Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/102

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Church and State were prepared to deal with the intellectual and spiritual movement of the time. Harmless as the Waldenses might seem to be, they were recognized as most dangerous enemies, to be mercilessly persecuted. In southern France they were devoted to common destruction with the Albigenses, though the distinction between the sects was clearly recognized. The documents ot the Inquisition constantly refer to " heresy and Waldensianism," designating Catharism by the former term as the heresy par excellence. The Waldenses themselves regarded the Cathari as heretics to be combated intellectually, though the persecution which they shared forced them to associate freely together.[1]

In a sect so widely scattered, from Aragon to Bohemia, consisting mostly of poor and simple folk, hiding their belief in the lowlands, or dwelling in separate communities among the mountain fastnesses of the Cottian Alps or of Calabria, it was inevitable that differences of organization and doctrine should arise, and that there should be variations in the rapidity of independent development. The labors of Dieckhoff, Herzog, and especially of Montet in recent times, have shown that the early Waldenses were not Protestants in our modern sense, and that, in spite of persecution, many of them long continued to regard themselves as members of the Church of Rome, with a persistence proving how real were the abuses which had forced them to schism, and finally to heresy. Yet, in others, the spirit of revolt ripened much more rapidly, and it is impossible, within our limited space, to present a definite scheme of a doctrine which differed in so many points according to time and circumstance.

In the crucial test of belief in transubstantiation, for instance, as early as the thirteenth century, an experienced inquisitor, in drawing up instructions for the examination of Waldenses, assumes disbelief in the existence of the body and blood in the Eucharist as one of the points whereby to detect them, and in 1332 we hear of such a denial among the Waldenses of Savoy. Yet about this latter date Bernard Gui assures us that they believed in it, and M. Montet has shown from their successive waitings how their views on the subject changed. The inquisitor who

  1. See the Sentences of Pierre Cella in Doat, XXIL— Montet, Hist. Litt. des Vaudois, pp. 116 sq.