ALBIGENSES

c 1200 AD

 

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Introduction:

ALBIGENSES is a name applied loosely to the 'heretics,' belonging to various sects, that abounded in the south of France about the beginning of the 13th century. The chief scet was the Cathari (q.v.); but they all agreed in renouncing the authority of the popes and the discipline of the Romish Church. The name arose from the circumstance that the district of Albigeois in Languedoc - now in the department of Tarn, of which Albi is the capital - was the first point against which the crusade of Pope Innocent III, 1209, was directed. The immediate pretence of the crusade was the murder of the papal legate and inquisitor, Peter of Castelnau, who had been commissioned to exterpate heresy in the dominions of Count Raymond VI. of Toulouse; but its real object was to deprive the count of his lands, as he had become an object of hatred from his toleration of the heretics. It was in vain that he had submitted to the most humiliating penance and flagellation from the hands of the legate Milo, and had purchased the papal absolution by great sacrifices. The legates, Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux and Milo, who directed the expedition, took by storm Bexiers, the capital of Raymond's nephew, Roger, and massacred 20,000 - some say 40,000 - of the inhabitants, Catholics as well as heretics. 'Kill them all,' said Arnold; 'God will know his own!' Simon Count of Montfort, who conducted the war under the legates, proceeded in the same relentless way with other places in the territories of Raymond and his allies. Of these, Roger of Beziers died in prison, and Peter I. of Aragon fell in battle. The conquered lands were given as a reward to Simon of Montfort, who never came into quiet possession of the gift. At the siege of Toulouse, 1218, he was killed by a stone, and Counts Raymond VI. and VII. disputed the possession of their territories with his son. But the papal indulgences drew fresh crusaders from every province of France, to continue the war. Raymond VII. continued to struggle bravely against the legates and Louis VIII. of France, to whom Montfort had ceded his pretensions, and who fell in the war in 1226. After hundreds of thousands had perished on both sides, a peace was concluded, in 1229, at which Raymond purchased relief from the ban of the church by immense sums of money, gave up Narbonne and several lordships to Louis IX., and had to make his son-in-law, the brother of Louis, heir of his possessions. These provinces, hitherto independent, were thus, for the first time, joined to the kingdom of France; and the pope sanctioned the acquisition, in order to bind Louis more firmly to the papal chair, and induce him more readily to admit the inquisition. The heretics were handed over to the proselytising zeal of the order of Dominicans, and the bloody tribunals of the Inquisition; and both used their utmost power to bring the recusant Albigenses to the stake, and also, by inflicting severe punishment on the penitent converts, to inspire dread of incurring the church's displeasure. From the middle of the 13th century, the name of the Albigenses gradually disappears. The remnants of them took refuge in the east, and settled in Bosnia. Compare Fauriel, Croisade contre les Albigeois (Par. 1838); Faber, Inquiry into the History and Theology of the Vallenses and Albigenses (Lond. 1838); Peyrat, Hist. des Albigeois (Par. 1870).

 

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UPDATED: 17 April 2014

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