Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Pierre Magre de Rabat




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Source Documents: Interrogation of Pierre Magre de Rabat





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 Pierre Magre de Rabat


Pierre's crime was to have witnessed a Cathar baptism some 18 years earlier and not to have reported it to the Inquisition.



Interrogation of Pierre Magre de Rabat





21 April 1320,

Pierre Magre de Rabat
In the Chamber of the House of the Provost of the Abbey of Rabat



Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for the Inquisitor of Carcassonne,

Pierre du Verdier, Archdeacon of Majorca

Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary



Confession of Pierre Magre, of Rabat


The year of the Lord 1320, the 21st of April. Since it has come to the attention of the Reverend Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, by the Grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, that Pierre Magre of Rabat was strongly suspected of heresy, that he knew of the heretication of the late Pierre Amiel of Rabat, and that he has committed crimes in this matter of heresy, which he has not yet confessed, my said Lord Bishop, wishing to know the truth about that which precedes, had him called into the chamber of the house of the provost of the abbey of Rabat, with the assistance of Brother Gaillard de Pomiès, substitute for My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne and in the presence of the venerable person My Lord Pierre du Verdier, Archdeacon of Majorca and of myself, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary for My Lord the Bishop, witnesses to this convocation. The said Pierre, having taken an oath on the four holy Gospels of God to tell the pure and entire truth on that which precedes and other facts touching the Catholic faith, as much concerning himself as cited as concerning others living and dead as witness, said and avowed:


When Pierre Amiel was sick with the illness of which he was to die - I do not recall the time, probably about 18 years ago - one Tuesday, I came to Rabat from Tarascon where I had been to the market. Having arrived at the place called Plan de Serres, in the parish of Rabat, at the hour of dusk, I found there Guillaume Delaire of Quié with another man. He asked me to go with them to the place called La Campagne, and I did so. Along the way, Guillaume told me that this man was called André and he was one of those they call Good Christians, and that he was going to Pierre Amiel's house in Rabat where the said André had received Pierre Amiel into his sect and faith, and had made him a Good Christian.


André de Prades
= Prades Tavernier


Good Christians

= Baptised Cathars

I went along with them just to the place called La Campagne.


Did you hear this heretic say anything about this affair?



Did you believe that Pierre Amiel had been made a heretic?

Yes, because Guillaume Delaire told me so.

"made a heretic"

= Baptised as a Cathar

Did you believe that Pierre Amiel had done well to make himself a heretic?

At the time, I believed that what he had done was good. But now, I believe that he did ill.


In what sort of fabric was this André clothed?

I do not remember, and I could not see it very well, because it was dark.

Inquisitors are often interested in the dress of Cathar Perfects (presumably for future reference)

By what road were you and Guillaume Delaire leading this heretic?

We passed near by field and the orchard of the provost of Rabat.


Did you see this heretic at any time after this?



What were the height and physique of this André?

He was the same height as Guillaume Delaire, and he walked looking down, with his hood on and very fast, as if he were hurrying away, but he did not run.


Have you confessed yourself otherwise to My Lord the Inquisitor of Carcassonne?

No, because I was not interrogated about this.


Did rumors of this heretication circulate through Rabat?

There was talk of it.

"heretication" - the Inquisitors' name for Cathar baptism, also known as the Consolamentum

Did you adore this heretic?


"adore" - the Inquisitors' term for a ritual greeting of a baptised Cathar by a Cathar beliver

And he said nothing else of relevance, though interrogated diligently.





7 March 1320,

Pierre Magre de Rabat
In the Episcopal Chamber of the Bishop's Palace at Pamiers



Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers

Brother Jean de Beaune, Dominican Inquisitor

Germain de Castelnau, archdeaon of the church of Pamiers,

Pons, Dominican companion of the Inquisitor

and of us Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of the bishop,

Barthélemy Adalbert, notary of the Inquisition,




this date is earlier than tat of the previous interrogation

After this, the year of the Lord 1321, the 7th of March, the said Pierre, appearing judicially in the chamber of the bishop's palace of Pamiers before my said Lord Bishop and the religious person Brother Jean de Beaune, of the order of preachers, Inquisitor of the heretical deviation in the realm of France, commissioned by the apostolic see, on the day for which he had been cited by the letters of my said lords bishop and Inquisitor, said and acknowledged under oath and by faith that the confession he had made before my said Lord Bishop, which was read intelligibly to him in the vulgar tongue, as it is contained above, was true in fact and contained the truth, that he wished to hold and persevere in the said confession and never contravene it, nor propose defenses by which it could be rendered invalid or any point of it annulled.

He added to this confession that he believes and believed that Prades Tavernier, the heretic, was a good man, and he had believed this for a long time.


And for all and each one of these facts he submitted himself to the will and mercy of the said bishop and Inquisitor, renounced and finished with the above-mentioned facts and asked that sentence be given.
And the above-mentioned lords bishop and Inquisitor assigned a day to the said Pierre to hear definitive sentence of the facts avowed above, to wit, the following Sunday, March 8th in the house of the Preachers of Pamiers.


Done the year and day above, in the presence of the religious persons My Lord Germain de Castelnau, Archdeacon of the church of Pamiers, and Brother Pons, companion of my said lord Inquisitor, and of us Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My Lord the Bishop, and Barthélemy Adalbert, notary of the Inquisition, who have received and written the said ratification of the confession of the said Pierre.


On the Sunday assigned to the said Pierre, he appeared in the cemetery of Saint-Jean-Martyr of Pamiers and he was given a sentence by our said lords bishop and Inquisitor as follows: "Let all know...." See this sentence in the Book of Sentences of the Inquisition.


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








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

Prades Tavernier, weaver of Prades, was a Cathar perfect, arrested for the first time in 1305 with Jacques Authié. He evaded the dungeon of the Wall of Carcassonne, but was recaptured and burned later. He had taken the name André and was called André de Prades by believers. His story is told in the depositions of the believers of Prades and Montaillou, many of whom are from his family.

Pierre Magre was condemned to the dungeon of the Wall on March 8, 1321.
He was released with a simple wearing of crosses in a sermon given on July 4, 1322. (Historia Inquisitionis p. 294)














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Title: Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Date last modified: 8 February 2017


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