BECK index

Christian Ethics 1095-1250

Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux
Aelred of Rievaulx's Spiritual Friendship
John of Salisbury on Politics
Hildegard of Bingen
Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade
Dominic and His Preaching Brothers
Francis of Assisi and His Lesser Brothers

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Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux

Peter Abelard was born in 1079 at Le Pallet in Brittany and was the son of a knight. He renounced his inheritance in order to study philosophy in France. Abelard argued with two teachers of opposing views. Roscelin as a nominalist believed that universal ideas are merely names, while William of Chapeaux was called a realist because he held that the Platonic ideas are real. Abelard took the moderate position that such ideas exist as concepts, which is the philosophical view of Aristotle; but ironically Aristotle's writings on this were not known in Europe until later. Abelard set up his own school at Melun and then at Corbeil near Paris. Ill health from overwork caused him to spend several years in Brittany. Bernard, the master of the cathedral school at Chartres from 1114 to 1119, said that they have perceived more because they have mounted on the shoulders of giants who came before them. Many in the twelfth century believed in progress. Gilbert of Tournai wrote that they would not find the truth if they contented themselves on what was already known. What was written before should be guides, not laws, because the truth is open to all and is not yet fully possessed.

Abelard returned to France to study theology with Biblical scholar Anselm of Laon. About 1117 Abelard tutored young Heloise; they fell passionately in love, and he composed songs about her. Though her uncle Fulbert, a church canon, tried to separate them, they were found in bed together. When Heloise became pregnant, they went to Brittany, where their son Astralabe was born and given to Abelard's sister to raise. Heloise preferred to be his mistress, because marriage might ruin his reputation and ecclesiastical career; but apparently Abelard persuaded her to marry him secretly. To escape her uncle, Heloise lived in a convent at Argentuil near Paris; but Fulbert sent his kinsmen, who castrated Abelard. The servant of Abelard, who was bribed to let them into his room was castrated and blinded as was one of the men who was caught. Abelard made the reluctant Heloise become a nun, and he became a monk at the royal abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris in 1119. Although still married, they apparently did not meet for many years.

Abelard demonstrated his dialectical method of arguing both sides of religious questions in his Yes and No (Sic et Non). Abelard was influenced by Augustine, and in this book on the question whether it is lawful for Christians to kill anyone for any cause, he presented only the arguments of Augustine that it is lawful when war or punishment make it necessary.

Abelard's book Theologia analyzed the Trinity and was condemned for heresy at the Council of Soissons in 1121. Abbot Guibert of Nogent described a Soissons trial for heresy that had occurred in 1114 in which two local peasants had been accused of holding meetings outside the church. After blessing a deep vat of water, the accused Clement was bound and tossed into the tank. Since Clement floated, it was believed the "holy water" had rejected him. The threat of that ordeal induced the other accused peasant to confess. Two others, whom Guibert called "established heretics," came to witness these events and were imprisoned with them. Actually none of them admitted anything heretical, and the only evidence was hearsay. Yet Guibert recorded that people broke into the prison and burned them, showing what he called a "righteous zeal."1 Abelard was also aware that his teacher Roscelin had been accused of heresy and had been nearly killed in 1093, and the influential Bishop of Ivo of Chartres had said that he deserved it. According to historian Otto of Freising, Abelard was not granted the opportunity of making a reply, because they mistrusted his skill in disputation. Thus it is not surprising that Abelard submitted to the Council of Soissons and threw a copy of his own book into the flames; but he apparently kept a copy and later expanded the work.

After arguing that St. Denis of Paris was not the same person as Dionysius the Areopagite, the convert of Paul, Abelard faced a trial before the King of France and fled to Champagne. In 1125 he accepted a position as abbot at the St. Gildas de Rhuys monastery on the remote coast of Brittany. The monks there disliked Abelard, and after two attempts on his life he returned to France. In 1129 Heloise and nuns under her were expelled from Argenteuil by Suger of St. Denis. Abelard had been provided land where his followers could gather, and he gave the nuns his hermitage he called the Paraclete and became their abbot; he designed their rules emphasizing silence, composed hymns, and encouraged literary progress.

In 1132 Abelard wrote his "Story of Troubles" (Historia calamitatum) so that the readers by comparison would see that their trials are slight and easier to bear. Heloise responded to this writing in a letter, admitting that she was both wholly guilty and wholly innocent. Heloise expressed the ethical view of pure intention that Abelard would also promulgate when she wrote, "It is not the deed but the intention of the doer which makes the crime, and justice should weigh not what was done but the spirit in which it is done."2

Abelard's ethical works were probably written between 1135 and 1140. In the short Know Yourself Abelard analyzed sin and concluded that actions alone do not make humans good or bad in the sight of God; but the conscious intention of the person is the factor of ethical importance. Weaknesses can make one prone to sin; but guilt only comes with consenting to them. He would later be condemned for writing that neither the action nor the desire nor the pleasure is a sin, and he would not wish to extinguish it. For Abelard sin is contempt for the will of God, either in not doing what we believe God would have us do or in doing what we believe God does not approve. According to Abelard people are not guilty for committing evil deeds out of ignorance, as Jesus forgave those who crucified him. He defined venial sins as momentarily forgetting that our consent should be withheld, while mortal sins are more deliberate. Thus all sin is subjective, and repentance is subjective as well. Abelard believed that fear and the spirit of bondage can never be pure motives of love. Both Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux believed that Jesus came to teach people how to love. Abelard suggested that the redemption of Christ enables us to move from motivation by fear to love, because in true freedom as children of God we are liberated from the servitude of sin.

In his Dialog of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian Abelard described the ethical philosophies of what Hugh of St. Victor had called the three periods of the world - the natural law of the philosophers, the written law of Moses, and the grace of Christ. In the dialog the philosopher inquires about the scriptures of the other two. All three agree that the true love of God is sufficient for every virtue; but the philosopher questions the limitations of the Jewish law. The philosopher seeks the supreme good and agrees that it is God. He notes that Augustine wrote that charity includes all the virtues. The philosopher emphasizes that virtue alone makes us blessed, and he analyzes the four classical virtues of Socrates - prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. Prudence is defined as the knowledge of good and evil, and Aristotle considered it a science, which he distinguished from the virtues. Like faith and hope, prudence is a guide to the virtues. Justice is the virtue that gives to every person what is due while preserving the common good. The public interest should be held above domestic advantage, and Socrates even argued that everything should be held in common, including wives, by which he meant not the carnal pleasures but their children.

The philosopher describes courage as a shield against fear and says temperance is a bridle to restrain lustful desire. These powers are the virtues that can help to carry out justice. He also describes courage as the reasonable endurance of trials and taking on dangerous tasks. For the philosopher temperance is a firm and moderate control exercised by reason over lust and other impulses. Reverence is the part of justice that respects God and those deserving veneration. Beneficence assists those in distress and consists of generosity that grants necessities to those in need and of clemency that liberates those who are unjustly oppressed by violence. Mercy aids all who are afflicted. Veracity is keeping promises, and vindication is punishing faults. Each person should imitate God by taking care of all just as God is the governor of the entirety of the one great republic. The philosopher distinguishes the natural justice of these virtues from the positive justice that is based on the written laws of human institutions. The philosopher also emphasizes humility and frugality, which bridles excess. The Christian argues that deserved punishment is just and therefore good; what is bad is what makes people worse. As loving God is the supreme good, so hating God is the supreme evil. The Christian believes that the vision of God is what makes people good.

Bernard of Clairvaux believed that Abelard was allied to the revolutionary Arnold of Brescia. Bernard wrote to Pope Innocent II that Abelard's mouth should be shattered with cudgels rather than rebutted with arguments, and he asked if he did not provoke all men's hands against him. Arnold of Brescia led the radicals that gathered around Abelard in the Paris area, and he urged Abelard to debate his critic Bernard at the Council of Sens in 1140; but instead of an open discussion, Bernard charged Abelard with heresy. Aware that Tanchelm of Utrecht had been put to death for heresy in 1115 and also Peter de Bruys about 1132, Abelard refused to defend or renounce his writings, appealed to the Pope, and left the Council, which condemned nineteen of Abelard's points that Bernard had presented during a banquet. Bernard wrote to Pope Innocent II emphasizing Abelard's pride and refusal to acknowledge authority.

On the way to Rome Abelard stopped and stayed with Peter the Venerable at Cluny in Burgundy. There Abelard learned that the Pope silenced him as a heretic, excommunicated his followers, ordered him and Arnold of Brescia to be confined in religious institutions, and his books were to be burned. Peter the Venerable's request asking the Pope to let Abelard remain at Cluny as a monk was accepted, and the sentence was later lifted. Retired from teaching, Abelard wrote defenses of his views, accusing Bernard of perverting justice. Abelard died at Cluny about 1142.

A new order of nuns and monks was founded by the hermit Robert of Arbrissel under an abbess at Fontevrault and was approved by Pope Paschal II in 1106. Its other houses extended into Anjou, Touraine, Berri, and Poitou, and by 1145 it was said that Fontevrault alone had as many as 5,000 nuns. In 1098 Abbot Robert of the Benedictine monastery at Molesme and six monks, dissatisfied with the lack of discipline, had migrated to the desolate Citeaux to begin a new house also based on the Rule of Benedict. Its legislator, the Englishman Stephen Harding, came there in 1109, and four years later Bernard arrived with his brothers and thirty companions. The Cistercian Order established its principles in the Charter of Love (Carta Caritatis) by Stephen Harding that was confirmed by Pope Calixtus II in 1119. By then there were twelve Cistercian monasteries, including two in Clairvaux. The Charter of Charity renounced the avarice of worldly advantage and was intended to maintain peace between the houses; but Citeaux was less autocratic than Cluny as each house had some autonomy within the Cistercian pattern. Stephen simplified the rituals by eliminating gold and most silver and ornamental embroidery.

Bernard was born in 1091 into an aristocratic family of Burgundy near Dijon. His mother Aleth was considered a virtuous influence on him, and her death in 1107 turned him more toward a religious life. Bernard entered the Citeaux community in 1113, and two years later he was confirmed as abbot by Bishop William of Champeaux. In 1117 Stephen Harding appointed Bernard to lead a small group that founded a Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux in difficult circumstances. Two years later William of Champeaux arranged for Bernard to live outside the monastery in a hut. In 1125 Bernard tried to intervene in an internal conflict at Cluny, and he wrote his Apologia.

The next year Bernard wrote a letter answering the question, "Why and how God should be loved?" He believed that God is so great as to deserve our love beyond measure. There are rewards for loving God, but earthly things cannot satisfy the human heart. Bernard defined four degrees of love. The first is loving oneself for one's own sake and is a carnal love. The second degree is to love God but still for one's own sake, and the third is to love God for God's sake. Finally, in the fourth stage a person does not even love oneself except for the sake of God. When the mind is inebriated with divine love, self is forgotten as one becomes joined as one spirit with God. However, Bernard believed that this perfect love was not attainable even by souls liberated from their bodies until the resurrection.

Bernard participated in the Council of Troyes in 1128 about the Templars, and he wrote "Praise to the New Militia" though he refused to establish an abbey for the knights in Palestine. When two Popes were elected in 1130, Bernard defended the claim of Innocent II, and for several years he traveled in France, Germany, and Italy urging his recognition. Innocent II visited Clairvaux in 1131 and exempted the Cistercians from the duty of paying tithes. In 1135 Bernard supported the papal party in Germany at Bamberg and urged Emperor Lothar to launch a military campaign against Roger II of Sicily. Two years later Bernard persuaded Cardinal Peter of Pisa to join the party of Pope Innocent.

After getting Abelard condemned for heresy, Bernard opposed Bishop William FitzHerbert of York. Bernard warned the bishop of Constance about the dangerous Arnold of Brescia, and the radical monk was soon expelled from Zurich. After Pope Lucius II was killed in Rome by those resisting papal authority, in 1145 the cardinals elected Cistercian abbot Bernard Paganelli to be Pope Eugenius III. Since he knew him quite well, Bernard of Clairvaux felt that he had been called back from the dead to worldly influence. Three days after his election Eugenius fled from armed Romans to France, and Bernard became his chief advisor. This Pope made Bernard the main orator for the second crusade in 1146, and the next year Bernard traveled to Germany to promote the crusade and to stop the persecution of Jews by crusaders. Bernard persuaded the Council of Rheims to condemn the teachings of Gilbert de la Porrée in 1148.

Bernard of Clairvaux wrote five letters to Pope Eugenius published as On Consideration. In the first letter Bernard advised the Pope how to avoid the pressures of the office so that he would not be distracted, and so his heart would not become hardened. Why should he spend the entire day listening to the verbal wrangling of litigants? This sophistry subverting judgment has more to do with the laws of Justinian than of the Lord. The Pope should have time to pray, meditate, and think. Action suffers if it is not preceded by consideration. The virtue of patience does not mean allowing yourself to be enslaved. His devotion to mankind is not complete if it does not consider himself. Bernard reminded the Pope that his power is over sin and not property. Bernard argued that consideration purifies the mind and also "controls the emotions, guides actions, corrects excesses, improves behavior, confers dignity and order on life, and even imparts knowledge of divine and human affairs."3 He believed that temperance rejects what is excessive and accepts what is necessary. He wrote that justice is not doing to another what one would not wish done to oneself and not denying another what one wishes for oneself. He asked if not to give time for pious and beneficial leisure is not to lose your life. He found fraud, deceit, and violence running rampant in the land as the powerful oppress the poor. He recommended that Eugenius refuse some business, assign some to others, and decide with deliberation what he does hear.

In the second letter to Pope Eugenius in 1149 Bernard defended himself after the failure of the crusade that left Christians prostrate in the desert, slain by the sword or destroyed by hunger. Bernard defined consideration as thought searching for truth, and in the last four letters he told the Pope to consider yourself, what is below you, what is around you, and what is above you. Bernard emphasized self-examination and the testimony of conscience so that he may know his deficiencies. He warned that discretion can be blinded by anger and extreme soft-heartedness. The third letter considered what is below him, and Bernard suggested that the Pope preside in order to provide, counsel, administer, and serve. Lift up the oppressed and restrain the ambitious. Bernard warned against excessive appeals and wrote that they must be from a court decision unless it is a clear case of injury. In the fourth letter on things around him Bernard mentioned the sword that is at his command although it is not to be drawn by his hand but by the hand of the knight at the bidding of the priest and at the command of the Emperor. The last letter on things above him advised the Pope how he should relate to God and the angels.

In 1150 the Council of Chartres appointed Bernard to lead another crusade; but the Cistercians refused to give him permission. In his last years Bernard wrote 86 sermons on the Biblical Song of Solomon, using the allegorical method to give his mystical interpretations. Bernard died a few weeks after Pope Eugenius passed on in 1153. Under the influence of the anti-intellectual Bernard the Cistercians emphasized labor and choir according to strict schedules that left monks little time for anything else.

In the 11th and 12th centuries the monastery schools were surpassed by the cathedral schools at Tours, Orleans, Utrecht, Liege, Rheims, Chartres, and Paris; the development of liberal arts at Paris about 1170 began the rise of the great medieval universities. Philip II granted the University of Paris a charter in 1200.

Aelred of Rievaulx's Spiritual Friendship

Aelred came from a family of married priests in Northumberland, and as a youth he was sent to be raised with the sons of King David at the Scottish court. Aelred became a Cistercian monk at Rievaulx about 1134 and an abbot at Revesby in 1143, returning to Rievaulx as abbot four years later. Aelred advised Henry II to support Louis VII and Pope Alexander III in 1162, and he died in 1167. He wrote a biography of Edward the Confessor, and in A Rule of Life for a Recluse Aelred warned anchoresses about gossiping, manipulating children with slaps and kisses, and moral lapses in the chapter on the outer person. In discussing the inner person he examined various motivations, and the third chapter gave advice on meditation. His last work was on the soul, but he is most famous for his Spiritual Friendship.

Aelred of Rievaulx's first major work was The Mirror of Charity on monastic life. He was urged to write this book by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1142 to help monks who are struggling with the stricter ways of the Cistercians. Aelred began by noting that nothing is more deserved than a creature's love for its Creator, and he refuted the fool who says there is no God. He observed that humans withdraw from God because of mental attachments, but God's image may be restored by charity. Human love tends to be split between the opposites of being charitable or self-centered. Humans try to find rest in bodily pleasure or in worldly power, but it can only be found in the easy yoke of charity. Those who complain about the weight of the Lord's burden are really suffering from the world's burden. Other virtues serve charity in this life, and after this life they are absorbed in the fullness of love. The desire to dominate corrupts the mind and leads to tyranny, and only God's help can free one from its power. Our love is moved to desire and action either by attachment or by reason. Aelred explained that attachment can be spiritual, rational, irrational, dutiful, natural, or physical. One can be attached to good or evil spirits. Rational attachment arises from love for the virtue of another person, but irrational attachment is an inclination to someone's defects. Dutiful attachment arises from service or deference. Natural attachment is to a family relative, and physical attachment is to someone attractive. Ultimately the mind is moved to reason by love of God and one's neighbor as to oneself. and these can regulate the various attachments.

In the prolog of Spiritual Friendship Aelred confesses that he has been devoted to love from his youth when he discovered the work on friendship by Cicero. When he became abbot at Rievaulx, he decided to write on spiritual friendship as a guide for chaste and holy love. In the first book he described the nature and origin of friendship. In a dialog with Ivo he hopes that Christ is present also. Ivo asks him how friendship can be preserved according to the spirit of Christ. Aelred related Cicero's definition that "Friendship is mutual harmony in affairs human and divine coupled with benevolence and charity."4 He also noted that Jerome wrote that a friendship that ceases was never a true friendship. Aelred argued that whoever loves iniquity hates one's own soul and therefore does not love. Carnal love is mutual harmony in vice, and worldly love is motivated by hope for gain; but spiritual love is based on similarity of life, morals, and pursuits among the just. He distinguishes charity from friendship, because it should extend to the hostile and perverse whereas friendship cannot exist between the good and the wicked. Only the few good truly know friendship, and he goes so far as to write that those who abide in friendship also abide in God.

After the passage of several years Aelred discussed in the second book of Spiritual Friendship its fruits and excellence. He was careful to differentiate true friendship from flattering subservience, agreement on vices, and the commerce of mutual advantages. Nothing should be denied to a friend unless it involves sin, which separates God from the soul. Ultimately as Jesus demonstrated, one may even go so far as to lay down one's life for a friend.

In the third and last book Aelred conversed on the conditions and character of friendship. His foundation is love of God. Since nothing is worse than injuring friendship, Aelred warned that a friend must be chosen with care and tested so that in the friendship there will be no division of minds, feelings, wills, or judgments. Aelred described four stages toward perfect friendship as selection, probation, admission, and harmony in charity and benevolence. In the selection process he warned against the quarrelsome, the fickle, the suspicious, and the talkative. Five vices that can damage friendship enough to dissolve it are upbraiding, slander, pride, disclosing a secret, and treacherous persecution or secret detraction. Aelred believed in continuing to love even if one is offended; although bad conduct may cause one to withdraw friendship, love should continue. He added a sixth cause for ending friendship if the friend injures those whom one loves equally well. The four elements Aelred found in friendship are love, affection, security, and happiness. He explained,

Love implies the rendering of services with benevolence;
affection an inward pleasure that manifests itself exteriorly;
security, a revelation of all counsels and confidences
without fear and suspicion;
happiness, a pleasing and friendly sharing of all events which occur,
whether joyful or sad, of all thoughts, whether harmful or useful,
of everything taught or learned.5

Friendship makes love pure because of reason and sweet because of affection. In excluding the quarrelsome, fickle, suspicious, and loquacious, Aelred does not mean anyone having those characteristics but only those who are unwilling or unable to control them. One must break off with anyone who imperils one's father, country, fellow citizens, dependents, or friends, because love for one person should not take precedence over many.

The four qualities that Aelred would test are loyalty, right intention, discretion, and patience. Loyalty may be hidden during prosperity but becomes conspicuous in adversity. Aelred asks if there is any human being who does not wish to be loved. Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do the things that I command you."6 Loyalty is the foundation of stability and constancy, and it is supported by frankness, congeniality, and sympathy. Suspicion is poisonous to friendship and should be avoided. Aelred also recommended affable speech, a cheerful countenance, suave manners, and serene eyes. Friendship also depends on reverence and respect. Ambrose advised friends to correct each other's vices secretly. If one does not listen, then the correction can be done openly; but Aelred warned against clothing bitterness and rage with the names of zeal and liberty. Correction based on impulse rather than reason can cause harm. A friend should correct humbly and sympathetically. Friendship means admonishing freely but not harshly and being admonished patiently without resentment. In conclusion Aelred reminded us that one cannot love another any more than one loves oneself, and one must chastise oneself in order to improve oneself. Finally Aelred observed that praying for a friend can unite both with God and Christ in this life and the future one.

John of Salisbury on Politics

John was born in Salisbury between 1115 and 1120. He began studying under Abelard in 1136 and spent a dozen years in the cathedral schools of Paris and Chartres. John attended the Council of Rheims in 1148 and became a clerk in the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury. For the next twelve years John went back and forth from Canterbury, serving the Roman Curia in Apulia from 1148 to 1153 and then as Theobald's secretary. He certainly knew well Thomas Becket and Nicholas Breakspear, who became Pope Adrian IV. John supported Henry II's effort to become king, but he was banished from court in 1156 and 1157 for advocating ecclesiastical independence. When Becket became archbishop, John served as his secretary. John was exiled shortly before Becket to France, where he stayed from 1163 to 1170 though he also criticized Becket's provocative zeal. In his many letters John recommended two main principles: holding to honesty and equity while trying to find solutions peacefully. Evidence is ambiguous as to whether John was present when Becket was assassinated, but afterwards he organized Becket's correspondence. In 1176 Louis VII appointed John bishop of Chartres, and he died there in 1180.

John of Salisbury described the years 1148-1152 in his Historia pontificalis. His Metalogicon discusses the burgeoning philosophy of logic and liberal education. He satirized courtiers and philosophers in his poem Indicator of Philosophers' Doctrine (Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum). In this work he criticized threefold pride. Pride of reason delights in error; pride of will bends the mind to evil; and pride of life undermines virtue. He noted that mental power cannot reach the last things, and only the one who made them can see the first things. John wrote this to Chancellor Becket, hoping that he could change the proud court, for the world hungering after gain corrupts both young and old, blinding those given power. The fire of greed scorches the wise and defiles the churches. All lovers of the world suffer from this pest, and it is rare to find someone who despises money on earth. Human law that is contrary to God's law condemns its author and perishes as he perishes. John noted that the safety of hospices cannot be trusted by the traveler. He also satirized such human types as the niggard, the plaintive, the flattering, the intriguing, the jealous, the slanderer, and the boasting. Only pure love removes fear and makes one free.

John coined a word for his book on politics by naming it Policraticus and completed it in 1159, dedicating it to Chancellor Thomas Becket, who was with Henry II fighting a war in Toulouse at the time. A shorter poem also called "The Indicator" prefaces the Policraticus. John called upon the chancellor as the right hand of the king and the model of goodness to cancel unjust laws and carry out the equitable commands of a pious prince in order to lessen harm to people. He realized that virtue does not please all people; free judgment should be given to all, though only a few good ones will be pleased. The peace which patience gives cannot be driven out; although unarmed, patience can shatter arms and crush wicked wars. A patient person is better than a strong man, and conquering a city is less than conquering the mind. Spurn the bad, revere the good, and pardon those who long to harm, for no revenge is more becoming for the brave. Unjust power provokes crimes and does not attract the subjects' devotion. One must be more on guard against a greedy friend than a greedy enemy.

In the prolog of Policraticus: Of the Frivolities of Courtiers and the Footprints of Philosophers John of Salisbury stated that he will concentrate on the more burdensome distractions and let the readers decide which vestiges of the philosophers to follow and which to avoid. He began by warning the fortunate from being allured by the desires for sensuous pleasures, which can cause the inner goodness to decay. John advised moderation and only condemned hunting, gambling, and theatrical performances if one indulges in them excessively. He warned against presuming to have God's knowledge by using magic in the occult arts such as fortune telling, dream interpretation, astrology, and augury.

John of Salisbury distinguished the body from the soul and suggested that God occupies totally the soul that lives perfectly. All virtue comes from the divine and is impressed on rational creatures. Humans enlightened by knowledge and inspired by love of honor and the cultivation of virtue may find true security. To gain self-knowledge one must estimate one's own strength and not be ignorant of others either. He believed that pride is the root of all evil and warned against passionate desires. Nothing is more pernicious to virtue than flattery. If flatterers multiply, they may even push the honorable out of houses. John wrote, "The bitter truth is more useful and is more esteemed by a mind of integrity than the distilled honey of a prostitute's speech."7 John condemned the tyranny of a single pre-eminent will that deprives the people individually and collectively of their free will, and he believed that it is just to slay tyrants because those who receive the sword deserve to perish by the sword. The ruler who receives power from God serves the laws as the servant of justice. So the usurper of power who suppresses justice and has contempt for law deserves to have justice armed against him for having disarmed the laws, for public power is harsh to those who put aside the public hand.

The true prince does nothing inconsistent with the equity of justice and accepts the sword from the spiritual authority of the Church. John wrote that in war the human body is injured by the sword, but in peace it is harmed by pleasure. Those in authority must be especially careful so that inferiors will not be corrupted by their example if they abuse their power. Princes are not forbidden wealth but only avarice, for the wealth of the prince belongs to the people and should not be considered his private property. John emphasized that the prince should be aware of the laws of God, and his ordinances should conform to ecclesiastical discipline. He cited the examples of the Christian emperors Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, and Leo. Law will be respected if the prince does not exempt his own hands nor the hands of his subjects. John recommended the one law of the golden rule in both its negative and positive forms: "What you would not have done to yourself, do not do to others;" and "What you would have done to yourself, this do to others."8 If there is love without respect, people retreat into illegalities when justice ceases.

John of Salisbury referred to a letter from Plutarch to Trajan which he probably invented as an educational device. Though a pagan, Trajan is cited because he built his reign on the practice of virtue. The prince should dedicate himself diligently to the whole republic. John's four precepts for rulers are reverence for God, self-discipline, education of officials, and love and protection for the subjects. Comparing the republic to a body, the prince is the head, but the priests are the soul. The heart is the senate, and the courtiers represent the sides. They should keep their distance from the iniquitous, arrogant, and greedy. He observed that justice or truth or piety are seldom with those selling everything; those who do everything for a price and nothing for free flee from divine grace. John protested the venality of courtiers who sell what costs them nothing. Entrapping one magistrate with presents is usually not advantageous unless his is the greatest power, because the envy of others is aroused. The more powerful a court is the more pernicious are its scourges, for it receives or creates vicious men to become intimates of the powerful. John asked who is so resolute that he cannot be corrupted by the frivolities of courtiers? The only way to maintain virtue is to turn aside from the courtly life, for he found the philosopher-courtier to be a monstrous contradiction.

John related the eyes, ears, and tongue of the republic to the provincial governors and judges. Once again they should have knowledge of equity and execute justice. He has seen judges ignorant of law and devoid of good will as their love of presents serves the greedy. Governors must be careful not to let the powerful assail the innocent, persecute their wards, and extort exactions with violence. John lamented that so many strive after riches like shipwrecked people who think they can escape by swimming with heavier loads. Philosophy does not drive away wealth but treats gold like clay to be used. The beauty of morals is far superior to material objects, and physical goods can never glorify what is shameful. The road to salvation is still safest for those free of riches and material possessions.

John described the armed hand of the republic as the military and the unarmed hand as civil justice. The armed hand should refrain from exactions and rapine, the unarmed hand from presents. John quoted Bishop Laurence of Milan that the tax collector is a shameless plunderer. Bad princes enhance the crimes they see by adding to them to take their share of the profit. If the prince does not resist the evils, there is no peace; thus no one can be more harmful than the prince. From studying history John, one of the best educated Europeans of the 12th century, observed that human disturbances, wars, and disasters either accompany or follow luxury.

The feet of the republic are the humble workers who serve all. These include farmers but also weavers and artisans of wood and metals. Their duty is not to exceed the law and to concentrate on public utility. Since there are so many humbler people, it is better for the few to submit to them. The duty of the greater men is to protect the humbler. Yet attacking the prince goes against the head and is treason, because the just prince is the instrument of God. He found treasonable plotting to kill a prince or magistrate, opposing one's country with arms, fleeing from a public war, deserting the prince, soliciting people to revolt, deceitfully aiding the public's enemies with weapons, supplies, or money, or releasing a convicted criminal. A prince becomes mild when the people are innocent, and an innocent prince restrains the people's passions.

John described his friendship with Pope Adrian IV and his criticism of the Roman pontiff, who is burdensome and intolerable for erecting palaces and parading himself in gilded clothes, picking clean the spoils of the provinces. John agreed with the cardinal Guido Dens, who found duplicity and avarice in the Roman Church. In John's philosophy virtue is the highway that leads to happiness. Most important is charity that leads to honor, modesty, sobriety, chastity, and other venerable virtues. Ambition is what usually leads people to injustice and tyranny, and it is found in the Church too. John complained that in his time things are purchased openly as avarice threatens the holy altars. In the beginning religion rejoiced in poverty, but the monastic orders have become favored with privileges and snub charity, becoming instruments of avarice rather than religion. Adrian observed this and tried to restrict their license with moderation. Those who preach living by price and pleasure instead of grace falsify God's message.

John of Salisbury valued the liberty that is not afraid to censure what opposes sound moral character, and for him only virtue is more glorious than freedom. Virtues free us while vices subject people to miserable servitude. The practice of liberty is excellent, and it displeases only those who would live like slaves. John recognized the legal right to express the truth in speech. When one falls into vice, that which was born to rule is abased by the servile devotion. In the Epicurean philosophy of lust John found a flood in the four rivers of love of possessions, luxury, tyranny, and the desire for renown. The tyrant oppresses the people by violent domination, but the just prince rules by laws for the liberty of the people. The tyrant cancels the laws and subjugates the people. The just prince is to be loved and respected; but the tyrant may even be killed.

John also warned against division and schisms in the Church. To build the Church on the liberty of the Spirit they must settle conflicts within a framework of unity and let the schismatics fight only among themselves. Priestly wars do harm even to just men who participate in them. He asked who could be more iniquitous than those who cast the ministry of peace into quarrels and torments? John observed the Pope's dilemma; for if he does not succumb to avarice, he faces a revolt from the Romans. Justice is subverted by the love of presents, favoring some persons, and a trusting disposition. He believed the Pope had a most burdensome job to care for all the churches as the "servant of servants." He was horrified by those who forced their way into the office by blind ambition and the blood of brothers in opposition to the ministers of Christ. John concluded his exposition of the frivolities with prayer for guidance in the serious concerns of goodness.

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard was born in Mainz in 1098, and she was only about eight years old when she was dedicated to a religious life in the cell of an anchoress named Jutta at Disibodenberg. By the age of 15 Hildegard was bewildered by her extraordinary perceptions, but she eventually confided them to Jutta. Until Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard had little contact with the world; but then she was appointed prioress by Abbot Kuno. She apparently had visions often, but her life changed dramatically in 1141 after a blinding vision by a very brilliant light helped her understand her religious reading. When she did not obey the call to write, she eventually became so sick that she told Volmar, who got permission for her to begin writing her major work Scivias that took ten years to complete. Bernard of Clairvaux brought her writing to the attention of Pope Eugenius, and in 1148 the Pope sent her a letter encouraging her to record her visions. In 1147 Hildegard had proclaimed that God commanded that her nunnery move to Rupertsberg. At first her proposal was dismissed; but Hildegard withdrew in silence to her bed. They rebuilt the ruins of Rupertsberg and moved there in 1150, gaining autonomy but compromising on property settlements. Hildegard also resisted the leaving of her friend and assistant Richardis, who was appointed an abbess; but Hildegard later repented of this attachment.

Hildegard described her own era as an effeminate time, and she prophesied that the churches would have their temporal powers confiscated as a just punishment for their greed. She wrote to Pope Anastasius IV prophesying the ruin of Rome; but, like Joachim of Fiore, she foresaw rising from the ruins a new nation in which pagans, Jews, the worldly, and the unbelievers will be converted in a regenerated world of peace. In 1158 Hildegard began writing her Book of the Rewards of Life and traveling to preach despite her poor health. In 1163 she undertook her cosmological Book of the Divine Works, which was also based on visions and took about eleven years to write. A biography of her by Godfrey of Disibodenberg described at length how Hildegard exorcised a woman who had been suffering from an evil spirit for eight years. After Godfrey died, Guibert of Gembloux replaced him in 1177 as Hildegard's secretary and as provost to the nuns. In the last year of her life before she died in 1179 Hildegard struggled to keep undisturbed the grave of an excommunicated man even though the district of Mainz was put under interdict for a time.

The title Scivias means "know the ways," and this long book is a visionary theology. Hildegard criticized the clergy who polluted church buildings with murders or fornication. She recommended repentance and confession to a priest. She approved of marriage but condemned homosexual behavior as a sin against God and the ordained union of man and woman; she also criticized masturbation and bestiality. To reduce sexual lust she advised replacing the meat of mammals with that of birds. Many of the virtues are described as being feminine. In the vision of the tower anticipating God's will the five strong virtues that occur in people by God's will are heavenly love, discipline, modesty, mercy, and victory. In her vision of the stone wall of the old law Hildegard described figures representing the eight virtues of abstinence, liberality, piety, truth, peace, beatitude, discretion, and salvation. In the final vision of the symphony of the blessed the virtues fight for the king of kings to win victory over the devil's arts. This vision was adapted into an operatic morality play called The Play of Virtues (Ordo virtutum), which is an allegorical presentation of the soul tempted by the devil but rescued by the virtues. Hildegard also composed canticles and chants for religious services.

Hildegard also wrote about nature and medicine, describing more than 200 herbs in her Physica, and she discussed healing and herbs further in Causes and Cures. She described the four humors as choleric (yellow bile) that is hot and relates to fire, sanguine (blood) that is dry and relates to air, phlegmatic (phlegm) that is moist and relates to water, and melancholic (black bile) that is cold and relates to earth. According to this theory illness is caused by an imbalance of these humors. Essentially all Hildegard's writings derive from her visions of what she called the light of life that she said she perceived not with her senses but within her soul.

In The Book of the Rewards of Life (Liber vitae meritorum) Hildegard described 35 vices, and to counter them she recommended fasting, flagellation, and ascetic prayer. For each vice she advised the response of an appropriate virtue. One could respond to worldly love with heavenly love, to impudence with discipline, to jesting with shyness, to hard-heartedness with mercy, to slothfulness with divine victory, to anger with patience, and to foolish joy with sighing for God. She noted that impudence leads people away from honesty and explained how foolish joy can follow anger, which she considered the worst fault. She wrote that one could respond to gluttony with abstinence, to bitterness with bountifulness, to impiety with piety, to falseness with truth, to strife with peace, to unhappiness with blessedness, to immoderation with discretion, and to destruction of souls with the salvation of souls. It is best to respond to pride with humility, to envy with charity, to vainglory with fear of the Lord, to disobedience with obedience, to unfaithfulness with faith, to despair with hope, and to luxury with chastity. Her visions showed how God responds to injustice with justice, to numbness with strength, to forgetfulness with holiness, to changeableness with steadiness, to care of earthly things with heavenly desire, to obstinacy with sorrow of the heart, to desire with contempt for the world, and to discord with concord. She also saw how one could respond to scurrility with reverence, to aimlessness with quiet stability, to wrong doing with true care of God, to avarice with pure contentment, and to the sorrow of time with heavenly joy. She observed that good masters, like good air, guide their disciples with discretion and immediate correction. She concluded this visionary book with descriptions of heavenly joys and blessings.

Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade

Intolerance for what Church authorities called heresy had led to only occasional persecution for many centuries; but in the 13th century authorities of the Catholic Church would launch major efforts to eliminate heresy. A village priest named Peter de Bruis from the Alps preached there and influenced the Rhone Valley for about twenty years. He rejected infant baptism and opposed veneration of the cross, preferring the teachings of the Gospels to the traditions of the Church. About 1140 he was killed at St. Gilles when he was pushed into the fire in which he was burning crucifixes. A priest and monk named Henry, who began his radical preaching about 1116 at Le Mans, became known as a Petrobrusian; but he was ordered to stop preaching by a council at Pisa in 1133. Pope Eugenius III sent Bernard of Clairvaux and others in 1145 to preach against Henry, who was imprisoned by the bishop of Toulouse.

Peter Valdes was a successful merchant and money-lender at Lyons and asked his friend Stephen d'Anse to translate the scriptures into the vernacular language. After Stephen died in an accident in 1173, Peter suddenly gave away his wealth for a life of poverty in order to practice the Gospels. His followers were called Waldensians. They preached and had the scriptures translated into the vernacular Occitan. Both male and female Waldensians preached, were celibate, and owning nothing, they lived on alms. They memorized portions of the vernacular Bible to enhance their preaching. They did not believe in taking oaths nor in killing, not even as judicial punishment.

Peter Valdes attended the third Lateran council in 1179, signed an orthodox statement required of suspected heretics, and was confirmed in his poverty by Pope Alexander III; but the next year Lyons archbishop Jean de Bellesmains forbade the Waldensians to preach, and in 1182 they were excommunicated and driven from the city. Two years later the Waldensians and the Humiliati of Lombardy were condemned by a papal synod at Verona. Waldensians believed the Roman Church fell into heresy when Sylvester was Pope (314-335), and they criticized the corruption of clergy and rejected Church authority and some sacraments. Yet many of them spoke against the Cathars, and in 1205 the Italian and French Waldensians separated. In 1208 those led by Durand of Huesca returned to orthodoxy and were known as Poor Catholics, and Pope Innocent III allowed them to preach on moral behavior.

Cathars, meaning the pure ones, believed in a dualistic theology that derived from the Manichaeans by way of the Paulicians and Bogomil. From Bulgaria they spread west; by 1143 a well organized group in Cologne was reported to Bernard of Clairvaux for rejecting the mass, because they believed the papacy and priesthood were so corrupt. Cathars spread south into Italy and France. They participated in a public debate near Albi in 1165. At a council there Narbonne archbishop Pons d'Arsac, six bishops, eight abbots, provosts, archdeacons, Louis VII's sister Constance of Toulouse, and Viscount Trencavel of Albi and Béziers confirmed the condemnation of the Cathars as heretics. In 1167 some Cathars were burned at Vézelay. That year Cathars met at Saint Felix south of Toulouse, and Nicetas from Constantinople consecrated bishops for Toulouse and Carcasonne and perhaps Agen to add to one Cathar bishop in northern France and another at Albi. In 1177 Toulouse count Raymond V wrote to the Cistercians that heresy was spreading. Perhaps because Cathar believers did not have to renounce their wealth, many of the nobility joined the movement. Cathars did not preach against usury, and they had less restrictions on marriage than the Catholic Church, which had increasingly complicated prohibitions against consanguinity.

Cathars held that the evil in the world was created by Satan and not God. Like some Gnostics they identified the creator God of the Old Testament with Satan while accepting the divine Christ of the New Testament as an angel sent from God to help trapped souls find release. They recognized the sacrament of communion but believed that any good person could consecrate the host. Confession could be made to anyone, but Cathars did not go in for physical penance. Yet their beliefs made them disciplined as their initiated perfecti renounced sexual intercourse, violence, and all animal food. In this way souls could be liberated from the Devil's world, while other souls would have additional opportunity through reincarnation. Cathars rejected the priesthood, because they believed everyone could contact God directly by prayer. They criticized the worldly power and corruption of the Church though they did have bishops and deacons for leadership.

Like the Waldensians, the perfecti refused to take oaths, fight, or kill anyone. The Cathar perfecti also practiced apostolic poverty and expected to be persecuted as Jesus had warned them they would be hated by the world because they are not of the world. After a year or more of training, the laying on of hands in the consolamentum initiated the perfecti. The perfecti wore black or dark blue, and the men let their hair and beards grow. Like Manichaeans, the perfecti devoted their lives to prayer and preaching and were supported by the believers. The perfecti lived and traveled in pairs of the same sex. Although the believers were allowed to eat meat, have sex, and fight in wars, they were expected to live peacefully and do good without lying, stealing, committing violence, or taking oaths; before they died, believers hoped to receive the consolamentum and salvation. The perfecti often worked as craftsmen or physicians, which explains the laws barring heretics from practicing medicine.

At the third Lateran council of 1179 Cathars were damned as heretics, and anathema was declared for anyone giving them hospitality. Vassals no longer had to do homage to nobles supporting Cathars, and the Church offered two years' indulgence to those taking up arms against them. Archbishop Pons sent letters ordering all bishops to excommunicate heretics and their supporters. In 1181 Henri de Marsiac led local knights against Lavaur, where the Cathar bishop of Toulouse resided. Viscountess Adela surrendered the town, and Bernard Raymond and Raymond de Baimiac were captured, taken to Le Puy, abjured their beliefs, and were made Catholic canons. In 1184 the papal bull of Lucius III issued at Verona condemned all heretics, including Cathars and Waldensians.

After Innocent III became Pope in 1198, he sent two legates to preach against heresy in Languedoc and Barcelona; in 1200 he pronounced loss of property as the penalty for heresy. Innocent renewed the excommunication of heretics and the indulgence for those using arms against them. In 1203 the Pope appointed the Langedoc native Pierre of Castelnau to preach, and the next year he was joined by the Cistercian abbot of Clairvaux, Arnald-Amalric. They were authorized to suspend bishops who failed to excommunicate heretics. The bishop of Béziers was suspended in 1203 and was killed by his own people two years later. The corrupt Raymond Rabastens, bishop of Toulouse, was replaced by Fulk of Marseilles in 1206. Narbonne archbishop Raymond-Berenger resisted several attempts to depose him and managed to stay in office until 1212. Yet the Cathar movement continued to flourish, and an assembly of 600 Cathar perfecti at Mirepoix in 1206 resolved their internal differences.

As papal legates traveled around preaching with their elaborate retinues, the poverty of their rival perfecti offered a stark contrast. The legates were ridiculed and abused until Diego of Osma and Dominic of Guzman persuaded them to adopt a simpler approach. Pierre of Castelnau became so unpopular in Béziers that he fled for his life. At Montreal Cathars accused Diego and Dominic of representing the Church of the Devil, and in the debate at Foix Catholic missionaries told Count Raymond-Roger's sister Esclarmonde, who had become a Cathar, that she should attend to her spinning. Most of the abbots gave up preaching. Dominic said that where gentle persuasion failed, a thick stick would succeed when they roused the princes and prelates against them; he predicted that nations assembled would cause many to perish by the sword. Dominic did make some conversions, notably the Waldensian Durand of Huesca, who founded the orthodox Poor Catholics. Dominic founded a convent at Prouille for poor daughters and continued his missionary work there during the war. After the Albigensian crusade the convent was enriched by the spoils from wealthy heretics.

Innocent III wrote to French king Philip Augustus in 1204 and 1205 offering indulgence if he would attack the heretics; but Philip II was too busy fighting the English to launch a crusade in the south. Toulouse count Raymond VI agreed to persecute heretics and dismiss his mercenaries; but the Count was excommunicated by legate Pierre after refusing to drive out heretics in the name of peace. In 1208 after an angry meeting Pierre was murdered by one of the Count's officers. Innocent reacted by proclaiming a crusade that became known as the Albigensian crusade after Albi, a center for Cathars. Arnald-Amalric was appointed to lead it, and at the annual meeting of the Cistercians he promulgated the Pope's bull offering a full indulgence for only forty days military service. In May 1209 King Philip II summoned a parliament but refused to join the war. However, the duke of Burgundy and several counts and bishops volunteered. The army organized was reported to be the largest ever in the Christian world.

Toulouse count Raymond VI sought reconciliation by offering seven castles, and he was publicly flogged by papal legate Milo before taking the cross. Raymond denied that he had favored heretics, and he promised to obey the Church, including not supporting mercenaries, not allowing Jews to hold public office, and abolishing new tolls. By joining the crusade, Raymond's lands in Languedoc would not be attacked. However, his nephew Raymond-Roger Trencavel was not reconciled with Milo. Viscount Trencavel and the Jews left Béziers for Carcasonne before it was attacked. Béziers had successfully resisted pressure to surrender heretics in 1205 and tried to hold out; but camp followers without orders quickly broke into the city and massacred all the inhabitants. The Cistercian abbot Arnald-Amalric was reported to have said to kill them all, because God would know his own. The day after he did write to Pope Innocent, "Nearly twenty thousand of these people were put to the sword, without regard for age or sex."9 His figure is probably exaggerated since modern scholars estimate Béziers to have had about 10,000 people. Simon de Montfort was rewarded for his role in the slaughter and was later elected commander.

Narbonne submitted and promised to give up heretics and the property of Béziers Jews. As the crusaders marched to Carcasonne, Arnald-Amalric reported that more than a hundred fortified villages surrendered. In August 1209 the suburbs of Carcasonne were destroyed, and King Pedro II of Aragon arrived to mediate for his vassal Raymond-Roger; but the viscount refused the offer made, and the king withdrew. After their water was exhausted and Raymond-Roger was captured, the city capitulated. The viscount died in prison in November, and Pedro II, suspecting the new leader de Montfort of his murder, refused at first to accept his homage but invested him in 1211 so he could campaign against the Moors. Southern towns surrendered, and in the north Albi submitted. Then most crusaders returned to northern France, and Simon had to pay about 500 remaining soldiers double wages.

Persecution began with the burning of Cathars when the town of Castres capitulated. In the next spring new crusaders arrived from the north. Crusaders besieged Minerve in June 1210; after it surrendered, 140 perfecti were burned. A year later after a siege of one month Simon de Montfort ordered the Lavaur leaders, a brother and sister, and eighty knights executed; he recorded that then more than 400 heretics were burned to the joy of the crusaders. Simon deliberately used terror; a garrison at Bram had all their eyes but one put out so they could be led to Cabaret. At the University of Paris logic teacher Amalric taught that a new age was coming that would supersede the Catholic Church; nine clergy who shared his views were burned for heresy in 1210.

Meanwhile Toulouse refused to surrender heretics and was put under an interdict. Arnald-Amalric ordered preaching against usury in order to get at wealthy supporters of the Cathars in Toulouse, where Bishop Fulk organized a "white fraternity;" but they lost credibility after joining the persecution at Lavaur. As they attacked the houses of money-lenders, a "black fraternity" sprung up in opposition. Simon de Montfort continued to capture castles and burn Cathars. After sixty heretics were burned at Casses, the perfecti stopped seeking refuge in fortresses. Apparently these initiates still did not turn to violence, but they gave up their distinctive dress and hid among the people. Simon assaulted Toulouse in 1211; but it was too strong, and he withdrew after twelve days to devastate the county of Foix. As the crusading army dissolved again in September, Raymond VI gathered resistance fighters in the south. Another crusade was preached in northern France that winter, and Simon once again had fresh troops in the spring of 1212. In December of that year he held a parliament at Pamiers and imposed French laws on Languedoc. Heresy was made a crime that could be judged by the Church. Property on which heretics were living could be forfeited. Daughters were excluded from inheritance, and women with rights to fortresses were forbidden to marry southerners.

Pedro II was commended by the Pope for helping to defeat Muslims at Tolosa; but his offer to mediate in Toulouse was declined. In 1213 the combined armies of Aragon and Toulouse greatly outnumbered Simon de Montfort's crusaders near Muret; but Pedro was killed early in the battle, and Raymond VI fled. In 1215 King Philip's son Louis led a southern crusade. That November at the Fourth Lateran Council Simon was given the conquered lands; Raymond VI received only a pension of 400 marks, though his son Raymond VII when he came of age would get the unconquered lands now controlled by the Church. Raymond VI went to Aragon for aid. Honorius succeeded Innocent as Pope in 1216 and proclaimed another Albigensian crusade. After more destruction Simon made a truce with Raymond VII, whose father returned in 1217 and gained support from nobles dispossessed by Simon. Fulk of Marseilles brought crusaders from the north; but Simon de Montfort was killed in 1218. His son Amaury could not pay the soldiers and withdrew to Carcasonne. Now many Provence troubadours criticized the crusade as an invasion of the south by northerners. Prince Louis led another crusade and massacred the surrendered inhabitants of Marmande in 1219. In the next two years southerners regained many castles, but Raymond VI died in 1222.

In 1226 Cardinal Romanus excommunicated Raymond VII and preached another crusade, imposing a clerical tax of a tenth. King Louis VIII led this crusade but died. Yet that year the Cathar bishop of Toulouse summoned a council of a hundred perfecti that appointed a new bishop for Razés. Raymond VII made peace at Meaux with the Pope and the French crown in 1229 by promising to enforce heresy laws. The count also had to agree to destroy the walls of Toulouse and was imprisoned in the Louvre for six months until this was accomplished. That November at the council of Toulouse papal legate Romanus obliged Count Raymond VII to contribute 4,000 silver marks annually for the Catholic university there, and strict rules for pursuing heretics were devised. In each parish a priest and two or three lay persons were to search every house and hiding place. Where a heretic was found, the house was to be burned and the property forfeited. Negligent bailiffs were to lose their post and their goods. Any heretic who returned to the Catholic faith out of fear of death was to be imprisoned. Every person from the age of puberty up had to abjure heresy and swear loyalty to the Catholic Church. Heads of households were required to attend Mass on Sundays and holidays or pay a fine unless they had a legitimate excuse. Lay people were not allowed to possess an Old Testament nor a New Testament.

Two prominent perfecti were arrested by Count Raymond VII. The Albigensian bishop was burned as Romanus watched, but William de Solier converted to Catholicism and denounced other Cathars. Toulouse bishop Fulk became so unpopular for persecuting heretics that he could not raise tithes and died in 1231, succeeded by the Dominican Raymond de Fauga. That year a high mountain fortress at Montségur became a Cathar refuge and an arsenal, and the next year Guilhabert de Castres presided over a meeting there. More Cathars gathered at the Roquefort castle in 1232 to hear William Vidal preach; but after that the three Cathar bishops of Toulouse, Agen, and Razes resided at Montségur. During the persecution of the 1230s many Cathars emigrated to Lombardy.

In 1233 Pope Gregory IX appointed Stephen de Burnin legate for southern France and northern Spain, giving the Dominican Order responsibility to launch the Inquisition against heretics. At Toulouse Peter Seila and William Arnald were chosen to be the first official Inquisitors. They began by capturing, trying, and executing the leading heretic Vigoros de Baconia. Peter Seila stayed in Toulouse while William Arnald toured the province. The Inquisitors acted as prosecutors and judges, and the suspected heretics were not allowed lawyers. In fact lawyers could lose their right to practice law if they helped a heretic. Trials were held in secret, and no appeals were allowed. They offered light penance to get people to come forward voluntarily; but only those whose information led to the arrest of perfecti and believers were given indulgence. Those who converted back to Catholicism were required to wear two yellow crosses on their clothes, which resulted in ostracism; or they could volunteer to go on a crusade for a number of years. Some were only required to take care of a poor person for years or the rest of their life. Dominicans also established tribunals at Albi, Cahors, and Moissac, where 210 persons were burned to death.

Two Inquisitors were murdered in Cordes during an uprising as early as 1233, and the terror of the Inquisition caused riots to break out at Narbonne in 1234. At Toulouse three consuls refused to cooperate in enforcing the dictates of Arnald, who was compelled to leave the city; he went to Carcassonne and excommunicated the consuls. The consuls ordered the Dominican monks to leave Toulouse and had them thrown out into the street; since no one was allowed to take them in, they left. Bishop Raymond de Fauga was also expelled. Count Raymond VII wrote to the Pope asking that the inquisitorial powers be curtailed. In 1236 Pope Gregory wrote to his legate to curb him, but little changed. Posthumous trials were held, and corpses were dug up to be burned so that their estates could be confiscated. Prisoners could be held for years without being condemned, and anyone was subject to re-arrest. Eventually at least 5,600 people would be interrogated by the Inquisition in Toulouse alone. By the time King Philip III granted amnesty to heretics in 1279 as many as 507 people had been condemned at Toulouse, most losing their property. Many more had to wear the yellow crosses.

In 1235 Count Raymond VII sent knights and bailiffs to Montségur, but they did nothing. A third attempt resulted in a deacon and three perfecti being taken away to Toulouse, where they were burned. The Inquisition returned to Toulouse in 1236; but Count Raymond's protests got it suspended by the Pope from 1238 to 1241. The Inquisition had been established at Barcelona in 1233, and in 1238 it was authorized in Castille, Leon, and Navarre. In 1239 the Count of Champagne, the King of Navarre, and sixteen bishops presided over the burning of 183 Cathars at Montwimer. The next year Raymond Trencavel led a revolt with Catalan and Aragonese troops and was joined by Occitan rebels in liberating Limoux, Alet, Montreal, and the region. They besieged Carcassonne for a month, and the people murdered 33 priests there. A French army forced Trencavel to lift the siege, and then he was besieged at Montreal. Raymond VII stayed neutral and mediated a truce by which his cousin Trancavel returned to Spain. Towns that had rebelled were sacked, and Toulouse count Raymond pledged fealty to young Louis IX, promising to drive out heretics and capture Montségur.

Lacking a son, Raymond VII tried to arrange a diplomatic marriage but failed. He did join a coalition against France with Henry de Lusignan of Poitou and Henry III of England while making alliances with the kings of Aragon, Navarre, Castile, and even Friedrich II. In March 1242 Raymond VII fell seriously ill but was supported in the revolt by the counts of Armagnac, Comminges, Rodez, Foix, and several viscounts. Louis IX invaded Saintonge with his French army. In May while hosting Dominican inquisitors, Raymond d'Alfro sent for knights from Montségur led by Pierre-Roger of Mirepoix. The seven monks and their four servants at Avignonet were murdered with axes, and the murderers escaped to Montségur. The war was on, and Raymond Trencavel gained territory; but the revolt soon ended after Hugues de Lusignan and Henry III were defeated that summer. The count of Foix deserted the cause, and in January 1243 Count Raymond VII once again promised to fulfill the terms of 1229.

In 1243 the archbishop of Narbonne, the bishop of Albi, and the royal seneschal in Carcassonne besieged Montségur with an army; but they could not prevent supplies getting in, and the siege lasted ten months. In March 1244 surrender followed a short truce. The fighting believers were pardoned, even for the murders at Avignonet. They were given only light penances if they abjured their heretical beliefs; but the nearly two hundred nonresisting perfecti and the six women and eleven knights, who took the consolamentum rather than recant, were all burned at the stake. Four Cathars did escape to carry the secrets of their treasures to others. Languedoc became part of France. In 1246 Raymond Trencavel submitted to Louis IX, received a pension, and went on the crusade. A council at Béziers in 1246 instructed Inquisitors to imprison heretics for life, and that year King Louis ordered special prisons constructed. In 1248 many prisoners were released to go on crusade with Louis. In 1249 the Count of Toulouse had eighty Cathar believers burned at Agen before he died that year. Louis IX's brother Alphonse of Poitiers became count of Toulouse and made his vassals in Languedoc enforce the laws against heresy. The first handbook with instructions for conducting an inquisition was published by 1249.

In 1252 Pope Innocent IV issued the bull Ad Extirpanda that first authorized the use of torture to gain information but not recantation since forced confession was considered worthless. The torture was not to shed blood, mutilate, nor cause death. Toulouse and Carcassonne were relieved of the Inquisition in 1249; but it was restored with greater powers by Pope Alexander IV in 1255. One of the last Cathar refuges in Languedoc was captured that year when Quéribus was taken. The Cathars continued to flourish in Italy and Bosnia. Although Friedrich II detested heresy, he had not allowed the Inquisition to operate in his empire; his policy was continued by most of his successors until Louis' brother Charles of Anjou became king of Sicily in 1266. He enabled the Church to institute the Inquisition in his Sicilian kingdom in 1269. Voices of dissent were squelched by the Albigensian crusade and the Inquisition; even the eminent theologian Thomas Aquinas justified such persecution of heresy. The della Scalas of Verona attacked Sirmione in 1276 and imprisoned 174 perfecti, who were burned with other Cathars in the Verona amphitheater two years later. Peter Autier and his brother Guillem were trained as perfecti in Lombardy and began a revival in western Languedoc in 1298; but the Inquisition regained its powers, and Peter Autier was executed in 1311.

Dominic and His Preaching Brothers

Domingo de Guzman was born at Caleruega in Castile not long after 1170. He was raised by his uncle, who was the archpriest of Gumiel d'Izan. Dominic studied at Palencia from the age of 14 for ten years. During a famine in 1191 he sold all his possessions including his treasured books in order to help the starving get food. He became a canon in the religious community of the Osma cathedral and was ordained a priest at the minimum age of 25 about 1196. Dominic became subprior in 1201, the year Diego was made bishop of Osma. Two years later Diego took Dominic with him on a diplomatic mission to Denmark to arrange a marriage for King Alphonso IX's son. On their way at Toulouse Dominic spent a night converting a heretic. In Denmark on a second journey Diego and Dominic were so caught up in the zeal of converting pagans that at Rome they asked the Pope to send them on such a mission. However, Innocent III sent them to assist his legates, who were preaching against the Albigensian heretics. The two Castilians found the legates were not having much success and advised them to reduce their grand style of traveling in order to preach like the poor Cathar perfecti in emulation of the instructions Jesus gave to his apostles in Luke 10. The Cistercians were ashamed to beg, but Diego volunteered to set the example.

In 1206 at Prouille Dominic converted nine poor women and established a convent where they could live. That year Dominic found his vocation in preaching. After the successful debate at Pamiers, some Waldensians returned to orthodoxy. Durand of Huesca led a group of Waldensians, who criticized Cathar dualism but wanted to live and preach in apostolic poverty. In 1208 his Poor Catholics were approved by the Pope. The previous year Bishop Diego had died while returning to Castile to raise money. Dominic continued preaching with a few devoted followers. Sensing the violence of the coming crusade, he was reported to have said,

I have sung words of sweetness to you for many years now,
preaching, imploring, weeping.
But as the people of my country say,
where blessing is of no avail, the stick (bagols) will prevail.
Now we shall call forth against you leaders and prelates
who, alas, will gather together against this country
the power of the nations
and will cause many people to die by the sword,
will ruin your towers, overthrow and destroy your walls
and reduce you all to servitude-oh, what sorrow!
Thus the bagols, that is, the force of the stick, will prevail
where sweetness and blessing have been able to accomplish nothing.10

Some people mocked him and even spit at him. When asked what he would do if they ambushed him, Dominic replied,

I should have asked you not to kill me quickly or easily,
but to do it bit by bit, mutilating my limbs one by one,
then gouging out my eyes,
then leaving my truncated body half dead,
wallowing in its own blood,
or finishing it off in whatever way you liked.11

According to his first biographer this amazed the heretics so much that they stopped pursuing him. The self-sacrificing Dominic even wanted to sell himself into slavery to convert a poor heretic or to rescue a woman's captured brother. During Lent he fasted on bread and water, and he slept on wooden boards in a hair shirt. During the Albigensian war the papal legate gave Dominic authority to reconcile converted heretics to the Church, and his only recorded acts during this period were of reconciliation. Only one incident was reported of his being present at the burning of heretics, and in that case Theodoric of Apoldia stated that Dominic saved one of the victims from the fire.

After the victory of Simon de Montfort at Muret in 1213, the Catholics were welcomed into Toulouse by Bishop Fulk; Dominic was established as a diocesan preacher. He attended the Lateran Council with Fulk in 1215 and asked Pope Innocent to approve his new order of preachers. Since in that era the primary preachers were bishops, the Pope wondered if he wanted an entire order of bishops. Dominic agreed to follow an already accepted order and chose the Rule of St. Augustine. His sixteen brothers in the order were eight Frenchmen, seven Spaniards, and one Englishman. After Innocent died the next year, Pope Honorius III granted their new Order of Preachers. As a mendicant Dominic never agreed to accept traditional Church authority as a bishop or an abbot. The first Dominican community was established at Toulouse in the former home of one of his first disciples, Peter Seila. Their charter was confirmed in Rome in 1217, and there the Pope gave Dominic the church of St. Sixtus. Previous attempts to assemble the nuns into one house had failed, but Dominic accomplished this by giving them that church as a convent, establishing the friars at the church of St. Sabina.

Dominic sent Friar Matthew to the University of Paris and other brothers to the University of Bologna. At Rome Dominic met Reginald of Orleans, and this talented teacher was guided by visions to the new preaching order. After preaching abroad, Reginald made many converts at Bologna and helped form the schools of theology there and at Paris, where he died. Dominic traveled in Spain, France, and Italy establishing friaries and then made his residence at Bologna in 1219. The first general conference was held there, and the democratic constitution was written for the Friars Preachers. Six friars (brothers) were assigned to administer each convent despite the burden that would cause as their number increased, especially in Germany. All officers of the Order were elected by a majority of those authorized to vote. In 1220 the decision was made that the brothers should have no property and live on alms. Also that year Dominic founded a third order that included married and unmarried men and women to eradicate heresy called the soldiery of Christ that later became the Brothers and Sisters of Penitence.

By the second general conference in 1221 there were sixty friaries organized in eight provinces that now included Poland, Scandinavia, and Palestine along with Spain, Provence, France, Lombardy, and the Roman province. After visiting Venice, Dominic died at Bologna on August 6, 1221. That year the Black Friars, as they were called in England, crossed the channel and soon had houses in Canterbury, London, and Oxford. In France they were called Jacobins because of the Paris home. By 1223 Hungary and Germany had also become Dominican provinces. By the next year 120 Dominicans were studying at the University of Paris. Four years of philosophy and theology were required before they were allowed to preach, and this was followed by three more years of study. The Dominicans were not to study science or the liberal arts unless they got a special dispensation to do so; this restriction was abandoned in 1259. Dominic emphasized study and preaching rather than manual labor, and they approached the upper classes much more than the Franciscans, who ministered more to the poor. Dominic was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 1234.

Dominicans were given the leading role in the Inquisition beginning in 1232. Pope Honorius III had given their Order the device of a dog bearing a torch in his mouth. Their Florence convent depicted them hunting heretics, portrayed as foxes, while the Pope and Emperor looked on with approval. In 1237 Pope Gregory IX assigned a Franciscan to mitigate with gentleness the Dominican inquisitors of Toulouse with apparently little effect. After some inquisitors were murdered in 1242, the Dominicans asked the Pope to release them from the office. Pope Innocent IV refused, but two years later he authorized them to remove or replace any Dominican inquisitor though he often vetoed their attempts to do so. Some inquisitors threatened to accuse their superiors of heresy if they tried to remove them. To avoid such problems, the Franciscans limited the terms of their inquisitors. Pope Clement IV had to prohibit inquisitors from prosecuting each other, and then different jurisdictions were given to the Dominicans and Franciscans.

Raymond of Peñafort taught at the University of Bologna and worked on canon law, publishing his Summa de casibus penitentiae to help solve moral cases. He discussed sins against God and neighbors and provided a method for examining one's conscience in relation to the seven capital sins. Raymond compiled the Decretals of Gregory IX, completing it in 1234. William of Rennes, a Dominican in Brittany, wrote a commentary on Raymond's Summa, applying it to the moral problems in France. Raymond of Peñafort was elected master general in 1238 and established schools to teach Dominican missionaries Hebrew and Arabic about 1250. The Frenchman William Peyraut (Peraldus) was a Dominican in the priory at Lyons and wrote a comprehensive Summa on the Virtues and Vices. Peyraut did not use Aristotle at all but referred to the Bible and Latin literature. The first part was completed about 1236 and discussed 41 vices in relation to the seven deadly sins. The second part published by 1249 further elucidated the virtues and added forty subsidiary virtues. Both parts developed ideas for sermons, and he provided 200 examples. William also published about 500 sermons and treatises on monastic rules and practices. Finally he wrote De eruditione to define a prince's duties to God, the Church, self, officials, children, subjects, and enemies.

Dominicans and Eckhart’s Mystical Unity

Francis of Assisi and His Lesser Brothers

Born at Assisi in Umbria probably in September 1181, his mother Pica had her first son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. His father Pietro di Bernardone was a cloth merchant traveling in France; when he returned, he re-named the boy Francesco after that country. According to the earliest biography by Thomas of Celano, Francis received little or no religious instruction when he was young and thus was under the sway of his vices. Brought up with servants, the wealthy young Francis worked in his father's lucrative business and was generous to his friends in games and entertainment, becoming a leader among his peers.

In 1199 a civil war broke out in Assisi. The burghers and lower classes (minores) revolted against the nobles, who were defeated and fled to Perugia, including the families of Clare and Leonardo. Francis may have learned how to use brick and mortar in the wall around Assisi then erected. Francis fought for Assisi against their rival Perugia in November 1202 at the battle of Collestrada; but they were defeated, and he was captured and held prisoner for a year. When he became ill, Francis was ransomed by his father. After two years of illness he still dreamed of becoming a knight; he outfitted himself better than most knights and went to join the papal forces led by Count Gentile against Friedrich II in Apulia; but in 1205 at Spoleto he had a vision guiding him to return to Assisi to serve God instead of a lower master. Thomas of Celano wrote that Francis began to despise himself and feel contempt for the things he had valued and loved before. He was promised a most beautiful spouse, who would excel all in wisdom. He prayed in solitude to learn the will of God and went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where mingling with beggars he overcame his loathing of leprosy by kissing a leper.

While praying in the ruins of the San Damiano church near Assisi, Francis received the message that he should repair the broken-down church. So he went home, gathered some cloth, and sold it with his horse at Foligno, planning to give the money to the priest at San Damiano. His father complained and locked him up for several days; but while his father was gone, his mother released him. When his father took him to the bishop, Francis gave everything he had back to his father, even stripping off his clothes so that the bishop was moved to cover him with a mantle. He once was thrown into a ditch of snow by robbers, and he worked for a few days as a scullion in a monastery. Francis lived with lepers and washed them at Gubbio in 1206. One day he upbraided a poor man for begging; but later he repented, reproached himself, and vowed he would never again refuse anyone who asked for the love of God. Living in poverty and dressing like a hermit, Francis worked restoring San Damiano and the Porziuncula chapel. On February 24, 1208 he heard a mass that included the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples going out to preach. So Francis reduced himself to even simpler poverty, giving up his extra cloak and sandals, and he began to preach repentance.

In April 1208 Francis gained his first companions or disciples that included Bernard, Peter Catanii, and Giles. Bernard set the example of selling all his goods and giving the money to the poor. Francis and Giles went on a mission to the Marches of Ancona. Philip and two others joined the band that summer, and soon four pairs went on missions with Bernard and Giles going to Florence. In 1209 Francis wrote his first rule for his eleven companions, and they went to Rome to gain the approval of Pope Innocent III. Sabina bishop John became their advocate and argued that if the pontiff refused their request because he considered it too difficult, he would be offending the teaching of Jesus. Francis told a parable about a rich king who had children by a beautiful but poor woman. Francis said that he was that woman and that the Eternal King would provide for the poor children, his followers. The Pope told Francis to preach penance to all. As they traveled through the Spoleto valley, they begged from door to door as needed. They practiced holy simplicity, which Francis called the daughter of grace, the sister of wisdom, and the mother of justice. He noted that pleasure is short, but punishment is eternal; suffering is small compared to infinite glory; retribution comes to all. Few writings of Francis exist. Among his Admonitions is the following:

Where there is charity and wisdom,
there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility,
there is neither anger nor disturbance.
Where there is poverty with joy,
there is neither covetousness nor avarice.
Where there is inner peace and meditation,
there is neither anxiousness nor dissipation.
Where there is fear of the Lord to guard the house,
there the enemy cannot gain entry.
Where there is mercy and discernment,
there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.12

Francis preached boldly without flattery or seductive blandishments. He reproved himself sternly and disciplined others similarly, saying that he corrected and chastised those whom he loved. He named his Order Friars Minor, because he considered them lesser brothers. Thomas of Celano described the group as having chaste embraces, gentle feelings, pleasing conversation, modest laughter, joyous looks, submissive spirits, peaceable tongues, mild answers, oneness of purpose, ready obedience, and unwearied hands. They did not resist insults, ridicule, beatings, robbing nor imprisonment, and they did not seek patronage for protection. Francis taught his companions to consider money like dung, and so they avoided it. They despised all worldly things and strove for peace and gentleness. Francis slept on the bare ground and rarely ate cooked food. If he saw someone with garments worse than what he was wearing, he would give them his. He preached to the birds and other animals that they should be grateful to their Creator. Francis believed that the safest guard against the devil's temptations is inner spiritual joy. Thus he made a point of keeping joy in his heart. He avoided the miserable illness of dejection. If he felt it creeping into his mind even a little, he would quickly have recourse to prayer.

In 1211 Francis embarked for Palestine but was shipwrecked in Dalmatia. The next year Clare of Favarone (1194-1253) came back to Assisi, and after staying in convents for a few weeks she moved into San Damiano while Count Orlando offered Francis Mount La Verna as a hermitage. Clare was joined by her cousin Pacifica of Guelfuccio and her own younger sister Agnes, and the religious community of Clare and her poor sisters was soon organized. Francis once wrote to her, "Live always in the truth, that you may die in obedience. Do not look at the life outside, for that of the Spirit is better."13 Some time before attending the Fourth Lateran Council, Francis visited Spain but was too ill to go to Morocco. In 1217 missions were sent beyond the Alps and abroad. Giles went to Tunis and Elias to Syria; but Francis was stopped on his way to France by Cardinal Hugolino of Ostia. In 1219 Hugolino wrote the Rule for the Poor Ladies that was approved by Francis and confirmed by Pope Honorius.

In 1219 Francis wrote a letter to the rulers of the peoples warning them to pause and reflect because the day of death is approaching. Those who are wiser and more powerful in this world will have greater punishments in the next. He urged them to remember God and follow the commandments, suggesting that a town crier be appointed to exhort people to thank and praise God. John of La Penna led sixty brothers to Germany, and the troubadour Pacifico, who had been crowned king of the poets by the Emperor, went to France. Giles went to Tunis, and the five brothers who went to Morocco suffered martyrdom. Also in 1219 Francis went to the crusade at Damietta, where after being insulted and beaten he tried to convert the Egyptian sultan Malik al-Kamil. Francis despised the many rich gifts bestowed upon him, impressing the sultan as unique. According to a companion, Francis had a vision that the Christians would lose the battle that was about to occur; but his warnings, forbidding of the war, and denunciations of its reasons were to no avail. In the defeat it was reported that 6,000 Christians were killed or captured. Francis visited Palestine, and during these travels he contracted an eye infection.

When Francis returned to Italy by way of Venice, Cardinal Hugolino was appointed Protector of the Order. Brothers were established in a house in St. Denis near Paris, where they were led by the theologian Aymon of Faversham. Francis recovered from malaria but gave up the leadership to Peter Catanii and obeyed him; but Peter died in March 1221. Elias became vicar, and 3,000 brothers attended the Pentecost chapter that year. Cardinal Hugolino also protected the Order of Poor Ladies founded by Clare, and the third Order for married men and women called the Penitential Brothers was approved by Pope Honorius III. They were to be in the world but not of the world. Those joining pledged to give back all unjustly acquired goods, to pay tithes owed, to make their wills, and not to swear nor hold public office. They wore a distinctive poor habit and spent their time in prayer and works of charity. Francis and Hugolino, who was living in Bologna, wrote their first Rule that prohibited the carrying of weapons and required women to gain their husbands' consent before joining.

The Rule Francis wrote for the Lesser Brothers states that brothers must live without anything of their own and in chastity and obedience. Anyone wanting to accept their life should sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. The brothers should not become involved in these temporal affairs nor should they accept money. After a probation of one year the brother may be accepted into obedience. All brothers should wear poor clothes that can be patched with sackcloth. The brothers are to pray the divine office and fast from All Saints until Christmas and from Epiphany until Easter. Brothers are assigned to provinces but may meet once a year. No one is bound to obey anything that is contrary to their life or against their conscience, but they should reasonably and diligently consider the actions of ministers and servants, admonishing them if they are not according to the Spirit. Any brother wishing to live according to the flesh is to be admonished, instructed, and corrected humbly and diligently.

The Rule further states that no one is to be called Prior as they are all Lesser Brothers. In their work none should be administrators or managers; they may have tools for their trades. They are not to receive nor carry money for any purpose except what is needed to care for sick brothers. Alms are a legacy from Jesus and are the due right of the poor. Everything people leave behind in the world will perish, but they will be rewarded by the Lord for the charity they have done. Brothers are not to murmur nor detract from others. They should avoid impure glances and association with women. A brother committing the sin of fornication is to be expelled from the Order. Brothers are not to ride horses except for an extreme necessity or sickness. No brother is to preach contrary to the Church and only if authorized. Yet all brothers may preach by their deeds. Francis wrote the second rule two years later; it was discussed in Rome and also approved by Pope Honorius, whom Francis promised to obey.

In 1224 a mission was sent to England, and that summer Elias received the message that Francis only had two years to live. After fasting, Francis was believed to have received the stigmata of nail wounds in the hands and feet and a spear wound in the side as though he had been crucified; but he kept it secret. He showed his love of nature in his famous "Canticle to Brother Sun." In the various biographies many incidents are described in which Francis performed healings or showed with his words that he understood spiritually things that occurred during his absence. He prophesied that Perugia would fall into a civil war; soon after that the citizens of Perugia fought the knights, and the nobles attacked the common people, each destroying the vineyards and fields of the other. Francis wanted all his brothers to work, and he encouraged them to learn a craft. He would reproach anyone who was idle and vagrant, calling him Brother Fly, because he did nothing good himself, poisoned the good of others, and was useless and obnoxious to all. He referred to his body as Brother Ass, for he subjected it to heavy labor, beating it with whips, and feeding it the poorest food.

Francis suffered frequent infirmities, because he chastised his body and was exhausted traveling with little sleep. Although he taught that brother body should be provided with discretion, Thomas of Celano wrote that this was his only teaching in which his actions differed from his words; for Francis would subject his innocent body to scourgings and want, multiplying its wounds without cause. By 1225 he was so ill that he had to ride a donkey. For a long time Francis refused to see a doctor. Finally Brother Elias persuaded him to do so. His head was cauterized; his veins were bled; and plasters and eye-salves were applied; but his condition became worse. Nearly blind, Francis kept on, saying, "Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress."14 He warned that it was dangerous to rule, especially in such a wicked era. Six months before his death, Francis became even more ill with a serious stomach condition and an infected liver that caused him to vomit blood. Before he died on October 3, 1226, Francis gave Brother Elias his special blessing and warned his disciples of coming tribulations and scandals that would separate some. Many miraculous healings were attributed to Francis, and he was proclaimed a saint in 1228 after Hugolino became Pope Gregory IX.

Also in 1228 the Pope issued a document allowing Clare and her sisters to live in poverty and reject worldly goods. They followed the principles of Francis but stayed within their communities instead of going out into the world. After 1234 Clare wrote letters to Bohemian king Ottokar's daughter Agnes, who supported her efforts for a more strict rule in line with the poverty ideals of Francis rather than the Benedictine Rule. Pope Innocent IV gave the Poor Ladies a new Rule in 1247. Clare also practiced such severe asceticism and penance that her health was poor for 28 years. She wrote a Rule calling for more intense poverty and died two days after Innocent IV approved it with the papal bull Solet annuere in 1253. When Clare died, the Poor Ladies had 68 nunneries in Italy, 21 in Spain, 14 in France, and 8 in the Germanic countries.

Isabel, sister of Louis IX, got a special Rule approved by Pope Alexander IV for her convent at Longchamps in 1259. Many of the women who joined convents were from noble families, and most nunneries would only accepted women bringing a dowry. In 1266 Pope Urban IV promulgated a new Rule for the Order of St. Clare, and after that the houses either followed that "Urbanist Rule" or the more zealous held to the "First Rule" of Clare. The end of the crusades resulted in some nuns being massacred. In 1289 the Egyptian Muslims murdered all the Poor Clares in Tripoli, and two years later at Tolemaida the mother-general led the women in disfiguring themselves to preserve their virginity before they were massacred. About 1300 there were 413 nunneries following the First Order.

After strife at the general chapter of 1227, Elias was replaced as minister general by John Parenti. In 1230 Pope Gregory IX issued the bull Quo elongati that nullified the Testament of Francis and exempted the Lesser Brothers from the obligation to perform manual labor, and the next year the Orders were freed from episcopal jurisdiction, assuring them of self-government. Elias was employed by Gregory to build a church in honor of Francis. When the body of Francis was transferred in 1230, Elias offended the brothers and spent the next two years in penance; but he was elected minister general again in 1232. Elias spent much time on the new basilica and was later criticized for the ways he raised money; contributions came from Latin emperors John of Brienne and Baldwin II, Bohemian king Wenceslas, and Emperor Friedrich II. The numbers of Minor Friars steadily grew, and in 1233 Pope Gregory issued five bulls on their missionary activities. That year Elias arbitrated a dispute between the communes of Spoleto and Cerreto. In 1234 a seminary was established at St. Germain des Pres near Paris to accommodate 214 students, and soon there was a waiting list. Later they moved to a convent at Cordeliers and were called by that name. Their theology was pioneered by Alexander of Hales, but his work was unfinished when he died in 1245.

In 1238 Elias tried to mediate between Pope Gregory and Emperor Friedrich. Although the basilica was later criticized by the Spiritual party, the brothers Bernard, Masseo, Angelo, Rufino, and Leo all chose to be buried there. Elias was severely criticized for living in luxury and acting like an autocratic prince. He had a personal cook and a retinue of servants with livery. His friendship with the Emperor jeopardized his relationship with the Pope. He was accused of appointing unsuitable laymen. He never held a general chapter, treated others as inferiors, punishing and deposing them arbitrarily. Even the reliable Eccleston in England wrote that Elias by his cruelty drove others to rebellion. Elias ignored complaints and tried to sway a general chapter with local lay brothers. Some zealots devoted to Franciscan ideals of poverty were opposed to learning and intellectual pursuits; but it was Alexander of Hales, the first Franciscan professor at the University of Paris, along with Jean de La Rochelle and Aymon of Faversham, who succeeded in getting Elias deposed in 1239.

Pope Gregory IX supervised the election of Albert of Pisa as minister general, but he died a few months later. The Englishman Aymon (Haymo) of Faversham had gained the release of the critics Elias had imprisoned, and he was elected minister general in 1240. He then imprisoned Gregory of Naples, who had been provincial minister for France. Aymon made it a policy that only the literate could be officers in the Order. Lay brothers were also excluded from positions of authority and were relegated to domestic service. Manual work outside the monastery was forbidden. Begging, which Francis only used as a last resort, became the main source of subsistence as the Order became truly mendicant. Aymon consulted others and presided over the general chapter of 1242 that promulgated conservative constitutional reforms that limited the powers of the executive. Pope Innocent IV intervened to relax the Rule in 1245 with his Ordinem vestrum bull that allowed brothers to rely on spiritual friends not just for necessities but for useful and convenient things. Property of the Order not reserved by the benefactors was declared the possession of the Holy See. Another bull two years later gave provincial friars the authority to replace proctors. Aymon's successor Crescentius was deposed in 1247 though he was then elected bishop of Assisi. John of Parma was elected minister general and served ten years.

Robert Grosseteste opened the door to scientific activity by developing a scientific method that would eventually transform civilization. He was born about 1170 and spent many years studying at Paris and Oxford, where he became chancellor by about 1220. Grosseteste became the first to lecture to the Franciscans at Oxford in 1229, but he gave up his academic teaching when he became bishop of Lincoln in 1235. Grosseteste was strongly influenced by the revival of Aristotle as well as by Muslims like Avicenna and the Jewish Avicebron (Ibn Gabirol). Grosseteste translated Aristotle's Ethics and emphasized the inductive logic of science, writing commentaries on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics and Physics. He based his cosmology and theology on his theory of light, and he noted the importance of mathematics in science. He developed scientific method by suggesting that problems be broken down into their simplest parts by analysis; then through synthesis one may frame a hypothesis that could be tested by a controlled experiment to eliminate all other possible causes of the effect. However, with his active ecclesiastical career Grosseteste was not able to carry out many experiments before he died in 1253.

Franciscans and the Spirituals


1. The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent tr. C. C. Swinton Bland, p. 214.
2. "Letter 1. Heloise to Abelard" tr. Betty Radice in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, p. 115.
3. Bernard of Clairvaux, Five Books On Consideration 1:8 tr. John D. Anderson and Elizabeth T. Kennan, p. 38.
4. Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship 1:11 tr. Mary Eugenia Laker, p. 53.
5. Ibid., 3:51, p. 103.
6. John 15:14.
7. John of Salisbury, Policraticus 3:6 tr. Cary J. Nederman, p. 20.
8. Ibid. 4:7, p. 47.
9. Oldenbourg, Zoé, Massacre at Montségur tr. Peter Green, p. 184.
10. Jean de Mailly, The Life of St. Dominic in Early Dominicans ed. Simon Tugwell, p. 55.
11. Quoted in Vicaire, M.-H., Saint Dominic and His Times tr. Kathleen Pond, p. 146.
12. Francis of Assisi, The Admonitions 27 tr. Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady in Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, p. 35.
13. Francis of Assisi, "The Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and Her Sisters" 2-3 tr. Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady in Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, p. 40.
14. Thomas of Celano, The First Life of St. Francis 103, book 2, chapter 6, tr. Placcid Hermann, p. 94.

Copyright © 2001-2009 by Sanderson Beck

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Catholic Ethics 1250-1350


Byzantine Empire 610-1095
Franks and Anglo-Saxons 613-899
Vikings and Feudal Europe 900-1095
Crusaders, Greeks, and Muslims
Central and Eastern Europe 1095-1250
Western Europe 1095-1250
Christian Ethics 1095-1250
European Literature 1095-1250
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronology 30 BC to 750 CE
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