The WIkipedia article about Cathars is fine — not terribly detailed,\ but I take it that’s the idea. If anyone actually wants to go for\ broke and play a Cathar sympathizer, auditor, or perfectus/a, I can\ make some additional suggestions, starting with the advice that you go\ ahead and get Malcolm Lambert’s The Cathars from your friendly local\ university library. And the good news is that there’s a whole heck of\ a lot of room for improvisation.
In fact — let me just go ahead and point everyone to a handful of my\ favorite sites.
LIBRO, the Library of Iberian Resources Online, has some extremely\ high-quality out-of-print university-press monographs available as\ free etexts. For an overview of Jewish life in Iberia, you could do\ worse than to skim chapter one of R.I. Burns’ Jews in the Notarial\ Culture; for an overview of Iberian politics at the beginning of the\ thirteenth century, the first chapter (and some of the other essays)\ in Burns’ edited volume The Worlds of Alfonso the Learned and James\ the Conqueror. Just poke around. It’s fun.
The Internet Medieval Sourcebook has a lot of nice little etext\ snippets, usually from older translations with all the\ offensive-to-Victorians bits left out, but still good to get the\ flavor of the period. I’d start at the Select Sources page and look at “Iberia,” but\ also — depending on your character and interests — the sections on\ crusades, heresy, church, spirituality, etc. There are semi-separate\ “Jewish” and “Islamic” History Sourcebooks as part of the same site\ which you may also want to consult if you’re going in that direction.
If, like me, you are confused by all the different “Spanish” kingdoms\ and would like to see a map of them in 1220 — well, you’re out of\ luck online AFAIK, although there are nice ones from 1200ish (just\ before the massive push south of the Christian kingdoms which starts\ in 1212 and lasts through about 1250) and 1300ish at\ This URL.\ (There’s a good B&W map c. 1250 in O’Callaghan’s History of Medieval\ Spain, which I’ve got on my bookshelf; if you’d like me to scan it in\ for the website, Dorothea, let me know. Or you might have something\ better and in color.)
You’ll find a lot of information about Navarre in particular slotted\ under “French” rather than “Spanish” history, thanks to the later\ division of the region; you’ll also find that some holdover European\ nationalism has caused it to be largely ignored until pretty recently\ (“Spanish” historians centered their work on Castile, while “French”\ historians centered theirs around the Paris region). My own knowledge\ of specifically Navarrese history is very limited (insofar as I’ve\ dealt with medieval Iberia, it’s been Leon or Aragon), but I do want\ to know where Monrroyo is going to be located. Specifically, is it\ closest to Pamplona, Estella, or Tudela?
(I could play a Catholic, Cathar, or Jewish character — in fact, I am\ semi-seriously contemplating trying to do two of the three — but I\ want to know what Jewish and Christian communities and institutions\ are going to be nearby enough to work them into backstories. For, lo,\ I am going about this as geekily as possible. :)