Religion: Massacre of the Pure

"These heretics are worse than the Saracens!" exclaimed Pope Innocent III, and on March 10, 1208, he proclaimed a crusade against a sect in southern France that became one of the bloodiest blots in European history.

The heretics called Cathari (from the Greek word for pure), or Albigenses, from the town of Albi, one of their centers in Languedoc, were stamped out in 35 ruthless years of fire and sword. But as the centuries rolled on, they have had a measure of revenge against the Roman Catholic Church. The hatred generated by the crusade prepared...