Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 21: Criticism of Society: Jews, Heretics and Friars

Assigned Reading:


I. Introduction - Critical Societies A. Criticism of society. An important concept in the West. But also as important is a tradition of repressing dissent. We can see the beginnings of much of the modern oppression of various groups in the West in the high middle ages. B. Types of society -Simple and complex -Monolithic and pluralistic Simple agricultural societies would tend to be monolithic Most people's lives would be similar. Like the West in the early middle ages. Most people lived on farms, and scrambled for survival. Monks lived in highly structure societies. C. What changed? As should have become evident, the growth of medieval Europe in all areas of life had gone on at an enormous rate in the period after 1050. In particular -Towns -Spread of education - even to lay people -spread of serious interest in religion (qualify. Society was no longer simple. There were many more social roles. Some people had time to think and criticize society. D. Criticism and religion Religion permeated medieval society. It told people how they should live and provided a model to live up to. It was the obvious place to express discontent. Such discontent could go two ways, as heresy or reform. II. Heresy A. Define Heresy Means `choosing' Sociologically it means rejection of a dominant belief. B. Medieval Tabula Rasa Heresy in early centuries of the Church was common - Arianism, Monophysitism. But after barbarian invasions, and conversions of Arian peoples it died out. People to busy living. 1000-1050 - 8 refs. to heresy 1050-1100 - no refs. in sources to heresy C. Twelfth Century - things begin to change -Towns are rising -education at schools and proto-universities is beginning. -Points to an important division in medieval heresy, between popular and intellectual heresy. D. Intellectual Heresy In last class we discussed beginnings of new studies in philosophy and theology. These studies tended to lead certain thinkers off the beaten tracks of Catholic doctrine. -due to re-reading the Bible -Taking Neoplatonism in a non-Christian way -Reading Aristotle Abelard - condemned for applying logic to faith. Roscelin - Nominalism destroys the church. Siger of Brabant - attacked transubstantiation Philosophers who used Aristotle -David of Dinant - taken with the powers of logic. -Even Aquinas suffered serious attacks after his death. -Averroism - notion of double truth. All these thinkers kept there belief in the schools, but were challenged by the Orthodox in any case But there were also intellectual heresiarchs -no absolute distinction -Joachim of Fiore - Three ages of incarnation Got taken up by millenarians But rejected the idea of the trinity -Amaury of Bene - A Platonic panentheist -had popular followers - turned ideas into mysticism -condemned at a council in Paris in 1210 E. Popular Reformism As important as intellectual heretics were the popular heresies - ones professed by large numbers of people. Popular heresy could be either fairly main stream in its theology, or essentially non-Christian. In either case reformism played an important role. Reformism - basic in Christianity - see Greg VII In 12th century we can see the rise of wandering preachers, -Robert of Arbriselle, who founder Fontrevault, -Peter the Hermit -These orthodox preachers often found the pace of reform insufficient, -Idea of vita apostolica, Idea of holiness very important. Preaching - it became very popular to hear preachers. Probably not done well, if at all, by local parish priests So you get a phenomenon of wandering preachers. -This soon spills over into heresy. III. Popular Heresy - Catharism Probably the biggest major heresy of the middle ages. Cathars were dualists, rather than deviant Christians. A. Origins - Name is German not Greek (Hollister wrong. -Attempts have been made to trace them back to a group to which St. Augustine belonged, the Manicheans. Not provable. Paulicians - 7th century Anatolia Byzantine emperors engaged in transfer of populations quite often, especially to safeguard frontiers. -Some Paulician were transferred to Thrace - still there in 18th century. -Their ideas seem to have influenced or merged with a sect which grew up in Bulgaria - the Bogomils. -The Bogomils develop an entire heretical Church, which in some areas - Bosnia - totally dominates. They have bishops. -The Bogomils were missionary about their faith. -Spreads to Western Europe -Evidence from the Rhineland in 1143-4. Also spreads in the south of France - Albigensians. B. Beliefs - Caution: evidence only from opponents -Dualism - a basic human religion. Seeks to explain problem of evil. -Monarchist - one God creator, but Devil makes world. Radical dualist - two co-equal principles. -Some dispute within Catharism - 1167 St. Felix de Caraman adopts a radical line. Cathar Theology develops. -Theology of soul locked in body. Matter is Evil. -Therefore Cathars opposed to procreation, children, and all sacraments - grace cannot come through matter. No priests, no Baptism, no Church. -Jesus just some sort of angel. C. Why Catharism was Attractive. 1. Medieval people not necessarily living in a world in which matter was comfortable. Still that's not enough to explain popularity. 2. Reform ideas in Catholicism made people critical of, e.g.. lax clergy. The clergy did not necessarily get any worse, but it was held to higher standards. So a certain amount of anticlericalism 3. Also feelings of guilt about material wealth. Avarice as the big medieval sin. 4. Attraction of Cathar Organization Catharism did not demand that people all live its life at one go. Division between the perfecti and the believers. Consolamentum could make you a perfecti, but could be received once. Most Cathars received it on death bed. (stories of starving consolati to death.. For believers they were under no necessity to keep all the rules of the perfecti. But they could reject the Catholic Church D. Languedoc Catharism became particularly popular in Languedoc in late 12th century, -Cathar bishops went round preaching their faith. It tied in to several orthodox themes. The stories and myths were popular. -Gave nobles a chance to confiscate Catholic property. -Church not able to resist - fairly weak leaders. IV. Popular Heresy - Waldensians The other major heretical group. A. Origins - 1173 "Peter" Valdez/Waldo in Lyons -Poor Men of Lyons -Preached in the streets, appealed for Church support -Waldo visited Lateran III 1179 for approval. -He was refused: considered dangerous to the clergy. The Waldensians would not stop. They developed a critique of the Church and its wealth. 1281 - the Archbishop of Lyons banished them so they spread all over - Bohemia, Languedoc, Picardy, Piedmont. Picked up some Cathar ideas in structure - e.g. perfecti, while in N. Italy. -Spread in Italy - still exists B. Reformers -They wanted to reform the Church. -They emphasized the Bible. -Were anti sacramental and anti-hierarchical -In particular they objected to the Church having wealth. They claimed to be orthodox - confession of faith 1184 -Attacked Cathar dualism -support OT and NT -Said no salvation outside church. V. Orthodox Reformism - The Friars The Friars must be seen against the background of heresy, as they spring from the same background, have similar motives, but eventually help the Church to destroy heresy. Friars = mendicants. Cf. older monastics, cf. Newer orders such as SJs A. Franciscans - Caritas 1. St. Francis 1186-1226 People though Christ had come to earth again a. Assisi - Rich trading town Very parochial - e.g.. vs. Perugia b. Wealth - Francis father was a rich merchant c. Conversion -Mystical experience - threw off clothes, Christ spoke to him d. The New Christ - Kissing lepers / AIDS e. Lady Poverty - even books f. Stigmata 1224 g. Attractiveness of his spirituality To Catholics at the time Holy people are not necessarily to be imitated. h. Canonized within 2 years 2. The Order a. Followers b. Innocent III - 1210 c. Rule 3. St. Clare and the Poor Clares Wanted to live as Francis but confined to a convent. 4. Development a. Money - Popes held it for them b. Split ups c. Condemnation of poverty 5. Impossible to live up to St. Francis B. Dominicans - Veritas 1. St. Dominic Guzman 1170-1221 - Spanish His mother's dream - Domini canes 2. Augustinians - Canons - semi-monastics 3. Dominic and Cathars - Involvement of Catalonia 4. The Order - 1216 5. Development - Study above all The great intellectual order until the SJs. VI. The Formation of a Persecuting Society ref. R.I. Moore. A. Reaction to Challenge of Critics -Emphasize clerical church. -Attack others. B. The Inquisition 1. Roman Law judicial procedure 2. Origins - Episcopal Inquisitions Gregory IX - 1234 3. Roman and Spanish 4. Rationale - Force can make you believe. 5. State aid. C. Heretics Albigensian Crusade Killing of Peter of Castelnau in 1208 Montsegur 1209 D. Jews - also increased attacks Attacks on Talmud Expulsions in 1290s E. Homosexuals Gay culture in 12th century Origin of word Bugger in Bogomils. Templars Death.

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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