Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Arnaud de Monesple




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Source Documents: Interrogation of Arnaud de Monesple, Priest






Introduction to Jacques Fournier's Episcopal Inquisition


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

Inquisitors are interested in three things:

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Case of Arnaud de Monesple, a beneficed priest


It is not obvious what Arnaud de Monesple is being accused of. His main offense may have been failing to denounce Arnaud the Drunkard to the Inquisition, as he should have done.



Interrogation of Arnaud de Monesple, a beneficed priest




11 March 1319 (1320 New Calendar)

Arnaud de Monesple, Priest

In the Episcopal Chamber of Pamiers, Bishop's Palace at Pamiers.



Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

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





The year of the Lord 1319, March 11 (11 March 1320). My Lord Arnaud de Monesple, a beneficed priest in the church of Saint-Antonin of Pamiers, cited by the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, by reason of the heresy of Arnaud Gélis, alias the Drunkard, of Mas-Saint-Antonin, a heresy of which he is strongly suspected, appeared at the episcopal seat of Pamiers before him, who was assisted by Brother Gaillard of Pomiès... and avowed that which follows:


About two or three years ago, Arnaud the Drunkard, also called Gélis, came to see me and told me in secret that he traveled with the dead from church to church, observing them and talking with them. These dead, he said, did not do any penance other than to travel to the neighbouring churches of this village and there keep vigil. He was led there one time by Hugues de Durfort, who pushed against him, from the place called Roquefort just to Mas-Vieux and to the church of Saint-Raimond. When they had visited the other churches, they then visited Saint-Antonin and remained there often. He said this was because the spirits of the dead rest during the night of Sunday, and all day Sunday, just until Monday morning, after which, all the week, they travel to the churches, always rural.


One time I celebrated a mass for the soul of the mother of a woman of Pamiers on the altar of Saint-Pierre at the church of Pamiers, and after this the said Arnaud told me that it was he who had made this woman come to me so that I might celebrate a mass for the soul of his mother.


Arignac of Pamiers came to see me for the same thing, that I might celebrate a mass on the same altar for the soul of his father.


This Arnaud told me that some of these dead traveled quickly, others slowly and that those who were weak fell down from time to time and the others passed over them


One time he gave me four Toulousan deniers to celebrate in the church des Allemans for the soul of Hugues de Durfort. These deniers had been donated to him by Brunissende, the wife of Arnaud de Calmelles and the sister of the late Hugues.


One day when this Arnaud was putting oil in the lamps of Saint-Antonin, I told him to put some in the lamp that burns before the altar of Saint Peter in this church.

And he said nothing more. And the said Arnaud said that he repented.... which was agreed to by my said Lord Bishop.

It is not clear exactly what Arnaud needed to repent for.




13 March, 1319 (1320 New Calendar)

Arnaud de Monesple, Priest

In the Episcopal Chamber of Pamiers, Bishop's Palace at Pamiers.



Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

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




After this, the same year as above, the 13th of the same month of March, the said Arnaud, appearing judiciarily before my said Lord Bishop and remembering more clearly what he had said, stated and avowed under an oath, which he took:


About one year ago, beneath the walnut tree in front of the door of the church, Arnaud the Drunkard told me that the soul of the said Hugues was not damned, but that by going from church to church he had finished his penance and had gone to Repose.


He told me also at that same place that no human soul would be damned, because at the Day of Judgment, Holy Mary would intercede with the Lord for the souls of all Christians and by her prayer all souls would be saved, and God would spare them. And Holy Mary would do the same for the souls of the Jews, because, he said, they were of her race, and for this reason God would save the souls of Jews.


Arnaud affirmed and presented to me as a certitude that the souls of the dead, in going church to church to do penance, held each other's hands and thus sustained each other. He also said that they have the appearance and the form of living men, because, he said, they have hands, feet, eyes and all the rest of their members, just like men and women living in the flesh.


He told me that by night he traveled with the Good Ladies, that is to say the souls of the dead, by roads and deserted places, and they entered from time to time into houses, above all beautiful private homes, and drank the good wines that they found there.


I told him in the same place, while lamenting the same Hugues de Durfort, who during his life had caused prejudice among the clerics of Saint-Antonin concerning the annuities of Bézac, that now My Lord Germain de Castelnau, the Archdeaon of Pamiers was doing the same thing and that is why his soul would go straight to the devil. Arnaud the Drunkard told me that his soul would not go to the devil, but in the next world he would have huge hellhounds attached by chains, ready and destined to concern themselves with the soul of the Archdeacon after his death and by means of which he would do penance. In the end, though, he would not be damned.





7 March, 1320 (1321 New Calendar)

Arnaud de Monesple, Priest

In the Episcopal Chamber of Pamiers, Bishop's Palace at Pamiers.



Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Jean de Beaune, Dominican, Inquisitor,

Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of the church of Pamiers,

Menet de Robécourt, Inquisitor's notary

Barthélemy Adalbert, Inquisitor's notary

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, Bishop's notary



date ?

After this on Saturday March 7 of the same year as above (1321) the said Arnaud appeared judiciarily in the bishopric of Pamiers before my said Lord Bishop and the religious person My Lord Brother Jean de Beaune of the order of Preachers, Inquisitor for the heretical deviation in the kingdom of France named by the Apostolic See. He swore on the four holy Gospels of God which he touched physically with his hand to tell the pure and simple truth on all deeds touching the Catholic faith and heresy, as much concerning himself as charged and concerning all others living or dead, as witness. Then all the avowals he made were read back and recited to him before my said Lord Bishop, who had them explained to him in the common tongue. He said he wished to hold and persist in these avowals, reconfirmed them again, ratified and approved them, saying he wished to live and die in them.


Done the year and day above (7 March 1321) in the presence of My Lord Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of the churchof Pamiers, the Masters Menet de Robécourt, Barthélemy Adalbert, notaries of my said lord Inquisitor and Master Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord the Bishop, who received and wrote all that which precedes.


After this my above said lords bishop and Inquisitor assigned to the said Arnaud a date to hear definitive sentence on the above said deeds, to note the Sunday immediately following, the 8th of March at the cemetery of Saint-Jean-Martyr of Pamiers, a day which the said Arnaud accepted of his own free will.





8 March, 1320 (1321 New Calendar)

Arnaud de Monesple, Priest

In the cemetery of the Church of Saint-Jean-Martyr of Pamiers




Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Jean de Beaune, Dominican, Inquisitor,




That same Sunday as assigned above, the said Arnaud appeared before the said Lord Bishop and Inquisitor in the said cemetery and they proceeded then to pronounce the sentence on the said Arnaud in the terms which follow: "Let all know., etc." This sentence may be seen in the Book of sentences.


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







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

This text ppears to be corrupt. The dates do not stack up. Also the text does not suggest any serious fault - Arnaud de Monesple is more of a witness against Arnaud the Drunkard. Yet the presence of Jean de Beaune, Inquisitor, at the sentencing suggests a serious penalty for persistent heresy. Is it Arnaud the Drunkard who was sentenced?

Arnaud's case is contained in the same deposition as Mengarde de Pomiès, condemned as she was to major pilgrimages.


















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Author: James McDonald MA, MSc.
Title: Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Date last modified: 8 February 2017


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