A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter XII. The Sentence
The penal functions of the Inquisition were based upon a fiction which must be comprehended in order rightly to appreciate much of its action. Theoretically it had no power to inflict punishment. Its mission was to save men's souls; to recall them to the way of salvation, and to assign salutary penance to those who sought it, like a father-confessor with his penitents. Its sentences, therefore, were not, like those of an earthly judge, the retaliation of society on the wrong-doer, or deterrent examples to prevent the spread of crime; they were simply imposed for the benefit of the erring soul, to wash away its sin. The inquisitors themselves habitually speak of their ministrations in this sense.
When they condemned a poor wretch to lifelong imprisonment, the formula in use, after the procedure of the Holy Office had become systematized, was a simple injunction on him to betake himself to the jail and confine himself there, performing penance on bread and water, with a warning that he was not to leave it under pain of excommunication, and of being regarded as a perjured and impenitent heretic. If he broke jail and escaped, the requisition for his recapture under a foreign jurisdiction describes him, with a singular lack of humor, as one insanely led to reject the salutary medicine offered for his cure, and to spurn the wine and oil which were soothing his wounds.
Technically, therefore, the list of penalties available to the inquisitor was limited. He never condemned to death, but merely withdrew the protection of the Church from the hardened and impenitent sinner who afforded no hope of conversion, or from him who showed by relapse that there was no trust to be placed in his pretended repentance.
Except in Italy, he never confiscated the heretic's property; he merely declared the existence of a crime which, under the secular law, rendered the culprit incapable of possession. At most he could impose a fine, as a penance, to be expended in good works. His tribunal was a spiritual one, and dealt only with the sins and remedies of the spirit, under the inspiration of the Gospels, which always lay open before it. Such, at least, was the theory of the Church, and this must be borne in mind if we would understand what may occasionally seem to be inconsistencies and incongruities--especially in view of the arbitrary discretion which left to the individual inquisitor such opportunity to display his personal characteristics in dealing with the penitents before him. He was a judge in the forum of conscience, bound by no statutes and limited by no rules, with his penitents at his mercy, and no power save that of the Holy See itself could alter one jot of his decrees.
This sometimes led to a lenity which would be otherwise inexplicable, as in the case of the murderers of St. Peter Martyr. Pietro Balsamo, known as Carino, one of the hired assassins, was caught red-handed, and his escape by bribery from prison created a popular excitement leading to a revolution in Milan. Yet, when recaptured, he repented, was forgiven, and allowed to enter the Dominican Order, in which he peacefully died, with the repute of a "beato;" and though the Church never formally recognized his right to the public worship paid to him in some places, still, in one of the stalls of the martyr's own great church of Sant' Eustorgio, he appears, with the title of the blessed Acerinus, in a chiaroscuro of 1505, among the Dominican saints.
Theory Of The Inquisition
Not one, indeed, of those concerned in the assassination appears to have been put to death, and the leading instigator of the crime, Stefano Confaloniere of Aliate, a notorious heretic and fautor of heretics, after repeated abjurations, releases, and relapses, was not fairly imprisoned until 1295, forty-three years after the murder. It was the same when, soon afterwards, the Franciscan inquisitor, Pier da Bracciano, was assassinated, and Manfredo di Sesto, who had hired the assassins, was brought before Rainerio Saccone, the Inquisitor of Milan. He confessed the crime and other offences in aid of heresy, but was only ordered to present himself to the pope and receive penance. Contumaciously neglecting to do this, Innocent IV. merely ordered the magistrates of Italy to arrest and detain him if he should be found.
Yet the theory which held the Church to be a loving mother unwillingly inflicting wholesome chastisement on her unruly children only lent a sharper rigor to most of the operations of the Inquisition. Those who were obdurate to its kindly efforts were ungrateful and disobedient when ingratitude and disobedience were offences of the most heinous nature.
They were parricides whom it was mercy to reduce to subjection, and whose sin only the severest suffering could expiate. We have seen how little the inquisitor recked of human misery in his efforts to detect and convert the heretic, and it is not to be supposed that he would be more tender in his ministrations to the diseased souls asking for absolution and penance--and it was only the penitent who had confessed and abjured his sin who came before the judgment-seat for punishment. All others were left to the secular arm.
The flimsiness of this theory, however, is manifest from the fact that it was not only heretics--those who consciously erred in matters of faith--who were subjected to the jurisdiction and chastisement of the Inquisition. Fautors, receivers, and defenders--those who showed hospitality, gave alms, or sheltered or assisted heretics in any way, or neglected to denounce them to the authorities, or to capture them when occasion offered, also rulers who omitted to execute the laws against heresy, however orthodox themselves, incurred suspicion of heresy, simple, vehement, or violent.
If violent, it was tantamount to heresy; if simple or vehement, we have seen how readily it might, by failure of purgation, or by repetition, grow into technical heresy and relapse, incurring the gravest penalties, including relaxation to the secular arm. Not less conclusive to the real import of the inquisitorial organization is the argument of Zanghino, that if a heretic repents, confesses to his priest, accepts and performs penance and receives absolution, however he may be relieved from hell and pardoned in the sight of God, he is not released from temporal punishment, and is still subject to prosecution by the Inquisition. It would not abandon its prey, while yet it could not impugn the efficacy of the sacrament of penitence, and such difficulties were eluded by forbidding priests to take cognizance of heresy, which was reserved for bishops and inquisitors.
Forms Of Penance
The penances customarily imposed by the Inquisition were comparatively few in number. They consisted, firstly, of pious observances--recitation of prayers, frequenting of churches, the discipline, fasting, pilgrimages, and fines nominally for pious uses, such as a confessor might impose on his ordinary penitents. These were for offences of trifling import.
Next in grade are the "confusibiles"--the humiliating and degrading penances, of which the most important was the wearing of yellow crosses sewed upon the garments; and, finally, the severest punishment among those strictly within the competence of the Holy Office, the "murus," or prison. Confiscation, as I have said, was an incident, and the stake, like it, was the affair of the secular power; and though both were really controlled by the inquisitor, they will be more conveniently considered separately. The Councils of Narbonne and Bãziers, in addition, prescribe a purely temporal punishment--banishment, either temporary or perpetual--but this would appear to have been so rarely employed that it may be disregarded, although in the earlier period it occasionally occurs in sentences, or is found among the penances to which repentant heretics pledged themselves to submit.
The sin of heresy was too grave to be expiated simply by contrition and amendment. While the Church professed to welcome back to her bosom all her erring and repentant children, the way of the transgressor was made hard, and his offence could only be washed away by penances severe enough to prove the robustness of his convictions.
Before the Inquisition was founded, about 1208, St. Dominic, while acting under the authority of the Legate Arnaud, converted a Catharan named Pons Roger, and prescribed for him a penance which has chanced to be preserved. It will give us an insight into what were considered reasonable terms of readmission to the Church, at a time when it was straining every nerve to win the heretics back, and before it had fairly resorted to the use of force. On three Sundays the penitent is to be stripped to the waist and scourged by the priest from the entrance of the town of Trãville to the church-door. He is to abstain forever from meat and eggs and cheese, except on Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, when he is to eat of them in sign of his abnegation of his Manichã¦an errors. For twoscore days, twice a year, he is to forego the use of fish, and for three days in each week that of fish, wine, and oil, fasting, if his health and labors will permit. He is to wear monastic vestments, with a small cross sewed on each breast. If possible, he is to hear mass daily, and on feast-days to attend church at vespers. Seven times a day he is to recite the canonical hours, and, in addition, the Paternoster ten times each day and twenty times each night.
He is to observe the strictest chastity. Every month he is to show this paper to the priest, who is to watch its observance closely, and this mode of life is to be maintained until the legate shall see fit to alter it, while for infraction of the penance he is to be held as a perjurer and a heretic, and be segregated from the society of the faithful.
This shows how the various forms of penance were mingled together at the discretion of the ghostly father. The same is seen in an exceedingly lenient sentence imposed in 1258 by the inquisitors of Carcassonne on Raymond Maria, who had confessed to various acts of heresy committed twenty or thirty years before, and who, for other reasons, had strong claims for merciful treatment.
It further illustrates the practice of compounding pious observances for money. Raymond is ordered to fast from the Friday after Michaelmas until Easter, and to eat no meat on Saturdays, but he can redeem the fast by giving a denier to a poor man. Every day he is to recite seven times the Paternoster and Ave Maria. Within three years he is to visit the shrines of St. Mary of Roche-amour, St. Rufus of Aliscamp, St. Gilles of Vauverte, St. William of the Desert, and Santiago de Compostella, bringing home testimonial letters from the rector of each church; and in lieu of other penances he is to give six livres Tournois to the Bishop of Albi to aid in building a chapel. He is to hear mass at least every Sunday and feast-day, and to abstain from all work on those days. Another penance belonging to the same general category is that inflicted on a Carthusian monk of la Loubatiã¨re who was guilty of Spiritual Franciscanism.
He was ordered not to leave the abbey for three years, and during that time not to speak except in extreme necessity. For a year he was to confess daily in the presence of his brethren that John XXII. was the true pope and entitled to obedience; and, in addition, he was to undergo certain fasts and perform certain recitations of the liturgy and psalter. Penances of this character could be varied ad infinitum at the caprice of the inquisitor.
The Discipline - Pilgrimages
In all this there is no mention of flagellation, but that was so general a feature of penance that it is frequently taken for granted in prescribing pilgrimages and attendance at church. We have seen Raymond of Toulouse submitting to it, and however abhorrent it may be to our modern ideas, it did not carry with it that sense of humiliation which to us appears inseparable from it. In the lightest penalties provided for voluntary converts, coming forward within the time of grace, the Councils of Narbonne and Bãziers, in 1244 and 1246, and that of Tarragona, in 1242, order the discipline.
It was no light matter. Stripped as much as decency and the inclemency of the weather would permit, the penitent presented himself every Sunday, between the Epistle and the Gospel, with a rod in his hand, to the priest engaged in celebrating mass, who soundly scourged him in the presence of the congregation, as a fitting interlude in the mysteries of divine service. On the first Sunday in every month, after mass, he was to visit, similarly equipped, every house in which he had seen heretics, and receive the same infliction; and on the occasion of every solemn procession he was to accompany it in the same guise, to be beaten at every station and at the end.
Even when the town happened to be placed under interdict, or himself to be excommunicated, there was to be no cessation of the penance, and apparently it lasted as long as the wretched life of the penitent, or at least until it pleased the inquisitor to remember him and liberate him. That this was no idle threat is shown by these precise details occurring in a formula given by Bernard Gui, about 1330, for the release from prison of penitents who by patience and humility in their captivity have earned a mitigation of their punishment, and virtually the same formula was employed immediately after the organization of the Inquisition.
The pilgrimages, which were regarded as among the lightest of penances, were also mercies only by comparison. Performed on foot, the number commonly enjoined might well consume several years of a man's life, during which his family might perish. A frequent injunction by Pierre Cella, one of the most moderate of inquisitors, comprehended Compostella and Canterbury, with perhaps several intermediate shrines, and in one case a man over ninety years of age was ordered to perform the weary tramp to Compostella simply for having consorted with heretics.
These pilgrimages were not without peril and hardship, although the hospitality exercised by the numerous convents on the road enabled the poorest pilgrim to sustain life. Still, pilgrimages were so habitual a feature of mediã¦val habits, and entered so frequently into ordinary penance, that their use by the Inquisition was inevitable. When the yearning for salvation was so strong that two hundred thousand pilgrims arriving in Rome in a single day is said to have been no uncommon occurrence during the Jubilee of 1300, the penitent who escaped with the performance of such pious observances might well regard himself as mercifully treated.
The penitential pilgrimages of the Inquisition were divided into two classes--the greater and the less. In Languedoc the greater pilgrimages were customarily four--to Rome, Compostella, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and the Three Kings of Cologne. The smaller were nineteen in number, extending from shrines of local celebrity to Paris and Boulogne-sur-mer. The cases in which they were employed may be estimated by the sentence passed by Bernard Gui, in 1322, on three culprits whose only offence was that, some fifteen or twenty years before, they had seen Waldensian teachers in their fathers' houses without knowing what they were.
Commencing within three months, the penitents were required to perform seventeen of the minor pilgrimages, reaching from Bordeaux to Vienne, bringing back, as usual, from each shrine testimonial letters of the visit. In this case it is specified that they were not obliged to wear the crosses, and I think it probable that this exempted them from scourging at each of the shrines, to which penitents with crosses would naturally be subjected. In one case, occurring in 1308, a culprit was excused from pilgrimages on account of his age and weakness, and was only required to make two visitations a year in the city of Toulouse. Considerate humanity such as this is not sufficiently common in the annals of the Inquisition for an example of it to be passed in silence.
At the inception of the Inquisition the pilgrimage universally ordered for men was that to Palestine, as a crusader. Indeed, the legate, Cardinal Romano, commanded this for all who were suspect of heresy. It seems to have been felt that the best use to which a heretic could be put, if he was to escape the fagot, was to make him aid in the defence of the Holy Land--a service of infinite hardship and peril. In the wholesale persecutions in Languedoc the numbers of these unwilling crusaders were so great that alarm was excited lest they should pervert the faith in the land of its origin, and about 1242 or 1243 a papal prohibition was issued, forbidding it for the future.
The Council of Bãziers, in 1246, commits to the discretion of the inquisitors whether penitents shall serve beyond seas, or send a man-at-arms to represent them, or fight the battles of the faith nearer home, against heretics or Saracens. The term of service was also left to the inquisitors, but was usually for two or three years, though sometimes for seven or eight, and those who went to Palestine, if they were so fortunate as to return, were obliged to bring back testimonial letters from the Patriarch of Jerusalem or Acre.
Crusades As Penitence
When Count Raymond was preparing to fulfil his long-delayed vow of a crusade, in his eagerness for recruits he procured in 1247, from Innocent IV., a bull empowering the Archbishop of Ausch and Bishop of Agen, within Raymond's dominions, to commute into a pilgrimage beyond seas the penance of temporary crosses and prison, and even when these were perpetual, if the consent could be had of the inquisitor who had uttered the sentence; and the following year this was extended to those in the territories of the Counts of Montfort.
Under this impulsion, the penance of crusading became common again. There is extant a notice given by the inquisitors of Carcassonne, October 5, 1251, in the church of St. Michael, to those wearing crosses and those relieved from them, that they must without fail sail for the Holy Land, as they had pledged themselves to do, in the next fleet; and in the Register of Carcassonne the injunction of the crusade is of frequent occurrence. With the disastrous result of the ventures of St. Louis and the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem this form of penance gradually diminished, but it continued to be occasionally prescribed. As late as 1321 we find Guillem Garric condemned to go beyond seas with the next convoy and remain until recalled by the inquisitor; if legitimately impeded (which was likely, as he was an old man who had rotted in a dungeon for thirty years) he could replace himself with a competent fighting-man, and if he neglected to do so, he was condemned to perpetual prison. This sentence, moreover, affords one of the rare instances of banishment, for Guillem, besides furnishing a substitute, is ordered to expatriate himself to such place as shall be designated, during the pleasure of the inquisitor.
These penances did not interfere with the social position and self-respect of the penitent. Far heavier was the apparently simple penalty of wearing the crosses, which was known as a på“na confusibilis, or humiliating punishment. We have seen that already, in 1208, St. Dominic orders his converted heretic to wear two small crosses on the breast in sign of his sin and repentance. It seems a contradiction that the emblem of the Redemption, so proudly worn by the crusader and the military orders, should be to the convert an infliction almost unbearable, but when it became the sign of his sin and disgrace there were few inflictions which might not more readily be borne.
The two little crosses of St. Dominic grew to conspicuous pieces of saffron-colored cloth, of which the arms were two and a half fingers in breadth, two and a half palms in height, and two palms in width, one sewed on the breast and the other on the back, though occasionally one on the breast sufficed.
If the convert during his trial had committed perjury, a second transverse arm was added at the top; and if he had been a "perfected" heretic, a third cross was placed upon the cap. Another form was that of a hammer, worn by prisoners temporarily liberated on bail; and we have seen the red tongues fastened on false-witnesses, and the symbol of a letter inflicted on a forger, while other emblematical forms were prescribed, as the fancy of the inquisitor might dictate.
They were never to be laid aside, indoors or out, and when worn out the penitent was obliged to renew them. During the latter half of the thirteenth century those who went beyond seas might abandon their crosses during their crusade, but were obliged to reassume them on returning. In the earlier days of the Inquisition a term ranging from one year to seven or eight was usually prescribed, but in the later period it was always for life, unless the inquisitor saw fit, as a reward of good behavior, to remit it. Thus in the auto de fã of 1309 Bernard Gui permitted Raymonde, wife of Ã‰tienne Got, to remove the crosses which she had been condemned to wear, some forty years before, by Pons de Poyet and Ã‰tienne de GÃ¢tine.
In Italy the crosses appear to be of red cloth (Archiv. di Firenze, Prov. S. Maria Novella, 31 Ott. 1327).
At an early period there is a single allusion to another "pÅ“na confusibilis" in the shape of a wooden collar or yoke worn by the penitent. This occurs at La CharitÃ©, in 1233, and I have not met with it elsewhere.
The Council of Narbonne, in 1229, prescribed the wearing of these crosses by all converts who voluntarily abandoned heresy and returned to the faith of their own free will, as an evidence of their detestation of their former errors. Apparently the penance was found hard to bear, and efforts were made to escape it, for the statutes of Raymond, in 1234, and the Council of Bãziers of the same year, threaten confiscation for all who refuse to wear them, or endeavor to conceal them. Subsequent councils renewed and extended the obligation on all who were reconciled to the Church; and that of Valence, in 1248, decreed that all who disobeyed should be forced without mercy to resume them, and that abandoning them after due monition should be visited, like jail-breaking, with the full penalties of impenitent heresy.
In a case recorded in 1251, a penitent preparing for a crusade seems to have thought himself authorized to abandon the crosses before starting, and was sentenced to come to Carcassonne on the first Sunday of every month until his departure, barefooted and in shirt and drawers, and visit every church in the city, with a rod, to undergo scourging.
Though this penance was regarded as merciful in comparison with imprisonment, it was not easily endurable, and we can readily understand the sharp penalties required to enforce obedience. In the sentences of Pierre Cella it is only prescribed in aggravated cases, and then merely for from one to five years, though subsequently it grew to be universal, and without a limit of time. The unfortunate penitent was exposed to the ridicule and derision of all whom he met, and was heavily handicapped in every effort to earn a livelihood. Even in the earlier time, when a majority of the population of Languedoc were heretics, and the cross-wearers were so numerous that their presence in Palestine was dreaded, the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, feels obliged to warn the people that penitents should be welcomed and their cheerful endurance of penance should be a subject of gratulation for all the faithful, and therefore it strictly forbids ridicule of those who wear crosses, or refusal to transact business with them.
Though penitents were under the special protection of the Church, it had too zealously preached detestation of heresy to be able to control the feelings of the population towards those whom it thus saw fit to stigmatize. A slight indication of this is seen in the case of Raymonde Manifacier, who, in 1252, was cited before the Inquisition of Carcassone for abandoning the crosses, when she urged in extenuation that the one on her cloak had been torn and she was too poor to replace it, while as regards that on her cape, her mistress, whom she served as nurse, had forbidden her to wear it and had given her a cape without one. A stronger case is that already cited of Arnaud Isarn, who found, after year's experience, that he could not earn a living while thus bearing the marks of his degradation.
The Inquisition recognized the intolerable hardships to which its penitents were exposed, and sometimes in mercy mitigated them. Thus, in 1250, at Carcassonne, Pierre Pelha receives permission to lay aside the crosses temporarily during a voyage which he is obliged to make to France. Bernard Gui assures us that young women were frequently excused from wearing them, because with them they would be unable to find husbands; and among the formulas of his "Practica" one which exempts the penitent from crosses enumerates the various reasons usually assigned, such as the age or infirmity of the wearer (presumably rendering him a safe object of insult) or on account of his children, whom he may not otherwise be able to support, or for the sake of his daughters, whom he cannot marry. Still more suggestive are formulas of proclamations threatening to prosecute as impeders of the Inquisition and to impose crosses on those who ridicule such penitents or drive them away or prevent them from following their callings; and the insufficiency of this is shown by still other formulas of orders addressed to the secular officials, who are required to see that no such outrages are perpetrated. Sometimes monitions of this kind formed part of the regular proceedings of the autos de fÃ©. The wearing of the symbol of Christianity was evidently a punishment of no slight character. The well-known sanbenito of the modern Spanish Inquisition was derived from the scapular with saffron-colored crosses which was worn by those condemned to imprisonment, when on certain feast-days they were exposed at the church doors, that their misery and humiliation might serve as a warning to the people.
It will be remembered that at the outset there was some discussion as to whether it should be competent for the inquisitors to inflict the pecuniary penance of fines. The voluntary poverty and renunciation of money of the Mendicants, to whom the Holy Office was confided, had not yet become so obsolete that the incongruity could be overlooked of their using their almost limitless discretion in levying fines and handling the money thence accruing.
That they commenced it early is shown by a sentence of 1237, already quoted, in which Pons Grimoardi, a voluntary convert, is required to pay to the order of the inquisitor ten livres Morlaas, while in 1245, in Florence, one rendered by the indefatigable inquisitor, Ruggieri Calcagni, shows that already fines were habitual there. It was not without cause, therefore, that the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, in its instructions to inquisitors, ordered them to abstain from pecuniary penances both for the sake of the honor of their Order and because they would have ample other work to do.
The Order itself felt this to be the case, and as inquisitors were not yet, at least in theory, emancipated from the control of their superiors, already, in 1242, the Provincial Chapter of Montpellier had endeavored to enforce the rules of the Order by strictly prohibiting them from inflicting pecuniary penances for the future, or from collecting those which had already been imposed. How little respect was shown to these injunctions is visible from a bull of Innocent IV., in 1245, in which, to preserve the reputation of the inquisitors, he orders all fines paid over to two persons selected by the bishop and inquisitor, to be expended in building prisons and in supporting prisoners, in compliance with which the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, abandoned the position taken by the Council of Narbonne, and agreed that the fines should be employed on the prisons, and in defraying the necessary expenses of the Inquisition, possibly because the good bishops found that they themselves were expected to meet these demands as appertaining to the episcopal jurisdiction.
In an inquisitorial manual of the period this is specified as the destination of the fines, but the power was speedily abused, and in 1249 Innocent IV. sternly rebuked the inquisitors in general for the heavy exactions which they wrung from their converts, to the disgrace of the Holy See and the scandal of the faithful at large. This apparently had no effect, and in 1251 he prohibited them wholly from levying fines if any other form of penance could be employed. Yet the inquisitors finally triumphed and won the right to inflict pecuniary penances at discretion. These were understood to be for pious uses, in which term were included the expenses of the Inquisition; and as they were payable to the inquisitors themselves, they doubtless were so expended--it is to be hoped in accordance with the caution of Eymerich, "decently and without scandal to the laity."
In the sentences of FrÃ Antonio Secco on the peasants of the Waldensian valleys in 1387, the penance of crosses is usually accompanied with a fine of five or ten florins of pure gold, payable to the Inquisition, nominally to defray the expenses of the trial. An attempt of the State to secure a share was defeated by a council of experts assembled at Piacenza in 1276 by the Lombard inquisitors, FrÃ NiccolÃ² da Cremona and FrÃ Daniele da Giussano. A more decent use of the power to inflict money payments was one which Pierre Cella, the first inquisitor of Toulouse, frequently employed, by adding to the pilgrimages or other penances imposed the obligation of maintaining a priest or a poor man for a term of years or for life.
In the later period of the Inquisition it was argued that fines were inadmissible, because if the accused were a heretic all his property disappeared in confiscation, while if he were not he should not be punished, but the inquisitors responded that, although this was true, there were fautors and defenders of heresy, and those whose heresy consisted merely in a thoughtless word, all of whom could legitimately be fined; and the profitable abuse went on.
Scarcely separable from the practice of fines was that of commuting penances for money. When we remember how extensive and lucrative was the custom of commuting the vows of crusaders, it was inevitable that a similar abuse should flourish in the Church's dealings with the penitents whom the Inquisition had placed within its power. A ready excuse was found in the proviso that the sums thence arising should be spent in pious uses--and no use could be more pious than that of ministering to the wants of those who were zealously laboring for the purity of the faith.
In this the Holy See set the example. We have seen how, in 1248, Algisius, the papal penitentiary, ordered the release, by authority of Innocent IV., of six prisoners who had confessed heresy, alleging as a reason the satisfactory contributions which they had made to the Holy Land. The same year Innocent formally authorized Algisius to commute the penalties of certain heretics, without regard to the inquisitors, and he further empowered the Archbishop of Ausch to transmute into subsidies the penances imposed on reconciled heretics.
Raymond was preparing for his crusade, and the excuse was a good one. The heretics were eager to escape by sacrificing their substance, and the project promised to be profitable. In 1249, accordingly, Algisius was sent to Languedoc armed with power to commute all inquisitorial penances into fines to be devoted to the needs of the Church and of the Holy Land, and to issue all necessary dispensations notwithstanding the privileges of the Inquisition. It is not to be supposed that the example was lost upon the inquisitors. Naturally enough, the cases which have reached us usually specify some pious work to which the funds were to be devoted, as when, in 1255, the inquisitors of Toulouse allowed twelve of the principal citizens of Lavaur to commute their penances into money to be contributed to building the church which was afterwards the Cathedral of Lavaur; and in 1258 they assisted the church of Najac in the same way by allowing a number of the inhabitants to redeem their penalties for its benefit. The public utility of bridges caused them to be included in the somewhat elastic term of pious uses. Thus, in 1310, at Toulouse, Mathieu Aychard is released from wearing crosses and performing certain pilgrimages on condition of contributing forty livres Tournois to a new bridge then under construction at Tonneins; and in a formula for such transactions given by Bernard Gui, absolution and dispensation from pilgrimages and other penances are said to be granted in consideration of the payment of fifty livres for the building of a certain bridge, or of a certain church, or "to be spent in pious uses at our discretion." This last clause shows that commutations were by no means always thus liberally disposed of, and in fact they often inured to the benefit of those imposing them. We have a specimen of this in letters of the Inquisitor of Narbonne in 1264, granting absolution to Guillem du Puy in consideration of his giving one hundred and fifty livres Tournois to the Inquisition.
The magnitude of these sums shows the eagerness of the penitents to escape, and the enormous power of extortion wielded by the inquisitor. If he was a man of integrity he could doubtless resist the temptation, but to the covetous and self-indulgent the opportunity of oppressing the helpless was almost unlimited. The system was kept up to the end. Under Nicholas V. Fray Miguel, the Inquisitor of Aragon, gave mortal offence to some high dignitaries in following certain papal instructions, whereupon they maltreated him and kept him in prison for nine months. It was a flagrant case of impeding the Inquisition, and in 1458 Pius II. ordered the Archbishop of Tarragona to dig up the bones of one of the offenders who had died, and to send the rest to the Holy See for judgment--but he added that the archbishop might, at his discretion, substitute a mulct for the war against the Turks, to be transmitted to the papal camera. It goes without saying that the death-penalty could never legally be commuted.
Penitents who died before fulfilling their penance afforded a specially favorable opportunity for such transactions as these. Death, as we have seen, afforded no immunity from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition and in no wise abated its energy of prosecution. There might be a distinction drawn in practice between those who were taken off while humbly performing the penance assigned to them, but before its completion, and those who had wilfully neglected its commencement; but legally the non-fulfilment of penance entailed condemnation for heresy whether in the dead or living.
In 1329, for instance, the Inquisition of Carcassonne ordered the exhumation and cremation of the bones of seven persons declared to have died in heresy for not having fulfilled the penance enjoined on them, which of course carried with it the confiscation of their property and the subjection of their descendants to the usual disabilities. The Councils of Narbonne and Albi directed the inquisitors to exact satisfaction at discretion from the heirs of those who had died before judgment, if they would have been condemned to wear crosses, as well as those who had confessed and been sentenced, and who had not lived, whether to commence or to complete their penance. Gui Foucoix expresses his belief that in these cases the penitent is admitted to purgatory, and he decides that nothing should be demanded from his heirs; but even his authority did not overcome the more palatable doctrine of the councils, and a contemporary manual directs the inquisitor to exact a "congruous satisfaction." There is something peculiarly repulsive in the rapacity which thus followed beyond the grave those who had humbly confessed and repented and were received into the bosom of the Church, but the Inquisition was unrelenting and exacted the last penny.
For instance, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne had prescribed five years' pilgrimage to the Holy Land for Jean Vidal, who died before performing it. March 21, 1252, his heirs, under citation, swore that his whole estate was worth twenty livres, and gave security to obey the decision of the inquisitor, which was announced the following August, and proved to be a demand for twenty livres--the entire value of his property. In another case, Raymonde Barbaira had died before accomplishing some pilgrimages with crosses to which she had been sentenced. An inventory of her property showed it to consist of some bedding, clothing, a chest, a few cattle, and four sous in money, which had been divided up among her kindred, and from this pitiful inheritance the inquisitor, on March 7, 1256 demanded forty sous, for the payment of which by Easter the heirs had to give security. Such petty and vulgar details as these give us a clearer insight into the spirit and working of the Inquisition, and of the grinding oppression which it exercised on the subject populations. Even in the case of fautors who were not heretics, the heirs were obliged to perform any pecuniary penance which had been inflicted upon them.
A more legitimate source of income, but yet one which opened the door to grave abuses, was the custom of taking bail, which of course was liable to forfeiture, serving, in such cases, as an irregular form of commutation. This custom dated from the inception of the Inquisition, and was practised at every stage of the proceedings, from the first citation to the final sentence, and even afterwards, when prisoners were sometimes liberated temporarily on giving security for their return. The convert who was absolved on abjuring was also required to give security that he would not relapse.
Thus, in 1234, we see Lantelmo, a Milanese noble, ordered to give bail in two thousand lire, and two Florentine merchants bailed by their friends in two thousand silver marks. So, in 1244, the Baroni, of Florence, gave bail in one thousand lire to obey the mandates of the Church; and in 1252 a certain Guillem Roger pledged one hundred livres that he would go beyond seas by the next fleet and serve there for two years. The security was always to be pecuniary, and the inquisitor was warned not to take it of heretics, for their offence implied confiscation, but this was not strictly observed, as in special cases friends were found who furnished the necessary pledges. Forfeited bail was payable to the inquisitor, sometimes directly, and sometimes through the hands of the bishops, and was to be used for the expenses of the Inquisition. The usual form of bond pledged all the property of the principal and that of two sureties, jointly and severally; and as a general rule bail may be said to have been universal, except in cases where the offence was regarded as too serious to admit of it, or when the offender could not procure it.
It was impossible that these methods of converting the sentences of the Inquisition into current coin could flourish without introducing widespread corruption. Admission to bail might be the result of favoritism or degenerate into covert bribery. The discretion of the inquisitor was so wide that bribery itself could be safely indulged in. A crime necessarily so secret as this form of extortion cannot be expected to leave traces behind it, except in those cases in which it proved a failure, but sufficient instances of the latter are on record to show that the tribunals were surrounded by men who made a trade of their influence, real or presumed, with the judges. When these were incorruptible the business was suppressed with more or less success, but when they were acquisitive, they had ample field for unhallowed gain, to be wrung without stint or check from the subject populations both by bribery and extortion. Considering that every one above the age of seven was liable to the indelible suspicion of heresy by the mere fact of citation, it will be seen what an opportunity lay before the inquisitor and his spies and familiars to practise upon the fears of all, to sell exemptions from arrest, as well as to bargain for liberation. That these fruitful sources of gain were not abundantly worked would be incredible even in the absence of proof, but proof sufficient exists.
In 1302 Boniface VIII. wrote to the Dominican Provincial of Lombardy that the papal ears had been lacerated with complaints of the Franciscan inquisitors of Padua and Vicenza, whose malicious cupidity had wronged many men and women by exacting from them immense sums and inflicting on them all manner of injuries. When the pope naÃ¯vely adduces in cumulation of their villainy that these wrong-doers had not employed the illicit gains for the benefit of the Holy Office, or of the Roman Church, or even of their own Order, he affords ground for the suspicion that a judicious distribution of the spoils secured silent condonation of such offences in many cases. He had sent Gui, Bishop of Saintes, to investigate these complaints, who reported them well founded, and he orders the provincial to replace the delinquents with Dominicans.
The change brought little relief, for the very next year Mascate de' Mosceri, a jurist of Padua, appealed to Benedict from the new Dominican inquisitor, FrÃ Benigno, who was vexing him with prosecutions in order to extort money from him; and in 1304 Benedict was obliged to address to the inquisitors of Padua and Vicenza a grave warning as to the official complaints which still arose about their fraudulent prosecution of good Catholics by means of false witnesses.
It is easy to understand the complaint made by the stricter Franciscans that the inquisitors of their Order rode around in state in place of walking barefoot as was prescribed by the rule. At this very time, moreover, the Dominicans of Languedoc were the subject of precisely similar arraignment on the part of the communities subjected to them. Redress in this case was long in coming, but at last the investigation set on foot by Clement V. convinced him of the truth of the facts alleged, and at the Council of Vienne, in 1311, he caused the adoption of canons, embodied in the Corpus Juris, which placed on record conspicuously his conviction that the inquisitorial office was frequently abused by the extortion of money from the innocent and the escape of the guilty through bribery. The remedy which he devised, of ipso facto excommunication in such cases, was complained of by Bernard Gui on the ground that it would invalidate the rightful acts, as well as the evil ones, of the wrong-doer; which only serves to show the vicious circle in which the whole business moved. Yet neither the hopes of Clement nor the fears of Bernard were justified by the result. The inquisitors continued to enrich themselves and the people to suffer untold miseries. In 1338 a papal investigation was made of a transaction by which the city of Albi purchased, by the payment of a sum of money to the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, the liberation of some citizens accused of heresy. In 1337 Benedict XII. ordered his nuncio in Italy, Bertrand, Archbishop of Embrun, to investigate the complaints which came from all parts of Italy that the inquisitors extorted money, received presents, allowed the guilty to escape, and punished the innocent, through hatred or avarice, and empowered him to make removals in consequence; and the exercise of this power shows that the complaints were well founded. The effects of the measure, however, were evanescent.
Fines. Commutations For Money
In 1346 the whole republic of Florence rose against their inquisitor, Piero di Aquila, for various abuses, among which figured extortion. He fled and refused to return during the investigation which followed, in spite of the offer of a safe-conduct.
A single witness swore to sixty-six cases of extortion, and in a partial list of them which has been preserved the sums exacted vary from twenty-five to seventeen hundred gold florins, showing how unlimited were the profits which tempted the unscrupulous. Villani tells us that in two years he had thus amassed more than seven thousand florins, an enormous sum in those days; that there were no heretics in Florence at the time, and that the offences which thus proved so lucrative to him consisted of usury and thoughtless blasphemy. As for usury, Alvaro Pelayo tells us that at that time the bishops of Tuscany set the example by habitually so employing the church funds, but the inquisitors did not meddle with the prelates. As for blasphemy, the subtle refinements which converted simple blasphemous expressions into heresy, as set forth by Eymerich, show how readily a skilful inquisitor could speculate on idle oaths. Boccaccio doubtless had FrÃ Piero in memory when he described the recent inquisitor of Florence who, like all his brethren, had an eye as keen to discover a rich man as a heretic, and who extracted a heavy douceur from a citizen for boasting in his cups that he had wine so good that Christ would drink it. The keenness which thus made profitable business for the Holy Office, when heresy was declining, is illustrated by the case of Marie du Canech, a money-changer of Cambrai, in 1403. In a case before the Ordinary she incautiously expressed the opinion that when under oath she was not bound to give evidence against her own honor and interest. For this the deputy inquisitor, FrÃ¨re Nicholas de PÃ©ronne, prosecuted her and condemned her to various penances, including nine years' abstention from business and eighty gold crowns for expenses.
These abuses continued to the last. Cornelius Agrippa tells us that it was customary for inquisitors to convert corporal punishments into pecuniary ones and even to exact annual payments as the price of forbearance. When he was in the Milanese, about 1515, there was a disturbance caused by their secretly extorting large sums from women of noble birth, whose husbands at length discovered it, and the inquisitors were glad to escape with their lives.
I have dwelt at some length upon this feature of the Inquisition because it is one which has rarely received attention, although it inflicted misery and wrong to an almost unlimited extent. The stake consumed comparatively few victims. While the horrors of the crowded dungeon can scarce be exaggerated, yet more effective for evil and more widely exasperating was the sleepless watchfulness which was ever on the alert to plunder the rich and to wrench from the poor the hard-earned gains on which a family depended for support.
It was only in rare cases that the victims dared to raise a cry, and rarer still were those in which that cry was heard; but sufficient instances have reached us to prove what a scourge was the institution, in this aspect alone, on all the populations cursed by its presence. At a very early period the wealthy already recognized that well-timed liberality was advisable towards those who held such power in the hollow of their hands. In 1244 the Dominican Chapter of Cahors lifted a warning voice and ordered inquisitors not to allow their brethren to receive presents which would expose the whole Order to disrepute; but this scrupulousness wore off, and even a man of high character like Eymerich could argue that inquisitors may properly be the recipients of gifts, though he dubiously adds that they ought to be refused from those under trial, except in special circumstances. As the accounts of the Inquisition were rendered only to the papal camera, it will be seen how little the officials had to dread investigation and exposure. As little had they to fear the divine wrath, for their very functions, while thus engaged, insured them plenary indulgence for all sins confessed and repented. Thus secure, here and hereafter, they were virtually relieved from all restraint.
There was one purely temporal penalty which came within the competence of the Inquisition--the designation of the houses which were to be destroyed in consequence of the contamination of heresy. The origin of this curious practice is not readily traced. Under the Roman law, buildings in which heretics held their conventicles with the owner's consent were not torn down, but were forfeited to the Church. Yet as soon as heresy began to be formidable we find their destruction commanded by secular rulers with singular unanimity. The earliest provision I have met with occurs in the assizes of Clarendon in 1166, which order the razing of all houses in which heretics were received. The example was followed by the Emperor Henry VI. in the edict of Prato, in 1194, by Otho IV. in 1210, and by Frederic II. in the edict of Ravenna, in 1232, as an addition to his coronation-edict of 1220, from which it had been omitted. It had already been adopted in the code of Verona in 1228 in all cases in which the owner, after eight days' notice, neglected to expel heretic occupants; it is found in the statutes of Florence a few years later, and is included in the papal bulls defining the procedure of the Inquisition. In France the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, decreed that any house in which a heretic was found was to be destroyed, and this was given the force of secular law by Count Raymond in 1234.
It naturally forms a feature of the legislation of the succeeding councils which regulated the inquisitorial proceedings, and was adopted by St. Louis. Castile, in fact, seems to be the only land in which the regulation was not observed, owing doubtless to the direct derivation of its legislation from the Roman law, for, in the Partidas, houses in which heretics were sheltered are ordered to be given to the Church. Elsewhere such dwellings were razed to the ground, and the site, as accursed, was to remain forever a receptacle for filth and unfit for human habitation; yet the materials could be employed for pious uses unless they were ordered to be burned by the inquisitor who rendered the sentence. This sentence was addressed to the parish priest, with directions to publish it for three successive Sundays during divine service.
In France the royal officials in charge of the confiscations came at length to object to this destruction of property, which was sometimes considerable, as the castle of the seigneur was as liable to it as the cabin of the peasant. In 1329 it forms one of the points for which the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, Henri de Chamay, asked and obtained the confirmation of Philippe de Valois, and the same year he had the satisfaction, in an auto held in September, to order the destruction of four houses, and a farm, whose owners had been hereticated in them on their death-beds. Some fifty years later, however, a quarrel on the subject between the king's representatives and the inquisitors of DauphinÃ© resulted differently. Charles le Sage, after consulting with the pope, issued letters of October 19, 1378, ordering that the penalty should no longer be enforced.
The independent spirit of northern Germany manifested itself in the same manner, and in the Sachsenspiegel there is a peremptory command that no houses shall be destroyed except for rape committed within them. In Italy the custom continued, as there the confiscations did not inure to the sovereign, but it was held that if the owner had no guilty knowledge of the use made of his house he was entitled to keep it. Lawyers disputed, however, as to the perpetuity of the prohibition to build on the spot, some holding that possession by a Catholic for forty years conferred a right to erect a new house, which others denied, arguing that a perpetual and imprescriptible servitude had been created. The inquisitors, in process of time, arrogated to themselves the power to issue licenses to build anew on these sites, and this right they exercised, doubtless, to their own profit, though they might not have found it easy to cite authority for it.
Another temporal penalty may be alluded to as illustrating the unlimited discretion enjoyed by the inquisitors in imposing penance. When, in 1321, the town of Cordes made humble submission for its long-continued insubordination to its bishop and inquisitor, the penance assigned to the community by Bernard Gui and Jean de Beaune was the construction of a chapel of such size as might be ordered, in honor of St. Peter Martyr, St. Cecilia, St. Louis, and St. Dominic, with the statues of those saints in wood or stone above the altar; and, to complete the humiliation of the community, the portal was to be adorned with statues of the bishop and of the two inquisitors, the whole to be finished within two years, under a penalty of five hundred livres Tournois, which was to be doubled for a delay of another two years.
Doubtless the people of Cordes built the chapel without delay, but they hesitated at this glorifying of their oppressors, for, twenty-seven years afterwards, in 1348, we find the municipal authorities summoned before the Inquisition of Toulouse and compelled to give pledges that the portal shall forthwith be completed and the inquisitorial effigies be erected.
The severest penance the inquisitor could impose was incarceration. It was, according to the theory of the inquisitors, not a punishment, but a means by which the penitent could obtain, on the bread of tribulation and water of affliction, pardon from God for his sins, while at the same time he was closely supervised to see that he persevered in the right path and was segregated from the rest of the flock, thus removing all danger of infection. Of course it was only used for converts. The defiant heretic who persisted in disobedience, or who pertinaciously refused to confess his heresy and asserted his innocence, could not be admitted to penance, and was handed over to the secular arm.
In the bull Excommunicamus of Gregory IX., in 1229, all who after arrest were converted to the faith through fear of death were ordered to be incarcerated for life, thus to perform appropriate penance. The Council of Toulouse almost simultaneously made the same regulation, and manifested its sense of the real value of the involuntary conversions by adding the caution that they be prevented from corrupting others. The Ravenna decree of Frederic II., in 1332, adopted the same rule and made it settled legal practice. The Council of Arles, in 1234, called attention to the perpetual backsliding of those converted by force, and ordered the bishops to enforce strictly the penance of perpetual prison in all such cases. As yet the relapsed were not considered as hopeless, and were not abandoned to the secular court, or "relaxed," but were similarly imprisoned for life.
The Inquisition at its inception thus found the rule established, and enforced it with the relentless vigor which it manifested in all its functions. It was represented as a special mercy shown to those who had forfeited all claims on human compassion. There were to be no exemptions. The Council of Narbonne, in 1244, specifically declared that, except when special indulgence could be procured from the Holy See, no husband was to be spared on account of his wife, or wife on account of her husband, or parent in consideration of helpless children; neither sickness nor old age should claim mitigation. Every one who did not come forward within the time of grace and confess and denounce his acquaintances was liable to this penance, which in all cases was to be lifelong; but the prevalence of heresy in Languedoc was so great, and the terror inspired by the activity of the inquisitors grew so strong, that those who had allowed the allotted period to elapse flocked in, begging for reconciliation, in such multitudes that the good bishops declare not only that funds for the support of such crowds of prisoners were lacking, but even that it would be impossible to find stones and mortar sufficient to build prisons for them.
The inquisitors are therefore instructed to delay incarceration in these cases, unless impenitence, relapse, or flight, is to be apprehended, until the pleasure of the pope can be learned. Apparently Innocent IV. was not disposed to leniency, for in 1246 the Council of Bãziers sternly orders the imprisonment of all who have overstayed the time of grace, while counselling commutation when it would entail evident peril of death on parents or children. Imprisonment thus became the usual punishment, except of obstinate heretics, who were burned. In a single sentence of February 19, 1237, at Toulouse, some twenty or thirty penitents are thus condemned, and are ordered to confine themselves in a house until prisons can be built. In a fragment which has been preserved of the register of sentences in the Inquisition of Toulouse from 1246 to 1248, comprising one hundred and ninety-two cases, with the exception of forty-three contumacious absentees, the sentence is invariably imprisonment. Of these, one hundred and twenty-seven are perpetual, six are for ten years, and sixteen for an indefinite period, as may seem expedient to the Church. It apparently was not till a later period that the order of the Council of Narbonne was obeyed, and the sentence always was for life. In the later periods this proportion will not hold good, for all inquisitors were not like the fierce Bernard de Caux, who then ruled the Holy Office in Toulouse; but perpetual imprisonment remained to the last the principal penance inflicted on penitents, although the decrees of Frederic and the canons of the councils of Toulouse and Narbonne were not held to apply to those who abjured heartily after arrest.
In the later sentences which have reached us it is often not easy to guess why one prisoner is incarcerated and another let off with crosses, when the offences enumerated as to each would seem to be indistinguishable. The test between the two probably was one which does not appear on the record. All alike were converts, but he whose conversion appeared to be hearty and spontaneous was considered to be entitled to the easier penance, while the harsher one was inflicted when the conversion seemed to be enforced and the result of fear.
Yet how relentlessly a man like Bernard Gui, who represents the better class of inquisitors, could enforce the strict measure of the law is seen in the case of Pierre Raymond Dominique, who had been cited to appear in 1309, had fled and incurred excommunication, had consequently, in 1315, been condemned as a contumacious heretic, and in 1321 had voluntarily come forward and surrendered himself on a promise that his life should be spared. His acts of heresy had not been flagrant, and he pleaded as an excuse for his contumacy his wife and seven children, who would have starved had they been deprived of his labor, but in spite of this he was incarcerated for life. Even the stern Bernard de Caux was not always so merciless. In 1246, we find him, in sentencing Bernard Sabbatier, a relapsed heretic, to perpetual imprisonment, adding that as the culprit's father is a good Catholic and old and sick, the son may remain with him and support him as long as he lives, meanwhile wearing the crosses.
There were two kinds of imprisonment, the milder, or "murus largus," and the harsher, known as "murus strictus" or "durus" or "arctus." All were on bread and water, and the confinement, according to rule, was solitary, each penitent in a separate cell, with no access allowed to him, to prevent his being corrupted or corrupting others; but this could not be strictly enforced, and about 1306 Geoffroi d'Ablis stigmatizes as an abuse the visits of clergy, and laity of both sexes, permitted to prisoners. Husband and wife, however, were allowed access to each other if either or both were imprisoned; and late in the fourteenth century Eymerich agrees that zealous Catholics may be admitted to visit prisoners, but not women and simple folk who might be perverted, for converted prisoners, he adds, are very liable to relapse, and to infect others, and usually end with the stake.
In the milder form, or "murus largus," the prisoners apparently were, if well behaved, allowed to take exercise in the corridors, where sometimes they had opportunities of converse with each other and with the outside world. This privilege was ordered to be given to the aged and infirm by the cardinals who investigated the prison of Carcassonne and took measures to alleviate its rigors. In the harsher confinement, or "murus strictus," the prisoner was thrust into the smallest, darkest, and most noisome of cells, with chains on his feet--in some cases chained to the wall. This penance was inflicted on those whose offences had been conspicuous, or who had perjured themselves by making incomplete confessions, the matter being wholly at the discretion of the inquisitor. I have met with one case, in 1328, of aggravated false-witness, condemned to "murus strictissimus," with chains on both hands and feet. When the culprits were members of a religious order, to avoid scandal the proceedings were usually held in private, and the imprisonment would be ordered to take place in a convent of their own Order. As these buildings, however, usually were provided with cells for the punishment of offenders, this was probably of no great advantage to the victim. In the case of Jeanne, widow of B. de la Tour, a nun of Lespenasse, in 1246, who had committed acts of both Catharan and Waldensian heresy, and had prevaricated in her confession, the sentence was confinement in a separate cell in her own convent, where no one was to enter or see her, her food being pushed in through an opening left for the purpose--in fact, the living tomb known as the "in pace."
I have already alluded to the varying treatment designedly practised in the detentive imprisonment of those who were under trial. When there was no special object to be attained by cruelty, this probably was as mild as could reasonably be expected. From occasional indications in the trials, it would seem that considerable intercourse was allowed with the outside world, as well as between the prisoners themselves, though watchful care was enjoined to prevent communication of any kind which might tend to harden the prisoner against a full confession of his sins.
The prisons themselves were not designed to lighten the penance of confinement. At best the jails of the Middle Ages were frightful abodes of misery. The seigneurs-justiciers and cities obliged to maintain them looked upon the support of prisoners as a heavy charge of which they would gladly relieve themselves. If a debtor was thrust into a dungeon, although the law limited his confinement to forty days and ordered him to be comfortably fed, these prescriptions were customarily eluded, for the worse he was treated the greater effort he would make to release himself. As for criminals, bread and water were their sole diet, and if they perished through neglect and starvation it was a saving of expense. The prisoner who had money and friends could naturally obtain better treatment by liberal payment; but this alleviation was not often to be looked for in the case of heretics whose property had been confiscated, and with whom sympathy was dangerous.
The enormous number of captives resulting from the vigorous operations of the Inquisition in Languedoc had rendered the question as to the duty of building and maintaining prisons one of no little magnitude. It unquestionably rested with the bishops, whose laches in persecuting heresy were only made good by the inquisitors, and the bishops, at the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, had admitted this, only excepting that when the heretic had property those to whom the confiscations inured should provide for him. The burden, however, proved unexpectedly large, and we find them, in the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, trying to shift their responsibility by suggesting that the penitents who, but for the recent papal command, would be sent on crusades, should be utilized in building prisons and furnishing them with necessaries, "lest the prelates be overburdened with the poor converts, and be unable to provide for them on account of their multitude." Two years later, at Bãziers, they declared that provision for both construction and maintenance ought to be made by those who profited by the confiscations, to which might be added the fines imposed by the inquisitors, which was not unreasonable; but in 1249 Innocent IV. still asserted that it was their business, and scolded them for not attending to it, and ordered that they be compelled to do it. At length, in 1254, the Council of Albi definitely decided that the holders of confiscated property should make provision for the imprisonment and maintenance of its former owners, and that, when heretics had nothing to confiscate, the cities or lords on whose lands they were captured should be responsible for them, and should be compelled by excommunication to attend to it. Still, the responsibility of the bishops was so self-evident that some zealous inquisitors talked of prosecuting them as fautors of heresy for neglecting to provide prisons, but Gui Foucoix discreetly advises against this, and recommends that such cases should be referred to the Holy See.
The fate of the unfortunate captives was evidently most precarious while their oppressors and despoilers were thus squabbling as to the cost of keeping them in jail and providing them with bread and water. There was evident fitness that those who profited by the enormous confiscations resulting from persecution should at least provide prisons and maintenance for the unhappy victims of fanaticism and greed; and St. Louis, to whom the chief profits came as suzerain of the territories ceded at the Treaty of Paris, recognized in part his responsibility. In 1233 he undertook to provide prisons in Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Bãziers. In 1246 he ordered his seneschal to provide for the inquisitors competent prisons in Carcassonne and Bãziers, and to furnish daily bread and water for the prisoners. In 1258 we find him ordering his seneschal of Carcassonne to bring to speedy completion those which had been commenced; he assumes that the prelates and barons on whose lands heretics are captured should provide for their maintenance; but, in order to avoid trouble, he is willing that expenditures for this purpose shall be made from the royal funds, to be subsequently collected from the seigneurs.
With the death of Alfonse and Jeanne of Toulouse, in 1272, all the territories lapsed to the crown, and, with insignificant exceptions, all the confiscations fell to the king. Henceforth the maintenance of prisons and prisoners, and the wages of jailers and attendants, were defrayed by the crown, except perhaps at Albi, where the bishop shared in the spoils, and seems to have been held to a portion of the expenses. Among the requests of Henri de Cbamay, granted in 1329 by Philippe de Valois, is that the inquisitorial prison at Carcassonne shall be repaired by the king, and that all who have shared in the confiscations shall be made to contribute pro rata. Thereupon the seneschal assessed the Count of Foix to the extent of three hundred and two livres eleven sols nine deniers, which the latter refused to pay, and appealed to the king, with what result is not known. From a decision of the Parlement of Paris in 1304 it appears that the royal allowance for maintenance was three deniers per diem for each convicted prisoner, which would seem liberal enough, though Jacques de Polignac, who had charge of the prison at Carcassonne, and who was punished for his frauds, made out his accounts at the rate of eight deniers. This extravagance was not a precedent, and in 1337 we find the accounts still made out at the old rate of three deniers. For the accused detained and awaiting trial the Inquisition itself presumably had to provide. In Italy, where the confiscations, as we shall see, were divided into thirds, the Inquisition was self-supporting. In Naples the royal prisons were employed, and a royal order was required for incarceration.
While the penance prescribed was a diet of bread and water, the Inquisition, with unwonted kindness, did not object to its prisoners receiving from their friends contributions of food, wine, money, and garments, and among its documents are such frequent allusions to this that it may be regarded as an established custom. Collections were made among those secretly inclined to heresy to alleviate the condition of their incarcerated brethren, and it argues much in favor of the disinterested zeal of the persecuted that they were willing to incur the risk attendant on this benevolence, for any interest shown towards these poor wretches exposed them to accusation to fautorship.
The prisons were naturally built with a view to economy of construction and space rather than to the health and comfort of the captives. In fact the papal orders were that they should be constructed of small, dark cells for solitary confinement, only taking care that the "enormis rigor" of the incarceration should not extinguish life. M. Molinier's description of the Tour de l'Inquisition at Carcassonne, which was used as the inquisitorial prison, shows how literally these instructions were obeyed. It was a horrible place, consisting of small cells, deprived of all light and ventilation, where through long years the miserable inmates endured a living death far worse than the short agony of the stake.
In these abodes of despair they were completely at the mercy of the jailers and their servants. Complaints were not listened to; if a prisoner alleged violence or ill-treatment his oath was contemptuously refused, while that of the prison officials was received. A glimpse into the discipline of these establishments is afforded by the instructions given, in 1282, by FrÃ¨re Jean Galande, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, to the jailer Raoul and his wife Bertrande, whose management had been rather lax. Under pain of irrevocable dismissal he is prohibited in future from keeping scriveners or horses in the prison; from borrowing money or accepting gifts from the prisoners; from retaining the money or effects of those who die; from releasing prisoners or allowing them to go beyond the first door, or to eat with him; from employing the servants on any other work or sending them anywhere, or gambling with them, or permitting them to gamble with each other.
Evidently a prisoner who had money could obtain illicit favors from the honest Raoul; but these injunctions make no allusion to one of the most crying abuses which disgraced the establishments--the retention by the jailers of the moneys and provisions placed in their hands by the friends of the imprisoned. Frauds of all kinds naturally grew up among all who were concerned in dealing with these helpless creatures. In 1304 Hugolin de Polignac, the custodian of the royal prison at Carcassonne, was tried on charges of embezzling a part of the king's allowance, of carrying the names of prisoners on the rolls for years after their death, and of retaining the moneys contributed for them by their friends; but the evidence was insufficient to convict him.
The cardinals whom Clement V. commissioned soon after to investigate the abuses of the Inquisition of Languedoc intimate broadly the nature of the frauds habitually practised, when they required the new jailers whom they appointed to swear to deliver to each captive without diminution the provisions supplied by the king, as well as those furnished by friends--an intimation confirmed by the decretals of Clement V. Their report shows that they were horror-struck with what they saw. At Carcassonne they took the control of the prison wholly from the inquisitor, Geoffroi d'Ablis, and placed it in the hands of the bishop, ordering the upper cells to be repaired at once, in order that the aged and sick should be transferred to them; at Albi they struck the chains off the prisoners, commanded the cells to be lighted and new and better ones built within a month; at Toulouse things were equally bad. Everywhere there was complaint of lack of food and of beds, as well as of frequent torture. Their measures for reformation consisted in dividing the responsibility between bishop and inquisitor, whose concurrence was requisite to a sentence of imprisonment, and each of whom should appoint a jailer, while each jailer should have a key to each cell, and swear never to speak to a prisoner except in presence of his colleague. This insufficient remedy was adopted by Clement, and can hardly be imagined to have worked much improvement. Bernard Gui bitterly complained of the infamy cast on the Inquisition by the papal assertion of fraud and ill-treatment in the management of its prisons, and he pronounced the new regulations impracticable. Slender as was the restraint which they imposed on the inquisitors, we may feel sure that it was not long submitted to.
In a few years Bernard Gui, in his Practica, assumes that the power of imprisoning lies wholly with the inquisitor; he contemptuously cites the Clementine canon by its title only, and proceeds to quote a bull of Clement IV. as if still in force, giving the authority to the inquisitor, and making no mention of the bishop. In fact, before the century was out, Eymerich considered the Clementine canons on this subject not worth inserting in his work, because, as he tells us, they were nowhere observed in consequence of their cost and inconvenience. About 1500, however, Bernardo di Como admits that the Clementine rule may be observed in punitive confinement after sentence, but holds that the inquisitor has sole control of the detentive prisons used before and during trial.
With such jailers it is probably rather to their corruption than to any lack of strength in the buildings that we may attribute the occasional escape of the inmates, which appears to have been by no means an infrequent occurrence. Even those who were confined in chains sometimes effected their liberation. More sufficient, however, as a means of release from the horrors of these foul dungeons was the excessive mortality caused by their filthy and unventilated squalor. Occasionally, as we have seen, the unfortunate were unlucky enough to live through protracted confinement, and there is one case in which a woman was graciously discharged, with crosses, in view of her having been for thirty-three years in the prison of Toulouse. As a rule, however, we may conclude that the expectation of life was very short. No records remain, if any were kept, to show the average term of those condemned to lifelong penance; but in the autos de fÃ© there occur sentences pronounced upon prisoners who had died before their cases were ended, which show how large was the death-rate. These cases were despatched in batches. In the auto of 1310, at Toulouse, there are ten, who had died after confessing their heresy and before receiving sentence; in that of 1319 there are eight. The prison of Carcassonne seems to have been almost as deadly. In the auto of 1325 we find a lot of four similar cases, and in that of 1328 there are five. It is only under these peculiar circumstances that we have any chance of guessing at the deaths which occurred in prison, and from these scattered indications we can assume that the insanitary condition of the jails worked its inevitable result without human interference.
Imprisonment was naturally the most frequent penance inflicted by the inquisitors. In Bernard Gui's Register of Sentences, comprising his operations between 1308 and 1322, there are six hundred and thirty-six condemnations recorded, which may be thus classified:
br br Delivered to the secular court and burned 40
br br Bones exhumed and burned 67
br br Imprisoned 300
br br Bones exhumed of those who would have been imprisoned 21
br br Condemned to wear crosses 138
br br Condemned to perform pilgrimages 16
br br Banished to Holy Land 1
br br Fugitives 36
br br Condemnation of the Talmud 1
br br Houses to be destroyed 16 636
and this may presumably be taken as a fair measure of the comparative frequency of the several punishments in use.
One peculiarity of the inquisitorial sentence remains to be noted. It always ended with a reservation of power to modify, to mitigate, to increase, and to reimpose at discretion. As early as 1244 the Council of Narbonne instructed the inquisitors always to reserve this power, and it became established as an invariable custom. Even without its formal expression, Innocent IV., in 1245, conferred on the inquisitors, acting with the advice and consent of the bishop of the penitent, authority to modify the penance imposed. The bishop, in fact, usually concurred in these alterations of sentences, but Zanchini informs us that though his assent should be asked, it was not essential, except in the case of clerks. The inquisitor, however, had no power to grant absolute pardons, which was reserved exclusively to the pope. The sin of heresy was so indelible that no authority short of the vicegerent of God could wash it out completely.
This power to mitigate sentences was frequently exercised. It served as a stimulus to the penitents to give evidence by their deportment of the sincerity of their conversion, and, perhaps, also, it was occasionally of benefit as a means of depleting overcrowded jails.
Thus in Bernard Gui's Register of Sentences there occur one hundred and nineteen cases of release from prison, with the obligation to wear the crosses, and of these fifty-one were subsequently relieved from the crosses. Besides these latter, there are also eighty-seven cases in which those originally condemned to crosses were permitted to lay them aside. This mercy was not peculiar to the Inquisition of Toulouse. In 1328, in a single sentence, twenty-three persons were released from the prison of Carcassone, their penance being commuted to crosses, pilgrimages, and other observances. What the measure of mercy was in such cases may be guessed from another sentence of commutation at Carcassonne in 1329, liberating ten penitents, among them the Baroness of MontrÃ©al.
They were required to wear the yellow crosses for life and to perform twenty-one pilgrimages, embracing shrines as distant as Rome, Compostella, Canterbury, and Cologne. They were to hear mass every Sunday and feast-day during life, and present themselves with rods to the officiating priest and receive the discipline in the face of the congregation; and also to accompany all processions and be similarly disciplined at the final station. Existence under such conditions might well be regarded as a doubtful blessing.
These mitigatory sentences, moreover, like the original ones, strictly reserved the power of alteration and reimposition, with or without cause. When the Inquisition once laid hands upon a man it never released its hold, and its utmost mercy was merely a ticket-of-leave. Just as no verdict of acquittal ever was issued, so the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, and Innocent IV., in 1247, told the inquisitors that when they liberated a prisoner he was to be warned that the slightest cause of suspicion would lead him to be punished without mercy, and that they must retain the right to incarcerate him again without the formality of a fresh trial or sentence if the interest of the faith required.
These conditions were observed in the formularies and enjoined in the manuals of practice. The penitent was made to understand fully that whatever liberty he enjoyed was subject to the arbitrary discretion of his judge, who could recall him to dungeon or fetters at any moment, and in his oath of abjuration he pledged his person and all his property to appear at once whenever he might be summoned.
If Bernard Gui in his Formulary gives a draft of pardon for person and property and disabilities of heirs, he adds a caution that it is never, or most rarely, to be used. When some great object was to be attained, such as the capture of a prominent heretic teacher, the inquisitors might stretch their authority and hold out promises of this kind to his disciples to induce them to betray him--promises which, it is pleasant to say, were almost universally spurned. If special penances had been imposed, on their fulfilment the inquisitor, if he saw fit, might declare the penitent to be a man of good character, but this did not alter the reservation in the original sentence. The mercy of the Inquisition did not extend to a pardon, but only to a reprieve, dum bene se gesserit, and the man who had once undergone a sentence never knew at what moment he might not be summoned to hear of its reimposition or even of a harsher one.
Once a delinquent, his fate forever after was in the hands of the silent and mysterious judge who need not hear him nor give any reason for his destruction. He lived forever on the verge of ruin, never knowing when the blow might fall, and utterly powerless to avert it. He was always a subject to be watched by the universal police of the Inquisition--the parish priest, the monks, the clergy, nay, the whole population--who were strictly enjoined to report any neglect of penance or suspicious conduct, when he was at once liable to the awful penalties of relapse. Nothing was easier for a secret enemy than to destroy him, safe that his name would never be mentioned. We may pity the victims of the stake and the dungeon, but their fate was scarce harder than that of the multitudes who were the objects of the Inquisition's apparent mercy, but whose existence from that hour was one of endless, hopeless anxiety.
The same implacability manifested itself after death. Allusion has frequently been made to the exhumation of the bones of those who by opportunely dying had seemed to exchange the vengeance of man for that of God, and it is only necessary to mention here that the fate of the dead was harder than that of the living. If he had died after confession and repentance, it is true, his punishment was only that which he would have received if alive, the digging up replacing imprisonment, and his heirs being forced to perform or compound for any lighter penance; but if he had not confessed and there was evidence of heresy he was classed with the impenitent heretics, his remains were delivered to the secular arm, and his property hopelessly confiscated. This will account for the large number of these executions as shown in the records quoted above.
If the secular authorities hesitated to perform the task of exhumation, they were coerced with excommunication.
The same spirit pursued the descendants. In the Roman law the crime of treason was pursued with merciless vindictiveness, and its provisions are constantly quoted by the canon lawyers as precedents for the punishment of heresy, with the addition that treason to God is far more heinous than that to an earthly sovereign.
It was, perhaps, natural that the churchman, in his eagerness to defend the kingdom of God, should follow and surpass the example of the emperors, and this will explain, if it may not justify, much that is abhorrent in the inquisitorial procedure.
In the Code of Justinian, treason is made especially odious by inflicting on the sons disability to hold office and to succeed to collateral estates. By the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, even spontaneously converted heretics were declared ineligible to public office. It was natural, therefore, that Frederic II. should apply the Roman practice to heresy, and should extend its provision to grandchildren. This, like the rest of his legislation, was eagerly adopted and enforced by the Church. Alexander IV., however, in a bull of 1257, repeatedly reissued by his successors, explained that this did not apply in cases where the culprit had made amends and performed penance, and this was still further lightened by Boniface VIII., who removed the incapacity from grandchildren by the female line of those who had died in heresy. In this form it remained permanently in the canon law.
The Inquisition depended so much upon secular officials for assistance that there was some justification in its seeking to prevent those who might be suspected of sympathizing with heresy from holding office in which they could thwart its plans and aid the offender. Yet as there was no prescription of time as to proceedings against the dead, so was there none in invoking disabilities against their descendants, and the records of the Inquisition were an inexhaustible treasury of torment for those who were in any way connected with heresy. No one, in fact, could feel sure that evidence might not at any moment be discovered or manufactured against some long-deceased parent or grandparent, which would ruin his career, and that some industrious searcher into the archives might not find some blot on his genealogical tree. In 1288 Philippe le Bel writes to the Seneschal of Carcassonne that Raymond Vitalis of Avignon is exercising the office of notary in Carcassonne, though his maternal grandfather, Roger Isarn, is said to have been burned for heresy.
If this is the fact, the seneschal is ordered to deprive him of the position. In 1292 Guiraud d'Auterive, a sergeant-at-arms of the king, was proceeded against on the same grounds, and we find Guillem de S. Seine, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, furnishing to the royal procureur evidence that, in 1256, Guiraud's father and mother had confessed to acts of heresy, and that, in 1276, his uncle, Raymond Carbonnel, had been burned as a perfected heretic. In these cases we see the royal power invoked for the dismissal of the official, but in the perfected theory of the Inquisition the inquisitor had the power to deprive of office any one whose father or grandfather had been a heretic or defender of heretics. In order to avoid questions like these, when a penitent had fulfilled his penance, prudent children would take out letters declaratory of the fact, so as to have evidence of capacity to hold office. In special cases the inquisitor had power to relieve descendants of these disabilities, and this was occasionally done; but, like the remission of penance, this relief was only a suspension, liable at any moment to forfeiture on the slightest manifestation of heretical tendencies.
Underlying all these sentences was another on which they, and, indeed, the whole power of the Inquisition, were based in last resort--the sentence of excommunication. Theoretically the censures of the Inquisition might be the same as those of any other ecclesiastics authorized to cut men off from salvation, but the latter had so habitually abused their functions that the anathema, in the mouth of priests who were neither feared nor respected, lost, at times at least, its awe-inspiring authority. The censures of the Inquisition were in the hands of a smaller body of men, selected for their implacable vigor, and no one ever disregarded them with impunity.
The secular authorities, moreover, were bound to put to the ban and confiscate the property of any one whom the inquisitor might excommunicate for heresy or fautorship. In fact, as the inquisitors were fond of boasting, their curse was stronger in four ways than that of the secular clergy. They could coerce the temporal government to outlaw the excommunicate; they could force it to confiscate his property; they could condemn any one remaining under excommunication for a year; and they could inflict the major excommunication upon any one communicating with their excommunicates.
Thus they enforced obedience to their citations and submission to their penances. Thus they made the secular power execute their sentences; thus they swept aside the statutes that interfered with their proceedings; thus they proved that the kingdom of God which they represented was superior to the kingdoms of earth. Of all excommunications that of the inquisitor worked the speediest vengeance and inspired the sharpest terror, and the boldest shrank from provoking it.