Of the opinions of Peter de Bruis and Henry, and their disciples, and whether they were Manichees, or not.


WE find that though some Manichees settled themselves in Languedoc, yet it seems they have only served to give the Papists a color to accuse those whom their errors and their false worship obliged them to look upon as an antichristian Church. This will appear yet more clearly, by the account we are about to give here of the opinions of Peter de Bruis, of Henry, and of their disciples, whom the Bishop of Meaux would willingly have thought to have been Manichees. Baronius was not so quicksighted as the Bishop; but because it happens oft, that those who stand upon the shoulders of a tall man can see a little further than he, we must inquire, by examining this matter carefully, whether we are to believe Baronius or the Bishop of Meaux.

The care of the Inquisition has scarcely left us any record of Peter de Bruis; so that we know scarce any thing of what concerns him, but what we have from the report of his enemies, and those enemies too to that degree, that they used fire and sword to destroy him; which alone is sufficiently a strong presumption, that they had little or no inclination to extenuate the horridness of his opinions, nor to put a reasonable sense upon them, when, according to the rules of equity, they could have given them a good one. Be it as it will, Peter, Abbot of Clugny, bears witness, that Peter de Bruis, from whom the Albigenses have been called Petrobusians, had taught almost twenty years in the dioceses of Arles, Embrun, and in Gascoin, whither the persecution, which he suffered from the Bishops and Archbishops of those dioceses, stirred up against him by Peter de Clugny, had forced him to take refuge. He declares that he had made a great number of disciples, and exhorts these Prelates to oppose themselves against the progress of his doctrine, by forcing him in this his retreat, not only by preaching against him, but also, if it were needful, vi armata per laicos, “with armed force by laymen.”

These Bishops answered these exhortations of Peter de Clugny perfectly well; so that after they had obliged him to keep more private, they watched him so closely by their votaries, that at last they seized him at St. Gilles, where they caused him to be burnt in the year 1126, to the great satisfaction of Peter de Clugny and of Baronius, who highly extol the zeal of those who by this means had avenged the injury he had done to crosses, in burning them to boil his meat on Good Friday.

This is one of the crimes laid to his charge by Peter de Clugny, a crime of such a nature, that king Hezekiah may upon the same account be looked upon as a most profane person, though we know that his zeal hereto was approved by God himself. At this rate also, John of Jerusalem must be looked upon as a very negligent Prelate for not burning St. Epiphanius, who at Anablatha had torn the hangings of a church in which he found the pictures of Jesus Christ, and of some other saints. And Gregory I. must pass for a negligent ignorant person, for not burning Serenus, Bishop of Marseilles, who broke down the church-images, as well as Peter de Bruis, in a time when idolatry was not yet come to its height. For as for his boiling meat with the wood of the cross on Good Friday, and eating of the same, supposing he had indeed done so, (though there be great probability to the contrary, and that it was only one of those slanderous imputations the Monks make use of to stir up the fury of the ignorant rabble,) it would at the most have been no more than a notable action to awaken these idolaters, by setting before them their own Pagan folly, described by the Prophet Isaiah in the 44th chapter of his prophecy.

But this was not the only crime of Peter de Bruis; he was not only an image-breaker, but he had besides, during these twenty years of his ministry, preached up many heresies: the chiefest of which Peter de Clugny reduceth to five articles, as being more horrid than the rest.

“And because,” saith he, “the first seeds of this erroneous doctrine were sown and propagated by Peter de Bruis for almost twenty years together, they brought forth chiefly five poisonous shoots, against which I opposed myself as much as I was able.”

The first consisted in denying that infants could be saved by baptism, when they are under the age of reason; and that the faith of the parents can be available to those who are not of age to believe.”

The second consisted in maintaining that no temples or churches ought to be built, and that those already built ought to be destroyed; and that Christians did not need holy, that is, consecrated, places to worship God in, etc.”

The third consisted in asserting that they ought to break down and burn the holy crosses, because that figure and that instrument wherewith Jesus Christ had been so cruelly tormented and put to death, was so far from being worthy of adoration, veneration, or any other kind of supplication, that it ought to be dishonored with indignity, broke to pieces and burnt, to revenge our Saviour’s torments and his death.”

The fourth consisted, not only in denying the truth of the body and blood of our Lord, which is offered up every day, and continually by the sacrament of the Church; but also in maintaining that it was nothing, and ought not to be offered.”

The fifth consisted in deriding all the offerings, prayers and alms, and other good works done by the faithful that are living, for those that are dead, because they could not by any of these means afford them the least comfort.”

These were the heresies which Peter de Bruis had taught for twenty years together, which is time enough to know the opinions of one man. And though Peter de Clugny, by his character of being a Monk, and his mortal enemy, was easily persuaded to indulge his credulity so far as to believe some reports spread abroad concerning the disciples of Peter de Bruis, that they did not own the Old Testament, which put him upon proving the divinity thereof, yet he insisted so little upon it, that he shews he was not persuaded in his conscience that the Petrobusians were Manichees: and the Bishop of Meaux ought to have imitated his discretion in the same matter.

But, saith the Bishop, they rejected baptism, which is one of the characters of the Manichees. If he had said that Peter de Bruis had revived the error of the Hieracites, whom St. Epiphanius speaks of, he would have had more reason on his side; for the first article, as Peter de Clugny hath expressed it, comes very near the opinion of the Hieracites: but it is absolutely false, that it agrees with the belief of the Manichees concerning that sacrament. The Manichees absolutely rejected baptism; whereas, if we will believe Peter de Clugny, the Petrobusians did not look upon it as needless, but only to infants. In a word, Peter de Clugny attributes to them a kind of anabaptism, which maintained that infants were not capable of baptism, and that it was only to be conferred upon such as were full grown, because at the receiving of it they were to make profession of their faith for themselves. At this rate we might as well accuse Tertullian, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and Walfridus Strabo, of Manicheism. We shall find hereafter, that this error was not general amongst them, because the disciples of Peter de Bruis and Henry reject it as a slanderous imputation, and because the malice which appears in the wording of this calumny is nothing but the effect of that hatred wherewith Peter de Clugny was inflamed against these pretended heretics.

The second article is visibly nothing else but a consequence drawn from the aversion the Petrobusians had for the Popish churches, because of the idolatries there committed, and of their consecrations to the honor of saints. It is no such strange thing to see men condemn temples to be demolished, which they believe to have been profaned by idolatry.

Gregory I. was one of the first that ever consecrated Pagan temples into meeting places for Christians; whereas before, the emperors had ordered them to be shut up, and caused some of them to be pulled down. It is very ordinary for those who detest the idolatry reigning in churches to be desirous to remove all the objects of it at the greatest distance from those whose salvation they endeavor to procure. Lastly, We know that the Petrobusians judged the Pope to be the Antichrist, which might very well prompt them to so great an aversion for these kind of buildings, in which Antichrist had his throne, as St. Hilary of Poictiers had distinctly foretold. But let men think what they please, this article has nothing of Manicheism in it.

The third heresy of the Petrobusians hath still less of Manicheism than the former. It is evident that this also is nothing but a popular consequence against the worship of the cross, which was then practiced upon diverse occasions, of which we have before seen an example, at the death of a great lord of that country. But whereas he supposeth that the Petrobusians did acknowledge that Jesus Christ hath endured the cross, and that he died upon it; in so doing he fully acquits them of being Manichees, since they did not own that our Lord Jesus Christ truly died upon the cross. Moreover it must be confessed, that no man could better have renewed the doctrine of St. Agobardus, than Peter de Bruys, when he maintained that neither veneration, adoration, nor supplication, were due to the cross, and that they were to be broken, in case people were found to bestow any such worship upon them. For this was the doctrine of Agobardus, in his Discourse of Pictures.

The fourth heresy is expressed in very odious terms, and after the Popish manner, who own nothing to be real in the Sacrament, if the flesh of Jesus Christ and his blood be not there in substance, and who do not believe he is present in the Sacrament upon any other account, but as he is offered up to God before he is eaten. But yet here there is nothing in this double article of Manicheism. On the contrary, we may assert that the Romish opinion rather is a branch of Manicheism than theirs: for is not the body of Jesus Christ in the bread? and doth not the substance of the bread become the substance of Jesus Christ? and the Priest, or the faithful, when they digest it, do they not restore the body of Christ to liberty, in freeing it of its bonds, by which the charm of consecration tied it up?

The act of oblation which the Petrobusians blamed in the Mass, is more clearly explained by their disciples, as we shall see hereafter. In the mean time, it is worth observing, that they opposed the change which then began to be made in the Church of Rome, and which being accomplished, produced that addition in the Liturgy, where they make the Priest say, et pro quibus tibi offerimus, “and for whom we offer up to thee;” whereas before the whole offering respected only the people, qui tibi offerunt, “who offer up unto thee,” in allusion to that custom of the people’s offering the bread and wine which was used at the communion. As soon as the faith of the real presence was once entertained, they presently inquired what use might be made of it; and they found that it might be offered up to God, before it was offered to the people: and when they were once confirmed in the belief of this custom, they found it was necessary for the Priest to express a sacerdotal act; whereas therefore the people before simply offered the bread and wine to God, in order to celebrate the communion with it, after consecration they thought good to substitute the Priest’s offering of them up for the people. This was more distinctly practiced in the thirteenth century, as Menardus the Benedictine informs us in his Discourse upon the Sacramentarium of St. Gregory, though before that time we find some footsteps of this opinion.

The fifth article, which rejects purgatory, and maintains that the living cannot help the deceased believers by their prayers, alms, or good works, nor by any masses designedly said for them, has as little Manicheism as the former: for as the Petrobusians cannot be said to be Manichees for condemning the use of infant baptism, so neither can they be esteemed Manichees for denying purgatory and prayers for the dead. Let the Bishop of Meaux turn over as long as he pleaseth the catalogue of heresies, he will nowhere be able to find that the rejecting of purgatory, and prayers for the dead, are characters of Manicheism.

Is not the Bishop therefore, think we, very judicious, in taking Peter de Bruys and his disciples for Manichees? whereas he ought to have taken notice of two things in Peter de Clugny: the first is, that Peter de Bruys, whom they accuse of having boiled meat on Good-Friday with broken pieces of the cross, eat of it when he had done, with those who assisted at that execution. The second is, that he maintained that Priests and Monks ought rather to marry, than to live in a single state defiled with impurity; Coccius makes this article one of the heresies of Peter de Bruys. One clearly sees what solid grounds the Bishop of Meaux had to accuse Peter de Bruys of Manicheism: let us now see whether he hath any better success with Henry, the disciple of Peter de Bruys.

The burning of Peter de Bruys at St. Gilles did not stifle the doctrine that he maintained; it had taken too deep root in these dioceses: on the contrary, it increased very considerably, after it was once watered with the blood of that martyr. The opposition which the disciples of Peter de Bruys made to the false worship of the Church of Rome, which they endeavored to introduce into these dioceses, after that they had made them submit to her yoke, was very useful to awaken the people. Pope Eugenius, the disciple of St. Bernard, being then in France, (where he was more exactly informed of these difficulties than the Roman emissaries,) took the alarm very hotly. See here how St. Bernard describes the state of affairs, in a letter of his to the Count St. Gilles.

“How great evils have we heard and known that Henry the heretic hath done and does every day in the churches of God? He wanders up and down in your country in sheep’s clothing, being indeed a ravenous wolf: but according to the hint given by our Lord, we know him by his fruits. The churches are without people, people without Priests, Priests without due reverence, and lastly, Christians without Christ. The churches of Christ are looked upon as synagogues; the sanctuary of God is denied to be holy; sacraments are no longer esteemed sacred; holy feasts are deprived of festival solemnities; men die in their sins; souls are frequently snatched away to appear before the terrible tribunal, who are neither reconciled by repentance, nor armed with the sacred communion: the life of Christ is denied to Christian infants, by refusing them the grace of baptism; nor are they suffered to draw near unto salvation, though our Saviour tenderly cries on their behalf, Suffer little children to come unto me. — This man is not of God, who acts and speaks things so contrary to God; and yet, alas, he is listened to by many, and has a people that believe him. O most unhappy people! at the voice of an heretic all the voices of the Prophets and Apostles are silenced, who from one Spirit of truth have declared, that the Church is to be called by the faith of Christ out of all the nations of the world: so that the divine oracles have deceived us, the eyes and souls of all men are deluded, who see the same thing fulfilled, which they read before to have been foretold: which truth, though it be most manifest to all, he alone, by an astonishing and altogether Judaical blindness, either sees not, or else is sorry to see it fulfilled; and at the same time, by I know not what diabolical art, persuades the foolish and senseless people not to believe their own eyes in a thing that is so manifest; and that those that went before have deceived, those that come after have been deceived; that the whole world, even after the shedding of Christ’s blood, shall be lost; and that all the riches of the mercies of God, and the grace of the universe, are devoted upon those alone whom he deceives.”

Pope Eugenius, finding things in this posture, names Albericus, Bishop of Ostia, for his legate to the people of Tholouse, and to the Count of St. Gilles. Baronius, in his Annals, gives us an account of this Henry, the disciple of Peter de Bruys, and his death, in the year 1147, which seems to be very exact, because St. Bernard writ to the Count of St. Gilles, to exhort him to drive Henry out of his country, where he preached his doctrine very freely: but the earl died in the holy land, having been poisoned there (as it was said) by the queen: wherefore in the year 1147. Henry suffered martyrdom, at the solicitation of St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, by the cruelty of Albericus, Bishop of Ostia, Cardinal, and legate of Pope Eugenius II. at Tholouse, where he caused him to be burnt, after they had brought him thither loaded with irons. Baronius sets down with great care whatever he thought might blemish the reputation of the martyr. He relates all that St. Bernard wrote against him to Aldephonsus, Earl of St. Gilles. He quotes St. Bernard, who calls Henry an apostate Monk, and accuseth him of having made use of the great talents he had in preaching, as a means to get money to spend at gaming and upon his lusts. He says, that Henry was a man defiled with adulteries, who, for his frequent crimes, durst not appear in several parts of France and Germany, and who by consequence was not to be endured in the territories of the Count of St. Gilles; but yet he doth not lay any thing of Manicheism to his charge, no more than Peter de Clugny and St. Bernard: nay, Baronius does more; for he formerly distinguished him from those heretics whom St. Bernard opposed under the name of Apostolics, in his 66th Homily upon the Canticles.

How then could the Bishop of Meaux make a Manichee of him? Perhaps the loose life, whereof St. Bernard accuseth him, may be a character of it. But not to undervalue the vanity of this loose accusation, without any proof, and proceeding from a sworn and cruel enemy, which was quite overthrown by the courageous martyrdom of Henry: at this rate the Clergy of the Church of Rome, who were so generally guilty of sodomy, that St. Peter Damian writ a book, entitled Gomorrhaeus, must have been Manichees; and upon the same ground Johannes Cremensis, a Cardinal, the Pope’s legate in England, for abolishing the marriage of the Priests, must likewise have been a Manichee; for the English historians say, that this holy Cardinal, having assembled a synod at Westminster, wherein he represented to the Priests that it was the worst of crimes to rise from a whore to consecrate the body of Jesus Christ, was himself surprised in bed with a common whore, the same day that he had said mass. Upon this account also the legates of Anacletus, the competitor of Eugenius II. must have been Manichees; for they are taxed with carrying women along with them in men’s habits, probably to avoid the inconvenience that Johannes Cremensis fell into in England, for want of taking this care beforehand. They charge Henry with the same heresies which they attributed to Peter de Bruys; so that what I have already said concerning the heresies of the Petrobusians, I need not repeat here. Baronius adds, I confess, that Henry had superadded to these heresies this proposition, Additis irrideri Deum canticis ecclesiasticis,

“That the singing in churches was but a mocking of God.” And accordingly Peter de Clugny refutes this pretended heresy with a great deal of earnestness: but if I may speak my opinion in this matter, neither did this proposition contain any great crime. For first, singing in general was owned by Isidore as an innovation. It was about seventy years before, that the Popes had abolished the ancient Liturgies, to substitute the Roman Liturgy. The Gothic Liturgy, which was used in the diocese of Languedoc, and other neighbouring dioceses, which at that time depended on the kings of Spain, had been suppressed, because it was not overfavorable to the opinions of the Church of Rome. Secondly, they had at the same time introduced a sort of rhyming verses, which they call proses, so ridiculous, so foolish, and so full of novelties, both as to the worship of saints, and as to the fabulous stories they contained, that it was very difficult for those who looked for wisdom in their prayers, not to take them for profanations. The hymn composed by King Robert, in honor of Queen Constantia, may give us an hint what sort of things they were, O Constantia Martyrum, etc. And now let any one judge whether Henry was a Manichee, because he condemned this sort of profanations.

This also is what hath been owned by Mezeray, in his Chronological Abridgement of the History of France, printed at Amsterdam in 1673, where, upon the year 1163, he saith, “that there were two sorts of heretics; the one ignorant and loose, who were a sort of Manichees; the other more learned, and remote from such filthiness, who held much the same opinions as the Calvinists, and were called Henricians or Waldenses, though the people ignorantly confounded them with the Cathari, Bulgarians, etc.”

Mezeray had spoken more exactly, had he said, that the people were abused by the Bishops and Clergy, who purposely confounded the ancient followers of Peter de Bruys and Henry with the Manichees and Cathari, to make them odious.


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