Toponymic surnames and the spatiality of heresy prosecutions: Peter Seila’s register of sentences from the Quercy region (Languedoc), 1241–1242

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SHAW Robert Laurence John SIKK Kaarel ZBÍRAL David

Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Web article in the journal archive
Keywords toponymic names; inquisition register; GIS; structured data; Peter Seila; Quercy
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Description This article, featured in Humanities and Social Science Communications, a first-quartile journal under Springer Nature, represents a significant outcome of the Dissident Networks Project (DISSINET), funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant. It delves into the geographical aspects of medieval religious dissent and its suppression in the Latin West, particularly focusing on the challenge of interpreting toponymic surnames within the context of the nine sentencing events presided over by inquisitor Peter Seila in 1241 and 1242 in the Quercy region of Languedoc. Documenting 650 sentenced individuals, the register from these events stands as the earliest surviving record of an inquisition of such magnitude. Rather than allowing the interpretive complexities of toponymic surnames to confine our analysis to qualitative realms, our approach underscores the significance of rendering and analyzing them as structured data. Initially, we quantify the contextual framework surrounding toponymic surnames, situating them within broader name construction practices and pertinent social dynamics. Subsequently, we employ geocoded data derived from these surnames, informed by this contextualization, with a particular focus on examining the spatial relationship between toponyms and their associated sentencing centers. This analysis aims to elucidate narratives that offer the most comprehensive understanding of their significance. The findings afford us insights into the geographical extent of the nine sentencing events. The initial two, concentrated around Montauban and Moissac, appear predominantly urban in nature, lacking substantial rural involvement. Conversely, the remaining events, occurring in fortified villages or castra, seem to encompass a broader expanse of surrounding countryside. These findings contextualize the reports of dissent within Peter's register geographically, hinting at strategies he employed to maximize impact within the constraints he faced.
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