Sunday, 1 May 2016


ALBIGENSES, a religious sect which appeared in the South of France, in the twelfth century, and was the object of long and cruel persecutions and wars. The denomination of Albigenses has been used by historians and other writers in two senses, and often indiscriminately. In its more restricted and appropriate sense, the Albigenses were a branch of the Cathari, who were themselves the descendants of the Paulicians, a branch of the Manicheans, from the East; and who, being persecuted by the Greek emperors and clergy, took refuge during the eleventh century, in Italy, from whence they spread into the South of France, Spain, and other countries. They were called, in Italy, Cathari, or pure; also Paterini; from a place in Milan where they held their meetings; and Gazari, from Gazaria or Lesser Tartary, the country from which they came; they were called, in France, Bulgares for a similar reason; and afterwards Albigenses, from Albiga, Albi, the town where their tenets were condemned by a council in 1176. But the Cathari were divided into two sects, one of which held the whole of the Manichean doctrine of two eternal beings, one the God of Light, who was also the Father of Jesus, and the other, the Principle of Darkness, who was the creator of the material world. The sect was also called Albanenses. The other division of the Cathari believed in one eternal principle, the Supreme God and Father of Christ, by whom the first matter was created ; until the Evil Being, after his rebellion against God and his subsequent fall from heaven, arranged this original matter according to his own fancy, and gave it its present forms and attributes. They believed that human bodies in particular were the production of the evil principle. The Albigenses belonged to this latter sect, which was also called Bajolenses or Bagnolenses. They had bishops, vicars, and deacons; they preached abstinence, mortification, and celibacy; their community, however, was divided into two classes, the Consolati, or comforted, who lived in perpetual celibacy, abstained from meat and wine, and practised other austerities; and the Confederates, who, being unable to endure this mode of existence, lived apparently like the rest of the world, but bound themselves to enter be fore their death into the class of the "Comforted," by a ceremony of inauguration. But, in the more extended sense, the name of Albigenses was given in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries not only to all the Cathari indiscriminately, but also to the other sects which existed in the South of France at the time, including the Waldenses, who were very distinct in their tenets from the others, and had no taint of Manicheism in them. They all agreed, however, in considering the authority assumed by the Popes in spiritual matters, as well as the discipline and ceremonies of the Romish Church, as unlawful and erroneous.
 Pope Innocent III. sent two legates, Peter of Castelnau and one Rainier or Raoul, both Cistercian or Bernardine monks, as his legates to France, in order to extirpate all these heresies. Dominic, a Spaniard, and the founder of the order of Preachers, returning from Rome in 1206, fell in with the legates, and volunteered his services in the same cause. These champions, who, without asking for the advice or the concurrence of the local bishops, and upon the sole authority of the Pope, inflicted capital punishment on those heretics whom they could not convert by argument, were called, in common discourse, Inquisitors; but the famous tribunal of that name was not established until 1233 by Gregory IX., who entrusted it to the Dominicans. In 1208, Castelnau, one of the legates, who had become odious by the severities, was murdered near Toulouse; and Innocent III. on this proclaimed a regular crusade against the Albigenses, and against Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse, who supported them. All the French barons were summoned to take the field; and Simon, Count of Montfort, was appointed chief of the expedition, under the direction, however, of Arnald, Abbot of the Cistercians, and the Pope's new legate. The war began in 1209, and lasted many years, attended by circumstances of the greatest ferocity. At the taking of Beziers, a general massacre of the inhabitants began. The legate being asked by some of the military leaders how they were to distinguish the Albigenses from the orthodox Catholics, of whom there were many in the town—"Kill them all," was the reply; "God will find out his own." Montfort lost his life at the siege of Toulouse, in 1218, and Raymond, his adversary, died in 1222. The war, however, was resumed by the sons of the two antagonists; until Pope Honorius III., alarmed at the successes of Raymond VII., induced Lewis VIII., King of France, to take the field in person. At last the Count of Toulouse, pressed on all sides, made peace with the king in 1229. This was a mortal blow to the Albigenses. The Inquisition was now permanently established at Toulouse to try those heretics who had escaped the sword. Raymond himself died some years after; and in him the house of the Counts of Toulouse became extinct, and its territories reverted to the French crown. The extermination of the Albigenses in the South of France was complete; the country was devastated; and the language and the poetry of the Troubadours became also extinct, the bards themselves being obliged by the terrors of the Inquisition to fly to other lands.

The Colonist 16 March 1837

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