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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Noting that ‘heresy’ is an identity and label which is imposed rather than self-ascribed, this chapter places at its centre the notion of ‘non-conformity’ within Christianity, tracing the recurrent tendencies of individuals and groups to find themselves in opposition to ecclesiastical authority, usually because they wish to embrace a form of Christianity harking back (in theory at least) to a more apostolic and evangelical form than that adopted by the medieval Church. The chapter discusses a variety of different 'heretical' groups, but also the developing attitudes and actions of the Church against their perceived threat. Throughout the chapter we are reminded that ‘heresy’ is a contested space within which ecclesiastical authority, political power, and spiritual ideals intersect.

Keywords: Heresy, inquisition, Patarines, Cathars, Waldensians, Lollards

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