Participation of women in sustaining and spreading the dualist heresy known as Catharism in Languedoc in the first half of the thirteenth century was greater than the passive role generally assigned to them in medieval society
During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the word beguine was used by women to identify themselves as members of a wide-spread and influential women’s movement. The same term was used by their detractors and overt opponents, with the highly charged negative meaning of “heretic.” The etymology of the term “beguine” and ultimate origins of the movement have never been satisfactorily explained.
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.
During the 12th century, if not slightly earlier, Western Europe lived through a period of economic and social upheaval termed by many historians the 12th c. Renaissance. One of its aspects is related to the considerable emancipation of women mostly in Southern France, a development which spread over to Italy, Flanders, and later, England. One can even detect social zones where real emancipation was achieved.
From Other Worldly to Worldly: Materialism, Anomie, and the Decline of Catharism’s Charismatic Appeal
The Friar of Carcassonne: Revolt against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars By Stephen O’Shea Douglas and McIntyre, 2011 ISBN 978-1-55365-551-0 Publisher’s Synopsis: The dramatic story of a courageous friar who battled king, pope and Inquisition in his search for justice. Nearly a century had passed since the French region of Languedoc […]