Song of the Albigensian Crusade

Genius loci is defined as “the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place” and this place is defined by an ancient religion that haunts the mountains and vineyards.

The Albigensian Crusade, or Cathar Crusade (1209–1229), was a twenty year military campaign initiated by the Roman Catholic Church to eliminate the heresy of the Cathars of Languedoc.

The Cathars were particularly strong in this region and the four castles of Lastours were the scene of many conflicts.

A full history of the crusade can be found at

Cansó de la Crozada

The Song of the Crusade is a poem, written in Occitan, which covers the events of the war against the Cathars of the Languedoc during the period 1204 to 1218. The Song was attributed to William of Tudela, but research has revealed two distinct authors.

William wrote only the first third, and an unknown author the second two-thirds. While William was clearly wholly in sympathy with the Roman Church, and the French crusaders, the other author was clearly a close companion of the Count of Toulouse, whose heart was with the armies of the South, if not with the religion of the Cathars.

The second part of the poem is more skillfully written, more dramatic and more moving, bringing alive the horrors and cruelty of Holy War. Throughout the crusaders are referred to, as in other Occitan literature, as the “French” – a constant reminder that the people of the Languedoc were not then French and had no reason to think of themselves as such.