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Heresy, Inquisition and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc

Heresy, Inquisition and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc

Chris Sparks
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 185
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  • Book Info
    Heresy, Inquisition and Life Cycle in Medieval Languedoc
    Book Description:

    Religion amongst ordinary men and women in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages is the subject of this book. Focusing on laypeople attached to the Cathar movement, it investigates the interplay between heresy and orthodoxy, and between spiritual and secular concerns, in people's lives, charting the ways in which these developed through life cycle: childhood, youth, marriage and death. This period was one of great upheaval in the region, brought about by the Church's response to the perceived threat of heresy, and the book also explores the effects of the Albigensian Crusaders and the inquisitors who followed in their wake. It draws on a large range of evidence, including civic and ecclesiastical legislation, contemporary literature and chronicle, and broader scholarship on the region, but its principal sources are the records of inquisitorial tribunals that operated between 1190 and 1330: transcripts of interview and sentencing which represent the closest thing that exists to an oral history of the period. The author teases out the vibrant detail with which these archives document people's lives, developing and illustrating its argument through the recounting of their stories.BR> Chris Sparks gained his doctorate from the University of York; he now works at Queen Mary University of London.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-270-9
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. A Note on Names
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    This book examines the beliefs and lived religion of men and women attached to the dualist Christian sect known as Catharism in the Languedoc region of southern France between the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Its main sources are the interview records of mendicant inquisitors charged with the identification and elimination of heterodoxy. The ordained ministers of the Cathar sect – called ‘good men’ and ‘good women’ by sympathisers, ‘heretics’ by the inquisitors – are not its principal concern, however. Instead its primary focus is on the large number of non-ordained men and women who made up the majority...

  8. 1 Childhood
    (pp. 27-70)

    In 1234, the six-year-old Isarn of Villeneuve had his first encounter with the good men. He had gone with his mother to visit the house of his grandfather William, who was dying. Amongst the crowd of friends, family and neighbours who had gathered around the sickbed had been two men unfamiliar to the young boy. The strangers – whom Isarn would later identify as heretics – were performing a ritual blessing to purify William’s spirit and guarantee it a place in paradise. Quite a crowd had gathered, though whether they had come to witness the rite or to pay their...

  9. 2 Youth
    (pp. 71-93)

    Dinner was not going well in the household of Peter Marty, blacksmith of Junac, and his two sons. ‘Unless you shut up’, Arnold Marty told his father, ‘one of these days you’re going to get your block knocked off.’¹ Enraged by this insolence, Peter picked up the salt cellar from the table and hurled it at his son. Restrained by his friend and dining companion, Arnold could only reply with more thinly veiled threats. ‘You’re no son of mine,’ retorted the senior Marty, picking up the bench upon which he was sitting and throwing that too. Arnold beat a hasty...

  10. 3 Marriage
    (pp. 94-122)

    Picture the scene. It is some time in the late twelfth century, and we are in the French Pyrenees. In the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes, Arnold Weaver, a doctor and sometime notary from nearby Lordat, is in the square. He is approached by an older man, who looks to be in his fifties.¹ It is his father-in-law Peter, another notary. There is tension in the air. ‘Arnold,’ Peter says, ‘you are not on good terms with me, or with your wife Guillemette, my daughter. You are harsh and cruel [to her], and you’re doing this against Scripture, which teaches that...

  11. 4 Death
    (pp. 123-150)

    William, Peter and Raymond waited in the cemetery of Ax. It was a pitchdark night in late summer 1311, and it was raining. They had been there for some time. The men had just begun to talk amongst themselves when the guide they had been waiting for arrived, leading a man. ‘Well, here he is’, she said, ‘– go! … but don’t take the Bath road; go by the Old Town so that no-one will see you.’

    Taking her advice, the trio left with their charge. They journeyed on into the night, sleeping when they could go no further beneath...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 151-156)

    On the feast day of St Denis 1273, Durand of Rouffiac testified at Toulouse before the inquisitor Ranulph of Plassac and a panel of three witnesses. A scribe recorded his testimony. The inquisitor had a pre-prepared list of questions for Durand, based upon a catalogue of jovial anti-clericalisms that had been sent to him and his colleagues earlier.¹ It did not take Plassac long to get Durand to confess – he admitted scorning the Eucharist, questioning the existence of the soul and advocating usury. Here, it seems, was someone who enjoyed saying the unsayable. There was little substance to his...

  13. Glossary
    (pp. 157-158)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 159-168)
  15. Index
    (pp. 169-170)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-175)