Edward Peters

title.none: Friedlander, The Hammer of the Inquisitors (Peters)

identifier.other: baj9928.0101.014 01.01.14

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Friedlander, Alan. The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Delicieux and the Struggle Against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France. Cultures, Beliefs, and Traditions Vol. 9. Boston: Brill, 2000. Pp. ix, 328. $112.00. ISBN: 9-004-11519-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.01.14

Friedlander, Alan. The Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Delicieux and the Struggle Against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France. Cultures, Beliefs, and Traditions Vol. 9. Boston: Brill, 2000. Pp. ix, 328. $112.00. ISBN: 9-004-11519-6.

Reviewed by:

Edward Peters
University of Pennsylvania

Bernard Delicieux, O.F.M.(c.1260-1320), first appears in history late in 1299 or early 1300, standing at a window in the wall of the Franciscan convent in the Burg of Carcassonne where he was lector. But he was not spending an average Franciscan day witnessing an average conventual scene. The lieutenant of the inquisitor of Carcassonne, accompanied by a royal judge and several dozen sergeants, had come to the convent to extricate a number of locals, wanted by the inquisitor, who had taken refuge in the Franciscan house. The brothers, however, perhaps guided or aided by Bernard himself, trapped the small force between the outer and inner gates of the convent, raised the clamor, aroused a sympathetic mob, and forced the officials to flee ignominiously back to the City from whence they had come. And so Bernard Delicieux began his nearly twenty-year career as the 'hammer of the inquisitors', and launched "the boldest and most nearly successful of any attempt at resistance the inquisitors faced during the course of the Middle Ages". (xi)

Bernard's story, as David Burr once remarked, "is one of the most exciting tales a historian could ever dream of narrating." And indeed several have, but usually from one or another polemical position, positions that in many cases dated from Bernard's own lifetime. Rector dyabolicus , maximus mendax , 'commander-in-chief and standardbearer of the army of the forces of evil' according to Bernard Gui and one school of thought, but also a man 'distinguished by his learning, his eloquence, and his devotion to God', an angelus quem Deus misit nobis , and a friend of Ramon Lull, Arnald of Vilanova, Angelo Clareno, and the saintly Felipe of Majorca. An exciting story his certainly is, but it is also one that forces the diligent historian to make some hard choices between both the rough polemic and the eulogies of the sources.

We know most about Bernard from the Processus , or record, of his trial in 1319 before Jacques Fournier, then bishop of Pamiers and later Pope Benedict XII and still later well-known for his inquisitorial work at Montaillou, and Raimond de Mostsuejouls, bishop of St. Papouls. In 1996 Friedlander published an excellent edition of the Processus from BN, MS. Lat. 4270, a seventeenth-century (and the only extant) copy of the transcript (Processus Bernardi Delitiosi: The Trial of Fr. Bernard Delicieux, 3 September-8 December 1319 , Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 86/1, Philadelphia). Now he has produced a splendid, extensively documented, and wide-ranging monograph on the man, his cause, and the vexed and troubled world in which he led it ultimately to his and its destruction. One may read the monograph without having the Processus at hand, of course, but it would be a shame not to read both, since Friedlander's citations of the Processus in the monograph refer only to the pages of the Processus edition and do not include texts printed there. Friedlander and all other historians of the period, place, and issue owe much to Jean de Doat and Jean Colbert, whose assembling of the Collection Doat (now at the Bibliotheque Nationale) in 256 volumes in the seventeenth century continues to provide a virtually inexhaustible set of sources for southern France from the twelfth century on, whose originals have been lost, 17 of which (Vols. 21-37) deal with materials from the inquisitorial archives of Toulouse and Carcassonne (on the CD, see Lothar Kolmer, "Colbert und die Entstehung der Collection Doat", Francia 7 [1979], 463-489, unfortunately not cited by Friedlander).

Friedlander's inspired choice has been to keep Bernard the Franciscan central to his story. The Franciscan grounding supports Friedlander's description and analysis of Bernard's opposition to the officers and methods of the Dominican inquisitors, his sermons, his urban alliances, the role of pseudonymous prophecies, the mutual enmity with Benedict XI, O.P., the prudence of Clement V, Bernard's profound symnpathy with the Spirituals at Beziers, and his final trial and incarceration by the Hammer of the Spirituals, John XXII.

The book has other considerable strengths as well. Friedlander generously identifies individuals as they appear in the story (drawing on the prosopographical appendix in his edition of the Processus ). His knowledge of the urban and rural societies of the Midi provides a rich and complex setting for Bernard's causes and their outcomes as well as the nature of Bernard's appeal (he was not a popular hero, 81). His wider knowledge of the world beyond the Midi produces sensible and convincing analyses of both the great and lesser folk in the story, from Philip the Fair to John XXII. And he is especially good at keeping all the early fourteenth-century ducks--the Flanders problem, Franco-papal relations, Mendicant rivalries, the Saisset case--in a row as he follows Philip the Fair into the troubled and even threatening Midi. This last feature gives Friedlander's assessment of the rebellion against Philip and the candidacy of Ferrand of Majorca (one of those ambitious, unhappy, vagrant princes of the period who ended up with neither half the princess nor all of the kingdom) for the kingship of the detatched Midi more plausibility than earlier accounts.

His descriptions of the sermons and other literary texts include some wonderful digressions on raven-, crocodile-, and owl-lore in Franciscan homiletics and Dominican hagiography. Friedlander also has a sharp eye for the memorable and significant scene: the (temporarily) victorious citizens of Albi overpainting the pictures on the walls of the inquisitors' residence with portraits more to their own liking (105, 300); the clumsy forger who blackmailed justifiably apprehensive (and moneyed) people by claiming to possess evidence that will bring them to the attention of the inquisitors (9); the siege of the Wall of Carcassonne in 1303 (130); the pretensions to majesty of Bernard's ill-starred associate, the 'little king' Helie Patrice (who had forgotten the lessons of Cola di Rienzo) (115) and Helie's insulting removal from the prickly royal presence by the guards of Philip IV (183).

Was Bernard the Hammer of the Inquisitors or the Hammer of the Inquisition? Friedlander sees the dispute between the two as a test case for examining Richard Kieckhefer's thesis of the not- yet-institutional character of the early fourteenth-century office. He disagrees with Kieckhefer, but no more strongly than his evidence in this case permits, and in the end not conclusively (270-72, 299).

For all, of his early successes, did Bernard ever have a real chance to accomplish his destruction of the Dominican inquisitors? Probably not, but for some years he was indeed a mighty Hammer, not only of inquisitors, but briefly even of Philip IV and possibly Benedict XI. From the perspective of the Midi, late Capetian France was not as solid as it sometimes seemed, and Friedlander's book tells us this, too. In all, Friedlander has produced a monograph that rivals his edition of the Processus and places Bernard Deliceux, O.F.M. in the appropriate context of the tangled ecclesiastical and regional politics of the early-fourteenth-century Midi, for only in this setting does he become fully intelligible. I hope Friedlander has retained the movie rights--the story is a natural for Mel Gibson.