Inquisitors and Heretics in Thirteenth-Century Languedoc

Edition and Translation of Toulouse Inquisition Depositions, 1273-1282

Edited by Peter Biller, Caterina Bruschi and Shelagh Sneddon

In the study of inquisition and heresy in Languedoc the late thirteenth century is a dark hole. This book redresses this, providing an edition and translation of depositions of heresy suspects interrogated in Toulouse 1273-82, preserved in a copy of 1669. The book’s introduction investigates the history and reliability of this copy, and, together with the edition, illuminates the inquisitors and scribes who produced the original register. The edited text shows a Cathar hierarchy in exile in Italy, a Cathar revival in Languedoc, and its destruction by a re-launched inquisition. Inquisitors’ questioning led to depositions which are extraordinarily colourful and lively, and in this they anticipate the circumstantial detail of the early fourteenth century depositions upon which Le Roy Ladurie’s famous Montaillou was based.

For Peter this is the culmination of a project whose origins lie in a visit to Paris in 1976. There, Peter read some of the inquisition materials at the Bibliothèque Nationale, transcribing parts of them. He used these translations as documents for his undergraduate Special Subject on Inquisitors and Heretics in the High Middle Ages which he has taught at York since 1978. These translations formed the basis of this edition and he is grateful to generations of students who took the course for their comments on them.

Pete Biller is Professor of Medieval History. He is author of The Measure of Multitude: Population in Medieval Thought, joint winnner of the 2002 Longman/History Today Prize, The Waldenses, 1170-1530: Between a Religious Order and a Church, and numerous essays as well as the editor of many books.

Cover of Inquisitors and Heretics by Pete Biller