Heresy is a topic that exerts almost universal fascination. This book an invaluable collection of primary sources in translation, aimed at students and academics alike. It provides a wide array of materials on both heresy (Cathars and Waldensians) and the persecution of heresy in medieval France. The book is divided into eight sections, each devoted to a different genre of source material. A large proportion of evidence for heresy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries comes from chronicles, but by the thirteenth century they do not loom quite so large in comparison to other genres. Historians sometimes use the label 'chronicle' as a shorthand term to cover any kind of medieval written account of past events. For those interested in seeing how 'heresy' was constructed rhetorically by orthodoxy, sermons are an invaluable source. The book presents a selection of extracts from two of the most important works of preaching in the thirteenth century, the tales collected by Stephen of Bourbon and those written by Humbert of Romans. It also offers a variety of letters, from a very public letter, widely circulated with the aim of stirring prelates into action against heresy, to administrative letters. In the wake of the Peace of Paris, a series of ecclesiastical councils provided for the prosecution of heresy in Languedoc. There is an abundance of modern scholarship on inquisition records and registers of inquisition trials.
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in this book. The book focuses on France in the thirteenth century, particularly southern France, where the surviving sources are richest, but also includes some largely neglected evidence for northern France. It discusses the most interesting aspects of the academic study of heresy and inescapability of thinking critically about the sources. The book also focuses on the heretics often called 'Cathars' and 'Waldensians', two groups that demonstrably held some wider appeal in medieval society. Wakefield and Evans focus particularly on heresy, largely ignoring the practical and legal aspects of its repression. The book provides the translations of considerable legislative activity and legal consultation in southern France and two 'guides for inquisitors'. The surviving documentary record reminds the power of the Church, and its determination to crush what it saw as a subversive heretical threat.
Both Waldensian and Cathar heretics made considerable use of texts. In the case of southern France, there are three important textual survivals. The first is an early fourteenth-century manuscript in the Occitan vernacular. The second is a copy and its authentication, made by Cathars in the 1220s, of a charter relating to their 'Council' of St-Felix in 1167. The third is a Cathar theological tract, sizeable extracts from which survive in its refutation in a treatise by the former Waldensian, Durand of Huesca.
A large proportion of evidence for heresy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries comes from chronicles. Peter of Les Vaux-de-Cernay was writing an account of a specific set of events with heresy at their centre, drawing primarily on first-hand experience. The 'Deeds of bishops' were popular subgenre, focused of course on a particular diocese and its sequence of incumbents. The work which the Inquisitor Bernard Gui produced on the development of his religious order, the Dominicans, in which his topics were the foundation and spread of Dominican convents in the south of France, and their priors.
The thirteenth century saw a great upsurge in the writing of theology, both general treatises that contained some material on heresy and polemical treatises specifically directed against heresy. The writing of anti-heretical treatises flourished during the 1230s and 1240s, principally in Italy, where they seem to have been connected with intellectually high-level, real-life polemical exchanges between Catholics and heretics. Italy is a region where direct inquisitorial repression was not as effective as it was in Languedoc. Southern France has much less to show, after the four-part treatise written by Alan of Lille, extracts of which are provided in translation by Wakefield and Evans. The Summa of Authorities provides a textual correlative of the authority-bashing polemics in debates between Catholics, heretics and Waldensians of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.
The authors present a selection of extracts from two of the most important works of preaching in the thirteenth century. The works are the tales collected by Stephen of Bourbon for use in sermons and a more technical guide for preachers written by Humbert of Romans. The authors have included two short sermons devoted specifically to heresy, because of their rarity, and geographical interest, providing as they do a brief glimpse of heresy in northern France and connections between northern Italy and southern France.
The bulk of material in this part comes from papal bulls that include letters and decretals. There are several very famous papal letters which sit at the heart of the Church's prosecution of heresy, from Ad abolendam and Vergentis in senium to Pope Gregory IX's 'founding' bulls commissioning inquisition against heresy. The authors have chosen material that tells us of activity against heresy in northern France with a particular focus on the Inquisitor Robert Lepetit.
The wars of the Albigensian crusade were brought to an end by the Peace of Paris in 1229, by which Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, capitulated and swore to persecute heresy. This part includes the provisions of Dominican provincial chapters, which cast interesting light on relations between ordinary Dominican brothers and Dominican inquisitors. It provides a substantial portion of the documentary sources from which the early history of inquisition is written.
This part discusses technical terms for types of heretic or suspect such as believer, receiver, supporter, defender, counsellor, suspect and vehemently suspect. It includes a few papal bulls dealing with inquisition and some formulae for sentences for different sorts of crime in heresy and different penalties. The part also presents legal consultations on particular questions, most frequently those of the Avignon lawyers of 1235 and Guy Foulques. It also includes a selection of the consultative councils, as also of the Council of Toulouse of 1229, Raymond VII's statutes of 1233 and the Council of Beziers of 1246.