Belibaste was probably born near Andorra in 1280. When he was 17 or 18 years old he committed a murder. He hid with the Cathars and joined their faith. As a murderer his only possibility to be saved required him to become a Parfait. He preached the Cathar religion until 1321 when the Inquisition arrested him. He was found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake in Villerouge-Terménès.
Born around 1280 in Saverdun in the North of the county of Foix (now Ariège). He does not come from a noble family. He has been the Abbot of the Monastery of Fontfroide before becoming the Bishop of Pamiers in 1317. In 1326 he received the congratulations from the Pope John XXII in particular for his inquisitorial activity. He is also known to have increased the taxes in his region. In 1326 he becomes Bishop of Mirepoix, in 1327 Cardinal and in 1334 Pope in Avignon. He tried to introduce some morality in the Abbeys. He is especially good as far as dogma is concerned. He initiated the construction of the Pope Palace in Avignon
Innocent III, Pope
Lothair of Segni was born in 1160 or 1161 in Gavignano, Italy. He studied Theology in Paris and Cannon Law in Bologna. He became a cardinal in 1189. He was elected Pope under the name of Innocent III on 8 January 1198. He organised the fourth Lateran Council in 1215. During his pontificate the fourth crusade against the Holy Land took place. It was diverted to Constantinople against his wishes. He rallied himself to this decision because he thought that it would reunify the Eastern and the Western Churches. This was a mistake. Innocent III approved, if not asked for, a crusade against the Cathars or Albigenses. This crusade succeeded in eliminating heresy in the South of France where two generations of preachers had failed but this was done at the cost of bloodshed, devastation and injustice. Innocent III died in Perugia on 16 July 1216 while preparing a new crusade to free the Holy Land.
Louis VIII, King of France
Louis Viii also known as Coeur-de-Lion or Lionheart was born in Paris on 5 September 1187 the eldest son of Philip II. As his father he tried to extent Capetian authority over all of France. Louis had been in the South of France in 1215 to participate in Simon de Montfort’s crusade against the Albigenses. He went back there for a short time in 1219 and with Simon’s son, Amaury, he directed the massacre of heretics at Marmande. Philip II died in July 1223 and Louis VIII became King. He directed his own crusade against the Albigenses in 1226 forcing Avignon to capitulate and taking Languedoc.
Peter II, King of Aragon
Peter was the son of Alphonso II. He was King of Aragon from 1174 to 1213. His lands to the North of the Pyrénées brought him in touch with the Albigenses and in 1213 he fought against Simon de Montfort’s army. He was not in particular sympathy with the Cathars. He was only defending his Northern borders against the conquering spirit of the French armies hiding behind the excuse of religious zeal. He was killed at the battle of Muret on 12 September 1213.
Peter de Castelnau, Legate of the Pope
He was born at Castelnaudary and he became a monk at Citeaux. As Legate of the Pope he fought the Cathar heresy. He was murdered on the land of Raymond VI. Count of Toulouse. This has been considered as the starting point of the crusade against the Albigenses in 1208.
Raymond-Roger Trencavel III
The Trencavel family, Count of Béziers and Viscount of Carcassonne, owned all the land from Carcassonne to Béziers between the land of the Counts of Toulouse and those of the King of Aragon. They depended from the Counts of Toulouse but were also linked to the Kings of Aragon.
Simon de Montfort’s army attacked Béziers on 21 July 1209 and took the town immediately. They massacred all the inhabitants. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was in Carcassonne organising the defence. At the beginning of August the crusaders attacked Carcassonne. The siege lasted for a few weeks but the crusaders were too strong. Raymond-Roger offered to negotiate but he was taken prisoner and died in the prison probably from poison- of the City on 10 November 1209, 24 year old.
The Count of Toulouse, brother-in-law of the King of England and cousin of the King of France, is an ambiguous actor, full of contradictions in his behaviour during the albigean crusade. He was a Catholic but tolerated Catharism. He was excommunicated under the accusation of being a heretic and to have organised the murder of Pierre de Castelnau. He joined the crusade in 1209. In 1211 he was unable to choose between his catholic religion and fighting his Cathar subjects. By that time the crusaders were occupying a large part of Languedoc. He refused to participate in the fighting in order not to loose his lands and authority. The rupture with the catholic crusaders was inevitable.
The son of Raymond VI was born in Beaucaire. He was the Count of Toulouse from 1222 to 1249. He fought with success against Amaury de Montfort.
Simon de Montfort
Simon IV de Montfort was born in 1150. He was the knight of Montfort and Epernon. He joined the crusade in 1209 and leaded it for 9 years until his death in the siege of Toulouse in 1218. He was known as a good catholic. This did not prevent him to behave ruthlessly during the crusade.
From 1145 St Bernard, monk of Citeaux and founder of the Clairvaux Abbey was one of the preachers against the Cathar heresy. He preached at Toulouse, Albi and Verfeil. Everything went well in Toulouse and Albi. In Verfeil he attacked the local knights who left the office with part of the other participants. St Bernard followed them but they refused to hear him anymore. He then left Verfeil and the debates with the Cathars.
St Dominic (1170-1221), or better the Spanish Cannon, as he was then known, was struck by the Cathar popularity in Languedoc. He founded a Monastery at Prouilhe, near Fanjeaux, and participated to many public debates with the local Cathars. The Montreal debate in 1207 is still remembered. To counteract the Cathar movement he created his own Catholic Order, the “Dominican Order”. These monks were mainly preachers. They tried to explain, demonstrate and convince the people that the Roman Catholic Church was better that the Cathar heresy. Later on the Pope put the order in charge of the Inquisition. (l)