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Master of Arts Thesis in Medieval Studies, Central European University Budapest, May (2008) 


Refusing to take oaths, rejecting the Church’s authority, preaching in hidden places, abhorring the killing, and many others, such were the markers by which an inquisitor identified a Waldensian heretic. If these were more a myth than a reality then the research on Waldensianism should shift altogether. Looking with an attentive eye at the sources the historian can find actual facts among constructed images and stereotyped refutations. My intention is to bring together the perceptions and the realities that can be traced among them.

The history of Waldensianism has received substantially less attention than that of Catharism, being a much quieter dissenting movement than the latter, but nevertheless important. Still, with its almost generalized Western European dispersion in the later Middle Ages, few books can be considered as standard reference. More intense preoccupations among scholars of Waldensianism have been related to local developments, like the works of Gabriel Audisio and Christine Thouzellier on the regions of Provence and Languedoc, of Grado Giovanni Merlo for Piedmont, or that of Peter Segl related to the Waldensians and Cathars in Austria. Although these studies brought a great deal of information about details of Waldensian life in different places, there has been a need for a more integrated approach.