Béatrice de Planisoles

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Béatrice de Planissoles (circa 1274 - after 1322), was a Cathar minor noble in the Comté de Foix in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century. She was born circa 1274, probably in the mountain village of Caussou.

A great deal of information about her life was recorded in the Fournier Register, and she has a central role in Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou

Béatrice was the daughter of Philippe de Planissoles a noble who was later convicted of supporting the Cathar heresy. Béatrice herself had definite sympathies to Catharism, but also remained attached to the Catholic Church.

At around the age of twenty Béatrice was married to Bérenger de Roquefort who was the châtelain of the small, and largely Cathar, community of Montaillou. Despite living in the fortress above the town Béatrice's life was closely linked with that of the local peasants and there was much intermixing. Béatrice was not in love with her husband, an entirely normal state of affairs, as noble women usually married for economic reasons. Raymond Roussel, who was the steward of the châtelain's estate, attempted to begin an affair with her. When Roussel tried to sleep with her, however, she had him fired.

In 1302 Bérenger de Roquefort died and left Béatrice a widow. At this point the villager Pathau Clergue raped her. She declined an affair with Pathau when he pressed her to begin one. Soon, however, a relationship began with Pathau's cousin Pierre Clergue, the priest and the most powerful man in the village. This relationship lasted two years before Béatrice decided to leave the mountain village and remarry, wedding another minor noble named Otho de Lagleize.

He too died after only a few years of marriage. In her older years Béatrice took up with a young vicar Barthélemy Amilhac. This passionate woman was past menopause but fell in love with the vicar. She approached him, propositioned him, and the mad love affair began. The vicar returned her passion, and they ran away together, were united in a form of marriage, and remained away for a year. After a number of years this relationship ended as Barthélemy worried he would be placed in danger by Béatrice's Cathar past. He was correct in his concerns and they were both arrested by the inquisition and held for a year.

Béatrice first appeared before the Inquisition on Saturday 26 July 1320 at the Episcopal Palace in Pamiers. She had been summoned to the hearing by Jacques Fournier, the Bishop of Pamiers, to answer charges of blasphemy, witchcraft, and heresy. The charge of witchcraft was supported by the contents of her purse, which included a variety of "objects, strongly suggestive of having been used by her to cast evil spells": two umbilical cords of her grandsons, which ensured victory in any lawsuit; linens soaked with her daughter's first menstrual blood, meant to be drunk by the daughter's husband to ensure his love; frankincense to cure bad headaches; some of the herb rocket, Eruca sativa, thought to enhance sperm quality and sexual vigor—which Beatrice refrained from telling Fournier was meant for her husband the priest; a mirror and a small knife wrapped in a piece of linen; the seed of erb ive, wrapped in muslin, as a remedy for epilepsy for her grandson; a dry piece of bread called "tinhol" (possibly millet bread); written formulas; and numerous morsels of linen.[1] None of the items, explained Beatrice, was to be used in black magic, that is, divination and the making of mischief. Indeed, Rene Weis comments that the Inquisitor Fournier would have recognized the contents as innocuous charms and love potions, except for the bread—which indicated Cathar interests. Beatrice had failed to mention the bread at all; Fournier knew that it must be consecrated bread carried as a talisman.

Barthélemy and Beatrice spent a year in prison, and were both released on July 4, 1322, but Béatrice was sentenced to wear the yellow cross forever as punishment, while the priest escaped further sentence.

With her husbands she had two sons and five daughters, among whom were daughters:

  • Condors,
  • Esclarmonde,
  • Philippa, and
  • Ava.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  • Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error. translated by Barbara Bray. New York: G. Braziller, c1978.
  • The Yellow Cross - the story of the last cathars 1290 - 1329. René Weis . Penguin Viking 2000. ISBN 0-14-027669-6