Béziers' gory summer: the Cathars massacre

The siege of BéziersThe siege of Béziers | ©Public domain

Satan fiends!

July 1209. Béziers sack. Yells. Horror roars which pierced the night. Inhuman yells… Abominable… the smell of blood is almost palpable. Do you smell it? Quick, quick, you have to hide, quick… or they’ll get you! In July 1209, Béziers knew the unbelievable. A slaughter.

The story began in 1208, when Pierre de Castelnau was murdered. It was the beginning of the Cathars crusades, against the heretics. Cathars especially established in Languedoc, a land where religious led a life of debauchery. Where men preferred to neglect this Catholic faith which became too frivolous.

They wanted a real faith. A pure Christianity. So, Catharism was founded. The pope immediately moaned: "Pack of Satan fiends!" and sent priests to preach a return to the Catholicism. Including Castelnau, the pope’s legate. In vain. Nobody heard them. And Castelnau was even murdered!

Kill them all!

So, they launched the crusades. Armies from Northern France who rushed into South to slaughter. To destroy the heresy. Their first goal? Béziers. A lair of heretics, says the chronic! 20 000 men approached the town. We were in July, it was a hot summer. Men were boiling. Lands were thirsty.

Inhabitants of Béziers expected the worst, behind the ramparts. And the waves of crusaders rushed in the city, to kill every soul. Even those who hid in churches. In middle of this slaughter, the Crusaders leader said the famous sentence: «Kill them all, God will know His own!»

My foot… they killed everyone, young, old, Cathars, Catholics… Fire and blood destroyed Béziers. The Romanesque cathedral completely disappeared in a fire. The current Gothic cathedral dates back to the middle of the 13th century.