Dominic is now venerated as St Dominic, and is regarded by many Christians as one of the most holy men ever to have lived. Dominic's legacy has certainly been spectacular. As well as running various Inquisitions, Dominicans monopolised medieval philosophy leading it into the barren desert of scholasticism where it languished until revived by Enlightenment thinkers, not a single significant advance having been made for centuries (except, arguably, by heretical Franciscans).
Modern Dominicans consistently deny that Dominic ever exercised the office of Inquisitor, pointing out that the Papal Inquisition was formally constituted only after Dominic's death. Some see this as perhaps a little disingenouous, since Inquisitors were operating on the authority of papal legates under Innocent III well before the institution of the Inquisition reporting directly to the Pope was given a formal charter. Below is conclusive evidence that Dominic was an authorised Inquisitor even before the start of the Wars against the Cathars in 1209.
Dominic's canonisation in 1234 was marked by a revealing incident at Toulouse. The bishop, Raimon de Fauga, and a number of Dominican friars had just solemnly celebrated the admission of their new Saint into heaven. As they were leaving the church for a celebratory feast, news arrived that a dying woman in the city had just received the Cathar Consolamentum. The bishop, the Dominican prior and his Dominican retinue promptly set off to deal with this crime. They found the woman at home in bed, gravely ill.
The men of God entered the house where she lay dying. In her delirium she mistook the Catholic bishop for a Cathar bishop and confessed to him her wish to die a good death. At this, and without any sort of trial, the bishop had her removed from the house. Lying on her deathbed, she was carried to a nearby field and there burned alive still in her bed. Their holy mission complete the bishop, prior and friars retired to enjoy their celebratory banquet, having first given thanks "to God and the Blessed Dominic". The Inquisitor Guillaume de Pélhisson recorded the event, pointing out that " God performed these works ... to the glory and praise of His name ... to the exaltation of the Faith and to the discomfiture of the heretics". As both Catholics and non-Catholics have observed at different times, it was a most suitable way to mark Dominic Guzman's canonisation.
Dominc Guzman's own record is recognised in the special language of the Catholic Encyclopedia, which sometimes appears carefully crafted to carry a subtly different message to the devout reader than it does to those familiar with history:
From a secular point of view there was no harm at all in the Cathars, and no reason for them to be even mildly persecuted, let alone burned alive. Yet it is not difficult to find Roman Catholic authorities who seek to justify the Church's genocide and make out that it acted for the best. This is as close as the Catholic Encyclopaedia comes to admitting fault:
Ecclesiastical authority, after persuasion had failed, adopted a course of severe repression, which led at times to regrettable excess.
A Handbook of Heresies, approved by a Roman Catholic Censor and bearing the Imprimatur of the Vicar General at Westminster, refers to Guzmán's "heroic exercise of fraternal charity". His failure as a preacher is not mentioned, nor the fact that even using trickery and torture almost no Parfaits could be induced to abandon their faith. The thousands of Cathar deaths are not referred to except in the most oblique terms:
And the opportunity is taken to condemn Cahar beliefs once again:
There is not a hint of remorse or regret for the holocaust, and one can only assume that, if it could, the Roman Church would act in the same way again if similar circumstances arose in the future, lead perhaps by another charismatic leader like Saint Dominic.
In the 1960s a Belgian Dominican nun known as The Singing Nun had a hit record with a song called Dominique, all about Guzmán's life, including his role in crushing Catharism in the Languedoc - the song has him converting a heretic, which is perhaps less than a full representation of historical reality. The song was a number 1 hit in the UK and the USA. Its jolly tune provides a bizarre counterpoint to the reality of Guzmán's life, his war mongering, his Dominican Order and the horrors of the Inquisition. The Singing Nun committed suicide in 1985.
The Words to Dominique by the Singing Nun
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 1153),
Fulk came from a Genoese merchant family in Marseille. He was also a wealthy citizen with some renoun. A contemporary (John of Garlande) later described him as "renowned on account of his spouse, his progeny, and his home." A troubadour, and known as Folquet, he began composing songs in the 1170s and was known to Raymond Geoffrey II of Marseille, Richard the Lionheart, Raymond V of Toulouse, Raymond-Roger of Foix, Alfonso II of Aragon and William VIII of Montpellier.
His love songs were lauded by Dante. There are 14 surviving cansos, one tenson, a lament, an invective, three crusading songs and one religious song (although its authorship is disputed). Like other troubadours, he was credited by biographies of the Troubadours with having conducted love affairs with noblewomen about whom he sang (and with causing William VIII of Montpellier to divorce his wife, Eudocia Comnena).
Folquet's life changed around 1195 when he renounced his former ways and abandoned his family for the Catholic Church. He joined the Cistercian Order and entered the monastery of Thoronet (Var, France). He placed his wife and two sons in monastic institutions as well.
He soon rose in prominence as a Cistercian and was elected abbot of Thoronet. As abbot he helped found the sister house of Géménos to house women, possibly including his abandoned wife.
A few years later Papal legates - fellow Cistercians - deposed the Bishop of Toulouse, Raymond (Ramon) de Rabastens, and were probably instrumental in arranging Folquet's nomination for the position in 1205.
As Bishop of Toulouse, Folquet (now referred to as Fulk, sometimes Fulk of Toulouse (Folquet de Tolosa, Foulques de Toulouse) took an active role in combating Catharism, the favoured religion of the area. Throughout his Episcopal career he sought to encourage Catholic religious enthusiasm and suppress other forms of Christianity (primarily Cathar and Waldensian). In 1206 he created what would later become the convent of Prouille near to Fanjeaux to offer women a religious community that would rival similar existing nearby Cathar institutions.
When a preaching mission led by his fellow Cistercians failed to make any impression other than attracting popular derision, he participated in a preaching mission led by Bishop Diego of Osma. He continued to support this new form of preaching after Bishop Diego's death by supporting Diego's successor Dominic de Guzmán (later Saint Dominic) and his followers, eventually allotting them property and a portion of the tithes of Toulouse to ensure their continued success. (They soon developed into the Dominican Order and Prouille became a Dominican convent).
Because of his abrasive style, Bishop Fulk had tumultuous relations with his diocese, exacerbated by his support of the Cathar Crusade, widely perceived then as now as a war of aggression against Toulouse and the whole region - then independent but annexed to France when the aggression proved successful.
Hated by Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse and by many Toulousains he abandoned Toulouse on 2 April 1211, after the Crusaders laid siege to Lavaur. Soon afterwards he instructed all clerics to leave the city of Toulouse.
He was present at the siege of Lavaur in April-May 1211, which ended in a massacre; he then travelled north to France, where he preached the Albigensian Crusade alongside a fellow Cistercian Guy of les Vaux-de-Cernay. He then returned to the south, participating in the Council of Pamiers in November 1212, in the Council of Lavaur in January 1213, in the meeting with King Peter II of Aragon on 14 January 1213. He was present at the Battle of Muret on 12 September 1213, and at the Council of Montpellier in January 1215. There he was instructed by the Papal legate, Peter of Benevento, to take possession of the Château Narbonnais, the Count's residence, at Toulouse and so returned to the city in February 1215.
In July 1215 Folk issued a diocesan letter instituting Dominic Guzman's brotherhood of preachers which became the Domincan Order. In November 1215 he and Dominic, with Guy de Montfort, attended the Fourth Lateran Council.
Toulousains rebelled in August 1216 against Simon IV de Montfort, their new lord according to the Fourth Lateran Council. Foulques' attempted settlement led to further violence. He tried to relinquish his position but his requests to the pope were declined.
In October 1217, when Simon de Montfort was besieging Toulouse, he sent a group of sympathisers to Paris to plead for the help of the French king, Philippe Augustus. This group included Fulk as well as Simon's wife, the countess Alix de Montmorency. They returned in May 1218, bringing a party of new Crusaders including Amaury de Craon. Fulk spent much of the following decade outside his diocese, assisting the crusading army and the Church's attempts to subdue the region. He was at the Council of Sens in 1223.
After the Peace of Paris ended the Cathar Crusade in 1229, Fulk returned to Toulouse and began to construct further institutions - in addition to the Dominican Inquisition - designed to control the region and extirpate the Cathars. He helped to create the University of Toulouse and also administered an Episcopal Inquisition.
Though pressured by Innocent III to take an active role in the Crusade against the Cathars, Philip repeatedly declined, though he did encourage his vassals to join the crusade.
After a twelve years struggle with the Plantagenet dynasty, Philip broke up the great Angevin Empire and defeated a coalition of his rivals (German, Flemish and English) at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. This victory would have a lasting impact on western European politics: the authority of the French king became unchallenged, while the English king was forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta and faced a rebellion in which Philip and his son (the future Louis VIII) intervened.
Philip was nicknamed "Augustus" by the chronicler Rigord for having extended the royal demesne, the domains ruled directly by the kings of France, as opposed to the territories ruled indirectly by vassals of the king. Philip Augustus transformed France from a small feudal state into the most prosperous and powerful country in Europe.
Louis VIII, the Lion (5 September 1187 8 November 1226) reigned from 1223 to 1226. He was also disputed King of England from 1216 to 1217. Louis VIII was born in Paris, the son of Philip II and Isabelle of Hainaut from whom he would inherit the County of Artois.
While Louis VIII ruled as king for only three years, he was an active leader in his years as Crown Prince. In 1215, the English barons rebelled in the First Barons' War against the unpopular King John of England (11991216). The barons offered the throne to Prince Louis, who landed unopposed on the Isle of Thanet in eastern Kent, England at the head of an army on 21 May 1216. There was little resistance when the prince entered London and Louis was proclaimed King at St Paul's Cathedral with great pomp and celebration in the presence of all of London. Even though he was not crowned, many nobles, as well as King Alexander II of Scotland, gathered to pay homage. On 14 June 1216, Louis captured Winchester and soon controlled over half of the kingdom. He was proclaimed "King of England" in London on the 2 June 1216. Just as it seemed that England was under his control, King John's death in October 1216 caused many of the rebellious barons to desert Louis in favour of William Marshall, Regent for John's nine-year-old son, Henry III.
Under William Marshall, a call for the English "to defend our land" against the French led to a reversal of fortunes on the battlefield. After Louis' army was beaten at Lincoln on 20 May 1217, and his naval forces (led by Eustace the Monk) were defeated off the coast of Sandwich on 24 August 1217, he was forced to make peace on English terms. The principal provisions of the Treaty of Lambeth were an amnesty for English rebels, Louis to undertake not to attack England again, and 10,000 marks to be given to Louis as a face-saving measure. The effect of the treaty was that Louis agreed he had never been the legitimate King of England.
Before decamping back to France he stole the relics of Saint Edmund the Martyr from the abbey at Bury-Saint-Edmunds, and would later deposit them at Saint Sernin in Toulouse.
From 1209 to 1215 the Albigensian Crusade had been largely successful for the northern forces, but this was followed by a series of local rebellions from 1215 to 1225 that undid many of these earlier gains, especially after the death of Simon de Montfort.
His English adventure over, Louis turned to fighting the Duke of Aquitain (also Henry III, King of England) and the Count of Toulouse. Louis VIII started the conquest of Guyenne, leaving only a small region around Bordeaux to Henry III. Louis was a devout and keen crusader, and distinguished himself by massacres that disturbed even his own war hardened troops, notably when he oversaw the atrocity at Marmande in 1219.
Louis VIII succeeded his father on 14 July 1223; his coronation took place on 6 August of the same year in the cathedral at Reims. As King, he continued to seek revenge on the Angevins, seizing Poitou and Saintonge. In 1225, the council of Bourges excommunicated the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VII, and declared a renewed crusade against the people of the Languedoc. Louis renewed the conflict in order to enforce his royal rights, Amaury de Montfort having sold his feudal rights to Louis. Roger Bernard II (the Great), Count of Foix, tried to keep the peace, but the king rejected his embassy and took up arms against the Counts of Foix and the Count of Toulouse. The took Avignon after a three-month siege, but he did not complete the conquest before his death. While returning to Paris, King Louis VIII became ill with dysentery and died in the Château de Montpensier, on Monday 8 November 1226. The troubadour Guilhem Figueira commented in D'un sirventes far en est son que m'agenssa "Rome, you killed good King Louis because with your false preaching, you lured him away from Paris". His son, Louis IX (122670), succeeded him on the French throne.
Louis VIII had thirteen children by Blanche of Castile:
Blanche was the third daughter of Alphonso VIII, King of Castile, and of Eleanor of England, daughter of Henry II. Under a treaty between Philippe Augustus and King John of England, she had married Louis VIII. When Philip died Louis, their son and the heir to Kingdom of France (Louis IX), was twelve years old. Blanche ruled as regent until he came of age in 1236.
The regency of Blanche of Castile (1226-1234) was marked by the victorious struggle of the Crown against her cousine Raymond VII of Toulouse in the Languedoc, against Pierre Mauclerc in Brittany, against Philip Hurepel in the Ile de France, and by indecisive combats against Henry III, King of England. In this period of disturbances the queen was supported by the legate Frangipani, whith whom she was widely roumoured to be engaged in a sexual relationship.
Accredited to Louis VIII by Honorius III as early as 1225, Frangipani won over to the French cause the sympathies of Gregory IX, who was inclined to listen to Henry II, and through his intervention it was decreed that all the chapters of the dioceses should pay to Blanche of Castile tithes for the Albigensian Crusade. It was the legate who received the submission of Raymond VII of Toulouse, at Paris, in front of Notre-Dame. This submission put an end to the Albigensian war and prepared the annexation of the Languedoc to France by the Treaty of Paris (April 1229).
The influence of Blanche of Castile over the government extended far beyond Saint Louis' minority. Even later, in public business and when ambassadors were officially received, she appeared at his side. She died in 1253.
The regency of Blanche of Castile (1226-1234) had been marked by the victorious struggle of the Crown against Raymond VII. In the first years of the king's personal government, the Crown fought off an attack led by the Count de la Marche, in league with Raymond's close relative, Henry III, King of England. King Louis IX's victory over this coalition at Taillebourg, 1242, destroyed any hope of success for the uprising planned in Ramon VII's territories to expel the French invaders.
He was eleven years of age when the death of Louis VIII made him king, and nineteen when he married Marguerite of Provence by whom he had eleven children. The regency of Blanche of Castile (1226-1234) was marked by the victorious struggle of the Crown against Raymond VII of Toulouse in the Languedoc, against Pierre Mauclerc in Brittany, against Philip Hurepel in the Ile de France, and against Henry III, King of England. In this period of disturbances the queen was supported by the papal legate Frangipani. Accredited to Louis VIII by Honorius III as early as 1225, Frangipani won over to the French cause the sympathies of Gregory IX, who had been inclined to listen to Henry III. Through his intervention it was decreed that all the chapters of the dioceses should pay tithes to Blanche of Castile to continue the Albigensian Crusade. It was the legate who received the submission of Raymond VII at Paris, in front of Notre-Dame. For the time being, this submission put an end to the Albigensian war and prepared the way for the annexexation of the Languedoc by France under the Treaty of Meaux-Paris in April 1229.
In the first years of the king's personal government, the Crown had to combat a fresh uprisings against French rule, led by the Count de la Marche, in league with Henry III of England. Saint Louis' victory over this coalition at Taillebourg, 1242, was followed by the Peace of Bordeaux which annexed to the French kingdom a part of Saintonge.
As part of the general uprising in 1242 a number of Inquisitors were massacred at Avignonet by knights from Montségur, the last remaining Cathar stronghold. This triggered a new military action to "cut off the head of the dragon". Hughes des Arcis, the King's representative (seneschal of Carcassonne) and the Archbishop of Narbonne laid the siege of the Château of Montségur ( Montsegùr) in 1243-4, culminating in the burning alive of more than 225 Cathar Perfects.
Louis IX turned his thoughts towards a crusade to the Holy Land. Stricken with a malady in 1244, he resolved to take the cross when news came that Turcomans had defeated the Christians and the Moslems, and invaded Jerusalem. He opened negotiations with Henry III, King of England, which he thought would prevent new conflicts between France and England. By the Treaty of Paris (28 May, 1258) Louis IX concluded an agreement with the King of England. By this treaty Louis IX gave Henry III all the fiefs and domains belonging to the King of France in the Dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Périgueux; and in the event of Alphonsus of Poitiers dying without issue, Saintonge and Agenais would escheat to Henry III. For his part, Henry III renounced his claims to Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Poitou, and promised to do homage for the Duchy of Guyenne. It was generally considered, that St. Louis made too many territorial concessions to Henry III. Some historians hold that if Louis IX had carried on the war against Henry III, the Hundred Years War might have been averted. St. Louis considered that by making the Duchy of Guyenne a fief of the Crown of France he was gaining a significan legal advantage. The Treaty of Paris, was as displeasing to the English as it was to the French.
By the Treaty of Corbeil, Louis imposed on the King of Aragon the abandonment of his claims to all the fiefs in Languedoc excepting Montpellier, and the surrender of his rights to Provence (11 May, 1258).
Innocent III, was born Lotario de' Conti, son of Count Trasimund of Segni and nephew of Pope Clement III. Innocent was a keen supporter of Crusades, including the disastrous Fourth Crusade.
Mass desertions from the Roman Church to the Cathars in the Languedoc (and the consequent loss of prestige and revenue) had already suggested to him the idea of a Crusade against his fellow Christians. Arnaud Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux had been conducting a preaching campaign that had proved an even greater failure than the one run by Dominic Guzman (St-Dominic).
The luxurious lifestyle of Arnaud Amaury and his Cistercian monks excited mockery rather than envy in the Languedoc. Arnaud, personally humiliated, was now out for blood. The murder of a papal legate - a fellow Cistercian monk - provided the ideal excuse for action. At Arnaud's prompting, Innocent III ordered a crusade against the people of the Languedoc.
Their sovereign, Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, appealed for an impartial investigation. Innocent sent a lawyer called Milo, ostensibly to to carry out a fair assessment, but with secret instructions to take orders from Arnaud Amaury - Raymond's mortal enemy. Arnaud was therefore able to slake his thirst for blood and was soon leading the papal crusade. He personally adopted the role of its first military commander. His crusader troops - the dregs of France - enjoyed the same privileges as those who fought the Moslems. Killing Cathars, like killing Moslems, assured the killer the highest place in Heaven.
Innocent claimed to have been given the whole world to rule over by God, and succeeded in extending the papacy's feudal power, acquiring as fiefs Portugal, Aragon, Hungary and England, and purporting to reassign important feudal properties of the Counts of Toulouse and Peter II, the King of Aragon.
Innocent III opened the Fourth Lateran Council on 15 November 1215. This was the most important council of the Middle Ages. Besides deciding on another crusade to the Holy Land, it issued seventy decrees, the first of which was a creed (Firmiter credimus) against the Cathars and Waldensians, in which the term "transubstantiation" received its first ecclesiastical sanction. It also established the essential principals of what would become the Papal Inquisition under his nephew Pope Gregory IX.
A hymn, called Veni Sancte Spiritus, popular among the Crusaders as they burned supposed heretics, is usually attributed to Innocent III. It is sometimes called the "Golden Sequence," and is prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave, exclusive of the following Sunday.
Click on the following link to read a more detailed article about Pope Innocent III
Click on the following link for a translation of Canon Three of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
Innocent III with Cistercian
NKP XXIII F144 0 04v
Remember that name; for the present he is burning Albigensians, but he has higher ambitions.
(Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose).
Gui was born at Royères, in the Limousin, in 1261. He was also known as Bernardo Gui and in Latin as Bernardus Guidonis, He entered the Dominican Convent at Limoges, and became a friar in 1280. Ten Years later he became Prior of Albi, and subsequently Prior at Carcassonne, Castres, and Limoges.
He lived after the Crusades against the people of the Languedoc, but played an active part in the mopping up operations that followed identifying and punishing Cathar believers and their sympathisers.
He is remembered for his tenure as Inquisitor of Toulouse which he took up at the behest of Pope Clement V between 1307 and 1323. He is known to have passed sentence on at least 900 people over fifteen years. His victims included Cathars, Waldensians, so-called False Apostles, Beguines, Jews, and alleged sorcerers and necromancers. Unknown numbers were executed. Documentation survives for 42 who lost their lives for the crime of believing something other than Catholic teachings.
For his services to the Roman Church Gui was made Bishop of Tui in Galicia by Pope John XXII, and a year later became Bishop of Lodève.
His fame, or infamy, rests mainly on his most important work, Practica inquisitionis heretice pravitatis or "Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness", It gives a list of supposed heresies in the early 14th century, and advises inquisitors how to deal with the questioning of members of each "heretical" group. It is useful as a source of information on the prerogatives and duties of Inquisitors and for forms of condemnation and instructions for examinations. It also reveals how difficult Inquisitors found it to argue against Cathars in open debate.
This work was lost for a time, but was rediscovered and published by the abbé Douais at Toulouse in 1886.
Click on the following link to read an extract of Gui's work.
Bernard Gui died at the castle of Lauroux in what is now the Hérault département on 30th December, 1331.
Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers: (c 1280 - 1342) Famous for his Inquitation records which survived in the Vatican Archives after he was elected Pope as Benedict XII.
Jacques Fournier is believed to have been born in Saverdun in the Comté de Foix around the 1280s to a family of modest means. He became a Cistercian monk and left to study at the University of Paris. In 1311 he was made Abbot of Fontfroide Abbey. In 1317 he became bishop of Pamiers. There he undertook a rigorous hunt for Cathar believers, which won him praise from Catholic authorities, but alienated local people. He was an exceptional Inquisitor. Uniquely "Monsignor Jacques" was interested in what had really happened, kept records of his interrogations and managed to have them preserved to provide a treasure trove for historians. He made a name for himself by his skill as an inquisitor during the period 1318-1325. He conducted a campaign against the last remaining Cathar believers in the village of Montaillou, as well as others who questioned the Catholic faith. Inquisitorial efforts stretched into the territories of Aragon, from where the last known Cathar Parfait of the Languedoc, Guilhem Belibaste, was lured back to be burned alive by the Archbishop of Narbonne.
Fournier's records have been documented in Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's pioneering microhistory, Montaillou, village occitan. Complete editions of the register have been published in Latin and in French, but only portions have been translated into English.
He personally supervised almost all of his operations, occasionally using torture to extract information. The bulk of his interrogations relied on Fournier's verbal skill at drawing out information. He conducted 578 interrogations in the 370 days his Inquisition was in in operation.
The Fournier Register is a set of records from the Inquisition run by Fournier between 1318 and 1325. Fournier interrogated hundreds of suspects and had transcripts recorded of each interrogation. He demanded a great deal of detail from those appearing before him. Most of those he interrogated were local peasants and the Fournier register is one of the most detailed records of life among medieval peasants. The records have been the focus of scholars, most notably Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie whose pioneering work of microhistory Montaillou is based on the material in the register. Thanks to his records, we know more about life in the tiny Pyrenean village Montaillou than we know about life in London or Paris in the early fourteenth century.
Prior to Bishop Fournier the local authorities had done little to pursue so-called heretics, and the region was one of the last areas of Europe to be home to a significant number of adherents to the Cathar religion, a full century after the French Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc.
The severest sentence was to be burnt at the stake, but this was rare, with this inquisition only sentencing five heretics to this fate. More common was to be imprisoned for a time or to be forced to wear a yellow cross on one's back. Other punishment's included forced pilgrimages and confiscation of property.
The record was assembled in three stages:
The process involved translating the dialogue from the local Occitan language to the Latin of the Church.
In 1326, on the successful rooting out of what were believed to be the last Cathar adherents in the area, he was made Bishop of Mirepoix in the Ariège. A year later, in 1327, he was made a cardinal.
Benedict X is now considered an antipope, but in his own time and for long afterwards recognised as the rightful pope. As a result, the man the Roman Catholic church now officially considers the tenth Pope Benedict took the number XI, rather than X. This has advanced the numbering of all subsequent Popes Benedict by one.
Fournier succeeded Pope John XXII (131634) as Pope Benedict XII in 1334, being elected on the first conclave ballot.
He made peace with the Emperor Louis IV, and came to terms with the Franciscans, who were then at odds with the Roman See. He was a reforming pope who tried to curb the luxuries of the monastic orders, though without success. It was he who ordered the construction of the Palais des Papes in Avignon. He rejected many of the ideas developed by John XXII and campaigned against the Immaculate Conception. He engaged in long theological debates with noted figures such as William of Ockham and Meister Eckhart. He died on 25th April , 1342).
birth (c. 1280)
Bishop of Pamiers (1317)
Bishop of Mirepoix (1326),
Pope Benedict XII based in Avignon (1334).
The manuscript of Jacques Fournier's Inquisition Record is currently found in the Vatican Library, Lat. MS. 4030. and modern editions are available in Latin and French. For further information, see:
Here is what the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia had to say about him, before the value of the Fournier Register had been appreciated.
Third of the Avignon popes, b. at Saverdun in the province of Toulouse, France, elected 20 December, 1334; d. at Avignon 24 April, 1342. Nothing is known of his parentage or boyhood. In youth he became a Cistercian monk in the monastery of Boulbonne, whence he moved to that of Fontfroide, whose abbot was his natural uncle, Arnold Novelli, by whose name Fournier was also known. He studied at the University of Paris, where he received the doctorate in theology. Meantime he was made Abbot of Fontfroide, succeeding his uncle who was created cardinal 19 December, 1310. In December 1317, he became Bishop of his native Diocese of Pamiers, was translated to Mirepoix 26 January, 1327, and was made cardinal by Pope John XXII, 18 December, 1327. On the latter's death, 4 December, 1334, the cardinals in conclave, most of whom opposed a return to Rome, demanded of Cardinal de Comminges whose election seemed assured, the promise to remain at Avignon. His refusal precipitated an unexpected canvass for candidates. On the first ballot, 20 December, 1334, many electors, intending to sound the mind of the conclave, voted for the unlikely Cardinal Fournier, who, though he was one of the few men of real merit in the college, was but lightly regarded because of his obscure origin and lack of wealth and following. He amazed the conclave by receiving the necessary two-thirds vote. On 8 January, 1335, he was enthroned as Benedict XII.
Resolved to re-establish the papacy at Rome, Benedict signalized his accession by providing for the restoration of St. Peter's basilica and the Lateran. He was prepared to acquiesce in the petition of a Roman deputation soliciting his return, but his cardinals pictured the impossibility of living in faction-rent Italy. They were right, whatever were their motives, and Benedict yielded. Conscience-stricken during a critical illness, he proposed as a compromise a transfer of his court to Bologna. The cardinals urged the slender hope of securing obedience, and Benedict decided to remain at Avignon, where in 1339 he commenced to build the massive papal castle which still exists. Mindful always of distracted Italy, he often sent money to succour the famine-stricken people and to restore churches. Reform of abuse was Benedict's chief concern. Immediately after his elevation he remanded to their benefices clerics not needed at Avignon, and menaced with summary chastisement violators of the law of residence. He revoked the scandalous "expectances" granted by his predecessors and forbade conferring benefices in commendam. He condemned unseemly "pluralities" and conferred benefices with such conscientious discrimination that several were left long vacant, and so gave colour to the calumny that he was himself harvesting their revenues. He inveighed vigorously against greed for gain among ecclesiastics; regulated the taxes on documents issued by papal bureaux; made episcopal visitation less of a financial burden to the clergy; abolished the practice of countersigning requests for papal favours, which was extremely lucrative to venal officials; and established the Registry of Supplications for the control of such petitions. Abhorring nepotism, he granted preferment to but one relative, naming the eminent John Bauzian Archbishop of Arles in deference to the insistence of the cardinals; he compelled his only niece to discourage noble suitors, and marry one of her own humble rank. A legend, vouched for by Ægidius of Viterbo (d. 1532), accredits him with saying, "a pope should be like Melchisedech, without father, mother, or genealogy". Monastic reform particularly engaged his zeal. Himself a Cistercian, he sought to revive pristine monastic fervour and devotion to study. Pertinent papal constitutions and visitations of monasteries attest his solicitude for a monastic renaissance.
Being a learned theologian, he was as bishop, cardinal, and pope, keenly interested in scholastic discussions. He terminated the controversy on the vexed question as to whether the Beatific Vision was enjoyed before or only after the General Judgment. John XXII had advocated the latter view and stirred up vigorous discussion. Eager to solve the question, Benedict heard the opinions of those maintaining the theory of deferred vision, and, with a commission of theologians, gave four months to patristic research. Their labours terminated in the proclamation (29 January, 1336) of the Bull "Benedictus Deus" defining the immediate intuitive vision of God by the souls of the just having no faults to expiate. Zealous too for the preservation of the Faith, he stimulated the bishops of infected districts to vigilance in the repression of heresy and urged the use of the preventive remedies of the Inquisition. He combatted energetically the anti-papal doctrines which the ecclesiastico- political theorists of the disturbed Avignon period had spread, and which were unfortunately sustained by a school of misguided Franciscans. (See FRATICELLI, MARSILIUS OF PADUA , WILLIAM OF OCCAM, MICHAEL OF CESENA.) Distressed by disloyalty in Ireland, he tried to persuade Edward III to establish the Inquisition in his realm and urged him to assist the Irish bishops to extirpate heresy. But, though the most ardent foe of heresy, Benedict was remarkably patient and loving in dealing with heretics. He looked also to the union of the Eastern Church with Rome through a delegate of the Emperor Andronicus, whose sincerity, however, Benedict was forced to question; manifested his solicitude for the Church in Armenia which, in the early fourteenth century, suffered from Mohammedan invasions, succouring the unfortunates in temporal matters and healing doctrinal differences which had long rent Armenia with schism.
In purely ecclesiastical affairs Benedict's pontificate was creditable to himself and productive of good to the Church. Pious, prudent, and firm, he strove conscientiously to meet the Church's needs at a critical period. In political relations, however, he was not so successful. Inexperienced in politics, he had little taste for diplomacy and an imperfect knowledge of men and affairs of the world. Conflicting political motives confused him, and hesitancy and vacillation contrasted painfully with his firmness and decision in ecclesiastical matters. Though determined to act independently of Philip VI of France, the latter generally succeeded in committing the pope to his policy. He helped to prevent his return to Rome. He frustrated his desire to make peace with the Emperor Louis of Bavaria whom John XXII had excommunicated for fomenting sedition in Italy, proclaiming himself King of the Romans, and intruding an antipope. Willing to absolve him should he but submit to the Church, Benedict exposed to Louis's delegates his generous terms of peace (July, 1335). But Philip, aided by the cardinals, persuaded the pope that his generosity encouraged heresy and rebellion. Benedict yielded. Thrice the imperial envoys came to Avignon, but French influence prevailed, and, on 11 April, 1337, Benedict declared it impossible to absolve Louis. The latter, as Benedict feared, allied himself with Edward III of England against France. In vain the pope tried to avert war, but he was no match for the kings and their allies. His good offices were spurned; and he was humiliated by Philip's later alliance with Louis, who had also allied to himself the pope's political and ecclesiastical enemies, and by the emperor's denial of the pope's authority over him, and, worst insult of all, by his usurpation of papal power in declaring the nullity of the marriage of John Henry of Bohemia and Margaret Maultasch, that the latter might marry his son, Louis of Brandenburg. The French king hindered Benedict's projected crusade against the infidels, making the war with England an excuse to forego his promise to lead the armies, and even diverting the money subscribed for it to financing his own wars, despite the protests of the conscientious pope. Benedict's crusading ardour found solace in Spain, where he encouraged the campaign against the Mohammedans who in 1339 invaded the peninsula.
Benedict XII has not escaped calumny. Reformer, foe of heresy, builder of the Avignon papal palace, unwilling ally of France and enemy of Germany, he made many enemies whose misrepresentations have inspired most non-Catholic appreciations of his character. Much harm was done to his memory by the satires of Petrarch, who, though befriended and honoured by Benedict, yet bitterly resented his failure to return to Rome. His natural obesity, too, stimulated caricature and undeserved criticism. But history offers a vindication and testifies that, though he failed to cope successfully with the political difficulties to which he fell heir, his piety, virtue, and pacific spirit, his justice, rectitude, and firmness in ruling, his zeal for doctrinal and moral reform, and his integrity of character were above reproach.
Raymond held his lands under the feudal system from a number of his relatives. Most of these lands were held as a vassal of the King of Aragon, but some (notably Provence) he held from the Holy Roman Emperor, some from the King of France and some from the King of England.
Raymond was not a great fighter, but he was a good diplomat, and most historians agree that he played a poor hand as well as he possibly could.
With a suzerain like Peter II of Aragon, allies like the Count of Foix, loyal vassals to the East like the Viscount of Béarn and the Count of Comminges, relatives like the Trencavels, loving subjects, and the secret sympathy of many of crusader nobles, it looked as though he might beat off the combined might of Western Christendom. But it was not to be. Pope Innocent III had secretly planned his humiliation from the first, possibly as a way to establish a precedent for his personal dream of becoming feudal suzerain of the whole world. Worse, for Raymond, the crusaders were led by Simon de Montfort, a man of great courage, impressive military skill, vast personal greed, and demonic abilities to be everywhere at once.
Raymond claimed to be a good Catholic, but he was closely associated with the Cathar cause. He listened to Cathar sermons and always travelled with a Cathar Parfait in his retinue, yet the circumstances of his death confirm that he was indeed Catholic. Many of his nobles, friends, allies, relatives and supporters were undoubtedly Cathars. As Raymond pointed out at the time, no-one in his position could possibly exterminate Cathar belief as ruthlessly as Pope Innocent III required him to.
In 1215 Simon de Montfort besieged Toulouse and Narbonne. Raymond was obliged to negotiate with the pontifical legates. They made him the most humiliating propositions, that he had no option but to accept. Stripped of his estates, he retired to England, where his close relative King John of England offered him sanctuary - until pressed to expel him by the Roman Catholic Church.
Raymond attended the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), where his case was put to Pope Innocent III by the irrepressible Raymond Roger, Count of Foix. It looked as though the case was going to be accepted, but there were, according the the Song of the Cathar Wars, irregular manoeuvrings behind the scenes. The pope, initially sympathetic, now purported to cede the estates of Raymond to Simon de Montfort, reserving for Raymond's son (the future Raymond VII) the Marquessates of Provence and Beaucaire.
Before his death Raymond VI had wrested from Amaury de Montfort nearly all the conquests of Simon de Montfort.
Raymond VI died in 1222 at a period when his lands looked safe. Excommunicated, he had already abdicated in favour of his son, Raymond VII, in order that his lands should not be forfeit - even if the novel temporal claims of the papacy were ever accepted. He died while excommunicated and thus was denied a Catholic burial, though he he had been accepted into the ranks of the Knights Hospitallers shortly before he died.
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The Rue Dalbard runs through one of the oldest neighborhoods in Toulouse. This road housed the Toulouse headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers.
In the Languedoc, Grand Priories of the Hospitallers (now the Knights of Malta) were established at Toulouse and Saint Gilles, under the patronage of the Counts of Toulouse. They are the oldest Hospitaller Priories built in Europe. Between them the two Grand Priories controlled some 80 Hospitaller priories in the Languedoc.
The remains of the thirteenth century Priory in Toulouse is concealed by a splendid façade of the seventeenth century. Only the discreet arms over the front door give away the nature of the building behind the façade.
The knights Hospitallers were founded in 1099 as an order of monks dedicated to aiding the Lord's sick, running a hospital named after Saint Jean the Baptist, not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Along with the Knights Templars, the Hospitallers would soon develop into a military Order of fighting monks, the shock-troops of the Catholic Church. Today, the Knights Hospitallers are the world's oldest surviving Order of chivalry.
Within 10 years of their foundation in Jerusalem the Knights Hospitallers occupied the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade in Toulouse, but this occupation does not appear to have been authorized, and they were ejected in 1110. The Count of Toulouse then gave to them the nearby Church of St. Rémésy and land around it, and this became their new headquarters in Toulouse, adjacent to the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade.
The Order was hierarchical, based on numerous Priories, each with its own Master. Each Priory was subject to a Grand Priory. Each Grand Priory belonged to a "Tongue" - (one each for the languages of Provence, Auvergne, Aragon, Castile, France, England, Germany and Italy). All Tongues were in turn subordinate to the Grand Master. The Tongue of Provence, representing the Occitan speaking lands of the Count of Toulouse, had two Grand Priories, one at Saint-Gilles and one at Toulouse, the two centres of power of the Saint-Gilles family, Counts of Toulouse.
The Grand Priory of St. Gilles had 53 dependent Priories and Toulouse 28 dependent Priories. (There were separate Tongues for the Auvergne and for France). The priory of Saint-Gilles, the first of all the European priories, had been created by Brother Gerard Tenque, founder of the Order, under Bertrand, son of Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, a Crusader who left for the Holy Land in 1109 and died there in 1112.
The remains of twenty Grand Masters of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem lie in chapel adjoining the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade in Toulouse, including those of the founder of the Order Brother, Brother Gerard Tenque.
The Counts of Toulouse were generally buried in the Basilica of Saint Sernin, but Raymond VI was regarded as an abettor of heresy and enemy of the Church. On the other hand, his family had a long tradition as crusaders and still had friends in high places, notably the military Orders patronized by his family since their foundation. On 30 May 1218 Raymond made his will in favour of his son Raymondet (the future Raymond VII), and the Hospitallers and Templars of Toulouse. Witness were:
On 5 July the same year, in St. John's Church, Raymond VI was affiliated to the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem. Witnesses were
The act specifies the last wishes of Raymond VI:
"I, Raymond, by the grace of God Duke of Narbonne, Count of Toulouse, Marquis of Provence and son of Queen Constance, [the sister of the King of France, Louis VII]; I give and entrust myself to the Lord God Almighty, to Blessed Mary, Mother of Jesus, to Saint John the Baptiste and to the Hospital founded in his honour in Jerusalem. I promise the Lord God, and you, Armand de Cabanis, Master of the House of the Hospital of Jerusalem located in Toulouse, that I do not wish to take any other religious habit than that of the Hospital and if by chance I should die before receiving it, I wish to be buried in the House in Toulouse of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem."
And Master Armand de Cabanis confirmed:
"I, Armand de Cabanis, on behalf of my Lord Bertran, Prior of the Order in Saint-Gilles, and on behalf of the whole community of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, I receive you, Lord Raymond, Brother of the Hospital, henceforth to enjoy all spiritual and temporal benefits available here, as in Outremer. In the name of Lord Bertran, Prior of Saint-Gilles, and on behalf of the entire Community the Hospital, I assure you Count Raymond, that when you wish to receive the religious habit, the Brothers of the Hospital you will give it to you and receive you as a Brother, according to the Rule of the Hospital. For a certain surety, I order that this document be validated and authenticated with my seal. "
Count Raymond VI had been excommunicated on several occasions for his failure to persecute his Cathar subjects. In 1222 he was still excommunicated, which meant that he was not entitled to enter a church, to partake in any of the sacraments of the Church or even, if he died, to a Christian burial. It was his custom to go twice a day to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Daurade, not far from the Hospitallers' Grand Priory, where he would pray outside the door of the church.
On 22 September, 1222 Raymond became ill outside the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Daurade. Immediately, he went to his friend (and viguier) Hugues Jean at the hôtel Maurand (a large private town house, known as an hôtel particular) on the rue du Taur. Hugues Jean was a member of the eminent Cathar family Maurand. There, in the garden of the Hôtel, Raymond suffered a stroke. Paralyzed, and having lost all power of speech, he was carried into the hôtel.
Father Jordan River, a priest from the nearby church of Saint-Sernin, rushed to him, wanting to remove the dying count from the hôtel. Perhaps suspicious of the priest's intentions, Hugues Jean sent to Armand de Cabanis, Master of the Hospitallers. Armand arrived, surrounded by a troop of his knights and carrying a Hospitaller cloak. He entered the hôtel and, to the dismay of the priest, threw the Hospitaller cloak over Raymond's prone body. In doing this he signalled unambiguously that Raymond VI was now a Knight Hospitaller (in accordance with the agreement made three years earlier). The Master would ensure that, as a Brother of the Grand Priory of the Hospital of Toulouse, the Count would have his wishes respected and defended, if necessary by force of arms by his brother Knights. Guilhem Catel, in his History of the Counts of Toulouse, recounts the scene .
"Old Raymond being excommunicate, went in the morning to pray to God in front of the Church Notre-Dame de la Daurade. Although he was unwell, he returned after his meal, so weak that one witness recounts that he could not stand unaided and having gone to the "Bourg" [ie outside the city proper], to the home of a man named Hugues Jean, in the parish of Saint-Sernin, after eating figs, he found himself unwell, and recognizing his indisposition promptly sent for Sir Jordan River, priest of Saint-Sernin, to be reconciled with the Church and to ask Jordan to give him the Blessed Sacrament, protesting that he was very distressed to be excommunicated. The priest of Saint-Sernin came, and the stricken man pressed him in such ways as he could, as he could not speak. Raising his eyes he held his hands together unto death, in the arms of the said priest, witnessing his great contrition. Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, having arrived, with whom he had become a Brother, they threw a cloak over him, such that the said knights wear, on which was sewn a white cross, and when someone tried to remove this coat, he held it with his hands and could no longer speak, he kissed very devoutly the cross sewn onto it. "
On Raymond's death, his body was immediately removed from the parish of Saint-Sernin and brought within the defensive walls of the Grand Priory of the Hospital on the rue de la Dalbade. Excommunicated, Raymond VI could not be buried in consecrated ground, despite the sympathy of his brother Knights Hospitaller. It is possible that Jordan, the priest of Saint-Sernin, had planned to burn the body since Raymond had died still excommunicated. This would Hugues Jean's urgent message to the Grand Master, the troop of Hospitaller knights and the immediate removal of Raymond's body from the parish of Saint Sernin to safe Hospitaller territory in the city.
For centuries, the Hospitallers were to keep the remains of the excommunicated Count. They placed his body in a plain white marble sarcophagus unadorned, set in the cloister garden of the Grand Priory. On marble, one could read a very discreet inscription, in poor Occitan:
Not a hi jos terra ome per gran senhor that fo that Getes my terra if Gleisa no fos.
There is no great Lord under the earth who could have been dispossessed of his lands if he had had the Church
Later, the Hospitallers separated Raymond's head from the body. Witnesses in 1377 and 1517 note that the bones of the Count were abandoned in a corner, or scattered here and there. The head was kept for at least four centuries with the treasures of the Grand Priory, and shown to distinguished visitors. A curious impression was supposedly visible at the back of the skull, "a lily marked by nature on the bone behind the head" according to Nicolas Bertrandi. The marks were taken as proof of divine planning, validating the annexation of the County of Toulouse by France, the arms of which feature lilies.
Soon after the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the Knights were confined to the County of Tripoli, another County belonging to the Saint-Gilles family. When Acre was captured in 1291, the order took refuge in the Kingdom of Cyprus, but sought a kingdom of their own. In 1309 they took the island of Rhodes, then part of the Byzantine Empire. Under the rule of the newly named "Knights of Rhodes", the city of Rhodes was rebuilt as a model of the medieval European ideal. Many of the city's famous monuments, including the Palace of the Grand Master, were built during this period. Like their fellow warrior-monks, the Knights Templars, the Knights Hospitallers became fabulously wealthy with properties throughout Europe.
When the Knights Templars were dissolved by the papacy on trumped-up charges in the early fourteenth century, their property was transferred to the Knights Hospitallers, so in 1314 the Hospitallers became even more wealthy. The following year 1315 the Priory at Toulouse was elevated to Grand Priory with thirty-five dependent priories in the southwest of France. In the 14th century the Hospitallers' establishment on the rue de Dalbade included the Saint Rémésy church (now jointly dedicated to Saint John), the Hospitallers' dwellings, a cloister, a tower used as a relic and document repository, a cemetery, as well as seven shops opening onto the street.
In 1523 Rhodes fell to the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent leaving the Order without a state. Seven years later, On 24 March, 1530, Charles V gave to the Order the Island of Malta, then a dependence of Sicily. By the act, the Grand Master of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem became Prince of Malta. The Knights Hospitallers, previously known as the Knights of Rhodes, now became the Knights of Malta. In 1630, the Grand Master was awarded ecclesiastic equality with cardinals, and the unique hybrid style His Most Eminent Highness, qualifying him as a Prince of the Church.
In 1668 the Grand Prior of Toulouse, Antoine Robin-Graveson, began to replace the medieval priory with a large hôtel with a prestigious façade, more like a palace, probably designed by the architect Jean-Pierre Rivalz. The reconstruction concerned the buildings on the rue de Dalbade. As well as a new façade and entrance, there was a new reception room, and chapter house (which can be seen today). At the same time the cloister was demolished and the cemetery abandoned. The new building, known as the Hôtel des Chevaliers, was completed twenty years later in 1688.
The hôtel became national property in 1791, during the French Revolution. It was divided into lots to be sold, but the planned sale did not take place. It was eventually sold in 1812 and in 1813 the tower was demolished along with adjacent outbuildings. The archives were also destroyed. In 1839 the site was acquired by cloth merchants who wanted to build a warehouse. The Church of Saint Rémésy and St. John, part of the Grand Priory, was destroyed, and in 1840 a larger hôtel was built with five bays extending along the rue de Dalbade, with a return along the rue Saint-Jean. In 1839 and 1845, the remains of Knights Hospitallers were collected and transferred into a chapel of the neighboring the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade where they remain today. Their names are framed by statues of two knights in arms.
In 1877 the hôtel was purchased by the Archbishop of Toulouse Julien Desprez to house the Catholic Institute he founded. In 1903 a new school, the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Toulouse, created by the Chamber of Commerce of Toulouse, moved into the hôtel. The school moved out to new premises in 1985, and in 1986 the hôtel was purchased by the State. It was assigned to the Regional Chamber of Accounts and the Caisse des Dépôts. At that time the building was included in the supplementary inventory of historical monuments. It was fully listed as monument histprique in October 25, 1990.
In 1996, after a restoration, the hôtel became the headquarters of the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles de Midi-Pyrénées ("La DRAC") the regional representatives of the Ministère de la Culture.
The last people who testified having seen Raymond's skull were late in the seventeenth century, shortly after the reconstruction of the Grand Priory, completed in 1685. On Sept. 18, 1692, a man called Percin and in 1695 the historian La Faille [Germain de La Faille ?] saw it. La Faille noted that the lily was the size of a small shield. Alas the skull has since disappeared, and we cannot test it to see how the lily design was created.Shortly before Christmas 1997, a team of archaeologists made a discovery at the Hôtel des Chevaliers on the site of the Grand Priory. Two sarcophagi were discovered in two previously unknown enfeus [an enfeu being a type of funerary monument] in a crypt. On the wall was a fresco in brilliant colors representing the life of St. James of Compostela.
Above is an enfeu with sarcophagi containing the remains of earlier Counts of Toulouse.
On the right are the two recently discovered enfeus under the Hotel des Chevaliers, originally under the Grand Priory. (Forground the sarcaphagus of the "Dame de Laurac", Background the possible sarcophagus of Raymond VI)
One sarcophagus bears the carved figure of a recumbent noblewoman, who has come to be known as the "Dame de Laurac". A carved, unpainted, coat of arms adorns the sarcophagus. (In French heraldry, une tour emmottée, un lambel à cinq pendants surmonté de cinq fleurs de lys en chef. In English heraldry, a tower on a motte. In chief five fleurs-de-lys. A label of five points).
the "Dame de Laurac"
The other sarcophagus is of white stone. Bertran de la Farge who saw it in 2004 noted that a cross of Toulouse is engraved on the wall nearby. The barely legible inscription on a plaque in Occitan says: "... Raymond of Toulouse ...". At the time of its discovery hopes were high that Raymond's mortal remains would be discovered inside. Here is what Dominique Baudis then mayor of Toulouse said at the time:
"I share the excitement and hope of those who have discovered the tomb that may contain the remains. If this is Raymond VI, then opening the sarcophagus will not merely reveal his mortal remains. It will illuminate a precious asset of which Raymond was the bearer and defender: Freedom of Conscience. It is as if a great humanism lesson, still relevant today, has risen from the depths of the Middle Ages to the surface of the present time. ".
In the light of the known history of Raymond's remains, it seems unlikely that his body would be found inside. Nevertheless, the sarcophagus might well be his.
Despite widespread public interest, the DRAC has decided to clam up on the whole topic. In the great French tradition of executive secrecy the organization created to care for the national patrimony on behalf of the French people have opted to close the site to the public and publish nothing at all about the enfeus, sarcophagi or anything else. French enmity to the Counts of Toulouse and the cultural tradition they represent, might not yet be over.
... also Duke of Narbonne, Count of Quercy, Rouergue and Saint-Gilles; Count of Agen (Aquitaine); Marquis of Provence (Holy Roman Empire) Count of Melgueil (Papacy).
When Raymond VI died excommunicated in 1222, he had already abdicated in favour of his son, Raymond VII, nicknamed Raymondet, in order that his lands should not be forfeit. He had died believing that his family's territories were safe.
Raymond VII was a better military leader than his father, and had assisted him in the reconquest of his estates. At the age of eighteen he successfully besieged the town of Beaucaire and then held it for several months against Simon de Montfort, his Crusader brother Guy de Montfort, his son Amaury de Montfort, and a French Catholic army, before the besiegers gave up, came to terms and left.
The wars continued into another generation, Raymond VII fighting against Amaury de Montfort, son of his Raymond VI's enemy, Simon de Montfort. While Raymond VII was a better warrior than his father, Amaury could not match the prowess of his father Simon. In military terms, it looked as though the Albigensian Crusade had failed. In January, 1224, Amaury de Montfort, reduced to the sovereignty of Narbonne, concluded a treaty with Raymond, ceding his rights in the Languedoc to the King of France.
In 1226 a new Royal Crusade was launched. Louis VIII, King of France, seized Avignon and occupied the Languedoc without resistance. On his return to France he died on 8th November 1226, at Montpensier. Raymond VII, took several fortified places from Louis' seneschal (Imbert de Beaujeubut) but in 1228 new bands of crusaders began to plunder the country of Toulouse.
Raymond sought peace from the regent of France, Blanche of Castile, wife of the old king and mother of the new king. As part of the peace, under the Treaty of Meaux (also called the Treaty of Paris), Raymond was obliged to demolish the walls of Toulouse, to allow the establishment of the Inquisition, and to give his daughter Jeanne of Toulouse in marriage to Alphonse of Potiers, brother of King Louis IX of France. Afterwards, Raymond returned to Paris. On 12 April, 1229 was obliged to do public penance at Notre Dame and to publicly undertake to start persecuting the Jews of the Languedoc, after which he was released from his excommunication.
Divorces (technically annulments) were routinely given to powerful noblemen at the time. Any friend of the papacy, or anyone powerful enough to cause trouble, could expect a divorce on request. Raymond did not now fall into this category. By denying him a divorce, the new Pope ensured that there would be no male inheritor in the Saint-Gilles family.
Raymond had one last hope of popular uprising in the Languedoc against the French occupiers and the Inquisition. It was planned for 1242, supported by the Holy Roman Emperor (Raymond's suzerain for Provence), Jaume I of Aragon, Henry III, King of England, Hugues de Lusignan Count of La Marche, Roger IV, Count of Foix, Viscount Trencavel, and other allies. It proved a disaster. The Holy Roman Emperor kept delaying until it was too late. Henry III was defeated at Taillebourg (an event mysteriously omitted from many English history books). The Aragonese forces were not enough to galvanise the exhausted population, and the new Count of Foix deserted his family's ancient ally, sealing both their fates. The only achievement of note was the killing of a few Inquisitors at Avignonet, which prompted the final notable action of the war - the famous siege of the Château of Montségur ( Montsegùr) , in 1243-4.
In 1247, as Raymond was starting out for Palestine on Crusade to the Holy Land with Louis IX, King of France, he died. He was buried in Fontevraud Abbey along with his Plantagenate relatives (his mother Jeanne of England, his uncle Richard I of England, and his maternal grandparents Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine).
As his enemies had planned, Saint-Gilles lands passed to his sister Jeanne of Toulouse and her husband, Alphonse de Poitiers brother of King Louis. When Jeanne and Alphonse died without an heir, the The County of Toulouse passed to the French Crown. The disaster was total. It marked the end of all hope of expelling the French from Aquitaine or the Languedoc, the loss of Provence, the end of Aragonese influence north of the Pyrenees to balance the French influence, the loss of all hope for the Trencavel family as for countless other nobles deprived of their lands, and the irrevocable weakening of the county of Foix, which today is also part of France.
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Ramon VI of Toulouse had proposed an alliance with Raymond-Roger, his nephew, and when the offer was rejected he offered his submission to the Crusaders and joined the Crusade.
Aware that the Crusaders were on the way, Raymond-Roger reconsidered his position and joined them en route to offer his submission too, but it was rejected. (If he joined them as well, his lands would be protected and there would be no-where for the Crusaders to destroy and pillage - which is why Arnaud Amaury rejected the offer.) Raymond-Roger returned to Carcassonne, ordering Béziers to prepare for action on his way. He sent all Jews away to safety, knowing that the Catholic army would kill them if they ever got hold of them. This was a precaution as no-one expected Béziers to fall, and certainly not for a long time.
Everyone had known that the Jews would have been slaughtered if the town fell, but not that the Crusaders would massacre everybody they found, Catholics included, if they took the town, as they did on 22nd of July 1208. Still under the command of their leader Arnaud Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux, appointed by Pope Innocent III, the Crusaders now turned towards Carcassonne.
From 1st to 15th of August Carcassonne was besieged. Raymond-Roger Trencavel was seized during a truce. Without their commander the inhabitants surrendered. The Crusaders expelled the inhabitants with a day's safe conduct, so that they could loot at leisure.
Raymond-Roger was imprisoned in his own cachette. Peter II of Aragon of Aragon, his suzerain, could not help him and left the Crusaders bitter and disappointed. It was at this stage that Simon de Montfort was appointed to hold Raymond-Roger's territories, and so took over leadership of the Crusaders who stayed.
Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Carcassonne, Béziers, Albi and the Razès died in mysterious circumstances in his own prison on 10th of November 1208, a few weeks after his capture. He was aged just 24.
He left an infant son, Raymond II, who became the ward of Raymond Roger Count of Foix. He later sought exile in Aragon, returning during the course of the later Cathar Wars in a failed attempt to reclaim his rightful lands and titles
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At the time of the suspicious death of his twenty-four year old father, Raimond Trencavel was still an infant. Although he was not guilty of heresy or anything else he was deprived of his patrimony and contrary to all feudal law his titles and lands were awarded to Simon de Montfort.
Raymond sought exile in Aragon, returning during the course of the later Cathar Wars in attempts to reclaim his rightful lands and titles. The most notable attempt occurred in 1240. he led a revolt with his loyal vassals, fellow faidits, Catalan and Aragonese troops, and fellow Occitan nobles in liberating Limoux, Alet, Montreal, and other towns. Then he tackled his late father's strongest fortress, Carcassonne, now in the hands of the French invaders. On 17th September 1240 an offensive was launched reinforced with mines and catapults with the support of the inhabitants of the Carcassonne suburbs of Saint-Michel and Saint-Vincent. The defense led by Guillaume des Ormes leading Louis IX's royal troops, drove Raymond back on October 12. The offensive had failed after a month. Raymond was then himself besieged at Montreal. Raymond VII of Toulouse stayed neutral and mediated a truce under which his cousin Raymond Trencavel returned to Aragon. Towns that had supported their dispossessed lord were treated with the customary brutality.
Raymond was forced to renounce his rights to his four Viscounties in 1246. A year later he smashed his seal as a sign of submission to Louis IX, the King of France. Breaking a ruler's seal was something that normally happened only on the death of its owner. Raymond's vassals, like the Lord of Termes, were released from their feudal allegiance and the family of Trencavel was destined to disappear from history, another victim of the rapacious aggression of the French Catholic crusaders.
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|Various possible interpretations
of the Trencavel Coat of Arms
Raymond-roger was the son of Roger-Bernard of Foix and Cécile Trencavel. He married Philippa de Moncade in 1189. They had three children: Esther, Roger-Bernard (who succeeded him as Count of Foix) et Cécile.
He accompanied the French king Philippe Augustus on Crusade to the Holy Land in 1191 and was present at the siege of Ascalon and at the fall of Saint-Jean-d'Acre. He returned when Philippe Augustus abandoned the Crusade, miffed at the superior generalship of his fellow monarch Richard Cur de Lion, King Richard I, The Lionheart.
Raymond-roger increased his family domains in the foothills of the Pyrenees. He took the high Urgell and the Cerdagne with a view to retaking Andorra. With Arnaud de Castelbon he found himself fighting the combined forces of Count Ermengol VIII of Urgell and Bernard de Villemur, the Bishop of Urgell. Both Raymond-Roger and Arnaud were captured and imprisoned from February to September 1203. King Peter II of Aragon intervened to secure their release, and awarded the Raymond-Roger various Catalan seigneuries in 1208 followed by the the castles of Usson and Quérigut in 1209.
Raymond Roger was one of the most impressive personalities of the Cathar Crusade, indeed of all European history. He was a close relative of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse and a staunch ally. He was famed for his military prowess as much as for his chivalry, loyalty and attachment to paratge. He was not merely a patron of the troubadours, but a formidable poet himself.
From the taking of Carcassonne in 1209 when Simon de Montfort emerged as the military leader of the Crusade, Raymond-Roger aligned himself with Raymond VI of Toulouse. He started by retaking Preixan. Two years later he was victorious at the battle of Montgey. His own castle at Foix was besieged four times. In 1214 he was obliged to submit and his castle was handed over to the papal legate who allowed Simon de Montfort to occupy it. Raymond-Roger supported the uprising led by Count Raymond VII of Toulouse and took part in the defence of Toulouse in 1217 during with Simon de Montfort was killed. Soon aferwards, in 1208, he was able to regain his own castle at Foix.
It is not provable that he was a Cathar believer himself, but his close relatives certainly were. His wife, Philippa of Foix, became a Parfaite. His sister, Esclaremonde of Foix, was perhaps the most famous Parfaite.
The Count was a great orator, and attended the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 to defend Raymond of Toulouse before Innocent III and his Council. When he himself was accused of having murdered priests, he did not trouble to deny it, and told Innocent to his face that in the circumstances he regretted not having killed more of them. Not perhaps a good example of his diplomatic skills, but a very good one of his confidence, standing and courage.
By the time of his death in 1223, the count had regained all of his terittories with the exception of Mirepoix. Characteristically, he died while besieging it
Roger Bernard II, Count of Foix (1223-1241). Surnamed "the Great", Roger Bernard was another charismatic leader, man of culture, and protecter of his people, a loyal ally of Raymond VII of Toulouse. His wife, Ermessinde de Castelbon, was a Cathar Believer .
Roger IV, Count of Foix (1241-1265). Roger initially aligned himself with Raymond VII of Toulouse, but abandoned the alliance after the final failed uprising against the French in 1242.
Foix For an aside about the link between the Counts of Foix and Andorra, and how a later Count acquired the throne of France, click here
Esclarmonde was born sometime after 1151. Her name means " Light of the World " in Occitan. She was nicknamed "The Great Esclarmonde" (La grande Esclarmonde).
She was the daughter of Roger Bernard I, Count of Foix and Cécile Trencavel. She was therefore sister to Raymond-Roger Count of Foix. She married Jourdain de l'Isle-Jourdain, Seigneur de l'Isle-Jourdain. Their children included Bernard who later inherited the County of Foix, Guillaumette, Olive, Othon de Terride and Bertrand, Baron de Launac.
She was widowed in October 1200, and from this time turned openly to the Cathar Church. In 1204 she received the Consolamentum from the hands of the Cathar Bishop Guilhabert de Castres, so becoming a Parfaite, a member of the Cathar Elect. The ceremony, at which three other great noblewomen (Aude de Fanjeaux, Faye de Durfort, and Raymonde de Saint-Germain) also received the Consolamentum, took place at Fanjeaux in the presence of her brother Raymond-Roger Count of Foix. From this time on she would become a champion of the Cathar faith.
She took up residence in Pamiers and it is thought that she was responsible for the decision to refortify the Castle at Montségur ( Montsegùr) in preparation for the likely assaults by the French Catholic Crusaders. In 1207 she took part in (and probably organised) the Colloquy of Pamiers (also called the Colloquy of Montreal) the last public debate between the Cathars and the Roman Catholic Church whose representatives were led by Dominic Guzman (St-Dominic). It was at this debate that Esclarmonde famously tried to speak, only to be admonished by a representative of the Roman Church: "go to your spinning madam. It is not proper for you to speak in a debate of this sort". The churchman's faux pas, as obvious to an educated Occitan auience as it is to most people today, was not at all obvious to Dominic Guzman . and his supporters. The Catholic church's treatment of such a prestigious figure as Esclarmonde could only have had the opposite effect to that intended, yet up until the twenty first century the Church never seems to have grasped why their representatives lost in these debates so comprehensively or so consistently.
Esclarmonde de Foix and her sister-in-law Philippa jointly ran a House for Parfaites at Dun in the Pyrénées,. A sort of prototype convent, it functioned as a school for the education of girls and as a sort of retirement home for aged Parfaites.
Esclarmonde is credited with opening a number of hospitals, schools and Cathar convents - something the Roman Church had not done previously, but started to do later as part of its concerted hearts and minds campaign. Dominic Guzman's first Dominican friary can still be seen at Prouille, within sight of Fanjeaux in the Languedoc.
Esclarmonde of Foix has become become something of a role model for feminists, and her name - almost forgotten for seven hundred years - is becoming ever more popular. A quick web search will reveal a range of sites from Esclarmonde de Foix fan clubs to an "Esclarmonde de Foix Memorial Travel Scholarship" at the University of Winnipeg. According to at least one Gnostic Church she was an Cathar Archdeaconess in life and is now a saint.
Peter II, (1174-1213) was King of Aragón (1196-1213) and count of Barcelona (as Pere I), son and successor of Alfonso II. He was surnamed the Catholic.
His parents were Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile. He was crowned (1204) at St Pancrace's Church in Rome by Pope Innocent III , and accepted the pope as overlord of Aragón and Catalonia. He acknowledged the feudal supremacy of the Papacy - in line with Innocent III's largely successful attempts to establish himself at the apex of the feudal system. He was crowned in Rome by Innocent, swearing to defend the Catholic faith (hence his surname, "the Catholic").
On June 15, 1204 he married Marie of Montpellier, daughter and heiress of William VIII of Montpellier by Eudocia Comnena. Peter was her third husband. Together they had a short-lived daughter Sancha (1205-1206); and a son, James. Later, Peter discarded her. She died in Rome in 1218 and was buried in St Peter's Basilica.
In 1212 Peter he helped Alfonso VIII of Castile to defeat the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa. This battle was the turning point in the history of Medieval Iberia. The forces of King Alfonso VIII of Castile were joined by the armies of his rivals, Peter II of Aragon and Alfonso II of Portugal to fight the Muslim Almohad rulers of the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula. Caliph al-Nasir led the Almohad army. The defeat of the Almohads signaled the beginning of a long decline in the power of the Moors in the Peninsula.
Following his performance against the Moors, Peter II was the most famous and respected crusader of the period. He had driven the Moslems from much of Spain, and won plaudits from the Papacy for his leadership. But Peter's problems had already started when the crusaders purported to replace Raymond-Roger Tranceval as Viscount of Carcassonne and Béziers in 1209. How could they do this? Feudal law was absolutely clear that it was for Peter as suzerain, to appoint, confirm and dispossess his own vassals - but now Innocent had a legal claim to be Peter's suzerain. Even the Northern Lords were uneasy about this precedent. As they clearly saw, if Innocent III got away with this then neither they nor any sovereign in Christendom would be safe.
Peter returned from Las Navas in the autumn of 1212 to find that in the course of the Cathar Crusade. Simon de Montfort had conquered Toulouse, exiling Raymond VI Count of Toulouse, Peter's vassal and brother-in-law. Peter crossed the Pyrenees and arrived at Muret in September 1213 to confront de Montfort's army. He was accompanied by Raymond of Toulouse, who gave Peter excellent counsel, to avoid battle and instead to starve out Montfort's forces. This suggestion was rejected as unknightly. Peter fought at the subsequent battle of Muret in 1213, but was killed during a needless show of bravado. (He was fighting in disguise - a common ploy for kings at the time and not apparently regarded as unknightly. A lowly vassal armed as the King of Aragon attracted the scorn of the Crusaders and Peter, unable to contain himself, shouted out something to effect of "here I am, come and get me".) He died, as brave as he was foolish at the hands of two French Crusader knights.
The death of the most famous Crusader in Europe, a King, surnamed the "Catholic", fighting against brother crusaders, shook both armies and indeed left the whole of Christendom horrified and bewildered. Though no-one realised at the time, his death marked the beginning of the end of Aragonese hegemony north of the Pyrenees.
He is buried in the Convent of Sigena at Vilanueva de Sigena. He was succeed by his son Jaume El Conqueridor (Jaime I or, in English, James I, the Conqueror).
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Savaric de Mauléon ( Mauléoun, Basque Maule) (1181-1233) Vassel of King John of England (as suzerain of the Aquitaine). Baron of Poitou. Seneschal of Saintonge, Seigneur of Châtellaillon, Talmond, Benon, Angoulême, la Flotte en Ré and Fontenay. He was also a celebrated Troubadour. He is recorded as having written a poem to Eleanor, Countess of Toulouse, undertaking to support her with 500 knights against the invaders of her domains.
As brother-in-law of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, King John of England was a natural ally, particularly since John's mother Eleanor of Aquitaine had divorced the King of France and married the King of England, taking her dowery, the Aquitaine, with her. It is not surprising therefore that John's Seneschal, Savaric de Mauléon should come to fight alongside Raymond of Toulouse. He is mentioned several times in the Song of the Crusade. [61, 86, 87, 89, 93, 103, 123]. One source, the anonymouse History of the Dukes of Normandy and Kings of England, suggests that it was on John's initiative that Savaric became involved.
Niort in the Aquitaine was defended against the French by Savary on behalf of John in 1205. Savary had been a prisoner taken at Mirebeau and subsequently sworn an oath of fealty to the King of England. From thenceforth he proved a wise and valuable ally. It was Savary de Mauléon who stayed the hand of King John when he planned to execute the defenders of Rochester after their eventual surrender in November 1214.
All records except one portray Savaric as a most noble knight. The One exception is the Historia Albigensis which consistently bases its character assessments on how much the person in question supports the Crusade. Here is my favourite example from the whole of the Historia Albigensis :
With our enemies came that most depraved apostate, that iniquitous transgressor, son of the Devil, servant of the Antichrist, Savary de Mauleon; more evil than any heretic, worse than any infidel, assailant of the Church, the enemy of Christ. O most corrupt of of mortals - or should I say himself a mortal infection - I speak of Savary, who, villain unredeemed, shameless and senseless, rushed head first against God and dared to assault the Holy Church of God! Prime mover of heresy, architect of cruelty, agent of perversity, comrade of sinners, accomplice of the perverted, a disgace to mankind, a man unacquainted with manly virtues, devilish - himself the devil incarnate.
This traslates as "Savaric was a strong ally of the Count of Toulouse". Actually, if the author of the Historia Albigensis had known more about Savaric, he might have been less strident. For example when Savaric was not rewarded financially for his contribution to the campaign at Castelnaudry in 1211 he went off with the son of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse (the future Raymond VII) and held him hostage until a ransom was paid. Later, in 1219 Savaric would go crusading in the Holy land, and would later fight alongsideLouis VIII in his murderous campaign against Raymond VII in 1226.
A branch of his family still lives in the Languedoc.
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Bernard, Count of Commynges and Couserans (1181-1225) Vassal and loyal ally of the Counts of Toulouse, 1st Cousin to Ramon VI.
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The Viscount of Béarn Vassal and loyal ally of the Counts of Toulouse.
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He lead an extraordinary life for anyone of the period, let alone a Cathar Parfait. He was the son of another Guilhem Bélibaste, a rich farmer from Cubières, now in the Aude departement of the Languedoc-Roussillon. His family are known to have held Cathar sympathies.
After killing a shepherd he fled Cubières and became a shepherd himself. At some stage he adopted Cathar beliefs. He was the pupil of Pierre and Jacques Authié who had recently re-introduced the Cathar faith to the Sabarthes area on what is now the French side of the Pyrenees. He eventually took the Consolamentum and became a Parfait.
He settled in Catalonia at Sant Mateu and Morella - an area under the control of the King of Aragon, and beyond the reach of the Papal Inquisition then established in the French controlled territories. Like other Parfaits he worked for a living, in his case making baskets and carding combs. He was also mentor and pastor to a local community of Cathars, some of whom had fled persecution in the Languedoc. Members of this community travelled regularly between the two regions, including Pierre Maury, a native of Montaillou.
In violation of the celibacy demanded of the Cathar elect, Bélibaste enjoyed sexual relations with at least one woman. According to Cathar belief, this act nulified the effects of the Consolamentum so from that point onwards he was no longer a Parfait.
In 1313 Belibaste's lover, Raymonde Piquier, became pregnant, Bélibaste persuaded Pierre Maury to marry her to provide cover for his relationship with her, making it appear the child was Maury's. A few days later, he dissolved the marriage (another odd thing for a Cathar Parfait to do), apparently stricken by jealousy.
After a sting operation initiated Jacques Fournier, the Inquisitor Bishop of Pamiers, in which he was induced to return to territory controlled by the Inquisition, he was captured and condemned to death. His last night on earth went some way to restoring his tarnished reputation, since he spent it trying to help the friend who had betrayed him. He was burned at the stake in 1323, in Villerouge Termenès, the property of the Archbishop of Narbonne.
Much of Bélibaste's biography can be found in the pages of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's book Montaillou. Bélibaste is frequently mentioned in the interrogations of suspected Cathar sympathisers from Montaillou.
Bélibast is sometimes used as an example to illustrate Cathar ideas and practices, but there are just too many oddities in his life for him to used as an examplar. After taking the Consolamentum he is known to have lied and had sex. He contemplated suicide knowing that his Consolamentum had been invalidated. His theology was not sophisticated and probably best explained by aspects of Cathar theology being abondoned or neglected as the faith was persecuted into oblivion - though Belibaste seems to have been well aware that his behaviour had nullified his status at a Parfait. Despite this, like a long line of more orthodox Parfaits before him, he went to the stake with a dignity and fortitude that any martyr would envy.
Below are a couple of recent works in French concerning Belibaste, with English translations and notes.
Bélibaste, l’imparfait cathare (Version longue du texte rédigé pour l’article " Bélibaste, l’imparfait ", paru dans Pays Cathare magazine, hors-série n° 1, décembre 1997, pp. 70-71.)
|Bélibaste, The Imperfect Cathar (from "Bélibaste, l’imparfait", which appeared in the Pays Cathare magazine, hors-série n° 1, December 1997, pp. 70-71.)|
Le dernier et le plus célèbre des parfaits cathares occitans nous a laissé l’exposé le plus complet qu’on ait sur la doctrine des cathares. Pourtant, il fut sans doute l’un des plus médiocres pasteurs de l’église des " Bons chrétiens ".
|The last and most celebrated Cathar in Occitania has left us the most complete account that we have on Cathar doctrine. However he was, without doubt, one of the most mediocre pastors of the Church of the Good Christians.|
Un criminel devenu parfait
Guilhem Bélibaste naît vers 1280 à Cubières, un village du Razès (Aude). Sa famille, des paysans aisés, est totalement acquise au catharisme. A Cubières, les Bélibaste reçoivent de nombreux parfaits de marque comme Pierre Autier et Philippe d’Alayrac. Les frères de Guilhem, bergers, accompagnent même fréquemment certains de ces parfaits dans leurs tournées clandestines. En effet, malgré les efforts de l’église catholique depuis presque un siècle pour éliminer l’hérésie cathare, celle-ci est encore bien vivace et se développe même à nouveau en Ariège et en Razès grâce à la prédication des frères Autier.
A Criminal who became a Parfait
Guilhem Bélibaste was born around 1280 at Cubières, a village in the County of Razès (now in the Aude). His family of yeoman farmers, was totally given over to the Cathar faith. At Cubières, the Bélibaste family received numerous notable Parfaits such as Pierre Autier and Philippe d’Alayrac. Guilhem's brother, who were shepherds, frequently accompanied some of these Parfaits on their clandestine journeys. despite the efforts of the Catholic Church over almost a century to eliminate the the Cathar heresy, it was still in good health, and was growing again in the Ariège an in the Razès, because of the preaching of the Autier brothers.
Malgré ces antécédents familiaux, ce n’est pas par vocation que Guilhem Bélibaste entre dans les ordres, mais un peu par hasard. Vers 1305-1306 au cours d’une rixe il tue un berger de Villerouge-Termenès (Voir plus loin). Une procédure judiciaire est lancée contre lui. L’archevêque de Narbonne, seigneur de Villerouge et de Cubières le reconnaît coupable et confisque ses biens. Pour sauver sa peau, Bélibaste abandonne sa femme, son fils, et rentre dans la clandestinité auprès des parfaits cathares. Pour sauver son âme et par pénitence, il doit rentrer dans les ordres. Il est initié et ordonné parfait à Rabastens (Tarn) par Philippe d’Alayrac. Mais les deux compagnons sont arrêtés et enfermés dans la sinistre prison de l’Inquisition de Carcassonne : le Mur. Ils parviennent cependant en 1309 à s’en échapper et se réfugient en Catalogne dans le comté d’Ampurias. Quand Philippe d’Alayrac retourne dans le royaume de France exercer son ministère, Bélibaste, moins courageux, préfère ne pas l’accompagner. Bien lui en prend car peu de temps après, il apprend l’arrestation et la mort sur le bûcher de son ancien compagnon.
Despite his family affiliations, it was not by way of a vocation that Guilhen Belibaste became a Cathar Parfait, but rather by chance. Around 1305-1306 in the course of a fight, he killed a shepherd from Villerouge Termenès (see below). A judicial action was taken against him. The Archbishop of Narbonne, Lord of Villerouge and of Cubières held him guilty and conficated his belongings. To save his skin Bélibaste abandoned his wife and son, and took to the clandestine world of the Cathar Parfaits. To save his soul, and by way of penitance, he had to join the Elect. He was initiated and ordained as a Parfait at Rabastens (now in the Tarn) by Philippe d’Alayrac. But the two companions were arrested and locked-up in the sinister prison of the Inquisition at Carcassonne: "The Wall". However, in 1309 they managed to escape and sought refuge in Catalonia, in the county of Ampurias. When Philippe d’Alayrac came back to the Kingdom of France to exercise his ministry, Bélibaste, less courageous, prefered not to accompanie him. It was a wise choice, because shortly after he learned of the arrest and death at the stake of his erstwhile companion.
Fuyant l’insécurité, il s’éloigne par étapes de la frontière où il risque d’être reconnu et arrêté. Par précaution il change aussi de nom : il se fait appeler Pierre Penchenier, nom inspiré de son nouveau métier, fabricant de peignes de tisserands. Il se loue aussi parfois pour des travaux saisonniers dans les vignes ou travaille comme berger près de Poblet avec son ami Pierre Maury.
Fearing for his saftey, he distanced himself, in stages, from the fronteer where his risked being recognised and arrested. as a precaution he also changed his name: he had himself called Pierre Penchenier, a name inspired by his new career as maker of carding combs. He also sold his labour for seasonal work in the vinyards and worked as a shepherd near to Poblet with his friend Pierre Maury.
L’imparfait cathare de Morella
En 1314 il se fixe à Morella, dans le royaume de Valence. En effet, dans le village voisin de San Matéo vit une petite communauté de cathares occitans en exil, pour la plupart originaires de Montaillou (Ariège), et dont il devient le pasteur. Au sein de cette communauté il abuse parfois de son autorité spirituelle, notamment avec son ami Pierre Maury trop généreux : Ce dernier raconte : " Comme nous avions acheté en indivision, Bélibaste et moi, six brebis, dont j’avais entièrement payé le prix (et je lui avait donné en outre cinq sous), l’hérétique voulut emmener avec lui trois brebis sur ces six, disant qu’elles étaient à lui, et que je lui avais donné l’argent de ces brebis et les cinq sous pour l’amour de Dieu. ". Pour donner le change aux catholiques, il fait croire qu’il est marié en vivant avec une veuve, Raimonde Marti, et sa fille. En réalité Raimonde Marti est sa concubine depuis plusieurs années et tombe enceinte en 1320. Pour donner le change cette fois-ci aux cathares, car il a rompu son voeu de chasteté, il la marie à son ami Pierre Maury qui endosse la paternité, puis, jaloux, défait ce mariage.
The Imperfect Cathar of Morella
In 1314 he moved to Morella, in the Kingdom of Valence. The neighbouring village of San Matéo sheltered a small community of Cathars in exile from Occitania, most of them from Montaillou (in the Ariège), to whom he became their pastor. In the heart of this community he sometimes abused his spiritual authority, notably with his over-generous friend Pierre Maury: This latter recounted: "as we had bought jointly , Bélibaste and me, six sheep, for which I had paid the entire price (and, in addition, given him five shillings), the heretic wanted to take three of the six, saying that they were his, and that I had given him the money for these sheep and the five shillings for the love of God. To mislead the Catholics, he made out that he was married and living with a widow Raimonde Marti, and her daughter. In reality Raimonde Marti had been his mistress for several years, and fell pregnant in 1320. Now, to mislead the Cathars, because he had broken his vow of chastity, he married her to his friend Pierre Maury, who [ostensibly] accepted paternity, then, jealous, annulled the mariage.
Cependant, il prend au sérieux son rôle de pasteur. Il prêche, bénit, administre le consolament (sacrement cathare) aux mourants et reçoit régulièrement des croyants parmi lesquels Arnaud Sicre, dont la mère est morte sur le bûcher. A ce dernier il enseigne à sa manière, naïve, populaire mais imaginative, les croyances de sa religion : " Alors l’ennemi de Dieu, Satan, fit des corps d’homme dans lesquels il enferma ces esprits. (...). Ces esprits, quand ils sortent des tuniques, c’est à dire d’un corps, se sauvent tous nus, apeurés, et ils courent si vite, que si un esprit était sortit d’un corps à Valence et devait entrer dans un autre dans le comté de Foix, et qu’il plût abondamment sur tout le parcours, c’est à peine si trois gouttes de pluies l’atteindraient. Courant ainsi apeurés, il se pose dans le premier trou vide qu’il peut trouver, c’est à dire dans le ventre de tout animal qui porte un embryon encore sans vie : chienne, lapine, jument, ou n’importe autre animal, ou encore dans le ventre d’une femme, de telle sorte cependant que si cet esprit a mal agit dans son premier corps, il s‘incorpore dans le corps d’une bête brute; si au contraire il n’a pas fait de mal, il entre dans le corps d’une femme. Ainsi les esprits s’en vont de tunique en tunique jusqu’à ce qu’ils entrent dans une belle tunique, c’est à dire dans le corps d’une homme ou d’une femme qui a l’entendement du bien (c’est à dire cathare), que dans le corps ils soient sauvés, et qu’après être sortis de cette belle tunique, ils retournent au Père saint ".
However, he took seriously his role as pastor. He preached, blessed, administered the Consolamentum (Cathar sacrement) to the dying, and regulrly received believers, including Arnaud Sicre, whose mother died at the stake. To this latter [Arnaud Sicre] he taught in his naïve way, populist but imaginitive, the beliefs of his religion: "Then the enemy of God, Satan, made men's bodies in which he trapped these spirits ... These spirits, when they leave their tunics, that is to say their bodies, flee completely naked, terrified, and they run so fast that if a spirit left a body in Valence and had to enter another in the County of Foix [on the other side of the Pyrenees] and if it was raining hard over the whole journey, barely three rain drops would have fallen during that time. Fleeing, thus frightened, it will place itself in the first empty hole that it can find, that is to say in the belly of any animal carrying an embryo as yet without life: bitch, doe, mare, or any other animal, or again in the belly of a woman, in such a way however that if this spirit has behaved badly in its previous body, it will be implanted in the body of a brute beast; if on the other hand it as not behaved badly it will enter the body of a woman. Thus the spirits pass from tunic to tunic, until they enter into beautiful tunic, that is to say into the body of a man or a woman who has the understanding of good (ie a Cathar), in which body it will be saved, and after leaving this beatiful tunic, it will return to the Holy Father.
En réalité Arnaud Sicre, si désireux de "s’ouvrir à l’entendement du bien "n’est là que pour gagner la confiance de Bélibaste, le faire arrêter, et se faire restituer les biens confisqués à sa mère par l’inquisiteur qui l’a envoyé.
In reality, Arnaud Sicre, so keen to "open himself to the understanding of Good" was only there to win the confidence of Bélibaste, to have him arrested, and to have the goods confiscated from his mother, restored to him [Sicre] by the Inquisition who had sent him.
Le dernier parfait occitan
Bélibaste, qui malgré les entorses à la règle désire rencontrer d’autres parfaits pour se faire réordonner, se laisse convaincre par Arnaud Sicre de revenir en Languedoc. Sur le chemin à Tirvia dans le diocèse d’Urgell, en mars ou avril 1321, Arnaud Sicre le dénonce au bayle du comte de Foix, seigneur du lieu. Arrêté, conduit à Castelbon, il est emprisonné dans la tour du château avec -comme cela est de coutume- son dénonciateur. Pendant la nuit Bélibaste tente vainement de convaincre Arnaud de recevoir le consolament, et de se suicider ensemble du haut de la tour pour entrer directement au ciel. Jugé à Carcassonne, Bélibaste est brûlé la même année dans le château de Villerouge-Termenès, résidence de l’archevêque de Narbonne son seigneur, qui l’avait déjà condamné pour meurtre.
Avec Bélibaste disparaît l’église cathare occitane: après sa mort et jusqu’au milieu du XIVe siècle, on ne brûle que de simples croyants. Cependant subsiste une église cathare en Bosnie dont les membres se convertiront à l’Islam à la fin du XVe siècle. Le dernier parfait occitan s’écarta souvent de la règle de vie rigoureuse des parfaits. Il mourut cependant avec dignité, sans abjurer sa foi. Sa mort en martyr milite encore aujourd’hui pour la tolérance religieuse.
Bélibaste, despite the attendant dangers wanted to visit other Parfaits in order to have himself re-ordained. He allowed himself to be convinced by Arnaud Sicre to return to the Languedoc. On the road to Tirviain the diocese of Urgell, in March or April 1321, Arnaud Sicre denounced him to the Bailiff of the Count of Foix, lord of the place. Arrested and taken to Castelbon, he was imprisoned in the tower of the château with (as was the custom) his denouncer. During the night Bélibaste attempted in vain to convince Arnaud to receive the Consolamentum, and to commit suicide together [jumping] from the top of the tower to enter directly into heaven. Judged at Carcassonne, Bélibaste was burned the same year at the Château of Villerouge Termenès, residence of the Archbishop of Narbonne his lord, who had already condemned him for murder.
With Bélibaste the Cathar Church in Occitania disappeared: after his death and up until the middle of the Fourteenth Century, only simple believers were burned. However, a Cathar Church subsisted in Bosnia, the members of which converted to Islam at the end of the Fifteenth Century. The last Parfait in Occitania strayed often from the rule of the rigorous life of the Elect. However, he died with dignity without abjuring his faith. His death as a martyr argues to this day for religious telerance.
Gauthier LANGLOIS (translated into English by the webmaster)
Pour en savoir plus...
L’essentiel de ce que l’on sait sur Bélibaste est contenu dans les dépositions d’Arnaud Sicre et de Pierre Maury recueillies par l’inquisiteur Jacques Fournier, futur pape sous le nom de Benoît XII. Ces dépositions qui se lisent comme de petits romans ont été publiées par Jean DUVERNOY : Le registre d'inquisition de Jacques Fournier (Évêque de Pamiers), 1316-1325. aux éditions Mouton, Paris, 1978. Les origines de Bélibaste et le meurtre commis par lui ont été éclairés par un article de G. LANGLOIS : " Note sur quelques documents inédits concernant le parfait Guilhem Bélibaste et sa famille ", dans la revue Heresis publiée par le Centre d’Études Cathares, n° 25, 1995. Le seul ouvrage consacré exclusivement à Bélibaste est en italien : Lidia FLÖSS : Il caso Belibaste, Milano : Luni Editrice, 1997. Enfin, Henri GOUGAUD lui a consacré un roman : Bélibaste, publié aux éditions du Seuil en 1982. Tous ces ouvrages peuvent être consultés et pour certains commandés au Centre d’Études Cathares à Carcassonne. (Tél. 04 68 47 24 66). Le château des archevêques de Narbonne à Villerouge-Termenès (Aude), abrite une très belle exposition permanente sur Bélibaste et son temps. (Tél. 04 68 70 09 11).
Most of what we know about Bélibaste comes from the depositions of Arnaud Sicre and Pierre Maury to Jacques Fournier. These depositions have been published by Jean Duvernoy [one of the leading Cathar expects of the present day]: Le registre d'inquisition de Jacques Fournier (Évêque de Pamiers), 1316-1325. published by Mouton, Paris, 1978.
The origins of Belibast and the murder committed by him are set out in an article by G. LANGLOIS: "Note sur quelques documents inédits concernant le parfait Guilhem Bélibaste et sa famille", dans la revue Heresis published by the Centre d’Études Cathares, n° 25, 1995. [reproduced below in French and in Enlish translation]
The only work dedicated exclusively to Bélibaste is in Italian: Lidia FLÖSS : Il caso Belibaste, Milano: Luni Editrice, 1997.
Henri GOUGAUD has written a novel: Bélibaste, pulished by Seuil in 1982.
All of these works can be read at the Centre d’Études Cathares at Carcassonne. (Tél. 04 68 47 24 66). The Château of the Archbishops of Narbonne at Villerouge Termenès (Aude), houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to Bélibaste and his times. (Tél. 04 68 70 09 11).
Note sur quelques documents inédits concernant le parfait Guilhem Bélibaste et sa famille (Article publié dans la revue Heresis, n° 25, décembre 1995, pp. 130-134.)
Trois actes inédits permettent d’éclairer quelques aspects de l’histoire du dernier parfait occitan connu et de sa famille. Guilhem Bélibaste, rendu célèbre par les travaux de Jean Duvernoy, l’étude d’Emmanuel Leroy-Ladurie sur Montaillou, le roman d’Henri Gougaud et dont la vie est présentée au château de Villerouge-Termenès n’était jusqu’alors connu qu’à travers les sources inquisitoriales. Sept personnes avaient déposé sur Bélibaste et sa famille devant l’inquisiteur Jacques Fournier, parmi lesquelles le berger Pierre Maury de Montaillou, ami de Bélibaste, et le mouchard Arnaud Sicre qui avait permis l’arrestation de Bélibaste (1).
Three unpublished legal documents allow us to clarify some aspects of the history of the last known Parfait in Occitania and his family. Guilhem Bélibaste, made famous by the works of Jean Duvernoy, the study by Emmanuel Leroy-Ladurie on Montaillou, the novel of Henri Gougaud, and whose life is presented at the Château of Villerouge Termenès was until now known only through inquisitorial records. Seven people had made depositions against Bélibaste and his family before the Inquisitor Jacques Fournier, among them Pierre Maury of Montaillou, a friend of Bélibaste, and the despicable Arnaud Sicre who had been responsible for Bélibaste's arrest.
Les trois actes découverts sont donc précieux. Ces trois actes ne sont connus qu’à travers des analyses, rédigées vers 1640 par le notaire Antoine Rocque dans son Inventaire des archives de l’archevêché de Narbonne (2). A défaut des actes originaux disparus à la Révolution, cet inventaire dont l’intérêt avait déjà été signalé par J. Tissier (3), nous livre l’analyse de plusieurs milliers d’actes et registres. Les pièces décrites dans cet inventaire avaient été conservées et analysées pour servir à prouver les droits temporels ou spirituels de l’archevêque de Narbonne. Aussi les mentions d’hérésie y sont rares et le plus souvent marginales dans le contenu des actes.
The three newly discovered legal documents are therefore precious. These three documents are known only through analysis, carried out around 1640 by the notary Antoine Rocque in his Inventaire des archives de l’archevêché de Narbonne (2). Lacking the original documents, lost during the Revolution, this inventory (the value of which had already been noted by Jean Tissier (3), provides us with an analysis of a myriad documents and registers. The pieces described in this inventory had been conserved and analysed to serve as proof of the rights, spiritual and temporal, of the Archbishop of Narbonne. Mentions of heresy in them are rare and most often marginal in the description of these documents.
Le premier acte nous apprend qu’un certain Raimond Bélibaste avait une maison dans le village de Cubières en 1260. Ce Raimond est peut-être le grand père de Guilhem Bélibaste. Quoi qu’il en soit la famille Bélibaste apparaît établie à Cubières depuis au moins le milieu du XIIIe siècle.
The first document tells us that a certain Ramon Bélibaste had a house in the village of Cubières in 1260. This Ramon is perhaps the grandfather of Guilhem Bélibaste. In any case the family Bélibaste seems to have been established at Cubières at least from the middle of the thirteenth Century.
On savait par la déposition de Pierre Maury que Guilhem Bélibaste avait fuit Cubières entre Pâques 1305 et le 24 juin 1306 après avoir tué un berger au cours d’une rixe. Le second acte confirme l’existence de ce meurtre et la date (avant fin 1307). Cet acte précise qu’une procédure judiciaire avait été lancée par l’archevêque de Narbonne, (sans doute par son bayle de Villerouge), procédure qui permet de mieux expliquer la fuite de Bélibaste. Il précise aussi que les biens de Bélibaste avaient été confisqués au profit de l’archevêque, suite à la condamnation pour meurtre. Quels étaient ces biens? Sa part de l’héritage de ses parents? Cela suppose alors que Guilhem senior ou sa femme était décédé avant fin 1207, soit peu avant ou peu après la fuite de leur fils. Quoi qu’il en soit, suite à cette confiscation, le fils et la femme que Guilhem junior laissa à Cubières restèrent sans doute fort démunis au point de vue matériel. Ce qui permettrait d’expliquer leur décès avant 1311, à moins que la justice y soit pour quelque chose.
It was known from the deposition of Peyre Maury that Guilhem Bélibaste had fled Cubières between Easter 1305 and 24 June 1306 after having killed a shepherd in the course of a quarrel. The second document confirms the fact of of this murder and the date (before the end of 1307). This document specifies that legal proceedings had been initiated by the Archbishop of Narbonne (no doubt by his Bailiff at Villerouge), proceedings which provide a better expanation for Bélibaste's flight. It states also that Bélibaste's goods had been confiscated for the benefit of the Archbishop, following the condamnation for murder. What were these goods? His inheritance from his parents? This presupposes that Guilhem senior or his wife had died before the end of 1207, either shortly before or after the flight of their son. However that may be, following this confiscation, Guilhem junior's son and wife remained at Cubières, doubtlessly lacking from a material point of view. This would provide an explanation of their deaths before 1311, unless the justice system had something to do with it.
Cet acte nous éclaire enfin sur les raisons du choix de Villerouge-Termenès comme lieu d’exécution de Guilhem en 1321. Bélibaste avait été remis au bras séculier, en l’occurrence l’archevêque de Narbonne seigneur de Cubières et Villerouge-Termenès. On avançait que Villerouge avait du être choisi car il s’agissait de faire un exemple sur des terres, le Termenès, encore imprégnées par l’hérésie, car Villerouge était le siège de la baylie de l’archevêque dont dépendait Cubières, et que l’archevêque qui assistait probablement à l’exécution y avait une résidence. Deux raisons supplémentaires expliquant ce choix peuvent-être avancées. C’est probablement le tribunal seigneurial de l’archevêque à Villerouge qui avait condamné pénalement Bélibaste pour meurtre. Il fallait montrer la puissance de la justice seigneuriale de l’archevêque qui ne laissait pas ce crime impuni. L’acte nous apprend aussi que le berger victime de Bélibaste s’appelait Barthélémy Garnier et était originaire de Villerouge. L’exécution rendait donc justice à un habitant de Villerouge.
Finally, this document clarifies the reasons for choosing Villerouge Termenès as the place of execution of Guilhem in 1321. Bélibaste had been handed over to the secular arm in the form of the Archbishop of Narbonne in his [temporal] capacity as Lord of Cubières and Villerouge Termenès. It is suggested that VVillerouge must have been chosen by way of making an example in this territory, the Termenès, still impregnated with heresy, because Villerouge was the seat of the Bailiff of the Archbishop (of which Cubières was a dependency), and the Archbishop (who was probably present at the execution) had a residence there. Two supplementary reasons can be advanced to explain the choice. It was probably the Archbishop's Seigneural Tribunal that had condemned Bélibaste for murder. It was necessary to demonstrate the power of the Archbishop's seigneural justice, which did not leave this crime unpunished. The document tells us also that the Bélibaste's sheperd victim was called Barthélémy Garnier and that he was originally from Villerouge. The execution therefore rendered justice to an inhabitant of Villerouge.
Le troisième acte concerne Arnaud, un des frères de Guilhem. On savait peu de choses sur Arnaud qui n’apparaît que deux fois dans le registre de Jacques Fournier. Pierre Maury qui est le seul à en parler semble l’avoir peu connu, et n’est pas tout à fait sûre qu’Arnaud était hérétique (à moins qu’il ne mente par omission mais c’est peu probable, cela supposerai que Pierre Maury ne soit pas au courant de la condamnation d’Arnaud et tente de le protéger). L’acte précise qu’Arnaud a été condamné à mort pour hérésie et ses biens, un casal, confisqués au profit de l’archevêque de Narbonne avant fin 1312. Arnaud était donc bien cathare. Les condamnations à mort pour hérésie étant relativement rares, trois hypothèses pourraient expliquer sa condamnation. Soit Arnaud était un relaps, c’est à dire qu’il avait abjuré l’hérésie puis avait été convaincu d’y être revenu; soit il était parfait; soit encore il avait refusé d’abjurer sa foi. Quelque soit l’hypothèse, cette condamnation montre que c’était un cathare convaincu. Cette condamnation a-t-elle été appliquée ? L’hypothèse qu’il ait été condamné par contumace alors qu’il était en fuite est peu probable, car il aurait alors rencontré d’autres cathares et aurait été signalé par certains dans leurs dépositions devant l’Inquisition.
The third document concerns Arnaud, one of the brothers of Guilhem. Little is known about Arnaud, who appears only twice in the Register of Jacques Fournier. Pierre Maury who is the only one who mentions him seems not to have known him well and was not altogether certain that he was a heretic (unless Pierre Maury lied by omission, but this is improbable as this would mean that he was not aware of the condemnation of Arnaud, and was trying to protect him). The document states that Arnaud had been condemned to death for heresy and that his goods, a castle, had been confiscated for the benefit of the Archbishop of Narbonne before the end of 1312. So Arnaud was certainly a Cathar. Condemnation to death for heresy was relatively rare; three hypothesese could explain his condemnation. Either Arnaud had relapsed, that is to say abjured the heresy then had returned to it; or he was a Parfait; or he had refused to abjure his faith [in the first place]. Whatever the explanation, was this condemnation enforced? The hypothesis that he had been condemned as contumaceous and that he then took flight is not likely, because he would then have encountered other Cathars and his existance would have been noted in the depositions of some of them before the Inquisition.
En conclusion, les différentes sources nous montrent que la famille Bélibaste était acquise largement et de manière convaincue au catharisme, comme on peut l’observer dans l’arbre généalogique ci-contre. Elles nous montrent aussi que la justice civile et inquisitoriale s’est abattue dès 1307-1312 sur cette famille, et que par conséquent Guilhem Bélibaste du être très tôt dans le collimateur des inquisiteurs. La famille de Bélibaste semble avoir été en grande partie détruite par l’Inquisition.
In conclusion, different sources show us that the Bélibaste family was extensively and convincingly accused of Catharism, as can be seen from the accpanying family tree. They show us also that Civil and Inquisitorial justice crushed this family in the years 1307-1312 and that consequently Guilhem Bélibaste must have been in the sights of the Inquisition very early. Bélibaste's family appear to have been, for the greater part, destroyed by the Inquisition.
édition des actes
Les analyses des actes ont été transcrites telles qu’elles, en respectant l’orthographe et la ponctuation d’Antoine Rocque.
|Extracts from the inventory of Antoine Rocque are shown below left in the original seventeenth century French.|
1 Inventaire des archives de l’archevêché de Narbonne, tome 3, Inventaire des actes de Cubiere, f° 211 v°.
Item un acte de l’an 1260 par lequel Pierre Marie de Cubiere, et Raymond son frere vendent à Jacquez Fabré, une maison au lieu de Cubiere et la fabrique, et lauzet du dict lieu confrontant la dicte maison Raymond Belibaste, de midy Guilhaume del Bouyx, de cers la riviere, d’aquilon le chemin public, pour le prix de trente souls malgourois, desquels feust payé le foriscape au dict sieur archevesque, duquel la dicte maison relevoit, soubz l’usaige annuel de deux deniers malgourois. Cotté n° 3.
2. Inventaire des archives de l’archevêché de Narbonne, tome 3, Inventaire des actes de Villerouge, f° 156 v°.
Item un acte de l’an 1307, duquel resulte comme les biens d’un nomme Guilhaume Bedibaste de Cubiere, feurent confisques au sieur archevesque de Narbonne, a cause du meurtre par luy commis en la personne de Barthelemy Garnier de Villerouge. Cotté n° 15.
3. Inventaire des archives de l’archevêché de Narbonne, tome 3, Inventaire des actes de Cubiere, f° 215 v°-216.
Item un acte de l’an 1312 contenant bailh à nouveau fief faict par le dict archevesque de Narbonne a Pierre Laverche de Cubiere, d’un casal a luy adveneu d’un nommé Arnaud Belibaste, comdampné à mort pour crime d’heresie, assis dans le lieu de Cubiere, confrontant de deux parts avec le chemin, soubz l’usaige annuel de deux deniers tournois. Cotté n° 31.
The family of Saint-Gilles was one of the most powerful in Europe. As Counts of Toulouse they held a huge area of land in the early Middle Ages. Before the Cathar Crusade they enjoyed great prestige, even within the Roman Church. They were much more than the title of Count might suggest to modern ears. They were also Dukes of Narbonne, Marquises of Provence and suzerain lords of other territories, with some fifteen other, more conventional, counts as their vassals.
They were regarded as the equal of most kings and were related to the leading families of Europe, notably the Kings of England, France and Aragon. Their Courts were indistinguishable from royal courts.
The distinction between names and titles was not well developed in the middle ages, so the family may be called de St-Gilles or de Toulouse interchangeably. They came originally from the town of Saint-Gilles, an important centre where two pilgrimage routes to Compostella (the voie d'Arles and the voie Regordane) converged. In medieval times, Saint-Gilles was a major commercial centre and in its own right and the fourth most important pilgrimage site in Europe.
One of the counts, Raymond IV, had been the most prestigious leader of the First Crusade, founding the County of Tripoli in the Holy Land and becoming Count Raymond I of Tripoli, with territories at both ends of the Mediterranean Sea. He declined the crown of the new Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. His great grandson, Count Raymond III of Tripoli, was present at the momentous battle at the Horns of Hattin, where Saladin's victory signaled the beginning of the end of Catholic states in the east. At the time of the outbreak of the Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc, the ruler was Count Raymond VI. One of his wives was Jeanne of England, which made Raymond son-in-law of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and brother-in-law to King Richard I (the Lionheart) and King John of England. He was also related to the King of France, and to the King of Aragon. Raymond VI died in 1222 at a period when his lands looked safe. The wars continued into another generation, Raymond VII (son of Raimond VI) fighting against Amaury de Montfort, son of his Raymond VI's enemy, Simon de Montfort.
Many of the Counts were named Ramon, an Occitan name which is the same in modern Spanish, more familiar as Raymond in English and Raimond in French. Later members of the dynasty are often refered to in French literature as the Raimondines.
The Raimondines were arguably the most enlightened rulers in Europe until the advent of modern secular states. Somthing is known about the allies and the nobles of the counts, and also their relationships with their people, with the Jews and with Religious Dissidents. The price they paid at the hands of the Roman Church and the French Crusaders was public flogging, dispossession and ultimately the extinction of their noble House. Despite the best efforts of the Roman Church to demonise their memory and of successive French governments to efface all vestiges of their rule, there are still powerful links in the Languedoc to a clearly remembered golden age, before the territories of the Counts of Toulouse were annexed to France.
Click on the following link for more on individual The Counts of Toulouse
Click on the following link for more on The Cross of Toulouse, the heraldic device of the Counts of Toulouse
Click on the following link for more on Occitan the language spoken in the lands of the Counts of Toulouse
Click on the following link for more on the Troubadours, who made Occitan the first literary language of modern Europe
Click on the following link for more on Occitania, "the country that never was"
Click on the following link for more on the lineage of the Counts of Toulouse
Click on the following link for more on the genealogy of the Counts of Toulouse
This device was the coat of arms of the family of St-Gilles, Counts of Toulouse in the Middle Ages.
Wherever you go in the Languedoc, you will notice the Cross of Toulouse. You will find it incorporated into official arms of local government bodies, embroidered on flags, carved in stone, wrought in iron, printed on postcards, displayed in stained glass. You will find it worn as jewellery, sold as souvenirs to tourists, scrawled on walls as graffiti. You will even find it set in brass in the ground in public squares and visible in patterns of red and gold flowers.
Heraldry of the Cross of Toulouse
The "Occitan Cross"
The "Cathar Cross"
The significance of the Cross of Toulouse. .
In (English) heraldic terms the cross of Toulouse is described as "gules a cross clechy pommety and voided or". In French Heraldic terms as "de gueules, a la croix vidée, clechée, pommettée et alaisée d'or". Both translate into lay language as "on a red background, a yellow cross with pointy ends and its centre cut out, and a bobble (pomette) on each of its 12 points. The twelve pomettes may well have evolved from 12 rivets used to fix a cross clechy onto a real military shield, reflected in the version above right.
One medieval roll blazons the arms as "de goules a un croyz d'or pate et perse a une bordere d'or", which sounds like an inadequate attempt to describe the same arms.
The arms are so well known that even in English heraldry, the term "Cross of Toulouse" is used as a shorthand term that any herald will understand. Under heraldic convention the length of the arms of the cross may be varied according to artistic convenience, for example to fill a long shield.
According to tradition Raymond IV (~1093-1095) adopted the cross during the First Crusade, but it is known to have been used before the First Crusade. In 990 Guillame Taillefer, Count of Toulouse, married Emma, daughter and heir of Roubaud, Count of Provence, bringing Provençal counties as her dowry. In these lands the Counts vassals appear to have been the first to adopt the cross. It was mentioned in 1080 at Marseille, in connection with the Counts of Venasque. Their county, the Venaissin, would soon after pass into the hands of the Count of Toulouse as Marquis of Provence.
The cross appeared soon after on the banner of Raymond de Saint Gilles, Count of Toulouse, and when the family of St Gilles became Counts of Tripoli it flew over their possessions there too. It was arguably the only honourable flag ever flown on the Christian side. The most ancient cross in existence today is one decorating the keystone of a vault in the nave of the cathedral of St. Etienne in Toulouse, dated 1211.
Some believe the origin of the cross of Toulouse to be pre-Christian. Its origin may have been a twelve-ray solar wheel, such as one found in Saint-Michel-de-Lanes not far from Toulouse. The twelve discs may have symbolised the twelve houses of the zodiac - as they do in the large modern cross set into the square outside to Capitole in Toulouse (shown left). The cross is studded with metal bosses (shown right) each decorated with examples of the cross of Toulouse as it developed over the centuries.
The arms of the town of Lloupia (shown right), preserve an ancient form with the colours reversed. A remote origin of the cross is possible. For example the Turfan cross, in Eastern Turkestan, closely resembles the arms of Loupia. This form consists of a single continuous looped line as shown on the left. It is possible that the design travelled into Europe from the East following the same route that Cathar teachings did. Similar crosses have been found in northern Italy (Pisa and Venice), Provence (Forcalquier as well as Venasque) and Spanish Catalonia (Santa Maria de l'Estany).
The cross is sometimes referred to as an Occitan Cross and sometimes as a Cathar Cross. It is still a potent symbol throughout most of Occitania. Click on the following link for more on the significance of the Cross of Toulouse.
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The first known written reference to the cross is in a 1173 document written by a Provençal notary. When the Counts of Toulouse acquired the Provence they added the cross to his arms. It eventually became the symbol of Languedoc resistance to the French invaders following the crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc in the time of Raymond VI. In the contemporary Song of the Cathar Wars, laisse 109, written in Occitan, it is called la crotz ramondenca (The Raymondine Cross).
The Cross, or variants of it, is used as a badge of a small independence movement, those who would like to Occitania become an independent state, just as Catalans in the Roussillon and in Spain would like to re-establish an independent Catalonia.
Similarly it is used by those who would like to see the Occitan language revived.
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The Cross of Toulouse is often referred to, especially by those catering for tourists, as the "Cathar Cross". There is no justification for this. The Cathars detested all representations of the Christian Cross. They regarded it as no more than an instrument of torture - and found worship of an instrument of torture as offensive as modern rationalists do.
The idea that Cathars might have adopted any form of cross is unsupported by evidence, and is untenable given their beliefs. You can be certain that anyone who talks to you about Cathar Crosses, or tries to sell you one, knows nothing about the Cross of Toulouse, the Cathars, or the history of the Languedoc.
Although it is mistake to refer to the Toulouse Cross as a "Cathar Cross", by a coincidence it is in heraldic terms literally an "empty cross" - an idea that matches Cathar theology rather well, since the Cathars believed that Jesus was not crucified.
René Nelli, an expert in Catharism, has referred to a different cross - a human-shaped cross schematically represented by a Greek cross topped by an inverted V. You will find this on some monuments to Cathar victims of Catholic Crusaders and Catholic Inquisitors.
There is another meaning to the term Cathar Cross. Repentant first offenders who admitted to having been Cathar heretics, and abjured their faith when released on licence by the Inquisition were required to:
"...carry from now on and forever two yellow crosses on all their clothes, except their shirts, and one arm shall be two palms long while the other transversal arm shall be a palm and a half long and each shall be three digits wide with one to be worn in front on the chest and the other between the shoulders."
Victims were required to renew the crosses if they became torn or destroyed by age. These yellow crosses, like the yellow badges of a different shape that the Catholic Church required Jews to wear, were badges of infamy - warnings to good Catholics to shun the wearers. These crosses were known in Occitan as "las debanadoras" - reels or winding machines. The idea seems to be that offenders could be "reeled in" by the Inquisition at any time. This was a serious concern since a second accusation meant a second conviction, and a second conviction meant death.
The Cross of Toulouse makes an elegant, well proportioned, yet simple design, and as such has been exploited shamelessly by the Tourist industry.
Most people who use the Cross of Toulouse probably never think about why they use it. But it must be significant that it is so widely used. In contrast, the official logo of the Languedoc-Roussillon is used by virtually no-one other than those sponsored by the regional council.
Somewhere, mixed in with the commercial exploitation at one extreme and frustrated nationalism at the other is an abiding respect for and identification with the Counts of Toulouse, so widely loved by their people and so egregiously treated by their worldly enemies.
You will find hints of this respect and identification everywhere in the ancient territories of the Counts of Toulouse, from the flags flown by pretty much everyone with a flagpole, to the most subtle acknowledgements. The cross of Toulouse features in the middle of the city's arms (shown right), while the mairie of Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrenees region both use the arms undifferenced. The Capitouls of Toulouse surmount the city arms not with a conventional civic mural crown, but with the coronet of their ancient suzerains.
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Click on the following link for recommended Books on the Cathars
Click on the following link for the (imaginary) role of the Cathars in the various mysteries of the Languedoc
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