The City of Bezieres Taken and the People Slain
The army now besieged Bezieres; and the governor of that city, thinking it impossible to defend the place, came out, and presenting himself before the legate, implored mercy for the inhabitants. As an additional reason, he said that there were almost as many Romans as Albigenses in the city. The legate replied that all excuses were useless; the place must be delivered up without terms, or assault would at once be made.
The governor returned into the city and told the people that he could obtain no mercy unless the Albigenses would give up their religion, and conform tot the worship of the church of Rome. He begged the Albigenses to do this; but they answered with one accord that they would not forsake their religion. Sail they, "Better to displease the pope, who can but kill our bodies, than God, who can cast both body and soul into hell."
Upon this the church party sent their bishop tot the legate, beseeching him no to include them in the slaughter of the Albigenses. They also argued that the best means to win these over tot the faith was by gentleness, and not by cruelty. The legate, upon hearing this, flew into a violent passion with the bishop, and declared that, "If all the city did not acknowledge their fault, they should fall under one curse without distinction of religion, sex, or age."
The inhabitants refusing to yield upon such terms, a fierce attack was made, and the place taken by storm, when every cruelty that a ruffian soldiery could invent was inflicted upon the unfortunate inhabitants. Then were to be heard the groans of men who lay weltering in their blood, and the wailing of wounded mothers, who saw their children taken from them and mangled before their eyes. The city being fired in various parts, new scenes of horror arose. The flames drove the wretched inhabitants into the streets, which streamed with blood, and those who hid themselves in their houses had only the dreadful choice left them, either to remain and perish in the fire, or rush out and fall by the swords of the soldiers.
The cruel legate, during this horrible scene,
enjoyed the carnage and even called out to the troops to encourage them in their dreadful
work. When asked by an officer how he should distinguish the innocent from the guilty, he
made the infamous reply, since celebrated in history, "Kill all; God will know his
own." And this they did, for when the slaughter was done, more than 30,000 corpses
lay among the ruins of the once beautiful city of Bezieres.
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