French Text In the Medieval period, the idea of the crusade (or holy war/jihad) gained favor as a way firstly of freeing the Holy Land from Muslim control, it then degenerated into a justification for imposing western domination in Asia Minor. Crusades, therefore, always took place away from western Europe. However, in 1209, for the first time on Catholic Christian soil, a crusade was undertaken which lasted for over 30 years in southern France, with Simon de Montfort at its head. The crusade was against Cathar heretics, known also as Albigensians. This highly illustrated book details all the military and social consequences of what became a serious bloodletting. It also portrays the early career of Simon de Montfort, a character whose influence can still be felt down the centuries as the leader of the barons who made England's King John sign the Magna Carta.