Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/219

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199
THE SIEGE OF AVIGNON

He also forced the Count of La Marche to send back to Raymond his young daughter Jeanne, betrothed to La Marche's son, and reserved, as we shall see, for loftier nuptials. To Bourges likewise flocked many of the nobles of Narbonne, eager to show their loyalty by doing homage to the king and to advise him not to advance through their district, which was devastated by war, but to march by way of the Rhone to Avignon — disinterested counsel which he adopted.[1]

Louis set forth from Lyons with a magnificent army consisting, it is said, of fifty thousand horse and innumerable foot. The terror of his coming preceded him ; many of Raymond's vassals and cities made haste to offer their submission — Nimes, Narbonne, Carcassonne, Albi, Beziers, Marseilles, Castres, Puylaurens, Avignon — and he seemed reduced to the last extremity. When the host reached Avignon, however, and Louis proposed to march through the city, the inhabitants, with sudden fear, shut their gates in his face, and though they offered him unmolested passage around it, he resolved on a siege, in spite of its being a fief of the empire. It had lain for ten years under excommunication, and was noted as a nest of Waldenses, so the Cardinal-Legate Romano ordered the Crusaders to purge it of heresy by force of arms. The task proved no easy one. From June 10 till about September 10 the citizens resisted desperately, inflicting heavy loss upon the besiegers. Raymond had devastated the surrounding country and was ever on the watch to cut off foraging-parties, so that supplies were scanty. An epidemic set in, and a plague of flies carried infection from the dead to the living. Disaffection in the camp aggravated the trouble. Pierre Mauclerc of Britanny was offended with Louis for traversing his plot of marriage with Jeanne of Flanders, whose divorce from her husband he had procured from the pope, and he entered into a league with Thibaut of Champagne and the Count of La Marche, who were all suspected of entertaining secret relations with the enemy. Thibaut even left the army without leave, after forty days of service, returned home and commenced strengthening his castles. The crusade, so brilliantly begun, was on the point of abandoning its first serious enterprise, when the Avignonese, reduced to the utmost straits, unexpectedly offered to capit-


  1. Chron. Turonens. ann. 1226.— Teulet, Layettes, II. 72, No. 1751.