The Devil's Province
by Peter Roberts

Peter Roberts - The Devil's Province

BBC Radio 4: The Monday Play

Broadcast: Monday 20th June 1994 @ 7:45 p.m.

As the monks burn the body of their late Brother Jerome in the same manner as they would for heretics, Brother Joseph tells the story of his meeting with Brother Jerome, three days earlier, dying at the gates of the monastary. Brother Jerome had declined all medical attention and just went to his cell for solitude. But after pestering him to see what secret ails him, Brother Jerome tells his story under the condition that Brother Joseph will hear it all, then leave him in peace.

His story begins in 1209 at time before he joined the Order, when he was known as Bernard, a troubadour from Gascony. Bernard was a poet, singer, warrior, lover or, as he would describe himself, an arrogant second-rate versifier. He sang well enough to earn a living in great men's castles; he could turn a rhymn and use a sword, too, and even went on a Crusade once. But after a time he left the Crusade and decided to ride down into Provence, to the land of the Cathars, to see what employment he could pick up. While there, he found work in the home of Count Roger, a noble Catholic, and falls in love with Roger's daughter, Alex, who is a Cathar.

Meanwhile, Pope Innocent III has preached a Crusade against Cathars in the Catholic world after one of his legates is murdered in the area. The Crusade, led by Lord Simon de Montfort, soon descends with unbelievable ferocity to destroy the Cathar heresy as this was considered to be a saint war and the soldiers who died fighting would have their sins redeemed and be insured to go to Paradise. What is more, the land of the knights known to have been heretics would be given to the first one who would conquer them.

Soon, Bernard finds himself embroiled in a battle which is not his as he finds himself fighting against those he had once served....

With Michael Lumsden [Bernard, a Troubadour], David Calder [Brother Jerome], Garard Green [Brother Joseph], Carolyn Backhouse [Lady Alex], Stephen Tomlin [Michael, a Cathar], Richard Derrington [Father Richard], Norman Rodway [Lord Roger, Alex's Father], Peter Harding [Lord Simon de Montfort], and Peter Meakin [Raoul, a Hack Poet].

Other parts played by Dominic Rickhards, Andy Hockley, and Roger Hume.

Directed by Nigel Bryant at BBC Pebble Mill.

Re-broadcast on Saturday 17th June 1995 @ 2:30 p.m.

90 minutes.


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