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Archiepiscopal Inquisitions in the Middle Rhine: Urban Anticlericalism and Waldensianism in Late Fourteenth-Century Mainz

From: The Catholic Historical Review
Volume 92, Number 3, July 2006
pp. 197-224 | 10.1353/cat.2006.0175

Abstract

In the autumn of 1390, archiepiscopal inquisitors launched a sudden and unprecedented campaign against Waldensian heretics in the middle-Rhineland city of Mainz. By the end of 1393, at least thirty-nine men and women, both laity and clergy, had been burned at the stake in what would be one of the bloodiest and most complex inquisitions of late-medieval Germany. Based on analysis of hitherto overlooked or unknown source material, this article sets forth the context, course, and significance of the Mainz prosecutions, and challenges the standard interpretation that fourteenth-century Waldensianism was a rural phenomenon of little interest to German bishops.