Charged them to preach among the Albigensian heretics in Languedoc. For ten years (1205-1215) this mission in Languedoc was the work of Dominic's life.
In 1836 he was elected a member of the Academy of Inscriptions, and in 1837 he published (with an introduction the conclusions of which would not now all be endorsed) a translation of a Provencal poem on the Albigensian war.
Called on the Christian princes to suppress the Albigensian heresy by force of arms, and for seven years the south of France was devastated by one of the most bloodthirsty wars in history, the Albigenses being slaughtered by thousands and their property confiscated wholesale.
The oldest trustworthy sources know nothing of his having exercised the office of Inquisitor during the Albigensian war" (Griitzmacher).
He used often to organize formal disputations with Albigensian leaders, lasting a number of days.
While the Holy Land was thus at peace, crusaders were also being drawn elsewhere by the needs of the Latin empire of Constantinople, or the attractions of the Albigensian Crusade.2 But Innocent could never consent to forget Jerusalem, as long as his right hand retained its cunning.
The Albigensian Crusades, however, belong to French history; and it can only be noted here that their ultimate result was the absorption of the fertile lands, and the extinction of the peculiar civilization, of southern France by the northern monarchy.
Agen changed hands more than once in the course of the Albigensian wars, and at their close a tribunal of inquisition was established in the town and inflicted cruel persecution on the heretics.
From the 12th century onwards, its bishops, the first of whom appears to have lived about the 3rd century, began to encroach on the authority of the viscounts; the latter, after the Albigensian war, lost their estates, which passed to Simon de Montfort and then to the crown of France.
In character and interests he was rather Provencal than Spanish, a favourer of the troubadours, no enemy of the Albigensian heretics, and himself a poet in the southern French dialect.
But the preaching of the papal legates, even when supported by military demonstrations, had no effect; and the Albigensian question, together with other questions vital for the future of the papacy, remained unsettled and more formidable than ever when Innocent III.
When he was compelled to decree the Albigensian crusade he endeavoured more than once to discontinue the work, which had become perverted, and to curb the crusading ardour of Simon de Montfort.
Had been able to encroach on France at one point only, when the Albigensian crusade had enabled him to exercise over the southern fiefs conquered by Simon de Montfort a political and secular supremacy in the form of collections of moneys.
It was not till the 25th of May that the edict against Luther was presented to a small number of members of the diet, after the elector of Saxony and many important members had left Worms. It threatened all Luther's sympathisers with extermination, and practically proclaimed an Albigensian war in Germany.
More important was the Albigensian crusade, in which he allowed Louis to take part, though he himself, preoccupied with the king of England, had refused time after time to do anything.
There he repaired the evils of the Albigensian war and made a first attempt at administrative centralization, thus preparing the way for union with the crown.
During the Albigensian crusade it surrendered of its own accord to Simon de Montfort; and in 1356 it was raised to a countship by King John of France.
When the Church and the needy and fanatical nobles of northern and central France destroyed the feudal dynasty of Toulouse and the rich civilization of the south in the Albigensian crusade, it was for Philip Augustus that their leader, Simon de Montfort, all unknowing, conquered Languedoc. At last, instead of the two Frances of the langue doc and the lax gue dorl, there was but one royal France comprising the whole kingdom.
The Albigensian theologians and ascetics, the Cathari or perfecti, known in the south of France as bons hommes or bons chretiens, were few in number; the mass of believers (credentes) were perhaps not initiated into the Catharist doctrine; at all events, they were free from all moral prohibition and all religious obligation, on condition that they promised by an act called convenenza to become " hereticized " by receiving the consolamentum, the baptism of the Spirit, before their death or even in extremis.