Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The Albigensian Crusade
In the early 1200s the Papacy was becoming increasingly alarmed at the rise of a sect in the Languedoc (an area today of Southern France) called The Cathars.
The Cathars were dualists,in other words they believed in the existance of two equally powerful Gods.One good and one evil.
They believed the Good God created our souls and the Universe,whereas the Evil God created our material World and the human body to imprison the soul.Thus a Cathar did not want to be of this World.
Their beliefs also encompassed pacifism, vegetarianism,reincarnation,heaven but no hell in the Catholic sense of the word.
They had no Churches and either held their meetings in a members homes or in the open air,much as the early Christians did.
They found the Old Testament abhorant and considered it the work of the Evil God,followed only the Gospel of John and had only one prayer.'The Lord's Prayer'.
There were two levels within Cathar society,the Credente who were the vast majority of followers and the Parfait who were an initiated elite,consisting of both men and women since they saw no difference, as the soul for them, had no sex and thus the body was irrelevant.
At the time the Languedoc was the centre of culture in Europe and thus also a very prosperous region,more influenced by Northern Spain than by France.
And so it was that Pope Innocent III decreed that the Cathars were heretics and appealed to the King of France to launch a crusade against them.
So began in 1209, yet another chapter in the ignominious history of the Catholic Church.The Pope offered lands,wealth and absolutions to those who would travel South to deal with,what were essentially a peace loving people,in the most brutal episode in the history of that part of the World.
Estimates of the numbers butchered range from 200,000 to 1,000,000 men,women and children.They slaughtered whole towns including people who had sort sanctuary in Churches and if survivors refused to give up their beliefs,which 90% of them did,they were burnt alive.
What infuriated the Church on these occasions was that many Cathars were happy to die,which may explain why it took twenty years to remove the threat they posed to the established order of things.
Their persecution was managed by a monk who later became the founder of the Dominican Order,better known to you as The Inquisition. An ex-soldier, this Spaniard created an organisation responsible for such horror and carnage, I refuse to defile my blog with his name.
However they ultimately did not win,since Gnostics, such as myself, still exist today.