The Treasure Of Montsegur
Jeanne was raised by a Cathar holy woman. The man Jeanne loved married her best friend, and eventually the three of them faced death by burning after the siege of the Cathar enclave at Montségur. A bitter reprieve, however, sent Jeanne out of harm’s way and on a mission to save precious remnants of her Cathar religion. She cannot forgive herself for failing in that mission and for not mounting the pyre with the two people she loved most.
Thirteenth-century France is a perilous place for Christians whose doctrine differs from that of the Roman Catholic Church, but poverty confers the protective mantle of invisibility. Once lady of her own manor, Jeanne is now just another beggar, a hag dependent upon the charity of her betters. When her latest benefactor recognizes her for a Cathar– a heretic–Jeanne must flee for her life.
With the Inquisition bearing down upon her, Jeanne stumbles upon an unlikely deliverer–but her past continues to haunt her. At the lowest point in her life, she discovers the true treasure of Montségur and finds in herself the grace and courage of perfect faith.
Ms. Burnham recreates her setting with integrity. Though her story is more about religious wars in general than medieval France, she paints historical detail over her narrative with spare but sure strokes. The Treasure of Montségur is worthwhile for its illumination of the Cathars’ plight and for the extraordinary character of Jeanne.