Post-classical history

Arnold Amalric (d. 1225)

As abbot of Cîteaux (1200-1212), Arnold Amalric encouraged Cistercian involvement in the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204). Previously familiar with heterodoxy as abbot of Grandselve (1198-1200), he was commissioned to combat heresy in southern France as one of three legates, and by 1207 he had recruited many Cistercian abbots and monks for this project. Appointed primary legate after the death of Peter of Castelnau in 1208, Arnold believed that the renewal of the church in Languedoc and the suppression of heresy could be achieved only by the systematic replacement of recalcitrant noblemen and prelates with orthodox magnates via a crusade. Nevertheless, historians’ typical depiction of him as a draconian zealot obsessed with stamping out heretics and their protectors by military force ought to be tempered by the pastoral tone of the sermon collection he requested from Pope Innocent III. For as legate and archbishop of Narbonne (1212-1225), Arnold combined the organization of multiple military expeditions with dogged preaching against vice and heresy and with active participation in councils intended to reform the local clergy and extirpate heresy. Convinced that the threats of heterodoxy, schism, and Islam were interlinked, Arnold also responded to papal appeals for an Iberian crusade by leading 100 knights to the crucial battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. Once relieved of his legatine duties in 1214, Arnold squabbled with the Montfort family over the duchy of Narbonne, leading him to oppose the dispossession of the counts of Toulouse at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). Yet after Simon of Montfort’s death (1218), Arnold supported Amalric of Montfort’s claims to the lands conquered by the crusaders in Languedoc and King Louis VIII’s military intervention in the south.

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