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Last in a three-part series of the transcribed interrogation transcripts of nonbelievers caught in the Inquisition. These are the words not of celebrated writers or famous philosophers but of three villagers in 14th-century southern France, as well as the man who interrogated them for unorthodox thinking—Bishop Jacques Fournier.

Religious skepticism has always come in many flavors, from restrained and scholarly to acerbic and contemptuous. My favorites are those nonbelievers down the ages who just seem to be having ridiculous fun with it.

There’s the 9th-century Jain Acharya Jinasena, who wrote of the creator gods of his time, “Who will believe this silly stuff?” And Diagoras of Melos, who chopped up a wooden statue of Hercules and threw it in his cooking fire, saying before horrified onlookers, “Cooking my turnips will be his thirteenth labor!” And 8th-century Persian poet Abu Nuwas, who (after shouting blasphemy in the mosque) was apprehended by the authorities. He was ordered to spit on a portrait of the prophet Mani, founder of Manichaeism, since his refusal would out him as a follower of that banned sect. I’ll do you one better, he thought, sticking his finger down his throat and vomiting on the portrait.

These are my people.

Now add the most colorful of Jacques Fournier’s interrogation subjects in medieval France: Raimond de l’Aire, a villager who seems like Diagoras reborn.

Witnesses described Raimond as saying that God never made the world, that the world has always existed, that the resurrection is a myth, that the Eucharist is nothing more than bread and wine, that the rituals of the priests mean nothing, and that he gives to the poor not for his soul but so that he is thought to be a good man.

At one point he apparently asked a friend how Christ was created. When the friend declined to answer, Raimond said, “Just through fucking, like everybody else”—then struck the heel of one hand against the other repeatedly to underline the point.

The witness solemnly assures the Bishop that he told Raimond he was speaking evil and deserved to be killed. Whether he actually was is not known. His own testimony has not survived—only that of the witness against him, also named Raimond.

The Transcript

Testimony of Raimond Séguy de Tignac against Raimond De l’Aire, alias Bour de Tignac (1322)

The year as above (1322), the sixth of February, Raimond Séguy de Tignac, summoned by the Reverend Father in Christ, by the grace of God Bishop of Pamiers, as a witness against Raimond de l’Aire, alias Bour, de Tignac, in the matter of heresy, appearing judicially before him in the Chamber of the Bishopric of Pamiers, in the presence of religious persons Brothers Gaillard de Pomiès, Arnaud du Carla, O.P. of the convent of Pamiers, and myself, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of My said Lord the Bishop, as a witness for those convened, swore on the four holy Gospels of God to tell the pure and entire truth in the aforementioned matter of heresy, regarding himself as a defendant as well as others, living or dead, as a witness. This oath taken, he said, confessed, and testified as follows:

It could have been 10 or 12 years ago, I do not remember the time or the season, I was at the square of Tignac one day, and Guillaume Carrière, Vital de l’Aire, and Raimond de l’Aire, alias en Bour, were with me. This Raimond de l’Aire said to me, “Do you know how God [Christ] was made?” I said that I did not really know, but that I believed that he was made in a good way, to save us. And, addressing Raimond, I said, “And you? Do you know how [Christ] was made?” He responded, “I’m going to tell you: [Christ] was made by fucking,” striking one hand against the other as he said so. I told him that he was speaking evil, and he deserved to be killed. He fell silent.

Fournier: Did you agree with these heretical and blasphemous words of Raimond? Or were you approving of them, at that time or otherwise?

Séguy: No, to the contrary. They displeased me very much.

Around the same time, Raimond de l’Aire and I were on a street in Tignac, I do not remember the place, nor what we had begun speaking about, but we were talking together. He said that when the blood has left the man, there is no other soul for him. And I understood what he meant to say: that one has no soul other than blood. I told him that he was just speaking evil.

Fournier: When Raimond said these words to you, was he in his right mind?

Séguy: Yes, as it appeared to me.

Fournier: Did you believe these errors that you heard?

Séguy: No.

Fournier: Why have you hidden these remarks of Raimond for so long?

Séguy: I confessed it in sacramental confession, a long time ago, to a priest in the church of Unac, and I believed that this was enough, and that it was not necessary to confess it to anyone else or to reveal these remarks to My Lord the Bishop or My Lord the Inquisitor.

And given that Raimond had testified against him to the effect that he himself had said similar things with him regarding the manner in which Christ was created, and that he denied it, the aforesaid Raimond de l’Aire was summoned and told in person, with assurances and under oath, that he had made these remarks against him. But he continued to persist in his denial. He was given a period to reflect on these remarks and the heretical remarks that he had intended to hold against the late Pierre Rauzy de Caussou, from this day until the following Monday.

Of 578 people interrogated by Fournier, five were executed. Most of the rest, including those above, were either imprisoned or forced to wear a double yellow cross, a mark of shame.

Fournier’s efforts were rewarded a few years later with his appointment as cardinal, then election as Pope Benedict XII.

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Dale McGowan is chief content officer of OnlySky, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies, and founder of Foundation Beyond Belief (now GO Humanity). He holds a...