Pastoureaux or Pastorells
Pastoureaux Or Pastorells the name assumed by the fanatical hordes of peasants and vulgar classes who appeared in the north of France about A.D. 1251, and devastated France, ostensibly moved by. loyal motives, but really actuated by blind religious zeal and hatred of priest and monk and Jew. They were specially animated by a thorough hatred of the clergy, who already in the 13th century were, in the minds of the peasants, associated with the tyrannous lay proprietary. Partly also they were called out by the crusading frenzy to which the piety of St. Louis had given a marked impetus. They expressed, in an irrational way, the peasants' genuine loyalty to their king, whose absence in Egypt served to aggravate their misery. Their name originated in the fact that most of them were shepherds. The movement commenced in Flanders. Suddenly a mysterious personage, who bore the name of "the Master of Hungary," appeared in the villages, inviting all shepherds, herdsmen, and laborers to join in the work of the rescue of the king and the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre. He was an aged man, with a long beard, and pale, emaciated face, who, it was said, spoke all languages by miracle, and claimed to act by direct authority of the Virgin. When he preached. the divine letter containing his instructions was kept clasped in one of his hands, the fingers of which were never even for a moment unclosed, lest he should lose the supernatural commission. This conduct readily imposed on the credulous multitude, while terror among the higher orders spread the wildest rumors as to his origin and character. He was said to be an apostate Cistercian monk; in his youth he had denied Jesus Christ; he had been nay, was a Mohammedan; he it was that, in his youth, had led the crusade of children, who had plunged by thousands into the sea, or been sold into slavery to the Saracens; finally, he was an emissary of the Soldan of Egypt. Most of this is manifest fable; but this person's faculty for preaching makes it probable that he was really amnk, while his title, the Master of Hungary," leads to the suspicion that he was in some way connected with the Bulgarian Manichees. He certainly had great powers of organization; for, as he proceeded through France, and as his retinue of credulous boors was augmented by numbers of profligate desperadoes, he appears to have instituted and maintained a tolerable discipline. Two lieutenants, who bore the title of masters, and numerous captains of thousands, received his orders and transmitted them to the obedient multitude. Marching through Flanders and Picardy, he entered Amiens at the head of thirty thousand men; thence he passed to the Isle of France, gathering the whole laboring population in his wake. None of the cities dared to close their gates against him; the horde of shepherds had become an army. On their banners were emblazoned the Lamb and the Cross, the Virgin with her angels appearing to the "master." In battle array they reached Paris to the number of one hundred thousand men. Blanche, the queen-regent, in some wild hope that these fierce peasants might themselves aid in achieving or compel others to achieve the deliverance of her son, suffered them to be admitted into the capital. But now their hostility to the Church became apparent. They not only usurped all the priestly functions, performed marriages, distributed crosses, offered absolution to those who joined their crusade, but they inveighed against the vices of the priesthood. "They taunted," says Matthew Paris, "the Minorites and the friar-preachers as vagabonds and hypocrites; the white monks" (the Cistercians) "as covetous of lands, and the robbers of flocks; the black monks" (the Benedictines) "as proud and gluttonous; the canons as half-laymen, given to all manner of luxury; the bishops as hunters, hawkers, and voluptuaries." It is noteworthy that the popularity of the Pastoureaux, at least in the cities, was won by thus heaping reproaches on the medieval clergy. The master, emboldened by impunity (he had actually been admitted into the presence of the queen), now worked his way to Paris. Mounted in the pulpit of the church of St.
Eustache, wearing a bishop's mitre, he preached and blessed and consecrated, married and granted divorces, while his swarming followers mercilessly slew the priests who endeavored to oppose them. After a short stay they quitted the city. The unwieldy host divided into three bodies. One went towards Orleans and Bourges; one towards Bordeaux; one to the Mediterranean coast. The first troop, led by the master in person, entered Orleans, notwithstanding the resistance of the bishop and clergy. Finding the populace favorable to the insurgents, the bishop issued his inhibition to all clerks, ordering them to keep aloof from the profane assembly. Unfortunately, the command was not obeyed. Some of the younger scholars were induced to attend the preaching which had awed Paris and her university. One of them foolishly interrupted the preacher; he was immediately struck down; the scholars were pursued; many were killed. The bishop laid the city under an interdict and fled. Leaving Orleans they shortly reached Bourges, where, penetrating into the Jewish quarter, they plundered the houses and massacred the inhabitants. Here the executive, at length convinced of their danger, decided to act. The moment selected was judicious, for the Pastoureaux were not expecting opposition. The master was about to or had failed to perform some pretended miracle, when the assault was commenced. A soldier rushed forth and clove the head of the master; the royal bailiff and his men-at-arms fell on the panicstricken followers; the excommunion was read; such of the shepherds as were not massacred were hanged. Simon de Montfort at Bordeaux adopted similar measures with the second division. The leader was seized and thrown into the Garonne, and his followers cut down by the soldiery or hanged by the magistrates. The third division, which reached Marseilles about the same time, met with a similar fate.
Seventy years later, in the time of Philip V, this spasm of fanaticism was repeated. This rising, which was almost identical in character with that already described, took place under the pretense of a crusade, though under a very different king. Again the leader was a priest and monk who claimed supernatural gifts; again the disciples were found among the miserable peasants. The insurrection, perhaps more extended in scope, meeting with no encouragement, was less terrible in result. These enthusiasts commenced their career as mere mendicants, and it was not until many of them had been hanged that, in self-defense, they displayed any violence. It was with this object that the large body which reached Paris in the spring of A.D. 1320 commenced hostilities. Encamping in the Prd-aux-Clercs, they claimed the release of their imprisoned brothers, and, in default, they forced the prison of St. Martin, St. Germain, and the Chatalet, and set at liberty the inmates. Having succeeded in this rescue, they set off southward. This time they appear to have passed by the great cities of Central France; about 40,000 entered Languedoc and commenced a massacre of the Jews. At Verdun, on the Garonne, a royal castle, whither the Jews had fled for protection, a frightful butchery took place. At Auch, Gimont, Castel Sarrasin, Toulouse, and Gaillac similar. cruelties .were perpetrated. They then hurried to Avignon, but failed to enlist the sympathies of the pope. John XXII excommunicated them, alleging as the ground of this measure that they had taken the cross without papal authority. Further, he invoked the civil power, and found the seneschal of Carcassonne only too obedient. By his orders all the roads in the district were rendered impassable, and all the supplies of provisions stopped. Thus hemmed in on all sides in a malarious and barren country, the greater part of the Pastoureaux perished of famine and disease, and the survivors were put to death. So suddenly began and ended these two outbreaks of religious Jacquerie. The original authorities as to the early fanatics are Matthew Paris and William of Nangis, of the latter, the Continuator Nangii. Of modern accounts, the most valuable are, Sismondi's History of France, vol. 7 and 9; Ducange, s.v. Pastorelli; Milman, Hist. of Latin Christianity, 6:57-63; 7:64 sq.