Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Minorités et régulations sociales en Méditerranée médiévale

 | 
John Tolan
, 
Stéphane Boissellier
, 
François Clément

Cinquième partie. Les minorités au miroir de la culture dominante

Religious minorities viewed from Rome : the papacy and the heretics

Damian Smith

Texte intégral

My thanks to John Doran, Christoph Egger and Patrick Zutshi for their advice concerning matters in this study.

  • 2 John XXIII, Pacem in terris : Encyclical Letter on establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, (...)
  • 3 The UN Minority Rights Declaration, ed. Alan Phillips and Allan Rosas (London, 1983), p. 123.
  • 4 Joseph C. Heim, “The Demise of the Confessional State and the Rise of the Idea of a Legitimate Min (...)
  • 5 Robert I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society : Authority and Deviance in Western Europe (...)

1Many modern societies have expressed a profound desire to seek every means to incorporate and protect minority groups, a desire clearly exhibited in the ecclesiastical sphere since the promulgation of John XXIII’s Pacem in terris,2 which expresses concern for both the rights and responsibilities of minorities, and exhibited in the secular sphere very eloquently by the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities which emphasizes that the promotion of minority rights is an integral part of the development of society as a whole.3 This concern for minority welfare, and most particularly for the welfare of religious minorities, was in large measure alien not only to the medieval period but equally to the age of Louis XIV or the young Gladstone, as Heim has explained so lucidly, a concern which could not seriously arise until the passing of the confessional state, until the state was no longer dedicated to representing the position of the adherents of the dominant religious creed, a change fostered when the non-adherents of the majority creed were no longer seen as an imminent threat but rather as a positive force to contribute to the common welfare.4 Today’s keen and indeed generally laudable interest in religious minorities, in the protection of those rights which some countries in the world still do not give to minority religions, is strongly reflected in the most recent western historiography on the medieval period. Medieval minorities, and especially persecuted medieval minorities are a subject of concern for the majority, and some of the most stimulating works of recent years in the Anglo-Saxon world, such as Moore’s The Formation of a Persecuting Society and Nirenberg’s Communities of Violence are directly concerned with the theme.5 These studies have certainly been of great benefit to all students of history.

  • 6 For a view of changing attitudes towards medieval history in the United States in relation to its (...)

2But there remains a slight imbalance here, in that the democratic respect for minorities and the interest in minorities, whether medieval or modern, is not, in all cases, extended to an interest in the deepest understanding of the point of view of the majority ; perhaps because it is now difficult to identify who it is we might call or might ever have called the majority group with society seemingly constructed of a conglomeration of minorities ; perhaps because there has been a deep-seated loss of confidence in the abilities and even more so in the integrity of the governmental institutions of what we call the majority ; perhaps in the ever more visible power of government to destroy and the powerlessness of the individual before this. And not only secular government, but ecclesiastical government too is now greeted with extreme suspicion, as the maximum representative of a hierarchy which oppresses in order to control.6 It appears the case that today’s young students of history see the past through the perceived darkness of the present, the thoughts and actions of medieval hierarchies are immediately regarded with disdain and derision, less attempt is made to understand them, while every person identified as a member of a minority group, however disagreeable he or she may have been at the time, is now romanticized and cast in the role of a freedom fighter. Perhaps these bleak views of our present and our future, reflected back on the medieval past, give us a less than balanced picture and distort our understanding of those who were not members of minorities and those who were.

  • 7 There was much uncertainty in the chancery over which names to give to different heretics. At the (...)

3I wish here to look at a medieval religious minority from the viewpoint of a powerful elite. It seems to me that there are not many better representations of a religious minority than the heretics of the early thirteenth century. Even though we may have the impression from current literature that heretics in a number of regions actually formed the overwhelming majority of the population, they were only a majority in a very few villages, were a small but vocal minority in some areas and were of course non-existent in many areas. I am referring here to the heretics now usually called Cathars (though they went by a far greater variety of names at the time)7 and the heretics commonly called Waldensians. The elite is represented by the papacy. This may be problematic. For is not the papacy another minority ? After all, the pope is often the Vox clamantis in deserto, sometimes, as it must have seemed to Gregory VII in his last days, pretty much a minority of one. Are not the popes of the twelfth century marginalized, exiled, removed from the centre for a great portion of the time due to the efforts of Romans and emperors ? And who can be lower down the social scale than the Servus servorum Dei ?

  • 8 For the subject of the current article, Innocent III, the most relevant works on the cardinals and (...)
  • 9 Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione, 1.3.4.–1.4.5. in Opera Omnia, 8 vol. in 9, ed. J. Leclerq (...)

4In reality, we do not reasonably talk of the papacy, or the clergy, as a minority group or even a dominant minority. Generally, the pope has a special authority recognized by those with authority, and power to influence which is recognized among the powerful. His prestige is recognized less through wealth but in his power to judge. It is the case that much of the sophistication of his thought may have been understood and shared only within a group of cardinals and a small circle of friends,8 but he shared a sufficent number of religious practices and beliefs and was regarded by a sufficent number of them as authoritative to be regarded as their representative. This authority is most obviously demonstrated by the ever increasing number of people who brought their disputes to the papal court (a matter which had already been so worrisome for Bernard of Clairvaux).9 However, it is likely that the legislation enacted by the papacy against heresy reflects to a large extent the attitudes of a wider range of people rather than simply the expression of the interests of the powerful directed against a minority with disregard for the will of the majority. It is also of course the case that there was a greater diversity of attitudes among both clergy and laity to the problem of heresy than is sometimes allowed.

  • 10 A good introduction remains Leonard E. Boyle, “Diplomatics”, in Medieval Studies : an Introduction (...)

5My primary aim here is to attempt to explain how the man who was pope at the outset of the Albigensian crusade, Pope Innocent III, viewed heretics and why he acted in the way he did. I come wishing neither to praise the pope nor indeed to bury him but rather to understand him. The way to understand the pope’s view of the heretics is through his writings – through his treatises, even more so through his sermons, and perhaps most of all, through his letters, mainly, though by no means exclusively, those written to clergy and secular rulers in southern France and Italy. It is these letters which are our main source for papal thought. The middle part of the letters matter most – the corpus and within the corpus, the arenga and the dispositio, that is rather than the narratio, because the narratio tends to be a reflection, a repetition of a matter as it has been reported to Rome from another party, rather than a reflection of the thought of the papacy.10

  • 11 Wilhelm Imkamp, Das Kirchenbild Innocenz’III (Stuttgart, 1983), pp. 86-88, lists sixteen ways of i (...)
  • 12 Register, 1, no. 401, pp. 600–1 ; Boyle, “Innocent’s view of himself as pope”, in Innocenzo III. U (...)

6The arenga is or can be the nearest thing you get to what might be called a policy statement. Interpreting the arengae of papal letters is, however, a highly complicated matter. They are by no means always necessarily a reflection of the personal thought of the pontiff. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to prove in individual instances that they are so.11 They are often probably the choice of notaries who are unidentifiable or difficult to identify. They are by their nature highly formulaic, given to repetition not just across years but centuries, so even the individual role of the notary can easily be called into question. Moreover it is not the case that the arenga of an enregistered letter is certainly the same as that in the letter which was sent to a recipient. The arenga of the enregistered letter might be absent from the original letter or altered in emphasis in later letters, as it is most notably in the pope’s famous sun-moon imagery of 1199.12 Likewise, sometimes it can be the case that the arenga has surprisingly little to do with the content of a letter.

  • 13 Register, 1, no. 262, p. 364 ; Rudolf von Heckel, “Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Geschäftsgangs der pä (...)
  • 14 Monumenta Diplomatica S. Dominici, ed. V. J. Koudelka and R. J. Loenertz (Rome, 1966), no. 79, pp. (...)
  • 15 Professor Christoph Egger is currently undertaking such work on a large scale but, because of the (...)
  • 16 On the continual use of this phrase and its gradual influence on imperial practice, see Heinrich F (...)
  • 17 On which, see Antonio Oliver, Táctica de propaganda y motivos literarios en las cartas antiherétic (...)

7Nevertheless, this does not mean we need despair. The bureaucratic burden of the papacy in the early thirteenth century was not quite as great as is sometimes supposed. The pope took a keen personal interest in the workings of his chancery. We know for a common letter of 1198 that a papal notary read both the draft of the letter and the engrossment to the pope.13 We can fairly well establish that Innocent’s successor, Honorius III, dictated some letters in their entirety, as appears to have been the case with Gratiarum omnium for the early Dominicans.14 It is not unlikely that Innocent would have done the same on occasions and that if he involved himself so attentively to a common letter he would have done so all the more with letters concerning such a grave matter as heresy. The imagery of the papal letters coincides at certain points with the imagery of Innocent’s other works (though more research needs to be undertaken in the hope of clarifying this matter).15 The fact that the arengae are formulaic does not render them meaningless. The fact that the responsibility for the sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum had been expressed across the centuries does not mean that the popes of the thirteenth century cared for all the churches less than their predecessors had done.16 Tellingly, the arengae of papal anti-heresy letters do not appear haphazard but rather systematic and considered.17 As they were sent to many prelates and secular dignitaries across Christendom, the words and images acted as a means of explaining the nature and dangers of heresy and how it was to be dealt with. They were a means of regulating the thought of Christian society.

  • 18 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8.
  • 19 Maleczek, “Ein brief des Kardinals Lothar von SS. Sergius und Bacchus (Innocenz III.) an Kaiser He (...)
  • 20 Register, 1, no. 81, pp. 119–20.
  • 21 (Tares) Register, 1, no. 509, pp. 743–4 ; 7, no. 76 (76, 77), pp. 122–6 ; PL, 214, 698D, 793C ; (L (...)
  • 22 Register, 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8.
  • 23 PL, 216, 712A.

8The first task of the letters was to emphasize the alarming rapidity with which heresy was spreading. A number of images were used to press home the degree of danger. Undoubtedly, the best known, used by the chancery in Cum Unus Dominus of May 1198 to the prelates and people of much of France and the lands beyond, is that of the little foxes despoiling the vineyard of the Lord.18 It was an image which Innocent had already used as a cardinal when corresponding with Henry VI concerning the problem of heresy.19 Seven weeks before Cum Unus Dominus a letter to the archbishop of Auch had described heresy as a plague, contagion and cancer20 and these well-known images of heresy as disease persist throughout the papal correspondence. Another favourite image associated with heretics is that of the tares which spread through the wheatfields suffocating the crop, and similarly that of the locusts devouring the crops.21 As the problem of heresy worsened the heretics were seen not so much as little foxes but rather as ferocious lions exterminating and devouring the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, as was the case in a letter to the archbishop and suffragans of Reims in July 1206.22 By October 1212, the situation was so grave that the chancery in Cum illam considered the Milanese, by their defense of heresy, to have helped change the little foxes into lions and the locusts into horses prepared for battle.23

  • 24 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; Register, 6, no. 241 (242), pp. 404–5 ; Register, 9, no. 206 (208 (...)
  • 25 (Metz) PL, 214, 695, 699, 793 ; (Strasbourg) PL 216, 502 ; (Mainz) Register, 6, no. 41, p. 64 ; (C (...)
  • 26 La documentación pontificia hasta Inocencio III (965–1216), ed. Demetrio Mansilla (Rome, 1955), no (...)
  • 27 PL, 214, 612C.
  • 28 Archivo Diocesano de Huesca, ms. 7-3-128, t. I, cap. 51, fols. 122r-123v ; Martín Alvira Cabrer an (...)
  • 29 Register, 5, 109 (110), pp. 218–9 ; PL, 214, 872.
  • 30 (Milan) PL, 216, 29D, 711–714 ; (Bergamo) PL, 216, 230 ; (Verona) Register 5, no. 33, pp. 59–60 ; (...)
  • 31 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 8, no. 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; PL, 215 (...)

9These images were to drive home what the papacy saw as a clear and present danger. They were not simple propaganda. We might consider that the number of heretics in the early thirteenth century was a minute percentage of the population and think that what is remarkable about those times is not the level of heresy but rather the level of orthodoxy. But from the viewpoint of Rome, heresy was reaching epidemic proportions. News came in on a fairly regular basis of heretical groups or suspected heretics not only in the lands of the south of France, such as the ill-fated Béziers and Toulouse, the watchtower of error, but in many other parts of France.24 There were moreover, worrying developments in Metz, Strasbourg, Mainz, Cambrai and Passau.25 In Spain, Cum unus Dominus had been sent to the archbishop of Tarragona.26 The Leonese prelates would use the threat of heresy to try to persuade the pope to lift the interdict imposed due to the incestuous marriage of Alfonso IX and Berenguela.27 By 1203, Sancha of Aragon was writing to Innocent to ask what was to be done about heretics.28 Moreover, in the kingdom of Hungary heresy was on the rise, supported by a leading nobleman, and many cities were infected.29 And closer to home, in Italy, the problem must have appeared worse. Milan was another watchtower of error and Bergamo, Verona, Piacenza, Treviso, Firenze, Prato and Syracuse all gave examples of heresy to varying degrees.30 Within the lands of the patrimony, the situation is unlikely to have appeared any better, especially at Viterbo, which seemed a nest of heretics, some of them even in positions of authority.31

  • 32 On the situation of the papacy post-Lateran III, see Karl Wenck, “Die römischen Päpste zwischen Al (...)
  • 33 Gesta Innocentii, ch. 137 (PL, 214, 187–8).
  • 34 Gesta Innocentii, passim ; G. Tabacco, “Impero e papato in una competizione di interessi regionali (...)
  • 35 On the battle and its importance, see Actas de Alarcos 1195. Congreso Internacional Conmemorativo (...)

10These are a few examples among many. The papacy did not invent the threat of heresy. And it certainly did not need to invent a new enemy which did not exist. In the course of the twelfth century the papal court had spent much of the time outside of Rome often because the situation inside was too perilous for it to remain in the city.32 As late as Easter Monday 1203, Innocent was heckled by the Roman mob and with the feuds of the Roman nobles going out of control, the pope had left the city.33 And if that threat was great then the battles with the empire had the potential to do even greater damage. The death of Henry VI may have given the papacy some respite but it is evident from the Gesta Innocentii that the fear of an empire united with the kingdom of Sicily had not lessened.34 Beyond this, most obviously there were the pagans and the Saracens. In 1187, Jerusalem had been lost. This was a catastrophic blow. In 1195, the Christians had suffered a crushing defeat at the battle of Alarcos against the Almohads.35 Until 1212 and Las Navas, Innocent III’s life had been one long series of bitter disappointments for the Christians against the Saracens. The papacy did not need to invent new enemies. It had enemies aplenty !

  • 36 Boyle, “Innocent III’s View of himself’’, pp. 9 –17.
  • 37 PL, 217, 665A-B.
  • 38 PL, 217, 663D ; Pope Innocent III, Between God and Man : Six Sermons on the Priestly Office, trans (...)
  • 39 PL, 217, 653-660 ; Innocent III, Between God and Man, pp. 18–27.

11If the extent of heresy was exaggerated in the mind of Innocent III, it was due to his heightened sense of awareness of the responsibilities of the office entrusted to him and the potential damage that heresy could do to Christian souls. The pope had a particular love for his own church, the Roman Church, his spiritual bride, and all his actions he did not to glorify himself but on behalf of his bride, this ecclesia romana.36 And as the pope stated in a sermon probably delivered on the first anniversary of his consecration the bride did not come empty-handed, “but bestowed on me a dowry, costly beyond price : an abundance of spiritual gifts, and an amplitude of temporal gifts, a magnitude and multitude of both”.37 The pope owed the ecclesia romana a gift for the nuptials, needed to fulfill a conjugal duty to the church. The first duty within marriage is fidelity. The Roman pontiffand the Roman Church safeguarded one another in a faithful marriage. “The words of Truth in the Gospel can be fittingly applied to them ‘ I know my sheep and mine know me’. ‘ They do not follow the stranger but flee him, since they do not recognize the voice of strangers’. ‘ Strangers’are heretics and schismatics, whom the Roman church does not follow, but rather pursues and puts to rout. However they hear and recognize their own – not the apostate but the apostolic ; not the Cathar but the Catholic – receiving and returning the conjugal duty.”38 As well as his duty to the ecclesia romana the pope had his wider responsibility for the cura et sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum. In a sermon on the very day of his consecration, Innocent had already expressed his desire to be the faithful and prudent servant.39 God had given to the apostolic seat a primacy and a promise that it would not fail in adversity. Since God had ordained this “in vain labours the heretic or schismatic”. For the pope was the servant that God had placed over his household – the servant of servants. This was a great burden, to be the servant of all, to have the daily worry of the care of all the churches. Constituted over the household it was for the pope to “solve complex problems, unlock ambiguities, explain the merits of cases, oversee the disposition of judgments, expound the Scriptures, preach to the people, reprove the restless, comfort the weak, confound heretics, strengthen Catholics”. As successor of Peter he was “mediator between God and mankind ; on this side of God, but beyond man ; less than God, but greater than man, who judges all cases but is judged by nobody”.

  • 40 PL, 217, 658C-D.
  • 41 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3-5 ; (Languedoc) P. Gariel, Series praesulum Magalonensium et Monspeliens (...)
  • 42 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5.

12This was not to be the occasion for arrogance but rather for humility and fear. “To whom more is entrusted, more is demanded. In fact, he has more reason to fear than to glory in having to render an account to God, not only for himself but for all who are committed to his care.” And all those of the Lord’s household were committed to the care of the pope. And there was only one household not many households.40 There was one fold and one shepherd. As was clearly stated in the famous decretal Vergentis in Senium (at least clearly stated in the version sent to the clergy and people of Viterbo in March 1199 – the version sent to Languedoc in 1200 is a truncated and significantly different letter)41 the pope was not only the steward of the household over the labourers in the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts but by virtue of his pastoral office entrusted with the sheep of Christ and therefore he had both to catch the little foxes and ward offthe wolves which might attack the sheep. If he failed to do so then indeed he could be described in terms of the dumb dogs who did not have the power to bark.42 It was this sense of pastoral responsibility which pervaded the papacy’s thought concerning heresy, the duty of the one shepherd to the one fold.

  • 43 Oliver, Táctica de Propaganda, pp. 22–3.
  • 44 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 1, no. 509, pp. 743–4 ; 7, no. 76, pp. 118–22 ; 9, no. 206 (208), (...)
  • 45 Register, 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8 ; generally on this, see Friedrich Kempf, Papsttum und Kaisertum b (...)
  • 46 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 7, no. 37, p. 63 ; 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8 ; P (...)
  • 47 Register, 7, no. 77 (76, 77), pp. 118–22 ; 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 8, no. 106 (105), pp. 188– (...)

13What was the danger of heresy ? For Innocent, heresy attacked unity. How greatly would Innocent have been in accord with Professor Boissellier when he defined heresy for the purpose of this conference as “une rupture de l’appartenance a la communauté sociale qu’est l’ecclesia”. It could almost have been Innocent writing. For Innocent, as Oliver described very well, heresy attacks the pillars of unity : Ecclesia, Regnum, Christianitas.43 Firstly, Innocent stressed that heretics seriously attacked the unity of the Church with their synagogues of Satan : they condemned the sacraments, preached the incapacity of the unworthy minister, refused the authority of the hierarchy of the Church and interpreted the scriptures for themselves.44 They fired their catapults at the ecclesia universalis, a vital concept to Innocent, the ecclesia universalis, which had a sole ruler, Christ and a sole vicar, the pope.45 Secondly, the heretics threatened the stability of kingdoms and republics. They were malefactors, perfidious, impious, robbers, assassins, criminals, guilty of treason.46 It should be remembered, for all that is written on the battles between church and crown, that for the pope kings and princes were a vital part of the ecclesia universalis, which the heretics attacked. Thirdly, the heretics were the mortal enemies of Christianitas, the society of all Christians, which had the Apostolic See at its spiritual head. The heretics attacked Christianitas just as the pagans and the Moors did. Yet really they were worse than these, because while pagans and Moors were external enemies, the heretics lived in the midst of the Christian people, and it was far more difficult to escape the wolf disguised as a sheep when he was already in the pen.47

  • 48 Isaiah 56 :10 ; Gregory I, Super Cantica Canticorum expositio 2.17 (PL, 79, 500BC) ; Idem, Regula (...)
  • 49 Register, 6, no. 242 (243), pp. 405–7 ; Register, 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–22 ; PL, 216, 284A. On A (...)
  • 50 PL, 217, 650C-651A.
  • 51 Register, 5, no. 33 (34), pp. 59–60 ; 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–122 ; 9, no. 110, pp. 201–2 ; PL, 21 (...)

14Why had heresy increased ? There were three reasons. The first and major reason was the laxity of the clergy. If it was feared that the accusation might be leveled against the pope himself then there was no doubt that some of the prelates constituted the canes muti non valentes latrare, the phrase from Isaiah to describe lazy, gluttonous religious leaders which had proved so popular with writers since Gregory the Great and Isidore of Seville.48 The prelates were hirelings, not shepherds, and watched over their revenues by night. The dumbest of the dogs, the most rapacious of the hirelings was the negligent, simoniacal, conniving, worldly and possibly heretical Archbishop Berenguer II of Narbonne (This was really very unfair on Berenguer but when there was a difficulty, Innocent always looked first to the reform of his own house and so the archbishop was the obvious target).49 As a result of the negligence of the higher clergy, the minor clergy were lacking in virtue. The inadequacies of priests played into the hands of the heretics. This was best expressed by Innocent in a sermon addressed to the clergy in a Roman synod. When heretics saw the clergy sin then they could use scripture to say that alms should not be given to the clergy, that their preaching should not be listened to and that they could not confer the sacraments.50 As Innocent stated many times when the clergy were lacking it was easy for the laity to be ensnared by heresy.51

  • 52 (Viterbo) Register, 8, 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; (Milan) PL, 216, 712 ; (Raymond VI) PL, 215, 1166, (...)
  • 53 Register, 7, no. 79, pp. 127–9.
  • 54 Register, 1, no. 81, pp. 119–20 ; 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 9, no. 18, pp. 27–9  (...)

15The second reason was the negligence or indeed the connivance of the secular power. This was, in the thought of the papacy, particularly the case with Viterbo and Milan, but also in Languedoc, where Raymond VI of Toulouse especially was considered to have actively connived with the heretics.52 The material sword was supposed to act in unison with the spiritual sword in defence of the Church. But when the material sword of the prince or civil authority remained in its sheath, this was to the advantage of the heretics.53 The third reason was that the heretics held a superficial attraction with their show of austerity and virtue, their novelty, the eloquence of their preaching, their ability to expose the shortcomings of the clergy, and their well-organized system of conversion and contact with simple souls, though, the pope emphasized, in reality they were the “ministri diabolicae praevaricationis”.54

  • 55 Constitutiones Concilii quarti Lateranensis una cum Commentariis glossatorum, ed. Antonio García y (...)
  • 56 Register, 7, no. 79, pp. 127–9.
  • 57 (To Philip) Register, 7, no. 212, pp. 372–4 ; PL, 215, 1358D. (To Imre of Hungary) PL, 214, 871B. (...)
  • 58 PL, 215, 1358C– D. For a full and excellent discussion of the pope’s action within the Albigensian (...)

16What was the solution ? There were four ways to destroy heresy – through preaching, through ecclesiastical punishments, through secular punishments, and, finally, through the crusade. These different means were complementary. Preaching held the double advantage of instructing the faithful and strengthening them in their resolve against heresy. As Canon 10 of Lateran IV clearly stated in the saving of Christian souls the bread of the gospel was the most necessary food.55 But if preaching did not work alone, the Church would have to defend itself with its own spiritual sword,56 that is by use of ecclesiastical discipline and, if these were not sufficient, the Church would call first upon the sword of the secular ruler (in the instance of the Languedoc, Philip II of France – who was called upon many times) to rid his lands of malefactors, destroy evil-doers and defend his own interests ;57 and, ultimately, with the death of Pierre de Castelnau, the pope would call on Philip, as the miles Christi, to join his sword to the material sword of the pope in defence of the Church.58

  • 59 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 7, no. 77 (76, 77), pp. 122–6 ; 7, no. 210, pp. 370–1 ; 9, no. 10 (...)
  • 60 Register, 7, no. 210, pp. 370–1.
  • 61 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 6, no. 238 (239), p. 401 ; 7, no. 77, pp. 122–6 ; 7, no. 210, pp. (...)
  • 62 Register, 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–122 ; PL, 215, 1246, 1359–60, 1545 ; Oliver, Táctica de propagan (...)

17To realize this programme, much support was needed. Legates were to substitute for negligent bishops, dispute with heretics, instruct the faithful and correct abuses.59 It was for the legates to keep the pope in touch with events. The Cistercians, apostles verbo et exemplo, were here the ideal of the pope, the unfortunate Castelnau, who had, long before his eventual demise, asked to be relieved from his duties, having been exhorted to persevere before an obdurate and incorrigible people, to prefer activity over otium and to recall that God would reward the effort not the results.60 The bishops, when they were not irredeemable, were to play their part too in containing the epidemic and maintaining the faith. The pope and the bishops were to work in co-operation – each is the father of the family, the farmer, the vineyard-owner, the shepherd, the doctor.61 Secular rulers, in order to defend unity and peace (the ideal of all good kings) were to avenge the dishonour done to God by the treachery and invasion of heretics.62

  • 63 PL, 214, 649D–650A.
  • 64 PL, 215, 1510A–1513D ; Antoine Dondaine, “Durand de Huesca et la polémique anti-Cathare”, Archivum (...)
  • 65 Register, 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 9, nos. 167–8 (167–9), pp. 300–5.
  • 66 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 7, no. 77 (76–7), pp. 122–6 ; 9, no. 7, pp. 17–18 ; PL, 215, 1147. (...)
  • 67 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 9, nos. 7 –8, pp. 17–19 ; 9, nos. 18–19, pp. 27–30 ; 9, nos. 167– (...)
  • 68 PL, 214, 793C-D ; Boyle, “Innocent III and Vernacular Versions of Scripture”, Studies in Church Hi (...)
  • 69 PL, 217, 657A ; Innocent III, Between God and Man, p. 22 ; Ludwig Buisson, “Exemples et tradition (...)

18The heretics themselves were the most necessary part of the solution. The pope generally aimed to uproot (exstirpare) heresy but to confound (confundere) heretics.63 Innocent’s first aim was conversion and to regain the heretics through sound reasoning. The papacy, and particularly the cardinals, spent a considerable length of time trying to find out what heretics believed. This was especially the case with the reformed Waldensians called the Catholic Poor who spent upwards of a year in Rome before making a profession of Faith in 1208.64 Generally, from the papal viewpoint, the heretics had been ignoble and ungrateful and had attacked the position of their mother the Church.65 Their doctrines were inconsistent, ill-thought through and foolish. They had been treacherous towards their kingdom, their city, towards Christ Himself (it was this idea of treason against the divine majesty of Christ which was the major innovation of Vergentis in senium).66 They would suffer divine punishments for their blindness, arrogance and perversity unless they returned to the unity of the Church, where their father, the pope was waiting to greet the prodigal sons.67 The papacy sought to move forward with caution and compassion as far as it was able. As was advised in the case of those lay enthusiasts in Metz who trusted in their own expert knowledge of the translated scriptures and sought to preach on the basis of it, it was important that the Church did not act in such a way that the wheat was removed along with the tares, or that in operating on the bodies of the infirm, the healthy parts might be made infirm rather than the infirm parts healthy.68 The images of the chancery reflected the words spoken by the pope on his consecration – “O how vital prudence is to me, so that my service may be reasonable, so that my left hand may not know what my right hand is doing ; so that I can discern between what is leprous and what is clean, between good and evil, between light and darkness, between sacred and profane, lest I call evil good or good evil, lest I think that darkness is light or light darkness, lest I kill souls that are not dying, or restore to life souls that are not living”.69

  • 70 Paul Ormerod and Andrew Roach, “The Medieval Inquisition : Scale-Free Networks and the Suppression (...)

19To what extent the writings of Innocent III and the papal letters of his time reflect a wider usage of imagery and rhetoric with which to describe minority groups who are on the outside of a society in order to reinforce that society’s view of the outsider is a matter to be debated and further studied. They may, of course, seem very alien, even frightening, today. In the concluding remarks to this conference Professor Aurell described the heretics within Christendom as being viewed rather like “fifth columnists”, taking his example from a term originating in the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps an even more apposite comparison in allowing modern students of history to appreciate how papal and secular rulers felt about heretics in the thirteenth century lies with the attitude of modern governments towards terrorist organizations. Indeed, Ormerod and Roach have recently argued that modern governments seeking to counter terrorist plots might adopt similar tactics to those eventually developed by the medieval inquisition in focusing attention on heretical leaders at the front of extended networks rather than spending too much time with many people who were only marginally connected with heresy.70 There are perhaps happier examples from history which could be used to make such a point but it is at least quite possible that the extent and indeed the cohesion of such threatening organizations is exaggerated in the thought of modern governments, as it appears to have been by ecclesiastical medieval government, in both instances primarily through fear of the potential damage that such groups could do. Of course, modern governments are primarily concerned with the damage that terrorists can do to the lives of their citizens whom they are supposed to protect, whereas medieval churchmen were concerned with the damage that heretics could do to the immortal souls of the Christian people for whose salvation they were responsible.

Notes

2 John XXIII, Pacem in terris : Encyclical Letter on establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty (London : Catholic Truth Society, 2002), articles 94–7, pp. 28–9.

3 The UN Minority Rights Declaration, ed. Alan Phillips and Allan Rosas (London, 1983), p. 123.

4 Joseph C. Heim, “The Demise of the Confessional State and the Rise of the Idea of a Legitimate Minority”, in Majorities and Minorities, ed. John Chapman and Alan Wertheimer (New York : New York University Press, 1990), pp. 11–23.

5 Robert I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society : Authority and Deviance in Western Europe 950-1250 (Oxford : Blackwell Publishing, 2006) ; David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence : Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1996).

6 For a view of changing attitudes towards medieval history in the United States in relation to its recent history, see Paul Freedman and Gabrielle Spiegel, “Medievalisms Old and New : The Rediscovery of Alterity in North American Medieval Studies”, American Historical Review, 103 (1998), pp. 677–704.

7 There was much uncertainty in the chancery over which names to give to different heretics. At the time of Innocent III the Cathars are referred to sparingly as such. Cum Unus Dominus (Die Register Innocenz´ III, vol. 1 (1198/1199), 2 (1199/1200), 5 (1202/1203), 6 (1203/1204), 7 (1204/1205), 8 (1205/6), 9 (1206/7), ed. O. Hageneder, A. Haidacher, W. Maleczek, A. Strnad, A. Sommerlechner, H. Weigl, C. Egger, J. Moore and R. Murauer, (Graz-Cologne-Rome-Vienna, 1964-2004), 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8) refers to those who are called Catari, alongside Valdenses and Paterini. Innocent refers to the Cathar heretics in the sermon probably preached on the first anniversary of his consecration (PL, 217, 663D). In relation to heretics in Hungary the word is used in Illam Gerimus of November 1202 (PL, 214, 1108C). Part of the reluctance to refer to them as Cathars may well be that the chancery considered that this was a name the heretics applied to themselves, as indicated in Gloria nominis to Treviso of April 1207 (PL, 215, 1147A). The papal chancery also referred to the Gazari in Licet in agro to the bishop of Verona of December 1199 (PL, 214, 789A) and Gazari and Catari are most probably related.

8 For the subject of the current article, Innocent III, the most relevant works on the cardinals and the wider intellectual circle are, Werner Maleczek, Papst und Kardinalskolleg von 1191 bis 1216 (Vienna, 1984) ; John Baldwin, Masters, Princes and Merchants : The Social Views of Peter the Chanter and his Circle, 2 vol. (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1970).

9 Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione, 1.3.4.–1.4.5. in Opera Omnia, 8 vol. in 9, ed. J. Leclerq, c. Talbot, H. Rochais (Rome, 1957–77), 3, pp. 397–9.

10 A good introduction remains Leonard E. Boyle, “Diplomatics”, in Medieval Studies : an Introduction, ed. James M. Powell (Syracuse : Syracuse University Press, 1976 [2nd ed. 1992]), pp. 69–101.

11 Wilhelm Imkamp, Das Kirchenbild Innocenz’III (Stuttgart, 1983), pp. 86-88, lists sixteen ways of indicating the pope’s personal involvement in the construction of a letter. However, they do not indicate that the pope composed those letters in entirety.

12 Register, 1, no. 401, pp. 600–1 ; Boyle, “Innocent’s view of himself as pope”, in Innocenzo III. Urbs et Orbis, 2 vol, ed. Andrea Sommerlechner (Rome, Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo e Società romana di storia patria, 2003), 1, pp. 5 –7.

13 Register, 1, no. 262, p. 364 ; Rudolf von Heckel, “Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Geschäftsgangs der päpstlichen Kanzlei im 13. Jahrhundert”, in Festschrift Albert Brackmann, ed. Leo Santifaller (Weimar, 1931), pp. 444–48.

14 Monumenta Diplomatica S. Dominici, ed. V. J. Koudelka and R. J. Loenertz (Rome, 1966), no. 79, pp. 78–9 ; Patrick Zutshi, “Pope Honorius III’s Gratiarum Omnium and the beginnings of the Dominican Order”, in Omnia Disce : Medieval Studies in Memory of Leonard Boyle, O. P., ed. Anne J. Duggan, Joan Greatrex, Brenda Bolton (Aldershot : Ashgate 2005), pp. 175–86 ; Idem, “The personal role of the pope in the production of papal letters in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”, in Vom Nutzen des Schreibens : Soziales Gedächtnis, Herrschaft und Besitz im Mittelalter, ed. Walter Pohl and Paul Herold, Forschungen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, 5 (Vienna, 2002), 225-36.

15 Professor Christoph Egger is currently undertaking such work on a large scale but, because of the range of possibilities in the construction of any one letter, at this time he doubts whether it will become possible to distinguish a personal Innocentian style from a chancery style in particular papal arengae.

16 On the continual use of this phrase and its gradual influence on imperial practice, see Heinrich Fichtenau, Arenga : Spätantike und Mittelalter im spiegel von urkundenreform (Cologne, 1957).

17 On which, see Antonio Oliver, Táctica de propaganda y motivos literarios en las cartas antiheréticas de Inocencio III (Rome : Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1957).

18 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8.

19 Maleczek, “Ein brief des Kardinals Lothar von SS. Sergius und Bacchus (Innocenz III.) an Kaiser Heinrich VI”, Deutsches Archiv, 38 (1982), pp. 375–6. This is the only certain extant letter of Innocent III prior to his pontificate, but also see now Christoph Egger, “Ein unbekannter Brief Lothars von Segni/Papst Innocenz III ?”, Römische Historische Mitteilungen, 49 (2007), pp. 71–87, on an anonymous letter explaining the three Masses of Christmas Day which closely coincides with Innocent’s writings.

20 Register, 1, no. 81, pp. 119–20.

21 (Tares) Register, 1, no. 509, pp. 743–4 ; 7, no. 76 (76, 77), pp. 122–6 ; PL, 214, 698D, 793C ; (Locusts) no. 76, pp. 122–6 ; 8, no. 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; PL, 214, 647C ; 216, 850A.

22 Register, 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8.

23 PL, 216, 712A.

24 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; Register, 6, no. 241 (242), pp. 404–5 ; Register, 9, no. 206 (208) ; PL, 216, 44, 48, 283, 408–9, 789.

25 (Metz) PL, 214, 695, 699, 793 ; (Strasbourg) PL 216, 502 ; (Mainz) Register, 6, no. 41, p. 64 ; (Cambrai), Register, 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8 (Passau), PL, 215, 1144A).

26 La documentación pontificia hasta Inocencio III (965–1216), ed. Demetrio Mansilla (Rome, 1955), no. 141, pp. 172–4.

27 PL, 214, 612C.

28 Archivo Diocesano de Huesca, ms. 7-3-128, t. I, cap. 51, fols. 122r-123v ; Martín Alvira Cabrer and Damian J. Smith, “Política antihérética en la Corona de Aragón : una carta inédita de Inocencio III a la reina Sancha (1203)”, Acta historica et archaeologica mediaevalia, 27 (2007), forthcoming.

29 Register, 5, 109 (110), pp. 218–9 ; PL, 214, 872.

30 (Milan) PL, 216, 29D, 711–714 ; (Bergamo) PL, 216, 230 ; (Verona) Register 5, no. 33, pp. 59–60 ; PL, 214, 789A ; (Piacenza) Register, 9, nos. 166–8 (166–9), pp. 296–305 ; (Treviso) PL, 215, 1147A ; (Firenze), Register, 9, no. 7, pp. 17–18 ; (Prato), Register, 9, no. 8, pp. 18–19 ; (Syracuse), Register, 1, no. 509, pp. 743–4.

31 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 8, no. 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; PL, 215, 1200, 1226.

32 On the situation of the papacy post-Lateran III, see Karl Wenck, “Die römischen Päpste zwischen Alexander III. und Innocenz III. und der Designationsversuch Weihnachten 1197”, Papsttum und Kaisertum. Forschungen zur politischen Geschichte und Geisteskultur des Mittelalters. Paul Kehr zum 65. Geburtstag dargebracht, ed. A. Brackmann (Munich, 1926), pp. 415–74. More generally, Ian S. Robinson, The Papacy 1073–1198 : Continuity and Innovation (Cambridge, 1990).

33 Gesta Innocentii, ch. 137 (PL, 214, 187–8).

34 Gesta Innocentii, passim ; G. Tabacco, “Impero e papato in una competizione di interessi regionali”, Il Lazio Meridionale tra Papato e Impero al tempo di Enrico VI. Atti del convegno internazionale Fiuggi, Guarcino, Montecassino, 7 –10 giugno 1986 (Rome, 1991), 15–29.

35 On the battle and its importance, see Actas de Alarcos 1195. Congreso Internacional Conmemorativo de VII centenario de la batalla de Alarcos, ed. R. Izquierdo (Cuenca, 1996).

36 Boyle, “Innocent III’s View of himself’’, pp. 9 –17.

37 PL, 217, 665A-B.

38 PL, 217, 663D ; Pope Innocent III, Between God and Man : Six Sermons on the Priestly Office, trans. Corinne J. Vause and Frank C. Gardiner (Washington D. C : Catholic University of America Press, 2004), p. 36.

39 PL, 217, 653-660 ; Innocent III, Between God and Man, pp. 18–27.

40 PL, 217, 658C-D.

41 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3-5 ; (Languedoc) P. Gariel, Series praesulum Magalonensium et Monspeliensium, 2 vol. (Toulouse, 1665), 1, pp. 267-268.

42 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5.

43 Oliver, Táctica de Propaganda, pp. 22–3.

44 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 1, no. 509, pp. 743–4 ; 7, no. 76, pp. 118–22 ; 9, no. 206 (208), pp. 374–6 ; PL, 214, 695–9, 794A, 904B ; 215, 1147–8 ; 216, 98B.

45 Register, 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8 ; generally on this, see Friedrich Kempf, Papsttum und Kaisertum bei Innocenz III. Die geistigen und rechtlichen Grundlagen seiner Thronstreitpolitik (Rome, 1954).

46 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 7, no. 37, p. 63 ; 9, no. 132, pp. 236–8 ; PL, 215, 1356D–1357A, 1247A– D ; Oliver, Táctica de Propaganda, p. 24.

47 Register, 7, no. 77 (76, 77), pp. 118–22 ; 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 8, no. 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; PL, 215, 1359B).

48 Isaiah 56 :10 ; Gregory I, Super Cantica Canticorum expositio 2.17 (PL, 79, 500BC) ; Idem, Regula Pastoralis 4 (PL, 77, 30B-C) ; Isidore of Seville, Sentences, 3. 35. 2 (PL 83, 707B) ; Keith H. Kendall, “‘Mute dogs, unable to bark’ : Innocent III’s call to combat heresy”, in Medieval Church Law and the Origins of the Western Legal Tradition : a tribute to Kenneth Pennington, ed. Wolfgang Müller and Mary Sommar (Washington D. C : Catholic University Press, 2006), pp. 170-177.

49 Register, 6, no. 242 (243), pp. 405–7 ; Register, 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–22 ; PL, 216, 284A. On Archbishop Berenguer II, see Damian J. Smith, Innocent III and the Crown of Aragon : the limits of papal authority (Aldershot : Ashgate, 2004).

50 PL, 217, 650C-651A.

51 Register, 5, no. 33 (34), pp. 59–60 ; 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–122 ; 9, no. 110, pp. 201–2 ; PL, 214, 903–4 ; 215, 1146.

52 (Viterbo) Register, 8, 106 (105), pp. 188–90 ; (Milan) PL, 216, 712 ; (Raymond VI) PL, 215, 1166, 1354–7 ; 216, 356, 410–11, 524.

53 Register, 7, no. 79, pp. 127–9.

54 Register, 1, no. 81, pp. 119–20 ; 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 9, no. 18, pp. 27–9 ; 9, no. 206 (208), pp. 374–6.

55 Constitutiones Concilii quarti Lateranensis una cum Commentariis glossatorum, ed. Antonio García y García (Vatican City, 1981), canon 10.

56 Register, 7, no. 79, pp. 127–9.

57 (To Philip) Register, 7, no. 212, pp. 372–4 ; PL, 215, 1358D. (To Imre of Hungary) PL, 214, 871B. (To Otto of Brunswick) Regestum Innocentii III papae super negotio Romani imperii, ed. Friedrich Kempf (Rome, 1947), no. 32 ; PL, 215, 362.

58 PL, 215, 1358C– D. For a full and excellent discussion of the pope’s action within the Albigensian crusade, see Raymonde Foreville, “Innocent III et la Croisade des Albigeois”, Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 4 (1969), pp. 184–217.

59 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 7, no. 77 (76, 77), pp. 122–6 ; 7, no. 210, pp. 370–1 ; 9, no. 103, pp. 186–7 ; 9, no. 183 (185), pp. 334–5 ; PL, 215, 1361, 1547 ; PL, 216, 100, 174–6, 187, 284, 408–11, 608, 852, 958–60 ; Oliver, Táctica de propaganda, pp. 53–67.

60 Register, 7, no. 210, pp. 370–1.

61 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 6, no. 238 (239), p. 401 ; 7, no. 77, pp. 122–6 ; 7, no. 210, pp. 370–1 ; 9, no. 66, pp. 120–2 ; PL, 216, 174, 959 ; Kenneth Pennnington, Pope and Bishops : The Papal Monarchy in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984), pp. 43–73.

62 Register, 7, no. 76 (75), pp. 118–122 ; PL, 215, 1246, 1359–60, 1545 ; Oliver, Táctica de propaganda, pp. 87–103.

63 PL, 214, 649D–650A.

64 PL, 215, 1510A–1513D ; Antoine Dondaine, “Durand de Huesca et la polémique anti-Cathare”, Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 24 (1959), pp. 228–76 ; Michele Maccarronne, “Riforme e Innovazioni di Innocenzo III nella vita religiosa”, in Idem, Studi su Innocenzo III (Padua, 1972), pp. 298–9.

65 Register, 8, no. 86 (85), pp. 156–60 ; 9, nos. 167–8 (167–9), pp. 300–5.

66 Register, 2, no. 1, pp. 3 –5 ; 7, no. 77 (76–7), pp. 122–6 ; 9, no. 7, pp. 17–18 ; PL, 215, 1147. On Vergentis, see O. Hageneder, “La decretale Vergentis (X. V, 7, 10) : Un contributo sulla legislazione antiereticale di Innocenzo III”, in Idem, Il Sole e la Luna : Papato, impero e regni nella teoria e nella prassi dei secoli XII e XIII, (Milan, 2000), pp. 131-163 ; L. Kolmer, “Christus als beleidigte Majestät : von der Lex ‘ Quisquis’(397) bis zur Dekretale ‘ Vergentis’(1199)”, in Papsttum, Kirche und Recht, ed. K. Modek (Tübingen, 1991), pp. 1 –13.

67 Register, 1, no. 94, pp. 135–8 ; 9, nos. 7 –8, pp. 17–19 ; 9, nos. 18–19, pp. 27–30 ; 9, nos. 167–8 (167–9), pp. 300–5 ; PL, 215, 1148A.

68 PL, 214, 793C-D ; Boyle, “Innocent III and Vernacular Versions of Scripture”, Studies in Church History, subsidia 4 (1985), pp. 97–109.

69 PL, 217, 657A ; Innocent III, Between God and Man, p. 22 ; Ludwig Buisson, “Exemples et tradition chez Innocent III”, L’Année canonique, 15 (1971), pp. 109–132, at p. 124.

70 Paul Ormerod and Andrew Roach, “The Medieval Inquisition : Scale-Free Networks and the Suppression of Heresy”, Physica A, 339 (2004), pp. 645–52.

Auteur

Associate professor of medieval ecclesiastical history, St Louis University (MO).

© Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540