Last week I travelled to Princeton University to take part in a conference on ‘The Capetian Century, 1214 to 1314’. The papers were excellent. One in particular caught my attention: Cecilia Gaposchkin ofDartmouth College spoke on ‘Kingship and Crusade in the First Four Moralized Bibles’, and illustrated her exposition with wonderful images from the moralized Bibles produced for the young King Louis IX of France and his mother Blanche. As the Bibles were intended to educate Louis on his duties as king, the moral lessons of the Old and New Testaments were reworked to make them relevant to his time and position. So the enemies of the true faith included Cathars, bearded and hooded, in their long robes. And, as in the example above, some of the Cathars carried cats, to underline their identity as Cathars — as they were rumoured to worship cats.
Puzzlingly, the cats were white. Shouldn’t they be black? we wondered. But, back in Cardiff, the grad students quickly put me right on that one. The Cathar in the picture is stroking his cat like a 13th-century Blofeld, threatening King Louis IX with a Cathar plot to achieve world domination!
For more information on the manuscript above, see: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=8525&CollID=8&NStart=1526