Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 March 2017
Should we say ‘Goodbye’? For anglophone readers such a farewell was heralded by Mark Pegg's The Corruption of Angels, a monograph on inquisition and heresy in the Lauragais region of Languedoc, published in 2001. This paved the way for, and heavily influenced, the account of heresy in Languedoc contained in the second half of a book which has been at the forefront in the dismantling of Catharism since its publication in 2012, R. I. Moore's The War on Heresy. Since the two key terms historians use when talking about heresy in Languedoc (i.e. ‘Cathars’ and ‘Catharism’) are regarded as problematic in both books – and because we have to have a policy about words – we shall begin with words (§1 below). Discussion of The Corruption of Angels and The War on Heresy occupies the rest of the chapter. This is introduced by a lightning sketch of modern works, in order to place these books within the field (§2). The next section (§3) is devoted to The Corruption of Angels, while the one after (§4) discusses the general trajectory of Moore's earlier works on heresy. Then follow five sections providing closer examination of The War on Heresy's major themes. These are the Bulgars (§5), heresy in the Toulousain (§6), ivory-tower dualism (that is, the idea that dualism was projected onto heretics in the south by Cistercians and Paris theology, both largely detached from the real world) (§7), the alternative to this – local knowledge of the doctrines of heretics (§8) – and heretics’ bishops (§9). There are three appendixes: Appendix A is on names; Appendix B provides a brief summary of events at Montségur; Appendix C discusses the translation of two texts.
We begin with words. There was use of the word ‘Cathar’ in Languedoc in the early thirteenth century. The Waldensian Durand of Huesca wrote of ‘the Cathars who live in the dioceses of Albi and Toulouse and Carcassonne’. But this was rare. The fact that the word used in Languedoc was not usually ‘Cathar’ raises questions and a practical problem. Does modern historians’ use of the word ‘Cathar’ indicate their lack of awareness of the semantic problem? Does it lead insidiously to the attribution of unity and identity where there was none? In practice, what words should modern historians use?
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