Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Carcassonne and Rennes-le-Chateau. Berenger and Rochefort. Link looks.

Carcassonne:  Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse.

1. The Berenger in Berenger de Rochefort, Bishop in 1209.
Siege of Carcassonne
  It was the worst of times. 

2.  The Rochefort in Berenger de Rochefort. 
Why and how did he disappear at the siege of Carcassonne in 1209.
Noble families, Cathar ties.
Afterwards, reinstated as fully "Catholic?" The name bounces back.

Track the names. More possible links, despite centuries.
Carcassonne. Rennes-le-Chateau.

Bishop Berenger of Rochefort. We know little as to his tenure but his name is of interest. Berenger. Is the name mere coincidence, in that it also is the first name of the priest at Rennes-le Chateau centuries later, of treasure fame.  How about the Rochefort? Do these old families and places, noble houses, still carry any significance to sleuthing.

Berenger de Rochefort was Bishop in 1209 at the Cathedral of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse at Carcassonne, when the walled city was taken by the Roman Catholic Crusaders of Pope Innocent III.  He is listed as the 19th bishop of the see, on one of numerous wall plaques at Carcassonne, Saint-Nazaire, commemorating the roster.  Is that 1202-1209?  Did he die?  Leave? Disappear?  Was he ushered out?  If he had been ushered out, even in disgrace (who knows), would his name still be entitled to remain.


Carcassonne, Saint-Nazaire, chronology of Bishops. Berenger de Rochefort 1202 1209. There at the siege of Carcassonne, Albigensian Crusade.

  •  The Crusade was designed to and did exterminate the other Christians in the area, a Cathar or Albigensian group that refused to follow Roman Catholic ritual, dogma, and hierarchy rules.  That church then was remodeled several times, with some vestiges of the earliest structure remaining, until it was demoted in 1803 to the mere Basilica Saint-Nazaire. By that time, a new Gothic Saint Michel Cathedral had been built. Cathars had co-existed peacefully with Roman Catholics and others.  Acting against them required bringing in Crusaders from outside, especially those who returned having failed at the Holy Land.

1.  Berenger.

The name Berenger de Rochefort:  The coincidence is that it was Francois Berenger Sauniere, Abbe at Rennes-le-Chateau beginning 1885, who apparently found or obtained access to some sort of treasure or documents of worth. He suddenly began renovating the parish, living high, and engaging in activities not consistent with Catholic orthodoxy.  See the Timeline at http:// www.benhamm ott.com/rennes-le-chateau-timeline.html

  • The Timeline shows that possibility of a connection between these two Berengers to be remote and more like happenstance, in that some 650 years had passed between the Cathar-era Berenger and the Roman Catholic priest at the small parish.  
  • Would, however, the presence of a Berenger at Rennes-le-Chateau encourage the confessor of Maria de Negri D'Ables to conceal her documents there?
  • Was Berenger Sauniere who found whatever he found, partially or completely (?) converted to a Cathar mindset in rejecting ritual required by the Roman Church -- did he become persuaded by what he found.  If his family had been sympathetic in the long memory of such things, why not.  
  • Sleuth on. 

And the apparent source of the treasure-documents, the last "known" holder, was one Maria de Negre D'Ables of Cathar family and castle heritage, who may or may not have entrusted them to her confessor at her death in 1789. She was living at the time at Chateau Hautpol, there at the village of Rennes-le-Chateau.

Still to be researched.  Was Bishop Berenger, whose tenure ended so suddenly in 1209, a sympathizer with the Christian Cathars, as many Roman Catholics were before the Crusade was unleashed against the Cathars for not following Roman ritual and dogma.  Before, none of that mattered except to Rome.  Neighbors were neighbors. If that was his mindset after serving in the Carcassonne community, could he and other sympathizers in Carcassonne have aided in the Cathars' removal of their property as best they could on short notice.  Or was he killed?  This was a time of betrayals and killing;  siege, expulsion, and requisition of all property of the Cathars to the Pope.  What if a bishop disagreed.

After Berenger de Rochefort, another Rochefort takes over:  A Bernard Raymond de Rochefort takes over in 2009 without comment as to the intervening events. See the list of successions from Saint-Nazaire:  now just another "basilica." Apparently the entire Rochefort group was not tainted, even if Berenger had been.

2.  Rochefort.

Rochefort is also the name of a later August de Labouisse-Rochefort, who recorded a story of the times, much embellished and legendized, but see The Devil's Treasure at http://www.rennes-le-chateau-rhedae.com/rlc/devilstreasure.html There, the story is credited with starting the "urban legend" of the treasure; but with a Berenger connection and other geneologies pointing to Cathar origins and sympathies, can we look again.  Rochefort.  See also http://www.rlcresearch.com/2008/08/31/labouisse-rochefort/
Note the mention in the story of Blanchefort -- isn't that one of the Marie de Negri D'Abli heritage castles?  Have to check.  If so, and the owner is upset at people coming on his property, shall we all go have a look?

Religious histories of genocide, or at the least, extermination of dissenters.  Is that supposed to be acceptable, unaccountable, even now? See http://www.carcassonne.org/carcassonne_en.nsf/vuettre/DocPatrimoneBasiliqueStNazaire5

The name in itself, "Berenger" in the chronology of bishops, puts him in the Catholic camp probably, but we already know that Catholics in the area lived compatibly with the peaceable and non-ritualistic Albigensians or Cathars.

How does this relate to the later stories of a treasure appearing at the disposal of a little-known parish priest at Rennes-le-Chateau centuries later, someone of the same name.

Carcassonne did not merely "surrender."  People fled, there was fighting. Accounts vary, see http://migratorypatterns.blogspot.com/2012/09/iron-pincers-retold-albigensian-crusade.html ; and facts turned to tales and from there into legend.  What kernels are reliable? Here is another timeline:  http://www.rennes-le-chateau-rhedae.com/rlc/rennes-le-chateau-timeline.html.  Simon de Montfort was relentless, see his siege at the town of Termes at http://home.eckerd.edu/~oberhot/cathar-termes2.htm.  Any sympathizer would go into hiding. To us today, Cathar beliefs seem to foster co-existence, tolerance, paratge as they would say -- courtesy and respect.  To the Roman Catholic church, however, autonomy threatened its very dogmatic foundations and must be rooted out. See http://www.cathar.info/

Ask, at least, what happened to the wealth that was at least portable when the citizens fled the night before the Crusaders came, when they learned that their Count (Count Raymond-Roger Trencavel) had been taken prisoner under flag of truce?  If it was portable, it may have left.  Parts unknown, and Templars were all over Europe at that time -- did it go to Austria, Scandinavia, where?  Templars remained a viable entity until the early 1300's.

Is it plausible that treasure was left in town, was Bishop Berenger sympathetic or not to the Cathars.  Who canf find a site for him?

What was left in his parish town, hidden.  The flight of the able left only the infirm, the women and children, the unable to flee, in the city to be driven out naked if appears, and the crusaders ran rampant over the ramparts.  How about the property that could not be taken by the others?  We know they all lost their lands to the Pope.  Was there also gold in them-thar-cityplaces. Is that one source of a trove later to go to Berenger at Rennes-le-Chateau, courtesy of the means of Berenger, Bishop of Carcassonne when it fell?

Ask if this name Berenger, Bishop on the rolls at the time of the attack on Carcassonne, is connected to why a later cleric of the same name, Berenger, at a small parish located nearby, is the recipient of a mystery treasure trove from Carcassonne or other Cathar sources, where there are other Cathar-era connections also to point the way.  See http://www.franceroadways.blogspot.com/2012/09/rennes-le-chateau-afterthoughts on.htm

These armies were horrendous in a local setting.  They were being hurled by a militarist Pope Innocent III, who had been embarrassed by failed crusades, against Christian Cathars in southwest France.  Other crusades were unleashed with equal un-Christian ferocity against northern Europeans, but that was a more remote area.  This Albigensian genocide brought back to mainstream Europe a lust for exterminating those who disagree with church dogma.  The method had been fostered by with Charlemagne executing Saxons who refused to convert centuries ago.  Killing those who disagree with dogma had become the method du jour to force converts and conduct property-grabs for the newly separated Roman branch of Christianity.

How else to keep power?  The Roman church's break from the rest of the Christian world, the Eastern Orthodox Christians, had occurred in 1054. Crusades in Palestine had ensued immediately, not only to "free" Palestine, but to loot; and after an initial success, later crusades failed. Did returning failed Crusaders need ego boosts (we now know that even voting for a losing candidate reduces testosterone - sidelight, see www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/opinion/sunday/is-america-man-enough-to-vote.html?r=0.)

 Regardless, the returning failed Crusaders presented bodies, training, experience and gusto.  And there was the lovely and prosperous Languedoc. And a Pope in need of some victories. The Languedoc, South of France area, was already peopled by Christians, but no matter. There was property and people:  go get 'em.  Cathars also were in the North of France, but the Crusade was aimed at the south-west.

This large, walled city, full of Christian Cathars (Albigensians) as well as Christian Catholics and the usual rest of us of some or no conviction, was targeted by Pope Innocent III for siege by his Crusaders at the outset of the Albigensian Crusade he had called.  With all the sites on the Albigensian Crusades and the Cathars, this time go first to good old Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathar.  Then move to research on related topics.

Unless some mole has changed things, the Wiki site offers a fine overview, including clear notice of the abject failure of the Pope to convert Cathars by example and preaching.  Accordingly, he resorted to violence and genocide. The official dates of the Crusade are 1209-1229, but harassment, excommunications, and other actions against Cathars (who lived peaceably with their neighbors)

Why care?  Care because the Rennes-le-Chateau Berenger has been moved from the hallowed church graveyard to unhallowed ground.  Some descendant was offended?  Is Dogma ever "true'?

What if it is so, that the Berenger of Carcassonne in 1209, felt no enmity toward the Christian Cathars who were forced out, and kept some of their treasures and later another, Cathar-sympathetic, returned them home.  Go, Rennes-le-Chateau.  There are some who say that the fortune originated with Archishop Ferdinan.  Does that matter?  Templars were all over Europe, until decimated by the Pope and King of France for financial gain.

So, some ended up in Austria?  Same difference.  Home to roost.

Next issue:  The priest, Berenger Sauniere.  Please put him back in hallowed ground. Whose is the travesty, the sin, the heresy, if not the Crusade against the Cathars to begin with. Any crusade.  Argue it, ye idealists who think institutions should be held accountable for crimes against humanity.  Why should a much later descendant be able to do that kind of removal?

Will someone please re-inter Berenger Sauniere in hallowed ground. Or, perhaps, as a Cathar, in later times, Berenger himself could care less. Those kinds of trumped up rituals and dogma are meaninless. Would he say that?



The roster of bishops at Saint-Nazaire from early Christian times is documented at the church even now: The earliest may this Silvestre from 653 AD.



Te Berenger name as Bishop is confirmed in the Catholic Dioces of Carcassonne records as shown at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diocese_of_Carcassonne.  My interest stops at the conclusion of the Albigensian genocide.

 Here is the group of Bishops immediately preceding that travesty:










Does this slab at Carcassonne, with its arches and Templar-like figures, direct us to a church?  Have to find the translation and photo of the full explanatory plaque at the left. 




And the stories, oh, the stories, see http://www.rennes-le-chateau-rhedae.com/





Carcassonne: Basilica Saint Nazaire. Warfare. Meet the Dead


From the ramparts and outer walls of Carcassonne, now look inside its most historic church, at pre-Gothic traces of older Christian religious practices and forms in what used to be the Cathedral. The Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse was built on the site, and with some materials, from an earlier Visigothic Church.  It served as the Cathedral (a bishop at home there) through the fall of Carcassonne in 1209 to the Pope's Crusaders; and until the 1800's when a later Cathedral was built to replace it, Saint-Michel.  In all this, spellings differ depending on the abbreviations used and the language, so do multiple searches. And this church was changed and remodeled to suit later religious purposes, but old vestiges remain. 

A.  The Three Sarcophagi - Identification process. One is the sarcophagus of Raymond-Roger Trencavel. (would a "cenotaph" be an empty tomb with the figure on the top laid out as a tribute?)
B.  Mystery cover slab
C. Shallow etched wall memorial, knight
D.  Templar-type floor slab, skull and crossbones
E.   Memorial to cathars
F.  Stone of the Seat - Relief, depicting death of Catholic Simon de Montfort at siege of Toulouse, killed by Cathars
..............................................................................................

Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse
Basilica, formerly the Cathedral at Carcassonne. 

A.  The Three Sarcophagi

 There are three sarcophagi, sarcophasuses, of special interest.  Who was in them, what religious framework created the designs.  Did one of these house the remains of Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Count of Carcassonne, who was captured under his flag of truce for peace negotiations; then murdered by the Pope's Crusaders. Stories vary:  Did the population learn of the killing and impending siege by the Crusaders, and flee with all they could carry.  That left the infirm, old, pregnant, young, who are represented in art as forced out of the city naked and with nothing.  All property was confiscated.  If so, what happened to the ones who escaped?  What could they take with them?  Were there dispersals into the countryside, across mountains, into hiding places, troves hidden to be found by someone later.

Can Christian Cathar sarcophagi be separated from the Roman Catholic sarcophagi and burial customs.  A first thing to notice about these three is the absence of dogmatic Christian symbolism, figures, scenes. 

1.  First sarcophagus: A simple, wavy line sarcophagus, no top slab, but what looms like a place for a lock to secure a top slab.



Fresco, Saint-Nazaire, showing someone being placed in a wavy-line design sarcophagus.  Who>


2.  Second sarcophagus:  A bi-level chevron pattern, broken in a measured way at one end, perhaps for a removal of a body intact?   There is a design within a circle on the side facing out.


Detail, center circle, chevron sided sarcophagus.


Contrasting end design to chevron sided sarcophagus:  here, a repeating floral pattern


3.  Third sarcophagus, repeating full-cover vine scrollwork



End design to scrolling vine sarcophagus:  a divided sprouting floral pattern.


B.  Mystery cover slab



 C.  Wall Memorial, name defaced completely off:  Count Simon de Montfort, who led the Albigensian Crusade and the siege at Carcassonne and Beziers, among other cities. 

Simon de Montfort was so hated that guidebook information says that his son had his body removed, boiled down, and the bones taken to Versailles so they could not be the focal point of the Cathar sympathizers, of whom many remained. Attempts to reinscribe his name here fail.



 If you have other information, do tell.

D.  Templar-type burial slab, shallow etch




E.  Shallow etched memorial (even burial behind??) knight in mail.  

Look closely. This, image all worn off, is Simon de Montfort, according to this Cathar Information site,  http://www.cathar.info/120503_simon.htm.  I had to jimmy colors to even get the outline of the form there.  The site confirms the identity with a clearer photograph.


Simon de Montfort led the Crusaders, implementing Pope Innocent III's Crusades against Christian Cathars.  Carcassonne fell in 1209, after a 15-day siege, and Montfort taking captive the Cathar Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Count of Carcassonne, betrayed under a flag of truce, then seeing to his death by the end of the year.  See Who's Who in the Cathar Wars, http://www.cathar.info/120503_simon.htm.  Meet Simon de Montfort in the arts, a 1909 play about the Albigensian Crusades, The Iron Pincers, see an abbreviated version at  http://migratorypatterns.blogspot.com/2012/09/iron-pincers-retold-albigensian-crusade.html

Further support for this being Simon de Montfort is the relief shown partially at the left:  the siege of Toulouse where Simon de Montfort was killed by the women at the ramparts, those same women also "manning" the catapults, one of whose hurled rocks hit Simon in the head.  Curtains.




Note the stone sarcophagus with wavy pattern receiving body outside city walls.  Heaven awaits.  Likely for body of Simon de Montfort (same wavy pattern on the stone). Toulouse 2019 or so, Albigensian Crusade.  This was a Catholic church, thus the favoring of de Montfort.  Ultimately, the antagonism of the people to the whole genocide resulted in the Church erecting a new Cathedral, Saint-Michel, nearby -- and as a fortress.  This was centuries later, however, in the 1800's.  Did the hatred really persist for so long as to necessitate a new cathedral fort?

After siege, defeat and expulsion of all the Cathars at Carcassonne, Simon de Montfort continued his efforts on behalf of the Pope and finally met his end.  He was interred for several years at Carcassonne, where he had received the titles to Cathar lands confiscated by edict of Pope Innocent III. Issues remained long after regarding the legality of confiscating lands of Christian nobility on whim, see long list of Christian bishops in Carcassonne, no debate as to "Christianity" of the Cathars.  Only later dogma interpretations of the legal issue , in league with the desire for lands and fast converts, shoved the whole issue under the ecclesiastical banknotes rug.  See Simon de Montfort history at http://www.cathar.info/120503_simon.htm

E.  Knight in chain mail, memorial or burial? Why does this look so much like William Marshal of England, flower of chivalry and nobility of line and action, the ultimate of Courtesie?



 Does a uniform, here of chain mail, make all men look alike?


F.  Wall plaque, memorial to Cathars



G.  Stone of the Seat - Death of Simon de Montfort at siege of Toulouse, killed by Cathars


In this battle scene, the city wall at Toulouse runs vertically, the women of the town maneuver the trebouchet, a stone is thrown at and hits the Catholic leader of the Crusades, Simon de Montfort, see details at http://bbcp.pagesperso-orange.fr/english/cite/basilique/basilique.html  There is supposed to a tableau of angels carrying his heart to the sky while his body is on a stretcher.  Where?  Note that Simon was so detested (this must have been a Catholic project) that -- see above.  This is the only real "live" acknowledgement of the Albigensian Crusade.

This church centuries later showed compassion for refugees, although not those it caused: