An enormous amount of ink has been passionately spilled by otherwise well-balanced historians on the alleged atrocities and extensive slaughtering of the innocent in this Crusade through southern France. “Kill all! Kill all! for God will know his own,” was the supposed instructions of the papal legate to the inquiring crusaders at Beziers where 7,000 old men, women and children are reported to have been slain in a single church, La Madeleine, and 20,000 inhabitants are said to have been massacred in a town which held at the most liberal estimate eight or nine thousand. These oft-repeated horror stories have built a legend that has passed for history down to our own enlightened century. That the facts do not substantiate the charges does not disturb those who trumpet these tales.
Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)