Shackelford on Baptist History (Complete)

Chapter 9: Waldensean Period (Continued)

A.D. 1019.

ALBIGENSES.—In the year 1019, we find the Catholics inflicting their accustomed persecutions upon the Albigenses in France. The Catholic idea of salvation by works, was so completely rooted and grounded in the people of that faith that no effort was made to propagate their doctrines except by compulsion. The idea had become universal, among them, that out of their church was no salvation, and that the end justified the use of any means, howsoever wicked, which might be used to compel submission to their faith. “With the Catholic, out of the church was death; within it was life, and in its maddening thirst for power, the Catholic party sought to crush everything beneath its feet, which it could not gather within its folds.

Mr.Orchard says that in 1019, “a synod was held at Toulouse, to consider the most effectual method to rid the province of the Albigenses; and though the whole sect was, in 1022, said to be burnt, yet the emigrants from Bulgaria coming in colonies into France, kept the seed sown, the churches recruited, and soon after the same class of people was found inhabiting Languedoc and Gascony.” I have introduced this quotation both to show the unrelenting hatred of Catholics towards all dissenters, and to show a continuation of the true faith through the dark ages. Can any institution truthfully claim to be Christian which uses such means for the propagation of its faith?

We have seen that the Albigenses were the successors of the Paulicians. In Italy, says Mosheim, they were called Paterini and Cathari. In regard to their faith a Catholic writer, quoted by Mr. Jones, says of them: ”Their heresy is this: They say that the church is only among themselves, because they alone follow the ways of Christ, and imitate the apostles, not seeking secular gains, possessing no property, following the pattern of Christ, who was himself perfectly poor, nor permitting his disciples to possess anything. They do not hold the baptism of infants, alleging that passage of the gospel, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. They place no confidence in the intercession of the saints; and all things in the church which have not been established by Christ himself or his apostles, they call superstitions. They do not admit of any purgatory fire after death, contending that the souls as soon as they depart out of the bodies, do enter into rest, or punishment, proving it from that passage of Solomon, ‘Which waysoever the tree falls, whether to the south or to the north, there it lies,’ by which means they make void all the prayers and oblations of believers for the deceased.”

Mr. Jones says further of the Albigenses, or Cathari: “We have some additional information concerning these people given us by Egbert, a monk, and afterwards abbot of Schonange, who tells us that he had often disputed with these heretics, and that he had learned still more of their opinions from those who had, through the force of torments and the threat of being burned, renounced their communion. He says, ‘They are commonly called Cathari, (Puritans,) a sort of people very pernicious to the Catholic faith, which, like moths, they corrupt and destroy.’ He adds, that they were divided into several sects, and maintained their opinions by the authority of Scripture. He takes particular notice of their denying the utility of baptism to infants, ‘which,’ [A. D. 1200.] say they, through their incapacity, avails nothing to their salvation; insisting that baptism ought to be deferred till they come to years of discretion, and even then those only should be baptized who make a personal profession of faith and desire it.’ ‘They are armed,’ says he, ‘with the words of the Holy Scriptures which in any way seem to favor their sentiments, and with these they know how to defend their sentiments, and with these they know how to defend their errors, and to oppose the Catholic truth; though they are in reality wholly ignorant of the true meaning couched in those words, and which cannot be discerned without judgment. They are increased to great multitudes throughout all countries, to the great danger of the church—for their words eat like a canker, and, like a flying leprosy, runs every way, infecting the precious members of -Christ.'”

These Albigenses, who were called Cathari, in Germany and Italy, were the successors of the Paulicians and were the same people except in name, and the time referred to by Egbert, the Catholic writer quoted, is A. D. 1200. The sameness of their faith with that of the Paulicians, and of the Baptists of the present day, is sufficient to identify them as the same people. From the foregoing quotations we learn: 1. That they took the Bible alone for their guide in Spiritual matters. 2. They baptized only upon a personal profession of faith in Christ, which excluded infant baptism.

A.D. 1176. Mr. Orchard says, “In the year 1176, a Galliean council was called to convict and condemn the Albigenses. In the third canon, they were judged and condemned of heresy for denying baptism to children.” 3. They always maintained their opinions by an appeal to the Scriptures, and admitted of no purgatory fires after death.

It is true that no mention is made of baptism by immersion, but it is also true that there is not one single instance of baptism having been administered in any other way, up to this time, A.D. 1200, except in cases of sickness, and that only among Catholics. Pope Stephen II, had permitted pouring, for baptism, in extreme cases, in the beginning of the eighth century, but not until 1311, was any mention ever made of sprinkling for baptism.

The same Catholic writer, Egbert, as quoted by Mr. Jones, says that the Albigenses “were increased to great multitudes throughout all countries.” This statement shows that they could not have sprung up in a single day. They had, therefore, long existed under different names in other localities, and had survived the severe persecutions inflicted upon them by their enemies. Mr. Jones further says: “Throughout the whole of the twelfth century, these people were exposed to severe persecutions. The zeal of Galdinus, archbishop of Milan, was roused against them to such a pitch, that after making them the objects of unrelenting persecutions, during a period of eight or nine years, he at length fell a martyr to his own zeal, dying in the year 1173, in consequence of an illness contracted through the excess of his vehemence in preaching against them. Towards the middle of the twelfth century, [A.D. 1140.] a small society of these Puritans as they were called by some, or Waldenses as they were termed by others, or Paulicians, as they were denominated by our old monkish historian, William of Neuburg, made their appearance in England. This latter writer, speaking of them, says: ‘They came originally from Gascoyne, where being as numerous as the sand of the sea, they sorely infected France, Italy, Spain and England.'”

We have now seen that the Albigenses were the same people who were called Paulicians, from A.D.650 until A.D.1050, a period of four hundred years. When scattered abroad by persecutions, they were known principally by the name Albigenses, but frequently by the names Waldenses, Puritans or Cathari.

In the year 1209, a crusade was organized in France for the purpose of exterminating the Albigenses and Paulicians. I quote from Orchard, p. 211, “In the year 1209, a formidable army of cross-bearers, of forty days’ service, was put into motion, destined to destroy all heretics. This army consisted of, some say 3, others, 500,000 men. At their head, as chief commander, was— let every Englishman blush—Simon de Montford, Earl of Leicester. The cruelties of these Crusaders appears to have had no parallel; in a few months there were sacrificed about two hundred thousand lives, and barbarities practiced before unheard of, all which met the approbation of Innocent III. Two large cities, Beziers and Carcassone, were reduced to ashes, and thousands of victims perished by the sword; while thousands of others, driven from their burning houses, were wandering in the woods and mountains, sinking daily under the pressure of want.

“In the fall of the same year, the monks preached up another crusade against the more northerly provinces of France. To stir the nation, they opened to all volunteers the gates of paradise, with all its glories, without any reformation of life or manners. The army raised from these efforts [A.D. 1210.] was directed in the ensuing spring, 1210, by ALICE, Simon de Montford’s wife. With this army a renewal of last year’s cruelties commenced. All the inhabitants found were hung on gibbets. A hundred of the inhabitants of BROM had their eyes plucked out, and their noses cut off, and these were sent, under the guidance of a man with one eye spared, to inform the garrisons of other towns what fate awaited them. The destruction of property and life must have been very great, from the sanguinary character of those who managed these cruel measures. The most perfidious conduct was conspicuous in the leaders of the Catholic cause, pope, bishops, legates, and officers of the army; whatever terms submitted to availed the persecuted nothing, when in the hands of their enemies. On the 22d of July, the Crusaders took possession of the castle of Minerva. The Albigensian Christians were in the meantime assembled—the men in one house, the women in another; and these on their knees, resigned to the awaiting circumstances. A learned abbot preached to them, but they unanimously cried, ‘We have renounced the Church of Home—we will have none of your faith; your labor is in vain; for neither death nor life will make us renounce the opinions that we have embraced.’ An enormous pile of dry wood was prepared, and the abbot thus addressed the Albigenses, ‘Be converted to the Catholic faith, or ascend this pile;’ but none of them were shaken. They set fire to the wood, and brought them to the fire, but it required no violence to precipitate them into the flames. Thus more than one hundred and forty willing victims perished after commending their souls to God. The sacrifice of human life under this crusade cannot be computed.” Orchard further continues, page 217, and quoting from Jones, says: “The churches were drowned in the blood of their members, or everywhere broken up and scattered—the public worship of the Albigenses had everywhere ceased. All teaching was become impossible. Almost every pastor or elder had perished in a frightful manner; and the very small number of those who had succeeded in escaping the edge of the sword, now sought an asylum in distant countries, and were enabled to avoid new persecutions, only by preserving the most studied silence respecting their opinions. The private members who had not perished by either fire or sword, or who had not withdrawn by flight from the scrutiny of the inquisition, knew that they could only preserve their lives by burying their creed in their bosoms. For them there were no more sermons—no more public prayers—no more ordinances of the Lord’s house—even their children were not to be made acquainted, for a time at least, with their sentiments.”

“The visible assemblies of the Paulicians or Albigenses,” says Gibbon, “were extirpated by fire and sword; and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment or Catholic conformity. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled, still lived and breathed in the western world. In the State, in the church, and even in the cloister a latent succession was preserved of the disciples of Paul (Paulicians), who protested against the tyranny of Kome, embraced the Bible as a rule of faith, and purified their creed from all the visions of a false theology.”

A.D. 1229. This crusade lasted about twenty years, and it has been estimated that one million of lives were sacrificed during that time. The remaining Albigenses, being driven from their homes, “migrated into Germany, Switzerland; some crossed the Alps, and found an asylum in the valleys of Piedmont, which were under the clement sceptre of the dukes of Savoy; while the Pyrenean mountains afforded a convenient retreat to thousands of these exiles.”


The denomination of Christians known in history as Paterines, appear to date back to the time when Constantine took the Catholic party under his fostering care. In fact we find mention made of them fifty years before this time, or as early as A.D. 250. Orchard accredits Socrates with saying that at that time the dominant party called itself the Catholic (which means universal) church, while the oppressed party was known as the Church of the Martyrs. While oppressed by the Catholic party they obtained the name Paterines, which means sufferers, or what is nearly synonymous with our understanding of the word martyrs. This term, says Orchard, was as commonly applied to the dissenters in Italy, as the name Albigenses was in France, and Waldenses, in Piedmont. Mr. Orchard says of these Christians, in A.D. 750, [A.D. 750.] quoting from Rob. Bap., “The public religion of the Paterines consisted of nothing but social prayer, reading and expounding the gospels, baptism once, and the Lord’s Supper as often as convenient. Italy was full of such Christians, which bore various names, from various causes. They said a Christian church ought to consist of only good people; a church had no power to frame any constitution, i.e. make laws; it was not right to take oaths; it was not lawful to kill mankind, nor should he be delivered up to the officers of justice to be converted; faith alone could save a man; the benefit of society belonged to all its members; the church ought not to persecute; the law of Moses was no .rule for Christians.” Mr. Orchard says: “The Catholics of those times baptized by immersion; the Paterines, therefore, in all their branches, made no complaint of the action of baptism, but when they were examined they objected vehemently against the baptism of infants, and condemned it as an error.” [A. D. 800.] Mr. Orchard says of the same people in the year 800, “Those of their churches where baptism was administered, were known as baptismal churches,” meaning churches which had baptisteries, “and to such churches all the Christians in the vicinage flocked for baptism. When Christianity spread into the country, the people met for worship where they could, but all candidates came up to the baptismal church to receive the ordinance. In time baptisteries were built in the country, and like the old ones, were resorted to by the neighboring inhabitants.”

A. D. 1040. The same writer says: “The Paterines were in 1040, become very numerous and conspicuous at Milan, which was their principal residence: and here they flourished at least two hundred years. They had no connection with the church,” meaning the Catholic church, “nor with the Fathers, considering them as corrupters of Christianity. They called the cross the abomination, standing in the holy place, and they said it was the mark of the beast. Nor had they any share in the State, for they took no oaths and bore no arms. The State did not trouble them, hut the clergy preached, prayed, and published books against them, with unabated zeal. The Paterines were decent in their deportment, modest in their dress and discourse, and their morals were irreproachable. In their conversation there was no levity, no scurrility, no detraction, no falsehood, no swearing. Their dress was neither fine nor .mean. They were chaste and temperate, never frequenting taverns, or places of public amusement. They were not given to anger or violent passions. They were not eager to accumulate wealth, but were content with a plain plenty of the necessaries of life. They avoided commerce, because they thought it would expose them to collusion, falsehood, and oaths; and they chose to live by labor or handcraft. They were always employed in spare hours, either in giving or receiving instruction.

“Their churches were divided into sixteen compartments, such as the English Baptists would call associations. Each of these was subdivided into parts, which would here be called churches or congregations. In Milan there was a street called Pararia, where it is supposed they met for worship. Their bishops and officers were mechanics, weavers, shoemakers, who maintained themselves by their industry. They had houses in Ferrara, Brescia, and in many other cities and towns. One of their principal churches was that of Concorrezzo, in the Milanese; and the members of churches, in this association, were more than 1500. During the kingdom of the Goths and Lombards, the Anabaptists, as the Goths called them, had their share of churches and baptisteries, during which time they held no communion with any hierarchy.’

The Paterines, however, were destined to share with their brethren, the persecutions which were everywhere inflicted upon those who held to the true faith. Indeed so generally were the true churches persecuted, that it soon became one of their characteristics, and the Paterines were no exception to this rule.

A. D. 1210. In the year 1210, an effort was made to force infant baptism upon the people professing this faith, in Italy, and in order to preserve their lives, they were compelled to flee into European provinces, many of them going to Germany.

This accursed evil—infant baptism—has caused more bloodshed than any other which ever cast its blighting influence upon Christianity. Again, and again it has deluged the true churches with the blood of its martyrs. The dogma of baptismal regeneration was not only one of the first heresies that afflicted Christianity, but the one out of which almost every other has grown.

The churches of Christ have ever been bound, by their loyalty to the truth, to inveigh against every corruption of Bible truths, and this has always made them odious in the eyes of the Catholics. Out of the idea of baptismal regeneration grew the doctrine of purgatory, and out of this grew the idea of masses and indulgences. A learned writer of ecclesiastical history has truly said that “mass was the creative principle of popery.” Take away from the Catholics their ”masses” and ”indulgences,” and you drain their treasury. There was no difficulty, at the time of which we write, in securing the secular power, upon the part of the Catholics, to carry out their sanguinary measures against what they termed “heretics,” and all people were heretics who inveighed against the Romish hierarchy.

I quote from Mr. Orchard’s Bap. Hist., pp. 154, 155, as follows: “In 1210, the Paterines had become so numerous and odious to the State clergy, that the old bishop of Ferrara, obtained an edict of the emperor, Otho IV., for the suppression of them, but this measure extended only to that city.

A.D. 1215. “In five years after, Pope Innocent III., of bloody celebrity, held a council at the Lateran, and denounced anathemas against heretics of every description. Dr. Wall declares that this council did enforce infant baptism, on the dissenters, as heretics taught it was to no purpose to baptize children.”

A.D. 1220. ”In this council the Milanese were censured for sheltering the Paterines. After a variety of efforts to suppress them, the cruel policy of the court of Rome extended its sanguinary measures over Italy. In 1220, Honorius III., procured an edict of Frederick II., which extended over all the imperial cities, as had been the case for some years over the South of France, and the effects of the pontiff’s anger was soon felt by the deniers of the infant rite. These edicts were every way proper to excite horror, and which rendered the most illustrious piety and virtue incapable of saving from the most cruel death, such as had the misfortune, says Mosheim, to be disagreeable to the inquisitors. No alternative of escaping those human monsters presented itself but flight, which was embraced by many. Indeed, says Mosheim, they passed out of Italy and spread like an inundation throughout the European provinces, but Germany in particular afforded an asylum, where they were called Gazari, instead of Cathari (Puritans).”

A.D. 1224. In 1224, still more cruel edicts were issued against the Puritans, Paterines, Arnoldists, etc. The Pope of Rome obtained a decree from Emperor Frederick, in which it was declared, “We shall not suffer these wretches to live.”” A second, a third and a fourth decree followed, all of the same cruel nature. These decrees provided that all the Paterines to whom the bishops were disposed to show favor were to have their tongues pulled out, in order that they might not corrupt other persons by their heresies. Others were to be committed to the flames.

It will be seen from the doctrines held by the Paterines, that they were Baptists, and so make another link in the chain of Baptist succession.

Author of the “Compendium Of Baptist History”. Please inform the Editor of the AHB (via the Contact page) if you have biographical information on this author. Thank you.

Shackelford on Baptist History (Complete)