IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 511: Know your Enemy, I: How to Spot a Heretic

Tuesday 14 July 2009, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Brenda M. Bolton, University of London
Paper 511-aUse and Abuse of the Label of Pelagianism
(Language: English)
Masako Ohashi, Nanzan University, Nagoya
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Science, Theology
Paper 511-bHow to Recognise a Heretic
(Language: English)
Nikolina Uroda, Independent Scholar, Split
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Art History - General
Paper 511-cEarly Inquisitors of the 13th Century and the Problem of Spotting and Defining Heresies
(Language: English)
Pekka Tolonen, Department of Comparative Religion, University of Turku
Index terms: Anthropology, Lay Piety, Religious Life

As with Communist spies in McCarthy’s America, sniffing out and identifying heretics was a central problem in the Middle Ages, offering possibilities not merely in terms of the salvation of souls but also in the furthering of political claims. The session includes explorations of discourses, targeting of heretical ‘fifth columns’, and their perils from a range of contexts.

Paper -a:
Pelagianism was one of heresies constantly condemned in the Middle Ages. Authors attacked the heresy not only in exegetical but also in historical writings in order to protect the orthodoxy in the West. Moreover, as Bede’s writings show, Pelagianism was connected with some other problems such as the Paschal Controversy, even though there had been no such implications in Pelagian writings. This implies that some authors used (or rather, abused) Pelagianism as a tool for attacking their enemies. This paper will survey such cases and try to suggest the background to the abuse of the label of Pelagianism.

Paper -b:
Stecci are grave monuments which were made throughout the entire Middle Ages in the hinterland of the Adriatic coast and on the coast itself. It is supposed that over 70,000 of them are preserved today in the mountain areas of the Dinarides (mainly Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, eastern part of Serbia).
According to the preserved inscriptions, and concerning social and political relations, today we can be sure that under these stecci were buried members of the two Christian confessions of the medieval Bosnia (the Catholics and the Orthodox) as well as members of the heretic ‘Bosnian Church’. The aim of this presentation/article is to stress this problem once again, and to point out the (im)possibility to differ the heretic monuments from the ‘righteous’ ones. We shall also try to point out the specific features of this dualistic sect that formed the history of this area.

Paper -c:
Spotting a heresy is closely linked with the definition of heresy and orthodoxy. It is a well-known fact that the borderline between these two is flexible. The turn of the 13th century is a time when this border was negotiated in several occasions. The new lay religious movements of the time were at the heart of this process. The first inquisitors of the 1230s and 1240s were inconsistently drawing the line and so were their subjects – the people in the towns and villages – understanding and sharing the same line. Who was a heretic and who was not?
The focus of my paper is on the situation in Languedoc after the Albigensian crusade. The inquisitors based their hearings on lists of questions and wrote ‘manuals’. A closer look on these lists and ‘manuals’ and comparison to actual records of the early inquisitors will show that the conceptions of the different parties of sacred, religion, and church did not meet.