Catharism Languedoc Crusade Called Map
First Phase Second Phase Third Phase Final Phase
Epilogue Bibliography Web Links


From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries a religious sect called 'Cathars' spread to parts of Europe. The word 'Cathar' is derived from the Greek 'Katharos' (meaning 'pure'). The German word 'Ketter' (meaning 'heretic') was obviously influenced from the Cathars in southern medieval Europe, as the sect was so perceived by the official Roman Catholic Church at the time. The Cathar sect held an austre belief that renounced worldly pleasures, seeing such as destructive temptations provided by an evil deity (the Devil). It believed that a second, good deity (God) created parfaits ('pure souls') that were being corrupted by the material and the pleasures of the natural world they found themselves in. Those of the Cathars who were recognized as parfaits made up the elite, and relatively small leadrship of the sect, that practiced extreme asceticism and did not marry. The parfaits held strong sway over the the much larger following refered to as croyants ('believers'), who were permited to have families. However, even these were expected, before they died, to undergo a consolamentum, a form of 'baptism' that transformed a soul back to its pure state. Though they thought of themselves as Christians, the Cathars were very opposed to the authority, teachings and clergy of the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox churches.

The Cathars were particularly strong in southern France, in the region known as Languedoc, where the language of oc was spoken as opposed to the French language used in northern France. The northern French called the Cathars 'Albigensians' because of the strong representation of the belief's adherents in the town of Albi.


Languedoc is the name of an historic region in the central southern part of what is modern France. It has no unity other than a shared spoken language called langue d'oc. The language of oc was a corruption of Latin mixed with words of various invaders that passed through. The language in this central southern area of France was closer to the older Latin than the French language spoken in northern France (langue d'oil -- especially north of the Loire), which was tinged with some Germanic influences.

Political boundaries in early medieval Languedoc were mostly defined by association with nearby strong fortresses, which might be a walled town or merely a castle. The feudal system was weaker than in northern France, and the local lords maintained considerable independence. Many towns were controled by councils. Contributing to fragmented political unity in the region were the incursions of the comtes de Barcelona. This powerful ruling house in Catalonia had been acquiring fiefs to the north of the Pyrenees from the early twelfth century. There were other 'foreign' pressures upon Languedoc. To the west was Aquitaine, its duke was technically a vassal to the king of France, but he was also the king of England. To the east, some territories in Provence were considered properities of the Catholic pope as well as of the Emperor of the Germans.
The most prominant counties in Languedoc were Toulouse, Foix, and Comminges. Of equal prominance were the vicounties of Trencavel. The comte de Toulouse, Raymond IV, was also count of Provence (east of Languedoc). His domain encompassed an area of particular active trade and commerce. The wealthy lords of the counties and vicounties in this area lived well, and they allowed an atmosphere of relatively open mindedness and tolerence of beliefs. The Roman Catholic parishes were not as strong a community focal point as they were in many other parts of France. Jews and Cathars served in many of the courts of the comte de Toulouse and the vicomte de Trencavel, the latter was very open in his support of the Cathars.


Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was concerned with the growing influence of Catharism, and saw that it threatened the authority of the Church. He saw the movement as a heresy that needed to be eliminated, as were Arianism and Manichaenism in earlier times. In 1204, Innocent III tasked Abbot Arnaud-Amaury [Arnold-Amalric], head of the Cistercian Order, to be a special legate to investigate Catharism in Languedoc. The papal legate used the cloister in the monstery of Fontfroide as his main outpost. Some regular clerics were also sent by the pope. One from Spain was Domingo de Guzmán, the future St. Dominic and founder of the Dominican Order. Domingo attempted to apply the Cathar's austere methods in his promotion of orthodox Christanity, and he had some success in converting a few Cathars. The progress was inadequate, and the Church decided to use force to either convert or to eliminate the declared heretic followers of Catharism.

The pope asked Philippe II Auguste, the French king (and a cousin to comte Raymond VI de Toulouse), to take action against high nobles in southern France who permitted Cathars to openly practice their faith. Philippe II did not comply, as he was facing a more direct threat from an alliance of the English king, Flemish nobles and the German Emperor. [See link to Bouvines War at the end of this webpage.]
In 1206, the pope's legate, Amaury, sent his assistant, another Cistercian monk, Pierre de Castelnau, to Provence to form a league of knights to fight Catharism. Castelnau invited comte Raymond VI of Toulouse to lead this host. Raymond saw no value in such a campaign against this community that was widely spread and well ingranied in his lands. He rejected the "idea of waging war on his own subjects," and Castelnau called for Raymond VI's excommunication. The pope ratified the excommunication of Raymond in May 1207. On 13 January 1208, Raymond met with Pierre de Castelnau at Saint-Gilles, in Provence. The monk and Raymond argued and exchanged threats.
The next morning (14 January), Pierre de Castelnau was assassinated as he was departing the town. His assassin was believed to have been an agent of comte Raymond VI. Pope Innocent III reacted by proclaiming a crusade against the 'sinister race' of Languedoc. His Bull offered indulgences for combatants declared that the heretics' lands were open to be taken. This latter offer enticed many knights from far who needed, or merely sought more land.
One such French knight was Simon IV de Montfort l'Amaury, (1165-1218), who was disinherited from his uncle's estates of Lecicester, in England, by king John I in 1207. Simon IV was a minor lord in the Chevreuse Valley (in the modern Seine-et-Oise region) of France. He had departed with in the Fourth Crusade in 1202, but refused to participate in the attack upon Constantinople instead of Jerusalem. The pope's offer of confiscated lands inspired Simon IV de Montfort to go south with many other northern French knights in the crusades against the Cathars.




1209 June, an 'army' of crusaders gathered in Lyon. The number was probably between 10,000 and 20,000 [some accounts estimate over 100,000]. Besides Simon IV de Montfort, there were the duc de Bourgogne, the counts of Nevers and Saint-Pol, the Seneschal of Anjou, and numerous other noblemen. This host marched south, along the River Rhone towards Provence. They were joined by Arnaud-Amaury, the papal legate who had a titular leadership position as 'spiritual advisor' in the 'holy' campaign.
Meanwhile, comte Raymond de Toulouse recognized the serious situtation developing and sought to be reconciled with The Church. In June, he returned to Saint-Gilles, stood barefoot before Pierre de Castelnau's sepulcher, and pleged to expel Cathars from Toulouse. The pope lifted his excommunication, and Raymond VI tentatively joined the crusade. The crusaders marched to Montpellier, (which, should be noted, was a fief of the King of Aragón).
Raymond-Roger III de Trencavel (age 24/25 and nephew of Raymond VI de Toulouse) realized that the crusaders were heading for his lands. Though he was a Roman Catholic, Roger de Trencavel tolorated particularly strong Cathar concentrations in his viscounties of Carcassonne and Albi. He met with the religious 'commander' of the crusade, Arnaud-Amaury, at Montpellier, to 'surrender to the Church'. However, Amaury refused to receive Roger de Trencavel. Knowing that his lands were to be attacked, Raymond-Roger deTrencavel quickly returned to Carcssonne to organize his defenses.

Early July 1209, Simon de Montfort captured the hilltop village of Servian, to the east of Béziers, prior to going to Béziers.

On 21 July, the crusaders reached Béziers and demanded that the Cathars in the popularion be handed over. This was refused even by the Roman Catholics of the town. The tradition of Cathar strength in this town went back to 1167, when they murdered their vicomte, Raymond-Roger I de Trencavel, in revenge for one of his knights having killed a Cathar. In return the vicomte's son, Raymond-Roger II, had the town ransacked in 1169. Domingo de Guzmán and Pierre de Castelnau had attempted to confront the popularion in 1206.

On the afternoon of 22 July, the town launched a sortie which, when forced back into the town, was closely persued by a band of the crusaders. Once inside the walls of the town, the crusaders seized Béziers within an hour. Immediately there began a mass slaughter of Catholics and Cathars, alike. When asked by one of the crusader warriors about the possible killing of Catholics along with the heretic Cathars, Arnaud-Amaury is supposed to have delivered his nefarious statement "Kill them all! God will recognize His own!" Accounts vary as to the numbered slaughtered (10,000 to 20,000, with just over 200 estimated to have been Cathars) in this, the bloodiest and first, battle of the crusade. The massacre frightened many other towns to surrender without resistance.
Present among the crusaders was a Cistercian monk, Pierre des Vaux-de-Cernay, who ten years later would write his chronical Historia Albigensis of the campaign.

In autum of 1209, Guiraud de Pépieux, lord of a small estate between Carcassonne and Minerve, rallied to the crusaders' camp after the fall of Béziers. Later, he revolted and captured Puysserguier castle and took prisoner two of the knights who guraded the fortress. By the time Montfort arrived with aid, Guiraud had departed with his captives for Minerve. Out of revenge, Guiraud mutulated his prisoners (blinding them and cutting off thier noses and upper lips) and sent them naked in the cold to Carcassonne.

Carcassonne was the next objective of the crusaders. They arrived before the impressive fortifications on 1 August 1209. The town's population was bloated with many Cathars and others who had fled the northern French crusading host. This perceptively impregnable fortified city of 26 [30?] towers sat above the Aude River. Its vunerable point was that it relied on access to the river for its water supply.

Pedro II d'Aragón, a Catholic monarch, who had won considerable fame in fighting the Moors in Spain, was a protector of the Trencavels [and brother-in-law to Raymond VI de Toulouse], came to Carcassonne and tried to mediate. Arnaud-Amaury continued to refuse giving any quarter in the crusade, and Pedro II departed in anger. The siege proceded with the both sides employing trebuchet and mangonel rotating-beam artillery, along with other large siege machinery. However the most effective tactic was the crusaders' capture of two faubourgs outside the walls, the first on 7 August. This effectively cut off the Carassonne defenders' access to the river.
Thirst and spreading disease forced Roger de Trencavel to seek negotiations for surrender. While supposedly under 'safe-conduct', he was made prisoner. Carcassonne surrendered 15 August 1209. Raymond-Roger III de Trencavel died in one of the fortress dungeons on 10 November. Montfort's crusaders did not conduct a massacre, but forced the residents of Carcassonne to to depart the walled city, "taking nothing but their sins." Roger III de Trencavel's wife and young son (Raymond-Roger IV) took refuge with the comte de Foix, whose sister, Esclarmonde, was a Cathar.

Simon de Montfort sought suzerain status over Carcassonne, Albi, Béziers and the Razès area. The other senior French lords of the crusade were not interested in possessing such contentious lands. Most, like the comtes de Nevers and Saint-Pol returned to their northern domains by autum of 1209. The duc de Bourgogne remained through September at Carcassone with about 300 men. He tried and burned two Cathars in October 1209.

Towns such as Castelnaudary, Fanjeaux, Montréal, Limoux, Castres, Albi or Lombers surrendered without a real fight. Montfort pushed beyond the Trencavel vicomtes and attacked lands of the comte de Foix (Mirepoix, Foix and Saverdun). However, some the towns revolted against Montfort: Castres, Lombers, Montréal, etc. Cathari and 'faidits' (lords who dispossessed of their lands) took refuge in Minerve, Termes or Cabaret and launched counter attacks against what was left of Montfort's army.

In December 1209, de Montfort was recognized by Innocent III as a direct vassal of the Roman Pope.

Late in the year, Simon and the duc de Bourgogne attacked Lastours, a city nine miles north of Carcassone, where Pierre-Roger de Cabaret (a vassal of the Trencavel's) harbored many fleeing Cathars. Lastours-Cabaret was a system of four 'castles' [Cabaret being the lord's residence, Lastours the main citadel stucture, the other two being simple towers] close enough to provide cover for one another. It was a formidable stronghold that permited Pierre-Roger de Cabaret to repulsed the attack. In a raid, de Cabaret took captive Montfort's lieutenant (and cousin) Bouchard de Marly, lord of Saissac.

1210 During winter, Arnaud-Amaury took over and was elected archbishop of comte Raymond VI's port city of Narbonne. The costal town became a major entry for crusaders' supplies and additional men. New venturers came from Anjou, Frisia, Lorraine, Bavaris, Gascony, Champagne, Brittany, Flanders, Normandy, Aquitaine, and numerous parts of Europe.

In March 1210, de Montfort captured Bram in a 3-day siege. He mutulated 100 of his captives and sent them to Pierre-Roger de Cabaret, at Lastours.

In June 1210, the crusaders arrived before the impressively positioned (flanked by deep gorges) fortress of Minerve. They brought four siege machines (trebuchets and/or mangonels), which, along with their sizable stone shot, had to be positioned in the mountains surrounding the town. The fortress town was commanded by Guilhem de Minerve. Though he was not a Cathar, he felt compelled to support his lord de Trencavel. The intense bombardment managed to destroy the staircase to the otherwise secure water well. On 27 June, a number of the besieged population made a night sortie and set fire to the machine, which they named 'Malvoisine' and believed had destroyed their well. Thurst forced Minerve to surrender on 22 July. Arnaud-Amaury refused any negotiated terms. Three women of the town agreed to convert and were spared. Reportedly 140 Cathars who refused to abjure their faith died at the stake. This was the first burning at the stake in the crusade.

In early August, de Montfort began his siege of Termes, whose lord was a devoute Cathar. However, he was hampered by Pierre-Roger de Cabaret raiding his wagon rain. One attack seriously damaged the wooden siege engines. In another attack, Pierre-Roger decimated Montfort's rearguard and mutilated those captured as a response to what Montfort had done to his captives at Bram. The siege lasted until December, when the defenders ran out of water. The Cathar lord was placed in the Carcassonne dungeon, where he eventually died.

1211 Arnaud-Amaury remained relentless in his goal to eradicate the heretics. In January 1211, he accused several prominent citizens of Toulouse as heretics. When Raymond VI refused to prosecute them, he was again excommunicated by Arnaud-Amaury.
Pedro II d'Aragón was present when Arnaud-Amaury presented his ultimatum to Raymond VI, and expressed his resentment of the outragous demands and actions of the crusaders. Raymond VI was encouraged with the Aragón king's support and began to organize a coaltion of neighboring lords (comtes de Foix and de Comminges) who were threatened by the obvious land-grabing of Montfort.

With the arrival of a new host of crusaders from northern France in March 1211, Montfort was able to significantly threaten Pierre-Roger de Cabarat's formidable Lastours-Cabaret defense complex. Pierre-Roger agreed to free Bouchard and surrendered his fortresses in exchange for some land in Béziers.

In May, de Montfort attacked and quickly seized Lavaur, the castle of Aimery de Montréal, a lord who had revolted against Montfort. Aimery and his knights were hung and about 300 to 400 Cathars burned. Aimery's sister, Giralda de Laurac, was reportedly turned over to be abused by Montfort's soldiers before being thrown in a well and stoned to death.

During Montfort's attack on Lavaur, the comtes de Foix and Comminges managed to attack a host from Germany that was coming to join the crusaders.

This was quickly taken in early June, and about fifty Cathars were burnt.

This small fortress was surrendered by Raymond VI's brother, Beaudouin, who soon after joined the ranks of the crusaders as he turned over the castle, Bruniquel, to Montfort.

In June, Montfort, reinforced with a large contingent from Germany, led the crusaders to besiege Raymon VI's principal town, Toulouse. It was a fromidable walled city and had also been reinforced with warriors from Commings and Foix. Montfort fended of some sorties from the city, but eventually (29 June, after two weeks of siege) had to pull back to replenish his force.

In September, Raymond VI de Toulouse and Raymond-Roger de Foix led a sizable force [possibly about 10,000] to besieged Montfort at Castelnaudary. Montfort's forces had again begun to dwindle, as the varied venturers were not finding the crusade to be very rewarding. However, Montfort was served by a hardcore of warriors, and Raymond VI de Toulouse was not the ablest of commanders.

Raymond-Roger de Foix engaged a relief force, led by Bouchard de Marly, heading to Castelnaudary. The encouter was about three miles from the fortress and Montfort abandoned the defense of Castelnaudary to assist the relief party. His arrival managed to turn the tied of the battle and led to a defeat of Raymond-Roger's army. However, Montfort was not strong enough to try and prevent Raymond VI de Toulouse seizure of Castelnaudary. Raymond VI was able to go on and to captured about sixty fortresses or towns held by Montfort's crusaders.

In autum of 1211, Raymond VI tried unsuccessfully to retake Cabaret.

1212 In April, de Montfort was reinforced with another crusading host, which he led in a series of lightening strikes throughout Toulouse.
1213 In September 1213, Pedro II d'Aragón led an army to Toulouse with, and joined forces with Raymond de Toulouse and the comtes de foix and Comminges. It was little over a year after Pedro II had shared the honors in the epic victory over the Almoravid sultan at Las Navas de Tolsa (16 July 1212) in Spain. Pedro II had long resented de Montfort's incursion upon some of his fiefs, and now felt compelled to act against de Montfort's aggression.

Pedro II besieged Muret, one the castles de Montfort now held. The comtes de Foix and Comminges joined him immediately. Raymond VI was enroute with a large siege train, when Montfort joined his besieged garrison on 11 September.

Pedro II launched an attack on 12 September. It was repelled, and quickly followed by a daring sortie by de Montfort that forced Pedro II's army to engage in a unexpected melée. Pedro II was killed in the action, and his army panicked. De Montfort won a descive victory.
1214 Pope Innocent III appointed a new legate to replace Arnaud-Amaury. The comtes de Foix and Comminges took the opportunity to submit to the new legate in April 1214. Raymond VI was helpless to put any more resistance. He fled to England as the pope proclaimed that Toulouse was proclaimed to be a fief of the king of France, Philippe II, who heretofor had been disinterested in the campaign.
Philippe II's interest changed following his great victories over the English king John I's attempted invasion into southwest France and then over the German Emperor, Otto IV, at the battle of Bouvines (27 July 1214) in northeastern France. This climatic event freed the French monarach to consider acquiring the regions to the south of his principal domain.

Campaign along the Dordogne
In November, 1214 Simon de Montfort advanced to the northern borders of Languedoc and into Périgord, taking some castles along the Dordogne River. The region was a stronghold of Bernard de Casnac, a bold Cathar military leader. Domme castle, a Cathar stronghold was abandoned before de Montfort arrived. Next was Montfort [no relation to Simon de Montfort] castle, which also had been abandoned before de Monftort approached.

Castelnaud and Beynac
Montfort continued along the Dordogne to the impressive fortified castles of Castlenaud and Beynac, each on opposite sides of the river only a short distance apart. De Montfort found Castlenaud empty and placed a garrison in it, as he proceded to Beynac. Beynac was not owned by Bernard de Casnac, nor was it a Cathar position. De Montfort attempted to demolish the fortifications, but did not harm the people, who were under the protection of the king of France. The Dordogne operations marked the northern limits of the Albigensian wars.

1215 King Philippe II sent his son, prince Louis [future Louis VIII] to accompany de Montfort when the latter entered Toulouse in May 1215.

In autum, at the Fourth Lateran Council, the pope confirmedde Montfort's right to Toulouse. Raymond VII's rights to Provence were not affected, which meant that it remained an inheritence reserved to Raymon VI's eldest son, eighteen-year-old Raymond VII. However, the ten-year-old Raymond Trencaval, son of the deceased Raymond-Roger de Trencaval was disinherited the vicounty Trencaval lands.

Early in the year, Bernard de Cazenac seized back Castelnaud and killed the garrison de Montfort had left. In October, de Montfort conducted a swift expedition back into Périgord, recapturing the castles and killing all the Cathar defenders. Bernard de Cazenac managed to avoid capture and continued to engage de Montfort.



1216 In April 1216, de Montfort paid homage to Philippe at Paris for his lands, ceding his conquests to the French sovereign. However, resentment rose in the Languedoc region, which welcomed the return of Raymond VI and his 19 year old son, Raymond VII, at the port of Marseilles in April 1216. Many towns rallied to their side. Particularly Avignon, which was within the domain of the comte de Provence and a dependent of the German Emperor. Avignon contributed troops for the capture of Beaucaire, Raymond VII's birthplace in 1197.

De Montfort had installed some troops under Lambert de Thury, at Beaucaire, even though the it was in Provence, and outside his rightfull lands. Raymond VII besieged the French garrison at Beaucaire in May 1216. His father, Raymond VI, sought reinforcements from Aragon. Simon IV de Montfort rushed to relieve the town. The French crusader garrison held for three months before they ran out of food. After failing in many costly attacks, de Montfort was forced to negotiate the surrender of the castle on conditions that the defenders could leave. It was de Montfort's first major defeat.

Immediately after this reverse, de Montfort rushed to put down another revolt at his capital city of Toulouse. Following this, he went to fight in Bigorre, and met another defeat at Lourdes, at the end of 1216. Lourdes, in the Hautes-Pyrenees, marked the western limit of the Albigensian crusade that pertained directly with the Cathars.
1217 De Montfort proceded to campaign in the county of Foix. He captured Montgrenier in Feb/March 1217. His campaign reached in to the Corbières area, and as far as the Drôme Valley. Meanwhile, Raymond VII took advantage of Montfort's absence and led a large Aragonese host crossed the Pyrenees and entered Toulouse on 13 September 1217. De Montfort returned and attempted a siege. However, his forces were inadequate and he needed to build a siege train for the town's defense structure remained strong, even though de Montfort had directed it be brought down when he controlled it and had to contend with revolts inside the city.
1218 Toulouse
Starting in spring, de Montfort prepared his siege of Toulouse. In June he brought in a cat, a mobile cover to protect sappers as they approached the wall of the fortress. On 25 June, the defenders disabled the device with their mechanical artillery (rotating-beam trebuchet and/or mangonels firing from within the fortress-city walls) and then sortied out to burn it. De Montfort led a counter attack against the defenders' sortie. During this encounter, Simon de Montfort paused to aid his brother, Guy, who was wounded by crossbow bolt. At that moment, a stone from the defenders' artillery struck Simon de Montfort's head and killed him. The shot was fired by a rotating-beam artillery machine, and reportedly was crewed by women.
The circumstances of de Montfort's death emphasizes the significant role of mechanical artillery in the siege-intensive military operations of these crusades. An explanatory note on the topic can be found at the end of this webpage.

The death of Simon IV de Montfort dramatically changed the nature of the 'crusade'. There was no high noble ready or available to take his place as leader. By default, it remained for the king of France to continue the struggle, which now was not so much to seek and to destroy heretics as to fight for possession of the county of Toulouse.

Raymond VII de Toulouse and the comte de Foix took advantage of the disarray among the crusaders. They defeated an army of northern French knights at Baziège. The new pope, Honorius III (since the death of Innocent III, July 1216) asked the king of France to assist Simon's 26 year-old son and heir, Amaury de Montfort. Philippe II Auguste sent Prince Louis, for a second time. However, Louis' expedition was very circumspect, as his father waited for the confusion in Lauguedoc to settle down.

Belcaire, a refuge for Cathars, was besieged in 1218.

1219 In early 1219, Raymond VII and the comte de Foix defeated a band of crusaders in one of the few open battles of the war, at Baziège.

In June, Prince Louis joined with Amaury de Montfort's force, which had been besieging Marmande since December 1218. The town surrendered, and the entire inhabitants [possibly 5,000] were 'massacre' on 3 June 1219.

Louis joined the crusaders to besiege Toulouse on 16 June. However, the prince suddenly withdrew, and returned to northern France in August 1219. Amaury de Montfort continued to suffer a series of defeats, as many of de Montfort's garrisons quickly surrendered to Raymond VII.

1220 Castelnaudary-2
Raymond VII captured Castelnaudary. During the attack, Guy de Montfort (Simon's second son and Amaury's younger brother) was killed. Amaury de Montfort was never able to recaptured the town during an eight-month of siege (July 1220-March 1221).

1221 Montréal

In February, Raymond IV and Roger-Bernard de Foix recaptured Montréal. During the attack, the local lord, Alain de Rouey, who had killed Pedro II of Aragón at the battle of Muret, was mortally wounded.

Montréal was supposed to be where the 'miracle of Fanjeaux' occured (1207). In an 'ordeal by fire', a Cathar parchment was burnt and St Dominic's parchmant flew up to the rafters and schoched the roof. Fanjeaux is a nearby town where St. Dominic (d.1221), was a priest for a short time. It became a crusader's headquarters, and was attacked and burnt by the comte de Foix.

As Raymond VII and his vassals gradually recaptured their lands, Catharism resurfaced, and many Catholic bishops to fled.

1222 Both Amaury de Montfort and Raymond VII offered sovereignty of the county of Toulouse to Philippe II Auguste, who refused it.

Raymond VI died in July 1222 and was denied a Christian burial by the Church. His son, Raymond VII, who had been the realy dynamic force in the recent campaigns, became the comte de Provence and the disputed land of Toulouse.

Alet was handed over to comte de Foix by Father Boston.

1223 Roger-Bernard de Foix and Philippe II Auguste of France died. Philippe II's son, Louis VIII initially remained remote from any strong support of Amaury de Montfort.
1224 Carassonne
In January, Amaury de Montfort abandoned Carassonne and retreated to northern France with the remains of his father, Simon IV. He offered the 'conquered lands' to the new French monarch, Louis VIII.

The 18 years old son the of the vicomte Raymond-Roger III de Trencaval (who had died in the Carcassonne dungeon in 1209) returned from exile, and entered his father's former capital city as Raymond-Roger IV de Trencaval. After fourteen years of massacres and people being burnt at the stake, the situation was almost back to where it was 1209. At this point, the crusade had failed. Appropriately for the year 1224, Arnaud-Amaury died, not suprisingly a bitter and disillusioned individual.

Unlike his father (Philippe II), King Louis VIII was ready to expand the Royal domain with the bounty from the Albigensian affair. He accepted the offer of Amaury de Montfort. However, pope Honorius III (who was not eager to have a stronger presence of the French in Languedoc) had to be persuaded by the bishops in southern France to continue supporting a crusade.



1225 Raymond VII de Toulouse was excommunicated when he attended the Council of Bourges (November-December of 1225).
1226 In late June, Louis VIII personally led a new crusade into Languedoc. Most of the castles and towns surrendered without resistance. Raymond VII, Roger-Bernard de Foix, Raymond Trencaval and a number of 'faidits' were alone in resisting the Royal campaign.

As a fief of the German Emperor, Avignon, refused to open its gates to the king of France when he came before it on 6 June. After a siege of three months, the city capitulated 12 September 1226. As most all Languedoc submitted, Toulouse prepared to resist alone.

On 16 June, Carcassonne surrendered to Louis VIII.

Louis VIII became ill, and died in Auvergne on 8 November 1226 as he was returning to northern France. He left his seneschal, Humbert de Beaujeu, to continue the crusade. Blanche de Castille, the regent for her son Louis IX, confirmed Beaujeu's position. Humbert de Beaujeu conducted the crusade until Louis IX was old enough to take over.

1227 Labécède
Labécède was besieged by Humbert de Beaujeu and the bishops of Narbonne and Toulouse. Pounded by siege machines and set afire, the entire town was reportedly massacred.
1228 Guy de Montfort, brother of Simon de Montfort and uncle to Amaury, had returned to Languedoc to defend what was left to the Montfort's claims. He was killed besieging Vareilles in January 1228.

Toulouse was starved in the summer. Bernard and Oliver de Termes surrounded in November 1228.

Blanche de Castile decided to negotiate. She agreed to recognize Raymond VII as the legitimate owner of the county of Toulouse (and vassel of France) if he married his only daughter, Jeanne (then 9 years old), to her son, Alphonse of Poitiers (also 9 years old and brother to the young Louis IX).

1229 In the 'Treaty of Paris', Raymond VII agreed to Blanche's terms on 12 April 1229 at a meeting in Meaux. [The treaty is sometimes given the name of this town.] Raymond VII agreed to fight the Cathar 'heresy', to return all Church properity, to demolish the defenses of Toulouse, and to turn over all his castles, as well as pay damages. Raymond VII was flagelated and humulated on a parvis in front of Notre-Dame, and then imprisoned. His wife was expelled from Toulouse. This marked the end of independence in Languedoc.

More frightening was the establishment of the Inquisition at Toulouse in November 1229. The treaty ended the political part of the crusade, but the religious struggle and the campaign for the Cathar fortresses continued.



1233 Pope Gregory IX supported the Dominican-run Inquisition, allowing it limitless powers to torture and burn heretics at the stake. The institution was established in Languedoc in April 1233. Cathati were ruthlessly sought out. As expected, many resisted and took refuge in castles of viscouny of Fenouillèdes or in Montségur. Sick, eldery, and even exhumed bodies were burned. The Inquisition's gruesome excesses incited revolts that continued for many years in Narbonne, Cordes, Carcassonne, Albi, and Toulouse.
1235 Popular uprisings against the Inquisition occured in many areas of Languedoc in 1235. The Dominicans were expelled from Toulouse. An inquisitor was thrown into the river Tarn at Albi. At Cordes, the inquisitors were thrown down a 100 foot well to their deaths. By autumn, the inquisitors had been run out of Toulouse, Albi, and Narbonne.
1240 Raymond-Roger IV de Trencavel led a final revolt. He raised an army and traveled from the Cobières region to win a few victories. He was defeated at Carcassonne on October 1240. Forced to begin negotiations in Montréal [after 34 days of siege], he retired to Aragón with the remnant of his army. The French army, under Jehan de Beaumont, entered the Fenouillèdes. Peyrepertuse, the largest of the Cathar fortresses, surrendered to Beaumont 16 November 1240 after a three-day siege.
1242 Raymond VII de Toulouse tried to clear himself of the insult he had suffered in Meaux. He obtained support from the kings of Castile, Aragón, Navarre, and England. He led an insurrection in May 1242. A small force set out from Montségur to attack and massacre several members of the Inquisition in Avignonet (28 May). Raymond's campaign attempted to take advanage of an invasion by the English king, Henry III, into southwestern France. [See link to webpage on Saintonge War of 1242 at bottom of this webpage.]
Louis IX swiftly defeated the English king Henry III at Saints and at Taillebourg in July 1242. Raymond VII's allies fell away as they saw the French king prepare for a massive campaign into Languedoc.
1243 Again, Raymond VII was compelled to submit to the French king in January 1243. The ceremony took place near Montargis. Though Louis IX pardoned Raymond VII, the Roman Catholic Church did not. Remembering the killings at Avignonet, Raymond VII remained excommunicated.

The crusade to wipe out Catharism continued, and the followers were driven to the security of a few strong fortresses. One was Montségur, sitting 400 feet above the surrounding plain [current sturcture is a reconstruction, built upon the original site]. It had a barbican on a lower plateau to the west . The lord of Montségur and his son-in-law, Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix, held strong Cathar sympathies. They were supported by eleven knights and about 150 soldiers. Including the warriors' families, the fortress contained about 500 people.

In early May, Hugues des Arcis arrived at Montségur with 1,500 men, expecting to starve the defenders out. In November, Hugues des Arcis sent some lightly armed men to scale the precipitous eastern slope. In a daring night ascent, they acquired a foothold and began hoisting up siege machines. They finally began shooting [lobbing] stones upon the barbican to the fortress.
1244 In February 1244, Hugues des Arcis captured the barbican to Montségur. The defenders surrendered at the end of month. The fortress, called by non-Cathars 'Satan's synagogue', was emptied on 16 March, and 210 Cathars were burned in a fire at the base of the mountain.
1249 Eventually, Raymond VII assisted the Inquisition in a further effort to clear his name. He cooperated in the burning of some people at the stake in Agen in 1249. Raymond VII de Toulouse died the same year, as he was preparing to join Louis IX on the Seventh crusade. Jeanne, his daughter, became comtess de Toulouse. When she and her husband (Alphonse de Poitiers) died childless in 1271, the county of Toulouse became part of the Royal domain of France.
1255 Quéribus
The final military action in the epic 45-years' crusade was a siege of the small Cathar fortress of Quéribus. It fell in August of 1255. This remote refuge was never attacked until 1255, when Louis IX requested the seneschal of Carcassonne, Pierre d'Auteuil, to seize it from Chabert de Barberia.



The fall of Quéribus in 1255 marked the last dramatic military operation of the crusades against the Cathars. An earlier date of 1229 is often used, since it marked a 'political' resolution with the Treaty of Paris [also called Treaty of Meaux]. However, there remained a few loose ends.

Raymond VII's daughter, Jeanne, became comtess de Toulouse upon her father's death. She and her husband, Alphonse de Poitiers, died without heirs in 1271. As arranged in the 1229 treaty, Toulouse was annexed to the king of France.
Incidents of Catharism re-surfaced in the fourteenth century. Pierre Authié attempted, but failed, to introduce the belief in Languedoc. Guillaume Bélibaste was reportedly the last known Cathar to have been burned at the stake in 1321. Some may detect traces of sympathy with the Cathar's movement evidenced in the much later, strong receptivity of Protestantism in Languedoc -- if only as a rejection of the Catholic Church's authority. Some bemoan the loss of the distinctive troubadour and relatively tolerant culture of the twelfth-century Languedoc. However, this was probably more affected by the later impact of the Hundred Years' War.

Amaury de Montfort retired to his modest estate in Ile-de-Fance, and went on to serve the king. He was made constable of France in 1230, and joined a crusade to the Levant, where he was captured. He was released after 18 months, and died at Otranto, Italy (1241), as he was returning to France.

His younger brother, Simon, was Simon IV de Montfort l'Amaury's youngest son and also named 'Simon'. The younger Simon de Montfort left France for England, where the king, Henry III, restored Simon (as 'earl') to his ancestral lands in Leicester and married him to his sister. Simon later fell out with the king and sided with the barons in a reform movement. He died fighting the royal forces at the battle of Evesham (1265) .



Aimer le pays cathare
Jean-Luc Aubarbier. 1992. A 1994 edited version, in idiom from Périgord, is the French text and basis for the following listed work.
Wonderful Cathar Country
Jean-Luc Aubarbier, Michel Binet, Jean-Pierre Bouchard; English translation by Angela Moyron. Editions Ouest-France, Rennes, 1994. Profusely illustrated with color photographs and descriptions to guide visits to the various sites as they exist today.
Le Drame albigeois et le Destin français
Jacques Madule. Bernard Grasset, Paris, 1961. English translation by Barbara Wall, The Albigensian Crusade (Fordam U., NY, 1967). A fine concise account and analysis of the epic as it related to the development of France. However, it lacks supporting citations.
The Albigensian Crusade
Jonathan Sumption. Faber, London, 1978 and 2000. A scholarly, comprehensive, and very readable narrative account in English.
The Albigensian Crusades
Joseph R. Strayer. Dial, New York, 1971; re published with an added Epilogue by Carol Lansing that explores aspects of the Cathar 'heresy' (U. of Michigan, 1992).
Historia Albigensis
Pierre des Vaux-de-Cerny. Edited by P. Guébin and E. Lyon, 3 vols., 1926-39. A young monk who was eyewitness to much of the crusade until 1219. An English tranlstion, with notes, by W.A. and M.D. Sibly has recently been published: The History of the Albigensian Crusades (Boydell, Suffolk, 1999).
La Croisade contre les Albigeois 1209-1249
Pierre Belperron. Librairie Plon, Paris, 1942; and Librairie académique Perrin, 1967.
Les Cathares
Arno Borst. Payot, Paris, 1984.
Le Catharisme: La Historie des Cathares
Jean Duvernoy. Privat, Toulouse, 1979.
Les grandes heures cathares
Dominique Paladilhe. Librairie académique Perrin, 1969. An itinerary through the cathare country.
The Inquisition : A Political and Military Study of its Establishment
Hoffmann Nickerson. John Bale, London, 1923 and 1932.
"Kill Them All... God Will Recognize His Own"
Douglas Hill. Military History Quarterly, Winter 1997 (9:2) pp.98-108.
The Yellow Cross, The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329
René Weis. Penguin, London, and Alfred A.Knopf, NY, 2000. A reconstruction and account of the late phase of the Cathar movement. Author employed latest geographical maps, Vatican documents, and a personal visit to the sites to provide a vivid description of what happened to individuals as the Inquisition moved in on a small, remote, community of Cathars that survived in the Pyrenees.


Some sites of the crusade that still can be seen in Southern France are at:
Monuments of Stone
Considerable misunderstanding of medieval mechanical artillery is reflected in many publications. This has led to confusion over the rotating-beam machines (such as trébuchet and mongonel [mangonneau]) that were extensively employed during the many sieges of the Albigsenian Crusades. A women-crewed machine at Toulouse (1218) that killed Simon IV de Montfort suggests that the piece was a bricole, and not one of the larger configurations such as a trébuchet or mangonel. The smaller pieces were more suitable to place on the fortress ramparts. The bricole's size permitted smaller crews and a more rapid rate-of-fire. They were particularly effective against crews of larger siege artillery and attacking troops.
Further explanation is provided at the Société de l'Oriflamme's webppage on:
Medieval Non-Gunpowder Artillery
Some major military events in France that ran concurrent with, and had some relationship to the Albigensian Crusades are addressed at the following webpages:
Some webpages to assist further research on the Cathars are:

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