Skip to main content

IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1016: Heresy and Bodily Practice, I: Heresy as Disease or Poison

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Iona McCleery, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 1016-aSaving Faith in Languedoc: The Dominican Practice of Medieval 'Doctors of Souls'
(Language: English)
Ashley M. Deering, University of Minnesota, Morris
Index terms: Monasticism, Rhetoric, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 1016-bHomines sub habitu religionis aquas inficiebant et potiones imponebat in Gerona (Spain) in 1348: An Example of Clergy Bad Image
(Language: English)
Pau Gerez Alum, Estudis de Lleng├╝es i Cultures, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Index terms: Local History, Mentalities, Religious Life, Social History

The papers in this session explore the ways in which discourses about heresy, conceived in various contexts as a failure to accede properly to the spiritual and the good of the soul, drew on the language and imagery of physical disease.

Paper -a:
In the 13th century, St Dominic de Guzman preached a lifestyle that modelled a spiritual medicine to individual, diseased souls. In the 14th century, Dominican inquisitor Bernard Gui's methods rooted out and classified heretical groups as generalized diseases. This transition reflects a polarized difference between persuasion and coercion, and though dissimilar in practice, both methods sought a spiritual cleansing for a spiritual disease. Because the salvation of diseased souls remains at the heart of the wandering, preaching friar and the papal inquisitor, I argue that both St Dominic and Bernard Gui are (and would have been understood as) doctors of souls.

Paper -b:
Different studies have attempted to quantify the extent of 14th-century Black Death waves in terms of number of deaths, segments of the population most affected, causes of its spread and its disappearance, etc. There is also a stream of scholars who focus their studies on its psychological effects on the population rather than the physical effects of pests. The hatred for certain religious minorities (Jews) lead some people to think that they were the ones causing the transmission of the plague; certain religious movements claimed that the cause was the decline of Christian faith self-applying severe penances to mitigate the anger of God. In our study we will focus on various documents involving people 'dressed in religious habits' in poisoning wells in Gerona (Spain) in 1348.