Orvietan Society and the Early Popolo

Carol Lansing

in Power & Purity

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195149807
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849079 | DOI:
Orvietan Society and the Early Popolo

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Only one contemporary reference to Orvietan Cathars survives from the first four decades of the 13th century. The faith did not die out during this period. The inquisitors of the mid-13th century were convinced that it persisted and considered a handful of individuals and families to be longstanding Cathars and the involvement of some houses to date back to the time of the murder. When the Franciscan inquisitors of 1268–9 pursued the Orvietan Cathars, the sentences they imposed were retrospective: they mentioned events long past and ancestors involved in heresy, and in some cases they convicted the dead. As a result, there is enough evidence to construct a list of a large part of the Orvietan Cathar community as it existed in the 1240s and 1250s. This chapter provides the context needed to make that list meaningful: a portrait of the social makeup and institutional structure of the larger community. It turns first to Orvietan society, drawing on tax surveys and wills to analyze something of the population, the distribution of wealth, and the patterns of family structure. Because scholars have argued that Cathar beliefs were spread through networks of clientage, the chapter considers the meager evidence for 13th-century urban clientage. Then, it looks at the crucial political transformation of the period, the rise of popular political institutions. The last section describes the failure of the early efforts against heresy.

Keywords: Cathars; Catharism; Orvieto; heresy; social structure; clientage; political institutions

Chapter.  7198 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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