11.02.2010

Beziers, France

We arrived in Beziers and checked in to our hotel. It is a mid-sized city and looks much like others in the area.

Beziers if famous for three things; The first is it's four day bull fighting festival in August of each year; Feria en Aout. That may soon end, as it has in nearby Spain. Animal rights activists are trying to have the grotesque 'sport' banned. We did not attend a bull fight.

The second is it's wine. There are many vineyards around the region, but a car is required to visit them. We didn't visit any vineyards, but probably would if we return to the region in the future.







The third claim to fame? Beziers is famous for having all of its citizens murdered on July 22, 1209 by the Roman Catholic Church at the beginning of the Cathar Crusades.

As the story goes, the city of 20,000 was mostly populated with moderate Catholics and a couple hundred Cathars. The pope in his wisdom thought not just the Cathars to be a threat, but also the acceptance and tolerance the town's Catholic population had shown to others.

The Pope assembled an army of men, who he declared were doing the work of god and therefore were therefore given 'heavenly immunity' and could still go to heaven whilst raping and pillaging throughout the countryside.

This army attacked Beziers killing every man, woman and child and even the priests of the town. Those who had taken refuge in Eglise de la Madeleine church were slaughtered, with the Abbott who was leading the army famously declaring; "Kill them all, God knows his own". (Not surprisingly, the church currently  disagrees with this statement).

We visited the church, Eglise de la Madeleine where this genocide took place. It was closed the day of our visit. I did some research on the internet and found that inside it you will find many monuments and words of praise about the Crusaders. You will find none about the innocent people that were killed in the name of the Roman Catholic Church and  God.  In fact, it was only in the year 2000 that Pope John Paul II (sort of) apologised for the slaughter.

Across the street from the church the city of Beziers has erected a modest plaque commemorating the loss of life.

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