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The Albigensian Crusade


Heimdall
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A Unexplained Mysteries forum member recently questioned my posting of the evils that Christian has perpetrated against Christian and even disbelieved a quote of a high rank Christian just before the sacking of a Christian town. So here is a little history of the “Albigensian Crusade”

Taking the murder of Peter of Castelanu, the church legate, in 1209 CE as an excuse, Pope Innocent declared that the Albigensian (a sect of Christianity that taught among other things that the Church had deviated from the teaching of Jesus from the 3rd century onward) Count of Toulouse, Raymond, was responsible. Innocent then rang the call to arms, threatening any Nobel or Knight that refused to answer this call with excommunication and other ecumenical punishments. Since the major benefit (for the attackers) of 13th century warfare was unlimited looting, there was no need of threats, especially since the Albigensian towns were among the most prosperous in Europe. Needless to say, the nobility of northern France jumped at the chance to plunder the wealthy south and supported the church’s crusade (yes, a crusade against other CHRISTIANS). This crusade lasted 2 decades and resulted in the death of thousands of Christians at the hands of their brothers in religion!

It was contemporarily reported that 20,000 knights and 200,000 foot soldiers led by the bloody Abbot of Citeaux, Arnold and the notorious adventurer Simon de Montfort (familiar to all with any knowledge of English history), descended upon the Albigensians. On June 24th 1209 the campaign began at the first large Albigensian town, Beziers. In his Dialogus Miraculorum, Caesarius of Heisterback recorded that when the Abbot of Citeaux was asked how to distinguish between the heretics and the true Christians he responded, “caedite eos…novit enim Dominus qui sunt eisu “(Show mercy neither to order, or to age, nor to sex…Cathar or Catholic, kill them all…God will know his own). Reporting to the Pope, Abbot Arnold reported they had indeed spared neither rank, age or sex and had massacred 20,000 people. Some historians put this figure at 40,000. 6000 alone were said to have sheltered in the Catholic Church of St. Madeleine and were probably mostly Catholics. It was burned and all inside were murdered. These actions were repeated in each Albigensian town taken, All the inhabitants were put to the sword without distinction of rank, age or sex. Albigensian clergy were met with unbridled ferocity, Simon de Montfort diligently incinerated the heretics, 140 at Minerve, 300 at Lavor, 60 at Le Casses and on and on. It was written of de Montfort that” he ought to wear a crown and be resplendent in the heavens, if by abolishing honor, by making pride victorious, by stimulating evil and extinguishing good, if by killing women and slaughtering infants, one can in this world achieve salvation in Christ.”

Raymond VI offered a peace in 1211, so Innocent stopped the crusade after two years of almost unparalleled butchery, but then yielded to the greed of de Monfort and the crusaders and the fanaticism of the monks and reopened it, prolonging the massacres for another 18 years. The Albigensians were still so strong after two years of the most brutal carnage that, when the pope renewed the crusade in 1214, a fresh hundred thousand “pilgrims” had to be summoned. It proves the scale of the heresy.

Today Christian writers dispute these things, but they are recorded in the bragging words of the Catholics of the time. Innocent boasted that they took five hundred towns and castles from the heretics, and they butchered every man, woman and child in each town when they took it. Noble ladies with their daughters were thrown down wells, and large stones flung upon them. Albigensian knights were hanged in batches of eighty. How could Catholic knights, footsoldiers and monks commit such atrocities, so fearful, as they were, of eternal retribution in the fires of hell? Because Innocent III had granted them absolution in advance as an incentive to do their worst. And they did!

“The accounts of the cruelties and abominations of this crusade are far more terrible to read than any account of Christian martyrdom by the Pagans, and they have the added horror of being indisputably true”. - H G Wells, Crux Ansata

 

"The Albigensians had defied the Church’s authority, rejected its teaching, and in general thought and acted for themselves. For these sins there was no mercy. The custodians of Christianity unhesitatingly burnt their fellow men persuaded that being burnt to death in a half hour of torment was better than the eternal torment of hell fire. This monstrous belief is still alive among Christians." - M.D. Magee - Heimdall :yellow:

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The Catholic Encyclopedia even lists it as true.

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Actually, the Albengensians weren't some innocent hippie commune. They believed that all flesh and matter were the work of the devil, and thus evil. They believed in universal salvation, which is nice, but they also believed that all men must go through hell, and this life is the only hell there is. Thus it was considered the height of compassion to put others out of their hell i.e., murder them. They also considered it praiseworthy to commit suicide, usually by starvation.

 

Since sex created human beings which brought more human souls into hell (this life), it was strictly forbidden, as was marriage. Orphans were adopted and raised into the church, but infanticide of their own biological children was not uncommon.

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As a Catholic, the Crusades were very important to me; they afforded my hateful and pissy soul back then an example of (overly) assertive, violent Xianity to admire. But both during my Protestant days and my eventual departure from Xianity, the Crusades were examples of why the Catholic Church™ and then Xianity as a whole were vile.

 

Sage, don't be so sure about infanticide and the supposedly common practice of starvation and other ritual murders the Cathars were said to have done. There exists little to no evidence to suggest any such thing happened; in fact, the only time a Cathar would try to hurry death along was if they were on their death beds and received the Consolamentum (ie, the rite that initiated them into the uber-ascetic sect of the Cathar cult), so as to make the dying process quicker. Cathars believed any sort of killing was wrong, so rituals of suicide and murder would be quite contrary to the cult's beliefs. Wikipedia, as usual, has some good information on the Cathar Cult.

 

However, you aren't far from the mark overall, that the Cathars weren't just some innocent little hippie commune getting bashed by the Establishment. They were a bunch of serious weirdos who had their fair share of twisted notions about human nature, the physical world, and the importance of the one life we have, just as much as any Xian ascetic sect. Which is, in the end, all they were - just another sect, but one that didn't submit to Rome, which was ultimately the big problem. If they were submissive to Rome and did things the way Rome wanted, I have little doubt the Cathars would still exist.

 

But in the end, it's a sad and sickening review of the true nature of Abrahamic religion - violence in the name of your favorite version of the god of Abraham, even unto fellow Abrahamists who differ in any way from your preferred version. And there is nothing to oppose doing any of this, either concocting human-hating ascetic sects or going on violent rampages to purge the world of "heretics", in the pages of the Xian "holy" book.

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Well, I was going by my 1968-issue Collier's Encyclopedia, so I totally admit that there could have been further research into the Cathar sect in 1969 and after that went against what was previously thought.

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Well, I was going by my 1968-issue Collier's Encyclopedia, so I totally admit that there could have been further research into the Cathar sect in 1969 and after that went against what was previously thought.

 

Yeah, no doubt of it; I worked with quite a few Medievalists for a little while, and I can assure you there are no shortage of eggheads who never cease picking apart the Middle Ages for all to see. Thankfully :)

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They were a bunch of serious weirdos who had their fair share of twisted notions about human nature, the physical world, and the importance of the one life we have, just as much as any Xian ascetic sect. Which is, in the end, all they were - just another sect, but one that didn't submit to Rome

I don’t know that the Cathars (Albigensians were a branch) were any more weirdo than any other Christian group. The Cathars were Dualist, believing much like the Zoroastrians in a Good God and an Evil God. The Good God (Jehovah) being the one that controlled the Spiritual and the Evil God being the God of the physical (i.e. the world). In this, they were “the debris of an earlier Christianity”

“From the earliest days of the Church, a parallel dualist tendency—pitting God against Satan as two equal and opposite forces—had existed alongside the official orthodoxy of monist Christianity.” - P Stanford, The Devil

In dualistic systems described in the middle ages as Cathari, there were these two great creative powers, but the evil principle was the creator of matter, darkness, the flesh and the Lie or sin, while the real God, was purely spiritual and in deadly conflict with him. At the end of time, the Good God would destroy the material world and judge everyone. This idea was an enticing explanation of the origin and power of evil, and removed from God, the good spirit, the responsibility for matter and flesh. It was more reasonable than Christianity, rejecting the Old Testament and all its moral crudity, regarding Christ as a wonderful spirit but not God, and scorning priests and sacraments. Christendom’s consecrated immorality of its priests, monks and nuns, the heresy loathed. Lying was the worst sin in Zoroastrianism. In Christianity, it is the highest virtue, so long as it is lying for Christianity. Cathars often would not answer direct questions rather than risk telling a lie. Lying was their worst sin. The trials of Jesus suggest he had the same principle. Like Essenes, Cathars would not swear on oath, because to do so implied that otherwise they were not telling the truth. Invoking God in an oath was to involve the spiritual supreme being in the evil of the material world, and that was unforgiveable. Nor would they swear fealty because such a vow could then conflict with their greater commitment to their religion. This alone would set them against the rest of Christianity. Incipient in Christianity is the idea that matter and flesh are evils, but since they are God’s own creation, it is not clear why. Catharism was more reasonable than Christianity, rejecting much of the Old Testament and its moral crudity, regarding Christ as a wonderful angel but not God, and scorning priests and sacraments. Cathar aims and its rationalistic method made it appealing to the populace. Its anti-ecclesiasticalism was a nucleus for much political and ecclesiastical discontent.

Cathars, comes from the Greek word (“katharoi”) for “the Pure ones”, or “Puritans”. They regarded the Church as a corrupt institution, scorned its sacraments, ritual and hierarchy, despised its dissolute monks and nuns, and tried to get back to the pure teaching of Christ—voluntary poverty, strict chastity, brotherly love, and ascetic life. Cathars had two castes, the Perfecti or Parfaits and Credentes or Croyants. The Perfecti, women no less than men, were effectively the professionals or priests, and the others the lay brothers and sisters. They were people of high character. They held high moral standards and upheld scripture against the divines of the Churches with their commitment to matters of pleasure and politics. They were adored by the faithful, who were taught to prostrate themselves before them whenever they asked for their prayers, because the Holy Spirit already dwelt in them. None but them had received into their hearts the spirit of God´s Son, which cries “Abba, Father”. They alone were adopted sons, and so able to use the Lord´s Prayer, which begins, “Our Father, which art in heaven”. The Perfect alone knew God and could address him in this prayer, the only one they used in their ceremonies. The believers could invoke a living saint, and ask them to pray for them. The supposed rejection of marriage of the Cathars is well known only to mean the Parfaits, the Credentes marrying as a contract or bond, but not as a holy sacrament. Moreover, the Parfaits were not allowed to so much as touch a Croyant of the opposite sex.

The central Cathar rite was consolamentum, or baptism with spirit and fire. The spirit received was the Paraclete derived from God and sent by Christ, who said, “The Father is greater than I”. Cathars knew of no Trinity. Redemption flowed from the evangelical teachings not the death on the cross, which was a devilish trick. They had three ranks of Perfects, not that they were better than each other or paid differently (they were not paid at all) but apparently merely on precedence—majorales (bishops), presbyters and deacons.

The true world is spiritual, eternal and heavenly. This material world is the antithesis of the world eternal, of the inward person renewed day by day, of Christ’s peace and kingdom which are not of this world. For Cathars, Satan was the God of this world, the visible, temporal and material world, and, as Jehovah, inspired the malevolent parts of the Old Testament. He is the lord of the physical person which is decaying, of the flesh which corrupts and makes people captives to desire and sin, of the body of death. Humanity is

 

 

 

These made of the two principles, the outcome of a primal war in heaven, when the rebellious angels were driven off and were imprisoned in terrestrial bodies, created for them by the adversary. But their celestial bodies, purely spirit (akin to the fravashis of Zoroastrianism), were left behind in heaven. Humans are the fallen angels themselves imprisoned in their bodies, and the aim of life is to realize it and reverse the fall, uniting the soul in the spirit. Raynaldus, who told us the Perfects wore a black robe, said the Cathars believed human souls are those of angelic spirits who, being cast down from heaven by the apostacy of pride, left their glorified bodies in the air. After successively inhabiting seven earthly bodies, having at length fulfilled their penance, these souls return to those deserted glorified bodies.

The human soul came from the good principle, but their bodies came from the bad. Imprisoned in the garment of flesh, burdened with its sin, souls long to be clothed with their habits left in heaven. They are “buildings from God, houses not made with hands, tunics eternal”, to which the human soul aspires, and eventually returns. Death is no liberation. So long as they are at home in the body, they are absent from God, but would rather be with God. God’s spiritual world is the antithesis of this material one, so, souls had to free themselves from the material by a spiritual purification, which often required several incarnations. A person has to become a new Adam, like Christ, receive the gift of the spirit and become a Paraclete. If they do not, they are reborn in the flesh until they learn.

They were universalists in that they believed in the ultimate salvation of all humanity. Since this world is the world of the Devil, we actually live in hell! There is only one way to go, and that is into the spirit, which is why everyone must be saved eventually. The myth of the descent of Christ into hell, was the story of his descending from heaven to earth as god’s redeemer of humanity. The Church had imbued the whole of Europe with an unhealthy obsession with hell fire. Many people had become convinced that only through the Church could they avoid an eternal roasting. It gave immense power to those who wielded the magic cups and rituals of Christianity, and, particularly, could withhold them in excommunication and interdict, to put terror into princes and nations respectively. Catharism removed this powerful weapon from Catholicism. Since the Cathar believed they lived in hell and the Catholic Church was one of Satan’s instruments, they knew they had nothing worse to fear. That is why they died so nobly, and why the Church was determined to make them suffer as much as it could while it could. As far as killing their children goes, that was a common Roman and medieval system of population control. It was held that children were truly human (no souls) until the age of 8 or 10. - Extracted in part from the Doctorate dissertation of M. D. McGhee. - Heimdall :yellow:

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