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Papal Legates Against the Albigensians: The Debts of the Church of Valence (1215–1250)

From: Traditio
Volume 68, 2013
pp. 259-276 | 10.1353/trd.2013.0003

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In 1232 Pope Gregory IX (r. 1227–41) imposed a tenth of episcopal revenues on prelates of Occitania to subsidize the church of Valence, which owed 10,000 pounds tournois to various bankers of Vienne, Rome, Lyons, and Siena. In 1865 B. Hauréau first noted the event when he edited one of the main documents in the Gallia christiana volume concerning the ecclesiastical province of Vienne. With the publication of Gregory IX’s register from 1890–1908 most of the facts of the tax were more widely available. In 1910 Ulysse Chevalier briefly mentioned the tax in his monograph on the long tenure of John of Bernin, archbishop of Vienne (r. 1218–66). In 1913, Heinrich Zimmermann cited Hauréau’s text in a note in his detailed treatment of early thirteenth-century papal legations. Recently Alain Marchandisse reviewed eight of the eleven papal letters pertaining to the tax in his study of William of Savoy (d. 1239) as bishop-elect of Liège. These scholars provided no reason for the debt or why the papacy would take such measures to ensure payment. Perhaps they did not study this tax further because a church indebted to moneylenders is not in itself surprising. It appears that the church of Valence acquired the debt, very large compared to the church’s income, when bishop-elect William of Savoy (r. 1225–39) waged war against Adhémar II of Poitiers-Valentinois, count of the Valentinois (r. 1189–1239). Struggles between bishops and the local nobility occurred on a regular basis throughout the Middle Ages, so what in this unimportant Rhone-valley diocese interested the pope enough to impose taxes on prelates of Occitania over twenty years to ensure payment of this debt? Adhémar II faithfully supported Raymond VI (r. 1194–1222) and Raymond VII (r. 1222–49) of Saint-Gilles, counts of Toulouse, throughout their struggle with the papacy during and following the Albigensian crusades. Adhémar II was also their vassal for the Diois, which borders the Valentinois on the southeast and comprised the northern portion of the marquisate of Provence. These lands had been reserved for the church in the Treaty of Meaux-Paris (1229), which ended the Albigensian crusades. Thus William of Savoy as bishop-elect of Valence defended the papacy’s claims on the marquisate of Provence, which the papacy deemed part of the larger struggle between the Roman church and the counts of Toulouse. The facts on the nature of the debts and the steps the papacy took to aid the diocese show that the local struggle between the bishop of Valence and the count of the Valentinois embodied a part of the larger struggle between the papacy and the counts of Toulouse over the marquisate of Provence, which began as early as 1215.

The Papacy and the Marquisate of Provence

The papacy’s interest in the lands of the marquisate of Provence first surfaced at the Fourth Lateran Council, when the fate of the House of Saint Gilles was decided. In early November of 1215, the dramatis personae arrived in Rome to plead their respective causes, including, among others, Raymond VI, his wife, the countess Eleanor, and the younger Raymond VII. Simon de Montfort did not come in person to Rome, but he sent his brother, Guy de Montfort, as his proxy. In a closed session, following presentations by representatives of the two sides, and debate, the pope decided in favor of the minority, who wished to award the Toulouse lands and titles to Simon de Montfort. When Innocent opened the third plenary session on 30 November, he announced his decision to the rest of the members of the council, and two weeks later he confirmed it in a general decree (ordinatio) addressed to all Christianity. Raymond VI was judged “negligent” (culpabilis) for harboring heretics and mercenaries (ruptarii), given an annual pension, and ordered to do penance in exile. Moreover, the parts of those lands that had been conquered by the crusaders were awarded to their leader, Simon de Montfort. The “remaining land,” which had not been conquered by the crusaders, was held in trust by the papacy and reserved for the younger Raymond VII...

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