Radical in their ideas and endowed with deep spirituality, Cathare women rejected materialism. Women were treated equally and with parity. They accepted the difference in belief. For the Perfect, they rejected the act of the flesh which was among the sins forbidden by the precepts of the Gospel, such as falsehood, theft, oath and sins mentioned in the Gospel.
The simple Cathare believers lived freely, especially among the nobles, and their amorous adventures were limited with extremely codified love affairs with the troubadour poets. In fact for the Cathares considered the subject of marriage: God had nothing to do with his human arrangements, especially in the problems of lineage and marriages arranged among the nobles, nor in a carnal union of bodies. The Cathares did not proclaim universal love and repented debauchery. They tolerated with indifference the existing, that is, the cultural and social habit of celebrating and sealing long-lasting hoped-for unions between two beings who had freely chosen one another because the fields were contiguous. He had to give their opinion for believers a few times.
It is especially these rebels who questioned the authority of the Church and its conception of good and evil, thus causing the shaking up of the imposed value system. Faced with such a situation, Innocent III, supported by the feudal lords, promoted war campaigns that from 1209 to 1229 fulfilled their mission to exterminate the Cathares and power given to Cathare women. The French speaker conference Annie LACOMBE introduced us through her lecture a painting illustrating medieval France as well as an evocation from another era that suggests that religious intolerance is timeless.

The Viscounts of Narbonne Ermengarde (Catholic) founded the abbey of Fontfroide, this jewel of architecture whose cloister is proud of the first warheads built in the south of France. It is one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in France the buildings, of various architectures, are the legacy of a monastic past turned to prayer and work.
Blanche de Laura is another very important matriarch of Cathares. She dominated the Cathare women and groups of good men without monopolizing the power. Two of his daughter's married important men and afterwards were "Perfect Women". The other led a Cathare community in Laurac. His fourth daughter and only son died in Lavaur in 1211.
Faced with such a situation, Innocent III elected 176th Pope on January 8, 1198, is the largest pope of the Middle Ages. Theologian and man of action he was a master in canon law to make quick decisions and from 1199 he began to fight against the Cathare heresies he entrusted to the inquisition (Ecclesiastical Court of exception). One of his major works was to support the monk priest Dominique Nuñez de Guzmán who became Saint Dominique, Saint François d'Assisse and his minor brothers. This pope was also one of the most important councils of the Middle Ages, the Lateran Council, which ruled on the dogmas, the sacraments whose marriage, the reform of the Church the conduct of the priests and the faithful, the crusade against the Cathares and the 'Inquisition. It was under his pontificate that took place the fourth Crusade which escaped his control ending with the sack of Constantinople which widens the gap between Orthodox and Catholics and in Occitan by the battle of Muret against the Cathares of Toulouse. Innocent III died in Perugia on July 16, 1216.
On July 18, 1216, to elect Honorius III, he was consecrated on July 24, 1216
His main projects were to revive the Fifth Crusade, begun in vain by his predecessor, and the reform of the Church.
Honorius III launched the crusade that had been voted by the Lateran Council in 1215 and Honorius III began preparations in 1217. He had Peter II of Courtenay emperor of Constantinople crowned. The new Emperor was then captured and perished without being able to advance the money.
In 1120, Frederick II was elected emperor and crowned in Rome, but he continued to procrastinate.
Honorius III died on March 18, 1227, without having seen his plans for a crusade against the Cathares of the South of Toulouse, brought to an end. It is his successor Gregory IX who continued their realization. At Toulouse, the Aude, and south-west the problem of heresy had reached its climax and had affected all social classes.
Gregory IX is the 178th Pope inheriting the traditions of his cousin Innocent III his pontificate is marked by the codification and creation of the Inquisition. This Pope was also supported by the feudal lords, to promote war campaigns that from 1209 to 1229 fulfilled their mission to exterminate Cathares in the Aude at Quillan, Limoux, Narbonne, Beziers, and Languedoc where the church has exterminated many Cathare women. In Cathares and Languedoc, women are over 12 years old and men are 14 years old.

Christianity and the Catholic Church have always discriminated against women and even today it is a bit misogynist and macho. The clergy of the Cathares had only Priors not women in the Cathare clergy, only Priories at the head of the Cathare houses. These are communities where we work preaches, educates, cares and are open to the world. There was a division of roles between men who were itinerant and women rather sedentary; however, the Perfect and the Perfect had the same power to untie sins and to give salvation to the soul through the Cathare baptism (Consolamentum) by the laying on of hands and not by the baptism of water. It will be especially for the perfect ones at the time of the persecuted Cathares. This specificity of the Cathare Church comes from its organization which is a form of religiosity at home. No subordination therefore of women to men.
At that time Quillan depended on the Archbishop of Narbonne Bernard Fargues is the son of Raymond de Faris, knight and lord of Clermont-Lodève, and Mathilde, a sister of Pope Clement V. Thanks to the family relationship, his brothers, just like him, occupied an ecclesiastical position He is named bishop of Narbonne on May 15, 1311 to 1341 and he was at the castle Villerouge-Thermènes.
The Cathares manage to organize themselves and there is certainly a clergy composed of bishops then deacons but especially "good men" and "good women", like the monks and nuns (religious sisters). They work with the other inhabitants of the village or city; they are good Christians and friends of God. They are the Cathares, but men call themselves "good Christians" women "friends of God" or "good men and" good women "" true good Christians ". Coming from a society whose culture is Christian, Cathare women and men use the notions of the Gospel. The Cathare religion distinguishes two kinds of followers and people who have Cathare faith and are linked to their church and practice diligently.
These believers maintain their social habits and the "perfect" that have passed through the rite of imposition of hands the "consolamentum" which from then form the nucleus of the Cathare Church. These have broken their ties with their families and live in the community their morality is based on the separation of soul and body they observe the strictest food continence.
The Cathares reject, therefore, the Church, its hierarchy and its dogmas but also the marriage, the family the property, and the oath very anchored in the feudalism of the Middle Ages the oath of man to man it is the feudal order and arranged marriages.
Cathares is therefore in its time a religious philosophy, rebellious against Rome and political. Medieval society is against heresy (from the Greek hiaresis) term meaning a particular opinion. To extinguish heresy persuasion is used with a strong mission to the monks and bishops of Toulouse then the third city of France, Albi and Carcassonne.
Then the papacy appeals to people of the North of France. Saint Bernard (order of Cîteaux) that incites the knights to leave in Crusades without fear.
He travels all the South of Toulouse as a good preacher without much success. In 1200 Pierre and Raoul de Castelnau, two brothers Cistercian monks at the Abbey of Frontfroide not far from Narbonne clash in public controversy with the "perfect" Cathares. In 1205 is the arrival of Domingo Nuñez de Guzmán born near Burgos in Haza of parents of the nobility of the old capital of Spain (sic Burgos).
He creates a new type of preaching by preaching barefoot without crew and without money, although he (Domingo) is from a very bourgeois background. He thus answers the accusation of the Cathares of a very rich Catholic Church. He is a Catholic religious priest and founder of the Dominican Order in Toulouse (Saint Dominic is canonized in 1234).
January 14 or 15 1208 the legate of the Pope the monk of Montpellier Pierre de Castelnau is murdered on a road by the Cathare from Albi "Good Men". What ignites a terrible war and puts fire and blood Toulouse Midi.
After this tragic death of Pierre Castelnau the greatest pope of the Middle Ages Innocent III declares anathema Raymond VI count of Toulouse because the count of Toulouse tolerates the proselytism of the "perfect".
The pope declares and preaches the Crusade against the Cathare heretics that begins in 1209 but without the help of the King of France Philippe Augusto that prohibits his son the future Louis VIII to participate in the expedition. So it is the Lord of the Ile-de-France Simon de Montfort who is the leader of the Crusade its army counts many knights of Aude and Languedoc which thus denies a Crusade of the North against the South. A twenty years bloody war. The noble barons first take Beziers, Carcassonne, and then they crush Raymond VI at the Battle of Muret. June 26, 1218, Simon de Montfort dies in combat trying to take Toulouse. His son Amaury is beaten by the new Count of Toulouse Raymond VII. In 1226 a new Crusade was conducted this time by the King of France Louis VIII. The resumption in 1227 the Crusade culminates in the signing of the Treaty of Meaux and ratified in Paris in 1229. Raymond VII recognizes his defeat he keeps the Toulouse, Agen, and Rouergue but he gives the lower Languedoc to the crown of France Le Languedoc.
Was the Crusade so violent? Yes, like in all these medieval wars. When violence was not the prerogative of only one camp because the Crusaders massacred the inhabitants of Beziers in 1209 and the Count of Toulouse had done as much taking Pujols in 1213 also killing many women.
Similarly, the Middle Ages did not liberate women. From 1213 Pope Innocent III wanted to track down heresy by making inquiries. For the Pope, it is necessary to convert the lost Cathares. In 1229 the Council of Toulouse specified the right of inquisition: no one should be condemned for heresy by civil justice without an ecclesiastical judgment. In 1233 Gregory IX publishes the founding and founding act of the Inquisition Excommunicamus which is both an itinerant confessional (penitential function) and a religious court (police function). Pope Gregory IX delegates all over Europe the fight against heresy to the mendicant orders essentially the Dominicans and then he uses the Franciscans. The people from Albi City are the perfect heretic heretics perfect. The Inquisition and its army of executioners were dispatched to fight Cathares.
The "good women" remained alone on the spot. In 1204 Raymond Roger Count of Foix had authorized his sister Esclarmonde de Foix to receive el consolamentum from the hands of Guilabert de Castres in a secret ceremony at the village of Fanjeaux near Carcassonne with three other women of the nobility of Aude and Philippa la Count de Foix's wife had also received the consolamentum.
She returns to Cathares in 1204, and then she runs a heretical convent. A network of influential women, married or not, grandmothers, beautiful girls, met in the houses and supported the men. The noble Blanche de Laura, Esclarmonde de Foix, received troubadour poets and jugglers in their castles and held nocturnal meetings. It is also the time of the very powerful abbesses like Hildegarde Von Bingen is a Benedictine nun, a woman of letters and Franconia composer, canonized and named Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, the highest recognition of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic religious institutions were accepting women and men living together like in the abbey of Robert d'Arbrissel where women and men were praying and living together. It was located in Fontevraud. In addition, the Catholic Church gave women their backs and forbade them to approach the altar, learn to read and write and also learn music.
They must conform to the teachings of the priests through the windows of the churches. For the Cathares the woman was a spiritual guide. The Cathare women "the perfect women" did not travel to proselytize and zeal and ardent efforts made by women to recruit new followers and also because of the many dangers that awaited them on the roads and the Crusades and afraid to meet the crossed. They are women in Cathare homes and the number of "perfect women" was increasing day by day. These steps and nocturnal meetings of women can also result from a personal questioning than a definitive conversion in response to the process of proselytism Cathare.
Guilabert toured Fanjeaux, Laura, Castelnaudary, Mirepoix and Toulouse where he was received by the women who listened to him preach in his many nocturnal meetings. The two biggest opponents of Cathares are St. Dominic Nuñez de Guzmán and the Queen Regent Blanche of Castile the mother of Louis VIII died at Montpensier on November 8, 1226, the King of France was 39 years old and his son Louis IX was 9 years old. France did not have a king. The regent Blanche of Castile, therefore, supports the military invasion against the Cathares. Blanche of Castile became very close to Cardinal Romano Bonaventura, jurist legate of the papacy, and entrusted him with the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Pope was appreciated and blessed this dual function. But as there is no smoke without fire rumours say that Blanche of Castile and Cardinal Romano Bonaventura shared something more than everyday prayers!
Romano was a Catholic Christian prelate, 1216-1243 Cardinal-deacon of Saint-Ange at Pescheria during the period 1216-1234. Then he was bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina 1231-1243, cardinal-legate at the court of France.
He was also named Romano Papareschi, which strongly suggests that he came from the Roman family, probably from Trastevere, who produced Gregorio Papareschi (died 1143), Pope Innocent II. He was Archbishop of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (1220-1243). He participated in the papal election, 1216, the papal election, 1227, and the papal election, 1241, to which Romano was one of the known papabili to want to continue Gregory IX's hostility towards Frederick II. Romano Bonaventura, was a lawyer. Cardinal bequeathed to France, he summoned the Council of Bourges (1225), intended to finance the Albi crusade.
In 1228 Simon de Montfort had burned the crops, etc. While Blanche de Castille's French army funded by the powerful Catholic Church destroys the vineyards, burns the olive trees, poisons the drinking water wells, fires and shaves the villages applauded by the vindictive and treacherous FULKO of Marseille, Bishop of Toulouse. The men of the north have destroyed everything, field by field, fief by fief, valley by valley. There was nothing left but ruins and desolation. Like a medieval Attila.
Cathares were not militarily prepared to face the feudal force of Europe. At that time, women were primarily about showing titanic courage: coping with daily tasks, continuing to help the poor, rescuing women in distress, washing clothes, cooking, hiding a cat or two.
Imagine having to justify the preparation of more food or cleaning more sheets in a country where suspicion led to the burning of Rome. On this subject, it will no longer surprise you that the documents left by the Inquisition testify to women abusing their faith far less often than men to prevent the fire of Rome.
The women were grouped into a "cathartic house of good women". This place was often the family home of a "good woman" and often housed a sister, mother, aunt or mother-in-law who was also ordained in the Cathare community.
They lived in good Christian lives in poverty and chastity, refusing to lie or swear. The more experienced were admonished by moral and religious advice while still living on the work of spinning. These houses were a real haven of peace for other women who could find refuge there and escape a bad husband and village rumours. They also served as an open table for the poor. This aura of holiness was very attractive. The "consolatum" the cathartic baptism by the laying on of hands and not with water, was the marriage of the mind and the soul. Three Good Men and two Good Women accompany a novice who was to receive the Consolatum (Cathare baptism) from the hands of the Cathare Deacon in the villages and castles of the Audite.
With this courage given to intimacy, the "good women" have ensured the essentials: the continuity of life despite the hatred and constant threats of death. Their strength of character has allowed Cathares to withstand the Inquisition for over 100 years. Certainly, because they were men's equals. Indeed, in this mid-13th century, female sex had never been so strong.
Cathares was, however, fundamentally much less unequal than Catholic Christianity vis-à-vis the female creature and on the concrete plane in the place and the role it left in her church and on a more fundamental level by the tradition of scriptural exegesis that he manifested.
Thus the principle of native equality of souls, therefore, a woman's soul is equivalent to a man's soul as a poor soul to a prince's soul.
In the general economy of the Cathare Christian greeting, women held the same place as men. And even if the socio-cultural conditions of the development of cathartic Christianity in medieval Europe could only form it in the mould of environmental misogyny, it is undeniable that it leaves women with the role, inconceivable in a Catholic context, of Hello mediator. The Cathare Christian had the power to undo sins.
Their quasi-priestly role, therefore, far beyond the power to undo the only original sin that the Catholic Church could grant to the woman with the right to confer water baptism on a dying person in the absence of a male baptized.
But probably just because it opened him well and the doors of the personal spiritual adventure with the means to lead a consecrated Christian life without depending on a masculine power and while ensuring its own sustenance in community work: the doors then faintly ajar then by the monastic structures of the Great Church were only for girls who have daughters and are well-born.
In the heart of the Cathare communities, women were working with their hands in the villages of Occitan.
The idea that Cathare women were sins of sin and corruption, a very present issue in medieval Catholicism, seems to have emerged from Catholicism at the time of the persecution.
For a thoughtful and exhaustive analysis of Cathare beliefs, read and consult Anne Brenon's book the true Face of Cathares. What is Cathares? How did it develop and disappear? These are the questions that Anne Brenon answers in an update of her fundamental work of 1988. Cathares' beliefs and practices are known to us through this work but also by the Occitan Cathare Ritual preserved in Dublin after having been saved by Waldensians from Northern Italy.
Women were a subject of discussion among the nobles and they needed a dowry.
The nobility leads a half-idle life (see the book by Michel Roquèbert) who has just published the Figures of Cathares published by Perrin. Since 1966, he has dedicated all his work to the Cathares.
We do not convert to Cathares we find it is accepted in its cradle.
I advise reading the book of my colleague and professor Stephen O'Shea who lived in Perpignan and Carcassonne. He has written several books on Cathares in English and Spanish. Of which the book "Los Cátaros the herejía perfecta (editions Biblos [Ensayo bigrafía e Historia]).
Literary Agent
Darhansoff Verrill Agency in New York City
Annie LACOMBE is a lecturer passionate about history, geography conferences on the theme of Cathares, Perfect Cathare Women who played a very important role in the history of Aude so Limoux, Narbonne, Carcassonne. His lecture illustrates the medieval France of the Cathare religious movement.

We thank for their kind invitation the leaders of the cultural association Romería 6th Festival in Quillan in the context of exchange of cultures of Occitan and Spain.

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