ANTICLERICALISM rose to a flood at the end of the twelfth century. There were, in the Age of Faith, recesses of religious mysticism and sentiment that escaped and resented organized sacerdotal Christianity. Moving perhaps with returning Crusaders, new waves of Oriental mysticism flowed into the West. From Persia, through Asia Minor and the Balkans, came echoes of Manichean dualism and Mazdakian communism; from Islam a hostility to images, an obscure fatalism, and distaste for priests; and from the failure of the Crusades a secret doubt as to the divine origin and support of the Christian Church. The Paulicians, driven westward by Byzantine persecution, carried through the Balkans into Italy and Provence their scorn of images, sacraments, and the clergy; they divided the cosmos into a spiritual world created by God and a material world created by Satan; and they identified Satan with the Yahveh of the Old Testament. The Bogomiles (i.e., Friends of God) took form and name in Bulgaria, and spread especially in Bosnia; they were attacked by fire and sword at various times in the thirteenth century, defended themselves tenaciously, and finally ( 1463) surrendered not to Christianity but to Islam.
About the year 1000 a sect appeared in Toulouse and Orléans which denied the reality of miracles, the regenerative virtue of baptism, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the efficacy of prayers to the saints. They were ignored for a time, then condemned; and thirteen of their number were burned at the stake in 1023. Similar heresies developed, and led to uprisings, at Cambrai and Liége ( 1025), Goslar ( 1052), Soissons ( 1114), Cologne ( 1146), etc. Berthold of Regensburg reckoned 150 heretical sects in the thirteenth century.1 Some were harmless groups who gathered to read the Bible to one another in the vernacular without a priest, and to put their own interpretation upon its disputed passages. Several, like the Humiliati in Italy, the Béguines and Beghards in the Low Countries, were orthodox in everything except their embarrassing insistence that priests should live in poverty. The Franciscan movement arose as such a sect, and narrowly escaped being classed as heretical.
The Waldenses did not escape. About 1170 Peter Waldo, a rich merchant
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Publication information: Book title: The Age of Faith:A History of Medieval Civilization -Christian, Islamic, and Judaic - from Constantine to Dante: A.D. 325-1300. Contributors: Will Durant - Author. Publisher: Simon and Schuster. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 769.
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