Preachers by Night

The Waldensian Barbes (15th–16th Centuries)


First inspired by Vaudes in around 1170, the Waldensians formed a religious dissent which survived into the sixteenth century. Respecting the Gospel to the letter, their rejection of oaths, falsehood, the death penalty, purgatory and the intercession of saints marginalized them in the society of the times. Their survival depended on their will to adapt. Organisation became necessary to withstand the pressures of time and space as their community extended across Europe (France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia, Poland). Preachers, called “barbes” in the diaspora’s Romance wing, embodied the ideal lifestyle and unity of their community. This is the story and history of those preachers - celibate, arduous, pious men whose itinerant mission it was to maintain a clandestine but vehement faith.
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Biographical Note

Gabriel Audisio, agrégé de l’Université (1969), doctor in History (1984), is Emeritus professor of Early Modern History at the University of Provence. Specialised in religious and cultural history, he has published in French, English, German and Italian, including The waldensian Dissent c. 1170-c. 1570 (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Way Ahead . . .

1. The Dawn of a Sect
2. The Poor of Christ
3. “Die Brüder”
4. The Time of the Barbes
5. A Company
6. The Barbes’ Way of Life
7. The Mission
8. When the Waldensians Spoke of the Barbes
9. Twilight
10. And the Barbes Were No More . . .

Conclusion: The End of the Path?

Index of Names
Index of Places
Index of Authors Cited


To specialists in early modern religious and cultural history in Europe, also to scholars tackling the origins of Protestantism, medieval religious dissents and schisms in the Roman church. It will also appeal to general readers with an interest in the religious and cultural life of medieval Europe.

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