The Albigensian Crusades and Trifunctionality The final realization of the works of Willia

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The Albigensian Crusades and Trifunctionality The final realization of the works of William the Breton by Stewart W. Riley Goerges Dudy, in his book The Three Orders, marks the year 1214 as the end of the evolutionary period of the concept of trifunctionalism. In the works of William the Breton he finds the final model of trifunctional society with the king once again in the primary position. It seems, however, that in this case the concept had proceeded the actual realization of this model rather than having sought to legitemize an existing order, as in the knightly trifunctional concept, or having attempted to revive an older order, as Gerard and Adalbero had done. This final model would achieve it's reality through the intervention of an outside impetus. In the first half of the thirteenth century the most powerful and widespread heretical movement of the Middle Ages swept through the Occitanian regions of southern France, lands far from the Ile de France to which Duby limits his study. Nevertheless, the conflict caused by the supression of this heresy in the wars known as the Albigensian Crusades led directly to the King of France becoming the undisputed head of the social order, ruling clergy, nobility, and plebians in a hierarchical, religio-political system that would ensure French supremecy in Europe for the next three hundred years. The Cathar heresy that spawned this conflict was not native to western Europe. It arose in he region of Bosnia and moved westwards through northern Italy and into the southern provinces of France, particularly that region between the Rhone river and the province of Aquitane now known as Occitania. The Cathars were a Christian dualist sect, similar to the Manichaeans of the fourth century. They believed that the material world was inherently evil and that only denial of this world would lead to salvation. Cathar doctrine held that Jesus had been sent to instruct man so that he might escape the imprisonment of flesh. Jesus was an emanation from God, with only an illusion of a physical body. The veneration of the cross and communion were therefore the the height of misinterpretation to Cathars, the opposite of their most basic tenets. They saw the Catholic Church as a creature of Satan, built on the vengeful God of the Old Testament who was also a disguise of Satan. In general the Cathar ritual was simple and their organization small. A few of the faithful were elevated to the state known as the "perfect". These men and women (for both were admitted equally) led lives of absolute poverty, eating no flesh, avoiding any carnal pleasures, and traveling incessantly to preach the Gospel to any who would listen. The far larger body of simple believers were not under such strict rules but could lead fairly normal lives, only entering the ranks of the "perfect" just prior to death in a ceremony called the "consolamentum". It was a religion that demanded far less, and was far simpler in it's trappings, than Catholicism. It's doctrine was a direct challenge to Catholic dogma and this drew many early attempts to reconvert it's adherents by churchmen, including both St. Bernard and St. Dominic. The Cathars posed an even greater threat, however, to the existing social order. Catharism was egalitarian in the extreme, since all souls were equal and the distinctions of the material world were only deceptions of Satan. In Occitania the sect enjoyed widespread sympathy amongst all levels of society. The first crusade against the Cathars may be seen as the clash of two trifunctional conceptions. At the beginning of the thirteenth century the north of France was still ordered by the knightly ternary model put forward by Benedict of Sainte-Maure. The lay princes had not yet come fully under the authority of the Capetian monarch Philip Augustus and were seeking to be the "Christian knights" who dominated the social order while maintaining religious purity. In Occitania the situation was somewhat different. Here the nobility had come to a more balanced position in relation to the other orders, a relationship much more like that conceived by William the Breton than that of Benedict. Though feudal ties were still present they were much weaker, with many more crossing lines of duty and service. In the countryside the majority of the peasents were free men who owned their own land and paid fairly reasonable cash taxes to their feudal overlords. In the cities and towns an even closer parallel to William's model was found. There the bourgeois, the nobles, and even the episcopal hierarchy formed joint governments, in many was more similar to the later Italian city-states than to any feudal society. The only element missing from this model was that of the king, who in William's conception was ouside the orders of society, acting as the conduit of the divine will and maintaining the proper relations of the other three. This ment that in Occitania the three orders were brought into more equal positions, sharing secular power and divorcing it from ecclesiastical concerns. Bishops became lay rulers who could be no more concerned with heresy than any other. It was this lack of attention to the dictums of those at the pinnacle of the hierarchy, first the Pope and later the King, that would lead to the forcible abolition of this southern ternary model in favor of one in which the King of France became the supreme authority, in all respects replacing even the Pope as interpreter of divine will upon Earth. The first Albigensian Crusade, from 1208 to 1224, was largely the affair of northern nobles following the crusading traditions of their knightly order, a form of divine service that earned the knight an indulgence for all his sins. The Montfort family took the lead in these adventures but in the end did not succeed in either eliminating heresy or in changing the southern balance of power except to unite the normally fractious southern nobles and townships in temporary alliance against them. King Philip Augustus remained aloof from these early fights, ignoring Pope Innocent III's call in order to consolidate his own holdings. It was not until 1218 that the royal family would be directly involved in southern affairs, when Philip sent his son Louis (soon to be Louis VIII) south at the head of a force of crusaders. Louis was not anxious to lead a crusade, having been under the onus of an excommunication imposed by Innocent in connection with his attempted invasion of England. Now, however, the crown needed the Church's support to legitimize it's newly won powers and lands in the north of France. The Church, for it's part, was losing it's best supporters in the south as the Counts of Toulouse, Foix, and Comminges counterattacked the Montfort family's holdings (the head of that family, the infamous Simon de Montfort, had recently been killed while besieging Toulouse). Innocent's successor, Pope Honorius III, now made the fateful error that would come to change the entire balance of power between Papacy and monarch. He offered Philip financial support from the Church as an inducement to aid the Montforts, the amount being half the crusading tax levied on the French clergy, a conciderable sum. This set a pattern that was to be repeated in many later crusades, a precident that would lead the Papacy into a dangerous dependency on the Kings of France and finally in the fourteenth century into the captive Papacy at Avignon. In 1224 the first Albigensian Crusade ended witha truce that allowed the Montforts to escape the south with their honor, but not their holdings, intact. In 1223 Philip Augustus had died and Louis VIII was now on the throne of France. It was he who would lead the second Albigensian Crusade against the southern Counts. Once again Louis demanded large sums from the Church in order to finance the crusade, as well as the right to quit the crusade whenever he chose and the Church's support in claiming the lands of the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VII. In 1226 he led the largest force of crusaders yet assembled into Occitania. His only major engagement proved to be one of the more important of the Albigensian Crusades. At the city of Avignon on the Rhone river, Louis won a protracted seige and control of the town. Avignon was not a French city but was rather a city of the Holy Roman Empire, though it did owe nominal allegiance to Raymond from some of his holdings in Provence. This conquest of what was essentially an independant republican city-state was a clear indication of what the fate of the rest of the Occitanian social order would be under French rule. Louis VIII, however, did not live to extend his rule beyond the reconquest of the Montfort holdings. On 8 November 1226 he died as he returned from the field for the winter. It was left to his successor, Louis IX (in time to become St. Louis) and his mother Blanche of Castille, who was his regent early in his reign, to finally bring Occitania under the control of the crown. Blanche was able to negotiate an end to the war with Raymond that placed the inheritance of the County of Toulouse in the hands of the crown. Later, in 1242 Louis himself would quell the last rebellion of Raymond with ease with leaving this agreement intact. Thus when Raymond died in 1249 Louis came to control the largest and richest kingdom in Europe. After 1229 Raymond had been forced by his agreement with the crown, and the threat of royal force of arms, to allow the newly formed Holy Inquisition (directed by the Dominican order, old foes of the Cathars) to operate freely in Toulouse. In a series of gruesome massacres the Cathar Church was systematically wiped out, destroying both the religious and secular equality that it had helped to engender. With the triumph of Louis IX the realization of the ternary form laid down in the Philippiad of William the Breton was finally achieved. Louis had become the one element outside the orders of society. Even the Pope was now fitted into his place in the ecclesiastical order, becoming only a powerful prince who served the King in the spiritual realm as other princes did in the material. The social orders of France were now locked into the form that they would retain until the Revolution of 1789 would finally overthrow them. The wealth of Occitania and the subordination of the Catholic Church to the will of the crown had been the keys that had ensured the supremacy of the French monarchy.Without the egalitarian Cathar heresy to spur the Church into action, the way for the establishment of this enduring order would have been much obscured. Works Cited Duby, Georges. The Three Orders. trans. Arthur Goldhammer. (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1980). Strayer, Joseph R. The Albigensian Crusades. (New York, NY: The

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