The Fire This Time

Citè Carcassone, France.

This double-walled city on the banks of the Aude River in Languedoc has a unique history. On July 21, 1209, the Albigensian Crusade army torched the nearby city of Bèzier and massacred 20,000 people. Some Crusaders were themselves horrified, but they were encouraged by the cry: “kill them all, God will recognize his own.” A week later, the Crusaders besieged Carcassone, which surrendered to avoid Bèzier’s fate. Carcassone’s leader, however, was betrayed and murdered. Here, the city is ablaze—or is it only vestigial fear reflected in the shimmering river of time?