Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

For other examples, visit HERE:



Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.


Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own.

This phrase is known better today, in English, as “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” The original phrase was allegedly uttered more than 800 years ago. From wiki:

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” is a phrase reportedly spoken by the commander of the Albigensian Crusade, prior to the massacre at Béziers on 22 July 1209. A direct translation of the Medieval Latin phrase is “Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own“. Papal legate and Cistercian abbot Arnaud Amalric was the military commander of the Crusade in its initial phase and leader of this first major military action of the Crusade, the assault on Béziers, and was reported by Caesarius of Heisterbach to have uttered the order.

Less formal English translations have given rise to variants such as “Kill them all; let God sort them out.” Some modern sources give the quotation as Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet, evidently a translation from English back into Latin, and so omitting a biblical reference to 2 Timothy 2:19 evident in the original.

The wiki article says the original contains a biblical reference. The Bible verse, of course, leaves out the “kill them all” bit.

2 Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

For more background on the historical battle, again from wiki:


Amalric’s own version of the siege, described in his letter to Pope Innocent III in August 1209, states:

While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying “to arms, to arms!”, within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt …

About thirteen years later Caesarius of Heisterbach relates this story about the massacre, with the papal legate quoted using the words Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius:

When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot “Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied “Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain.

Caesarius did not state definitively that this sentence had been uttered, he wrote that Amalric “was reported to have said it” (dixisse fertur in the original text). There is little if any doubt that these words captured the spirit of the assault, and that Arnaud and his crusaders planned to kill the inhabitants of any stronghold that offered resistance. The crusaders (which Arnaud referred to as nostri, “our men”) rampaged and killed without restraint. Both Arnaud and Caesarius were Cistercians. Arnaud was the head of the Cistercian Order at the time, and Caeasarius required an imprimatur, so it is unlikely that Arnaud’s alleged order as reported by Caesarius was seen at the time as reflecting badly on Arnaud. On the contrary the incident was included as an exemplum in Caeasarius’s Book of Miracles because (to Cistercians at least) it reflected well on Arnaud.

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