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The Albigensian Crusade

The Albigensian Crusade

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Published by Steven Till
During the medieval period, the Catholic Church condemned any sect of Christianity as heresy that differed from the tradional Catholic teachings. One of these sects, called the Albigensians (or Cathars), came out of southern France, and Pope Innocent III saw this group as a threat to the unity of Chirstendom at a time when he was leading a war to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. The pope called for a separate “crusade” to destroy the Albigensian heresy, offering spiritual blessings to those warriors who would commit to forty days of service.
During the medieval period, the Catholic Church condemned any sect of Christianity as heresy that differed from the tradional Catholic teachings. One of these sects, called the Albigensians (or Cathars), came out of southern France, and Pope Innocent III saw this group as a threat to the unity of Chirstendom at a time when he was leading a war to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. The pope called for a separate “crusade” to destroy the Albigensian heresy, offering spiritual blessings to those warriors who would commit to forty days of service.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Steven Till on Aug 08, 2009
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Copyright 2009 © Steven Tillhttp://steventill.comDuring the medieval period, the Catholic Church condemned any sect of Christianityas heresy that differed from the tradional Catholic teachings. One of these sects,called the Albigensians (or Cathars), came out of southern France, and PopeInnocent III saw this group as a threat to the unity of Chirstendom at a time whenhe was leading a war to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. The pope called fora separate “crusade” to destroy the Albigensian heresy, offering spiritualblessings to those warriors who would commit to forty days of service. His maingoal in eradicating such heresies was to gain complete control over medieavalEurope, including Byzantium and Spain, and eventually regain control in the HolyLand. Despite efforts to unify Europe and retake the Holy Land, the AlbigensianCrusade further divided the continent and increased the anti-roman sentiments ofthose living in southern France. The rift would eventually lead to a second popesitting the throne at Avignon.At first, the pope attempted to make a peaceful reconciliation with theAlbigensians, but when these efforts produced little resuts, Innocent becameimpatient and declared war on the “heretics.” The triggering event for hisdecision was the murder of a papal delegate in Toulouse. Innocent then appointedSimon de Montfort to lead an army 20,000 knights and 200,000 foot soldiers againstCount Raymond of Toulouse (the man accused of murdering the delegate) and theAlbigensians. Count Raymond surrendered quickly, but the rest of the Albigensiansheld out for a long time. While a skilled warrior in his own right, Simon nevercompletely conquered the Albigensians, as he could only count on the French troopsto stay around for forty days, and on top of that, he was an unpopular leader.In 1213, Innocent called off the crusade. But that did not end the fighting.The king of Aragon took up the cause of Raymond and the Albigensians and led anarmy against Simon and his allies. What had started as a war against a hereticalsect turned into a war of two countries: France and Spain. This time, Innocentbacked the king of Aragon and Raymond, but the majority of French nobles stillsupported Simon. The French forces eventually defeated the Spanish forces.Innocent would later excommunicate Simon de Montfort for his acts of brutalitythroughout the conflict. Simon died in 1218 at the Battle of Toulouse. Raymonddied in 1222. The Albigensians continued to frustrate the Catholic Church untilthe year 1229 when Raymond’s son negotiated the treaty of Meaux, and theAlbigensians territory was handed over to Capetian France and returned to thetraditonal Catholic Church.Source:Whitters, Mark F. “Albigensian Crusade.” In Ackermann, Marsha E., MichaelSchroeder, Janice J. Terry, Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur, and Mark F. Whitters, eds.Encyclopedia of World History: The Expanding World, 600 CE to 1450, vol. 2. NewYork: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc.http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE49&iPin=WHII005&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 18, 2008).Additional Readings:Caesarius of Heisterbach on the Heresy of the Albigenses(http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/caesarius-heresies.html#CHAPTER%20XXI)Bernard Gui on the Albigensians (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/gui-cathars.html)

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