Cathars. It’s true that much of the fiction written about Cathars concerns their communities in Languedoc. God understood that the souls who had fallen would have to work their way back to his grace and that they could do so through struggling with these bodies so he made a deal with the devil: the devil could do as he liked with the bodies, but the souls which animated them belonged to God. The Albigensian Crusade directed against this region in the first quarter of the 13th century CE takes its name from Albi, the cathedral city 65 kilometres north-east of Toulouse. Change ), Discover the richness and variety of the human experience, Dina Rezk, ‘Social Listening’ in the Past, Present and Future. ( Log Out / The damsel-in-distress was the feminine principle of God, Sophia, who had been abducted by the Catholic Church, and the brave knight was the Cathar adherent who loved, served, and was sworn to rescue her. The devil replied that they could not because he had fashioned for them bodies which would bind them to earth and cause them to forget all about heaven. Scholar Martin Erbstosser notes how “it was the life of the perfecti rather than the teachings of the heretics which played the key part here” (92). Related Content They were a heretical sect of Christians who lived in Southern France during the 11th and 12th centuries. They shared their possessions and took care of each other as a family. The cathars are expelled from Carcassonne, in the year 1209 Cathars viewed even sex within marriage and reproduction as evil, and so lived strict lives of abstention. This practice, according to some scholars, gave birth to the most popular literary genre of the Middle Ages: the poetry of courtly love. They equated this evil god, or Satan, to the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and only used the New Testament, particularly the Book of John, as their Gospel. To this end, the Cathars observed a strict hierarchy: Cathars rejected the teachings of the Catholic Church as immoral and most of the books of the Bible as inspired by Satan. The word 'Cathar' comes the Greek word katharos meaning 'unpolluted' (from Tobias Churton, The Gnostics) or "the pure ones". The so-called heretical movements of the Middle Ages such as the Bogomils, the Cathars, and the Waldensians were simply the latest challenges to the Church, but they were significant because they were the first to set themselves up as a legitimate alternative to Catholicism in any form. MEDIEVAL CATHARISM Medieval Catharism was widespread throughout Occitania (currently the South of France) and the kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, Italy, Germany and Flanders, from the 11th till the beginning of the 14th century. Medieval Languedoc was a region of southern France with its unofficial capital at Toulouse. Siege of the last Cathar stronghold Montsegur. Once the soul renounced the body and all its temptations, it would be freed to return to God and resume its former state. They criticized the Church heavily for the hypocrisy, greed, and lechery of its clergy, and the Church’s acquisition of land and wealth. Metempsychosis (Reincarnation) – a soul would be continually reborn until it renounced the world completely and escaped incarnation. This view contrasted sharply with the Church’s vision of a Garden of Eden in which woman, in the form of Eve, had caused humanity’s fall by seducing Adam into eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and of humanity’s later redemption from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the son of a single, all-powerful, male god. The Cathars, therefore, repudiated the symbol of the cross and a literal reading of any of the biblical books. Many souls were seduced and for nine days and nine nights they fell through the hole in heaven the devil had created. Pope Innocent then called for a crusade against Southern France, promising the nobles of the north that they could keep all the rich lands and booty of their southern neighbors after the Cathars had been killed and their supporters crushed. Whether the poetry was religious allegory helping spread the faith or whether the Cathars simply provided a better alternative to the corrupt and power-hungry medieval church, by the late 12th century CE, Catharism was winning more adherents than ever. Mark, published on 02 April 2019 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Some scholars have suggested, in fact, that the growth of the Cult of the Virgin Mary in medieval Europe – which became an increasingly popular and influential movement – was encouraged by the Cathars' elevation of womanhood. Cathars were Dualists. Strictly speaking to the Cathars, individuality did not exist. Albige… All these events, as told in the gospel narratives, happened ideally as a sort of allegory for the state of the soul which is born into the world trapped in a body, must suffer and die, and will finally be free only after it has mastered the body and renounced the things of this world. Once inside, he gathered an audience of divine spirits around him and told them they were losing out by continuing to love and serve God who never gave them anything. Chretien is best known for creating some of the most famous elements of the Arthurian Legend such as Lancelot’s affair with Arthur’s queen Guinevere, the quest for the Grail, and is the first to call Arthur’s court Camelot. Reblogged this on Progressive Rubber Boots. The scholar C. S. Lewis points out how, in the modern day, these themes seem commonplace and far from surprising but if one compares the poetry of 12th-century CE Provence with works like Bede’s history or Beowulf, one realizes what a startling departure this was. The Cathar faith was a version of Christianity. The famous literary motif of the damsel-in-distress who must be rescued comes from this genre, and its most famous author was the French poet Chretien de Troyes (c. 1130 – c. 1190 CE) whose patroness was Marie de Champagne. Some historians have even denied that there was a recognisable group of heretics in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries who were called ‘Cathars’, arguing that such a group never existed but was rather an invention of medieval theologians and clergymen. Books Sensing Sickness in Early Modern England, 1580-1720. (2019, April 02). The only books of the New Testament they accepted were the gospels, completely rejecting the epistles of Paul and the others, with a special emphasis on the Gospel According to John. In Catharism, God and the devil are two eternal, uncreated, forces of equal power; in Christianity, the devil is a fallen angel created by God and ultimately subordinate to him. He refused to cooperate with the pope’s legate and sent him away; Castelnau was later found murdered. Susan Aran follows in the footsteps of the Cathars as she explores this part of Languedoc’s fascinating history Cathar country in the Languedoc has a brooding, enigmatic presence: hilltop settlements and atmospheric medieval citadels, expansive scrubby landscapes and, of course, the fortified Cathar … The belief that the world is evil led to the belief that the evil god is responsible not just for the bad things in the world but also for the world itself. Love and its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton's... Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Sympathizers – non-believers who aided and supported Cathar communities. At the time of my storyline, 1245-46, Catharism flourished across the broad east-west sweep of the Po Valley and southwards into Tuscany. Ancient History Encyclopedia. By 1229 CE, the “official” crusade was over but the Cathars were still persecuted and northern armies continued to sack villages and murder innocent people. According to one theory, Catharism spread as widely & quickly as it did through the troubadours who traveled through France. Their belief in a complex system of reincarnation meant they thought human souls could exist within all animals. Centres included the cities of Milan, Bologna, Verona, Vicenza, Venice, Florence and many major towns in between. Not only did the medieval Cathars believe in reincarnation, but there are many modern people who believe or experience that they were Cathars in previous lifetimes. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Quispel writes, There is a direct link between ancient Gnosticism and Catharism. Almost everything known about the Cathars comes from confessions of “heretics” taken by Catholic clergy during the inquisition which followed the Albigensian Crusade. They were also known as Albigensians for the town of Albi, which was a strong Cathar center of belief. After 1209 CE and the sack of Carcassonne, the earl Simon de Montfort (l. c. 1175-1218 CE) led the crusade which continued the destruction of the region while enriching the northern barons who participated. Are you team Nov 1st? As Dualists, they belonged to a tradition that was already ancient in the days of Jesus. (This is a very long document, about 35,000 words.) Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. Mark, Joshua J. Professor Helen Parish takes a look…. Catharism was a Christian dualist or Gnostic movement between the 12th and 14th centuries which thrived in Southern Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France. Cathar Theological Argumentation. We have heard that they believed that people were fallen angels and that the angels' souls and spirits had been reunited during the consolamentum. Neither did the Cathars. The belief structure can easily be traced back to Manichaeism which traveled via the Silk Road from the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East to Europe where it became entwined, under certain circumstances, with Christian belief and symbolism. They considered themselves to be perfect and so (somewhat immodestly) referred to themselves as Perfects. The granddaddy of modern Cathar reincarnation was Arthur Guirdham (1905-92), Senior Consultant Psychiatrist for the clinical area of Bath for over twenty years. He waited outside the gate for a thousand years, watching for a chance to slip in, and one day he saw his opportunity and took it. The purpose of life was to renounce the pleasures and enticements of the world and, through repeated incarnations, make one’s way back to heaven. Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Bélibaste’s death did signal the end of the official Occitan Cathar Church, which blossomed in the 11th century, got organised in 1167, and died in 1321. This answer is not useful. Papal legates had been sent to Southern France to try to win the heretics back to orthodoxy, and councils had been called to discuss the problem; none of these efforts had made any headway. (The revered Magi in the nativity story were Zoroastrians - Persian Dualists). This belief encouraged equality of the sexes in Cathar communities. in Bosnia, Catharism continued to exist into the 15th century, when its adherents converted to Islam. Lewis and others cite Catharism as a probable inspiration for these works and claims they were allegories of the Cathar vision. Women were valued as men’s equals and female figures from the Bible were highlighted, especially Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. The first Cathar Synod was held between 1167 and 1176 at St. Felix-de-Caraman, near Toulouse. The common theme of this body of medieval literature is the beautiful woman who commands worship and service by a courteous, brave, and noble knight. The orthodox view of the Catholic Church was that there was one God with three aspects – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – but this orthodoxy was not part of the vision of early Christianity and was not generally accepted until after the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE (convened by Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome) ruled in favor of it. The survival of these communities is known through Church records of inquisitions which continued on through the 14th century CE. Persecuting Cathars, Jews, and other minorities, and making them wear yellow "badges of infamy" was a requirement of the Catholic Church imposed on the rulers of the Languedoc. The devil made the bodies easily enough but could not manage to attach the souls to them so they would think, feel, and move; vexed by this, he asked God for help. Zlatar. God allowed this for those who wished to leave but other souls were falling through the hole and so God sealed it. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition. The Cathars: The Cathars were a group of early Christians that believed that there were actually two gods instead of one as was the belief of the Roman Catholic Church. Cathars who were not celibate practiced birth control and abortion, believing that sex was a natural aspect of the human condition and could be engaged in for pleasure, not only for procreation; in fact, procreation was discouraged. Nothing is new, ask the puritans of 1647 by Dr Rachel Foxley, Dreaming of a White Christmas? Catharism apparently inherited their idea of Satan as the creator of the evil world from Gnosticism. They would commit to a specific ascetic lifestyle, and would on their death ascend to heaven. When was the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VI, excommunicated? I will share a personal experience here with the Cathars. Secondary Sources: Inquisition against the Cathars In reality, said the Cathars, the Church was the Devil, the Fallen, who destroyed Jesus’ true teachings in the most underhanded and diabolical manner, by substituting a false Christ for the real one. The council was presided over by a Bogomil cleric named Nicetas (1160’s CE) which firmly establishes Bogomilism as the direct source of Catharism. Languedoc Region of Franceby Owen Blacker (CC BY-SA). Since the majority of Cathars were women, it was mainly women and children who were massacred in the crusade, but often whole towns went up in flames and all the citizenry killed. Full followers of Catharism were known as 'Perfects'. According to Church documents, 20,000 heretics were slaughtered in and around Beziers and the town burned to the ground. In a matter of decades, this religious sect became popular. After the souls had fallen, they found themselves in the devil’s realm without any of the good things he had promised and, remembering the joys of heaven, they repented and asked the devil if they could return. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. Web. Between May of 1243 and March of 1244 CE, the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur held against siege but was finally taken and the last Cathar defense fell. The “Cathar heresy” that struck Southern France in the 13 th century, and was viciously persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church, remains a pool of interest and intrigue. It may all be in the stars! Most importantly, the poems celebrated romantic love, which was considered quite different, and far superior, to marriage because in marriage the couple had no choice (the match was arranged by the parents) while one chose to engage in extra-marital or pre-marital love affairs. Cathars became rich and powerful, building their own churches and castles. I can't speak to the Ranters, but the debate surrounding the Cathars is significantly more nuanced than whether or not they existed. Cathars believed that Satan had tricked a number of angels into falling from heaven and then encased them in bodies. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Can you see its appeal? by Professor Anne Lawrence, When should we start putting up decorations and celebrating Christmas festivities? Ancient History Encyclopedia. Wars between nations or faiths are commonplace. License. They were little more than slaves, he said, since God owned everything they thought they had. Cite This Work There was no central authority like the Pope of Rome. Almost everything known about the Cathars comes from confessions of “heretics” taken by Catholic clergy during the inquisition which followed the Albigensian Crusade. The “Cathar heresy” that struck Southern France in the 13 th century, and was viciously persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church, remains a pool of interest and intrigue. The Book of the Two Principles The Book of the Two Principles is the largest surviving work of Cathar literature; it illustrates the erudition and sophistication of the Cathar's critique of Catholic theology. If they would follow him, however, and leave heaven, he could provide them with all kinds of pleasure such as lovely vineyards and rich fields, beautiful women and handsome men, wonderful riches, and the best wine. Earlier heresies such as Arianism, while still condemned, at least adhered to the same essential dogma of the Church; the Cathars rejected and repudiated every aspect of the Church, including most of the books of the Bible. They considered the cross a symbol of Rex Mundi and believed it should be destroyed when encountered as it was a representation of evil. In addition to these differences, there was the Cathar insistence that Jesus had never been born of a woman and been made flesh, never suffered, died, and was therefore never resurrected. The "Cathar heresy" that struck Southern France in the 13th century, and was viciously persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church, remains a pool of interest and intrigue. The Visigoths did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, nor did they believe in the Trinity. Expulsion of the Cathars from Carcassonne. The Synod … Men and women were perfecti. According to this theory, Catharism spread as widely and quickly as it did through the troubadours who traveled through France performing these works. Written by Joshua J. The female aspect of God was Sophia, “wisdom”). Meanwhile, of all the “heretic” faiths such as Manicheeism that the history books said imported Catharism into the south of France, not one of these faiths believed that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married. This had been a popular view in the ancient world and among the Gnostics, to explain the existence of evil in the world. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. ( Log Out / Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. What really happened, and what did the Cathars actually believe? The perfecti lived such blameless lives and were so eager to be of assistance to others, they inspired devoted followers. The northern nobles were only too happy to comply with the pope’s holy wishes and the Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 CE. The whole purpose of human existence was this struggle against the devil (known as Rex Mundi, “the king of this world”) and the prison of the flesh. Catharism arrived in Western Europe in the Languedocregion of France in the 11th century, where their name first appeared. They appear in small numbers in records from the 1140’s CE in France, but by 1167 CE, there were enough communities in the region to require an assembly to set rules and boundaries. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Cathars/. According to scholars Bryson and Movsesian, the Albigensian Crusade destroyed the open, tolerant culture of Southern France, replacing it with the rigid, dark, and narrow-minded ethos of the medieval Church but did nothing to stamp out Catharism itself. My sense is (no proof por any sort of transmission) that it did exist physically but perhaps now has moved to a subtler realm as a form of guidance or possibility for us. The faith did not remain restricted to the peasantry for long but spread up the medieval hierarchy to artisans like weavers and potters, writers and poets, merchants and business owners, members of the Catholic clergy, and finally nobility. (93). Suicide was (and is still) considered a serious sin by the Church, marriage is encouraged, reincarnation rejected, as is the concept of duality. Women frequently play important roles in these stories and, in a reversal of earlier medieval literary motifs, are central characters who are served by men rather than minor figures and men’s property. They were usually considered Gnostics. The event, attended by many local notables, was presided over by the Bogomil papa Nicetas of the Balkan dualist church (see ‘The Bogomils: Europe’s Forgotten Gnostics’ by Paul Tice, New Dawn No. In 1208 CE, Pope Innocent III (served 1198-1216 CE) sent the lawyer-monk Pierre de Castelnau to Southern France to enlist the aid of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse (r. 1194-1222 CE) in suppressing the heresy. There were no official services or masses as with the Church but rather informal gatherings which seem to have been in adherent’s homes. Catharism arrived in southern France and northern Italy in the 11th century. The main focus, however, has always been on the Cathars (from the Greek word meaning ‘pure’), a name that is normally reserved for the dissident Christians who lived in Southern France and Northern Spain. Updated June 25, 2019. The Cathars dressed simply in dark robes with hoods or hats, went about barefoot, and the men were unshaven with long beards. The good god rules in heaven and … https://www.ancient.eu/Cathars/. Cathars did continue to exist in hiding and by all accounts, had eventually died off as a continuing sect. The Cathars (also known as Cathari from the Greek Katharoi for “pure ones”) were a dualist medieval religious sect of Southern France which flourished in the 12th century CE and challenged the authority of the Catholic Church. A lack of scientific knowledge meant that some Cathars ate fish because they didn’t realize they were animals but instead thought they were spontaneously existing fruit of the sea. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 02 Apr 2019. They called themselves Cathars, taking their name from the Greek word for “pure”. Cathar beliefs ultimately derived from the Persian religion of Manichaeism but directly from another earlier religious sect from Bulgaria known as the Bogomils who blended Manichaeism with Christianity. The Book of Two Principles related, among other aspects of the faith, the dualist nature of life and how humans, once divine spirits of light, came to be bound in corruptible mortal flesh. Last modified April 02, 2019. Dec 1st? What really happened, and what did the Cathars actually believe? Home › History › The War on the Cathars. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. It is well known that the Cathars were a religious sect of obscure origin which arose in the High Middle Ages and thrived in Southern France. However, Catharism arrived in Southern France from the East via Northern Italy, carried by travelling missionaries. As an organized religious sect, Catharism was extinguished in Southern France at Montsegur, but as a living faith, it continued. One branch of the Cathars became known as the Albigenses because they took their name from the local town Albi. The Council of Saint-Felix of 1167 CE organized the Cathar communities into bishoprics, each with a presiding bishop who was responsible only to his own flock. When was the Albigensian Crusade? The Cathars, we are told, believed in two Gods, a good one and an evil one. A week before? Because of this they despised killing in any form. Raymond was not only an ardent protector and supporter of the Cathars but also the bishop of the order in Toulouse. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. 21 Dec 2020. The Cathars repudiated the symbol of the cross and a literal reading of any of the biblical books. But though officially defeated in France, elsewhere, e.g. ( Log Out / What really happened, and what did the Cathars actually believe? Other lesser followers of Catharism would be reincarnated to get another chance. The poems often involve a quest or some struggle to find or rescue a lady who has been abducted or imprisoned. Their central religious text was The Book of Two Principles, passages of which would be read by one of the perfecti to a congregation and interpreted for them by another member of the group. Catharism succeeded the spiritual tradition of Slavic and Balkan Bogomilism, and went even further back in history. They were eventually perceived as a threat to the orthodox Catholic church. Mark, Joshua J. The Cathars held that the creator of the world, Satanael, had usurped the name of God, but that he had subsequently been unmasked and told that he was not really God. Pegg. The devil consented, and humans were created. The adhe… A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. Which historians states that the Cathars did not exist? As angels do not possess an individual nature, every consoled good Christian would become part of the divine essence just as angels were Mark, J. J. By 1209, Pope Innocent III initiated a Crusade against the Cathars. The literary language there was Occitan, which gave its name to the wider cultural region of southern France, Occitania, of which Languedoc was a part. Elsewhere, they had to be more careful and hide their faith. The Cathars were among those who gave the devil a more dominant role in human fate. The medieval Church established its monopoly over the spiritual... Catharism becomes increasingly popular in Southern France; the Church tries to suppress the heresy. The Pope ordered all Christian heretics 'cleansed' and, beginning in 1209, organized massacres of Cathars followed, together with the confiscation of … The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Scholar Malcolm Barber notes: They believed that the devil was the author of the Old Testament except these books: Job, the Psalms, the books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon], The Book of Jesus son of Sirach [better known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus], of Isaiah, Ezekiel, David, and of the twelve prophets. Certainly, there were Christian communities in Southern France in the late 12th and early 13th centuries that exhibited many of the traits later Church scholars would associate with the "Cathar Church". 1209-1229. Eleanor of Aquitaine (l. c. 1122-1204 CE) and her daughter Marie de Champagne (l. 1145-1198 CE) were both associated with the Cathars as sympathizers. Coincidence? The story goes that the devil came to the gates of heaven and requested entry but was denied. Trapped in these bodies, the soul would live, die, and be reborn in another as long as that soul remained attached to the body and the pleasures which the devil had promised it back in heaven. The Cathars are said to have existed in parts of eastern and western medieval Europe, but most particularly in the south of France ('Occitania') between about 1150 and 1350. Catharism was based on the idea that the world is evil, as believed the Gnostics before them, and had been created by an evil god, known to the Gnostics as the Demiurge, and to the Cathars as Satan. Let us glance at the historiography of this ‘heresy debate’. Later heresies to challenge the Church’s authority all borrowed in some way from the Cathars who, in standing up to the corruption of the medieval Church, prefigured the visionaries of the later Protestant Reformation. In Southern France, where the church had never had a very strong hold, Cathars lived and worked among the wider community and convened their gatherings without concern. Followers were known as Cathars, or Good Christians, and are now mainly remembered for a prolonged period of persecution by the Catholic Church, which did not recognise their variant Christianity. To become one of the perfecti, one completely renounced the world and went through a period of withdrawal and purification before taking office. To become a Cathar, one simply professed one’s belief and received the consolamentum, a blessing and welcoming to the faith through the laying on of hands. Proving that Medieval Meteorology Existed, Interdisciplinary Network for the Study of Subculture, Popular Music and Social Change, Annual Research Theme 2014/15: History of Childhood and Youth, Annual Research Theme 2015/16: Being Well; Being Ill; Experience and Materiality, Summer Studies 2016: Our Research Students Abroad, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, Christmas Cancelled? For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Even then, the Nicaean interpretation of Christianity vied with others for centuries. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Which historian believes that the Cathars did exist? "Cathars." The cross, they claimed, was nothing more than a symbol of worldly power, and all the sacraments of the church, including infant baptism and communion, were likewise rejected. The faith gained a strong foothold in Italy and Southern France through its appeal to the peasantry. 1208. Cathar priests lived simply, had no possessions, imposed no taxes or penalties, and regarded men and women as equals; aspects of the faith which appealed to many at the time disillusioned with the Church. Not surprisingly, the Cathars were condemned as heretical by the Catholic Church and massacred in the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229 CE) which also devastated the towns, cities, and culture of southern France. Montsegur, but the debate surrounding the Cathars dressed simply in dark robes with hoods or hats, about! He refused to cooperate with the Pope ’ s equals and female figures from the Greek word for pure. Not they existed barefoot, and what did the Cathars repudiated the symbol the. Sect, Catharism spread as widely and quickly as it was a representation of evil in United... Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries Nicaeaby Jjensen ( Public Domain ) exist within all.. France in the world and among the Gnostics, to explain the existence of evil the... Are commenting using your WordPress.com account the first Cathar Synod was held between 1167 and 1176 at Felix-de-Caraman! ” ) long document, about 35,000 words. that Satan had a! 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