Last updated
The development of Bogomillism Spread of Paulicanism.png
The development of Bogomillism

Bogomilism (Bulgarian : Богомилство, romanized: Bogomilstvo; Macedonian: Богомилство; Serbo-Croatian : Bogumilstvo / Богумилство) was a Christian neo-Gnostic or dualist sect founded in the First Bulgarian Empire by the priest Bogomil during the reign of Tsar Peter I in the 10th century. [1] [2] [3] It most probably arose in what is today the region of Macedonia [4] [5] as a response to the social stratification that occurred with the introduction of feudalism and as a form of political movement and opposition to the Bulgarian state and the church.

Bulgarian language South Slavic language

Bulgarian, is a South Slavic language spoken in Southeastern Europe, primarily in Bulgaria. It is the language of Bulgarians.

Romanization of Bulgarian transliteration of text in Bulgarian from its conventional Cyrillic orthography into the Latin alphabet

Romanization of Bulgarian is the practice of transliteration of text in Bulgarian from its conventional Cyrillic orthography into the Latin alphabet. Romanization can be used for various purposes, such as rendering of proper names and place names in foreign-language contexts, or for informal writing of Bulgarian in environments where Cyrillic is not easily available. Official use of romanization by Bulgarian authorities is found, for instance, in identity documents and in road signage. Several different standards of transliteration exist, one of which was chosen and made mandatory for common use by the Bulgarian authorities in a law of 2009.

Macedonian language Language spoken in North Macedonia

Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by around two million people, principally in North Macedonia and the Macedonian diaspora, with a smaller number of speakers throughout the transnational region of Macedonia. It is the official language of North Macedonia and a recognized minority language in parts of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, and Serbia.


The Bogomils called for a return to what they considered to be early spiritual teaching, rejecting the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and their primary political tendencies were resistance to the state and church authorities. This helped the movement spread quickly in the Balkans, gradually expanding throughout the Byzantine Empire and later reaching Kievan Rus', Bosnia (Bosnian Church), Dalmatia, Serbia, Italy, and France (Cathars).

In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership.

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The BalkansBAWL-kənz, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range, Bulgaria.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

The Bogomils were dualists or Gnostics in that they believed in a world within the body and a world outside the body. They did not use the Christian cross, nor build churches, as they revered their gifted form and considered their body to be the temple. This gave rise to many forms of practice to cleanse oneself through purging,[ clarification needed ] fasting, celebrating and dancing.

Dualism in cosmology is the moral or spiritual belief that two fundamental concepts exist, which often oppose each other. It is an umbrella term that covers a diversity of views from various religions, including both traditional religions and scriptural religions.

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.

Church (building) Building used for Christian religious activities

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, a church interior is often structured in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the vertical beam of the cross is represented by the center aisle and seating while the horizontal beam and junction of the cross is formed by the bema and altar.


The term Bogomil in free translation means "dear to God", and is a compound of the Slavic words for "god" (Common Slavic: *bogъ) and "dear" (Common Slavic: *milъ). It may be also a translation of the Greek name Theophilos, literally "dear to God; loved by the gods," from theos "god" + philos "loved, beloved". It is difficult to ascertain whether the name was taken from the reputed founder of that movement, the priest Bogomil (Bulgarian : Богомил, romanized: Bogomil), or whether he assumed that name after it had been given to the sect itself. The word is an Old Church Slavonic calque of Massaliani, the Syriac name of the sect corresponding to the Greek Euchites. The Bogomils are identified with the Messalians in Slavonic documents from the 13th century. [6]

Slavic languages languages of the Slavic peoples

The Slavic languages are the Indo-European languages spoken by the Slavic peoples. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic, spoken during the Early Middle Ages, which in turn is thought to have descended from the earlier Proto-Balto-Slavic language, linking the Slavic languages to the Baltic languages in a Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family.

Old Church Slavonic Medieval Slavic literary language

Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic, also known as Old Church Slavic, or Old Slavic, was the first Slavic literary language. It is also referred to as Paleo-Slavic (Paleoslavic) or Palaeo-Slavic (Palaeoslavic), not to be confused with Proto-Slavic. It is often abbreviated to OCS.

In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. Used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.

The members are referred to as Babuni in Church Slavonic documents, which originally meant "superstition; superstitious person" (Common Slavic: *babonъ, *babunъ *babona ). Toponyms which retain the name include the river Babuna, the mountain Babuna, the Bogomila Waterfall and village Bogomila, all in the region of Azot today in central North Macedonia, suggesting that the movement was very active in the region. [7] [8]

Church Slavonic language Liturgical language of the Orthodox Church in Slavic countries

Church Slavonic, also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative Slavic sacred language used by the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. The language appears also in the services of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and occasionally in the services of the Orthodox Church in America. It was also used by the Orthodox Churches in Romanian lands until the late 17th and early 18th centuries as well as by Roman Catholic Croats in the Early Middle Ages. It is also co-used by Greek Catholic Churches, which are under Roman communion, in Slavic countries, for example the Croatian, Slovak and Ruthenian Greek Catholics, as well as by the Roman Catholic Church.

Babuna is a mountain in central North Macedonia, located within the Veles Municipality. It is situated by the Vardar river.

Bogomila village in Macedonia

Bogomila is a village in Čaška Municipality in the central part of the Republic of North Macedonia, close to the city of Veles. Bogomila is also the birthplace of revolutionary Petar Poparsov. As of 2002 the population of the village was 476, most of whom ethnic Macedonians.


Much of their literature has been lost or destroyed by the contemporary Christian Churches. The earliest description of the Bogomils is in a letter from Patriarch Theophylact of Bulgaria to Tsar Peter of Bulgaria. The main source of doctrinal information is the work of Euthymius Zigabenus, who says that they believe that God created man's soul but matter was the invention of Satan, God's older son, who in seducing Eve lost his creative power. [9] Concerning the Bogomils, something can be gathered from the polemic Against the Newly-Appeared Heresy of the Bogomils written in Slavonic by Cosmas the Priest, a 10th-century Bulgarian official. The old Slavonic lists of forbidden books of the 15th and 16th century also give us a clue to the discovery of this heretical literature and of the means the Bogomils employed to carry on their teachings. Much may also be learned from the doctrines of the numerous variations of Bogomilism which spread in Medieval Kievan Rus' after the 11th century. [6]

Book burning Practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material

Book burning is the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials, usually carried out in a public context. The burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question.

Satan Figure in Abrahamic religions

Satan, also known as the Devil, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood. In Christianity and Islam, he is usually seen as either a fallen angel or a jinn, who used to possess great piety and beauty, but rebelled against God, who nevertheless allows him temporary power over the fallen world and a host of demons. In Judaism, Satan is typically regarded as a metaphor for the yetzer hara, or "evil inclination", or as an agent subservient to God.

Cosmas the Priest Bulgarian priest and writer

Cosmas the Priest, also known as Cosmas the Presbyter or Presbyter Cosmas, was a medieval Bulgarian priest and writer. Cosmas is most famous for his anti-Bogomil treatise Sermon Against the Heretics, which, despite not being conclusively dated, is generally ascribed to the 10th century. The treatise is a valuable source on the beginnings of the Bogomil heresy in Bulgaria, as well as on medieval Bulgarian society.



One of the earliest Christian dualist sects, Marcionism, originated in eastern Anatolia. [10] The church Marcion himself established, appeared to die out around the 5th century, although similarities between Marcionism and Paulicianism, a sect in the same geographical area, indicate that Marcionist elements may have survived. [11] Paulicianism began in the mid-7th century, when Constantine of Mananalis, basing his message solely on the New Testament, began to teach that there were two gods: a good god who had made men's souls, and an evil god who had created the entire physical universe including the human body. His followers, who became known as Paulicians, were not marked by extreme deviance in lifestyle compared to contemporaries, despite their belief that the world was evil, and were renowned as good fighting men. [12]

In 970 the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes transplanted 200,000 Armenian Paulicians to Europe and settled them in the neighbourhood of Philippopolis (today's Plovdiv in Thrace). Under Byzantine and then later Ottoman rule, the Armenian Paulicians lived in relative safety in their ancient stronghold near Philippopolis, and further northward. Linguistically, they were assimilated into the Bulgarians, by whom they were called pavlikiani (the Byzantine Greek word for Paulician). In 1650, the Roman Catholic Church gathered them into its fold. Fourteen villages near Nicopolis, in Moesia, embraced Catholicism, as well as the villages around Philippopolis. A colony of Paulicians in the Wallachian village of Cioplea  [ ro ] near Bucharest also followed the example of their brethren across the Danube. [6]


The religious distribution at the time of the East-West Schism, showing Bogomils concentrated in the Balkans. Great Schism 1054 with former borders.png
The religious distribution at the time of the East–West Schism, showing Bogomils concentrated in the Balkans.

The Gnostic social-religious movement and doctrine originated in the time of Peter I of Bulgaria (927969), alleged in the modern day to be a reaction against state and clerical oppression of the Byzantine church. In spite of all measures of repression, it remained strong and popular until the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the end of the 14th century. Bogomilism was an outcome of many factors that had arisen in the beginning of the 10th century, most probably in the region of Macedonia. It was also strongly influenced by the Paulicians who had been driven out of Armenia. [14]

The Slavonic sources are unanimous on the point that Bogomil's teaching was Manichaean. A Synodikon from the year 1210 adds the names of his pupils or "apostles", Mihail, Todur, Dobri, Stefan, Vasilie and Peter. Zealous missionaries carried their doctrines far and wide. In 1004, scarcely 25 years after the introduction of Christianity into Kievan Rus, we hear of a priest Adrian teaching the same doctrines as the Bogomils. He was imprisoned by Leontius, Bishop of Kiev. In 1125, the Church in the south of Rus had to combat another heresiarch named Dmitri. The Church in Bulgaria also tried to extirpate Bogomilism. Several thousand went in the army of Alexios I Komnenos against the Norman, Robert Guiscard; but, deserting the emperor, many of them (1085) were thrown into prison.[ citation needed ] Efforts were again put forth for their conversion; and for the converts the new city of Alexiopolis was built, opposite Philippopolis. When the Crusaders took Constantinople (1204), they found some Paulicians, whom the historian Geoffrey of Villehardouin calls Popelicans.[ citation needed ]

The Legend of Saint Gerard discloses that followers of Bulgarian Bogomilism were present during the early 11th century in Ahtum's realm, which comprised present day Banat. They invoked Archangel Uriel, whose name is common in amulets and magic rituals.[ citation needed ]

Spread of bogomilism in the Balkans

Council against Bogomilism, organized by Stefan Nemanja. Fresco from 1290 Nemanjin sabor.jpg
Council against Bogomilism, organized by Stefan Nemanja. Fresco from 1290

The Bogomils spread westwards and settled in Serbia, where they were to be known as Babuns (Babuni). At the end of the 12th century Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and the Serbian council deemed Bogomilism a heresy, and expelled them from the country. Large numbers took refuge in Bosnia and Dalmatia where they were known under the name of Patarenes (Patareni). [6]

Providing refuge to heretics, including bogomils, was a recurrent pretext for Hungarian rulers to declare crusades against Bosnia and extend their influence in the region. A first Hungarian complaint to the Pope was averted by the public abjuration of the Bosnian ruler Ban Kulin, close relative of Stefan Nemanja, in 1203. [15] A second Hungarian crusade against Bosnia on bogomil heresy pretext was launched in 1225, but failed. In 1254, rebelling against the Papal order to accept a Hungarian bishop, the Bosnian Church chose the schism. In the following centuries, the Bosnian Church (autonomous but mainly following Orthodox doctrine [16] [17] ) and the heretic sect of the bogomils came to be identified with each other, due to the scarcity of documents after the Ottoman conquest. [18]

In 1203, Pope Innocent III, with the aid of the King of Hungary, forced an agreement of Kulin to acknowledge Papal authority and religion: in practice this was ignored. On the death of Kulin in 1216 a mission was sent to convert Bosnia to Rome but failed. In 1234, the Catholic Bishop of Bosnia was removed by Pope Gregory IX for allowing heretical practices. [19] In addition, Gregory called on the Hungarian king to crusade against the heretics. [20] However, Bosnian nobles were able to expel the Hungarians. [21]

In 1252, Pope Innocent IV decided to put Bosnia's bishop under the Hungarian Kalocsa jurisdiction. Such decision provoked the schism of the Bosnian Christians, who refused to submit to the Hungarians and broke off their relations with Rome. [22] In that way, an autonomous Bosnian Church came into being, in which some later saw a Bogomil or Cathar Church, while in reality no trace of bogomilism, Catharism or dualism can be found in the original documents of the Bosnian Christians. [23]

It was not until Pope Nicholas' Bull "Prae cunctis" in 1291 that the Franciscans-led inquisition was imposed on Bosnia. [24] The Inquisition reported of the existence of a dualist sect in Bosnia in the late 15th century and called them "Bosnian heretics", but this sect was most likely not the same as the Bosnian Church.

Bogomilism was eradicated in Bulgaria, Rascia (one of Serbian medieval states) and Byzantium in the 13th century, but some smaller elements survived in Rascia's principality of Hum (present day - Herzegovina)and Bosnia by embracing eastern tradition of the Bosnian church [25] until the Ottoman Empire gained control of the region in 1463. Some scholars, who sought certain ideological backgrounds and justifications for their political narratives, argue that both Catholics and Orthodox persecuted the Bogomils as heretics and according to them, the pressures drew Bosnia to Bogomilism. Later, with the introduction of Ottoman rule, Bosnians (this is not an ethnic name but a regional one. The only ethnic names known from the contemporary sources in medieval Bosnia were "Serbs and Vlachs" [26] were often more likely to convert to Islam since they were not friends of either the Roman Catholic or Serb Orthodox churches.[ citation needed ]. These claims have been completely rejected today [27] [28] as an anachronism from the Austro-Hungarian era. Although this narrative has been debunked, it continues to be emphasized by the Bosniak academic community.

From Bosnia, their influence extended into Italy (Piedmont). The Hungarians undertook many crusades against the heretics in Bosnia, but towards the close of the 15th century, the conquest of that country by the Turks put an end to their persecution. Few or no remnants of Bogomilism have survived in Bosnia. The Ritual in Slavonic written by the Bosnian Radoslav, and published in vol. xv. of the Starine of the South Slavonic Academy at Agram, shows great resemblance to the Cathar ritual published by Cunitz, 1853. [29] [30]

In the 18th century, the Paulician people from around Nicopolis were persecuted by the Turks, presumably on religious grounds[ citation needed ], and a good part of them fled across the Danube and settled in the Banat region that was part of the Kingdom of Hungary at the time, and became known as Banat Bulgarians [ citation needed ]. There are still over ten thousand Banat Bulgarians in Banat today in the villages of Dudeştii Vechi, Vinga, Breştea and also in the city of Timişoara, with a few in Arad; however, they no longer practice Bogomilism, having converted to Roman Catholicism. There are also a few villages of Paulicians in the Serbian part of Banat, especially the villages of Ivanovo and Belo Blato, near Pančevo.

Social factors

The gradual Christianization of the Bulgarian population, the fact that the service was initially practiced in Greek, which only the elite knew, resulted in a low level of understanding of the religion among the peasantry. Due to the constant wars during the time of Simeon I, the lands near the Byzantine border (Thrace) were devastated, and the people living there were left without occupation. The constant change of authority over these lands, and the higher taxes during the time of Tsar Peter I, gave birth to a great social discontent at the beginning of the 10th century. Moreover, the corruption of the church as an institution, led to grave disappointment among its recently converted flock.[ citation needed ]

Religious factors

The existence of older Christian heresies in the Bulgarian lands (Manichaeism and Paulicianism), which were considered very dualistic, influenced the Bogomil movement. Manichaeism's origin is related to Zoroastrianism; that is why Bogomilism is sometimes indirectly connected to Zoroastrianism in the sense of its duality.

Connections to the royal court

Some historians claim that tsar Samuil of Bulgaria and in particular his son Gavril Radomir supported the movement[ citation needed ]. The core of Bulgarian empire then corresponded to the region where the Bogomils were most active. Most probably, as Samuil revolted against the Byzantine Empire, he relied on the popular support of the movement. There are no sources of Bogomil persecution during his reign (976–1014). [7]


From the imperfect and conflicting data that is available, one positive result can be gathered that the Bogomils were gnostics, adoptionists and dualists. [6]

Their dualism was initially moderate (or "monarchian"): according to their teachings, God created and rules the spiritual part of the world, and Satan the material, but Satan is ultimately inferior to God and his side by virtue of being God's son. [31] However, Bogomils were not quite free from the absolute dualism of Manichaeism and Paulicianism, and over time adopted an absolute position too, believing God and Satan as eternal opponents, similar to the one maintained by the posterior Cathars. [31]

Their adoptionist teaching apparently came from Paul of Samosata (though at a later period the name of Paul was believed to be that of the Apostle). They rejected the Christianity of the Orthodox churches, though did not accept the docetic teaching of some of the other gnostic sects. [6] They also opposed established forms of government and church as alike to anarchism (see Christian anarchism).

Source texts

Possible source texts for Bogomil doctrine include:

The possible Bogomil use of pseudepigraphic texts:

Bogomils accepted the four Gospels, fourteen Epistles of Paul, the three Epistles of John, James, Jude, and an Epistle to the Laodiceans, which they professed to have. They sowed the seeds of a rich, popular religious literature in the East as well as the West. The Historiated Bible, the Letter from Heaven, the Wanderings through Heaven and Hell, the numerous Adam and Cross legends, the religious poems of the "Kalēki perehozhie" and other similar productions owe their dissemination to a large extent to the activity of the Bogomils of Bulgaria, and their successors in other lands. [6]


In their original monarchian dualist story, Bogomils taught that God had two sons, the elder Satanail and the younger Michael. [36] Satanail rebelled against the father and became an evil spirit. He created the lower heavens and the Earth and tried in vain to create man, though in the end he had to appeal to God for the Spirit. After creation, Adam was allowed to till the ground on condition that he sold himself and his posterity to the owner of the Earth, Satanail.

In order to free Adam and his offspring, Michael was sent in the form of a man, becoming identified with Jesus Christ, and was "elected" by God after the baptism in the Jordan. When the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of the dove, Jesus received power to break the covenant in the form of a clay tablet (hierographon) held by Satanail from Adam. He had now become the angel Michael in a human form, and as such he vanquished Satanail, and deprived him of the termination il (meaning God), in which his power resided. Satanail was thus transformed into Satan. However, through Satan's machinations the crucifixion took place, and Satan was the originator of the whole Orthodox community with its churches, vestments, ceremonies, sacraments and fasts, with its monks and priests. This world being the work of Satan, the perfect must eschew any and every excess of its pleasure, though not so far as asceticism. [6]

They held the "Lord's Prayer" in high respect as the most potent weapon against Satan, and had a number of conjurations against "evil spirits". Each community had its own twelve "apostles", and women could be raised to the rank of "elect". The Bogomils wore garments like those of mendicant friars and were known as keen missionaries, travelling far and wide to propagate their doctrines. Healing the sick and exorcising the evil spirit, they traversed different countries and spread their apocryphal literature along with some of the books of the Old Testament, deeply influencing the religious spirit of the nations and preparing them for the Reformation. [6]

Christology and the Trinity

For Bogomils "the Logos was not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word incarnate, but merely the spoken word of God, shown in the oral teaching of Christ". [37] Although Bogomils regarded themselves as "Trinitarian", [38] anathemas against Bogomils (circa 1027) charge Bogomils with rejection of the Trinity. [39]

Opposition to institutions and materialism

The essence of Bogomilism is the duality in the creation of the world. This is why it is considered a heresy by the Catholic Church. Bogomils explained the earthly sinful corporeal life as a creation of Satan, an angel that was sent to Earth. Due to this duality, the church believes that their doctrine undervalues everything that is created with materialistic and governmental goals and further claims that the doctrine does not come from the soul, the only divine possession of the human.[ clarification needed ] Its followers refused to pay taxes, to work in serfdom, or to fight in conquering wars. They ignored the feudal social system, which was interpreted by their enemies as suggesting disorder if not the destruction of the state and church.[ citation needed ]

Karp Strigolnik, who in the 14th century preached the doctrine in Novgorod, explained that St. Paul had taught that simpleminded men should instruct one another; therefore they elected their "teachers" from among themselves to be their spiritual guides, and had no special priests. There is a tradition that the Bogomils taught that prayers were to be said in private houses, not in separate buildings such as churches. Ordination was conferred by the congregation and not by any specially appointed minister. The congregation were the "elect", and each member could obtain the perfection of Christ and become a Christ or "Chlist". Marriage was not a sacrament. Bogomils refused to fast on Mondays and Fridays, and they rejected monasticism. They declared Christ to be the Son of God only through grace like other prophets, and that the bread and wine of the eucharist were not physically transformed into flesh and blood; that the last judgement would be executed by God and not by Jesus; that the images and the cross were idols and the veneration of saints and relics idolatry. [6]

These doctrines have survived in the great Russian sects, and can be traced back to the teachings and practice of the Bogomils. But in addition to these doctrines of an adoptionist origin, they held the Manichaean dualistic conception of the origin of the world. This has been partly preserved in some of their literary remains, and has taken deep root in the beliefs and traditions of Balkan nations with substantial Bogomil followings. The chief literature of all the heretical sects throughout the ages has been that of apocryphal Biblical narratives, and the popes Jeremiah or Bogumil are directly mentioned as authors of such forbidden books "which no orthodox dare read". Though these writings are mostly of the same origin as those from the older lists of apocryphal books, they underwent a modification at the hands of their Bogomil editors, so as to be useful for the propagation of their own specific doctrines. [6]

In its most simple and attractive form—invested with the authority of the reputed holy author—their account of the creation of the world and of man, the origin of sin and redemption, the history of the Cross, and the disputes between body and soul, right and wrong, heaven and hell, were embodied either in "Historiated Bibles" (Paleya) or in special dialogues held between Christ and his disciples, or between renowned Fathers of the Church who expounded these views in a simple manner adapted to the understanding of the people (Lucidaria). [6]


The Bogomils were the connecting link between the so-called heretical sects of the East and those of the West. They were, moreover, the most active agents in disseminating such teachings in Kievan Rus' and among all the nations of Europe. In the 12th and 13th century, the Bogomils were already known in the West as "Cathars" or in other places as "Bulgari", i.e. Bulgarians (българи). In 1207 the Bulgarorum heresis is mentioned. In 1223 the Albigenses are declared to be the local Bougres, and in the same period mention is made of the "Pope of the Albigenses who resided within the confines of Bulgaria" (see also Nicetas, Bogomil bishop). The Cathars and Patarenes, the Waldenses, the Anabaptists, and in Russia the Strigolniki, and Spiritual Christians, have all at different times been either identified with the Bogomils or closely connected with them, even though several of these are unrelated and are not dualist. [6]

Considerable scholarly debate has arisen about the exact relationship between dualist heresies that arose in different places and centuries across medieval Europe, questioning whether it was indeed a single movement or belief system which was spread from one region to the next, or if multiple heretical movements arose independently in different parts of Europe. Furthering the confusion is that the medieval sources themselves, such as the 13th century papal Inquisition in France, would often simply assume that dualistic heresies were directly connected to previous heretical movements in different regions. Inquistors often described 13th century Cathars as a direct outgrowth of surviving Manichean dualists from previous centuries—though by the same logic, Inquisitors who encountered pagan religions in the fringes of Europe (Celtic lands, or in the Baltic Crusades) would directly accuse non-Christians of worshiping "Apollo and Mercury", simply applying previous terms and rhetoric to new contexts in which they didn't accurately apply. Thus medieval scholarship is divided over whether the "Cathars" actually were an offshoot of the "Bogomils", or if the 13th century Inquisition itself simply mistook "Cathars" for "Bogomils".

In Foucault's Pendulum , a novel by the Italian philosopher and writer Umberto Eco, the plot concerning a widespread secret and mystic conspiracy has its ground in the disappearance of the Bogomils after the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The Secret Book is a Macedonian feature film combining the detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction genres, based on a fictional story of the quest for the original Slavic language "Secret Book", written by the Bogomils in Bulgaria and carried to Western Europe during the Middle Ages.

A French and consequently an English word emerged based on twisted perceptions of the Bogomils by the Catholic Church. The words "bouguer" and "buggery" emerged, by way of the word "bougre" in French, from the Latin Bulgarus (Bulgarian). "Buggery" first appears in English in 1330 with the sense "abominable heresy", though "bugger" in a sexual sense is not recorded until 1555. [40] The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology quotes a similar form—"bowgard" (and "bouguer"), but claims that the Bulgarians were heretics "as belonging to the Greek Church, sp. Albigensian". Webster's Third New International Dictionary, gives the only meaning of the word "bugger" as sodomite, "from the adherence of the Bulgarians to the Eastern Church considered heretical". [41]

Bogomil Cove on Rugged Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Priest Bogomil.

The Bogomils make a significant part in the Thomas Pynchon novel Against the Day , when Cyprian Lakewood becomes a postulate and gives up his life of sodomitic servitude as a spy.

See also

Related Research Articles

Catharism Christian dualist movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe

Catharism was a Christian dualist or Gnostic revival movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries. The followers were known as Cathars and are now mainly remembered for a prolonged period of persecution by the Catholic Church, which did not recognise their belief as being Christian. Catharism appeared in Europe in the Languedoc region of France in the 11th century and this is when the name first appears. The adherents were sometimes known as Albigensians, after the city Albi in southern France where the movement first took hold. The belief system may have originated in Persia or the Byzantine Empire. Catharism was initially taught by ascetic leaders who set few guidelines, and, thus, some Catharist practices and beliefs varied by region and over time. The Catholic Church denounced its practices including the Consolamentum ritual, by which Cathar individuals were baptized and raised to the status of "perfect".

The Euchites or Messalians were a Christian sect from Mesopotamia that spread to Asia Minor and Thrace. The name 'Messalian' comes from the Syriac ܡܨܠܝܢܐ, mṣallyānā, meaning 'one who prays'. The Greek translation is εὐχίτης, euchitēs, meaning the same.

Bosnian Church Christian church in medieval Bosnia

The Bosnian Church was a Christian church in medieval Bosnia that was independent of and considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox hierarchies.

High Middle Ages Period in European history from 1000 to 1250 CE

The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period of European history that commenced around 1000 and lasted until around 1250. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended around 1500.

Ban Kulin Ban of Bosnia from 1180 to 1204

Kulin was the Ban of Bosnia from 1180 to 1204, first as a vassal of the Byzantine Empire and then of the Kingdom of Hungary, although his state was de facto independent. He was one of Bosnia's most prominent and notable historic rulers and had a great effect on the development of early Bosnian history. One of his most noteworthy diplomatic achievements is widely considered to have been the signing of the Charter of Ban Kulin, which encouraged trade and established peaceful relations between Dubrovnik and his realm of Bosnia. His son, Stjepan Kulinić succeeded him as Bosnian Ban. Kulin founded the House of Kulinić.

Gavril Radomir of Bulgaria Bulgarian Tsar

Gavril Radomir was the emperor (tsar) of Bulgaria from October 1014 to August or September 1015. He was the son of tsar Samuel.


Paulicians were a Christian adoptionist sect from Armenia which formed in the 7th century, possibly influenced by Gnostic movement and religion of Marcionism and Manichaeism. According to medieval Byzantine sources, the group's name was derived from the 3rd century Bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, but Paulicianists were often misidentified with Paulianists, while others derived their name from Paul the Apostle, hence the identity of the Paul for whom the movement was named is disputed. Constantine-Silvanus is considered to be its founder.

South Slavs ethnic group

The South Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the South Slavic languages. They inhabit a contiguous region in the Balkan Peninsula and the eastern Alps, and in the modern era are geographically separated from the body of West Slavic and East Slavic people by the Romanians, Hungarians, and Austrians in between. The South Slavs today include the nations of Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes. They are the main population of the Eastern and Southeastern European countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Nicetas, known only from Latin sources who call him papa Nicetas, is said to have been the Bogomil bishop of Constantinople. In the 1160s he went to Lombardy. His purpose was apparently to reinforce the dualist beliefs of the Cathars of these regions, and, in particular, to throw doubt on the validity of their spiritual lineage or ordo, the sequence of consolamenta by which they were linked to the Apostles.

Perfect was the name given by Bernard of Clairvaux to the leader of the medieval Christian religious movement of southern France and northern Italy commonly referred to as the Cathars. The Perfect were not clerics in any way, but were merely members who had become ‘adepts’ in the teaching, and whose role was that of aiding the ordinary members achieve the rewards of belief and practice - men and women could become Perfecti. The term reflects that such a person was seen by the Catholic Church as the "perfect heretic". As "bonhommes" Perfecti were expected to follow a lifestyle of extreme austerity and renunciation of the world which included abstaining from eating meat and avoiding all sexual contact. By that virtue they were recognized as trans-material angels by their followers, the Credentes. Perfecti were drawn from all walks of life and counted aristocrats, merchants and peasants among their number. Women could also become Perfects; Female Perfects were known as Parfaites or Perfectae.

Heresy in Christianity Formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith[

Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith as defined by one or more of the Christian churches.

Banate of Bosnia

The Banate of Bosnia, or Bosnian Banate, was a medieval state based in what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although it was a part of the Hungarian Crown Lands, the Banate of Bosnia was a de facto independent state. It was founded in the mid-12th century and existed until 1377, when it was proclaimed a kingdom with the coronation of Tvrtko I. The greater part of its history was marked by a religiopolitical controversy revolving around the native Bosnian Church condemned as heretical by the dominant Nicene Christian churches, namely the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, with the Catholic church being particularly antagonistic and persecuting its members through the Hungarians.

Constantine Chrysomalus was a Byzantine monk who was posthumously condemned by a Synod of Constantinople as a teacher of heresies affiliated with Bogomilism and Messalianism. Although Chrysomalus and his writings, the Golden Sermons, had been accused of promoting Bogomil teachings, his association with Bogomilism has been contested by later scholars.

Bogomil (Богомил) was a 10th-century Bulgarian priest and heresiarch, who was connected with the origins of Bogomilism. Bogomil is a Theophoric name consisting of Bog (God) and mil (dear).

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to heresies :

The Bosnian Crusade was fought against unspecified heretics from 1235 until 1241. It was, essentially, a Hungarian war of conquest against the Banate of Bosnia sanctioned as a crusade. Led by the Hungarian prince Coloman, the crusaders only succeeded in conquering peripheral parts of the country. They were followed by Dominicans, who erected a cathedral and put heretics to death by burning. The crusade came to an abrupt end when Hungary itself was invaded by Tatars. The crusaders were forced to withdraw and engage their own invaders, most of them perishing, including Coloman. Later popes called for more crusades against Bosnia, but none ever took place. The failed crusade led to mistrust and hatred for Hungarians among the Bosnian population that lasted for centuries.

Sergius, also known as Tychicus, (?-835) was a religious leader of the 9th century. In 801, after joining the Astati at Argaoun, he founded the Paulician Church of the Colossians. He later led a mission to Cilicia and founded the Church of the Ephesians, based in Mimistra. According to Peter the Hegoumenos, Sergius was the seventh and last leader of the Paulicians, and the successor to Baanes the Filthy. The sect was suppressed in 835.

Proto-Protestantism Christian movements (e.g. Waldensians, Lollards, Hussites) seen as precursors to the Protestant Reformation

Proto-Protestantism, also called pre-Protestantism or pre-Reformation movements, refers to individuals and movements that propagated ideas similar to Protestantism before 1517, which is usually considered the starting year for the Reformation era. Major representatives were Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe (1320s–1384), Jan Hus and the movements they started.


  1. Peters, Edward (1980). Heresy and authority in medieval Europe: documents in translation, Middle Ages University of Pennsylvania Press Middle ages series. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 108. ISBN   0-8122-1103-0.
  2. Van Antwerp Fine, John (1991). The early medieval Balkans: a critical survey from the sixth to the late twelfth century. University of Michigan Press. p. 171. ISBN   0-472-08149-7.
  3. Crampton, R. J. (2005). A concise history of Bulgaria, Cambridge concise histories. Cambridge University Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN   0-521-61637-9.
  4. Obolensky, Dimitri (1994). Byzantium and the Slavs. St Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 272.
  5. Schuman, Michael (2004). Bosnia and Herzegovina. Infobase Publishing. p. 7.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain:  Gaster, Moses (1911). "Bogomils". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 119. This provides as bibliography:
    • Euthymius Zigabenus, Narratio de Bogomilis, ed. Gieseler (Göttingen, 1842)
    • J. C. Wolf, Historia Bogomilorum (Wittenberg, 1712)
    • "Slovo svyatago Kozmyi na eretiki", in Kukuljević Sakcinski, Arkiv zapovyestnicu jugoslavensku, vol. iv. pp. 69-97 (Agram, 1859)
    • C. J. Jireček, Geschichte d. Bulgaren, pp. 155, 174-175 (Prague, 1876)
    • Korolev, "Dogmatichesko-to uchenie na Bogomil-tie", in Periodichesko spisanie, vols. vii.-viii. pp. 75-106 (Braila, 1873)
    • A. Lombard, Pauliciens, Bulgares et Bons-hommes (Geneva, 1879)
    • Episcopul Melchisedek, Lipovenismul, pp. 265 sqq. (Bucharest, 1871)
    • B. P. Hasdeu, Cuvente den bǎtrǎni, vol. ii. pp. 247 sqq. (Bucharest, 1879)
    • F. C. Conybeare, The Key of Truth, pp. 73 sqq. and specially pp. 138 sqq. (Oxford, 1898)
    • M. Gaster, Greco-Slavonic Literature, pp. 17 sqq. (London, 1887)
    • O. Dähnhardt, Natursagen, vol. 1. pp. 38 sqq. (Leipzig and Berlin, 1907).
  7. 1 2 Obolensky, Dimitry (1948). The Bogomils: A study in Balkan Neo-Manicheism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-58262-8.
  8. Loos, Milan (1974). Dualist heresy in the Middle Ages. Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.
  9. "Bogomils" at St. Pachomius Library
  10. Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  11. Helmut Koester, History and Literature of Early Christianity, 2nd edition, (Walter de Gruyter & Co., 2000), 9.
  12. "Hamilton, Janet and Bernard, Christian dualist heresies in the Byzantine world, c.650-c.1450". Archived from the original on 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  13. Dragan Brujić (2005). "Vodič kroz svet Vizantije (Guide to the Byzantine World)". Beograd. p. 51.[ dead link ]
  14. "Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia". The Reformed Reader.
  15. Thierry Mudry, Histoire de la Bosnie-Herzégovine faits et controverses, Éditions Ellipses, 1999 (chapitre 2: La Bosnie médiévale p. 25 à 42 et chapitre 7 : La querelle historiographique p. 255 à 265). Dennis P. Hupchick et Harold E. Cox, Les Balkans Atlas Historique, Éditions Economica, Paris, 2008, p. 34
  16. John A. Fine - The Late Medieval Balkans
  17. Noel Malcolm - Bosnia: A Short History
  18. The issue of the false Bogomil hypothesis is accurately dealt with by Noel Malcolm (Bosnia. A Short History) as well as by John V.A. Fine (in Mark Pinson, The Bosnian Muslims)
  19. Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy:Popular Movements from Bogomil to Hus, (Edward Arnold Ltd, 1977), 143.
  20. Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World, C. 650-c. 1450, ed. Janet Hamilton, Bernard Hamilton, Yuri Stoyanov, (Manchester University Press, 1998), 48-49.
  21. Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy:Popular Movements from Bogomil to Hus, 143.
  22. Mudry 1999; Hupchick and Cox 2008
  23. The issue of the false Bogomil hypothesis is accurately dealt with by Noel Malcolm (Bosnia. A Short History) as well as by John V.A. Fine (in Mark Pinson, The Bosnian Muslims)
  24. Mitja Velikonja, Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina, transl. Rang'ichi Ng'inga, (Texas A&M University Press, 2003), 35.
  25. Noel Malcolm, Bosnia:Short history, John A. Fine "Late medieval Balkan...." H
  26. John A. Fine - The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey
  27. John A. Fine - The Late Medieval Balkans
  28. Noel Malcolm - Bosnia: A Short History
  29. Franjo Rački, "Bogomili i Paternai" in Rad , vols. vii., viii. and x. (Zagreb, 1870)
  30. Dollinger, Beiträge zur Ketzergeschichte des Mittelalters, 2 vols. (Munich, 1890).
  31. 1 2 Yuri Stoyanov (2000). The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy (in Spanish). Yale University Press. ISBN   978-03-000825-3-1.
  32. , Dissertation abstracts international, University Microfilms International, 1994, ...texts ascribed to him: ‘The Story of the Cross-tree’ and ‘The Prayer against Fever,’ two genuine Bogomil texts providing a clear understanding of the basic tenets of the Bogomil heretical movement of the tenth-eleventh centuries.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. Quispel, Gilles (2008), Oort, Johannes (ed.), Gnostica, Judaica, Catholica: collected essays, p. 11, Die Interrogatio Johannis, eine der wenigen authentischen Quellen über die Katharer, die also nicht von den Inquisitoren der römischen Kirche stammt, besitzt dieselbe Form und denselben Inhalt wie das Apokryphon des Johannes.
  34. Thomsett, Michael C (2010), The Inquisition: A History, p. 48, Early Bogomil texts included The Secret Supper (or, The Book of St. John) and The Vision of Isaiah. These both appeared around 1170, originally in Greek and later translated into Latin. In The Secret Supper, the Bogomil theology is laid...
  35. Tyerman, Christopher (2006), God's war: a new history of the Crusades, p. 573, This distinct 'Latin' dualist community probably provided western converts with Latin translations of the Greek Bogomil texts including the consolamentum ritual and the New Testament, collated with the Vulgate.
  36. "1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bogomils". 1911. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Bogomils taught that God had two sons, the elder Satanail and the younger Michael
  37. The Bogomils: A Study in Balkan Neo-Manichaeism Page 211 Dimitri Obolensky, 2004 "The Logos was for them not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word incarnate, but merely the spoken word of God, manifested in the oral teaching of Christ.* Hence the Bogomils taught that Christ was ..."
  38. Contra Patarenos Page 39 Hugh Eteriano, Janet Hamilton, Sarah Hamilton, 2004 "He was aware that the Bogomils regarded themselves as Trinitarians: 'Do not be astonished, my brothers', he writes,'… when you hear them say that they believe in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that they keep the apostles and saints…"
  39. Heresy in medieval France: dualism in Aquitaine and the Agenais, Page 64 Claire Taylor, Royal Historical Society (Great Britain), 2005: "Anathemas against Bogomils were in use in the early decades of the eleventh century, contained in versions of the Synodikon of orthodoxy and included in a euchologion produced in 1027. They attest to Bogomil rejection of the Trinity"
  40. Oxford English Dictionary.
  41. Bogomilism Study. Archived from the original on 2015-08-10.


Further reading