Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/176

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156
THE ALBIGENSIAN CRUSADES.

was carried and burned after a desperate resistance. The second suburb, strongly fortified, cost a prolonged effort, in which all the resources of the military art of the day were brought into play on both sides, and when it was no longer tenable the besieged evacuated and burned it. There remained the city itself, the capture of which seemed hopeless. Tradition related that Charlemagne had vainly besieged it for seven years and had finally become its master only by a miracle. Terms were offered to the viscount ; he was free to depart with eleven of his own choosing, if the city and its people were abandoned to the discretion of the Crusaders, but he rejected the proposal with manly indignation. Still, the situation was becoming insupportable; the town was crowded with refugees from the surrounding country; the summer had been cursed with drought, and the water supply had given out, causing a pestilence under which the wretched people were daily dying by scores. In his anxiety for peace the young viscount allowed himself to be decoyed into the besieging camp, where he was treacherously detained as a prisoner — dying shortly after, it was said, of dysentery, but not without well-grounded suspicions of foul play. Deprived of their chief, the people lost heart ; but to avoid the destruction of the city, they were allowed to depart, carrying with them nothing but their sins — the men in their breeches and the women in their chemises — and the place was occupied without further struggle. Curiously enough, we hear nothing of any investigation into their faith, or any burning of heretics.[1]

The siege of Carcassonne brings before us two men, with whom we shall have much to do hereafter, representing so typically the opposing elements in the contest that we may well pause for a moment to give them consideration. These are Pedro II. of Aragon and Simon de Montfort.


  1. Regest. XII. 108; xv. 212.— Pet. Sarnens. c. 17.— Vaissette, III. Pr. 11-18. — Guillem de Tudela, xxiv.-xxxiii., xl. — Guillel. Nangiac. ann. 1209. — Guill. de Pod. Laurent, c. 14. — A. Molinier, ap. Vaissette, fid. Privat, VI. 296.
    Dom Vaissette (III. 172) cites Caesarius of Heisterbach as authority tor the statement that four hundred and fifty of the inhabitants of Carcassonne refused to abjure heresy, of whom four hundred were burned and the rest hanged. The silence of better-informed contemporaries may well render this doubtful, especially as Caesarius assigns the incident to a city which he terms Pulchravallis (Dial. Mirac. Dist. v, c. 21).