Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/145

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125
THE COTEREAUX.

The Cotereaux and Brabangons, whom we have seen included with the Patarins in the denunciations of the Council of Lateran, are a feature of the period whose significance deserves a passing notice. We shall find them constantly reappearing, and their maintenance was one of the sins which gained for Raymond VI. of Toulouse almost as much hostility from the Church as the support of heresy which was imputed to him. They were freebooters, the precursors of the dreaded Free Companies which, especially during the fourteenth century, were the terror of all peaceable men, inflicting incalculable damage to the advancement of eivilization. Their various names of Brabançons, Hainaulters, Catalans, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, etc., show how wide-spread was the evil and how every province ascribed the hated bands to its neighbors ; while the more familiar terms of Brigandi, Pilardi, Euptarii, Mainatae (mesnie), etc., express their function and occupation; and the names of Cotarelli, Palearii, Triaverdins, Asperes, Yales, have afforded ample field for fanciful etymology. They consisted of the idle and dissipated, peasants who had been hopelessly ruined in the increasing desolation of war, fugitives from serfdom, outlaws, escaped criminals, worthless ecclesiastics, outcast monks, and in general the scum which society threw upon the surface in its constant turmoil. They preyed upon the community in bands of varying size, and their swords were ever at the service of the nobles who would grant them pay or plunder when a military force was needed for a longer term than the short campaign prescribed as due from the vassal to his feudal lord. The chronicles of the time are full of lamentations over their incessant devastations; and it is significant of the relations between the Church and the community that the ecclesiastical annalists insist that their blows ever fell heavier on church and monastery than on the castle of the seigneur or the cottage of the peasant. They ridiculed the priests as singers, and it was one of their savage sports to beat them to death while mockingly begging their intercession — "Sing for us, you singer, sing for us ;" and the culmination of their irreverent sacrilege was seen in their casting out and trampling on the holy wafers whose precious pyxes they


    1181.— Alberic. Trium Font. Chron. ann. 1181.— Guillcl. Nangiac. ann. 1181.— Chron. Turonens. ann. 1181. — D. Vaissette, III. 57. — Guillel. de Pod.-Laurent. c. 2.