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WAR WITH THE SAINTS ................................

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JULY, 1845.



The population of Beziers, including garrison, citizens, and all classes, is stated by some to have amounted to sixty thousand persons: others rate it much lower. Stout hearts, strong hands, and a righteous cause combined to encourage them against the great and terrible armament that drew nearer and nearer to their walls, spreading such a multitude of tents and gay pavilions, and displaying so formidable a host of warriors, as proved that the description of their treacherous bishop, which they would fain have regarded as an extravagant fable, was not even an exaggeration of the reality. As yet, the enemy was busily employed in forming and strengthening a camp, from which it was probable the host must carry on the operations of a protracted siege ; for Beziers was

a powerful-looking place, with its JULY, 1845.



solid walls, and massive square towers; crowning an abrupt height with a broad deep river at its base. The citizens beholding these preparations, and seeing the abundant means provided for effectually prosecuting the work when all should be fitly arranged, considered it the most favourable moment for a sally : they formed in a body, and rushed down, with impetuous courage, upon the foe. These, however, had the advantage, in point of numbers, of ferocity, and of being long inured to deeds of blood ; and the people of God had been given, for a time, into the hand of the wicked and cruel

The infantry sustained the shock unmoved ; then, becoming the assailants, they speedily turned the disheartened citizens, drove them back, and in one dense mass of pursuers and pursued, they all entered the gates together. Beziers was in the hands of the crusaders.

The great strength of this fortified town, had drawn within its walls multitudes of the villagers, and scattered inhabitants of a wide surrounding district. All the rural population were assembled there ; and among them, undoubtedly, a large proportion of those against whom the wrath of the dragon and of the beast was especially kindled—the true worshippers of God, who served Him in the Gospel of his Son. however, very many, whose allegiance to Rome could not be questioned, and who were fully bent to die as they had lived, in her communion. This was known to the knights, who had been accustomed in the miscalled “holy wars' to discriminate carefully as to their victims. The butchery of Saracens, and, perhaps even more, that of God's ancient, afflicted people Israel, was with them a matter of meritorious duty ; but to embrue their hands in the blood of such as bowed down to

There were,

the same crucifix, and worshipped the same wafer, and invocated the same dead saints with themselves, would have appeared a departure from their prescribed path. Accordingly, when it was ascertained that Beziers was in their hands, and that, of course, the heretics must fall, some of these commanders came to the legate, Arnold Amalric, with the natural question of How they were to distinguish the Catholics from the heretics? The reply of the Abbot has been recorded by his own friends and followers, or it would scarcely be credible. He answered, 'Kill them all! the Lord will know'well those that are his!'

While this was going on, the poor devoted flock crowded into the churches, as though any sanctuary existed for them, which the wolves of Rome might respect. There were in Beziers a great majority of women and children, sent to those strong walls for protection by husbands and fathers, who themselves remained to garrison posts deemed less impregnable. These with the whole body of citizens and refugees, took shelter in the places of worship, unless when their feeble steps were overtaken by the murderer's rapid stride, and their course cut short in blood. The large cathedral church of St. Nicaise was completely thronged : and the canons, ministers as they were of the Romish religion, investing themselves with the sacerdotal habit, which surely, they thought, must be a sufficient protection against the soldiers of their own faith, ranged themselves round the altar. No voice could have been heard, in supplication, amid the din, and the crash, and the shrieks of that fearful scene of blood ; but the poor canons sounded the consecrated bells, in deep, and melancholy, and appealing toll, hoping so to touch the hearts of the fierce assailants. In vain ! Rome leaves

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