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beneath the papal sentence. In 1212, Innocent went on to depose the excommunicated king, and to release his subjects from their oath of allegiance, and summoned Philip Augustus of France to execute the sentence and receive the reward, to despoil the accursed king, and appropriate the stricken kingdom. A great French host lay along the Channel, ready to embark; a papal legate was in the French camp; discontent and hatred dwelt in the English army. John trembled, and saw no refuge from invasion and insurrection save in submission to Innocent.
In accordance with the mean malignity of his nature, he preferred vengeance on his subjects, and the degradation of his crown, to the hearts of his people and the independence of his realm. He at once made up his mind to oppress England with the help of Rome, rather than to resist the papacy in conjunction with the nation. Accordingly he invited the legate Pandulph across the Channel, and yielded everything to the pontiff, even his very kingdom. Ascension-day of 1213 was signalised by the greatest degradation ever put upon England, and one of the greatest triumphs ever won by Rome-the day whereon John resigned his crown into the hands of Pandulph, and took it back as the vassal and tributary of Innocent. This submission at once endeared and consecrated the king in the sight of the pontiff. The object of Innocent's especial abhorrence became the object of his especial care; the flagrant sinner and frightful oppressor was forgotten and forgiven in the liegeman and tributary of the popedom. Invasion and insurrection, just before the holiest of duties, became all on a sudden the most horrible of sins. The French monarch and the English barons were forbidden to assail the vassal of Rome under pain of excommunication. Philip murmured and obeyed; the barons pursued the work and incurred the penalty; they wrung the Great Charter from their reluctant tyrant in direct defiance of Innocent, who branded and annulled the precious document. The wrath of the exterminator of the Albigenses was vainly poured upon Magna Charta, and the curse of Rome confirms and consecrates the liberty of England. But the immediate triumph of the papacy in this business of John was signal. Innocent dealt with the vile king of England as with a wretched slave to be chastised and protected, and with the wise and valiant king of France as with an instrument to be wielded and laid aside according to his own good pleasure.
8 Matthew Paris, pp. 210-262.
Rival emperors found him no less lordly and oppressive. The contest for the imperial crown, in the beginning unfavourable to the papacy, ended in its exaltation. Otho of Brunswick, the papal candidate, was worsted by Philip of Suabia, the antipapal candidate. The detested House of Hohenstaufen prevailed over the favoured House of Guelf. The assassination of Philip (1208) made room for Otho, and Innocent placed the imperial crown on the head of his nominee. But the possession of that crown soon converted the pontifical nominee into an imperial champion. The pontiff and the Cæsar erelong fell out about the respective rights of the papacy and the empire. Innocent bitterly resented the independence of Otho, and at once proceeded to uncrown the monarch of his choice, and undo the work of his own hands. He transferred his favour from the cherished blood of Guelf to the tainted blood of Hohenstaufen. The pontiff set up the head of the Ghibelins against the chief of the Guelfs. He invited his ward and vassal, Frederick, king of Sicily, the hereditary foe of the papacy, the hereditary champion of the empire, the grandson of Frederick Redbeard, the descendant of Henry IV., the heir of an excommunicated race, to avenge the wrongs and execute the sentence of the popedom upon the representative of the papal cause, upon the heir of a race devoted for generations to the Roman See. Frederick obeyed and triumphed; Otho lost his crown, and Innocent enjoyed the satisfaction of a 'setter-up and puller-down of kings.' The papacy achieved a great immediate success, though the proscription of a faithful house and the exaltation of a hostile family were bold experiments, perilous in appearance and hardly justified by the event-in fact, among the very few mistakes ever made by Innocent III. Another signal triumph was won for the popedom, almost against the will of the pope. The chiefs of the fourth crusade (1204) turned their arms against the Greeks instead of the Saracens, besieged and captured Constantinople instead of Jerusalem, replaced the Greek Empire by a Latin Empire, and subjected the Greek Church to the Roman Church. Innocent disapproved and forbade this strange perversion of the crusading spirit, but accepted its ecclesiastical consequences. Rome ruled for a brief while in the East. The patriarch of Constantinople sank into the vassal and attended the councils of the Roman
Raynaldus, an. 1209, n. 9-21; an. 1210, n. 1–3; an. 1211, n. 1–4; an. 1212, n. 1-3; an. 1214, c. 21. Matthew Paris, p. 306.
pontiff.10 But there was another crusade, another perversion of the crusading spirit, which Rome directly commanded and by which she more largely and permanently profited—the most signal triumph of the Roman See, and the most horrible event in the middle ages-the especial work and the especial crime of Innocent III.
The south of France had greatly outgrown the rest of Europe in every ingredient of prosperity and civilisation, had become a land of extensive commerce, of large municipal freedom, of much intellectual cultivation-had become the home of poetry, of free thought, and of earnest and anti-Roman faith. There swarmed throughout that fair and favoured region men who denied the characteristic doctrines of the Roman Church, such as transubstantiation and image-worship, especially the temporal and spiritual authority of the popedom, and held many of the leading doctrines of the Reformation, tinged more or less with some Gnostic notions derived from those Paulicians who, more than three centuries before, underwent such persecutions and performed such exploits in Asia Minor." They were variously denominated Albigenses, from Albi, a town in Southern France where they abounded, Paterini and Catharini or Puritans, from the rigidity of their morals, the name of a kindred but a mightier race, and a designation in both cases bestowed by the affected contempt of adversaries. The flourishing cities of Southern France swarmed with these early Puritans; its graceful and melodious tongue, the Langue d'Oc, was wielded by the foes of Rome; its enlightened princes connived at them; its nobles were their patrons or their proselytes, and not a few of its Troubadours sang at once the praises of the ladies and the sins of priests and pontiff. During the twelfth century Rome, though somewhat slack and heedless, had not quite overlooked this tainted region. Now and then a pope had denounced and a council had condemned the spreading heresy, missionaries had
10 Raynaldus, an. 1203, n. 1 et seq.; an. 1204, n. 1 et seq. Epistolæ Innocentii III. apud Duchesne, Historie Francorum Scriptores, tom. v. pp. 749 et seq., 794 et seq., 282,283.
Sismondi (Histoire des Français, tom. vi. c. 24) has given the best history of the crusade against the Albigenses that I know of, lucid, lively and impressive, sufficiently detailed, and steeped in that moral indignation that so nobly suffuses all his works- -a far more precious quality in a historian than that philosophic optimism which regards a great crime as a necessity of the age, or that picturesque impartiality which welcomes a horrible massacre as a fine subject for description. Historia Albigensium, Petrus Vallensis, apud Duchesne, tom. v. c. 2.
been now and then sent into the infected land, heretics had now and then been burned. This spiritual revolt had, in fact, received a stimulating and strengthening persecution.
A very different treatment was adopted by Innocent III. He looked the heresy steadfastly in the face, and at once set about its extirpation. He took the fierce earnestness of the Spaniard Dominic into the service of the Roman See, as somewhat later he accepted and organised the tender enthusiasm of Francis of Assisi, made him the head of a new order of preaching friars, and sent him and others (1206) into the devoted land to preach down heresy, while the princes and nobles of Southern France were commanded to burn it out of their dominions.12 But the pontiff soon rejected this mixture of conversion and destruction as a slow and lingering process, and exchanged it for pure extermination, to be effected by means of that favourite occupation of the age, a crusade. He summoned the warriors of Christendom to take the Cross against other Christians, to smite the heretics who dwelt among them instead of the Saracens who dwelt afar, set before them the allurements of a march across the borders, so much less perilous and so far more profitable than the weary and disastrous march into Asia, endowed the slayers of the heretics with all the spiritual privileges of the slayers of the Moslem, and proclaimed the extermination of the enemies of the popedom a full atonement for all sins, past, present, and to come. He invited especially the warriors. of Northern France to slaughter their neighbours of Southern France. The Crusade was vigorously preached by the Cistercian monks and eagerly embraced by the French chivalry, the most formidable warriors of Christendom, the heroes of the Third and Fourth Crusades, the companions of Richard Lionheart and Henry Dandolo.13 The people against whom they marched were their betters in everything save in valour and military discipline. The armed assault of a dominant hierarchy upon its opponents has often called forth the most heroic resistance, and encountered the most signal defeat. No combatants have fought so valiantly and prevailed so mightily as
12 Raynaldus, an. 1204, n. 57; an. 1206, n. 27–30. Petrus Vallensis, c. 5, 6, 7. Gulielmus, de Podio Laurentii, c. 1-10.
Raynaldus, an. 1208, n. 15-24. Petrus Vallensis, c. 14. This contemporary and congenial chronicler of the extirpation of the Albigenses thoroughly enjoys the business. How he exults in de Montfort's singular fitness 'to conduct this sacred business of Jesus Christ against the pestilent heretics (sacrosancti negotii Jesus Christi).'
earnest believers driven to extremity. More than three centuries before, the Paulicians of the East smote more strongly than they were smitten, and obtained a marvellous series of triumphs over the armies of the persecuting Byzantine emperors. Two centuries later, the Bohemian Hussites defied the combined strength of empire and popedom, and marched from victory to victory. The English Puritans never met their match on the battle-field. But the Albigenses were altogether overmatched and uniformly vanquished. They lacked that without which a great religious revolution has been never wrought-a quickening and kindling truth, such as the doctrine of Justification by Faith, which bore on the Reformers to victory. Their strength lay in the denial of falsehood and the abhorrence of corruption, rather than in the possession of some great truth, whereby alone falsehood and corruption are ever overcome. They likewise lacked that without which no cause has ever succeeded—a great man, a chief combining enthusiasm with capacity, devotion to their principles with practical genius. Unlike the Paulicians, the Hussites and the Puritans, they had no Carbeas, no Ziska and no Cromwell.
On the other hand, Innocent was most happy in his instruments, both soldiers and chiefs, in the legate who accompanied and stimulated the exterminating host-Arnold Amalric, abbot of Citeaux-almost as much a warrior and a worldling as a priest, savage against the heretics, and consumed by a zeal for the interest of the Roman Church almost as hot as the zeal with which he pursued his own interests; and in Simon de Montfort, the captain of the host, almost as much a priest as a warrior and a worldling, the most sincere and ruthless of fanatics, the bravest of soldiers, the ablest of leaders, the most greedy and unscrupulous of spoilers and conquerors. Thus guided, the crusaders burst upon the helpless land in 1209, ravaging, burning, and slaughtering. Beziers was stormed and laid in ashes, and not a human being left alive within its walls. For several years a fresh swarm of crusaders annually invaded the unhappy region, and steadfastly pursued the work of destruction. No crusade was so bloody and so successful. The heretics fared far worse than the Mohammedans. The massacres of Jerusalem and Acre were isolated acts; but the crusade against the Albigenses was a series of massacres. Godfrey of Bouillon failed to restrain, and Richard Lionheart partook, the fury of their companions; but Count Simon enjoyed and heightened the savageness of his