ALBIGENSES, the usual designation of the heretics - and more especially the Catharist heretics - of the south of France in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The Albigensian theologians and ascetics, the Cathari or perfecti, known in the south of France as bons hommes or bons chretiens, were few in number; the mass of believers (credentes) were perhaps not initiated into the Catharist doctrine; at all events, they were free from all moral prohibition and all religious obligation, on condition that they promised by an act called convenenza to become " hereticized " by receiving the consolamentum, the baptism of the Spirit, before their death or even in extremis.
The first Catharist heretics appeared in Limousin between 1012 and 1020.
The few isolated successes of the abbot of Clairvaux could not obscure the real results of this mission, and the meeting at Lombers in 1165 of a synod, where Catholic priests had to submit to a discussion with Catharist doctors, well shows the power of the sect in the south of France at that period.
Moreover, two years afterwards a Catharist synod, in which heretics from Languedoc, Bulgaria and Italy took part, was held at St Felix de Caraman, near Toulouse, and their deliberations were undisturbed.
There were some recrudescences of heresy, such as that produced by the preaching (1298-1309) of the Catharist minister, Pierre Authier; the people, too, made some attempts to throw off the yoke of the Inquisition and the French,' and insurrections broke out under the leadership of Bernard of Foix, Aimery of Narbonne, and, especially, Bernard Delicieux at the beginning of the 14th century.