ACADEMIE BULGARE DES SCIENCES. Institut d'etudes balkaniques. Etudes balkaniques, 1994, No 3

Georgi Vassilev




If you would be so good, God, as to show me some of your commandments

so that I'd spread them through the world,

then write the scrolls in the Cyrillic alphabet -

so that I'd understand them perfectly.

Stefan Gechev


The influence of the Bogomil-Cathar heresy in Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain1 has already been established and subjected to numerous and different studies. It seems, however, that the British Isles remained aloof to that Pan-European religious teaching and social movement - at least no British scholar has undertakken a systematic study of this subject so far. Still, major linguists and historians of the 19th century like Alexander Vesselovsky, Moses Gaster and Ivan Franko2 found tangible traces of Bogomil-Cathar influence in medieval English literature. Their observations are generally centred on the 13th century and after and a subsequent article will deal with the trails they discovered as well as with recent discoveries which complement them.

1. The linguistic trace

A traditional way of checking how far a certain phenomenon has become involved with the history of a given country is to see whether that phenomenon has left any traces in its language. In our case the answer is simply "yes" - there is such a word as "bugger" in the English language, a transformation of the French "bougre" as the Cathar heretics in Southern France were called. The Oxford English Dictionary also quotes other variants of "bugger", as well as "buggerie" which is connected with the first entry. The whole lexical nest includes "bowgard, bouguer,


1 Since the information about Spain is much less familiar, we will mention here a study which outlines the spreading of the Cathar movement in that country: Menendez y P e 1 a y o, M. Historia de los heterodoxes espanoles. II. Madrid, 1946.

2Веселовски, А. Соломонъ и Китоврасъ. С-т Петербургъ, 1872, с.142; a quotation from G a s t e r, M. Ilchester Lectures on Greeko-Slavonic Literature. London, 1887;

Франко, I., Апокрiфi i легенди з украiнских рукописiв, т.II, 1899, c. XIII.



buggerage, buggerer, buggar, buggeress and buggerly". "Buggery" also has several forms: "bugery", "buggerey", -arie, -one, "boggery", "bowgery", "bockery" and so on. This paper will deal with the topical meaning of "bugger" - a sodomite (a buggery - sodomy), particularly as it is also a legal term or, to quote the OED "In decent use only as a legal term".

Naturally, this most prestigious dictionary of the English language also provides the etymology of the word "bugger": "Bugger. Also bowgard, bouguer (ancient French - bougre): Latin - Bulgarus, Bulgarian, a name given to a sect of heretics who came from Bulgaria in the llth c., afterwards to the other "heretics" (to whom abominable practices were ascribed), also to usurers."3 The correct statement is also added that, in the said medieval period "the name was particularly applied to the Albigenses".

This valuable reference, however, is mainly left for limited academic usage, while the popular usage of "bugger" continues as a legal term for sodomite (as a technical term in criminal law - to quote the OED). In addition, this reliable information is not always given in the academic circles themselves. For example, The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology quotes a similar form - "bowgard" (and "bouguer"), but claims that the Bulgarians were heretics "as belonging to the Greek Church, sp. Albigensian"4. This is a serious mistake, because the Greek and the Albigensian churches have never been connected. What is more, if one follows the logic of events, the Albigensian Church is a sort of opponent of the Greek one insofar as the Albigensians are genetically linked with the Bogomils who, in turn, are against the Orthodox (Greek) church on principle. A similar confusion of the Bulgarian Bogomil church and the Greek (Orthodox) church can also be found in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, where the word "bugger" is given only with the meaning of sodomite, "from the adherence of the Bulgarians to the Eastern Church considered heretical."5 It is true that the Catholics accuse the Orthodox Church of heresy and vice versa - Catholics are considered a kind of heretics by Orthodoxy, but this controversy between the two official churches has nothing to do with the Bogomils and the Cathars, i.e. with "the bougres", "the buggers".

Therefore, we are faced with the task:

- to confirm the historically correct meaning of the word "bugger" ("bougre") as a variant of the national name Bulgarian;

- to see what religious and political circumstances have loaded it with negative twisted meanings.

And if the results of this study prove convincing they could be offered to English linguists and lawyers. It is within the scope of their ability to restitute the initial meaning of "bugger" and, in the name of the new communication between the people, to free the Bulgarian national name of the hostile imagery of past antagonistic ages. There is natural evidence in this respect. In French, for example, the negative connotations of "bougre" imposed by the Inquisition have been swallowed by the positive evolution of the same word with the meaning of "brave homme". One finds a similar line of evolution in the English language, preserving almost the same meanings of "bugger". To quote The Oxford English Dictionary, there exist "often, however, in English dialect and in U.S., simply = 'chap', 'customer', 'fellow'." It is interesting to reconstruct this cultural and historical development and the region and the social strata which outlined it. One can


3 The Oxford English Dictionary. I. Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 1933, p. 1160. The dictionary provides another, less studied historical meaning of the word "bugger" -usurer. It suggests that the heretics dealt in money-lending because the money provided their independence from the feudal power and hierarchy.

4 The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, ed. by C. T. Onions, 1966, p. 124.

5 Websters Third International Dictionary. Massachusets, 1961, p. 291


assume that French linguistic practice has shed the negative connotations imposed on "bougres" because the French have reconsidered their attitude to the Cathars with the passage of time, perceiving them as the carriers of a highly developed for the Middle Ages civilisation. On the other hand, arriving in England under the negative stamp of the Inquisition, this word was locked in the artificially acquired negative meaning and the mass conscience lost its real history, nor did it have occasion to restore it.

To the best of my knowledge, the first more comprehensive attempt to restore the historical truth in England was made by Moses Gaster in 1887. Quoting C. S. Faber, he wrote: "Boggard" a Northern provincial appellation of a foul fiend evidently resolves itself into Bulgard, or Bulgarian, the very common designation of theAlbigenses, whose dealing with Satan notoriously a general belief. "6 As was already mentioned, in the next century The Oxford English Dictionary marked the connection "bougres/buggers" or "heretics who came from Bulgaria in the 11th century" with "Albigenses" (Cathars). It is also pointed out that, according to R. Brunne Cron. of 1330, "bugger" entered the English language with the double meaning of sodomite and heretic: "þe Kyng said & did crie, þe pape was heretike... and lyued in bugerie". The combination "þe bougre and þe heretike" is found in Ayenb. of l3407. It is important that the OED admits that sodomy was ascribed to the heretics. The dictionary of Funk & Wagnalls uses a slightly stronger word to show the imposition of foreign meaning on "bugger": "Bulgarian heretics to whom abominable practices were imputed."8 But it was Eric Partridge who finally pointed out the truth, i.e. that the "bougres" or Bulgarian heretics were vilified. He showed how "bugger" originated "from ML Bulgarus, a Bulgar, hence a heretic and, by lay slander (italics - G.V.), a sodomite."9

Who was the author of this slander? After the first two marches against the Cathars, undertaken by Pope Innocent III and the Northern French kingdom in the beginning of the 13th century, the populace of Provence and Northern Italy sympathised with the victims because of their education and moral purity. It was then, too, that the Catholic clergy launched a vilifying campaign against them10.

Why were the poor bougres, persecuted and burnt at the stake, also presented as sodomites? Since the heretics and particularly their leaders were paragons of virtue and the fact that they did not spare themselves or their strict moral conduct were noticed by most of their contemporary chroniclers, an arbitrary allegation had to be found which could fire the imagination of the uneducated ordinary people by ignominious means so that they would substitute their admiration for complete denial. It is obvious that the psychological mechanism of this scheme was well-planned.


6 G a s t e r, M. Op. cit., p. 78. For one can appreciate the contribution of Faber and Gaster in clarifying this problem we should mention the fact that in the Etymological Dictionary of the English language, published by W. S. Keat in 1879-1882, Oxford, the word "bugger" is missing.

7 The OED, v. I, p. 1019, 1160.

8 Funk & Wagnalls New Standart Dictionary of the English Language. N.-Y., L., 1933, p. 341.

9Partridge,E.A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modem English. L., 1959/1966, p. 63.

10 R Nelli has explained the relatively late negative connotation of the word "bougre":"In the beginning the troubadours (i. e. the 13th century - author's note, G. V.) did not lend a negative meaning when they mentioned the name "bougre" as, for example, in the Song of the Crusade against the Albigensians. It was only later that the word acquired a disparaging connotation and became a term of abuse in the mouths of those who persecuted "the Bulgarian heresy" - Catharism" (Participation in a discussion published in the book of Топенчаров, Вл. "Две жарави - един пламък", Cофия., 1982, c. 174).



Yes, the Cathars, whose name means "pure" in Greek, were people who seemingly had no human weakness because they had given up the ways of the sinful world like eating meat or shedding blood. Ordinary people thought of them as living saints capable of working miracles. But, the propaganda of the Catholic Church "specified", the Cathars denied the carnal relations between people because they had such with... animals11. But no one has seen such a thing, nor is there evidence of such actions. No one has seen it, the ecclesiastic "interpreters" explained again, because the Cathars fornicated secretly, in the night. And it was that fornication which wore them out, not the fast and prayer to which they claimed they had dedicated themselves.

Many authors have pointed out that the church frequently resorted to calumny in dealing with the heresies, including one of the most famous scholars of Catharism, Charles Schmidt. It is strange that in the past it was even taken up by creative personalities who were familiar with the depths of heretic philosophy like, for example, Joachim of Fiore. Nevertheless, objective scholars like Lev Karsavin, who had no personal sympathies for the Cathars and considered them a force destructive to medieval Christian civilisation, wrote quite frankly: "It is not by chance that, beginning with Bernard of Clairvaux, many writers, saints, prelates and monks tried to discredit the morality of the heretics and spread rumours of how they sinned during their nightly gatherings. And if these allegations are few, this only proves one thing - their complete groundlessness."12

Therefore, the conclusion that comes to mind is that the word "bugger" entered the English language in the first third of the 14th century as an echo of the negative campaign the Catholic Church had launched in Southern France against "les bougres" - the Cathar heretics. That is why neither the Englishmen of the Middle Ages nor those that live today perceive it as the national name "Bulgarian" but as a negative epithet, frozen in signifying a perversion. It has undergone the greatest deformation in comparison to other words whose initial meaning was shifted when they entered the context of heretical culture. In 1931 J. L. Seifert gave two examples which confirm the pattern of such a shift. He pointed out that the national name "Fleming" (flamendr) entered the Czech language during the international heretical communications and remained there with the distorted meaning of "singer", while in the 16th c. the word "Waldenses" (Vaudois) began to acquire the meaning of "sorcerer" under the influence of the mixing of late trends in the Waldensian heresy with sub-cultural phenomena like alchemy and astrology13. An additional,


11 This slander spread over a considerable territory. Borislav Primov has noted the existence of the word "buzzerone" in Italian with the meaning of "homosexual", "sodomite" and the participle "buzerans" in Hungarian which means "a man sexually involved with another man". According to B. Primov, both the latter and the verb "buzeral", meaning "to trouble", "to pester", have come to the Hungarian from the Italian through German of Serbo-Croatian mediation. Примов, Б.,Бугрите (Книга за поп Богомил и неговите последователи), София, 1970, с.с.305-306

B. Primov's observation is confirmed by Du Cange who points out that the Spanish word "bujaran" is loaded with the same negative meaning - "masculorum concubitor", i.e. "one who lives with a man" (Du Cange. Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, t.I, p. 772). Although it has acquired a pejorative content this term it to all means and purposes a trace which outlines the large geographical territory of "Bulgarian", i.e. Bogomil influence.

12 The noted Russian historian and philosopher quotes the opinion of more sincere Catholic chroniclers. One of them characterised the Patarene Diotesalva as "respected, with honest conduct and dignified bearing" (aspectu venerabilem, honestum incessu et exteriori habitu). Karsavin also quotes another chronicles: "They say that the heretics are virtuous and accomplish miracles" (Dicebant quod heretici faciebant virtutes et miracula). Kapcaвинъ, Л.П. Очерки религиозной жизни в ИталiXII-XIII вьков. С-т Петербургъ, 1912, c. 54. See also the Annex to this article.

13 S e i fe r t, J. L. Die Weltrevolutionare (Von Bogomil ьber Hus zu Lenin). Amalthea-


secondary designation of "bugger" as a result, as an echo of those events can also be seen in the fact that in those times the usurers in Provence and Lombardy were called "bougres".

2. Hidden identity

The logic of linguistic quest presupposes another question: isn't there any other indirect trace connected with this or another encounter of the island with the dualistic heresy? Should one open The Oxford English Dictionary at the entry of "publican" one will find information about such an earlier arrival of a heresy on British soil in 1160. The evidence is provided by William of Newburg (Guillelmus Novoburgensis) and is interpreted by Stephen Runciman and Milan Loos. It is the result of the wave which spread from Germany and was recorded there by Eckbert, Abbot of Schonau. A group of some 30 uneducated people who denied baptism, marriage, the Eucharist and Catholic unity and were led by one Gerhard came to England - these people William of Newburg calls "publicani"14. Stephen Runciman further adds that, in 1167, heretics with the name of Poplicani or Deonarii were caught in Burgundy and tried in Vezelay on the charges that they denied the cross, holy water, churches, donations, marriage and the holy orders15.

Finding that the heretical group of "publicani" which arrived in England was related to Flemish and Burgundian heretical communities, St. Runciman has in fact pointed out the two main channels by which heretics and, what is more important heretical apocrypha, would again come to the island over the next two centuries. Those were actually the Flemish-German and French (Norman-Burgundian) ways of influence (author's italics - G.V.). But Runciman also cared to reveal the root of the name "publicani" or "poplicani", suggesting that this is a Latinized phonetic transcription of the Greek word Paulicians. The western followers of the heresy came into direct contact with one of the sources in. Constantinople where the resident Paulicians presented the strictly dualistic, or Dragovitsa branch of the Bogomil church16. And, according to Stephen Runciman and the majority of the scholars, it was the dualists from Constantinople who were among the propagators of the heresy in that period.

The view that the Cathars were called "poblicans" in Northern France and England was voiced as early as 1849 by the outstanding scholar Charles Schmidt, who also quoted a list of old chroniclers who mentioned that name17. Some of them are given in Du Cange's Glossarium. The latter truly mentions the


Verlag. Ziirich-Leipzig-Wien, 1931, S. 52, 111. The Czech dictionaries give a rather different meaning of'flamendr", i. e. "vagrant", but etymologists point out that it primarily entered the Czech through the German as signifying a "merchant from Flanders" - M a c h e k, V. Etymologicky slovnik jazyka ceskeho. Praha, 1971, p. 146. As many historians have pointed out it was the merchants who were among the main propagators of the Cathar heresy in Europe. One should also mention that, quoting C. S. Faber, M. Gaster also mentioned how the name Vaudois (Waldensian) was loaded with the meaning of "sorcerer" -Gaster, M. Op. cit, p. 78.

14 R u n c i m a n, St. The Medieval Manichee (A Study of Christian Dualist Heresy). CUP, 1947, p. 122.

15 Ibidem. Milan Loos (Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages. Akademia-Praha, 1974, p. 117,125) mentions a barely studied case of probably Cathar heresy in England, mentioned in Guilberti Foliot Epistola CCL (Ad Rogerium Wigorniesem episcopum) PL 190, col. 935-936: "Quod super his textoribus sentiamus, qui vestra nuper ingressi diocesim..." It was a typical Bogomil-Cathar detail that they preached in the popular tongue: "Qui corde conceptas haereses in vulgus spargendo praedicant."

16 The Medieval Manichee, p. 123.

17 S c h m i d t, C. Histoire de la doctrine de la secte des Cathares ou Albigeois. T. II. Paris-Geneve, 1849, p. 280. Schmidt quotes Muratori as the first historian to deduct the



"popelicani" as early as 1017, while the Chronicle of Rodulphus Coggeshalensis from the time of Louis VII (1137-1180) says that it was thus that the "popular tongue" called the heretics who had spread to many parts of France18. At the Third Lateran Council of 1179 quoted by Du Cange, the names of the heretics Cathars, Patrenes (Patarenes) and Publicani were placed next to one another, with the explanation that they had spread in Albi, Toulouse and elsewhere19. From Magna Chronica Belgica of 1208, again after Du Cange, we leam that the Popelicani professed both principles, i.e. they were dualists.

Among modern scholars, Stephen Runciman's opinion is shared by Femand Niel20 and particularly by Borislav Primov why pays special attention to this matter. Although he uses Du Cange's Glossarium most frequently, he has sufficient reason to conclude that all the forms of "Publicani", "Populicani", "Poblicani" and "Popelicani" originate from the Latin name of the Paulicians - "Pauliciani"21. The Dragovitsa Paulician church around Plovdiv22, known for its extreme dualism, was a sort of rival in the infiltration of the Bulgarian Bogomil Church to the West. With time, regardless of the theoretical discussions between the adherents to the moderate (Bulgarian Bogomil Church) and the extreme (Dragovitsa Church) dualism, in Western Europe the two religious communities began to be perceived as variants of one phenomenon - Catharism, both indicating that Bulgaria was the original source of that heresy (author's italics - G. V.).

Back on British territory, one sees that while the word "bugger" was pushed back because of its derogatory deformation of meaning, the heretics who found firmer foothold in England under the name of "publicans" and later on maybe bearing in mind the tragic continental fate of the "bougres" (the annihilation of the Cathar civilisation in Southern France) succeeded in adopting an aspect more acceptable to the Church in England. Although one could object that, at the end of the 12th century, it was "publicans" who were tried, branded and chased out of Oxford, it seems that after several decades of persecution they contrived various means of adaptation and mimicry which to a certain extent led the heretic communities out of the sphere of direct conflict with the ecclesiastic power. A case in point is the fact that the heretics managed to "change" to a definitely positive aspect the etymology of their name by a skilfully translated parable from the New Testament.

To this end the Cathars and the "Publicans" used Christ's parable of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector) (Luke 18:9-14). While the publican with direct Cathar-Paulician link (Antiquit. ital. med. oevi, V, 83). He also quoted the particularly authoritative opinion of Mosheim that the Cathars were Paulicians who, coming from Bulgaria and Thrace, spread their doctrine in Italy and the rest of the West (Institut. hist. eccl.,379)-p.261.


18 D u C a n g e. Op. cit., t. VI, p. 412 says about the "Publicani": "that is how our Manichaeans are called".

19 Concilium Lateranse III, cap. XXVII, De hereticis, Mansi, t. 22, col. 232.

20 N i e 1, F. Albigeois et Cathares. PUF, Paris, 1959, p. 59.

21 Примов, Б. "Българското народностно име в Западно Европа във връзка с богомилите". - Изв. Инст. Бълг. Ист. 6, 1956. Always correct to the smallest detail, Ch. Schmidt does not forget to recall the exact phonetic way of producing "Poblicans":" παυλικιανοι or παυλικανοι was pronounced by the Greeks as "Pawlikani" from which the French can spontaneously produce the form of "Poblicans". This last, by the way, is the Old French pronunciation of "Pauliciens".

22 D. Obolensky, relying on P. Safarik and N. Filipov, also located the Dragovitsa church (Ecclesia Dugunthiae) in or around Plovdiv, near the Dragovitsa River. Thus he had reason to question the claim of Fr. Racki (later adopted by Dr. Dragojlovic and others) that the Dragovitsa church was located in Macedonia. -Obolensky, D. The Bogomils (A Study in Balkan Neo-manichaeism). Cambridge, 1948, 158-169.


his unpopular profession honestly admitted to his sins in the temple, the Pharisee placed himself closer to God and above the others. Christ condemned such hypocrisy and pointed out that the humble publican had greater chances for God's mercy. Identifying themselves with the publican (publicanus in the Latin translation of the New Testament) the "Popelicani" or "Publicans" succeeded in symbolically placing their much-suffering heads under the protective force of Christ's preference. At the same time, by the logic of this interpretation, their persecutors (inquisitors, Dominicans and bishops) proved in the place of the Pharisees. This comparison was used even in Southern France, but there it was rather a means of polemising than of mimicry. There is just such a quotation by the famous 14th century inquisitor, Bernard Gui, who has recorded how the Cathars from Southern France called their persecutors from the Catholic Church Pharisees and saw themselves in the position of the persecuted Christ and the apostles: "sicut docuit Christus et apostoli ejus... cum tamen ipsi sint boni homines et boni christiani, sicut pharisei persequebantur Christum et apostolos ejus."23

There are also facts indicating one of the ways in which this approach was transferred to England. It was frequently used by Guillaume de Saint-Amour (1202-1272), rector of Paris University, in his epic struggle against the tidewater of Catholic orders in the emancipated University of Paris. One finds that a sermon of his, reprinted four centuries later by an English Reformation publication, had the objective of using "old authors" to expose the "mistakes and malpractices of the Roman Church"24.

The dauntless Guillaume de Saint-Amour, to whose courageous struggle nearly a whole chapter of the Roman de la Rose is dedicated, called his opponents from the religious orders "falsely pious" who love the loftiness, fame, vanity, showiness and bows addressed to them. At the same time the "publicans" are presented as "men of the world who, even if they are sinners" do not pretend they are saints and admit to their sins. That Guillaume de Saint-Amour was familiar with Cathar mythology is also indicated by the following passage in the same sermon. He points out that the clerical Pharisees have become pseudo-apostles, just as the angel Satan was transfigured into an angel of light", i.e. Lucifer: "ipse per enim angelus Satanael transfigurat se in angelum lucis"25. This could be the shortest version of the Bogomil legend about the fall of Satan and at the same time a purely Bogomil-Cathar hint that the earthly order (including that of the church) was established by Satan.

This hereticised, or at least deviating from the canon parable became a popular image in English literature: Wycliffe used it in his sermons; it is mentioned in the Chronicle of 1340 (Ayenb. 175) quoted above which speaks of "Þe bougre and Þe heretike", and the same sermon is mentioned by Chaucer. In its traditional and untraditional interpretation, the underscored image of the publican was used by Shakespeare, Robertson, Milton and Bunyan. In other words, when one looks at the respective page of the OED one sees that the publicistic-imagery meaning of this word has prevailed, its more frequent usage being connected with that anti-Catholic and Reformist spirit with which it had once been loaded by the "publicani" heretics in Southern France. This is a linguistic reflection of the ostensible change of identity with which the old "publicani" or "popelicani" covered their Catharo-Paulician origin and presented themselves as followers of the publican from the Gospel of St. Luke.


23 G u i, B. Manuel de 1'inquisiteur. I. P., 1926, p. 24.

24 Scriptorum veterum (quorum pars magna nunc primum e MSS. Codibus in lucem arodit) qui Ecclesiae Rom. Errores & Abusus detegunt & damnant necessitatem qui Reformationis urgent. Londini, MDCXC.

25 Ibidem, p. 46, 49.


Thus the names "bugger" (Bulgarian) and "publican" (Paulician), which respectively started from the Bulgarian Bogomil Church and the Paulician (Dragovitsa) Dualist Church near Plovdiv - in both cases from Bulgarian territory, travelled the long route through Bosnia, Dalmatia, Northern Italy, France, Germany and Flanders to be taken to the island and adopted by the English language with those changes, even distortions, which the long and difficult journey had imposed on them. The reconstruction of the cultural epic is a humanist task:

in this way one leaves the layer of meaning imposed by the rule of the stronger (which is always deforming) and reveals the cultural and civilisational synthesis of ideas and conduct which took place during the Middle Ages perceived as the age of introversion. In our case, the depth of philosophical ideas, the rich imagery and inventive discussion indicate that dialogue between cultures is a historical law. That that law today becomes a calling of mankind and that the real connection between the "ego" and the "other" is in the mutual revealing of their spiritual essence. Sonner or later this will happen - a stand which Tsvetan Todorov aptly defends in his well-known book La conquete de I'Amerique. La question de I'autre (1982). A similar kind of retrospection is applicable not only to the space that is external to Europe, but also within that of its own history. Thus the chronicle of some tragic centuries is substituted for, or at least complemented with its alternative - the resurrection of even today important quests of the spirit which, one must say, were even then expressed in a surprisingly rational form.


The opinion of serious scholars coincides with the conclusions ofL. P. Karsavin about the moral purity of those heretics. Such is the stand of Ch. Schmidt and this is how N. Osokin sums it up: "Even in the eyes of the strictest moral judgement the Cathars would be worthy of the name they have chosen for themselves" (καθαροι = pure). ( Осокинъ, Н. "Исторiя Альбигойцевъ до кончины папы Иннокентiя III". Kазань, 1869, c.204).

A whole list of recorded observations can be provided in this respect. First Euthymius of Akmonia (after 1034) wrote that the ungodly Churila preached "He who does not leave his wife cannot be saved" and that, in addition, the heretics "teach the men to leave their wives and the women to leave their own men". It seems that in order to invalidate such ascetism Euthymius accused Churila of "raping a maiden in some abandoned mill" (F i c k e r, G. Die Phundagiagiten. Leipzig, 1908). In his famous Panoplia dogmatica (the beginning of the 12th century) Euthymius Zigabenus described how strictly the Bogomils kept the fast. In addition to the Fast of Lent, they "on the second and the fourth day and the Friday of every week fast right up to the ninth hour". In order to throw a shadow on the strict conduct of the Bogomils and without quoting any facts, Zigabenus in turn makes the publicistic remark: "If, however, someone invites them to dine they immediately forget their instructions and eat like elephants. Hence it is clear that they also behave outrageously, although they denounce fornication as if they were without flesh and body." (P. Gr., t. 130). We find the same approach in Presbyter Cosmas (10th century). On the one hand he admits the ascetic self-denial of the Bogomils from this world and its pleasures: "...they declare themselves inhabitants of the heavens and the men who marry and live in the world they call servants of Mammon." On the other, however, he did not miss the opportunity for an insinuating remark - without, of course, quoting facts Cosmas calls their fast "hypocritical": "Actually the heretics are like sheep: meek, submissive and quiet.


Their faces are seemingly pale with the hypocritical fast" ("Беседа против богомилите". - In: "Стара българска литература 2. Ораторска проза". Cофия, 1982, c. 31).

I will quote two of the more popular Western sources: Salve Burce's description and that of the inquisitor Bernard Gui. In 1235 Salve Burce wrote: "Dicunt enim omnes, scilicet Catheri, quod in matrimonio temporali est fornicatio, dicenda malum Deum istum, Diabolum istud ordinasse." (The Cathars say that marriage on Earth is fornication, that the bad god, the Devil, has ordered so) (S a 1 v e Burce. Supra stella. - In: Dokumente vornehmlich zur Geschichte der Valdesier und Katharer herausgegeben von Ign. v. Doеllinger. Muеnchen, 1890, S. 54).

Bernard Gui (the beginning of the 14th century) describes how the Cathars keep strict fast and, in addition to the regular fasts "et per totum anum residium diebusjejunant in pane et aqua in quolibet septimana.-.Item, non tangunt aliquam mulierem" (the whole year they fast on bread and water three days a week...Also they do not touch any woman) (G u i, B. Manuel de 1'inquisiteur, edite et traduit par G. Mollat. I. Paris, 1926, p. 18). There is no attempt at calumny in these documents and the facts are given as they are. In Salve Burce one finds an important detail which, either because of misunderstanding or because of the intentions of Catholic propaganda, served as the basis for a rumour against the Cathars.

The Cathars believed that they were children of the Good God and it follows from this that they considered themselves brothers and sisters, members of one spiritual family. That was why they thought that cohabitation with one's own wife was equal to incests with one's mother or daughter (Item dicunt; jungere se cum uxore sua aut con matre aut con filia aut on alia uxore unum et idem peccatum esse, quantum est Deo, sed qantum est mundum, scandalum est) (Doеllinger. Op. cit., p. 54). It is with exactly this interpretation that Reiner Sacconi, for example, speculated. With the zeal of a renegade (a former heresiarch) he did not hesitate to use for anti-Cathar propaganda the twisted claim that "multi credentes eorum tarn uiri quam mulieres non tient magis accedere ad sororem suam et fratrem.-.etc." (both men and women have no fear of having intercourse with a sister or a brother of theirs... etc.) (Sacconi, R. Summa de Catharis. - Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum (Roma), XLIV, 1974, p. 45). Still, considering the good name the Cathars enjoyed among the population Sacconi stipulates that some of the Cathars did not do that because they were ashamed.

Right to the end of the 14th century the populace in Southern France retained the strong memory of the high morals of the Cathars, particularly of their leaders - the "perfect" (perfecti). Duvernoy, Jean. L'acception: "haereticus" (iretge). -In: The Concept of Heresy in the Middle Ages. Paris-La Haye. I. 1976-77, quotes a number of opinions of ordinary people, recorded in the Registre de Jean Fournier published by him. A farmer who was led out of the secret Cathar meeting (around 1303) because he seemed slightly suspicious exclaimed:"But, sir, I too want to receive a part of the Good!" (Registre, I, p. 437). Another 14th century exclamation has been recorded: "Since the heretics were chased from Sabartes there is no longer good weather in the area" (Registre, II, p. 335, 353-354). This is followed by the emotional statement that after the heretics were driven away "the land does not produce anything good" (Registre, III, p. 307). Jean Duvernoy also quotes another document, dating from around the year 1300 - the Registre de Geoffroy d'Ablis (Paris, Bibl. Nat., ms. Lat. 4269, f 16v) in which a similar belief has been recorded that the Cathars brought happiness and plenty and that one could not do evil in the day one had seen one of the perfect. Sometimes the goodness of the Cathars was given natural dimensions. A notary from Soual (Tames) says: "When the heretics lived in these lands we did not have so many storms or lightning.


Now that we are with Franciscans and Dominicans the lightning strikes more frequently." (Paris, Bibl. Nat., fonds Doat, XXV, f216v).

A similar collection of examples of the good deeds of the Cathars is provided by Richard Abels and Ellen Harrison in their study The Participation of Women in Languedocian Catharism. -Medieval Studies, Toronto, 41, p. 245. One of them, however, is particularly interesting in our case. The following has been recorded in the famous MS 609 (f 157v) about one of the witnesses with Catholic orientation: "he never believed that the heretics were "good men"; he believed, however, that their works were good, even their faith was bad" (credebat quod heretici numquam fuerunt boni homines; opera tamen eorum credebat esse bona et fidem malam).

There are truely cases when the intellectual subtlety of denying marriage by comparing it to incest was sometimes wrongly interpreted by later deformed imitators. They were not familiar with the rich philosophy of Catharism and gave a more primitive expression of their anti-conformism. Johannes Hartmann (1367) claimed that incest with mothers and sisters was allowed "because just as the calves were given for food to the people, women are given for the use of free spirits." (Seifert, J. L. Die Weltrevolutionare..., S. 45). These, however, were no longer Cathars but the sect of free spirits. Finally, to conclude the documentary supplement on this subject, it is only fair to quote the case of Belibaste (14th century) who really was known for his penchant for the flesh, although those were times when the Cathar church had already been destroyed by persecution and the self-control which the perfect strictly kept between themselves was no longer possible.

The spiritual purity of the Bogomils and the Cathars remains a high moral example for that age against the background of which the dissipated clergy was extremely embarrasing to medieval society. Presbyter Cosmas used strong words against the "laziness and ignorance of the shepherds" and upbraided the Orthodox priests that they sheared their flock without caring about it ("Беседа против богомилите", c. 74). Pope Innocent III sent special scorching letters and punished the steeped in corruption Catholic clergy in Southern France. The rigorism of the "perfect" (Bogomil and Cathar leaders) was so consistent that they themselves were aware it could not be achieved by their ordinary audience. That was why the Cathar community allowed those ordinary people to have a family and live in the world within the limits of the rules in the Scripture. It was in fact the Bogomil-Cathar purity which attracted enthusiastic followers of the heresy, for they saw in it the opportunity to begin a spiritually dedicated, undivided and morally ennobled life.