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The Medieval Church (I) - Documents

Document # 12

Raynaldus: on the Accusations against the Albigensians

First it is to be known that the heretics held that there are two Creators; viz. one of invisible things, whom they called the benevolent God, and another of visible things, whom they named the malevolent God. The New Testament they attributed to the benevolent God; but the Old Testament to the malevolent God, and rejected it altogether, except certain authorities which are inserted in the New Testament from the Old; which, out of reverence to the New Testament, they esteemed worthy of reception. They charged the author of the Old Testament with falsehood, because the Creator said, "In the day that ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall die;" nor (as they say) after eating did they die; when, in fact, after the eating the forbidden fruit they were subjected to the misery of death. They also call him a homicide, as well because he burned up Sodom and Gomorrah, and destroyed the world by the waters of the deluge, as because he overwhelmed Pharaoh, and the Egyptians, in the sea. They affirmed also, that all the fathers of the Old Testament were damned; that John the Baptist was one of the greater demons. They said also, in their secret doctrine, (in secreto suo) that that Christ who was born in the visible, and terrestrial Bethlehem, and crucified in Jerusalem, was a bad man, and that Mary Magdalene was his concubine; and that she was the woman taken in adultery, of whom we read in the gospel. For the good Christ, as they said, never ate, nor drank, nor took upon him true flesh, nor ever was in this world, except spiritually in the body of Paul....

They said that almost all the Church of Rome was a den of thieves; and that it was the harlot of which we read in the Apocalypse. They so far annulled the sacraments of the Church, as publicly to teach that the water of holy Baptism was just the same as river water, and that the Host of the most holy body of Christ did not differ from common bread; instilling into the ears of the simple this blasphemy, that the body of Christ, even though it had been as great as the Alps, would have been long ago consumed, and annihilated by those who had eaten of it. Confirmation and Confession, they considered as altogether vain and frivolous. They preached that Holy Matrimony was meretricious, and that none could be saved in it, if they should beget children. Denying also the Resurrection of the flesh, they invented some unheard of notions, saying, that our souls are those of angelic spirits who, being cast down from heaven by the apostacy of pride, left their glorified bodies in the air; and that these souls themselves, after successively inhabiting seven terrene bodies, of one sort or another, having at length fulfilled their penance, return to those deserted bodies.

It is also to be known that some among the heretics were called perfect" or "good men;" others "believers" of the heretics. Those who were called perfect, wore a black dress, falsely pretended to chastity, abhorred the eating of flesh, eggs and cheese, wished to appear not liars, when they were continually telling lies, chiefly respecting God. They said also that they ought not on any account to swear.

Those were called "believers" of the heretics, who lived after the manner of the world, and who though they did not attain so far as to imitate the life of the perfect, nevertheless hoped to be saved in their faith; and though they differed as to their mode of life, they were one with them in belief and unbelief Those who were called believers of the heretics were given to usury, rapine, homicide, lust, perjury and every vice; and they, in fact, sinned with more security, and less restraint, because they believed that without restitution, without confession and penance, they should be saved, if only, when on the point of death, they could say a Pater noster, and received imposition of hands from the teachers.

As to the perfect heretics however they had a magistracy whom they called Deacons and Bishops, without the imposition of whose hands, at the time of his death, none of the believers thought that he could be saved; but if they laid their hands upon any dying man, however wicked, if he could only say a Pater noster, they considered him to be saved, that without any satisfaction, and without any other aid, he immediately took wing to heaven.

Source: From Raynaldus, "Annales," in S. R. Maitland, trans., History of the Albigenses and Waldenses, (London: C. J. G. and F. Rivington, 1832), pp. 392-394.

Document # 13

Norwich, Ordinances of the Gild of St. George, 1385

In nomine sancte Trinitatis, patris et filii et spiritus sancti, ac gloriosi martyris sancti Georgii, et omnium sanctorum, amen.

[In the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the Glorious Martyr St. George and all the saints, Amen]

In ye begynnyng it is ordeynede, yat euery brother and sister of this fraternitee shullen halwen euermore ye day of seint George, and heren ye seruice of bothe ye euensonges and messe, and preyen for ye sisters and ye bretheren of yis fraternitee, and for alle trewe men yat trauaillen in ye kynges viage.

Ande also it is ordeyned, by comoun assent, yat ye forseyde bretheren and sisteren shullen offeren a candel brennande in ye forsayde Chirche, on ye day of seynt George in ye worshepe of seint George, by-for ye Trinitee. Ande ye same day yei shul bene at ye Chaundelers by pryme of ye day; and yat bene absent shul payen a pounde of wax to ye light; ande euery brother and euery sister shall offeren an halfpeny at ye messe wt ye candel.

Ande also, yat euery brother and sister, on ye next day efter seint george day, shul comen to ye forsayde Chirche by pryme, and yer do synge a messe of Requiem for alle Cristen soules, vp ye peyn forseyde.

Ande also it is ordeynede, yat when a brother or a syster deyethe, alle ye bretheren and sisteren of yis fraternitee shule comen to ye Dirige and to ye messe, ande euery brother and euery sister shul offeren a ferthyng, and yeuen a ferthyng for ye soule of ye dede, ande a peny to a messe; ande of yat siluer he shal haue two candels poysand vj. pounde of wax.

And also it is ordeynede, yat what brother or sister of yis fraternite falle in pouert, euery brother and sister shal payen, in ye woke, to ye kepers of yis fraternite, a ferthyng; of whiche siluer ye pouer brother or sister shal haue, in ye woke, viij.d.; ande ye siluer yat leueth, shal gone to ye makynge of ye Image of seint George.

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