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§ 133. The New Manichaeans in the West.


I. The chief sources for the sects of the Middle Age belong to the next period, namely, the letters of Pope Innocent III., Honorius III., Bernhard of Clairvaux, Peter the Venerable; the acts of Councils; the chronicles; and the special writings against them, chiefly those of the Dominican monk Reinerius Sacchoni of Lombardy (d. 1259), who was himself a heretic for seventeen years. The sources are collected in the “Maxima Biblioth. Patr.” (Lugd., 1677, Tom. XXII., XXIV.); in Martene and Durand’s “Thesaurus novus anecdotorum” (Par., 1682); in Muratori’s “Rerum Italic. Scriptores” (Mediol., 1723 sqq.); in Bouquet’s “Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France” (Par., 1738 sqq.), etc. See the Lit. in Hahn I. 23 sqq.

II. J. Conr. Fuesslin: Neue unparth. Kirchen-und Ketzerhistorie der mittleren Zeit. Frankf, 1770. 2 Parts.

Chr. U. Hahn: Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, besonders im 11., 12. und 13. Jahrh., nach den Quellen bearbeitet. Stuttgart, 1845–’50, 3 vols. The first vol. contains the History of the New Manichaeans.

C. Schmidt: Histoire et doctrine de la secte des Cathares. Paris, 1849, 2 vols.

Razki: Bogomili i Catareni. Agram, 1869.

Neander, III. 592–606. Gieseler, II. 234–239. Hardwick, p. 187–190. Robertson, II. 417–424.


The heretical sects in the West are chiefly of three distinct classes: 1) the dualistic or Manichaean; 2) the pantheistic and mystic; 3) the biblical (the Waldenses). Widely differing among themselves, they were united in hatred of the papal church and the sacerdotal system. They arose from various causes: the remains of heathen notions and older heresies; opposition to the corruptions of the church and the clergy; the revolt of reason against tyrannical authority; and popular thirst for the word of God. They spread with astonishing rapidity during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from Bulgaria to Spain, especially through Italy and Southern France, and called forth all the energies of the papacy at the zenith of its power (under Innocent III.) for their forcible suppression. One only survived the crusade, the Waldenses, owing to their faithful adherence to the positive truths of the Scriptures.

In the West the heretical tendency in organized form made its first appearance during the eleventh century, when the corruption of the church and the papacy had reached its height. It appeared to that age as a continuation or revival of the Manichaean heresy.762762    Other names, however, were invented to distinguish the different branches which were compared to foxes with tails tied together. In the time of Innocent III., more than forty heretical names were used, about twelve of them for the Manichaean branch, chiefly “Manichaeans,” “Catharists,” and “Patareni.” See Hahn, I. 49 sqq. The connecting link is the dualistic principle. The old Manichaeans were never quite extirpated with fire and sword, but continued secretly in Italy and France, waiting for a favorable opportunity to emerge from obscurity. Nor must we overlook the influence from the East. Paulicians were often transported under Byzantine standards from Thrace and Bulgaria to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily, and spread the seed of their dualism and docetism and hatred of the ruling church.763763    On the different derivations see the notes of Gieseler, II. 234 sq., and Hahn, I. 30 sqq.

New Manichaeans were first discovered in Aquitania and Orleans, in 1022, in Arras, 1025, in Monteforte near Turin, 1030, in Goslar, 1025. They taught a dualistic antagonism between God and matter, a docetic view of the humanity of Christ, opposed the worship of saints and images, and rejected the whole Catholic church with all the material means of grace, for which they substituted a spiritual baptism, a spiritual eucharist, and a symbol of initiation by the imposition of hands. Some resolved the life of Christ into a myth or symbol of the divine life in every man. They generally observed an austere code of morals, abstained from marriage, animal food, and intoxicating drinks. A pallid, emaciated face was regarded by the people as a sign of heresy. The adherents of the sect were common people, but among their leaders were priests, sometimes in disguise. One of them, Dieudonné, precentor of the church in Orleans, died a Catholic; but when three years after his death his connection with the heretics was discovered, his bones were dug up and removed from consecrated ground.

The Oriental fashion of persecuting dissenters by the faggot and the sword was imitated in the West. The fanatical fury of the people supported the priests in their intolerance. Thirteen New Manichaeans were condemned to the stake at Orleans in 1022. Similar executions occurred in other places. At Milan the heretics were left the choice either to bow before the cross, or to die; but the majority plunged into the flames.

A few men rose above the persecuting spirit of the age, following the example of St. Martin of Tours, who had vigorously protested against the execution of the Priscillianists at Treves. Wazo, bishop of Liège, about 1047, raised his voice for toleration when he was asked for his opinion concerning the treatment of the heretics in the diocese of Châlons-sur-Marne. Such doctrines, he said, must be condemned as unchristian; but we are bound to bear with the teachers after the example of our Saviour, who was meek and humble and came not to strive, but rather to endure shame and the death of the cross. The parable of the wheat and the tares teaches us to wait patiently for the repentance of erring neighbors. “We bishops,” he tells his fellow-bishops, “should remember that we did not receive, at our ordination, the sword of secular power, the vocation to slay, but only the vocation to make alive.” All they had to do was to exclude obstinate heretics from the communion of the church and to guard others against their dangerous doctrines.764764    Neander, III. 605 sq.; Gieseler, II. 239, note.




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