“Kill them all, God will know HIs own” The Abbot stated before the sack of Bezier where 20,000 were claimed dead.
The Cathar or Albigensian Crusades were from 1209-1229, a military war started by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Cathars and heretics from the Langudoc region of southern France.
Beziers is rich with Cathar history, and is amongst the most popular places to visit in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
St. Nazaire is a remarkable example of middle Gothic architecture, the Cathedral itself was built upon ruins in the 8th century when the Bishop used this church as his primary, which is called the Episcopal seat.
Beziers dates back to 575 BC, but there is nothing left before the Roman period in the Catherdral of Saint Nazaire.
Sacked and burned in 1209 during the crusades, it was rebuilt shortly after. Extensions to the church were added to accommodate the worshippers over the centuries.
Bishop Arnaud Amalric’s own version of the 1209 siege, described in his letter to Pope Innocent states:
While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying “to arms, to arms!”, within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt…
Caesarius of Heisrebach relates this story about the massacre some twenty years after the seize of Beziers,
When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot “Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius – Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain
Note: Make the climb to the top of the Cathedral. It is a bit of a hike, 140 uneven steps around the narrow passage way to the roof, ending at a bird’s eye view of Beziers below.