Massacre of the Saracens

[adapted from Walker 4 and Logan 5]



[20.1] The Crusades; [20.2] New Religious Movements;
[20.3] Heretical Sects. Cathari and Waldenses. The Inquisition







  Causes of the Crusades

THE Crusades are in many ways the most remarkable of the phenomena of the Middle Ages. Their causes were many.

[1] The historian who emphasizes economic influences may well claim the unusually trying conditions of the eleventh century as a main source.

Between 970 and 1040 forty-eight famine years were counted.

From 1085 to 1095 conditions were even worse. Misery and unrest prevailed widely.

[2] The more settled conditions of the age made impossible such migrations of nations as had been exhibited in the Germanic invasions at the downfall of the Western empire.

The same desire to change environment was, however, felt.

Stimulated by these economic conditions, doubtless,

[3] the whole eleventh century was a period of deepening religious feeling.

Its manifestations took monastic and ascetic forms.

[4] It was characterized by a strong sense of “other-worldliness,” of the misery of earth and the blessedness of heaven.

[5] This increasing religious zeal had been the force which had reformed the papacy, and had supported antagonism to simony and Nicolaitanism [i.e. clerical marriage or concubinage], and nerved the long struggle with the empire. Those regions where the reform movement had shone brightest, or which had come into closest relations with the reforming papacy, France, Lorraine, and southern Italy, were the recruiting-grounds of the chief crusading armies.

[6] The piety of the time placed great value on relics and pilgrimages, and what more precious relic could there be, or what nobler pilgrimage shrine, than the land hallowed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ?

That land had been an object of pilgrimage since the days of Constantine.

Though Jerusalem had been in Moslem possession since 638, pilgrimages had been, save for brief intervals, practically uninterrupted. They had never been more numerous than in the eleventh century, till the conquest of much of Asia Minor, from 1071 onward, and the capture of Jerusalem, by the Seljuk Turks, made pilgrimages almost impossible and desecrated the holy places.

    It was to an age profoundly impressed with the spiritual advantage of pilgrimages that the news of these things came.


[7] The time, moreover, was witnessing successful contests with Mohammedanism.

Between 1060 and 1090 the Normans of southern Italy had wrested Sicily from the Moslems.

Under Ferdinand I of Castile (1028-1065) the effective Christian reconquest of Spain from the Mohammedans had begun. The later eleventh century is the age of the Cid (1040?-1099).

The feeling was wide-spread that Christianity could dispossess Mohammedanism. Love of adventure, hopes for plunder, desire for territorial advancement and religious hatred, undoubtedly moved the Crusaders with very earthly impulses. We should wrong them, however, if we did not recognize with equal clearness that they thought they were doing something of the highest importance for their souls and for Christ.



THE first impulse to the Crusades came from an appeal of the Eastern Emperor, Michael VII (1067-1078), to Hildebrand for aid against the Seljuks. That great Pope, to whom this seemed to promise the reunion of Greek and Latin Christendom, took the matter up in 1074, and was able to report to Henry IV of Germany that fifty thousand men were ready to go under the proper leadership. The speedy outbreak of the investiture struggle frustrated the plan. It was effectively to be revived by Urban II, the heir in so many directions of Hildebrand.



The Islamic State’s members believe they are fighting a new Crusade. They’re wrong.

By Thomas Madden December 4, 2015


When the Islamic State justified its attacks on Paris as a response to a French “Crusader campaign,” the group was taking part in a long-held tradition of the Muslim Middle East, that of viewing relations between Islam and the West through the lens of medieval events. The Islamic State’s depiction of the Crusades as colonialist enterprises has a long pedigree, but not a factual one. It is instead a pastiche of 19th and 20th century prejudices and agendas grafted clumsily onto western Europe’s medieval holy wars. Over the past half-century, legions of historians specializing in the study of the Crusades have brought the campaigns into much sharper focus. Hundreds of scholarly monographs and thousands of journal articles, however, have not managed to shift popular misconceptions around the Crusades.

The Crusades were military campaigns, but they could not have happened were they not also devotional exercises. Centuries before the first Crusader took his vow, Muslim armies had waged vigorous jihads against the Christian world. By the year 1000, nearly two-thirds of the old Christian world had been lost to Muslim conquest, including Syria, Palestine, Egypt, all of North Africa, Sicily and much of Spain. Nine years later, Caliph Al-Hakim ordered the complete destruction of the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site on earth for Christians, traditionally held to contain the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and his empty tomb. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Christian Byzantine Empire and by 1073 had conquered Jerusalem. The subsequent chaos led to dramatic persecutions of Christian pilgrims.

Things became so bad that the Christian emperor in the East, Alexius I Comnenus, turned to the last significant Christian power left in the world - the medieval West. By the Christian standards of St. Augustine and those of ancient Rome, the Crusades were just wars.

They were a response to repeated aggression,

had a set goal to repeal the fruits of that aggression

and were instituted by a well-established authority.

In later decades, theologians and canonists developed precise canon law regarding future Crusades, further underscoring that they could only be called in defense of the Christian people and faith. Crusaders honestly saw themselves as undertaking acts of charity and love for their Christian brothers and sisters in the East.






1009; Reconstruction 1042-1048


The eleventh-century Melkite (Christian) historian chronicler, Yahya ibn Sa'id wrote:

AND so Yarukh [governor of Syria] sent his son Yusuf and Al-Husayn ibn Zahir al-Wazzan, in company with Abu'l-Fawaris al-Dayf  who seized all the movable goods that were there. After the church itself was cast down as far as the foundations except for what it was impossible to destroy or difficult to uproot and carry away. Then the Skull (Golgotha), Calvary, the church of St Constantine, and all the other buildings enclosed within their walls were destroyed and the sacred remains (holy relics) were completely annihilated. Ibn Abu-Zahir attempted to remove the Holy Sepulchre and to cause all trace of it to disappear: he broke and demolished the major part of it. There was in the vicinity (of the Holy Sepulchre, a monastery of monks. known under the name of the monastery of al-Sari. which was also demolished. The ruination of the church of the Resurrection was begun on Tuesday 5 Safar 400 (28 September 1009). All the estates and pious foundations were seized. as well as all the sacred vessels and objects and items of gold and silverwork. (Patrologia Orientalis cxiv. 491-2)


The Arab (Muslim) historian Yahia ibn Sa`id described the same events:

[...] the holy deed commenced on Tuesday, the fifth day before the end of the month of Safar of the year 400 of the Egira (1009 AD). Only those parts of difficult access were spared.




  The First Crusade


ALEXIUS I (1081-1118), a stronger ruler than his immediate predecessors in Constantinople, felt unable to cope with the perils which threatened the empire. He, therefore, appealed to Urban II for assistance. Urban received the imperial messengers at the synod in Piacenza, in northern Italy, in March, 1095, and promised his help.

Alexius I Comenius Urban II at Clermont

AT the synod held in Clermont, in eastern France, in the following November, Urban now proclaimed the Crusade in an appeal of almost unexampled consequence. The enterprise had magnified in his conception from that of aid to the hard-pressed Alexius to a general rescue of the holy places from Moslem hands.

He called on all Christendom to take part in the work, promising

[1] forgiveness of sins to all and

[2] eternal life to those who should fall in the enterprise.

The message found immediate and enthusiastic response.


  The [unsuccessful] People's [proto-] Crusade


Among the popular preachers who took it up none was more famous than Peter the Hermit, a monk from Amiens or its vicinity. Early legend attributed to him the origin of the Crusade itself, of which he was unquestionably one of the most effective proclaimers. He does not deserve the distinction thus attributed to him, nor was his conduct on the Crusade, once it had started, such as to do credit to his leadership or even to his courage.

    Such was the enthusiasm engendered, especially in France, that large groups of peasants, with some knights among them, set forth in the spring of 1096, under the lead of Walter the Penniless; a priest, Gottschalk, and Peter the Hermit himself.

Peter the Hermit  

By some of these wild companies many Jews were massacred in the Rhine cities. Their own disorderly pillage led to savage reprisals in Hungary and the Balkans. That under Peter reached Constantinople, but was almost entirely destroyed by the Turks in an attempt to reach Nicaea. Peter himself did not share this catastrophe, joined the main crusading force, and survived the perils of the expedition.


   The Real First Crusade


THE  real work of the First Crusade was accomplished by the feudal nobility of Europe. Three great armies were raised.

That from Lorraine and Belgium included Godfrey of Bouillon, the moral hero of the Crusade, since he commanded the respect due to his single-minded and unselfish devotion to its aims, though not its ablest general. With Godfrey were his brothers, Baldwin and Eustace.

Other armies from northern France were led by Hugh of Vermandois and Robert of Normandy.

From southern France came a large force under Count Raimond of Toulouse,and from Norman Italy a well-equipped army led by Bohemund of Taranto and his nephew Tancred.

The earliest of these forces started in August, 1096. No single commander led the hosts. Urban II had appointed Bishop Ademar of Puy his legate; and Ademar designated Constantinople as the gathering place. Thither each army made its way as best it could, arriving there in the winter and spring of 1096-1097, and causing Alexius no little difficulty by their disorder and demands.

     In May, 1097, the crusading army began the siege of Nicæa. Its surrender followed in June. On July 1 a great victory over the Turks near Dorylæum opened the route across Asia Minor, so that Iconium was reached, after severe losses through hunger and thirst, by the middle of August.


By October the crusading host was before the walls of Antioch. That city it captured only after a difficult siege, on June 3, 1098. Three days later the Crusaders were besieged in the city by the Turkish ruler Kerbogha of Mosul. The crisis of the Crusade was this time of peril and despair; but on June 28 Kerbogha was completely defeated.

Yet it was not till June, 1099, that Jerusalem was reached, and not till July 15 that it was captured and its inhabitants put to the sword. The complete defeat of an Egyptian relieving army near Ascalon on August 12, 1099, crowned the success of the Crusade.

    On the completion of the work, Godfrey of Bouillon was chosen Protector of the Holy Sepulchre. He died in July, 1100, and was succeeded by his abler brother, who had established a Latin county in Edessa, and now took the title of King Baldwin I (1100-1118). The Crusaders were from the feudal West, and the country was divided and organized in full feudal fashion. It included, besides the Holy Land, the principality of Antioch, and the counties of Tripoli and Edessa, which were practically independent of the King of Jerusalem. In the towns important Italian business settlements sprang up; but most of the knights were French. Under a patriarch of the Latin rite in Jerusalem, the country was divided into four archbishoprics and ten bishoprics, and numerous monasteries were established.

  The Military Orders

THE greatest support of the kingdom soon came to be the military orders. Of these, that of the Templars was founded by Hugo de Payens in 1119, and granted quarters near the site of the temple—hence their name—by King Baldwin II (1118-1131). Through the hearty support of Bernard of Clairvaux the order received papal approval in 1128, and soon won wide popularity in the West.

Bernard of Clairvaux Hugh of Payens (First Grand Master) and King Baldwin

ITS members took the usual monastic vows and pledged themselves, in addition, to fight for the defense of the Holy Land and to protect pilgrims. They were not clergy, but laymen. In some respects the order was like a modern missionary society. Those who sympathized with the Crusade, but were debarred by age or sex from a personal share in the work, gave largely that they might be represented by others through the order. Since property was mostly in land, the Templars soon became great landholders in the West. Their independence and wealth made them objects of royal jealousy, especially after their original purpose had been frustrated by the end of the Crusades, and led to their brutal suppression in France in 1307 by King Philip IV (1285-1314). While the Crusades lasted they were a main bulwark of the kingdom of Jerusalem.

Raymond de Puy Crac du Chevalier

MUCH the same thing may be said of the great rivals of the Templars, the Hospitallers or Knights of St. John. Charlemagne had founded a hospital in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in 1010. Refounded by citizens of Amalfi, in Italy, it was in existence before the First Crusade, and was named for the church of St. John the Baptist, near which it stood. This foundation was made into a military order by its grand master, Raymond du Puy (1120-1160?), though without neglecting its duties to the sick. After the crusading epoch it maintained a struggle with the Turks from its seat in Rhodes (1310-1523), and then from Malta (1530-1798).

A THIRD  and later order was that of the Teutonic Knights, founded by Germans in 1190. Its chief work, however, was not to be in Palestine but, from 1229 onward, in Prussia, or as it is now known, East Prussia, where it was a pioneer in civilization and Christianization.


   Later Crusades



   [1] Failure of the Second Crusade (preached by St. Bernard)

IN spite of feudal disorganization the kingdom of Jerusalem was fairly successful till the capture of Edessa by the Mohammedans in 1144 robbed it of its northeastern bulwark. Bernard of Clairvaux, now at the height of his fame, proclaimed a new Crusade and enlisted Louis VII of France (1137-1180) and the Emperor Conrad III (1138-1152) from Germany in 1146. In 1147 the Second Crusade set forth; but it showed little of the fiery enthusiasm of its predecessor, its forces largely perished in Asia Minor, and such as reached Palestine were badly defeated in an attempt to take Damascus, in 1148. It was a disastrous failure, and its collapse left a bitter feeling in the West toward the Eastern empire, to whose princes that failure, rightly or wrongly, was charged.


   [3] United Islam and Ineffective Third Crusade

ONE  reason of the success of the Latin kingdom had been the quarrels of the Mohammedans. In 1171 the Kurdish general, Saladin, made himself master of Egypt; by 1174 he had secured Damascus, and by 1183 Saladin’s territories surrounded the Latin kingdom on the north, east, and south. A united Mohammedanism had now to be met. Results soon followed. At Hattin the Latin army was defeated in July, 1187. The loss of Jerusalem and of most of the Holy Land speedily followed. The news of this catastrophe roused Europe to the Third Crusade (1189-1192). None of the Crusades was more elaborately equipped. Three great armies were led by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1190), the first soldier of his age, by King Philip Augustus of France (1179-1223), and by King Richard “Coeur de Lion” of England (1189-1199). Frederick was accidentally drowned in Cilicia. His army, deprived of his vigorous leadership, was utterly ineffective. The quarrels between the Kings of France and England, and Philip’s speedy return to France to push his own political schemes, rendered the whole expedition almost abortive. Acre was recovered, but Jerusalem remained in Moslem possession.


   [4DISASTROUS Fourth Crusade and Plunder of Constantinople

THE Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) was a small affair as far as numbers engaged, but of important political and religious consequences. Its forces were from the districts of northern France known as Champagne and Blois, and from Flanders. Men had become convinced that the true route to the recovery of Jerusalem was the preliminary conquest of Egypt. The Crusaders therefore bargained with the Venetians for transportation thither. Unable to raise the full cost, they accepted the proposition of the Venetians that, in lieu of the balance due, they stop on their way and conquer Zara from Hungary for Venice. This they did. A much greater proposal was now made to them. They should stop at Constantinople, and assist in dethroning the imperial usurper, Alexius III (1195-1203).

Alexius, son of the deposed Isaac II, promised the Crusaders large payment and help on their expedition provided they would overthrow the usurper, and crafty Venice saw bright prospects of increased trade. Western hatred of the Greeks contributed. Though Pope Innocent III forbad this division of purpose, the Crusaders were persuaded. Alexius III was easily driven from his throne; but the other Alexius was unable to keep his promises to the Crusaders, who now with the Venetians, in 1204, captured Constantinople, and plundered its treasures. No booty was more eagerly sought than the relics in the churches, which now went to enrich the places of worship of the West. Baldwin of Flanders was made Emperor, and a large portion of the Eastern empire was divided, feudal fashion, among Western knights. Venice obtained a considerable part and a monopoly of trade. A Latin patriarch of Constantinople was appointed, and the Greek Church made subject to the Pope. The Eastern empire still continued, though it was not to regain Constantinople till 1261. This Latin conquest was disastrous. It greatly weakened the Eastern empire, and augmented the hatred between Greek and Latin Christianity.


    The Horrific Children's Crusade

A melancholy episode was the so-called “Children’s Crusade “of 1212. A shepherd boy, Stephen, in France, and a boy of Cologne, in Germany, Nicholas, gathered thousands of children. Straggling to Italy, they were largely sold into slavery in Egypt.


   [5] The Failed Fifth Crusade in Egypt

   Other crusading attempts were made. An expedition against Egypt, in 1218-1221, had some initial success, but ended in failure. It is usually called the Fifth Crusade.


   [6] Fredrick VI Regains Jerusalem by Treaty with the Sultan

   The most curious was the Sixth (1228-1229). The free-thinking Emperor Frederick II (1212-1250), had taken the cross in 1215, but showed no haste to fulfil his vows. At last, in 1227, he started, but soon put back. He seems to have been really ill, but Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241), believing him a deserter, and having other grounds of hostility, excommunicated him. In spite of the ban, Frederick went forward in 1228, and the next year secured, by treaty with the Sultan of Egypt, possession of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and a path to the coast. Jerusalem was once more in Christian keeping till 1244, when it was permanently lost.


   Disintegration of the Crusading Effort 1248-1291

   The crusading spirit was now well-nigh spent, though Louis IX of France (St. Louis, 1226-1270) led a disastrous expedition against Egypt in 1248-1250, in which he was taken prisoner, and an attack on Tunis in 1270, in which he lost his life. The last considerable expedition was that of Prince Edward, soon to be Edward I of England (1272-1307), in 1271 and 1272. In 1291, the last of the Latin holdings in Palestine was lost. The Crusades were over, though men continued to talk of new expeditions for nearly two centuries more.


    VIEWED from the aspect of their PURPOSE the Crusades were failures.

[1] They made no permanent conquest of the Holy Land.

[2] It may be doubted whether they greatly retarded the advance of Mohammedanism.

[3] Their cost in lives and treasure was enormous.

[4] Though initiated in a high spirit of devotion, their methods at best were not those which modern Christianity regards as illustrative of the Gospel,

[5] and their conduct was disgraced throughout by quarrels, divided motives, and low standards of personal conduct.

WHEN their INDIRECT RESULTS are examined, however, a very different estimate is to be made of their worth. Civilization is the result of so complex factors that it is hard to assign precise values to single causes. Europe would have made progress during this period had there been no Crusades. But the changes wrought are so remarkable that the conclusion is unavoidable that the largest single influence was that of the Crusades.

[1] By the commerce which the Crusades stimulated the cities of northern Italy and of the great trade route over the Alps and down the Rhine rose to importance.

[2] By the sacrifices of feudal lands and property which they involved, a new political element, that of the towns—a “third estate”—was greatly stimulated, especially in France.

[3] The mental horizon of the Western world was immeasurably extended. Thousands who had grown up in the densest ignorance and narrow-mindedness were brought into contact with the splendid cities and ancient civilization of the East.

[4] Everywhere there was intellectual awakening. The period witnessed the highest theological development of the Middle Ages—that of Scholasticism.

[5] It beheld great popular religious movements, in and outside of the church.

[6] It saw the development of the universities.

[7] In it the study of Roman law became a transforming influence.

[8] Modern vernacular literature began to flourish.

[9] A great artistic development, the national architecture of northern France, misnamed the Gothic, now ran its glorious career.

The Europe of the period of the Crusades was awake and enlightened compared with the centuries which had gone before. Admitting that the Crusades were but one factor in this result, they were worth all their cost.







THE epoch of the First Crusade was one of increasing religious earnestness, manifesting itself in other-worldliness, asceticism, mystical piety, and emphasis on the monastic life. The long battle against simony and Nicolaitanism had turned popular sympathies from the often criticised “secular,” or ordinary clergy, to the monks as the true representatives of the religious ideal. Cluny had, in a measure, spent its force. Its very success had led to luxury of living. New religious associations were arising, of which the most important was that of the Cistercians—an order which dominated the twelfth century as Cluny had the eleventh.

  The Cistercians

LIKE Cluny, the Cistercians were of French origin. A Benedictine monk, Robert, of the monastery of Montier, impressed with the ill-discipline of contemporary monasticism, founded a monastery of great strictness in Citeaux, not far from Dijon, in 1098.

Cistercian Abbot Molesmes

From the first, the purpose of the foundation of Citeaux was to cultivate a strenuous, self-denying life. Its buildings, utensils, even the surroundings of worship, were of the plainest character. In food and clothing it exercised great austerity. Its rule was that of Benedict, but its self-denial was far beyond that of Benedictines generally. Under its third abbot, Stephen Harding (1109-1134), an Englishman, the significance of Citeaux rapidly grew. Four affiliated monasteries were founded by 1115, under his leadership. Thenceforth its progress was rapid throughout all the West. By 1130, the Cistercian houses numbered thirty; by 1168, two hundred and eighty-eight, and a century later six hundred and seventy-one. Over all these the abbot of Citeaux had authority, assisted by a yearly assembly of the heads of the affiliated monasteries. Much attention was devoted to agriculture, relatively little to teaching or pastoral work. The ideals were withdrawal from the world, contemplation, and imitation of “apostolic poverty.”


Not a little of the early success of the Cistercians was due to the influence of Bernard (1090-1153), the greatest religious force of his age, and, by common consent, deemed one of the chief of mediæval saints. Born of knightly ancestry in Fontaines, near Dijon, he inherited from his mother a deeply religious nature. With some thirty companions, the fruit of his powers of persuasion, he entered the monastery of Citeaux, probably in 1112. Thence he went forth in 1115 to found the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, abbot of which he remained, in spite of splendid offers of ecclesiastical preferment, till his death. A man of the utmost self-consecration, his prime motive was a love to Christ, which in spite of extreme monastic self-mortification, found so evangelical an expression as to win the hearty approval of Luther and Calvin. The mystic contemplation of Christ was his highest spiritual joy. It determined not merely his own type of piety, but very largely that of the age in its nobler expressions. Above all, men admired in Bernard a moral force, a consistency of character, which added weight to all that he said and did.

Bernard was far too much a man of action to be confined to the monastery. The first preacher of his age, and one of the greatest of all ages, he moved his fellows profoundly, from whatever social class they might come. He conducted a vast correspondence on the problems of the time. The interests of the church, of which he was regarded as the most eminent ornament, led to wide journeyings. In particular, the healing of the papal schism which resulted in the double choice by the cardinals in 1130 of Innocent II (1130-1143) and Anacletus II (1130-1138) was Bernard’s work. His dominating part in organizing the unfortunate Second Crusade has already been considered (ante, p. 242) His influence with the papacy seemed but confirmed when a former monk of Clairvaux was chosen as Eugene III (1145-1153), though many things that Eugene did proved not to Bernard’s liking. Convinced that his own views were the only orthodox conceptions, he persuaded others, also, and secured the condemnation of Abelard (p. 265) by the synod of Sens in 1141, and its approval by the Pope. In 1145 Bernard preached, with some temporary success, to the heretics of southern France. In 1153 he died, the best known and the most widely mourned man of his age.



   Arnold of Brescia and Extreme Poverty

Bernard’s ascetic and other-worldly principles were represented, curiously, in a man whom he bitterly opposed—Arnold of Brescia (?-1155). With all his devotion to “apostolic poverty,” Bernard had no essential quarrel with the hierarchical organization of his day, or hostility to its exercise of power in worldly matters. Arnold was much more radical. Born in Brescia, a student in France, he became a clergyman in his native city. Of severe austerity, he advanced the opinion that the clergy should abandon all property and worldly power. So only could they be Christ’s true disciples. In the struggle between Innocent II and Anacletus II he won a large following in Brescia, but was compelled to seek refuge in France, where he became intimate with Abelard, and was joined with him in condemnation, at Bernard’s instigation, by the synod of Sens (1141). Bernard secured Arnold’s expulsion from France. In 1143 the Roman nobles had thrown off the temporal control of the papacy and established what they believed to be a revival of the Senate. To Rome Arnold went. He was not a political leader so much as a preacher of “apostolic poverty.” In 1145 Eugene III restored Arnold to church fellowship, but by 1147, Arnold and the Romans had driven Eugene out of the city. There Arnold remained influential till the accession of the vigorous Hadrian IV (1154-1159)—the only Englishman who has ever occupied the papal throne. Hadrian, in 1155, compelled the Romans to expel Arnold by proclaiming an interdict forbidding religious services in the city; and bargained with the new German sovereign, Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1190), for the destruction of Arnold as the price of imperial coronation. In 1155 Arnold was hanged and his body burned. Though charged with heresy, these accusations are vague and seem to have had little substance. Arnold’s real offense was his attack upon the riches and temporal power of the church.


   Peter of Bruys and Denial of Sacraments and Images

Far more radical had been a preacher in southern France, in the opening years of the twelfth century—Peter of Bruys, of whose origin or early life little is known. With a strict asceticism he combined the denial of infant baptism, the rejection of the Lord’s Supper in any form, the repudiation of all ceremonies and even of church buildings, and the rejection of the cross, which should be condemned rather than honored as the instrument through which Christ had suffered. Peter also opposed prayers for the dead. Having burned crosses in St. Gilles, he was himself burned by the mob at an uncertain date, probably between 1120 and 1130. Reputed to be Peter’s disciple, but hardly so to be regarded was Henry, called “of Lausanne,” once a Benedictine monk, who preached, with large following, from 1101 till his death after 1145, in western and especially southern France. Above all, a preacher of ascetic righteousness, he denied in ancient Donatist spirit the validity of sacraments administered by unworthy priests. His test of worthiness was ascetic life and apostolic poverty. By this standard he condemned the wealthy and power-seeking clergy. Arnold, Peter, and Henry have been proclaimed Protestants before the Reformation. To do so is to misunderstand them. Their conception of salvation was essentially mediaeval. They carried to a radical extreme a criticism of the worldly aspects of clerical life which was widely shared and had its more conservative manifestation in the life and teachings of Bernard.







  The Cathari (Albigensians)

The Manichæism of the later Roman Empire, of which Augustine was once an adherent, seems never absolutely to have died out in the West. It was stimulated by the accession of Paulicians and Bogomiles whom the persecuting policy of the Eastern Emperors drove from Bulgaria, and by the new intercourse with the East fostered by the Crusades. The result was a new Manichaeism. Its adherents were called Cathari, as the “Pure,” or Albigenses, from Albi, one of their chief seats in southern France. With the ascetic and enthusiastic impulse which caused and accompanied the Crusades, the Cathari rose to great activity. Though to be found in many parts of Europe, their chief regions were southern France, northern Italy, and northern Spain. In southern France, Bernard himself labored in vain for their conversion.

Cathar (Albigensian) Fortress Albigensian Town

With the criticism of existing churchly conditions consequent upon the disastrous failure of the Second Crusade , they multiplied with great rapidity. In 1167 they were able to hold a widely attended council in St. Felix de Caraman, near Toulouse; and before the end of the century they had won the support of a large section, possibly a majority, of the population of southern France and the protection of its princes. In northern Italy they were very numerous. The Cathari in Florence alone in 1228 counted nearly one-third of the inhabitants. By the year 1200 they were an exceeding peril for the Roman Church.

In the movement[:]

[1.] the ascetic spirit of the age found full expression, and

[2.]criticism of the wealth and power of the church saw satisfaction in complete rejection of its clergy and claims.

Preaching to the Albigensians Expulsion of Albigensians

Like the ancient Manichæs, the Cathari were dualists.

The Bogomiles and many of the Cathari of Italy held that the good God had two sons, Satanel and Christ—of whom the elder rebelled and became the leader of evil.

The Cathari of France generally asserted two eternal powers, the one good, the other malign. All agreed that this visible world is the work of the evil power, in which souls, taken prisoners from the realm of the good God, are held in bondage. The greatest of sins, the original sin of Adam and Eve, is human reproduction, whereby the number of prison-houses is increased.

Salvation is by


asceticism, and

the “consolation.”

This rite, like baptism in the church, works forgiveness of sins and restoration to the kingdom of the good God. It is conferred by laying on of hands by one who has received it, together with placing the Gospel of John on the head of the candidate. It is the true apostolical succession.

One who has received the “consolation” becomes perfect, a perfectus; but lest he lose the grace, he must henceforth

eschew marriage,

avoid oaths,

war, possession of property,

and the eating of meat, milk, or eggs, since they are the product of the sin of reproduction.

The “perfect,” or, as they were called in France, the bone hommes—good men— were the real clergy of the Cathari, and there are notices of “bishops” and even of a “Pope” among them, though exactly what the gradations in authority were it is impossible to say. By a convenient belief the majority of adherents, the credenti or “believers,” were allowed to marry, hold property, and enjoy the good things of this world, even outwardly to conform to the Roman Church, assured that, should they receive the “consolation” before death, they would be saved.

Those who died unconsoled would, in the opinion of most of the Cathari, be reincarnated in human, or even animal, bodies till at last they, too, should be brought to salvation. The “believers” seem not always to have been fully initiated into the tenets of the system.

The Cathari made great use of Scripture, which they translated and in which they claimed to find their teachings. Some rejected the Old Testament entirely as the work of the evil power, others accepted the Psalms and the prophets. All believed the New Testament to come from the good God.

Since all things material are of evil, Christ could not have had a real body or died a real death. They therefore rejected the cross. The sacraments, with their material elements, were evil. The good God is dishonored by the erection of churches built and ornamented with material creations of the evil power.

The [liturgical] services of the Cathari were simple.

The Scriptures were read, especially the Gospel of John, as the most spiritual of all.

A sermon was preached.

The “believers” then knelt and adored the “perfect” as those indwelt with the divine Spirit.

The “perfect,” in turn, gave their blessing.

Only the Lord’s Prayer was used in the service.

A common meal, at which the bread was consecrated, was held in many places once a month, as a kind of Lord’s Supper.

The student of the movement will find in it extremely interesting survivals of ancient Christian rites and ceremonies, orthodox and heretical. In general, the “perfect” seem to have been men and women of uprightness, moral earnestness, and courageous steadfastness in persecution. Of their effectiveness in gaining the allegiance of thousands, especially from the humbler walks of life, there can be no question.



  The Waldensians


Luther Memorial,Worms

Pope Francis Preaches to the Waldensians
Turin, Italy, June 2, 2015
Pope Francis and Waldensian Moderator Eugenio Bernardini

Pope Francis preached to the Waldensians of Turin on June 2, 2015, imploring: “On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behavior that we have showed you [...] In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!”

UNLIKE the Cathari, the Waldenses originated in no conscious hostility to the church and, had they been treated with skill, would probably never have separated from it. In 1176 Valdez, or Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons, impressed by the song of a wandering minstrel recounting the sacrifices of St. Alexis, asked a master of theology “the best way to God.” The clergyman quoted that golden text of monasticism: “If thou wouldst be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 19) Valdez put this counsel literally into practice. Providing modestly for his wife and daughters, he gave the rest of his means to the poor. He determined to fulfil the directions of Christ to the Apostles (Matt. 10) absolutely. He would wear the raiment there designated. He would live by what was given him. To know his duty better he procured (perhaps commissioning or assisting in the production of) a vernacular translation of the New Testament.

His action made a deep impression on his friends. Here, they thought, was true “apostolic poverty.” By 1177 he was joined by others, men and women, and the little company undertook to carry further Christ’s directions by preaching repentance. They called themselves the “Poor in Spirit.” (cf. Matt. 5) They now appealed to the Third Lateran Council, in 1179, for permission to preach. The council did not deem them heretical. It thought them ignorant laymen, and Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) refused consent.

This led to decisive action. Valdez, who appears in what is known of his later history as determined, not to say obstinate, felt that this refusal was the voice of man against that of God. He and his associates continued preaching. As disobedient, they were, therefore, excommunicated, in 1184, by Pope Lucius III (1181-1185).

Waldensians as Witches (1451) Waldensian Church in Florence

 These acts of the papacy not only forced the Waldenses out of the church against their will, they brought to them a considerable accession.

  The Humiliati [join to the Waldensians]

The Humiliati were a company of lowly folk who had associated themselves for a common life of penance in and about Milan. These, too, were forbidden to hold separate meetings, or to preach, by Alexander III, and were excommunicated in 1184 for disobedience. A very considerable part of these Lombard Humiliati now joined the Waldenses, and came under the control of Valdez.

The early characteristics of the Waldenses now rapidly developed. Chief of all was the principle that the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is the sole rule of belief and life. Yet they read it through thoroughly mediæval spectacles. [The Bible] was to them a book of law—of minute prescriptions, to be followed to the letter. Large portions were learned by heart.

In accordance with what they believed to be its teachings they went about, two by two, preaching, clad in a simple woollen robe, barefooted or wearing sandals,

living wholly on the gifts of their hearers,

fasting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,

rejecting oaths and all shedding of blood,

and using no prayers but the Lord’s and a form of grace at table.

They heard confessions,

observed the Lord’s Supper together,

and ordained their members as a ministry.

As unbiblical, they rejected masses and prayers for the dead, and denied purgatory.

 They held the sacraments invalid if dispensed by unworthy priests.

They believed prayer in secret more effective than in church.

They defended lay preaching by men and women.

They had bishops, priests, and deacons, and a head, or rector, of the society. The first was Valdez himself; later appointment was by election. Besides this inner circle, the society proper, they soon developed a body of sympathizers, “friends” or “believers,” from whom the society was recruited, but who remained outwardly in communion with the Roman Church. Most of this development seems to have been immediately subsequent to their excommunication in 1184. Much of it was due to Catharite example, yet they opposed the Cathari and justly regarded themselves as widely different.

Certain conflicts of opinion, and a feeling that the government of Valdez was arbitrary, led to the secession of the Lombard branch by 1210—a breach that attempts at reunion in 1218, after Valdez’s death, failed to heal. The two bodies remained estranged. The able Pope, Innocent III (1198-1216), improved these disputes by countenancing in 1208 the organization of pauperes catholici, which allowed many of the practices of the Waldenses under strict churchly oversight. Considerable numbers were thus won back to the church. Nevertheless, the Waldensian body spread. Waldenses were to be found in northern Spain, in Austria and Germany, as well as in their original homes. They were gradually repressed, till their chief seat came to be the Alpine valleys southwest of Turin, where they are still to be found. At the Reformation they readily accepted its principles, and became fully Protestant. [generally accepting Calvinist principles.  In modern times (1975) a large segment of the Waldensian church has amalgamated with a small grouping of Methodists to form the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches.

Under modern religious freedom they are laboring with success in many parts of Italy. Their story is one of heroic endurance of persecution—a most honorable history—and they are the only mediæval sect which still survives, though with wide modification of their original ideals and methods.


  Crusade Against the Cathari


By the opening of the thirteenth century the situation of the Roman Church in southern France, northern Italy, and northern Spain was dubious. Missionary efforts to convert Cathari and Waldenses had largely failed.

Dominic Preaching to the Albigensians Siege

It was felt that sharper measures were needed. A crusade was ordered as early as 1181 by Pope Alexander III (1159-1181), against the viscount of Beziers as a supporter of the Cathari, but it accomplished little. Under Innocent III (1198-1216) the storm broke. After having vainly tried missionary efforts, the murder of the papal legate, Peter of Castelnau, in 1208, induced Innocent to proclaim a crusade against the heretics of southern France. The attack was agreeable to the French monarchy, which had found the nobles of the region too independent vassals. These combined interests of Pope and King led to twenty years of destructive warfare (1209-1229), in which the power of the southern nobles was shattered and cities and provinces devastated. The defenders of the Cathari were rendered impotent or compelled to join in their extermination.

The termination of the struggle was followed by a synod of much importance held in Toulouse in 1229. The Cathari and Waldenses had made much use of the Bible. The synod, therefore, forbad the laity to possess the Scriptures, except the psalter and such portions as are contained in the breviary, and especially denounced all translations. The decree was, indeed, local, but similar considerations led to like prohibitions in Spain and elsewhere. No universal denial of Bible reading by the laity was issued during the Middle Ages.


    The Inquisition


A second act significance which marked the synod of Toulouse was the beginning of a systematic inquisition. The question of the punishment of heretics had been undetermined in the earlier Middle Ages. There had been a good many instances of death, generally by fire, at the hands of rulers, churchmen, or the mob, but ecclesiastics of high standing had opposed. The identification of the Cathari with the Manichæans, against whom the later Roman Emperors had denounced the death penalty, gave such punishment the sanction of Roman law. Peter II of Aragon, in 1197, ordered the execution of heretics by fire. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) held that heresy, as treason against God, was of even greater heinousness than treason against a King. The investigation of heresy was not as yet systematized. That task the synod of Toulouse undertook. Its work was speedily perfected by Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241), who entrusted the discovery of heresy to inquisitors chosen chiefly from the Dominican order—a body formed with very different aims. As speedily developed, the inquisition became a most formidable organ. Its proceedings were secret, the names of his accusers were not given to the prisoner, who, by a bull of Innocent IV, in 1252, was liable to torture. The confiscation of the convict’s property was one of its most odious and economically destructive features, and, as these spoils were shared by the lay authorities, this feature undoubtedly kept the fires of persecution burning where otherwise they would have died out. Yet, thanks to the inquisition, and other more praiseworthy means shortly to be described, the Cathari were utterly rooted out in the course of a little more than a century, and the Waldenses greatly repressed. This earlier success accounts, in large measure, for the tenacity with which the Roman Church clung to the inquisition in the Reformation age.

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