2. Why did Catharism take root in Languedoc?

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 01-06-18 14:59
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  • Why did Catharism take root in Languedoc?
    • Its society
      • Very different to northern France
      • United by its language and cultural values
      • Factors in themselves did not predispose it to heresy
        • but did make it in many senses inward looking
      • While not all heretical, many of lords resentful of external initiatives to influence their belief systems
    • Political life of region
      • By c.1200 was dominated most obviously by Count Raymond VI of Toulouse (1194-1222)
        • Used triple title of count, duke and marquis
        • Overlord of federation that embraced counties of Toulouse, Nimes, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard and Mauguio, the duchy of Narbonne and marquisate of Provence
      • Political manoeuvring had aimed to end centuries of conflict to west and north-west
        • with dukes of Aquitaine (kings of England) and with Aragonese house of Provence and Barcelona in Pyrenees and further cast into Provence
      • There was no clear political hierarchy
        • while Raymond VI was most territorially powerful lord
          • he could not claim to command obedience of the Trencavel or counts of Foix
            • e.g. they, amongst others, were beholden more directly to external parties such as duke of Aquitaine and king of Aragon
        • Archbishop of Narbonne, Berengar (1191-1212) was uncle of King Peter II of Aragon
          • Appointment scaled Aragonese control over huge swathe of lands, from county of Gevaudan southwards to Barcelona
        • southern fiefs and allods did not tie nobles together through military and political obligation in way they did in France or England
          • More minor lords within region were bound as often through horizontal as vertical social structures
    • Communal self-government through ambitions of their consular bodies made up of wealthiest citizens
      • Trade and usury (money lending for profit) moving away from control of lords (such as count of Toulouse, or very often, a resident bishop)
      • In other cases counts and clerics were rivals in authority
      • The bishop of Cahors was vassal of count of Toulouse for his town
        • Count was traditionally a lay-abbot of monastic towns such as Moissac
      • All of this had made it difficult for Catholic Church to regulate inner lives of towns-dwellers
      • Important consular families at Toulouse such as the Maurand and Rouaix became nuclei for heretical activity
      • count of Toulouse would undermine inquisition at Moissac in 1230s and 1240s
    • role of minor noble familes who dominated castra - small fortified towns typically set on hill or defensible part of river
      • Often engaged in anticlerical and religiously sceptical culture that was predominant in region
      • Heresy sometimes transmitted through elite family networks in such towns
        • Accounts of children being introduced to it at young age
      • People with money established houses for heretics of their family and social circle
        • This was cheap in comparison with orthodox religious patronage, because heretics lived austerely and meekly, partially earning their own living, and being awarded with epithets 'good men and women' which they shared with Occitan elite more generally or 'good Chritians'
    • Women
      • had equal rights with men to inherit property in Languedoc
      • Often patrons of Cathars and many became heretics themselves
        • in this very vibrant new movement that offered more spiritual opportunities for ordinary believers than Catholic religious orders did
      • Two of best known Cathar women are:
        • Esclarmonde of Foix, sister of Count Roger of Foix
        • Arnaude of La Mothe, at centre of a very significant and greatly revered Cathar family, along with Bernard of La Mothe, Cathar deacon of Villemur
    • Region's clerics were scorned as lazy and ineffectual, and as something of a joke
    • Some clergy proved symapthetic to heresy and some, even Bishop Raymond of Carcassonne, tolerated heretics in their family


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