History

Hincmar of Rheims’s De divortio

Between 858 and 869, an unprecedented scandal played out in Frankish Europe, becoming the subject of gossip not only in palaces and cathedrals. It was in these years that a Frankish king, Lothar II, made increasingly desperate efforts to divorce his wife, Queen Theutberga, and to marry instead a woman named Waldrada, the mother of his children. Lothar, however, faced opposition to his actions. Kings and bishops from neighbouring kingdoms, and several popes, were gradually drawn into a crisis affecting the fate of an entire kingdom. This book offers eye-opening insight not only on the political wrangling of the time, but also on early medieval attitudes towards issues, including magic, penance, gender, the ordeal, marriage, sodomy, the role of bishops, and kingship.

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.

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John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

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.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300

This chapter contains the translated text ofDe divortio. It has several underlying sections, responding to the questions that Hincmar initially received. These sections were, however, further divided to make the twenty-three responses which appear in the manuscript. The original sections are as follows: the procedure at the councils of Aachen, rules on marriage, divorce and remarriage, the validity of ordeals, the next steps in Theutberga's case, the sodomy charge, Lothar's relationship with Waldrada and sorcery, Lothar's possibilities of remarriage, and the response of bishops towards appeals to them and the case of Engeltrude. De divortio also deals with seven further questions which Hincmar received six months after the first: who is able to judge the king, can the king avoid further judgement in the case, the case of Engeltrude, and the effects of communion with the king.

in The divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga
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John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

The 1270s inquisition manual translated in this part provides an ideal version of the inquisitorial actions. A fundamental concern with the records has long been the truth or otherwise of what the deponents confessed when interrogated by inquisitors. Suspicion about inquisition records has its own history, especially in southern France. There is an abundance of modern scholarship on inquisition records. John H. Arnold has analysed the different voices of the records, the balance between inquisitorial categorisation and the excess of detail generated within each deposition.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300
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This introduction puts the text into its early medieval context and explaining Hincmar's sometimes-dubious methods of argument. The book is a translation of the most significant source for the attempted divorce, a treatise known as De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutbergae reginae, written in 860 by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims. It sheds much light on the Frankish world of its protagonists and on early medieval Europe in general. In 860 those supporting Lothar II's divorce were still able to discomfort Hincmar by drawing parallels between the trials of Ebbo and Theutberga; the matter was only finally settled in 868. The book offers eye-opening insight not only on the political wrangling of the time, but also on early medieval attitudes towards a host of issues including magic, penance, gender, the ordeal, marriage, sodomy, the role of bishops, and kingship.

in The divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga
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John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

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.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300
John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

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.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300
John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

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.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300
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John H. Arnold and Peter Biller

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.

in Heresy and inquisition in France, 1200-1300