Bonas Femnas and the Consolamen


Yvette Debergue is a graduate of the University of Sydney, Australia.


My recently completed doctoral dissertation examines gender relations in the communities of the Lauragais in the thirteenth century that adhered to heresy. I focus here on the ways that the socially constructed gender identities of women and men influenced their involvement with the amicx de Dieu, or friends of God, also known as the Good Christians. I hope to show the extent to which women who embraced heretical thoughts and practices were still considered by society as less worthy than men to receive the gesture of respect known as the melhoramen. Despite often being drawn from the nobility, most women who underwent the consolamen and became bonas femnas still failed to transcend the gender boundaries of their day. Despite long held beliefs that women were empowered beyond the traditional gender boundaries when they adhered to heretical beliefs and practices, and further to studies that have proven that women did not embrace the heretical lifestyle as extensively as was previously thought, I will examine here the reasons for this subjugation of the religious rights of women who embraced heresy.