Mystery Of The Bogomils
Who were the Bogomils ?
KEYWORDS: Bogomils, Bogumili, Chatares, Katari, Patarens,Bosnian Church, Crkva bosanska, Good Christians, Krstjani, medieval Croatia & Bosnia, Gnosis, Gnoza, Gnosticism.
The Bogomils opposed the egsistence of a church as a fixed organisation; they were also against the church possessing properthy and compulsory tithes. The original Bogomil teaching preached disobeance to rulers and masters. Judging by treatise "Besedi na jeres" (On Heresy), written against the Bulgarian Bogomils by Presbyter Cosma (about 972), this gnostic movement opposed all forms of rule, violence and slavery, but it would be difficult to establish with what specific ideological platform it reaches the dalmatian cities. Here the socio-political edge of Bogomil teaching was probably dulled to a considerable extent. Research into the beginnings of the Bogomil penetration into Dalmatia leads us to Zadar.
Thomas the Archdeacon says that the citizens of Zadar scorned the teaching of the Chatolic religion and they let themselves be besmirched by the heretical plague. Historical record preserve the names of two dalmatian heretics, the brothers Arisodes and Matthew, who propagated the Bogomil teaching - first of all in Zadar. They were then probably probably banished from the citiy and settled in Split, where they became the leaders of the heretical movement. Aristodes and Matthew maintained good ties with Bosnia, where bogomilism had become the official religion during the rule of Ban Kulin. many citizens of Split joined the heretics but the Church soon reacted harhsly. The Bogomils were banished from the citty. The same fate befell them in Trogir.
A letter writen in October 11, 1200, by Pope Innocent III to king
Emeric, discloses that the banished Dalmatian heretics found
refuge in Bosnia where they were recived warmly by Ban Kulin. "
We have found out ", wrote the Pope, " that the nobleman, Ban
Kulin of Bosnia, has given shelter and, even more, obvious
protection to a considerable number of Bogomils recently
banished from Split and Trogir by our brother, the Archibishop;
he has given his land and himself to their wickedness and paid
them the same respect as Chatolics, and even more than Chatolic,
calling them Christians ". A year earlier Vukan Nemanjic had
informed the Pope that Kulin had joined the new heresy with ten
thousand people. the eventual fate of Aristodes and Matthew,
who were also said to be " ..versed in Latin and Slavonic books ",
is not known. Aristodes may have been the same person cursed,
under the name of Rastudije, at the synod of St. Sava: " Curse
upon Rastudije of Bosnia... and all... Christian man and women
who do not venerate the sacred icons and the holy cross". If tis
was a really the case, then Aristodes of Zadar became the first
head (djed) of the bosnian Bogomils after having been banished
A western record from 1223 mentions an anti-pope " on the
frontiers of the Bulgaria, Croatia and Dalmatia, near the
Hungarian nation ", who was the head of all Bogomils and even
sent his vicar to Toulouse. At the time, the dualist heresy was
quite widespread under various names (Patarines, Chatari, etc), in
Western europre as well. It had taken particulary firm roots in
Southern France (Toulouse) and in Lombard cities of Northen
Italy. In some parts of Italy the followers of the dualist heresy
were called Sclavini, which indicates their ties with Dalmatian and
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