The Waldenses, 1170–1530: Between a Religious Order and a Church, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Waldenses, 1170–1530

Between a Religious Order and a Church, 1st Edition

By Peter Biller


352 pages

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Hardback: 9780860787983
pub: 2001-03-14

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The Waldenses, like the Franciscans, emerged from the apostolic movements within the Latin Church of the decades around 1200, but unlike the Franciscans they were driven underground. Not a full counter-Church, like the Cathar heretics, they formed a clandestine religious order, preaching to and hearing the confessions of their secret followers, and surviving until the Reformation. This volume begins by surveying modern historiography. Then, using both inquisition records from the Baltic to the Alps and the Waldenses' own books, the author deals with the asceticism of the Waldensian order, its practice of poverty and medicine, the culture of the Brothers and the preaching of the Waldensian Sisters, the way both used and mythicised history to support their position, and the composition of their followers. The final chapters examine their origins and authorship of the inquisitors' texts, and look through them to see how inquisitors viewed the Waldenses.


'… a valuable selection… acute and always well based in evidence.' Huguenot Society Proceedings '… has much to offer the scholar of medieval religious history.' Calvin Theological Journal 'The book as a whole provides […] a rather complete panorama of the waldensian movement in its maturity.' Revue Mabillon 'This quick overview of the discussed themes, shows the care with which Peter Biller has looked into the Waldenses' past. Reading the works gathered here confirms the renown he has achieved in his domain.' Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Historiography: The Waldenses in the 14th and 15th centuries: the current state of knowledge; The historiography of medieval heresy in the United States of America and Great Britain, 1945-1992; The medieval waldenses: Curate infirmos: the medieval Waldensian practice of medicine; Multum ieiunantes et se castigantes: medieval Waldensian asceticism; Medieval Waldensian abhorrence of killing pre-c.1400; Poverty and money: Thesaurus absconditus: the treasure of the medieval Waldensians; German money and medieval heresy: the wealth of the German Waldenses; The Waldensian sisters: The preaching of the Waldensian Sisters; Waldensian culture and writing: The oral and the written: the case of the Alpine Waldensians; The Topos and reality of the heretic as illitteratus; Medieval Waldensians' construction of the past; The Liber Electorum; Inquisitors’ texts: The De vita et actibus pauperum de Lugduno; The 1391 lists of Waldensian magistri: three further manuscripts; The anti-Waldensian treatise Cum dormirent homines of 1395 and its author; Waldenses in German-speaking areas in the later 14th century: the view of an inquisitor; Indexes.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General