Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Interrogation of Agnes Francou by the Inquisition




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Source Documents: Interrogation of Agnes Francou by the Inquisition


Agnes Francou refused to swear an oath to the Inquisitors - enough to ensure that she was burned to death:



Examination of Agnes, wife of the late Etienne Francou, a heretic or of the sect of the Poor of Lyons (diocese of Vienne)

In the year of the Lord 1319, Thursday, the feast of St. Lawrence, Agnes, the wife of the late Etienne Francou of Vermela, in the diocese of Vienne, who was captured with Raymond de Costa, otherwise called “of the Holy Faith”, who was vehemently suspected of the heresy of the Waldensians or the Poor of Lyons, brought before the presence of the reverend father in Christ Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God, Bishop of Pamiers, having been sent for by this same bishop, who wished to question her concerning certain issues touching the Catholic faith, and especially concerning the Waldensian heresy and others who had been denounced and wre strongly suspected of heresy, asked that she swear on the holy Gospels given to her, to tell the truth as much concerning herself as principal as concerning those others both alive and dead as witness.

The above-said Agnes did not wish to swear an oath on the command of my said Lord Bishop, even though he gave her ample opportunity to do so, but said that she would never swear an oath concerning anything, even to save her life.

-----Why? For what reason do you refuse to swear an oath?

About a year ago, I was ill and I was anointed; I received extreme unction from a curate who was called, I believe, Etienne, who was the vicar of the church in that place. After the anointing and confession that I made to him, he ordered me never, for any reason or in any circumstances, to swear or take a personal oath, nor to walk barefoot. He added that our Lord Jesus Christ had not lied out of fear of death, and that I ought never to lie out of fear of death, but to tell the truth, without oath in response to questions that anyone posed to me. I promised him I would not take an oath for any reason.

-----Do you beliee that swearing in order to tell the truth is a sin?

Yes, after what this curate told me.

-----Were you instructed by anyone else besides this Etienne never to take an oath to tell the truth?


-----Have you said to anyone or any others not to take oaths?


-----Have you ever taken an oath?


-----Do you know Raymond, with whom you were arrested in Pamiers?

Yes, for about a year and a half.

-----What is his family name?

De Sainte-Foy (of the Holy Faith), and according to him, he is from the diocese of Geneva, but I don’t know what part of this diocese.

-----Where did you see this Raymond for the first time?

At Castelsarraasin, where I had just arrived, coming directly from Viennois, through Montpéllier, Béziers and Toulouse.

-----After having found this Raymond at Castelsarrasin, were you constantly with him?

No, I left him and from Castelsarrasin I went to Beaumont-de-Lomagne.

-----How long did you remain in that walled town?

One month in all.

-----With whom did you lodge?

With a woman named Huguette, who was of the diocese of Vienne and who is now dead.

-----Why did you go to Beaumont?

Because of my poverty and to beg for necessities.

-----From Beaumont, where did you go?

To the city of Toulouse, where I found Raymond again.

-----Did you go with him to Pamiers?

No, I went all alone, and he arrived a little later. We stayed there for some time together, but eventually he left and returned later.

-----Do you believe that My Lord the Bishop could absolve you of perjury?


-----Do you believe that someone who is not a priest can celebrate the Mass and absolve sins, if he is a good and holy man?


-----Do you believe that there is a purgatory in the other world?


-----Do you believe that a man who has confessed his sins and dies without doing penance in this world does penance in the other world or purgatory?


January 18. She was once again asked by my said Lord Bishop to swear to tell the truth concerning herself as well as others, both living and dead, concerning the faith, each time being presented frequently a book containing the Gospels. She would not take an oath at all, but turned her face from the Gospel book which was presented to her, bringing forth the same reason for not taking an oath as above.

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

Since I have promised not to take oaths, as a result, if Iwere to take one, I believe I would sin.

-----If My Lord the Bishop released you from this promise, would you believe yourself released?


-----Well then, if you believe it, and if he released you, would you take an oath?

I do not wish to take an oath at all, even to save my life.

-----Do you believe that swearing to tell the truth is a sin?

I do not know; I do not even know what to believe concerning this subject.

-----Would you be prepared to swear that you are now before My Lord the Bishop, if in doing so you would be liberated from prison?

I will not take any oath at all.

-----Did foreign women come to Raymond’s house when he was living in Pamiers?

Yes, Jeanne, the sister of Arnaud Melonier and Guillemette, the wife of a mason who lived next door to us. They came from time to time to Raymond’s house and passed the time, eating and drinking with Jeanne, the sister of Raymond, who left one month before Raymond and I were arrested, with André Pascal, a cleric.

I heard them say that they wished to return to Provence, where they were from, with another woman, named Jacqueline. These people, André, Jeanne and Jacqueline had arrived and left together. Living with us also were Jean, who kept company often with Raymond, and Petronilla. They both saved themselves when Raymond was arrested with the others.

-----What is the family name of this Raymond and where was he from?

He is called Raymond de Saint-Foy, and he is originally from the town of la Côte-Saint-André, which belongs to Lord Thomas of Savoy.

-----For how long did he stay in the town of Pamiers?

From the grape harvest of 1318 until the Feast of St. Lawrence 1319.

----Did you know him for a long time?

Since his birth or a little later, because I was his nursemaid and suckled him.

When his mother died, his father, who was Genevois engaged me to nurse him, which I did at la-Côte-Saint-André.

-----Did you see him anywhere else than at Pamiers?

Yes, at Castelsarrasin, where I remained for several days with him, and then I stayed about a month at Beaumont. After that I came to Toulouse and found Raymond there.

After this, the same year as above, on January 21st, the said Agnes appeared for questioning in the château of Allemans before my said Lord Bishop, assisted by the said Brother Gaillard de Pomiès.

The bishop told her once again to swear to tell the truth. She replied that she would not take an oath at all, no matter what. But she asked and begged my said Lord Bishop not to speak to her anymore concerning taking oaths, because she would not take one ever, just as she stated above.

After this, the same year as above, on January 23rd, the said Agnes appeared for questioning in the château of Allemans before my said Lord Bishop, assisted by the said Brother Gaillard de Pomiès.

-----Do you wish to take an oath?


-----Do you believe it to be a sin?

I believe that it is evil to swear by God, by one’s faith or by one’s belief.

-----But do you believe that swearing is the same evil as the evil of sin?

I believe that it is evil because it is a sin.

-----Do you believe in Purgatory?


The 25th of April 1320, the above said Agnes, appearing for questioning at the chateau of Allemans before my said Lord Bishop, assisted by the venerable and religious person My Lord Brother Jean de Beaune, Inquisitor of the heretical depravity in the kingdom of France, commissioned by the Apostolic See, was once again requested by them to swear to tell the truth, and he told her that she was compelled by law to swear when she was judicially requested to do so, and by not doing so, she sinned mortally and that if she persisted obstinately in refusing to swear to tell the truth, as required by law in the case of faith, she could and would be condemned as a heretic.

Although she was frequently requested and counselled, she replied that she would not take an oath for any reason.


Because God has forbidden all swearing.

-----If you were to swear to tell the truth, do you believe you would sin mortally?

If I myself were to take an oath, I believe I would sin mortally.

-----You say that you do not know how to read. Who taught you that taking an oath is a sin and against the teaching of the Lord, and specifically swearing to tell the truth?

It was Raymond de la Côte, with whom I was arrested, who taught me never to take an oath of any sort, even to tell the truth.

-----For how long have you believed that taking an oath, even to tell the truth, is a mortal sin?

I have believed this for about 20 years.

The above-named woman was admonished, begged and ordered by our said lords bishop and Inquisitor once, twice, and three times for charity to leave and abandon the said errors and heresies which she avowed to have held and still to hold, during many requests and court appearances before My Lord the Bishop, and now before my said lord Inquisitor, to abjure the Waldensian heresy, and the sect of the Poor of Lyons, and to denounce all her companions, accompliced and believers, and return to the faith and unity of the Roman church. She replied that she would not take an oath.

Our said lords bishop and Inquisitor protested that unless she wished to take an oath and abandon her errors, proceedings would begin against her as against a heretic, according to canonical sanctions and the forms of law. Present were My Lord Germain de Castelnau, archdeacon of the church of Pamiers, Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, Brother Arnaud du Carla, of the order of the Preachers of the convent of Pamiers, Brother Jean Estère of the same order, companions of My Lord the Inquisitor, and master Barthelemy Adalbert, notary of the Inquisition. And master Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord the Bishop, who wrote and received all of the above said by order of My Lords bishop and Inquisitor.

On Wednesday, the 30th of April 1320, I, master Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord the Bishop of Pamiers, came in person to the chateau of Allemans and presented myself by the order of My Lords the bishop and the Inquisitor to the said Agnes, to ask that she appear before them in person the following day before the church of Allemans, to hear the sentence passed on her above confessions. The said Agnes accepted this day purely and simply.

In the presence of master Marc Rivel, notary of the terre du paréage (terre pariagi), Raymond Gasc of Allemans and Garnot, sargeant of the said terre du paréage, etc.

The sentence in this case was given thus the1st of May and is inscribed in the Book of sentences of the Inquisition.

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

(Agnes was burned along with Raymond.)





The translation above is based on that of Nancy P. Stork. (© 1996). A few changes have been made - eg preferring English name spellings rather than French for Occitan names, when the Occitan form is not used.

Annotations are the web-master's.

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