A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter VII. The Inquisition Founded
Growth of Episcopal Jurisdiction
The gradual organization of the Inquisition was simply a process of evolution arising from the mutual reaction of the social forces which we have described. The Albigensian Crusades had put an end to open resistance, yet the heretics were none the less numerous, and, if less defiant, were only the more difficult to discover. The triumph of force had increased the responsibility of the Church, while the imperfection of its means of discharging that responsibility was self-confessed in the enormous spread of heresy during the twelfth century. We have seen the confused and uncertain manner in which the local prelates had sought to meet the new demands upon them.
When the existence of hidden crime is suspected there are three stages in the process of its suppression--the discovery of the criminal, the proof of his guilt, and finally his punishment. Of all others the crime of heresy was the most difficult to discover and to prove, and when its progress became threatening the ecclesiastics on whom fell the responsibility of its eradication were equally at a loss in each of the three steps to be taken for its extermination.
Immersed, for the most part, in the multiplied troubles connected with the overgrown temporalities of their sees, the bishops would await popular rumor to designate some man or group of men as heretical. On seizing the suspected persons, there was rarely any external evidence to prove their guilt, for except where numbers rendered repression impossible, the sectaries were assiduous in outward conformity to orthodox observance, and the slender theological training of episcopal officials was generally unequal to the task of extracting confessions from thoughtful and keen-witted men, or of convicting them out of their own mouths.
The judicial use of torture was as yet happily unknown, and the current substitute of a barbarous age, the Ordeal, was resorted to with a frequency which shows how ludicrously helpless were the ecclesiastics called upon to perform functions so novel.
Even St. Bernard approved of this expedient, and in 1157 the Council of Reims prescribed it as the rule in all cases of suspected heresy. More enlightened churchmen viewed its results with well-grounded disbelief, and Peter Cantor mentions several cases to prove its injustice. A poor woman accused of Catharism was abandoned to die of hunger, till in confession to a religious dean she protested her innocence and was advised by him to offer the hot-iron ordeal in proof, which she did with the result of being burned first by the iron and then at the stake.
A good Catholic, against whom the only suspicious evidence was his poverty and his pallor, was ordered by an assembly of bishops to undergo the same ordeal, which he refused to do unless the prelates would prove to him that this would not be a mortal sin in tempting God. This tenderness of conscience was sufficient, so without further parley they unanimously handed him over to the secular authorities, and he was promptly burned.
With the study of the Roman law, however, this mode of procedure gradually fell into disfavor with the Church, and the enlightenment of Innocent III. peremptorily forbade its use in 1212, when it was extensively employed by Henry of Vehringen, Bishop of Strassburg, to convict a number of heretics; while in 1215 the Council of Lateran, following the example of Alexander III. and Lucius III., formally prohibited all ecclesiastics from taking part in the administration of ordeals of any kind. How great was the perplexity of ignorant prelates, debarred from this ready method of seeking the judgment of God, may be guessed by the expedient which had, in 1170, been adopted by the good Bishop of BesanÃ§on, when the religious repose of his diocese was troubled by some miracle-working heretics.
He is described as a learned man, and yet to solve his doubts as to whether the strangers were saints or heretics, he summoned the assistance of an ecclesiastic deeply skilled in necromancy and ordered him to ascertain the truth by consulting Satan. The cunning clerk deceived the devil into a confidential mood and learned that the strangers were his servants; they were deprived of the satanic amulets which were their protection, and the populace, which had previously sustained them, cast them pitilessly into the flames.
Uncertainty Of Procedure
When supernatural means were not resorted to, the proceedings were far too cumbrous and uncertain to be efficient against an evil so widely spread and against malefactors so numerous. In 1204 Gui, Archbishop of Reims, summoned Count Robert, cousin of Philip Augustus, the Countess Yolande, and many other laymen and ecclesiastics to sit in judgment on some heretics discovered at Brienne, with the result of burning the unfortunate wretches. In 1201, when the Knight Everard was accused of Catharism by Bishop Hugues of Nevers, the Legate Octavian summoned for his trial at Paris a council composed of archbishops, bishops, and masters of the university, who condemned him.
All this was complicated by the supreme universal jurisdiction of Rome, which enabled those who were skilful and rich to protract indefinitely the proceedings and perhaps at last to escape. Thus in 1211 a canon of Langres, accused of heresy, was summoned by his bishop to appear before a council of theologians assembled to examine him. Though he had sworn to do so and had given bail, he failed to come forward, and was, after three days' waiting, condemned in default. His absence was accounted for when he turned up in Rome and asserted to Innocent that he had been forced to take the oath and give security after he had appealed to the Holy See.
The pope sent him back to the Archbishop of Sens, to the Bishop of Nevers, and Master Robert de Corzon, with instructions to examine into his orthodoxy. Two years later, in 1213, he is again seen in Rome, explaining that he had feared to come before his judges at the appointed time, because the popular feeling against heresy was so strong that not only were all heretics burned, but all who were even suspected, wherefore he craved papal protection and permission to perform due purgation at Rome. Innocent again sent him back with orders to the prelates to give him a safe-conduct and protection until his case should be decided. Whether he was innocent or guilty, whether absolved or condemned, is of little moment. The case sufficiently shows the impossibility of efficient suppression of heresy under the existing system.
Even after conviction had been obtained there was the same uncertainty as to penalties. In the case of the Cathari who confessed at Liege in 1144, and were with difficulty rescued from the mob who sought to burn them, the church authorities applied to Lucius II. for instructions as to what disposition should be made of them.
Those who were captured in Flanders in 1162 were sent to Alexander III., then in France, for judgment, and he sent them back to the Archbishop of Reims. William Abbot of Vezelai possessed full jurisdiction, but when, in 1167, he had some confessed heretics on his hands, in his embarrassment he asked the assembled crowd what he should do with them, and the ready sentence was found in the unanimous shout, "Burn them! burn them!" which was duly executed, although one who recanted and was yet condemned by the water ordeal was publicly scourged and banished by the abbot in spite of a popular demand for concremation. In 1114 the Bishop of Soissons, after convicting some heretics by the water ordeal, went to the Council of Beauvais to consult as to their punishment; but during his absence the people, fearing the lenity of the bishops, broke into the jail and burned them.
It was not that the Church was absolutely devoid of the machinery for discharging its admitted function of suppressing heresy. It is true that in the early days of the Carlovingian revival, Zachary's instructions to St. Boniface show that the only recognized method at that time of disposing of heretics was by summoning a council, and sending the convicted culprits to Rome for final judgment. Charlemagne's civilizing policy, however, made efficient use of all instrumentalities capable of maintaining order and security in his empire, and the bishops assumed an important position in his system.
They were ordered, in conjunction with the secular officials, zealously to prohibit all superstitious observances and remnants of paganism; to travel assiduously throughout their dioceses making strict inquiry as to all sins abhorred of God, and thus a considerable jurisdiction was placed in their hands, although strictly subordinated to the State.
During the troubles which followed the division of the empire, as the feudal system arose on the ruins of the monarchy, gradually the bishops threw off not only dependence on the crown, but acquired extensive rights and powers in the administration of the canon law, which now no longer depended on the civil or municipal law, but assumed to be its superior. Thus came to be founded the spiritual courts which were attached to every episcopate and which exercised exclusive jurisdiction over a constantly widening field of jurisprudence. Of course all errors of faith necessarily came within their purview.
The organization and functions of these courts received a powerful impetus through the study of the Roman law after the middle of the twelfth century. Ecclesiastics, in fact, monopolized to such an extent the educated intelligence of the age that at first there were few besides themselves to penetrate into the mysteries of the Code and Digest.
Even in the second half of the thirteenth century Roger Bacon complains that a civil lawyer, even if wholly untrained in canon law and theology, had a much better chance of high preferment than a theologian, and he exclaims in bitterness that the Church is governed by lawyers to the great injury of all Christian folk. Thus long before the feudal and seignorial courts felt the influence of the imperial jurisprudence, it had profoundly modified the principles and practice of ecclesiastical procedure. The old archdeacon gave way, not without vituperation, before the formal episcopal judge, known as the Official or Ordinary, who was usually a doctor of both laws--an LL.D. in fact--learned in both civil and canon law; and the effect of this was soon seen in a systematizing of ecclesiastical jurisprudence which gave it an immense advantage over the rude processes of the feudal and customary law. These episcopal courts, moreover, were soon surrounded by a crowd of clerkly advocates, whose zeal for their clients often outran their discretion, furnishing the first mediÃ¦val representatives of the legal profession.
Following in the traces of the civil law, there were three forms of action in criminal cases--accusatio, denunciatio, and inquisitio. In accusatio there was an accuser who formally inscribed himself as responsible and was subject to the talio in case of failure. Denunciatio was the official act of the public officer, such as the testis synodalis or archdeacon, who summoned the court to take action against offenders coming within his official knowledge. In inquisitio the Ordinary cited the suspected criminal, imprisoning him if necessary; the indictment, or capitula inquisitionis, was communicated to him, and he was interrogated thereupon, with the proviso that nothing extraneous to the indictment could be subsequently brought into the case to aggravate it. If the defendant could not be made to confess, the Ordinary proceeded to take testimony, and though the examination of witnesses was not conducted in the defendant's presence, their names and evidence were communicated to him, he could summon witnesses in rebuttal, and his advocate had full opportunity to defend him by argument, exception, and appeal.
The Ordinary finally gave the verdict; if uncertain as to guilt, he prescribed the purgatio canonica, or oath of denial shared by a given number of peers of the accused, more or less, according to the nature of the charge and degree of suspicion. In all cases of conviction by the inquisitorial process, the penalty inflicted was lighter than in accusation or denunciation. The danger was recognized of a procedure in which the judge was also the accuser; a man must be popularly reputed as guilty before the Ordinary could commence inquisition against him, and this not by merely a few men or by his enemies, or those unworthy of belief. There must be ample ground for esteeming him guilty before this extraordinary power vested in the judge could be exercised. It is important to bear in mind the equitable provisions of all this episcopal jurisdiction when we come to consider the methods of what we call the Inquisition, erected on these foundations.
Theoretically there also existed a thorough system of general inquisition or inquest for the detection of all offences, including heresy; and as it was only an application of this which gave rise to the Inquisition, it is worth our brief attention. The idea of a systematic investigation into infractions of the law was familiar to secular as well as to ecclesiastical jurisprudence. In the Roman law, although there was no public prosecutor, it was part of the duty of the ruler or proconsul to make perquisition after all criminals with a view to their detection and punishment, and Septimius Severus, in the year 202, had made the persecution of Christians an especial feature of this official inquisition.
The Missi Dominici of Charlemagne were officials commissioned to traverse the empire, making diligent inquisition into all cases of disorder, crime, and injustice, with jurisdiction over clerk and layman alike. They held their assizes four times a year, listened to all complaints and accusations, and were empowered to redress all wrongs and to punish all offenders of whatever rank. The institution was maintained by the successors of Charlemagne so long as the royal power could assert itself; and after the Capetian revolution, as soon as the new dynasty found itself established with a jurisdiction that could be enforced beyond the narrow bounds set by feudalism, it adopted a similar expedient of "inquisitors," with a view of keeping the royal officials under control and insuring a due enforcement of the law.
The same device is seen in the itinerant justiciaries of England, at least as early as the Assizes of Clarendon in 1166, when, utilizing the Anglo-Saxon organization, they made an inquest in every hundred and tithing by the lawful men of the vicinage to try and punish all who were publicly suspected of crime, giving rise to the time-honored system of the grand-jury--in itself a prototype of the incipient papal Inquisition. Similar in character were the "Inquisitors and Manifestors" whom we find in Verona in 1228, employed by the State for the detection and punishment of blasphemy; and a still stronger resemblance is seen in the Jurados of Sardinia in the fourteenth century--inhabitants selected in each district and sworn to investigate all cases of crime, to capture the malefactor, and to bring him before court for trial.
The Church naturally fell into the same system. We have just seen that Charlemagne ordered his bishops to make diligent visitations throughout their dioceses, investigating all offences; and with the growth of ecclesiastical jurisdiction this inquisitorial duty was, nominally at least, perfected and organized. Already at the commencement of the tenth century we find in use a method (falsely attributed to Pope Eutychianus) which was subsequently imitated by the Inquisition. As the bishop reached each parish in his visitation, the whole body of the people was assembled in a local synod. From among these he selected seven men of mature age and approved integrity who were then sworn on relics to reveal without fear or favor whatever they might know or hear, then or subsequently, of any offence requiring investigation.
These testes synodales, or synodal witnesses, became an institution established, theoretically at least, in the Church, and long lists of interrogatories were drawn up to guide the bishops in examining them so that no possible sin or immorality might escape the searching inquisition. Yet how completely these well-devised measures fell into desuetude, under the negligence of the bishops, is seen in the surprise awakened when, in 1246, Robert Grosseteste, the reforming Bishop of Lincoln, ordered, at the suggestion of the Franciscans, such a general inquisition into the morals of the people throughout his extensive diocese. His archdeacons and deans summoned both noble and commoner before them and examined them under oath, as required by the canons; but the proceeding was so unusual and brought to light so many scandals that Henry III. was induced to interfere and ordered the sheriffs to put an end to it.
The Decree Of Verona
The Church thus possessed an organization well adapted for the discovery and investigation of heretics. All that it lacked were the men who should put that organization to its destined use; and the progress of heresy up to the date of the Albigensian Crusades manifests how utterly neglectful were the ignorant prelates of the day, immersed in worldly cares, for the most part, and thinking only of the methods by which their temporalities could be defended and their revenues increased. Successive popes made fruitless efforts to arouse them to a sense of duty and induce them to use the means at their disposal for a systematic and vigorous onslaught on the sectaries, who daily grew more alarming.
From the assembly of prelates who attended, in 1184, the meeting at Verona between Lucius III. and Frederic Barbarossa, the pope issued a decretal at the instance of the emperor and with the assent of the bishops, which if strictly and energetically obeyed might have established an episcopal instead of a papal Inquisition.
In addition to the oath--referred to in a previous chapter--prescribed to every ruler, to assist the Church in persecuting heresy, all archbishops and bishops were ordered, either personally or by their archdeacons or other fitting persons, once or twice a year to visit every parish where there was suspicion of heresy, and compel two or three men of good character, or the whole vicinage if necessary, to swear to reveal any reputed heretic, or any person holding secret conventicles, or in any way differing in mode of life from the faithful in general. The prelate was to summon to his presence those designated, who, unless they could purge themselves at his discretion, or in accordance with local custom, were to be punished as the bishop might see fit. Similarly, any who refused to swear, through superstition, were to be condemned and punished as heretics ipso facto. Obstinate heretics, refusing to abjure and return to the Church with due penance, and those who after abjuration relapsed, were to be abandoned to the secular arm for fitting punishment. There was nothing organically new in all this--only a utilizing of existing institutions and an endeavor to recall the bishops to a sense of their duties; but a further important step was taken in removing all exemptions from episcopal jurisdiction in the matter of heresy and subjecting to their bishops the privileged monastic orders which depended directly on Rome. Fautors of heresy were, moreover, declared incapable of acting as advocates or witnesses or of filling any public office.
We have already seen how utterly this effort failed to arouse the hierarchy from their sloth. The weapons rusted in the careless hands of the bishops, and the heretics became ever more numerous and more enterprising, until their gathering strength showed clearly that if Rome would retain her domination she must summon the faithful to the arbitrament of arms. She did not shrink from the alternative, but she recognized that even the triumph of her crusading hosts would be comparatively a barren victory in the absence of an organized system of persecution.
Thus while de Montfort and his bands were slaying the abettors of heresy who dared to resist in the field, a council assembled in Avignon, in 1209, under the presidency of the papal legate, Hugues, and enacted a series of regulations which are little more than a repetition of those so fruitlessly promulgated twenty-five years before by Lucius III., the principal change being that in every parish a priest should be adjoined to the laymen who were to act as synodal witnesses or local inquisitors of heresy. Under this arrangement, repeated by the Council of Montpellier in 1215, there was considerable persecution and not a few burnings. In the same spirit, when the Council of Lateran met in 1215 to consolidate the conquests which then seemed secure to the Church, it again repeated the orders of Lucius. No other device suggested itself, no further means seemed either available or requisite, if only this could be carried out, and its enforcement was sought by decreeing the deposition of any bishop neglecting this paramount duty, and his replacement by one willing and able to confound heresy.
This utterance of the supreme council of Christendom was as ineffectual as its predecessors.
An occasional earnest fanatic was found, like Foulques of Toulouse or Henry of Strassburg, who labored vigorously in the suppression of heresy, but for the most part the prelates were as negligent as ever, and there is no trace of any sustained and systematic endeavor to put in practice the periodical inquisition so strenuously enjoined. The Council of Narbonne, in 1227, imperatively commanded all bishops to institute in every parish testes synodales who should investigate heresy and other offences, and report them to the episcopal officials, but the good prelates who composed the assembly, satisfied with this exhibition of vigor, separated and allowed matters to run on their usual course. We hardly need the assurance of the contemporary Lucas of Tuy, that bishops for the most part were indifferent as to the matter of heresy, while some even protected heretics for filthy gain, saying, when reproached,
"How can we condemn those who are neither convicted nor confessed?"
No better success followed the device of the Council of BÃ©ziers in 1234, which earnestly ordered the parish priests to make out lists of all suspected of heresy and keep a strict watch upon them.
The popes had endeavored to overcome this episcopal indifference by a sort of irregular and spasmodic Legatine Inquisition. As the papal jurisdiction extended itself under the system of Gregory VII. the legate had become a very useful instrument to bring the papal power to bear upon the internal affairs of the dioceses.
As the direct representatives and plenipotentiaries of the vicegerent of God the legates carried and exercised the supreme authority of the Holy See into the remotest corners of Christendom. That they should be employed in stimulating languid persecution was inevitable. We have already seen the part they played in the affairs of the Albigenses, from the time of Henry of Citeaux to that of Cardinal Romano. In the absence of any systematic method of procedure they were even used in special cases to supplement the ignorance of local prelates, as when, in 1224, Honorius III. ordered Conrad, Bishop of Hildesheim, to bring before the Legate Cinthio, Cardinal of Porto, for judgment Henry Minneke, Provost of St. Maria of Goslar, whom he held in prison on suspicion of heresy.
It was, however, in Toulouse, after the treaty of Paris, in 1229, that we find the most noteworthy case of the concurrence of legatine and episcopal action, showing how crude as yet were the conceptions of the nascent Inquisition. After Count Raymond had been reconciled to the Church, he returned in July to his dominions, followed by the Cardinal-Legate Romano, to see to the execution of the treaty and to turn back the armed "pilgrims" who were swarming to fight for the Cross, and who revenged themselves for their disappointment by wantonly destroying the harvests and creating a famine in the land. In September a council was assembled at Toulouse, consisting of all the prelates of Languedoc, and most of the leading barons.
This adopted a canon ordering anew all archbishops, bishops, and exempted abbots to put in force the device of the synodal witnesses, who were charged with the duty of making constant inquisition for heretics and examining all suspected houses, subterranean rooms, and other hiding-places; but there is no trace of any obedience to this command or of any results arising from it. Under the impulsion of the legate and of Foulques of Toulouse, however, the council itself was turned into an inquisition. A converted "perfected" Catharan, named Guillem de Solier, was found and was restored to his legal rights in order to enable him to give evidence against his former brethren, while Bishop Foulques industriously hunted up other witnesses.
Each bishop present took his share in examining these, sending to Foulques the evidence reduced to writing, and thus, we are told, a vast amount of business was accomplished in a short time. It was found that the heretics had mostly pledged each other to secrecy, and that it was virtually impossible to extract anything from them, but a few of the more timid came forward voluntarily and confessed, and of course each one of these, under the rules in force, was obliged to tell all he knew about others, as the condition of reconciliation.
A vast amount of evidence was thus collected, which was taken by the legate for the purpose of deciding the fate of the accused, and with it he left Toulouse for Montpellier. A few of the more hardy offenders endeavored to defend themselves judicially, and demanded to see the names of the witnesses, even following the legate to Montpellier for that purpose; but he, under the pretext that this demand was for the purpose of slaying those who had testified against them, adroitly eluded it by exhibiting a combined list of all the witnesses, so that the culprits were forced to submit without defence.
He then held another council at Orange, and sent to Foulques the sentences, which were duly communicated to the accused assembled for the purpose in the church of St. Jacques. All the papers of the inquisition were carried to Rome by the legate for fear that if they should fall into the hands of the evil-minded they would be the cause of many murders--and, in fact, a number of the witnesses were slain on simple suspicion.
All this shows how crude and cumbrous an implement was the episcopal and legatine Inquisition even in the most energetic hands, and how formless and tentative was its procedure. A few instances of the use of synodal witnesses are subsequently to be found, as in the Council of Arles, in 1234, that of Tours, in 1239, that of BÃ©ziers, in 1246, of Albi, in 1254, and in a letter of Alphonse of Poitiers in 1257, urging his bishops to appoint them as required by the Council of Toulouse. An occasional example of the legatine Inquisition may also be met with.
In 1237 the inquisitors of Toulouse were acting under legatine powers, as sub-delegates to the Legate Jean de Vienne; and in the same year, when the people of Montpellier asked the pope for assistance to suppress the growth of heresy, their bishop apparently being supine, he sent Jean de Vienne there with instructions to act vigorously. The episcopal office was similarly disregarded in 1239, when Gregory IX. sent orders to the inquisitors of Toulouse to obey the instructions of his legate. Yet this legatine function in time passed so completely out of remembrance that in 1351 the Signiory of Florence asked the papal legate to desist from a charge of heresy on which he had cited the Camaldulensian abbot, because the republic had never permitted its citizens to be judged for such an offence except by the inquisitors; and as early as 1257, when the inquisitors of Languedoc complained of the zeal of the Legate Zoen, Bishop of Avignon, in carrying on inquisitorial work, Alexander IV. promptly decided that he had no such power outside of his own diocese.
The public opinion of the ruling classes of Europe demanded that heresy should be exterminated at whatever cost, and yet with the suppression of open resistance the desired end seemed as far off as ever. Bishop and legate were alike unequal to the task of discovering those who carefully shrouded themselves under the cloak of the most orthodox observance; and when by chance a nest of heretics was brought to light, the learning and skill of the average Ordinary failed to elicit a confession from those who professed the most entire accord with the teachings of Rome. In the absence of overt acts it was difficult to reach the secret thoughts of the sectary. Trained experts were needed whose sole business it should be to unearth the offenders and extort a confession of their guilt. As this necessity became more and more apparent two new factors contributed to the solution of the long-vexed problem.
The first of these was the organization of the Mendicant Orders, whose peculiar fitness for the work which had outgrown the capacity of the episcopal courts might well make their establishment seem a providential interposition to supply the Church of Christ with what it most sorely needed. As the necessity grew apparent of special and permanent tribunals devoted exclusively to the widespread sin of heresy, there was every reason why they should be wholly free from the local jealousies and enmities which might tend to the prejudice of the innocent, or the local favoritism which might connive at the escape of the guilty. If, in addition to this freedom from local partialities, the examiners and judges were men specially trained to the detection and conversion of the heretic; if, also, they had by irrevocable vows renounced the world; if they could acquire no wealth and were dead to the enticements of pleasure, every guarantee seemed to be afforded that their momentous duties would be fulfilled with the strictest justice--that while the purity of the faith would be protected, there would be no unnecessary oppression or cruelty or persecution dictated by private interests and personal revenge. Their unlimited popularity was also a warrant that they would receive far more efficient assistance in their arduous labors than could be expected by the bishops, whose position was generally that of antagonism to their flocks and to the petty seigneurs and powerful barons whose aid was indispensable.
That the Mendicant Orders, to which this duty thus naturally fell, were peculiarly devoted to the papacy, and that they made the Inquisition a powerful instrument to extend the influence of Rome and destroy what little independence was left to the local churches, became subsequently doubtless an additional reason for their employment, but could scarce have been a motive in the early tentative efforts. Thus to the public of the thirteenth century the organization of the Inquisition and its commitment to the children of St. Dominic and St. Francis appeared a perfectly natural or rather inevitable development arising from the admitted necessities of the time and the instrumentalities at hand.
The other factor which promised success to the Church, in an organized effort to discharge the duty of persecution, was the secular legislation against heresy which at this period took form and shape. We have seen the spasmodic edicts of England and Aragon in the twelfth century, which have interest only as showing the absence of anterior penal laws. Frederic Barbarossa took no effective steps to give validity to the regulations which Lucius III. issued from Verona in 1184, though they purported to be drawn up with the emperor's sanction. The body of customary law which de Montfort adopted at Pamiers in 1212 of course disappeared with his short-lived domination.
There had been, it is true, some fragmentary attempts at legislation, as when the Emperor Henry VI., in 1194, prescribed confiscation of property, severe personal punishment, and destruction of houses for heretics, and heavy fines for persons or communities omitting to arrest them; and this was virtually repeated in 1210 by Otho IV., showing how soon it had been forgotten. How little uniformity, indeed, there was in the treatment of heresy is proved by such stray edicts of the period as chance to have reached us. Thus in 1217 NuÃ±ez Sancho of Rosellon decreed outlawry for heretics, and in 1228 Jayme I. of Aragon followed his example, showing that this could not have previously been customary. On the other hand, the statutes of Pignerol in 1220 only inflict a fine of ten sols for knowingly giving shelter to Vaudois. Louis VIII. of France, just before his death, issued an ordonnance punishing this same crime with confiscation and deprivation of all legal rights, while the royal officials were ordered to inflict proper and immediate punishment on all who were convicted of heresy by the ecclesiastical judges.
The statutes in force in Florence in 1227 required the bishop to act in conjunction with the podestÃ in all prosecutions for heresy, which was a serious limitation on the episcopal courts. In 1228 we hear of new laws adopted in Milan, at the instance of the papal legate, Goffredo, by which all heretics were banished from the territory of the republic, their houses torn down, the contents confiscated, their persons outlawed, with graduated fines for harboring them. A mixed secular and ecclesiastical inquisition was established for the discovery of heretics, and the archbishop and podestÃ were to co-operate in their examination and sentence; while the latter was bound to put to death within ten days all convicts. In Germany, as late as 1231, it required the decision of King Henry VII. to determine the disposition of property confiscated on heretics, and allodial lands were allowed to descend to the heirs, in contradiction, as we shall see, to all subsequent ruling.
To put in action any comprehensive system of persecution, it evidently was requisite to overcome the centrifugal tendency of mediÃ¦val legislation, which finds its ultimate expression in free Navarre, where every town of importance had its special fuero, and almost every house its individual custom. Innocent III. endeavored, at the Lateran Council of 1215, to secure uniformity by a series of severe regulations defining the attitude of the Church to heretics, and the duties which the secular power owed to exterminate them under pain of forfeiture, and this became a recognized part of canon law; but in the absence of active secular co-operation its provisions for a while remained practically a dead letter.
It was reserved for the arch-enemy of the Church, Frederic II., to break down, throughout the greater part of Europe, the particularism of local statutes, and place the population at the mercy of such emissaries as the popes might send to represent them. It was requisite for him to acquire the favor of Honorius III. to secure his coronation in 1220; and when the inevitable rupture took place, it was still necessary for him to meet the charge of heresy so freely brought against him by manifesting special zeal in the persecution of heretics, though doubtless, if left to himself, philosophic indifference would have led him to tolerate any form of belief that did not threaten disobedience to the ruler.
Legislation Of Frederic II
In a series of edicts dating from 1220 to 1239 he thus enacted a complete and pitiless code of persecution, based upon the Lateran canons. Those who were merely suspected of heresy were required to purge themselves at command of the Church, under penalty of being deprived of civil rights and placed under the imperial ban; while, if they remained in this condition for a year, they were to be condemned as heretics.
Heretics of all sects were outlawed; and when condemned as such by the Church they were to be delivered to the secular arm to be burned. If, through fear of death, they recanted, they were to be thrust in prison for life, there to perform penance. If they relapsed into error, thus showing that their conversion had been fictitious, they were to be put to death. All the property of the heretic was confiscated and his heirs disinherited. His children, to the second generation, were declared ineligible to any positions of emolument or dignity, unless they should win mercy by betraying their father or some other heretic. All "credentes," fautors, defenders, receivers, or advocates of heretics were banished forever, their property confiscated, and their descendants subjected to the same disabilities as those of heretics. Those who defended the errors of heretics were to be treated as heretics unless, on admonition, they mended their ways.
The houses of heretics and their receivers were to be destroyed, never to be rebuilt. Although the evidence of a heretic was not receivable in court, yet an exception was made in favor of the faith, and it was to be held good against another heretic. All rulers and magistrates, present or future, were required to swear to exterminate with their utmost ability all whom the Church might designate as heretics, under pain of forfeiture of office. The lands of any temporal lord who neglected, for a year after summons by the Church, to clear them of heresy, were exposed to the occupancy of any Catholics who, after extirpating the heretics, were to possess them in peace without prejudice to the rights of the suzerain, provided he had offered no opposition. When the papal Inquisition was commenced, Frederic hastened, in 1232, to place the whole machinery of the State at the command of the inquisitors, who were authorized to call upon any official to capture whomsoever they might designate as a heretic, and hold him in prison until the Church should condemn him, when he was to be put to death.
This fiendish legislation was hailed by the Church with acclamation, and was not allowed to remain, like its predecessors, a dead letter. The coronation-edict of 1220 was sent by Honorius to the University of Bologna to be read and taught as a part of practical law. It was consequently embodied in the authoritative compilation of the feudal customs, and its most stringent enactments were incorporated in the Civil Code. The whole series of edicts was subsequently promulgated by successive popes in repeated bulls, commanding all states and cities to inscribe these laws irrevocably in their local statute-books.
It became the duty of the inquisitors to see that this was done, to swear all magistrates and officials to enforce them, and to compel their obedience by the free use of excommunication. In 1222, when the magistrates of Rieti adopted laws conflicting with them, Honorius at once ordered the offenders removed from office; in 1227 the people of Rimini resisted, but were coerced to submission; in 1253, when some of the Lombard cities demurred, Innocent IV. promptly ordered the inquisitors to subdue them; in 1254 Asti peacefully accepted them as part of its local laws; Como followed the example, September 10, 1255; and in the recension of the laws of Florence made as late as 1355, they still appear as an integral part. Finally, they were incorporated in the latest additions to the Corpus Juris as part of the canon law itself, and, technically speaking, they may be regarded as in force to the present day.
This virtually provided for a very large portion of Europe, extending from Sicily to the North Sea. The western regions made haste to follow the pious example. Coincident with the Treaty of Paris, in 1229, was an ordonnance issued in the name of the boy-king, Louis IX., giving efficient assistance by the royal officials to the Church in its efforts to purge the land of heresy. In the territories which remained to Count Raymond his vacillating course gave rise to much dissatisfaction, until, in 1234, he was compelled to enact, with the consent of his prelates and barons, a statute drawn up by the fanatic Raymond du Fauga of Toulouse, which embodied all the practical points of Frederic's legislation, and decreed confiscation against every one who failed, when called upon, to aid the Church in the capture and detention of heretics. In the compilations and law books of the latter half of the century we see the system thoroughly established as the law of the whole land, and in 1315 Louis Hutin formally adopted the edicts of Frederic and made them valid throughout France.
In Aragon Don Jayme I., in 1226, issued an edict prohibiting all heretics from entering his dominions, probably on account of the fugitives driven out of Languedoc by the crusade of Louis VIII. In 1234, in conjunction with his prelates, he drew up a series of laws instituting an episcopal Inquisition of the severest character, to be supported by the royal officials; in this appears for the first time a secular prohibition of the Bible in the vernacular.
All possessing any books of the Old or New Testament, "in Romancio," are summoned to deliver them within eight days to their bishops to be burned, under pain of being held suspect of heresy. Thus, with the exception of farther Spain and the Northern nations, where heresy had never taken root, throughout Christendom the State was rendered completely subservient to the Church in the great task of exterminating heresy. And, when the Inquisition had been established, the enforcing of this legislation was the peculiar privilege of the inquisitors, whose ceaseless vigilance and unlimited powers gave full assurance that it would be relentlessly carried into effect.
Meanwhile zeal or jealousy led, in the confusion and uncertainty of this transition period, to the experiment, in several parts of Italy, of a secular Inquisition. In Rome, in 1231, Gregory IX. drew up a series of regulations which was issued by the Senator Annibaldo in the name of the Roman people. Under this the senator was bound to capture all who were designated to him as heretics, whether by inquisitors appointed by the Church or other good Catholics, and to punish them within eight days after condemnation. Of their confiscated property one third went to the detector, one third to the senator, and one third to repairing the city walls. Any house in which a heretic was received was to be destroyed, and converted forever into a receptacle of filth. "Credentes" were treated as heretics, while fautors, receivers, etc., forfeited one third of their possessions, applicable to the city walls. A fine of twenty lire was imposed on any one cognizant of heresy and not denouncing it; while the senator who neglected to enforce the law was subject to a mulct of two hundred marks and perpetual disability to office. To appreciate the magnitude of these fines we must consider the rude poverty of the Italy of the period as described by a contemporary--the squalor of daily life.
In 1229 the Council of Toulouse had already prohibited all laymen from possessing any of the Scriptures, even in Latin and the scarcity of the precious metals, as indicated by the absence of gold and silver ornaments in the dress of the period. Not satisfied with the local enforcement of these regulations, Gregory sent them to the archbishops and princes throughout Europe, with orders to put them in execution in their respective territories, and for some time they formed the basis of inquisitorial proceedings. In Rome the perquisition was successful, and the faithful were rewarded with the spectacle of a considerable number of burnings; while Gregory, encouraged by success, proceeded to issue a decretal, forming the basis of all subsequent inquisitorial legislation, by which condemned heretics were to be abandoned to the secular arm for exemplary punishment, those who returned to the Church were to be perpetually imprisoned, and every one cognizant of heresy was bound to denounce it to the ecclesiastical authorities under pain of excommunication.
At the same time Frederic II., who desired to give Rome as little foothold as possible in his Neapolitan dominions, placed the business of persecution there in the hands of the royal officials. In his Sicilian Constitutions, issued in 1231, he ordered his representatives to make diligent inquisition into the heretics who walk in darkness. All, however slightly suspected, are to be arrested and subjected to examination by ecclesiastics, and those who deviate ever so little from the faith, if obstinate, are to be gratified with the fiery martyrdom to which they aspire, while any one daring to intercede for them shall feel the full weight of the imperial displeasure. As the legislation of a freethinker, this shows the irresistible weight of public opinion, to which Frederic dared not run counter. Nor did he allow this to remain a dead letter. A number of executions under it took place forthwith, and two years later we find him writing to Gregory deploring that this had not been sufficient, for heresy was reviving, and that he therefore had ordered the justiciary of each district, in conjunction with some prelate, to renew the inquisition with all activity; the bishops were required to traverse their dioceses thoroughly, in company, when necessary, of judges delegated for the purpose; in each province the General Court held two assizes a year, when heresy was punished like any other crime. Yet, so far from praising this systematized persecution, Gregory replied that Frederic was using pretended zeal to punish his personal enemies, and was burning good Catholics rather than heretics.
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In this confused and irregular striving to accomplish the extirpation of heresy, it was inevitable that the Holy See should intervene, and through the exercise of its supreme apostolic authority seek to provide some general system for the efficient performance of the indispensable duty. The only wonder, indeed, is that this should have been postponed so long and have been at last commenced so tentatively and apologetically.
In 1226 an effort was made to check the rapid spread of Catharism in Florence by the arrest of the heretic bishop Filippo Paternon, whose diocese extended from Pisa to Arezzo. He was tried, in accordance with the existing Florentine statutes, by the bishop and podestÃ conjointly, when he cut short the proceedings by abjuration, and was released; but he speedily relapsed, and became more odious than ever to the orthodox. In 1227 a converted heretic complained of this backsliding to Gregory IX., and the pontiff, who had just ascended the papal throne, made haste to remedy the evil by issuing a commission, which may be regarded as the foundation of the papal Inquisition. Yet it was exceedingly unobtrusive, though the church of Florence was so directly under papal control. Bearing date June 20, 1227, it simply authorizes Giovanni di Salerno, prior of the Dominican house of Santa Maria Novella, with one of his frati and Canon Bernardo, to proceed judicially against Paternon and his followers and force them to abjuration; acting, in case of obstinacy, under the canons of the Lateran Council, and, if necessary, calling upon the clerks and laymen of the sees of Florence and Fiesole for aid. Thus, while there was no scruple in invading the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Florence, there was no legislation other than the Lateran canons to guide the proceedings.
What the commissioners accomplished with regard to the inferior heretics is not known. They succeeded in capturing Bishop Paternon and cast him in prison, but he was forcibly rescued by his friends and disappeared, leaving his episcopate to his successor, Torsello.
FrÃ Giovanni retained his commission until his death in 1230, when a successor was appointed in the person of another Dominican, Aldobrandino Cavalcanti. Still, their jurisdiction was as yet wholly undetermined, for in June, 1229, we hear of the Abbot of San Miniato carrying to Gregory IX., in Perugia, two leading heretics, Andrea and Pietro, who were forced to a public abjuration in presence of the papal court; and in several cases in 1234 we find Gregory IX. intervening, taking bail of the accused and sending special instructions to the inquisitor in charge. Yet the Inquisition was gradually taking shape, for shortly afterwards there were numerous heretics discovered, some of whom were burned, their trials being still preserved in the archives of Santa Maria Novella. Yet how little thought there could have been of founding a permanent institution is shown, in 1233, by the persecuting statutes drawn up by Bishop Ardingho, approved by Gregory, and ordered by him to be irrevocably inscribed in the statute-book of Florence.
In these the bishop is still the persecuting representative of the Church, and there is no allusion to inquisitors. The podestÃ is bound to arrest any one pointed out to him by the bishop, and to punish him within eight days after the episcopal condemnation, with other provisions borrowed from the edicts of Frederic II. FrÃ Aldobrandino seems to have relied rather on preaching than on persecution; in fact he nowhere in the documents signed by him qualifies himself as inquisitor, and neither his efforts nor those of Bishop Ardingho were able to prevent the rapid growth of heresy.
In 1235, when the project of an organized Inquisition throughout Europe was taking shape, Gregory appointed the Dominican Provincial of Rome inquisitor throughout his extensive province, which embraced both Sicily and Tuscany; but this seems to have proved too large a district, and about 1240 we find the city of Florence under the charge of FrÃ Ruggieri Calcagni. He was of a temper well fitted to extend the prerogatives of his office and to render it effective; but it was not until 1243 that he qualified himself as "Inquisitor Domini PapÅ“ in Tuscia," and in a sentence rendered in 1245 he is careful to call himself inquisitor of Bishop Ardingho as well as of the pope, and recites the episcopal commission given him as authority to act.
In the proceedings of this period the rudimentary character of the Inquisition is evident. One confession in 1244 bears only the names of two frati, the inquisitor not being even present. In 1245 there are sentences signed by Ruggieri alone, while other proceedings show him to be acting conjointly with Ardingho. He may be said, indeed, to have given the Inquisition in Florence form and shape when, about 1243, he opened for the first time his independent tribunal in Santa Maria Novella, taking as assessors two or three prominent friars of the convent and employing public notaries to make record of his proceedings.
This is a fair illustration of the gradual development of the Inquisition. It was not an institution definitely projected and founded, but was moulded step by step out of the materials which lay nearest to hand fitted for the object to be attained. In fact, when Gregory, recognizing the futility of further dependence on episcopal zeal, sought to take advantage of the favorable secular legislation against heresy, the preaching friars were the readiest instruments within reach for the accomplishment of his object. We shall see hereafter how, as in Florence, the experiment was tried in Aragon and Languedoc and Germany, and the success which on the whole attended it and led to an extended and permanent organization.
The Inquisition has sometimes been said to have been founded April 20, 1233, the day on which Gregory issued two bulls making the persecution of heresy the special function of the Dominicans; but the apologetic tone in which he addresses the prelates shows how uncertain he felt as to their enduring this invasion of their jurisdiction, while the character of his instructions proves that he had no conception of what the innovation was to lead to. In fact, his immediate object seems rather the punishment of priests and other ecclesiastics, concerning whom there was a standing complaint that they favored heretics by instructing them how to evade examination by concealing their beliefs and feigning orthodoxy.
Commencement Of Organization
After reciting the necessity of subduing heresy and the raising up by God of the preaching friars, who devote themselves in voluntary poverty to spreading the Word and extirpating misbelief, Gregory proceeds to tell the bishops:
"We, seeing you engrossed in the whirlwind of cares and scarce able to breathe in the pressure of overwhelming anxieties, think it well to divide your burdens that they may be more easily borne. We have therefore determined to send preaching friars against the heretics of France and the adjoining provinces, and we beg, warn, and exhort you, ordering you as you reverence the Holy See, to receive them kindly and treat them well, giving them in this, as in all else, favor, counsel, and aid, that they may fulfil their office."
The other bull is addressed "to the Priors and Friars of the Order of Preachers, Inquisitors," and after alluding to the sons of perdition who defend heresy, it proceeds:
"Therefore you, or any of you, wherever you may happen to preach, are empowered, unless they desist from such defence (of heretics) on monition, to deprive clerks of their benefices forever, and to proceed against them and all others, without appeal, calling in the aid of the secular arm, if necessary, and coercing opposition, if requisite, with the censures of the Church, without appeal."
This experiment of investing all the Dominican preachers with legatine authority to condemn without appeal was inconsiderate. It could only lead to exasperation, as we shall see hereafter in Germany, and Gregory soon adopted a more practical expedient. Shortly after the issue of the above bulls we find him ordering the Provincial Prior of Toulouse to select some learned friars who should be commissioned to preach the cross in the diocese, and to proceed against heretics in accordance with the recent statutes. Though here there is still some incongruous mingling of duties, yet Gregory had finally hit upon the device which remained the permanent basis of the Inquisition--the selection by the provincial of certain fitting brethren, who exercised within their province the delegated authority of the Holy See in searching out and examining heretics with a view to the ascertainment of their guilt.
Under this bull the provincial appointed Friars Pierre Cella and Guillem Arnaud, whose labors will be detailed in a subsequent chapter. Thus the Inquisition, as an organized system, may be considered as fairly commenced, though it is noteworthy that these early inquisitors in their official papers qualify themselves as acting under legatine and not under papal authority. How little idea there was as yet of creating a general and permanent institution is seen when the Archbishop of Sens complained of the intrusion of inquisitors in his province, and Gregory, by a brief of February 4, 1234, apologetically revoked all commissions issued for it, adding a suggestion that the archbishop should call in the assistance of the Dominicans if he thought that their superior skill in confuting heretics was likely to prove useful.
As yet there was no idea of superseding the episcopal functions. About this time we find Gregory writing to the bishops of the province of Narbonne, threatening them if they shall not inflict due chastisement on heretics, and making no allusion to the new expedient; and as late as October 1, 1234, Pierre Amiel, Archbishop of Narbonne, exacted an oath from his people to denounce all heretics to him or to his officials, apparently in ignorance of the existence of special inquisitors. Even where the latter were commissioned, their duties and functions, their powers and responsibilities, were wholly undefined and remained to be determined. As they were regarded simply in the light of assistants to the bishops in the exercise of the immemorial episcopal jurisdiction over heresy, it was naturally to the bishops that were referred the questions which immediately arose.
Relations With The Episcopate
Many points as to the treatment of heretics had been settled, not only by Gregory's Roman statutes of 1231, but by the Council of Toulouse in 1229, and those of BÃ©ziers and Arles in 1234, which were solely occupied with stimulating and organizing the episcopal Inquisition, yet matters of detail constantly suggested themselves in practice, and a new code of some kind was evidently required to render persecution effective.
The suspension of the Inquisition for some years at the request of Count Raymond postponed this, but when the Holy Office resumed its functions in 1241 the necessity became pressing, and the bishops were looked to as the authority from which such a code should emanate. Sentences rendered in 1241 by Guillem Arnaud recite not only that Bishop Raymond of Toulouse acted as assessor, but that the special advice of the Archbishop of Narbonne had been asked. It was evident that general principles for the guidance of the Inquisition must be laid down, and accordingly a great council of the three provinces of Narbonne, Arles, and Aix was assembled at Narbonne in 1243 or 1244, where an elaborate series of canons were framed, which remained the basis of inquisitorial action. These were addressed to "Our cherished and faithful children in Christ the Preaching Friars Inquisitors;" and though the bishops discreetly say,
"We write this to you, not that we wish to bind you down by our counsels, as it would not be fitting to limit the liberty accorded to your discretion by other forms and rules than those of the Holy See, to the prejudice of the business; but we wish to help your devotion as we are commanded to do by the Holy See, since you, who bear our burdens, ought to be, through mutual charity, assisted with help and advice in our own business,"
yet the tone of the whole is that of absolute command, both in the definition of jurisdiction and the instructions as to dealing with heretics. It is highly significant that, in surrendering control over the bodies of their flocks, these good shepherds strictly reserved to themselves the profits to be expected from persecution, for they straitly enjoined upon the new officials, "You are to abstain from these pecuniary penances and exactions, both for the sake of the honor of your Order, and because you will have fully enough other work to attend to." While thus carefully preserving their financial interests, they abandoned what was vastly more important, the right of passing judgment and imposing sentence. Sentences of this period are rendered in the name of the inquisitors, though if the bishop or other notable person took part, as was frequently the case, he is mentioned as an assessor.
The transfer of the old episcopal jurisdiction over heresy to the Inquisition naturally rendered the connection between bishop and inquisitor a matter of exceeding delicacy, and the new institution could not establish itself without considerable friction, revealed in the varying and contradictory policy adopted at successive periods in adjusting their mutual relations. This renders itself especially noticeable in the development of the Inquisition in the different lands of Europe. In Italy the independence of the episcopate had long since been broken down, and it could offer no efficient opposition to the encroachment on its jurisdiction. In Germany, on the other hand, the lordly prince-bishops looked with jealous eyes on the intruder, and, as we shall see hereafter, never allowed it to obtain a permanent foothold.
In France, and more especially in Languedoc, although the prelates were far more independent than those of Italy, the prevalence of heresy required for its suppression a vigilance and an activity far beyond their ability, and they found themselves obliged to sacrifice a portion of their prerogatives in order to escape the more painful sacrifice of performing their long-neglected duties. Yet they did not submit to this without a struggle which may be dimly traced in the successive efforts to establish a modus vivendi between the respective tribunals.
We have just seen that at an early period the inquisitors assumed to render sentences in their own names, without reference to the bishops. This invasion of the latter's jurisdiction was evidently too great an innovation to be permanent; indeed, almost immediately we find the Cardinal Legate of Albano instructing the Archbishop of Narbonne to order the inquisitors not to condemn heretics or impose penances without the concurrence of the bishops. This order had to be repeated and rendered more absolute; and the question was settled in this sense by the Council of BÃ©ziers in 1246, where the bishops, on the other hand, surrendered the fines to be used for the expenses of the Inquisition, and drew up another elaborate series of instructions for the inquisitors, "willingly yielding to your devout requests which you have humbly made to us." For a while the popes continued to treat the bishops as responsible for the suppression of heresy in their respective dioceses, and consequently as the real source of jurisdiction.
In 1245 Innocent IV., in permitting inquisitors to modify or commute previous sentences, specified that this must be done with the advice of the bishop. In 1246 he orders the Bishop of Agen to make diligent inquisition against heresy under the rules prescribed by the Cardinal Legate of Albano, and with the same power as the inquisitor to grant indulgences. In 1247 he treats the bishops as the real judges of heresy in instructing them to labor sedulously for the conversion of the convict, before passing sentence involving death, perpetual imprisonment, or pilgrimages beyond seas; even with obstinate heretics they are to consult diligently with the inquisitor or other discreet persons whether to pass sentence or to postpone it, as may best subserve the salvation of the sinner and the interest of the faith. Still, in spite of all this, the sentences of Bernard de Caux, from 1246 to 1248, bear no trace of episcopal concurrence.
There evidently was jealousy and antagonism. In 1248 the Council of Valence was obliged to coerce the bishops into publishing and observing the sentences of the inquisitors, by interdicting the entry into their own churches to those who refused to do so, showing that the bishops were not consulted as to the sentences and were indisposed to enforce them. In 1249 we find the Archbishop of Narbonne complaining to the pope that the inquisitor Pierre Durant and his colleagues had, without his knowledge, absolved the Chevalier Pierre de Cugunham, who had been convicted of heresy, whereupon Innocent forthwith annulled their proceedings. In fact the pardoning power seems to have been considered as specially vested in the Holy See, and about this period we find several instances in which it is conferred by Innocent on bishops, sometimes with and sometimes without injunctions to confer with the inquisitors. Finally this question of practice was settled by adopting the habit of reserving in every sentence the right to modify, increase, diminish, or abrogate it.
Inasmuch as the inquisitors in 1246 still expected the bishops to defray their expenses, they recognized themselves, at least in theory, as merely an adjunct to the episcopal tribunals. The bishops, moreover, were expected to build the prisons for the confinement of converts, and though they eluded this and the king was obliged to do it, the Council of Albi, held in 1254 by the papal legate, Zoen of Avignon, assumes that the prisons are under episcopal control. The same council drew up an elaborate series of instructions for the treatment of heretics, which marks the termination of episcopal control of such matters, for all subsequent regulations were issued by the Holy See. Even so experienced a persecutor as Bernard de Caux, notwithstanding his neglect of episcopal jurisdiction in his sentences, admitted in 1248 his subordination to the episcopate by applying for advice to Guillem of Narbonne, and the archbishop replied, not only with directions as to special cases, but with general instructions. Indeed, in 1250 and 1251 the archbishop was actively employed in making an inquisition of his own and in punishing heretics without the intervention of papal inquisitors; and a brief of Innocent IV. in 1251 alludes to a previous intention, subsequently abandoned, of restoring the whole business to the bishops.
In spite of these indications of reaction the intruders continued to win their way, with struggles, bitter enough, no doubt, in many places, and intensified by the hostility between the secular clergy and the Mendicants, but only to be conjectured from the scattered indications visible in the fragmentary remains of the period. There is an effort to retain vanishing authority in the offer made in 1252 by the bishops of Toulouse, Albi, Agen, and Carpentras to give full authority as inquisitors to any Dominicans who might be selected by the commissioners of Alphonse of Poitiers, only stipulating that their assent must be asked to all sentences, and promising to observe in all cases the rules established by the Inquisition.
This question of episcopal concurrence in condemnations evidently excited strong feeling and was long contested with varying success. If previous orders requiring it had not been treated with contempt, Innocent IV. would not have been obliged, in 1254, to reiterate the instructions that no condemnations to death or life-imprisonment should be uttered without consulting the bishops; and in 1255 he conjoined bishop and inquisitor to interpret in consultation any obscurities in the laws against heresy and to administer the lighter penalties of deprivation of office and preferment.
This recognition of episcopal jurisdiction was annulled by Alexander IV., who, after some vacillation, in 1257 rendered the Inquisition independent by releasing it from the necessity of consulting with the bishops even in cases of obstinate and confessed heretics, and this he repeated in 1260. Then there was a reaction.
In 1262 Urban IV., in an elaborate code of instructions, formally revived the consultation in all cases involving the death-penalty or perpetual imprisonment; and this was repeated by Clement IV. in 1265. Either these instructions, however, were revoked in some subsequent enactment or they soon fell into desuetude, for in 1273 Gregory X., after alluding to the action of Alexander IV. in annulling consultation, proceeds to direct that inquisitors in deciding upon sentences shall proceed in accordance with the counsel of the bishops or their delegates, so that the episcopal authority may share in decisions of such moment.
Up to this period the Inquisition seems to have been regarded as merely a temporary expedient to meet a special exigency, and every pope on his accession had issued a series of bulls renewing its provisions. Heresy, however, was apparently ineradicable; the populations had accepted the new institution, and its usefulness had been proved in many ways besides that of preserving the purity of the faith. Henceforth it was considered a permanent part of the machinery of the Church, and its rules were definitely settled. Gregory's decision in favor of concurrent episcopal and inquisitorial action in all cases of condemnation consequently remained unaltered, and we shall see hereafter that when Clement V. endeavored to check the more scandalous abuses of inquisitorial power, he sought the remedy, insufficient enough, in some slight increase of episcopal supervision and responsibility, following in this an effort in the same direction which had been essayed by Philippe le Bel.
Yet when bishop and inquisitor chanced to be on good terms, the slender safeguard thus afforded for the accused was eluded by one of them giving to the other power to act for him, and cases are on record in which the bishop acts as the inquisitor's deputy, or the inquisitor as the bishop's. The question as to whether either of them could render without the other a valid sentence of absolution was one which greatly vexed the canonists, and names of high repute are ranged on either side, with the weight of authority inclining to the affirmative.
The control of the bishops was vastly increased, at least in Italy, over the vital question of expenditures, when Nicholas IV., in 1288, ordered that all moneys arising from fines and confiscations should be deposited with men selected jointly by the inquisitor and bishop, to be expended only with the advice of the latter, to whom accounts were to be rendered regularly. This was a serious limitation of inquisitorial independence, and it was not of long duration. The bishops soon made use of their supervisory power to demand a share of the spoils under pretext of conducting inquisitions of their own. The quarrel was an unseemly one, and Benedict XI., in 1304, put an end to it by annulling the regulations of his predecessor. The bishops were prohibited from requiring accounts, and these were ordered to be rendered to the papal camera or to special papal deputies.
The Bull "Ad Extirpanda"
If there was this not unnatural vacillation in regulating the delicate relations of these competing jurisdictions, there was none whatever in regard to those between the Inquisition and society at large. Even in its early years of tentative existence and uncertain organization it developed such abundant promise of usefulness in bringing the secular laws to bear upon heresy that means were sought to give it a fixed organization which should render it still more efficient in its functions both of detection and punishment. The death of Frederic II., in 1250, in removing the principal antagonist of the papacy, offered the opportunity of giving practical enforcement to his edicts, and accordingly, May 15, 1252, Innocent IV. issued to all the potentates and rulers of Italy his famous bull, Ad extirpanda, a carefully considered and elaborate law which should establish machinery for systematic persecution as an integral part of the social edifice in every city and every state, though the uncertain way in which bishop, inquisitor, and friar are alternately referred to in it shows how indefinite were still their respective relations and duties in the matter.
All rulers were ordered in public assembly to put heretics to the ban, as though they were sorcerers. Any one finding a heretic could seize him, and take possession of his goods. Each chief magistrate, within three days after assuming office, was to appoint, on the nomination of his bishop and of two friars of each of the Mendicant Orders, twelve good Catholics with two notaries and two or more servitors whose sole business was to arrest heretics, seize their goods, and deliver them to the bishop or his vicars. Their wages and expenses were to be defrayed by the State, their evidence was receivable without oaths, and no testimony was good against the concurrent statement of any three of them.
They held office for six months, to be reappointed or replaced then, or at any time, on demand of the bishop and friars; they were entitled to one third of the proceeds of all fines and confiscations inflicted on heretics; they were exempt from all public duties and services incompatible with their functions, and no statutes were to be passed interfering with their actions. The ruler was bound when required to send his assessor or a knight to aid them, and every inhabitant when called upon was obliged to assist them, under a heavy penalty. When the inquisitors visited any portion of the jurisdiction they were accompanied by a deputy of the ruler elected by themselves or by the bishop. In each place visited, this official was to summon under oath three men of good repute, or even the whole vicinage, to reveal any heretics within their knowledge, or the property of such, or of any persons holding secret conventicles or differing in life or manners from the ordinary faithful.
The State was bound to arrest all accused, to hold them in prison, to deliver them to the bishop or inquisitor under safe escort, and to execute within fifteen days, in accordance with Frederic's decrees, all judgments pronounced against them. The ruler was further required, when called upon, to inflict torture on those who would not confess and betray all the heretics of their acquaintance. If resistance was made to an arrest, the community where it occurred was liable to an enormous fine unless it delivered up to justice within three days all who were implicated. The ruler was required to have four lists made out of all who were defamed or banned for heresy; this was to be read in public thrice a year and a copy given to the bishop, one to the Dominicans and one to the Franciscans; he was likewise to execute the destruction of houses within ten days of sentence, and the exaction of fines within three months, throwing in prison those who could not pay and keeping them until they should pay. The proceeds of fines, commutations, and confiscations were divisible into three parts, one enuring to the city, one to those concerned in the business, and the remainder to the bishop and inquisitors to be expended in persecuting heresy.
The enforcement of this stupendous measure was provided for with equally careful elaboration. It was to be inscribed ineffaceably in all the local statute-books, together with all subsequent laws which the popes might issue, under penalty of excommunication for recalcitrant officials, and interdict upon the city. Any attempt to alter these laws consigned the offender to perpetual infamy and fine, enforced by the ban.
The rulers and their officials were to swear to their observance under pain of loss of office; and any neglect in their enforcement was punishable as perjury with perpetual infamy, a fine of two hundred marks, and suspicion of heresy involving loss of office and disability for all official position in future. Every ruler, within ten days after assuming office, was required to appoint, on the nomination of the bishop or the Mendicants, three good Catholics, who under oath were to investigate the acts of his predecessor and prosecute him for any failure of obedience.
Moreover each podestÃ at the beginning and end of his term was required to have the bull read in all places that might be designated by the bishop and inquisitors, and to erase from the statute-books all laws in conflict with them. At the same time Innocent issued instructions to the inquisitors to enforce by excommunication the embodiment of this and of the edicts of Frederic in the statutes of all cities and states, and he soon after conferred on them the dangerous power of interpreting, in conjunction with the bishops, all doubtful points in local laws on the subject of heresy.
These provisions are not the wild imaginings of a nightmare, but sober matter-of-fact legislation shrewdly and carefully devised to accomplish a settled policy, and it affords us a valuable insight into the public opinion of the day to find that there was no effective resistance to its acceptance. Before the death of Innocent IV., in 1254, he made one or two slight modifications suggested by experience in its working. In 1255, 1256, and 1257 Alexander IV. revised the bull, explaining some doubts which had arisen, and providing for the enforcement in all cases of the appointment of examiners of rulers going out of office, and in 1259 he reissued the bull as a whole. In 1265 Clement IV. again went over it carefully, making some changes, principally in adding the words "inquisitors" in passages where Innocent had only designated the bishops and friars, thus showing that the Inquisition had during the interval established itself as the recognized instrumentality in the persecution of heresy; and the next year he repeated Innocent's emphatic order to the inquisitors to enforce the insertion of his legislation and that of his predecessors upon the statute-books everywhere, with the free use of excommunication and interdict.
This shows that it had not been universally accepted with alacrity, but the few instances which we find recorded of refusal show how generally it was submitted to. Thus in 1256 Alexander IV. learned that the authorities of Genoa were recalcitrant, and he promptly ordered the censure and interdict if they did not comply within fifteen days; and in 1258 a similar course was observed with those of Mantua; while the retention of the bull in the statutes of Florence as late as the recension of 1355, even in the midst of incongruous legislation, shows how literally the papal mandates had been obeyed for a century.
In Italy this furnished the Inquisition with a completely organized personnel paid and sustained by the State, rendering it a substantive institution armed with all the means and appliances necessary for the thorough performance of its work. Whether the popes ever endeavored to render the bulls operative elsewhere does not appear, but if they did so they failed, for the measure was not recognized as in force beyond the Alps. Yet this was scarce necessary so long as public law and the conservative spirit of the ruling class everywhere rendered it the highest duty of the citizen of every degree to aid in every way the business of the inquisitor, and pious monarchs hastened to enforce the obligation of their subjects.
By the terms of the Treaty of Paris all public officials were obliged to aid in the inquisition and capture of heretics, and all inhabitants, males over fourteen years of age and females over twelve, were to be sworn to reveal all offenders to the bishops. The Council of Narbonne in 1229 put these provisions in force; that of Albi in 1254 included inquisitors among those to whom the heretic was to be denounced, and it freely threatened with the censures of the Church all temporal seigneurs who neglected the duty of aiding the Inquisition and of executing its sentences of death or confiscation. The aid demanded was freely given, and every inquisitor was armed with royal letters empowering him to call upon all officials for safe-conduct, escort, and assistance in the discharge of his functions. In a memorial dated about 1317 Bernard Gui says that the inquisitors make under these letters full use of the baillis, sergeants, and other officials, both of the king and of the seigneurs, without which they would accomplish little.
This was not confined to France, for Eymerich, writing in Aragon, informs us that the first act of the inquisitor on receiving his commission was to exhibit it to the king or ruler, and ask and exhort him for these letters, explaining to him that he is bound by the canons to give them if he desires to avoid the numerous penalties decreed in the bulls Ad abolendam and Ut inquisionis. His next step is to exhibit these letters to the officials and swear them to obey him in his official duties to the utmost of their power. Thus the whole force of the State was unreservedly at command of the Holy Office. Not only this, indeed, but every individual was bound to lend his aid when called upon, and any slackness of zeal exposed him to excommunication as a fautor of heresy, leading after twelve months, if neglected, to conviction as a heretic, with all its tremendous penalties.
The right to abrogate any laws which impeded the freest exercise of the powers of the Inquisition was likewise arrogated on both sides of the Alps. When, in 1257, Alexander IV. heard with indignant emotion that Mantua had adopted certain damnable statutes interfering with the absolutism of the Inquisition, he straightway ordered the Bishop of Mantua to investigate the matter, and to annul anything which should impede or delay its operations, enforcing his action by excommunicating the authorities and laying an interdict on the city. This was simply in furtherance of the bull Ad extirpanda, but in 1265 Urban IV. repeated the order and made it universally applicable, and it was carried into the canon law as the expression of the undoubted rights of the Church. This rendered the Inquisition virtually supreme in all lands, and it became an accepted maxim of law that all statutes interfering with the free action of the Inquisition were void, and those who enacted them were to be punished; where such laws existed the inquisitor
It was sometimes a work of some labor and time for the inquisitor to obtain his royal letters-patent. When, in 1269, the Franciscans Bertrand de Roche and Ponce des Rives were appointed inquisitors of Forcalquier, they were obliged to travel to Palermo, where Charles of Anjou happened to be residing, and whence he gave them letters, August 4, 1269, to his seneschal and other officials was instructed to have them submitted to him, and if he found them objectionable the authorities were obliged to repeal or modify them. It was not the fault of the Church if a bold monarch like Philippe le Bel occasionally ventured to incur divine vengeance by protecting his subjects.
Beyond the Alps there was no legal responsibility admitted, as in Italy, to defray the expenses of the Inquisition by the State. This is a subject which will be treated more fully hereafter, and meanwhile I may briefly state that royal generosity was amply sufficient to keep the organization in effective condition. Its necessary expenses were exceedingly small. The Dominican convents furnished buildings in which to hold its tribunals. The public officials were bound under royal order and the tremendous penalties involved in suspicion of heresy to render service whenever called upon. If the bishops had neglected the duty of establishing and maintaining prisons, the royal zeal had stepped in, had built them and had kept them up. In 1317 we learn that during the past eight years the king had spent the large sum of six hundred and thirty livres tournois on that of Toulouse alone, and he also regularly paid the jailers. Besides this, the inquisitors, whenever they needed aid and counsel, were empowered to summon experts to attend them and to enforce obedience to the summons. There was no exception of dignity or station. All the learning and wisdom of the land were made subservient to the supreme duty of suppressing heresy and were placed gratuitously at the service of the Inquisition; and any prelate who hesitated to render assistance of any kind when called upon was threatened in no gentle terms with the full force of the papal vengeance. p>
That the powers thus conferred on the inquisitors were real and not merely theoretical we see in 1260 in the case of Capello di Chia, a powerful noble of the Roman province, who incurred the suspicion of heresy, was condemned, proscribed, and his lands confiscated. He refused to submit, when FrÃ Andrea, the inquisitor, called for assistance on the citizens of the neighboring town of Viterbo, and they obeyed him by raising an army with which he marched to besiege Capello in his castle of Colle-Casale. Capello had craftily conveyed his lands to a Roman noble named Pietro Giacomo Surdi, and the pious enterprise of the Viterbians was arrested by a command from the senator of Rome forbidding violence to the property of a good Catholic Roman citizen.
Then Alexander IV. intervened, ordering Surdi to withdraw from the quarrel, as his claim to the castle was null and void. He likewise commanded the senator to abandon his indefensible position, and warmly thanked the Viterbians for the zeal and alacrity with which they had obeyed the summons of FrÃ Andrea. FrÃ Andrea, in fact, had only exercised the power which Zanghino declares to be inherent in the office of inquisitor, of levying open war against heretics and heresy.
Irresponsibility Of The Inquisitors
In the exercise of this almost limitless authority, inquisitors were practically relieved from all supervision and responsibility. Even a papal legate was not to interfere with them or inquire into heresy within their inquisitorial districts. They were not liable to excommunication while in discharge of their duties, nor could they be suspended by any delegate of the Holy See. If such a thing were attempted, the excommunication or suspension was pronounced void, unless, indeed, it was issued by special command of the pope. Already, in 1245, they were empowered to absolve their familiars for any excesses, and in 1261 they were authorized to absolve each other from excommunication for any cause; which, as each inquisitor usually had a subordinate associate ready to perform this office for him, rendered them virtually invulnerable.
Moreover, they were released from all obedience to their provincials and generals, whom they were even forbidden to obey in anything relating to the business of their office, and they were secured from any attempt to undermine them with the curia by the enormous privilege of being able to go to Rome at any time and to stay there as long as they might see fit, even in spite of prohibition by provincial or general chapters. At first their commissions were thought to expire with the death of the pope who issued them, but in 1267 they were declared to be continuously valid.
The question of the removability of inquisitors was one which bore directly upon their subordination or independence, and was the subject of much conflicting legislation. When the power of appointment was first conferred upon the provincials it carried with it authority to remove and replace them after consultation with discreet brethren; and in 1244 Innocent IV. declared that the provincials and generals of the Mendicant Orders had full power to remove, revoke, supersede, and transfer all members of their orders serving as inquisitors, even when commissioned by the pope. Some ten years later the vacillating policy of Alexander IV. indicates an earnest effort on the part of the inquisitors to obtain independence. In 1256 he asserted the removing power of the provincials; July 5, 1257, he withdrew their power, and December 9, of the same year, he reaffirmed it in his bull Quod super nonnullis, which was repeatedly reissued by himself and his successors. Later popes issued conflicting orders, until at length Boniface VIII. decided in favor of the removing power; but the inquisitors claimed that it could only be exercised for cause and after due trial, which practically reduced it to a nullity. It is true that in the reformatory effort of Clement V. ipso facto excommunication, removable only by the pope, was provided for three crimes of inquisitors--falsely prosecuting or neglecting to prosecute for favor, enmity, or profit, for extorting money, and for confiscating church property for the offence of a clerk--but these provisions, although they called forth the earnest protest of Bernard Gui, only amounted to a declaration of what was desirable, and were of no practical effect.
It is curious that the question whether the commission of an inquisitor did not expire with the death of the appointing pope was still considered in doubt as late as 1290, when it was settled in favor of permanence by Nicholas IV. in the bull Ne aliqui (Potthast No. 23302). In the earlier period Alexander IV. shortly after his accession, in 1255, considered it necessary to renew the commission of even so distinguished an inquisitor as Rainerio Saccone (Ripoll I. 275).]
Removability Of Inquistors
The Franciscans endeavored to reduce their inquisitors to subjection by the expedient of issuing commissions for a limited term. Thus in 1320 the General Michele da Cesena adopted the term of five years, which seems to have long continued the rule, for in 1375 we see Gregory XI. requesting the Franciscan general to keep in office as inquisitor of Rome FrÃ Gabriele da Viterbo on account of his eminent merits. In 1439 a commission as inquisitor of Florence, issued to FrÃ Francesco da Michele, to take effect on the expiration of the term of the incumbent, FrÃ Jacopo della Biada, indicates that appointments were still for specified times, although in 1432 Eugenius IV. had conferred on the Franciscan general, Guglielmo di Casale, full power of appointment and removal.
The Dominicans do not seem to have adopted this expedient, and no precautions of any kind were available to enforce subordination and discipline in view of the constant interference of the Holy See, which doubtless could always be obtained by those who knew how to approach it. Commissions were continually issued directly by the pope, and those who held them seem not to have been removable by any one else. Even when this was not done, it mattered little that the popes admitted the power of the provincials to remove, when they interposed to nullify its exercise. In 1323 John XXII. gave to FrÃ Piero da Perugia, inquisitor of Assisi, letters which protected him from suspension and removal. In 1339 we happen to hear of Giovanni di Borgo removed by the Franciscan general and replaced by Benedict XII.
Even more subversive of discipline was the case of Francisco de Sala, appointed by the provincial of Aragon, removed by his successor, and reinstated by Martin V. in 1419, with a provision of inamovability by any superior of his Order. Yet in 1439 Eugenius IV., and in 1474 Sixtus IV. renewed the provisions of Clement IV. rendering inquisitors removable at will by both generals and provincials; and in 1479, Sixtus IV., to impress them with some sense of responsibility, adopted the expedient of requiring all complaints against them to be brought before the general of the Order to which they belonged, to whom was confided power of punishment up to removal.
The natural result of this conflicting legislation was that the inquisitors held themselves accountable to their superiors only for their actions as friars and not as inquisitors; in the latter capacity they acknowledged responsibility only to the pope, and they asserted that the power of removal could only be exercised in cases of inability to act through sickness, age, or ignorance. Their vicars and commissioners they held to be completely beyond any jurisdiction but their own, and any attempt on the part of a provincial to remove such a subordinate was to be met with a prosecution for suspicion of heresy, as an impeding of the Inquisition, to be followed by excommunication, when, if this was endured for a year, it was to be ended by condemnation for heresy.
Men armed with these tremendous powers, and animated with this resolute spirit, were not lightly to be meddled with. The warmth with which Eymerich argues the subject suggests the character of the struggle continually going on between the provincials and their appointees, and the conclusions to which he arrives indicate the temper in which the latter vindicated their independence. The grave abuses and disorders to which this led obliged John XXIII. to intervene and declare that the inquisitors should in all things be subject and obedient to their superiors. The Great Schism, however, had weakened the papal authority, and this injunction met with scant respect, so that one of the first utterances of Martin V., in 1418, when the Church was reunited at Constance, was to repeat the order, and to prescribe implicit obedience to it. Yet, as in the matter of removals, the insatiable greed of the curia was a fatal obstacle to the enforcement of subordination, for those who were commissioned directly by the pope could not be expected to endure subjection to the officials of their Orders.
From Eymerich's remarks we see that an inquisitor was bound to have little hesitation in prosecuting his superior. His jurisdiction, in fact, was almost unlimited, for the dread suspicion of heresy brought, with few exceptions, all mankind to a common level, and suspicion of heresy was to be technically inferred from anything which affected the dignity or crossed the purposes of those who carried on the Inquisition.
Even the jealously-guarded right of asylum in the churches was waived in its favor, and the immunities of the Mendicant Orders gave them no exemption from its jurisdiction. Kings, themselves, were subject to this jurisdiction, though Eymerich discreetly observes that in their case it is more prudent to inform the pope and await his instructions.
Yet one exception there was. The episcopal office still retained enough of its earlier dignity to render its possessor exempt unless the inquisitor was furnished with special papal letters. It was his duty, however, in case a bishop was suspected of vacillating in the faith, to collect with diligence all the evidence procurable, and to forward it to Rome for examination and decision--a duty in the exercise of which he could render himself abundantly disagreeable, and even dangerous. The choleric John XXII., in 1327, introduced another exemption when provoked by the arrogance of the Sicilian inquisitor, Matthieu de Pontigny, who dared to excommunicate Guillaume de Balet, archdeacon of FrÃ©jus, papal chaplain and representative of the Avignonese papacy in the Campagna and Maritima.
The angry pope issued a decretal forbidding all judges and inquisitors to attack in any way the officials and nuncios of the Holy See without special letters of authority--but the mere audacity of the attempt shows the height of presumption to which the members of the Holy Office had attained. That laymen learned to address them as "your religious majesty" shows the impression made on the popular mind by their irresponsible supremacy.
If bishops were exempt from judgment by the Inquisition they were not released from obedience to the inquisitors. In the ordinary papal commission issued to the latter, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and other prelates are commanded to obey them in all concerning their office, under pain of excommunication, suspension, and interdict. That this was not a mere idle form is manifest by the tone of arrogant domination in which the inquisitors issued their commands to episcopal officials.
Though the papal superscription to the bishop was "venerable brother" and to the inquisitor "cherished son," yet the inquisitors held that they were superior to the bishops, as being direct delegates of the Holy See, and that if any one were cited simultaneously by a bishop and an inquisitor he must first attend to the summons of the latter. The inquisitor was to be obeyed as the pope himself, and this supremacy included the bishop. This formed part of the papal policy, for the inquisitor was a convenient instrument to reduce the episcopate to subjection. Thus in 1296 Boniface VIII., in giving directions to the bishops to suppress certain irregular and unauthorized hermits and mendicants, enclosed copies of the bull to the inquisitors with instructions to stimulate the bishops to their duty and to report to him all who showed themselves negligent.
In spite of the assumed superiority of the inquisitor, however, the Inquisition was very commonly used as a stepping-stone to the episcopate. It is not easy to set bounds to the sources of influence which the office placed within reach of an ambitious man, and this influence was constantly employed to procure promotion into the ranks of the hierarchy. Instances of this are too frequent to be specified, commencing with the earliest inquisitors, FrÃ Aldobrandino Cavalcanti of Florence, who became Bishop of Viterbo, while his successor, FrÃ Ruggieri Calcagni, in 1245, was rewarded with the bishopric of Castro in the Maremma.
I need only refer to the case of Florence, in 1343, where the inquisitor, FrÃ Andrea da Perugia was advanced to the episcopate and was succeeded by FrÃ Pietro di Aquila, who in 1346 was made Bishop of Santangelo dei Lombardi. His successor was FrÃ Michele di Lapo, and in 1350 we find the Signiory writing to the pope with the request that he be placed in the bishopric of Florence, which had become vacant. The office also afforded opportunities of promotion within the Orders which were not neglected. Thus in a list of Dominican provincials of Saxony in the latter half of the fourteenth century, three who occupied that post in succession from 1369 to 1382, Walther Kerlinger, Hermann Helstede, and Heinrich von Albrecht, are all described as having been previously inquisitors.
It is not to be imagined that this gigantic structure which overshadowed Christendom was allowed to establish itself wholly without opposition, despite the favor of popes and kings. When we come to consider the details of its history we shall find numerous cases of popular resistance, desperate and isolated struggles, crushed remorselessly before revolt could so extend as to become dangerous. It required, indeed, courage to foolhardiness for any one to raise hand or voice against an inquisitor, no matter how cruel or nefarious were his actions. Under the canon law, any one, from the meanest to the highest, who opposed or impeded in any way the functions of an inquisitor, or gave aid or counsel to those who did so, became at once ipso facto excommunicate. After the lapse of a year in this condition he was legally a heretic to be handed over without further ceremony to the secular arm for burning, without trial and without forgiveness. The awful authority which thus shrouded the inquisitor was rendered yet more terrible by the elasticity of definition given to the crime of impeding the Holy Office and the tireless tenacity with which those guilty of it were pursued. If friendly death came to shield them, the Inquisition attacked their memories, and visited their offences upon their children and grandchildren.
All unorganized efforts of insubordination were easily repressed. Had the bishops united in resistance, they could readily have prevented the serious encroachment on their jurisdiction and influence, and have saved their flocks from the horrors in store for them. There was no unity of action, however, among the prelates. Some of them were honest fanatics who welcomed the Holy Office and assisted it in every way. Others were indifferent.
Multitudes, engrossed in worldly cares and quarrels, were rather glad to be relieved of duties which were onerous and for which they had neither learning nor leisure. If any foresaw the end from the humble beginning, none dared to raise a voice against what was everywhere regarded by pious souls as supplying the most urgent need of the time. Still, that the episcopate at large looked with disfavor on these new functions and activities of the upstart Mendicants there can be no doubt, although jealousy could only manifest itself through a futile pretence to discharge the neglected duties in which the Mendicants had been summoned to replace them. Accordingly we find a certain bustling show of activity in ordering perquisition against heretics by the old device of the synodal witnesses, in the Council of Tours in 1239, that of BÃ©ziers in 1246, that of Albi in 1254; while that of Lille (Venaissin) in 1251 made a bolder effort to recover lost ground by not only ordering the bishops to make searching inquisition in their dioceses, but by demanding from the Inquisition the surrender of all its records to the Ordinaries; and when this failed the Council of Albi, in 1254, made a fruitless effort to obtain duplicate copies.
The spirit in which the rival tribunals regarded each other is seen in the complaint of an inquisitor, not long after 1250, that heretics were encouraged and rendered audacious by the constant attacks and detraction to which the inquisitors were exposed, as being fools, and negligent and slow, and incapable of bringing any affair to a termination, as punishing the innocent and allowing the guilty to escape. These slanders, he says, proceed from judges, both secular and ecclesiastical, who profess great zeal for the extermination of heresy, but who are really impelled by covetousness for bribes, or who are secretly inclined to heresy, or have friends or relatives who are heretics or suspected of heresy. Evidently there was little love lost between the old organization and the new.
If any thought existed of combined opposition, outside of Germany, it might well be thrown aside as impracticable after the spectacle of the defeat of the University of Paris on its own ground by the Mendicants. The jealousy perpetually fed by the constant encroachments of the inquisitors could only find vent in obscure squabbles wherein the final decision of the Holy See could always be confidently reckoned upon as against the episcopate.
Subjection Of The State
In 1330 we see the inquisitor, Henri de Chamay, complaining to John XXII. that the Bishop of Maguelonne was interfering with the free exercise of his office in Montpellier, on the ground of certain papal privileges granted him, when the pope at once instructs him to proceed without hesitation and to disregard the bishop's pretensions. Such a decision was a foregone conclusion, as the Archbishop of Narbonne and all his suffragans found in 1441, when they united in addressing Eugenius IV., complaining of the exorbitant pretensions of the Inquisition, and asking him to delay action till they should send him full details.
Without waiting to hear their specific charges, he replied that the inquisitor had already accused them of impeding him in his office and with vexing him with proceedings and suits at law. There is no business, he added, of greater importance to the Church than the destruction of heresy, and no way to win his favor more efficacious than by aiding the Inquisition. It had been organized for the purpose of relieving bishops of a portion of their cares, and any interference with it would be visited with his displeasure. In the present case, for the sake of concord, the inquisitor would revoke the grievances complained of, and the pope pronounced all suits against him quashed and extinguished. Evidently in any contest the odds were too great against the episcopate, and the danger of systematic opposition too real, to render any organized antagonism feasible. How completely the papacy regarded the Inquisition as an instrumentality for furthering its schemes of aggrandizement is seen when, on the outbreak of the Great Schism, inquisitors were required to take a formal feudal oath of fidelity to the pope appointing him and to his successors.
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With so little to check and so much to stimulate, the spread of the Inquisition was rapid throughout most of the lands of Christendom. I shall have occasion hereafter to trace its vicissitudes in the principal centres of its activity, and need here only indicate the limits of its extension.
The northern nations were too far removed from the focus of heresy to be exposed to aberrations from the faith at the time when papal supremacy found its most useful instruments in the Mendicant inquisitors. Consequently the papal Inquisition cannot be said to have had an existence in the British Islands, Denmark, or Scandinavia. The edicts of Frederic II. had no currency there; and when, in 1277, Robert Kilwarby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the masters of Oxford denounced certain errors springing from the Averrhoist doctrines; when, in 1286, Archbishop Peckham condemned the heresy of Friar Richard Crapewell, and in 1368 Archbishop Langham denounced as heretical thirty articles of scholastic speculation, even had there been martyrs ready there were no laws under which to punish them, although lawyers had sought to introduce the penalty of the stake, and it had once been inflicted by a council of Oxford, in 1222, on a clerk who had apostatized to Judaism.
We shall see hereafter that in the affair of the Templars the papal Inquisition was found necessary to procure condemnation, but even then it was so opposed to the character of English institutions that it worked defectively and disappeared as soon as the occasion for its temporary introduction passed away. When Wickliff came and was followed by Lollardry, the English conceptions of the relations between Church and State had already become such that there was no thought of applying to Rome for a special tribunal with which to meet the threatened danger. The statute of May 25, 1382, directs the king to issue to his sheriffs commissions to arrest Wickliff's travelling preachers, and aiders and abettors of heresy, and to hold them till they justify themselves "selonc reson et la ley de seinte esglise;" and, in the following July, royal letters ordered the authorities of Oxford to make inquisition for heresy throughout the university.
The weakness of Richard II. allowed the Lollards to become a powerful political as well as religious party, but their chances disappeared with the revolution which placed Henry IV. on the throne. The support of the Church was a necessity to the new dynasty, which lost no time in earning its gratitude. After the burning of royal warrant confirmed by Parliament, in 1400, the statute "de hÃ¦retico comburendo" for the first time inflicted in England the death-penalty as a settled punishment for heresy. It restricted preaching to the beneficed curates and those ex officio privileged, it forbade the dissemination of heretical opinions and books, empowered the bishops to seize all offenders and hold them in prison until they should purge themselves or abjure, and ordered the bishops to proceed against them within three months after arrest. For minor offences the bishops were empowered to imprison during pleasure and fine at discretion--the fine enuring to the royal exchequer.
For obstinate heresy or relapse, involving under the canon law abandonment to the secular arm, the bishops and their commissioners were the sole judges, and, on their delivery of such convicts, the sheriff of the county or the mayor and bailiffs of the nearest town were obliged to burn them before the people on an eminence. Henry V. followed this up, and the statute of 1414 established throughout the kingdom a sort of mixed secular and ecclesiastical inquisition for which the English system of grand inquests gave especial facilities. Under this legislation burning for heresy became a not unfamiliar sight to English eyes, and Lollardry was readily suppressed.
In 1533 Henry VIII. repealed the statute of 1400, while retaining those of 1382 and 1414, and also the penalty of burning alive for contumacious heresy and relapse, and the dangerous admixture of politics and religion rendered the stake a favorite instrument of statecraft. One of the earliest measures of the reign of Edward VI. was the repeal of this law, as well as of those of 1382 and 1414, together with all the atrocious legislation of the Six Articles. With the reaction under Philip and Mary came a revival of the sharp laws against heresy. Scarce had the Spanish marriage been concluded when an obedient Parliament re-*enacted the legislation of 1382, 1400, and 1414, which afforded ample machinery for the numerous burnings which followed.
Persecution In England
The earliest act of the first Parliament of Elizabeth was the repeal of the legislation of Philip and Mary and of the old statutes which it had revived; but the writ de hÃ¦retico comburendo had become an integral part of English law and survived until the desire of Charles II. for Catholic toleration caused him, in 1676, to procure its abrogation and the restraint of the ecclesiastical courts "in cases of atheism, blasphemy, heresy, and schism and other damnable doctrines and opinions" to the ecclesiastical remedies of "excommunication, deprivation, degradation, and other ecclesiastical censures not extending to death." Scotland was more tardy than England in humanitarian development, but the last execution for heresy in the British Islands was that of a youth of eighteen, a medical student named Aikenhead, who was hanged in Edinburgh in 1696.
In Ireland the fiery temper of the Franciscan, Richard Ledred, Bishop of Ossory, led him into a prolonged struggle with presumed heretics--the Lady Alice Kyteler, accused of sorcery, and her accomplices. So little was known in Ireland of the laws concerning heresy that at first the secular officials refused contemptuously to take the oath prescribed by the canons to aid inquisitors in their persecuting duties, but Ledred finally obliged them to do so and had the satisfaction of burning some of the accused in 1325. He incurred, however, the enmity of the chief personages of the island, leading to a counter-charge of heresy against himself. For years he was obliged to live in exile, and it was not till 1354 that he was able to reside quietly in his diocese, though in 1335 we find Benedict XII. writing to Edward III., deploring the absence in England of so useful an institution as the Inquisition, and urging him to order the secular officials to lend efficient aid to the pious Bishop of Ossory in his struggles with the heretics, of whom the most exaggerated description is given.
Even Alexander, Archbishop of Dublin, in 1347, was declared to have been a fautor of heresy because he interfered with Ledred's violent proceedings; and, in 1351, his successor, Archbishop John, was directed to take active measures to punish those who had escaped from Ossory and had taken refuge in his see.
It is true that when the Hussite troubles became alarming there was danger that the disaffection might spread to the North, Martin V., in 1421, authorized the Bishop of Sleswick to appoint a Franciscan, Friar Nicholas John, as inquisitor for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but there is no trace of his activity in those regions, and the Inquisition may be considered as non-existent there.
Extended To The East
As the mediÃ¦val missions for the conversion of schismatics and heathen were exclusively Dominican and Franciscan, the churches which they built up, however slender in membership, were nevertheless completely equipped with apparatus for preserving the orthodoxy of converts, and thus we read of Inquisitions in Africa and Asia. Friar Raymond Martius is honored as the founder of the Inquisition in Tunis and Morocco. About 1370 Gregory XI. appointed the Dominican Friar John Gallus as inquisitor in the East, who in conjunction with Friar Elias Petit planted the institution, as we are told, in Armenia, Russia, Georgia, and Wallachia, while Upper Armenia was similarly provided by Friar Bartolomeo Ponco. On the death of Friar Gallus, Urban VI., about 1378, applied to the Dominican general to select three brethren to serve as inquisitors, one in Armenia and Georgia, one in Greece and Tartary, and one in Russia and the two Wallachias; and in 1389 one of these, Friar Andreas of Caffa, obtained the privilege of appointing an associate in his extensive province of Greece and Tartary.
In the fourteenth century an inquisitor seems to have been regarded as a necessary portion of the missionary outfit. Even in the fabled Ethiopian empire of Prester John we hear of an Inquisition founded in Abyssinia by the Dominican Friar, St. Pantaleone, and another in Nubia by Friar Bartolomeo de Tybuli, who was also honored as a saint in those regions. Grotesque as all this sounds, one cannot help honoring the unselfish zeal of the men who thus devoted themselves to the diffusion of the gospel among barbarous Gentiles, and one can find comfort in the conviction that their Inquisitions were comparatively harmless so long as they were not backed by the terrible laws of a Frederic II. or of a St. Louis.
Even the decaying fragments of the Kingdom of Jerusalem could not be allowed burial without an inquisitor to attend the obsequies. The misfortunes of war, according to Nicholas IV., the first Franciscan pope, gave opportunity for the growth of heresy and Judaism. Therefore, in 1290, he granted full powers to his legate, Nicholas, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to appoint inquisitors, with the advice of the Mendicant provincials. This was accordingly done, but the fatherly care of Nicholas was a trifle tardy.
The capture of Acre, May 19, 1291, drove the Christians finally from the Holy Land, and the career of the Syrian Inquisition was therefore of the briefest. It was revived, however, in 1375, by Gregory XI., who empowered the Franciscan provincial of the Holy Land to act as inquisitor in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, to check the too prevalent apostasy of the Christian pilgrims who continued to flock to those regions.
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It is not to be supposed that the triumph of the Inquisition over the bishops gave to it a monopoly of persecution. The ordinary episcopal jurisdiction remained intact. About 1240 we see the Bishop of Toulouse and his provost conducting, without the aid of an inquisitor, an inquest for heresy upon the powerful seigneurs de Niort. Bishops who were zealous were frequently seen co-operating with inquisitors in the examination of heretics, as well as holding their own inquisitions. Thus, in a number of cases occurring at Albi in 1299, we find the trials held in the episcopal palace before the bishop, assisted sometimes by Nicholas d'Abbeville, inquisitor of Carcassonne, and sometimes by Bertrand de Clermont, inquisitor of Toulouse, and sometimes by both. At first, as we have seen, the inquisitor was only the assistant of the bishop, and the latter was by no means relieved of his duties and responsibilities in the extermination of heresy. In fact the bishops themselves sometimes appointed inquisitors of their own in order to operate more efficiently; and the names of such functionaries acting for the archbishops of Narbonne appear in documents of 1251 and 1325. There was nothing, moreover, to prevent a zealous prelate, who thought less of the dignity of his order than the suppression of heresy, from accepting a commission as inquisitor from the pope, as was the case with Guillem Arnaud, Bishop of Carcassonne, who, during his episcopate, lasting from 1249 to 1255, presided over the tribunal of Carcassonne with an energy that Dominicans might have envied.
Yet, as the Inquisition achieved its independence of the episcopate, two concurrent jurisdictions could hardly coexist without jarring, even when both were animated by the desire of harmony: when jealousy and rivalry were strong, quarrels were inevitable. It was even hinted that bishops, desiring to preserve friends from the zeal of the inquisitors, would prosecute them in their own courts to preserve them from the rigorous impartiality of the Holy Office. To settle the questions which thus were constantly arising, Urban IV., in 1262, empowered the inquisitors to proceed in all cases at their discretion, whether or not these were also under examination by the bishops; and this was repeated in 1265 and 1266 by Clement IV., with strong injunctions to the inquisitors that they were not to allow their processes to be impeded by concurrent action of the bishops.
In 1273 Gregory X. laid down the same rule; and it became the settled practice of the Church, embodied in the canon law, that both courts could simultaneously try the same case, communicating at intervals their proceedings to each other. Mutual conference, moreover, was necessary at the final sentence, and when they could not agree a full statement had to be submitted to the pope for decision. Even when proceeding alone and by his ordinary authority, the bishop was obliged to call in the concurrence of an inquisitor when he rendered sentence.
During this period, at one time, it became a question whether the episcopal jurisdiction over heresy was not completely superseded by the papal commission given to an inquisitor to act in his diocese. Gui Foucoix, the foremost jurist of his day, in his "QuÃ¦stiones," which long remained an authority in the inquisitorial tribunals, answered this question in the affirmative, and argued that the bishop was debarred from action by the special delegation of papal powers to the inquisitor. Yet, when Gui became pope, under the name of Clement IV., his bulls of 1265 and 1266, quoted above, show that he abandoned this position, and Gregory X. also expressly declared that the diocesan jurisdiction was not interfered with. Still the question was regarded as doubtful by canon lawyers, and for a period the episcopal jurisdiction sank almost into abeyance.
There were few more active prelates in his day than Simon, Archbishop of Bourges, who, from 1284 to 1291, made repeated visitations of his southern dioceses, such as Albi, Rodez, Cahors, etc. Yet, in the records of these visitations, there is no allusion to his taking any cognizance of heresy, unless, indeed, his forcing, in 1285, a number of usurers of Gourdon to abjure be assumed as such, though usury was not justiciable by the Inquisition unless it became heresy by the assertion of its legality. About 1298, however, Boniface VIII. reasserted the jurisdiction of the episcopate, and we see Bernard de Castanet, Bishop of Albi, stirring up a revolt among his flock by the energy with which he scourged the heretics of Albi.
Soon afterwards Clement V. enlarged the functions of the episcopate as a means of curbing the atrocities of the Inquisition, and the glossators argued that the appointment of inquisitors in no way relieved the bishop from the duty of investigating and suppressing heresy in his diocese--indeed, he was liable to deposition by the pope for negligence in this respect, though he was shielded by his position from prosecution by the inquisitor. Yet, even after the Clementines, Bernard Gui asserts it to be improper for the episcopal ordinary to cite any one who is already before the Inquisition. Still, if the power of the bishop had been limited by requiring him to consult with the inquisitor before rendering sentence, it had been enlarged in another direction by authorizing him to summon witnesses as well as offenders who had fled to other dioceses. There was one discrimination, however, against the bishop which handicapped him heavily.
His attempts to get a share of the proceeds of fines and confiscations to meet the expenses of prosecution were ineffectual. He was told that he and his officials had revenues for the functions of the Church, and these must suffice to pay him for the service. Ingenious dialecticians reasoned this away as far as regards the bishop when he acted personally, but it held good against his officials. To the latter it was not encouraging to be urged to work and pay their own costs, while the inquisitor, at least in Italy, had control of the confiscations, without accountability to the bishop.
Under the legislation of Boniface VIII. and Clement V. it was natural that the first quarter of the fourteenth century should witness a revival of the episcopal Inquisition. Even in Italy the provincial Council of Milan, held at Bergamo in 1311 under the Archbishop Gastone Torriani, organized a thorough system of inquisition on the model of the papal institution.
The growing power of the Visconti, hostile to the papacy, had greatly crippled the Dominicans, and a vigorous effort was made to replace them. In every town the arch-priest or provost was instructed to raise an armed guard, whose duty was the ceaseless perquisition of heresy, and whose privileges and immunities were the same as those of the familiars of the Dominican inquisitors; and all citizens, from the noble to the peasant, were summoned to lend assistance, when called upon, under significant threats.
In France some proceedings, in 1319 and 1320, at BÃ©ziers, Pamiers, and Montpellier show the episcopal courts in full activity, with the occasional appearance of an inquisitor in a subordinate capacity as assistant, or of an episcopal inquisitor as a colleague of equal rank with those who acted under papal authority. In fact we find one such, in 1322, representing the see of Ausch, contending with the great Bernard Gui himself over a prisoner whom they both claimed. When, also, in 1319, the great opponent of the Inquisition, Friar Bernard DÃ©licieux, was to be tried for impeding it, John XXII. appointed a special commission for the work, consisting of the Archbishop of Toulouse and the Bishops of Pamiers and St. Papoul, while one of the most experienced inquisitors of the time, Jean de Beaune of Carcassonne, acted as prosecutor, and not as judge.
In Germany, about the same time, there was a sudden development of episcopal activity in the prosecutions of the Beghards by the Bishop of Strassburg and the Archbishop of Cologne, leading to a fair trial of strength between the hierarchy and the Dominicans in the case of Master Eckhart, the teacher of Suso and Tauler and the founder of the German mystics. He was looked upon with pride by the whole Order as one of its most prominent members. He had taught theology with applause in the great University of Paris; in 1303, when Germany was divided into two provinces, he had been made the first provincial Prior of Saxony; in 1307 the general had appointed him Vicar of Bohemia. In 1326 we find him, as teacher of theology in the Dominican school of Cologne, falling under suspicion of complicity with the heresy of the Beghards, against whom a sharp persecution was raging. His lofty mysticism trenched dangerously on their pantheism, and possibly they may have sought to shelter themselves behind his great name.
At the general chapter of 1325 complaints had been made that in Germany members of the Order preached to the people in the vulgar tongue doctrines that might lead to error, and Gervaise, Prior of Angers, was ordered to investigate them; while, about the same time, John XXII., in concurrence with the wishes of the Order, appointed Nicholas of Strassburg, lector or teacher of the Cologne Dominicans, as his inquisitor for the province of Germany, to inquire into the faith and life of the brethren.
Thus far everything had been kept within the precincts of the Order, but the archbishop was growing hot in his pursuit of the Beghards. He evidently was dissatisfied with what was on foot, and he appointed two episcopal commissioners or inquisitors to look after Master Eckhart. Nicholas of Strassburg was himself inclined to mysticism; every motive conspired to lead him to deal tenderly with the accused, and Eckhart was accordingly acquitted, in July, 1326. The episcopal inquisitors were not content with this (one of them was a Franciscan), and proceeded to take evidence against Eckhart.
After six months, on January 14, 1327, they summoned Nicholas, as was their right, to communicate to them his proceedings. He came, accompanied by ten friars, not to obey the command, but to enter a solemn protest against the whole business, demanding his "Apostoli," or letters of appeal to the pope, on the ground that Dominicans were not subject to the episcopal Inquisition, and that he in especial was an inquisitor appointed by the pope with full jurisdiction. As early as 1184 Lucius III. had abolished all immunities of monastic orders in cases of heresy, but the Dominicans were of later origin, they had been strengthened with special privileges, and they claimed this exemption although they could not prove it. The episcopal inquisitors promptly answered this by commencing the same day an action against Nicholas himself, who on the morrow interjected an appeal to the Holy See. They further summoned Master Eckhart to appear before them on January 31, but on the 24th he came with numerous supporters and filed an indignant protest, in which he complained bitterly of their protracting the proceedings for the purpose of ruining his reputation, in place of pushing them to an end, as they could readily have done six months before; besides, they were using for the same purpose certain vile Dominicans who were notorious for their crimes. He demanded his "Apostoli," and named May 4 as the term for prosecuting the appeal in the Roman court.
To this the archiepiscopal inquisitors had by law thirty days to reply, and during the interval, on February 13, he took an extra-judicial step, which seems to show how greatly his reputation had suffered by these proceedings, and which has given rise to the assertion that he recanted his errors. After preaching in the Dominican church he caused a paper to be read in which he exculpated himself to the people from the erroneous doctrines attributed to him--denying that he had said that his little finger had created all things, or that there was in the soul something uncreated and uncreatable. At the expiration of the thirty days, on February 22, the archiepiscopal inquisitors rejected Eckhart's appeal as frivolous.
Case Of Master Eckhart
Worn out with the controversy, he died soon after, but his Order had sufficient influence with John XXII. to obtain an evocation of the case to Avignon. There the regularity of the archbishop's action was recognized, and on March 27, 1329, judgment was rendered, defining in Eckhart's teachings seventeen heretical articles and eleven suspect of heresy. Although his assumed recantation saved his bones from exhumation and incremation, the result was none the less a full justification of the archbishop's proceedings. For once the old order had triumphed over the new. The episcopal jurisdiction was confirmed, for Eckhart's heresy was declared to have been proved both by the inquisition held by the archbishop under his ordinary authority, and by the investigation subsequently made in Avignon by papal command, and the decision was the more emphatic, since John XXII. had at the moment every motive to soothe the Dominicans, involved as he was in mortal struggle at once with Louis of Bavaria and with the whole puritanic section of the Franciscans.
The power of the Inquisition over the specially exempted orders of the Mendicants varied at times. Jurisdiction was conferred by Innocent IV., in 1254, by the bull Ne comissum vobis (Ripoll I. 252). About two hundred years later, Pius II. placed the Franciscans under the jurisdiction of their own minister-general.
The episcopal Inquisition was thus fairly re-established as part of the recognized organization of the Church. The Council of Paris in 1350 treats of the persecution of heresy as part of the recognized duties of the bishop, and instructs the Ordinaries as to their powers of arrest and authority to call upon the secular officials for assistance in precisely the same terms as the Inquisition might do. A brief of Urban V. in 1363 refers to a knight and five gentlemen suspected of heresy, then in the custody of the Bishop of Carcassonne, and orders their trial by the bishop or inquisitor, or by both conjointly, the result to be referred to the papal court.
When a bishop had spirit to resist the invasion of his rights by an inquisitor, he was able to make them respected. In 1423 the Inquisitor of Carcassonne had gone to Albi, where he swore in two notaries and some other officials to act for him; he had then taken certain evidence relating to a case before him, and had sworn the witnesses to secrecy in order that the accused might not receive warning. Of all this the Bishop of Albi complained as an invasion of his jurisdiction. The swearing in of the officials he claimed should only have been done in presence of his ordinary or of a deputy; the secrecy imposed on the witnesses was an impediment to his own inquisitorial procedure, as depriving him of evidence in the event of his prosecuting the case. The points were somewhat nice, and illustrate the friction and jealousy inseparable from the concurrent and competing jurisdictions; but in the present case, to avoid unseemly strife, the Bishop of Carcassonne was chosen as arbitrator, the inquisitor acknowledged himself in the wrong and annulled his acts, and a public instrument was drawn up in attestation of the settlement. Yet in spite of these inevitable quarrels a modus vivendi was practically established. Eymerich, writing about 1375, almost always represents the bishop and inquisitor as co-operating together, not only in the final sentence, but in the preliminary proceedings; he evidently seeks to represent the two powers as working harmoniously for a common end, and that the Inquisition in no way superseded the episcopal jurisdiction or relieved the bishop from the responsibility inherent in his office.
A century later Sprenger, in discussing the jurisdiction of the Inquisition from the standpoint of an inquisitor, takes virtually the same position; and the commissions issued to inquisitors usually contained a clause to the effect that no prejudice was intended to the inquisitorial jurisdiction of the Ordinaries. In the habitual negligence of the episcopal officials, however, the inquisitors found little difficulty in trespassing upon their functions, and complaints of this interference continued until the eve of the Reformation.
Technically there was no difference between the episcopal and papal Inquisitions. The equitable system of procedure borrowed from the Roman law by the courts of the Ordinaries was cast aside, and the bishops were permitted and even instructed to follow the inquisitorial system, which was a standing mockery of justice--perhaps the most iniquitous that the arbitrary cruelty of man has ever devised. In tracing the history of the institution, therefore, there is no distinction to be drawn between its two branches, and the exploits of both are to be recorded as springing from the same impulses, using the same methods, and leading to the same ends.
Yet the papal Inquisition was an instrument of infinitely greater efficiency for the work in hand. However zealous an episcopal official might be, his efforts were necessarily isolated, temporary, and spasmodic. The papal Inquisition, on the other hand, constituted a chain of tribunals throughout Continental Europe perpetually manned by those who had no other work to attend to. Not only, therefore, did persecution in their hands assume the aspect of part of the endless and inevitable operations of nature, which was necessary to accomplish its end, and which rendered the heretic hopeless that time would bring relief, but by constant interchange of documents and mutual co-operation they covered Christendom with a network rendering escape almost hopeless. This, combined with the most careful preservation and indexing of records, produced a system of police singularly perfect for a period when international communication was so imperfect.
The Inquisition had a long arm, a sleepless memory, and we can well understand the mysterious terror inspired by the secrecy of its operations and its almost supernatural vigilance. If public proclamation was desired, it summoned all the faithful, with promises of eternal life and reasonable temporal reward, to seize some designated heresiarch, and every parish priest where he was suspected to be in hiding was bound to spread the call before the whole population. If secret information was required, there were spies and familiars trained to the work. The record of every heretical family for generations could be traced out from the papers of one tribunal or another. A single lucky capture and extorted confession would put the sleuth-hounds on the track of hundreds who deemed themselves secure, and each new victim added his circle of denunciations.
The heretic lived over a volcano which might burst forth at any moment. During the fierce persecution of the Spiritual Franciscans in 1317 and 1318 a number of pitying souls had assisted fugitives, had stood by the pyres of their martyrs and had comforted them in various ways. Some had been suspected, had fled and changed their names: others had remained in favoring obscurity; all might well have fancied that the affair was forgotten. Suddenly, in 1325, some chance--probably the confession of a prisoner--placed the Inquisition on their track. Twenty or more were traced out and seized. Kept in prison for a year or two, their resolution broke down one by one; they successively confessed their half-forgotten guilt and were duly penanced. Even more significant was the case of Guillelma Maza of Castres, who lost her husband in 1302. In the first grief of her widowhood she was induced to listen to the teachings of two Waldensian missionaries whose exhortations brought her comfort.
They visited her but twice, in the darkness of the night; she never saw their faces nor those of others. After twenty-five years of orthodox observance, in 1327, she is brought before the Inquisition of Carcassonne, confesses this single aberration from the faith, and repents. Unforgiving and unforgetting, no trifle was beneath the minute vigilance of the Holy Office. Thus in the case of Manenta Rosa, who, in 1325, was called before it at Carcassonne on the mortal charge of relapse, the prosecution was because, after having abjured the heresy of the Spirituals, she had been seen talking with a man who was under suspicion and had sent by him two sols to a sick woman likewise suspect.
Flight was of little avail. Descriptions of heretics who disappeared were sent throughout Europe, to every spot where they could be supposed to seek refuge, putting the authorities on the alert to search for every stranger who wore the air of one differing in life and conversation from the ordinary run of the faithful. News of captures was transmitted from one tribunal to another, evidence of guilt was furnished, or the hapless victim was returned to the spot where his extorted evidence would be most effective in implicating others. In 1287 an arrest of heretics at Treviso included some from France. Immediately the French inquisitors request that they be sent to them, especially one who ranked as bishop among the Cathari, for they may be induced to reveal the names of many others; and Nicholas IV. forthwith sends instructions to Friar Philip of Treviso to deliver them, after extracting all he can from them, to the messenger of the French Inquisition. Well might the orthodox imagine that only the hand of God, the heretic that only the inspiration of Satan, could produce such results as would follow the return of these poor wretches. To human apprehension the papal Inquisition was well-nigh ubiquitous, omniscient, and omnipotent.
Occasionally, it is true, the efficiency of the organization was marred with quarrels. Antagonisms could not always be avoided, and the jealousy and mutual dislike of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders would sometimes interfere with the harmony essential to mutual co-operation. I have already alluded to the troubles arising from this cause at Marseilles in 1266 and at Verona in 1291.
A further symptom of lack of unity is seen in 1327, when Pierre Trencavel, a noted Spiritual, who had escaped from the prison of Carcassonne, was captured in Provence with his daughter AndrÃ©e, likewise a fugitive. There could be no question as to their belonging to those from whom they had fled, yet Friar Michel, the Franciscan inquisitor of Provence, refused to surrender them, and the Carcassonne tribunal was obliged to appeal to John XXII., who intervened with a peremptory command to Friar Michel to lay aside all opposition and surrender the prisoners at once. Yet, considering the imperfections of human nature, these quarrels seem to have been few.
Properly to govern and direct an engine of such infinite power, dealing with the life and happiness of countless thousands, would require more than human wisdom and virtue; and it may be worth a moment's attention to see what was the ideal of those to whom the practical working of the Holy Office was confided. Bernard Gui, the most experienced inquisitor of his day, concludes his elaborate instructions as to procedure with some general directions as to conduct and character. The inquisitor, he tells us, should be diligent and fervent in his zeal for the truth of religion, for the salvation of souls, and for the extirpation of heresy.
Amid troubles and opposing accidents he should grow earnest, without allowing himself to be inflamed with the fury of wrath and indignation. He must not be sluggish of body, for sloth destroys the vigor of action. He must be intrepid, persisting through danger to death, laboring for religious truth, neither precipitating peril by audacity nor shrinking from it through timidity. He must be unmoved by the prayers and blandishments of those who seek to influence him, yet not be, through hardness of heart, so obstinate that he will yield nothing to entreaty, whether in granting delays or in mitigating punishment, according to place and circumstance, for this implies stubbornness; nor must he be weak and yielding through too great a desire to please, for this will destroy the vigor and value of his work--he who is weak in his work is brother to him who destroys his work.
In doubtful matters he must be circumspect and not readily yield credence to what seems probable, for such is not always true; nor should he obstinately reject the opposite, for that which seems improbable often turns out to be fact. He must listen, discuss, and examine with all zeal, that the truth may be reached at the end. Like a just judge let him so bear himself in passing sentence of corporal punishment that his face may show compassion, while his inward purpose remains unshaken, and thus will he avoid the appearance of indignation and wrath leading to the charge of cruelty. In imposing pecuniary penalties, let his face preserve the severity of justice as though he were compelled by necessity and not allured by cupidity. Let truth and mercy, which should never leave the heart of a judge, shine forth from his countenance, that his decisions may be free from all suspicion of covetousness or cruelty.
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To appreciate rightly the career and influence of the Inquisition will require a somewhat minute examination into its methods and procedure. In no other way can we fully understand its action; and the lessons to be drawn from such an investigation are perhaps the most important that it has to teach.