A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter III: The Cathari
THE movements described above were the natural outcome of antisacerdotalism seeking to renew the simplicity of the Apostolic Church. It is a singular feature of the religious sentiment of the time that the most formidable development of hostility to Rome was based on a faith that can scarce be classed as Christian, and that this hybrid doctrine spread so rapidly and resisted so stubbornly the sternest efforts at suppression that at one time it may fairly be said to have threatened the permanent existence of Christianity itself. The explanation of this may perhaps be found in the fascination which the dualistic theory - the antagonism of co-equal good and evil principles - offers to those who regard the existence of evil as incompatible with the supremacy of an all-wise and beneficent God.
When to Dualism is added the doctrine of transmigration as a means of reward and retribution, the sufferings of man seem to be fully accounted for; and in a period when those sufferings were so universal and so hopeless as in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it is possible to understand that many might be predisposed to adopt so ready an explanation. Yet this will not account for the fact that the Manichaeism of the Cathari, Patarins,or Albigenses, was not a mere speculative dogma of the schools, but a faith which aroused fanaticism so enthusiastic that its devotees shrank from no sacrifices in its propagation and mounted the blazing pyre with steadfast joy. A profound conviction of the emptiness of sacerdotal Christianity, of its failure and approaching extinction, and of the speedy triumph of their own faith may partially explain the unselfish fervor which it excited among the poor and illiterate.
Of all the heresies with which the early Church had to contend, none had excited such mingled fear and loathing as Manichseism. Manes had so skilfully compounded Mazdean Dualism with Christianity and with Gnostic and Buddhist elements, that his doctrine found favor with high and low, with the subtle intellects of the schools and with the toiling masses. Instinctively recognizing it asthe most dangerous of rivals, the Church,as soon as it could command there sources of theS tate, persecuted it relentlessly.
Among the numerous edicts of both Pagan and Christian emperors, repressing freedom of thought, those directed against the Manichseans were the sharpest and most cruel. Persecution attained its end, after prolonged struggle, in suppressing all outward manifestations of Manichseism within the confines of the imperial power, though it long afterwards maintained a secret existence, even in the West.
In the East it withdrew ostensibly to the boundaries of the empire, still keeping up hidden relations with its sectaries scattered throughout the provinces, and even in Constantinople itself. It abandoned its reverence for Manes as the paraclete and transferred its allegiance to two others of its leaders, Paul and John of Samosata, from the first of whom it acquired the name of Paulicianism. Under the Emperor Constans, in 653, a certain Constantine perfected its doctrine, and it maintained itself under repeated and cruel persecutions, which it endured with the unflinching willingness of martyrdom and persistent missionary zeal that we shall see characterize its European descendants. Sometimes driven across the border to the Saracens and then driven back, the Paulicians at times maintained an independent existence among the mountains of Armenia and carried on a predatory warfare with the empire. Leo the Isaurian, Michael Curopalates, Leo the Armenian, and the Regent Empress Theodora in vain sought their extermination in the eighth and ninth centuries, until at length, in the latter half of the tenth century, John Zimiskes tried the experiment of toleration, and transplanted a large number of them to Thrace, where they multiplied greatly, showing equalvig or in industry and in war.
In 1115 we hear of Alexis Comnenus spending a summer at Philippopolis and amusing himself in disputation with them, resulting in the conversion of many of the heretics.
Their Dualistic Creed
It was almost immediately after their transfer to Europe by Zimiskes that we meet with traces of them in the West, showing that the activity of their propagandism was unabated. In all essentials the doctrine of the Paulicians was identical with that of the Albigenses. The simple Dualism of Mazdeism, which regards the universe as the mingled creations of Hormazd and Ahriman, each seeking to neutralize the labors of the other, and earning on interminable warfare in every detail of life and nature, explains the existence of evil in a manner to enlist man to contribute his assistance to Hormazd in the eternal conflict, by good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
Enticed by Gnostic speculation, Manes modified this by identifying spirit with the good and matter with the evil principle - perhaps a more refined and philosophical conception, but one which led directly to pessimistic consequences and to excesses of asceticism, since the soul of man could only fulfil its duty by trampling on the flesh. Thus in the Paulician faith we find two coequal principles, God and Satan, of whom the former created the invisible, spiritual, and eternal universe, the latter the material and temporal, which he governs. Satan is the Jehovah of the Old Testament; the prophets and patriarchs are robbers, and, consequently, all Scripture anterior to the Gospelsis to be rejected.
The New Testament, however, is Holy Writ, but Christ was not a man, but a phantasm - the Son of God who appeared to be born of the Virgin Mary and came from Heaven to overthrow the worship of Satan. Transmigration provides for the future reward or punishment of deeds done in life.
The sacraments are rejected, and the priests and elders of the Church are only teachers without authority over the faithful.
Such are the outlines of Paulicianism as they have reached us, and their identity with the belief of the Cathari is too marked for us to accept the theory of Schmidt, which assigns to the latter an origin among the dreamers of the Bulgarian convents.
A further irrefragable evidence of the derivation of Catharism from Manichaeismis furnished by the sacred thread and garment which were worn by all the Perfect among the Cathari. This custom is too peculiar to have had an independent origin, and is manifestly the Mazdean kosti and saddarah, the sacred threadand shirt, the wearing of which was essential to all believers, and the use of which by both Zends and Brahmans shows that its origin is to be traced to the prehistoric period anterior to the separation of those branches of the Aryan family.
Among the Cathari the wearer of the thread and vestment was what was known among the inquisitors as the "haereticus indutus" or "vestitus," initiated into all the mysteries of the heresy.
Catharism thus was a thoroughly antisacerdotal form of belief. It cast aside all the machinery of the Church. The Roman Church indeed was the synagogue of Satan, in which salvation was impossible. Consequently the sacraments, the sacrifices of the altar, the suffrages and interposition of the Virgin and saints, purgatory, relics, images, crosses, holy water, indulgences, and the other devicesby which the priest procured salvation for the faithful were rejected, as well as the tithes and oblations which ren deredthe procuring of salvation so profitable.
Yet the Catharan Church, as the Church of Christ, inherited the power to bind and to loose bestowed by Christ on his disciples; the Consolamentum, or Baptism of the Spirit, wiped out all sin, but no prayers were of use for the sinner who persisted in wrong-doing. Curiously enough, though Catharism translated the Scripture, it retained the Latin language in its prayers, which were thus unintelligible to most of the disciples, and it had its consecrated class who conducted its simple services.
Some regular form of organization, indeed, was necessary for the government of its rapidly increasing communities and for the missionary work which was so zealously carried forward. Thus there came to be four orders selected from among the "Perfected," who were distinguished from the mass of believers, or simple " Christians - the Bishop, the Filius Major, the Filius Minor, and the Deacon. Each of the three higher grades had a deacon as an assistant, or to replace him; for the functions of all were the same, though the Filii were mostly employed in visiting the members of the church. The Filius Major was elected by the congregation and promotions were made to the episcopate as vacancies occurred. Ordination was conferred by the imposition of hands or Consolamentum, which was the equivalent of baptism, administered to all who were admitted to the Church.
The belief that sacraments were vitiated in sinful hands gave rise to considerable anxiety, and to guard against it the Consolamentum was generally repeated a second and a third time. It was generally, though not universally, held that the lower in grade could not consecrate the higher, and therefore in many cities there were habitually two bishops, so that in the case of death consecrations hould not be sought at the hands of a filius major.
The Catharan ritual was severe in its simplicity. The Catholic Eucharist was replaced by the benediction of bread, which was performed daily at table. He who was senior by profession or position took the bread and wine, while all stood up and recited the Lord's Prayer. The senior then saying,
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us,"
broke the bread, and distributed it to all present. This blessed bread was regarded with special reverence by the great mass of the Cathari, who were, as a rule, merely "crezentz, ""credentes," or believers, and not fully received or 'perfected' in the Church. These would sometimes procure a piece of this bread and keep it for years, occasionally taking a morsel.
Every act of eating or drinking was precededby prayer; when a "perfected" minister was at the table, the first drink and every new dish that was tasted was accompaniedby the guests with "Benedicite," to which he responded "Diaus vos benesiga".
There was a monthly ceremony of confession, which, however, was general in its character and was performed by the assembled faithful. The great ceremony was the "Cossolament," "Consolamentum," or Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which reunited the soul to the Holy Spirit, and which, like the Christian baptism, worked absolution of all sin. It consisted in the imposition of hands, it required two ministrants, and could be performed by any one of the Perfected not in mortal sin-even by a woman. It was inefficacious, however, when one of these was involved in sin.
This was the processof "heretication," as the inquisitors termed the admission into the Church, and except in the case of those who proposed to become ministers was, as a rule, postponed until the death-bed, probably for fear of persecution; but the "credens" frequently entered into an agreement, knowna s "la covenansa," binding himself to undergo it at the last moment, and this engagement authorized its performance even though he had lost the power of speech and was unable to make the responses.
In form it was exceedingly simple, though it was generally preceded by preparation, including a prolonged fast. The ministrant addressed the postulant,
"Brother, dost thou wish to give thyself to our faith?" The neophyte, after several genuflexions and blessings, said, "Ask God for this sinner, that he may lead me to a good end and make me a good Christian," to which the ministrant rejoined, "Let God be asked to make thee a good Christian and to bring thee to a good end. Dost thou give thyself to God and to the gospel?" and after an affirmative response, " Dost thou promise that in future thou wilt eat no meat, nor eggs, nor cheese, nor any victual except from water and wood; that thou wilt not lie or swear or do any lust with thy body, or go alone when thou canst have a comrade, or abandon the faith for fear of water or fire or any other form of death?"
These promises being duly made, the bystanders knelt, while the minister placed on the head of the postulant the Gospel of St. John and recited the text: "In the beginningwasthe "Word, "etc., and invested him with the sacred thread. Then the kiss of peace went round, the women receiving it by a touch of the elbow. The ceremony was held to symbolize the abandonmentof the Evil Spirit, and the return of the soul to God, with the resolve to lead henceforth a pure and sinless life.
With the married, the assent of the spouse was of course a condition precedent. When this heretication occurred on the death-bed, it was commonly followed by the "Endura" or "privation." The ministrant asked the neophyte whether he desired to be a confessor or a martyr; if the latter, a pillow or a towel (known among the German Cathari as Untertuch) was placed over his mouth while certain prayers were recited; if he chose the former he remained without food or drink, except a little water, for three days; and in either case, if he survived, he became one of the Perfected.
This Endura was also sometimes used as a mode of suicide, which was frequent in the sect. Torture at the end of life relieved them of torment in the next world, and suicide by voluntary starvation, by swallowing pounded glass or poisonous potions, or openingt he veins in a bath, was not uncommon - and, failing this, it was a kind office for the next of kin to extinguish life when death was near.
The ceremony known to the sectaries as "Melioramentum," and described by the inquisitors as "veneration," was important as affording to them a proof of heresy. When a "credens" approached or took leave of a minister of the sect, he bent the knee thrice, saying "benedicite," to which the minister replied, "Diaus voslenesiga" It was a mark of respect to the Holy Ghost assumed to dwell in the minister, and in the records of trials we find it eagerly inquired into, as it served to convict those who performed it. These customs, and the precepts embodied in the formula of heretication, illustrate the strong ascetic tendency of the faith.
This was the inevitable consequence of its peculiar form of Dualism. As all matter was the handiwork of Satan, it was in its nature evil; the spirit was engagedi n a perpetual conflict with it, and the Catharan'se arnest prayer to God was not to spare the flesh sprung from corruption, but to have mercy on the imprisoned spirit-
"no aias mcrcede la earn nada de corruptio, mais aias mercede I esperit pausat en career"
Consequently, whatever tended to the reproduction of animallife was to be shunned.
To mortify the flesh the Catharan fasted on bread andwater three days in each week, except when travelling, and in addition there were in the year three fasts of forty days each. Marriage was also forbidden except among a few, who permitted it between virgins provided they separated as soon a sa child was born, and the mitigated Dualists who confined the prohibition to the Perfect and permitted marriage to the believers. Among the rigid, carnal matrimony was replaced by the spiritual union between the soul and God effected by the rite of Consolamentum. Sexual passion, in fact, was the original sin of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit whereby Satan has continued his empire over man.
In a confession before the Inquisition of Toulousein 1310, it is said of one heretic teacher that he would not touch a woman for the whole world; in another case a woman relates of her father that after he was hereticated he told her she must never touch him again, and she obeyed the command even when he was on the death-bed. So far was this carried that the use of meat, of eggs, of milk, of everything, in short, which was the result of animal propagation, was inhibited, except fish, which by a strange inconsistency seems to have been regarded as having some different origin.
The condemnation of marriage and the rejection of meat constituted, with the prohibition of oaths, the chief external characteristics of Catharism, by which the sectarieswere marked and known. In 1229 two leading Tuscan Cathari, Pietro and Andrea, performed public abjuration before Gregory IX. in Perugia, and two days later, June 26th, they gave solemn assurance of the sincerity of their conversion by eating flesh in the presence of a number of prelates, which was duly recorded in an instrument drawn up for the purpose.
It was inevitable that, in process of time, diversities should spring up in a sect so widely scattered, and accordingly we find among the Italian Cathari two minor divisions known as Concorrezenses (from Concorrezo, near Monza, in Lombardy) and Bajolenses (from Bagnoloin Piedmont), who held a modified form of Dualism in which Satan was inferior to God, by whose permission he created and ruled the world, and formed man. The Concorrezenses taught that Satan infused in Adam an angel who had sinned a little, and they revived the old Traducian heresy in maintaining that all human soul sare derived from that spirit. The Bajolenses differed from this in saying that all human souls were created by God before the world was formed, and that even then they had sinned.
These speculations were expanded into a myth relating that Satan was the steward of heaven, charged with the duty of collecting the daily amount of praise and psalmody due by the angels to God. Desiring to become like the Highest, he abstracted and retained for himself a portion of the praise, when God, detecting the fraud, replaced him by Michael and ejected him and his accomplices. Satan there upon uncovered the earth from water and created Adam and Eve, but labored in vain for thirty years to infuse souls into them, until he procured from heaven two angels who favored him, and who subsequently passed through the bodies of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all the patriarchs and prophets, wandering and vainly seeking salvation until, as Simeon and Anna, at the advent of Christ (Luke iii. 25-38), they accomplished their redemption and were permitted to return to heaven.
Human souls are similarly all fallen spirits passing through probation, and this was very generally the belief of all the sects of Cathari, leading to a theory of transmigration very similar to that of Buddhism, though modified by the belief that Christ's earthly mission was the redemption of these fallen spirits.
Varieties Of Doctrine
Until the perfected soul could return to its Creator, as in the moksha or absorption in Brahma of the Hindu, it was forced to undergo repeated existence. As it could be still further punished for evil deeds by transmission into the lower animal forms, there naturally followed the Buddhistic and Brahmanical prohibition of slaying any created thing, except reptiles and fish. The Cathari who were hanged at Goslar in 1052 refused to kill a pullet, even with the gallows before their eyes, and in the thirteenth century this test was regarded as a ready means of identifying them.
There were a few philosophic spirits in the sect, moreover, who emerged from these vain speculations and curiously anticipated the theories of modern Rationalism. With these Nature took the place of Satan; God, after forming the universe, abandoned its conduct to Nature, which has the power of creating all things and regulating them. Even the production of individual species is not the act of divine Providence, but is a process of nature - in fact, of evolution, in modern parlance.
These Naturalists, as they called themselves, denied the existence of miracles; they explained, by an exegesis not much more strained than that of orthodoxy, all those in the Gospels; and they held that it was useless to pray to God for good weather, for Nature alone controlled the elements.
They wrote much, and a Catholic antagonist admits the attraction of their writings, especially the work known as "Perpendiculum Scientiarum," or the "Plummet of Science," which he says was well adapted to make a deep impressionon the reader through its array of philosophy and happily-chosen texts of Scripture,
There was nothing in such a faith to attract the sensual and carnal-minded. In fact, it was far more repellant than attractive, and nothing but the discontent excited by the pervading corruption and oppression of the Church can explain its rapid diffusion and the deep hold which it obtained upon the veneration of its converts.
Although the asceticism which it inculcated was beyond the reach of average humanity, its ethical teachings were admirable.
As a rule they were reasonably obeyed, and the orthodox admitted with regret and shame the contrast between the heretics and the faithful. It is true that the exaggerated condemnation of marriage expressed in the formula, that relations with a wife were as sinful as incest with mother or sister, was naturally enough perverted into the statement that such incest was permissible and was practised. Wild stories, moreover were told of the nightly orgies in which the lights were extinguished and promiscuous intercourse took place; and the stubbornness of heresy was explained by telling how, when a child was born of these foul excesses, it was tossed from hand to hand through a fire until it expired; and that from its body was made an infernal eucharist of such power that whoever partook of it was there after incapable of abandoning the sect.
There is ample store of such tales, but however useful they might be in exciting a wholesome popular detestation of heresy, the candid and intelligent inquisitors who had the best means of knowing the truth admit that they have no foundation in fact; and in the many hundreds of examinations and sentences which I have read there is no allusionto anything of the kind, except in some proceedings of Fra Antonio Secco among the Alpine valleys in 1387.
As a rule, the inquisitors wasted no time in searching for what they knew was non-existent. As St. Bernard says,
"If you interrogate them, nothing can be more Christian; as to their conversation, nothing can be less reprehensible, and what they speak they prove by deeds. As for the morals of the heretic, he cheats no one, he oppresses no one, he strikes no one; his cheeks are pale with fasting, he eats not the bread of idleness, his hands labor for his livelihood."
This last assertionis especially true, for they were mostly simple folk, industrious peasantsand mechanics, who felt the evils around them and welcomed any change. The theologians who combated them ridiculed them as ignorant churls, and in France they were popularly known by the name of Texerant (Tisserands), on account of the prevalence of the heresy among the weavers, whose monotonous occupation doubtless gave ample opportunity for thought. Rude and ignorant they might befor the most part, but they had skilled theologians for teachers, and an extensive popular literature which has utterly perished, saving a Catharan version of the New Testament in Romance and a book of ritual. Their familiarity with Scripture is vouched for by the warning of Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, that the Christians hould dread their conversation as he would a tempest, unless he is deeply skilled in the law of God, so that he can overcome them in argument.
Their strict morality was never corrupted, and a hundred years after St. Bernard the same testimony is rendered to the virtues of those who were persecuted in Florence in the middle of the thirteenth century. In fact the formula of confession used in their assemblies shows how strict a guard was maintained over every idle thought and careless word.
Their proselyting zeal was especially dreaded. No labor was too severe, no risks too great, to deter them from spreading the faith which they deemed essential to salvation. Missionaries wandered over Europe through strange lands to carry the glad tidings to benighted populations, regardless of hardship, and undeterred by the fate of their brethren, whom they saw expiate at the stake the hardihood of their revolt. Externally they professed to be Catholics, and were exemplary in the performance of their religious duties till they had won the confidence of their new neighbors, and could venture on the attempt of secret conversion whenever they saw opportunity. They scattered by the wayside writings in which the poison of their doctrine was skilfully conveyed without being obtrusive, and sometimes they had no scruple in calling to their aid the superstitions of orthodoxy, as when such writings would promise indulgences to those who would read them carefully and circulate them among their neighbors, or when they purported to come from Jesus Christ and be conveyed by angels.
Steadfastness Under Persecution
It doesnot say much for the intelligence of the clergy when we are told that many priests were corrupted by such papers, picked up by shepherds and carried to them to be deciphered. Even more reprehensible was the device of the Cathari of Moncoul in France, who made an image of the Virgin, deformed and ugly and one-eyed, saying that Christ, to show his humility, had selected such a woman for a mother. Then they proceeded to work miracles with it, feigning to be sick and to be cured by it until it acquired such reputation that many similar ones were made and placed in churches or oratories, until the heretics divulged the secret, to the great confusion of the faithful. The same device was carried out with a crucifix having no upper arm, the feet of Christ crossed, and only three nails - an unconventional form which was imitated and caused great scandal when the mockery was discovered.
Even bolder frauds were attempted in Leon, and not without success, as we shall see hereafter.
The zeal for the faith, which prompted these eccentric missionary efforts, manifested itself in a resolute adherence to the precepts enjoined on the neophyte when admitted into the circle of the Perfects. As in the case of the Waldenses, while the Inquisition complained bitterly of the difficulty of obtaining an avowal from the simple "credens," whose rustic astuteness eluded the practised skill of the interrogator, it was the general testimony that the perfected heretic refused to lie, or to take an oath; and one member of the Holy Office warns his brethren not to begin by asking
"Are you truly a Catharan?"
for the answer will simply be "Yes," and then nothing more can be extracted; but if the Perfect is exhorted by the God in whom he believes to tell all about his life, he will faithfully detail it without falsehood. When we consider that this frankness led inevitably to the torture of death by burning, it is curious too bserve that the inquisitor seems utterly unconscious of the emphatic testimony which he renders to thesuperhuman conscientiousness of his victims.
It is not easy for us to realize what there was in the faith of the Cathari to inspire men with the enthusiastic zeal of martyrdom, but no religion can show a more unbroken roll of those who unshrinkingly and joyfully sought death in its most abhorrent form in preference to apostasy.
If the blood of the martyrs were really the seed of the Church, Manichaeism would now be the dominant religion of Europe. It may be partially explained by the belief that a painful death for the faith insured the return of the soul to God; but human weakness does not often permit such habitual triumph of the spirit over the flesh as that which rendered the Cathari a proverb in their thirst for martyrdom.
The hostile testimony to this effect is virtually unanimous. In the earliest persecutionon record, at Orleana about 1017, out of fifteen, thirteen remained steadfast in the face of the fire kindled for their destruction; they refused to recant though pardon was offered, and their constancy was the wonderment of the spectators. When, about 1040, the heretics of Monforte were discovered, and Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan, sent for Gherardo, their leader, he came at once and voluntarily set forth his belief, rejoicing in the opportunity of sealing his faith with torment. Those who were burned at Colognein 1163 produced a profound impression by the cheerful alacrity with which they endured their fearful punishment; and while they were in their agony it is related that their leader, Arnold, half roasted to death, placed a liberated arm on the heads of his disciples, calmly saying,
"Be ye constant in your faith, for this day shall ye be with Lawrence!"
Among this group of heretics was a beautiful girl whose modesty moved the compassion of even the brutal executioners. She was withdrawn from the flames and promises were made to find her a husband or place her in a convent. Seeming to assent, she remained quiet till the rest were dead, and then asked her guards to show her the seducer of souls. In pointing out the body of Arnold they loosened their hold, when she suddenly broke from them, and, covering her face with her dress, threw herself upon the remains of her teacher, and, burning to death, descended with him into hell for eternity.
Those who about the same time were detected at Oxford, rejected all offers of mercy, with thewords of Christ,
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdomof heaven;"
and when they were led forth after a sentence which virtually consigned them to a shameful and lingering death, they went rejoicing to the punishment, their leader Gerhard preceding them, singing "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you."
In the Albigensian Crusade, at the capture of the Castle of Minerve, the Crusaders piously offered their prisoners the alternative of recantation or the stake, and a hundred and eighty preferred the stake, when, as the monkish chronicler quietly remarks,
"no doubt all these martyrs of the devil passed from temporal to eternal flames."
An experienced inquisitor of the fourteenth century tells us that the Cathari usually were either truly converted by the efforts of the Holy Office or else were ready to die for their faith; while the Waldenses were apt to feign conversion in order to escape. This obdurate zeal, we are assured by the orthodox writers, had in it nothing of the constancy of Christian martyrdom, but was simply hardness of heart inspired by Satan; and Frederic II. enumerated among their evil traits the obstinacy which led the survivors to be in no way dismayed or deterred by the ruthless example made of those who were punished.
It was, perhaps, natural that these Manichseans should be accused of worshipping the devil. To men bred in the current orthodox practices of purchasing by prayer, or money, or other good works whatever blessings they desired, and expecting nothing without such payment, it seemed inevitable that the Manichaian, regarding all matter to be the work of Satan, should invoke him for worldly prosperity.
The husbandman, for instance, could not pray to God for a plentiful harvest, but must do so to Satan, who was the creator of corn. It is true that there was a sect, known as Luciferani, who were said to worship Satan, regarding him as the brother of God, unjustly banished from heaven, and the dispenser of worldly good, but these, as we shall see hereafter, were a branch of the Brethren of the Free Spirit, probably descended from the Ortlibenses, and there is absolutely no evidence that the Cathari ever wavered in their trust in Christ or diverted their aspirations from the hope of reunion with God.
Such was the faith whose rapid spread throughout the south of Europe filled the Church with well-grounded dismay; and, however much we may deprecate the means used for its suppression and commiserate those who suffered for conscience sake, we cannot but admit that the cause of orthodoxy was in this case the cause of progress and civilization.
Had Catharism become dominant, or evenhad it been allowed to exist on equal terms, its influence could not have failed to prove disastrous. Its asceticism with regard to commerce between the sexes, if strictly enforced, could only have led to the extinction of the race, and as this involves a contradiction of nature, it would have probably resulted in lawless concubinage and the destruction of the institution of the family, rather than in the disappearance of the human race and the return of exiled souls to their Creator, which was the summum bonum of the true Catharan.
Its condemnation of the visible universe and of matter in general as the work of Satan rendered sinful all striving after material improvement, and the conscientious belief in such a creed could only lead man back, in time, to his original condition of savagism. It was not only a revolt against the Church, but a renunciation of man's domination over nature. As such it was doomed from the start, and our only wonder must be that it maintained itself so long and so stubbornly even against a Church which had earned so much of popular detestation.
Yet though the exaltation caused by persecution might keep it alive among the enthusiastic and the discontented, had it obtained the upper hand and maintained its purity it must surely have perished through its fundamental errors.
Their Rapid Development
Had it become a dominant faith, moreover, it would have bred a sacerdotal class as privileged as the Catholic priesthood, for the "veneration" offered to the consecrated ministers as the tabernacles of the Holy Ghost shows us what vantage ground they would have had when persecution had given place to power, and carnal human nature had asserted itself in the ambitious men who would have sought its high places.
The soil was probably prepared for its reception by remains of the older Manichseism which, with strange pertinacity, long maintained itself in secret after its public manifestation had been completely suppressed. Muratori has printed a Latin anathema of its doctrines, probably dating about the year 800, which shows that even so late as the ninth century it was still an object of persecution. It was about 970 that John Zimiski transplanted the Paulicians to Thrace, whence they spread with great rapidity through the Balkan peninsula.
When the Crusaders under Bohemond of Tarento, in 1097, arrived in Macedonia they learned that the city of Pelagonia was inhabited wholly by heretics, where upon they paused in their pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre long enough to capture the town, to raze it to the earth, and to put all the citizens to the sword.
In Dalmatia the Paulicians founded the seaport of Dugunthia (Trau), which became the seat of one of their leading episcopates; and in the time of Innocent III. we find them in great numbers throughout the whole Slav territory, making extensive conversions with their customary missionary zeal, and giving that pontiff much concern, in unavailing efforts for their suppression.
Numerous as the Cathari of Western Europe became, they always looked to the east of the Adriatic as to the headquarters of their sect. It was there that arose the form of modified Dualism known as Concorrezan, under the influence of the Bogomili, and religious questions were wont to be referred thither for solution.
Their missionary activity made itself felt in the West in a marvellously short period after their settlement in Bulgaria. Our materials for an intimate acquaintance with that age are very scanty and we must content ourselves with occasional vague indications but when we see that Gerbert of Aurillac, on his election to the archiepiscopate of Reims in 991, was obliged to utter a profession of faith in which he declared his belief that Satan was wicked of free-will, that the Old and New Testaments were of equal authority, and that marriage and the use of meat were allowable, it shows that Paulician opinions were already well understood and dreaded as far north as Champagne.
There seems, indeed, to have been a centre of Catharism there, for in 1000 a peasant named Leutard, at Vertus, was convicted of teaching antisacerdotal doctrines which were evidently of Manicha Banorigin, and he is discreetly said to have drowned himself in a well when overcome in argument by Bishop Liburnius.
The Chateau of Mont Wimer, in the neighborhood of Vertus, retained its evil reputation as a centre of the heresy. About the same period we have a misty account of a Ravennatese grammarian named Vilgardus who, inspired by demons in the shape of Virgil, Horace, and Juvenal, erected the Latin poets into infallible guides and taught much that was contrary to the faith. His heresy was probably Manichian; it could not have been simply blind worship of classic writers, for culture was too rare in that age for such belief to become popular, and we are told that Vilgardus had numerous disciples in all the cities in Italy, who, after his condemnation by Peter, Archbishop of Ravenna, were put to death by the sword or at the stake. His heresy likewise spread to Sardinia and Spain, where it was ruthlessly exterminated.
Shortly after this Cathari were discovered in Aquitaine, where they made many converts, and their heresy spread secretly throughout southern France in spite of the free use of the fagot. Even as far north as Orleans it was discovered, in 1017, under circumstances which aroused general attention. A female missionary from Italy had carried the infection there, and a number of the most prominent clergy of the city fell victims to it. In their proselyting zeal they sent out emissaries, and were discovered. On hearing of it, King Robert the Pious hastened to Orleans with Queen Constance, and summoned a council of bishops to determine what should be done to meet the novel and threatening danger. The heretics, on being questioned, made no secret of their faith, and boldly declared themselves ready to die rather than to abandon it.
In The Eleventh Century
The popular feeling was so bitter against them that Robert stationed his queen at the door of the church in which the assembly was held, to preserve them from being torn to pieces by the mob when they were led forth; but Constance shared the passions of her subjects, and as they passed her she smote with a rod one who had been her confessor, and put out his eye. They were taken beyond the walls, and again, in the presence of the blazing pyre, were entreated to recant, but they preferred death, and their unshrinking firmness was the wonder of all spectators.
Such converts as they had made elsewherewere diligently hunted up and mercilessly despatched. In 1025 there was a further discovery of the heresyat Liege, but the sectaries provedless stubborn, and were pardoned on professing conversion.
About the same time we hear of others, in Lombardy, in the Castle of Monforte, near Asti, who were the objects of active persecution by the neighboring nobles and bishops, and who were burned whenever they could becaptured. At length, about 1040, Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan, in visiting his province, came to Asti, and, hearing of these heretics, sent for them. They came willingly enough, including their teacher, Gherardo, and the Countess of Monforte who was of their sect; all boldly professed their faith, and were carried by Eriberto back to Milan, where he hoped to convert them. In place of this, they labored to spread their heresy among those who crowded to see them in prison, until the enraged people, against the will of the archbishop, forcibly dragged them out, and gave them the choice between the cross and the stake. A few of them yielded, but the most part, covering their faces with their hands, boldly leaped into the flames, and sealed their faith with martyrdom.
In 1045 we find them in Chalons, when Bishop Roger applied to Bishop Wazo of Liege, asking what he should do with them, and whether the secular arm should be called in to prevent the leaven from corrupting the whole people, to which the good Wazo replied that they should be left to God,
"for those whom the world now regards as tares may be garnered by him as wheat when comes the harvest-time. Those whom we deem the adversaries of God he may make superior to us in heaven."
Wazo, indeed, had heard that heretics were commonly detectedby their pallor, and, under the delusion that those who were pale must necessarily be heretics, many good Catholics had been slain. By the year 1052 the heresy had extended to Germany, where the pious emperor, Henry the Black, caused a number to be hanged at Goslar. During the rest of the century we hear little more of them, though traces of them occur at Toulouse in 1056 and Bdziers in 1062, and about the year 1200 they are described as infecting the whole diocese of Agen.
In the twelfth century the evil continued unabated in northern France. Count John of Soissons was noted as a protector of heretics, but, in spite of his favor, Lisiard, the bishop, captured several, and gave the first example of what subsequently became common enough---the use of the ordeal to determine heretical guilt. One, at least, of the accused, floated when thrown into exorcised water, and the bishop, not knowing what to do with them, held them in prison while he went to the Council of Beauvais, in 1114, to consult his episcopal brethren. The populace, however, felt no doubtson the subject, and, fearing that they would bedeprived of their prey, broke open the jail and burned them during the bishop's absence - a manifestation of holy zeal which greatly pleased the pious chronicler.
About the same time Flanders was the scene of another discovery of Catharism. The heresiarch, on being summoned before the Bishop of Canibrai, made no secret of his crime; he was stubborn, and was shut up in a hut, which was fired, and he died in prayer. The people must, in this case, have been rather favorably inclined to him, for they allowed his friends to collect his remains, and he was found to have many followers, especially among the craft of weavers.
When, about the same period, we see Paschal II. advising the Bishop of Constance that converted heretics were to be welcomed back, we may conclude that error had penetrated even into Switzerland.
In The Twelfth Century
As the century wore on the manifestations of heresy became more numerous. In 1144 at Liege again; in 1153 again in Artois; in 1157 at Beims; in 1163 at Vezelai, where there was a significant concomitant attempt to throw off the temporal jurisdiction of the Abbey of St. Madelaine; about 1170 at Besangon; and in 1180 at Keims again. This latter case has picturesque features recited for us by one of the actors in the drama, Gervais of Tilbury, at that time a young man and a canon of Reims. Riding out one afternoon as part of the retinue of his archbishop, William, his fancy was caught by a pretty girl laboring alone in a vineyard. He lost no time in pressing his suit, but was repulsed with the assertion that if she listened to his addresses she would be irretrievably damned. Virtue so severe as this was a manifest sign of heresy, and the archbishop, coming up, ordered her at once into custody, for he recognized her as necessarily belonging to the Cathari, whom Philip of Flanders had for sometime been mercilessly persecuting.
Under examination, she gave the name of her instructress, who was forthwith arrested, and who manifested such thorough familiarity with Scripture and such consummate dexterity in defending her faith, that no doubt was felt of her being inspired by Satan. The defeated theologians respited the pair till the next day, when they obstinately refused to yield to threats or promises, and were unanimously condemned to the stake. At this the elder woman laughed, saying,
"Foolish and unjust judges, think you to burn me in your fire? I fear not your sentence, and dread not your stake." With that she pulled from her bosom a ball of thread and tossed it out of the window, retaining one end, and calling out, "Take it!" The ball arose in the air, and the old woman followed it through the window, and was seen no more. The girl was left, and as she was insensible alike to offers of wealth and threats of punishment, she wa sduly burned, suffering her torment cheerfully an dwithout a groan.
Even in distant Britanny Catharism appeared in 1208 at Nantes and St.Malo.
In Flanders the heresy seems to have taken deep root among the industrious craftsmen who were already making their cities centres of wealth and progress. In 1162 Henry, Archbishop of Reims, in a visitation of Flanders, which formed part of his province, found Manichseism prevailing there to an alarming extent. In the existing confusion and uncertainty of the canon law as respects the treatment of heresy, he allowed the appeal of those whom he capturedt o AlexanderI II., then in Touraine. The pope inclined to mercy, much to the disgust of the archbishop and of his brother, Louis VII., who urged the adoption of rigorous measures, and asserted that the enormous bribe of six hundred marks had been offered for their liberation. If this were so, the heresy must have penetrated to the upper ranks of society. In spite of Alexander's humanity the persecution was sharp enough, however, to drive many of the heretics away, and we shall meet with some of them at Cologne. Twenty years later we find the evil still growing, and Philip, Count of Flanders, whose zeal for the faith was manifested subsequently by his death in Palestine, busily engaged in persecuting them with the aid of William, Archbishop of Reims. They are described as comprising all classes, nobles and peasants, clerks, soldiers, and mechanics, maids, wives, and widows, and numbers of them were burned without putting an end to the pestilence.
The Teutonic peoples were comparatively free from the infection, although the propinquity of the Rhinelands to Franceled to occasional visitations. About 1110 we hear of some heretics at Troves, who seem to have escaped without punishment, though two among them were priests, and in 1200 eight more were found there and burned.
In Germany And England
In 1145 a number were discovered in Cologne, some of whom were tried; but, during the examination, the impatient populace, fearing to be balked of their spectacle, broke in, carried off the culprits, and burned them out of hand - a fate which, they bore not only with patience, but with joyfulness.
There must have beena Catharan Church established by this time at Cologne, since one of the sufferers was called their bishop. In 1163 fugitives from the Flemish persecution were found at Cologne - eight men and three women, who had taken refuge in a barn. As they associated with no one, and did not frequent the churches, the Christian neighbors recognized them as heretics, seized them, and took them before the bishop, when they boldly avowed their faith, and suffered burning with the resolute gladness which distinguished the sect.
We hear of others, about the same time, burned at Bonn, but this scanty catalogue exhausts the list of German heresies in the twelfth century.
Missionaries penetrated the country from Hungary, Italy, and Flanders; they are found in Switzerland, Bavaria, Suabia, and even as far as Saxony, but they made few converts.
England was likewise little troubled with heresy. It was shortly after the persecutions in Flanders that in 1166 there were discovered thirty rustics - men and women - German in race and speech, probably Flemings, fleeing from the pious zeal of Henry of Reims, who had come and were endeavoring to propagate their errors. They made but one convert, a woman, who deserted them in the hour of trial. The rest stood firm when Henry II., then engaged in his quarrel with Becket, and anxious to prove his fidelity to the Church, called a council of bishops at Oxford, and presided over it, to determine their faith. They openly avowed it, and were condemned to be scourged, branded in the face with a key, and driven forth.
The importance which Henry attached to the matter is shown by his devoting, soon after, in the Assizes of Clarendon, an article to the subject, forbidding any one to receive them under penalty of having his house torn down, and requiring all sheriffs to swear to the observance of the law, and to make all stewards of the barons and all knights and franc-tenants swear likewise - the first secular law on the subject in any statute-book since the fall of Rome.
I have already mentioned the steadfastness with which the unfortunates endured their martyrdom.
Stripped to the waist and soundly scourged, and branded on the forehead, they were sent adrift shelterless in the winter-time, and speedily, one by one, they miserably perished. England was not hospitable to heresy, and we hear little more of it there.
Towards the close of the century some heretics were found in the province of York, and early in the next century a few were discovered in London, and one was burned; but practically the orthodoxy of England was unsullied until the rise of Wickliffe.
Italy, as the channel through which the Bulgarian heresy passed to the West, was naturally deeply infected. Milan had the reputation of being its centre, whence missionaries were despatched to other lands, whither pilgrims resorted from the western kingdoms, and where originated the sinister term of Patarins, by which the Cathari became generally known to the people of Europe. Yet the popes, involved in a death-struggle with the empire, and frequently wanderers abroad, paid little attention to them during the first half of the twelfth century, and the indications which have reached us of their existence are but scanty, though sufficient to show that they were numerous and aggressive in the consciousness of growing strength. Thus at Orvieto, in 1125, they actually obtained the mastery for a while, but after a bloody struggle were subdued by the Catholics.
In 1150 the effort was resumed by Diotesalvi of Florence and Gherardo of Massano; but the bishop succeeded in expelling them, when they were replaced by two women missionaries - Milita of Monte-Meano, and Giulitta of Florence - whose piety and charity won the esteem of the clergy and sympathy of the people, until the heresy was discovered, in 1163, when many heretics were burned and hanged, and the rest exiled. Yet soon afterwards Peter the Lombard undertook to propagate it again, and formed a numerous community, embracing many nobles, and towards the close of the century San Pietro di Parenzo earnedhis canonization by his severe measures of repression, in retaliation for which the heretics took his life in 1199. This may be regarded as an example of the struggle which was going on in many Italian cities, showing th stubborn vitality of the heresy.
In the political condition of Italy, subdivided into innumerable virtually self-governing communities, torn by mutual quarrels and civic strife, general measures of repression were almost impossible. Heresy, suppressed by spasmodic exertion in one city, was always flourishing elsewhere, and ready to furnish new missionaries and new martyrs as soon as the storm had passed.
Through all these vicissitudes its growth was constant. All the northern half of the peninsula, from the Alps to the Patrimony of St. Peter, was honeycombed with it, and even as far south as Calabria it was to be found.
When Innocent III., in 1198, ascended the papal throne he at once commenced active proceedings for its extermination, and the obstinacy of the heretics may be estimated by the struggle in Viterbo, a city subject to the temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction of the papacy.
In March, 1199, Innocent, stimulated by the increase of heresy and the audacity of its public display, wrote to the Viterbians, renewing and sharpening the penalties against all who received or favored heretics. Yet, in spite of this, in 1205, the heretic scarried the municipal election and elected as chamberlain a heretic under excommunication. Innocent's indignation was boundless. If the elements, he told the citizens, should conspire to destroy them, without sparingage or sex, leaving their memory an eternal shame, the punishment would be inadequate. He ordered obedience to be refused to the newly-elected municipality, which was to be deposed; that the bishop, who had been ejected, should be received back, that the laws against heresy should be enforced, and that if all this was not done within fifteen days the people of the surrounding towns and castles were commanded to take up arms and make active war upon the rebellious city.
Even this was insufficient. Two years later, in February, 1207, there were fresh troubles, and it was not until June of that year, when Innocent himself came to Viterbo, and all the Patarins fled at his approach, that he was able to purify the town by tearing down all the houses of the heretics and confiscating all their property.
This he followed up in September with a decree addressed to all the faithful in the Patrimony of St. Peter, ordering measures of increasing severity to be inscribed in the local laws of every community, and all podesta and other officials to be sworn to their enforcement under heavy penalties. Proceedings of more or less rigor commanded in Milan, Ferrara, Yerona, Rimini, Florence, Prato, Faenza, Piacenza, and Treviso show the extent of the evil, the difficulty of restraining it, and the encouragement given to heresy by the scandals of the clergy.
In Southern France
It wasin southern France, however, that the struggle was deadliest and the battle was fought to its bitter end. There the soil, as we have seen, was the most favorable, and the growth of heresy the rankest. Early in the century we find open resistance at Albi, when the bishop, Sicard, aided by the Abbot of Castres, endeavored to imprison obstinate heretics and was baffled by the people, leading to a dangerous quarrel between the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions.
About the same time, Amelius of Toulouse tried milder methods by calling in the aid of the celebrated Robert d'Arbrissel, whose preaching, we are told, was rewarded with many conversions. In 1119 Calixtus II. presided over a council at Toulouse which condemned the Manichaean heresy, but was forced to content itself with sentencing the heretics to expulsion from the Church.
It is perhaps remarkable that when Innocent II., driven from Rome by the antipope Pier-Leone, was wandering through France and held a great council at Reims in 1131, no measures were taken for the repression of heresy; but when restored to Rome he seems to have awakened to the necessity of action, and in the Second General Lateran Council, in 1139, he issued a decisive decree which is interesting as the earliest example of the interpellation of the secular arm.
Not only were the Cathari condemned and expelled from the Church, but the temporal authorities were ordered to coerce them and all those who favored or defended them. This policy was followed up in 1148by the Council of Reims, which forbade any one to receive or maintain on his lands the heretics dwelling in Gascony, Provence, and elsewhere and not to afford them shelter in passing or give them a refuge under pain of excommunication and interdict.
When AlexanderIII. was exiled from Rome by Frederic Barbarossa and his antipope Victor, and came to France, he called, in 1163, a great councilat Tours. It was an imposing assemblage, comprising seventeen cardinals, one hundred and twenty-four bishops (including Thomas Becket) and hundreds of abbots, besides hosts of other ecclesiastics and a vast number of laymen.
This august body, after performing its first duty of anathematizing the rival pope, proceeded to deplore the heresy which, arising in the Toulousain, had spread like a cancer throughout Gascony, deeply infecting the faithful everywhere. The prelates of those regions were ordered to be vigilant in suppressing it by anathematizing all who should permit heretics to dwell on their lands or should hold intercourse with them, in buying or selling, so that, being cut off from human society, they might be compelled to abandon their errors.
All secular princes moreover were commanded to imprison them and to confiscate their property. By this time, it is evident that heresy was no longer concealed, but displayed itself openly and defiantly; and the futility of the papal commands at Tours to cut heretics off from human intercourse was shown two years later at the council, or rather colloquy, of Lombers near Albi. This was a public disputation between representatives of orthodoxy and the loshomes, los Crestias, or "good men," as they styled themselves, before judges agreed upon by both sides, in the presence of Pons, Archbishop of Karbonne, and sundry bishops, besides the most powerful nobles of the region - Constance, sister of King Louis VII. and wife of Raymond of Toulouse, Trencavel of Beziers, Sicardof Lautrec, and others.
Nearly all of the population of Lombers and Albi assembled, and the proceedings were evidently regarded as of the greatest public interest and importance. A full report of the discussion, including the decision against the Cathari, has reached us from several orthodox sources, but the only interest which the affair has is its marked significance in showing that heresy had fairly outgrown all the means of repression at commandof the local churches, that reasonhad to be appealed to in place of force, that heretics had no scruple in manifesting and declaring themselves, and that the Catholic disputants had to submit to their demands in citing only the New Testament as an authority.
The powerlessness of the Church was still further exhibited in the fact that the council, after its argumentative triumph, was obliged to content itself with simply ordering the nobles of Lombersno longer to protect the heretics. What satisfaction Pons of Narbonne found the next year in confirming the conclusions of the Council of Lombers, in a council held at Cabestaing, it would be difficult to define. So great was the prevailing demoralization that when some monks of the strict Cistercian order left their monastery of Villemagne near Agde, and publicly took wives, he was unable to punish this gross infraction of their vows, and the interposition of Alexander III. was invoked - probably without result.
Evidently the Church was powerless. When it could condemn the doctrines and not the persons of heretics it confessed to the world that it possessed no machinery capable of dealing with opposition on a scale of such magnitude. The nobles and the people were indisposed to do its bidding, and without their aid the fulmination of its anathema was an empty ceremony.
The Cathari saw this plainly, and within two years of the Council of Lombers they dared, in 1167, to hold a council of their own at St. Felix de Caraman near Toulouse. Their highest dignitary, Bishop Nicetas, came from Constantinople to preside, with deputies from Lombardy; the French Church was strengthened against the modified Dualism of the Concorrezan school; bishops were elected for the vacant sees of Toulouse, Val d'Aran, Carcassonne, Albi, and France north of the Loire, the latter being Robert de Sperone, subsequently a refugee in Lombardy, where he gave his name to the sect of the Speronistae; commissioners were named to settle a disputed boundary between the sees of Toulouse and Carcassonne; in short, the business was that of an established andi ndependent Church, which looked upon itself as destined to supersede the Church of Rome. Based upon the affection and reverence of the people, which Rome had forfeited, it might well look forward to ultimate supremacy.
In fact, its progress during the next ten years was such as to justify the most enthusiastic hopes. Raymond of Toulouse, whose power was virtually that of an independent sovereign, adhered to Frederic Barbarossa, acknowledged the antipope Victor and his successors, and care dnothing for Alexander III., who was received by the rest of France; and the Church, distracted by the schism, could offer little opposition to the development of heresy. In 1177, however, Alexander triumphed and received the submission of Frederic Raymond necessarily followed his suzerain (a large portion of his territories was subject to the empire) and suddenly awoke to the necessity of arresting the progress of heresy. Powerful as he was, he felt himself unequal to the task. The burgesses of his cities, independent and intractable, were for the most part Cathari. A large portion of his knights and gentlemen were secretly or avowedly protectors of heresy; the common people throughout his dominions despised the clergy and honored the heretics.
When a heretic preached they crowded to listen and applaud; when a Catholic assumed the rare function of religious instruction they jeered at him and asked him what he had to do with proclaiming the Word of God. In a state of chronic war with powerful vassals and more powerful neighbors, like the kings of Aragon and England, it was manifestly impossible for Raymond to undertake the extermination of a half or more than half of his subjects. Whether he was sincere in his desire to suppress heresy is doubtful, but in any case his situation is interesting, as an illustration of the difficulties which surrounded his son and grandson, and led to the Crusades and the extinction of his house. Whatever his motives, however, Raymond craftily placed himself on the right side. He called upon the king, Louis VII., to come to his assistance, and, remembering how St.Bernard had, in the previous generation, aided to suppress the Henricians, he applied to Bernard's successor, Henry of Clairvaux, head of the great Cistercian order, to support his appeal. He described the condition of religion in his dominions as desperate. The priesthood had allowed itself to be seduced; the churches were abandoned and falling into ruin; the sacraments were despised and no longer in use; Dualism had prevailed over Trinitarianism. Anxious as he was to be the minister of the vengeance of God, he was powerless, for his principal subjects had embraced the false faith, together with the better part of his people.
Spiritual punishment no longer had any terror, and force alone would be of service. If the king would come, Raymond promised personally to conduct him through the land and point out the heretics to be chastised, and with their united efforts success could hardly fail to crown the goodwork.
Henry II. of England, who as Duke of Aquitaine was nearly concerned in the matter, had just concluded a peace with Louis of France, and, free from the preoccupation of mutual war, the monarchs conferred together with the intention of proceeding in person with a heavy force in response to Raymond's appeal. The Abbot of Clairvaux also wrote to Alexander III., with more earnestness than courtesy, stimulating him to do his duty and put down heresy as he had quelled schism; the two kings, he said, were debating as to the measures to be taken, and no remissness of the spiritual power must serve as excuse for lack of energy on the part of the temporal: in Languedoc, priest and people were alike infected, or rather the contagion proceeded from the shepherds to the flock; the least the pope could do was to instruct his legate, Cardinal Peter of St. Chrysogono, to remain longer in France and to attack the heretics.
During these preliminaries the zeal of the monarchs had cooled, and in place of marching at the head of armies they contented themselves with sending a mission consisting of the cardinal legate, the archbishops of Narbonne and Bourges, Henry of Clairvaux and other prelates, at the same time urging the Count of Toulouse, the Viscount of Turenne, and other nobles to aid them.
If Raymond was sincere, this was not the assistance he required. The kings had resolved to depend upon the spiritual sword, and he was too shrewd to exhaust his strengthi n an unaided struggle with his subjects, especially as a menacing league was then forming against him by Alonso II. of Aragon with the nobles of Narbonne, Mmes, Montpellier, and Carcassonne.
While, therefore, he protected the missionary prelates, he made no pretence of drawing the carnal sword. When they entered Toulouse the heretics crowded around them jeering and calling them hypocrites, apostates, and other opprobrious names; and Henry of Clairvaux consoles himself for the insignificant positive results of the mission with the reflection that if it had been postponed until three years later, they would not have found a single Catholic in the city.
Lists of heretics, interminable in length, were made out for them, at the head of which stood Pierre Mauran, an old man of great wealth and influence, and so universally respected by his co-religionists that he was popularly known as John the Evangelist. He was selected to be made an example. After many tergiversations he was convicted of heresy, when, to save his confiscated property, he agreed to recant and undergo such penance as might be assigned to him. Stripped to the waist, with the Bishop of Toulouse and the Abbot of St. Sernin busily scourging him on either side, he was led through an immense crowd to the high altar of the Cathedral of St. Stephen, where, for the good of his soul, he was ordered to undertake a three years pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to be daily scourged through the streets of Toulouse until his departure, to make restitution of all Church lands occupied by him and of all moneys acquired by usury, and to pay to the count five hundred pounds of silver in redemptiono f his forfeited property.
This resolute beginning produced the desired effect, and multitudes of Cathari hastened to make their peace with the Church; but how little real result it had is shown by the fact that when Mauran returned from Palestine his fellow-citizens thrice honored him with election to the office of capitoul, and his family remained bitterly anti-Catholic. In 1231 an old man named Mauran was condemned as a perfected heretic, and in 1235 another Mauran, one of the capitouls, was excommunicated for impeding the introduction of the Inquisition.
The enormous fine for the benefit of the Count of Toulouse was well calculated to excite the religious fervor of that potentate, but even that stimulus failed to arouse him to the decisive action which he doubtless felt to be impracticable. When the legate desired to confute two heresiarchs, Raymond de Baimiac and Bernard Raymond, the Catharan bishops of Val d'Aran and Toulouse, he was obliged to give them a safe-conduct before they would present themselves before him, and to content himself afterwards with excommunicating them; and when proceedings were had against the powerful Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Beziers, for keeping the Bishop of Albi in prison, excommunication was likewise the only penalty, nor do we read that the captured prelate was liberated. The mission so pompously heralded returned to France, and we can readilv believe the statement of contemporary chroniclers that it had accomplished little or nothing.
It is true that Raymond of Toulouse and his nobles had been induced to issue an edict banishing all heretics, but this remained a dead letter.
It was in September of the same year, 1178, that Alexander III. published the call for the assembling of the Third Council of Lateran, and an ominous allusion in it to the tares which choke the wheat and must be pulled up by the roots shows that he recognized the futility of all measures heretofore adopted to check the daily growing power of heresy. Accordingly, when the council met, in 1179, it bemoaned the damnable perversity of the Patarins, who publicly seduced the faithful throughout Gascony, the Albigeois, and the Toulousain; it commended the employment of force by the secular power to compel men to their own salvation; it anathematized, as usual, the heretics and those who sheltered and protected them, and it included among heretics the Cotereaux, Brabancons, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, and Triaverdins, of whom more anon.
It then proceeded to take a step of much significance in proclaiming a crusade against all these enemies of the Church - the first experiment of a resort to this weapon against Christians, which afterwards became so common, and gave the Church in its private quarrels the services of a warlike militia in every land, ever ready to be mobilized. Two years indulgence was promised to all who should take up arms in the holy cause; they were received under the protection of the Church, and those who should fall were assured of eternal salvation.
Among the restless and sinful warriors of the time it was not difficult to raise an army, serving without pay, on terms like these.
Immediately on his return from the council Pons, Archbishop of Narbonne, made haste to publish this decree, with all its anathemas and interdicts, and he included in its terms those who exacted new and unaccustomed tolls from travellers - ar apidly growing extortion of the feudal nobles which we shall constantly see reappear, like the Cotereaux, in the Albigensian quarrels. Henry of Clairvaux had refused the troublesome see of Toulouse, which had become vacant shortly after his mission thither in 1178, but had accepted the cardinalate of Albano, and he was forthwith sent as papallegate to preach and lead the crusade. His eloquence enabled him to raise a considerable force of horse and foot, with which, in 1181, he fell upon the territories of the Viscount of Beziers and laid siege to the stronghold of Lavaur where the Viscountess Adelaide, daughter of Raymond of Toulouse, and the leading Patarins had taken refuge. We are told that Lavaur was captured through a miracle, and that in various parts of France consecrated wafers dropping blood announced the success of the Christian arms.
Roger of Beziers has tened to make his submission and swear no longer to protect heresy. Raymond de Baimiac and Bernard Raymond, the Catharan bishops, who were taken prisoners, renounced their heresy and were rewarded with prebends in two churches of Toulouse. Many other heretics gave in their submission, but returned to the false faith as soon as the danger was past. The short term for which the Crusaders had enlisted expired; the army disbanded itself, and the next year the cardinal-legate went back to Rome, having accomplished, virtually, nothing except to increase the mutual exasperation by the devastation of the country through which his troops had passed. Raymond of Toulouse, involved in desperate war with the King of Aragon, seems to have preserved complete indifference as to this expedition taking no part in it on either side.
The Cotereaux and Brabancons, whom we have seen included with the Patarins in the denunciations of the Council of Lateran, are a feature of the period whose significance deserves a passing notice. We shall find them constantly reappearing, and their maintenance was one of the sins which gained for Raymond VI. of Toulouse almost as much hostility from the Church as the sup port of heresywhich was imputed to him. They were freebooters, the precursors of the dreaded Free Companies which, especially during the fourteenth century, were the terror of all peaceable men, inflicting incalculable damage to the advancement of civilization.
Their various names of Brabangons, Hainaulters, Catalans, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, etc., show how widespread was the evil and how every province ascribed the hated bands to its neighbors; while the more familiar terms of Brigandi, Pilardi, Ruptarii, Mainatae (mesnie), etc., express their function and occupation; and the names of Cotarelli, Palearii, Triaverdins, Asperes, Vales, have afforded ample field for fanciful etymology.
They consisted of the idle and dissipated, peasants who had been hopelessly ruined in the increasing desolation of war, fugitives from serfdom, outlaws, escaped criminals, worthless ecclesiastics, outcast monks, and in general the scum which society threw upon the surface in its constant turmoil. They preyed upon the community in bands of varying size, and their swords were ever at the service of the nobles who would grant them pay or plunder when a military force was needed for a longer term than the short campaign prescribed as due from the vassal to his feudal lord. The chronicles of the time are full of lamentations over their incessant devastations; and it is significant of the relations between the Church and the community that the ecclesiastical annalists insist that their blows ever fell heavier on church and monastery than on the castle of the seigneur or the cottage of the peasant.
They ridiculed the priests as singers, and it was one of their savage sports to beat them to death while mockingly begging their intercession-
"Sing for us, you singer, sing for us;"
and the culmination of their irreverent sacrilege was seen in their casting out and trampling on the holy wafers whose precious pyxes they eagerly seized. They were popularly classed as heretics, and were accused of openly denying the existence ofG od.In 1181 Bishop Stephen of Tournay feelingly describes his terror while traversing, on amission from the king, through the Toulousain, then recently the seat of war between the Count of Toulouse and the King of Aragon, where deserted solitude revealed nothing but ruined churches and desolated villages, and where he was ever in expectation of attack, from robbers or from the more dreaded bands of Cotereaux.
It was probably a result of the crusade decreed against them, in common with the Patarins, that a concerted attack was soon after made upon the bandits in central France. They were driven together, and in July, 1183, at Chateaudun, a signal victory over them was won, the number of the slain brigands being variously estimated at from six thousand to ten thousand five hundred and twenty-five. An immense booty was obtained, among which may perhaps be reckoned fifteen hundred strumpets, who accompanied the robber host. The victors, who had assumed the name of Paciferi in token of their peaceful object, were not merciful.
Fifteen days later we hear of the capture of one of the routier captains with fifteen hundred men, who were all summarily hanged; and about the same time of eighty more, who were caught and blinded. In spite of these ruthless measures, the evil continued unabated. The causes which produced it remained as active as ever, and the services of the reckless and Godless mercenaries continued useful to the great feudatories involved in endless war with their neighbors.
The admitted failure of the crusade of 1181 seems to have rendered the Church hopeless, for the time, of making headway against heresy. For a quarter of a century it was allowed to develop in comparative toleration throughout the territories of Gascony, Languedoc, and Provence. It is true that the decree of Lucius III., issued at Veronain 1184, is important as attempting the foundation of an organized Inquisition, but it worked noimmediate effect.
Rapid Development Of Heresy
It is true that in 1195 another papal legate, Michael, held a provincial council at Montpellier, where he commanded the enforcement of the Lateran canons on all heretics and Mainatae, or brigands, whose property was to be confiscated and whose persons reduced to slavery; but all this fell dead upon the indifference of the nobles, who, involved in perpetual war with each other, preferred to risk the anathemas of the Church rather than to complicate their troubles by attempting the extermination of a majority of their subjects at the behest of a hierarchy which no longer inspired respect or reverence.
Perhaps, also, the fall of Jerusalem, in 1186, in arousing an unprecedented fervor of fanaticism, directed it towards Palestine, and left little for the vindication of the faith nearer home. Be this as it may, no effective persecution was undertaken until the vigorous ability of Innocent III., after vainly trying milder measures, organized overwhelming war agains the heresy.
During this interval the Poor Men of Lyons arose, and were forced to make common cause with the Cathari; the proselyting zeal which had been so successful in secrecy and tribulation had free scope for its development, and had no effective antagonism to dread from a negligent and disheartened clergy.
The heretics preached and made converts, while the priests were glad if they could save a fraction of their tithes and revenues from rapacious nobles and rebellious or indifferent parishioners. Heresy throve accordingly.
Innocent III. admitted the humiliating fact that the heretics were allowed to preach and teach and make converts in public, and that unless speedy measures were taken for their suppression there was danger that the infection would spread to the whole Church. William of Tudela says that the heretics possessed the Albigeois, the Carcasses, and the Lauragais, and that to describe them as numerous throughout the whole district from Beziers to Bordeauxis not saying enough. Walter Mapes asserts that there were none of them in Britanny, but that they abounded in Anjou, while in Aquitaine and Burgundy their number was infinite.
William of Puy-Laurens assures us that Satan possessed in peace the greater part of southern France; the clergy were so despised that they were accustomed to conceal the tonsure through very shame, and the bishops were obliged to admit to holy orders whoever was willing to assume them; the whole land, under a curse, produced nothing but thorns and thistles, ravishers and bandits, robbers, murderers, adulterers, and usurers.
Caesarius of Heisterbach declares that the Albigensian errors increased so rapidly that they soon infected a thousand cities, and he believes that if they had not been repressed by the sword of the faithful the whole of Europe would have been corrupted.
A German inquisitor informs us that in Lombardy, Provence, and other regions there were more schools of heresy than of orthodox theology, with more scholars; that they disputed publicly, and summoned the people to public debates; that they preached in the market-places, the fields, the houses; and that there were none who dared to interfere with them, owing to the multitude and powerof their protectors.
As we have seen, they were regularly organized in dioceses; they had their educational establishments for the training of women as well as men; and, at least in one instance, all the nuns of a convent embraced Catharism without quitting the house or the habit of their order. Such was the position to which corruption had reduced the Church.
Intent upon the acquisition of temporal power, it had well-nigh abandoned its spiritual duties; and its empire, which rested on spiritual foundations, was crumbling with their decay, and threatening to pass away like an unsubstantial vision. There have been few crises in the history of the Church more dangerous than that which Lothario Conti, when he assumed the triple crown at the early age of thirty-eight, was called upon to meet.
In his consecration sermon he announced that one of his principal duties would be the destruction of heresy, and of this he never lost sight to the end, amid his endless conflicts with emperors and princes. It is fortunate for civilization that he possessed the qualifications which enabled him to guide the shattered bark of St. Peter through the tempest and among the rocks -i f not always wisely, yet with a resolute spirit, an unswerving purpose, and an unfailing trust that accomplished his mission in the end.