Conflict and Coercion in Southern France
By Judith Jane Blair
Georgia State University Honors Theses, 2005
Abstract: This paper endeavors to examine the mechanisms by which the crown of France was able to subsume the region of Languedoc in the wake of the Albigensian Crusade in the thirteenth century. The systematic use of Catholic doctrine and an Inquisition run by the Dominican Order of Preachers allowed France to dominate the populace of the region and destroy any indigenous social, economic, and political structures.
Introduction: From the twelfth century until the fourteenth century, the area that is now known as southern France was a hotbed of dualist Christian heresy. This particular heresy was called Catharism, and missionaries may have brought it to the area from the Balkans. In 1208, a henchman of Raymond VI of Toulouse murdered a papal legate sent to combat Catharism, Peter of Castelnau. Pope Innocent III retaliated for the murder by declaring a crusade against the heretics living in the County of Toulouse in Languedoc, which was an essentially autonomous region that did not answer to the French crown. After years of sieges and skirmishes in the war known as the Albigensian Crusade, and after the deaths of almost all the principal players from the beginning of the Crusade, Raymond VI’s son, Raymond VII, finally signed the Treaty of Meaux/Parisin 1229. The primary terms allowed him to remain Count of Toulouse, and his only child, Jeanne, was betrothed to King Louis IX’s brother, Alphonse of Poitiers. Upon Raymond’s death, all possessions of the house of Toulouse were to passto Jeanne and Alphonse, regardless of any male heir of Raymond’s line. In this manner, Toulouse and much of Languedoc became subject to the French crown.
Since the Crusade did not rid the region of heresy, Pope Gregory IX ordered a General Inquisition throughout southern France in 1233, headed by friars of the Dominican Order. This Inquisition, while simultaneously routing out heretics, also served to quell any potential rebellions in Languedoc. The last Cathar burned by the Inquisition in Languedoc was Guillaume Bélibaste in 1321, by which time the region was completely under French power.