The Albigensian Crusades: Wars Like Any Other?

Dei gesta per FrancosThe Albigensian Crusades: Wars Like Any Other?

By Malcolm Barber

Dei gesta per Francos: Etudes sur les croisades deditees a Jean Richard (2001)

There are three great clichés in our view of the Albigensian Crusades which most historians find hard to resist. These are, first, the words supposedly spoken by Arnaud Amalric, the papal legate, during the crusader attack upon Beziers on 22 July 1209, where, according to his fellow Cistercian Caesarius of Heisterbach, in response to a question from the soldiers, he was supposed to have replied, “Kill them. For God will know those who are his”; secondly, the hurling of Girauda, dame of Lavaur, down a well where she died under a barrage of stones, after the fall of her town to the crusaders on 3 May 1211; and, finally, the ironic gloss on the epitaph on Simon of Montfort, the leader of the crusade, killed besieging Toulouse on 25 June 1218, as set down by the anonymous continuator of William of Tudela’s Chanson, which, in powerful rhetoric the original author could never have matched, culminates in the lines “if by kindling evil and quenching good, by killing women and slaughtering children, a man can in this world win Jesus Christ, certainly Count Simon wears a crown and shines in heaven above.”1

Although only the second of these is of any real value for the historian attempting to reconstruct the events of the Albigensian crusades, the unavoidable collective impression is that this was a conflict in which all the normal conventions of warfare in the early thirteenth century were abandoned and that the prime responsibility for this belongs to northern crusaders whose brutal demeanour created a depth of bitterness between the Languedoil and the Languedoc which still has echoes today. A typical consequence has been, for example, the treatment of Pierre Belperron’s La Croisade contre les Albigeois (published in 1942), in which he argued that this was a war no more brutal or bitter than any other conquests of the kings of France and that it had been sentimentalised by certain persons for their own purposes.2  In 1998 Pierre Martel’s sarcastic comment was that “we do not advise anyone who wishes to know about Catharism to read Belperron; but if they wish to understand how l’ideologie petainiste functioned, his contribution seems to us fundamental.”3

What, therefore, is the case for arguing that the Albigensian conflict transcended all norms of contemporary warfare in Latin Christendom? The basic evidence has to be drawn from four narrative accounts, that of the Cistercian Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay, heavily pro-crusader and a fervent admirer of Montfort, the two authors of theChanson de la croisade albigeoise, William of Tudela and his anonymous continuator, the latter of whom was as devoted to Languedoc as Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay was to the cause of the crusaders, and William of Puylaurens, a clerk from the Toulousain, who, like the others, was a contemporary, but who wrote from the longer perspective of the third quarter of the thirteenth century. As the most detailed narrative, based on both his own observation and that of others close to the events, Peter of Les-Vaux-de-Cernay is the key witness. Setting aside the executions of the heretics at Minerve, Termes, Lavaur, and Les Casses in 1210 and 1211 (where to a considerable extent the victims co-operated in their own destruction), he incorporates fifteen incidents in his narrative which might be described as “atrocities”; not surprisingly, all but three are attributed to the southerners. The exceptions are the massacre of the population of Beziers in July 1209; Montfort’s blinding of the garrison at Brain in March 1210; and the execution of Aimery of Montreal, his sister, Girauda of Lavaur, and the knights who had defended Lavaur in May 1211. In Peter’s view these were fully justified. At Beziers, the heretics had said that Mary Magdalene was Christ’s concubine, they had killed their lord and assaulted their bishop, “so it was right that these shameless dogs should be captured and destroyed on the feast day of the woman they had so insulted.” When Brain fell over a hundred of the defenders were blinded and their noses were cut off, apparently in retaliation for the killing and mutilation of Montfort’s men at Puisserguier by a former ally of his, Giraud of Pepieux, in November 1209, while a clerk captured there to whom Montfort had entrusted the castle of Montreal, only for him to hand it back to its lord, Aimery, was degraded so that Montfort could punish him by having him dragged by a horse through Carcassonne and then hanged, a punishment which Peter sees as a fitting penalty. And at Lavaur, Aimery was a “foul traitor” who had “deserted God and the count” [i.e. Montfort], and Girauda was “a heretic of the worst sort.4

Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay’s list of southern atrocities is of course much longer, showing a particular obsession with the actions of the count of Foix and his son.5 For Peter it was soon evident that no trust could be reposed in the southerners or their allies. Girard of Pepieux’s betrayal at Puisserguier was emphasised by the murder of Montfort’s sergeants – thrown in the fosse and covered with rubbish – and the blinding and mutilation of the two knights in command, followed by their expulsion naked in weather so severe that one died of exposure and the other was saved only by chance. For Peter it was a story which “cannot be heard without tears.” In the winter of 1209, when over forty fortresses defected from Montfort’s cause, this reaction became general: “most of those whom the count had left to guard the castra in the area were either killed or mutilated by local traitors.” The next year, between July and November, while Montfort was besieging Termes, the men of Cabaret (just to the north of Carcassonne) harassed the crusaders and “whenever they came across any of our men either condemned them to a shameful death or, to show their contempt for God and our side, most cruelly put out their eyes and cut off their noses and other members, and sent them back to the army.” They could not be trusted to deal decently with either prisoners or the dead: Raymond Roger, count of Foix, reneged on his promise to treat honourably with Lambert of Thury and Walter Langton, two crusader knights. Once they had surrendered, they were thrown into a dark dungeon, so small they could neither lie down nor stand up. In 1212, Roger Bernard, the count’s son, captured some crusaders near Narbonne, took them back to Foix, where he and his men spent their time devising “new and original tortures” for them including suspension by their genitals. Forces from Toulouse acted similarly: in 1213 crusader knights “were dragged by horses about the city streets and then hanged from gibbets.” During the siege of the city in 1217-18, captured crusaders could expect a similar fate: victims had their eyes put out, their tongues removed, were dragged behind horses, stoned, dropped from the ramparts, or drowned with mill-stones around their necks. Even corpses were not safe: at Moissac, in August 1212, dead crusaders were hacked with swords, for “it was not enough for them to see one of our number killed,” while during the siege of Toulouse in 1218 captured knights were killed, their hands and feet were cut off, and the feet then hurled into the Chdteau Narbonnais, still occupied by crusader forces.6

The other sources confirm the general circumstances described by Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay, even though they offer less detail and sometimes distribute blame differently. William of Tudela portrays the ribauds who began the attack in Beziers as “in a frenzy, quite unafraid of death, killing everyone they could find.” The leaders were cooler, but no less bloody, agreeing in advance that “at every castle the army approached, a garrison that refused to surrender should be slaughtered wholesale, once the castle had been taken by storm. They would then meet with no resistance anywhere, as men would be so terrified at what had already happened.” The crusader seizure of St Marcel (in the Albigeois, north of the Tam) on 20 May 1212 cost the citizens twenty-eight killed or drowned, while the men and women who had fled into the church were stripped naked and robbed.7  Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay says nothing of this, but it is clear from his narrative that St Marcel suffered because of past disloyalty and because at one point it had been entrusted to Giraud of Pepieux.8  William of Tudela’s continuator begins his account in 1213. By this time Montfort had already been campaigning for four years although in fact he offers no specific instance of the general indictment he made of Montfort at his death. However, Montfort’s removal seems to have done nothing to diminish the ferocity of the conflict. When Marmande fell to the forces of Louis of France and Amaury of Montfort in June 1219, the crusaders indulged in a general massacre of the population.

Lords, ladies and their little children, women and men stripped naked, all these men slashed and cut to pieces with keen-edged swords. Flesh, blood and brains, trunks, limbs and faces hacked in two, lungs, livers and guts torn out and tossed aside on the open ground as if they had rained down from the sky. Marshland and good ground, all was red with blood. Not a man or a woman was left alive, neither old nor young, no living creature, unless any had managed to hide. Marmande was razed and set alight.9

The perspective offered by William of Puylaurens is quite different because he was writing a generation or more later. He lacks the immediacy and passionate partisanship of Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay and the anonymous author of the Chanson, yet he is both anti-heretical and pro-northem.l0  However, he does describe two incidents which confirm that after 1218 the warfare continued at the same pitch as it had done in the days of Montfort’s campaigning. In 1220 Raymond, son of Raymond VI of Toulouse and the future count, captured Foucaud of Berzy, and his brother John, two crusaders whose reputations had been established in the region since at least 1212. Raymond had them decapitated and the severed heads placed on poles as a public spectacle. For William of Puylaurens it was no more than they deserved because of their cruelty and arrogance.

He [Foucaud] held himself to this law, it was said, that all prisoners-of-war, unless they could give him 100 sous, would be killed. He tortured his captives with hunger in an underground prison, and when he let them out, dead or half dead, he threw them on a dung heap. It was said, and is still said today, that, leaving for the recent conflict, which was the last, he had two wretches hung, father and son, who were prisoners, and forced the father to hang the son, then departed for this matter, from which he did not return.

As for his entourage, they not only kept concubines but “some took the wives of others.” Royal forces which followed up the crusade of Louis VIII after the king’s death in October 1226 were equally ruthless in their ravaging of the populace and the pays. Led by the royal seneschal, Humbert of Beaujeu, in 1228 they massacred the population of Labecede which, as most of the fighting men had fled, consisted mainly of non-combatants, and in the same year, reduced the inhabitants of Toulouse to near starvation by the systematic and daily devastation of the crops upon which they depended.11  More than anything else, this brought Count Raymond of Toulouse to the negotiations which ended in the heavily one-sided Treaty of Paris in 1229.

This litany of violence has not been presented gratutitously. It is necessary to provide perspective upon Belperron’s attempt to desentimentalize the conflict or upon a more recent comment by Yves Dossat that “perhaps this brutality was less striking to the men of the thirteenth century than to ourselves.”12  Both Belperron and Dossat imply that contemporaries had no standards by which to judge the actions of the combatants in the Albigensian crusades, that in fact they were wars just like any other. Michel Roquebert disagrees. When Girauda of Lavaur was thrown down the well, William of Tudela goes on to say that “the other noblewomen were all set free by a kind and courteous Frenchman, who behaved most honourably.”13  For Roquebert this is proof that some were cruel and that some were not, and that “the mentality of the times” cannot be used to explain the conduct of Simon of Montfort or, for that matter, of Raymond Roger, count of Foix.14

Roquebert’s comment points the way to a solution. How did the chroniclers and poets who describe these incidents view them within the mores of their own time? The very fact that Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay felt it necessary to follow his account of the mutilation of the garrison at Bram with a peroration on Montfort’s qualities is indicative, since he clearly did not think that this was “normal” behaviour, despite his blinkered support for “the count.”

The count had this punishment carried out, not because such mutilation gave him any pleasure but because his opponents had been the first to indulge in atrocities [set quia adversarii sui hoc inceperant] and, cruel executioners that they were, were given to butchering any of our men that they might capture by dismembering them. It was right that they should fall into the pit they had dug themselves and drink from time to time of the cup they so often administered to others. The count never took delight in cruelty or in the torture of his enemies. He was the kindest of men and the saying of the poet fitted him most aptly: “a prince slow to punish, and quick to reward, who grieved when driven to be hard.”15

Even allowing for the slightly creative translation of set quia adversard sui hoc inceperant, Peter’s unease is nevertheless clear. His comments on the massacre at Beziers confirm this impression. Although he does not condemn it, nevertheless he presents it as the work of the ribauds, “without the knowledge of the chiefs of the army and quite without consulting them.”16 Atrocities by the enemy naturally present him with no such problems, but again his comments suggest that he had a perception of what constituted “proper conduct.” Thus Giraud of Pepieux’s mutilation of Montfort’s knights in 1209 was “unheard of cruelty”; the violation of the bodies at Moissac in 1212 was “a despicable form of battle”; the treatment of captured crusader knights near Toulouse in 1213 showed that the Toulousans were “worse than infidels”; when, in 1218, the citizens of Toulouse used a mangonel to throw the dismembered limbs of captured crusaders into the Chateau Narbonnais, it was “a shameful mode of warfare, a victory without honour.” Indeed, for Peter, deaths in these conflicts took on the aspect of Christian martyrdom, for he claims that Roger Bernard, the son of the count of Foix, acted in such a way in 1212 that his tortures “could claim equality in their iniquity with Diocletian and Domitian.” In 1218 Bernard Escrivan, a priest from Toulouse who supported the crusaders, “was in every respect a martyr,” in that he was buried up to his shoulders, stoned and attacked with arrows, and then set alight, the parallels with the early Christians being all too obvious.17

William of Tudela, although pro-Catholic, is much less partisan than Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay, but he too has a concept of honourable behaviour in warfare which he clearly expects to carry resonance with his intended audience.18  He is therefore indignant at the suggestion that the early death of Raymond Roger Trencavel, the young viscount of Carcassonne and Beziers, in November 1209, while in captivity at Carcassonne, was in some way the consequence of the foul play about which there must evidently have been rumours. He died, he says, from dysentery, not by murder. “Not for anything in the world, by Jesus in heaven! would Count Simon ever have allowed such a thing.” When Termes fell to the crusaders in November 1210 and some of its inhabitants were captured in flight and brought to Montfort, he “behaved very well and took nothing from the ladies, not even the value of a penny coin or a Le Puy farthing.” The following March, when Peter Roger of Cabaret decided that he could resist no longer, he first released his prisoner, Bouchard of Marly, whom until then he had kept in irons. He told Bouchard that he would take the risk that he would treat him fairly if he released him, to which Bouchard replied that he had “never done or commanded anything dishonourable,” a boast which his later actions confirmed. Peter Roger had him properly bathed and his hair cut, he had new clothes given to him and “a pacing palfrey,” and an escort of three nobles as he left Cabaret.19  This strong feeling for the sensibilities of the noble class makes William’s strictures more convincing than those of Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay. There had, he said, not been “so terrible a slaughter” since the time of the Saracens as there was at Beziers, while at Lavaur “there was so great a killing that I believe it will be talked of till the end of the world.” Moreover, the execution of a man of the stature of Aimery of Montreal was unprecedented. “Never so far as I know has so great a lord been hanged in all Christendom, nor with so many knights hanged at his side.” Indeed, the willingness of the crusaders to go beyond the accepted norms pervades William of Tudela’s whole narrative, for the plan to massacre garrisons which had refused to surrender was intended to frighten defenders into submission.20  By definition, such tactics would have been pointless had they not had the power to strike terror into the hearts of men.

While events of this kind were not exclusive to the crusades – the deaths of 1,500 people in the church at Vitry, burnt down by the troops of King Louis VII in 1143 springs to mind – it is perhaps significant that the most famous recent massacre was also perpetrated by crusaders, although in this case against Muslims, not heretics. In August 1191 Richard I ordered 2,700 Muslim prisoners to be beheaded at Acre when he believed that Saladin was refusing serious negotiation. Despite the attempts which have been made to explain Richard’s action by placing it in a realistic context,21 it is evident that contemporaries saw the event as quite exceptional. It is recorded in similar terms by both the main narrative sources, the poet, Ambroise, and the anonymous author of the Itinerarium.22 Here is the version in Ambroise:

And when he [Richard] knew that he [Saladin] would do nothing for him and that he had no care for those who had defended Acre for him, then the matter was examined at a council, where the great men gathered and decided that they would kill most of the Saracens and keep the others, those of high birth, in order to redeem their own hostages.

In Ambroise’s poem, deaths occur every few lines, but it is evident that the author is distinctly uneasy about these, despite a display of insouciance, since he finds it necessary to include a special passage justifying it. It was appropriate vengeance.

The army had been at Acre for two winters and a summer at great cost and loss, until the middle of August when the king carried out the killings of those who had merited death for what they did to God and his pilgrims, because of whom there were left behind so many orphans, so many unprotected girls, so many widowed wives, so many abandoned inheritances, so many families brought down, so many bishoprics and so many churches left alone.

Although Ambroise and the Itinerarium cover much of the same ground, including the massacre of the prisoners, it is noticeable that a reference by the author of theItinerarium to the defenders of Acre as “outstanding and memorable warriors who were men of admirable prowess, exceptional valour, very energetic in the practice of war and renowned for their great deeds”23 is not to be found in Ambroise.  These were the same men killed on Richard’s orders. Ambroise knew very well how this would be seen by the Muslims. When Richard finally decided to settle for what he had already conquered in the Treaty of Jaffa (September 1192), provision was made for the parties of pilgrims to visit Jerusalem. Their nervousness is quite palpable. Unarmed and close to the Muslim forces at Jerusalem, Ambroise can clearly imagine his own reaction if the situation were reversed.

The next day the Saracens came before Saladin and knelt at his feet, begging and beseeching him, saying, “Oh, true Sultan, now it is right and it is  time for us to take vengeance for the massacre which they did to us before Acre. My lord, let us avenge our fathers, our kinsmen, our sons and our brothers, whom these men killed and hacked. Now each man can wreak his vengeance.”24

It has been strongly argued by both Strickland and Gillingham that there was a fundamental difference between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons on the one hand, and the Normans and the French, on the other, in their perception of the way warfare should be conducted; indeed, Gillingham goes so far as to argue that “there is much to be said for the view that he [William the Conqueror] was the first chivalrous ruler in English history.” By chivalry he means “a secular code of values” in which “the compassionate treatment of defeated high-status enemies is a defining characteristic.” None of this of course ever applied to those perceived to be of low status or who were seen as mercenaries.25 Although in no way claiming that such conventions were invariably applied, Strickland believes that in the world of the Anglo-Norman and French aristocracy (which was the world from which Simon of Montfort and most of his fellow crusaders were drawn) certain constraints operated which had the effect of mitigating extremes of brutality which might otherwise have occurred and, indeed, had occurred, in the Viking and Anglo-Saxon era. These included the high value placed upon a reputation for honour; a sense of professional solidarity with other knights, even if they were fighting on the other side; the search for profit in the form of ransoms; and the need to reduce the expense and damage of prolonged sieges by reaching a negotiated surrender. Certain circumstances could override these constraints, most commonly in the case of rebellion, especially when perceived as treason, and when dealing with peoples considered to be in some way outside the social and racial elite of northern European aristocracy.26  In the latter case mutual cultural incomprehension – as shown for example, in the contrasting attitudes towards the decapitation of defeated opponents displayed by the English and the Welsh in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries 27 -exacerbated the bitterness of such conflicts, so that no quarter was likely to be given to those seen as belonging to barbarous nations.

Viewed within this context, it can be seen that the Albigensian crusades went far beyond the normal conventions of early thirteenth-century warfare, in the scale of the slaughter, in the execution of high-status opponents, male and female, in the mutilation of prisoners, in the humiliation and shaming of the defeated, and in the quite overt use of terror as a method of achieving one’s goals. Simon of Montfort was not a man without honour, as can be seen by his famous refusal to attack the Christians of Zara during the Fourth Crusade in 1202, but he either believed from the beginning, or quickly became convinced, that “chivalric” standards had no place in the type of war in which he was involved in Languedoc. Mutual respect for knightly values did not exist in a world so divided by religious, cultural and linguistic differences. In northern convention “treacherous” behaviour clearly forfeited the right to humane treatment, a conception strengthened by Innocent III’s definition of heresy as treason,28 while for southerners concerned to defend their patria against those whom they saw as “foreigners,” their retaliatory “atrocities” were fully justified.29  Indeed, the tactics used by Peter Roger of Cabaret during the siege of Termes were not dissimilar from modern guerilla warfare against occupying forces. For Montfort, killing prisoners may have seemed the only way of gaining revenge upon an enemy that would not confront the crusaders directly.30  For the crusaders, heretics and their defenders evidently fell into the same category as “Saracens,” a conviction hardened by the belief that the southerners habitually employed routiers, condemned by the Third Lateran Council of 1179 in the same decree which called for the elimination of heresy.31 As Strickland shows, the image of routiers as “the epitome of cruelty and brutality,” along with the Scots and the Galwegians, was firmly embedded in the minds of Anglo-Norman and French knights.32 When the opportunity arose therefore, treatment of those employed by the enemy was accordingly merciless.

In one way the crusades made a powerful contribution to the concept of chivalry, imbuing their Christian participants with what they believed to be a noble cause, for which they fought in a spirit of self-sacrifice. However, in another sense, they marked a qualitative degeneration in behaviour for those involved, for they engendered and strengthened hostile attitudes towards those who were different from the perceived norm and opened the way for the development of an ingrained superiority towards those who did not follow the banner of Christ as interpreted in the Latin West. These enemies find their lineal descent in the demonised peoples of the New World, whose behaviour showed that they were not of the same species as their conquerors and therefore need not be treated as human beings at all. As the anthropologist, Inga Clendinnen, shows, this appears in its starkest form in the conflict between Cortes and the Mexica or Aztecs, in which “the sustained act of cooperation” necessary to create conditions in which two opponents could operate, was conspicuously absent, so that the Mexica fought Cortes to the point of their own destruction, while the uncomprehending Spaniards “denied them the way to acquiesce in their own defeat.”33

End Notes

1. Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus Miraculorum, ed. Joseph Strange, 1 (Cologne, 1851), p. 302; Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay, Hystoria Albigensis, ed. Pascal Guebin and Ernest Lyon, 3 vols. (Paris, 1926-39), 1, para. 227, pp. 227-28 (hereafter PVC) – trans. William A. and Michael D. Sibly, The History of the Albigensian Crusade(Woodbridge, 1998); Chanson de la croisade albigeoise, ed. and trans. Eugene Martin-Chabot, 3 vols. (Paris, 1931), 1, laisse 71, pp. 172-73; vol.3, laisse 208, pp. 228-29 (hereafter Chanson) trans. Janet Shirley, The Song of the Cathar Wars. A History of the Albigensian Crusade. William of Tudela and an Anonymous Successor (Aldershot, 1996).

2. Roger of Howden, Chronica, ed. William Stubbs, 4 vols. (London, 1871), 4:54. He describes how, in 1198, the king of France found what he calls “a new type of violent oppression” in that he “caused many of the men of the king of England whom he had captured to be blinded,” with the result that he “thus provoked the king of England, although reluctant, to similar acts of impiety.” However, the chronicler clearly thought these actions were reprehensible and not “normal.”

3. Pierre Martel, “Qui n’ a pas son albigeois? Le souvenir de la Croisade et ses utilisations politiques,” in Catharisme: L’Edifice Imaginaire. 7e Session d’histoire medievale du 29 aout au 2 septembre 1994, Rennes les Bains (Villegly, 1998), pp. 341-42.

4. PVC, vol. 1, paras. 90-91, pp. 91-93; paras. 135 and 142, pp. 138-39, 147-49; para. 227, pp. 227-28 (trans. Sibly and Sibly, pp. 50-51, 73, 78-79, 117). This view of Girauda of Lavaur appears to have been propagated in the north, see Chronica Albrici Monarchi Trium Fontium, MGHS 23:892, where she is called pessima Albigensis.

5. PVC (vol. 1, para. 218, pp. 217-19) was particularly incensed at what he believed was an outrage by Raymond Roger of Foix, his son, Roger Bernard, and the man he saw as the arch-traitor, Girard of Pepieux, upon a group of crusaders, at Montgey, near Puylaurens, in May 1211. Peter presents this as an ambush upon unprepared crusaders, although William of Tudela (vol.2, laisse 69, pp. 168-71) describes a hard battle in which the crusaders were defeated. To the modern observer it looks like a fairly ordinary engagement, typical of medieval warfare, but Catholic propagandists made considerable capital out of it in the north. See John H. Mundy, The Repression of Catharism at Toulouse. The Royal Diploma of 1279 (Toronto, 1985), p. 22.

6. PVC, vol. 1, para. 127, pp. 131-32; para. 136, pp. 139-40; para. 173, pp. 175-76; para. 248, pp. 247-49; vol. 2, para. 361, pp. 60-61; para. 435, pp. 126-27; para. 606C, pp. 307-09; para. 582, p. 275 (trans. Sibly and Sibly, pp. 70, 74, 92, 127, 169, 198, 27475, 261).

7. Chanson, vol.l, laisse 20, pp. 56-57; laisse 21, pp. 56-59; laisse 113, pp. 252-53 (trans. Shirley, pp. 20-1,57).

8. PVC, vol.2, paras. 312-16, pp. 11-16 (trans Sibly and Sibly, pp. 151-53).

9. Chanson, vol. 3, laisse 212, pp. 290-91(trans. Shirley, pp. 188-89).

10. See Yves Dossat, “La Croisade vue par les chroniqueurs,” in Cahiers de Fanjeaux 4 (1969), 242. “Tour a tour le pretre et la patriote peuvent s’exprimer.”

11. Chronica magistri Guillelmi de Podio Laurentii, ed. and trans. Jean Duvernoy (Paris, 1976), XXXI, pp. 108-11; XXXV, pp. 126-27; XXXVI, pp. 128-31.

12. Yves Dossat, “Simon de Montfort,” Cahiers de Fanjeaux 4 (1969), 286.

13. Chanson, vol. 1, laisse 71, pp. 172-73 (trans. Shirley, pp. 42-43).

14. Michel Roquebert, L’Epopee Cathare, 1198-1212: 1: L’invasion (Paris, 1970), p. 397.

15. PVC, vol. 1, para. 142, pp. 148-49 (trans. Sibly and Sibly, pp. 78-79).

16. PVC, vol. 1, para. 90, p. 91 (trans. Sibly and Sibly, p. 50).

17. PVC, vol. 2, para. 582, p. 275; para. 361, pp. 60-61; para. 606C, pp. 307-09 (trans. Sibly and Sibly, pp. 261, 169, 274).

18. Both authors of the Chanson wrote within a genre which used real events as a means not only of information but of instruction and entertainment as well, so their selection and presentation of material and their judgements upon it must have been related to the attitudes which they expected to find in their listeners. See Nancy F. Partner, Serious Entertainments: The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England (Chicago and London, 1977), for comparison.

19. Chanson, vol. 1, laisse 37, pp. 94-95; laisse 57, pp. 140-41; laisses 63 and 64, pp. 154-59 (trans. Shirley, pp. 28, 36-37, 40).

20. Chanson, vol. 1, laisse 21, pp. 56-59; laisse 68, pp. 166-67 (trans. Shirley, pp. 21, 41). The point is not that this tactic was unique to the Albigensian crusades, but that it was seen as a method of terrorising the enemy qualitatively different from contemporary norms. Thus, in 1108, Suger of Saint-Denis presented the future Louis VI campaigning against the castle of Sainte-Severe in Berry, as threatening that he would not desist until he had completely destroyed the castle, when he “would either fix its noble men to a gibbet or rip our their eyes.”. Suger, Vie de Louis VI le Gros, ed. and trans. Henri Waquet (Paris, 1929), p. 59; English trans. Richard C. Cusimano and John Moorhead, The Deeds of Louis the Fat (Washington, 1992), p. 60.

21. e.g. John Gillingham, Richard I (New Haven and London, 1999), pp. 167-71. See, too, John Keegan, The Face of Battle (London, 1976), pp. 107-12, on the reasons why Henry V ordered the prisoners to be killed at Agincourt in 1415.

22. Ambroise, L’Estoire de la Guerre Sainte, ed. Gaston Paris (Paris, 1897), pp. 144-48; Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, ed. William Stubbs (London, 1864), pp. 240-R3. The quotation from Ambroise is from a new translation by Marianne Ailes to be published in 2001. Cf. Ambroise, p. 53, on the atrocities committed by Isaac Comnenus, “emperor” of Cyprus, against Richard I’s men, whom he had captured.

23. Itinerarium, p. 233; trans. Helen J. Nicholson, Chronicle of the Third Crusade. A Translation of the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi (Aldershot, 1997), p. 220. See, too, Nicholson’s comments on the massacre, p. 231.

24. Ambroise, p. 321 (trans. Ailes).

25. Matthew Strickland, “Slaughter, Slavery or Ransom: the Impact of the Conquest on Conduct in Warfare,” in England in the Eleventh Century. Proceedings of the 1990 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Carola Hicks (Stanford, 1992), pp. 41-59; John Gillingham, “1066 and the Introduction of Chivalry into England,” in Law and Government in Medieval England and Normandy, ed. George Garnett and John Hudson (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 31-55, esp. pp. 54, 32.

26. Matthew Strickland, War and Chivalry. The Conduct and Perception of War in England and Normandy, 1066-1217 (Cambridge, 1996).

27. Frederick Suppe, “The Cultural Significance of Decapitation in High Medieval Wales and the Marches,” The Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 36 (1989), 147-60.

28. See Walter Ullmann, “The Significance of Innocent III’s Decretal Vergentis,” in Etudes d’histoire du droit canonique dediees a Gabriel Le Bras (Paris, 1965), pp. 729-41. This decretal was issued in 1199.

29. On treachery in these campaigns, see Claire Dutton, Aspects of the Institutional History of the Albigensian Crusades, 1198-1229 (Ph.D., 1993, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London), pp. 284-86. The chronicler of Saint-Evroul, Orderic Vitalis, describes the blinding of three nobles by Henry I in 1124 on the grounds of treason, a punishment which in other circumstances would have been regarded as contrary to Norman and Flemish custom: The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed. and trans. Marjorie Chibnall (Oxford, 1978), 6:352-53. On the idea of defence of patria, see Strickland, “Slaughter, Slavery and Ransom,” pp. 53-54. Suger of Saint-Denis, who was a powerful propagandist for the Capetian house, apparently believed (p. 222) that defence of the dynasty’s lands from an outsider invader justified treating them “as if they had been Saracens,” that is subjecting them to wholesale slaughter. “The unburied bodies of the barbarians [the Germans] would be abandoned to wolves and ravens, to their everlasting shame; and great slaughter and cruelty would be justified because the land was being defended.” (trans. Cusimano and Moorhead, p. 129). The anonymous author of the Chanson presents (laisse 196, p.104, trans. Shirley, p. 150) the Toulousans as complaining about a pope who orders their deaths at the hands of “foreigners” (per una gente estranha).

30. See Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 310.

31. Norman J. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 1, Nicaea I to Lateran V (London, 1990), p. 224. Montfort, of course, like other contemporary Christian rulers, also made use of mercenaries.

32. Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 291.

33. Inga Clendinnen, “Cortes, Signs and the Conquest of Mexico,” in The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe, ed. Anthony Grafton and Ann Blair (Philadelphia, 1990), pp. 87-130. See also the comments of Keegan, The Face of Battle, p. 296.

This article was first published in Dei gesta per Francos: Etudes sur les croisades deditees a Jean Richard, edited by Michel Balard, Benjamin Z. Kedar and Jonathan Riley-Smith (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001).  We thank Malcolm Barber and Ashgate Publishing for their permission to republish this section.

See also this review of  Dei gesta per Francos: Etudes sur les croisades deditees a Jean Richard

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