As resources ran low, and the Crusaders below became frustrated with their inability to scale the pog, an offer of compromise was given. If the Perfects and the rest of the community renounced their beliefs, and converted to Catholicism, they would be spared. This wasn’t a choice however to the Cathars, and one can only imagine the atmosphere in that community as they made their decision as to what their next action would be. Some non-Cathars living there went through the ceremony of initiation during the few days they had remaining.
As deadline day arrived, striding down the hillside, hand in hand, and singing hymns, they walked voluntarily onto the pyres built in readiness at the bottom of the mountain. All were burnt to death, viewed no doubt uncomfortably by Papal representation and many others at the scene, who were witness to such devoted and committed faith. The Crusade against the Cathars, the only crusade on Western soil, was effectively at an end. A monument stands to this day on the “Field of the Cremated”, and always has flowers residing on it. Even now, the whole Languedoc region has reminders of the acts of cruelty performed upon it’s ancestors, with the rolling hills and landscapes adding to the timelessness of place. One can still smell a whiff of heresy in the air, and one can’t help wonder “have the Cathars ever really gone away….?”
But the tale apparently doesn’t end on the Field of the Cremated at Montsegur. There were reports that some Cathars escaped down the other side of the pog, taking with them their wealth and treasure. Exactly what that wealth and treasure might have been is much speculated, but the Nazis believed it to be, amongst other things, the Holy Grail. Indeed, they were seen circling Montsegur in 1944, on the 700th anniversary of that fateful day. How would the Cathars come to have the Holy Grail you may be asking, and it is a good question. One theory is from the Knights Templar, known Cathar sympathisers, who some suggest found it in the Holy Land, whilst excavating the site of Solomon’s Temple where they were based.