The word ‘heresy’ not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word ‘orthodoxy’ not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong… G.K. Chesterton


The Catharist system was a simultaneous attack on the Catholic Church and the then existing State. The worst danger was that the triumph of the heretical principles meant the extinction of the human race. This annihilation was the direct consequence of the Catharist doctrine, that all intercourse between the sexes ought to be avoided and that suicide, under certain circumstances, is not only lawful but commendable.

The real story of Franciscan Bernard Délicieux is that he complained of the Dominican inquisitors of Languedoc – an intramural rivalry if you will – and the result of his action was an ordinance of Philip putting the Dominican inquisitors under the control of the bishops. Not satisfied with this result Délicieux in 1303 headed the movement in Carcassonne, and when in 1304 Philip and the queen visited Toulouse and Carcassonne, he organized riots against he king who consequently discontinued his proceedings against the Dominicans.

Then Délicieux – and some of the people of Carcassonne – conspired to deliver the town into the hands of Prince Fernand  of Majorca; Philip sentenced sixteen of the inhabitants to be hanged for treason, and imposed a heavy fine on the town; and this conspiracy of Bernard Délicieux against the king and the Inquisition was the primary reason for his condemnation later in 1318 to perpetual In Pace, or monastic imprisonment.

As lamentable as the consequences of the confluence of religious authority and political power usually prove to be what is most often evident upon close examination is that the true motivations of both sides have more to do with this world than the next and that neither side has truly pure motivations. O’Shea is one of the many authors who always seem to want to paint the Church as being under the control of the prince of darkness and his writing suffers for it. To paraphrase Chesterton, A good biography tells us the truth about its subject; but a bad biography tells us the truth about its author.

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The friar of Carcassonne : revolt against the Inquisition in the last days of the Cathars Stephen O’Shea London : Profile, 2011 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxii, 280 p., [8] p. of plates : col. ill., maps, col. ports. ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Secret tribunals, illegal rendition, torture, trumped up charges … all in a society controlled by fear. Such is the picture of life painted by the author in Languedoc around the year 1300. He claims the dungeons housed hundreds of despairing innocents. The charge – heresy.

Nearly a century had passed since Languedoc had been put to the sword in the Albigensian Crusade, but the stain of Catharism still lay on the land. Any accusation of Catharism invited peril. But repression bred resentment and it was in Carcassonne that resistance began to stir.

In 1300 a Franciscan – with none of the humility of Francis – emerged who brought together the currents of resistance. Three years later the prisons were stormed and the inmates set free. The orator was a Franciscan friar, Bernard Délicieux. The forces ranged against Delicieux included Pope Boniface VII, French King Philip IV and the grand inquisitor of Toulouse Bernard Gui. This book, without demonstrating any knowledge of the doctrinal and practical threats of the Catharist heresey, attempts to confer the title of an inspiring life and a martyr’s crown on Délicieux’s tragic story.

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