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The Beziers Massacre.
July 22, 2009 5:06 AM   Subscribe

"Kill them all. For God knows His own." Today is the 800th anniversary of the massacre of the inhabitants of the town of Beziers in Languedoc, in the south of France, known by the Romans as Gallia Narbonensis. Beziers was the first town to be sacked in the Albigensian Crusades to extirpate the Christian heresy of Catharism, which flourished in Languedoc. The Albigensian Crusades represented the initial application in Europe of religious warfare sanctioned by the resurgent medieval Papacy, and led directly to the institution of the Inquisition and rise of the Dominican Order.
posted by rdone (37 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the first link:

This is the origin of the modern phrase, "Kill them all, and let God sort them out."

So does that make this the first Internet meme?
posted by PlusDistance at 5:22 AM on July 22, 2009


. x 7,900
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:26 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What part of 'Thou shalt not kill' did they not get?
posted by unSane at 5:33 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


unSane: The answer to your question may be found by reading Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:13, Matthew 5:18-19 and Luke 16:17.
posted by eccnineten at 5:51 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Thou shalt not kill...except those guys. You know the ones I mean."
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:58 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obligatory In Our Time links: The Spanish Inquisition (with some content on the beggining of the office of the inquisition in the Albigensian Crusades) and the history of the Franciscan and Dominican orders.
posted by shothotbot at 6:06 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


More on Béziers...

http://www.cathar.info/120513_trencavel.htm
posted by vvurdsmyth at 6:09 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


unSane: The answer to your question may be found by reading Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:13, Matthew 5:18-19 and Luke 16:17.

You don't think that it's maybe just a tiny bit disingenuous to link the Sermon on the Mount, with its emphasis on peace-making and mercy and not even hating other people, back to the Deuteronomy and Chronicles texts? Or were you trying to demonstrate what ridiculousness occurs when one or two verses are stripped from their larger context? You do remember it was Jesus being quoted there, the "love you enemies, do good to those that hurt you" guy?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:16 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


unSane: The answer to your question may be found by reading Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:13, Matthew 5:18-19 and Luke 16:17

Not if you can't be arsed to link 'em ;-)
posted by i_cola at 6:16 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pater Aletheias: Or were you trying to demonstrate what ridiculousness occurs when one or two verses are stripped from their larger context?

I think he was trying to make the point that a bunch of people will jump on his bandwagon without actually looking up the references he cites.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:22 AM on July 22, 2009


I know all this already. I played Ars Magica.
posted by schwa at 6:39 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's been 800 years. Get over it already.
posted by rocket88 at 6:54 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been 500million years since the Cambrian explosion, get over it already.

Anyway what unSane said tickled my mind a bit and I think the way it works (not that this is some smashingly new discovery) is that we say "thou shalt not kill." But those guys are The Other. The law that binds us, under which we shall not kill, doesn't bind them anyway. So we have to get rid of them to come under the real law. It's not that different from saying foreign residents in a country don't have the same civil rights as citizens.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 7:08 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite memories of driving around France was pulling into Albi and being stunned by the Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile there, an enormous red brick fortress structure looming over the city. A visible, deliberate reminder of the power of the Church.

The Albigensian Crusade is fascinating. Middle ages Christianity is full of various heresies and local movements. The Cathars are notable partly because they were larger and better organized than others, but mostly because they provoked such a terrible crushing response. And of course their secret connection to the Knights Templar and the resulting buggery and regular blood rituals drinking from the Holy Grail.
posted by Nelson at 7:30 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nobody expects the Albigensian Crusade!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 8:10 AM on July 22, 2009


Zbigniew Herbert's remarkable essay "Albigensians, Inquisitors and Troubadors" in his book Barbarian in the Garden examines, among other things, how the inquisitorial techniques perfected during the Albigensian Crusade exactly prefigure the techniques of the NKVD and other 20th Century secret police. It's a great read.
Also, Zoé Oldenbourg's Massacre at Montségur is utterly engrossing, even if a bit dated.
posted by Bromius at 8:10 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Less unexpected than the Spanish version.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:11 AM on July 22, 2009


Damn you battleshipkropotkin! That's a lashing!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:12 AM on July 22, 2009


Stephen O'Shea's The Perfect Heresy is a very accessible introduction to the events in this fascinating period.
posted by idiomatika at 8:15 AM on July 22, 2009


Nice post.

What part of 'Thou shalt not kill' did they not get?

The part that was getting in the way of political ambition.

Nobody expects the Albigensian Crusade!
Less unexpected than the Spanish version.
Damn you battleshipkropotkin! That's a lashing!


I heard a rather thorough CBC radio documentary about the Albigensian Crusades a year or so ago. It basically posited the "removal" of the Cathars as the original genocide, that is, the first genuine, organized attempt to completely remove a "people" from the face of the earth.

The fact that it's now such a quick and easy source of laughs brings to mind something a historian acquaintance said a few years back. "Once everybody who was there and suffered the event has died, history just becomes entertainment."

I guess this gives us maybe 20 years before the sluices really open up on all those repressed Holocaust laughs.
posted by philip-random at 8:24 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"For the purpose of doing away with"
(title of the papal bull which established the first medieval inquisition)

Interestingly, the Franciscans and Dominicans arose around this same time. Before they were officially sanctioned by the Pope, they were heresies. Pope Innocent III decided to employ them in the fight against heresy. As a result, many Franciscans and Dominicans became inquisitors. If the Cathars didn't exist most likely the Franciscans and Dominicans would have been wiped out.

All of these heresies - Cathars, Waldensians, Franciscans and Dominicans - were mass movements and not individuals, lone nut cases as had been the case in the past. What was happening, where had they come from and why the 11th and 12th century? The answer is the rise of the city - they were all urban heresies and arose in the south which had the most urban centers and a huge population explosion during this period. The Catholic Church knew it couldn't wipe them all out so it incorporated some (Franciscans and Dominicans) and eliminated others (Cathars, Waldensians).
posted by stbalbach at 8:29 AM on July 22, 2009


See also.
posted by Heretic at 8:53 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Links to eccnineten's cites above, courtesy of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.

Deuteronomy 13: 6-10
13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
2 Chronicles 15:13
15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

15:13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

15:14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
Matthew 5:18-19
5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 16:17
16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
SAB also has a good section on whether the laws of the Old Testament still apply today and an entertaining if hair raising section on how we should treat our enemies.
posted by unSane at 8:58 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mark Gregory Pegg's books one the crusade (A Most Holy War) and on the inquisition in the area (The Corruption of Angels) are the best I've read.

His journal article on the Good Men of Languedoc has great, detailed endnotes for anyone interested in these issues, too.

His stuff is mostly a minimalist description of what is safe to actually say about the heretics in the region... so it's no good for the conspiracy crowd. From the article linked to above:
"More prosaically, one must never approach inquisition documents from Languedoc with the Cathari in hand. No person, whether mendicant inquisitor or the men, women, and children they questioned, ever used the noun ‘Cathar’ to describe heretics in, for instance, the Toulousain, the Lauragais, or in the pays de Foix. Instead, it was always, with no exceptions, boni homines, bone femine, bons omes, bonas femnas, good men and good women; while the good men and good women themselves frequently referred to each other as ‘the friends of God’. ‘Cathar’ (apparently first used in the middle of the twelfth century by a group of heretics from Cologne, or so Eckbert of Schönau wrote in his Sermones contra Catharos of 1163) is, and always has been, deeply misleading and applied in such an indiscriminate way by modern historians as to make it, for all intents and purposes, a useless term."
posted by ServSci at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2009


Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel so alone, carrying a torch for a cause lost and almost forgotten.
posted by Xoebe at 9:17 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Heretic, that Black Box site has LOTS to give! i. e.: Saint Nicholas Strikes Arius . I can't quite get a read on the site as a whole but anyplace that offers this as a site mission:

"Like the 'black box' of a crashed airplane, the Bible tells the startling story of the rise and fall of the first century church."


Is at the least the sort of eccentric and possibly tasteless site that I love. So thanks!
posted by mwhybark at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2009


God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule: "News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


SAB also has a good section on whether the laws of the Old Testament still apply today and an entertaining if hair raising section on how we should treat our enemies.

I love it. The Bible says one thing. Jesus says another. Sounds to me like a few thousand years of confusion may be in order ... or as I commented in another thread not so long ago ...

Meanwhile, you've got the Red Letter Christians who focus mainly on the specific teachings of JC himself (the red letter bit referring to New Testament verses in certain editions of the Bible being printed in red to emphasize that these are the actual words that Jesus is alleged to have spoken). As it was explained to me, they tend to view the Old Testament as basic (and long-winded) preamble (including a detailed tribal history of the Jews), followed by the Gospels which are "The Shit" (to use a lazy and inappropriate euphemism), which are followed by everything else which is basically a detailed history of how various functionaries inserted themselves into the situation.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2009


And of course their secret connection to the Knights Templar and the resulting buggery and regular blood rituals drinking from the Holy Grail.

My cabal Prieuré de Sion handlers wanted me to correct you on this point: any connections drawn are pure fabrication. I will, however, note that the Beziers massacre was nothing compared to the fastidiously covered-up Casteljau bloodbath. Perhaps I've said too much.

sorry
posted by juv3nal at 11:01 AM on July 22, 2009


Same as it ever was,
Same as it ever was,
Same.
As it.
Ever.
WAS!

. x Millions ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 11:35 AM on July 22, 2009


All I know about this I learned from Umberto Eco.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2009


God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule: "News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"
Every time I read that it makes me cry. That whole issue is just... so damn well-written, and raw, and moving, and funny at the same time. They should be teaching that issue in literature classes.
posted by kmz at 12:00 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, Catholic Encyclopedia entries on Albigenses, Cathari, St Dominic, Heresy and Inquisitions
posted by woodway at 12:36 PM on July 22, 2009


And I thought the Gates arrest thread was cathartic...
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:49 PM on July 22, 2009


And again at Executed Today.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:41 PM on July 22, 2009


God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule: "News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

The majority of the Old Testament notwithstanding.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:18 AM on July 23, 2009


Nice New Yorker review of several books on the Cathars.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:32 AM on August 20, 2009


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