A History of Medieval Heresy and Inquisition by Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane

By Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane

In this concise and balanced survey of heresy and inquisition within the center a while, Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane explores the more and more sour encounters among piety, reform, dissent, and the institutional Church among 1100 and 1500. even supposing the loaded phrases of ''heresy'' and ''orthodoxy'' hired through ecclesiastical officers recommend a transparent department among correct and mistaken, that department was once actually vigorously contested by way of medieval humans in any respect degrees of society. Deane investigates key matters that sparked confrontations among Christians, together with entry to scripture, apostolic versions of poverty and preaching, the Eucharist and sacramental energy, and clerical corruption and wealth. She lines the capability wherein Church elites built an more and more complicated set of inquisitorial systems and assets to spot, label, and repress ''heresy,'' examines a few of the local eruptions of such confrontations throughout medieval Europe, and considers the judicial approaches that introduced many to the stake. The publication levels from the ''Good Christians'' of Languedoc and Lombardy and the pan-European ''Poor,'' to non secular Franciscans, lay non secular ladies, anticlerical and vernacular events in England and Bohemia, mysticism, magical practices, and witchcraft. all through, Deane considers how the hot inquisitorial bureaucracies not just fueled nervousness over heresy, yet truly generated fictional ''heresies'' via their very own texts and methods. Incorporating contemporary study and debates within the box, her research brings to existence a compelling factor that profoundly motivated the medieval world.

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The Elect (or perfecti [perfects], as inquisitors called them) were a highly ascetic minority. Because the consolamentum was the only means of salvation and was to be administered only once, those who accepted it in their youth faced an austere and difficult path. The Good Men and Women sometimes traveled from one community to another or, particularly among the Good Women in Languedoc, established houses that functioned as social centers for local sympathizers. Once ordained, however, a member of the Elect had to remain in that exalted condition of purity, untarnished in the midst of the carnality and corruption of the material.

With equal parts dismay and disgust, Eberwin described their behaviors and beliefs. “This is the heresy of those people,” he began: They say that theirs alone is the Church, inasmuch as only they follow in the footsteps of Christ. They continue to be the true imitators of the apostolic life, seeking not those things which are of the world, possessing no house, or lands, or anything of their own, even as Christ had no property nor allowed his disciples the right of possession. . 1 Not only do they falsely claim apostolic purity and righteousness, Eberwin continued, but they diverge from proper Christian observance in matters of personal and sacramental behavior as well: the heretics forbid milk and anything born of sexual intercourse; they reject marriage as fornication; they believe that baptism should be performed by the laying on of hands; and they assert that anyone among them who is baptized in this way has the power to baptize others in turn.

To meet the challenge, the Elect appear to have held themselves to uncompromising standards. indb 34 11/9/10 2:10 PM Good Christians, Heresy, and the Apostolic Model 35 obscenities (that fictional but frequent weapon deployed against religious dissenters), even hostile observers noted that the Good Men and Women adhered rigorously to the spiritual and behavioral standards of their faith and provided a potent spiritual model for their adoring followers. An additional ritual called the apparellamentum provided an outlet for the extremely minor transgressions that even the most scrupulous of souls commits.

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