death twice, with a periodicity of 1000 years every time.
About Templars, Guilhem's personal hatred is still puzzling nowadays, especially if you take on account the "Moderns" putting Cathars and Templars in the same basket for their Gnostic beliefs, and the way they were both revering the Gospel of Saint John. They even add that Templars stayed rather neutral in the crusade against Cathars. As the Kingdom of Aragon, on the Cathar side was a templar state, the attitude of the French templars refusing to help them or protect them shocked a lot Cathars. Their neutrality wasn't interpreted in a good way at all. Yet, on the field, it is known French Templars sometimes very discretely (not to be accused of heresy) sheltered Cathars in a charitable way. It musn't have been the case in Saint Félix de Caraman apparently, considering the attitude of Guilhem.
Above that, the "Moderns" are forgetting a bit quickly that Cathars were non-violent vegetarians (which is explaining their defeat, yet not so easily acquired), when Templars were at the opposite rough soldiers and eaters of meat. And about Guilhem, it is obvious that he connected them directly to Papacy as monks-soldiers (which they were officially as the Militia of Christ).
By an extraordinary chance, this boy had the possibility to study law, becoming even professor in Montpellier (Languedoc). His luck was that lawyers were getting a rising importance in the kingdom of the new King Philip IV.
Usually, his connection with this King is situated in 1293. But he became his adviser ("Conseiller") in 1295, precisely the year Philip the Fair decided to tax priests in the kingdom (with the "décime", 1/10th).
Guilhem, who might have discretely initiated the idea to help the weak finance of the King, was absolutely delighted.
The priests grumbled but they obeyed. So several years after, in 1300, the King upon the advice of Guilhem decided to tax the bishops too (with the "cinquantième", 1/50th), but they wanted to complain to the Pope.
There occurred the famous betrayal of Bernard Saisset (c.1232 - 1314), bishop of Pamiers, who was arrested in 1301 for plotting a rebellion in the ex-Cathar area against the French King. Our character wasn't the last one to encourage Philip the Fair to be hard against Catholic bishops (especially the ones of his birth area) and Papacy.
Of course, Guilhem had to hide his ancestry not to be discovered. But strangely he did it without much problems. Or Philip the Fair didn't care as he was opposing Papacy ! Anyhow, even nowadays, his Cathar lineage is only known from some historians and kept as a taboo. They just point out from far usually this anedoctic anomaly, without going to the full and logic conclusion implied.
We bet you are still hesitating about the name of our famous character, because of the Cathar's inheritage involvement. So it is time to unleash this mystery : our character of the day lead the troops Philip IV sent near Rome to Anagni (Italy) in 1303, to capture the Pope Bonifacius VIII (1294 - 1303), in order to make him judge for heresy by a general concile in Lyons (France).
He is even famous for having slammed the face of the Pope, when this one accused him to be the Grandson of "Patarins" (a nickname given to Cathars), and to represent a kingdom of "Patarins" with fake catholics !
It has been written after, it was in a fact an Italian noble of the troop called Sciarra Colonna who did it with his iron glove. But in the first original version, it was clearly Guillaume (Guilhem) de Nogaret !
And the Pope who was freed by the angry population of Anagni on September 9th, 1303, just one day after the Pope's attempt of arrest by Nogaret, died one month after, not without having excommunicated Nogaret and Colonna.
As an adviser of Philip the Fair (in fact, he even became his Minister of Justice from September 1307), it is also him who proudly set all the details of the Templars' arrest on the black Friday of October 13th, 1307, which lead to the disappearance of the Temple.
They were charged with three main accusations : to spit on the holy cross, to be sodomites, and to worship an idol in the shape of a cat or something unknown called "Baphomet".
Philip the Fair wasn't very keen of the third one, because he thought "Baphomet" was a facsimile of Saint John's head, so in fact just a religious relic. In a way, he felt right as Nogaret's personal revenge was made in memory of Saint John !
Therefore Guillaume de Nogaret, the hidden heir of Cathars, took revenge on Papacy. And he made a lot of Templars being tortured to know more about "the idol called Baphomet". Above that he oriented a lot of pieces of their trial on the adoration of the Devil. Let's not forget, in his mind they were serving the throne of the bad God, as monks-soldiers of the Pope !
So, for him Papacy and Templars were exactly standing on the same side in his revenge. And Guillaume de Nogaret has never been possibly touched by the so-called malediction of Jacques de Molay (c. 1244 - 1314), the last Great Master of Templars on March 18th,1314, when this one was burnt alive with several companions in Paris, ...because he was dead since april 11th, 1313 !
Nogaret might have been known about the famous secret of Cathars, and the Lombrives cave's subterranean village. He made minute enquiries about different areas in France as adviser of the King. Lombrives is the biggest natural cave of all Europe.
And when a child, he might have heard also about the semi-legend of Queen "Pyrenee" who lies in her tomb underground over there.
The incredible origin of this Queen who gave her name to Pyrenees, will certainly deserve one day, a special study.
The last "Perfect" to be burnt alive in France was Guilhem Belibaste (1280 -1321), in the castle of Villerouge-Termenès. He had been betrayed by a double agent of Inquisition called Arnaud Sicre.
On August 24th, 1321, Belibaste made a very strange prophecy : before dying he announced that "by 700 years, the laurel will re-grow green in Languedoc and in the kingdom of France !"
So at a time Papacy made excuses for the period of Inquisition and wants to stick more to Jesus words, some people are waiting for 2021 to know what he meant exactly ?