Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe
Publication Year: 1980
Throughout the Middle Ages and early modern Europe theological uniformity was synonymous with social cohesion in societies that regarded themselves as bound together at their most fundamental levels by a religion. To maintain a belief in opposition to the orthodoxy was to set oneself in opposition not merely to church and state but to a whole culture in all of its manifestations. From the eleventh century to the fifteenth, however, dissenting movements appeared with greater frequency, attracted more followers, acquired philosophical as well as theological dimensions, and occupied more and more the time and the minds of religious and civil authorities. In the perception of dissent and in the steps taken to deal with it lies the history of medieval heresy and the force it exerted on religious, social, and political communities long after the Middle Ages.
In this volume, Edward Peters makes available the most compact and wide-ranging collection of source materials in translation on medieval orthodoxy and heterodoxy in social context.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Introduction: Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe
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The debates about the nature of Christian belief and the sources of legitimate authority in the Christian community that began to trouble the peace of the early churches two thousand years ago had both immediate and longer-lasting effects. From the epistles of st. Paul to the great age of church councils in the fifth and sixth centuries, the twin concepts of orthodoxy and ...
I "THE HERETICS OF OLD": THE DEFINITION OF ORTHODOXY AND HERESY IN LATE ANTIQUITY AND THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES
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The first Christian communities grew up in the Jewish and pagan worlds of the first century. By the second century they had defined themselves as spiritually separate from both. But the process of separation was never as complete as the Christians thought; many conscious and unconscious bonds still tied them to the thought world of late antiquity, as the presence and character of conflicting beliefs within the Christian communities clearly ...
II THE PROBLEM OF REFORM, DISSENT, AND HERESY IN THE ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CENTURIES
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The eleventh and twelfth centuries have been regarded by most modern historians as marking a new beginning in European history. With the ending of Viking, Magyar, and Arab invasions and the growth of population and agricultural productivity, European society developed rapidly through the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Scholars have traced the consequences ...
III THE CATHARS
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The widely diverse forms of religious dissent that troubled Christian Europe between 1000 and 1145 are difficult to catalogue and systematize. They appear to have sprung from different sources and to have manifested themselves differently, although most of them can be related to the religious temper of the age and the movement for reform that touched all aspects of ...
IV THE WALDENSIANS
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Historians have sometimes argued that Catharism was not really a heresy at all, but an entirely different religion from Christianity, and in spite of its popularity, its organization, and its selective reliance upon scripture, it stands in stark contrast to many of the dissenting and heretical movements seen so far. However, movements which praised apostolic poverty criticized ...
V THE WAY OF CARITAS: PREACHING, PENITENCE, AND PASTORALISM
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A modern historian has characterized the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries as "a period of considerable flexibility and real experiment in dealing with dissident movements." In tracing the history of ecclesiastical response to religious dissent, historians have often neglected the way of caritas in their haste to get on to the way of potestas—the Albigensian Crusade, the ...
VI THE WAY OF POTESTAS: CRUSADE AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS
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As early as the eleventh century, heretics, dissidents, and reformers had been physically persecuted and killed, but the first stirrings of violence against dissidents were usually the result of popular resentment. Although Roman law contained severe strictures against heretics and schismatics, it was not consistently known or applied during the eleventh and early twelfth ...
VII INTELLECTUAL POSITIONS CONDEMNED IN THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CENTURIES
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The monastic heresies of the ninth century-Adoption ism (above, no. 8), Gottschalk's concern with predestination, and others-and such cases as that of Berengar of Tours in the eleventh century and Peter Abelard in the early twelfth (above, nos. 13-14) were the result of disputes at the most learned and least popular levels of society. Even the well-known case of Abelard had ...
VIII THE SPIRITUAL FRANCISCANS AND VOLUNTARY POVERTY
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The devotional movements of the early thirteenth century are particularly striking in their variety and in their tendency to exist always on the margins of ecclesiastical approval. Some dissenting groups remained outside the pale of orthodoxy, while others—the Humiliati for instance—managed to stay just inside the boundaries the legitimacy, at least as those boundaries were ...
IX PEASANT CATHARS IN THE ARIÈGE IN THE EARLY FOURTEENTH CENTURY
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Between 1318 and 1325 Jacques Fournier, Cistercian monk, former abbot of Fontfroide, bishop of Pamiers (and later Pope Benedict XII), conducted an inquisition in his diocese, located at the foot of the Pyrenees. Pamiers had been erected into a diocese by Pope Boniface VIII in 1295 particularly to check the lively surviving Catharism in the area. Fournier's ...
X THE AGE OF WYCLIF AND HUS
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The last quarter of the fourteenth century and the first quarter of the fifteenth are dominated by two great critics of the Church, John Wyclif in England and John Hus in Bohemia. Both were university graduates in theology, Wyclif from Oxford and Hus from Prague, and both began their careers as scholars and teachers, developed points of view from which they ...
Sources and Acknowledgments
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 1980