Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/128

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
108
THE CATHARL


Their missionary activity made itself felt in the West in a marvellously short period after their settlement in Bulgaria. Our materials for an intimate acquaintance with that age are very scanty, and we must content ourselves with occasional vague indications, but when we see that Gerbert of Aurillac, on his election to the archiepiscopate of Eeims in 991, was obliged to utter a profession of faith in which he declared his belief that Satan was wicked of free-will, that the Old and 'New Testaments were of equal authority, and that marriage and the use of meat were allowable, it shows that Paulician opinions were already well understood and dreaded as far north as Champagne. There seems, indeed, to have been a centre of Catharism there, for in 1000 a peasant named Leutard, at Vertus, was convicted of teaching antisacerdotal doctrines which were evidently of Manichaean origin, and he is discreetly said to have drowned himself in a well when overcome in argument by Bishop Liburnius. The Chateau of Mont Wimer, in the neighborhood of Vertus, retained its evil reputation as a centre of the heresy. About the same period we have a misty account of a Ravennatese grammarian named Vilgardus who, inspired by demons in the shape of Virgil, Horace, and Juvenal, erected the Latin poets into infallible guides and taught much that was contrary to the faith. His heresy was probably Manichasan; it could not have been simply blind worship of classic writers, for culture was too rare in that age for such belief to become popular, and we are told that Vilgardus had numerous disciples in all the cities in Italy, who, after his condemnation by Peter, Archbishop of Ravenna, were put to death by the sword or at the stake. His heresy likewise spread to Sardinia and Spain, where it was ruthlessly exterminated.[1]

Shortly after this Cathari were discovered in Aquitaine, where they made many converts, and their heresy spread secretly throughout southern France in spite of the free use of the fagot. Even j as far north as Orleans it was discovered, in 1017, under circumstances which aroused general attention. A female missionary from Italy had carried the infection there, and a number of the most prominent clergy of the city fell victims to it. In their proselyting zeal they sent out emissaries, and were discovered. On


  1. Gerberti Epist. 187.— Radulphi Glabri Lib. ii. c. 11, 12.— Epist. Leodiens. ad Lucium PP. II. (Martene Ampliss. Collect. I. 776-8).