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Barthélemy Amilhac, Testimony to the Inquisition




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Source Documents: Barthélemy Amilhac, Testimony to the Inquisition


Barthélemy Amilhac, a priest was the husband of Béatrice de Planissolles from the famous village of Montaillou. The town is famous largely because of what happened to its inhabitants. They were all arrested on the orders of the Bishop of Pamiers on suspicion of Cathar sympathies - what the Roman Catholic Church regarded as heresy.

Béatrice first appeared before the Inquisition on Saturday 26 July 1320 at the Episcopal Palace in Pamiers. She had been summoned by Jacques Fournier, the Bishop of Pamiers, to answer charges of blasphemy, witchcraft, and heresy, charges which were not clearly distinguished.

Béatrice had no choice but to implicate others in order to save her own life. One such was the priest Barthélemy Amilhac, her own husband.

Barthélemy Amilhac may have been fluent in Latin but all not priests of the period were, so it is not clear whether he gave his testimony in Latin, or in Occitan which was then transcribed in Latin by the clerk.


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Confession of Barthélemy Amilhac, priest, concerning his complicity in and concealment of heresy



In the year of the Lord 1320, the 11th of September. It has come to the attention of our reverend father in Christ, Monsignor Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, that Barthélemy Amilhac, priest of Lladros in the diocese of Urgel, has been an accomplice in heresy, in giving assistance and counsel to Beatrice, spouse of Otho Lagleize of Dalou, who was cited for heresy, and after appearing before the Bishop, fled the bishopric of Pamiers and took herself to other secret places. This Barthelemy knew that Beatrice was a heretic and erred concerning the Christian faith, and did not denounce her to the Inquisitors of heresy; because of this he is strongly suspected of heresy himself, and furthermore strongly suspected of witchcraft and casting spells. He has been denounced for putting himself in concubinage with this Beatrice, and after having known her carnally, helping her to leave the bishopric of Pamiers where they had lived together, to take her into his country, for the purpose of there keeping her as his concubine or public spouse, openly and with a pledge, according to the abuse of that country; moreover he committed numerous and diverse thefts in the bishopric of Pamiers.


An Inquisition was not a trial as we understand the term now.

The guilt of the accused was presumed from the start: It was a crime not only to be a heretic, but a crime even to be suspected of heresy.

My said Lord Bishop, wishing to interrogate him concerning this subject, since he was arrested with the said Beatrice, fugitive for heresy, had him brought before him in the Chamber of the episcopal seat of Pamiers, with the assistance of Brother Gaillard of Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne.


The said priest having appeared for questioning, My Lord Bishop received from him personally his pledge to tell the pure and entire truth concerning that which preceeds and other facts concerning the Catholic Faith, as much concerning himself as charged as concerning others living and dead as witness. This same priest, on the faith of his sworn oath, vowed and set down what follows concerning the charge of concealment of the heresy of this Beatrice, of which, it is said, he had knowledge:


It was four years ago at Pentecost that I left Dalou in the diocese of Pamiers, where I had remained for three straight years. The last year, from the month of January to Pentecost, I conducted myself badly with this Beatrice and knew her carnally often in her house, which was close to the church.


The first time, I was solicited by her. One day when I was at the church teaching the schoolchildren of the town, including two daughters of Beatrice named Philippa and Ava, Beatrice told me to come see her that evening, which I did. When I arrived in her house, there was no one present but herself, and I asked her what she wished. She told me that she loved me and that she wished that we could have carnal relations together, to which I consented. And forthwith, I knew her carnally in the room of that house. I did this often afterwards, but I did not remain with her through the night. We watched intently, she and I, for the moment where her daughters and her servant were no longer at the house and then we committed this sin.


At this time and previously, Guillaume of Montaut, the rector of the church of Dalou, said often, in my presence, that this Beatrice was a public woman, and refused herself to no one who wished to have her. He said also that she was a terrible heretic. At this time, I had not heard from anyone else that she was a heretic, and the rector never told me why she was. I did not hear from Beatrice any word that resembled heresy.


Later, in the octave of Pentecost, when defaming rumours circulated against us, Beatrice told me that I should not remain for any price in the country, because she was afraid that the brothers would do evil to her, and she said that she herself did not wish to remain. She asked me then what the priests of the country of Pallars did when they had concubines or "housewives" ("focorias"). I told her that they kept them openly and publicly just as the layfolk do their spouses, that these woman have dowries, that their children succeed to the paternal and maternal inheritance. The priests promise their concubines to maintain them during their entire life and provide for what is necessary and hold a wedding feast containing everything except the sacramental vows of marriage, which are normally given in a true mariage. And these priests are entitled to have concubines and even widows; they give something each year (or nearly so) to the bishop of the diocese, so that he will permit them to live so.


Priestly celebacy had only recently been imposed and was not popular.

It was indeed normal, as the accused says, for priests to pay to their bishops a fee for permission to keep a wife or the equivalent of a wife.

(The point of priestly celebacy was to avoid the danger of church roperty being diverted to the priest's family after his death)

We decided then that we would leave for the country of Pallars. Beatrice took her old clothes and 30 silver pennies (libras turonenses), and preceded me by 2 days. She waited for me at Vicdessos, then I followed her to Vicdessos and entered with her into the country of Pallars. She had brought along her daughter Philippa.


When we were at Lladros, we went to a notary. Beatrice gave me title to her dowry of 30 pounds and I, for surety, pledged all my goods and promised on my good faith that if there were sons or daughters from our union, that they would be heirs of myself and of her. I promised to provide for their needs and to maintain them, both in sickness and in health, and of all this was made a matter of public record by Pierre de Lubersu, the priest of that place. I did not make any other vows toward Beatrice, nor marry her, but I kept her with me in the same house, and often in the same place, in the same manner in which the priests of that place maintain their "housewives" or concubines.


I remained with her thus for one year. At the time when I was in my country with Beatrice, I quarreled several times with her and called her a terrible old woman and a heretic, reproaching her for coming from a heretical land. She replied that I was a liar. We often had these words together. One time when we were getting along well, I asked her if she had ever seen heretics. She replied that she had not seen them but she had been invited to see them when she lived at Montaillou. She said, when she lived there, Madame Stéphanie de Châteauverdun, who is dead, often sent messengers for her to come see them. But Beatrice, who knew that she was sending these messengers in order for her to come see heretics, did not go for that reason. In the end Stephanie sent her a message that she should do good to the Good Christians, which the others called heretics. Beatrice, who wished to take counsel concerning this, spoke to the rector of Montaillou, who was her good friend and her comrade (compère, compater) and ask him if it was good or bad to give something to the Good Christians. The rector told her that it was of great merit, because they were holy men, of whom it was said, that they endured persecutions for God just as the apostles and martyrs had; what they did, they did justly and what they said was true, and therefore it was good to give them something.





Good Christians = Cathars


He is refering to the priest Pierre Clergue

Then I said to Beatrice, "The priest who told you this was a heretic." She replied, "No, he was a good and honest man and known for such in the region. I then asked "And you believed the advice of this priest?" She said no. I told her that if she was in the bishopric of Pamiers, or in a place where there was an Inquisitor, I could have her arrested and that she knew much more concerning heresy than what she said. Then she laughed and said that curés more resolute in their faith than I, were of the sect of the Good Christians. That same day, while we were talking of this subject, she told me that when she was living in Montaillou, a sick woman had remained in "endura" for 15 days. After her death, she herself, Beatrice, was with a woman of the place and there arrived another, her comrade (commère) of the name of Clergue, who asked the one who was with Beatrice if all had been done well for this dead woman. She replied "well", that nothing had been lacking, that there had been plenty of time to do all that they wanted. The woman who had come then said "Thanks to God, that all has passed well!"


"curés more resolute in their faith than I, were of the sect of the Good Christians" - after a full century of heavy persecution.

A rare reference to the Endura - a form of suicide or euthenasia, according to taste.

Beatrice recounted a similar story in the course of her interogation.

She told me also that another person, at the time when she lived in Montaillou, was gravely sick and asked her sons to go seek out the Good Christians, who would save her soul. Her sons said that if they brought the Good Christians there they would lose all their goods. This sick woman replied "You then love your goods more than my soul?" According to Beatrice, although the Good Christians came to this sick woman, they did not have the chance to hereticate her.


the Inquisition would sieze all goods, including property from the heirs of anyone they adjudged heretic, even posthumously.

"heretication" was the Roman Church's name for the Cathar ceremony of the Consolamentum

Did she give you the name of those persons who were hereticated, the names of those who did it or those who were present?


  As always, looking for further people to investigate.
She told me when she was engaged to Otho of Lagleize her second husband and she had to come to Crampagna, some persons of (the household of) Prades d'Alion came to find her. These women said to her "What do you wish to do? Why do you descend to the home of the dogs and wolves? Now we have lost you, if you wish to go to the home of the wolves!" Beatrice explained that by dogs and wolves, these people and she herself understood the faithful Catholics who lived in the low country. I told her that if people said such things and if she were so often solicited to adhere to heresy by the people of Montaillou and other places in the Sabarthès, it would be astonishing if she was not a heretic. She replied that God had given her great grace, when she had left the Sabarthès, because if she had remained there one more year, the heretics would have drawn her to them, since she was strongly solicited to do so. I asked her if she had seen these heretics, or given or sent them anything. She said no.  

dogs = dominical friars

wolves = Catholic clergy

Have you denounced all or any of these heretical things to My Lord the Inquisitor or to a bishop?

No, not until now.


For how long were these reported vows held between you and her?

About 4 years. Later, I remained one year at the city of Carcassonne, in the church of St. Michael; another year I stayed as priest at Sainte-Camelle near to M. Pierre Arnaud, the knight, and that year I was employed at the church of Mézerville.


Beatrice said at that time that God ought to see to it that the priests, priors, abbots, bishops, archbishops and cardinals would no longer wish to sin carnally, because in fact they were worse, sinned more in this way, and wished to have women more than other men. Thus she strove to excuse the sin of the flesh that she committed with me.

  What Beatrice said is consistent with other sources of the period.

Later in the same year as above, the 12th of September, in the Chamber of the bishop's residence, before the Bishop and Gaillard of Pomiès.


At the time when I was living in Lladros with Beatrice, she told me that when she was at Montaillou, many people openly said that one ought to do good to the pilgrims and all of the poor of the faith. They understood "the poor of the faith" to be heretics, whom they called Good Christians.


She told me at this time that she had heard, when she was at Montaillou, that a man of the region was gravely ill; the priest brought him the body of the Lord, to give him communion. When the priest said that he had brought the body of the Lord and asked him if he wished to receive it, the man responded "God protect me from eating the body of the Lord, because that would be a very bad thing to do! "

  Another reminder that the doctrine of transubstantiation was at this period still viewed as an unlikely novelty.

Did she tell you the name of this man?



That year, the Tuesday after the Nativity of St. Jean the Baptist, I went to Pamiers, and from there I sent a child to Beatrice, who was then at Varilhes. He went to Rieux de Pelleport and there found Alazaïs, the servant of Beatrice. He told her from me to go see her mistress who was at Varilhes, and to make her come to Mas-Vieux. The above mentioned Beatrice came with Alazais to Mas-Vieux after me, and we dined there in the house of a monk of that church. After the meal, we went, by the road which is on the other side of the Ariège, toward Pelleport. When we were near Bénagues, Beatrice and I went into a vineyard by the side of the road and there I knew her carnally. The servant waited for us on the road. She had known for a long time that I loved Beatrice. This sin consummated, we resumed our journey. I walked with Beatrice and she told me that Pons Bole, the notary of Varilhes, had told her that he had heard bad news about her. She had asked him "What news?" and he had told her that the Bishop of Pamiers wished to cite her.

  the day after the Nativity of St. Jean the Baptist = 1 July (1320)

I said to her "Why would the bishop wish to cite you?" She replied that she did not know why, and that she had no fear, because she did not feel culpable, although this Pons had told her that she would be cited for heresy if she was not careful. She asked me then, if it would happen that she was cited, if she should appear or not. I told her to appear, because My Lord the Bishop would never do any injustice to her.


I gave her then 15 silver pennies, and 2 pennies to Alazäis, and I left them. We said nothing more and I did not see her again until the Monday after the Feast of St. James this year, the Monday where Beatrice sent a boy to me from Belpech, to the place where I was dwelling, at Mézerville.

  the Feast of St. James = 28 July 1320

This boy told me that a friend of mine, who was at Belpech, had sent him to me so that I could go there to find her, because she wished to speak to me. Since I had no friend in this region, I asked him what this woman looked like who had sent him, and he described certain traits of this woman by which I knew that it was Beatrice. I went as soon as possible to Belpech and found her in a house near the castle. I took her away and took her to the house of Guillaume Mole, a parchment maker of Belpech. We talked there in private, without a witness. Since she was carrying a trousseau of old clothes, I asked her why she had come and where she wished to go. She replied that My Lord the Bishop of Pamiers had cited her and that she had appeared before him the preceding Saturday. He had received her severely and told her that she was accused of heresy, in particular because she had denied that the body of Christ was present in the sacrament of the altar, and said that, if the true body of the Lord was on the altar, even if it was as big as Mount Margail, which is close to Dalou, it would have already been eaten, by the priests alone. He told her that the heretics, Pierre, Jacques and Guillaume Authié, had been in her house at Dalou, that she had received, adored and aided them, that she had had in her house Gaillarde Cuq, the divineress, and had cast many spells with her help. When, she said, she had denied all of this to My Lord the Bishop, he told her that she was an evil heretic, that her father, Philippe de Planissoles, had been a great heretic who had worn the crosses and that bad fruits come from a bad tree (Mt. 7,17). She was very upset about this, more so because My Lord Bishop, whom My Lord the Archdeacon of Majorque and Pierre, the Rector of Pelleport, had supplicated in her favour, had not listened to them but had spoken to the contrary and that he would hear nothing in her favour, although she spoke the truth. She was terrified also, because she had seen many of the bishop's men in his Chamber and she had the impression that they were going to arrest her immediately. It seemed to her that My Lord Bishop was a terrible and cruel man. He arrested both men and women, he had arrested Dame Lorda (na Lorda) and her daughter and others who came to him. Thus, her fear. Then, My Lord Bishop having given her an order to return the following Tuesday, she returned to Varilhes. Her daughters, Condors, Esclarmonde, Philippa and Ava came to her house and made great lamentation. Messire Pierre, rector of Rieux de Pelleport, told her that My Lord Bishop of Pamiers was a terrible man and that he had found no sympathy from him when he had begged mercy for his mother.


Much of this is consistent with the testimony given by Beatrice.

The Authié brothers had re-introduced the Cathar Faith to the area (from Lombardy)

"Adored" - According to the Catholic Church, Cathars "adored" or "worshipped" their Parfaits. This was a misunderstanding of a Cathar greeting ceremoniy called the Melhoramentum.

"worn the crosses" - yellow crosses imposed by the Inquisition as a punishment and badge of shame.

bad fruits come from a bad tree (Matthew. 7,17) - ironically a favourite passage quoted by Cathars against the Catholics in public arguments before the persecutions started.


He told her also that he had reproached My Lord Bishop for destroying the people of the county of Foix, in citing them for heresy and arresting them and that this caused great distress to Madame the Countess of Foix. According to what this rector told the daughters of Beatrice, My Lord Bishop had replied that the Countess of Foix did not love him, that he wished to do his duty and it would not be for her that he would cease to do what he did.


The House of Foix had for generations sympathised with the Cathar cause.

This said, their despair was redoubled, and that same night Pons Bole, notary of Varilhes said to Beatrice (or to her daughters, according to what she told me), that it was necessary for Beatrice to flee beyond the mountain passes because on this side of the passes she could not rest in security or avoid being arrested by my said Lord Bishop.


Then, for all these reasons, she fled, and came with her things to Belpech. I told her to return and appear the next day before My Lord Bishop, as he had ordered her, and that she was wrong to flee, because she would be presumed guilty. She replied that she would not go at any price, even if My Lord Bishop gave to her the entire bishopric, because she knew that he would arrest her at once. But, she said, she wished to flee to Limoux, where she could hide. When My Lord Bishop did not find her, he would cease pursuing her, because he would not think any more of her. And she asked me in tears to go with her to Limoux, saying that she had no one else but me to give her aid and counsel. I told her that I could not go to Limoux with her, because the rector of Mézerville had hired me and it was necessary that I be in the church around the time of the Feast of the Invention of St. Stephen, which was close.


Beatrice's sister Gentille lived at Limoux


Feast of the Invention of Saint Stephen = 5 August

I remained in the house with Beatrice the following night and I knew her carnally, because we slept together in one bed.


The next day she asked me to come with her to Limoux, no matter the cost. Since we could find no beast to rent at Belpech, on the counsel of our host, who said we could find an animal at Mas-Saintes-Puelles, I engaged a man of Belpech to whom I gave as salary one tournois of silver, to go with her to Mas-Saintes-Puelles and carry her goods. I went with them half-way along the route. On the way, she insisted so much, that I agreed to go with her to Limoux after the feast of the Invention of St. Stephen, and that meanwhile I would procure the money for our expenses. But I did not promise her with my heart, I wished only to get away, because when we were mid-route and I wished to leave her, she asked me in tears to go with her to Mas-Saintes-Puelles. Out of pity for her, I went there and when I was there I left her and returned to Mézerville.


Did you give her money at Belpech or after knowing that she was a fugitive for reason of heresy?

I only had 2 silver pennies. We spent one, she and I, for our needs when we were at Belpech, and the other I gave to the man from Belpech who went with us. But if I had had any more money, I would have given to her willingly.


When she was at Mas-Saintes-Puelles, did you send her anything?



Did you intend, after the feast of St. Stephen to go with her to Limoux?



When I lived at Dalou, as vicar, I knew carnally two times a woman of Cerdagne who lived in that town.


After this, the same year as above, the 7th of November, the said Barthélemy appeared for questioning in the Chamber of the bishop's residence before my said Lord Bishop and Brother Gaillard of Pomiès, and his above confession was read to him word for word and My Lord the Bishop asked him if he persisted and wished to persist in all and all parts contained therein and if he wished to add or retract anything. He replied that he persisted and wished to persist, and did not wish to add or retract anything. And then the said Barthelemy swore and took an oath as follows and promised under the oath taken by him, and under the pain that he could incur if he fled for heresy, not to leave the province of Toulouse without the special authorization of my said Lord Bishop and to appear on the days he would be assigned by him or his successors, and pledging his person and his goods.


The tenor of this oath was the following


"I, Barthélemy, appearing for questioning before you, Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, abjure entirely all heresy against the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Roman Church, and all beliefs of heretics, of whatever sect condemned by the Roman Church and especially the sect to which I held, and all complicity, aid, defense and company of heretics, under pain of what is rightfully due in the case of a relapse into judicially abjured heresy;


ie: He regognises that if he relapses and again accepts the Cathar faith then he will be burned alive

Item, I swear and promise to pursue according to my power the heretics of whatever sect condemned by the Roman Church and especially the sect to which I held, and the believers, deceivers, aiders and abetters of these heretics, including those whom I know or believe to be in flight by reason of heresy, and against any one of them, to have them arrested and deported according to my power to my said Lord Bishop or to the Inquisitors of the heretical deviation at all time and in whatever places that I know the existence of the above said or any one of them.


Item, I swear and promise to hold, preserve and defend the Catholic Faith that the Holy Roman Church preaches and observes.


Item, I swear and promise to obey and to defer to the orders of the Church, of My Lord the Bishop and the Inquisitors, and to appear on the day or days fixed by them or their replacements, at all times and in whatever place that I receive the order or request on their part, by messenger or by letter or by other means, to never flee nor to absent myself knowingly or in a spirit of contumaciousness and to receive and accomplish according to my power the punishment and the penance that they have judged fit to impose on me. And to this end, I pledge my person and all my worldly goods.


This pledge made, he asked absolution from the sentence of excommunication that he had incurred for these actions and was absolved by My Lord Bishop, if all along he had plainly and perfectly told the truth as much concerning himself as concerning others involving the crime of heresy, complicity and concealment of heretics.


The above-mentioned Barthelemy renounced and ended this affair and asked that judgement be rendered at once.


Made in the presence of My Lord Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of the church of Pamiers, Brother David, monk of Fontfroide, Brother Arnaud du Carla of the order of Preachers of the convent of Pamiers, and myself Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord Bishop, who wrote that which precedes.


Fontfroide: a Cistercian Abbey

Order of Preachers = Dominicans

After this in the same year, the 5th of March, the said Barthelemy appeared in the Chamber of the Episcopal seat before my said Lord Bishop, and there My Lord Bishop ordered him to be enclosed immediately in the prison of the tower of the bishop at Pamiers, until the next Sunday (8 March 1321) and on that day to appear before him and Brother Jean de Beaune, religious, Inquisitor of heretical deviation in France commissioned by the Apostolic See, to hear definitive sentence on the facts which precede, committed and confessed by him in the house of the Preachers of Pamiers.


On that Sunday the said Barthelemy appeared in the cemetery of Saint-Jean-Martyr of Pamiers, and was sentenced by our said Lord Bishop and Inquisitor as follows "Let it be known to all........" See this sentence in the Book of sentences of the Inquisition....."


And I, Rainaud Jabbaud, cleric of Toulouse, sworn to the service of the Inquisition, have on the order of My Lord the Bishop, faithfully corrected the above confessions against the original.



Barthélemy Amilhac, priest, was condemned to the Wall the 8th of March 1321, the same day as Beatrice.

This normally meant death within months or at best a few years, but they were both fortunate:

Beatrice lived to see her sentence commuted to the wearing of double yellow crosses on July 4, 1322 having survived immurred for over a year.

Barthélemy had his sentence commuted on the same day to simple penitence, without having to wear the yellow crosses. Presumably a priest wearing a yellow cross would be a badge of shame and embarrassemt to the Roman Church as much as the yellow cross was to the wearer.

English Translation © 1996 by Nancy P. Stork, with anotations by the webmaster.

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