A Companion to the Waldenses in the Middle Ages


The medieval dissenters known as ‘Waldenses’, named after their first founder, Valdes of Lyons, have long attracted careful scholarly study, especially from specialists writing in Italian, French and German. Waldenses were found across continental Europe, from Aragon to the Baltic and East-Central Europe. They were long-lived, resilient, and diverse. They lived in a special relationship with the prevailing Catholic culture, making use of the Church’s services but challenging its claims.

Many Waldenses are known mostly, or only, because of the punitive measures taken by inquisitors and the Church hierarchy against them. This volume brings for the first time a wide-ranging, multi-authored interpretation of the medieval Waldenses to an English-language readership, across Europe and over the four centuries until the Reformation.

Contributors: Marina Benedetti, Peter Biller, Luciana Borghi Cedrini, Euan Cameron, Jacques Chiffoleau, Albert de Lange, Andrea Giraudo, Franck Mercier, Grado Giovanni Merlo, Georg Modestin, Martine Ostorero, Damian J. Smith, Claire Taylor, and Kathrin Utz Tremp.

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Marina Benedetti, Università degli Studi, Milan (Italy) is Full Professor in the History of Christianity. She is the author of the monograph Il «santo bottino». Circolazione di manoscritti valdesi nell'Europa del Seicento (2007) and the editor of Valdesi medievali. Bilanci e prospettive di ricercar (2009).

Euan Cameron is Professor of Reformation Church History in Union Theological Seminary, New York. On the Waldenses he has written The Reformation of the Heretics (1984) and Waldenses (2000). His other books address the Reformation, superstition, and the Bible.

List of Maps

Abbreviations Used in the Notes

Note on Contributors

Marina Benedetti and Euan Cameron

Part 1
From Lyons to Europe

Section 1
Origins and Early Diffusion (12th–13th Centuries)

1 Valdo (or Valdesius) of Lyons and the Poor in Spirit
  Grado Giovanni Merlo

2 A Presence in Languedoc (12th–13th Centuries)
  Claire Taylor

3 The Early Waldenses and the Catholic Poor in the Crown of Aragon (12th–13th Centuries)
  Damian J. Smith

4 Religious Dissidence and Political Struggles in the Rhone Valley (13th Century)
  Jacques Chiffoleau

Section 2
Germany (13th–14th Centuries)

5 Was Austria a Waldensian Heartland?
  Albert de Lange

6 Waldenses in Bohemia, 13th‒16th Centuries
  Albert de Lange

7 Waldenses by the Baltic
  Peter Biller

8 Western Germany Including Strasbourg
  Georg Modestin

9 Freiburg-in-Uechtland
  Kathrin Utz Tremp

Section 3
Piedmont, Provence and Dauphiné (14th–16th Centuries)

10 Who Were the Waldenses in Fourteenth-Century Piedmont?
  Grado Giovanni Merlo

11 Provence (14th–15th Century)
  Jacques Chiffoleau

12 The Dauphiné (13th–14th Century)
  Euan Cameron

13 The Dauphiné (15th–16th Century)
  Marina Benedetti

Part 2
Themes in Waldensian History

14 On the Road: The Alpine Itinerant Preachers
  Marina Benedetti

15 Women: A Silent Presence?
  Marina Benedetti

16 Inquisitors’ Interrogations of Waldenses
  Peter Biller

17 The ‘Waldensian Sect’: Heresy and Witchcraft
  Franck Mercier and Martine Ostorero

18 Helping the Poor and Healing the Sick
  Peter Biller

19 1488: A Forgotten Crusade
  Marina Benedetti

20 Ancient Waldensian Literature
  Luciana Borghi Cedrini and Andrea Giraudo

21 The Émigré Communities in Calabria and Apulia
  Euan Cameron

22 From the Reformation to the Past: Historical Perceptions of the Medieval Waldenses in Protestantism
  Euan Cameron


Students and scholars of medieval European social and religious history; those interested in dissent from the Catholic Church in the West before the Reformation. Keywords: Waldenses, Waldensians, Valdo of Lyons, Valdes of Lyons, Peter Waldo, Pierre Vaudès, heresy, inquisition, barbes, religious preaching, Vaudois Church, Pope Lucius.
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