Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Condemnation of Guillaume Guilabert of Montaillou




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Source Documents: Condemnation of Guillaume Guilabert of Montaillou





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

Inquisitors are interested in three things:

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

Those accused were sometimes kept temporarily in a tower belonging to the Bishop under the control of the Bishop's jailer. Some, especially those facing more serious accusations were kept in another prison at the Chateau des Allemans, where hearings also took place. Sentences were read out at separate public events, generally in a cemetery - either the cemetery of the Church of Saint-Jean-Martyr in Pamiers or the cemetery of the Church at Allemans. For a first offense fully admitted the accused might be imprisoned at the Wall in Carcassonne, or given a penance such as having to go on pilgrimage. They would also have to wear conspicuous yellow crosses sewn into the front and back of their clothes. For second offenses or first offenses where the accused refused to acknowledge their supposed errors the penalty was death. Baptized Cathars and Waldensians both refused to swear oaths and this was itself sufficient to warrant death. Such "impenitent heretics" were burned alive immediately in the graveyard immediately after the sentence had been announced. There was no appeal.






date and place





14 January 1321 [1322],

Guillaume Guilabert of Montaillou


Bishop's palace of Pamiers

Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne,

Arnaud du Carla, of the order of Preachers of the convent of Pamiers,

Bernard de Centelles, monk of Fontfroide

David, monk of Fontfroide

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary



Proceedings Brought and Completed against Guillaume Guilabert, a deceased heretic of Montaillou.






The year of the Lord 1321, the 14th of January (January 14, 1322); since it has been discovered by the depositions and avowals of certain persons made in the matter of heresy, some of which were given before the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, and some before the venerable and religious person Brother Jean de Beaune, Inquisitor in the realm of France commissioned by the Apostolic See, and more particularly of the Inquisition of Carcassonne, that the late Guillaume Guilabert, son of Jean Guilabert of Montaillou, was received and hereticated in the condemned sect of heretics at the end of his days, and he died a condemnable death in the same sect; my said Lord Bishop, wishing to inquire concerning the said deceased boy as much in his own name as in the name of my said lord Inquisitor, who has given in a delegation to this effect, and to offer the means of defense to the inheritors, neighbours and possessors of the goods of the said late Guillaume, and generally to all those who wish and are able in law to defend the said Guillaume Guilabert, sent the same year and day as above a letter of citation to these persons, who might wish or be able in law to defend or excuse the said late Guillaume Guilabert, to the rector of the church of Montaillou or to his vicar, a letter of which the tenor is the following:


"Brother Jacques, by divine mercy the Bishop of Pamiers, to the rector of the church of Montaillou or to his vicar, eternal salvation in the Lord.


Since it has resulted from an inquest made both by us and by the religious person Brother Jean de Beaune, of the Order of Preachers, Inquisitor in the realm of France in residence at Carcassonne, against the heretics and their believers, helpers and defenders and generally against all persons touched by the heretical depravation, that the late Guillaume Guilabert of Montaillou was received into the condemned sect of the heretics at the end of his life and was hereticated and that he died in a condemnable manner in this sect, as had been attested; in virtue as much of our judicial authority as that of the said Inquisitor delegated to us in its entirety and in part, under pain of canonical sanctions that we wish you to incur ipso facto by the fact of our present admonition, if you do not do what we command you;


We command you as a strict order to have cited for our part and at once, after you have read this, credible witnesses, children, heirs, neighbours and inheritors of the goods of the said late Guillaume Guilabert, and generally all those who wish or can legally defend the late above named Guillaume Guilabert, to appear before us at our episcopal seat of Pamiers on Tuesday in the octave of the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 5th of the Ides of February (9 February 1322) before tierce, there to speak and offer all that they judge useful to reasonably offer to excuse or to defend the said dead boy, and in any case there to see and hear the publication of what has been discovered against the said Guillaume Guilabert, and generally to do what is necessary in the said affair, if they are judged to have any interest in it; and telling them that, whether they appear or not, we will proceed regardless in the said affair conforming to the procedure, style and privileges of the Inquisition, notwithstanding their absence.


You shall make public our present order of citation as much in the house where the said late Guillaume, his children, neighbours and heirs live or lived as well as at the church, with the clergy and the people united to hear the divine office on the Sundays and feast days which intervene just until the said Tuesday; you will make a public act of this citation, which you will send to us before and including this said Tuesday;
! in faith of which we have judged it good to place our seal on the present letters.


Given at our episcopal seat of Pamiers, the 18th of January 1321 (1322).


The Rector, or his Vicar, wrote this citation, as indicated by his seal placed on the back of this letter of citation.


On the Tuesday of the octave of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, appointed to the children, heirs, neighbours and possessors of the goods of the said late Guillaume Guilabert, and more generally assigned to all those who might wish or be able by right to defend him, no person appeared, who wished or could defend him, nor did anyone bring anything in his defense, although such defenses were waited for until the hour of tierce on the said day, the hour fixed in the said letter of citation. And these defenses were called for openly on the order of my said Lord Bishop by Jacques Escudié, the porter of My Lord the Bishop at the exterior door of the bishopric of Pamiers three times, according to custom, in the presence of the religious persons Brothers Gaillard de Pomiès and Arnaud du Carla of the order of Preachers of the convent of Pamiers. And since no one appeared, through the course of the entire day, although my said Lord Bishop awaited any and all persons for the entire day in his episcopal seat of Pamiers. For this reasons they were declared in default.


The tenor of the act of which mention was made in the letter of citation is the following:


"The year of the Incarnation of Christ 1321 (1322), with King Philip reigning. Let all people know that My Lord Raimond Trilhe, a priest performing the duties of curé of Montaillou, appearing in the presence of myself, notary, and the witnesses below before the heirs and the neighbours of the late Guillaume Guilabert of Montaillou, has read and presented a letter of the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord the Bishop of Pamiers, sealed with his seal, clearly visible on the outside, of which the tenor is the following:

"Brother Jacques.......of the inquest, made, etc.." (the present letter is inserted above, and it is clear that it ought to be placed here in the present citation.)

By the order and authority of these letters, the said curé cited the said heirs and neighbours to appear, the day, hour and place contained in this letter, in person, before my said Lord Bishop, there to speak within reason on the content of these letters; the said curé requiring me, the notary below, to record the public act of the publication and reading of these letters and these citations.


Given at Montaillou, the Sunday after the Feast of Saint Vincent the Martyr (24 January 1322). Witnesses are: Philippe Castel, lieutenant of the châtelain of Montaillou, Raimond Clergue and Pierre Rive de Montaillou, as well as many other men of the said town.


And I Prades Ayméric, notary public of the county of Foix, who has written and signed this charter.

(In the place of whom I, Jean Jabbaud, clerk, have faithfully transcribed and corrected the original.)


After this, the following year, on the 18th of the month of February (18 February 1322) another subsequent letter of citation was sent, by the special grace of the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers above said, and sealed with his seal on the back of the letter, of which the tenor is the following.


"Brother Jacques........notwithstanding their absence." (identical text to the letter above)


Since the said children, heirs, neighbours and possessors of the goods of the said late Guillaume have not deemed it worthwhile to appear on this day, nor to send anyone on their account, for this reason they have been declared to be in default, and for these reasons, since this time is the second time of default, we order you to have these children cited and at once by special appear before us at our episcopal seat of Pamiers the Saturday after Ash Wednesday before tierce (27 February
1322).....before the Saturday the present letter." (otherwise identical to text above).


Send these letters to the messenger after your seal has been placed on them as a sign of this mandate being received and accomplished.


Given in our above mentioned episcopal seat, the 18th of February, the year of the Lord 1321 (1322).


The same Saturday after Ash Wednesday, appointed to the children.....according to custom in the presence of Masters Pierre Pasquier and Philippe Theulier, notaries of Cintegabelle, and of me, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord the Bishop abovenamed. And because of default. (same formula as above.)


Before the day of Saturday before Ash Wednesday, appointed in the letter of citation, the act mentioned in this second letter was sent by Raimond Trilhe, priest, an act of which the tenor follows:


In the year of the Incarnation of Christ 1321 (1322), King Philippe reigning. Let all know that My Lord Raimond Trilhe....the witnesses below, before Sibille, sister of the late Guillaume Guilabert and Martin Guilabert her husband, who possess the goods of the said Guillaume, of Bernard Marty, Arnaud Marty and Jean Fort, cousins of the said Guillaume, of Bernard Faure, nephew of the said Guillaume of Raimond Fort, Guillaume Argelier and Isarn, his uncles of Montaillou, reading was given......citations.

Duvernoy's note: same redaction as the citation above, with different witnesses.

This wealth of citations can only have one aim: to exhume the bones of Guillaume Guilabert from the cemetery of Montaillou, since he was designated the heir of his father, Jean Giulabert before his death. Because of this fact, Jean's property is liable for confiscation from the hands of his daughter Sibille, who inherited it.)

Given at Montaillou the Monday before the Feast of Saint Matthew Apostle (22 February 1322). Witnesses are: Guillaume Capelle, Bernard Benet, Bernard Clergue, Bernard Joulia, Jean Benet, Raimond Argelier and Pierre Benet of Montaillou.


And I, Prades Malet of Prades, notary public of the County of Foix, who has received and written this charter.


After this, the same year as above, the 19th of March, I myself, Guillaume PeyreBarthe, notary of my said Lord Bishop, was sent by him to the château of Allemans, to know from Alamande, wife of Jean Guilabert, and from Alazaïs, the wife of Arnaud Faure, of Montaillou, imprisoned in this château for the crime of heresy, if they wished to defend the said Guillaume, son of Alamande, and brother of Alazaïs, of whom it was discovered that he had been received and hereticated in the condemned sect of heretics, and that he had died in a culpable fashion; and to assign to the said women a certain date, if they wished to defend the said dead man, before my said Lord Bishop, to the end of speaking there and proposing all that they reasonably wished to excuse and defend the said dead man, and to hear there the public reading of that which had been discovered against him.


These women, present in the château of Allemans where they were being detained, before me the notary above mentioned and Raimond Gasc, Raimond Delbosc and Arnaud de Larcat of Allemans, witnesses convoked for this purpose, were interrogated by me about and concerning the subject of all that precedes, responded that they did not wish to defend the said dead man, nor propose anything for this defense, nor to see or hear the public reading of what had been discovered against him, because they were aware that he had been hereticated at the end of his days, as they had testified before My Lord the Bishop, but that they submitted themselves on all of those points to the wisdom of my said Lord Bishop, and asked, as they themselves affirmed, that My Lord the Bishop do concerning these matters that which justice would require.


After this, the year of the Lord 1322, the 25th of May, since the parents, neighbours the possessors of good and others persons who could have appeared to defend and excuse the said Guillaume Guilabert, accused of having been hereticated at the end of his life and of being a heretic, cited two times (as customary) to appear on the days appointed to them, have not believed that they ought to appear, even though the citation has been made to them as the result of the public act mentioned above and that the seal of the curé or his vicar was placed on the letters of citation; that after the day appointed to them just until today they have not believed they ought to appear or defend the said dead man, but on the contrary have responded that they did not hear nor did not wish to defend or excuse him; by these facts, my said Lord Bishop, proceeding with the publication of testimonies against the said dead man, in the absence of the above-mentioned persons who could or ought to defend and excuse him by right, and of whom the default is now equal to the presence, renders public the deposition of witnesses received against the said Guillaume Guilabert and orders them to be published. The same Lord Bishop concludes the present case, considers it renounced and proceeds now to the sentence.


Done the year, day and place as above, in the presence and witness of the religious persons Brothers Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, Arnaud du Carla, O.P. of the convent of Pamiers, David and Bernard de Taïx, monks of Fontfroide, Master Guillaume Nadin, notary of My Lord the Bishop, and of mister Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, rector of Vira, notary of My Lord the Bishop in all causes concerning the Catholic faith, on account of and by the wish of myself, Arnaud Raimond-Falcou, cleric of the place of whom I myself, Jean Jabbaud, cleric of Toulouse, have faithfully transcribed from the original and corrected all that precedes.





Duvernoy's Note:

The exhumation and cremation of the remains of Guillaume Guilabert was ordered in a Sermon of 5 July 1322. (Hist. Inquisitionis, p. 333). Ed. latin, II, p. 255-257.






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
























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