By Claire Taylor
PhD Dissertation, University of Nottingham, 1999
Abstract: This thesis offers an account of dualist heresy in medieval Aquitaine. The first part asserts that the heresy referred to in early eleventh-century sources was dualist and originated in Balkan Bogomilism. It does this by combining two established methodologies. Through the first, reading the sources in their social context, it finds the poor experiencing increased poverty and oppression, and that some amongst the laity and clergy were observing signs prefiguring The End of historical time. Not unexpectedly, some responded through dissent and demanded reform and justice: a new system of values, in other words. Then the thesis adopts a comparative methodology in a ‘global’ context. It finds that the accounts of dissent do more than identify Apocalypticism or primitive communism. They make reference to dualist cosmology and practice. Dualists in the Balkans were intent on spreading their teaching world-wide, and this period saw increased contacts with the west. The spread of Bogomilism to Aquitaine was thus both likely and possible, and appears to have had some success.
The second part of this thesis makes three contributions to the history of Catharism. First it suggests why twelfth-century Aquitaine was almost entirely untouched by the heresy except in the county of Agen. It points to actively Catholic lay authority and a relatively dynamic monasticism in Aquitaine, and finds these largely absent in the heretical Agenais. Second, it examines the Cathar diocese of Agen and the impact upon it of the Albigensian Crusade and the Medieval Inquisition. In this it argues that Agenais lay society was very diverse and divided, but notes close collaboration between its heretics and those of neighbouring Quercy. Third, it argues that a better understanding of aspects of the crusade can be gamed through its examination in the context of relations between the dukes of Aquitaine – who were also kings of England – and the counts of Toulouse, the kings of France and the Papacy.