Amalrician Parishes and Personnel

The need for this little study is twofold.  There are some points to clear up concerning the parishes, which were in the care of Amalrician priests; and there is the question of the identity of Dominicus de Triangulo.

To start with the geography, Amalrician priests were in charge of three parishes in the Paris diocese, namely Vieux-Corbeil, la Celle and Ursines (nowadays l’Ursine and no longer a parish), and one in the Orléans diocese, which I believe to be Loury.


Vieux-Corbeil was the original settlement of Corbeil, on the right bank of the Seine,[1] nowadays called Saint-Germain-lès-Corbeil, from the name of the parish church.  It was in the diocese of Paris, about 20 miles south of the city and, according to the polliarium (assessment of church property) of 1205, the appointment of priests to Saint Germain was in the gift of the Bishop of Paris.[2]  Here two clergymen, the priest and the deacon, both called Stephanus, were convicted of supporting an Amalrician interpretation of Christianity.

At the time of their ministry, the parish church was undergoing major reconstruction.  Parts of that building, in a transitional style between Romanesque and Gothic, still remain in the present church, including the fine stained glass windows of the chancel.  Two of these windows have features in common with two of the early windows in the cathedral at Chartres.

The central window is devoted to the final days of Christ’s life, when the meaning of his mission was openly revealed.  There are three main divisions: at the bottom, Passion Week; in the middle, the Crucifixion; at the top, the Resurrection and Ascension.  The central figure in the composition is therefore Christ on the cross, and the pictures on either side of him represent, on his left, the old law and, on his right, the new law, just as they do in the early 13th-century Redemption window in Chartres cathedral.  Christ is seen as the pivotal figure, who fulfilled the teaching of the past and, at the same time, pointed to a new understanding in the future.[3]

The whole window could represent what Amalricians believed to be important.  For them, Christ preached spiritual renewal and set the example that Christians had to follow.  The window could highlight the three principal stages of the mystical development of the individual, as well as the last deeds of Christ.  It begins at the bottom with the preparations and renunciations necessary for the personal religious crisis that is at hand.  The cross in the centre symbolises the mortification of the old self.  At the top is the climax, the resurrection to a new life in the spirit.  Of course, the Amalrician priest and deacon may have had nothing to do with the window.  There is certainly nothing heretical about the pictures.  But that, I hope, may reinforce an important point.  Like most people who were later condemned as heretics, the Amalricians were not trying to be heretical, they were just trying to be Christian.

Another window in the chancel, the Jesse tree window, is of interest.  It is similar to, although less elaborate than, the 12th-century Jesse tree window in Chartres.  The Chartres Jesse tree culminates in Christ enthroned in majesty, surrounded by seven doves to symbolise the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The smaller Vieux-Corbeil Jesse tree grows up to Christ, as expected, but goes on to culminate in the dove of the Holy Spirit at the top.[4]  That could have given a prominence to the Holy Spirit, which would have been pleasing to an Amalrician.

A third cleric convicted by the Council of Paris was also connected to Corbeil.  The Decree said Guarinus was a priest of Corbeil, while the Anonymous of Laon[5] called him Magister Garinus and said that he was chaplain of the castle in the place where Stephanus was parish priest.  From what we know of Stephanus from other evidence, this must be Vieux-Corbeil, although the Anonymous of Laon actually wrote that Stephanus was a parish priest in Corbeil.[6]  He was probably unaware that there were two Corbeil parishes.

There were at least two important castles in Corbeil at this time, the royal castle in the town (on the left bank), and the castle which guarded the end of the river bridge on the right bank.[7]  The latter was the home of the chevaliers de Corbeil, a family headed at this time by Baudouin de Corbeil and his mother, Carcassonne.  She appears in all contemporary documents under this name.[8]  According to the historian, J. Depoin, she was Jeanne de Duras,[9] whose birth-place of Carcassonne, in the Languedoc, must have seemed so exotic to the people of Corbeil that they always used that as her name.  Many of the nobility in the Languedoc had favoured the growth of Cathar heresy in the late 12th century.  Had this lady appreciated their type of spirituality when she was in the South, and had she encouraged preachers of a spiritual message (albeit of a different kind from the Cathar) to gather near her in her new home?

La Celle

As Stephanus, the parish priest of Cella (la Celle), was present at the local investigation, by the Bishop of Paris and the Dean of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois (one of the most important churches in Paris), his Cella must be located in that diocese.  There are two candidates: La Celle-Saint-Cloud and la Celle-lès-Bordes.  In the polliarium of 1205, la Celle-Saint-Cloud (Cella juxta Bogival) was in the gift of the Abbot de Columbis (presumably Coulombs), while la Celle-lès-Bordes (Cella ultra Sarnaium) was in the gift of the Bishop of Paris.[10]

The historian, Marie-Thérèse d’Alverny, made the very reasonable suggestion that the first was probably the Cella in question, because it was near Saint-Cloud, which was associated with three other Amalrician clerics.[11]  However, there do not seem to be any references to this parish, which call it simply Cella.  This was frequently the case with the second, which was the site of an important priory, dependant on the Parisian abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.[12]  The historian of the Paris diocese, J. Lebeuf, assumed without question that Stephanus presbyter de Cella came from la Celle-lès-Bordes.[13]  It was an important early cell founded by Germain, a famous Christian saint of the Paris region.  This village is a long way out in the country, half way between Paris and Chartres.  As at Vieux-Corbeil, the living was in the gift of the Bishop of Paris.


The third parish seems to have been unknown to many historians.  In the Decree, it is written as Occines (a difficult reading according to Martène and Durand);[14] in the fragment of the preliminary investigation, it occurs as Cones (written over an erasure),[15] and in Caesarius, it is given as Uncines.[16]  Its common name was Ursines, and its Latin name (in the 1205 polliarium) was Ocines, and it was in the gift of the Abbot of Saint Magloire in Paris.[17]

It was situated deep in the forest and was probably only known to those travellers who came into Paris from the west.  The reason it has caused so much difficulty to modern historians is that it ceased to exist in the 17th century, when the parish was transferred to Vélizy.[18]  All that remains nowadays is a pond, called l’Etang de l’Ursine, which is near the bottom of a stepped descent, on a forgotten, but still visible, Roman road from Paris, as it crosses the forest of Meudon.  This is presumably the Roman road which went from Paris to Dreux.  It was still in use in the 16th century, as it seems to be the road, which is given in Estienne’s catalogue, as the route from Paris to Montfort-l’Amaury.[19]  As the route to Versailles, it would have been supplanted by a more modern road in the 17th century.  Although J. Lebeuf and M.T. d’Alverny both gave the correct name to Johannes’ parish, calling it Ursines,[20] many scholars still refer to Johannes as the priest of ‘Orsigny’.[21]


Orsigny is not the only wrongly designated Amalrician parish, in my opinion.  Ulricus, one of the old men sentenced to imprisonment rather than the stake, is often said to have been priest of Lorris.  He was called parish priest de Lauriaco by the Decree, de Lueri by Caesarius.[22]  This is usually translated as Lorris,[23] in spite of the fact that Lorris was always written Lorriacum, Lorrys or Lorri in contemporary documents.[24]  There is an uncomplicated Lauriacum in the province of Sens: it is the parish of Loury in the diocese of Orléans (which neatly fits the vernacular Lueri form of Caesarius).[25]  The involvement of a priest, from a parish in the diocese of Orléans, shows that, while Amalrician ideas may have been formulated among those studying theology in Paris, they were not then confined to that diocese.  That is presumably why the Archbishop of Sens had to preside over the investigation.

Dominicus de Triangulo and Wilhelmus Aurifex

Another cleric from outside the Paris diocese may be the unknown Dominicus de Triangulo, from Trainel in the diocese of Sens.  This Dominicus from Trainel is the mysterious tenth person burned at the stake in Paris.  He is the only person who is omitted by Caesarius, and he is the only person who is given no clerical status by the Decree, apart from Wilhelmus Aurifex, who is incorrectly classed as a goldsmith.[26]  Could these discrepancies be explained if Dominicus was a layman?  This is unlikely, as the Decree mentioned that its victims were to be defrocked, before being handed over to the secular power.

The name, Dominicus, was surely uncommon outside Spain, until it was popularised by the success of the Dominicans.  One has to wonder whether the original text (now lost) read: Dom. de Triangulo, which the editors took to refer to a Dominicus, whereas it may have been short for Dominus de Triangulo.  Would this then refer to the lord of Trainel?  Certainly Anseau III, the lord of Trainel, came to an early death, – after 1208 and before 1212, – leaving a minor as his heir.[27]  It cannot have been Anseau III, however, because he was then buried in the Abbey of Vauluisant, which would not have been permitted to a condemned heretic [28]; and it is inconceivable that the burning of such an important figure would not have caused a major scandal in Champagne, where the lords of Trainel were important aristocrats, close to the centre of power.  Nor can it have been the lord of a lesser part of Trainel, Garnier III de Marisy et de Trainel, who was still alive until at least 1217.[29]  In any case, this does not fit in with the list being exclusively clerical.

Perhaps, this Dom. de Triangulo was not a separate figure, but another name for the preceding cleric in the list, Dudo.  Just as Wilhelmus de Arria was also known as Aurifex, the ‘maker of gold,’ was Dudo also known as the ‘master of the triangle’?  Perhaps this could have referred to an emphasis in Amalrician thinking on the Trinity.  As Amaury’s secretary and a theology student of long standing, Dudo probably played an important educational role within the group, and he could well have used triangles in his explanations of the working of the Trinity.

If the presence of ‘Dominicus de Triangulo’ is due to a misreading of the manuscript by the editors of its printed version, this would explain not only why he does not appear in Caesarius’ otherwise accurate list, but also why the Report of the Council only mentions that nine of the accused were to be put to death.[30]  (That still leaves the chronicle of Robert d’Auxerre claiming that ten were burned at the stake.[31]   At least the three main lists would then agree.)

From that it would follow that the Report was probably correct in categorising the nine to be burned as 4 priests and 3 sub-deacons (all accounted for in the lists) and 2 deacons (Odo and one other).[32]  The only name that remains, the only name that can, therefore, be fitted into the vacant ‘deacon’ slot, is that of Wilhelmus Aurifex.  If he was a deacon in November 1209, it would seem unlikely that he could have been the priest ‘W’ of the September 1209 letter from Jean le Teutonique and Jean de la Chandeleur.[33]  Was he downgraded to deacon status as one of the conditions of his early release?  Did the word presbyter, which originally referred to an elder, always at this time have to mean a priest?  There are a lot of question marks in this final section, which must remain as such, until a more able scholar can work it all out.



[1] After the Normans had sacked the town, most of the population moved across the river to the shelter of the new castle on the left bank: F. de Guilhermy (B.16) pp.40-41; A.Dufour: Notes… (B.16) p.4.
[2] A.Longnon: Pouillés … de Sens (B.14) p.357E.
[3] L.Vollant (B.16) pp.2-3 and plates 10-12; and the anonymous parish guide to its own church, Saint-Germain-lès-Corbeil: son église (B.16) p.6.
[4] A connection with Chartres can also be found in the special blue used, which is associated with the glassmakers of Chartres.
[5] Anonymous of Laon (A.10) p.7814E.
[6] ibid.
[7] J.A. le Paire (B.16) vol.1, p.68; F. de Guilhermy (B.16) p.43.
[8] J.Depoin: Vicomtes… (B.16) p.34 and p. 68.
[9] ibid. p.32.
[10] A.Longnon: Pouillés …de Sens (B.14) p.350H and p.349E.
[11] M.T. d’Alverny: Un fragment… (B.3) p.332 n.6.
[12] A.Longnon op. cit. (B.14) pp.357K, 446B, 598D; R.Poupardin (B.15) vol.1, no.210, pp.295-6 and no.222, p.311; vol.2, no.288, p.78 and no.289, p.79.
[13] J.Lebeuf (B.14) vol.3, pp.425-8.  J.Lebeuf was also unequivocal about the date of the burning of this priest, which he put in 1209.
[14] The original publishers of the Decree, from MS Viconiensis, now lost: Decree (A.5) p.70.
[15] MS Paris 2702, fol.130r.
[16] Caesarius (A.17) p.304.
[17] A.Longnon op.cit. (B.14) p.350D.
[18] H.Lacoste (B.14) pp.27-28.
[19] For the Roman road, see A.Bertrand (B.14) pp.10-11; for the 16th century, see C.Estienne (B.14) pp.104-5.
[20] J.Lebeuf (B.14) vol.3, pp.222-3; M.T. d’Alverny: Un fragment… (B.3) p.331 n.1.
[21] B.Hauréau: Concile… (B.3) p.425; Scott & Bland (B.8) p.347; Wakefield & Evans (B.8) p.259.
[22] Decree (A.5) p.70 and Caesarius (A.17) p.304.
[23] B.Hauréau: Concile… (B.3) pp.426 + 432; N.Cohn (B.7) p.152; Wakefield & Evans (B.8) p.259.
[24] Dauzat & Rostaing (B.111) p.412.
[25] Dauzat & Rostaing (B.111) p.398; E.Bimbenet (B.17) vol.2, pp.8-9; A.Longnon (B.14) p.323F.
[26] Caesarius (A.17) pp.304-7; Decree (A.5) p.70.
[27] C.Lalore (B.19) pp.184-5; T.Evergates: Feudal Society in the Bailliage of Troyes (B.19) p.207.
[28] A.Roserot: Dictionnaire historique… (B.19) vol.3, p.1491.
[29] ibid vol.3, p.1491.
[30] Report (A.6) p.72.
[31] Robert d’Auxerre (A.9) p.275.
[32] Report (A.6) p.72.
[33] Littera Compositionis (A.1) pp.113-4.

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