I have recently started reading a great book about Montaillou and the Cathar heresy that still prevailed years after the Albigensian crusade. I can highly recommend the “The Yellow Cross” by René Weis and although I am only half way through it I cant put it down. This is just a brief history about the village and some of its inhabitants …..ok, not so brief but what the hell
Montaillou is a tiny village in an area called the Sabartes within the Pays de Sault, situated in the Pyrenées and in the medieval region of the Comté de Foix, the modern department of Ariège.
Jacques Fournier was among other things Bishop of Pamiers and it was there that he undertook a rigorous hunt for cathar heretics, he became pope Benedict XII (the third of the Avignon Popes).
Fournier's Inquisition Record is one of the most remarkable and comprehensive documents to survive from the Middle Ages. Fournier was a man of meticulous habits and carefully supervised the keeping of his records. As a result, the records of his inquisitions have served as the foundation for Weis and Ladurie's works on Montaillou and the resurgent Cathar movement at the beginning of the 14th Century.
This work presents an entire portrait of medieval Occitan village life based on the extensive confessions made to Fournier. The manuscript of Jacques Fournier's Inquisition Record is currently found in the Vatican Library, Lat. MS. 4030. and modern editions are available in Latin and French.
Béatrice de Planisoles was a minor noble in the Comté de Foix in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century. She was born circa 1274, probably in the mountain village of Caussou.
A great deal of information about her life was recorded in the Fournier Register, and she has a central role in Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou
Béatrice was the daughter of Philippe de Planisoles a noble who was later convicted of supporting the Cathar heresy. Béatrice herself had definite sympathies to Albigensianism, but also remained attached to the Catholic Church.
At around the age of twenty Béatrice was married to Bérenger de Roquefort who was the châtelain of the small, and largely Cathar, community of Montaillou. Despite living in the fortress above the town Béatrice's life was closely linked with that of the local peasants and there was much intermixing. Béatrice did not care greatly for her husband and soon began courting other men. She began a courtship with Raymond Roussel, who was the steward of the châtelain's estate. When Roussel tried to sleep with her, however, she had him fired. She was also raped by Pathau Clergue.
In 1302 Bérenger de Roquefort died and left Béatrice a widow. At this point she became the open consort of Pathau Clergue. Soon, however, a relationship began with Pathau's cousin Pierre Clergue, the priest and the most powerful man in the village. This relationship lasted two years before Béatrice decided to leave the mountain village and remarry, wedding another minor noble named Otho de Lagleize.
He too died after only a few years of marriage. In her older years Béatrice took up with a young vicar Barthélemy Arilhac. This passionate woman was past menopause but fell in love with the vicar. She approached him, propositioned him, and the mad love affair began. The vicar returned her passion, and they ran away together and remained away for a year. After a number of years this relationship ended as Barthélemy worried he would be placed in danger by Béatrice's Cathar past. He was correct in his concerns and they were both arrested by the inquisition and held for a year.
Béatrice first appeared before the Inquisition on Saturday 26 July 1320 at the Episcopal Palace in Pamiers. She had been summoned to the hearing by Jacques Fournier, the Bishop of Pamias, to answer charges of blasphemy, witchcraft, and heresy. The charge of witchcraft was supported by the contents of her purse, which included a variety of "objects, strongly suggestive of having been used by her to cast evil spells": two umbilical cords of infants; linens soaked with blood, which seemed to be menstrual, in a sack of leather, with a seed of cole-wort; and seeds of incense slightly burned; a mirror and a small knife wrapped in a piece of linen; the seed of a certain plant, wrapped in muslin (which she testified was called "ive", and had been given to her by a pilgrim as a remedy for epilepsy); a dry piece of bread that is called "tinhol" (possibly millet bread); written formulas; and numerous morsels of linen.
Barthélemy was not punished, but Béatrice was sentenced to wear the yellow cross forever as punishment.
Pierre clergue was the son of Pons and Mengarde Clergue. The Clergues were a family of wealthy peasants, by far the wealthiest in Montaillou and their power extended throughout the region. Pierre, the head of the family after the death of his father, became the priest of the village. His brother Bernard Clergue became the local bayle, the enforcer of laws and collector of taxes. The Clergue brothers thus had a central role in being the representatives of both religious and secular power in the town. As one of the few educated men in town Pierre Clergue also served as a notary and performed other such tasks.
Despite being a priest in a Roman Catholic church Pierre Clergue was a staunch cathar having been converted by the parfait Guillaume Authié. For many years he played an important role by convincing the inquisition to ignore Montaillou, despite its being filled with heretics. This changed about 1300 when Pierre Clergue began to inform on some members of his parish. In 1308 he played a central role in the inquisition's move to arrest the entire adult population of the town. Pierre decided which villagers would be freed and which punished. He used this power to satisfy personal grievances. Despite this he and his brother continued to provide shelter and aid to certain Cathars.
A brief extract from the testament of Beatrice which is a fascinating insight into the lives and loves of the people from the area that were embroiled in both sides of the inquisition and her involvement with the above mentioned Pierre Clergue….The good Christians did not trust the people of the low country at all, and no one there dared to speak of them and their life. Because of this the priest had fear that I would lose my soul when I descended into the low country where there are no good Christians. Bernard told me also that the good Christians, if they dared, would ask me to see them, because no one could be affirmed in their faith without having seen them and heard them speak. I told him that I did not wish to see them and that I did not have the heart to do it. He told me then to send them something as a sign of recognition, because when one of them received a kindness from another he would to pray to God for him. These good Christians, he told me only pray for someone from whom they receive something. I asked him "And what should I send them?" He told me that it would suffice to send them anything if one wished them to pray God for you. I gave him 5 Parisian sous, a coin then in circulation (in current coin?), to bring to these good Christians and I said "I do not know who will receive this money, but may it be for the love of God."
While my husband was still living, Raimond Clergue alias Pathau, the natural son of Guillaume Clergue (himself the brother of Pons Clergue who was the father of Pierre Clergue the curé of Montaillou), took me one day by force in the chateau. One year later, at the death of my husband Bérenger de Roquefort, he maintained me publicly. This did not hinder the curé, Pierre Clergue, from soliciting me, even though he knew that his first cousin Raimond had possessed me.
"How can you ask that?" I replied. "You know well that your cousin Raimond has had me. He will reveal all!" The rector replied that such things should not be committed by force, nor would it hinder in anyway. "I know well what has gone on, but I can be more useful to you and give you more gifts than that bastard!" He told me also that they could both maintain me, he, the curé and Raimond. I told him that I would not permit that at any price, because there would be misunderstandings between them because of me and each of them would vilify me because of the other.
And after the priest had possessed me I had no more relations with this Raimond, although he tried from time to time. There was after this time a hidden hatred between Raimond and the priest because of this, which nevertheless I knew of.
When I was at Dalou, after having contracted marriage with my second husband, Otho Lagleize, a marriage which took place at the Assumption of Saint Mary, this priest came to Dalou at the following harvest and told people that he was at Limoux. Entering my house, he said to me that my sister Gentille, who dwelt at Limoux greeted me, and I let him enter. We went together into the cellar, and he knew me carnally while Sibille the daughter of the late Arnaud Teisseyre, guarded the door of the cellar.
I had asked him at the beginning of our relations "What shall I do if I become pregnant from you? I will be dishonored and lost." He told me that he had an herb and if a man carries this herb when he is with a woman, he cannot engender nor can the woman conceive. I said to him "What is this herb? Is it the same that the cowherds put over the pots of milk when they are sent to the rennet, which prevents the milk from curdling while it is in the pot?" He told me to not worry about what herb it was, but that it was an herb with this virtue, and that he had it.
After this, when he wished to possess me, he carried something rolled up and threaded in a sac of linen, the size and length of an ounce or of the first joint of my little finger, with a long thread that he passed around my neck. And this thing which he said was an herb hung down between my breasts just to the beginning of the stomach. He placed it thus always when he wished to know me and it rested at my neck until he arose. When he wished to rise, he took it off my neck. And if sometimes, in one night, this priest wished to know me two times or more, he would ask me, before we united, where the herb was. I would take it, finding it by the thread which I had around my neck and place it in his hand. He would take it and place it before the opening of my stomach, the thread passing between my breasts. It was thus that he united with me, and no other way. I asked him one day to let me have this herb. He told me that he would not do so, because then I could give myself to some other man without conceiving. He would not give it to me, in order that I would abstain out of fear of the consequences. He did this above all in thinking of his cousin Raimond Clergue, alias Pathau, who had once maintained me, before this priest, his first cousin, had me, because they were jealous of each other.http://homepage.ntlworld.com/tony.houst ... planis.htmhttp://homepage.ntlworld.com/tony.houst ... milhac.htmhttp://homepage.ntlworld.com/tony.houst ... razide.htm