Medieval Vicomté in southern France;
- A Bishopric.
The town is on the River Orb and the Canal du Midi, northeast of Narbonne and southwest of Montpellier.
In the early middle ages Béziers belonged to the March of Gothia, and became the seat of a Vicomte when the March came under the control of Toulouse. About the year 1000 it was joined by marriage to the County of Carcassone. In 1067 it passed, again by marriage, to the family of Trencavel, already the Vicomtes of Albi. They also effectively held the city of Carcassone, because, although the County of Carcassone had passed to the Counts of Barcelona, that family were riven by disputes in the later 11th century.
This part of southern France was much affected by the Cathartic heresy, also called the Albigensian heresy from the city of the Trencavel family. In 1209 the beginning of the Albigensian Crusade to extirpate the heresy saw the siege and capture of Béziers, and the slaughter of many of its people. (When the city was taken in 1209, the Papal Legate is alleged to have shouted: “Kill them all! – God knows His own”).
Béziers was then held by Simon de Montfort, the leader of the Crusade, and his heirs until 1229 when it was handed over to the King of France. Not until 1247 did Raymond Trencavel give up his rights. Béziers became part of the royal province of Languedoc.