GENOCIDE: THE CATHARS
Inside the fortress, Pierre-Roger de Mirefoix's problems were just as acute, but different. The Cathar Perfects were pacifists and totally opposed to war. Even in this dire situation, they would not fight. This left Pierre Roger with only 98 men to defend the castle. To some extent, this disadvantage was cancelled out by the principle that attackers ascending from
The thousands of men camped
below provided a daunting sights
but this did not^ as yet; denote that a
siege was imminent.
below were always at the mercy of defenders sited above and so it proved at Montsegur. The French forces made several attempts to climb the precipitous goat paths, covered in spiny gorse, that led to the
At the Council of Lyons in 1245, Innocent IV deposed the twice excommunicated Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, after Frederick threatened him.
summit of Montsegur, but they were soon driven back down again when de Mirefoix's men loosed on them showers of stones, crossbow quarrels and other missiles. There was, though, one way the French could get at the defenders without even leaving the ground. They fired arrows almost vertically over the walls of the castle to land among the Cathars at the top. Around a dozen defenders were felled by this means and the loss of each was a serious blow.
Nevertheless, Pierre-Roger de Mirefoix's meagre force managed to keep the attackers at bay for eight months, well into winter, when icy weather and dwindling food supplies began to exact their depredations on both sides of the siege. A few days before Christmas, when snow began to blanket the French encampment, Hugh de Arcis accepted that
The last of the Cathar fortresses, at Queribus, 728 metres (2388ft) up in the Pyrenees mountains, was assaulted and captured in August 1255.
THE LAST OF THE CATHARS: THE AUTIER BROTHERS
The brothers Pierre and Guilllaume Autier were in their fifties, both well educated and well-to-do but not especially devout. Pierre, who had a sardonic wit, was fond of saying that making the sign of the Cross was useful only for swatting flies. Then, in 1296, to the amazement of all who knew them, the Autier brothers suddenly 'got religion' and took up a new, ascetic life as small-time peddlers.
They spent some time in Italy, but resurfaced in their native Languedoc in 1300, where Pierre began to preach the Cathar faith. He was very successful. Before
the Inquisition caught up with him, he had converted around 1000 families. But in 1305, he was betrayed to the Inquisition, while his brother Guillaume was quickly apprehended and burnt at the stake with all but one of the new Perfects Pierre had created.
The one who escaped was called Sans Mercadier and he committed suicide rather than experience the agony of burning to death. Pierre Autier remained at large for another four years until he was finally caught and in April of 1310, burned in public in front of the cathedral of St Stephen in Toulouse.
after the long stalemate, his troops might soon become demoralized and could start to drift home. A drastic, even dramatic, move was required, but the risks would be considerable.
ASSAULT ON ROC DE LA TOUR
De Arcis called for volunteers. The men who came forward were Gascons, experienced at living in mountain country close to the Pyrenees. Their orders were almost tantamount to a suicide bid. They were to capture a part of the fortifications known as the Roc de la Tour (Tower Rock), which was built on top of a stone column sited on the summit ridge of Montsegur.
This involved, first of all, climbing the cliff that gave access to the fortification, and doing it at night while carrying heavy weapons. When darkness fell, the Gascons began to climb the Roc, feeling their way up hand over hand, foot by foot and trying not to dislodge any stones or pebbles that might betray their presence to the guards at the top. The Gascons completed the perilous climb without mishap. Surprise was total. The Cathar guards, unable to fight back swiftly enough, were killed in an instant or thrown over the cliff edge to their deaths.
The fall of the Roc de la Tour was a disaster, all the more so because its capture made it possible for the French to winch their mangonels and other siege machines to the top and start crashing heavy stone missiles directly into the fortress. A snowstorm closed in on the castle, but the attackers moved inexorably forwards, dragging their siege machines with them. As the onslaught of stones kept drumming down into the fortress, dozens were killed and injured. The French advance was unstoppable. Rumours began to circulate: Count Raymond VII was coming to the rescue and the Emperor Frederick II was sending troops to break the siege. Any hopes that were aroused came to nothing and by 2 March 1244, Pierre Roger de Mirefoix realized that the only thing he could do was surrender.
RECANT OR BURN
Considering the savage handling of crime and punishment that typified medieval times, the terms laid down by Hugh de Arcis were not overly draconian. The murders at Avignonet and any other crimes committed in the past were forgiven and the inhabitants of Montsegur were given two weeks to think over their options: either submit to interrogation by the Inquisition and recant, or refuse to do so and burn at the stake.
In the event, the Cathar Perfects in Montsegur declined to cast aside their beliefs and seek forgiveness from Archbishop Amiel. Instead, they prepared for death. Whatever meagre belongings they possessed, they distributed them among their families and friends. They comforted their distraught relatives and gave themselves over to prayer.
Some Cathar credentes, who were not liable to the death penalty, were inspired to join the Perfects and burn with them. On Sunday 13 March 1244,
The isolated Cathar fortress of Queribus still stands today, a testament to its value as a border stronghold. Its thick stone walls were most recently restored in the period 1998 to 2002.
credentes, including the wife and daughter of Raymond de Pereille, requested the consolamentum, the Cathar version of the Last Rites given to Catholics, in which they were enjoined to lead a chaste, ascetic life. Those lives had only three more days to run.
In the meadows below Montsegur, a patch of ground surrounded by a palisade was being prepared for a bonfire of burnings., using wood chopped down from the nearby forests. Rows of stakes were set in the ground, ropes to tie the Cathars were piled up, torches to light the fires were stacked, and ladders were propped up against the palisades.
THE BURNING GROUNDS AT MONTSEGUR
Early on the morning of 16 March, a procession of 221 men and women began to wind down the path that led from the summit of Montsegur to the bottom of the slope. The Cathar leaders went barefoot, wearing nothing
When they reached the burning
ground, they climbed the ladders
and were bound together onto the
stakes in pairs, back to back.
but their coarsely woven robes. When they reached the burning ground, they climbed the ladders and were bound together onto the stakes in pairs, back to back. The rest followed until row upon row of men and women filled the enclosure.
When all was ready, Archbishop Amiel gave the signal for flaming brands to be thrown in among them. The soft murmur of praying was audible, only to be drowned out by the crackle of the fire as it climbed up the stakes and set everyone and everything alight. As the blaze grew and the human forms at its centre disappeared, the crackle turned to a roar and smoke, thick, black and choking, began to fill the valleys, dirty the meadow grass that grew between them and finally curl up into the sky.
THE LAST CATHAR FORTRESS
The fall of Montsegur did not see the end of the military crusade against the Cathars. There was another fortress, their last, at Queribus, which was besieged and captured in August of 1255. But the Cathars did not need Queribus to teach them that the back of their faith had already been broken in the burning ground at Montsegur. The heart had gone out of it. Even Raymond VII who had championed the Cathars for so long and sacrificed so much for their cause deserted them and in 1249 helped the Inquisition to organize more burnings at Agen, northwest of Toulouse. Raymond died three months later, in September of the same year.
Thousands of credentes, exhausted by years of secrecy, living in the suspense and fear of discovery, had become mortally afraid of the Inquisition and its power to ruin lives, condemn and kill. They recanted to save themselves and to confirrn their new devotion to the Church. In so doing they betrayed neighbours, friends and even family to the remorseless Inquisition.
A small number of captured Perfects were persuaded to renounce their beliefs, turn Catholic and provide long lists of Cathar sympathizers. They, in turn, fell into the hands of the Inquisition whose powers were increased in 1252 when Innocent IV, who had been elected pope in 1243, gave his permission for the Inquisition to use torture to get at the truth. But he made conditions. Euphemistically termed 'putting the question', torture. Pope Innocent instructed, must not include cutting off limbs, spilling too much blood or causing death.
CATHARISM IS CONSIGNED TO HISTORY
Even so, the end of Catharism and the Cathars did not come quickly. Rather, its beliefs and believers were gradually ground down by well trained, zealous inquisitors backed by a bureaucracy of informers, torturers, instruction manuals, registers of suspects and, of course, the all-pervasive terror the Inquisition inspired. Thousands of Cathars disappeared into dungeons, never to be seen again or if they were, they emerged as compliant shadows of their former selves, too terrified of the stake to speak their minds. By the end of the thirteenth century, few people, if any, were willing to dispute the view of the medieval world as sanctioned by the pope and the Church. It was, in fact, left to a pair of eccentric brothers from Languedoc and a one-time murderer to sound the last trumpet for the Cathars. By the time it was all over and the Cathars were history, it had taken 112 years, the reigns of 19 popes and thousands of violent deaths before the Church of Rome, its crusaders and its inquisitors and torturers finally prevailed.
THE LAST OF THE CATHARS: GUILLAUME BELIBASTE
The murderer turned Cathar who finally closed the book on the Cathar heresy was Guillaume Belibaste. He began life as a shepherd tending his flocks high up in the Corbiere hills near the River Aude in Languedoc. In 1306, Belibaste killed another shepherd in a brawl and went on the run to escape the law. During his wanderings, he encountered Philippe d'Alayrac, one of Pierre Autier's Cathar Perfects who was hiding from the Inquisition. Together, the shepherd and the Perfect fled over the Pyrenees into Catalonia, in northeast Spain. Before he was hunted down by the inquisitors and burnt at the stake, d'Alayrac initiated Belibaste into the Cathar faith. By this means, Belibaste came to believe that not only was the world a wicked, evil place but that it was ruled by four demons: King Philip IV of France, Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Palmiers, Pope Boniface VIII and Bernard Gui, a merciless inquisitor based at Carcassonne.
Guillaume Belibaste believed that Pope Boniface VIII, was one of the four demons who ruled the earth. Belibaste was burned at the stake in 1321.
It was not long before Belibaste had gathered in a flock of credentes who, like himself, had fled for safety to Spain. For nearly five years, this Cathar community was undisturbed, or so it seemed. What they did not know was that in 1317 they had admitted to their ranks a certain Arnold Sicre who was a secret agent employed by Bishop Jacques Fournier. Sicre bided his time until he could betray Guillaume Belibaste to the Inquisition. His chance came in the spring of 1321, when, with others, he accompanied Belibaste on a journey into France to see Belibaste's aged aunt, Alazais, who had generously financed her nephew's small Cathar community. Two days into their journey, armed men, tipped off by Sicre, broke down the door of the house in Tirvia, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, where Belibaste and his companions were staying. All of them were arrested. Guillaume Belibaste completed his journey over the mountains and into France in chains. He was put on trial for heresy, but the verdict was never in doubt. In the autumn of 1321, he was led into the courtyard of the castle at Vallerouge-Termenes in Corbieres where a stake awaited him. Ablazing torch was applied, the flames surged upwards and in a matter of minutes, the last of the Cathar Perfects met his end.
TO BE CONTINUED WITH "THE POPES AND WITCHES"
READING ALL THIS JUST MAKES ME SICK, SICK, SICK, AND MORE SICK!! TO THINK THAT SUCH THINGS WERE DONE IN THE NAME OF "CHRIST" TO OTHER HUMAN BEINGS IS SATANIC MADNESS!!
IT JUST BLOWS ME AWAY THAT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS OVER A BILLION MEMBERS AROUND THE WORLD. WITH THEIR HISTORY YOU'D THINK IT WOULD BE ZERO MEMBERS. BUT MOST OF THOSE BILLION PLUS I GUESS NEVER READ HISTORY.
IT IS LIKE THE THOUSANDS WHO STILL LOOK UP TO HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG AND BELONG TO SOME OF THE OFF-SHOOTS OF THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD THAT ARMSTRONG FOUNDED. THEY EITHER REFUSE TO LOOK AT RECORDED HISTORY, IN ARMSTRONG'S OWN WORDS, OR JUST DENY IT IN SOME MIND DECEPTION THEY HAVE ALLOWED INTO THEIR BRAIN.
IT IS ALL TERRIBLE, BRUTAL, HUGE, EXTREME, INORDINATE, MONSTROUS, HIDEOUS, APPALLING, HEINOUS, GHASTLY, HORRIFYING, AND ALL THE OTHER WORDS MY READER'S DIGEST "WORD FINDER" PUTS UNDER THE HEADING OF "TERRIBLE" - ALL THESE DESCRIPTIVE WORDS SHOW WHAT WE HAVE BEEN READING ABOUT IN THIS PART OF THE RECORDED HISTORY OF THE DARK SIDE OF THE POPES.