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Power & Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy [Paperback]

By Carol Lansing (Author)
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Item description for Power & Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy by Carol Lansing...

Catharism was a popular medieval heresy based on the belief that the creation of humankind was a disaster in which angelic spirits were trapped in matter by the devil. Their only goal was to escape the body through purification. Cathars denied any value to material life, including the human body, baptism, and the Eucharist, even marriage and childbirth. What could explain the long popularity of such a bleak faith in the towns of southern France and Italy?
Power and Purity explores the place of cathar heresy in the life of the medieval Italian town of Orvieto. Based on extensive archival research, it details the social makeup of the Cathar community and argues that the heresy was central to the social and political changes of the 13th century. The late 13th-century repression of Catharism by a local inquisition was part of a larger redefinition of civic and ecclesiastical authority. Author Carol Lansing shows that the faith attracted not an alienated older nobility but artisans, merchants, popular political leaders, and indeed circles of women in Orvieto as well as Florence and Bologna. Cathar beliefs were not so much a pessimistic anomaly as a part of a larger climate of religious doubt. The teachings on the body and the practice of Cathar holy persons addressed questions of sexual difference and the structure of authority that were key elements of medieval Italian life. The pure lives of the Cathar holy people, both male and female, demonstrated a human capacity for self-restraint that served as a powerful social model in towns torn by violent conflict. This study addresses current debates about the rise of persecution, and argues for a climate of popular toleration. Power and Purity will appeal to historians of society and politics as well as religion and gender studies.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.34" Width: 6.58" Height: 0.78"
Weight:   0.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 27, 2001
Publisher   Oxford University Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0195149807  
ISBN13  9780195149807  

Availability  118 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 03:54.
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More About Carol Lansing

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Carol Lansing is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Carol Lansing was born in 1951 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of California, Santa Barbara University of California, Sant.

Carol Lansing has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy > Medieval
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General
5Books > Subjects > History > World > Medieval
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Power & Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy?

Catharism in Medieval Italy  May 21, 2001
With exceptional clarity Professor Carol Lansing profiles the lives and underlying social climate facing everyday Cathars in the medieval town of Orvieto. Scavenging from a paucity of first-hand documentation, Professor Lansing skillfully weaves together a factual vista, based on anecdotal testimonies researched in Italian archives, on medieval Cathar life in Italy. The book is enjoyable to read on a number of fronts, above all, Lansing writes in a factual yet entertaining manner. There are a number of historical curiosities that grace the pages. Far from exercising a categorically defined homogenous faith system Lansing portrays Cathar life in Medieval Orvieto as a heterogeneous community comprising a varying and often contradictory belief system that combined forms of Manichean dualism along with Apostolic Christianity as well as strong Catholic influences. It seems there was an important cleft in degrees of religious belief and practice that separated lay Cathars from Perfects who appeared to epitomize the full faith of Catharism in docrtrine and praxis. Power and Purity is a fascinating read that provides a valuable contribution to this rare and often overlooked historical subject.

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