BN: 0-7607-0823-1

For more than sixteen centuries, charges of heresy often resulted in imprisonment, torture, and death for the accused. Defining what constituted heretical beliefs and determining who espoused them was a grave preoccupation for religious and secular institutions alike.

More than 130 detailed entries make this reference a complete guide to heresies and heretics, from the first century -- a time when Christians struggled among themselves to define the parameters of their faith -- through the sixteenth century, when the distinction between heresy and reform began to crumble. The entries cover the individuals, religious sects, spiritual movements, and historical events connected to heresy.

Although organized as a reference work, the entries as a whole permit the reader to follow the dramatic evolution of heresy from such early sects as the Adoptionists, Gnostics, and Montanists -- each attempting to shape the developing orthodoxy of the Church to groups such as the Cathars, who were perceived as such a threat to medieval Catholicism that an armed invasion of southern France was mobilized to destroy them. It was in this climate that the Inquisition, aimed at uncovering and suppressing further heretical movements, was destined to emerge. Here, too, are such well-known figures as St. Francis of Assisi, whose radical followers were executed as heretics, and St. Joan of Arc, whose execution was motivated more by politics than religion, along with an in-depth discussion of the witchcraft persecutions.

Enhanced by a bibliography, an index, and extensive cross-referencing, the Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics is an authoritative record of unorthodox religious belief and its often violent extirpation.

Authored by Charles S. Clifton.

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