Originally Posted by sneuman
Actually, Pope Innocent III beat Toby and Willy (and a few others) to that one: Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset or "Kill them all. God will know His own."
I don't believe the historical record
supports Innocent III as the original source of this quote. Rather, Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Citeaux, is the likely speaker.
The Abbot was the papal legate who was the spiritual and military head
of the crusade against the Cathars (also called the Albigensian Crusade). When the town of Béziers fell under seige by the army of crusaders on July 22, 1209, the Catholic inhabitants of the town were allowed to leave unharmed. Several, however, chose to stay and fight alongside the Cathars.
Arnaud was supposedly asked how to tell the Catholics from the Cathars. Caesar of Heisterbach, a fellow Cistercian, recalled (several hundred years after the fact) that the Abbot replied, "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."
— "Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own."
, the ensuing "battle" is described as follows:
The doors of the church of St Mary Magdalene were broken down and the refugees dragged out and slaughtered. Reportedly, 7,000 people died there including many women and children
. Elsewhere in the town many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice.
What remained of the city was razed by fire. Arnaud wrote to Pope Innocent III
, "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex."
. The permanent population of Béziers at that time was then probably no more than 5,000, but local refugees seeking shelter within the city walls could conceivably have increased the number to 20,000."
The Latin quote is variously given just as sneuman posted, but also as above ("Caedite eos. Novite . . ."). sneuman's quote is more accurate, and literally says, "Kill them all! God will know His own." The literal translation of "Caedite eos. Novite enim Dominus qui sunt eius," is "Kill them! The Lord has known indeed, who are His."