The Albigensian and Waldensian Crusades

The Inquisitions

We know from the evidence of the Inquisitions what the doctrines of the Church were at the various stages of its distribution.

We can tell with certainty that the church was called, by the Catholic system, by various names in its different locations to disguise the widespread and uniform structure of its doctrines. However, the Church of God organisations had differing opinions as to its government and its emphasis (e.g. Presbyterian and Episcopalian in the Western Waldenses). We know that it was called Cathar or Cathari and hence Puritan in the English. It was also called Bulgar, Khazzar, Vallenses, Albigensian, Waldensian, Sabbatharier, Sabbatati, Insabbatati, Passaginians, among others. The term Sabbatharier seems to be a construction meaning Arian Sabbath-keepers.

We know that the commonality of views was generally understood and reflected itself in the vernacular language. For example, the term poor bugger in English is a common expression to convey sympathy for an unfortunate person undergoing some trial or torment. This is often confusing to modern Americans and even to Australians, as bugger and buggery have specific legal meanings relating to sodomy. The term, however, has another meaning which shows the application to the elect during the Inquisitions. The Oxford Universal Dictionary holds the term to be derived in the Middle English from the French bougre and the Latin Bulgarus or Bulgarian, or a heretic (or also usurer). It was held to be in reference to heretics to be used especially of the Albigenses. This was its first meaning. The second and pejorative meaning in relation to sodomy was a later term from 1555 and seemingly to denigrate the sect who had been persecuted for some three centuries. The term pauvre bougre or poor bulgar as applied to the Albigensians came to be in the English poor booger. The use as bogle or boggle in North English around 1505 is of uncertain derivation but came to be associated with phantoms and thence a quasi-proper name for the devil (hence, bogieman etc.). Certainly the term poor bugger had its origin in the Albigensian Crusades. However, one may be forgiven for asking what did the Bulgars have to do with the Albigensians? The answer is simple. The Churches of God, from its branches in what is known as the Pergamum era (Rev. 2:12 ff) called the Paulicians, came into Europe from the relocations under Constantine Capronymous and John Tsimiskes (see the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). These relocations in Thrace spread into the Bulgars, the Southern Slavs especially in Bosnia and also into Hungary and Romania. They spread west and, from the fifteenth century, linked up with the remnants of the Sabbatati in the west called Vallenses or Waldensians. We can tell with relative certainty the extent of their doctrines from the thirteenth century and with absolute certainty what the eastern branches, especially in Hungary and Romania, were from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

The Albigensian Crusades

The conduct of the Albigensian Crusades of the thirteenth century is outlined in the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122). The groups were without doubt Sabbath-keepers. The desire of the Roman Catholic Church to disguise this fact has led to some extraordinary claims regarding the linguistic derivation of the name Sabbatati. However, we also know that they were Unitarians. They are recorded as being extant before the year 934, when they were complained of by Atto bishop of Vireulli as had others before him.

They were first called Vallenses in 1179 in the condemnation of them by Raymond of Daventry. The elders, or barbes (uncles), Bernard of Raymond and Raymond of Baimiac were condemned as heretics by Raymond of Daventry in 1179 before the Lateran Council, not for their Sabbath-keeping but for their Unitarianism. The treatise written against them in 1180 by Bernard of Fontcaude then took up the name Vallenses in the title which is Adversus Vallenses et Arianos. They were thus subordinationist non-Trinitarians. This work of 1180 seems to have disappeared this century, but the work Liber Contra Vallenses written in 1190 by Bernard of Fontcaude still exists. The Vallenses of that time appear to be Unitarians and seen as distinct from Arians. This is a correct view and one upon which the Church of God would insist. Arianism, which according to the Catholics allegedly sees the Holy Spirit as a creation of the son, is distinct from biblical Unitarianism. They are both viewed as the same, or similar heresy by the Catholics, who may also have invented the doctrine of the creation of the Spirit by the son, as there is no actual record of this view in the texts attributed to Arius (see also the papers Arianism and Semi-Arianism (No. 167) and Sociniansim, Arianism and Unitarianism (No. 185)).

The Albigensians were not simply a branch of the Vallenses. The Albigensians were in two divisions, the Vallenses or Waldensians and the local Cathari or Puritans. The Cathari held quite distinctive and heretical views of good and evil based on a form of Gnosticism and Manichean Dualism. The distinction, among others, is made by Ray Roennfeldt in his thesis (An Historical Study of Christian Cosmic Dualism, Andrews University) (cf. the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183)). The faith was often attacked by this dualist tendency. The text by Ermengaudas shows the inabliity to define and isolate the doctrines of the Dualists and the Waldensians proper. This may well be a deliberate Roman Catholic ploy rather than the scholastic ingorance of Ermengaudas and those like him. Where the Church was established, many so-called converts among the monastic orders often developed bizarre views. The Bogomils are an example. In the Bogomils and among the Bosnians, monastic asceticism accompanied an heretical dualism and attempted to undermine the general body of the faith. Errors also appear in earlier branches of the Paulicians. One error was that of the Melchisedekians who created another structured order developed from the Unitarian view. Melchisedek was held to be the angelic mediator and Christ the human mediator, below him. The Catholic writings seize on these contemporary heretical groups and link them to the Church at the time. They attribute these erroneous views to the Church, thus obscuring the true doctrines.

The entire Albigensian crusade was levelled against both elements by Rome in the thirteenth century. The Albigensians had protection in the south of France under Raymond Count of Toulouse. The Vallenses or Sabbatati were the greater and more widespread, and extended into Spain. We can reconstruct the doctrines of the Vallenses from the Spanish branch of the Sabbatati because of the intense persecution they suffered.

The extract from paper 122 gives and idea of the crusade:

The Albigensian Crusade
The Cathars, Albigensians or Waldensians were persecuted after first being protected by Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, perhaps an Albigensian himself. Raymond was excommunicated by Pierre de Castelnau, legate of Innocent III in 1207. An equerry of the Count later killed de Castelnau. The Pope immediately deposed Raymond and he, frightened into submission, expelled the Albigensians from his dominions, doing public penance on 18 June 1209 before the Church of St Gilles. When the crusaders, who were assembled in the north of France, invaded Langeudoc, Raymond assisted the crusade and assisted in the siege of Beziers and Carcassone in 1209. Returning to Toulouse, he avoided his obligation and was excommunicated by the Council of Avignon. Raymond went to Rome and was received by Innocent III, but his estates were overrun by Simon de Montfort in his absence. In 1212 he held only Toulouse and Montauban. His brother-in-law Peter, king of Aragon, came to his aid, but was killed in the battle of Murat in 1213. In 1215 Simon de Montfort besieged Toulouse and Narbonne. Raymond did not resist, but accepted humiliating terms from the Papal legates. He was deprived of his estates and retired to England, later seeking Innocent III's favour at the Lateran Council of 1215. From exile in Aragon, Raymond VI reassembled his troops and took Toulouse on 7 November 1217, later defending it against Simon de Montfort, who was killed 25 June 1218 (C.E., Vol XII, art. Raymond VI, p. 670).

Raymond VII tried to fend off a new crusade, by offering obeisance to the assembly at Bourges in 1226, but a new crusade was decided upon. Louis VIII (ceded rights in the south by Amaury de Montfort) seized Avignon and occupied Langeudoc without resistance, but died on his return north at Montpensier on 8 November 1226. Blanche of Castille did not press the war against Raymond who then took several places from Imbert de Beaujeu, seneschal of the king of France. In 1228 new bands of crusaders began pillaging Toulouse. Soon Raymond lost nearly all of his strongholds and had to sue for peace from Blanche of Castille. After the conference of Meaux, Raymond returned to Paris and did public penance on 12 April 1229 in the Church of Notre Dame. He pledged to demolish the walls of Toulouse and gave his daughter Jeanne in marriage to Alphonse of Poitiers, brother of king Louis IX. He returned to Toulouse and keeping the promise extracted from him, he allowed the establishment of the Inquisition (Bréhier C.E., Vol XII, Raymond VII, ibid.). Thus the protection afforded the Sabbath-keeping Albigensians, or Waldensians, was forcibly removed. Every vagabond knight and opportunist in Europe, was encouraged to entrain on Toulouse and the south of France. The district was attacked from all sides and when the allies could not be induced to do so, they were themselves harassed. The whole object of the crusade was to allow the Inquisition into the south of France and Spain, to exterminate the Sabbatati. With the effective removal of the only favourable overlord, the Unitarian and Sabbath-keeping faith was persecuted into virtual extinction, or into apostasy. These people committed no crimes. They were an asset to their overlord and virtuous towards their God. For that reason alone, they were hunted and destroyed. The Council of Toulouse of 1229 published canons against the Sabbatati
Canon 3 - The lords of the different districts shall have the villas, houses and woods diligently searched, and the hiding- places of the heretics destroyed.
Canon 14 - Lay members are not allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New Testaments (Hefele 5, 931,962).

H. C. Lea was to speak against the Inquisition and its persecution of the Vaudois (History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, Vol. I, esp. p. 96). Thousands were tortured to death by the Inquisition, or killed in the crusades. It is alleged that:
While devastating the city of Biterre the soldiers asked the Catholic leaders how they should know who were heretics; Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux, answered: 'Slay them all, for the Lord knows who is His' (p. 96).

It can be seen, that there was a more or less continuous tradition of Sabbath-keeping Subordinationism throughout southern Europe up until the thirteenth century. These bodies were named Paulicians, Petrobusians, Pasaginians (Passaginians), Waldensians, Sabbatati or Insabbatati. The Roman Inquisitor Reinerus Sacho writing c. 1230 held the sect of the Vaudois to be of great antiquity. Thus long preceding Waldo by centuries.

The Sabbatati were known also by the name Pasigini. In reference to the Sabbath-keeping Pasigini, Hahn was to say:
The spread of heresy at this time is almost incredible. From Bulgaria to the Ebro, from Northern France to the Tiber, everywhere we meet them. Whole countries are infested, like Hungary and southern France; they abound in many other countries; in Germany, in Italy, in the Netherlands and even in England they put their efforts (Gesch. der Ketzer, 1,13,14).

Bonacursus is also quoted against them thus:
Not a few, but many know what are the errors of those who are called Pasigini. ... First, they teach that we should obey the sabbath. Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn and reject all the church Fathers, and the whole Roman Church (D'Archery, Spicilegium I, f, 211-214; Muratory Antiq. medævi. 5, f, 152, Hahn 3, 209).

The priests allegedly (Hahn) answered the charge to keep the fourth commandment, by declaring that the Sabbath symbolised the eternal rest of the saints.

Traces of Sabbath-keepers were found in the times of Gregory I, Gregory VII, and in the twelfth century in Lombardy (Strong's Cyclopædia 1, 680). This general application extends from Italy through Europe.
Robinson gives an account of some of the Waldenses of the Alps, who were called Sabbati, Sabbatati, Inzabbatati, but more frequently Inzabbatati. 'One says they were so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath because they kept the Saturday for the Lord's day' (General History of the Baptist Denomination, Vol. II, p. 413).

In fact, it was because of the inability to stamp out the Subordinationist Sabbatati, that the crusades of the thirteenth century were implemented. In Spain the persecution is specifically directed at the Waldensian Sabbath-keepers.
Alphonse, king of Aragon, etc., to all archbishops, bishops, and to all others. ... We command you that heretics, to wit, Waldenses and Insabbathi, should be expelled away from the face of God and from all Catholics and ordered to depart from our kingdom (Marianæ, Præfatio in Lucam Tudenæm found in Macima Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum, Vol. 25, p. 90).

After the crusades, and in spite of the Inquisition, the system was still extant.
Louis XII, King of France (1498-1515), being informed by the enemies of the Waldenses, inhabiting a part of the province of Provence, that several heinous crimes were laid to their account, sent the master of Requests, and a certain Doctor of the Sorbonne, to make inquiry into this matter. On their return they reported that they had visited all the parishes, but could not discover any traces of those crimes with which they were charged. On the contrary, they kept the sabbath day, observed the ordinances of baptism, according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith, and the commandments of God. The King having heard the report of his commissioners, said with an oath said that they were better men than himself or his people (History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, pp. 71-72, third edition, London, 1818).
(cf. General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122) pp. 19-21).


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