History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
« Prev The Waldenses Next »

§ 84. The Waldenses.

"O lady fair, I have yet a gem which a purer lustre flings

Than the diamond flash of the jewelled crown on the lofty brow of kings;

A wonderful pearl of exceeding price, whose virtue shall not decay,

Whose light shall be as a spell to thee and a blessing on thy way!"

Whittier, The Vaudois Teacher.

Distinct from the Cathari and other sects in origin and doctrine, but sharing with them the condemnation of the established Church, were the Waldenses. The Cathari lived completely apart from the Catholic Church. The Waldenses, leaning upon the Scriptures, sought to revive the simple precepts of the Apostolic age. They were the strictly biblical sect of the Middle Ages. This fact, and the pitiless and protracted persecutions to which they were subjected, long ago won the sympathies of the Protestant churches. They present a rare spectacle of the survival of a body of believers which has come up out of great tribulation.

Southern France was their first home, but they were a small party as compared with the Albigenses in those parts. From France they spread into Piedmont, and also into Austria and Germany, as recent investigations have clearly brought out. In Italy, they continue to this day in their ancestral valleys and, since 1870, endowed with full rights of citizenship. In Austria, they kept their light burning as in a dark place for centuries, had a close historic connection with the Hussites and Bohemian Brethren, and prepared, in some measure, the way for the Anabaptists in the time of the Reformation.

The Waldenses derive their origin and name from Peter Waldus or Valdez,10561056    Valdesius, Valdensius, or Waldunus. The name is given in these and other forms by writers of the thirteenth century. De Bourbon, p. 290; Guy, p. 244; Döllinger, II. 6, 300, etc. Bernard, abbot of Fontis Calidi, Migne, 204. 793, allegorizes when he says they were called "Valdenses, as though they came from a dense valley and are involved in its deep thick darkness of errors." Alanus de insulis, Migne, 210, p. 377 sqq., says the "Waldenses are so called from their heresiarch Waldus, the founder of the new sect who presumed to preach without authority of prelate, without divine inspiration, knowledge, or letters. A philosopher without head, a prophet without vision, an apostle without mission, a teacher without instructor, whose disciples, or rather musciples (discipuli imo muscipuli), seduce the unwary in different parts of the world." were also called Poor Men of Lyons, from the city on the Rhone where they originated, and the Sandalati or Sandalled, from the coarse shoes they wore.10571057    Pauperes de Lugduno, Leonistae, etc. Zabatati, or Insobbalati, because the shoe was cut in the shape of a shield. Guy, 245; Döllinger, II. 92, 233, etc.

The name by which they were known among themselves was Brethren or the Poor of Christ,10581058    Inter se vocant Fratres seu Pauperes Christi. Guy, p. 256.bably upon Matt. 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." According to the Anonymous writer of Passau, writing in the early years of the fourteenth century, some already in his day carried the origin of the sect back to the Apostles. Until recently all Waldensian writers have claimed for it Apostolic origin or gone at least as far back as the seventh century. Professor Comba, of the Waldensian school in Florence, has definitely given up this theory in deference to the investigations of Dieckhoff, Herzog, and other German scholars.

Of Waldo’s life little is known. A prosperous merchant of Lyons, he was aroused to religious zeal by the sudden death of a leading citizen of the city, of which he was a witness, and by a ballad he heard sung by a minstrel on the public square. The song was about St. Alexis, the son of wealthy parents who no sooner returned from the marriage altar than, impressed by the claims of celibacy, he left his bride, to start on a pilgrimage to the East. On his return he called on his relatives and begged them to give him shelter, but they did not recognize who he was till they found him dead. The moral drawn from the tale was: life is short, the times are evil, prepare for heaven.

Waldo sought counsel from a priest, who told him there were many ways to heaven, but if he would be perfect, he must obey Christ’s precepts, and go and sell all that he had and give to the poor, and follow him. It was the text that had moved Anthony of Egypt to flee from society. Waldo renounced his property, sent his two daughters to the convent of Fontevrault, gave his wife a portion of his goods, and distributed the remainder to the poor. This was about 1170.

His rule of life, Waldo drew from the plain precepts of the Bible. He employed Bernard Ydros and Stephen of Ansa to translate into the vernacular the Gospels and other parts of the Scriptures, together with sayings of the Fathers. He preached, and his followers, imitating his example, preached in the streets and villages, going about two by two.10591059    Per vicos et plateas evangelium praedicare et Valdesius multos homines utriusque sexus viros et mulieres complices sibi fecit ad similem praesumptionem, etc. Guy, p. 244.hbishop of Lyons attempted to stop them, they replied that "they ought to obey God, rather than men."

Very unexpectedly the Waldenses made their appearance at the Third Lateran council, 1179, at least two of their number being present. They besought Alexander III. to give his sanction to their mode of life and to allow them to go on preaching. They presented him with a copy of their Bible translation. The pope appointed a commission to examine them. Its chairman, Walter Map, an Englishman of Welsh descent and the representative of the English king, has left us a curious account of the examination. He ridicules their manners and lack of learning.10601060    de nugis, Wright’s ed., p. 64 sq. Map, who felt highly honored by his appointment, called them simple and illiterate, idiotae et illiterati, terms used also by de Bourbon, p. 292, and Guy, p. 244. they have a safe path. He commenced with the simplest of questions, being well aware, as he said, that a donkey which can eat much oats does not disdain milk diet. On asking them whether they believed in the persons of the Trinity they answered, "Yes." And "in the Mother of Christ?" To this they also replied "Yes." At that the committee burst out laughing at their ignorance, for it was not proper to believe in, but to believe on, Mary. "Being poor themselves, they follow Christ who was poor,—nudi nudum Christum sequentes. Certainly it is not possible for them to take a more humble place, for they have scarcely learned to walk. If we admit them, we ourselves ought to be turned out." This vivacious committee-man, who delighted so much in chit-chat, as the title of his book indicates, further says that the Waldenses went about barefooted, clad in sheep-skins, and had all things common like the Apostles.

Without calling the Waldenses by name, the council forbade them to preach. The synod of Verona, 1184, designated them as "Humiliati, or Poor Men of Lyons," and anathematized them, putting them into the same category with the Cathari and Patarines. Their offence was preaching without the consent of the bishops.

Although they were expelled from Lyons and excommunicated by the highest authority of the Church, the Waldenses ceased not to teach and preach. They were called to take part in disputations at Narbonne (1190) and other places. They were charged with being in rebellion against the ecclesiastical authorities and with daring to preach, though they were only laymen. Durandus of Huesca, who had belonged to their company, withdrew in 1207 and took up a propaganda against them. He went to Rome and secured the pope’s sanction for a new order under the name of the "Catholic Poor" who were bound to poverty; the name, as is probable, being derived from the sect he had abandoned.

Spreading into Lombardy, they met a party already organized and like-minded. This party was known as the Humiliati. Its adherents were plain in dress and abstained from oaths and falsehood and from lawsuits. The language, used by the Third Oecumenical council and the synod of Verona, identified them with the Poor Men of Lyons.10611061    The exact relation of the Poor Men of Lyons to the Humiliati is still a matter of discussion. Müller, in his Anfänge des Minoritenordens, etc., has done much to change our knowledge of the Humiliati. The view taken above may account for the language of the Verona council, Humiliati vel Pauperes de Lugduno, which was probably chosen for the very purpose of indicating that the resemblance between the two parties was so close as to make it uncertain whether there were two sects or only one. This view seems to be borne out by the two statements of Salve Burce. Döllinger, II. 64, 74.ly affiliated. It is probable that Waldo and his followers on their visits in Lombardy won so much favor with the older sect that it accepted Waldo’s leadership. At a later date, a portion of the Humiliati associated themselves in convents, and received the sanction of Innocent III. It seems probable that they furnished the model for the third order of St. Francis.10621062    See p. 411. Sabatier, Regula Antiqua, p. 15, expresses the opinion that Francis may have been more indebted to them than we have supposed. if not all, were treated by contemporaries as his followers and called Runcarii.10631063    Salve Burce, who was acquainted with Roncho, called him "a simple man, without education,"idiota absque literis. Döllinger, II. 64.thren.10641064    Rainerius, Martène, p. 1775, Rescriptum, p. 57; Guy, p. 247; Döllinger, II. 320, etc. Rainerius is in substantial agreement with Burce who says that the Poor Men of Lombardy derived their existence from the Ultramontane Poor.

A dispute arose between the Humiliati and the Poor Men of Lyons as to their relation to one another and to Peter Waldo, which led to a conference, in 1218, at Bergamo. Each party had six representatives.10651065    The account is given in the Rescriptum. See Preger, Döllinger, II. 42-52, and Müller, Die Waldenser, p. 22. The separation between the Lombard and the Lyonnese parties is referred to in the list of inquisitorial questions to be put to them. Döllinger, II. 320 sq.charist and whether Waldo was then in paradise. The Lombards contended that the validity of the sacrament depended upon the good character of the celebrant. The question about Waldo and a certain Vivetus was, whether they had gone to heaven without having made satisfaction before their deaths for all their sins.10661066    Rescriptum, Döllinger, II. 46.ldo’s leadership by the Lombard Waldenses. Salve Burce, 1235, who ridiculed the Waldensians on the ground of their recent origin, small number, and lack of learning, compared the Poor Men of Lombardy and the Poor Men of Lyons with the two Catharan sects, the Albanenses and the Concorrezzi, and declared the four were as hostile, one to the other, as fire and water.10671067    Döllinger, II. 73.m means division and strife.

In the crusades against heretics, in Southern France, the Waldenses were included, but their sufferings were small compared with those endured by the Albigenses. Nor do they seem to have furnished many victims to the Inquisition in the fourteenth century. Although Bernard Guy opened his trials in 1308, it was not till 1316 that a Waldensian was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and another to death by burning. Three years later, twenty-six were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and three to death in the flames.10681068    Summing up all the cases under Guy, Lea, II. 149, says that there was no very active persecution against the Lyonnese Waldenses.

It was in Italy and Austria that the Waldenses furnished their glorious spectacle of unyielding martyrdom. From France they overflowed into Piedmont, partly to find a refuge in its high valleys, seamed by the mountain streams of the Perouse, the Luserne, and the Angrogne. There, in the Cottian Alps, they dwelt for some time without molestation. They had colonies as far south as Calabria, and the emigration continued in that direction till the fifteenth century.10691069    Comba, p. 103 sq.; Lea, II. 259 sqq.tto IV. issued an edict of banishment and in 1220 Thomas, count of Savoy, threatened with fines all showing them hospitality. But their hardy industry made them valuable subjects and for a hundred years there was no persecution in the valleys unto death. The first victim at the stake perished, 1312.

Innocent VIII., notorious for his official recognition of witchcraft, was the first papal persecutor to resort to rigorous measures. In 1487, he announced a crusade, and called upon Charles VIII. of France and the duke of Savoy to execute the decree. Everything the Waldenses had endured before, as Leger says, was as "roses and flowers" compared with what they were now called upon to suffer. Innocent furnished an army of eighteen-thousand. The Piedmontese Waldenses were forced to crouch up higher into the valleys, and were subject to almost incredible hardship. The most bitter sufferings of this Israel of the Alps were reserved for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after they had accepted the Reformation.10701070    In 1530 the mediaeval period of their history closes. At that date two of their number, Morel and Peter Masson, were sent to consult with Bucer, Oecolampadius, and other Reformers. Morel was beheaded on his return journey. His letter to Oecolampadius and the Reformer’s reply are given by Dieckhoff, pp. 364-373. The Waldenses adopted the Reformation, 1532. It was of the atrocious massacres perpetrated at that time that Milton exclaimed,

"Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints,

Whose bones he scattered on the Alpine mountains cold."

The history of the Waldensian movement in different parts of Germany and Austria has scarcely less interest than the Franco-Italian movement. It had a more extensive influence by preparing the way for other separatist and evangelical movements. It is supposed that a translation of parts of the Scriptures belonging to the Waldenses was in circulation in Metz at the end of the twelfth century. Copies were committed to the flames. It is also supposed that Waldenses were among the heretics ferreted out in Strassburg in 1212, eighty of whom were burnt, twelve priests and twenty-three women being of the number. The Waldenses spread as far north as Königsberg and Stettin and were found in Swabia, Poland, Bavaria, and especially in Bohemia and the Austrian diocese of Passau.10711071    See Comba, 74 sqq. A number of the documents given by Döllinger are interrogatories for use against the Waldenses of Germany and Austria, or accounts of their trials. One of them, in German, belongs as late as the sixteenth century, Döllinger, II. 701 sq. Haupt, Keller, Preger, and Goll have extended our knowledge of the Austrian Waldenses.

They were subjected to persecution as early as in 1260. Fifty years later there were at least forty-two Waldensian communities in Austria and a number of Waldensian schools. Neumeister, a bishop of the Austrian heretics, who suffered death with many others in 1315, testified that in the diocese of Passau alone the sect had over eighty thousand adherents.10721072    Haupt, Waldenserthum, p. 21. Austrian heretics the Poor Men of Lombardy kept up a correspondence10731073    Comba, in the French trans. of his work, and Müller, Die Waldenser, p. 103, print a consolatory letter from them to their suffering Bohemian friends.

In spite of persecutions, the German Waldenses continued to maintain themselves to the fifteenth century.

The Austrian dissenters were active in the distribution of the Scriptures. And Whittier has based his poem of the Vaudois Teacher upon the account of the so-called Anonymous writer of Passau of the fourteenth century. He speaks of the Waldenses as going about as peddlers to the houses of the noble families and offering first gems and other goods and then the richest gem of all, the Word of God. This writer praised their honesty, industry, and sobriety. Their speech, he said, was free from oaths and falsehoods.

We have thus three types of Waldenses: the Poor Men of Lyons, the Poor Men of Lombardy, and the Austrian Waldensians.10741074    The earliest writers, as the abbot Bernard and Alanus, make no distinctions. Rainerius, 1260, does, as do also the Rescriptum which has an eye to the Waldenses of Passau and Salve Burce in his Supra Stella, 1235, who refers more particularly to the Poor Men of Lombardy. David of Augsburg, 1256, an inquisitor of high repute, has in mind the Waldensians, as a body. Bernard Guy, 1320, treats of the Lyonnese Waldensians. The documents given by Döllinger extend to the sixteenth century, many of them bearing upon the Waldenses of Austria.er hand there was developed a tendency to again approach closer to the Church.10751075    At the time of the Reformation, according to Morel, dancing and all sports were forbidden, except the practice of the bow and other arms. Comba, p. 263, recognizes this opposite tendency, the Waldenses approaching closer to the established Church in their practice of the sacraments.

In their earliest period the Waldenses were not heretics, although the charge was made against them that they claimed to be "the only imitators of Christ." Closely as they and the Cathari were associated geographically and by the acts of councils, papal decrees, and in literary refutations of heresy, the Waldenses differ radically from the Cathari. They never adopted Manichaean elements. Nor did they repudiate the sacramental system of the established Church and invent strange rites of their own. They were also far removed from mysticism and have no connection with the German mystics as some of the other sectaries had. They were likewise not Protestants, for we seek in vain among them for a statement of the doctrine of justification by faith. It is possible, they held to the universal priesthood of believers. According to de Bourbon and others, they declared all good men to be priests. They placed the stress upon following the practice of the Apostles and obeying the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, and they did not know the definition which Luther put on the word "justification." They approached more closely to an opinion now current among Protestants when they said, righteousness is found only in good men and good women.10761076    De Bourbon, p. 297.

The first distinguishing principle of the Waldenses bore on daily conduct and was summed up in the words of the Apostles, "we ought to obey God rather than men." This the Catholics interpreted to mean a refusal to submit to the authority of the pope and prelates. All the early attacks against them contain this charge.10771077    The abbot Bernard, Migne, 204. 796, sqq., 817 sqq.; Alanus, Migne, 210. 380 sqq.; de Bourbon, p. 292; Döllinger, II. 6, 51. powers that be are ordained of God. This was, perhaps, the first positive affirmation of a Scriptural ground for religious independence made by the dissenting sects of the Middle Ages. It contains in it, as in a germ, the principle of full liberty of conscience as it was avowed by Luther at Worms.

The second distinguishing principle was the authority and popular use of the Scriptures. Here again the Waldenses anticipated the Protestant Reformation without realizing, as is probable, the full meaning of their demand. The reading of the Bible, it is true, had not yet been forbidden, but Waldo made it a living book and the vernacular translation was diligently taught. The Anonymous writer of Passau said he had seen laymen who knew almost the entire Gospels of Matthew and Luke by heart, so that it was hardly possible to quote a word without their being able to continue the text from memory.

The third principle was the importance of preaching and the right of laymen to exercise that function. Peter Waldo and his associates were lay evangelists. All the early documents refer to their practice of preaching as one of the worst heresies of the Waldenses and an evident proof of their arrogance and insubordination. Alanus calls them false preachers, pseudo-praedicatores. Innocent III., writing, in 1199, of the heretics of Metz, declared their desire to understand the Scriptures a laudable one but their meeting in secret and usurping the function of the priesthood in preaching as only evil. Alanus, in a long passage, brought against the Waldenses that Christ was sent by the Father and that Jonah, Jeremiah, and others received authority from above before they undertook to preach, for "how shall they preach unless they be sent." The Waldenses were without commission. To this charge, the Waldenses, as at the disputation of Narbonne, answered that all Christians are in duty bound to spread the Gospel in obedience to Christ’s last command and to James 4:17, "to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."10781078    Comba, pp. 47-52, gives a translation of the disputation at Narbonne. The abbot Bernard, Migne, 204. 805, also quotes James 4 as a passage upon which the Waldenses relied.10791079    De Bourbon, p. 291; Guy, p. 292, etc.

The Waldenses went still further in shocking old-time custom and claimed the right to preach for women as well as for men, and when Paul’s words enjoining silence upon the women were quoted, they replied that it was with them more a question of teaching than of formal preaching and quoted back Titus 2:3, "the aged women should be teachers of good things." The abbot Bernard of Fontis Calidi, in contesting the right of laics of both sexes to preach, quoted the Lord’s words commanding the evil spirit to hold his peace who had said, "Thou art the Holy One of God," Mark 1:25. If Christ did not allow the devil to use his mouth, how could he intend to preach through a Waldensian?10801080    Migne, 204. 806 sq., 825;II. 300, etc.tion of the universities of Paris, Prague, and Vienna and of all university study as a waste of time.10811081    Döllinger, II. 340.

It was an equally far-reaching principle when the Waldenses declared that it was spiritual endowment, or merit, and not the Church’s ordination which gave the right to bind and loose, to consecrate and bless.10821082    Magis operatur meritum ad consecrandum vel benedictionem, ligandum vel solvendum, quam ordo vel officium, Alanus, Migne, 204, 385. Alphandéry, p. 129, justly lays stress upon this charge.ter the Lord’s Supper. No priest, continuing in sin, could administer the eucharist, but any good layman might.10831083    Consecratio corporis et sanguinis Christi potest fieri a quolibet justo, quamvis sit laycus, Guy, p. 246. Also Rainerius, p. 1775, David of Augsburg, and Döllinger, II. 7.so charged that the Waldenses allowed laymen to receive confessions and absolve.10841084    Alanus, Migne, 210, 386.

As for the administration of baptism, there were also differences of view between the Waldenses of Italy and those of France. There was a disposition, in some quarters at least, to deny infant baptism and to some extent the opinion seems to have prevailed that infants were saved without baptism.10851085    Rainerius declares without qualification that the Poor Men of Lombardy hold to the salvation of infants not baptized, but the Rescriptum declares that baptism was regarded as necessary for all. So also David of Augsburg. See Döllinger, II. 45.aldenses were at the time of the Reformation, according to the statement of Morel, they left the administration of the sacraments to the priests. The early documents speak of the secrecy observed by the Waldenses, and it is possible more was charged against them than they would have openly acknowledged.

To the affirmation of these fundamental principles the Waldenses, on the basis of the Sermon on the Mount, added the rejection of oaths,10861086    Alanus, 210, 392; de Bourbon, pp. 292, 296; Guy, p. 246; Döllinger, II. 85 (Salve Burce), 107, 126, etc.10871087    Alanus, 210, 394; Guy, p. 246; Döllinger, II. 76, 107, 143, etc.ory and prayers for the dead.10881088    The abbot Bemard, Migne, 204, 828, 833; De Bourbon, p. 295; Döllinger, II. 93, 107, 143, etc. The story of creation ascribed to the négro, according to which God, in making man, made an image of clay and set it up against the fence to dry, is as old as Etienne de Bourbon (d. 1261) and the earliest Waldenses. Bourbon says, p. 294, that he had heard of a Waldensian who, in his testimony, had stated that God made a form of soft clay as boys do in their play, and set it up under the sun to dry, and that the cracks made by the sun were veins through which the blood began to run, and then God breathed His spirit upon the face of the image.10891089    The Waldensian teaching of the two ways has been regarded by Harnack and Keller as a reminiscence of the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Comba, p. 341, with more probability refers it to the Sermon on the Mount. The reference was, not so-much to the two ways in this life, but to the denial of purgatory, Döllinger, II. 252, 287, 300, etc.

The Waldenses regarded themselves, as Professor Comba has said, as a church within the Church, a select circle. They probably went no further, though they were charged with pronouncing the Roman Church the Babylonian harlot, and calling it a house of lies.10901090    Rainerius, p. 1775; Guy, p. 247. Also, the abbot Bernard, Migne, 204, 795 sqq., and Alanus, Migne, 210, 379 sqq. the Perfect and Believers, but this may be a mistake. In the beginning of the fourteenth century, in Southern France they elected a superintendent, called Majoralis omnium, whom, according to Bernard Guy, they obeyed as the Catholics did the pope, and they also had presbyters and deacons. In other parts they had a threefold ministry, under the name of priests, teachers, and rectors.10911091    Döllinger, II. 92. At a later date the minister among the Italian Waldenses was called barba, uncle. Comba, p. 147. Morel, in his letter to Oecolampadius, declared that these distinctions were not maintained by the Waldenses. See Dieckhoff, p. 259 sq.

From the first, the Lyonnese branch had a literature of its own and in this again a marked contrast is presented to the Cathari. Of the early Waldensian translation of the Bible in Romaunt, there are extant the New Testament complete and the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. A translation in French had preceded this Waldensian version.10921092    Berger, La Bible française au moyen âge, Paris, 1884. There are marked differences in the MSS. of the Romaunt version, in language, etc. Comba, pp. 182-185, gives paragraphs from different MSS.slation of the Bible found at Tepl, Bohemia, may have been of Waldensian origin.10931093    So Haupt and Keller, Die Reform. und die aelteren Reformparteien, Leipzig, 1886, pp. 257-260. Jostes ascribed the Version to Catholic sources, an opinion Dr. Philip Schaff was inclined to adopt. Independent, Oct. 8, 1885. Nestle, art."German Versions," in Herzog, III. 66, pronounces the question an open one.

The Nobla Leyczon,10941094    The title is from lectio, reading. The text is given by Herzog, pp. 445-457, and an English translation by Perrin, pp. 263-271.igious poem of four hundred and seventy-nine lines. It has a strictly practical purpose. The end of the world is near, man fell, Noah was spared, Abraham left his own country, Israel went down to Egypt and was delivered by Moses. Christ preached a better law, he trod the path of poverty, was crucified, and rose again. The first line ran "10 brothers, listen to a noble teaching." The poem closes with the scene of the Last Judgment and an exhortation to repent.

Through one channel the Waldenses exercised an influence over the Catholic Church. It was through the Waldensian choice of poverty. They made the, "profession of poverty," as Etienne de Bourbon calls it, or "the false profession of poverty," as Bernard Guy pronounced it. By preaching and by poverty they strove after evangelical perfection, as was distinctly charged by these and other writers. Francis d’Assisi took up with this ideal and was perhaps more immediately the disciple of the obscure Waldensians of Northern Italy than can be proved in so many words. The ideal of Apostolic poverty and practice was in the air and it would not detract from the services of St. Francis, if his followers would recognize that these dissenters of Lyons and Italy were actuated by his spirit, and thus antedated his propaganda by nearly half a century.10951095    Felder, the Roman Catholic author of the able Gesch. der wissenschaftlichen Studien im Franziskanerorden, 1904, approaches this view very closely, recognizes the effort of the Waldenses to realize the ideal of Apostolic poverty, and says, p. 1 sq., that Francis of Assisi in his work was moved by "the idea deeply rooted in his age, eine tief gewurzelte Zeitidee."

Note: Lit. bearing on the early Waldenses. For the titles, see § 79.—A new era in the study of the history and tenets of the Waldenses was opened by Dieckhoff, 1851, who was followed by Herzog, 1853. More recently, Preger, Karl Müller, Haupt, and Keller have added much to our knowledge in details, and in clearing up disputed points. Comba, professor in the Waldensian college at Florence, accepts the conclusions of modern research and gives up the claim of ancient origin, even Apostolic origin being claimed by the older Waldensian writers. The chief sources for the early history of the sect are the abbot Bernard of Fontis Calidi, d. 1193; the theologian Alanus de Insulis, d. about 1200; Salve Burce (whose work is given by Döllinger), 1235; Etienne de Bourbon, d. 1261, whose work is of an encyclopedic character, a kind of ready-reference book; the Rescriptum haeresiarcharum written by an unknown priest, about 1316, called the Anonymous of Passau; an Austrian divine, David of Augsburg, d. 1271; and the Inquisitor in Southern France, Bernard Guy, d. 1331. Other valuable documents are given by Döllinger, in his Beiträge, vol. II. These writers represent a period of more than a hundred years. In most of their characterizations they agree, and upon the main heresies of the Waldenses the earliest writers are as insistent as the later.

The Waldensian MSS., some of which date back to the thirteenth century, are found chiefly in the libraries of Cambridge, Dublin (Trinity College), Paris, Geneva, Grenoble, and Lyons. The Dublin Collection was made by Abp. Ussher who purchased in 1634 a number of valuable volumes from a French layman for five hundred and fifty francs. The Cambridge MSS. were procured by Sir Samuel Morland, Cromwell’s special envoy sent to Turin to check the persecutions of the Waldenses.

« Prev The Waldenses Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |