Imagens da página

and contains a fine ruined castle, and a cathedral, which was built in the eleventh century. The streets are narrow and dirty. On the other side of the river is the modern town, in which some manufactures are carried on. The old town stands on high ground, and viewed from a distance, has the appearance of a strongly fortified city.

In that part of France in which Carcassonne is situate, at the beginning of the twelfth century, there were many Christians, who were called Albigenses. They rejected the following doctrines of the Romish Church :—the supremacy of the pope, the unscriptural powers claimed by the priests, the efficacy of prayers for the dead, and the existence of purgatory. For some years they were unmolested, and their numbers continued to increase.

Sismondi states that, in 1147 and 1181, Missionaries were sent by the Romish Church to convert these reputed heretics ; but that the Missionaries were not successful in obtaining converts. In the year 1198, Pope Innocent III., being resolved to convert or to destroy the Albigenses in the south of France, sent two monks, entrusted with ample authority, as his legates, or ambassadors, to cruelly persecute the Albigenses, if they refused to conform to the doctrines of the Romish Church. These monks quarrelled with the regular clergy, on account of their tolerant conduct towards the Albigenses; and, in the plenitude of their authority, suspended several of their bishops. The Count of Toulouse was accused by one of the papal legates with favouring the heretics, so-called, because he refused to perpetrate the cruelties which the monk desired to have inflicted. The anger of the monk became so enraged that, in the year 1207, he excommunicated the Count. The monk behaved most insolently to the Count, and to the gentlemen of his court; one of whom was so enraged against the monk, that he killed him. Although the monk was a cruel and insolent man, and had inflicted atrocious cruelties on many innocent persons, it was not right to murder him. This event, however, was most awfully revenged on many thousands of innocent persons.

The pope was filled with wrath on account of the murder of one of his legates; and he addressed letters to the king of France, to the princes, the powerful barons, and the bishops, exhorting, that vigorous means should be taken to avenge the murder of the monk, and to extirpate heresy. Indulgences and pardon of sins were promised to those who took up arms and fought against the Albigenses. Three hundred thousand soldiers were assembled to accomplish the intended wholesale murders; and many of them were so ignorant, priest-ridden, and superstitious, that they thought they were rendering acceptable service to God in entering upon this cruel crusade.

Raymond VI., count of Toulouse, was terrified at the danger with which he and his subjects were thus threatened; and he at once submitted to the terms proposed by the Crusaders. He delivered up his fortresses into their hands, and engaged to join them in the work of destroying his own most faithful subjects. But his nephew, Raymond Roger, viscount of Beziers, who governed another part of the country, and in whose dominions was Carcassonne, refused to consent to the horrid murders, which the Crusaders were about to perpetrate. He encouraged his subjects to defend themselves; committed the defence of the city of Beziers to his generals, and himself undertook the defence of Carcassonne.

The Crusaders took the city of Beziers, on the 22nd of July, 1209; and, according to the account sent by the abbot of the Cistercians, fifteen thousand persons were put to death by the sword. Other writers say, that a much greater number were thus murdered. Orders having been given to kill all the heretics, the abbot of the Cistercians was asked, how the Crusaders were to separate the heretics from the Catholics, and he made the following blood-thirsty reply,—“Kill them all; God will know who belongs to him." An old historian records the conduct of the Crusaders as follows: "They entered the city of Beziers, where they murdered more people than was ever known in the world. For they spared neither young nor old, nor infants at the breast. They that were able did retreat into the great church of St. Nazarius, both men and women. The chaplains thereof caused the bells to ring ; but neither the sound of the bells, nor the chaplains and clerks, could hinder all

from being put to the sword. Nothing so pitiable was ever heard of or done; and when the city had been pillaged it was set on fire.”

This awful destruction of Beziers filled the surrounding country with terror of the Crusaders. Many of the inhabitants fled to the woods and mountains, to avoid being murdered. Under these horrible circumstances the inhabitants of Carcassonne renewed their oath of attachment and fidelity to Roger Raymond, viscount of Beziers, and the best possible preparations were made for the defence of the place. On the first of August, 1209, the Crusaders arrived before the town. On the following day, a part of the suburbs, after a severe fight, was taken. For several days the fighting was continued in the suburbs; but the besieged were then obliged to retire within the walls of the town. In several sallies the besieged gained advantages over their enemies. Peter the Second, king of Arragon, uncle to Raymond Roger, being grieved at the proceedings of the Crusaders, went to their camp, to intercede on behalf of his nephew. The priests, who directed the councils of the Crusaders, being desirous of obtaining information respecting the state of things in Carcassonne, proposed that the king of Arragon should go and confer with Raymond Roger. At the conference, Raymond Roger thanked the king of Arragon for his kindness, and said, “If you arrange for me any adjustment which shall appear to you fitting, I will accept and certify it, without any contradiction; for I see clearly, that we cannot maintain ourselves in this city, on account of the multitude of countrymen, women, and children, who have taken refuge here. We cannot reckon them, and they die every day in great numbers. But I swear to you, that I would rather die of famine than surrender to the legate.” The legate was the pope's representative, who accompanied the army.

The cruel legate wished not for peace but for the blood of those who were in Carcassonne, and therefore he would not agree to any reasonable terms.

All that the king of Arragon could obtain from the legate was, permission that Roger Raymond, with twelve other persons, should be permitted to quit the city; but that all the other persons in the city must be abandoned to the will of the legate. Roger Raymond replied, that rather than submit to such terms, he would suffer himself to be flayed alive. The king of Arrogan approved of the determination of his nephew; and, no doubt, greatly regretted his inability to help him.

When the king of Arragon had taken his departure, the assault on Carcassonne was commenced. The Crusaders brought quantities of faggots to fill up the ditches round the town, to enable them to reach the walls of the town. The besieged poured on the besiegers streams of boiling water and oil, and threw at them stones and other missiles. The assault was so valiantly resisted, that the besiegers were obliged to retire to prepare for further conflict. The Crusaders had only engaged for a service of forty days, and the termination of this period was approaching; they were also discouraged on account of the repulses they had received; they expected miracles to have been wrought in their favour, and against the besieged. The pope's legate, therefore, thought it expedient to renew negotiations; the legate, therefore, sent a gentleman, a relation of Raymond Roger, to arrange terms of reconciliation with the church of Rome.

Raymond Roger greatly desired to terminate hostilities. The water in the reservoirs of the city was nearly dried up; and he knew that it would not be possible to hold out much longer against the besiegers. He also thought, that he only required an opportunity of explaining his conduct to the commanders of the forces employed against him, and to the priests who accompanied them, to enable him to satisfy them of the rectitude of his conduct. Therefore, he requested the gentleman sent to him, to obtain for him a guarantee that he should be at liberty to go to the camp of the Crusaders to plead his cause, and be free to return. The pope's legate, and the lords of the army, promised a most complete guarantee for his safety and liberty, and confirmed the promise by their oaths. Raymond Roger then quitted the city for the camp of the Crusaders, attended by three hundred gentlemen. He presented himself at the tent of the legate, where all the principal lords of the army attended. After having defended his conduct, he said that he was willing to submit to the orders of the church.

The pope's legate, in violation of the solemn engagement given to Raymond Roger, caused him and his attendants to be arrested and confined as prisoners. He thought, by this perfidious act, to terrify the people of Carcassonne, and that they would without further resistance admit the murderous army under his direction into the city. The inhabitants, however, contrived during the night to make their escape, and abandoned the town to the besiegers. The legate was much annoyed at the escape of his intended victims; and, as he thought it would be disadvantageous to have it supposed, that the inhabitants had escaped without his consent, he announced that he had permitted the inhabitants to quit the city, with their lives only. He had, however, in his power Raymond Roger, and the three hundred gentlemen knights who had accompanied him to the camp, and also some other prisoners who had been taken in the field. Out of these he ordered four hundred and fifty persons to be executed as heretics. Four hundred were burned alive, and fifty were hanged; and Raymond Roger was poisoned in prison. Such are the perfidies and murders with which the history of the Romish Church abounds. Popery has has ever been a horrid system of error and of cruelty. Thank God, the power of the pope to destroy those who renounce the heresies taught by the Romish Church has been greatly abridged ; and we pray that it may never be restored; but that popery may be destroyed, by the spread of the knowledge of the true religion of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.



How few persons there are, either young or old, that like to acknowledge themselves proud. How soon we can detect this lurking sin in others, and yet how prone we are to allow it to form a part of our own character. We are,

« AnteriorContinuar »