666 Christian Crimes

1300 - 1399


John Wycliffe of England denounced church corruption, rejected transubstantiation, and translated the Bible into English. After his death, his followers (called "Lollards") were declared heretics and persecuted. Some were burned at the stake. [Haught, 1990, 85-86]


Gerhard Segarelli was burned at the stake. He led the Apostolic Brethren, who preached and sang in public. [Haught, 1990, 58]


Pope Boniface VIII issued the bull Unam Sanctam which declared that the Pope answers only to God, and "it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff." [Ellerbe, 64; Martin, 108]

Chamberlin (119) repeats this quote from the famous bull and adds, "Temporal power throughout the earth lay in the hands of the pope; he could, and did, delegate it to monarchs and princes but he could, and would, withdraw it as he chose."


After his election, Pope Benedict XI immediately left Rome because his life was in danger. He died by poisoning in Perugia after less than a year in office. William of Nogaret was suspected of the crime. The CE says he died in 1304. [Martin, 177; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Benedict XI"]


Pope Clement V was crowned in Lyons, France. In fear for his life, he never went to Rome. After wandering among French cities, he settled in Avignon. Thereafter, most cardinals selected were French. The next six popes were chosen by the French king. From 1305-1377, while the popes resided in Avignon, Rome declined. The former papal city became crime-ridden and infrastructure decayed. [Martin, 177-179]


Dolcino, successor to Segarelli of the Apostolic Brethren, was burned at the stake. [Haught, 1990, 58]


The Knights Templar were accused of devil worship and spitting on crucifixes. They were tortured and killed. 70 were burned. [Haught, 1990, 58-59]

"On October 13, 1307, every Templar in France was placed under arrest in a single sweep, and the property of the order was confiscated." [Kirsch, 139]


After Amiel de Perles, a Cathar teacher, was arrested by the Inquisition and refused food and water, the Inquisitor, Bernard Gui, conducted a speedy trial and execution, rather than let Perles starve himself to death. [Kirsch, 86]

"Of 636 heretics convicted by ... Bernard Gui ... forty-two were burned, about three hundred were sent to prison, and the rest were given lesser penalties. [Engh, 133]


Inquisitor Bernard Gui sentenced convicted heretics to life imprisonment (some in chains) and burning by the civil authorities. [Kirsch, 86]


Fifty-four French Knights Templar recanted their confessions of heresy, which had been coerced by torture. The church considered them relapsed heretics and publicly burned them at the stake anyway. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "The Knights Templar"]


The 15th ecumenical council, the Council of Vienne, was convened by Pope Clement V. The primary purpose of the council was to suppress the Knights Templar in order to appease the French king. "The Acts of the council have disappeared...." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Council of Vienne (1311-1312)"; Cline, medieval5]


Pope Clement V issued a bull suppressing the Knights Templar and distributing their property to other orders of the church. Eventually, Philip, the French King, was able to control the property formerly belonging to the Knights. Clement V, in effect, "traded" the Knights Templar to preserve the reputation of former Pope Boniface VIII, because King Philip was so powerful that he was bound to have one or the other. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "The Knights Templar" & "Pope Clement V"]


Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, Geoffroy de Charnay, Grand Preceptor of Normandy, and thirty-seven other French Knights Templar were burned at the stake in Paris for alleged heresy. [Grun, 184; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Clement V"]


Pope John XXII had an elderly French bishop tortured and executed by burning. The pope believed that the bishop tried to murder him using black magic. [Kirsch, 145]


A group of Celestine or "spiritual" Franciscan monks were burned for refusing to abandon the primitive simplicity of Franciscan garb and manners. When the Franciscan leaders declared that poverty had been permitted by Pope Nicholas III [1277-80], Pope John XXII revoked Nicholas's bull. [Haught, 1990, 58; McCabe 1916, 214]


"... a wealthy burgher of Carcassonne named Castel Faure, ... was charged and convicted of heresy some forty-one years after his death in 1278. ... his heirs were dispossessed of their inheritance." [Kirsch, 87]


Pope John XXII formalized the persecution of witchcraft when he authorized the Inquisition to prosecute sorcery. [Ellerbe, 121]


The Shepherds' Crusade, comprising mostly poor people, massacred Jews in more than a dozen cities. "337 Jews who had taken refuge in the castle of Montclus were slaughtered." Children were forcibly baptized and brought up as Christians. Local authorities did not interfere with the crusaders' violence. [Engh, 138]


Even though many popes before him had agreed that Jesus and the apostles lived in poverty, Pope John XXII, in the bull Cum inter nonnullos, stated that it was a perversion of scripture to maintain that Jesus and the apostles had no property. The Franciscans, with their vows of poverty, became heretics. It was said that the pope did this to counter criticism of the church's wealth in contrast to Jesus' ideals. (Ellerbe states that the bull was issued in 1326.) [DeRosa, 212; Ellerbe, 58]


"In 1324 Petronilla de Midia was burnt at Kilkenny in Ireland at the instance of Richard, Bishop of Ossory...." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Witchcraft"]


"... in a single papal audience, no fewer than one patriarch, five archbishops, thirty bishops, and forty-six abbots were excommunicated for default on their taxes." [Bokenkotter, 183]


A Carmelite monk, convicted of sorcery, informed on his fellow prisoners in order to get a lighter sentence from the Inquisition. His "good work" helped him to avoid the usual harsh punishment he would have received. "Inquisition apparently regarded the Christian rigorism of Cathars and Waldensians as a greater threat to the Church than the secret practice of sorcery by one of its own monastics." [Kirsch, 71]


"[The] last Cathar had been burned alive by the Inquisition, and Catharism was extinct." [Kirsch, 134]


At a witch trial in Toulouse, eight women were sentenced to burning and fifty-five to long or life imprisonment. Their confessions had been extracted by torture. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Witchcraft"]


The Jewish population of Deggendorf, Bavaria, was burned after stories of host-defiling. Sixteen oil paintings showing Jews defiling hosts were displayed in the Catholic church there through the 1960s. [Haught, 1990, 50]


Pope Clement VI published the bull Unigenitus. This bull formed much of the Church's legal basis for indulgences. The theory is that the works, penances, sufferings and virtues of Jesus, Mary, and the saints far outweigh the sins of mankind. The surplus ("infinite treasury") was entrusted to the Church, to be dispensed to the faithful as needed "in full or partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin." This is one of the doctrines later denied by Martin Luther. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Indulgences"]


Jews were blamed for the bubonic plague, leading to massacres in 300 cities. [Haught, 1990, 69]


2,000 Jews were killed in Strasbourg. [Cline, medieval5; Johnson, 1987, 217]

6,000 Jews were killed in Mainz. [Haught, 1990, 70; Johnson, 1987, 217]

Flagellants massacred Jews in Frankfurt. In Brussels they incited Christians to kill 600 Jews. [Haught, 1990, 70]


Emperor Charles IV began to issue pardons to cities which had murdered their Jews. [Johnson, 1987, 217]


The last great international crusade, led by Peter I, King of Cyprus, landed at the predominantly Christian city of Alexandria. His forces plundered the city, including the stores of Latin tradesmen, and killed Christians, Jews, and Moslems alike. They then retreated when the Egyptian army approached the city. [Johnson, 1976, 246; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Crusades"


"... the Priors of Florence, who had previously given their sanction to the import and sale of infidel slaves..." changed their definition of "infidel" to mean anyone arriving "from the land and race of infidels" whether Christian or not. [David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 101 (quoted in Stannard, 208).]


In Brussels, someone reported that a Jew broke a wafer. Nearly all Belgian Jews were massacred, including children. In the cathedral, eighteen tableaux showing Jews nailing bleeding wafers were displayed until recent times. [Haught, 1990, 52]


"Pope Gregory XI wrote that too many accused heretics were dying of starvation in prison before they could be brought to the stake, and he offered indulgences to all who would donate food to them." [Walker, 7]


Cardinal Robert of Geneva massacred the people of Cessna (Cesena). As papal legate, he was trying to put down a rebellion. The people had killed some of Robert's mercenaries for raping their women. They negotiated a truce, which included a promise by Robert that he would spare their lives if they disarmed. They did, and all* were slaughtered. After raping the women and ransoming the children, the city was then plundered and burned. Robert became Avignon Pope Clement VII in 1378. [De Rosa, 92; Ellerbe, 71; McBrien, 247; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Robert of Geneva]

*Estimates of the number of those killed varies. Ellerbe says 2500-5000; DeRosa 8000; the CE 4000.


These were the years of the so-called Great Schism*, with popes living in Rome and anti-popes living in Avignon. The schism was about political power rather than church theology or practice. [Ellerbe, 64]

* Sometimes referred to as the Western Schism, as opposed to the equally great schism with the Eastern Orthodox Church.


Under pressure from a Roman mob, the cardinals elected the Italian, Bartolomeo Prignano, as pope. Immediately after he was consecrated as Pope Urban VI, sixteen cardinals left Rome and held their own conclave at Fundi. They elected the Frenchman, Robert of Geneva as anti-pope Clement VII, who returned to Avignon. [Martin, 184]


Enraged mobs of Christians attacked Jews across all of Spain, killing thousands. They had been required to wear badges, making it easy for rioters to identify them. Jewish synagogues, homes and businesses were looted and their neighborhoods were destroyed. Some Jews chose conversion or were forced to convert to Christianity. After conversion, they became vulnerable to anti-heresy laws. [Cline, medieval5; Engh, 138; Stannard, 182]




© R. Paul Buchman 2011