« PreviousContinue »
most undaunted speculators turned, with a wellfounded horror. The schools of Paris had been continually acquiring importance; new scholars flocked there, not only from France, but from all Europe, to attend the lessons of celebrated masters. A numerous body of professors, who were indebted for their pecuniary advantages, their rank in society, and their fame, to the exercise of all the faculties of the mind, had raised themselves, still more than they had elevated the youths confided to their care. Erudition had made indubiable progress; skill in managing both the thoughts and the language in disputes, had increased with exercise; it is not so certain that the understand. ing had gained either in justness or in extent. The school of theology at Paris, famed through all Europe for its orthodoxy, placed its glory in maintaining that reputation without spot; yet, this body of teachers could not help finding itself in opposition to the monastic orders, who also undertook the work of instruction. Their rivalship contributed to attach the French theologians to the defence of the independence of their national church; it was by prescribing the boundaries of the temporal and spiritual powers, by their oppositions to the encroachments of the court of Rome, that they signalised their spirit of reform, and never in any examination of the doctrine, nor even in that of the discipline of the church.
In the midst of the troubles of an agitated re
gency, with numerous risings and revolts of the barons within the realm, and threatenings and dangers from without, Blanche had the talent to terminate the conquest of the Albigenses, and to gather the fruits of the policy of Philip Augustus, of the zeal of Louis VIII, and of the fanatical fury of their subjects. The rivalship of Philip Hurepel, the count of Boulogne, and uncle of Louis IX, the enmity and distrust of the barons, and the relationship which connected her with Raymond VII, did not divert her from those projects of aggrandisement, which she had formed in concert with the cardinal di Sant. Angelo. France has been indebted to her for the acquisition of a noble province, and forgetting at what a price it was purchased, she has viewed with indulgence both her policy and her means of success.
It would be unjust to attribute to individuals the errors of their age. Intolerance and persecuting fanaticism were virtues in the eyes of Blanche, and she is not responsible for the instruction of her doctors. But cupidity, cruelty, and want of faith in political transactions, were sanctioned by no religious instruction. We are no more able to exculpate from these vices the great of the middle ages,
than those of our own days. The frequency of examples cannot justify that which conscience reprobates. Yet the picture of the crimes of former ages does not excite sensations which are altogether painful; it shows to what a degree ignor
ance is contrary to morality, and how greatly the increase of knowledge has been favourable to the progress of virtue.
1228. At the commencement of the year 1228, Raymond count of Toulouse again took the field, flattering himself that he should find the royal party discouraged by the civil wars with the barons, and the crusaders weakened by the departure of the most enthusiastic amongst them for the Holy Land. Guy de Montfort, brother of the ferocious Simon, was killed at the siege of Vareilles. Raymond afterwards took possession of Castel Sarrazin. In the neighbourhood of that place, he placed an ambush for a body of troops belonging to Humbert de Beaujeu, and, having taken a great number of prisoners, he abandoned himself to those sentiments of hatred and vengeance, which the horrors of the war had excited both in his soldiers and himself. The captives were mutilated with an odious cruelty ; a second advantage caused additional French prisoners to fall into his hands, and a second time he treated them with the same barbarity. Perhaps, also, a mistaken policy made him thus brave the laws of humanity. Discouragement had seized the hearts of the Languedocians; their constancy had been exhausted by such a succession of combats, and
5 Guill. de Podio Laurentii, ch. xxxvii, p. 689. facinora, p. 776
6 Matt. Parisii Hist, Angl. p. 294.
so many sufferings; and Raymond VII thought that he should render them warlike by permitting them to become ferocious. But, on the contrary, those who had degraded themselves by taking the character of executioners, ceased to merit, in war, the title of soldiers. His success finished with his clemency.
Humbert de Beaujeu received but little assistance from France; the prelates, however, effected for him what the queen could not then undertake. In the middle of June, the archbishops of Auch and Bourdeaux arrived at his camp, with a great number of bishops; they had been preaching the cross in their respective dioceses, and they brought him a numerous and fanatical army. Fouquet, bishop of Toulouse, had never quitted the crusaders, and he exceeded them all in sanguinary zeal. He believed himself called to purify, by fire, his episcopal city, and he determined Beaujeu to draw near to Toulouse. The affrighted citizens shut themselves
within their walls, abandoning the surrounding country, and flattering themselves still to be able by lengthening out the war, to weary the patience of the besiegers. It was their own bishop, Fouquet, who suggested the method of wounding his people in what he knew to be the most sensible part, and of rendering this war for ever fatal to their country. By his advice, the French captains conducted, every morning, their
? Hist. de Languedoc, liv. xxiv, ch. xxxviii, p. 368.
troops to the gates of Toulouse, and then retiring to the mountains, each day by a different route, they commanded them, through all the space they passed over, to cut down the corn, tear up the vines, destroy the fruit trees, and burn the houses, so that there remained not a vestige of the industry or of the riches of man. Each day the general traced in this manner a new radius, and, during three months, he uninterruptedly continued, thus methodically, to ravage all the adjacent country. At the end of the campaign, the city was only surrounded by a frightful desert, all its richest inhabitants were ruined, and their courage no longer enabled them to brave such a merciless war. Some lords had already abandoned them; the two brothers Olivier and Bernard de Termes submitted their castles, on the 21st of November, to the archbishop of Narbonne, and to marshal de Levis, who received it in the name of the king, of whom the brothers de Termes engaged to hold all the rest of their lordship.9 Nearly at the same time count Raymond listened to the propositions of peace which were made by the abbot of Grandselve; on the 10th of December, 1228, he gave full powers to this abbot to negociate in his name with the king, the queen mother, and the cardinal di Sant. Angelo, engaging to ratify whatever treaty
8 Guill. de Podio Laurentii, ch. xxxviii, p. 690. Præclara Francorum facinora. p. 776.
9 Preuves de l'Hist. de Languedoc, t. iii, p. 325. Acte No. 182.