The Albigenses were Protestants who lived in the country of Albi. They were condemned in the council of Lateran by order of Pope Alexander III, but their numbers grew so rapidly that many cities were inhabited exclusively by them, and they converted several important noblemen.
The Pope wanted to rid the empire of these people that he considered heretics, and so encircled the city of Beziers. No amount of compromise or discussion could pacify the troops surrounding the city. The inhabitants were told that unless the Albigenses would give up their religion and conform to the Church of Rome, there could be no mercy. The Roman Catholics living within the walls of Beziers urged the Albigenses to comply; but the Albigenses nobly answered that they would not forsake their religion. They said that God was able if He pleased to defend them; but if He would be glorified by their holding onto their faith unto death, it would be an honor for them to die for His sake. The Catholics, finding it impossible to persuade the Albigenses to surrender to the will of Rome, sent their bishop to beg the army legate to not include them in the punishment of the Albigenses.
When he heard this, the legate flew into a passionate rage and declared that, “if all the city did not acknowledge their fault, they would all taste of one curse, without distinction of religion, sex, or age.” The inhabitants refused to yield to such terms, and consequently were fiercely attacked. Every cruelty was practiced; the groans of men dying in pools of blood were heard amid the cries of mothers, who after being brutalized by the soldiers, had their children taken from them and killed before their eyes. On July 22, 1209, the beautiful city of Beziers was destroyed by fire, the cathedral of Saint Nazaire burned with its terrified inhabitants who had taken refuge inside. All that remained was a heap of ruins. In all, 60,000 men, women, and children were murdered. More and more towns where the Albigenses lived were destroyed in a similar fashion.
In 1620, persecution against the Albigenses was renewed. At a town called Tell, while the minister was preaching to a congregation of the reformed, the papists attacked and murdered a number of the people. One lady of eminence was exhorted to change her religion, especially for the sake of her child. She replied, “I did not quit Italy, my native country, nor forsake the estate I had there, for the sake of Jesus Christ, to renounce Him here. With regard to my infant, why should I not deliver him up to death, since God gave His Son to die for me?” The persecutors then killed the woman, but not before taking her child and giving him to a Catholic nurse to bring up.
An Albigense young lady of a noble family was seized and carried through the streets. After mocking and beating her, the brutal multitude told her to call upon the saints, to which she replied, “my trust and salvation is in Christ only; for even the virgin Mary, without the merits of her Son, could not be saved.” Upon hearing this, the multitude killed her.
These barbarous acts continued until the brave and faithful Albigenses were completely eradicated.
Adapted from John Foxe, The Book of Martyrs (London: Pickering & Inglis, no date): 23-28.