July 22nd, 2009 Headsman
Naturally, God said to cut them to pieces.
Beziers was the first town invested by the invading crusader army, left to its fate as the Cathars mustered in Carcassone. Interestingly, this particular city did not so much present that familiar spectacle of Christians killing Christians who thought differently — unless the thought in question was about handing over their neighbors to a throng of land-grabbing nobles.
Part of the Catholic faith did itself honor this day: those Biterrois who refused to abandon to the glories of martyrdom the Cathars in their midst, who are thought to have numbered merely a few hundred. So when the walls fell, it was mostly orthodox Catholics killing orthodox Catholics.
Well, what’s a crusading army with other cities to sack supposed to do?
“Kill them all”
When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot “Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied “Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain.
Or, in glorious Latin:
Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
And so they did.
And they killed everyone who fled into the church; no cross or altar or crucifix could save them. And these raving beggarly lads, they killed the clergy too, and the women and children. I doubt if one person came out alive … such a slaughter has not been known or consented to, I think, since the time of the Saracens. (William of Tudela, cited in Cathar Castles)
Ten to twenty thousand are thought to have been slain this day — in what proportions Catholic and heretic, only God can say.
Also on this date
- 1799: Elizabeth Lavender, teenage Fairlight infanticide
- 1995: 43 armed robbers
- 1979: Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party coup
- 1789: Joseph-Francois Foulon, corrupt financier, lynched
- 1635: Domingos Fernandes Calabar, traitor?
- 1501: Antonio Rinaldeschi, bad gambler
- 1794: Three generations of Noailles women, but not the Marquise de Lafayette
- Themed Set: Thermidor
Entry Filed under: 13th Century,Borderline "Executions",Children,Disfavored Minorities,France,God,Heresy,History,Innocent Bystanders,Known But To God,Language,Martyrs,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Notable Jurisprudence,Power,Put to the Sword,Summary Executions,Women,Wrongful Executions
Tags: 1200s, 1209, albigensian crusade, arnald-amaury, arnaud amalric, beziers, caesar of heisterbach, catharism, cathars, catholicism, crusades, july 22, languedoc, siege, siege of beziers, william of tudela