WALDENSES, a famous Christian community which originally grew out of an antisacerdotal movement originated by Peter Waldo, of Lyons, France, in the second half of the 12th century. A rich merchant, pious and unlearned, he caused the New Testament and a collec tion of extracts from the Fathers to be translated into Romaunt, and, naturally failing to find the apostolic simplicity in the ecclesiastical condition of the time, snarl his mnvahlp onnds for the support of the poor, and devoted himself to preaching the truth to the people by the wayside. Everywhere he found eager listeners, and was followed by groups of simple and earnest persons of both sexes who did their best, even to their dress, to carry out the apostolic ideal, loving to bear the name of the Poor Men of Lyons. The tenets ascribed to them in the ear liest accounts are chiefly that oaths even in a court of justice are not allowable, that homicide is under no circumstances justifiable, that every lie is a moral sin, that all believers are capable of priestly functions, and that the sacraments are invalidated by uncleanness of life in the officiating priest.
We find at first no special doctrines that could be condemned as heretical, and even in later days, as Mr. Lea points out, the documents of the Inquisi tion constantly refer to "heresy and Waldensianism," the former meaning Catharism. The archbishop of Lyons forbade them to preach, but in vain; Pope Alexander III. gave them a modi fied approval, but Lucius III. anathema tized them at Verona in 1184, and Inno cent HI. at the fourth council of the Lateran in 1215. But it was impossible to compel silence, for the missionary zeal of these sincere enthusiasts was boundless, and their influence quickly grew. Alonso II. of Aragon ordered them to quit his dominions in 1194, and in southern France they became involved in the common destruction of the Albi genses, though their quarrel with the Church differed from that of the latter in relating to matters of practice rather than of doctrine.
But under persecution their diver gences from the Church naturally grew ever the greater, and we find that grad ually, though never uniformly, they came to repudiate the invocation of the Vir gin and saints, transubstantiation, and purgatory with all its consequences. Thus the Waldensian martyrs at Stress burg in 1212 made no distinction between laity and priesthood, while at the same time both the French and Lombardian Waldenses held that the Eucharist could be celebrated only by an ordained priest, and it was at that time still the latter only who believed it invalid if the priest was living in sin. Yet they themselves
maintained a kind of order of preachers (perfecti), living in voluntary poverty and celibacy, in contradistinction to the ordinary credentes. And by some ac counts there was a kind of hierarchy among the perfeeti, a theory which gains some support from the frequent use of such terms as majoralis, 'ma gnus ma gister, 'major, and minor. Their morality was austere, and we find the very inquis itors acknowledging their chastity, so briety, truthfulness, and industry. Their crowning offenses were their paramount regard for Scripture and the unresting proselytism of their preachers, who went abroad two by two, ostensibly practicing some calling, as Redlers or tinkers, but ceaselessly exhorting the faithful in se questered places, hearing confessions, and administering absolution. Their principal seats were the slopes and fast nesses of the Cottian Alps, E. in Pied mont, W. in Provence and Dauphine.
After the Cathari were finally crushed they supplied the chief work that re mained to the Inquisition in France. They had grown strong among the poorer class in Languedoc, with schools, a good organization, and missionaries reputed to have skill in medicine. They next spread into Lorraine, Burgundy, Franche Comte, Narbonne, and the mountains of Auvergne. We find Bernard Gui burn ing them at Toulouse in 1316, and by this time persecution had done its per fect work as well in refining their piety as in completing their estrangement from Rome. Their doctrine of non-resistance made it easy to harry and confiscate their property, yet we find the victims often too poor to pay for the wood that burned them. During the years 1336-1346 espe cially they were severely harassed; 12 were burned in front of the cathedral at Embrun in 1348. Popes Clement VI. and Urban V. stimulated the zeal of the Inquisition, and we read how the great inquisitor, Francois Borel, burned 150 at Grenoble in one day in 1393. Gregory XI. urged on the unhappy work in Prov ence, Dauphine, and the Lyonnais, and in 1375 the prisons were crowded with far more prisoners than could be fed, and charity was actually asked fo• them by the Church.