Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Alamande Guilabert of Montaillou


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Source Documents:
Interrogation of Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou,
Questioned 2 April - 2 August 1321

 

 

Introduction to Jacques Fournier's Episcopal Inquisition

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, created and conducted his own Episcopal inquisition in the first quarter of the fourteenth century. The interrogation of those suspected (or "vehemently suspected") of heresy usually took place in a chamber of his Episcopal palace at Pamiers. He sat judicially alongside a Dominican Inquisitor such as the Inquisitor for Toulouse or the Inquisitor for Carcassonne for the most important events but in most cases he sat with a Dominican from the local Convent in Pamiers deputizing for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne. Also present were various witnesses - Archdeacons, Priors, Rectors, Cistercian monks, Dominican friars, jurists and notaries. Notaries made notes in Occitan, and read them back in the same language "the vulgar tongue" before rewriting a final version in Latin. Witnesses were also sometimes questioned. None of the accused here had legal representation, and so faced a panel of legal experts - including one one of the finest canon lawyers in Christendom - alone.

Inquisitors are interested in three things:

  • Discovering and documented examples of "heresy" - any deviation from Catholic teaching (in one notable case for ridiculing the Catholic practice of placing a lighted candle in the mouth of sick people expected to die). Failing to report heresy was also an offense. Failing to report heresy also constituted heresy.
  • Discovering the identities of other "heretics" - those who had ever doubted any Catholic doctrine, who had associated with known heretics, or had been present as heretical events such as heretical preaching, Cathar baptisms ("heretication"), Cathar ritual greetings ("adoration"), or Waldensian ordinations.
  • Discovering details that might help identify other heretics, for example the Inquisitors are interested in what Baptized Cathars wore (usually black, dark blue or dark green clothes and cloaks with hoods) and where they meet.

Those accused were sometimes kept temporarily in a tower belonging to the Bishop under the control of the Bishop's jailer. Some, especially those facing more serious accusations were kept in another prison at the Chateau des Allemans, where hearings also took place.

Sentences were read out at separate public events, generally in a cemetery - either the cemetery of the Church of Saint-Jean-Martyr in Pamiers or the cemetery of the Church at Allemans. For a first offense fully admitted the accused might be imprisoned at a purpose built dungeon, called The Wall, in Carcassonne, or given a penance such as having to go on pilgrimage. If they survived the Wall long enough to be released, they would then have to wear conspicuous yellow crosses sewn into the front and back of their clothes. For second offenses (or first offenses where the accused refused to renounce their supposed errors) the penalty was death. Baptized Cathars and Waldensians both refused to swear oaths and this was itself sufficient to warrant death. Such "impenitent heretics" were burned alive in the graveyard immediately after the sentence had been announced. There was no appeal.

Sentences were not included with the deposition, but in a separate Book of Sentances, so all we have here are the words

.... pronounced the sentence on the said [name] in the terms which follow: "Let all know., etc." This sentence may be seen in the Book of sentences.

The medieval year ran from March to March, so for example our 1 February 1321 would be 1 February 1320 in medieval times. We denote it here as 1 February 1320 [1321].

 

 

The Case of Alamande Guilabert

 

Alamande's crimes were to have allowed her dying son to be baptised by a Cathar some 16 years earlier, to have greeted a Cathar in the normal ritual way, and not to have reported these two offences to the Inquisition. She was questioned between 2 April and 2 August 1321.

 

 

Interrogation of Alamande Guilabert

 

 

2 April 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

at the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers?

 

Present:

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, Dominican, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne.

Guillaume Audibert, Canon of Limoges, licensed in Law and Bachelor in Statutes.

Brother David, monk of the Abbey of Fontfroide

Brother Bernard de Centnelles, monk of the Abbey of Fontfroide

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of the Bishop of Pamiers

 

 

 

The year of the Lord 1321, the 2nd of April, Alamande, widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou, coming spontaneously to the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, having taken an oath on the holy Gospels of God to tell the pure and entire truth, as much concerning herself as warned, as concerning other death and alive as witness, with the assistance of Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in the presence of My Lord Guillaume Audibert, licensed in Law and bachelor in Statutes, and of the religious persons Brothers David and Bernard de Centnelles, monks of Fontfroide, and of myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of my said Lord Bishop, witnesses for this convocation, said, deposed and confessed as follows, after numerous variations along the way:

 

 

 

 

 

About 16 or 17 years ago, I had a son of about 16 years old, named Guillaume Guilabert, who was a shepherd and watched the sheep and was quite familiar with Guillaume Belot and Raimond Benet, who were great believers in the heretics and commonly reputed to be such. My son was sick and he coughed blood and it was generally thought that it was inevitable that he would die of this sickness.

 

One day, when my son was thus sick, Guillaume Belot came to visit him and he told him, while I was listening: "Comrade, do you want me to go find you a doctor who can save both your body and soul?" My son replied that he wished that very much. Guillaume told him that he would go and bring him a Good Christian who would receive him into his faith and his sect, and would bring him to a good end. Upon hearing this, I said to my son, understanding that this Guillaume was speaking of having the heretics brought to my son: "My son, do not do this! It is enough that I am losing you. I have no other son. I do not need to lose all my goods because of you!" My son said to me: "Mother, I ask you to agree that a Good Christian come to me and save my soul!" I told him: "My son, do not do this!" He said: "Mother I ask you to agree to this, and not to impede it." This took place around mid-day and I did not wish to consent to what my son was asking me. Toward the hour of vespers, my daughter Alazaïs, the wife of Arnaud Faure of Montaillou, came to me and said: "Mother, if you would like the soul of your son to be saved, then let a Good Christian come, who will receive him into his faith and his sect and make him a Good Christian, because those who are received by them will be saved, and these good men absolve them of all their sins, and the souls of those who are received by them will go straight to paradise after the death of the body and only those who are received by them will be saved." And I believed that what my daughter said was true, and I believed these heretical articles and rested in this belief for one year.

a Good Christian
=
a Cathar Perfect

 

 

a good end
=
dying having been consoled

And since I believed that my daughter spoke the truth, I told her that I would like my son to be received by the heretics into their faith and their sect, believing by this that if my son was a heretic, his soul would be saved. A moment later, Guillaume Belot arrived and I believe that he spoke to my daughter.

 

Then, the following night, around the time of dawn, Guillaume Belot came, bringing and introducing into the house the heretic Prades Tavernier, and I was present and saw him. I knew that he was a heretic. Then Guillaume Belot approached the sick boy and tried to talk to him but he was not able. Then Guillaume took the sick boy, made him sit up in the bed and since he could not speak even like that, the heretic said that he could not receive him because he could no longer speak.

 

Guillaume Belot and my daughter Alazaïs who were present, said then to the heretic that the sick boy had spoken when he was in his senses and had asked and prayed to be received in the faith and the sect of the Good Christians (that is to say, the heretics) and when we bore witness to this, the heretic made numerous genuflections. I did not see, nonetheless, nor remark whether he put a book on the head of the sick boy, because I was so upset by the death of my son. While the heretic was doing this, he stood at the foot of the bed of the sick boy and Guillaume held him seated in the bed. When the heretication was done, Guillaume Belot said that my son had been made a Good Christian, and that I should never more have fear about the well-being of his soul, because he had been saved. And I believed this.

"Good Christians"
=
Baptised Cathars

=

Cathar Perfects

 

The ceremony described is the Cathar baptism

Present at this heretication were: myself, Alazaïs my daughter, Guillemette, the wife of Jean Clémens of Gebetz, my daughter, who was there, sick in another bed with a child, Sibille, the wife of Guillaume den Fort, Esclarmonde, the wife of Raimond Clergue, Guillaume Authié, Arnaud Faure and Guillaume Belot of Montaillou.

And after the heretic had hereticated my son, at the request of Guillaume Belot I adored this heretic by bending my knees before him; but I did not say "Bless us" because no one told me to.

"adored" - the inquisition's term for the Cathar ritual greeting of a Perfect.

 

heretication is the Inquisors' term for Cathar Baptism

Did you eat any bread blessed by this heretic?

No.

Baptised Cathars did not believe in transubstantiation (then a novelty). They did however bless bread,following the practice of the earliest Church.

Did you signal any intention to this heretic that you wished to be received into his faith and his sect?

No.

 

Did you have the will and the intention, if you were to become sick, to be received into the sect of these heretics?

No.

 

Did you give or send anything to these heretics?

No. But my daughter Alazaïs, one day, after the death of my son, told me, in a room attached to my house, that I would do well to give or send something to these Good Christians (that is to say, to the heretics) because it was a great charity to do well for them, because they did not dare work, because they would be arrested immediately and that they suffered persecutions for God. I told my daughter that they were not going to eat of my goods and that I would not send them anything and in the future she spoke no more of this to me.

 

Have you ever confessed this in true penance or for justice?

Not until now, because, even though I believed I had sinned, I did not think it was that serious.

 

Why have you come to confess now, since you have not confessed elsewhere?

Because I have understood that Bernard Clergue and his wife Raimonde have gone to Carcassonne to confess in this matter of heresy to My Lord the Inquisitor. This Bernard has brought with him Bernard Benet of Montaillou, and has hired him and promised him some land if he will avow and depose on the subject of the heretication of my son, against me, my daughter Alazaïs, Guillaume Authié and Arnaud Faure. This is why, having fear of being cited by My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, we have come to My Lord the Bishop to avow this, figuring that we will find greater mercy with him than with My Lord the Inquisitor.

 

From whom did you hear that Bernard Clergue has promised some land to Bernard Benet if he will go to Carcassonne to confess the heretication of your son before My Lord the Inquisitor against you and the others?

From Pierre Azéma of Montaillou.

 

Have you seen this heretic elsewhere or any others?

No.

 

Why, in the beginning, have you not told the entire truth, and have you not wished to remember it except with the greatest difficulty?

Because I was very afraid.

 

Have you been bribed, have you been instructed by anyone or any persons not to tell the truth in the beginning?

No.

 

Do you know any other person who is guilty in the matter of heresy and who has not yet confessed?

No.

 

Did Guillemette, your daughter, who was in bed when the heretic arrived, get up when he arrived or when he hereticated the sick boy or after?

No.

heretication is the Inquisors' term for Cathar Baptism

Did any of the others present adore the heretic after the heretication, except for you?

No.

"adore" - the inquisition's term for the Cathar ritual greeting of a Perfect.

And she said nothing more that was pertinent.

 

 

 

6 April 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

at the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers?

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, Dominican, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne.

Guillaume Audibert,

Brother Arnaud du Carla,

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe notary

 

 

 

Her preceding confession was read to her intelligibly in the vulgar tongue and she was asked if she wished to persist in it. She said yes, but added that which follows:

A few days after the death of my son, Guillemette Benet of Montaillou came to my house and found me speaking at the door of my house. She told me that I would do a great act of charity if I would send something to these Good Men (that is to say, the heretics) who did not dare to work out of fear of being arrested, and suffered numerous tribulations for God, saving the souls of men and women, who never did evil to anyone at all, and are Good Christians and the friends of God. Hearing this and believing it to be true, I gave Guillemette two woollen fleeces, so that she could give them to the heretics, so that they might pray God for the soul of my son. Guillemette took these fleeces, put them into the bosom of a cloak she was wearing and went on her way. Later, I do not know what she did with them, because I did not speak to her any more about what she did with them and because a short time after this she was arrested.

And she said nothing else pertinent.

Good Men = Cathar Perfects

 

 

7 April 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

at the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, Dominican, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne.

Guillaume Audibert,

Brother Bernard de Centelles,

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary

 

 

 

After this, the same year as above (1321), the 7th of April, the said Alamande, appearing judicially before my said Lord Bishop in the bishop's palace, in the presence of My Lord Guillaume Audibert, licensed in Law, Brother Bernard de Centelles, and myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary, said and avowed, under the faith of an oath previously taken, that Guillaume Fort, his brother, was present at this heretication, but she hid the fact because she did not wish that anything bad would come to him because of this. She also said that the second day after she had made her first confession, Pierre Clergue, the rector of Montaillou, passed before the granary of the bishop's palace of Pamiers, in which she was imprisoned. He asked her:

Have you confessed'

She said

yes,

and with this said, the curé passed on, and she heard him say, after he had passed, that her daughter and her son-in-law had been killed.

And she said nothing else pertinent.

 

 

 

17 April 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

at the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, Dominican, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne.

Guillaume Audibert,

Brother David, monk of the Abbey of Fontfroide,

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary

 

After this, the same year as above, the 17th month of April, the said Alamande appearing judicially before my said Lord Bishop in the presence of My Lord Guillaume Audibert, of Brother David and of myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, her preceding confessions were read to her intelligibly and in the vulgar tongue.

(Here follows a very long abjuration, detailing all the facts reported in her deposition)

 

I, Alamande Guilabert, appearing judicially before you, Reverend Father in Christ, Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, abjure entirely all heresy that rises against the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Roman Church, and all beliefs of heretics, of any sect condemned by the Roman Church, and especially of the sect which I followed, and all complicity, welcome, defense and frequenting of these heretics, under pain of punishment which is due in case of a relapse into the heresy here renounced judicially;

 

Item, I swear and promise to pursue according to my power the heretics of any sect condemned by the Roman Church and especially the sect that I followed, and the believers, followers, welcomers and defenders of these heretics, and those that I know or believe to be in flight for reason of heresy, and to have arrested and sent, according to my power, any heretic at all among them to my said Lord Bishop or to the Inquisitors of the heretical deviation at all times and in any place that I learn of the existence of the above said or one amongst them;

 

Item, I swear and promise to hold, guard and defend the Catholic faith which the Holy Roman Church preaches and observes;

 

Item, I swear and promise to obey and defer to the order of the Church, to My Lord the Bishop and the Inquisitors and to appear on the day and days assigned before them or their replacements, at all times and in whatever place that I receive the order or requisition on their part, by messenger or by letter or in some other way, to never flee not absent myself knowingly in a spirit of contumaciousness and to receive and accomplish according to my power the punishment and the penance that they may judge good to impose upon me. And to this effect I engage my person and all my goods.

 

 

 

30 June 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

at the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Bernard Faissier, official of Pamiers,

Guillaume Audibert,

Bernard Gaubert, jurist,

Hugues du Breuil, sacrist of the church of Pamiers,

Brother Jean Gailhard, monk of Fontfroide

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary

 

 

 

After this, the same year as above (1321), Thursday the 30th of July, the said Alamande, appearing judicially in the Episcopal Chamber of Pamiers before my said Lord Bishop, in the presence of the discreet person Master Bernard Faissier, official of Pamiers, of My Lord Guillaume Audibert, canon of Limoges, licensed in Law, of the discreet person Master Bernard Gaubert, jurist, of the religious persons My Lord Hugues du Breuil, sacrist of the church of Pamiers, Brother Jean Gailhard, monk of Fontfroide and of myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of my said Lord Bishop, witnesses for this convocation. The preceding confessions she had made were read to her intelligibly in the vulgar tongue and she was asked if they were true and if the things had actually happened in fact and reality as were reported therein. She said yes. Asked if she had confessed that which precedes under the influence of any other person or suborned by anyone, she said no, but that this was the truth. Asked if she wished to add or retract or propose anything for her defense, she said no, renounced and concluded and asked that sentence be given.

 

Done in the presence of the venerable and discreet persons My Lord Guillaume Audibert, canon of Limoges, Brothers Gaillard de Pomiès, Prior, Arnaud du Carla, O.P., of the convent of Pamiers, Pierre d'Annoires, companion of my said lord Inquisitor, and of us, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, rector of the church of Vira in the diocese of Pamiers, and Menet de Robécourg, of the diocese of Toul, who have written and received that which precedes.

 

 

 

2 August 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

At the Bishop's Tower (prison) in Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Bataille de Penne, notary

Jean Routinier, Rector of Génat.

Jacques de Montsaly, priest.

Pierre Rega, jailer of the tower.

 

 

 

After this, the same year as above, the 2nd of August, Bataille de Penne, notary of My Lord the Bishop, came on the order of the said lords Inquisitor and bishop to the tower of Pamiers of my said Lord Bishop, and there the said Bataille cited precisely and peremptorily the said Alamande, who was detained, to appear the same day before tierce in the cemetery Saint-Jean of Pamiers before them, there to hear sentence by reason of the above-mentioned facts avowed by her, and otherwise perform what was appropriate, an assignation which the said Alamande accepted of her own free will and spontaneously in the presence and witness of the rector of Génat, Jean Routinier, priest, of Jacques de Montsaly and of Pierre Rega, jailer of this tower.

 

 

 

2 August 1321

Alamande Guilabert, Widow of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou

Cemetery of Saint-Jean-Martyr, Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Inquisitor (Gaillard de Pomiès, Dominican, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne. ?)

Bataille, notary

 

 

 

On the day assigned above to the said Alamande, she appeared in the cemetery of Sain-Jean-Martyr as she had been ordered by the said Bataille and there the said lords bishop and Inquisitor proceeded to pronounce the sentence on the said Alamande in the following manner: "Let all know, etc." The said citation and also the sentence on this Alamande were received by the said Bataille and he received them in his protocol because I, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary commissioned by My Lord the Bishop in the facts touching the Catholic faith, was not able to be present because of the malady from which I am suffering. But I have brought them out of the notes of the said Bataille and have written them and inserted them in the present book on the order of my said Lord Bishop.

 

And I, Rainaud Jabbaud, cleric of Toulouse, sworn in the matter of the Inquisition, have, on the order of My Lord the Bishop, faithfully corrected the said confessions against the original.

 
   

 



 


Translation by Nancy Stork, San José State University - to whom many thanks for permission to reproduce this text.

Alamande's condemnation is contained in the same sentence as that of Alazaïs Faure, Hist. Inquisitionis, p. 287; Doat XXVII, folio 148 recto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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