The Cathars were a religious sect from the middle ages, which withheld a dualist doctrine of good against evil.

Declared as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church in a 1179 council. Thereafter, they were hunted down in the crusades. Of notice is the fall of Montségur, their last stronghold, on March 16th, 1244. On that day more than 200 Cathars were burned alive.

The word comes from the Greek katharos (well actually that should be written with Greek characters), meaning "pure".

Because of their dualist doctrine, they are frequently linked to the pre-Christian Manicheans.

They had three initiatic degrees, and one initiated in the third would be known as a parfáit (perfect). They would then pick up some votes, including chastity.

Got this information from "Cathares et Catharisme", from Lucienne Julien, Éditions Dangles, France, 1990.

See also catharism and catharist.