The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Daelicieux and the Struggle against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France

The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Daelicieux and the Struggle against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France

The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Daelicieux and the Struggle against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France

The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Daelicieux and the Struggle against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France

Synopsis

The early fourteenth century saw the resistance of the Franciscans to the conduct of the ecclesiastical Inquisition in the wake of the Cathar heresy, the crisis and destruction of the Spiritual Franciscan movement and the struggle to maintain the unity of France under Philip the Fair. The movement to suppress the Inquisition - unique in the Middle Ages - was conceived of and directed by Bernard Delicieux, one of the last leaders of the Spiritual Franciscans, whose rise to fame and involvement in these controversies forms the focus of this first monographic treatment in 70 years.

Excerpt

The penultimate year of the thirteenth century was a troubling time for the worthy prior of the Dominican convent of Carcassonne, as indeed it may have been for many other friars of his Order in the south of France. The prior of Carcassonne, however, was not an average fellow of his Order. He was a person who expressed his thoughts and denounced his troubles vigorously, a prolific writer who recorded meticulous observations for posterity. Fr. Bernard Gui, as yet only a simple brother of St. Dominic, was to rise to the heights of authority as the Inquisitor of Toulouse before retiring to an honorable reward in the enjoyment of episcopal dignity. In his writings he bequeathed the fruits of a penetrating intelligence, a keenly observant and analytical mind: chronicles of his times; a history of the Dominican movement in France; the Manual of the Inquisitor. Though born in the Limousin, he spent his life absorbed in the struggle against the forces of heresy in the south of Languedoc, the very place where Dominic himself had begun his spiritual crusade. Now, in this year, 1299, Bernard Gui bore witness to two disquieting events: first the death of a saint, and then the incarnation of the Devil. Both events, the death and the birth, occurred within the precincts of his own city of Carcassonne.

The saintly man, who had humbly lived among his fellows and departed the life of this world in transcendant tranquillity, was a simple friar of St. Dominic, a brother of Bernard’s own convent of Carcassonne. Fr. Martin Donadieu of Lagrasse died, lamented by all his colleagues, on the third of May 1299. He had passed his existence serenely, engaged in the work of God, within a few leagues of the town where he had been born. Twenty-five years later Bernard Gui remembered the life of this man. He composed an encomium of the saintliness of Fr. Martin and of the virtues that distinguished him in spiritual perfection. Above all else, proposed the great inquisitor, he had displayed a character of peace, of humility . . .

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