Thursday, March 28, 2019
HISTORY OF THE INQUISITIONS
HISTORY OF THE INQUISITIONS
After the Roman Church had consolidated its power in the early Middle Ages, heretics came to be regarded as enemies of society. The crime of heresy was defined as a deliberate denial of an article of truth of the Catholic faith, and a public and obstinate persistence in that alleged error. At this time, there was a sense of Christian unity among townspeople and rulers alike, and most of them agreed with the Church that heretics seemed to threated society itself.
A third variety of the Inquisition was the Roman Inquisition. Alarmed by the spread of Protestantism and especially by its penetration into Italy, Pope Paul III in 1542 established in Rome the Congregation of the Inquisition. This institution was al so known as the Roman Inquisition and the Holy Office. Six cardinals including Carafa constituted the original inquisition whose powers extended to the whole Church. The "Holy Office" was really a new institution related to the Medieval Inquisition only by vague precedents. More free from episcopal control than its predecessor, it also conceived of its function differently. Some saw its establishment as an attempt to counter-balance the severe Spanish Inquisition at a time when much of Italy was under Spanish rule. Whereas the medieval Inquisition had focused on popular misconceptions which resulted in the disturbance of public order, the Holy Office was concerned with orthodoxy of a more academic nature, especially as it appeared in the writings of theologians. In its first twelve years, the activities of the Roman Inquisition were relatively modest and were restricted almost exclusively to Italy. Cardinal Carafa became Pope Paul IV in 1555 and immediately urged a vigorous pursuit of "suspects." His snare did not exclude bishops or even cardinals of the Church. Pope Paul IV carged the congregation to draw up a list of books which he felt offended faith or morals. This resulted in the first Index of Forbidden Books (1559). Although succeeding popes tempered the zeal of the Roman Inquisition,
many viewed the institution as the cutomary instrument of papal government used in the regulation of Church order. This was the institution that would later put Galileo on trial.
However, the repression of heresy remained unorganized, and with the large scale heresies in the 11th and 12th centuries, Pope Gregory IX instituted the papal inquisition in 1231 for the apprehension and trial of heretics. The name Inquisition is der ived from the Latin verb inquiro (inquire into). The Inquisitiors did not wait for complaints, but sought out persons accused of heresy. Although the Inquisition was created to combat the heretical Cathari and Waldenses, the Inquisition later extended i ts activity to include witches, diviners, blasphemers, and other sacrilegious persons.
Another reason for Pope Gregory IX's creation of the Inquisition was to bring order and legality to the process of dealing with heresy, since there had been tendencies in the mobs of townspeople to burn alleged heretics without much of a trial. Pope Gregory's original intent for the Inquisition was a court of exception to inquire into and glean the beliefs of those differing from Catholic teaching, and to instruct them in the orthodox doctrine. It was hoped that heretics would see the falsity of the ir opinion and would return to the Roman Catholic Church. If they persisted in their heresy, however, Pope Gregory, finding it necessary to protect the Catholic community from infection would have suspects handed over to civil authorities since these her etics had violated not only Church law but civil law as well. The secular authorities would apply their own brands of punishment for civil disobedience which, at the time, included burning at the stake.
The inquisitiors, or judges of this medieval Inquisition were recruited almost exclusively from the Franscian and Dominican orders. In the early period of the institution, the Inquisitiors rode the circut in search of heretics, but this practice was short lived. The Inquisitors soon acquired the right to summon the suspects from their homes to the Inquisition center. The medieval Inquisition functioned only in a limited way in northern Europe. It was employed most in the south of France and in nor thern Italy.
Throughout the Inquisition's history, it was rivaled by local ecclesiastical and secular jurisdictions. No matter how determined, no pope succeeded in establishing complete control of the institution. Medieval kings, princes, bishops, and civil auth orities wavered between acceptance and resistance of the Inquisition. The institution reached its apex in the second half of the 13th century. During this period, the tribunals were almost entirely free from any authority, including that of the pope. T herefore, it was almost impossible to eradicate abuse.
A second variety of the Inquisition was the infamous Spanish Inquisition, authorized by Pope Sixtus IV in 1478. Pope Sixtus tried to establish harmony between the inquisitors and the ordinaries, but was unable to maintain control of the desires of Ki ng Ferdinand V and Queen Isablella. Sixtus agreed to recognize the independence of the Spanish Inquisition. This institution survived to the beginning of the 19th century, and was permanently suppressed by a decree on July 15, 1834.
Dave Hunt, A Cup of Trembling (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1995): 160:
Church historian R. Tudor Jones writes that "the majority of the martyrs were ordinary people, including many women"...John Foxe was an eyewitness and earnest historian of the fierce persecution in England in his day. His Book of Martyrs gives detailed accounts of many public trials and executions of those whom the Roman Catholic Church judged to be "heretics" worthy of death. His descriptions of Christians being burned at the stake tell of their inspiring bravery in the face of such a horrible death and of the determination of Roman Catholicism to exterminate everywhere true Christians who opposed her. Similar records have come down of the massacres of Jews at the hands of the Roman Church.
John Daniel, The Grand Design Exposed (CHJ Publishing, 1999): 27, 78:
Through relentless torture, starvation, genocide, massacres, burning at the stake, against every conceivable fury of [Papal] Rome, they [i.e., the ‘seeds of protest’] could not be extinguished. History estimates that over one hundred million people lost their lives during that time of [Papal] Roman tyranny. Is it any wonder that God graphically describes this onslaught of [Papal] Rome as her being ‘drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus’, and calls her the ‘Beast’?
…For the unbiased researcher, history reeks of the butchery of Romanism, where whole cities and populations were unmercifully wiped out, just because they worshipped God in a manner that was different from Roman Catholicism.
Charles A. Bolton (Ex-Roman Catholic priest):
What has turned my soul against Roman abuse of power is the way in which it has tortured and burned such saints of God as Joan of Arc, hundreds of the Albigensian martyrs in France in the 12th century, the Knights Templar, John Huss [Czech Jan Hus], the Dominican Savonarola, the Dominican Giordano Bruno, [and] the Anglican bishops Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. The Inquisition has promoted at least two wholesale massacres: [hundreds of] thousands of Protestant Waldensians in northern Italy, and thousands of Protestant Huguenots by the massacre of St. Bartholomew in France. More than 30,000 of the most cultured Protestants of France were put to the sword on the night of St. Bartholomew, August 24, 1572. At the news [of this brutal, bloody massacre], the Pope had cannons fired, proclaimed a jubilee, ordered a Te Deum of thanksgiving to be sung, and struck a special medal to commemorate the glorious ‘victory’.
Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1994): 80, 261:
To wring out confessions from these poor creatures, the Roman Catholic Church devised ingenious tortures so excruciating and barbarous that one is sickened by their recital.
The Medieval Inquisition had flourished for centuries when Pope Paul III, in 1542, gave it permanent status as the first of Rome’s Sacred Congregations, the ‘Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Inquisition’. Known more recently as the ‘Holy Office’, its name was changed in 1967 to the ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’…Therefore it is not surprising that the ‘Office of the Inquisition’ still occupies the Palace of the Inquisition adjacent to the Vatican, though under its new name, the ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. Its current Grand Inquisitor, who reports directly to the pope, is the former Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, whom Time [Magazine] has called ‘the world’s most powerful cardinal [and] the Catholic Church’s chief enforcer of dogma…’
Will Durant (Historian 1885-1981), The Story of Civilization (MJF Books, 1993):
Christians [i.e., Roman Catholics] of the twelfth century accused the Jews of kidnapping Christian children either to sacrifice them to Jahveh, or to use their blood as medicine or in the making of unleavened bread for the Passover feast. Jews were charged with poisoning the wells…and of stealing consecrated wafers to pierce them and draw from them the blood of Christ…[and] of draining the wealth of Christendom into Jewish hands.”
Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy (New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 1988): 175:
Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine.
F. Tupper Saussy, Rulers of Evil (HarperCollins, 2001): xviii, 304:
The Roman Inquisition…had been administered since 1542 by the Jesuits.
Pontifex Maximus [i.e., the pope of Rome] has laundered the Inquisition’s name twice. In 1908, Pope Pius X renamed it ‘the Holy Office’, which [Pope] Paul VI transformed into [the] ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’ in 1965.
The unHoly Inquisitions
"Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity."
- Pope Innocent III -THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS KILLED MILLIONS - THIS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.
The Inquisition was an ecclesiastical court and process of the Roman Catholic Church setup for the purpose towards the discovery and punishment of heresy which wielded immense power and brutality in medieval and early modern times. The Inquisitions function was principally assembled to repress all heretics of rights, depriving them of their estate and assets which became subject to the ownership of the Catholic treasury, with each relentlessly sought to destroy anyone who spoke, or even thought differently to the Catholic Church. This system for close to over six centuries became the legal framework throughout most of Europe that orchestrated one of the most confound religious orders in the course of mankind.
At root the word Inquisition signifies as little of evil as the primitive "inquire," or the adjective inquisitive, but as words, like persons, lose their characters by bad associations, so "Inquisition" has become infamous and hideous as the name of an executive department of the Roman Catholic Church.
All crimes and all vices are contained in this one word Inquisition. Murder, robbery, arson, outrage, torture, treachery, deceit, hypocrisy, cupidity, holiness. No other word in all languages is so hateful as this one that owes its abhorrent preeminence to its association with the Roman Church.
In the Dark Side of Christian History, Helen Ellerbe describes how the same men who had been both prosecutor and judge decided upon the sentence of heresy. Once an Inquisitor arrived to a heresy-ridden district, a 40 day period of grace was usually allowed to all who wished to confess by recanting their faith.
After this period of grace had finished, the inhabitants were then summoned to appear before the Inquisitor. Citizens accused of heresy would be woken in the dead of night, ordered, if not gagged, and then escorted to the holy edifice, or Inquisition prison for closer examination.
In 1244, the Council of Harbonne ordered that in the sentencing of heretics, no husband should be spared because of his wife, nor wife because of her husband, and no parent spared from a helpless child. Once in custody victims waited before their judge anxiously, while he pondered through the document of their accusation. During the first examination, enough of their property was likewise confiscated to cover the expenses of the preliminary investigation.
The accused would then be implicated and asked incriminating and luring questions in a dexterous manner of trickery calculated to entangle most. Many manual's used and promulgated were by the grand inquisitor Bernardus Guidonis, the Author of Practica Inquisitionis (Practice of the Inquisition) and the Directorium Inquisitorum (Guideline for Inquisitors) completed by Nicolaus Eymerich, grand inquisitor of Aragon. These were the authoritative text-books for the use of inquisitors until the issue of Torquemada's instructions in 1483, which was an enlarged and revised Directorium.
A Chapter of the Manual is headed "of the torture" and contains these small reflections:
"The torture is not an infallible method to obtain the truth; there are some men so pusillanimous that at the first twinge of pain they will confess crimes they never committed; others there are so valiant and robust that they bear the most cruel torments. Those who have once been placed upon the rack suffer it with great courage, because their limbs accommodate themselves to it with facility or resist with force; others with charms and spells render themselves insensible, and will die before they will confess anything."
The author gives further directions:
“When sentence of torture has been given, and while the executioner is preparing to apply it, the inquisitor and the grave persons who assist him should make fresh attempts to persuade the accused to confess the truth; the executioners and their assistants, while stripping him, should affect uneasiness, haste, and sadness, endeavoring thus to instill fear into his mind; and when he is stripped naked the inquisitors should take him aside, exhorting him to confess, and promising him his life upon condition of his doing so, provided that he is not a relapsed (one dilated a second time), because in such a case they cannot promise him that."
Later afterwards in the sixteenth century, Cardinal Giovanni Caraffa, a zealot for the purity of Catholicism who later became the pope himself, also held a stern and gloomy view of moral rectitude for heretics. In 1542, he was appointed by pope Paul III to administer the Inquisition.
The manuscript life of Caraffa gives the following rules drawn up by Caraffa himself:
"Firstly when the faith is in question, there must be no delay; but at the slightest suspicion, rigorous measures must be resorted to with all speed. Secondly, no consideration is to be shown to any prince or prelate, however high his station. Thirdly, extreme severity is rather to be exercised against those who attempt to shield themselves under the protection of any potentate, and fourthly, no man must lower himself by showing toleration toward heretics of any kind."
The inquisition put their victims to the test (here using the rack)
Most defendants confessed in the long run in order to escape the great anguish and bitter torture.
Once found guilty (regardless) they were handed over to the civil authorities to be "relaxed" (that is of course, burnt alive)
Refusing to confess at the first hearing, saw heretics being remanded to the prisons for several months. The dungeons were situated underground, so that the outcries of the subject might not reach other parts of the building. In some medieval cells, the inauspicious were bound in stocks or chains, unable to move about and forced to sleep standing up or on the ground. In some cases there was no light or ventilation, inmates were generally starved and kept in solitary confinement in the dark and allowed no contact with the outside world, including that of their own family.
In 1252, Pope Innocent IV officially authorized the creation of the horrifying Inquisition torture chambers. It also included anew perpetual imprisonment or death at the stake without the bishops consent. Acquittal of the accused was now virtually impossible. Thus, with a license granted by the pope himself, Inquisitors were free to explore the depths of horror and cruelty. Dressed as black-robed fiends with black cowls over their heads, Inquisitors could extract confessions from just about anyone. The Inquisition invented every conceivable devise to inflict pain by slowly dismembering and dislocating the body.
Many of the devices were inscribed with the motto "Glory be only to God." Bernardus Guidonis, the Inquisitor in Toulouse instructed the layman as to never argue with the unbeliever, but as to "thrust his sword into the man's belly as far as it will go." George Ryley Scott describes how the inquisitors, gorged with their inhumanity, and developed a degree of callousness rarely rivaled in the annals of civilization, with the ecclesiastical authorities condemning every faith outside of Christianity as demonic.
Even the very fact of having a charge brought against you, and of being summoned to the Inquisition was sufficient to strike abject terror into the bravest man or woman. For very few who entered the doors of that halls of torment emerged whole in mind and body. If they escaped with their life, they were, with rare exceptions, maimed, physically or mentally forever. Those who did happen to endure the dungeons generally went mad in captivity, screaming out in despair to escape their purgatories. Others willingly committed suicide during their confinement.
The defendant were known to incriminate themselves at any chance they had to escape the horrors. As Henry Charles Lea describes, one of the conditions of escaping the penalties was that they stated all they knew of other heretics and apostates, under the general terror, there was little hesitation in denouncing not only friends and acquaintances, but the nearest and dearest kindred--parents, children, brothers and sisters--this ultimately and indefinitely prolonged the Inquisitions through their associates.
In the ages of faith, when the priest, was little less than a God himself, a curse from his lips was often more feared than physical torments. To even establish an accusation against a bishop itself required 72 witnesses; against a deacon was 27; against an inferior dignitary was 7, and for non-members of the clergy, 2 was sufficient to convict. Whole communities went mad with grief and fear of the thought towards being denounced to the Inquisition. It spread all over Europe. Men, women, and children, all legally murdered on evidence by a church, which today would only be accepted unless the court and jury specifically composed of the inmates of a lunatic asylum.
During the course, defendants had no rights to counsel or advice, and was even denied the right to know the names of their accusers. No favorable evidence or character witnesses were permitted. In any case, one who even spoke for an accused heretic would be arrested as an accomplice. Never would a prisoner of the Inquisition have seen the accusation against himself, or any other. All efforts relating to time, place, and person were carefully concealed.
Henry Charles Lea describes however that evidence was accepted from witnesses who could not legally testify in any other kind of trial; such as condemned criminals, other heretics, or children even as young as the age of two. The Inquisitor Jean Bodin (1529-96) author of De La Demonomanie des Sorciers (Of the Demonomania of Witches) especially valued child witnesses for extracting confessions, as they were easily persuaded to confess. Children though, were no exception for being prosecuted and tortured themselves. The treatment of witches' children was particularly brutal.
Suspicion alone of witchcraft would warrant torture. Once a girl was nine and a half, and a boy was ten and a half, they were both liable to inquiry. Younger children below this age were still nevertheless tortured to elicit testimonies that could be used against their own parents. A famous French magistrate was known to have regretted his leniency when, instead of having young children accused of witchcraft burned, he had only sentenced them to be flogged while they watched their parents burn.
The children of those parents murdered usually were force to beg in vain upon the streets, for no one dared feed or shelter them thus incurring a suspicion of heresy upon themselves. The suspicion was sufficient enough to drive away even the closest kindred and friends of the unfortunate. Sympathy for them would be interpreted as sympathy with their heresy.
Put to the torture using the Pulley
-the accused confessed to anything and everything that their tormentors wanted them to admit.
The pulley or strappado was the first torture of the Inquisition usually applied. Executioners would hoist the victim up to the ceiling using a rope with their hands tied securely behind their back. They were then suspended about six feet from the floor. In this position, heavy iron weights, usually amounting to about 45 kg, were attached to their feet. The executioners would then pull on the rope, then suddenly allowing it to slack causing the victim to fall.
The rapid descent would then come to an abrupt stop, bewildering every joint and nerve in the system. In most cases it entailed dislocation. This process was repeated again and again heavier and more intense until the culprit confessed or became unconscious. Christian Monks would stand by to record any confessions, with even records today displaying the transformation of the monks steady handwriting to vigorous shaking after they recanted inside the dungeons.
If a relapsed heretic refused to recant and endure the torture, the contumacious sufferer was then carried to the scaffold and his body bound to a wooden cross. There the executioner, with a bar of iron, would break each leg and arm in two places and left to die. If the heretic was slow to expire, the executioner would then partake to strangulation, and their body was bound to a stake and burnt outside.
Papal Inquisition (1233)
At the close of the 12th century, heresy was spreading rapidly in Southern France. Papal legates were sent by Pope Innocent III into the disaffected district to increase the severity of repressive measures against the Waldenses. In 1200, Peter of Castelnau was made associate inquisitor for Southern France. The powers of the papal legates were increased so as to bring non-compliant bishops within the net. Diego, bishops of Osma, and Dominec came onto the scene. In 1206, Peter and Raoul went as spies among the Albigenses.
Count Raymond of Toulouse abased himself in 1207, before Peter promised to extirpate the heretics he had defended. Dominec advised a crusade against the Albigenses. The pope's inquisitors tried, condemned, and punished offenders inflicting the death penalty itself with the concurrence of the civil powers.
The Inquisition was also destined to become a permanent institution. The vigor and success of the Papal Legatine Inquisition assured this. The Fourth Lateran Council took the initial steps with Pope Innocent III presiding. The synodal courts were given something of the character of inquisitorial tribunals. Synods were to be held in each province annually, and violations of the Lateran canons rigorously punished.
The condemned were to be left in the hands of the secular power, and their goods were to be confiscated. The secular powers were to be admonished and induced, and, should it prove necessary, were to be compelled to the utmost of their power to exterminate all who were pointed out as heretics by the church. Any prince declining not to purge his land of heresy was to be excommunicated. If he persisted, complaint was to be made to the pope, who was then to absolve his vassals from allegiance and allow the country to be seized by Catholics who should exterminate the heretics. Those who joined in the crusade for the extermination of heretics were to have the some indulgence as the crusaders who went to the Holy Land.
In the face of this inexpugnable record, how futile it is for modern church apologists to pretend that Rome did not shed blood, and was not responsible for the atrocities of the Inquisition. The Council of Toulouse in 1229 adopted a number of canons tending to give permanent character to the Inquisition as an institution.
It made or indicated the machinery for questioning, convicting, and punishing. Heretics were to be excluded from medical practice; the houses in which they were found to be razed to the ground; they were to be delivered to the archbishop, or local authorities; forfeiture or public rights could be removed only by a papal dispensation; any one who allowed a heretic to remain in his country, or who shielded him in the slightest degree, would lose his land, personal property, and official position; the local magistracy joined in the search for heretics; men from the ages of 14, and women from 12, were to make oath and renew it every two years, that they would inform on heretics.
This made every person above those ages a bloodhound to track to torture and kill. Local councils added to these regulations, always in the direction of severity and injustice. The organic development of the Papal Inquisition proceeded rapidly. It was found that bishops, for the various reasons, would not always enforce the cruel canons of the councils.
So blood-drunk Pope Gregory IX in August, 1231, put the Inquisition under the control of the Dominicans, and order especially created for the defense of the church against heresy. Dominican inquisitors were appointed for Aragon, Germany, Austria, Lombardy, and Southern France.
The chronicle of the inquisitor Guilhem Pelhisso shows the most tragic episodes of the reign of terror which wasted Languedoc in France for a century. Guillaume Arnaud, Peter Cella, Bernard of Caux, Jean de St Pierre, Nicholas of Abbeville, Foulques de St Georges, were all the chief inquisitors who played the part of absolute dictatorship, burning at the stake, attacking both the living and the dead.
One of the leading head Inquisitors of Germany was Conrad of Marburg. Stern in temper and narrow in mind, his bigotry was said to be ardent to the pitch of near insanity. Conrad was urged by Pope Gregory IX as to "not to punish the wicked, but as to hurt the innocence with fear." History shows us how far these Inquisitors answered to this ideal. Conrad murdered and terrified countless people in pursuit of his duties, regarding mental and physical torture as a rapid route to salvation. He was given full discretionary powers, and was not required to hear the cases, but to pronounce judgment, which was to be final and without appeal-justice to those suspect of heresy.
He was authorized to command the aid of the secular arm, to excommunicate protectors of heresy, and to lay interdict on whole districts. During his reign, he claimed to have uncovered nests of "Devil worshippers" and adopted the motto "I would gladly burn a hundred innocent if there was one guilty among them.” Stimulated by this shining example, many Dominicans and Franciscans merged with him, and became his eager assistants. He also sentenced the feline cat to be forever viewed as a tool of manifestation for witches and sorcerers.
During the persecution of heresy in the Rhineland's by Conrad, one obstinate culprit actually refused to burn in spite of all the efforts of his zealous executioners. A thoughtful priest brought to the roaring pile a consecrated host. This at once dissolved the spell by a mightier magic, and the luckless heretic was speedily reduced to ashes.
Other inquisitors included Peter of Verona in Italy, Robert the Bulgar in northeast France, and Bernardus Guidonis in Toulouse. Guidonis, was considered the most experienced inquisitor of his day, condemning roughly 900 heretics, with recorded sentences pronounced after death against 89 persons during a period of 15 years. Not only was their property confiscated and their heirs disinherited, but they were subject to still further penalties. In the north of France, the Inquisition was marked by a series of melancholy events. Robert le Bougre, spent six years going through the Nivernais, Burgundy, Flanders and Champagne, burning at the stake in every place unfortunates whom he condemned without judgment.
Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)
In 1478, the Spanish Inquisition was established with the papal approval of Pope Sixtus IV. The reform and extension of the ancient tribunal which had existed from the thirteenth century was mainly to discover and eliminate Jews and Muslims secretly taking up their beliefs in private.
The conduct of this holy office greatly weakened the power and diminished the population of Spain. It was considered the most deadliest and notorious of all Inquisitions, as firstly being, it was the most highly organized and secondly, it was far more exposed and open with the death penalty than that of the papal Inquisition. This holy office became veiled by secrecy, unhesitatingly kept back, falsified, concealed, and forged the reports of thousands of trials.
The first two Inquisitors in the districts of Seville were appointed in 1480 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to round up the most wealthiest heretics; the reason for this, was that the property of those accused, were shared equally between the Catholic throne and the Dominicans.
The Catholic Spanish government also directly paid the expenses, and received the net income of the Inquisition itself from the accused. According to civil law, people convicted of religious treason were sentenced to death and their goods confiscated while the Catholic Church feasted on their estate. Additional Inquisitors were named, including Tomas Torquemada, who the following year was appointed Inquisitor General for all of Spain.
Tomas, who's duty was to organize the rules of inquisitorial procedures in Seville, Castille and Aragon. He believed punishment of heretics, was the only way to achieve political and religious unity in Spain. Those refusing to accept Catholicism where lead to the stake and burnt alive in a procession and Catholic ceremony known as "auto-de-fe'" (act of faith).
The conclusion of an "auto de fe".
Huge public burnings took place of those convicted of Heresy.
Roman catholic Inquisition (1542-1700)
In the early 1500's and 1600's, the Catholic Church went through a reformation. It consisted of two related movements:
(1) a defensive reaction against the Reformation, a movement begun by Martin Luther in 1517 that gave birth to Protestantism
(2) a Catholic reform which saw Protestants declare war on Catholics
The satanic papal church called the Council of Trent partly as a defense against Protestantism. In 1542, Pope Paul III (1534-49) established the Holy Office as the final court of appeal in trials of heresy. The Church also published a list of books that were forbidden to read. Heretical books were outlawed, and searched out by domiciliary visits. Every book that came was scrutinized minutely with the express object of finding some passage which might be interpreted as being against the principles or interests of the Catholic faith.
The secular coadjutor were also not allowed to learn to read or write without permission. No man was able to aspire to any rank above that of which he already holded. The church insisted on this regulation as a means to obtaining a perfect knowledge of its subordinates.
The censorship of books took three forms:
(1) complete condemnation and suppression
(2) the expunging of certain objectionable passages or parts
(3) the correction of sentences or the deletion of specific words as mentioned
A list of the various books condemned upon any of these three heads was printed every year, after which anyone found to be in the possession of a volume coming under section (1) or an unexpurgated or uncorrected copy of a volume coming under section (2) or (3) was deemed guilty and liable to serve punishment. The author and the publisher of any such book often spent the remainder of their lives in the dungeons of the Inquisition. Its overall goal was to eradicate Protestant influences in Europe.
A number of wars resulting from religious conflicts broke out as well as the Catholic governments tried to stop the spread of Protestantism in the country. Such attempts led to the civil war in France from 1562 to 1598 and a rebellion in the Netherlands between 1565 and 1648. Religion was a major issue in the fighting between Spain and England from 1585 to 1604.
It was also a cause of the Thirty Years' War 1618 to 1648, which centered in Germany, that eventually involved all of the great nations of Europe halving its population. The estimate of the death toll during the Inquisitions ranged worldwide from 600,000 to as high in the millions covering a span of almost six centuries.
Victor Hugo estimated the number of the victims of the Inquisition at five million, it is said, and certainly the number was much greater than that if we take into account, as we should, the wives and husbands, the parents and children, the brothers and sisters, and other relatives of those tortured and slaughtered by the priestly institution. To these millions should properly be added the others killed in the wars precipitated in the attempt to fasten the Inquisition upon the people of various countries, as the Netherlands and Germany.
The unHoly demonic Inquisitions
"Fear is the basis of the whole - fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the
parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand-in-hand."
- Bertrand Russell
catholic Medieval Torture Devices
Reaching its peak in the 12th century, torture was used in capital cases as well as against suspected heretics. From the mid-14th century to the end of the 18th century, torture was a common and sanctioned part of the legal proceedings of most European countries which was approved by the inquisition in cases of heresy.
The most common means of torture included burning, beating and suffocating, however the techniques below are some of the more extravagant and depraved methods used and allowed by the Roman Catholic Church.
Torture room in the Inquisition cathedral in Nuremberg
The Rack was an instrument of torture often used in the Middle Ages, and a popular means of extricating confession. The victim was tied across a board by their ankles and wrists, rollers at either end of the board were turned by pulling the body in opposite directions until dislocation of every joint occurred. According to Puigblanch, quoted in Mason's History of the Inquisition,
"in this attitude he experienced eight strong contortions in his limbs, namely, two of the fleshy parts of the arms above the elbows, and two below; one on each thigh, and also on the legs."
Bound, the heretic, could then be subjected to other forms of torture for the exaltation of their faith.
The Rack was extensively used during the Spanish Inquisition.
Other forms included the detainee being fastened in a groove upon a table on his or her back. Suspended above was a gigantic pendulum, the ball of which had a sharp edge on the lower section, and the pendulum lengthen with every stroke. The victim sees this engine of destruction swinging to and fro only a short distance from ones eyes.
Momentarily the keen edge comes nearer, and at length cuts the skin, and gradually cuts deeper and deeper, until their life has fully expired.
With their feet in the stocks, two pieces of timber clamped together, over and under, both across each leg above the ankles. The soles of their feet then having been greased with lard, a blazing brazier was applied to them, and they were first blistered and then fried. At intervals a board was interposed between the fire and their feet and removed once they disobeyed the command to confess themselves of guilt for which they had been charged.
Being more painful, but less fatal than racking, this was the torture most in vogue when the subject chanced to be of the female sex. It was also favored in cases where children were to be persuaded to testify against their parents. Slighter tortures consisted of binding a piece of iron to a limb and putting a twister mark to force it inwards, as was pressing the fingers with rods between them, or removing a nail from fingers or toes, which were all highly practiced upon persons of not sufficient strength to support the pulley, rack, or fire.
The victim's nostrils were pinched shut, and eight quarts of fluid were poured down the victim's throat through a funnel. Other techniques included forcing a cloth down the throat, while pouring water, which made a swallowing reflex pushing it further down into the stomach producing all the agonies of suffocation by drowning until the victim lost consciousness. Instead of water, the torture was sometimes conducted with boiling water or vinegar.
Death occurs from distention or rupturing of the stomach. One of the many cases recorded by the Inquisition, was in 1598 concerning a captured man, who was accused of being a werewolf and "possessed by a demon" while in prison. The official report states only that he had such a thirst that he drank a large tubful of water so that his belly was "distended and hard", and then later died.
The Heretics Fork
This instrument consisted of two little forks one set against the other, with the four prongs plunged into the flesh, under the chin and above the chest, with hands secured firmly behind their backs. A small collar supported the instrument in such a manner that the victims were usually forced to hold their head erect, thus preventing any movement.
The forks did not penetrate any vital points, and thus suffering was prolonged and death was always nearly avoided. The pointed prongs on each end to crane the persons head made speech or movement near impossible. The Heretics Fork was very common during the height of the Spanish Inquisition.
The pear was a torture device used on females. This device was inserted into the vagina, or mouth of the victim and then expanded by force of the screw to the maximum aperture setting of the victims cavity. The antrum would then irremediably become lacerated, nearly always fatally, ripping the tissue, flesh and membranes.
This item became extensively applied throughout the Spanish Inquisition to force confessions from those accused of Witchcraft. The pointed prongs at the end of the segments serve better to rip into the throat, the intestines or the cervix. Many paid dearly when the Pear was their fate.
The Branks, also sometimes called Dame's Bridle, or Scold's Bridle comprised of a metal facial mask and spiked mouth depressor that was implemented on housewives up until the early 19th century. Many clergymen sustained in this husband's right to handle his wife, and to use "salutary restraints in every case of misbehavior" without the intervention of what some court records of 1824 referred to as "vexatious prosecutions."
Generally a husband would need only to accuse his wife of disagreeing with his decisions, at which the Branks could be applied. The subject would then be paraded through the streets, or chained to the market cross where she was exposed to public ridicule.
The wheel was one of the most popular and insidious methods of torture and execution practiced. The giant spiked wheel was able to break bodies as it rolled forward, causing the most agonizing and drawn-out death. Other forms include the "braided" wheel, where the victim would be tied to the execution dock or platform. Their limbs were spread and tied to stakes or iron rings on the ground. Slices of wood were placed under the main joints, wrists, ankles, knees, hips, and elbows. The executioner would then smash every joint with the iron-tyred edge of the wheel--however the executioner would avoid fatal blows to give the victim a painful death.
According to a German chronicler, the victim was transformed into a huge screaming puppet writhing in their own blood. It looked like a sea monster with four tentacles, and raw slimy shapeless flesh, mixed with splinters of bone. After the smashing had taken place the victim would literally be "braided" into the wheel and hung horizontally at the top of the pole.
The Breast Ripper
The name of this device speaks for itself. Women condemned of heresy, blasphemy, adultery, and witchcraft often felt the wrath of this device as it violently tore a breast from their torso.
This device was highly put into service during the massacre of the Danes.
These cages were usually hung around the outsides of town halls and ducal palaces, they were also near the town's hall of justice and surprisingly cathedrals. The victim, naked and exposed, would slowly wither from hunger and thirst. The weather would second the victims death by heat stroke and sunburn in the summer and cold in the winter.
The victims and corpses were usually previously mutilated before being put in the cages to make a more edifying example of the punishment. The cadavers were left in the cages until the bones literally fell apart.
Originally, the garotte was simply hanging by another name. However, during Medieval times, executioners began to refine the use of rope until it became as feared and as vile as any serious punishments. Executioners first used the garotte to end the suffering of heretics broken on the wheel, but by the turn of the 18th century the seed of an idea involving slow strangulation was planted in the minds of lawmakers.
At first, garottes were nothing more than an upright post with a hole bored through. The victim would stand or sit on a seat in front of the post and chanting crowd, and a rope was looped around his or her neck. The ends of the cords were fed through the hole in the post. The executioner would then pull on both ends of the cord, or twist them tourniquet-styled, slowly strangling the victim. Later modifications included a spike fixed into the wood frame at the back of the victim's neck, parting the vertebrae as the rope tighten.
The Head Crusher
With the victim's chin placed on the lower bar, a screw then forces the cap down on the victims cranium. The recipients teeth are crushed and forced into the sockets to smash the surrounding bone. The eyes are compressed from their sockets and brain from the fractured skull.
This device, although not a form of capital punishment, is still used for interrogational purposes. It was to inflict extreme agony and shock and leave the victim in its grasp for hours. Other methods included the head screw (below) which was placed around the forehead and tighten. The accused became so frantic by the extreme panic of having their head crushed that they confessed to anything.
Burnt at the Stake
If the Inquisitor wanted to be sure no relics were left behind by an accused and convicted heretic, he would select death by burning at the stake as the preferred method of execution. With few exceptions, death came from being burned alive. Frequently, burning a victim at the stake was cause for a crowd. Not content to merely learn about the spectacle after it was over, the masses wanted to be entertained.
Reflecting on those facts, and understanding such events occurred "under the law," one can clearly understand how Thomas Hobbes (this is a contemporary biography) came to the conclusions he did about man in a state of nature.
If man is capable of such violence and inhumanity in a state of civilization, of what is he capable when there are no laws and there is no society?
(Carole D. Bos)
The Iron Maiden
The Iron Maiden or Virgin of Nuremberg was a tomb-sized container with folding doors. The object was to inflict punishment, then death. Upon the inside of the door were vicious spikes. As the prisoner was shut inside he or she would be pierced along the length of their body. The talons were not designed to kill outright.
The pinioned prisoner was left to slowly perish in the utmost pain. Some models included two spikes that were driven into the eyes causing blindness. One of these diabolical machines was exhibited in 1892.
One of the most common torture techniques. All one needed to set up a strappado was a sturdy rafter and a rope. The victim's wrists were bound behind their back, and the rope would be tossed over the beam.
The victim was repeatedly dropped from a height, so that their arms and shoulders would dislocate. This was a punishment of the Secret Tribunal until 1820.
Also known as the bootikens. The legs of the patient were usually placed between two planks of wood, which they binded with cords and wedges. The torturer used a large, heavy hammer to pound the wedges, driving them closer together.
Forceful blows were used to squeeze the legs to jelly, lacerating flesh, protruding the shins, and crushing the bones; sometimes so that marrow gushed out. Once unloosed the bones fall to pieces, rendering the legs useless. This torture was most overwhelming, as one can imagine.
The victim was stripped, hoisted and hung over this pointed pyramid with iron belts. Their legs were stretched out frontwards, or their ankles pulled down by weights. The tormentor would then drop the accused onto the pyramid penetrating both orifices. With their muscles contracted, they were usually unable to relax and fall asleep.
As mentioned by Anne Barstowe, the torturers took high advantage of positions of authority to indulge in the most pornographic sessions of sexual control over heretics.
The Guillotine became the official instrument of execution in France in 1792, during the French Revolution. The device was named for Joseph Ignace Guillotine (1738-1814), a member of the Revolutionary assembly. He regarded the device as a quick and merciful type of execution. A guillotine had two posts joined by a crossbeam at the top. A heavy steel knife with a slanting edge fit in grooves in the posts. A cord held the knife in place.
When the executioner cut the cord, the knife dropped and cut off the victim's head. It was not until 1981, that France abolished capital punishment, and that the use of the guillotine ended. The Guillotine family were later forced to change their surname's as a direct result of this invention.
The Holy Inquisitions
"If women become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that is why they are there."
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Leader of the German Reformation--a religious movement that led to the ultimate birth of Protestantism
The Holy Witchhunts
The term witch comes from the Old English word wicca, which is derived from the Germanic root wic, meaning to bend or to turn. Such accounts of witchcraft are found extensively in antiquity from Medea who employed sorcery to help Jason win the Golden Fleece, to the Witch of Endor in the Old Testament by whom King Saul consulted.
Most justification of the persecution of witches in Europe all later based themselves on such biblical percepts as commanded through that,
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (with Exodus.22:18 )",
or that "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Cor. 10:20)"
These imputations from the 8th century and up then saw witchcraft becoming highly associated with apostasy with extensive and very violent campaigns taking place to mark its spread.
Woman's chamber inside Inquisition Cathedral at Nuremberg.
In The Dark Side of Christian History, Helen Ellerbe provided a baseline on the 300 year period of witch hunting from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, in what R.H. Robbins calls "the shocking nightmare, the foulest crime and deepest shame of western civilization," that ensured the European abandonment of the belief in magic. The Church created the elaborate concept of devil worship and then, used the persecution of it to wipe out dissent, subordinate the individual to authoritarian control, and openly denigrate women.
The witchhunts became an eruption of orthodox Christianity's vilification of women, or "the weaker vessel," in St. Peter's words. The second century St. Clement of Alexandria wrote:
"Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman."
The sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius, wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy,
"Woman is a temple built upon a sewer."
Bishops at the sixth century Council of Macon voted as to whether women had souls. In the tenth century Odo of Cluny declared,
"To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure..."
The thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas suggested that God had made a mistake in creating woman:
"nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then."
Lutherans at Wittenberg debated whether women were really human beings at all. Orthodox Christians held women responsible for all sin. As the Bible's Apocrypha states,
"Of woman came the beginning of sin/ And thanks to her, we all must die."
It is women who are often understood to be impediments to spirituality in a context where God reigns strictly from heaven and demands a renunciation of physical pleasure. As I Corinthians 7:1 states,
"It is a good thing for a man to have nothing to do with a woman."
The Inquisitors explained that women are more likely to become witches than men because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men; being formed from a man's rib, they are only "imperfect animals" and "crooked" whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged.
King James I estimated that the ratio of women to men who succumbed to witchcraft was twenty to one. Of those formally persecuted for witchcraft, between 80 to 90 percent were women.
Burning Iron Chair:
consisted of sharpened iron nails that could be heated red hot from below.
The victim would be bound and then slowly roasted
in the open air as the coals heated the iron.
The persecution of witchcraft also enabled the Church to prolong the profitability of the Inquisition. The Inquisition had left regions so economically destitute that the inquisitor Eymeric complained,
"In our days there are no more rich heretics... it is a pity that so salutary an institution as ours should be so uncertain of its future."
The Inquisition exposed a whole new group of people from whom to collect money. It took every advantage of this opportunity.
The author Barbara Walker notes:
"Victims were charged for the very ropes that bound them and the wood that burned them. Each procedure of torture carried its fee. After the execution of a wealthy witch, officials usually treated themselves to a banquet at the expense of the victim's estate."
Burning at the stake was the chief fate of accused witches.
(Image: Library of Congress)
Others where hanged, or crushed.
One way of determinating the guilt of witches,
was the ducking or ducking stool,
in which her hands and feet were tied up together
and then her body was thrown off a bridge into the water.
If she floated, she was declared a witch.
If she sank, and drowned, she was declared innocent.
The process of formally persecuting witches followed the grinding inquisitional procedure. Once accused of witchcraft, it was virtually impossible to escape conviction. After cross-examination, the victim's body was examined for the witch's mark. The historian Walter Nigg described the process:
...she was stripped naked and the executioner shaved off all her body hair in order to seek in the hidden places of the body the sign which the devil imprinted on his cohorts.
Warts, freckles, and birthmarks were considered certain tokens of amorous relations with Satan. Should a woman show no sign of a witch's mark, guilt could still be established by methods such as sticking needles in the accused's eyes. The confession was then extracted by the hideous methods of torture already developed during earlier phases of the Inquisition.
"Loathe they are to confess without torture," wrote King James I in his Daemonologie.
A physician serving in witch prisons spoke of women driven half mad:
"by frequent torture... kept in prolonged squalor and darkness of their dungeons... and constantly dragged out to undergo atrocious torment until they would gladly exchange at any moment this most bitter existence for death, are willing to confess whatever crimes are suggested to them rather than to be thrust back into their hideous dungeon amid ever recurring torture."
Unless the witch died during torture, she was taken to the stake. Since many of the burnings took place in public squares, inquisitors prevented the victims from talking to the crowds by using wooden gags or cutting their tongues out.
"What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother,
it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman...
I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function
of bearing children."
- Saint Augustine (the prominent pioneer of Western theology)
The sexual mutilation of accused witches was not uncommon. With the orthodox understanding that divinity had little or nothing to do with the physical world, sexual desire was perceived to be unGodly. When the men persecuting the accused witches found themselves sexually aroused, they assumed that such desire emanated, not from themselves, but from the woman. They attacked breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers and red-hot irons.
Some rules pardoned sexual abuse by allowing men deemed "zealous Catholics" to visit female prisoners in solitary confinement while not allowing female visitors. The people of Toulouse were so convinced that the inquisitor Foulques de Saint-George arraigned women for no other reason than to sexually abuse them that they took the dangerous and unusual step of gathering evidence against him.
Old, wise healing women were particular targets for witch-hunters as well.
"At this day," wrote Reginald Scot in 1584, "it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, 'she is a witch' or 'she is a wise woman.'"
Common people of pre-reformational Europe relied upon wise women and men for the treatment of illness rather than upon churchmen, monks or physicians. Robert Burton wrote in 1621:
Sorcerers are too common; cunning men, wizards and white witches, as they call them, in every village, which, if they be sought unto, will help almost all infirmities of body and mind.
By combining their knowledge of medicinal herbs with an entreaty for divine assistance, these healers provided both more affordable and most often more effective medicine than was available elsewhere. Churchmen of the Reformation objected to the magical nature of this sort of healing, to the preference people had for it over the healing that the Church or Church-licensed physicians offered, and to the power that it gave women. As a by-product of the witch hunts, the field of early medicine also transferred to exclusively male hands and the Western herbal tradition was largely destroyed.
Protestant and Catholic rivaled each other in the madness of the hour. Witches were burned no longer in ones and twos, but in scores and hundreds. A bishop of Geneva is said to have burned five hundred within three months, a bishop of Bamburg six hundred, a bishop of Wurzburg nine hundred. Eight hundred were condemned, apparently in one body, by the Senate of Savoy. Nicholaus Remigius, the criminal judge in Lorraine, boasted that in 15 years he had sent to death 900 people for the crime of witchcraft. In one year alone he forced 16 witches to commit suicide.
The Archbishop of Treves burned a hundred and eighteen women and two men, from whom confessions had been extorted that their incantations had prolonged the winter. Paramo boasts that in a century and a half from the commencement of the sect, in 1404, the Holy Office had burned at least 30,000 witches. Cumanus, in Italy, burned 41 women in one province alone. Strasbourg, burned 5000 in a period of 20 years.
It was reported in 1518 when the Senate was officially informed that the inquisitor had burned 70 witches of the Valcamonica, that he had as many in his prisons, and that those suspected or accused amounted to about 5000, or one fourth of the inhabitants of the valleys. In Germany 500 were burned in 1515 and 1516. In 1524, 1000 females accused of being witches died at Como, and for several years subsequently, the number of victims exceeded 100 annually.
In France, about 1520, the fires for the execution of witches blazed in almost every town; in one township in Piedmont there was not a family that had not lost a member; at Verneuil in 1561, women were burned on the charged of having converted themselves into cats. The delusion spread like an epidemic through the villages. Many women were murdered by mobs. At Leith, in Scotland, 9 women were burned together in 1664; the bishops’ palaces of South Germany basically became shambles--the lordly prelates of Salzburg, Wurzburg, and Bamberg taking lead in the butchery.
The executioner of Neisse in Silesia even invented an oven in which he roasted to death 42 women and young girls in one year. Within 9 years he had roasted over a 1000 people, including children 2 to 4 years old. In Wurzburg many children were burned, some no older than 9 years.
A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter IX. The Inquisitorial Process
The procedure of the episcopal courts, as described in a former chapter, was based on the principles of the Roman law, and whatever may have been its abuses in practice, it was equitable in theory, and its processes were limited by strictly defined rules. In the Inquisition all this was changed, and if we would rightly appreciate its methods we must understand the relations which the inquisitor conceived to exist between himself and the offenders brought before his tribunal.
As a judge, he was vindicating the faith and avenging God for the wrongs inflicted on him by misbelief. He was more than a judge, however, he was a father-confessor striving for the salvation of the wretched souls perversely bent on perdition. In both capacities he acted with an authority far higher than that of an earthly judge. If his sacred mission was accomplished, it mattered little what methods were used. If the offender asked mercy for his unpardonable crime it must be through the most unreserved submission to the spiritual father who was seeking to save him from the endless torment of hell. The first thing demanded of him when he appeared before the tribunal was an oath to stand to the mandates of the Church, to answer truly all questions asked of him, to betray all heretics known to him, and to perform whatever penance might be imposed on him; and refusal to take this oath was to proclaim himself at once a defiant and obstinate heretic.
In the Cismontane Inquisition the preliminary oath seems only to pledge the accused to tell the truth as to himself and others (Eymeric. p. 421). In Italy, however, it was the more elaborate affair described in the text. In the trials of the Guglielmites at Milan, in 1300, the accused were, in addition, made to impose.
The duty of the inquisitor, moreover, was distinguished from that of the ordinary judge by the fact that the task assigned to him was the impossible one of ascertaining the secret thoughts and opinions of the prisoner. External acts were to him only of value as indications of belief, to be accepted or rejected as he might deem them conclusive or illusory. The crime he sought to suppress by punishment was purely a mental one--acts, however criminal, were beyond his jurisdiction. The murderers of St. Peter Martyr were prosecuted, not as assassins, but as fautors of heresy and impeders of the Inquisition.
The usurer only came within his purview when he asserted or showed by his acts that he considered usury no sin; the sorcerer when his incantations proved that he preferred to rely on the powers of demons rather than those of God, or that he entertained wrongful notions upon the sacraments. Zanghino tells us that he witnessed the condemnation of a concubinary priest by the Inquisition, who was punished not for his licentiousness, but because while thus polluted he celebrated daily mass and urged in excuse that he considered himself purified by putting on the sacred vestments.
Then, too, even doubt was heresy; the believer must have fixed and unwavering faith, and it was the inquisitor's business to ascertain this condition of his mind. External acts and verbal professions were as naught. The accused might be regular in his attendance at mass; he might be liberal in his oblations, punctual in confession and communion, and yet be a heretic at heart. When brought before the tribunal he might profess the most unbounded submission to the decisions of the Holy See, the strictest adherence to orthodox doctrine, the freest readiness to subscribe to whatever was demanded of him, and yet be secretly a Catharan or a Vaudois, fit only for the stake.
Other Forms Of Action Discouraged
Few, indeed, were there who courageously admitted their heresy when brought before the tribunal, and to the conscientious judge, eager to destroy the foxes which ravaged the vineyard of the Lord, the task of exploring the secret heart of man was no easy one. We cannot wonder that he speedily emancipated himself from the trammels of recognized judicial procedure which, in preventing him from committing injustice, would have rendered his labors futile. Still less can we be surprised that fanatic zeal, arbitrary cruelty, and insatiable cupidity rivalled each other in building up a system unspeakably atrocious. Omniscience alone was capable of solving with justice the problems which were the daily routine of the inquisitor; human frailty, resolved to accomplish a predetermined end, inevitably reached the practical conclusion that the sacrifice of a hundred innocent men were better than the escape of one guilty.
Thus of the three forms of criminal actions, accusation, denunciation, and inquisition, the latter necessarily became, in place of an exception, the invariable rule, and at the same time it was stripped of the safeguards by which its dangerous tendencies had been in some degree neutralized. If a formal accuser presented himself, the inquisitor was instructed to discourage him by pointing out the danger of the talio to which he was exposed by inscribing himself; and by general consent this form of action was rejected in consequence of its being "litigious"--that is, because it afforded the accused some opportunities of defence. That there was danger to the accuser, and that the Inquisition practically discouraged the process, was shown in 1304, when an inquisitor, FrÃ Landulfo, imposed a fine of one hundred and fifty ounces of gold on the town of Theate because it had officially accused a man of heresy and had failed in the proof. The action by denunciation was less objectionable, because in it the inquisitor acted ex officio; but it was unusual, and the inquisitorial process at an early period became substantially the only one followed.
To appreciate the contrast between the processes of the Inquisition and of the secular courts, it will suffice to allude to the practice of the latter in Milan in the first half of the fourteenth century.
Not only, as we shall see, were its safeguards withdrawn, but virtually the presumption of guilt was assumed in advance. About 1278 an experienced inquisitor lays down the rule as one generally received, that in places much suspected of heresy every inhabitant must be cited to appear, must be forced to abjure heresy and to tell the truth, and be subjected to a detailed interrogatory about himself and others, in which any lack of frankness will subject him hereafter to the dreadful penalties of relapse. That this was not a mere theoretical proposition appears from the great inquests held by Bernard de Caux and Jean de Saint-Pierre in 1245 and 1246, when there are recorded two hundred and thirty interrogatories of inhabitants of the little town of Avignonet, one hundred of those of Fanjeaux, and four hundred and twenty of Mas-Saintes-Puelles.
From this responsibility there was no escape for any one who had reached the age at which the Church held him able to answer for his own acts. What this age was, however, was a subject of dispute. The Councils of Toulouse, BÃ©ziers, and Albi assumed it to be fourteen for males and twelve for females, when they prescribed the oath of abjuration to be taken by the whole population, and this rule was adopted by some authorities.
Minors And Absentees
Others contented themselves with the definition that the child must be old enough to understand the purport of an oath, while there were not wanting high authorities who reduced the age of responsibility to seven years, and those who more charitably fixed it at nine and a half for girls and ten and a half for boys.
It is true that in Latin countries, where minority did not cease until the age of twenty-five, no one beneath that age had a standing in court, but this was readily evaded by appointing for him a "curator," under whose shadow he could be tortured and condemned; and when we are told that no one below the age of fourteen should be tortured, we are left to conjecture the minimum age of responsibility for heresy.
Nor could the offender escape by absenting himself. Absence was contumacy and only increased his guilt, by adding a fresh and unpardonable offence, besides being technically tantamount to confession. In fact, before the Inquisition was thought of, the inquisitorial process was rendered absolute in ecclesiastical jurisprudence precisely to meet such cases, as when Innocent III. degraded the Bishop of Coire on evidence taken ex parte by his commissioners, after the bishop had repeatedly refused to appear before them; and the importance of this decision is shown by the fact that Raymond of Pennaforte embodied it in the canon law to prove that in cases of contumacy the testimony taken in an inquisitio was valid ground for condemnation without a litis contestatio or contest between the prosecution and the defence.
Accordingly, when a party failed to appear, after due citation published in his parish church and proper delay, there was no hesitation in proceeding against him to conviction in absentia--the absence of the culprit being piously supplied by "the presence of God and the Gospels" when the sentence was rendered. Contumacious absence, in fact, was in itself enough.
Frederic II. in his earliest edict, in 1220, following the Lateran Council of 1215, had declared that the suspect who did not clear himself within twelve months was to be condemned as a heretic, and this was applied to the absent, who were ordered to be sentenced after a year's excommunication, whether anything was proved against them or not. Enduring excommunication for a year without seeking its removal was evidence of heresy as to the sacraments and the power of the keys, if as to nothing else; and some authorities were so rigid with regard to this that the Council of BÃ©ziers denounced the punishment of heresy for all who remained excommunicate for forty days.
Even the delay of a twelvemonth, however, was evaded, for inquisitors were instructed when citing the absent to summon them, not only to appear, but to purge themselves within a given time, and then as soon as it had elapsed the accused was held to be convicted. Yet the extreme penalty of relaxation was rarely enforced in such cases, and the Inquisition contented itself generally with imprisoning for life those against whom no offence was proved save contumacy, unless, indeed, when caught they refused to submit and abjure.
As little was there any escape by death. It mattered not that the sinner had been called to the judgment-seat of God, the faith must be vindicated by his condemnation and the faithful be edified by his punishment. If he had incurred only imprisonment or the lighter penalties, his bones were simply dug up and cast out. If his heresy had deserved the stake, they were solemnly burned. A simulacrum of defence was allowed to heirs and descendants, on whom were visited the heavy penalties of confiscation and personal disabilities. How unflagging was the zeal with which these mortuary prosecutions were sometimes carried on is visible in the case of Armanno Pongilupo of Ferrara, over whose remains war was waged between the Bishop and the Inquisitor of Ferrara for thirty-two years after his death, in 1269, ending with the triumph of the Inquisition in 1301. No prescription of time barred the Church in these matters, as the heirs and descendants of Gherardo of Florence found when, in 1313, FrÃ Grimaldo the inquisitor commenced a successful prosecution against their ancestor who had died prior to 1250.
Disregard Of Forms
At best the inquisitorial process was a dangerous one in its conjunction of prosecutor with judge, and when it was first introduced in ecclesiastical jurisprudence careful limitations to prevent abuse were felt to be absolutely essential. The danger was doubled when the prosecuting judge was an earnest zealot bent on upholding the faith and predetermined on seeing in every prisoner before him a heretic to be convicted at any cost; nor was the danger lessened when he was merely rapacious and eager for fines and confiscations. Yet the theory of the Church was that the inquisitor was an impartial spiritual father whose functions in the salvation of souls should be fettered by no rules.
All the safeguards which human experience had shown to be necessary in judicial proceedings of the most trivial character were deliberately cast aside in these cases, where life and reputation and property through three generations were involved. Every doubtful point was decided "in favor of the faith." The inquisitor, with endless iteration, was empowered and instructed to proceed summarily, to disregard forms, to permit no impediments arising from judicial rules or the wrangling of advocates, to shorten the proceedings as much as possible by depriving the accused of the ordinary facilities of defence, and by rejecting all appeals and dilatory exceptions. The validity of the result was not to be vitiated by the omission at any stage of the trial of the forms which had been devised to prevent injustice and subject the judge to responsibility.
Had the proceedings been public, there might have been some check upon this hideous system, but the Inquisition shrouded itself in the awful mystery of secrecy until after sentence had been awarded and it was ready to impress the multitude with the fearful solemnities of the auto de fÃ©. Unless proclamation were to be made for an absentee, the citation of a suspected heretic was made in secret.
All knowledge of what took place after he presented himself was confined to the few discreet men selected by his judge, who were sworn to inviolable silence, and even the experts assembled to consult over his fate were subjected to similar oaths. The secrets of that dismal tribunal were guarded with the same caution, and we are told by Bernard Gui that extracts from the records were to be furnished rarely and only with the most careful discretion. Paramo, in the quaint pedantry with which he ingeniously proves that God was the first inquisitor and the condemnation of Adam and Eve the first model of the inquisitorial process, triumphantly points out that he judged them in secret, thus setting the example which the Inquisition is bound to follow, and avoiding the subtleties which the criminals would have raised in their defence, especially at the suggestion of the crafty serpent. That he called no witnesses is explained by the confession of the accused, and ample legal authority is cited to show that these confessions were sufficient to justify the conviction and punishment.
If this blasphemous absurdity raises a smile, it has also its melancholy side, for it reveals to us the view which the inquisitors themselves took of their functions, assimilating themselves to God and wielding an irresponsible power which nothing short of divine wisdom could prevent from being turned by human passions into an engine of the most deadly injustice. Released from all the restraint of publicity and unrestricted by the formalities of law, the procedure of the Inquisition, as Zanghino tells us, was purely arbitrary. How the inquisitors construed their powers and what use they made of their discretion we shall have abundant opportunity of seeing hereafter.
Usual Course of Trial
The ordinary course of a trial by the Inquisition was this. A man would be reported to the inquisitor as of ill-repute for heresy, or his name would occur in the confessions of other prisoners.
A secret inquisition would be made and all accessible evidence against him would be collected. He would then be secretly cited to appear at a given time, and bail taken to secure his obedience, or if he were suspected of flight, he would be suddenly arrested and confined until the tribunal was ready to give him a hearing. Legally there required to be three citations, but this was eluded by making the summons "one for three;" when the prosecution was based on common report the witnesses were called apparently at random, making a sort of drag-net, and when the mass of surmises and gossip, exaggerated and distorted by the natural fear of the witnesses, eager to save themselves from suspicion of favoring heretics, grew sufficient for action, the blow would fall. The accused was thus prejudged. He was assumed to be guilty, or he would not have been put on trial, and virtually his only mode of escape was by confessing the charges made against him, abjuring heresy, and accepting whatever punishment might be imposed on him in the shape of penance. Persistent denial of guilt and assertion of orthodoxy, when there was evidence against him, rendered him an impenitent, obstinate heretic, to be abandoned to the secular arm and consigned to the stake.
The process thus was an exceedingly simple one, and is aptly summarized by an inquisitor of the fifteenth century in an argument against admitting the accused to bail. If one is caught in heresy, by his own confession, and is impenitent, he is to be delivered to the secular arm to be put to death; if penitent, he is to be thrust in prison for life, and therefore is not to be let loose on bail; if he denies, and is legitimately convicted by witnesses, he is, as an impenitent, to be delivered to the secular court to be executed.
The contrast between this and the secular jurisprudence of the thirteenth century is illustrated in the charter granted by Alphonse of Poitiers to the town of Auzon (Auvergne), about 1260.
Yet many reasons led the inquisitor earnestly to desire to secure confession. In numerous cases--indeed, no doubt in a majority--the evidence, while possibly justifying suspicion, was of too loose and undefined a character to justify condemnation, for every idle rumor was taken up, and any flimsy pretext which led to prosecution assumed importance when the inquisitor found himself bound to show that he had not acted unadvisedly, or when he had in prospect fines and confiscations for the benefit of the faith. Even when the evidence was sufficient, there were motives equally strong to induce the inquisitor to labor with his prisoner in the hope of leading him to withdraw his denial and throw himself upon the mercy of the tribunal. Except in the somewhat rare cases of defiant heretics, confession was always accompanied with professions of conversion and repentance. Not only thus was a soul snatched from Satan, but the new convert was bound to prove his sincerity by denouncing all whom he knew or might suspect to be heretic, thus opening fresh avenues for the extirpation of heresy.
Bernard Gui, copying an earlier inquisitor, tells us eloquently that when the external evidence was insufficient for conviction, the mind of the inquisitor was torn with anxious cares. On the one side, his conscience pained him if he punished one who was neither confessed nor convicted; but he suffered still more, knowing by constant experience the falsity and cunning and malice of these men, if he allowed them to escape through their vulpine astuteness, to the damage of the faith. In such case they were strengthened and multiplied, and rendered keener than ever, while the laity were scandalized at seeing the inefficiency of the Inquisition, baffled in its undertakings, and its most learned men played with and defied by rude and illiterate persons, for they believed the inquisitors to have all the proofs and arguments of the faith so ready at hand that no heretic could elude them or prevent their converting him. From this it is easy to see how the self-conceit of the inquisitor led him inevitably to conviction.
In another passage he points out how greatly profitable to the faith was the conversion of such persons, because not only were they obliged to betray their fellows and the hiding-places and conventicles of darkness, but those whom they had influenced were more ready to acknowledge their errors and seek in turn to be converted. As early as 1246 the Council of BÃ©ziers had pointed out the utility of such conversions, and had instructed the inquisitors to spare no pains in procuring them, and all subsequent authorities evidently regarded this as the first of their duties. They all agree, moreover, in holding delation of accomplices as the indispensable evidence of true conversion. Without this the repentant heretic in vain might ask for reconciliation and mercy; his refusal to betray his friends and kindred was proof that he was unrepentant, and he was forthwith handed over to the secular arm, exactly as in the Roman law a converted ManichÃ¦an who consorted with ManichÃ¦ans without denouncing them to the authorities was punishable with death.
How useful this was is seen in the case of Saurine Rigaud, whose confession is recorded at Toulouse in 1254, where it is followed by a list of one hundred and sixty-nine persons incriminated by her, their names being carefully tabulated with their places of residence for immediate action. How strictly, moreover, the duty of the reconciled heretic was construed is seen in the fate of Guillem SicrÃ¨de at Toulouse in 1312. He had abjured and been reconciled in 1262. Fifty years afterwards, in 1311, he had been present at the death-bed of his brother, where heretication had been performed, and he had failed to betray it, though he had vainly objected to it.
When asked for his reasons, he simply said that he had not wished to injure his nephews, and for this, in 1312, he was imprisoned for life. Delation was so indispensable to the Inquisition that it was to be secured by rewards as well as by punishments. Bernard Gui tells us that those who voluntarily come forward and prove their zeal by confession and by betraying all their associates are not only to be pardoned, but their livelihood must be secured at the hands of princes and prelates; while betraying a single "perfected" heretic insured immunity and perhaps additional reward.
The inquisitor's anxiety to secure confession was well grounded, not only through the advantages thus secured, but to satisfy his own conscience. In ordinary crimes, a judge was usually certain that an offence had been committed before he undertook to prosecute a prisoner accused of murder or theft. In many cases, however, the inquisitor could have no assurance that there had been any crime.
A man might be reasonably suspected, he might have been seen conversing with those subsequently proved to be heretics, he might have given them alms or other assistance, he might even have attended a meeting of heretics, and yet be thoroughly orthodox at heart; or he might be a bitter heretic and yet have given no outward sign. His own assertion of orthodoxy, his willingness to subscribe to the faith of Rome, went for nothing, for experience had proved that most heretics were willing to subscribe to anything, and that they had been trained by persecution to conceal their beliefs under the mask of rigid orthodoxy.
Confession of heresy thus became a matter of vital importance, and no effort was deemed too great, no means too repulsive, to secure it. This became the centre of the inquisitorial process, and it is deserving of detailed consideration, not only because it formed the basis of procedure in the Holy Office, but also because of the vast and deplorable influence which it exercised for five centuries on the whole judicial system of Continental Europe.
The first and readiest means was, of course, the examination of the accused. For this the inquisitor prepared himself by collecting and studying all the adverse evidence that could be procured, while the prisoner was kept in sedulous ignorance of the charges against him. Skill in interrogation was the one pre-eminent requisite of the inquisitor, and manuals prepared by experienced brethren for the benefit of the younger officials are full of details with regard to it and of carefully prepared forms of interrogations suited for every heretical sect. Constant training developed a class of acute and subtle minds, practised to read the thoughts of the accused, skilled to lay pitfalls for the incautious, versed in every art to confuse, prompt to detect ambiguities, and quick to take advanage of hesitation or contradiction.
Even in the infancy of the institution the consuls of Narbonne complained to those of Nimes that the inquisitors, in their efforts to entrap the unwary, did not hesitate to make use of dialectics as sophistical as those with which students encountered each other in scholastic diversion. Nothing more ludicrous can well be imagined than the complaints of these veteran examiners, restricted by no rules, of the shrewd duplicity of their victims, who struggled, occasionally with success, to avoid criminating themselves, and they sought to explain it by asserting that wicked and shameless priests instructed them how to equivocate on points of faith.
An experienced inquisitor drew up for the guidance of his successors a specimen examination of a heretic, to show them the quibbles and tergiversations for which they must be prepared when dealing with those who shrank from boldly denying their faith. Its fidelity is attested by Bernard Gui reproducing it fifty years later in his "Practica," and it is too characteristic an illustration of the encounter between the trained intellect of the inquisitor and the untutored shrewdness of the peasant struggling to save his life and his conscience, to be omitted.
"When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, 'Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.'
"I. 'You are accused as a heretic, and that you believe and teach otherwise than Holy Church believes.'
"A. (Raising his eyes to heaven, with an air of the greatest faith) 'Lord, thou knowest that I am innocent of this, and that I never held any faith other than that of true Christianity.'
"I. 'You call your faith Christian, for you consider ours as false and heretical. But I ask whether you have ever believed as true another faith than that which the Roman Church holds to be true.
"A. 'I believe the true faith which the Roman Church believes, and which you openly preach to us.'
"I. 'Perhaps you have some of your sect at Rome whom you call the Roman Church. I, when I preach, say many things, some of which are common to us both, as that God liveth, and you believe some of what I preach. Nevertheless you may be a heretic in not believing other matters which are to be believed.'
"A. 'I believe all things that a Christian should believe.'
"I. 'I know your tricks. What the members of your sect believe you hold to be that which a Christian should believe. But we waste time in this fencing. Say simply, Do you believe in one God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost?'
"A. 'I believe.'
"I. 'Do you believe in Christ born of the Virgin, suffered, risen, and ascended to heaven?'
"A. (Briskly) 'I believe.'
"I. 'Do you believe the bread and wine in the mass performed by the priests to be changed into the body and blood of Christ by divine virtue?'
"A. 'Ought I not to believe this?'
"I. 'I don't ask if you ought to believe, but if you do believe.'
"A. 'I believe whatever you and other good doctors order me to believe.'
"I. 'Those good doctors are the masters of your sect; if I accord with them you believe with me; if not, not.'
"A. 'I willingly believe with you if you teach what is good to me.'
"I. 'You consider it good to you if I teach what your other masters teach. Say, then, do you believe the body of our Lord Jesus Christ to be in the altar?'
"A. (Promptly) 'I believe.'
"I. 'You know that a body is there, and that all bodies are of our Lord. I ask whether the body there is of the Lord who was born of the Virgin, hung on the cross, arose from the dead, ascended, etc.?'
"A. 'And you, sir, do you not believe it?'
"I. 'I believe it wholly.'
"A. 'I believe likewise.' <429.png' proofer1='tenorcnj' proofer2='the Senior Gravedigger'/>
"I. 'You believe that I believe it, which is not what I ask, but whether you believe it.'
"A. 'If you wish to interpret all that I say otherwise than simply and plainly, then I don't know what to say. I am a simple and ignorant man. Pray don't catch me in my words.'
"I. 'If you are simple, answer simply, without evasions.'
"I. 'Will you then swear that you have never learned anything contrary to the faith which we hold to be true?'
"A. (Growing pale) 'If I ought to swear, I will willingly swear.'
"I. 'I don't ask whether you ought, but whether you will swear.'
"A. 'If you order me to swear, I will swear.'
"I. 'I don't force you to swear, because as you believe oaths to be unlawful, you will transfer the sin to me who forced you; but if you will swear, I will hear it.'
"A. 'Why should I swear if you do not order me to?'
"I. 'So that you may remove the suspicion of being a heretic.'
"A. 'Sir, I do not know how unless you teach me.'
"I. 'If I had to swear, I would raise my hand and spread my fingers and say, "So help me God, I have never learned heresy or believed what is contrary to the true faith."'
"Then trembling as if he cannot repeat the form, he will stumble along as though speaking for himself or for another, so that there is not an absolute form of oath and yet he may be thought to have sworn. If the words are there, they are so turned around that he does not swear and yet appears to have sworn. Or he converts the oath into a form of prayer, as as 'God help me that I am not a heretic or the like;' and when asked whether he had sworn, he will say: 'Did you not hear me swear?' And when further hard pressed he will appeal, saying 'Sir, if I have done amiss in aught, I will willingly bear the penance, only help me to avoid the infamy of which I am accused through malice and without fault of mine.' But a vigorous inquisitor must not allow himself to be worked upon in this way, but proceed firmly till he makes these people confess their error, or at least publicly abjure heresy, so that if they are subsequently found to have sworn falsely, he can, without further hearing, abandon them to the secular arm. If one consents to swear that he is not a heretic, I say to him, 'If you wish to swear so as to escape the stake, one oath will not suffice for me, nor ten, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, because you dispense each other for a certain number of oaths taken under necessity, but I will require a countless number. Moreover, if I have, as I presume, adverse witnesses against you, your oaths will not save you from being burned. You will only stain your conscience without escaping death. But if you will simply confess your error, you may find mercy.' Under this anxiety, I have seen some confess."
The same inquisitor illustrates the ease with which the cunning of these simple folk fenced and played with the best-trained men of the Holy Office by a case in which he saw a serving-wench elude the questions of picked examiners for several days together, and she would have escaped had there not by chance been found in her chest the fragment of a bone of a heretic recently burned, which she had preserved as a relic, according to one of her companions who had collected the bones with her. But the inquisitor does not tell us how many thousand good Catholics, confused by the awful game which they were playing, mystified with the intricacies of scholastic theology, ignorant how to answer the dangerous questions put to them so searchingly, and terrified with the threats of burning for persistent denial, despairingly confessed the crime of which they were so confidently assumed to be guilty, and ratified their conversion by inventing tales about their neighbors, while expiating the wrong by suffering confiscation and lifelong imprisonment.
Yet the inquisitor was frequently baffled in this intellectual digladiation by the innocence or astuteness of the accused. His resources, however, were by no means exhausted, and here we approach one of the darkest and most repulsive aspects of our theme. Human inconsistency, in its manifold development, has never exhibited itself in more deplorable fashion than in the instructions on this subject transmitted to their younger brethren by the veterans of the Holy Office--instructions intended for none but official eyes, and therefore framed with the utmost unreserve. Trained through long experience in an accurate knowledge of all that can move the human breast; skilled not only to detect the subtle evasions of the intellect, but to seek and find the tenderest point through which to assail the conscience and the heart; relentless in inflicting agony on body and brain, whether through the mouldering wretchedness of the hopeless dungeon protracted through uncounted years, the sharper pain of the torture-chamber, or by coldly playing on the affections; using without scruple the most violent alternatives of hope and fear; employing with cynical openness every resource of guile and fraud on wretches purposely starved to render them incapable of self-defence, the counsels which these men utter might well seem the promptings of fiends exulting in the unlimited power to wreak their evil passions on helpless mortals. Yet through all this there shines the evident conviction that they are doing the work of God. No labor is too great if they can win a soul from perdition; no toil too repulsive if they can bring a fellow-creature to an acknowledgment of his wrong-doing and a genuine repentance that will wipe out his sins; no patience too prolonged if it will avoid the unjust conviction of the innocent.
All the cunning fence between judge and culprit, all the fraud, all the torture of body and mind so ruthlessly employed to extort unwilling confessions, were not necessarily used for the mere purpose of securing a victim, for the inquisitor was taught to be as earnest with the recalcitrants against whom he had sufficient testimony as with the cases in which evidence was deficient. With the former he was seeking to save a soul from immolating itself in the pride of obstinacy; with the latter he was laboring to preserve the sheep by not liberating an infected one to spread pestilence among the flock. It mattered little to the victim what were the motives actuating his persecutor, for conscientious cruelty is apt to be more cold-blooded and calculating, more relentless and effective, than passionate wrath, but the impartial student must needs recognize that while many inquisitors were doubtless dullards who followed unthinkingly a prescribed routine as a vocation, and others were covetous or sanguinary tyrants actuated only by self-interest or ambition, yet among them were not a few who believed themselves to be discharging a high and holy duty, whether they abandoned the impenitent to the flames, or by methods of unspeakable baseness rescued from Satan a soul which he had reckoned as his own. They were instructed that it was better to let the guilty escape than to condemn the innocent, and, therefore, that they must have either clear proofs or confession. In the absence of absolute evidence, therefore, the very conscientiousness of the judge, under such a system, led him to resort to any means to satisfy himself by wringing an acknowledgment from his victim.
The resources for procuring unwilling confession, at command of the inquisitor, may be roughly divided into two classes--deceit and torture, the latter comprehending both mental and physical pain, however administered. Both classes were resorted to freely and without scruple, and there was ample variety to suit the idiosyncrasies of all judges and prisoners.
Perhaps the mildest form of the devices to entrap an unwary prisoner was the recommendation that the examiner should always assume the fact of which he was in quest and ask about the details, as, for instance, "How often have you confessed as a heretic?" "In what chamber of yours did they lie?" Going a step further, the inquisitor is advised during the examination to turn over the pages of evidence as though referring to it, and then boldly inform the prisoner that he is not telling the truth, for it is thus and thus; or to pick up a paper and pretend to read from it whatever is necessary to deceive him; or he can be told circumstantially that some of the masters of the sect have incriminated him in their revelations. To render these devices more effective, the jailer was instructed to worm himself into the confidence of the prisoners, with feigned interest and compassion, and urge them to confess at once, because the inquisitor is a merciful man who will take pity on them. Then the inquisitor was to pretend that he had conclusive evidence, and that if the accused would confess and point out those who had led him astray, he should be allowed to go home forthwith, with any other blandishments likely to prove effective.
A more elaborate trap was that of treating the prisoner with kindness in place of rigor; sending trusty agents to his cell to gain his confidence, and then urge him to confess, with promises of mercy and that they would intercede for him. When everything was ripe, the inquisitor himself would appear and confirm these promises, with the mental reservation that all which is done for the conversion of heretics is merciful, that penances are mercies and spiritual remedies, so that when the unlucky wretch was prevailed upon to ask for mercy in return for his revelations, he was to be led on with the general expression that more would be done for him than he asked.
That spies should play a prominent part in such a system was inevitable. The trusty agents who were admitted to the prisoner's cell were instructed to lead him graduallv on from one confession to another until they should gain sufficient evidence to incriminate him, without his realizing it. Converted heretics, we are told, were very useful in this business. One would be sent to visit him and say that he had only pretended conversion through fear, and after repeated visits overstay his time and be locked up. Confidential talk would follow in the darkness, while witnesses with a notary were crouching within earshot to take down all that might fall from the lips of the unconscious victim. Fellow-prisoners were utilized whenever possible, and were duly rewarded for treachery. In the sentence of a Carmelite monk, January 17, 1329, guilty of the most infamous sorceries, it is recorded in extenuation of his black catalogue of guilt, that while in prison with sundry heretics he had aided greatly in making them confess and had revealed many important matters which they had confided to him, from which the Inquisition had derived great advantage and hoped to gain more.
These artifices were diversified with appeals to force. The heretic, whether acknowledged or suspected, had no rights. His body was at the mercy of the Church, and if through tribulation of the flesh he could be led to see the error of his ways, there was no hesitation in employing whatever means were readiest to save his soul and advance the faith. Among the miracles for which St. Francis was canonized it is related that a certain Pietro of Assisi was captured in Rome on an accusation of heresy, and confided for conversion to the Bishop of Todi, who loaded him with chains and fed him on measured quantities of bread and water in a dark dungeon. Thus brought through suffering to repentance, on the vigil of St. Francis he invoked the saint for help with passionate tears. Moved by his zeal, St. Francis appeared to him and ordered him forth.
His chains fell off and the doors flew open, but the poor wretch was so crazed by the sudden answer to his prayer that he clung to the doorpost with cries which brought the jailers running to him. The pious bishop hastened to the prison, and reverently acknowledging the power of God, sent the shivered fetters to the pope in token of the miracle. Even more illustrative and better authenticated is a case related with much gratulation by Nider as occurring when he was teaching in the University of Vienna. A heretic priest, thrown into prison by his bishop, proved obstinate, and the most eminent theologians who labored for his conversion found him their match in disputation. Believing that vexation brings understanding, they at length ordered him to be bound tightly to a pillar. The cords eating into the swelling flesh caused such exquisite torture that when they visited him the next day he begged piteously to be taken out and burned. Coldly refusing, they left him for another twenty-four hours, by which time physical pain and exhaustion had broken his spirit. He humbly recanted, retired to a Paulite monastery, and lived an exemplary life.
It will readily be believed that there was scant hesitation in employing any methods likely to crush the obduracy of the prisoner who refused the confession and recantation demanded of him. If he were likely to be reached through the affections, his wife and children were admitted to his cell in hopes that their tears and pleadings might work on his feelings and overcome his convictions.
Alternate threats and blandishments were tried; he would be removed from his foul and dismal dungeon to commodious quarters, with liberal diet and a show of kindness, to see if his resolution would be weakened by alternations of hope and despair. Master of the art of playing upon the human heart, the trained inquisitor left no method untried which promised victory in the struggle between him and the helpless wretch abandoned to his experiments. Among these, one of the most efficient was the slow torture of delay. The prisoner who refused to confess, or whose confession was deemed imperfect, was remanded to his cell, and left to ponder in solitude and darkness. Except in rare cases time was no object with the Inquisition, and it could afford to wait.
Perhaps in a few weeks his resolution might break down, and he might ask to be heard. If not, six months might elapse before he was again called up for hearing. If still obstinate he would be again sent back. Months would lengthen into years, perhaps years into decades, and find him still unconvicted and still a prisoner, hopeless and despairing. Should friendly death not intervene, the terrible patience of the Inquisition was nearly certain to triumph in the end, and the authorities all agree upon the effectiveness of delay. This explains what otherwise would be hard to understand--the immense protraction of so many of the inquisitorial trials whose records have reached us. Three, five, or ten years are common enough as intervals between the first audience of a prisoner and his final conviction, nor are instances wanting of even greater delays. Bernalde, wife of Guillem de Montaigu, was imprisoned at Toulouse in 1297, and made a confession the same year, yet she was not formally sentenced to imprisonment until the auto of 1310. I have already alluded to the case of Guillem Garric, brought to confess at Carcassonne in 1321 after a detention of nearly thirty years. In the auto de fÃ© of 1319, at Toulouse, Guillem Salavert was sentenced, who had made an unsatisfactory confession in 1299 and another in 1316; to the latter he had unwaveringly adhered, and at last Bernard Gui, overcome by his obstinacy, let him off with the penance of wearing crosses, in consideration of his twenty years' imprisonment without conviction. At the same auto were sentenced six wretches who had recently died in prison, two of whom had made their first confession in 1305, one in 1306, two in 1311, and one in 1315. Nor was this hideous torture of suspense peculiar to any special tribunal. Guillem Salavert was one of those implicated in the troubles of Albi in 1299, when many of the accused were speedily tried and sentenced by the bishop, Bernard de Castenet, and Nicholas d'Abbeville, inquisitor of Carcassonne, but some were reserved for the harder fate of detention without trial. The intervention of the pope was sought, and in 1310 Clement V. wrote to the bishop and the inquisitor, giving the names of ten of them, including some of the most respectable citizens of Albi, who had lain for eight years or more in jail awaiting judgment, many of them in chains and all in narrow, dark cells. His order for their immediate trial was disobeyed, and in a subsequent letter he speaks of several of them having died before his previous epistle, and reiterated his command for the prompt disposal of the survivors. The Inquisition was a law unto itself, however, and again his mandate was disregarded. In 1319, besides Guillem Salavert, two others, Guillem Calverie and Isarn Colli, were brought from their dungeon and retracted their confessions which had been extorted from them by torture. Calverie figured with Salavert in the auto of Toulouse in the same year. When Colli was sentenced we do not know, but in the accounts of Arnaud Assalit, royal steward of confiscations, for 1322-3, there appears the property of "Isarnus Colli condemnatus," showing his ultimate fate. In the auto of 1319, moreover, occur the names of two citizens of Cordes, Durand Boissa and Bernard Ouvrier (then deceased), whose confessions date respectively from 1301 and 1300, doubtless belonging to the same unfortunate group, who had eaten their hearts in despair and misery for a score of years.
When it was desired to hasten this slow torture, the object was easily accomplished by rendering the imprisonment unendurably harsh. As we shall see hereafter, the dungeons of the Inquisition at best were abodes of fearful misery, but when there was reason for increasing their terrors there was no difficulty in increasing the hardships. The "durus career et arcta vita"--chains and starvation in a stifling hole--was a favorite device for extracting confession from unwilling lips. We shall meet hereafter an atrocious instance of this inflicted on a witness, as early as 1263, when the ruin of the great house of Foix was sought.
Extortion Of Confessions
Introduction Of Torture
It was pointed out that judicious restriction of diet not only reduced the body but weakened the will, and rendered the prisoner less able to resist alternate threats of death and promises of mercy. Starvation, in fact, was reckoned as one of the regular and most efficient methods to subdue unwilling witnesses and defendants. In 1306 Clement V. declared, after an official investigation, that at Carcassonne prisoners were habitually constrained to confession by the harshness of the prison, the lack of beds, and the deficiency of food, as well as by torture.
With all these resources at their command, it might seem superfluous for inquisitors to have recourse to the vulgar and ruder implements of the torture-chamber. The rack and strappado, in fact, were in such violent antagonism, not only with the principles of Christianity, but with the practices of the Church, that their use by the Inquisition, as a means of furthering the faith, is one of the saddest anomalies of that dismal period. I have elsewhere shown how consistently the Church opposed the use of torture, so that, in the barbarism of the twelfth century, Gratian lays it down as an accepted rule of the canon law that no confession is to be extorted by torment.
Torture, moreover, except among the Wisigoths, had been unknown among the barbarians who founded the commonwealths of Europe, and their system of jurisprudence had grown up free from its contamination. It was not until the study of the revived Roman law, and the prohibition of ordeals by the Lateran Council of 1215, which was gradually enforced during the first half of the thirteenth century, that jurists began to feel the need of torture and accustom themselves to the idea of its introduction. The earliest instances with which I have met occur in the Veronese Code of 1228 and the Sicilian Constitutions of Frederic II. in 1231, and in both of these the references to it show how sparingly and hesitatingly it was employed. Even Frederic, in his ruthless edicts, from 1220 to 1239, makes no allusion to it, but, in accordance with the Verona decree of Lucius III., prescribes the recognized form of canonical purgation for the trial of all suspected heretics. Yet it rapidly won its way in Italy, and when Innocent IV., in 1252, published his bull Ad extirpanda, he adopted it, and authorized its use for the discovery of heresy.
A decent respect for the old-time prejudices of the Church, however, forbade him to allow its administration by the inquisitors themselves or their servitors. It was the secular authorities who were ordered to force all captured heretics to confess and accuse their accomplices, by torture which should not imperil life or injure limb, "just as thieves and robbers are forced to confess their crimes and accuse their accomplices." The unrepealed canons of the Church, in fact, prohibited all ecclesiastics from being concerned in such acts, and even from being present where torture was administered, so that the inquisitor whose zeal should lead him to take part in it was thereby rendered "irregular" and unfit for sacred functions until he could be "dispensed" or purified. This did not suit the policy of the institution.
Possibly outside of Italy, where torture was as yet virtually unknown, it found difficulty in securing the co-operation of the public officials; everywhere it complained that this cumbrous mode of administration interfered with the profound secrecy which was an essential characteristic of its operations. But four years after the bull of Innocent IV., Alexander IV., in 1256, removed the difficulty with characteristic indirection by authorizing inquisitors and their associates to absolve each other, and mutually grant dispensations for irregularities--a permission which was repeatedly reiterated, and which was held to remove all impediment to the use of torture under the direct supervision of the inquisitor and his ministers. In Naples, where the Inquisition was but slenderly organized, we find the public officials used by it as torturers until the end of the century, but elsewhere it speedily arrogated the administration of torment to its own officials.
Even in Naples, however, FrÃ Tomaso d'Aversa is seen, in 1305, personalty inflicting the most brutal tortures on the Spiritual Franciscans; and when he found it impossible in this manner to make them convict themselves, he employed the ingenious expedient of starving for a few days one of the younger brethren, and then giving him strong wine to drink; when the poor wretch was fuddled there was no difficulty in getting him to admit that he and his twoscore comrades were all heretics.
Torture saved the trouble and expense of prolonged imprisonment; it was a speedy and effective method of obtaining what revelations might be desired, and it grew rapidly in favor with the Inquisition, while its extension throughout secular jurisprudence was remarkably slow. In 1260 the charter granted by Alphonse of Poitiers to the town of Auzon specially exempts the accused from torture, no matter what the crime involved. This shows that its use was gradually spreading, and already, in 1291, Philippe le Bel felt himself called upon to restrain its abuses; in letters to the seneschal of Carcassonne he alludes to the newly-introduced methods of torture in the Inquisition, whereby the innocent were convicted and scandal and desolation pervaded the land.
He could not interfere with the internal management of the Holy Office, but he sought a corrective in forbidding indiscriminate arrests at the sole bidding of the inquisitors. As might be expected, this was only a palliative; callous indifference to human suffering grows by habit, and the misuse of this terrible method of coercion continued to increase. When the despairing cry of the population induced Clement V. to order an investigation into the iniquities of the Inquisition of Carcassonne, the commission issued to the cardinals sent thither in 1306 recites that confessions were extorted by torture so severe that the unfortunates subjected to it had only the alternative of death; and in the proceedings before the commissioners the use of torture is so frequently alluded to as to leave no doubt of its habitual employment. It is a noteworthy fact, however, that in the fragmentary documents of inquisitorial proceedings which have reached us the references to torture are singularly few. Apparently it was felt that to record its use would in some sort invalidate the force of the testimony.
Thus, in the cases of Isarn Colli and Guillem Calverie, mentioned above, it happens to be stated that they retracted their confessions made under torture, but in the confessions themselves there is nothing to indicate that it had been used. In the six hundred and thirty-six sentences borne upon the register of Toulouse from 1309 to 1323 the only allusion to torture is in the recital of the case of Calverie, but there are numerous instances in which the information wrung from the convicts who had no hope of escape could scarce have been procured in any other manner. Bernard Gui, who conducted the Inquisition of Toulouse during this period, has too emphatically expressed his sense of the utility of torture on both principals and witnesses for us to doubt his readiness in its employment.
The result of Clement's investigation in 1306 led to an effort at reform which was agreed to in the Council of Vienne in 1311, but with customary indecision Clement delayed the publication of the considerable body of legislation adopted by the council until his death, and it was not issued till October, 1317, by his successor John XXII. Among the abuses which he sought to limit was that of torture, and to this end he ordered that it should not be administered without the concurrent action of bishop and inquisitor if this could be had within the space of eight days. Bernard Gui emphatically remonstrated against this as seriously crippling the efficiency of the Inquisition, and he proposed to substitute for it the meaningless phrase that torture should only be used with mature and careful deliberation, but his suggestion was unheeded, and the Clementine regulation remained the law of the Church.
The inquisitors, however, were too little accustomed to restraint in any form to submit long to this infringement on their privileges. It is true that disobedience rendered the proceedings void, and the unhappy wretch who was unlawfully tortured without episcopal consultation could appeal to the pope, but this did not undo the work; Rome was distant, and the victims of the Inquisition for the most part were too friendless and too helpless to protect themselves in such illusory fashion.
In Bernard Gui's "Practica," written probably about 1328 or 1330, he only speaks of consultation with experts, making no allusions to bishops; Eymerich adheres to the Clementines, but his instructions as to what is to be done in case of their disregard shows how frequent was such action; while Zanghino boldly affirms that the canon is to be construed as permitting torture by either bishop or inquisitor. In some proceedings against the Waldenses of Piedmont in 1387, if the accused did not confess freely on a first examination an entry was made that the inquisitor was not content, and twenty-four hours were given the prisoner to amend his statements; he would be tortured and brought back next morning in a more complying frame of mind, when a careful record would be made that his confession was without torture and aloof from the torture-chamber.
Cunning casuists, moreover, discovered that Clement had only spoken of torture in general and had not specifically alluded to witnesses, whence they concluded that one of the most shocking abuses of the system, the torture of witnesses, was left to the sole discretion of the inquisitor, and this became the accepted rule. It only required an additional step to show that after the accused had been convicted by evidence or had confessed as to himself, he became a witness as to the guilt of his friends and thus could be arbitrarily tortured to betray them. Even when the Clementines were observed, the limit of eight days enabled the inquisitor to proceed independently after waiting for that length of time.
While witnesses who were supposed to be concealing the truth could be tortured as a matter of course, there was some discussion among jurists as to the amount of adverse evidence that would justify placing the accused on the rack. Unless there was some colorable reason to believe that the crime of heresy had been committed, evidently there was no excuse for the employment of such means of investigation. Eymerich tells us that when there are two incriminating witnesses, a man of good reputation can be tortured to ascertain the truth, while if he is of evil repute he can be condemned without it or can be tortured on the evidence of a single witness. could be tortured as a matter of courseZanghino, on the other hand, asserts that the evidence of a single witness of good character is sufficient for the authorization of torture, without distinction of persons, while Bernardo di Como says that common report is enough. In time elaborate instructions were drawn up for the guidance of inquisitors in this matter, but their uselessness was confessed in the admission that, after all, the decision was to be left to the discretion of the judge. How little sufficed to justify the exercise of this discretion is seen when jurists held it to be sufficient if the accused, on examination, was frightened and stammered and varied in his answers, without any external evidence against him.
Application Of Torture
In the administration of torture the rules adopted by the Inquisition became those of the secular courts of Christendom at large, and therefore are worth brief attention. Eymerich, whose instructions on the subject are the fullest we have, admits the grave difficulties which surrounded the question, and the notorious uncertainty of the result. Torture should be moderate, and effusion of blood be scrupulously avoided, but then, what was moderation? Some prisoners were so weak that at the first turn of the pulleys they would concede anything asked them; others so obstinate that they would endure all things rather than confess the truth. Those who had previously undergone the experience might be either the stronger or the weaker for it, for with some the arms were hardened, while with others they were permanently weakened. In short, the discretion of the judge was the only rule.
Both bishop and inquisitor ought rightfully to be present. The prisoner was shown the implements of torment and urged to confess. On his refusal he was stripped and bound by the executioners and again entreated to speak, with promises of mercy in all cases in which mercy could be shown. This frequently produced the desired result, and we may be assured that the efficacy of torture lay not so much in what was extracted by its use as in the innumerable cases in which its dread, near or remote, paralyzed the resolution with agonizing expectations. If this proved ineffectual, the torture was applied with gradually increased severity.
In the case of continued obstinacy additional implements of torment were exhibited and the sufferer was told that he would be subjected to them all in turn. If still undaunted, he was unbound, and the next or third day was appointed for renewal of the infliction. According to rule, torture could be applied but once, but this, like all other rules for the protection of the accused, was easily eluded. It was only necessary to order, not a repetition, but a "continuance" of the torture, and no matter how long the interval, the holy casuists were able to continue it indefinitely; or a further excuse would be found in alleging that additional evidence had been discovered, which required a second torturing to purge it away. During the interval fresh solicitations were made to elicit confession, and these being unavailing, the accused was again subjected to torment either of the same kind as before or to others likely to prove more efficacious. If he remained silent after torture, deemed sufficient by his judges, some authorities say that he should be discharged and that a declaration was to be given him that nothing had been proved against him; others, however, order that he should be remanded to prison and be kept there.
The trial of Bernard DÃ©licieux, in 1319, reveals another device to elude the prohibition of repeated torture, for the examiners could at any moment order the torture to satisfy their curiosity about a single point, and thus could go on indefinitely with others.
Any confession made under torture required to be confirmed after removal from the torture-chamber. Usually the procedure appears to be that the torture was continued until the accused signified his readiness to confess, when he was unbound and carried into another room where his confession was made. If, however, the confession was extracted during the torture, it was read over subsequently to the prisoner and he was asked if it were true: there was, indeed, a rule that there should be an interval of twenty-four hours between the torture and the confession, or its confirmation, but this was commonly disregarded.
Silence indicated assent, and the length of silence to be allowed for was, as usual, left to the discretion of the judge, with warning to consider the condition of the prisoner, whether young or old, male or female, simple or learned. In any case the record was carefully made that the confession was free and spontaneous, without the pressure of force or fear. If the confession was retracted, the accused could be taken back for a continuance of the torture--not, as we are carefully told, for a repetition--provided always that he had not been "sufficiently" tortured before.
Retraction Of Confessions
The question as to the retraction of confession was one which exercised to no small degree the inquisitorial jurists, and practice was not wholly uniform. It placed the inquisitor in a disagreeable position, and, in view of the methods adopted to secure confession, it was so likely to occur that naturally stringent measures were adopted to prevent it. Some authorities draw a distinction between confessions made "spontaneously" and those extorted by torture or its threat, but in practice the difference was disregarded. The most merciful view taken of revocation is that of Eymerich, who says that if the torture had been sufficient, the accused who persistently revokes is entitled to a discharge.
In this Eymerich is alone. Some authorities recommend that the accused be forced to withdraw his revocation by repetition of torture. Others content themselves with regarding it as impeding the Inquisition, and as such including it in the excommunication regularly published by parish priests and at the opening of every auto de fÃ©, and this excommunication included notaries who might wickedly aid in drawing up such revocations. The general presumption of law, however, was that the confession was true and the retraction a perjury, and the view taken of such cases was that the retraction proved the accused to be an impenitent heretic, who had relapsed after confession and asking for penance. As such there was nothing to be done with him but to hand him over to the secular arm for punishment without a hearing.
It is true, that in the case of Guillem Calverie, thus condemned in 1319 by Bernard Gui for withdrawing his confession, the culprit was mercifully allowed fifteen days in which to revoke his revocation, but this was a mere exercise of the discretion customarily lodged with the inquisitor. How strictly the rule was construed which regarded revocation as relapse is seen in the remark of Zanghino, that if a man had confessed and abjured and been set free under penance, and if he subsequently remarked in public that he had confessed under fear of expense or to avoid heavier punishment, he was to be regarded as an impenitent heretic, liable to be burned as a relapsed. We shall see hereafter the full significance of this point in its application to the Templars. There was an additional question of some nicety which arose when the retracted confession incriminated others besides the accused; in this case the most merciful view taken was that, if it was not to be held good against them, the one who confessed was liable to punishment for false-witness. As no confession was sufficient which did not reveal the names of partners in guilt, those inquisitors who did not regard revocation as relapse could at least imprison the accused for life as a false witness.
The inquisitorial process as thus perfected was sure of its victim. No one whom a judge wished to condemn could escape. The form in which it became naturalized in secular jurisprudence was less arbitrary and effective, yet Sir John Fortescue, the chancellor of Henry VI., who in his exile had ample opportunity to observe its working, declares that it placed every man's life or limb at the mercy of any enemy who could suborn two unknown witnesses to swear against him.
A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter X. Evidence
We have seen in the foregoing chapter the inevitable tendency of the inquisitorial process to assume the character of a duel between the judge and the accused with the former as the assailant. This deplorable result was the necessary outcome of the system and of the task imposed upon the inquisitor. He was required to penetrate the inscrutable heart of man, and professional pride perhaps contributed as much as zeal for the faith in stimulating him to prove that he was not to be baffled by the unfortunates brought before him in judgment.
In such a struggle as this the testimony of witnesses, for the most part, counted for little except as a basis for arrest and prosecution, and for threatening the accused with the unknown mass of evidence against him, and for this the slightest breath of scandal, even from a single person notoriously foul-mouthed, sufficed, without calling witnesses.
The real battlefield was the prisoner's conscience, and his confession the prize of victory. Yet the subject of evidence as treated by the Inquisition is not wholly to be passed over, for it affords fresh illustration of the manner in which the practice of construing everything "in favor of the faith" led to the development of the worst body of jurisprudence invented by man, and to the habitual perpetration of the foulest injustice. The matter-of-course way in which rules destructive of every principle of fairness are laid down by men presumably correct in the ordinary affairs of life affords a wholesome lesson as to the power of fanaticism to warp the intellect of the most acute.
This did not arise from any peculiar laxity of practice in the ordinary ecclesiastical courts. Their procedure, based upon the civil law, accepted and enforced its rules as to the admission of evidence, and the onus of proof lay upon the assertor of a fact.
Vagueness Of Testimony
Innocent III., in his instructions as to the Cathari of La Charitã, reminded the local authorities that even violent presumptions were not proof, and were insufficient for condemnation in a matter so heinous--a rule which was embodied in the canon law, where it became for the inquisitors merely an excuse for obtaining certitude by extorting confession.
How completely they felt themselves emancipated from all wholesome restraint is shown by the remarks of Bernard Gui--"The accused are not to be condemned unless they confess or are convicted by witnesses, though not according to the ordinary laws, as in other crimes, but according to the private laws or privileges conceded to the inquisitors by the Holy See, for there is much that is peculiar to the Inquisition.
From almost the inception of the Holy Office there was an effort to lay down rules as to what constituted evidence of heresy; but the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, winds up an enumeration of the various indications by saying that it is sufficient if the accused can be shown to have manifested by any word or sign that he had faith or belief in heretics or considered them to be "good men" (bos homes). The kind of testimony received was as flimsy and impalpable as the facts, or supposed facts, sought to be proved. In the voluminous examinations and depositions which have reached us from the archives of the Inquisition we find the witnesses allowed and encouraged to say everything that may occur to them. Great weight was attached to popular report or belief, and to ascertain this the opinion of the witness was freely received, whether based on knowledge or prejudice, hearsay evidence, vague rumors, general impressions, or idle gossip.
Everything, in fact, that could affect the accused injuriously was eagerly sought and scrupulously written down. In the determined effort to ruin the seigneurs de Niort, in 1240, of the one hundred and eight witnesses examined scarce one was able to speak of his own knowledge as to any act of the accused. In 1254 Arnaud Baud of Montrãal was qualified as "suspect" of heresy because he continued to visit his mother and aided her in her need after she had been hereticated, though there was absolutely nothing else against him; only delivering her up to be burned would have cleared him. It became, in fact, a settled principle of law that either husband or wife knowing the other to be a heretic and not giving information within a twelvemonth was held to be a consenting party without further evidence, and was punishable as a heretic.
Naturally the conscientious inquisitor recognized the vicious circle in which he moved and sought to satisfy himself that he could designate infallible signs which would justify the conclusion of heresy. There is ample store of such enumerated. Thus for the Cathari it sufficed to show that the accused had venerated one of the perfected, had asked a blessing, had eaten of the blessed bread or had kept it, had been voluntarily present at an heretication, had entered into the covenansa to be hereticated on the death-bed, etc.
For the Waldenses such indications were considered to be the confessing of sins to and accepting penance from those known not to be regularly ordained by an orthodox bishop, praying with them according to their rites by bending the knees with them on a bench or other inclined object, being present with them when they pretended to make the Host, receiving "peace" from them, or blessed bread. All this was easily catalogued, but beyond it lay a region of doubt concerning which authorities differed. The Council of Albi, in 1254, declared that entering a house, in which a heretic was known to be, converted simple suspicion into vehement; and Bernard Gui mentions that some inquisitors held that visiting heretics, giving them alms, guiding them in their journeys, and the like was sufficient for condemnation, but he agrees with Gui Foucoix in not so considering it, as all this might be done through carnal affection or for hire.
The heart of man, he adds, is deep and inscrutable, but he seeks to satisfy himself for attempting the impossible by arguing that all which cannot be explained favorably must be admitted as adverse proof. It is a noteworthy fact that in long series of interrogations there will frequently be not a single question as to the belief of the party making confession. The whole energy of the inquisitor was directed to obtaining statements of external acts. The upshot of it all necessarily was that almost everything was left to the discretion of the inquisitor, whose temper had more to do with the result than the proof of guilt or its absence.
How insignificant were the tokens on which a man's fate might depend may be understood by a single instance. In 1234 Accursio Aldobrandini, a Florentine merchant in Paris, made the acquaintance of some strangers with whom he conversed several times, giving their servant on one occasion ten sols, and bowing to them when they met, out of politeness. This latter act was equivalent to the "veneration" which was the crucial test of heresy, and when he chanced to learn that his new acquaintances were heretics he felt himself lost.
Hastening to Rome, he laid the matter before Gregory IX., who exacted bail of him and sent a commission to the Bishop of Florence to investigate the antecedents of Accursio. The report was examined by the cardinals of Ostia and Preneste and found to be emphatic in commending his orthodoxy, so he escaped with a penance prescribed by Raymond of Pennaforte, the papal penitentiary, and Gregory wrote to the inquisitors of Paris not to molest him. Under such a system the most devout Catholic could never feel safe for a moment.
Suspicion Of Heresy
Yet in spite of all these efforts to define the indefinable, it was in the very nature of things that absolute certitude could not, in a vast range of cases, be reached except through confession. In order, therefore, to avert the misfortune of acquitting those who could not be brought to confess, it became necessary to invent a new crime--that known as "suspicion of heresy."
This opened a wide field for the endless subtleties and refinements in which the jurists of the schools delighted, rendering their so-called science of law a worthy rival of scholastic theology. Suspicion thus was primarily divided into three grades, designated as light, vehement, and violent, and the glossators revel in defining the amount and quality of evidence which renders the accused guilty of either of these, with the usual result that practically the matter was left to the discretion of the tribunal.
That a man against whom nothing substantial was proved should be punished merely because he was suspected of guilt may seem to modern eyes a scant measure of justice; but to the inquisitor it appeared a wrong to God and man that any one should escape against whose orthodoxy there rested a shadow of a doubt. Like much else taught by the Inquisition, this found its way into general criminal law, which it perverted for centuries.
Two witnesses were usually assumed to be necessary for the condemnation of a man of good repute, though some authorities demanded more. Yet when a case threatened to fail for lack of testimony, the discretion of the inquisitor was the ultimate arbitrator; and it was agreed that if two witnesses to the same fact could not be had, single witnesses to two separate facts of the same general character would suffice. When there was only one witness in all, the accused was still put on his purgation. With the same determination to remove all obstacles in the way of conviction, if a witness revoked his testimony it was held that if his evidence had been favorable to the accused, the revocation annulled it; if adverse, the revocation was null.
The same disposition to construe everything in favor of the faith governed the admissibility of witnesses of evil character. The Roman law rejected the evidence of accomplices, and the Church had adopted the rule. In the False Decretals it had ordered that no one should be admitted as an accuser who was a heretic or suspected of heresy, was excommunicate, a homicide, a thief, a sorcerer, a diviner, a ravisher, an adulterer, a bearer of false witness, or a consulter of diviners and soothsayers. Yet when it came to prosecuting heresy all these prohibitions were thrown to the winds. As early as the time of Gratian, infamous and heretical witnesses were receivable against heretics. The edicts of Frederic II. rendered heretics incapable of giving testimony, but this disability was removed when they testified against heretics.
Character And Age Of Witnesses
In the lay courts, if a witness swore to the innocence of the accused and subsequently changed his testimony, the first statement was held good and the second was rejected, but in cases of heresy the incriminating evidence was always received.
That there was some hesitation on this point we see in the Legatine Inquisition held in Toulouse in 1229, where it is recorded that Guillem Solier, a converted heretic, was restored in fame in order to enable him to bear witness against his former associates, and even as late as 1260 Alexander IV. was obliged to reassure the French inquisitors that they could safely use the evidence of heretics; but the principle became a settled one, adopted in the canon law, and constantly enforced in practice. Without it, in fact, the Inquisition would have been deprived of its most fruitful means of tracking heretics. It was the same with excommunicates, perjurers, infamous persons, usurers, harlots, and all those who, in the ordinary criminal jurisprudence of the age, were regarded as incapable of bearing witness, yet whose evidence was receivable against heretics. All legal exceptions were declared inoperative except that of mortal enmity.
In the ordinary criminal law of Italy no evidence was received from a witness under twenty, but in cases of heresy such testimony was taken, and, though not legal, it sufficed to justify torture. In France the distinction seems to have been less rigidly defined, and the matter probably was left, like so much else, to the discretion of the inquisitors. As the Council of Albi specifies seven years as the period at which all children were ordered to be made to attend church and learn the Creed, Paternoster, and Salutation to the Virgin, it may be safely assumed that below that age they would hardly be admitted to give testimony. In the records of the Inquisition the age of the witness is rarely stated, but I have met with one case, in 1244, after the capture of the pestilent nest of heretics at Montsãgur, where the Inquisition gathered so goodly harvest, when the age of a witness, Arnaud Olivier, happens to be mentioned as ten years.
He admitted having been a Catharan "believer" since he had reached the age of discretion, and thus was responsible for himself and others. His evidence is gravely recorded against his father, his sister, and nearly seventy others; and in it he is made to give the names of sixty-six persons who were present about a year before at the sermon of a Catharan bishop. The wonderful exercise of so young a memory does not seem to have excited any doubts as to the validity of his testimony, which must have been held conclusive against the unfortunates enumerated, as he stated that they all "venerated" their prelate.
Wives and children and servants were not admitted to give evidence in favor of the accused, but their testimony if adverse to him was welcomed, and was considered peculiarly strong. It was the same with the heretic, who, as we have seen, was freely admitted as an adverse witness, but who was rejected if appearing for the defence. In short, the only exception which could be taken to an accusing witness was malignity. If he was a mortal enemy of the prisoner it was presumed that his testimony was rather the prompting of hate than zeal for the faith, and it was required to be thrown out. In the case of the dead, the evidence of a priest that he had shriven the defunct and administered the viaticum went for nothing; but if he testified that the departed had confessed to being a heretic, had recanted, and had received absolution, then his bones were not exhumed and burned, but the heirs had to endure such penance of fine or confiscation as would have been inflicted on him if alive.
Of course no witness could refuse to give evidence. No privilege or vow or oath released him from the duty. If he was unwilling and paltered or prevaricated and equivocated, there was the gentle persuasion of the torture-chamber, which, as we have seen, was even more freely used on witnesses than on principals. It was the ready instrument by which any doubts as to the testimony could be cleared up; and it is fair to attribute to the sanction of this terrible abuse by the Inquisition the currency which it so long enjoyed in European criminal law. Even the secrecy of the confessional was not respected in the frenzied effort to obtain all possible information against heretics.
Names Of Witnesses Withheld
All priests were enjoined to make strict inquiries of their penitents as to their knowledge of heretics and fautors of heresy. The seal of sacramental confession could not be openly and habitually violated, but the result was reached by indirection. When the confessor succeeded in learning anything he was told to write it down and then endeavor to induce his penitent to reveal it to the proper authorities. Failing in this, he was, without mentioning names, to consult God-fearing experts as to what he ought to do--with what effect can readily be conjectured, since the very fact of consulting as to his duty shows that the obligation of secrecy was not to be deemed absolute.
After this glimpse at the inquisitorial system of evidence, we hardly need the assurance of the legists that less was required for conviction in heresy than in any other crime, and inquisitors were instructed that slender testimony was sufficient to prove it--"probatur quis hÅ“reticus ex levi causa." Yet evil as was all this, the crowning infamy of the Inquisition in its treatment of testimony was withholding from the accused all knowledge of the names of the witnesses against him. In the ordinary courts, even in the inquisitorial process, their names were communicated to him along with the evidence which they had given, and it will be remembered that when the Legate Romano held his inquest at Toulouse, in 1229, the accused followed him to Montpellier with demands to see the names of those who had testified against them, when the cardinal recognized their right to this, but eluded it by showing merely a long list of all the witnesses who had appeared during the whole inquest, giving as an excuse the danger to which they were exposed from the malevolence of those who had suffered by their evidence.
That there was some risk incurred by those who destroyed their neighbors is true; the inquisitors and chroniclers mention that assassinations from this cause sometimes occurred--six being reported in Toulouse between 1301 and 1310. It would have been strange had this not been the case, nor was the chance of such wild justice altogether an unwholesome check upon the security of malevolence. Yet that so flimsy an excuse should have been systematically put forward shows merely that the Church recognized and was ashamed of its plain denial of justice, since no such precaution was deemed necessary in other criminal affairs. Already in 1244 and 1246 the councils of Narbonne and Bãziers order the inquisitors not to indicate in any manner the names of the witnesses, alleging as a reason the "prudent wish" of the Holy See, although in the instructions of the Cardinal of Albano the saving clause of risk is expressed.
When Innocent IV. and his successors regulated the inquisitorial procedure, the same limitation to cases in which divulging the names would expose the witnesses to danger was sometimes omitted and sometimes repeated, and when Boniface VIII. embodied in the canon law the rule of withholding the names he expressly cautioned bishops and inquisitors to act with pure intentions, not to withhold the names when there was no peril in communicating them, and if the peril ceased they were to be revealed. Yet it is impossible to regard all this as more than a decent veil of hypocrisy to cover recognized injustice, for it was a flagrant fact that inquisitors everywhere treated these exhortations as the councils of Narbonne and Bãziers had treated the limitations prescribed by the Cardinal of Albano. Although in the inquisitorial manuals the limitation of risk is usually mentioned, the instructions with regard to the conduct of the trials always assume as a matter of course that the prisoner is kept in ignorance of the names of the witnesses against him. As early as the time of Gui Foucoix that jurist treats it as the universal practice; a nearly contemporary MS. manual lays it down as an invariable rule; and in the later periods we are coolly informed by both Eymerich and Bernardo di Como that cases were rare in which risk did not exist; that it was great when the accused was rich and powerful, but greater still when he was poor and had friends who had nothing to lose.
Eymerich evidently considers it much more decent to refuse the names than to adopt the expedients of some over-conscientious inquisitors who furnished, like Cardinal Romano, the names written on a different piece of paper and so arranged that their identification with their evidence was impossible, or who mixed up other names with those of the witnesses so as to confuse hopelessly the defence. Occasionally a less disreputable but almost equally confusing plan was adopted, in swearing a portion of the witnesses in the presence of the accused, while examining them in his absence. Thus in the trial of Bernard Dãlicieux, in 1319, out of forty-eight witnesses whose depositions are recorded, sixteen were sworn in his presence; in that of Huss, in 1414, it is mentioned that fifteen witnesses at one time were taken to his cell that he might see them sworn.
From this withholding of names it was but a step to withholding the evidence altogether, and that step was sometimes taken. In truth the whole process was so completely at the arbitrary discretion of the inquisitor, and the accused was so wholly without rights, that whatever seemed good in the eyes of the former was allowable in the interest of the faith. Thus we are told that if a witness retracted his evidence, the fact should not be made known to the defendant lest it should encourage him in his defence, but the judge is recommended to bear it in mind when rendering judgment.
The tender care for the safety of witnesses even went so far that it was left to the conscience of the inquisitor whether or not to give the accused a copy of the evidence itself if there appeared to be danger to be apprehended from doing so. Relieved from all supervision, and practically not subject to appeals, it may be said that there were no rules which the inquisitor might not suspend or abrogate at pleasure when the exigencies of the faith seemed to require it.
Among the many evils springing from this concealment, which released witnesses and accusers from all responsibility, not the least was the stimulus which it afforded to delation and the temptation created to gratify malice by reckless perjury. Even without any special desire to do mischief, an unfortunate, whose resolution had been broken down by suffering and torture, when brought at last to confess, might readily be led to make his story as satisfactory as possible to his tormentors by mentioning all names that might occur to him as being present at conventicles and heretications.
There can be no question that the business of the Inquisition was greatly increased by the protection which it thus afforded to informers and enemies, and that it was made the instrument of an immense amount of false-witness. The inquisitors felt this danger and frequently took such precautions as they could without trouble, by warning a witness of the penalties incurred by perjury, making him obligate himself in advance to endure them, and rigidly questioning him as to whether he had been suborned.
Occasionally, also, we find a conscientious judge like Bernard Gui carefully sifting evidence, comparing the testimony of different witnesses, and tracing out incompatibilities which proved that one at least was false. He accomplished this twice, once in 1312 and again in 1316, the earlier case presenting some peculiar features. A man named Pons Arnaud came forward spontaneously and accused his son Pierre of having endeavored to have him hereticated when laboring under apparently mortal sickness. The son denied it. Bernard, on investigation, found that Pons had not been sick at the date specified, and that there had been no heretics at the place named. Armed with this information he speedily forced the accuser to confess that he had fabricated the story to injure his son.
Creditable as is this case to the inquisitor, it is hideously suggestive of the pitfalls which lay around the feet of every man; and no less so is an instance in which Henri de Chamay, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in 1329, resolutely traced out a conspiracy to ruin an innocent man, and had the satisfaction of forcing five false-witnesses to confess their guilt. Rare instances such as these, however, offered but a feeble palliation for the inherent vices of the system, and in spite of the severe punishment meted out to those who were discovered, the crime was of very frequent occurrence.
The security with which it could be committed renders it safe to assume that detection occurred in a very small proportion of the cases; so when among the scanty documents that have reached us we see six false-witnesses (of whom two were priests and one a clerk), sentenced at an auto de fã held at Pamiers in 1323; four at Narbonne in December, 1328; one, a few weeks after, at Pamiers; four more at Pamiers in January, 1329, and seven (one of whom was a notary) at Carcassonne in September, 1329, we may conclude that if the full records of the Inquisition were accessible, the list would be a frightful one, and would suggest an incalculable amount of injustice which remained undiscovered. We do not need the admission of Eymerich that witnesses are found frequently to conspire together to ruin an innocent man, and we may well doubt his assurance that persistent scrutiny by the inquisitor will detect the wrong. There is, perhaps, only a consistent exhibition of inquisitorial logic in the dictum of Zanghino, that a witness who withdraws testimony adverse to a prisoner is to be punished for false-witness, while his testimony is to stand, and to receive full weight in rendering judgment.
A false-witness, when detected, was treated with as little mercy as a heretic. As a symbol of his crime two pieces of red cloth in the shape of tongues were affixed to his breast and two to his back, to be worn through life. He was exhibited at the church-doors on a scaffolding during divine service on Sundays, and was usually imprisoned for life.
The symbol was changed to that of a letter in the case of Guillem Maurs, condemned in 1322 for conspiring with others to forge letters of the Inquisition whereby some parties were to be cited for heresy with the view of extorting hush-money from them. As the degree of criminality varied, so there were differences in the severity of punishment. Those condemned in Pamiers in 1323 were let off without incarceration. The four at Narbonne, in 1328, were regarded as peculiarly culpable, having been suborned by enemies of the accused, and they were accordingly condemned to the severest form of imprisonment, on bread and water, with chains on hands and feet. The assembly of experts held at Pamiers for the auto of January, 1329, decided that, in addition to imprisonment, either lenient or harsh, according to the gravity of the offence, the offenders should make good any damage accruing to the accused.
This was an approach to the talio, and the principle was fully carried out in 1518 by Leo X. in a rescript to the Spanish Inquisition, authorizing the abandonment to the secular arm of false witnesses who had succeeded in inflicting any notable injury on their victims. The expressions used by the pope justify the conclusion that the crime was still frequent. Zanghino tells us that in his time there was no defined legal penalty, and that the false witness was to be punished at the discretion of the inquisitor--another instance of the tendency which pervades the whole inquisitorial jurisprudence, to fetter the tribunals with as few rules as possible, to clothe them with arbitrary power, and trust to God, in whose name and for whose glory they professed to act, to inspire them with the wisdom necessary for the discharge of their irresponsible trust.
A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888
Chapter XI. The Defence
From the preceding sketch of the inquisitorial process it may readily be inferred that scant opportunities for defence were allowed by the Holy Office. It was in the very nature of the process that all the preliminary proceedings were taken in secrecy and without the knowledge of the accused. The case against him was made up before his arrest, and he was examined, urged to confess, and perhaps imprisoned for years and tortured, before he was allowed to know what were the charges against him. It was only after a confession had been extorted from him, or the inquisitor despaired of extorting one, that he was furnished with the evidence against him, and even then the names of the witnesses were habitually suppressed.
All this is in cruel contrast with the righteous care to avoid injustice prescribed for the ordinary episcopal courts. In them the Council of Lateran orders that the accused shall be present at the inquisition against him, unless he contumaciously absents himself; the charges are to be explained to him, that he may have the opportunity of defending himself; the witnesses' names, with their respective evidence, are to be made public, and all legitimate exceptions and answers be admitted, for suppression of names would invite slander, and rejection of exceptions would admit false testimony.
The suspected heretic, however, was prejudged. The effort of the inquisitor was not to avoid injustice, but to force him to admit his guilt and seek reconciliation with the Church. To accomplish this effectually the facilities for defence were systematically reduced to a minimum.
It is true that, in 1246, the Council of Bãziers lays down the rule that the accused shall have proper opportunities for defence, including necessary delays and the admission of exceptions and legitimate replies; but if this were intended as a check on the arbitrary operations which already characterized the Inquisition, it was wholly disregarded. In the first place, the secrecy of the tribunal enabled the judge to do as he might think best. In the second place, the only possible remaining check to arbitrary action was removed by denying to the accused the advantage of counsel.
Then, as now, the intricacy of legal forms rendered the trained advocate a necessity to every man on trial; the layman, ignorant of his rights, and of the method of enforcing them, was utterly helpless. So thoroughly was this understood that in the ecclesiastical courts it was frequently a custom to furnish advocates gratuitously to poor men unable to employ them, and in the charter granted by Simon de Montfort, in 1212, to his newly-acquired territories, it was provided that justice should always be gratuitous, and that counsel should be provided by the court for pleaders too poor to retain them.
When this right thus was recognized in the most trifling cases, to refuse it to those who were battling for their lives before a tribunal in which the judge was also prosecutor, was more than the Church at first dared openly to do, but it practically reached the result by indirection. Innocent III., in a decretal embodied in the canon law, had ordered advocates and scriveners to lend no aid or counsel to heretics and their defenders, or to undertake their causes in litigation. This, which was presumably intended as one of the disabilities inflicted on defiant and acknowledged heretics, was readily applied to the suspect who were not yet convicted, and who were struggling to prove their innocence, for their guilt was always assumed in advance.
The councils of Valence and Albi, in 1248 and 1254, while ordering inquisitors not to embarrass themselves with the vain jangling of lawyers in the conduct of the prosecution, significantly make reference to this provision of the canon law as applicable to counsel who might be so hardy as to aid the defence. That this became a settled and recognized principle is shown by Bernard Gui's assertion that advocates who excuse and defend heretics are to be held guilty of fautorship of heresy--a crime which became heresy itself if satisfaction at the discretion of the inquisitor was not rendered within a twelvemonth.
Refusal Of Council
When to this we add the perpetually reiterated commands to the inquisitors to proceed without regard to legal forms or the wrangling of advocates, and the notice to notaries that he who drew up the revocation of a confession was excommunicated as an impeder of the Inquisition, it will readily be seen that there was no need of formally refusing counsel to the accused, and that there was no practical benefit permitted from the admission of the barren generality that one who believed a heretic to be innocent and endeavored to prove him so was not on that account liable to punishment. Eymerich is careful to specify that the accused has the right to employ counsel, and that a denial of this justifies an appeal, but then he likewise states that the inquisitor can prosecute any advocate or notary who undertakes the cause of heretics; and a century earlier a manuscript manual for inquisitors directs them to prosecute as defenders of heresy any advocates who take such cases, with the addition that if they are clerks they are to be perpetually deprived of their benefices.
It is no wonder, therefore, that finally inquisitors adopted the rule that advocates were not to be allowed in inquisitorial trials. This injustice had its compensation, however, for the employment of counsel, in fact, was likely to prove as dangerous to the defendant as to his advocate, for the Inquisition was entitled to all accessible information, and could summon the latter as a witness, force him to surrender any papers in his hands, and reveal what had passed between him and his client. Such considerations, however, are rather theoretical than practical, for it may well be doubted whether, in the ordinary course of the Inquisition, counsel for the defence ever appeared before it.
The terror that it inspired is well illustrated by the circumstance that when, in 1300, Friar Bernard Dãlicieux was commissioned by his Franciscan provincial to defend the memory of Castel Fabri, and Nicholas d'Abbeville, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, rudely refused him even an audience, he could find no notary in the city who dared to assist him in drawing up a legal protest; every one feared arrest and prosecution if he took the least part in an opposition to the dreaded inquisitor, and Bernard had to wait ten or twelve days until he could bring a notary from a distance to perform the simplest formality. The local officials might well hesitate to incur the wrath of Nicholas, for a few years before he had cast in jail a notary who had ventured to draw up an appeal of the inhabitants of Carcassonne to the king.
Refusal To Plead
All this is interesting as an illustration of the spirit which pervaded every act of the Inquisition, but in reality no advocate could be of material service to the accused, save in the most exceptional cases. The men who organized the Holy Office knew too well what they wanted to leave open any possibilities of which even the shrewdest advocate could take advantage, and it was admitted on all hands as a recognized fact that there was no method of defence save disabling the witnesses for the prosecution. It has been seen that enmity was the only source of disability in a witness, and this had to be mortal--there must have been bloodshed between the parties, or other cause sufficient to induce one to seek the life of the other.
If, therefore, the case rested on witnesses of this kind, their testimony had to be rejected and the prosecution fell. As this was the only possible mode of escape, the cruelty of withholding from the prisoner the names of the adverse witnesses becomes doubly conspicuous. He was forced to grope around in the dark and blindly name such persons as he imagined might have a hand in his misfortunes. If he failed to hit upon any who appeared in the case, the evidence against him was conclusive, as far as it went. If he chanced to name some of the witnesses, he was interrogated as to the causes of enmity; the inquisitor examined into the facts of the alleged quarrel, and decided as he saw fit as to the retention or the rejection of their testimony. Conscientious jurists like Gui Foucoix and inquisitors like Eymerich warned their brethren that as the accused had so slender a chance of guessing the sources of evidence, the judge ought to investigate for himself and discard any that seemed to be the product of malice; but there were others who sought rather to deprive the poor wretch of every straw that might postpone his sinking. One device was to ask him, as though casually, at the end of his examination, whether he had any enemies who would so disregard the fear of God as to accuse him falsely, and if, thus taken unawares, he replied in the negative, he debarred himself from any subsequent defence; or the most damaging witness would be selected and the prisoner be asked if he knew him, when a denial would estop him from claiming enmity.
It is easy to imagine other tricks by which shrewd and experienced inquisitors could save themselves the trouble of admitting the accused to even the nugatory form of defence to which alone he was entitled. As to allowing him to call witnesses in his favor, except to prove enmity of the accusers, it was never thought of in ordinary cases. By a legal fiction, the inquisitor was supposed to look at both sides of the case, and to take care of the defence as well as of the prosecution. If the accused failed to guess the names of enemies among the witnesses and to disable their testimony, he was condemned.
In England, under the barbarous custom of the peine forte et dure, a prisoner who refused to plead either guilty or not guilty was pressed to death, because the trial could not go on without either confession or defence. Cruel as was this expedient, it was the outcome of a manly sense of justice, which based its procedure on the rule that the worst felon should have a fair opportunity to prove his innocence. Far worse was the system of the Inquisition, which was equally resolved that its culprits should have no such easy method of escape as a refusal to plead. It had no scruples as to proceeding in such cases, and the obstinacy of the accused only simplified matters. The refusal was an act of contumacy, equivalent to disobeying a summons to appear, or it was held to be tantamount to a confession, and the obdurate prisoner was forthwith handed over to the secular arm as an impenitent heretic, fit only for the stake. The use of torture, however, rendered such cases rare.
In the register of the Inquisition of Carcassonne from 1249 to 1258 M. Molinier has found two cases in which the accused was allowed to introduce evidence in his favor. In one of these G. VilaniÃ¨re called two witnesses to prove an alibi; in the other Guilleim NÃ¨gre brought forward a letter of reconciliation and penitence. In neither case was the defendant successful.
The enviable simplicity which the inquisitorial process thus assumed in the absence of counsel and of all practical opportunities for defence can perhaps best be illustrated by one or two cases. Thus in the Inquisition of Carcassonne, June 19, 1252, P. Morret is called up and asked if he wishes to defend himself against the matters found in the instructio or indictment against him. He has nothing to allege except that he has enemies, of whom he names five. Apparently he did not happen to guess any of the witnesses, for the case proceeded by reading the evidence to him, after which he is again asked thrice if he has anything further to say. To this he replies in the negative, and the case ends by assigning January 29 for the rendering of sentence.
Two years later, in 1254, at Carcassonne, a certain Bernard Pons was more lucky, for he happened to guess aright in naming his wife as an inimical witness, and we have the proceedings of the inquest held to determine whether the enmity was mortal. Three witnesses are examined, all of whom swear that she is a woman of loose character; one deposes that she had been taken in adultery by her husband; another that he had beaten her for it, and the third that he had recently heard her say that she wished her husband dead that she might marry a certain Pug Oler, and that she would willingly become a leper if that would bring it about.
This would certainly seem sufficient, but Pons appears nevertheless not to have escaped. So thoroughly hopeless, indeed, was the prospect of any effort at defence, that it frequently was not even attempted, and the accused, like Arnaud Fabri at Carcassonne, August 20, 1252, when asked if he wished a copy of the evidence against him, would despairingly decline it. It was a customary formula in a sentence to state that the convict had been offered opportunity for defence and had not availed himself of it, showing how frequently this was the case.
Prosecution Of The Dead
In the case of prosecution of the dead, the children or the heirs were scrupulously cited to appear and defend his memory, as they were necessarily parties to the case through the disabilities and confiscation following upon condemnation. Proclamation was also made publicly in the churches inviting any one else who chose to appear or who had any interest in the matter by reason of holding property of the deceased; and then a third public notice was given that if no one came forward on the day named, definitive sentence would be rendered. Thus in a case occurring in 1327, Jean Duprat, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, orders the priests of all the churches in the dioceses of Carcassonne, Narbonne, and Alet to publish the notice during divine service on every Sunday and feast-day till the day of hearing, and to send him a notarial attestation of their action. The sentences in these cases are careful to recite these notices so sedulously served on all concerned; but notwithstanding this display of a desire to do exact justice, the proceedings were quite as hollow a mockery as those against the living.
That it was so recognized is seen at the auto of 1309 at Toulouse, where there were four dead persons sentenced, and it is stated that in one case no one appeared, and in the other three the heirs obeyed the citation but renounced all defence. In the case of Castel Fabri, before alluded to, at Carcassonne, in 1300, where the estate was very large, the heirs appeared, but were denied all opportunity of defence by Nicholas d'Abbeville, the inquisitor; and in that of Pierre de Tornamire, though the heirs, as we have seen, succeeded in reversing the judgment through the gross informality of the proceedings, it was not until after a struggle which lasted for thirty-two years, during which time the estate must have been sequestrated. Sometimes, when death-bed heretications had occurred, the children put in the plea of non compos, which was admitted to be good, but as none of the family were allowed to testify, and only disinterested witnesses of approved orthodoxy were received, instances of success must have been rare indeed.
Practically every avenue of escape was closed to those who fell into the hands of the inquisitor. Technically the accused had a right, as in other cases, to recuse his judge, but this was a dangerous experiment, and we hardly need the assurance of Bernardo di Como that it was virtually unknown. Ignorance was no defence, and its mere assertion, according to Bernard Gui, only rendered a man worthy of condemnation along with his master, the father of lies.
Persistent denial of the offence charged, even when accompanied with profession of faith and readiness to submit to the mandates of the Church, was obstinacy and impenitence which precluded all hope of mercy. Even suicide in prison was equivalent to confession of guilt without repentance. It is true that insanity or drunkenness might be urged in extenuation of the utterance of heretical words, and this might mitigate the sentence, if there were due contrition and seeking for reconciliation, but admission of the conclusion at which the inquisitor had arrived from his ex parte inquest was the predetermined result, and the only alternative to this was abandonment to the secular arm.
That plain-spoken friar, Bernard Dãlicieux, uttered the literal truth when he declared, in the presence of Philippe le Bel and all his court, that if St. Peter and St. Paul were accused of "adoring" heretics and were prosecuted after the fashion of the Inquisition, there would be no defence open for them. Questioned as to their faith, they would answer like masters in theology and doctors of the Church, but when told that they had adored heretics, and they asked what heretics, some names, common in those parts, would be mentioned, but no particulars would be given. When they would ask for statements as to time and place, no facts would be furnished, and when they would demand the names of the witnesses these would be withheld. How, then, asked Bernard, could the holy apostles defend themselves, especially when any one who wished to aid them would himself be attacked as a fautor of heresy. It was so. The victim was enveloped in a net from which there was no escape, and his frantic struggles only twisted it more tightly around him.
Theoretically, indeed, an appeal lay to the pope from the Holy Office, and to the metropolitan from the bishop, for denial of justice or irregularity of procedure, but it had to be made before sentence was rendered, as condemnation was final.
Appeals To The Holy See
Possibly this may have held out some prospect of benefit in the case of bishops exercising their inquisitorial jurisdiction. In that of inquisitors, when "apostoli," or letters remanding the case to the Holy See, were demanded, it rested with them to grant affirmative ("reverential") ones, or negative ones. The former admitted the transfer of the case; the latter kept it in the inquisitor's hands unless it was formally taken from him by the pope. This, it is safe to say, could rarely happen, and, as the proceeding was an intricate one, it could only be resorted to by experts. A man like Master Eckart, supported by the whole Dominican Order, could undertake it, even though in the end he fared no better at the hands of John XXII. than he would have done at those of the Archbishop of Cologne.
So when, in 1323, the Sire de Partenay, one of the most powerful nobles of Poitou, was cited for heresy by Friar Maurice, the Inquisitor of Paris, and was thrown into the Temple by Charles le Bel, he appealed from Maurice as a judge prejudiced by personal hatred. Charles sent him under guard to John XXII. at Avignon, who at first refused to entertain the appeal, but at length, by the influential intercession of Partenay's friends, was induced to appoint several bishops as assessors to the inquisitor, and after long-protracted proceedings the interest of Partenay was sufficient to obtain his liberation. Cases like these, however, are wholly exceptional and have no bearing upon the thousands of humble folk and "petite noblesse" who filled the prisons of the Inquisition and figured in its autos de fã.
The manuals for inquisitors, indeed, make no scruple in instructing them as to the devices and deceits by which they can elude all attempts to appeal when through disregard of rules they have exposed themselves to it.
There was another class of cases, however, in which the interference of the pope occasionally gave relief, for the Holy See was autocratic and could set aside all rules. The curia was always greedy for money, and, outside of Italy, had no share in the confiscations. It can, therefore, readily be imagined that men of wealth whose whole property was at stake might well consent to divide it with the papal court, whose all-powerful intervention would thereby be secured.
As early as 1245 the bishops of Languedoc are found complaining to Innocent IV. of the number of heretics who thus obtain exemption. Not only those undergoing trial, but those fearing to be cited, those excommunicated for contumacy, or legitimately sentenced, escape the jurisdiction of the Inquisition and enjoy immunity on the strength of letters granted by the papal penitentiaries. I have met with a number of special cases of this interference of the Holy See with the Holy Office, one at least of which indicates the means of persuasion employed. In letters of December 28, 1248, the papal penitentiary Algisius orders the release, without confiscation, of six prisoners of the Inquisition who had confessed to heresy, one of the reasons assigned being the liberal contributions which they had made to the cause of the Holy Land.
It is no wonder that the inquisitors sometimes grew mutinous under this aggravating interference, of which they could so readily guess the motive, and, on one occasion at least, they gave the curia a lesson. Some inhabitants of Limoux, in 1249, condemned to wear crosses and perform heavy penances, obtained from Innocent IV. an order for their mitigation, whereupon the inquisitors, in their irritation, went a step further and absolved the penitents without reserve.
Accepting this rebuke, Innocent commanded the original sentence to be reimposed, and the unlucky culprits gained nothing by their effort. Less questionable was the interference, in 1255, of Alexander IV. in the case of Aimeric de Bressols of Castel-Sarrazin, who had been condemned for heretical acts committed thirty years before. He represented that he had performed most of the penance enjoined on him and that he was unable, through old age and poverty, to accomplish the rest, whereupon the pope mercifully authorized the Inquisitors to commute it into other pious works. A somewhat remarkable case occurred in 1371, when Gregory XI. authorized the Inquisitor of Carcassonne to release Bidon de Puy-Guillem, condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and repentant, the reason given for papal intervention being that there existed no other power to commute the sentence.
This kind of papal intervention, however, was in contravention of the law and not in its fulfilment, and need not be weighed in considering the results of the inquisitorial process. That result, as might be expected, was condemnation in some form or other so uniformly that it may be regarded as inevitable. In the register of Carcassonne from 1249 to 1258, comprising about two hundred cases, there does not occur a single instance of a prisoner discharged as innocent. It is true that the interrogatory of Alizaãs Debax, March 27, 1249, is followed by the note "she was not heard a second time because she was considered innocent," but this apparent exception is nullified by a second memorandum "crucesignata est"--she was condemned to the public infamy of wearing crosses, probably to confirm the popular impression that the Inquisition never missed its mark.
A man against whom there was no evidence to justify conviction and who yet would not confess himself guilty, was kept in prison indefinitely at the discretion of the inquisitor; at length, if the proof against him was only incidental and not direct, and the suspicion was light, he might be mercifully discharged under bail, with orders to stand at the door of the Inquisition from breakfast-time until dinner, and from dinner until supper, until some further testimony should turn up against him, and the inquisitor be able to prove the guilt so confidently assumed. On this side of the Alps it was a recognized rule that no one should be acquitted. The utmost stretch of justice, when the accusation failed entirely, was a sentence of not proven. The charges were simply declared not to be substantiated, and the inquisitors were carefully warned never to pronounce a man innocent, so that there might be no bar to subsequent proceedings in case of further evidence. Possibly in Italy, in the fourteenth century, this rule may have been neglected, for Zanghino gives a formula of acquittal, based, significantly enough, on the evidence being proved to be malicious.
Suspicion Of Heresy
Clement V. recognized the injustice wrought under this system when he embodied in the canon law a declaration that inquisitors abused to the injury of the faithful the wise provisions made for the defence of the faith; when he forbade them from falsely convicting any one, or acting either for or against the accused through love, hate, or the hopes of gain, under penalty of ipso facto excommunication, removable only by the Holy See. Bernard Gui hotly denied these assertions, which he declared to be precisely those with which the heretics defamed the Holy Office to its great damage.
To impute heresy to the innocent, he said, is worthy of damnation, but none the less so is it to slander the Inquisition. In spite, he adds, of the refutation of the accusations brought against it, this canon assumes their truth and the heretics exult over its disgrace. If the heretics exulted, their rejoicings were premature. The Inquisition went its way in the accustomed paths, and Clement's well-meant effort at reform proved wholly unavailing.
The erection of suspicion into a crime gave ample opportunity for the habitual avoidance of acquittal. This took its origin in the customs of the barbarian and mediÃ¦val codes, which required the accused, against whom a probable case was made out, to demonstrate his innocence either by the ordeal, or by the form of purgation known in England as the Wager of Law, in which he produced a prescribed number of his friends to share with him the oath of denial.
In the coronation-edict of Frederic II. those who were suspected of heresy were required to purge themselves in this manner, as the Church might demand, under pain of being outlawed, and, if they remained so for a year, of being condemned as heretics. This gave a peculiar and sinister significance to suspicion of heresy which was carefully elaborated and turned to account. Suspicion might arise from many causes, the chief of which was popular rumor and belief. Omission to take the oath abjuring heresy imposed on all the inhabitants of Languedoc, within the term prescribed, was sufficient, or neglect to reveal heretics, or the possession of heretical books. The intricate questions to which this extension of criminality gave rise are fairly illustrated in the discussion of an inquisitor whether those who listened to the instructions of the Waldenses,
"Do not lie, nor swear, nor commit fornication, but give to every man his due; go to church, pay your tithes, and the perquisites of the priests," and, knowing this to be good advice, conclude the utterers to be good men--whether such are to be considered suspect of heresy; and he tells us that after diligent consideration he must decide in the affirmative, and order them to purgation. The difficulty of reducing to practice these intangible speculations was realized by Chancellor Gerson, who admits that due allowance should be made for variations of habits and manners in different places and times, but the ordinary inquisitor was troubled with few such scruples. It was easier to treat the suspect as criminals; to classify suspicion into its three grades of light, vehement, and violent; to prescribe punishment for it, and to inflict the disabilities of heresy on the suspect and their descendants.
Even the definition of the three grades of suspicion was abandoned as impossible, and it was left to the arbitrary discretion of the inquisitor to classify each individual case which came before him. Nothing more condemnatory of the whole system can well be imagined than the explanation of Eymerich that suspects are not heretics; that they are not to be condemned for heresy, and that therefore their punishment should be lighter, except in the case of violent suspicion. Against this there was no defence possible, and no evidence to be admitted. The culprit might not be a heretic or entertain any error of belief, but if he would not abjure and give satisfaction (and abjuration included confession), he was to be handed over to the secular arm; if he confessed and sought reconciliation, he was to be imprisoned for life.
For light and vehement suspicion the accused was ordered to furnish conjurators in his oath of denial. These were to be men of his own rank in life, who knew him personally and who swore to their belief in his orthodoxy and in the truth of his exculpatory oath. Their number varied, at the discretion of the inquisitor, with the degree of suspicion to be purged away, from three to twenty or thirty, and even more.
In the case of strangers, however, who had no acquaintances, the inquisitor was advised to be moderate. It was no mere idle ceremony, and, as usual, all the chances were thrown against the defendant. If he was unable to procure the required number of compurgators, or neglected to do so within a year, the law of Frederic II. was enforced, and he was usually condemned as a heretic to burning alive; although some inquisitors argued that this was only presumptive, not absolute, proof, and that he could escape the stake by confessing and abjuring--of course being subject to the penance of perpetual prison.
If he succeeded and performed his purgation duly, he was by no means acquitted. If the suspicion against him was vehement he could still be punished; even if it was light the fact that he had been suspected was an ineradicable blot. With the curious logical inconsequence characteristic of inquisitorial procedure, in addition to the purgation, he was obliged to abjure the heresy of which he had cleared himself; this abjuration remained of record against him, and in case of a second accusation his escape from the previous one was not reckoned as having proved his innocence, but as an evidence of guilt. If the purgation had been for light suspicion, his punishment now was increased; and if it had been for vehement suspicion, he was now regarded as a relapsed, to whom no mercy could be shown, but who was handed over to the secular arm without a hearing. Practically, however, this injustice is important chiefly as a manifestation of the spirit of the Inquisition; its methods were too thorough to render frequent a recourse to purgation, and Zanghino, when he treats of it, feels obliged to explain it as a custom little known. One case, however, at least, is on record at Angermã¼nde, where the inquisitor Friar Jordan, in 1336, tried by this method a number of persons accused of the mysterious Luciferan heresy, when fourteen men and women who were unable to procure the requisite number of compurgators were duly burned.
An indispensable formality in all cases in which the culprit was admitted to reconciliation with the Church was abjuration of heresy. Of this there were various forms adapted to the different occasions of its use--whether for suspicion, light, vehement, or violent, or after confession and repentance. It was performed in public, at the autos de fã, except in rare cases, such as those of ecclesiastics likely to cause scandal, and it frequently embodied a pecuniary penalty for infraction of its promises, and security for their performance. The principal point to be observed in all was to see that the penitent abjured heresy in general as well as the special heresy with which he had been charged.
If this were duly attended to, he could always be handed over to the secular arm without a hearing in case of relapse, except when the abjuration had been for light suspicion. If it were neglected, and he had, for instance, abjured Catharism only, he might subsequently indulge in some other form of heresy, such as Waldensianism or usury, and have the benefit of another chance. The case was one not likely to occur, but the point is interesting as showing how the Inquisition could manifest the most scrupulous attention to form, while discarding in its practice all that entitles the administration of justice to respect.
The importance attached to the abjuration is illustrated by a case in the Inquisition of Toulouse in 1310. Sibylla, wife of Bernard Borell, had been forced to confession and abjuration in 1305. Continuing her heretical practices, she was arrested in 1309 and again obliged to confess. As a relapsed heretic she was doomed irrevocably to the stake, but, luckily for her, the abjuration could not be found among the papers of the Holy Office, and though the rest of the record seems to have been accessible, she could only be prosecuted as though for a first offence, and she escaped with imprisonment for life.
In the case of suspects of heresy who cleared themselves by compurgation, abjuration, of course, did not include confession.
In accusations of heresy, supported by evidence, however, no one could be admitted to abjuration who did not confess that of which he was accused. Denial, as we have seen, was obduracy, punished by the stake, and confession was a condition precedent to admission to abjuration. In ordinary cases, where torture was freely used, confession was almost a matter of course. There were extraordinary cases, however, like that of Huss at Constance, where torture was spared and where the accused denied the doctrines attributed to him. In such cases the necessity of confession prior to abjuration must be borne in mind if we are to understand the inevitable consequences.
Chapter XII. The Sentence
The penal functions of the Inquisition were based upon a fiction which must be comprehended in order rightly to appreciate much of its action. Theoretically it had no power to inflict punishment. Its mission was to save men's souls; to recall them to the way of salvation, and to assign salutary penance to those who sought it, like a father-confessor with his penitents. Its sentences, therefore, were not, like those of an earthly judge, the retaliation of society on the wrong-doer, or deterrent examples to prevent the spread of crime; they were simply imposed for the benefit of the erring soul, to wash away its sin. The inquisitors themselves habitually speak of their ministrations in this sense.
When they condemned a poor wretch to lifelong imprisonment, the formula in use, after the procedure of the Holy Office had become systematized, was a simple injunction on him to betake himself to the jail and confine himself there, performing penance on bread and water, with a warning that he was not to leave it under pain of excommunication, and of being regarded as a perjured and impenitent heretic. If he broke jail and escaped, the requisition for his recapture under a foreign jurisdiction describes him, with a singular lack of humor, as one insanely led to reject the salutary medicine offered for his cure, and to spurn the wine and oil which were soothing his wounds.
Technically, therefore, the list of penalties available to the inquisitor was limited. He never condemned to death, but merely withdrew the protection of the Church from the hardened and impenitent sinner who afforded no hope of conversion, or from him who showed by relapse that there was no trust to be placed in his pretended repentance.
Except in Italy, he never confiscated the heretic's property; he merely declared the existence of a crime which, under the secular law, rendered the culprit incapable of possession. At most he could impose a fine, as a penance, to be expended in good works. His tribunal was a spiritual one, and dealt only with the sins and remedies of the spirit, under the inspiration of the Gospels, which always lay open before it. Such, at least, was the theory of the Church, and this must be borne in mind if we would understand what may occasionally seem to be inconsistencies and incongruities--especially in view of the arbitrary discretion which left to the individual inquisitor such opportunity to display his personal characteristics in dealing with the penitents before him. He was a judge in the forum of conscience, bound by no statutes and limited by no rules, with his penitents at his mercy, and no power save that of the Holy See itself could alter one jot of his decrees.
This sometimes led to a lenity which would be otherwise inexplicable, as in the case of the murderers of St. Peter Martyr. Pietro Balsamo, known as Carino, one of the hired assassins, was caught red-handed, and his escape by bribery from prison created a popular excitement leading to a revolution in Milan. Yet, when recaptured, he repented, was forgiven, and allowed to enter the Dominican Order, in which he peacefully died, with the repute of a "beato;" and though the Church never formally recognized his right to the public worship paid to him in some places, still, in one of the stalls of the martyr's own great church of Sant' Eustorgio, he appears, with the title of the blessed Acerinus, in a chiaroscuro of 1505, among the Dominican saints.
Theory Of The Inquisition
Not one, indeed, of those concerned in the assassination appears to have been put to death, and the leading instigator of the crime, Stefano Confaloniere of Aliate, a notorious heretic and fautor of heretics, after repeated abjurations, releases, and relapses, was not fairly imprisoned until 1295, forty-three years after the murder. It was the same when, soon afterwards, the Franciscan inquisitor, Pier da Bracciano, was assassinated, and Manfredo di Sesto, who had hired the assassins, was brought before Rainerio Saccone, the Inquisitor of Milan. He confessed the crime and other offences in aid of heresy, but was only ordered to present himself to the pope and receive penance. Contumaciously neglecting to do this, Innocent IV. merely ordered the magistrates of Italy to arrest and detain him if he should be found.
Yet the theory which held the Church to be a loving mother unwillingly inflicting wholesome chastisement on her unruly children only lent a sharper rigor to most of the operations of the Inquisition. Those who were obdurate to its kindly efforts were ungrateful and disobedient when ingratitude and disobedience were offences of the most heinous nature.
They were parricides whom it was mercy to reduce to subjection, and whose sin only the severest suffering could expiate. We have seen how little the inquisitor recked of human misery in his efforts to detect and convert the heretic, and it is not to be supposed that he would be more tender in his ministrations to the diseased souls asking for absolution and penance--and it was only the penitent who had confessed and abjured his sin who came before the judgment-seat for punishment. All others were left to the secular arm.
The flimsiness of this theory, however, is manifest from the fact that it was not only heretics--those who consciously erred in matters of faith--who were subjected to the jurisdiction and chastisement of the Inquisition. Fautors, receivers, and defenders--those who showed hospitality, gave alms, or sheltered or assisted heretics in any way, or neglected to denounce them to the authorities, or to capture them when occasion offered, also rulers who omitted to execute the laws against heresy, however orthodox themselves, incurred suspicion of heresy, simple, vehement, or violent.
If violent, it was tantamount to heresy; if simple or vehement, we have seen how readily it might, by failure of purgation, or by repetition, grow into technical heresy and relapse, incurring the gravest penalties, including relaxation to the secular arm. Not less conclusive to the real import of the inquisitorial organization is the argument of Zanghino, that if a heretic repents, confesses to his priest, accepts and performs penance and receives absolution, however he may be relieved from hell and pardoned in the sight of God, he is not released from temporal punishment, and is still subject to prosecution by the Inquisition. It would not abandon its prey, while yet it could not impugn the efficacy of the sacrament of penitence, and such difficulties were eluded by forbidding priests to take cognizance of heresy, which was reserved for bishops and inquisitors.
Forms Of Penance
The penances customarily imposed by the Inquisition were comparatively few in number. They consisted, firstly, of pious observances--recitation of prayers, frequenting of churches, the discipline, fasting, pilgrimages, and fines nominally for pious uses, such as a confessor might impose on his ordinary penitents. These were for offences of trifling import.
Next in grade are the "confusibiles"--the humiliating and degrading penances, of which the most important was the wearing of yellow crosses sewed upon the garments; and, finally, the severest punishment among those strictly within the competence of the Holy Office, the "murus," or prison. Confiscation, as I have said, was an incident, and the stake, like it, was the affair of the secular power; and though both were really controlled by the inquisitor, they will be more conveniently considered separately. The Councils of Narbonne and Bãziers, in addition, prescribe a purely temporal punishment--banishment, either temporary or perpetual--but this would appear to have been so rarely employed that it may be disregarded, although in the earlier period it occasionally occurs in sentences, or is found among the penances to which repentant heretics pledged themselves to submit.
The sin of heresy was too grave to be expiated simply by contrition and amendment. While the Church professed to welcome back to her bosom all her erring and repentant children, the way of the transgressor was made hard, and his offence could only be washed away by penances severe enough to prove the robustness of his convictions.
Before the Inquisition was founded, about 1208, St. Dominic, while acting under the authority of the Legate Arnaud, converted a Catharan named Pons Roger, and prescribed for him a penance which has chanced to be preserved. It will give us an insight into what were considered reasonable terms of readmission to the Church, at a time when it was straining every nerve to win the heretics back, and before it had fairly resorted to the use of force. On three Sundays the penitent is to be stripped to the waist and scourged by the priest from the entrance of the town of Trãville to the church-door. He is to abstain forever from meat and eggs and cheese, except on Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, when he is to eat of them in sign of his abnegation of his Manichã¦an errors. For twoscore days, twice a year, he is to forego the use of fish, and for three days in each week that of fish, wine, and oil, fasting, if his health and labors will permit. He is to wear monastic vestments, with a small cross sewed on each breast. If possible, he is to hear mass daily, and on feast-days to attend church at vespers. Seven times a day he is to recite the canonical hours, and, in addition, the Paternoster ten times each day and twenty times each night.
He is to observe the strictest chastity. Every month he is to show this paper to the priest, who is to watch its observance closely, and this mode of life is to be maintained until the legate shall see fit to alter it, while for infraction of the penance he is to be held as a perjurer and a heretic, and be segregated from the society of the faithful.
This shows how the various forms of penance were mingled together at the discretion of the ghostly father. The same is seen in an exceedingly lenient sentence imposed in 1258 by the inquisitors of Carcassonne on Raymond Maria, who had confessed to various acts of heresy committed twenty or thirty years before, and who, for other reasons, had strong claims for merciful treatment.
It further illustrates the practice of compounding pious observances for money. Raymond is ordered to fast from the Friday after Michaelmas until Easter, and to eat no meat on Saturdays, but he can redeem the fast by giving a denier to a poor man. Every day he is to recite seven times the Paternoster and Ave Maria. Within three years he is to visit the shrines of St. Mary of Roche-amour, St. Rufus of Aliscamp, St. Gilles of Vauverte, St. William of the Desert, and Santiago de Compostella, bringing home testimonial letters from the rector of each church; and in lieu of other penances he is to give six livres Tournois to the Bishop of Albi to aid in building a chapel. He is to hear mass at least every Sunday and feast-day, and to abstain from all work on those days. Another penance belonging to the same general category is that inflicted on a Carthusian monk of la Loubatiã¨re who was guilty of Spiritual Franciscanism.
He was ordered not to leave the abbey for three years, and during that time not to speak except in extreme necessity. For a year he was to confess daily in the presence of his brethren that John XXII. was the true pope and entitled to obedience; and, in addition, he was to undergo certain fasts and perform certain recitations of the liturgy and psalter. Penances of this character could be varied ad infinitum at the caprice of the inquisitor.
The Discipline - Pilgrimages
In all this there is no mention of flagellation, but that was so general a feature of penance that it is frequently taken for granted in prescribing pilgrimages and attendance at church. We have seen Raymond of Toulouse submitting to it, and however abhorrent it may be to our modern ideas, it did not carry with it that sense of humiliation which to us appears inseparable from it. In the lightest penalties provided for voluntary converts, coming forward within the time of grace, the Councils of Narbonne and Bãziers, in 1244 and 1246, and that of Tarragona, in 1242, order the discipline.
It was no light matter. Stripped as much as decency and the inclemency of the weather would permit, the penitent presented himself every Sunday, between the Epistle and the Gospel, with a rod in his hand, to the priest engaged in celebrating mass, who soundly scourged him in the presence of the congregation, as a fitting interlude in the mysteries of divine service. On the first Sunday in every month, after mass, he was to visit, similarly equipped, every house in which he had seen heretics, and receive the same infliction; and on the occasion of every solemn procession he was to accompany it in the same guise, to be beaten at every station and at the end.
Even when the town happened to be placed under interdict, or himself to be excommunicated, there was to be no cessation of the penance, and apparently it lasted as long as the wretched life of the penitent, or at least until it pleased the inquisitor to remember him and liberate him. That this was no idle threat is shown by these precise details occurring in a formula given by Bernard Gui, about 1330, for the release from prison of penitents who by patience and humility in their captivity have earned a mitigation of their punishment, and virtually the same formula was employed immediately after the organization of the Inquisition.
The pilgrimages, which were regarded as among the lightest of penances, were also mercies only by comparison. Performed on foot, the number commonly enjoined might well consume several years of a man's life, during which his family might perish. A frequent injunction by Pierre Cella, one of the most moderate of inquisitors, comprehended Compostella and Canterbury, with perhaps several intermediate shrines, and in one case a man over ninety years of age was ordered to perform the weary tramp to Compostella simply for having consorted with heretics.
These pilgrimages were not without peril and hardship, although the hospitality exercised by the numerous convents on the road enabled the poorest pilgrim to sustain life. Still, pilgrimages were so habitual a feature of mediã¦val habits, and entered so frequently into ordinary penance, that their use by the Inquisition was inevitable. When the yearning for salvation was so strong that two hundred thousand pilgrims arriving in Rome in a single day is said to have been no uncommon occurrence during the Jubilee of 1300, the penitent who escaped with the performance of such pious observances might well regard himself as mercifully treated.
The penitential pilgrimages of the Inquisition were divided into two classes--the greater and the less. In Languedoc the greater pilgrimages were customarily four--to Rome, Compostella, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and the Three Kings of Cologne. The smaller were nineteen in number, extending from shrines of local celebrity to Paris and Boulogne-sur-mer. The cases in which they were employed may be estimated by the sentence passed by Bernard Gui, in 1322, on three culprits whose only offence was that, some fifteen or twenty years before, they had seen Waldensian teachers in their fathers' houses without knowing what they were.
Commencing within three months, the penitents were required to perform seventeen of the minor pilgrimages, reaching from Bordeaux to Vienne, bringing back, as usual, from each shrine testimonial letters of the visit. In this case it is specified that they were not obliged to wear the crosses, and I think it probable that this exempted them from scourging at each of the shrines, to which penitents with crosses would naturally be subjected. In one case, occurring in 1308, a culprit was excused from pilgrimages on account of his age and weakness, and was only required to make two visitations a year in the city of Toulouse. Considerate humanity such as this is not sufficiently common in the annals of the Inquisition for an example of it to be passed in silence.
At the inception of the Inquisition the pilgrimage universally ordered for men was that to Palestine, as a crusader. Indeed, the legate, Cardinal Romano, commanded this for all who were suspect of heresy. It seems to have been felt that the best use to which a heretic could be put, if he was to escape the fagot, was to make him aid in the defence of the Holy Land--a service of infinite hardship and peril. In the wholesale persecutions in Languedoc the numbers of these unwilling crusaders were so great that alarm was excited lest they should pervert the faith in the land of its origin, and about 1242 or 1243 a papal prohibition was issued, forbidding it for the future.
The Council of Bãziers, in 1246, commits to the discretion of the inquisitors whether penitents shall serve beyond seas, or send a man-at-arms to represent them, or fight the battles of the faith nearer home, against heretics or Saracens. The term of service was also left to the inquisitors, but was usually for two or three years, though sometimes for seven or eight, and those who went to Palestine, if they were so fortunate as to return, were obliged to bring back testimonial letters from the Patriarch of Jerusalem or Acre.
Crusades As Penitence
When Count Raymond was preparing to fulfil his long-delayed vow of a crusade, in his eagerness for recruits he procured in 1247, from Innocent IV., a bull empowering the Archbishop of Ausch and Bishop of Agen, within Raymond's dominions, to commute into a pilgrimage beyond seas the penance of temporary crosses and prison, and even when these were perpetual, if the consent could be had of the inquisitor who had uttered the sentence; and the following year this was extended to those in the territories of the Counts of Montfort.
Under this impulsion, the penance of crusading became common again. There is extant a notice given by the inquisitors of Carcassonne, October 5, 1251, in the church of St. Michael, to those wearing crosses and those relieved from them, that they must without fail sail for the Holy Land, as they had pledged themselves to do, in the next fleet; and in the Register of Carcassonne the injunction of the crusade is of frequent occurrence. With the disastrous result of the ventures of St. Louis and the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem this form of penance gradually diminished, but it continued to be occasionally prescribed. As late as 1321 we find Guillem Garric condemned to go beyond seas with the next convoy and remain until recalled by the inquisitor; if legitimately impeded (which was likely, as he was an old man who had rotted in a dungeon for thirty years) he could replace himself with a competent fighting-man, and if he neglected to do so, he was condemned to perpetual prison. This sentence, moreover, affords one of the rare instances of banishment, for Guillem, besides furnishing a substitute, is ordered to expatriate himself to such place as shall be designated, during the pleasure of the inquisitor.
These penances did not interfere with the social position and self-respect of the penitent. Far heavier was the apparently simple penalty of wearing the crosses, which was known as a på“na confusibilis, or humiliating punishment. We have seen that already, in 1208, St. Dominic orders his converted heretic to wear two small crosses on the breast in sign of his sin and repentance. It seems a contradiction that the emblem of the Redemption, so proudly worn by the crusader and the military orders, should be to the convert an infliction almost unbearable, but when it became the sign of his sin and disgrace there were few inflictions which might not more readily be borne.
The two little crosses of St. Dominic grew to conspicuous pieces of saffron-colored cloth, of which the arms were two and a half fingers in breadth, two and a half palms in height, and two palms in width, one sewed on the breast and the other on the back, though occasionally one on the breast sufficed.
If the convert during his trial had committed perjury, a second transverse arm was added at the top; and if he had been a "perfected" heretic, a third cross was placed upon the cap. Another form was that of a hammer, worn by prisoners temporarily liberated on bail; and we have seen the red tongues fastened on false-witnesses, and the symbol of a letter inflicted on a forger, while other emblematical forms were prescribed, as the fancy of the inquisitor might dictate.
They were never to be laid aside, indoors or out, and when worn out the penitent was obliged to renew them. During the latter half of the thirteenth century those who went beyond seas might abandon their crosses during their crusade, but were obliged to reassume them on returning. In the earlier days of the Inquisition a term ranging from one year to seven or eight was usually prescribed, but in the later period it was always for life, unless the inquisitor saw fit, as a reward of good behavior, to remit it. Thus in the auto de fã of 1309 Bernard Gui permitted Raymonde, wife of Ã‰tienne Got, to remove the crosses which she had been condemned to wear, some forty years before, by Pons de Poyet and Ã‰tienne de GÃ¢tine.
In Italy the crosses appear to be of red cloth (Archiv. di Firenze, Prov. S. Maria Novella, 31 Ott. 1327).
At an early period there is a single allusion to another "pÅ“na confusibilis" in the shape of a wooden collar or yoke worn by the penitent. This occurs at La CharitÃ©, in 1233, and I have not met with it elsewhere.
The Council of Narbonne, in 1229, prescribed the wearing of these crosses by all converts who voluntarily abandoned heresy and returned to the faith of their own free will, as an evidence of their detestation of their former errors. Apparently the penance was found hard to bear, and efforts were made to escape it, for the statutes of Raymond, in 1234, and the Council of Bãziers of the same year, threaten confiscation for all who refuse to wear them, or endeavor to conceal them. Subsequent councils renewed and extended the obligation on all who were reconciled to the Church; and that of Valence, in 1248, decreed that all who disobeyed should be forced without mercy to resume them, and that abandoning them after due monition should be visited, like jail-breaking, with the full penalties of impenitent heresy.
In a case recorded in 1251, a penitent preparing for a crusade seems to have thought himself authorized to abandon the crosses before starting, and was sentenced to come to Carcassonne on the first Sunday of every month until his departure, barefooted and in shirt and drawers, and visit every church in the city, with a rod, to undergo scourging.
Though this penance was regarded as merciful in comparison with imprisonment, it was not easily endurable, and we can readily understand the sharp penalties required to enforce obedience. In the sentences of Pierre Cella it is only prescribed in aggravated cases, and then merely for from one to five years, though subsequently it grew to be universal, and without a limit of time. The unfortunate penitent was exposed to the ridicule and derision of all whom he met, and was heavily handicapped in every effort to earn a livelihood. Even in the earlier time, when a majority of the population of Languedoc were heretics, and the cross-wearers were so numerous that their presence in Palestine was dreaded, the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, feels obliged to warn the people that penitents should be welcomed and their cheerful endurance of penance should be a subject of gratulation for all the faithful, and therefore it strictly forbids ridicule of those who wear crosses, or refusal to transact business with them.
Though penitents were under the special protection of the Church, it had too zealously preached detestation of heresy to be able to control the feelings of the population towards those whom it thus saw fit to stigmatize. A slight indication of this is seen in the case of Raymonde Manifacier, who, in 1252, was cited before the Inquisition of Carcassone for abandoning the crosses, when she urged in extenuation that the one on her cloak had been torn and she was too poor to replace it, while as regards that on her cape, her mistress, whom she served as nurse, had forbidden her to wear it and had given her a cape without one. A stronger case is that already cited of Arnaud Isarn, who found, after year's experience, that he could not earn a living while thus bearing the marks of his degradation.
The Inquisition recognized the intolerable hardships to which its penitents were exposed, and sometimes in mercy mitigated them. Thus, in 1250, at Carcassonne, Pierre Pelha receives permission to lay aside the crosses temporarily during a voyage which he is obliged to make to France. Bernard Gui assures us that young women were frequently excused from wearing them, because with them they would be unable to find husbands; and among the formulas of his "Practica" one which exempts the penitent from crosses enumerates the various reasons usually assigned, such as the age or infirmity of the wearer (presumably rendering him a safe object of insult) or on account of his children, whom he may not otherwise be able to support, or for the sake of his daughters, whom he cannot marry. Still more suggestive are formulas of proclamations threatening to prosecute as impeders of the Inquisition and to impose crosses on those who ridicule such penitents or drive them away or prevent them from following their callings; and the insufficiency of this is shown by still other formulas of orders addressed to the secular officials, who are required to see that no such outrages are perpetrated. Sometimes monitions of this kind formed part of the regular proceedings of the autos de fÃ©. The wearing of the symbol of Christianity was evidently a punishment of no slight character. The well-known sanbenito of the modern Spanish Inquisition was derived from the scapular with saffron-colored crosses which was worn by those condemned to imprisonment, when on certain feast-days they were exposed at the church doors, that their misery and humiliation might serve as a warning to the people.
It will be remembered that at the outset there was some discussion as to whether it should be competent for the inquisitors to inflict the pecuniary penance of fines. The voluntary poverty and renunciation of money of the Mendicants, to whom the Holy Office was confided, had not yet become so obsolete that the incongruity could be overlooked of their using their almost limitless discretion in levying fines and handling the money thence accruing.
That they commenced it early is shown by a sentence of 1237, already quoted, in which Pons Grimoardi, a voluntary convert, is required to pay to the order of the inquisitor ten livres Morlaas, while in 1245, in Florence, one rendered by the indefatigable inquisitor, Ruggieri Calcagni, shows that already fines were habitual there. It was not without cause, therefore, that the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, in its instructions to inquisitors, ordered them to abstain from pecuniary penances both for the sake of the honor of their Order and because they would have ample other work to do.
The Order itself felt this to be the case, and as inquisitors were not yet, at least in theory, emancipated from the control of their superiors, already, in 1242, the Provincial Chapter of Montpellier had endeavored to enforce the rules of the Order by strictly prohibiting them from inflicting pecuniary penances for the future, or from collecting those which had already been imposed. How little respect was shown to these injunctions is visible from a bull of Innocent IV., in 1245, in which, to preserve the reputation of the inquisitors, he orders all fines paid over to two persons selected by the bishop and inquisitor, to be expended in building prisons and in supporting prisoners, in compliance with which the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, abandoned the position taken by the Council of Narbonne, and agreed that the fines should be employed on the prisons, and in defraying the necessary expenses of the Inquisition, possibly because the good bishops found that they themselves were expected to meet these demands as appertaining to the episcopal jurisdiction.
In an inquisitorial manual of the period this is specified as the destination of the fines, but the power was speedily abused, and in 1249 Innocent IV. sternly rebuked the inquisitors in general for the heavy exactions which they wrung from their converts, to the disgrace of the Holy See and the scandal of the faithful at large. This apparently had no effect, and in 1251 he prohibited them wholly from levying fines if any other form of penance could be employed. Yet the inquisitors finally triumphed and won the right to inflict pecuniary penances at discretion. These were understood to be for pious uses, in which term were included the expenses of the Inquisition; and as they were payable to the inquisitors themselves, they doubtless were so expended--it is to be hoped in accordance with the caution of Eymerich, "decently and without scandal to the laity."
In the sentences of FrÃ Antonio Secco on the peasants of the Waldensian valleys in 1387, the penance of crosses is usually accompanied with a fine of five or ten florins of pure gold, payable to the Inquisition, nominally to defray the expenses of the trial. An attempt of the State to secure a share was defeated by a council of experts assembled at Piacenza in 1276 by the Lombard inquisitors, FrÃ NiccolÃ² da Cremona and FrÃ Daniele da Giussano. A more decent use of the power to inflict money payments was one which Pierre Cella, the first inquisitor of Toulouse, frequently employed, by adding to the pilgrimages or other penances imposed the obligation of maintaining a priest or a poor man for a term of years or for life.
In the later period of the Inquisition it was argued that fines were inadmissible, because if the accused were a heretic all his property disappeared in confiscation, while if he were not he should not be punished, but the inquisitors responded that, although this was true, there were fautors and defenders of heresy, and those whose heresy consisted merely in a thoughtless word, all of whom could legitimately be fined; and the profitable abuse went on.
Scarcely separable from the practice of fines was that of commuting penances for money. When we remember how extensive and lucrative was the custom of commuting the vows of crusaders, it was inevitable that a similar abuse should flourish in the Church's dealings with the penitents whom the Inquisition had placed within its power. A ready excuse was found in the proviso that the sums thence arising should be spent in pious uses--and no use could be more pious than that of ministering to the wants of those who were zealously laboring for the purity of the faith.
In this the Holy See set the example. We have seen how, in 1248, Algisius, the papal penitentiary, ordered the release, by authority of Innocent IV., of six prisoners who had confessed heresy, alleging as a reason the satisfactory contributions which they had made to the Holy Land. The same year Innocent formally authorized Algisius to commute the penalties of certain heretics, without regard to the inquisitors, and he further empowered the Archbishop of Ausch to transmute into subsidies the penances imposed on reconciled heretics.
Raymond was preparing for his crusade, and the excuse was a good one. The heretics were eager to escape by sacrificing their substance, and the project promised to be profitable. In 1249, accordingly, Algisius was sent to Languedoc armed with power to commute all inquisitorial penances into fines to be devoted to the needs of the Church and of the Holy Land, and to issue all necessary dispensations notwithstanding the privileges of the Inquisition. It is not to be supposed that the example was lost upon the inquisitors. Naturally enough, the cases which have reached us usually specify some pious work to which the funds were to be devoted, as when, in 1255, the inquisitors of Toulouse allowed twelve of the principal citizens of Lavaur to commute their penances into money to be contributed to building the church which was afterwards the Cathedral of Lavaur; and in 1258 they assisted the church of Najac in the same way by allowing a number of the inhabitants to redeem their penalties for its benefit. The public utility of bridges caused them to be included in the somewhat elastic term of pious uses. Thus, in 1310, at Toulouse, Mathieu Aychard is released from wearing crosses and performing certain pilgrimages on condition of contributing forty livres Tournois to a new bridge then under construction at Tonneins; and in a formula for such transactions given by Bernard Gui, absolution and dispensation from pilgrimages and other penances are said to be granted in consideration of the payment of fifty livres for the building of a certain bridge, or of a certain church, or "to be spent in pious uses at our discretion." This last clause shows that commutations were by no means always thus liberally disposed of, and in fact they often inured to the benefit of those imposing them. We have a specimen of this in letters of the Inquisitor of Narbonne in 1264, granting absolution to Guillem du Puy in consideration of his giving one hundred and fifty livres Tournois to the Inquisition.
The magnitude of these sums shows the eagerness of the penitents to escape, and the enormous power of extortion wielded by the inquisitor. If he was a man of integrity he could doubtless resist the temptation, but to the covetous and self-indulgent the opportunity of oppressing the helpless was almost unlimited. The system was kept up to the end. Under Nicholas V. Fray Miguel, the Inquisitor of Aragon, gave mortal offence to some high dignitaries in following certain papal instructions, whereupon they maltreated him and kept him in prison for nine months. It was a flagrant case of impeding the Inquisition, and in 1458 Pius II. ordered the Archbishop of Tarragona to dig up the bones of one of the offenders who had died, and to send the rest to the Holy See for judgment--but he added that the archbishop might, at his discretion, substitute a mulct for the war against the Turks, to be transmitted to the papal camera. It goes without saying that the death-penalty could never legally be commuted.
Penitents who died before fulfilling their penance afforded a specially favorable opportunity for such transactions as these. Death, as we have seen, afforded no immunity from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition and in no wise abated its energy of prosecution. There might be a distinction drawn in practice between those who were taken off while humbly performing the penance assigned to them, but before its completion, and those who had wilfully neglected its commencement; but legally the non-fulfilment of penance entailed condemnation for heresy whether in the dead or living.
In 1329, for instance, the Inquisition of Carcassonne ordered the exhumation and cremation of the bones of seven persons declared to have died in heresy for not having fulfilled the penance enjoined on them, which of course carried with it the confiscation of their property and the subjection of their descendants to the usual disabilities. The Councils of Narbonne and Albi directed the inquisitors to exact satisfaction at discretion from the heirs of those who had died before judgment, if they would have been condemned to wear crosses, as well as those who had confessed and been sentenced, and who had not lived, whether to commence or to complete their penance. Gui Foucoix expresses his belief that in these cases the penitent is admitted to purgatory, and he decides that nothing should be demanded from his heirs; but even his authority did not overcome the more palatable doctrine of the councils, and a contemporary manual directs the inquisitor to exact a "congruous satisfaction." There is something peculiarly repulsive in the rapacity which thus followed beyond the grave those who had humbly confessed and repented and were received into the bosom of the Church, but the Inquisition was unrelenting and exacted the last penny.
For instance, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne had prescribed five years' pilgrimage to the Holy Land for Jean Vidal, who died before performing it. March 21, 1252, his heirs, under citation, swore that his whole estate was worth twenty livres, and gave security to obey the decision of the inquisitor, which was announced the following August, and proved to be a demand for twenty livres--the entire value of his property. In another case, Raymonde Barbaira had died before accomplishing some pilgrimages with crosses to which she had been sentenced. An inventory of her property showed it to consist of some bedding, clothing, a chest, a few cattle, and four sous in money, which had been divided up among her kindred, and from this pitiful inheritance the inquisitor, on March 7, 1256 demanded forty sous, for the payment of which by Easter the heirs had to give security. Such petty and vulgar details as these give us a clearer insight into the spirit and working of the Inquisition, and of the grinding oppression which it exercised on the subject populations. Even in the case of fautors who were not heretics, the heirs were obliged to perform any pecuniary penance which had been inflicted upon them.
A more legitimate source of income, but yet one which opened the door to grave abuses, was the custom of taking bail, which of course was liable to forfeiture, serving, in such cases, as an irregular form of commutation. This custom dated from the inception of the Inquisition, and was practised at every stage of the proceedings, from the first citation to the final sentence, and even afterwards, when prisoners were sometimes liberated temporarily on giving security for their return. The convert who was absolved on abjuring was also required to give security that he would not relapse.
Thus, in 1234, we see Lantelmo, a Milanese noble, ordered to give bail in two thousand lire, and two Florentine merchants bailed by their friends in two thousand silver marks. So, in 1244, the Baroni, of Florence, gave bail in one thousand lire to obey the mandates of the Church; and in 1252 a certain Guillem Roger pledged one hundred livres that he would go beyond seas by the next fleet and serve there for two years. The security was always to be pecuniary, and the inquisitor was warned not to take it of heretics, for their offence implied confiscation, but this was not strictly observed, as in special cases friends were found who furnished the necessary pledges. Forfeited bail was payable to the inquisitor, sometimes directly, and sometimes through the hands of the bishops, and was to be used for the expenses of the Inquisition. The usual form of bond pledged all the property of the principal and that of two sureties, jointly and severally; and as a general rule bail may be said to have been universal, except in cases where the offence was regarded as too serious to admit of it, or when the offender could not procure it.
It was impossible that these methods of converting the sentences of the Inquisition into current coin could flourish without introducing widespread corruption. Admission to bail might be the result of favoritism or degenerate into covert bribery. The discretion of the inquisitor was so wide that bribery itself could be safely indulged in. A crime necessarily so secret as this form of extortion cannot be expected to leave traces behind it, except in those cases in which it proved a failure, but sufficient instances of the latter are on record to show that the tribunals were surrounded by men who made a trade of their influence, real or presumed, with the judges. When these were incorruptible the business was suppressed with more or less success, but when they were acquisitive, they had ample field for unhallowed gain, to be wrung without stint or check from the subject populations both by bribery and extortion. Considering that every one above the age of seven was liable to the indelible suspicion of heresy by the mere fact of citation, it will be seen what an opportunity lay before the inquisitor and his spies and familiars to practise upon the fears of all, to sell exemptions from arrest, as well as to bargain for liberation. That these fruitful sources of gain were not abundantly worked would be incredible even in the absence of proof, but proof sufficient exists.
In 1302 Boniface VIII. wrote to the Dominican Provincial of Lombardy that the papal ears had been lacerated with complaints of the Franciscan inquisitors of Padua and Vicenza, whose malicious cupidity had wronged many men and women by exacting from them immense sums and inflicting on them all manner of injuries. When the pope naÃ¯vely adduces in cumulation of their villainy that these wrong-doers had not employed the illicit gains for the benefit of the Holy Office, or of the Roman Church, or even of their own Order, he affords ground for the suspicion that a judicious distribution of the spoils secured silent condonation of such offences in many cases. He had sent Gui, Bishop of Saintes, to investigate these complaints, who reported them well founded, and he orders the provincial to replace the delinquents with Dominicans.
The change brought little relief, for the very next year Mascate de' Mosceri, a jurist of Padua, appealed to Benedict from the new Dominican inquisitor, FrÃ Benigno, who was vexing him with prosecutions in order to extort money from him; and in 1304 Benedict was obliged to address to the inquisitors of Padua and Vicenza a grave warning as to the official complaints which still arose about their fraudulent prosecution of good Catholics by means of false witnesses.
It is easy to understand the complaint made by the stricter Franciscans that the inquisitors of their Order rode around in state in place of walking barefoot as was prescribed by the rule. At this very time, moreover, the Dominicans of Languedoc were the subject of precisely similar arraignment on the part of the communities subjected to them. Redress in this case was long in coming, but at last the investigation set on foot by Clement V. convinced him of the truth of the facts alleged, and at the Council of Vienne, in 1311, he caused the adoption of canons, embodied in the Corpus Juris, which placed on record conspicuously his conviction that the inquisitorial office was frequently abused by the extortion of money from the innocent and the escape of the guilty through bribery. The remedy which he devised, of ipso facto excommunication in such cases, was complained of by Bernard Gui on the ground that it would invalidate the rightful acts, as well as the evil ones, of the wrong-doer; which only serves to show the vicious circle in which the whole business moved. Yet neither the hopes of Clement nor the fears of Bernard were justified by the result. The inquisitors continued to enrich themselves and the people to suffer untold miseries. In 1338 a papal investigation was made of a transaction by which the city of Albi purchased, by the payment of a sum of money to the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, the liberation of some citizens accused of heresy. In 1337 Benedict XII. ordered his nuncio in Italy, Bertrand, Archbishop of Embrun, to investigate the complaints which came from all parts of Italy that the inquisitors extorted money, received presents, allowed the guilty to escape, and punished the innocent, through hatred or avarice, and empowered him to make removals in consequence; and the exercise of this power shows that the complaints were well founded. The effects of the measure, however, were evanescent.
Fines. Commutations For Money
In 1346 the whole republic of Florence rose against their inquisitor, Piero di Aquila, for various abuses, among which figured extortion. He fled and refused to return during the investigation which followed, in spite of the offer of a safe-conduct.
A single witness swore to sixty-six cases of extortion, and in a partial list of them which has been preserved the sums exacted vary from twenty-five to seventeen hundred gold florins, showing how unlimited were the profits which tempted the unscrupulous. Villani tells us that in two years he had thus amassed more than seven thousand florins, an enormous sum in those days; that there were no heretics in Florence at the time, and that the offences which thus proved so lucrative to him consisted of usury and thoughtless blasphemy. As for usury, Alvaro Pelayo tells us that at that time the bishops of Tuscany set the example by habitually so employing the church funds, but the inquisitors did not meddle with the prelates. As for blasphemy, the subtle refinements which converted simple blasphemous expressions into heresy, as set forth by Eymerich, show how readily a skilful inquisitor could speculate on idle oaths. Boccaccio doubtless had FrÃ Piero in memory when he described the recent inquisitor of Florence who, like all his brethren, had an eye as keen to discover a rich man as a heretic, and who extracted a heavy douceur from a citizen for boasting in his cups that he had wine so good that Christ would drink it. The keenness which thus made profitable business for the Holy Office, when heresy was declining, is illustrated by the case of Marie du Canech, a money-changer of Cambrai, in 1403. In a case before the Ordinary she incautiously expressed the opinion that when under oath she was not bound to give evidence against her own honor and interest. For this the deputy inquisitor, FrÃ¨re Nicholas de PÃ©ronne, prosecuted her and condemned her to various penances, including nine years' abstention from business and eighty gold crowns for expenses.
These abuses continued to the last. Cornelius Agrippa tells us that it was customary for inquisitors to convert corporal punishments into pecuniary ones and even to exact annual payments as the price of forbearance. When he was in the Milanese, about 1515, there was a disturbance caused by their secretly extorting large sums from women of noble birth, whose husbands at length discovered it, and the inquisitors were glad to escape with their lives.
I have dwelt at some length upon this feature of the Inquisition because it is one which has rarely received attention, although it inflicted misery and wrong to an almost unlimited extent. The stake consumed comparatively few victims. While the horrors of the crowded dungeon can scarce be exaggerated, yet more effective for evil and more widely exasperating was the sleepless watchfulness which was ever on the alert to plunder the rich and to wrench from the poor the hard-earned gains on which a family depended for support.
It was only in rare cases that the victims dared to raise a cry, and rarer still were those in which that cry was heard; but sufficient instances have reached us to prove what a scourge was the institution, in this aspect alone, on all the populations cursed by its presence. At a very early period the wealthy already recognized that well-timed liberality was advisable towards those who held such power in the hollow of their hands. In 1244 the Dominican Chapter of Cahors lifted a warning voice and ordered inquisitors not to allow their brethren to receive presents which would expose the whole Order to disrepute; but this scrupulousness wore off, and even a man of high character like Eymerich could argue that inquisitors may properly be the recipients of gifts, though he dubiously adds that they ought to be refused from those under trial, except in special circumstances. As the accounts of the Inquisition were rendered only to the papal camera, it will be seen how little the officials had to dread investigation and exposure. As little had they to fear the divine wrath, for their very functions, while thus engaged, insured them plenary indulgence for all sins confessed and repented. Thus secure, here and hereafter, they were virtually relieved from all restraint.
There was one purely temporal penalty which came within the competence of the Inquisition--the designation of the houses which were to be destroyed in consequence of the contamination of heresy. The origin of this curious practice is not readily traced. Under the Roman law, buildings in which heretics held their conventicles with the owner's consent were not torn down, but were forfeited to the Church. Yet as soon as heresy began to be formidable we find their destruction commanded by secular rulers with singular unanimity. The earliest provision I have met with occurs in the assizes of Clarendon in 1166, which order the razing of all houses in which heretics were received. The example was followed by the Emperor Henry VI. in the edict of Prato, in 1194, by Otho IV. in 1210, and by Frederic II. in the edict of Ravenna, in 1232, as an addition to his coronation-edict of 1220, from which it had been omitted. It had already been adopted in the code of Verona in 1228 in all cases in which the owner, after eight days' notice, neglected to expel heretic occupants; it is found in the statutes of Florence a few years later, and is included in the papal bulls defining the procedure of the Inquisition. In France the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, decreed that any house in which a heretic was found was to be destroyed, and this was given the force of secular law by Count Raymond in 1234.
It naturally forms a feature of the legislation of the succeeding councils which regulated the inquisitorial proceedings, and was adopted by St. Louis. Castile, in fact, seems to be the only land in which the regulation was not observed, owing doubtless to the direct derivation of its legislation from the Roman law, for, in the Partidas, houses in which heretics were sheltered are ordered to be given to the Church. Elsewhere such dwellings were razed to the ground, and the site, as accursed, was to remain forever a receptacle for filth and unfit for human habitation; yet the materials could be employed for pious uses unless they were ordered to be burned by the inquisitor who rendered the sentence. This sentence was addressed to the parish priest, with directions to publish it for three successive Sundays during divine service.
In France the royal officials in charge of the confiscations came at length to object to this destruction of property, which was sometimes considerable, as the castle of the seigneur was as liable to it as the cabin of the peasant. In 1329 it forms one of the points for which the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, Henri de Chamay, asked and obtained the confirmation of Philippe de Valois, and the same year he had the satisfaction, in an auto held in September, to order the destruction of four houses, and a farm, whose owners had been hereticated in them on their death-beds. Some fifty years later, however, a quarrel on the subject between the king's representatives and the inquisitors of DauphinÃ© resulted differently. Charles le Sage, after consulting with the pope, issued letters of October 19, 1378, ordering that the penalty should no longer be enforced.
The independent spirit of northern Germany manifested itself in the same manner, and in the Sachsenspiegel there is a peremptory command that no houses shall be destroyed except for rape committed within them. In Italy the custom continued, as there the confiscations did not inure to the sovereign, but it was held that if the owner had no guilty knowledge of the use made of his house he was entitled to keep it. Lawyers disputed, however, as to the perpetuity of the prohibition to build on the spot, some holding that possession by a Catholic for forty years conferred a right to erect a new house, which others denied, arguing that a perpetual and imprescriptible servitude had been created. The inquisitors, in process of time, arrogated to themselves the power to issue licenses to build anew on these sites, and this right they exercised, doubtless, to their own profit, though they might not have found it easy to cite authority for it.
Another temporal penalty may be alluded to as illustrating the unlimited discretion enjoyed by the inquisitors in imposing penance. When, in 1321, the town of Cordes made humble submission for its long-continued insubordination to its bishop and inquisitor, the penance assigned to the community by Bernard Gui and Jean de Beaune was the construction of a chapel of such size as might be ordered, in honor of St. Peter Martyr, St. Cecilia, St. Louis, and St. Dominic, with the statues of those saints in wood or stone above the altar; and, to complete the humiliation of the community, the portal was to be adorned with statues of the bishop and of the two inquisitors, the whole to be finished within two years, under a penalty of five hundred livres Tournois, which was to be doubled for a delay of another two years.
Doubtless the people of Cordes built the chapel without delay, but they hesitated at this glorifying of their oppressors, for, twenty-seven years afterwards, in 1348, we find the municipal authorities summoned before the Inquisition of Toulouse and compelled to give pledges that the portal shall forthwith be completed and the inquisitorial effigies be erected.
The severest penance the inquisitor could impose was incarceration. It was, according to the theory of the inquisitors, not a punishment, but a means by which the penitent could obtain, on the bread of tribulation and water of affliction, pardon from God for his sins, while at the same time he was closely supervised to see that he persevered in the right path and was segregated from the rest of the flock, thus removing all danger of infection. Of course it was only used for converts. The defiant heretic who persisted in disobedience, or who pertinaciously refused to confess his heresy and asserted his innocence, could not be admitted to penance, and was handed over to the secular arm.
In the bull Excommunicamus of Gregory IX., in 1229, all who after arrest were converted to the faith through fear of death were ordered to be incarcerated for life, thus to perform appropriate penance. The Council of Toulouse almost simultaneously made the same regulation, and manifested its sense of the real value of the involuntary conversions by adding the caution that they be prevented from corrupting others. The Ravenna decree of Frederic II., in 1332, adopted the same rule and made it settled legal practice. The Council of Arles, in 1234, called attention to the perpetual backsliding of those converted by force, and ordered the bishops to enforce strictly the penance of perpetual prison in all such cases. As yet the relapsed were not considered as hopeless, and were not abandoned to the secular court, or "relaxed," but were similarly imprisoned for life.
The Inquisition at its inception thus found the rule established, and enforced it with the relentless vigor which it manifested in all its functions. It was represented as a special mercy shown to those who had forfeited all claims on human compassion. There were to be no exemptions. The Council of Narbonne, in 1244, specifically declared that, except when special indulgence could be procured from the Holy See, no husband was to be spared on account of his wife, or wife on account of her husband, or parent in consideration of helpless children; neither sickness nor old age should claim mitigation. Every one who did not come forward within the time of grace and confess and denounce his acquaintances was liable to this penance, which in all cases was to be lifelong; but the prevalence of heresy in Languedoc was so great, and the terror inspired by the activity of the inquisitors grew so strong, that those who had allowed the allotted period to elapse flocked in, begging for reconciliation, in such multitudes that the good bishops declare not only that funds for the support of such crowds of prisoners were lacking, but even that it would be impossible to find stones and mortar sufficient to build prisons for them.
The inquisitors are therefore instructed to delay incarceration in these cases, unless impenitence, relapse, or flight, is to be apprehended, until the pleasure of the pope can be learned. Apparently Innocent IV. was not disposed to leniency, for in 1246 the Council of Bãziers sternly orders the imprisonment of all who have overstayed the time of grace, while counselling commutation when it would entail evident peril of death on parents or children. Imprisonment thus became the usual punishment, except of obstinate heretics, who were burned. In a single sentence of February 19, 1237, at Toulouse, some twenty or thirty penitents are thus condemned, and are ordered to confine themselves in a house until prisons can be built. In a fragment which has been preserved of the register of sentences in the Inquisition of Toulouse from 1246 to 1248, comprising one hundred and ninety-two cases, with the exception of forty-three contumacious absentees, the sentence is invariably imprisonment. Of these, one hundred and twenty-seven are perpetual, six are for ten years, and sixteen for an indefinite period, as may seem expedient to the Church. It apparently was not till a later period that the order of the Council of Narbonne was obeyed, and the sentence always was for life. In the later periods this proportion will not hold good, for all inquisitors were not like the fierce Bernard de Caux, who then ruled the Holy Office in Toulouse; but perpetual imprisonment remained to the last the principal penance inflicted on penitents, although the decrees of Frederic and the canons of the councils of Toulouse and Narbonne were not held to apply to those who abjured heartily after arrest.
In the later sentences which have reached us it is often not easy to guess why one prisoner is incarcerated and another let off with crosses, when the offences enumerated as to each would seem to be indistinguishable. The test between the two probably was one which does not appear on the record. All alike were converts, but he whose conversion appeared to be hearty and spontaneous was considered to be entitled to the easier penance, while the harsher one was inflicted when the conversion seemed to be enforced and the result of fear.
Yet how relentlessly a man like Bernard Gui, who represents the better class of inquisitors, could enforce the strict measure of the law is seen in the case of Pierre Raymond Dominique, who had been cited to appear in 1309, had fled and incurred excommunication, had consequently, in 1315, been condemned as a contumacious heretic, and in 1321 had voluntarily come forward and surrendered himself on a promise that his life should be spared. His acts of heresy had not been flagrant, and he pleaded as an excuse for his contumacy his wife and seven children, who would have starved had they been deprived of his labor, but in spite of this he was incarcerated for life. Even the stern Bernard de Caux was not always so merciless. In 1246, we find him, in sentencing Bernard Sabbatier, a relapsed heretic, to perpetual imprisonment, adding that as the culprit's father is a good Catholic and old and sick, the son may remain with him and support him as long as he lives, meanwhile wearing the crosses.
There were two kinds of imprisonment, the milder, or "murus largus," and the harsher, known as "murus strictus" or "durus" or "arctus." All were on bread and water, and the confinement, according to rule, was solitary, each penitent in a separate cell, with no access allowed to him, to prevent his being corrupted or corrupting others; but this could not be strictly enforced, and about 1306 Geoffroi d'Ablis stigmatizes as an abuse the visits of clergy, and laity of both sexes, permitted to prisoners. Husband and wife, however, were allowed access to each other if either or both were imprisoned; and late in the fourteenth century Eymerich agrees that zealous Catholics may be admitted to visit prisoners, but not women and simple folk who might be perverted, for converted prisoners, he adds, are very liable to relapse, and to infect others, and usually end with the stake.
In the milder form, or "murus largus," the prisoners apparently were, if well behaved, allowed to take exercise in the corridors, where sometimes they had opportunities of converse with each other and with the outside world. This privilege was ordered to be given to the aged and infirm by the cardinals who investigated the prison of Carcassonne and took measures to alleviate its rigors. In the harsher confinement, or "murus strictus," the prisoner was thrust into the smallest, darkest, and most noisome of cells, with chains on his feet--in some cases chained to the wall. This penance was inflicted on those whose offences had been conspicuous, or who had perjured themselves by making incomplete confessions, the matter being wholly at the discretion of the inquisitor. I have met with one case, in 1328, of aggravated false-witness, condemned to "murus strictissimus," with chains on both hands and feet. When the culprits were members of a religious order, to avoid scandal the proceedings were usually held in private, and the imprisonment would be ordered to take place in a convent of their own Order. As these buildings, however, usually were provided with cells for the punishment of offenders, this was probably of no great advantage to the victim. In the case of Jeanne, widow of B. de la Tour, a nun of Lespenasse, in 1246, who had committed acts of both Catharan and Waldensian heresy, and had prevaricated in her confession, the sentence was confinement in a separate cell in her own convent, where no one was to enter or see her, her food being pushed in through an opening left for the purpose--in fact, the living tomb known as the "in pace."
I have already alluded to the varying treatment designedly practised in the detentive imprisonment of those who were under trial. When there was no special object to be attained by cruelty, this probably was as mild as could reasonably be expected. From occasional indications in the trials, it would seem that considerable intercourse was allowed with the outside world, as well as between the prisoners themselves, though watchful care was enjoined to prevent communication of any kind which might tend to harden the prisoner against a full confession of his sins.
The prisons themselves were not designed to lighten the penance of confinement. At best the jails of the Middle Ages were frightful abodes of misery. The seigneurs-justiciers and cities obliged to maintain them looked upon the support of prisoners as a heavy charge of which they would gladly relieve themselves. If a debtor was thrust into a dungeon, although the law limited his confinement to forty days and ordered him to be comfortably fed, these prescriptions were customarily eluded, for the worse he was treated the greater effort he would make to release himself. As for criminals, bread and water were their sole diet, and if they perished through neglect and starvation it was a saving of expense. The prisoner who had money and friends could naturally obtain better treatment by liberal payment; but this alleviation was not often to be looked for in the case of heretics whose property had been confiscated, and with whom sympathy was dangerous.
The enormous number of captives resulting from the vigorous operations of the Inquisition in Languedoc had rendered the question as to the duty of building and maintaining prisons one of no little magnitude. It unquestionably rested with the bishops, whose laches in persecuting heresy were only made good by the inquisitors, and the bishops, at the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, had admitted this, only excepting that when the heretic had property those to whom the confiscations inured should provide for him. The burden, however, proved unexpectedly large, and we find them, in the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, trying to shift their responsibility by suggesting that the penitents who, but for the recent papal command, would be sent on crusades, should be utilized in building prisons and furnishing them with necessaries, "lest the prelates be overburdened with the poor converts, and be unable to provide for them on account of their multitude." Two years later, at Bãziers, they declared that provision for both construction and maintenance ought to be made by those who profited by the confiscations, to which might be added the fines imposed by the inquisitors, which was not unreasonable; but in 1249 Innocent IV. still asserted that it was their business, and scolded them for not attending to it, and ordered that they be compelled to do it. At length, in 1254, the Council of Albi definitely decided that the holders of confiscated property should make provision for the imprisonment and maintenance of its former owners, and that, when heretics had nothing to confiscate, the cities or lords on whose lands they were captured should be responsible for them, and should be compelled by excommunication to attend to it. Still, the responsibility of the bishops was so self-evident that some zealous inquisitors talked of prosecuting them as fautors of heresy for neglecting to provide prisons, but Gui Foucoix discreetly advises against this, and recommends that such cases should be referred to the Holy See.
The fate of the unfortunate captives was evidently most precarious while their oppressors and despoilers were thus squabbling as to the cost of keeping them in jail and providing them with bread and water. There was evident fitness that those who profited by the enormous confiscations resulting from persecution should at least provide prisons and maintenance for the unhappy victims of fanaticism and greed; and St. Louis, to whom the chief profits came as suzerain of the territories ceded at the Treaty of Paris, recognized in part his responsibility. In 1233 he undertook to provide prisons in Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Bãziers. In 1246 he ordered his seneschal to provide for the inquisitors competent prisons in Carcassonne and Bãziers, and to furnish daily bread and water for the prisoners. In 1258 we find him ordering his seneschal of Carcassonne to bring to speedy completion those which had been commenced; he assumes that the prelates and barons on whose lands heretics are captured should provide for their maintenance; but, in order to avoid trouble, he is willing that expenditures for this purpose shall be made from the royal funds, to be subsequently collected from the seigneurs.
With the death of Alfonse and Jeanne of Toulouse, in 1272, all the territories lapsed to the crown, and, with insignificant exceptions, all the confiscations fell to the king. Henceforth the maintenance of prisons and prisoners, and the wages of jailers and attendants, were defrayed by the crown, except perhaps at Albi, where the bishop shared in the spoils, and seems to have been held to a portion of the expenses. Among the requests of Henri de Cbamay, granted in 1329 by Philippe de Valois, is that the inquisitorial prison at Carcassonne shall be repaired by the king, and that all who have shared in the confiscations shall be made to contribute pro rata. Thereupon the seneschal assessed the Count of Foix to the extent of three hundred and two livres eleven sols nine deniers, which the latter refused to pay, and appealed to the king, with what result is not known. From a decision of the Parlement of Paris in 1304 it appears that the royal allowance for maintenance was three deniers per diem for each convicted prisoner, which would seem liberal enough, though Jacques de Polignac, who had charge of the prison at Carcassonne, and who was punished for his frauds, made out his accounts at the rate of eight deniers. This extravagance was not a precedent, and in 1337 we find the accounts still made out at the old rate of three deniers. For the accused detained and awaiting trial the Inquisition itself presumably had to provide. In Italy, where the confiscations, as we shall see, were divided into thirds, the Inquisition was self-supporting. In Naples the royal prisons were employed, and a royal order was required for incarceration.
While the penance prescribed was a diet of bread and water, the Inquisition, with unwonted kindness, did not object to its prisoners receiving from their friends contributions of food, wine, money, and garments, and among its documents are such frequent allusions to this that it may be regarded as an established custom. Collections were made among those secretly inclined to heresy to alleviate the condition of their incarcerated brethren, and it argues much in favor of the disinterested zeal of the persecuted that they were willing to incur the risk attendant on this benevolence, for any interest shown towards these poor wretches exposed them to accusation to fautorship.
The prisons were naturally built with a view to economy of construction and space rather than to the health and comfort of the captives. In fact the papal orders were that they should be constructed of small, dark cells for solitary confinement, only taking care that the "enormis rigor" of the incarceration should not extinguish life. M. Molinier's description of the Tour de l'Inquisition at Carcassonne, which was used as the inquisitorial prison, shows how literally these instructions were obeyed. It was a horrible place, consisting of small cells, deprived of all light and ventilation, where through long years the miserable inmates endured a living death far worse than the short agony of the stake.
In these abodes of despair they were completely at the mercy of the jailers and their servants. Complaints were not listened to; if a prisoner alleged violence or ill-treatment his oath was contemptuously refused, while that of the prison officials was received. A glimpse into the discipline of these establishments is afforded by the instructions given, in 1282, by FrÃ¨re Jean Galande, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, to the jailer Raoul and his wife Bertrande, whose management had been rather lax. Under pain of irrevocable dismissal he is prohibited in future from keeping scriveners or horses in the prison; from borrowing money or accepting gifts from the prisoners; from retaining the money or effects of those who die; from releasing prisoners or allowing them to go beyond the first door, or to eat with him; from employing the servants on any other work or sending them anywhere, or gambling with them, or permitting them to gamble with each other.
Evidently a prisoner who had money could obtain illicit favors from the honest Raoul; but these injunctions make no allusion to one of the most crying abuses which disgraced the establishments--the retention by the jailers of the moneys and provisions placed in their hands by the friends of the imprisoned. Frauds of all kinds naturally grew up among all who were concerned in dealing with these helpless creatures. In 1304 Hugolin de Polignac, the custodian of the royal prison at Carcassonne, was tried on charges of embezzling a part of the king's allowance, of carrying the names of prisoners on the rolls for years after their death, and of retaining the moneys contributed for them by their friends; but the evidence was insufficient to convict him.
The cardinals whom Clement V. commissioned soon after to investigate the abuses of the Inquisition of Languedoc intimate broadly the nature of the frauds habitually practised, when they required the new jailers whom they appointed to swear to deliver to each captive without diminution the provisions supplied by the king, as well as those furnished by friends--an intimation confirmed by the decretals of Clement V. Their report shows that they were horror-struck with what they saw. At Carcassonne they took the control of the prison wholly from the inquisitor, Geoffroi d'Ablis, and placed it in the hands of the bishop, ordering the upper cells to be repaired at once, in order that the aged and sick should be transferred to them; at Albi they struck the chains off the prisoners, commanded the cells to be lighted and new and better ones built within a month; at Toulouse things were equally bad. Everywhere there was complaint of lack of food and of beds, as well as of frequent torture. Their measures for reformation consisted in dividing the responsibility between bishop and inquisitor, whose concurrence was requisite to a sentence of imprisonment, and each of whom should appoint a jailer, while each jailer should have a key to each cell, and swear never to speak to a prisoner except in presence of his colleague. This insufficient remedy was adopted by Clement, and can hardly be imagined to have worked much improvement. Bernard Gui bitterly complained of the infamy cast on the Inquisition by the papal assertion of fraud and ill-treatment in the management of its prisons, and he pronounced the new regulations impracticable. Slender as was the restraint which they imposed on the inquisitors, we may feel sure that it was not long submitted to.
In a few years Bernard Gui, in his Practica, assumes that the power of imprisoning lies wholly with the inquisitor; he contemptuously cites the Clementine canon by its title only, and proceeds to quote a bull of Clement IV. as if still in force, giving the authority to the inquisitor, and making no mention of the bishop. In fact, before the century was out, Eymerich considered the Clementine canons on this subject not worth inserting in his work, because, as he tells us, they were nowhere observed in consequence of their cost and inconvenience. About 1500, however, Bernardo di Como admits that the Clementine rule may be observed in punitive confinement after sentence, but holds that the inquisitor has sole control of the detentive prisons used before and during trial.
With such jailers it is probably rather to their corruption than to any lack of strength in the buildings that we may attribute the occasional escape of the inmates, which appears to have been by no means an infrequent occurrence. Even those who were confined in chains sometimes effected their liberation. More sufficient, however, as a means of release from the horrors of these foul dungeons was the excessive mortality caused by their filthy and unventilated squalor. Occasionally, as we have seen, the unfortunate were unlucky enough to live through protracted confinement, and there is one case in which a woman was graciously discharged, with crosses, in view of her having been for thirty-three years in the prison of Toulouse. As a rule, however, we may conclude that the expectation of life was very short. No records remain, if any were kept, to show the average term of those condemned to lifelong penance; but in the autos de fÃ© there occur sentences pronounced upon prisoners who had died before their cases were ended, which show how large was the death-rate. These cases were despatched in batches. In the auto of 1310, at Toulouse, there are ten, who had died after confessing their heresy and before receiving sentence; in that of 1319 there are eight. The prison of Carcassonne seems to have been almost as deadly. In the auto of 1325 we find a lot of four similar cases, and in that of 1328 there are five. It is only under these peculiar circumstances that we have any chance of guessing at the deaths which occurred in prison, and from these scattered indications we can assume that the insanitary condition of the jails worked its inevitable result without human interference.
Imprisonment was naturally the most frequent penance inflicted by the inquisitors. In Bernard Gui's Register of Sentences, comprising his operations between 1308 and 1322, there are six hundred and thirty-six condemnations recorded, which may be thus classified:
br br Delivered to the secular court and burned 40 br br Bones exhumed and burned 67 br br Imprisoned 300 br br Bones exhumed of those who would have been imprisoned 21 br br Condemned to wear crosses 138 br br Condemned to perform pilgrimages 16 br br Banished to Holy Land 1 br br Fugitives 36 br br Condemnation of the Talmud 1 br br Houses to be destroyed 16 636
and this may presumably be taken as a fair measure of the comparative frequency of the several punishments in use.
One peculiarity of the inquisitorial sentence remains to be noted. It always ended with a reservation of power to modify, to mitigate, to increase, and to reimpose at discretion. As early as 1244 the Council of Narbonne instructed the inquisitors always to reserve this power, and it became established as an invariable custom. Even without its formal expression, Innocent IV., in 1245, conferred on the inquisitors, acting with the advice and consent of the bishop of the penitent, authority to modify the penance imposed. The bishop, in fact, usually concurred in these alterations of sentences, but Zanchini informs us that though his assent should be asked, it was not essential, except in the case of clerks. The inquisitor, however, had no power to grant absolute pardons, which was reserved exclusively to the pope. The sin of heresy was so indelible that no authority short of the vicegerent of God could wash it out completely.
This power to mitigate sentences was frequently exercised. It served as a stimulus to the penitents to give evidence by their deportment of the sincerity of their conversion, and, perhaps, also, it was occasionally of benefit as a means of depleting overcrowded jails.
Thus in Bernard Gui's Register of Sentences there occur one hundred and nineteen cases of release from prison, with the obligation to wear the crosses, and of these fifty-one were subsequently relieved from the crosses. Besides these latter, there are also eighty-seven cases in which those originally condemned to crosses were permitted to lay them aside. This mercy was not peculiar to the Inquisition of Toulouse. In 1328, in a single sentence, twenty-three persons were released from the prison of Carcassone, their penance being commuted to crosses, pilgrimages, and other observances. What the measure of mercy was in such cases may be guessed from another sentence of commutation at Carcassonne in 1329, liberating ten penitents, among them the Baroness of MontrÃ©al.
They were required to wear the yellow crosses for life and to perform twenty-one pilgrimages, embracing shrines as distant as Rome, Compostella, Canterbury, and Cologne. They were to hear mass every Sunday and feast-day during life, and present themselves with rods to the officiating priest and receive the discipline in the face of the congregation; and also to accompany all processions and be similarly disciplined at the final station. Existence under such conditions might well be regarded as a doubtful blessing.
These mitigatory sentences, moreover, like the original ones, strictly reserved the power of alteration and reimposition, with or without cause. When the Inquisition once laid hands upon a man it never released its hold, and its utmost mercy was merely a ticket-of-leave. Just as no verdict of acquittal ever was issued, so the Council of Bãziers, in 1246, and Innocent IV., in 1247, told the inquisitors that when they liberated a prisoner he was to be warned that the slightest cause of suspicion would lead him to be punished without mercy, and that they must retain the right to incarcerate him again without the formality of a fresh trial or sentence if the interest of the faith required.
These conditions were observed in the formularies and enjoined in the manuals of practice. The penitent was made to understand fully that whatever liberty he enjoyed was subject to the arbitrary discretion of his judge, who could recall him to dungeon or fetters at any moment, and in his oath of abjuration he pledged his person and all his property to appear at once whenever he might be summoned.
If Bernard Gui in his Formulary gives a draft of pardon for person and property and disabilities of heirs, he adds a caution that it is never, or most rarely, to be used. When some great object was to be attained, such as the capture of a prominent heretic teacher, the inquisitors might stretch their authority and hold out promises of this kind to his disciples to induce them to betray him--promises which, it is pleasant to say, were almost universally spurned. If special penances had been imposed, on their fulfilment the inquisitor, if he saw fit, might declare the penitent to be a man of good character, but this did not alter the reservation in the original sentence. The mercy of the Inquisition did not extend to a pardon, but only to a reprieve, dum bene se gesserit, and the man who had once undergone a sentence never knew at what moment he might not be summoned to hear of its reimposition or even of a harsher one.
Once a delinquent, his fate forever after was in the hands of the silent and mysterious judge who need not hear him nor give any reason for his destruction. He lived forever on the verge of ruin, never knowing when the blow might fall, and utterly powerless to avert it. He was always a subject to be watched by the universal police of the Inquisition--the parish priest, the monks, the clergy, nay, the whole population--who were strictly enjoined to report any neglect of penance or suspicious conduct, when he was at once liable to the awful penalties of relapse. Nothing was easier for a secret enemy than to destroy him, safe that his name would never be mentioned. We may pity the victims of the stake and the dungeon, but their fate was scarce harder than that of the multitudes who were the objects of the Inquisition's apparent mercy, but whose existence from that hour was one of endless, hopeless anxiety.
The same implacability manifested itself after death. Allusion has frequently been made to the exhumation of the bones of those who by opportunely dying had seemed to exchange the vengeance of man for that of God, and it is only necessary to mention here that the fate of the dead was harder than that of the living. If he had died after confession and repentance, it is true, his punishment was only that which he would have received if alive, the digging up replacing imprisonment, and his heirs being forced to perform or compound for any lighter penance; but if he had not confessed and there was evidence of heresy he was classed with the impenitent heretics, his remains were delivered to the secular arm, and his property hopelessly confiscated. This will account for the large number of these executions as shown in the records quoted above.
If the secular authorities hesitated to perform the task of exhumation, they were coerced with excommunication.
The same spirit pursued the descendants. In the Roman law the crime of treason was pursued with merciless vindictiveness, and its provisions are constantly quoted by the canon lawyers as precedents for the punishment of heresy, with the addition that treason to God is far more heinous than that to an earthly sovereign.
It was, perhaps, natural that the churchman, in his eagerness to defend the kingdom of God, should follow and surpass the example of the emperors, and this will explain, if it may not justify, much that is abhorrent in the inquisitorial procedure.
In the Code of Justinian, treason is made especially odious by inflicting on the sons disability to hold office and to succeed to collateral estates. By the Council of Toulouse, in 1229, even spontaneously converted heretics were declared ineligible to public office. It was natural, therefore, that Frederic II. should apply the Roman practice to heresy, and should extend its provision to grandchildren. This, like the rest of his legislation, was eagerly adopted and enforced by the Church. Alexander IV., however, in a bull of 1257, repeatedly reissued by his successors, explained that this did not apply in cases where the culprit had made amends and performed penance, and this was still further lightened by Boniface VIII., who removed the incapacity from grandchildren by the female line of those who had died in heresy. In this form it remained permanently in the canon law.
The Inquisition depended so much upon secular officials for assistance that there was some justification in its seeking to prevent those who might be suspected of sympathizing with heresy from holding office in which they could thwart its plans and aid the offender. Yet as there was no prescription of time as to proceedings against the dead, so was there none in invoking disabilities against their descendants, and the records of the Inquisition were an inexhaustible treasury of torment for those who were in any way connected with heresy. No one, in fact, could feel sure that evidence might not at any moment be discovered or manufactured against some long-deceased parent or grandparent, which would ruin his career, and that some industrious searcher into the archives might not find some blot on his genealogical tree. In 1288 Philippe le Bel writes to the Seneschal of Carcassonne that Raymond Vitalis of Avignon is exercising the office of notary in Carcassonne, though his maternal grandfather, Roger Isarn, is said to have been burned for heresy.
If this is the fact, the seneschal is ordered to deprive him of the position. In 1292 Guiraud d'Auterive, a sergeant-at-arms of the king, was proceeded against on the same grounds, and we find Guillem de S. Seine, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, furnishing to the royal procureur evidence that, in 1256, Guiraud's father and mother had confessed to acts of heresy, and that, in 1276, his uncle, Raymond Carbonnel, had been burned as a perfected heretic. In these cases we see the royal power invoked for the dismissal of the official, but in the perfected theory of the Inquisition the inquisitor had the power to deprive of office any one whose father or grandfather had been a heretic or defender of heretics. In order to avoid questions like these, when a penitent had fulfilled his penance, prudent children would take out letters declaratory of the fact, so as to have evidence of capacity to hold office. In special cases the inquisitor had power to relieve descendants of these disabilities, and this was occasionally done; but, like the remission of penance, this relief was only a suspension, liable at any moment to forfeiture on the slightest manifestation of heretical tendencies.
Underlying all these sentences was another on which they, and, indeed, the whole power of the Inquisition, were based in last resort--the sentence of excommunication. Theoretically the censures of the Inquisition might be the same as those of any other ecclesiastics authorized to cut men off from salvation, but the latter had so habitually abused their functions that the anathema, in the mouth of priests who were neither feared nor respected, lost, at times at least, its awe-inspiring authority. The censures of the Inquisition were in the hands of a smaller body of men, selected for their implacable vigor, and no one ever disregarded them with impunity.
The secular authorities, moreover, were bound to put to the ban and confiscate the property of any one whom the inquisitor might excommunicate for heresy or fautorship. In fact, as the inquisitors were fond of boasting, their curse was stronger in four ways than that of the secular clergy. They could coerce the temporal government to outlaw the excommunicate; they could force it to confiscate his property; they could condemn any one remaining under excommunication for a year; and they could inflict the major excommunication upon any one communicating with their excommunicates.
Thus they enforced obedience to their citations and submission to their penances. Thus they made the secular power execute their sentences; thus they swept aside the statutes that interfered with their proceedings; thus they proved that the kingdom of God which they represented was superior to the kingdoms of earth. Of all excommunications that of the inquisitor worked the speediest vengeance and inspired the sharpest terror, and the boldest shrank from provoking it.
Chapter XIII. Confiscation
Although, for the most part, as we shall see, confiscation was technically not the work of the Inquisition, the distinction was rather nominal than real. Even in times and places in which the inquisitor did not pronounce the sentence of confiscation, it was the accompaniment of the sentence which he did pronounce. It was, therefore, one of the most serious of the penalties at his disposal, and the largeness of the results effected by it give it an importance worthy a somewhat minute examination.
For the source of this, as of so much else, we must look to the Roman law. It is true that, cruel as were the imperial edicts against heresy, they did not go to the length of thus indirectly punishing the innocent. Even when the detested Manichãans were mercilessly condemned to death, their property was confiscated only when their heirs were likewise heretics. If the children were orthodox they succeeded to the estate of the heretic parent, who could not execute a will and disinherit them. It was otherwise with crime. Any conviction involving deportation or the mines carried with it confiscation, though the wife could reclaim her dower and any gifts made to her before the commission of the offence, and so could children emancipated from the patria potestas. All else inured to the fisc. In majestas or treason, the offender was liable to condemnation after death, involving the confiscation of his estate, which was held to have lapsed to the fisc at the time when he first conceived the crime. These provisions furnished the armory whence pope and king drew the weapons which rendered the pursuit of heresy attractive and profitable.
King Roger, who occupied the throne of the Two Sicilies during the first half of the twelfth century, seems to have been the first to apply the Roman practice by decreeing confiscation for all who apostatized from the Catholic faith--whether to the Greek Church, to Islam, or to Judaism does not appear. Yet the Church cannot escape the responsibility of naturalizing this penalty in European law as a punishment for spiritual transgressions. The great Council of Tours, held by Alexander III., in 1163, commanded all secular princes to imprison heretics and confiscate their property. Lucius III., in his Verona decretal of 1184, sought to obtain for the Church the benefit of the confiscation which he again declared to be incurred by heresy. One of the earliest acts of Innocent III., in his double capacity of temporal prince and head of Christianity, was to address a decretal to his subjects of Viterbo, in which he says,
"In the lands subject to our temporal jurisdiction we order the property of heretics to be confiscated; in other lands we command this to be done by the temporal princes and powers, who, if they show themselves negligent therein, shall be compelled to do it by ecclesiastical censures. Nor shall the property of heretics who withdraw from heresy revert to them, unless some one pleases to take pity on them. For as, according to the legal sanctions, in addition to capital punishment, the property of those guilty of majestas is confiscated, and life simply is allowed to their children through mercy alone, so much the more should those who wander from the faith and offend the Son of God be cut off from Christ and be despoiled of their temporal goods, since it is a far greater crime to assail spiritual than temporal majesty."
This decretal, which was adopted into the canon law, is important as embodying the whole theory of the subject. In imitation of the Roman law of majestas, the property of the heretic was forfeited from the moment he became a heretic or committed an act of heresy. If he recanted, it might be restored to him purely in mercy. When the ecclesiastical tribunals declared him to be, or to have been, a heretic, confiscation operated itself; the act of seizing the property was a matter for the secular power to whom it inured, and the mercy which might spare it could only be shown by that power. All this it is requisite to keep in mind if we would correctly appreciate some points which have frequently been misunderstood.
Innocent's decretal further illustrates the fact that at the commencement of the struggle with heresy the chief difficulty encountered by the Church in relation to confiscation was to persuade or coerce the temporal rulers to do what it held to be their duty in taking possession of heretical property. This was one of the principal offences which Raymond VI. of Toulouse expiated so bitterly, as explained to him by Innocent in 1210. His son proclaimed it as the law in his statutes of 1234, and included in its provisions, in accordance with the Ordonnance of Louis VIII., in 1226, and that of Louis IX., in 1229, all who favored heretics in any way or refused to aid in their capture; but his policy did not always comport with its enforcement, and he sometimes had to be sternly rebuked for non-feasance.
After all danger of armed resistance had disappeared, however, sovereigns, as a rule, eagerly welcomed the opportunity of recruiting their slender revenues, and the confiscation of the property of heretics and of fautors of heresy was generally recognized in European law, although the Church was occasionally obliged to repeat its injunctions and threats, and though there were some regions in which they were slackly obeyed.
Confiscation was an ordinary resource of mediÃ¦val law. In England, from the time of Alfred, property, as well as life, was forfeited for treason (Alfred's Dooms 4--Thorpe I. 63), a penalty which, remained until 1870 (Low and Pulling's Dictionary of English History, p. 469). In France murder, false-witness, treachery, homicide, and rape were all punished with death and confiscation (Beaumanoir, Coutumes du Beauvoisis xxx. 2-5). By the German feudal law the fief might be forfeited for a vast number of offences, but the distinction was drawn that, if the offence was against the lord, the fief reverted to him; if simply a Roman law was generallyr ecognized, that the title to property devolved to the fisc as soon as the crime had been committed.
The relation of the Inquisition to confiscation varied essentially with time and place. In France the principle derived from the Roman law was generally recognized, that the title to property devolved to the fisc as soon as the crime had been committed. There was therefore nothing for the inquisitor to do with regard to it. He simply ascertained and announced the guilt of the accused and left the State to take action.
Thus Gui Foucoix treats the subject as one wholly outside of the functions of the inquisitor, who at most can only advise the secular ruler or intercede for mercy; while he holds that those only are legally exempt from forfeiture who come forward spontaneously and confess before any evidence has been taken against them.
In accordance with this, there is, as a rule, no allusion to confiscation in the sentences of the French Inquisition, though in one or two instances chance has preserved for us, in the accounts of the procureurs des encours, or royal stewards of the confiscations, evidence that estates were sold and covered into the fisc in cases in which the forfeiture is not specified in the sentence. In condemnations of absentees and of the dead, confiscation is occasionally declared, as though in these the State might need some guidance, but even here the practice is not uniform. In a sentence issued by Guillem Arnaud and Ã‰tienne de S. Thibery, November 24, 1241, on two absentees, their estates are adjudged to whom it may concern. In the Register of Bernard de Caux (1246-1248), in thirty-two cases of contumacious absentees confiscation is included in the sentence, and in nine similar ones it is omitted, as well as in one hundred and fifty-nine condemnations to prison in which it was undoubtedly operative.
In the Inquisition of Carcassonne, a sentence of December 12, 1328, on five deceased persons, who would have been imprisoned had they lived, ends with "et consequenter bona ipsorum dicimus confiscanda," while a previous sentence, February 24, 1325, identical in character, on four defunct culprits, has no such corollary appended. In fact, strictly speaking, it was recognized that the inquisitor had no power to remit confiscations without permission from the fisc, and the custom of extending mercy to those who came forward voluntarily and confessed was founded upon a special concession to that effect granted by Raymond of Toulouse to the Inquisition in 1235.
Variations In Practice
As soon as a suspected heretic was cited or arrested the secular officials sequestrated his property and notified his debtors by proclamation. No doubt, when condemnation took place, the inquisitor communicated the result to the proper officials, but as a rule no record of the fact seems to have been kept in the archives of the Holy Office, although an early manual of practice specifies it as part of his duty to see that the confiscation was enforced. At a later period, in 1328, in a record of an assembly of experts held at Pamiers, the presence is specified of Arnaud Assalit, royal procureur des encours of Carcassonne, so that probably by this time it had become customary for that official to attend these deliberations and thus obtain early notice of the sentences to be passed.
In Italy it was long before any settled practice was established. In 1252 a bull of Innocent IV. directs the rulers of Lombardy, Tarvisina, and Romagna to confiscate without fail the property of all who were excommunicated as heretics, or as receivers, defenders, or fautors of heretics, thus recognizing confiscation as a matter belonging to the secular power. Yet soon the papal authority succeeded in obtaining a share of the spoils, even beyond the limits of the States of the Church, as is seen in the bulls Ad extirpanda of Innocent IV. and Alexander IV., and the matter thus became one in which the Inquisition had a direct interest. The indifference which so well became the French tribunals was therefore not readily maintained, and the share of the inquisitor in the results led him to participate in the process of securing them.
Yet there were variations in practice. Zanghino tells us that formerly confiscations were decreed in the States of the Church by the ecclesiastical judges and elsewhere by the secular power, but that in his time (circa 1320) they were everywhere (in Italy) included in the jurisdiction of the episcopal and inquisitorial courts, and the secular authorities had nothing to do with them; but he adds that confiscation is prescribed by law for heresy, and that the inquisitor has no discretion to remit it, except in the case of voluntary converts with the assent of the bishop.
Yet though the forfeiture occurs ipso facto by the commission of the crime, it requires a declaratory sentence of confiscation. This consequently was expressed in the most formal manner in the condemnation of the accused by the Italian Inquisition, and the secular authorities were told not to interfere unless called upon.
At a very early period in some places the Italian inquisitors seem to have undertaken not only to decree but to control the confiscations. About 1245 we find the Florentine inquisitor, Ruggieri Calcagni, sentencing a Catharan named Diotaiuti, for relapse, with a fine of one hundred lire. Ruggieri acknowledges the receipt of this, to be applied to the pope, or to the furtherance of the faith, and formally concedes the rest of the heretic's estate to his wife Jacoba, thus exercising ownership over the whole. Yet this was not maintained, for in 1283 there is a sentence of the PodestÃ of Florence, reciting that the inquisitor FrÃ Salomone da Lucca had notified him that the widow Ruvinosa, lately deceased, had died a heretic, and that her property was to be confiscated; whereupon he orders it to be seized and sold, and the proceeds divided according to the papal constitutions.
At length, however, the inquisitors assumed and exercised full control over the handling of the confiscations. In the conveyance of a confiscated house by the municipal authorities of Florence, in 1327, to the Dominicans, the deed is careful to assert that it is made with the assent of the inquisitor. Even in Naples we see King Robert, in 1324, ordering the inquisitors to pay out of the royal share of the confiscations fifty ounces of gold to the Prior of the Church of San Domenico of Naples, to aid in its completion.
Degrees Of Guilt
In Germany the Diet of Worms, in 1231, indicates the confusion existing in the feudal mind between heresy and treason by allowing the allodial lands and personal property of the condemned to descend to the heirs, while fiefs were confiscated to the suzerain. If he was a serf, his goods inured to his master; but from all personal property was deducted the cost of burning its owner and the droits de justice of the seigneur-justicier. Two years later, in 1233, the Council of Mainz protested against the injustice, which quickly showed itself in Germany as elsewhere, of assuming guilt as soon as a man was accused, and treating his property as though he were convicted. It directed that the estates of those on trial should remain untouched until sentence was rendered, and any one who meanwhile should plunder or partition them should be excommunicated until he made restitution and rendered satisfaction. Finally, however, when the Emperor Charles IV. endeavored to introduce the Inquisition into Germany, in 1369, he adopted the Italian custom and ordered one third of the confiscations to be made over to the inquisitors.
The exact degree of criminality which entailed confiscation is not capable of very rigid definition. Even in states where the inquisitor nominally had no control over it, the arbitrary discretion lodged with him as to the fate of the accused placed the matter practically in his hands, and his notification to the secular authorities would be a virtual sentence. It is probable that custom varied with time and with the temper of the inquisitor. We have seen that Innocent III. commanded it for all heretics, but what constituted technical heresy was not so easily determined. The statutes of Raymond decreed it not only for heretics, but for those who showed them favor. The Council of BÃ©ziers, in 1233, demanded it for all reconciled converts not condemned to wear crosses, and those of BÃ©ziers, in 1246, and Albi, in 1254, prescribed it for all whom the inquisitors should penance with imprisonment.
Still, in a sentence of February 19, 1237, in which the inquisitors of Toulouse condemn some twenty or thirty penitents to perpetual imprisonment, confiscation is only threatened as an additional punishment in case they do not perform the penance. Imprisonment, however, finally was admitted by legists as the invariable test; although St. Louis, when in 1259 he mitigated his Ordonnance of 1229, ordered confiscation not only for those who were condemned to prison, but for those who contumaciously refused obedience to citations and those in whose houses heretics were found, his officials being instructed to ascertain from the inquisitors in all cases, while pending, whether the accused deserved imprisonment, and if so, to retain the sequestrated property.
When he further provided, as a special grace, that the heirs should be restored to possession in cases where the heretic had offered himself for conversion before citation, had entered a religious order, and had worthily died there, he shows how universal confiscation had previously been and how ruthlessly the principle had been enforced that a single act of heresy forfeited all ownership. In fact, even at the close of the fifteenth century, the rule was laid down that confiscation was a matter of course, while restoration of property to a reconciled penitent required an express declaration.
According to the most lenient construction of the law, therefore, the imprisonment of a reconciled convert carried with it the confiscation of his property, and as imprisonment was the ordinary penance, confiscation was general. There may possibly have been exceptions. The six prisoners released in 1248 by Innocent IV. had been in jail for some time--some of them for four years and more after confessing heresy--and yet the liberal contributions to the Holy Land which purchased their pardon show that they or their friends must have had control of property--unless, indeed, the money was raised on a pledge of the estates to be restored. So when Alaman de Roaix was condemned to imprisonment by Bernard de Caux, in 1248, the sentence provided for an annuity to be paid to a person designated, and for compensation to be made for the rapine which he had committed, which would look as though property were left to him; but as he had for ten years been a contumacious and proscribed fugitive, these fines must have been taken out of his estate in the hands of the State.
Apparent exceptions such as these can be accounted for, and the proceedings of the Inquisition as a whole indicate that imprisonment and confiscation were inseparable. Sometimes, even, it is stated in sentences passed upon the dead that they are pronounced worthy of imprisonment in order to deprive the heirs of succession to the estates. At a later date, indeed, Eymerich, who dismisses the whole matter briefly as one with which the inquisitor has no concern, speaks as though confiscation only took place when a heretic did not repent and recant before sentence, but his commentator, Pegna, easily proves this to be an error. Zanghino assumes as a matter of course that property is forfeited by the act of heresy; and he points out that pecuniary penances cannot be imposed because the whole estate is gone, although there may be mercy shown at discretion with the assent of the bishop, and simple suspicion is not subject to confiscation.
In the early zeal of persecution everything was swept away in wholesale seizure, but, in 1237, Gregory IX. assumed that the dowers of Catholic wives ought to be exempt in certain cases, and in 1247 Innocent IV. erected it into a rule that such dowers should be restored to the wives and should not be included in future forfeitures, although heresy would not justify divorce, and, in 1258, St. Louis accepted this rule. It was subject to serious limitations, however, since under the canon law the wife could not claim it if she had been cognizant of the husband's heresy when she married, and, according to some authorities, if she had lived with him after ascertaining it, or even if she had failed to inform against him within forty days after discovering it. As the children were incapable of inheritance, she only held the dower for life, after which it fell into the fisc.
Although in principle confiscation was an affair of the State, the division of the spoils did not follow any invariable rule. Before the organization of the Inquisition, when the Waldenses of Strassburg were burned, it is mentioned that their forfeited property was equally divided between the Church and the secular authorities. Lucius III., as we have just seen, endeavored to turn the forfeitures to the benefit of the Church. In the papal territory there could be little question as to this, and Innocent IV., in his bull Ad extirpanda of 1252, showed disinterestedness in devoting the whole proceeds to the stimulation of persecution. One third was given to the local authorities, one third to the officials of the Inquisition, and one third to the bishop and inquisitor, to be expended in the assault on heresy--provisions which were retained in the subsequent recensions of the bull by Alexander IV. and Clement IV., while forfeited bail went exclusively to the inquisitor. Yet this was speedily held to refer only to the independent states of Italy, for, in 1260, we find Alexander IV. ordering the inquisitors of Rome and Spoleto to sell the confiscated estates of heretics and pay over the proceeds to the pope himself; and a transaction of 1261 shows Urban IV. collecting three hundred and twenty lire from some confiscations at Spoleto.
At length, both in the Roman province and elsewhere throughout Italy, the custom settled down to a tripartite division between the local community, the Inquisition, and the papal camera, the reason for the latter, as given by Benedict XI., being that the bishops appropriated to themselves the share intrusted to them for the persecution of heresy. In Florence a transaction of 1283 shows this to be the received regulation; and documents of various dates during the next half-century indicate that it was the custom of the republic to appoint attorneys or trustees to take seisin of confiscated property in the name of the city, which in 1319 liberally granted its share for the next ten years to the construction of the church of Santa Reparata. That the amounts were not small may be guessed from a petition of the inquisitors to the republic in 1299, setting forth that the Holy Office must have funds wherewith to pay its stipendiary officials, and therefore praying leave to invest in real estate the sums accruing to the Inquisition from this source--showing accumulations prudently garnered for the future. The request was granted to the extent of one thousand lire, with the proviso that none of the city's share be taken.
Embezzlement By Inquisitors
This latter precaution would seem to argue no great confidence in the integrity of the inquisitors, nor was the insinuation uncalled for. By this time the money-changers had fairly occupied the Temple, and, as we have seen in the last chapter, it seemed almost impossible to preserve official honesty when persecution had become almost as much a financial speculation as a matter of faith. That plain-spoken Franciscan, Alvaro Pelayo, Bishop of Silva, writing about the year 1335, bitterly reproaches those of his brethren who act as inquisitors with their abuse of the funds accruing to the Holy Office. The papal division into thirds he declares was generally disregarded; the inquisitors monopolized the whole and spent it on themselves or enriched their kindred at their pleasure. Chance has preserved in the Florentine archives some documents confirmatory of this accusation.
It seems that in 1343 Clement VI. obtained evidence that the inquisitors of both Florence and Lucca were habitually defrauding the papal camera of its third of the fines and confiscations, and accordingly he sent to Pietro di Vitale, Primicerio of Lucca, authority to collect the sums in arrears and to prosecute the embezzlers.
How it fared with them we have no means of knowing, but the camera seems not to have gained much. In filling the vacancies thus occasioned Pietro di Aquila, a Franciscan of high standing, was appointed in Florence, who fell at once into the same evil ways, and within two years was obliged to fly from a prosecution by the primicerio, in addition to the charges of extortion brought against him by the republic.
In Naples, under the Angevines, when the Inquisition was first introduced, Charles of Anjou monopolized the confiscations with the same rapacity that was customary in France. As early as March, 1270, we find him writing to his representatives in the Principato Ultra that three heretics had recently been burned at Benevento, whose estates he orders looked after and accounted for in detail. In 1290, however, Charles II. ordered the fines and confiscations to be divided into thirds, of which one should inure to the royal fisc, one be used for the promotion of the faith, and one be given to the Inquisition. Feudal lands, however, were to revert to the crown or to the immediate lord as the case might require.
In Venice the compromise reached in 1289 between the signiory and Nicholas IV., whereby the republic permitted the introduction of the Inquisition, provided that all receipts of the Holy Office should be for the benefit of the State, and this arrangement seems to have been maintained. In Piedmont the confiscations were divided between the State and the Inquisition until, in the latter half of the fifteenth century, Amedeo IX. took the whole, allowing to the Holy Office only the expenses of the proceedings.
In the other Italian states the papal curia grew dissatisfied with its share, when there was no longer a necessity of purchasing the co-operation of the civil power with a third of the spoils. It is a disputed point with the jurists when and how the change was effected, but in the first quarter of the fourteenth century the Church succeeded in grasping the whole of the confiscations, which were divided equally between the Inquisition and the papal camera. The rapacity with which this source of income was exploited is illustrated in a case occurring at Pisa in 1304.
The inquisitor Angelo da Reggio had condemned the memory of a deceased citizen, Loterio Bonamici, and confiscated his property, part of which he then gave away and part he sold at prices which the papal curia esteemed too low. Benedict XI. thereupon ordered the Bishop of Ostia not to punish the inquisitor, but to use freely the censures of the Church in hunting up the assets in the hands of the holders and to take it from them.
Finally, in 1438, Eugenius IV. generously handed back to the bishops the share of the papal camera in order to stimulate their slackness in persecution, and, where the bishop was also the temporal lord of his see, the confiscations were to be equally divided between him and the Inquisition. Bernardo di Como, however, writing about the year 1500, asserts that the whole confiscations inure to the inquisitor to be expended at his discretion; but he subsequently admits that the subject is confused and uncertain, owing to contradictory papal decisions and conflicting jurisdictions in different territories.
Quarrels Over The Spoils
In Spain the rule was laid down that if the heretic were a clerk, or a lay vassal of the Church, the confiscation went to the Church; if otherwise, to the temporal seigneur.
This greed for the plunder of the wretched victims of persecution is peculiarly repulsive as exhibited by the Church, and may to some extent palliate the similar action by the State in countries where the latter was strong enough to seize and retain it. The threats of coercion, which at first were necessary to induce the temporal princes to confiscate the property of their heretical subjects, soon became superfluous, and history has few displays of man's eagerness to profit by his fellow's misfortunes more deplorable than that of the vultures which followed in the wake of the Inquisition to batten on the ruin which it wrought.
In Languedoc at first the Inquisition endeavored to control the confiscations for the purpose of building prisons and maintaining prisoners, but these pretensions received no attention. Under the feudal system, the confiscations were for the benefit of the seigneur haut-justicier. The rapid extension of the royal jurisdiction, in the second half of the thirteenth century in France, ended by practically placing them in the hands of the king, but during the earlier and more profitable period there were quarrels over the spoils. After the treaty of Paris, in 1229, St. Louis, in granting fiefs in the newly-acquired territories, seems to have endeavored to provide for these questions by reserving the confiscations for heresy.
The prudence of this is shown by the suit brought by the Marãchaux de Mirepoix--one of the few families founded by the adventurers who accompanied de Montfort--who claimed the movables of all heretics captured in their lands, even if the goods were in the lands of the king--a demand which was rejected by the Parlement of Paris, in 1269. The bishops put in a claim to the confiscations of all real and personal property of heretics living under their jurisdiction, and at the Council of Lille (Comtat Venaissin) in 1251, they threatened with excommunication any one who should dispute it.
The groundlessness of this claim is seen in an agreement made under the auspices of the Legate Romano in December, 1229, between the Bishop of Bãziers and the king, in which the royal right to the confiscations is recognized as incontestable, and the bishop only stipulates that in case of fiefs they shall, if granted, be held subject to his seignorial rights, or if the king retains them some compensation shall be made for the loss of the suzerainty.
This indicates a source of reasonable complaint, for, in the annexation of fiefs to the crown, the bishops found themselves losing in place of profiting by persecution.
Various efforts were made to adjust these conflicting claims over the spoil. By a transaction of 1234 we see that the king had subjected himself to the stipulation of parting with all confiscated property within a year and a day. The Council of BÃ©ziers, in 1246, adopted a canon on the subject, but it could not be enforced, and at length, about 1255, St. Louis agreed upon a compromise, whereby all confiscated lands subject to the bishops were equally divided, with a right on the part of the prelates to buy out, within two months, the royal share at a price fixed by arbitration; if this right was not exercised the king was bound, within a year and a day, to pass the lands out of his hands into those of a person of the same condition as the former owner, to be held under the same terms of service or villeinage; but all movables were declared to belong unreservedly to the crown. Under this arrangement the temporalities of the sees grew rapidly. We have seen the apostolic poverty which afflicted the bishops of Toulouse prior to the crusades: during the succeeding century the whole land was impoverished and the cities suffered especially, yet when, in 1317, John XXII. carved six new bishoprics out of the see of Toulouse, his reason was found in the excessive revenues of the bishop, amounting to forty thousand livres Tournois per annum, although it had already been shorn of nearly half of its territory by Boniface VIII. to form the see of Pamiers.
The Bishops Of Albi
The bishops of Albi were especially active and fortunate in this saturnalia of plunder. During the confusion of the wars and the settlement they assumed rights, including haute justice and the confiscations, which led to contests with the representatives of the crown, lasting for thirty years. They were specially active in the pursuit of heretics, which they thus found profitable as well as praiseworthy. In 1247 Bishop Bertrand procured from Innocent IV. a special deputation of inquisitorial power, probably to strengthen his claims, and the next year he drove a thriving business in selling commutations for confiscation to condemned and repentant heretics--an expedient more lucrative than regular, for when Alphonse of Poitiers, in 1253, endeavored to speculate in the confiscations in the same way, he was compelled to desist by the Archbishop of Narbonne and the Bishop of Toulouse, who declared that it would lead to the scandal of the faithful and the destruction of religion.
Finally, to settle the claims of the bishop on the confiscations, St. Louis, in December, 1264, made with Bernard de Combret, the incumbent of the see, a convention, promptly confirmed by Urban IV., by which the prelate was entitled to one half of all confiscations of realty and personalty within the diocese, with the further advantage that the king's share of the real estate passed into possession of the bishop if it was not sold within a twelvemonth, and became his absolute property if not sold within three years.
Accordingly in the accounts of the royal procureurs des encours of Carcassonne we constantly find the confiscations in Albi shared with the bishop. Although between St. John's day 1322 and 1323 this share in money amounted only to one hundred and sixty livres, there were times when it was much greater. About the year 1300 Bishop Bernard de Castanet generously gave to the Dominican Church of Albi his portion of the estates of two citizens, Guillem Aymeric and Jean de Castanet, condemned after death, which amounted to more than one thousand livres. It can readily be imagined that this arrangement with the crown gave rise to constant quarrels.
In vain Philippe le Bel, in 1307, ordered the observance of the agreement with restitution for any infractions. In 1316 we find the bishop claiming properties which had not been sold within the three years, and Arnaud Assalit, the procureur, arguing that he had been prevented from effecting sales by just and legitimate causes, when the seneschal, Aymeric de Croso, decided that the impediments had been legitimate, and that the rights of the king were not forfeited.
These were not the only questions arising from this wholesale spoliation which afforded an ample harvest to the legal profession. A suit brought by the bishops of Rodez for some lands held by the crown as heretic confiscations dragged on for thirty years until it reached the Parlement of Paris, which coolly annulled all the proceedings on the ground that those who had acted for the crown had lacked the requisite authority. Almost equally protracted and confused was a suit between Eleanor de Montfort, Countess of VendÃ´me, and the king over the lands of Jean Baudier and Raymond Calverie. The confiscations occurred in 1300; in 1327 the suit was still pursuing its weary way, to be finally compromised in 1335.
All prelates were not as rapacious as those of Albi, one of whom we find still, in 1328, complaining of the evasions resorted to by the victims to save a fragment of their property for their families; but the princes and their representatives were relentless in grasping all that they could lay their hands on. I have mentioned that as soon as a suspect was cited before the Inquisition his property was sequestrated to await the result, and proclamation was made to all his debtors and those who held his effects to bring everything to the king. Charles of Anjou carried this practice to Naples, where a royal order, in 1269, to arrest sixty-nine heretics contains instructions to seize simultaneously their goods, which are to be held for the king. So assured were the officials that condemnation would follow trial that they frequently did not await the result, but carried out the confiscation in advance. This abuse was coeval with the founding of the Inquisition.
In 1237 Gregory IX. complained of it and forbade it, but to little purpose, for in 1246 the Council of BÃ©ziers again prohibited it, unless, indeed, the offender had knowingly adhered to those who were known to be heretics, in which case, apparently, it was sanctioned. When, in 1259, St. Louis mitigated the rigors of confiscation, he indirectly forbade this wrong by instructing his officials that, when the accused was not condemned to imprisonment, they should give him or his heirs a hearing to reclaim the property; but, if there was any suspicion of heresy, it was not to be restored without taking security that it should be surrendered if anything was proved within five years, during which period it was not to be alienated.
Yet still the outrage of confiscation before conviction continued with sufficient frequency to induce Boniface VIII. to embody its prohibition in the canon law. Even this did not put a stop to it. The Inquisition had so habituated men's minds to the belief that no one escaped who had once fallen into its hands, that the officials considered themselves safe in acting upon the presumption. By an unusual coincidence we have the data from various sources in a single case of this kind which is doubtless the type of many others. In the prosecutions at Albi in 1300, a certain Jean Baudier was first examined January 20, when he acknowledged nothing.
At a second hearing, February 5, he confessed to acts of heresy, and he was condemned March 7. Yet his confiscated property was sold January 29, not only before his sentence, but before his confession. Guillem Garric, charged with complicity in the plot to destroy the inquisitorial records of Carcassonne in 1284, was not sentenced until 1319, but in 1301 we find the Count of Foix and the royal officials quarrelling over his confiscated castle of Monteirat.
Rapacity Of The Princes
The ferocious rapacity with which this process of confiscation was carried on may be conceived from a report made by Jean d'Arsis, Seneschal of Rouergue, to Alphonse of Poitiers, about 1253, as an evidence of the zeal with which he was guarding the interests of his suzerain. The Bishop of Rodez was conducting a vigorous episcopal inquisition, and at Najac had handed over a certain Hugues Paraire as a heretic, whom the seneschal burned "incontinently" and collected over one thousand livres Tournois from his estate.
Hearing, subsequently, that the bishop had cited before him at Rodez six other citizens of Najac, d'Arsis hastened thither to see that no fraud was practised on the count. The bishop told him that these men were all heretics, and that he would make the count gain one hundred thousand sols from their confiscations, but both he and his assessors begged the seneschal to forego a portion to the culprits or their children, which that loyal servitor bluntly refused. Then the bishop, following evil counsel, and in fraud of the rights of the count, endeavored to elude the forfeiture by condemning the heretics to some lighter penance. The seneschal, however, knew his master's rights and seized the property, after which he allowed some pittance to the penitents and their children, reporting that in addition to this he was in possession of about one thousand livres; and he winds up by advising the count, if he wishes not to be defrauded, to appoint some one to watch and supervise the further inquisitions of the bishop. On the other hand the bishops complained that the officials of Alphonse permitted heretics, for a pecuniary consideration, to retain a part or the whole of their confiscated property, or else condemned to the flames those who did not deserve it in order to seize their estates. These frightful abuses grew so unbearable that, in 1254, the officials of Alphonse, including Gui Foucoix, endeavored to reform them by issuing general regulations on the subject, but the matter was one which in its inherent nature scarce admitted of reform. Y
et Alphonse, with all his greed, was not unwilling to share the plunder with those who secured it for him, and several of his not wholly disinterested liberalities of this kind are on record. In 1268 we have a letter of his assigning to the Inquisition a revenue of one hundred livres per annum on the confiscated estate of a heretic; and in 1270 another, confirming the foundation of a chapel from a similar source.
Nothing could exceed the minute thoroughness with which every fragment of a confiscated estate was followed up and seized. The account of the collections of confiscated property from 1302 to 1313 by the procureurs des encours of Carcassone is extant in MS., and shows how carefully the debts due to the condemned were looked after, even to a few pence for a measure of corn. In the case of one wealthy prisoner, Guillem de Fenasse, the estate was not wound up for eight or ten years, and the whole number of debts collected foots up to eight hundred and fifty-nine, in amounts ranging from five deniers upward.
As the collectors never credit themselves with amounts paid in discharge of debts due by these estates, it is evident that the rule that a heretic could give no valid obligations was strictly construed and that creditors were shamelessly cheated. In this seizure of debts the nobles asserted a right to claim any sums due by debtors who were their vassals, but Philippe de Valois, in 1329, decided that when the debts were payable at the domicile of the heretic they inured to the royal fisc, irrespective of the allegiance of the debtor. Another illustration of the remorseless greed which seized everything is found in a suit decided by the Parlement of Paris in 1302. On the death of the Chevalier Guillem PrunÃ¨le and his wife Isabelle, the guardianship of their orphans would legally vest in the next of kin, the Chevalier Bernard de Montesquieu, but he had been burned some years before for heresy, and his estate, of course, confiscated.
The Seneschal of Carcassonne insisted that the guardianship which thus subsequently fell in formed part of the assets of the estate, and he accordingly assumed it, but a nephew, an Esquire Bernard de Montesquieu, contested the matter and finally obtained a decision in his favor.
Equal care was exercised in recovering alienated property. As, in obedience to the Roman law of majestas, forfeiture occurred ipso facto as soon as the crime of heresy was committed, the heretic could convey no legal title, and any assignments which he might have made were void, no matter through how many hands the property might have passed. The holder was forced to surrender it, nor could he demand restitution of what he had paid, unless the money or other consideration were found among the goods of the heretic. The eagerness with which, in such cases, the rigor of the law was enforced may be estimated from one occurring in 1272.
Charles of Anjou had written from Naples to his viguier and sous-viguier at Marseilles telling them that a certain Maria Roberta, before condemnation to prison for heresy, had sold a house which was subject to confiscation; this he ordered them to seize, to sell by auction, and to report the proceeds; but they neglected to do so. The viguiers were changed, and now the unforgetful Charles writes to the new officials, repeating his orders and holding them personally responsible for obedience. At the same time he writes to his seneschal with instructions to look after the matter, as it lies very near to his heart.
The cruelty of the process of confiscation was enhanced by the pitiless methods employed. As soon as a man was arrested for suspicion of heresy his property was sequestrated and seized by the officials, to be returned to him in the rare cases in which his guilt might be declared not proven. This rule was enforced in the most rigorous manner, every article of his household gear and provisions being inventoried, as well as his real estate.
Thus, whether innocent or guilty, his family were turned out-of-doors to starve or to depend upon the precarious charity of others--a charity chilled by the fact that any manifestation of sympathy was dangerous. It would be difficult to estimate the amount of human misery arising from this source alone.
In this chaos of plunder we may readily imagine that those who were engaged in such work were not over-nice as to securing a share of the spoliations. In 1304 Jacques de Polignac, who had been for twenty years keeper of the inquisitorial jail at Carcassonne, and several of the officials employed on the confiscations, were found to have converted and detained a large amount of valuable property, including a castle, several farms and other lands, vineyards, orchards, and movables, all of which they were compelled to disgorge and to suffer punishment at the king's pleasure.
It is pleasant to turn from this cruel greed to a case which excited much interest in Flanders at a time when in that region the Inquisition had become so nearly dormant that the usages of confiscation were almost forgotten. The Bishop of Tournay and the Vicar of the Inquisition condemned at Lille a number of heretics, who were duly burned. They confiscated the property, claiming the movables for the Church and the inquisitor, and the realty for the fisc. The magistrates of Lille boldly interposed, declaring that among the liberties of their town was the privilege that no burgher could forfeit both body and goods; and, acting for the children of one of the victims, they took out apostoli and appealed to the pope.
The counsellors of the suzerain, Philippe le Bon of Burgundy, with a clearer perception of the law, claimed that the whole confiscations inured to him, while the ecclesiastics declared the rule to be invariable that the personalty went to the Church and only the real estate to the fisc. The triangular quarrel threatened long and costly litigation, and finally all parties agreed to leave the decision to the duke himself. With rare wisdom, in 1430, he settled the matter, with general consent, by deciding that the sentence of confiscation should be treated as not rendered, and the property be left to the heirs, at the same time expressly declaring that the rights of Church, Inquisition, city, and state, were reserved without prejudice, in any case that might arise in future, which was, he said, not likely to occur.
He did not manifest the same disinterestedness in 1460, however, in the terrible persecution of the sorcerers of Arras, when the movables were confiscated to the episcopal treasury, and he seized the landed property in spite of the privileges alleged by the city.
In addition to the misery inflicted by these wholesale confiscations on the thousands of innocent and helpless women and children thus stripped of everything, it would be almost impossible to exaggerate the evil which they entailed upon all classes in the business of daily life. All safeguards were withdrawn from every transaction. No creditor or purchaser could be sure of the orthodoxy of him with whom he was dealing; and, even more than the principle that ownership was forfeited as soon as heresy had been committed by the living, the practice of proceeding against the memory of the dead after an interval virtually unlimited, rendered it impossible for any man to feel secure in the possession of property, whether it had descended in his family for generations, or had been acquired within an ordinary lifetime.
The prescription of time against the Church had to be at least forty years--against the Roman Church, a hundred, and this prescription ran, not from the commission of the crime, but from its detection. Though some legists held that proceedings against the deceased had to be commenced within five years after death, others asserted that there was no limit, and the practice of the Inquisition shows that the latter opinion was followed. The prescription of forty years' possession by good Catholics was further limited by the conditions that they must at no time have had a knowledge that the former owner was a heretic, and, moreover, he must have died with an unsullied reputation for orthodoxy--both points which might cast a grave doubt on titles.
Disinterestedness Of Philippe Le Bon
Prosecution of the dead, as we have seen, was a mockery in which virtually defence was impossible and confiscation inevitable. How unexpectedly the blow might fall is seen in the case of Gherardo of Florence. He was rich and powerful, a member of one of the noblest and oldest houses, and was consul of the city in 1218. Secretly a heretic, he was hereticated on his death-bed between 1246 and 1250, but the matter lay dormant until 1313, when FrÃ Grimaldo, the Inquisitor of Florence, brought a successful prosecution against his memory.
In the condemnation were included his children Ugolino, Cante, Nerlo, and Bertuccio, and his grandchildren, Goccia, Coppo, FrÃ Giovanni, Gherardo, prior of S. Quirico, Goccino, Baldino, and Marco--not that they were heretics, but that they were disinherited and subjected to the disabilities of descendants of heretics. When such proceedings were hailed as pre-eminent exhibitions of holy zeal, no man could feel secure in his possessions, whether derived from descent or purchase.
An instance of a different character, but equally illustrative, is furnished by the case of GÃ©raud de Puy-Germer. His father had been condemned for heresy in the times of Raymond VII. of Toulouse, who generously restored the confiscated estates. Yet, twenty years after the death of the count, in 1268, the zealous agents of Alphonse seized them as still liable to forfeiture. Gãraud thereupon appealed to Alphonse, who ordered an investigation, but with what result does not appear.
Not only were all alienations made by heretics set aside and the property wrested from the purchasers, but all debts contracted by them, and all hypothecations and liens given to secure loans, were void. Thus doubt was cast upon every obligation that a man could enter into. Even when St. Louis softened the rigor of confiscation in Languedoc, the utmost concession he would make was that creditors should be paid for debts contracted by culprits before they became heretics, while all claims arising subsequently to an act of heresy were rejected. As no man could be certain of the orthodoxy of another, it will be evident how much distrust must have been thrown upon every bargain and every sale in the commonest transactions of life.
The blighting influence of this upon the development of commerce and industry can readily be perceived, coming as it did at a time when the commercial and industrial movement of Europe was beginning to usher in the dawn of modern culture. It was not merely the spiritual striving of the thirteenth century that was repressed by the Inquisition; the progress of material improvement was seriously retarded. It was this, among other incidents of persecution, which arrested the promising civilization of the south of France and transferred to England and the Netherlands, where the Inquisition was comparatively unknown, the predominance in commerce and industry which brought freedom and wealth and power and progress in its train.
The quick-witted Italian commonwealths, then rising into mercantile importance, were keen to recognize the disabilities thus inflicted upon them. In Florence a remedy was sought by requiring the seller of real estate always to give security against possible future sentences of confiscation by the Inquisition--the security in general being that of a third party, although there must have been no little difficulty in obtaining it, and though it might likewise be invalidated at any moment by the same cause.
Even in contracts for personalty, security was also often demanded and given. This was, at least, only replacing one evil by another of scarcely less magnitude, and the trouble grew so intolerable that a remedy was sought for one of its worst features. The republic solemnly represented to Martin IV. the scandals which had occurred and the yet greater ones threatened, in consequence of the confiscation of the real estate of heretics in the hands of bona fide purchasers, and by a special bull of Nov. 22, 1283, the pontiff graciously ordered the Florentine inquisitors in future not to seize such property.
The princes who enjoyed the results of confiscations recognized that they carried with them the correlative duty of defraying the expenses of the Inquisition; indeed, self-interest alone would have prompted them to maintain in a state of the highest efficiency an instrumentality so profitable. Theoretically, it could not be denied that the bishops were liable for these expenses, and at first the inquisitors of Languedoc sought to obtain funds from them, suggesting that at least pecuniary penances inflicted for pious uses should be devoted to paying their notaries and clerks. This was fruitless, for, as Gui Foucoix (Clement IV.) remarks, their hands were tenacious and their purses constipated, and as it was useless to look to them for resources, he advises that the pecuniary penances be used for the purpose, providing it be done decently and without scandalizing the people. Throughout central and northern Italy, as we have seen, the fines and confiscations rendered the Inquisition fully self-supporting, and the inquisitors were eager to make business out of which they could reap a pecuniary harvest. In Venice the State defrayed all expenses and took all profits. In Naples the same policy was at first pursued by the Angevine monarchs, who took the confiscations and, in addition to maintaining prisoners, paid to each inquisitor one augustale (one quarter ounce of gold) per diem for the expenses of himself and his associate, his notary, and three familiars, with their horses.
These stipends were assigned upon the Naples customs on iron, pitch, and salt; the orders for their payment ran usually for six months at a time and had to be renewed; there was considerable delay in the settlements, and the inquisitors had substantial cause of complaint, although the officials were threatened with fines for lack of promptness. In 1272, however, I find a letter issued to the inquisitor, FrÃ Matteo di Castellamare, providing him with a year's salary, payable six months in advance. When, as mentioned above, Charles II., in 1290, divided the proceeds according to the papal prescription, he liberally continued to contribute to the expenses, though on a somewhat reduced scale. In letters of May 16, 1294, he orders the payment to FrÃ Bartolomeo di Aquila of four tareni per diem (the tareno was one thirtieth of an ounce of gold), and July 7 of the same year he provides that five ounces per month be paid to him for the expenses of his official family.
In France there was at first some question as to the responsibility for the charges attendant upon persecution. The duty of the bishops to suppress heresy was so plain that they could not refuse to meet the expenses, at least in part.
Expenses Of The Inquisition
Before the establishment of the Inquisition this consisted almost wholly in the maintenance of imprisoned converts, and at the Council of Toulouse they agreed to defray this in the case of those who had no money, while those who had property to be confiscated they claimed should be supported by the princes who obtained it.
This proposition, like the subsequent one of the Council of Albi, in 1254, was altogether too cumbrous to work. The statutes of Raymond, in 1234, while dwelling elaborately on the subject of confiscation, made no provision for meeting the cost of the new Inquisition, and the matter remained unsettled. In 1237 we find Gregory IX. complaining that the royal officials contributed nothing for the support of the prisoners whose property they had confiscated. When, in 1246, the Council of BÃ©ziers was assembled, the Cardinal Legate of Albano reminded the bishops that it was their business to provide for it, according to the instructions of the Council of Montpellier, whose proceedings have not reached us. The good bishops were not disposed to do this.
As we have seen, they claimed that prisons should be built at the expense of the recipients of the confiscations, and suggested that the fines should be used for their maintenance and for that of the inquisitors. The piety of St. Louis, however, would not see the good work halt for lack of the necessary means; with a more worldly prince we might assume that he recognized the money spent on inquisitors as profitably invested. In 1248 we find him defraying their expenses in all the domains of the crown, and we have shown above how he assumed the cost of prisons and prisoners; in addition to which, in 1246, he ordered his Seneschal of Carcassonne to pay out of the confiscations ten sols per diem to the inquisitors for their expenses.
It may fairly be presumed that Count Raymond contributed with a grudging hand to the support of an institution which he had opposed so long as he dared; but when he was succeeded, in 1249, by Jeanne and Alphonse of Poitiers, the latter politic and avaricious prince saw his account in stimulating the zeal of those to whom he owed his harvest of confiscations. Not only did he defray the cost of the fixed tribunals, but his seneschals had orders to pay the expenses of the inquisitors and their familiars in their movements throughout his territories. He paid close attention to detail. In 1268 we find Guillem de Montreuil, Inquisitor of Toulouse, reporting to him the engagement of a notary at six deniers per diem and of a servitor at four, and Alphonse graciously ordering the payment of their wages. Charles of Anjou, who was equally greedy, found time amid his Italian distractions to see that his Seneschal of Provence and Forcalquier kept the Inquisition supplied on the same basis as did the king in the royal dominions.
Large as were the returns to the fisc from the industry of the Inquisition, the inquisitors were sometimes disposed to presume upon their usefulness, and to spend money with a freedom which seemed unnecessary to those who paid the bills. Even in the fresh zeal of 1242 and 1244, before the princes had made provision for the Holy Office, and while the bishops were yet zealously maintaining their claims to the fines, the luxury and extravagance of the inquisitors called down upon them the reproof of their own Order as expressed in the Dominican provincial chapters of Montpellier and Avignon.
It would be, of course, unjust to cast such reproach upon all inquisitors, but no doubt many deserved it, and we have seen that there were numerous ways in which they could supply their wants, legitimate or otherwise. It might, indeed, be a curious question to determine the source whence Bernard de Caux, who presided over the tribunal of Toulouse until his death, in 1252, and who, as a Dominican, could have owned no property, obtained the means which enabled him to be a great benefactor to the convent of Agen, founded in 1249. Even Alphonse of Poitiers sometimes grew tired of ministering to the wishes of those who served him so well. In a confidential letter of 1268 he complains of the vast expenditures of Pons de Poyet and Ã‰tienne de GÃ¢tine, the inquisitors of Toulouse, and instructs his agent to try to persuade them to remove to Lavaur, where less extravagance might be hoped for. He offered to put at their disposal the castle of Lavaur, or any other that might be fit to serve as a prison; and at the same time he craftily wrote to them direct, explaining that, in order to enable them to extend their operations, he would place an enormous castle in their hands.
Some very curious details as to the expenses of the Inquisition, thus defrayed from the confiscations, from St. John's day, 1322, to 1323, are afforded by the accounts of Arnaud Assalit, procureur des encours of Carcassonne and BÃ©ziers, which have fortunately been preserved. From the sums thus coming into his hands the procureur met the outlays of the Inquisition to the minutest item--the cost of maintaining prisoners, the hunting up of witnesses, the tracking of fugitives, and the charges for an auto de fÃ©, including the banquets for the assembly of experts and the saffron-colored cloth for the crosses of the penitents. We learn from this that the wages of the inquisitor himself were one hundred and fifty livres per annum, and also that they were very irregularly paid.
FrÃ¨re Otbert had been appointed in Lent, 1316, and thus far had received nothing of his stipend, but now, in consequence of a special letter from King Charles le Bel, the whole accumulation for six years, amounting to nine hundred livres, is paid in a lump. Although by this time persecution was slackening for lack of material, the confiscations were still quite profitable. Assalit charges himself with two thousand two hundred and nineteen livres seven sols ten deniers collected during the year, while his outlays, including heavy legal expenses and the extraordinary payment to FrÃ¨re Otbert, amounted to one thousand one hundred and sixty-eight livres eleven sols four deniers, leaving about one thousand and fifty livres of profit to the crown.
Persecution Dependent On Confiscation
Persecution, as a steady and continuous policy, rested, after all, upon confiscation. It was this which supplied the fuel to keep up the fires of zeal, and when it was lacking the business of defending the faith languished lamentably. When Catharism disappeared under the brilliant aggressiveness of Bernard Gui, the culminating point of the Inquisition was passed, and thenceforth it steadily declined, although still there were occasional confiscated estates over which king, prelate, and noble quarrelled for some years to come. The Spirituals, Dulcinists, and Fraticelli were Mendicants, who held property to be an abomination; the Waldenses were poor folk--mountain shepherds and lowland peasants--and the only prizes were an occasional sorcerer or usurer. Still, as late as 1337 the office of bailli of the confiscations for heresy in Toulouse was sufficiently lucrative to be worth purchasing under the prevailing custom of selling all such positions, and the collections for the preceding fiscal year amounted to six hundred and forty livres six sols.
The intimate connection between the activity of persecuting zeal and the material results to be derived from it is well illustrated in the failure of the first attempt to extend the Inquisition into Franche Comtã. John, Count of Burgundy, in 1248, represented to Innocent IV. the alarming spread of Waldensianism throughout the province of Besanon and begged for its repression.
Apparently the zeal of Count John did not lead him to pay for the purgation of his dominions, and the plunder to be gained was inconsiderable, for, in 1255, Alexander IV. granted the petition of the friars to be relieved from the duty, in which they averred that they had exhausted themselves fruitlessly for lack of money.
The same lesson is taught by the want of success which attended all attempts to establish the Inquisition in Portugal. When, in 1376, Gregory XI. ordered the Bishop of Lisbon to appoint a Franciscan inquisitor for the kingdom, recognizing apparently that there would be small receipts from confiscations, he provided that the incumbent should be paid a salary of two hundred gold florins per annum, assessed upon the various sees in the proportion of their forced contributions to the papal camera. The resistance of inertia, which rendered this command resultless, doubtless arose from the objection of the prelates to being thus taxed; and the same may be said of the effort of Boniface IX., when he appointed Fray Vicente de Lisboa as Inquisitor of Spain and ordered his expenses defrayed by the bishops.
Disputes Over The Expenses
Perhaps the most unscrupulous attempt to provide for the maintenance of the Inquisition was that made by the Emperor Charles IV. when, in 1369, he endeavored to establish it in Germany on a permanent basis. Heretics were neither numerous nor rich, and little could be gained from their confiscations to sustain the zeal of Kerlinger and his brethren; and we shall see hereafter how the houses of the orthodox and inoffensive Beghards and Beguines were summarily confiscated in order to provide domiciles and prisons for the inquisitors, while the cities were invited to share in the spoils in order to enlist popular support for the odious measure; we shall see also how it failed in consequence of the steady repugnance of prelates and people for the Holy Office.
Eymerich, writing in Aragon, about 1375, says that the source whence the expenses of the Inquisition should be met is a question which has been long debated and never settled. The most popular view among churchmen was that the burden should fall on the temporal princes, since they obtained the confiscations and should accept the charge with the benefit; but in these times, he sorrowfully adds, there are few obstinate heretics, fewer still relapsed, and scarce any rich ones, so that, as there is little to be gained, the princes are not willing to defray the expenses. Some other means ought to be found, but of all the devices which have been proposed each has its insuperable objection; and he concludes by regretting that an institution so wholesome and so necessary to Christendom should be so badly provided.
It was probably while Eymerich was saddened with these unpalatable truths that the question was raising itself in the most practical shape elsewhere. As late as 1337 in the accounts of the SÃnÃ©chaussÃe of Toulouse there are expenditures for an auto de fÃ and for repairs to the buildings and prison of the Inquisition, the salaries of the inquisitor and his officials, and the maintenance of prisoners, but the confusion and bankruptcy entailed by the English war doubtless soon afterwards caused this duty to be neglected. In 1375 Gregory XI. persuaded King Frederic of Sicily to allow the confiscations to inure to the benefit of the Inquisition, so that funds might not be lacking for the prosecution of the good work. At the same time he made a vigorous effort to exterminate the Waldenses who were multiplying in Dauphinã.
There were prisons to be built and crowds of prisoners to be supported, and he directed that the expenses should be defrayed by the prelates whose negligence had given opportunity for the growth of heresy. Although he ordered this to be enforced by excommunication, it would seem that the constipated purses of the bishops could not be relaxed, for soon after we find the inquisitor laying claim to a share in the confiscations, on the reasonable ground of his having no other source whence to defray the necessary expenses of his tribunal. The royal officials insisted on keeping the whole, and a lively contest arose, which was referred to King Charles le Sage.
The monarch dutifully conferred with the Holy See, and, in 1378, issued an Ordonnance retaining the whole of the confiscations and assigning to the inquisitor a yearly stipend--the same as that paid to the tribunals of Toulouse and Carcassonne--of one hundred and ninety livres Tournois, out of which all the expenses of the Inquisition were to be met; with a proviso that if the allowance was not regularly paid then the inquisitor should be at liberty to detain a portion of the forfeitures. No doubt this agreement was observed for a time, but it lapsed in the terrible disorders which ensued on the insanity of Charles VI.
In 1409 Alexander V. left to his legate to decide whether the Inquisitor of Dauphinã should receive three hundred gold florins a year, to be levied on the Jews of Avignon, or ten florins a year from each of the bishops of his extensive district, or whether the bishops should be compelled to support him and his officials in his journeys through the country. These precarious resources disappeared in the confusion of the civil wars and invasion which so nearly wrecked the monarchy. In 1432, when FrÃ¨re Pierre Fabri, Inquisitor of Embrun, was summoned to attend the Council of Basle, he excused himself on account of his preoccupation with the stubborn Waldenses, and also on the ground of his indescribable poverty, "for never have I had a penny from the Church of God, nor have I a stipend from any other source."
Of course it would be unjust to say that greed and thirst for plunder were the impelling motives of the Inquisition, though, when complaints were made that the fisc was defrauded of its dues by the immunity promised to those who would come in and confess during the time of grace, and when Bernard Gui met this objection by pointing out that these penitents were obliged to betray their associates, and thus, in the long run, the fisc was the gainer, we see how largely the minds of those who urged on persecution were occupied by its profits.
We therefore are perfectly safe in asserting that but for the gains to be made out of fines and confiscations its work would have been much less thorough, and that it would have sunk into comparative insignificance as soon as the first frantic zeal of bigotry had exhausted itself.
This zeal might have lasted for a generation, to be followed by a period of comparative inaction, until a fresh onslaught would have been excited by the recrudescence of heresy. Under a succession of such spasmodic attacks Catharism might perhaps have never been completely rooted out. By confiscation the heretics were forced to furnish the means for their own destruction. Avarice joined hands with fanaticism, and between them they supplied motive power for a hundred years of fierce, unremitting, unrelenting persecution, which in the end accomplished its main purpose.
Chapter XIV. The Stake
Like confiscation, the death-penalty was a matter with which the Inquisition had theoretically no concern. It exhausted every effort to bring the heretic back to the bosom of the Church. If he proved obdurate, or if his conversion was evidently feigned, it could do no more. As a non-Catholic, he was no longer amenable to the spiritual jurisdiction of a Church which he did not recognize, and all that it could do was to declare him a heretic and withdraw its protection. In the earlier periods the sentence thus is simply a condemnation as a heretic, accompanied by excommunication, or it merely states that the offender is no longer considered as subject to the jurisdiction of the Church. Sometimes there is the addition that he is abandoned to secular judgment--"relaxed," according to the terrible euphemism which assumed that he was simply discharged from custody. When the formulas had become more perfected there is frequently the explanatory remark that the Church has nothing left to do to him for his demerits; and the relinquishment to the secular arm is accompanied with the significant addition "debita animadversione puniendum"--that he is to be duly punished by it. The adjuration that this punishment, in accordance with the canonical sanctions, shall not imperil life or limb, or shall not cause death or effusion of blood, does not appear in the earlier sentences, and was not universal even at a later period.
That this appeal for mercy was the merest form is admitted by Pegna, who explains that it was used only that the inquisitors might seem not to consent to the effusion of blood, and thus avoid incurring "irregularity."
Respobsibility Of The Church
The Church took good care that the nature of the request should not be misapprehended. It taught that in such cases all mercy was misplaced unless the heretic became a convert, and proved his sincerity by denouncing all his fellows. The remorseless logic of St. Thomas Aquinas rendered it self-evident that the secular power could not escape the duty of putting the heretic to death, and that it was only the exceeding kindness of the Church that led it to give the criminal two warnings before handing him over to meet his fate. The inquisitors themselves had no scruples on the subject, and condescended to no subterfuges respecting it, but always held that their condemnation of a heretic was a sentence of death. They showed this in averting the pollution of a Church by not uttering these sentences within the sacred precincts, this portion of the ceremony of an auto de fÃ© being performed in the public square.
One of their teachers in the thirteenth century, copied by Bernard Gui in the fourteenth, argues:
"The object of the Inquisition is the destruction of heresy. Heresy cannot be destroyed unless heretics are destroyed: heretics cannot be destroyed unless their defenders and fautors are destroyed, and this is effected in two ways, viz., when they are converted to the true Catholic faith, or when, on being abandoned to the secular arm, they are corporally burned."
In the next century, Fray Alonso de Spina points out that they are not to be delivered up to extermination without warning once and again, unless, indeed, their growth threatens trouble to the Church, when they are to be extirpated without delay or examination. Under these teachings the secular powers naturally recognized that in burning heretics they were only obeying the commands of the Inquisition. In a commission issued by Philippe le Bon of Burgundy, November 9, 1431, ordering his officials to render obedience to Friar Kaleyser, recently appointed Inquisitor of Lille and Cambrai, among the duties enumerated is that of inflicting due punishment on heretics "as he shall decree, and as is customary." In the accounts of the royal procureurs des encours, the cost of these executions in Languedoc was charged against the proceeds of the confiscations as part of the expenses of the Inquisition, thus showing that they were not regarded as ordinary incidents of criminal justice, to be defrayed out of the ordinary revenues, but as peculiarly connected with and dependent upon the operations of the Inquisition, of which the royal officials only acted as ministers. The Inquisitor Sprenger had no hesitation in alluding to the victims whom he caused to be burned--"quas incinerari fecimus."
In fact, how modern is the pretension that the Church was not responsible for the atrocity is apparent when, as late as the seventeenth century, the learned Cardinal Albizio, in controverting FrÃ Paolo as to the control of the Inquisition by the State in Venice, had no scruple in asserting that "the inquisitors in conducting the trials, regularly came to the sentence, and if it was one of death it was immediately and necessarily put into execution by the doge and the senate."
We have already seen that the Church was responsible for the enactment of the ferocious laws punishing heresy with death, and that she intervened authoritatively to annul any secular statutes which should interfere with the prompt and effective application of the penalties. In the same way, as we have also seen, she provided against any negligence or laxity on the part of the magistrates in executing the sentences pronounced by the inquisitors. According to the universal belief of the period, this was her plainest and highest duty, and she did not shrink from it. Boniface VIII. only recorded the current practice when he embodied in the canon law the provision whereby the secular authorities were commanded to punish duly and promptly all who were handed over to them by the inquisitors, under pain of excommunication, which became heresy if endured for a twelvemonth, and the inquisitors were rigidly instructed to proceed against all magistrates who proved recalcitrant, while they were at the same time cautioned only to speak of executing the laws without specifically mentioning the penalty, in order to avoid falling into "irregularity," though the only punishment recognized by the Church as sufficient for heresy was burning alive. Even if the ruler was excommunicated and incapable of legally performing any other function, he was not relieved from the obligation of this supreme duty, with which nothing was allowed to interfere. Indeed, authorities were found to argue that if an inquisitor were obliged to execute the sentence himself he would not thereby incur irregularity.
We are not to imagine, however, from these reduplicated commands that the secular power, as a rule, showed itself in the slightest degree disinclined to perform the duty. The teachings of the Church had made too profound an impression for any doubt in the premises to exist. As has been seen above, the laws of all the states of Europe prescribed concremation as the appropriate penalty for heresy, and even the free commonwealths of Italy recognized the Inquisition as the judge whose sentences were to be blindly executed. Raymond of Toulouse himself, in the fit of piety which preceded his death in 1249, caused eighty believers in heresy to be burned at Berlaiges, near Agen, after they had confessed in his presence, apparently without giving them the opportunity of recanting.
From the contemporary sentences of Bernard de Caux, it is probable that, had these unfortunates been tried before that ardent champion of the faith, not one of them would have been condemned to the stake as impenitent. Quite as significant was the suit brought by the Marãchal de Mirepoix against the Seneschal of Carcassonne, because the latter had invaded his right to burn for himself all his subjects condemned as heretics by the Inquisition.
In 1269 the Parlement of Paris decided the case in his favor, after which, on March 18, 1270, the seneschal acceded to his demand that the bones of seven men and three women of his territories, recently burned at Carcassonne, should be solemnly surrendered to him in recognition of his right; or, if they could not be found and identified, then, as substitutes, ten canvas bags filled with straw--a ghastly symbolic ceremony which was actually performed two days later, and a formal notarial act executed in attestation of it.
Yet, though the De Levis of Mirepoix rejoiced in the title of Marãchaux de la Foi, it is not to be assumed that this eagerness arose wholly from bloodthirsty fanaticism, for there was nothing to which the seigneur-justicier clung more jealously than to every detail of his jurisdiction. A similar dispute arose in 1309, when the Count of Foix claimed the right to burn the Catharan heresiarch, Jacques Autier, and a woman named Guillelma Cristola, condemned by Bernard Gui, because they were his subjects, but the royal officials maintained their master's privileges in the premises, and the suit thence arising was still pending in 1326. So at Narbonne, where there was a long-standing dispute between the archbishop and the viscount as to the jurisdiction, and where, in 1319, the former in conjunction with the inquisitor Jean de Beaune relaxed three heretics, he claimed for his court the right to burn them. The commune, as representing the viscount, resisted this, and the hideous quarrel was only settled by the representative of the king stepping in and performing the act. In so doing, however, he carefully specified that it was not to work prejudice to either party, while to the end the archbishop protested against the intrusion upon his rights.
If, however, from any cause, the secular authorities were reluctant to execute the death-sentence, the Church had little ceremony in putting forth its powers to coerce obedience. When, for instance, the first resistance in Toulouse had been broken down and the Holy Office had been reinstated there, the inquisitors, in 1237, condemned six men and women as heretics; but the viguier and consuls refused to receive the convicts, to confiscate their property, and "to do with them what was customary to be done with heretics"--that is, to burn them alive. Thereupon the inquisitors, after counselling with the bishop, the Abbot du Mas, the Provost of St. Ã‰tienne, and the Prior of La Daurade, proceeded to excommunicate solemnly the recalcitrant officials in the Cathedral of St. Ã‰tienne. In 1288 Nicholas IV. lamented the neglect and covert opposition with which in many places the secular authorities evaded the execution of the inquisitorial sentences, and directed that they should be punished with excommunication and deprivation of office and their communities be subjected to interdict. In 1458, at Strassburg, the Burgermeister, Hans Drachenfels, and his colleagues refused at first to burn the Hussite missionary Frederic Reiser and his servant Anna Weiler, but their resistance was overcome and they were finally forced to execute the sentence. Thirty years later, in 1486, the magistrates of Brescia objected to burning certain witches of both sexes condemned by the Inquisition, unless they should be permitted to examine the proceedings. This was held to be flat rebellion.
Civil lawyers, it is true, had endeavored to prove that the secular authorities had a right to see the papers, but the inquisitors had succeeded in having this claim rejected. Innocent VIII. promptly declared the Venetian demands to be a scandal to the faith, and he ordered the excommunication of the magistrates if within six days they did not execute the convicts, any municipal statutes to the contrary being pronounced null and void--a decision which was held to give the secular courts six days in which to carry out the sentence of condemnation. A more stubborn contest arose in 1521, when the Inquisition endeavored to purge the dioceses of both Brescia and Bergamo of the witches who still infested them. The inquisitor and episcopal ordinaries proceeded against them vigorously, but the Signiory of Venice interposed and appealed to Leo X., who appointed his nuncio at Venice to revise the trials.
The latter delegated his power to the Bishop of Justinopolis, who proceeded with the inquisitor and ordinaries to the Valcamonica of Brescia, where the so-called heretics were numerous, and condemned some of them to be relaxed to the secular arm. Still dissatisfied, the Venetian Senate ordered the Governor of Brescia not to execute the sentences or to permit them to be executed, or to pay the expenses of the proceedings, but to send the papers to Venice for revision, and to compel the Bishop of Justinopolis to appear before them, which he was obliged to do. This inflamed the papal indignation to the highest pitch. Leo X. warmly assured the inquisitor and the episcopal officials that they had full jurisdiction over the culprits, that their sentences were to be executed without revision or examination, and that they must enforce these rights with the free use of ecclesiastical censures. The spirit of the age, however, was insubordinate, and Venice had always been peculiarly so in all matters connected with the Holy Office. We shall see hereafter how the Council of Ten undauntedly held its position and asserted the superiority of its jurisdiction in a manner previously unexampled.
Coercion Of The State
In view of this unvarying policy of the Church during the three centuries under consideration, and for a century and a half later, there is a typical instance of the manner in which history is written to order, in the quiet assertion of the latest Catholic historian of the Inquisition that "the Church took no part in the corporal punishment of heretics. Those who perished miserably were only chastised for their crimes, sentenced by judges invested with the royal jurisdiction.
The record of the excesses committed by the heretics of Bulgaria, by the Gnostics and Manich˜ans, is historical, and capital punishment was only inflicted on criminals confessing to robbery, assassination, and violence. The Albigenses were treated with equal benignity;... the Catholic Church deplored all acts of vengeance, however great was the provocation given by the ferocity of those factious masses." So completely, in truth, was the Church convinced of its duty to see that all heretics were burned that, at the Council of Constance, the eighteenth article of heresy charged against John Huss was that, in his treatise de Ecclesia, he had taught that no heretic ought to be abandoned to secular judgment to be punished with death.
In his defence even Huss admitted that a heretic who could not be mildly led from error ought to suffer bodily punishment; and when a passage was read from his book in which those who deliver an unconvicted heretic to the secular arm are compared to the Scribes and Pharisees who delivered Christ to Pilate, the assembly broke out into a storm of objurgation, during which even the sturdy reformer, Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly, was heard to exclaim,
"Verily those who drew up the articles were most moderate, for his writings are much more atrocious."
The continuous teachings of the Church led its best men to regard no act as more self-evidently just than the burning of the heretic, and no heresy less defensible than a demand for toleration. Even Chancellor Gerson himself could see nothing else to be done with those who pertinaciously adhered to error, even in matters not at present explicitly articles necessary to the faith.[B] The fact is, the Church not only defined the guilt and forced its punishment, but created the crime itself. As we shall see, under Nicholas IV. and Celestine V., the strict Franciscans were pre-eminently orthodox; but when John XXII. stigmatized as heretical the belief that Christ lived in absolute poverty, he transformed them into unpardonable criminals whom the temporal officials were bound to send to the stake, under pain of being themselves treated as heretics.
There was thus a universal consensus of opinion that there was nothing to do with a heretic but to burn him. The heretic as known to the laws, both secular and ecclesiastical, was he who not only admitted his heretical belief, but defended it and refused to recant. He was obstinate and impenitent; the Church could do nothing with him, and as soon as the secular lawgivers had provided for his guilt the awful punishment of the stake, there was no hesitation in handing him over to the temporal jurisdiction to endure it. All authorities unite in this, and the annals of the Inquisition can vainly be searched for an exception. Yet this was regarded by the inquisitor as a last resort. To say nothing of the saving of a soul, a convert who would betray his friends was more useful than a roasted corpse, and, as we have seen, no effort was spared to obtain recantation. Experience had shown that such zealots were often eager for martyrdom and desired to be speedily burned, and it was no part of the inquisitor's pleasure to gratify them. He was advised that this ardor frequently gave way under time and suffering, and therefore he was told to keep the obstinate and defiant heretic chained in a dungeon for six months or a year in utter solitude, save when a dozen theologians and legists should be let in upon him to labor for his conversion, or his wife and children be admitted to work upon his heart.
It was not until all this had been tried and failed that he was to be relaxed. Even then the execution was postponed for a day to give further opportunity for recantation, which, we are told, rarely happened, for those who went thus far usually persevered to the end; but if his resolution gave way and he professed repentance, his conversion was presumed to be the work of fear rather than of grace, and he was to be strictly imprisoned for life. Even at the stake his offer to abjure ought not to be refused, though there was no absolute rule as to this, and there could be little hope of the genuineness of such conversion.
Eymerich relates a case occurring at Barcelona when three heretics were burned, and one of them, a priest, after being scorched on one side, cried out that he would recant. He was removed and abjured, but fourteen years later was found to have persisted in heresy and to have infected many others, when he was despatched without more ado.
The obstinate heretic who preferred martyrdom to apostasy was by no means the sole victim doomed to the stake. The secular lawgiver had provided this punishment for heresy, but had left to the Church its definition, and the definition was enlarged to serve as a gentle persuasive that should supplement all deficiencies in the inquisitorial process. Where testimony deemed sufficient existed, persistent denial only aggravated guilt, and the profession of orthodoxy was of no avail. If two witnesses swore to having seen a man "adore" a perfected heretic it was enough, and no declaration of readiness to subscribe to all the tenets of Rome availed him, without confession, abjuration, recantation, and acceptance of penance. Such a one was a heretic, to be pitilessly burned. It was the same with the contumacious who did not obey the summons to stand trial. Persistent refusal of the oath was likewise technical heresy, condemning the recalcitrant to the stake.
Even when there was no proof, simple suspicion became heresy if the suspect failed to purge himself with conjurators and remained so for a year. In violent suspicion, refusal to abjure worked the same result in a twelvemonth. A retracted confession was similarly regarded. In short, the stake supplied all defects. It was the ultima ratio, and although not many cases have reached us in which executions actually occurred on these grounds, there is no doubt that such provisions were of the utmost utility in practice, and that the terror which they inspired extorted many a confession, true or false, from unwilling lips.
There was another class of cases, however, which gave the inquisitors much trouble, and in which they were long in settling upon a definite and uniform course of procedure. The innumerable forced conversions wrought by the dungeon and stake filled the prisons and the land with those whose outward conformity left them at heart no less heretics than before. I have elsewhere spoken of the all-pervading police of the Holy Office and of the watchfulness exercised over the converts whose liberation at best was but a ticket-of-leave. That cases of relapse into heresy should be constant was therefore a matter of course. Even in the jails it was impossible to segregate all the prisoners, and complaints are frequent of these wolves in sheep's clothing who infected their more innocent fellow-captives. A man whose solemn conversion had once been proved fraudulent could never again be trusted. He was an incorrigible heretic whom the Church could no longer hope to win over. On him mercy was wasted, and the stake was the only resource. Yet it is creditable to the Inquisition that it was so long in reducing to practice this self-evident proposition.
As early as 1184 the Verona decree of Lucius III. provides that those who, after abjuration, relapse into the abjured heresy shall be delivered to the secular courts, without even the opportunity of being heard. The Ravenna edict of Frederic II., in 1232, prescribed death for all who, by relapse, showed that their conversion had been a pretext to escape the penalty of heresy. In 1244 the Council of Narbonne alludes to the great multitude of such cases, and, following Lucius III., orders them to be relaxed without a hearing. Yet these stern mandates were not enforced. In 1233 we find Gregory IX. contenting himself with prescribing perpetual imprisonment for such cases, which he speaks of as being already numerous. In a single sentence of February 10, 1237, the inquisitors of Toulouse condemn seventeen relapsed heretics to perpetual imprisonment. Raymond de Pennaforte, at the Council of Tarragona, in 1242, alludes to the diversity of opinion on the subject, and pronounces in favor of imprisonment; and, in 1246, the Council of Bãziers, in giving similar instructions, speaks of them as being in accordance with the apostolic mandates. Even this degree of severity was not always inflicted. In 1242 Pierre Cella only prescribes pilgrimages and crosses for such offenders, and, in a case occurring in Florence in 1245, Ruggieri Calcagni lets off the culprit with a not extravagant fine.
Relapse In Suspicion
What to do with these multitudes of false converts was evidently a question which perplexed the Church no little, and, as usual, a solution, at least for the time, was found in leaving the matter to the discretion of the inquisitors. In answer to the inquiries of the Lombard Holy Office, the Cardinal of Albano, about 1245, tells the officials to make use of such penalties as they shall deem appropriate. In 1248 Bernard de Caux asked the same question of the Archbishop of Narbonne, and was told that, according to the "apostolic mandates," those who returned to the Church a second time, humbly and obediently, might be let off with perpetual imprisonment, while those who were disobedient should be abandoned to the secular arm. Under these instructions the practice varied, though it is pleasant to be able to say that, in the vast majority of cases, the inquisitors leaned to the side of mercy. Even the ardent zeal of Bernard de Caux allowed him to use his discretion gently. In his register of sentences, from 1246 to 1248, there are sixty cases of relapse, none of which are punished more severely than by imprisonment, and in some of them the confinement is not perpetual.
The same lenity is observable in various sentences rendered during the next ten years, both by him and by other inquisitors. Yet, with one exception, the codes of instruction which date about this period assume that relapse is always to be visited with relaxation, and that the offender is to have no hearing in his defence. In the exceptional instance the compiler illustrates the uncertainty which existed by sometimes treating relapse as punishable with imprisonment and sometimes as entailing the stake. Relapse into usury, however, was let off with the lighter alternative. The fact is that in Languedoc, under the Treaty of Paris, as stated above, an oath of abjuration was administered every two years to all males over fourteen and all females over twelve, and any subsequent act of heresy was technically a relapse. This, perhaps, explains the indecision of the inquisitors of Toulouse. It was impossible to burn all such cases.
Whatever be the cause, there evidently was considerable doubt in the minds of inquisitors as to the penalty of relapse, and it must be recorded to their credit that in this they were more merciful than the current public opinion of the age. Jean de Saint-Pierre, the colleague and successor of Bernard de Caux, followed his example in always condemning the relapsed to imprisonment, and when, after Bernard's death, in 1252, Renaud de Chartres was adjoined to him, the same rule continued to be observed. Renaud found, however, to his horror, that the secular judges disregarded the sentence and mercilessly burned the unhappy victims, and that this had been going on under his predecessors. The civil authorities defended their course by arguing that in no other way could the land be purged of heresy, which was acquiring new force under the mistaken lenity of the inquisitors. FrÃ¨re Renaud felt that he could not overlook this cruelty in silence as his predecessors had done.
He therefore reported the facts to Alphonse of Poitiers, and informed him that he proposed to refer the matter to the pope, pending whose answer he would keep his prisoners secure from the brutal violence of the secular officials.
What was the papal response we can only conjecture, but it doubtless leaned rather to the rigorous zeal of Alphonse's officials than to the milder methods of FrÃ¨re Renaud, for it was about this time that Rome definitely decided for the unconditional relaxation of all who were guilty of relapsing into heresy which had once been abjured. The precise date of this I have not been able to determine. In 1254 Innocent IV. contents himself, in a very aggravated case of double relapse occurring in Milan, with ordering destruction of houses and public penance, but in 1258 relaxation for relapse is alluded to by Alexander IV. as a matter previously irrevocably settled--possibly by the very appeal of FrÃ¨re Renaud. It seems to have taken the inquisitors somewhat by surprise, and for several years they continued to trouble the Holy See with the pertinent question of how such a rule was to be reconciled with the universally received maxim that the Church never closes her bosom to her wayward children seeking to return. To this the characteristic explanation was given that the Church was not closed to them, for if they showed signs of penitence they might receive the Eucharist, even at the stake, but without escaping death. In this shape the decision was embodied in the canon law, and made a part of orthodox doctrine in the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas. The promise of the Eucharist frequently formed part of the sentence in these cases, and the victim was always accompanied to execution by holy men striving to save his soul until the last--though it is shrewdly advised that the inquisitor himself had better not exhibit his zeal in this way, as his appearance will be more likely to excite hardening than softening of the heart.
Although inquisitors continued to assume discretion in these cases and did not by any means invariably send the relapsed to the stake, still relapse became the main cause of capital punishment. Defiant heretics courting martyrdom were comparatively rare, but there were many poor souls who could not abandon conscientiously the errors which they had cherished, and who vainly hoped, after escaping once, to be able to hide their guilt more effectually.[A] All this gave a fresh importance to the question of what legally constituted relapse, and led to endless definitions and subtleties. It became necessary to determine with some precision, when the offender was refused a hearing, the exact amount of criminality in both the first and second offences, which would justify condemnation for impenitent heresy. Where guilt was ofttimes so shadowy and impalpable, this was evidently no easy matter.
There were cases in which a first trial had only developed suspicion without proof, and it seemed hard to condemn a man to death for an assumed second offence when he had not been proved guilty of the first. Hesitating to do so, the inquisitors applied to Alexander IV. to resolve their doubts, and he answered in the most positive manner. When the suspicion had been "violent" he said, it was "by a sort of legal fiction" to be held as legal proof of guilt, and the accused was to be condemned. When it was "light" he was to be punished more heavily than for a first offence, but not with the full penalty of relapse. Moreover, the evidence required to prove the second offence was of the slightest; any communication with or kindness shown to heretics sufficed. This decision was repeated by Alexander and his successors with a frequency which shows how doubtful and puzzling were the points which came up for discussion, but the rule of condemnation was finally carried into the canon law and became the unalterable policy of the Church. The authorities, except Zanghino, agree that in such cases there was no room for mercy.
Besides these enigmas there were others respecting forms of guilt which might reasonably be regarded as less deserving of the last resort. Thus relapse into fautorship gave rise to considerable divergence of views. The Council of Narbonne, in 1244, was of opinion that those guilty of this offence should be sent to the pope for absolution and the imposition of penance--a cumbrous procedure, not likely to find favor. During the middle period of the Inquisition, the authorities, including Bernard Gui, while not prescribing relaxation to the secular arm, suggest that penance be imposed sufficiently severe to inspire wholesome fear in others; while, towards the end of the fourteenth century, Eymerich holds that a relapsed fautor is to be abandoned to secular justice without a hearing. Even those defamed for heresy, if after due purgation they again incur defamation, are strictly liable to the same fate, though this was so hard a measure that Eymerich proposes that such cases should be referred to the pope.
There was another class of offenders who gave the inquisitors endless trouble, and for whom it was difficult to frame rigid and invariable rules--those who escaped from prison or omitted to fulfil the penances assigned to them. According to theory, all penitents were converts to the true faith who eagerly accepted penance as their sole hope of salvation.
To reject it subsequently was therefore an evidence that the conversion had been feigned or that the inconstant soul had reverted to its former errors, as otherwise the loving and wholesome discipline of the benignant Mother Church would not be spurned. From the beginning, therefore, these culprits were classed with the relapsed. In 1248 the Council of Valence ordered them to have the benefit of a warning, after which further persistence in disobedience rendered them liable to the full penalty of obstinate heresy; and this was sometimes provided for in the sentence itself, by a clause which warned them that any disregard of the observances enjoined would expose them to the fate of perjured and impenitent heretics. Yet as late as 1260 Alexander IV. seems at a loss what rule to prescribe in such cases, and merely talks vaguely of excommunication and reimposition of the penalties, with the assistance, if necessary, of the secular authorities. Yet about the same period Gui Foucoix pronounced in favor of the death-penalty for these offenders, arguing that the offence proved impenitent heresy; but Bernard Gui held this to be too severe, and advised leaving them to the discretion of the inquisitor--a discretion which he himself had no hesitation in exercising.
The two most frequent varieties of the offence were laying aside the yellow crosses and prison-breaking. The former was never, so far as I have seen, punished with death, though visited with penalties sufficiently sharp to serve as a deterrent. The latter, according to the later inquisitors, was capital--the escaped prisoner was a relapsed heretic, to be burned without a hearing. Some jurists argued that a failure fully to betray all heretics of whom the convert had knowledge--a pledge to do so forming a necessary part of the oath of abjuration--constituted relapse, but Bernard Gui regards this as unduly harsh. Absolute refusal to perform the penance enjoined was, of course, evidence of obstinate heresy, leading inevitably to the stake. Such cases were naturally rare, for penance was only prescribed for those who had confessed, had professed conversion, and had asked for reconciliation; but there is one on record of a woman, in the latter half of the fifteenth century, before the Inquisition of Cartagena, who was duly abandoned to the secular arm.
Notwithstanding these extensions of the death-penalty, I am convinced that the number of victims who actually perished at the stake is considerably less than has ordinarily been imagined. The deliberate burning alive of a human being, simply for difference of belief, is an atrocity so dramatic and appeals so strongly to the imagination that it has come to be regarded as the leading feature in the activity of the Inquisition. Yet, frequent as recourse to the stake undoubtedly was, it formed but a comparatively small part of the instrumentalities of repression.
Frequency Of Burning
The records of those evil days have mostly disappeared, and there is now no possibility of reconstructing their statistics, but if this could be done I have no doubt that the actual executions by fire would excite surprise by falling far short of the popular estimate. Imagination has grown inflamed at the manifold iniquities of the Holy Office, and has been ready to accept without examination exaggerations which have become habitual. No one can suspect the learned Dom Brial of prejudice or of ordinary lack of accuracy, and yet in his Preface to Vol. XXI. of the "Recueil des Historiens des Gaules" (p. xxiii.), he quotes as trustworthy an assertion that Bernard Gui, during his service as Inquisitor of Toulouse from 1308 to 1323, put to death no less than six hundred and thirty-seven heretics. Now that, as we have seen, was the total number of sentences uttered by the tribunal during those years, and of these sentences only forty were capital--in addition to sixty-seven dead heretics condemned to be exhumed and burned, for the most part because they were not alive to recant. Again, no inquisitor left behind him a more enviable record for zeal and activity in the relentless persecution of heresy than Bernard de Caux, who labored in the earlier period when the land was yet full of heresy, and heretics had not yet been cowed into submissiveness. Bernard Gui characterizes him as "a persecutor and hammer of heretics, a holy man and full of God, ... wonderful in his life, wonderful in doctrine, wonderful in extirpating heresy;" he wrought miracles while alive, and in 1281, twenty-eight years after his death, his body was found uncorrupted and perfect, except part of the nose. Such a man is not to be accused of undue tenderness towards heretics, and yet, in his register of sentences from 1246 to 1248, there is not a single case of abandonment to the secular arm, unless we may reckon as such the condemnations of contumacious absentees, who were necessarily declared to be heretics.
These, indeed, were liable to be burned by the secular justice, but, in fact, they could always save themselves by submission, and this very register affords a very striking instance in point. There was no more obnoxious heretic in Toulouse than Alaman de Roaix. He belonged to one of the noblest families in the city, and one which furnished many members to the heretic church, of which he himself was suspected of being a bishop. In 1229 the Legate Romano had condemned him and had imposed on him the penance of a crusade to the Holy Land, which he had sworn to perform and never fulfilled. In 1237 the earliest inquisitors, Guillem Arnaud and Ã‰tienne de Saint-Thibery, again took up his case, finding him unremittingly active in protecting heretics and disseminating heresy, spoiling, ransoming, wounding, and slaying priests and clerks, and this time they condemned him in absentia. He became a faydit, or proscribed man, living sword in hand and plundering the orthodox to support himself and his friends. No more aggravated case of obstinate heresy and persistent contumacy can well be imagined, and yet when he acknowledged his errors, January 16, 1248, professed conversion, and asked for penance, a score of years after his first conversion, he was only condemned to imprisonment.
In fact, as we have already seen, the earnest endeavors of the inquisitors were directed much more to obtaining conversions with confiscations and betrayal of friends than to provoking martyrdoms. An occasional burning only was required to maintain a wholesome terror in the minds of the population. With his forty cases of concremation in fifteen years, Bernard Gui managed to crush the last convulsive struggle of Catharism, to keep the Waldenses in check, and repress the zealous ardor of the Spiritual Franciscans. The really effective weapons of the Holy Office, the real curses with which it afflicted the people, can be looked for in its dungeons and its confiscations, in the humiliating penances of the saffron crosses, and in the invisible police with which it benumbed the heart and soul of every man who had once fallen into its hands.
A few words will suffice as to the repulsive subject of the execution itself. When the populace was called together to view the last agonies of the martyrs of heresy, its pious zeal was not mocked by any ill-advised devices of mercy. The culprit was not, as in the later Spanish Inquisition, strangled before the lighting of the fagots; nor had the invention of gunpowder suggested the somewhat less humane expedient of hanging a bag of that explosive around his neck to shorten his torture when the flames should reach it. He was tied living to a post set high enough over a pile of combustibles to enable the faithful to watch every act of the tragedy to its awful end. Holy men accompanied him to the last, to snatch his soul if possible from Satan; and, if he were not a relapsed, he could, as we have seen, save also his body at the last moment. Yet even in these final ministrations we see a fresh illustration of the curious inconsistency with which the Church imagined that it could shirk the responsibility of putting a human creature to death, for the friars who accompanied the victim were strictly warned not to exhort him to meet death promptly or to ascend firmly the ladder leading to the stake, or to submit cheerfully to the manipulations of the executioner, for if they did so they would be hastening his end and thus fall into "irregularity"--a tender scruple, it must be confessed, and one singularly out of place in those who had accomplished the judicial murder. For these occasions a holiday was usually selected, in order that the crowd might be larger and the lesson more effective; while, to prevent scandal, the sufferer was silenced, lest he might provoke the people to pity and sympathy.
As for minor details, we happen to have them preserved in an account by an eye-witness of the execution of John Huss at Constance, in 1415. He was made to stand upon a couple of fagots and tightly bound to a thick post with ropes, around the ankles, below the knee, above the knee, at the groin, the waist, and under the arms. A chain was also secured around the neck. Then it was observed that he faced the east, which was not fitting for a heretic, and he was shifted to the west; fagots mixed with straw were piled around him to the chin.
Then the Count Palatine Louis, who superintended the execution, approached with the Marshal of Constance, and asked him for the last time to recant. On his refusal they withdrew and clapped their hands, which was the signal for the executioners to light the pile. After it had burned away there followed the revolting process requisite to utterly destroy the half-burned body--separating it in pieces, breaking up the bones and throwing the fragments and the viscera on a fresh fire of logs. When, as in the cases of Arnaldo of Brescia, some of the Spiritual Franciscans, Huss, Savonarola, and others, it was feared that relics of the martyr would be preserved, especial care was taken, after the fire was extinguished, to gather up the ashes and cast them in a running stream.
There is something grotesquely horrible in the contrast between this crowning exhibition of human perversity and the cool business calculation of the cost of thus sending a human soul through flame to its Creator. In the accounts of Arnaud Assalit we have a statement of the expenses of burning four heretics at Carcassonne, April 24, 1323. It runs thus:
For large wood - 55 sols 6 deniers.
For vine-branches - 21 sols 3 deniers.
For straw - 2 sols 6 deniers.
For four stakes - 10 sols 9 deniers.
For ropes to tie the convicts - 4 sols 7 deniers.
For the executioner, each 20 sols 80 sols.
In all - 8 livres 14 sols 7 deniers.
or, a little more than two livres apiece.
When the heretic had eluded his tormentors by death and his body or skeleton was dug up and burned, the ceremony was necessarily less impressive, but nevertheless the most was made of it. As early as 1237 Guillem Pelisson, a contemporary, describes how at Toulouse a number of nobles and others were exhumed, when "their bones and stinking corpses" were dragged through the streets, preceded by a trumpeter proclaiming "Qui aytal fara, aytal perira"--who does so shall perish so--and at length were duly burned "in honor of God and of the blessed Mary His mother, and the blessed Dominic His servant." This formula was preserved to the end, and it was not economical from a pecuniary point of view. In Assalit's accounts we find that it cost five livres nineteen sols and six deniers, in 1323, for labor to dig up the bones of three dead heretics, a sack and cord in which to stow them, and two horses to drag them to the GrÃ¨ve, where they were burned the next day.
The agency of fire was also invoked by the Inquisition to rid the land of pestilent and heretical writings, a matter not without interest as signalizing the commencement of its activity in what subsequently became the censorship of the press. The burning of books displeasing to the authorities was a custom respectable by its antiquity. Constantine, as we have seen, demanded the surrender of all Arian works under penalty of death. In 435 Theodosius II. and Valentinian III. ordered all Nestorian books to be burned, and another law threatens punishment on all who will not deliver up Manichãan writings for the same fate. Justinian condemned the secunda editio, in which the glossators agree in recognizing the Talmud.
During the ages of barbarism which followed there was little to call forth this method of repressing the human mind, but with the revival of speculation the ancient measures were speedily again called into use. When, in 1210, the University of Paris was agitated with the heresy of Amaury, the writings of his colleague, David de Dinant, together with the Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle, to which it was attributed, were ordered to be burned. Allusion has already been made to the burning of Romance versions of the Scriptures by Jayme I. of Aragon and to the commands of the Council of Narbonne, in 1229, against the possession of any portion of Holy Writ by laymen, as well as to the burning of William of St. Amour's book, "De periculis." Jewish books, however, and particularly the Talmud, on account of its blasphemous allusions to the Saviour and the Virgin, were the objects of special detestation, in the suppression of which the Church was unwearying.
In the middle of the twelfth century Peter the Venerable contented himself with studying the Talmud and holding up to contempt some of the wild imaginings which abound in that curious compound of the sublime and the ridiculous. His argumentative methods were not suited to the impatience of the thirteenth century, which had committed itself to sterner dealings with misbelievers, and the persecution of Jewish literature followed swiftly on that of Albigenses and Waldenses. It was started by a converted Jew named Nicholas de Rupella, who, about 1236, called the attention of Gregory IX. to the blasphemies with which the Hebrew books were filled, and especially the Talmud.
Burning Of Books
In June, 1239, Gregory issued letters to the Kings of England, France, Navarre, Aragon, Castile, and Portugal, and to the prelates in those kingdoms, ordering that on a Sabbath in the following Lent, when the Jews would be in their synagogues, all their books should be seized and delivered to the Mendicant Friars. A report of the examination which ensued in Paris has been preserved, and shows that there was no difficulty in finding in the Jewish writings abundant matter offensive to pious ears, though the Rabbis who ventured to appear in their defence endeavored to explain away the blasphemous allusions to the Christian Messiah, the Virgin, and the saints. The proceedings dragged on for years, and sentence was not finally rendered until May 13, 1248, after which Paris was edified with the spectacle of the burning of fourteen wagon-loads at one time and of six at another. Like the luz or os coccygis, which the Rabbis held to be indestructible, the Talmud could not be wiped out of existence, and, in 1255, St. Louis, in his instructions to his seneschals in the Narbonnais, again orders all copies to be burned, together with all other books containing blasphemies; while in 1267 Clement IV. (Gui Foucoix) instructed the Archbishop of Tarragona to coerce by excommunication the King of Aragon and his nobles to force the Jews to deliver up their Talmuds and other books to the inquisitors for examination, when, if they contain no blasphemies, they may be returned, but if otherwise they are to be sealed up and securely kept. Alonso the Wise of Castile was wiser, if, as reported, he caused the Talmud to be translated, in order that its errors might be exposed to the public. The passive resistance of the faithful was not to be overcome, and in 1299 Philippe le Bel felt obliged to denounce the persistent multiplication of the Talmud, and to order his judges to aid the Inquisition in its extermination. Ten years later, in 1309, we hear of three large wagon-loads of Jewish books publicly burned in Paris. How fruitless were all these efforts is seen in a formal sentence recited by Bernard Gui in the auto de fÃ© of 1319. Under the impulsion of the Inquisition the royal officials had again made diligent perquisition and had collected all the copies of the Talmud on which they could lay their hands.
Experts in the Hebrew tongue had then been employed to examine them carefully, and after mature counsel between the inquisitors and the jurists called in to assist, the books were condemned to be carried in two carts through the streets of Toulouse, while the royal officers proclaimed in loud voice that their fate was due to their blasphemies against the Lord Jesus Christ and his mother the most holy Virgin and the Christian name, after which they were to be solemnly burned. This is the only case of execution occurring during Bernard Gui's term of service as inquisitor, and, from two carts being required to accommodate the obnoxious books, it was probable the result of search continued for a considerable time.
That he deemed the matter to require constant vigilance is shown by his including in his collection of forms one which orders all priests for three Sundays to publish an injunction commanding the delivery to the Inquisition, for examination, of all Jewish books, including "Talamuz," under pain of excommunication. The warfare against this specially obnoxious work continued. In the very next year, 1320, John XXII. issued orders that all copies of it should be seized and burned. In 1409 Alexander V. paused in his denunciation of rival popes to order its destruction.
The contest is well known which arose over it at the revival of letters, with Pfefferkorn and Reuchlin as the rival champions, and not all the efforts of the humanists availed to save it from proscription. Even as late as 1554 Julius III. repeated the command to the Inquisition to burn it without mercy, and all Jews were ordered, under pain of death, to surrender all books blaspheming Christ--a provision which was embodied in the canon law and remains there to this day. The censorship of the Inquisition was not confined to Jewish errors, but its activity in this direction will be more conveniently considered hereafter.
In the Paris condemnation of 1248 the Talmud only is specified, though in the examination mention is made of the Gloss of Solomon of Troyes, and of a work which from its description would seem to be the Toldos Jeschu, or history of Jesus, which so excited the ire of the Carthusian, Ramon Marti, in his Pugio Fidei, and of all subsequent Christians (cf. Wagenseilii Tela Ignea SatanÃ¦, Altdorfi, 1681). No one can read its curious account of the career of Christ from a Jewish standpoint without wondering that a single copy of it was allowed to reach modern times.
Influence On The Church
This is not the place for us to consider the influence of the Inquisition in all its breadth, but while yet we have its procedure in view it may not be amiss to glance cursorily at some of the effects immediately resulting from its mode of dealing with those whom it tried and condemned or absolved.
On the Church the processes invented and recommended to respect by the Inquisition had a most unfortunate effect. The ordinary episcopal courts employed them in dealing with heretics, and found their arbitrary violence too efficient not to extend it over other matters coming within their jurisdiction. Thus the spiritual tribunals rapidly came to employ inquisitorial methods. Already, in 1317, Bernard Gui speaks of the use of torture being habitual in them; and in complaining of the Clementine restrictions, he asks why the bishops should be limited in applying torture to heretics, while they could employ it without limit in everything else.
Thus habituated to the harshest measures, the Church grew harder and crueller and more unchristian. The worst popes of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could scarce have dared to shock the world with such an exhibition as that with which John XXII. glutted his hatred of Hugues Gerold, Bishop of Cahors. John was the son of an humble mechanic of Cahors, and possibly some ancient grudge may have existed between him and Hugues. Certain it is that no sooner did he mount the pontifical throne than he lost no time in assailing his enemy. May 4, 1317, the unfortunate prelate was solemnly degraded at Avignon and condemned to perpetual imprisonment. This was not enough. On a charge of conspiring against the life of the pope he was delivered to the secular arm, and in July of the same year he was partially flayed alive and then dragged to the stake and burned.
This hardening process went on until the quarrels of the loftiest prelates were conducted with a savage ferocity which would have shamed a band of buccaneers. When, in 1385, six cardinals were accused of conspiring against Urban VI. the angry pontiff had them seized as they left the consistory and thrust into an abandoned cistern in the castle of Nocera, where he was staying, so restricted in dimensions that the Cardinal di Sangro, who was tall and portly, could not stretch himself at full length. The methods taught by the inquisitors were brought into play. Subjected to hunger, cold, and vermin, the accused were plied by the creatures of the pope with promises of mercy if they would confess. This failing, torture was used on the Bishop of Aquila and a confession was procured implicating the others.
They still refused to admit their guilt, and they were tortured on successive days. All that could be obtained from the Cardinal di Sangro was the despairing self-accusation that he suffered justly in view of the evil which he had wrought on archbishops, bishops, and other prelates at Urban's command. When it came to the turn of the Cardinal of Venice, Urban intrusted the work to an ancient pirate, whom he had created Prior of the Order of St. John in Sicily, with instructions to apply the torture till he could hear the victim howl; the infliction lasted from early morning till the dinner-hour, while the pope paced the garden under the window of the torture-chamber, reading his breviary aloud that the sound of his voice might keep the executioner reminded of the instructions. The strappado and rack were applied by turns, but though the victim was old and sickly, nothing could be wrenched from him save the ejaculation, "Christ suffered for us!"
The accused were kept in their foul dungeon until Urban, besieged in Nocera by Charles of Durazzo, managed to escape and dragged them with him. In the flight the Bishop of Aquila, weakened by torture and mounted on a miserable hack, could not keep up with the party, when Urban ordered him despatched and left his corpse unburied by the wayside. The six cardinals, less fortunate, were carried by sea to Genoa, and kept in so vile a dungeon that the authorities were moved to pity and vainly begged mercy for them. Cardinal Adam Aston, an Englishman, was released on the vigorous intercession of Richard II., but the other five were never seen again. Some said that Urban had them beheaded; others that when he sailed for Sicily he carried them to sea and cast them overboard; others, again, that a trench was dug in his stable in which they were buried alive with a quantity of quicklime, to hasten the disappearance of their bodies. Urban's competitor, known as Clement VII., was no less sanguinary.
When, as Cardinal Robert of Geneva, he exercised legatine functions for Gregory XI., he led a band of Free Companions to vindicate the papal territorial claims. The terrible cold-blooded massacre of Cesena was his most conspicuous exploit, but equally characteristic of the man was his threat to the citizens of Bologna that he would wash his hands and feet in their blood. Such was the retroactive influence of the inquisitorial methods on the Church which had invented them to plague the heretic. If Bernabo and Galeazzo Visconti caused ecclesiastics to be tortured and burned to death over slow fires, they were merely improving on the lessons which the Church itself had taught.
On secular jurisprudence the example of the Inquisition worked even more deplorably. It came at a time when the old order of things was giving way to the new--when the ancient customs of the barbarians, the ordeal, the wager of law, the wer-gild, were growing obsolete in the increasing intelligence of the age, when a new system was springing into life under the revived study of the Roman law, and when the administration of justice by the local feudal lord was becoming swallowed up in the widening jurisdiction of the crown. The whole judicial system of the European monarchies was undergoing reconstruction, and the happiness of future generations depended on the character of the new institutions.
That in this reorganization the worst features of the imperial jurisprudence--the use of torture and the inquisitorial process--should be eagerly, nay, almost exclusively, adopted, should be divested of the safeguards which in Rome had restricted their abuse, should be exaggerated in all their evil tendencies, and should, for five centuries, become the prominent characteristic of the criminal jurisprudence of Europe, may safely be ascribed to the fact that they received the sanction of the Church. Thus recommended, they penetrated everywhere along with the Inquisition; while most of the nations to whom the Holy Office was unknown maintained their ancestral customs, developing into various forms of criminal practice, harsh enough, indeed, to modern eyes, but wholly divested of the more hideous atrocities which characterized the habitual investigation into crime in other regions.
Of all the curses which the Inquisition brought in its train this, perhaps, was the greatest--that, until the closing years of the eighteenth century, throughout the greater part of Europe, the inquisitorial process, as developed for the destruction of heresy, became the customary method of dealing with all who were under accusation; that the accused was treated as one having no rights, whose guilt was assumed in advance, and from whom confession was to be extorted by guile or force.
Even witnesses were treated in the same fashion; and the prisoner who acknowledged guilt under torture was tortured again to obtain information about any other evil-doers of whom he perchance might have knowledge. So, also, the crime of "suspicion" was imported from the Inquisition into ordinary practice, and the accused who could not be convicted of the crime laid to his door could be punished for being suspected of it, not with the penalty legally provided for the offence, but with some other, at the fancy and discretion of the judge. It would be impossible to compute the amount of misery and wrong, inflicted on the defenceless up to the present century, which may be directly traced to the arbitrary and unrestricted methods introduced by the Inquisition and adopted by the jurists who fashioned the criminal jurisprudence of the Continent. It was a system which might well seem the invention of demons, and was fitly characterized by Sir John Fortescue as the Road to Hell.
Posted by ALAN LAMONT at 07:51
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