Lady Esclarmonde is not a villain merely because she is religious or even fanatical. She is a villain because her Cathar teachings are a menace, and because her position as chatelaine means that the menace is spread as far and wide as the political influence associated with her castle. After she declares marriage an abomination, because it regularises the abhorred sexual act, her husband turns to a mistress and the villagers feel free to take advantage of those they would never get to marry, like their own nieces or young cousins. After she says it is evil to beget children, because it means the trapping of souls in mortal flesh, the villagers feel justified in procuring abortions. And after she goes about administering the consolamentum to the sick, whose bodies she has no interest in healing, they end up starving to an agonizing death.(Image) Share
Under her leadership, the Chateau de Mirambel turns from a source of protection and patronage to a font of confusion and suffering. She is a worthy villain for this rich Historical novel set in thirteenth-century France.