By Irene Bueno
Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU, Vol. 12 (2006)
Introduction: The spread of the Cathar heresy in Western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was perceived as a real challenge to orthodoxy. The Catholic Church soon employed all means possible in a reaction against this dualistic religion, which was especially widespread in the south of France and in central and northern Italy. After the conclusion of the Albigensian Crusade (1209– 1229), effective inquisitorial activity, started in Languedoc in 1233 on the initiative of Pope Gregory IX, became the main weapon employed to undermine the dualistic heresy.
However, in the second half of the thirteenth century a great number of perfects and credentes crossed the Alps and established a sort of “church” in exile in the towns of northern Italy. Such a hinterland constituted a reservoir for the re-emergence of Catharism at the turn of the century, when a spiritual reconquista was led in Languedoc by the Authié brothers. Even though partial and limited, the success of their mission was supported by fertile resources, represented by the heretical tradition and a web of supporters ready to hide, protect, and accompany the heretics from place to place.
Nevertheless, re-emerging Catharism soon had to confront the capable reaction of the Inquisition headquarters based in Carcassonne, Toulouse, and Pamiers. The Dominicans Geoffroy d’Ablis (Carcassonne, 1303–1316) and Bernard Gui (Toulouse, 1306–1324), and the bishop of Pamiers — future Pope Benedict XII — Jacques Fournier (1318–1325), dominated the scene of the last repression of the dualist heresy. The three inquisitorial seats and their jurisdictional area delimited the region of the last repression, which extended from the Pyrenees to the present département of Ariège.
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