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he had continued in prayer some time, he rose up, and fearing to oppose the will of God, he consented to his election, and took the name of Celestine V.
Since the days of the first Gregory, no pope had ever assumed the pontifical dignity with more purity of intention. But he had not Gregory's talents for business and government; and the Roman see was immensely more corrupt in the thirteenth than it was in the sixth century. Celestine soon became sensible of his incapacity; he was lost as in a wilderness. He attempted to reform abuses, to retrench the luxury of the clergy-to do, in short, what he found totally impracticable. He committed mistakes, and exposed himself to the ridicule of the scornful. His conscience was kept on the rack through a variety of scruples, from which he could not extricate himself; and from his ignorance of the world, and of canon law, he began to think he had done wrong in accepting the office. He spent much of his time in retirement; nor was he easy there, because his conscience told him that he ought to be discharging the pastoral office. Overcome with anxiety, he asked Cardinal Cajetan whether he might not abdicate? It was answered, yes. Celestine gladly embraced the opportunity of assuming again the character of brother Peter, after he had been distressed with the phantom of dignity for four or five months. He abdicated in 1294. The last act of his pontificate was worthy of the sincerity of his character. He made a constitution, that the pontiff might be allowed to abdicate, if he pleased. It is remarkable that no pope has, since that time, taken the benefit of this constitution.
That same Cajetan who had encouraged his resignation contrived to be elected his successor, and took the name of Boniface VIII. Though Peter had given the most undoubted proofs of his love of obscurity, and desired nothing more than that he might spend the rest of his days in private devotion; yet Boniface, who measured other men by himself, apprehended and imprisoned him, lest he should revoke his resignation.
Peter gave such proofs of his sincerity as convinced all persons, except Boniface himself, that nothing was to be dreaded from his ambition. The tyrant sent him into the castle of Fumone, under a guard of soldiers; the old hermit was shut up in a hideous dungeon, and his rest was interrupted by the jailers, who nightly disturbed his sleep. These insults and hardships he seems to have borne with Christian patience and meekness. He sent this message to Boniface; "I am content; I desired a cell, and a cell you have given me." But ambition is made of sterner stuff than to yield to the suggestions of conscience or humanity. In the year 1296, after an imprisonment of ten months, Celestine died of a fever, most probably contracted by the unworthy treatment which he received.
44. THE ALBIGENSES.
Albi, an inconsiderable town in Languedoc, has had the honour of giving the name of Albigeois, or Albigenses, to the protestants of France, who were distinguished in the thirteenth century by their determined opposition to the usurpations of the pope; but whose entire history occupies little more than half a century.
It was at this place that a celebrated public conference was held between the opponents and the adherents of the church of Rome. This conference was held in the year 1176, which gave the name of Albigenses to all such as avowed the principles then and there publicly advanced against the superstition and abuses of the Romanists. The conference at Albi was the prelude to the bloody drama which commenced at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The popish bishops, priests, and monks, who took part in that conference, finding that they could not persuade their adversaries to join in communion with themselves, tried to compel them, and began by ascribing false sentiments to the advocates of the cause against which they could not prevail in fair argument. They branded them with the name of Arians and Manichees; they preached against them in the
cities and villages, and charged them with atrocities of which they never were guilty.
Raymond, Count of Thoulouse (and sovereign of the provinces where the doctrines propounded at Albi, and from thenceforward styled Albigensian, had long taken deep root), was solemnly invoked by the pope to exterminate the heretics by an armed force. But Raymond was too well convinced of the value which his state derived from the enterprising and industrious spirit of his nonconforming subjects, to comply with this demand. His refusal drew down fresh denunciations from the pope, and renewed charges of scandalous proceedings against the protestants. To refute these slanders the protestants consented to hold another meeting with the Romanists, at Montreal, in the year 1206. The same opinions were freely expressed as before at Albi, and soon afterwards a general crusade was preached, not only against the impugners of the papal authority, but against all who should protect or refuse to destroy them. Count Raymond himself was involved in the edict of excommunication; and the term Albigenses was indiscriminately applied to all such of the natives of the south of France as had incurred the resentment of the Roman pontiff, either by questioning his infallibility, or refusing to persecute those who question
The Romanists record, as meritorious deeds, instances of carnage and spoliation committed by their own people, and do not disguise that the forces opposed to the Albigenses massacred the inhabitants of whole towns and villages; that they twice put "sixty thousand" to the sword; burnt "three hundred" in one castle," and eighty in another.”
At the siege of Marmande, Prince Louis induced the inhabitants to deliver up the town upon his sacred promise that their lives should be spared. But all the men, women, and children, five thousand in number, were massacred, in order that this human holocaust might bring God's blessing upon the arms of the crusaders. The slaughter was in direct opposition to the will of
Louis; but the council of the bishop of Saintes prévailed. "My advice," said that prelate, "is that you immediately kill and burn all these people as heretics and apostates, and that none of them be left alive." Romish authors record this fact.
The only enemy the Albigenses had was the Roman church, and when their legitimate prince, the count of Thoulouse, after being reproached for indulging pity for the heretics, and saving them from punishment, was solicited by the popish clergy to carry the sentence of the church into effect against them, he pleaded ́that "he could not and dare not undertake any thing against them." And why? "Because," said he," the majority of the lords, and the greatest part of the common people, have drunk the poison of their infidelity." The count was writing to the abbot of Cisteaux, and therefore he spoke in language which that churchman would understand.
In the celebrated conference at Albi, which gave name to the Albigenses, where the leaders of protestants were met face to face by their accusers, the burden of the lay which was echoed in full chorus against them, was heresy" and "infidelity.". No insurrection, no act of iniquity, was so much as mentioned in the impeachment. The Albigenses were condemned as heretics, excommunicated, and anathematized; and all Christian powers, whether civil or ecclesiastical, were exhorted and commanded by the pope to exterminate a race of people whose principles (as the bull of extermination set forth) were subversive of all religion, natural and revealed, and of every moral tie.
When Innocent III. found it was not enough to excommunicate Raymond of Thoulouse, and to lay his territories under an interdict, he resorted to a measure which bigotry as ever found to be much more effectual than preaching or persuasion. He determined to hasten the work of conversion by fire and sword. For this purpose he first instituted the inquisition, and commissioned the members of that execrable tribunal with full powers to search out and denounce as infidels de
serving of death, all such as should dispute the authority of the Roman see. He then enlisted the very worst passions of men in his service; promised the pardon of sins, the property of the heretics, and the same privileges which had been granted to those who fought against the Saracens in Palestine, to all who would "take the cross against the Albigenses."
The prospect of absolution, of booty, of freedom from restraint, and the barbarous superstition of the times brought hordes of relentless savages upon the devoted Albigenses; and Simon de Montfort, by general consent, was put at the head of the crusaders.
Chassineuil was one of the first places that fell before the invaders. It capitulated. The garrison was permitted to march out, but the inhabitants were left to the sentence of the pope's legate. He pronounced them to heretics, and all were committed to the flames. Beziers was attacked next. It relied upon the strength, of its walls and the courage of its defenders; but the multitude of assailants was such that "it appeared as if the whole world was encamped before it." The city was taken at the first assault, and some of the crusaders, thirsting after heretic blood only, desired the legate to take care and have a distinction made between the faithful and the unbelievers. "Kill all," said the pope's representative; "the Lord will afterwards select those that are his." The sentence of death was fulfilled to the very letter, and all were slain. Of men, women, and children, not one was left alive, and the town was reduced to ashes.
The forces of de Montfort marched on in triumph to invest Carcassone. Strong intercession was made to the legate in favour of the young viscount, who was shut up with the citizens of Carcassone; and the terms of mercy offered to him were, that he might quit the city with twelve others, upon condition of surrendering up the rest of the townsmen and soldiers to the pleasure of the besiegers. "Rather than comply with the demand of the legate," replied the heroic youth, "I would give myself to be flayed alive." The people of the city