So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc by Louisa A. BurnhamSo Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc by Louisa A. Burnham

So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc

byLouisa A. Burnham

Hardcover | January 3, 2008

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In So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke, Louisa A. Burnham takes us inside the world of a little-known heretical group in the south of France in the early fourteenth century. The Beguins were a small sect of priests and lay people allied to (and sharing many of the convictions of) the Spiritual Franciscans. They stressed poverty in their pursuit of a Franciscan evangelical ideal and believed themselves to be living in the Last Days. By the late thirteenth century, the leaders of the order and the popes themselves had begun to discipline the Spirituals, and by 1317 they had been deemed a heresy. The Beguins refused to accept this situation and began to evade and confront the inquisitorial machine.

Burnham follows the lives of nine Beguins as they conceal themselves in cities, construct an "underground railroad," solicit clandestine donations in order to bribe inquisitors, escape from prison, and venerate the burned bones of their martyred fellows as the relics of saints. Their actions brought the Beguins the apocalypse they had long imagined, as the Church's inquisitors pursued them along with the Spirituals and began to arrest them and burn them at the stake. Reconstructing this dramatic history using inquisitorial depositions, notarial records, and the previously unknown Beguin martyrology, Burnham vividly recreates the world in which the Beguins lived and died for their beliefs.

Title:So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of LanguedocFormat:HardcoverDimensions:234 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:January 3, 2008Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801441315

ISBN - 13:9780801441318

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Editorial Reviews

"Louisa A. Burnham addresses a uniquely significant but hitherto neglected chapter in the history of popular religious movements in the Middle Ages: the Beguins of fourteenth-century Languedoc. Her research unveils a community of believers straddling the fringes of orthodoxy and dedicated to preserving the controversial apocalyptic teachings of their spiritual father, Peter John Olivi. Burnham's description of the bonds of fellowship among a generation of dedicated believers, and their resistance tactics when forced underground by persecution, is composed with uncommon compassion and scholarly acumen. Rich in historical detail and in intimate human portraits, So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke provides both a history of the Beguin movement as a whole and a moving reconstruction of the lives of individual men and women struggling to maintain their beliefs and survive in the face of repression."—Nancy Caciola, University of California, San Diego, author of Discerning Spirits