The Human Truth Foundation

The Cathars / Albigenses (12th-15th Century Christianity)

http://www.humanreligions.info/cathars_albigenses.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2022

#belgium #bulgaria #christianity #christianity_history #france #germany #italy #marcionites

The Cathars (12th-15th century Christians) were noted first in Germany1, becoming popular in northern Italy and Belgium. In southern France they were called Albigenses and made up the vast majority of the population.1,2,3. They were remnants of the oppressed Bogomils of Bulgaria, who had represented a fusion of the Paulicians and the 2nd-century Manicheans, some of the earliest Christians, who were otherwise wiped out.

They considered earthly life to be the domain of satan, with the wicked being resurrected as animals and the virtuous being saved1,2. They were vegetarian, and abstained from all sex2. They opposed wickedness and power, and were particularly outspoken against the shocking abuses of power of the Catholic Church of the time2,4; so much so that 'moral disgust at the wealth and wickedness of the clergy' became the biggest cause of the success of the Cathars.2

The Catholic Church responded by persecuting and harassing the Cathars "on a horrific scale"3. In 1209 the Pope Innocent III pronounced a Crusade against them which saw 200,000 Catholics over 20 years lay waste to some large parts of France, slaughtering some entire towns3. This was followed by the intense interest of The Inquisition, who spent another 200 years crushing them.1,3,4


1. From Bulgaria to Italy, France and Belgium

#belgium #bulgaria #france #germany #italy #spain

Remnants of the oppressed Bogomils of Bulgaria were spread westwards into Europe by Crusaders and scholarly Christians. By the 12th century they were popular in northern Italy and in Flanders (now, the French part of Belgium). But in southern France, their message struck home; they became called the Albigenses and they converted the vast majority of the population.2,3, and spread to Spain3.

The most interesting, and also the largest, of the heretical sects were the Cathari, who, in the South of France, are better known as Albigenses. [Their beliefs] were widely held in Northern Italy, and in the South of France they were held by the great majority.

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)2

Book CoverThe Cathars (from the Greek for "pure") first appeared in Germany in about 1140 and proclaimed their mission to restore the early purity of the church. By the twelfth century they had gained strength in Italy and France, where they were known as Albigensians (after the inhabitants of the city of Albi in southern France).

"Hammond Atlas of World Religions" by Murray et al. (2009)1

2. Beliefs Stemming from 2nd Century Christianity

#christianity #dualism #france #italy

The beliefs of the Cathars were drawn from some of the most ancient forms of Christianity known to history. They were seeded in western Europe by the Bogomils, who represented the 2nd century Marcionites who were otherwise lost to oppression. The Paulicians (followers of Marcion) and Manicheans fused to form the Bulgarian Bogomils, who like their founding sects, were oppressed. The Bogomils were carried by Crusaders to Italy and France, where their gnostic-seeming beliefs flourished and were widely accepted.

They considered earthly life to be the domain of an evil demiurge, and only acceptance of the saviour was the route to escape from this world and re-unite with God. The wicked were unable to escape, and were resurrected as animals2. They were vegetarian, and abstained from all sex2. They opposed wickedness and power2,4.

The Catharists [...] took up the banner of the earlier Gnostic sects like the Manichaeans.

"Cults: Secret Sects and Radical Religions" by Robert Schroëder (2007)3

The Cathars [...] proclaimed their mission to restore the early purity of the church. [...] Like the Bogomils, they believed in a good God and an evil God and the evil nature of the physical world.

"Hammond Atlas of World Religions" by Murray et al. (2009)1

Book CoverIt seems that the Cathari were dualists and that, like the Gnostics, they considered the Old Testament Jehovah a wicked demiurge, the true God being revealed in the New Testament. They regarded matter as essentially evil, and believed that for the virtuous there is no resurrection of the body. The wicked, however, will suffer transmigration into the bodies of animals. On this ground they were vegetarians, abstaining even from eggs, cheese and milk. They ate fish, however, because they believed that fishes are not sexually generated. All sex was abhorrent to them [...]. They accepted the New Testament more literally than did the orthodox; they abstained from oaths, and turned the other cheek.

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)2

3. Violently Oppressed by the Catholic Church

#france #islam

The Cathars sternly opposed wickedness and power and became particularly outspoken against the shocking abuses of power of the Catholic Church of its time2,4; so much so that 'moral disgust at the wealth and wickedness of the clergy' became one of the biggest causes of mass conversions to the Albigenses2.

As a result of their protests and abandonment of Catholic rites and power, the Cathars attracted increasingly aggressive attention from the Roman Catholic Church, which engaged in hurtful political manoeuvres against them whilst sending emissaries to attempt to convert them to modern Catholic Christianity. When these attempts failed, the Catholic Church responded by persecuting and harassing the Cathars "on a horrific scale"3. In 1209 the Pope Innocent III pronounced a Crusade against them which saw 200,000 Catholics over 20 years lay waste to some large parts of France, slaughtering some entire towns3. This was followed by the intense interest of The Inquisition, who spent another 200 years crushing them.3,4

Book CoverThe church condemned the Albigensians as heretics. The Dominican order was founded in 1216 especially to fight their advance in France, and the forces of the Inquisition were used against them. In addition, civil leaders were ordered to fight heresy in their lands or face excommunication. By 1300 Catharism had been suppressed.

"Hammond Atlas of World Religions" by Murray et al. (2009)1

[Pope] Innocent published a crusade against the Abigenses, a species of enthusiasts in the south of France, whom he denominated heretics, because, like other enthusiasts, they neglected the rites of the church, and opposed the power and influence of the clergy. [...] The Count of Toulouse, who protected, or perhaps only tolerated the Albigenses, was stripped of his dominions.

"The History of England, Volume I" by David Hume (1688)4

Book CoverThe Catharists... came in for the full might of the Inquisitor's wrath. [...] Persecution of the Catharists was launched on a horrific scale in 1208, following the assassination of a papal legate in Toulouse. This was identified as a Catharist conspiracy and a Crusade was mounted against them, headed by Simon de Montfort.

Some 200,000 zealots embarked upon a twenty-year campaign of attrition, funded by the Catholic Church, during which large parts of southern France were laid waste. Essentially, their movement had become too large and too popular to be tolerated. In one dreadful reprisal the entire population of the town of Béziers was slaughtered. [...] Those of the Catharists who were lucky enough to be left alive fled to the Balkans. They continued until the fifteenth century, after which the majority were slowly absorbed into the Muslim faith.

"Cults: Secret Sects and Radical Religions" by Robert Schroëder (2007)3