The beginning of the Manichees in Aquitain, and the state of those Churches as to religion in that age.


THERE appeared in Lombardy and in France some Manichees chased from the east by the Emperors of Constantinople. Ademarus Cabannensis, Monk of St. Eparque, at Limoges, says, that they first were taken notice of in Aquitain, a little after the year l0l0, and he afterwards speaks of a Council assembled at Charoux against them. The Bishop of Meaux makes no question but that this gave rise of the Albigenses; and to evidence the solidity of his conjecture, he accuseth, besides some writers of the eleventh century, the Canons whom Robert caused to be burnt at Orleans, to have been the first disciples of these Manichees, supposing all this while that the Albigenses derive themselves from the same source, and that they defended the same opinions.

Now because it is a matter of small importance to the history of the Albigenses, whether the Canons of Orleans were Manichees or not, I might very well excuse myself from entering upon that inquiry. They may have been Manichees, and yet the Churches of Aquitain and Narbon not the least concerned in the matter. Neither do I think myself obliged to repeat here, what I have already delivered concerning the differing opinions of the ancient and modern Manichees in the 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of my Remarks upon the History of the Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, supposing that my reader may easily have recourse to them. Our business is to see what was the faith of these dioceses, and question not but we shall make it appear in the sequel, that those whom the Bishop pretends to convict of Manicheism are falsely charged therewith; the Romish party having bestowed that name upon them, only to make them the more execrable to those of their communion.

Nevertheless, because Ademarus Cabannensis testifies, that these Canons of Orleans had been instructed, not by a woman come from Italy, as their history records the story, but by a country fellow (as some MS. copies of Ademarus tell us) of Perigueux, I am not unwilling to inquire a little into the authority of this history. Glaber relates it, 50. 3. c. 8. p. 308; but besides his relation, D’Achery hath given us, though not the very acts of the Synod that condemned them, but the account of a private man of Chartres, who professeth that he set down in writing what passed in that Synod, which seems to be of sufficient authority. Be it as it will, they suppose from these proofs, that these Canons were Manichees, and I own they are very like them, in the relation that is given of this Synod, as well as in Ademarus.

But yet, after all, there are several things which seem to give us ground to doubt of the truth of this whole relation. First, It scarcely seems probable, that a woman, who was a stranger or a peasant, should have been able in so short a time to make so many proselytes amongst the canons and citizens of Orleans, as to be able to form secret conventicles amongst them, and to propagate such monstrous doctrines as those of the Manichees were. Neither can we, with any appearance of reason, suppose, that one of these Canons, who formerly had been Confessor to the Queen, was so stupid a fellow, as all on a sudden to fall into the enthusiasm of the Manichees. Secondly, It is evident, that in perusing these pretended acts, we find that all the witnesses which are produced against them are reducible to one only, and he too of no credit, because himself had been engaged once of their communion. I say all their proceedings were founded upon the depositions of one single man; and then afterwards they make the men, once executed, speak what they please. It will be objected perhaps, that the interrogatories were made in public, in the presence of the people; but then let us consider, that all this was writ after the death of Robert, to justify so bloody an execution. Thirdly, We do not find in these acts the same accusations; one accuseth them of one thing, and another of another; though it be evident that the design of all these authors is equally to defame them, and make them execrable. Fourthly, We find in those acts, that these pretended Manichees justify themselves against the capital accusations of Manicheism, chiefly upon the article of the Creation. Fifthly, We find that they expressed at their martyrdom a hope directly opposite to the principles of Manicheism. Sixthly, Their very enemies themselves are obliged to give them a most illustrious testimony, as to the sanctity of their lives and manners.

It is certain that the accusing them of denying transubstantiation, and rejecting Baptism, cannot justly be looked upon as a badge of Manicheism, if we consider on the one hand, that the question, whether the bread be changed into the body of Jesus Christ, hath no relation to the doctrine of the Manichees, but respects only those novel doctrines which Paschasius had introduced: and on the other hand, that the Church of Rome accuseth all those for being enemies to Baptism, who in that point do not espouse all the opinions she teacheth, in holding, as she did at that time, the absolute necessity of that sacrament.

And as for their being charged with celebrating horrible festivals, full of incest and abominations, we know that the same hath been imputed to some heretics of old, but falsely. It was laid to the charge also of the Waldenses, but was never proved to be other than a mere calumny: our first reformers have been accused of the same, but with an impudence for which the Church of Rome ought still to blush, if that were a possible thing.

In a word, I find nothing in all this relation that makes it look probable, but only two or three characters which agree with the barbarous maxims of the Church of Rome. The first is, that it attributes to Queen Constance an unusual action, that with a stick she put out the eye of Stephen, who had been her Confessor. The second is an action, much resembling the course that is taken nowadays to surprise heretics, and to discover them; for according to the practice of the Inquisition, we cannot find fault with the method made use of by this Arefastus, who feigned himself willing to become a Manichee, that he might the better discover their opinions. It seems this casuist of Chartres had not much studied St. Paul, who tells us, We ought not to do evil, that good may come of it. The third is, the manner of their taking up the dead body of Theodatus, the Canon, out of his grave, who died three years before, and examining it by the trial of water, that they might be certain whether he was an heretic when he was alive. This is an action well becoming this barbarous age, very like the Inquisitors; and accordingly this was the compendious method which St. Peter of Luxemburg put in practice for the trial and discerning of heretics. I do not remember ever to have read any thing that might authorize this barbarous and extravagant custom, save only the second Canon of the second Council of Sarragossa, held in the year 592, where it is ordained, That the relics which should be found in the churches that had been possessed by the Arians, should be carried to the Bishop, that he might try them by fire.

The Bishop of Meaux might have been as sensible of most of these things as we, in perusing these acts; and then it would have been easy for him to judge whether the authority of Vignier, who simply relates what he met with in historians, did deserve to be pressed against us. But it seems it was enough for him to delude his reader, and the name of Vignier (though otherwise he does not accuse these persons of Manicheism) seemed to make for his purpose.

But whatsoever judgment a prudent reader may pass on this accusation of Manicheism, upon which these Canons of Orleans were burnt in the year l017, it will be easy for us to shew, that the dioceses of Narbon and Aquitain, where some of those eastern Manichees took refuge, did never quit the faith or worship of their ancestors. This is what we shall easily make out in the sequel of this discourse.

Ademarus, a Monk of St. Eparque, at Limoges, hath writ a chronicle from the beginning of the French monarchy until the year l030, wherein he informs us what was the faith of the Churches of Aquitain at the beginning of the eleventh century.

1. He relates, without passing any censure upon it, the synod held at Gentilly, under Pepin, about images that are set up in churches, and shews that the Bishops of Aquitain assisted at the same, and that they opposed themselves to the Church of Rome and to the Greeks.

2. Though he grossly mistakes in his chronology about the age of Bede, yet he makes it plain enough who they were whom he looked upon as the preservers of the true theology. He makes this encomium of Rabanus;

“A most learned Monk, the master of Alcuinus; for Bede taught Simplicius, and Simplicius Rabanus, (whom the Emperor Charles sent for from beyond sea, and made a Bishop in France,) who instructed Alcuinus, and Alcuinus informed Smaragdus, Smaragdus again taught Theodulphus of Orleans, and Theodulphus, Elias a Scotchman, Bishop of Angoulesm; this Elias instructed Heiricus, and Heiricus left two Monks, Remigius and Vebaldus, surnamed the Bald, his heirs in philosophy.”

This is a most convincing proof of the judgment of the Churches of Aquitain, concerning the controversies that Paschasius had kindled.

1. We find here that they followed the opinions of Bede, whose Homilies Paulus Diaconus had inserted in his collection, for the use of the Pastors of Gaul, together with those of St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, St. Augustin, St. Maximus, and several others. Now the opinions of Bede are diametrically opposite to those of the Church of Rome. This has been formerly proved by a vast number of passages. I shall content myself with setting down one or two of them: the first is upon the third Psalm, where he extols the patience of our Savior to Judas, because he did not exclude him from his most holy supper; wherein, saith he, he delivered the figure of his most sacred body and blood to his disciples. The second is upon the Evangelists, in that part of them which speaks of the institution of that sacrament, where he declares, that because bread strengthens the body, and wine produceth blood in the flesh, the bread is mystically referred to the body of Jesus Christ, and the wine to his blood.

2. They followed Alcuinus’s notions, who had a great hand in all the writings of Charlemain, and especially in that concerning images, where we find also his judgment concerning the Eucharist, opposite to that of Paschasius.

3. We find they followed the opinions of Theodulphus, Bishop of Orleans, in whom we see a hundred things that are contrary to the opinions of the present Church of Rome.

4. They followed the opinions of Rabanus Maurus, whom Abbot Herigerus has cried down, for maintaining, that the eucharistical body of Jesus Christ goes to the draught, together with our other food; and whom one Waldensis, in his epistle to Martin, placeth with Heribaldus, amongst the number of those heretics who have dishonored Germany.

5. Ademarus proves, beyond contest, that they did not adore the Eucharist in their communion; when on the one hand, speaking of those of Narbon, he saith,

“That to prepare themselves to oppose the Moors of Corduba, who had invaded their coasts, they received the Eucharist at the hands of their Priests, without mentioning any adoration paid to the Sacrament, in so extreme and threatening a danger:” and on the other, speaking of the death of Earl William;

“Whereupon,” saith he, “the Earl accepting of the penance laid upon him by the Bishops and Abbots, and disposing of all his goods, and particularly bequeathing his estate and honor amongst his sons and his wife; he was reconciled and absolved, and the whole time of Lent frequented Mass and divine worship, till the week before Easter, when after he had received the holy oil and viaticum, and adored and kissed the cross, he yielded up the ghost in the hands of the Bishop of Roan and his Priests, after a very laudable manner.”

It is a thing singular and observable, that this Earl pays his adoration to the cross, though at the same time he forgets to worship the Sacrament, which yet is the chief object of adoration. Moreover, we are to observe, that the Latin word adorare, when spoken of the cross, imports only a reverence which we own was practiced on these occasions long before this time, because the cross being no image, there was no fear of incurring the sin of idolatry in saluting of it. This Count died in the year 1028.

But since this eleventh century was in a manner wholly taken up by the Papists, in opposing Berengarius, who, upon several attacks maintained the interest of truth against Paschasius and his followers; it will be our business to represent how far these disputes were serviceable in hindering the opinions of Paschasius from getting the upper hand in the dioceses of Aquitain and Narbon, and how this prepared their minds for a separation from the Church of Rome.

Never was any man so often condemned as Berengarius, never was any man more backed than he, nor ever did any man give more trouble to those who endeavored to crush him, than he did. An author of the twelfth century hath writ a book, Concerning Berengariuss manifold Condemnation; and Mabillon hath taken care to collect the names and the times of all those assemblies wherein he was condemned; but withal we may assert, that the reasons and authorities he produced, gave his enemies a terrible deal of trouble. His adversaries have employed their utmost efforts to abolish the memory of his works; but a sufficient part of them have been preserved by their own care, to enable us to judge of the injustice of their calumnies against him, and of the purity of his faith in the matter of the Eucharist. And forasmuch as he was of considerable use to the Albigenses, in their opposing of the doctrine of the carnal presence, which the faction of Paschasius and his followers endeavored to introduce and establish under the shelter and favor of that gross ignorance which reigned at this time, I suppose I may affirm, that his works, whereof Lanfrank hath given us an extract, were of no small service to oblige those who undertook his defense, to separate themselves from the communion of the Pope, or rather to hinder him from subjecting them to his yoke; seeing it was at this very time that the Popes began to make themselves masters of the Churches of the west.

It will be of great moment to prove, that the Popes had not as yet made themselves absolute masters of this part of the Church, which was always careful to maintain its rights against their encroachments and usurpations. My intent, therefore, is to employ the following chapter upon this subject, before I proceed to inquire how the faith was preserved in these dioceses in the next age, when they refused to submit themselves to the authority of the Popes of Rome.


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