The tragedy lived by the Cathars constitute a
black part in the history of France, marked by intolerance and massacres.
Only crusade led by the Christians against Western peoples of Christian
trend, Albi, kingdom of Catharism, will be, like other big towns, the
seat of violent conflicts and battles. The Albigensian is thus the
heretic who has to disappeared. The unhappy heretics pointed by the
vengeful finger of Rome leaders, Dominicans, have created the Holy Office
and history would want them to die in numbers.
Rome Church cannot accept such theological
and physical concurrence in Languedoc, it thus looks for some pretext
to attack and destroy this heresy; Cathars being non-violent, Rome has
to wait for the murder of Pope Innocent III's legate in 1208 (murder
which has been ordered by the Pope himself according to some people),
this event launches the crusade against Albigensians. Being non-exempted
from political aim and territorial expansion, the Pope asks the King
of France, Philippe Auguste, and his armies for an alliance; the latter,
engaged in the war against Britain, doesn't lead the royal army. One
of his barons, Simon de Montfort, would strongly play this role.
Raymond VI, count of Toulouse, immediatly gives way. Roger Trencavel,
viscount of Beziers and Carcassonne, is more hawkish and, with
the help of a strong number of his vassals, he leads the Occitan
resistance. Unfortunately, Carcassonne is captured in 1209. Trencavel
is emprisonned and dies the same year, but the Trencavel dynasty is
not dead. His son, Raymond Roger Trencavel, has had the possibility to
escape in Aragon and will try, 20 years later, to conquer again his
1209 is a year to be remembered as a red-letter day: Simon de Montfort
slaughters all that can be heretic, he burns alive more than 3000
persons in the Cathedral of Beziers, multiplies these atrocities
in Bram, Minerve, Mirepoix... Everywhere, stakes are burning. "Perfectus
Hereticus" are dying in stakes into which they volontarily jump
rather than denying their faith.
In 1215, The Latran Concile sends Raymond VI in exile.
In 1218, Simon de Montfort dies during the Toulouse siege.
The King Louis VIII leads a last wave of crusades in 1226. Raymond VII's
son, the last count of Toulouse, is dispossessed of his estates
by his wedding contract with the King of France's daughter.
In 1239-1240, Raymond Roger Trencavel brings his army who set off Aragon
in front of Carcassonne. He takes back the suburbs of the town but crusade
armies fight back and he has to leave. Reconquest has failed, Occitan
resistance is completely defeated.
March 16th 1244 marks the last moments of active Catharicism and of the
last place of resistance: Montsegur. Indeed, the last Perfectus Hereticus
and Faydits knights, who have been depossessed from their estates and
excommunicated, surrender after 10 months of siege: the last big stake where
the last ones will perish.
Cathars expelled from Carcassonne in 1209
Stake of Montségur (1244)