Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Confession of Jean de Vienne


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Source Documents: Confession of Jean de Vienne

 

 

Introduction

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, created and conducted his own Episcopal inquisition in the first quarter of the fourteenth century. Questioning 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 and in most cases 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 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.
  • 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 the Wall in Carcassonne, or given a penance such as having to go on pilgrimage. They would also 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 acknowledge 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 immediately in the graveyard immediately after the sentence had been announced. There was no appeal.

 

Interrogation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 August 1319

Jean de Vienne
In the Epicopal Chamber of the Bishop's Palace in Pamiers

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne,

Pierre du Verdier, Archdeacon of Majorca,

 

 

this date does not match later interrogations.

 

Did they celebrate the feast of St-Lawrence on a different day?

Confession of Jean de Vienne, a Vaudois heretic:

Vaudois

In the year of the Lord 1319, the Saturday following the feast of Saint Lawrence (August 11), the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God, Bishop of Pamiers sitting in his episcopal seat, assisted by Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne and the venerable and discreet person My Lord Pierre du Verdier, Archdeacon of Majorca, had brought into his presence Jean de Vienne, who said he was a citizen of Vienne, whom the bishop had had detained in his prisons because of deeds concerning which he had been the object of denunciations, and of which he was strongly suspected. Wishing to hold an inquest with him concerning these deeds, he prescribed for him and ordered him several times to take an oath to tell the entire and pure truth on the object of this inquest, as much concerning himself as accused as concerning others living or dead, as witness and presenting him with a book containing the Holy Gospels of God.

 

This Jean said and responded that he would not take an oath of any sort and that he did not dare to do so, alleging as his reason the fact that in the past he had suffered from attacks or seizures, particularly in his head and arms and it was for this reason that he had made a promise never to take an oath, for any reason, even to tell the truth.

 

And thus he did not wish to take an oath, though asked to do so several times.

 

He added that he had heard, in the sermons of the Preachers and the Friars Minor and many other places he could not remember, that one ought not to take an oath.

 

Do you believe that taking an oath to tell the truth is a mortal sin?

I believe it is a sin, but not the sort of sin for which one would go to hell.

 

Do you believe that you could and ought to take an oath to save your physical life?

Yes.

 

Do you believe that in doing so you would sin mortally?

No, but nonetheless that would still be a sin.

 

Has someone taught you this, that you should never take an oath for any reason?

No, but I have heard it said by the Preachers and the Friars Minor.

 

Have you taught this to others?

No.

 

Do you believe that it is necessary to obey, in all things licit and honest, a prelate preacher, as long as he is tolerated by the Church?

Yes.

 

Do you believe that such a prelate who is a sinner, even if tolerated, can make a regular excommunication of his subordinates?

Yes. (And he gave the same response to the question: Can he sacramentally absolve sins, just like another who is not a sinner?)

 

Do you believe that My Lord the Bishop can release you from the promise that you have given not to take an oath?

Yes, but I believe that I would sin, although not gravely, if in taking an oath I were to go against this vow or promise.

 

Do you yourself believe that someone who is not specially mandated for this by the Church can preach in public and expound the word of God?

No, no one can do this without having been commissioned by My Lord the pope or the prelates of their region.

 

Do you believe that a man can celebrate mass or absolve sins without having been ordained and mandated for this end by the Church or by the prelates?

No.

 

Do you believe that assassins, brigands and other malefactors can be condemned physically to death by judges and sent to their death by law without sin?

Yes.

 

Do you believe that men who have confessed their sins and who die before having finished the penance which has been or ought to be prescribed to them, or those who die in a state of venial sin go to purgatory and do you believe that there is a purgatory in the next world?

Yes.

 

Do you believe that masses and other prayers and alms that one does for the dead whose souls are in purgatory are beneficial in any way?

Yes.

 

Do you believe that someone who possesses some property himself, or that a prelate or a rector who administers the goods of the Church can be perfect? -Yes. -Do you believe that our lord the pope John and the prelates of the holy Church have the authority and the power of God given to Saint Peter and the apostles?

Yes.

 

On March 9,1321, the said Jean was removed from the prison where he had been detained at the château des Allemans and brought before my said Lord Bishop, assisted by Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in the presence of My Lord Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of the Church of Pamiers, Brother Arnaud du Carla, of the order of Preachers of the convent of Pamiers, Brother David, monk of Fontfroide, Etienne Boy de Mirande of the diocese of Auch and of myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of my said Lord Bishop, witnesses to the convocation.

 

He was asked if he wished to take an oath to tell the truth as much concerning himself and others, on the accusation of heresy of the sect of the Vaudois, or the Poor of Lyons, or the Poor of Christ, or the discalced, My Lord the Bishop presenting him with a missal containing the Gospels; he responded that he would not take an oath because his heart told him not to.

 

Upon his refusal, my said Lord Bishop notified him of the decision according to canonical law, as is prescribed by the Roman pontiffs, to wit, that if someone is suspect in his faith, and appearing judiciarily does not wish to take an oath to tell the truth on the order of an ecclesiastical judge, he should be considered a heretic until he repents. This is why My Lord the Bishop ordered him to take an oath to tell the truth entirely and purely concerning himself and others living or dead, concerning the leader of heresy of this sect, without which he would be considered a heretic of the said sect. He responded that he would not take an oath of any sort.

 

You have sworn elsewhere and before My Lord the Bishop, and before Brother Jean de Beaune, Inquisitor in the realm of France commissioned by the Apostolic See. Do you believe that you have thus sinned gravely?

I repent very much having sworn. I have sinned gravely and I feel guilty.

 

Would you believe yourself to sin if you were to swear now to tell the truth in matters of faith?

I believe so.

 

Would you believe yourself to sin mortally, such that you would be damned if you were not to confess and repent of doing so?

I do not believe that I would be damned for having sworn one time to tell the truth, but if I were to swear many times, I do not know; I do not know what to believe on this subject.

 

Do you believe that there is a purgatory in the next world, in which venial sins can be atoned for, and mortal sins that have not been fully atoned for during life can also be atoned for?

I do not believe there is a purgatory in the next world.

 

Do you believe that prayers, masses and other benefits that the church provides for the dead serve any purpose?

They are worth nothing.

 

For how long have you believed this?

About twelve years.

 

Who taught you this?

(Refusal to respond.)

 

The above said Lord Bishop warned him one time, two times, three times, and again peremptorily, under pain of the excommunication that he would pronounce against him based on the present writings, to have him say immediately what person or persons had taught him these errors, and by whom he was instructed. He responded that he would not tell.

 

Do you believe that you will be excommunicated by the sentence that My Lord the Bishop is about to pronounce on you?

If my other sins are sufficient to render me worthy of eternal damnation, I believe that I will be damned because of them; but I do not believe that if I were to die having been excommunicated, I would be damned for that reason, if I did not have other sins which would cause me to be damned.

 

The Roman pontiffs have rendered such sentence of excommunication for a long time against those who say that it is a sin to take an oath to tell the truth, when one is required to do so, and above all in matters of faith, and against those who deny purgatory and state that the benefits of the Church are not useful to the dead in purgatory. This being said, you have avowed that you have fallen into these errors. Do you believe you are excommunicated, and do you believe that if you were to die in a state of excommunication you would be damned?

God can excommunicate and condemn me, but for this excommunication, I do not believe I would be damned.

 

Do you believe that the one who would force you to take an oath commits a sin?

Yes, because God ordered us not to take oaths. But since He did not say that one who takes an oath will die or be damned, I do not know if taking an oath is a mortal sin or not, and since taking oaths is forbidden by God, someone who forces someone else to take an oath sins, whether it be a mortal or a venial sin.

 

Do you believe that if you are condemned to death by reason of what you have avowed to believe, you will be saved?

Yes, if I do not have any other sins. -

 

Do you believe that the king of France and the other lords having temporal jurisdiction can, with justice and without sin, put to death or have put to death malefactors, for instance, murderers, highway brigands, heretics and other evil-doers?

I do not know, but I understand very well what God has ordained: "Thou shalt not kill." After this my said Lord Bishop told him to take an oath that he had said the truth in that which precedes. He added that he held and persisted in the preceding deposition and that he wished to live and die in it.

 

On March 13, having been removed from prison and appearing in the room of the château des Allemans before My Lord the Bishop, assisted by Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in the presence of My Lord Germain de Castelnau, the Brothers David and Arnaud du Carla, and of myself, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, witnesses, he was asked, after his deposition was read to him intelligibly and in the vulgar tongue, if he wished to persist in this deposition. He replied yes. Asked again by my said Lord Bishop, who presented him with a missal containing the Gospels, if he wished to take an oath, he replied no, because he believed it to be a sin to take an oath. And when My Lord the Bishop ordered him to take an oath to tell the truth in the cause of faith, he responded that he would not take an oath for him.

 

Who taught you these errors?

It was Jean de Lorrain, our majoral, who taught me this about twelve years ago in a house in Toulouse near to Saint-Sernin. In this house I saw Jean with six others of our sect, of whom one was called Etienne, another Garnier, and another Jean; I do not know their last names nor the names of the other three. I stayed to eat with Jean the majoral, until just after dinner, and after dinner I left. This Jean taught me these errors, and in teaching them to me, he held a book in his hand and read the Gospel in the vulgar tongue. It was then that I believed and I believe still.

 

I was sent to this Jean by Jean Mourier, who was then at Béziers. While I was a Cabezac, he sent me someone of his acquaintance to tell me to come to Toulouse and that I would find Jean le Lorrain there in the Great Street behind Saint-Sernin. I then went to find him in a house which is close to the Great Street near Saint-Sernin; there was a large tower next to this house and the house was formed on the exterior by the rampart and on the interior by the walls; there was an atelier in the house.

 

Were you made a deacon by Jean?

No.

 

Did he impose his hands on your head?

No.

 

Did you confess your sins to him?

No.

 

Did you promise him to be faithful or to be part of his sect?

No.

 

What sort of relations did you have with Jean Mourier?

I saw him earlier at Toulouse, but I do not remember the street or the house. He sent me, as I have said, to Toulouse to change his coins into florins, which I did. He arrived when I was in Toulouse to see Jean le Lorrain, and I gave him his florins. After that I returned to Provence all alone.

 

About three years before being arrested, I saw Raimond de la Côte at Montpellier, in Sannarie (i.e. butcher) Street in a house whose windows were trimmed in red; he had company there, I believe, but I did not see any of them. I drank with him, without knowing that he was of the sect, and I did not know this while I was staying in the city of Pamiers.

 

Have you done any commissions for Jean le Lorrain, for Raimond or for any other of your sect?

No.

 

Was Huguette, who was arrested, part of your sect?

Yes, she told me this before I was to marry her and I only loved her more as a result. She was in the sect before me, which I knew from her.

 

Would you obey My Lord the pope if he were to order you to take an oath? Would you believe him if he told you that there is a purgatory or that the benefits for the dead serve a purpose?

No.

 

Do you persist in the present deposition?

Yes.

 

(March 16th.)

 

Do you believe that temporal lords having temporal jurisdiction can legitimately and without sin put malefactors to death?

I do not know, and I do not know what to believe concerning this point.

 

Do you believe that the indulgences of the Church are worthwhile?

I do not know and I do not know what to believe concerning this point.

 

Do you believe that Jean le Lorrain can absolve you of your sins?

I do not know and I do not know what to believe concerning this point.

 

Have you seen any other members of the sect besides him?

No

 

Have you been the intermediary for one or more persons in this sect?

No, unless it concerns what I have confessed above.

 

Do you believe that you are subject to the pope?

No, but only to God, and it is for His sake that I do not retract what I have said above.

 

I believe the seven articles of faith, of which the first is that there is one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, without beginning and without end.

trinity

The second is that God -- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- is the unique creator of all that is, visible and invisible.

not dualists

The third is that God gave the Law to Moses so that he might teach it to the children of Israel.

not gnostic

The fourth is the incarnation of Christ.

docetetes

The fifth is that Christ has chosen a glorious Church, having neither sin nor stain.

RC

The sixth is the resurrection of all men.

gnostic / docetes

The seventh is the universal judgment of all men by Christ.

 

I believe also in the seven sacraments of the Church, which is to say, baptism, penance, eucharist, marriage, unction with oil, imposition of hands, and the sacrament of ordination, which consists of three orders: episcopal, presbyteral and deaconal

imposition of hands ~ confirmation

Do you believe that there are any other orders in the church beyond these three?

I do not believe so.

 

Who taught you to distinguish the articles of faith and the seven sacraments and to divide the sacrament of ordination into three orders?

About two years ago, at Avignon in Provence, a woman named Jacqueline, who lived near the threshing house, taught me this. She knew how to read and was about 40 years old.

 

What was her last name?

I do not know; she kept a hotel.

 

Who was present?

Me and this woman.

 

Do you believe that what she taught you is true?

Yes.

 

(He did not wish to specify in any other way who this woman was, but he said that she was not a native of Avignon.)

 

After this my said Lord Bishop and Brother Gaillard warned at once and prayed the said Jean charitably to renounce the errors that he had believed and avowed to believe and to return to the faith and truth of the Roman Church, without which they told him that he would be charged as an obstinate and impenitent heretic, according to the canonical institutions. He replied that he persisted and intended to persist in this belief and to live and die in it. They implored him once again to tell the complete truth about himself and others, living or dead and they gave him a delay to deliberate and reflect in order to respond to the above, eight days from now, at the château des Allemans.

 

 

 

 

18 March 1319

Jean de Vienne
at the Château des Allemans

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne,

David

Arnaud du Carla

notary

 

 

After this, the same year as above (1319), on the 18th of March, the said Jean, brought out of prison and appearing judiciarily in the Château des Allemans before my said Lord Bishop, assisted by Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in the presence of the religious persons Brother David and Arnaud du Carla, and of myself notary, above-mentioned, was asked, before the day assigned to him by My Lord, if he wished to abandon the errors that he had avowed to have believed and believe, according to the terms of his previous avowals. He said that he wished to persist in the errors he had avowed.

 

 

 

 

23 March 1319

Jean de Vienne
at the Château des Allemans

 

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne,

Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of Pamiers

David

Arnaud du Carla

notary

 

 

On the day fixed above, to wit, the 23rd of March, the said Jean, brought out of prison and appearing judiciarily before My Lord the Bishop assisted by Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in the presence of the religious persons My Lord Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of Pamiers, Brothers David and Arnaud du Carla, and myself, notary, My Lord the Bishop expounded for him the heretical articles that he had sworn to have believed, which are the following:

 

I) That to take an oath to tell the truth, when one is asked to do so in a court and particularly in a matter of faith, is a sin.

 

II) That in the next world, there is no purgatory in which one purges one's venial sins, and where one can fulfill penance for mortal sins for which one has not had sufficient time to atone for in the present life.

 

III) That prayers, masses and alms and other pious works do not serve for the more rapid release of souls in purgatory from the pain that they suffer for their sins.

 

IV) That excommunication, ritually and canonically administered by one in power over his subordinate has no power to exclude one from the kingdom of God and the spiritual goods contained within the Church.

 

V) That secular or ecclesiastical powers having temporal jurisdiction sin when they put to death those of their subjects that are malefactors.

 

VI) That he does not believe he is subject to the Roman pontiff, unless he orders him to do the same thing that God orders.

 

VII) That there are only three orders in the church, to wit the episcopal, the presbyteral, and the deaconal.

 

And he warned him and prayed him at once to cease believing these heretical articles which he said he believed and to abjure them according to the formulas of the church and to abjure also all articles of the Vaudois heresy and all other heresy raising itself up against the knowledge of God and the holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman Church. He responded that he wished to persist in his belief in these articles, just as he had confessed, that he did not wish to abjure, but that he wished to live and die in his faith. Asked if he wished to take an oath that he believed these errors and wished to persist in them, and live and die in them, he said that he would not take an oath. Warned frequently and implored to let go of these said errors, he replied that he would not do so, and told My Lord Bishop to speak to him no more of this and to stop asking him to give up his belief.

 

And he concluded in the present case and asked for judgment on the above. (April 7th at Allemans, before the bishop and Gaillard de Pomiès, in the presence of Guillaume Audibert, licensé (Master) in Laws and Bachelor in Decretals, Brothers David and Arnaud du Carla, and of Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary.)
The preceding articles were read to him intelligibly and in the vulgar tongue and he was asked and implored by the bishop to abjure these heretical articles and beliefs. He responded that he would abjure nothing of what he had confessed, but that he would persevere and wished to persevere without retracting any of them.

 

(May 21st in the room des Allemans, before the bishop and Brother Gaillard de Pomiès in the presence of Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon, the Brothers Raimond Sens, Raimond Barthe, Arnaud du Carla, O.P., David, monk of Fontfroide, and Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary.)

 

The seven errors of the sect of the Vaudois or the Poor of Lyons were read to him and he was asked if he wished to abandon and abjure them and all other heresy. He said no, but that he wished to persevere in his depositions.

 

(The 17th of July in the room des Allemans before the bishop and Gaillard de Pomiès, in the presence of Brother Arnaud du Carla of the convent of Pamiers O.P., Bertrand Barrau, priest, Bataille de Penne, notary and Guilaume Peyre-Barthe, notary, witnesses called together for this purpose.)

 

These errors which he claimed to believe were once again expounded intelligibly to him in the vulgar tongue and My Lord the Bishop told him that these articles were erroneous; then he was summoned to leave behind these errors and heresies and to abjure them with a vow. He responded that he would not retract or abjure any of these articles. And when the bishop told him that without doing so he would be judged by the Church to be an obstinate and impenitent heretic, he replied that he would not leave behind these errors for any reason.

 

After this, on July 31st, the said Jean Fustier of Vienne, brought out of the prison of the château des Allemans, appeared in the chamber of the said château before My Lord the Bishop and the religious persons Brothers Jean de Beaune and Bernard Gui, Inquisitors for the heretical deviation in the realm of France, commissioned by the Apostolic See. Ordered to take an oath to tell the truth on the facts of heresy and especially concerning the sect of the Vaudois or discalced, as much concerning himself as others both living and dead, he did not wish to take an oath. Interrogated as to his reason, he said that he did not have the heart to take an oath.

 

My said lords bishop and Inquisitors told him and demonstrated expressly that as canon law prescribes he was being formally warned that whoever, appearing before his judge and required to take an oath to tell the truth concerning both deed and faith, refused obstinately to take this oath, must be condemned as a heretic. The said Jean did not say anything more than he said above and replied that he would not take an oath.

 

All of the deeds avowed by him were read to him in their entirety and recounted intelligibly in the vulgar tongue; and he was told that they contained numerous and diverse errors and heresies against the catholic faith and the holy Roman Church.

 

And for this reason My Lords the bishop and Inquisitors above-mentioned summoned him and asked him one time, two times, three times, and more, to retract these errors and heresies formally and to abandon them and return to the unity of the Catholic faith and the holy Church. He said he would retract all that was evil or erroneous in his avowals. But he would not retract them by taking an oath and refused quite pointedly to take an oath for any cause whatsoever, saying and declaring that he wished to live and die in what he had deposed and understood on this subject, considering himself to be finished with this present affair.

 

Done in the presence of My Lord Guillaume Audibert, canon of Limoges, Brother Pierre de Nores, Pierre Sicard, companions of my said lord Inquisitors, David and Jean Guilhard, monks of Fontfroide in the diocese of Narbonne, Guillaume Julia, notary of the Inquisitor of Toulouse, Menet de Robécourt, notary of the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, and Bataille de Penne, notary of My Lord the Bishop, who received and wrote this last redaction of the confession of the said Jean.

 

After this, on August 1st, Bataille de Penne, notary of my said Lord Bishop, on the order of the said bishop and Inquisitors, came personally to the château des Allemans, and there cited precisely and peremptorily the said Jean to appear in person the following day, the second day of the above-mentioned month, in the cemetery of SaintJean de Pamiers, before the afore-mentioned bishop and Inquisitors, there to hear sentence on his confession in the matter of heresy before the said lords bishop and Inquisitors. The said Jean accepted this day purely and simply of his own free will, in the present of Garnot, the gaoler of the said château, of Esclarmonde, wife of Master Marc Rival and the wife of the said Garnot.

 

On the day affixed above, the said Jean appeared in the cemetery of Saint-JeanMartyr, as he had been ordered by the said Bataille and there the said lords bishop and Inquisitors proceeded to pronounce the sentence that follows: "Let all know, etc." (See this sentence in the Book of the Sentences of the Inquisition."

 

(The above mentioned citation and the sentence were both received by the said Bataille and inscribed in his notebook, because I, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary delegated by My Lord the Bishop in all cases concerning the Catholic faith, could not assist because of a sickness from which I suffered at that time; I have nonetheless extracted that which precedes from the notes of the said Bataille and have written and placed 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 above-named, faithfully corrected these confessions against the original.)

 

 

 

Because Bernard Gui was present at the interrogation of August 2, 1321 the sentence of Jean appears in the Book of the Sentences of the Inquisition of Toulouse. This was published by Limborch in 1692.

Here is the full text:

 

"In the name of the Lord. Amen.

 

Since we Jacques, by the permission of God Bishop of Pamiers, and Brother B. Gui, and Brother Jean de Beaune,O.P, Inquisitors general in the realm of France and particularly in the region of Toulouse, Carcassonne and environs, as commissioned by the Apostolic See, have discovered the inquisitions held by the above-mentioned bishop and by the religious person Brother Gaillard, substitute for the said Brother Jean, Inquisitor in this country as elsewhere, we herewith relate the admissions, affirmations, and confession of Jean de Vienne, citizen of Vienne and of Huguette his wife (confession judiciarily repeated), and do declare:

 

- that the said Jean, being suspect of heresy of the sect of those that are called Vaudois or the Poor of Lyons was detained by us, bishop, and held in our prisons;

 

- that he was required by us, the above-mentioned bishop, to swear to tell the truth on the points concerning which we wished to inquire:

 

- that he refused to take an oath, advancing a fictitious cause for his refusal, to wit that in swearing once before he had fallen into epilepsy;

 

- that he did not wish to swear and would not swear, although asked to many times; that he added upon interrogation, that to swear even to tell the truth was a sin;

 

- that several months after he was first suspected of heresy, asked at that time to swear to tell the truth, he took an oath; that since he had said earlier that to take an oath was a sin, he was asked now to say why he had sworn at that time; that he did not wish to respond or account clearly for his faith;

 

Since he had arrived in the company of Raimond de la Côte, judged to be a declared heretic of the Vaudois sect; that, in this inquiry he was known to have seen the said Raimond in many places, to have spoken with him and frequented his company;

- that as a result, requested canonically and judiciarily with many repetitions, to tell the truth concerning the leader of the heresy of Waldoism (or the Poor of Lyons) he refused entirely to take an oath;

 

- that we, the above-mentioned bishop, signified and explicated to him the written law by virtue of which anyone who, suspect in his faith appearing in court and required to take an oath to tell the truth, refused to take the oath, must be condemned as a heretic; that he did not wish to take an oath of any kind; that he said on the contrary that he regretted having taken an oath earlier before us, the above-mentioned bishop and the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, saying that in swearing he had gravely sinned, and that he believed he would sin if he were to swear again; and that he did not wish to take any more oaths to tell the truth, even if required to do so in an affair of faith in court.

refusal to take an oath is sufficience cause for execution as a heretic

- Item, that he did not believe that the prayers, masses and other benefits that people do for the dead in the church are useful to them after this life;

 

Item, that he said that he had been of this belief for about twelve years;

 

Item, that although required under pain of the sentence of excommunication given in advance against him in the procedure, if he did not denounce those who had taught him this and his accomplices in his sect, he did not wish to denounce them in any manner;

 

Item, that he said he believed that this sentence of excommunication would not bring him to damnation;

 

Item, that it was explained to him that those who say taking an oath to tell the truth is a sin and those who deny that there is a purgatory for souls after this life and those who say that the benefits of the Church do not have any value for the dead are to be excommunicated; and he said and affirmed that he believed he would not be damned by an excommunication of this sort;

 

Item, that anyone who would force him to take an oath would sin, because the Lord has said that one must not swear;

 

Item, that he believed he would be saved if he was condemned to death for these reasons;

 

Item, required to say if the secular powers who condemn to death those such as assassins and malefactors who are worthy of it sin in doing so, he said that he did not know what to believe because the Lord has said, "Thou shalt not kill."

 

Item, he said and affirmed that he wished to persist, persevere, live and die in the above declarations, and after frequent requests, he still would not take an oath; Item, he recognized and affirmed that Jean, named Lorrain, the majoral of his sect, to wit the Vaudois, taught him all that precedes; that he and six others of the sect lived with him of whom one was called Etienne, the other Gautier and the third Jean, for about twelve years and that since then he believed this and believes it still;

 

Since he said that he did not believe My Lord the pope and would not obey him if he told him that it is permitted to take an oath to tell the truth, that there is indeed a purgatory and the benefits of the Church are useful to the dead;

 

item that he said he did not believe himself to be subject to My Lord the pope, but to God alone, and it was not for him that he would abandon or retract these errors;

 

Since it was then told and explained to the said Jean that if he did not retract these errors and abandon them, he would be prosecuted as an impenitent and obstinate heretic; that he responded that he would persist and wished to live and die in them and did not wish to renounce in any way these said errors, to wit:

 

- that to take an oath to tell the truth or otherwise is a sin;

 

- that there is no purgatory after this life;

 

- that the benefits that one does for the dead do not serve for anything after this life;

 

- that excommunication, however formally and canonically it is done, cannot exclude anyone from the realm of God and spiritual goods;

 

- that secular powers, even when they have jurisdiction, sin when they put malefactors to death;

 

- that he did not believe he was subject to the Roman pontiff, unless he were to order the same thing as God;

 

- that there are only three orders in the Church: episcopal, presbyteral and deaconal;

 

Since he did not wish to budge from these errors nor to abjure them, although he was implored many times, warned frequently and required canonically;

...(Here follow the charges against Huguette)....

 

We, the bishop and Inquisitors above-mentioned, having taken counsel from many wise and religious persons, experts in canon and civil law,

 

in order that the sick sheep may not continue to infect the healthy sheep in the flock of the Lord, in the presence of the said Jean and Huguette his wife, formally and peremptorily cited at this time and place to hear judgment, having God alone and the purity of the faith before our eyes, the sacrosanct Gospels of God placed before us, so that our judgment might proceed before the face of God and that our eyes may see equity, Sitting in tribunal, we declare and pronounce them impenitent and obstinate heretics of the sect of the heretical Vaudois or the Poor of Lyons by definitive sentence in the present writings, and as such we abandon them to the judgment of the secular jurisdiction, praying this jurisdiction, in conformity to canonical disposition, not to proceed in their judgment up to the pain of death and the mutilation of members.

sicness

hipocrisy

Pronounced the year, day, place and in the presence of the witnesses and notaries above."

 

 

 

Jean and Huguette were burned on 8 May, the same day, as well as Guillaume Fort.

The secular authorities knew better than to take the Inquisitor's request for mercy at face value - had they done so, they themselves would have been cited by the Inquisition.

The Vaudois, or Poor of Lyons, had started of as Roman Catholics, but translated and read the bible which led them to diverge ever further from orthodoc Catholic belief. This trial captures a stage where Vaudoise evidently

  • refused to swear oathes (in conformity to ????)
  • condemned all killing (in conformity to the Commandment "Thou shalt not kill")
  • rejected purpatury (a relatively new, non-biblical doctrine)
  • rejected the efficacy of prayers or other earthly actions for the dead
  • denied the authority of the pope (in particular to excommunicate, or to override biblical injunctions)
  • accepted only three Clerical Orders (ie the "Major Orders", but not the "Minor Orders")

These counts might all be considered as what would later be called "reformed" or "Protestant".

Any one of them would be sufficient to justify the death sentence.

 
   

 

 

 

 


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

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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