Final extract from the fictional Journal of Phillipe de Saint-Claire – translated from the ancient Occitan language into modern English. Phillipe finds sanctuary in Templecombe, Somerset, England.
The next day I set off in clear weather over the rest of the mountains and, after four days walking, I came to the great city of Barcelona which was then home to the court of Aragon. There I felt I was able to disclose my identity to the court chamberlain whom I met, but not of course my object. Instead I gave him the tale that I was escaping from the wrath of the French and that I wished to obtain a passage by sea to England. I found the chamberlain most helpful and after an interval of two weeks one of his staff introduced me to the captain of a ship making for Lisbon. There I was able to transfer to an English ship and I landed in the port of London on the first day of September in the same year of one thousand two hundred and forty-four.
I had been given the names of two people whom I might contact for assistance if I should reach England. I met the first, a lawyer named Henry Bradburn, in his dwelling in a special court in London which was called the Inner Temple. His manner was dry and less hospitable than I had hoped and I feared I would get little assistance from him. He confirmed, when I asked, that news had reached London of the destruction of the Cathar cause at Montségur and other locations thereafter. He seemed to think that I should give great thanks to God for my deliverance from the French ‘crusaders’. As far as he was aware, I was the only human being to escape the hue and cry which had followed the fall of Montségur.
He also had knowledge of the other person whom I had been told I might contact – a gentleman by the name of Gérard de Molay. Apparently that man now resided in a small town in the West of England which was called Coombe Temple. Mr Bradburn thought that my best course was to travel to that place and seek out the said Gérard who was the person most likely to be able to help me. Mr Bradburn said he would give me a sealed letter to hand to de Molay.
Therefore I travelled west and met Monsieur de Molay on a day in late September when the leaves of the great trees in the valley above Coombe Temple were starting to turn to gold. Gérard revealed that he was a supporter of the Cathars who had escaped from France when he saw that our cause had become hopeless. He had been able to transfer some of his substantial wealth through his connection with the Knights Templar and had used a part of this to obtain possession of a substantial portion of land in the area. Because of his support for the cause he was prepared to sell me, for a very modest sum which I could pay him over the next few years, a section of that land where I might build a house and grow sufficient food to sustain me until such time as I might be contacted by an emissary from the Cathar convocation. With the blessing of the good God I was able to make a success of this enterprise and am now accounted to be a wealthy man with a wife and three growing sons.
As my life moves towards its close I have never received any approach from anybody in the Languedoc and I fear that I never shall. All the information we have received from France is that the Cathar faith is utterly destroyed. So I believe that I should set down my experiences of what occurred in the month of March in the year of one thousand two hundred and forty-four in case the treasure of the Cathars should ever be sought by my successors or members of my faith. This I now do as correctly and as fully as I am able to remember some forty years after the actual events took place.
I commend this account to the true God whose teachings I have always followed.
The photo shows Templecombe. I have now completed the extracts from Phillipe’s journal. I intend to publish the complete journal on my website in the near future where it will be available free of charge. Next week I shall start to tell you about the village of Rennes-le-Chateau a few miles north of le Bézu.