ALBIGENSES, arbe-gh-sez, a religious sect, corning first into prominence in the 12th century, and taking its name from Albi, their principal stronghold. What their doctrines were has not been determined, as no formal statement of them was ever drawn up. It ap pears that the Albigenses held beliefs similar to those of the Patarins in Italy, the Bulgarians in France and other similar sects. They styled themselves Cathari the Pure and traced their doctrines to the Manichean sect known as Paulicians, that settled in Bulgaria, whence their tenets spread to France.
They taught the doctrine of the Manicheans, that there are two opposing creative principles, one good, the other evil; the invisible word proceeding from the former, the body and all material things from the latter. °Their teach ers assumed a great simplicity of manners, dress and mode of life. They inveighed against the vices and worldliness of the clergy, and there was sufficient truth in their censures to dispose their hearers to believe what they ad vanced and reject what they decried. They also rejected the Old Testament, said that in fant baptism was useless, and denied marriage to the perfect' as they called their more aus tere members." (Addis and Arnold's olic Dictionary').
On the other hand the license permitted to the imperfect gave rise to so much fanaticism and grave social and moral disorders as to threaten the destruction of Christian civiliza tion in the heart of France. They had increased very much toward the close of the 12th century in the south of France, about Toulouse and Albi, and in Raymond, Count of Toulouse, they found a patron and protector. Innocent III, after trying in vain to reform the abuses prevalent among them, was so incensed by the assassination of the papal legate, Peter of Cas telnau, in 1208, that he proclaimed a crusade against them, and was supported by the King of France.
An army was accordingly collected, large numbers of those composing it being mere mer cenaries and adventurers brought together by the hope of plunder rather than by zeal for the Catholic faith. The chief leader was Simon de Montfort, father of the well-known Earl of Leicester. Raymond's territories were ravaged, and in 1209 the crusaders took Beziers by storm and put a number of the inhabitants to the sword. Simon de Montfort was equally severe toward other places in the territory of Ray mond and his allies, of whom Roger, nephew of Raymond, died in a prison and Peter I, King of Aragon, in battle. The lands taken were presented as a reward for his services to Simon de Montfort, who, however, was killed at the siege of Toulouse in 1218. When Inno cent III heard of the cruelties of the invading armies he recalled his legate Milo for his weak ness in not restraining Simon and restored to Raymond the captured territory. Soon after, however, Raymond once more espoused the cause of the Albigenses. He died in 1222, un der excommunication, and his son, Raymond VII, was obliged to defend his inheritance against the legates and Louis VIII of France, who fell in 1226 in a campaign against the Al bigenses. After thousands had fallen on both sides a peace was made in 1229 by the terms of which Raymond was released from the penalties in consideration of a large tribute. He ceded Narbonne, with several estates, to Louis IX, and made his son-in-law, a brother of Louis, heir of his other lands.