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Title: A History of The Inquisition of The Middle Ages
Author: Lea, Henry Charles, 1825-1909
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of The Inquisition of The Middle Ages" ***

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Copyright, 1887, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._


The history of the Inquisition naturally divides itself into two
portions, each of which may be considered as a whole. The Reformation is
the boundary-line between them, except in Spain, where the New
Inquisition was founded by Ferdinand and Isabella. In the present work I
have sought to present an impartial account of the institution as it
existed during the earlier period. For the second portion I have made
large collections of material, through which I hope in due time to
continue the history to its end.

The Inquisition was not an organization arbitrarily devised and imposed
upon the judicial system of Christendom by the ambition or fanaticism of
the Church. It was rather a natural--one may almost say an
inevitable--evolution of the forces at work in the thirteenth century,
and no one can rightly appreciate the process of its development and the
results of its activity without a somewhat minute consideration of the
factors controlling the minds and souls of men during the ages which
laid the foundation of modern civilization. To accomplish this it has
been necessary to pass in review nearly all the spiritual and
intellectual movements of the Middle Ages, and to glance at the
condition of society in certain of its phases.

At the commencement of my historical studies I speedily became convinced
that the surest basis of investigation for a given period lay in an
examination of its jurisprudence, which presents without disguise its
aspirations and the means regarded as best adapted for their
realization. I have accordingly devoted much space to the origin and
development of the inquisitorial process, feeling convinced that in this
manner only can we understand the operations of the Holy Office and the
influence which it exercised on successive generations. By the
application of the results thus obtained it has seemed to me that many
points which have been misunderstood or imperfectly appreciated can be
elucidated. If in this I have occasionally been led to conclusions
differing from those currently accepted, I beg the reader to believe
that the views presented have not been hastily formed, but that they are
the outcome of a conscientious survey of all the original sources
accessible to me.

No serious historical work is worth the writing or the reading unless it
conveys a moral, but to be useful the moral must develop itself in the
mind of the reader without being obtruded upon him. Especially is this
the case in a history treating of a subject which has called forth the
fiercest passions of man, arousing alternately his highest and his
basest impulses. I have not paused to moralize, but I have missed my aim
if the events narrated are not so presented as to teach their
appropriate lesson.

It only remains for me to express my thanks to the numerous friends and
correspondents who have rendered me assistance in the arduous labor of
collecting the very varied material, much of it inedited, on which the
present work is based. Especially do I desire to record my gratitude to
the memory of that cultured gentleman and earnest scholar, the late Hon.
George P. Marsh, who for so many years worthily represented the United
States at the Italian court. I never had the fortune to look upon his
face, but the courteous readiness with which he aided my researches in
Italy merit my warmest acknowledgments. To Professor Charles Molinier,
of the University of Toulouse, moreover, my special thanks are due as to
one who has always been ready to share with a fellow-student his own
unrivalled knowledge of the Inquisition of Languedoc. In the Florentine
archives I owe much to Francis Philip Nast, Esq., to Professor Felice
Tocco, and to Doctor Giuseppe Papaleoni; in those of Naples, to the
Superintendent Cav. Minieri Riccio and to the Cav. Leopoldo Ovary; in
those of Venice to the Cav. Teodoro Toderini and Sig. Bartolomeo
Cecchetti: in those of Brussels to M. Charles Rahlenbeck. In Paris I
have to congratulate myself on the careful assiduity with which M.L.
Sandret has exhausted for my benefit the rich collections of MSS.,
especially those of the Bibliothèque Nationale. To a student, separated
by a thousand leagues of ocean from the repositories of the Old World,
assistance of this nature is a necessity, and I esteem myself fortunate
in having enlisted the co-operation of those who have removed for me
some of the disabilities of time and space.

Should the remaining portion of my task be hereafter accomplished, I
hope to have the opportunity of acknowledging my obligations to many
other gentlemen of both hemispheres who have furnished me with
unpublished material illustrating the later development of the Holy

PHILADELPHIA, _August_, 1887.





Domination of the Church in the Twelfth Century                        1

Causes of Antagonism with the Laity                                    5

   Election of Bishops                                                 6

   Simony and Favoritism                                               7

   Martial Character of Prelates                                      10

   Difficulty of Punishing Offenders                                  13

   Prostitution of the Episcopal Office                               16

   Abuse of Papal Jurisdiction                                        17

   Abuse of Episcopal Jurisdiction                                    20

   Oppression from the Building of Cathedrals                         23

   Neglect of Preaching                                               23

   Abuses of Patronage                                                24

   Pluralities                                                        25

   Tithes                                                             26

   Sale of the Sacraments                                             27

   Extortion of Pious Legacies                                        28

   Quarrels over Burials                                              30

   Sexual Disorders                                                   31

   Clerical Immunity                                                  32

   The Monastic Orders                                                34

The Religion of the Middle Ages                                       39

   Tendency to Fetishism                                              40

   Indulgences                                                        41

   Magic Power of Formulas and Relics                                 47

Contemporary Opinion                                                  51


Awakening of the Human Intellect in the Twelfth Century               57

Popular Characteristics                                               59

Nature of Heresies                                                    60

Antisacerdotal Heresies                                               62

Nullity of Sacraments in Polluted Hands                               62

Tanchelm                                                              64

Éon de l'Étoile                                                       66

Peculiar Civilization of Southern France                              66

Pierre de Bruys                                                       68

Henry of Lausanne                                                     69

Arnaldo of Brescia                                                    72

Peter Waldo and the Waldenses                                         76

Passagii, Joseppini, Siscidentes, Runcarii                            88


Attractions of the Dualistic Theory                                   89

Derivation of Catharism from Manichæism                               89

Belief and Organization of the Catharan Church                        93

Missionary Zeal and Thirst for Martyrdom                             102

Not Devil-worshippers                                                105

Spread of Catharism from Slavonia                                    107

Diffusion throughout Europe in the Eleventh Century                  108

Increase in Twelfth Century                                          110

Comparative Exemption of Germany and England                         112

Growth in Italy. Efforts of Innocent III.                            114

Its Stronghold in Southern France                                    117

Its Expected Triumph                                                 121

Failure of Crusade of 1181                                           124

Period of Toleration and Growth                                      125


Policy of the Church towards Heresy                                  129

Suppression of Heresy in the Nivernais                               130

Translations of Scripture forbidden at Metz                          131

Power of Raymond VI. of Toulouse                                     132

Condition of the Church in his Dominions                             134

Innocent III. Undertakes the Suppression of Heresy                   136

The Prelates Refuse their Aid                                        137

Arnaud of Citeaux Sent as Chief Legate                               139

Fruitless Effort to Organize a Crusade in 1204                       139

The Bishop of Osma and St. Dominic Urge Fresh Efforts in 1206        141

Attempt to Organize a Crusade in 1207                                144

Murder of Pierre de Castelnau, Jan. 16, 1208                         145

Crusade successfully Preached in 1208                                147

Raymond's Efforts to Avert the Storm                                 149

His Submission and Penance; Duplicity of Innocent III                150

Raymond Directs the Crusade against the Vicomte de Béziers           153

Sack of Béziers.--Surrender of Carcassonne                           154

Pedro of Aragon and Simon de Montfort                                157

De Montford Accepts the Conquered Territories.--His Difficulties     159

Raymond Attacked.--Deceit Practised by the Church                    162

His Desperate Efforts to Avert a Rupture                             166

First Siege of Toulouse.--Raymond Gradually Overpowered              167

Intervention of Pedro of Aragon                                      170

Raymond Prejudged.--Trial Denied him                                 173

Pedro Declares War.--Battle of Muret, Sept. 13, 1213                 175

De Montfort's Vicissitudes.--Pious Fraud of the Legate               178

Raymond Deposed and Replaced by De Montfort                          179

The Lateran Council.--It Decides in De Montfort's Favor              181

Rising of the People under the Younger Raymond                       184

Second Siege of Toulouse in 1217.--Death of De Montfort              185

Crusade of Louis Cœur-de-Lion.--Third Siege of Toulouse              187

Raymond VII. Recovers his Lands.--Recrudescence of Heresy            189

Negotiations Opened.--Death of Philip Augustus                       190

Louis VIII. Proposes a Crusade.--Raymond Makes Terms with the Church 191

Duplicity of Honorius III.--Council of Bourges, Nov. 1225            193

Louis Organizes the Crusade in 1226                                  197

His Conquering Advance.--His Retreat and Death                       199

Desultory War in 1227.--Negotiations in 1228                         201

Treaty of Paris, April, 1229.--Persecution Established               203


Growth of Intolerance in the Early Church                            209

Persecution Commences under Constantine                              212

The Church Adopts the Death-penalty for Heresy                       213

Duty of the Ruler to Suppress Heresy                                 215

Decline of Persecuting Spirit under the Barbarians                   216

Hesitation to Punish in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries           218

Uncertainty as to Form of Punishment                                 220

Burning Alive Adopted in the Thirteenth Century                      221

Evasion of Responsibility by the Church                              223

The Temporal Authority Coerced to Persecute                          224

Persecution of the Dead                                              230

Motives Impelling to Persecution                                     233

Cruelty of the Middle Ages                                           234

Exaggerated Detestation of Heresy                                    236

Influence of Asceticism                                              238

Conscientious Motives                                                239


Material for Reform within the Church                                243

Foulques de Neuilly                                                  244

Durán de Huesca anticipates Dominic and Francis                      246

St. Dominic, his Career and Character                                248

   His Order founded in 1214.--Its Success                           251

St. Francis of Assisi                                                256

   His Order Founded.--Injunction of Poverty                         257

   He Realizes the Christian Ideal                                   260

   Extravagant Laudation of Poverty                                  264

Influence of the Mendicant Orders                                    266

Emotional Character of the Age.--The Pastoureaux.--The Flagellants   268

The Mendicants Rendered Independent of the Prelates                  273

Their Utility to the Papacy                                          274

Antagonism between them and the Secular Clergy                       278

The Battle Fought out in the University of Paris                     281

Victory of the Mendicants.--Unappeasable Hostility                   289

Degeneracy of the Orders                                             294

Their Activity as Missionaries                                       297

Their Functions as Inquisitors                                       299

Inveterate Hostility between the Orders                              302


Uncertainty in the Discovery and Punishment of Heretics              305

Growth of Episcopal Jurisdiction                                     308

Procedure in Episcopal Courts.--The Inquisitorial Process            309

System of Inquests                                                   311

Efforts to Establish an Episcopal Inquisition                        313

Endeavor to Create a Legatine Inquisition                            315

Fitness of the Mendicant Orders for the Work                         318

Secular Legislation for Suppression of Heresy                        319

Edict of Gregory XI. in 1231.--Secular Inquisition Tried             324

Tentative Introduction of Papal Inquisitors                          326

Dominicans Invested with Inquisitorial Functions                     328

Episcopal Functions not Superseded                                   330

Struggle between Bishops and Inquisitors                             332

Settlement when Inquisition Becomes Permanent                        335

Control Given to Inquisitors in Italy; in France; in Aragon          336

All Opposing Legislation Annulled                                    341

All Social Forces Placed at Command of Inquisition                   342

Absence of Supervision and Accountability                            343

Extent of Jurisdiction                                               347

Penalty of Impeding the Inquisition                                  349

Fruitless Rivalry of the Bishops                                     350

Limits of Extension of the Inquisition                               351

The Northern Nations Virtually Exempt                                352

Africa and the East                                                  355

Vicissitudes of Episcopal Inquisition                                356

Greater Efficiency of the Papal Inquisition                          364

Bernard Gui's Model Inquisitor                                       367


Simplicity of the Inquisition                                        369

Inquisitorial Districts.--Itinerant Inquests                         370

Time of Grace.--Its Efficiency                                       371

Buildings and Prisons                                                373

_Personnel_ of the Tribunal                                          374

The Records.--Their Completeness and Importance                      379

Familiars.--Question of Bearing Arms                                 381

Resources of the State at Command of Inquisitors                     385

Episcopal Concurrence in Sentence                                    387

The Assembly of Experts                                              388

The _Sermo_ or _Auto de fé_                                          391

Co-operation of Tribunals                                            394

Occasional Inquisitors-general                                       397


Inquisitor both Judge and Confessor                                  399

Difficulty of Proving Heresy                                         400

The Inquisitorial Process universally Employed                       401

Age of Responsibility.--Proceedings in _Absentia_.--The Dead         402

All Safeguards Withdrawn.--Secrecy of Procedure                      405

Confession not Requisite for Conviction                              407

Importance Attached to Confession                                    408

Interrogatory of the Accused                                         410

Resources for Extracting Confession.--Deceit                         414

Irregular Tortures, Mental and Physical.--Delays                     417

Formal Torture                                                       421

Restricted by Clement V.                                             424

Rules for its Employment                                             426

Retraction of Confessions                                            428


Comparative Unimportance of Witnesses                                430

Flimsiness of Evidence Admitted                                      431

The Crime Known as "Suspicion of Heresy"                             433

Number of Witnesses.--No Restrictions as to Character or Age         434

Mortal Enmity the only Disability                                    436

Secrecy of Confessional Disregarded                                  437

Suppression of Names of Witnesses                                    437

Evidence sometimes Withheld                                          439

Frequency of False-witness.--Its Penalty                             440


Opportunity of Defence Reduced to a Minimum                          443

Denial of Counsel                                                    444

Malice of Witnesses the only Defence                                 446

Prosecution of the Dead                                              448

Defence practically Impossible.--Appeals                             449

Condemnation virtually Inevitable                                    453

Suspicion of Heresy.--Light, Vehement, and Violent                   454

Purgation by Conjurators                                             455

Abjuration                                                           457


Penance not Punishment                                               459

Grades of Penance                                                    462

Miscellaneous Penances                                               463

Flagellation                                                         464

Pilgrimages                                                          465

Crusades to Palestine                                                466

Wearing Crosses                                                      468

Fines and Commutations                                               471

Unfulfilled Penance                                                  475

Abuses.--Bribery and Extortion                                       477

Destruction of Houses                                                481

Arbitrary Penalties                                                  483

Imprisonment                                                         484

   Troubles about the Expenses                                       489

   Treatment of Prisoners                                            491

Comparative Frequency of Different Penalties                         494

Modification of Sentences                                            495

Penitents never Pardoned, although Reprieved                         496

Penalties of Descendants                                             498

Inquisitorial Excommunication                                        500


Origin in the Roman Law                                              501

The Church Responsible for its Introduction                          502

Varying Practice in Decreeing it                                     504

Degree of Criminality Entailing it                                   507

Question of the Dowers of Wives                                      509

The Church Shares the Spoils in Italy                                510

In France they are Seized by the State                               513

The Bishops Obtain a Share                                           514

Rapacity of Confiscation                                             517

Alienations and Obligations Void                                     522

Paralyzing Influence on Commercial Development                       524

Expenses of Inquisition, how Defrayed                                525

Persecution Dependent on Confiscation                                529


Theoretical Irresponsibility of the Inquisition                      534

The Church Coerces the Secular Power to Burn Heretics                536

Only Impenitent Heretics Burned                                      541

Relapse.--Hesitation as to its Penalty.--Burning Decided upon        543

Difficulty of Defining Relapse                                       547

Refusal to Submit to Penance                                         548

Probable Frequency of Burning                                        549

Details of Execution                                                 551

Burning of Books                                                     554

Influence of Inquisitorial Methods on the Church                     557

Influence on Secular Jurisprudence                                   559

APPENDIX                                                             563






As the twelfth century drew to a close, the Church was approaching a
crisis in its career. The vicissitudes of a hundred and fifty years,
skilfully improved, had rendered it the mistress of Christendom. History
records no such triumph of intellect over brute strength as that which,
in an age of turmoil and battle, was wrested from the fierce warriors of
the time by priests who had no material force at their command, and
whose power was based alone on the souls and consciences of men. Over
soul and conscience their empire was complete. No Christian could hope
for salvation who was not in all things an obedient son of the Church,
and who was not ready to take up arms in its defence; and, in a time
when faith was a determining factor of conduct, this belief created a
spiritual despotism which placed all things within reach of him who
could wield it.

This could be accomplished only by a centralized organization such as
that which had gradually developed itself within the ranks of the
hierarchy. The ancient independence of the episcopate was no more. Step
by step the supremacy of the Roman see had been asserted and enforced,
until it enjoyed the universal jurisdiction which enabled it to bend to
its wishes every prelate, under the naked alternative of submission or
expulsion. The papal mandate, just or unjust, reasonable or
unreasonable, was to be received and implicitly obeyed, for there was no
appeal from the representative of St. Peter. In a narrower sphere, and
subject to the pope, the bishop held an authority which, at least in
theory, was equally absolute; while the humbler minister of the altar
was the instrument by which the decrees of pope and bishop were enforced
among the people; for the destiny of all men lay in the hands which
could administer or withhold the sacraments essential to salvation.

Thus intrusted with responsibility for the fate of mankind, it was
necessary that the Church should possess the powers and the machinery
requisite for the due discharge of a trust so unspeakably important. For
the internal regulation of the conscience it had erected the institution
of auricular confession, which by this time had become almost the
exclusive appanage of the priesthood. When this might fail to keep the
believer in the path of righteousness, it could resort to the spiritual
courts which had grown up around every episcopal seat, with an undefined
jurisdiction capable of almost unlimited extension. Besides supervision
over matters of faith and discipline, of marriage, of inheritance, and
of usury, which belonged to them by general consent, there were
comparatively few questions between man and man which could not be made
to include some case of conscience involving the interpellation of
spiritual interference, especially when agreements were customarily
confirmed with the sanction of the oath; and the cure of souls implied a
perpetual inquest over the aberrations, positive or possible, of every
member of the flock. It would be difficult to set bounds to the
intrusion upon the concerns of every man which was thus rendered
possible, or to the influence thence derivable.

Not only did the humblest priest wield a supernatural power which marked
him as one elevated above the common level of humanity, but his person
and possessions were alike inviolable. No matter what crimes he might
commit, secular justice could not take cognizance of them, and secular
officials could not arrest him. He was amenable only to the tribunals of
his own order, which were debarred from inflicting punishments involving
the effusion of blood, and from whose decisions an appeal to the supreme
jurisdiction of distant Rome conferred too often virtual immunity. The
same privilege protected ecclesiastical property, conferred on the
Church by the piety of successive generations, and covering no small
portion of the most fertile lands of Europe. Moreover, the seignorial
rights attaching to those lands often carried extensive temporal
jurisdiction, which gave to their ghostly possessors the power over life
and limb enjoyed by feudal lords.

The line of separation between the laity and the clergy was widened and
deepened by the enforcement of the canon requiring celibacy on the part
of all concerned in the ministry of the altar. Revived about the middle
of the eleventh century, and enforced after an obstinate struggle of a
hundred years, the compulsory celibacy of the priesthood divided them
from the people, preserved intact the vast acquisitions of the Church,
and furnished it with an innumerable army whose aspirations and ambition
were necessarily restricted within its circle. The man who entered the
service of the Church was no longer a citizen. He owed no allegiance
superior to that assumed in his ordination. He was released from the
distraction of family cares and the seduction of family ties. The Church
was his country and his home, and its interests were his own. The moral,
intellectual, and physical forces which, throughout the laity, were
divided between the claims of patriotism, the selfish struggle for
advancement, the provision for wife and children, were in the Church
consecrated to a common end, in the success of which all might hope to
share, while all were assured of the necessities of existence, and were
relieved of anxiety as to the future.

The Church, moreover, offered the only career open to men of all ranks
and stations. In the sharply-defined class distinctions of the feudal
system advancement was almost impossible to one not born within the
charmed circle of gentle blood. In the Church, however much rank and
family connections might assist in securing promotion to high place, yet
talent and energy could always make themselves felt despite lowliness of
birth. Urban II. and Adrian IV. sprang from the humblest origin;
Alexander V. had been a beggar-boy; Gregory VII. was the son of a
carpenter; Benedict XII., of a baker; Nicholas V., of a poor physician;
Sixtus IV., of a peasant; Urban IV. and John XXII. were sons of
cobblers, and Benedict XI. and Sixtus V. of shepherds; in fact, the
annals of the hierarchy are full of those who rose from the lowest
ranks of society to the most commanding positions. The Church thus
constantly recruited its ranks with fresh blood. Free from the curse of
hereditary descent, through which crowns and coronets frequently lapsed
into weak and incapable hands, it called into its service an indefinite
amount of restless vigor for which there was no other sphere of action,
and which, when once enlisted, found itself perforce identified
irrevocably with the body which it had joined. The character of the
priest was indelible; the vows taken at ordination could not be thrown
aside; the monk, when once admitted to the cloister, could not abandon
his order unless it were to enter another of more rigorous observance.
The Church Militant was thus an army encamped on the soil of
Christendom, with its outposts everywhere, subject to the most efficient
discipline, animated with a common purpose, every soldier panoplied with
inviolability and armed with the tremendous weapons which slew the soul.
There was little that could not be dared or done by the commander of
such a force, whose orders were listened to as oracles of God, from
Portugal to Palestine and from Sicily to Iceland. "Princes," says John
of Salisbury, "derive their power from the Church, and are servants of
the priesthood." "The least of the priestly order is worthier than any
king," exclaims Honorius of Autun; "prince and people are subjected to
the clergy, which shines superior as the sun to the moon." Innocent III.
used a more spiritual metaphor when he declared that the priestly power
was as superior to the secular as the soul of man was to his body; and
he summed up his estimate of his own position by pronouncing himself to
be the Vicar of Christ, the Christ of the Lord, the God of Pharaoh,
placed midway between God and man, this side of God but beyond man, less
than God but greater than man, who judges all, and is judged by none.
That he was supreme over all the earth--over pagans and infidels as well
as over Christians--was legally proved and universally taught by the
mediæval doctors.[1] Though the power thus vaingloriously asserted was
fraught with evil in many ways, yet was it none the less a service to
humanity that, in those rude ages, there existed a moral force superior
to high descent and martial prowess, which could remind king and noble
that they must obey the law of God even when uttered by a peasant's son;
as when Urban II., himself a Frenchman of low birth, dared to
excommunicate his monarch, Philip I., for his adultery, thus upholding
the moral order and enforcing the sanctions of eternal justice at a time
when everything seemed permissible to the recklessness of power.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet, in achieving this supremacy, much had been of necessity sacrificed.
The Christian virtues of humility and charity and self-abnegation had
virtually disappeared in the contest which left the spiritual power
dominant over the temporal. The affection of the populations was no
longer attracted by the graces and loveliness of Christianity;
submission was purchased by the promise of salvation, to be acquired by
faith and obedience, or was extorted by the threat of perdition or by
the sharper terrors of earthly persecution. If the Church, by sundering
itself completely from the laity, had acquired the services of a militia
devoted wholly to itself, it had thereby created an antagonism between
itself and the people. Practically, the whole body of Christians no
longer constituted the Church; that body was divided into two
essentially distinct classes, the shepherds and the sheep; and the lambs
were often apt to think, not unreasonably, that they were tended only to
be shorn. The worldly prizes offered to ambition by an ecclesiastical
career drew into the ranks of the Church able men, it is true, but men
whose object was worldly ambition rather than spiritual development. The
immunities and privileges of the Church and the enlargement of its
temporal acquisitions were objects held more at heart than the salvation
of souls, and its high places were filled, for the most part, with men
in whom worldliness was more conspicuous than the humbler virtues.

This was inevitable in the state of society which existed in the early
Middle Ages. While angels would have been required to exercise
becomingly the tremendous powers claimed and acquired by the Church, the
methods by which clerical preferment and promotion were secured were
such as to favor the unscrupulous rather than the deserving. To
understand fully the causes which drove so many thousands into schism
and heresy, leading to wars and persecutions, and the establishment of
the Inquisition, it is necessary to cast a glance at the character of
the men who represented the Church before the people, and at the use
which they made, for good or for evil, of the absolute spiritual
despotism which had become established. In wise and devout hands it
might elevate incalculably the moral and material standards of European
civilization; in the hands of the selfish and depraved it could become
the instrument of minute and all-pervading oppression, driving whole
nations to despair.

As regards the methods of election to the episcopate there cannot be
said at this period to have been any settled and invariable rule. The
ancient form of election by the clergy, with the acquiescence of the
people of the diocese, was still preserved in theory, but in practice
the electoral body consisted of the cathedral canons; while the
confirmation required of the king, or semi-independent feudal noble, and
of the pope, in a time of unsettled institutions, frequently rendered
the election an empty form, in which the royal or papal power might
prevail, according to the tendencies of time and place. The constantly
increasing appeals to Rome, as to the tribunal of last resort, by
disappointed aspirants, under every imaginable pretext, gave to the Holy
See a rapidly-growing influence, which, in many cases, amounted almost
to the power of appointment; and Innocent II., at the Lateran Council of
1139, applied the feudal system to the Church by declaring that all
ecclesiastical dignities were received and held of the popes like fiefs.
Whatever rules, however, might be laid down, they could not operate in
rendering the elect better than the electors. The stream will not rise
above its source, and a corrupt electing or appointing power is not apt
to be restrained from the selection of fitting representatives of itself
by methods, however ingeniously devised, which have not the inherent
ability of self-enforcement. The oath which cardinals were obliged to
take on entering a conclave--"I call God to witness that I choose him
whom I judge according to God ought to be chosen"--was notoriously
inefficacious in securing the election of pontiffs fitted to serve as
the vicegerents of God; and so, from the humblest parish priest to the
loftiest prelate, all grades of the hierarchy were likely to be filled
by worldly, ambitious, self-seeking, and licentious men. The material to
be selected from, moreover, was of such a character that even the most
exacting friends of the Church had to content themselves when the least
worthless was successful. St. Peter Damiani, in asking of Gregory VI.
the confirmation of a bishop-elect of Fossombrone, admits that he is
unfit, and that he ought to undergo penance before undertaking the
episcopate, but yet there is nothing better to be done, for in the whole
diocese there was not a single ecclesiastic worthy of the office; all
were selfishly ambitious, too eager for preferment to think of rendering
themselves worthy of it, inflamed with desire for power, but utterly
careless as to its duties.[2]

Under these circumstances simony, with all its attendant evils, was
almost universal, and those evils made themselves everywhere felt on the
character both of electors and elected. In the fruitless war waged by
Gregory VII. and his successors against this all-pervading vice, the
number of bishops assailed is the surest index of the means which had
been found successful, and of the men who thus were enabled to represent
the apostles. As Innocent III. declared, it was a disease of the Church
immedicable by either soothing remedies or fire; and Peter Cantor, who
died in the odor of sanctity, relates with approval the story of a
Cardinal Martin, who, on officiating in the Christmas solemnities at the
Roman court, rejected a gift of twenty pounds sent him by the papal
chancellor, for the reason that it was notoriously the product of rapine
and simony. It was related as a supreme instance of the virtue of Peter,
Cardinal of St. Chrysogono, formerly Bishop of Meaux, that he had, in a
single election, refused the dazzling bribe of five hundred marks of
silver. Temporal princes were more ready to turn the power of
confirmation to profitable account, and few imitated the example of
Philip Augustus, who, when the abbacy of St. Denis became vacant, and
the provost, the treasurer, and the cellarer of the abbey each sought
him secretly, and gave him five hundred livres for the succession,
quietly went to the abbey, picked out a simple monk standing in a
corner, conferred the dignity on him, and handed him the fifteen hundred
livres. The Council of Rouen, in 1050, complains bitterly of the
pernicious custom by which ambitious men accumulated, by every possible
means, presents wherewith to gain the favor of the prince and his
courtiers in order to obtain bishoprics, but it could suggest no
remedy. The council was directly concerned only with the Norman dukes,
but the contemporary King of France, Henry I., was notorious as a vendor
of bishoprics. He had commenced his reign with an edict prohibiting the
purchase and sale of preferment under penalty of forfeiture of both
purchase-money and benefice, and had boasted that, as God had given him
the crown gratis, so he would take nothing for his right of
confirmation, reproaching his prelates bitterly for the prevalence of
the vice which was eating out the heart of the Church. Yet in time he
yielded to the custom, and a single instance will illustrate the working
of the system. A certain Helinand, a clerk of low extraction and
deficient training, had found favor at the court of Edward the
Confessor, where he had ample opportunities of amassing wealth.
Happening to be sent on a mission to Henry, he made a bargain by which
he purchased the reversion of the first vacant bishopric, which chanced
in course of time to be Laon, where he was duly installed. Henry's
successor, Philip I., was known as the most venal of men, and from him,
by a similar transaction, Helinand purchased, with the money acquired
from the revenues of Laon, the primatial see of Reims. Such jobbers in
patronage were accustomed to enter into compacts with each other for
mutual assistance, and to consult astrologers as to expected vacancies.
The manipulation of ecclesiastical preferment was reduced to a system,
calling forth the indignant remonstrance of all the better class of
churchmen. Instances of these abuses might be multiplied indefinitely,
and their influence on the character of the Church cannot easily be

Even where the consideration paid for preferment was not actually money,
the effect was equally deplorable. Peter Cantor assures us that, if
those who were promoted for relationship were required to resign, it
would cause general destruction throughout the Church; and worse motives
were constantly at work. Though Philip I., for his adultery with
Bertrade of Anjou, was nominally deprived of the confirmation, or,
rather, nomination, of bishops, there were none to prevent his exercise
of the power. About the year 1100 the Archbishop of Tours, having
gratified the king by disregarding the excommunication under which he
lay, claimed his reward by demanding that the vacant see of Orleans
should be given to a youth whom he loved not wisely but too well, and
who was so notorious for the facility with which he granted his favors
(the preceding Archbishop of Tours had likewise been one of his lovers)
that he was popularly known as Flora, in allusion to a noted courtesan
of the day, and ribald love-songs addressed to him were openly sung in
the streets. Such of the Orleans clergy as threatened trouble were put
out of the way by false accusations and exiled, and the remainder not
only submitted, but even made a jest of the fact that the election took
place on the Feast of the Innocents--

    "Elegimus puerum, puerorum festa colentes,
     Non nostrum morem sed regis jussa sequentes."[4]

Under such influences it was in vain that the better class of men who
occasionally appeared in the ranks of the hierarchy, such as Fulbert of
Chartres, Hildebert of Le Mans, Ivo of Chartres, Lanfranc, Anselm, St.
Bruno, St. Bernard, St. Norbert, and others, struggled to enforce
respect for religion and morality. The current against them was too
strong, and they could do little but protest and offer an example which
few were found to follow. In those days of violence the meek and humble
had little chance, and the prizes were for those who could intrigue and
chaffer, or whose martial tendencies offered promise that they would
make the rights of their churches and vassals respected. In fact, the
military character of the mediæval prelates is a subject which it would
be interesting to consider in more detail than space will here admit.
The wealthy abbeys and powerful bishoprics came to be largely regarded
as appropriate means to provide for younger sons of noble houses, or to
increase the influence of leading families. By such methods as we have
seen they passed into the hands of those whose training had been
military rather than religious. The mitre and cross had no more scruple
than the knightly pennon to be seen in the forefront of battle. When
excommunication failed to bring to reason restless vassals or
encroaching neighbors, there was prompt recourse to the fleshly arm, and
the plundered peasant could not distinguish between the ravages of the
robber baron and of the representative of Christ. One of the early
adventures of Rodolph of Hapsburg, by which he won the reputation which
elevated him to the imperial throne, was the war declared by Walter,
Bishop of Strassburg, against his burghers, because they had refused to
aid him in gratuitously interfering in a quarrel between the Bishop of
Metz and a troublesome noble. As they disregarded his excommunication,
Bishop Walter attacked them vigorously, when they placed themselves
under the command of Rodolph, and utterly defeated their pastor, after a
war which desolated every portion of Alsace. The chronicles of the
period are full of details of this nature. Worldly and turbulent, there
was little to differentiate the prelate from the baron, and the latter
had no more scruple in making reprisals on Church property than on
secular possessions. In the dissensions which reduced the wealthy Abbey
of St. Tron to beggary, the pious Godfrey of Bouillon, shortly before
the crusade which won for him the throne of Jerusalem, ravaged the abbey
lands with fire and sword. The people, on whom fell the crushing weight
of these conflicts, could only look upon the baron and priest as enemies
both; and whatever might be lacking in the military ability of the
spiritual warriors, was compensated for by their seeking to kill the
souls as well as the bodies of their foes. This was especially the case
in Germany, where the prelates were princes as well as priests, and
where a great religious house like the Abbey of St. Gall was the
temporal ruler of the Cantons of St. Gall and Appenzel, until the latter
threw off the yoke after a long and devastating war. The historian of
the abbey chronicles with pride the martial virtues of successive
abbots, and in speaking of Ulric III., who died in 1117, he remarks
that, worn out with many battles, he at last passed away in peace. All
this was in some sort a necessity of the incongruous union of feudal
noble and Christian prelate, and though more marked in Germany than
elsewhere, it was to be seen everywhere. In 1224 the Bishops of
Coutances, Avranches, and Lisieux withdrew from the army of Louis VIII.
at Tours, under an agreement that the king should make legal
investigation to determine whether the bishops of Normandy were bound to
serve personally in the royal armies; if this was found to be the case,
they were to return and pay the amercement for deserting him. The
decision apparently went against them, for in 1272 we find them serving
personally under Philippe le Hardi. This indisposition to fight the
battles of others was not often shown when the cause was their own.
Geroch of Reichersperg inveighs bitterly against the warlike prelates
who provoke unjust wars, attacking the peaceful and delighting in the
slaughter which they cause and witness, giving no quarter, taking no
prisoners, sparing neither clergy nor laity, and spending the revenues
of the Church on soldiers, to the deprivation of the poor. Such a
prelate was Lupold, Bishop of Worms, whose recklessness provoked his
brother to say, "My lord bishop, you scandalize us laymen greatly by
your example. Before you were a bishop you feared God a little, but now
you care nothing for him," to which Bishop Lupold flippantly retorted
that when they both should be in hell he would exchange seats if his
brother desired. During the wars between the emperors Philip and Otho
IV. he personally led his troops in support of Philip, and when his
soldiers hesitated about sacking churches, he would tell them that it
was enough if they left the bones of the dead. The story is well known
of Richard of England, and Philippe of Dreux, the warlike Bishop of
Beauvais, who had shown himself equally skilful and ruthless in the
predatory warfare of the age, and who, when at last captured by Earl
John, complained to Celestin III. of his imprisonment as a violation of
ecclesiastical privileges. When Celestin, reproving him for his martial
propensities, interceded for his release, King Richard sent to the pope
the coat of mail in which the prelate had been captured, with the
inquiry made to Jacob by his sons, "Know, whether it be thy son's coat?"
to which the good pontiff responded by abandoning the appeal. A
different result, not long afterwards, attended a similar experience of
Theodore, Marquis of Montferrat, when he defeated and captured Aymon,
Bishop of Vercelli. It happened that Cardinal Tagliaferro, papal legate
to Aragon, was tarrying at Geneva, and, hearing of the sacrilege, wrote
in threatening wise to the marquis, who responded with the same inquiry
as King Richard, sending him the martial gear of the prelate, including
his sword still stained with blood. Yet the proud noble felt his
inability to cope with his spiritual foes, and not only liberated the
bishop, but surrendered to him the fortress which had been the occasion
of the war. Even more instructive is the case of the Bishop-elect of
Verona, who, in 1265, when marching at the head of an army, was taken
prisoner by the troops of Manfred of Sicily. Although Urban IV. was
busily urging forward the crusade which was to deprive Manfred of life
and kingdom, he had the assurance to demand the liberation of his
bishop, telling Manfred that if he had a spark left of the fear of God
he would dismiss his prisoner. When Manfred replied, evading the demand
with exuberant humility, Clement IV., who had meanwhile succeeded to the
papacy, called upon Jayme I. of Aragon to intervene. Neither pope seemed
to imagine that there could be any hesitation in acceding to the
preposterous claim, and King Jayme interposed so effectually that
Manfred offered to release the bishop on his swearing not to bear arms
against him in future. Even this condition was not accepted without
difficulty. When the spiritual character thus only served to confer
immunity for acts of violence, it is easy to understand the irresistible
temptation to their commission.[5]

The impression which these worldly and turbulent men made upon their
quieter contemporaries was, that pious souls believed that no bishop
could reach the kingdom of heaven. There was a story widely circulated
of Geoffroi de Péronne, Prior of Clairvaux, who was elected Bishop of
Tournay, and who was urged by St. Bernard and Eugenius III. to accept,
but who cast himself on the ground, saying, "If you turn me out, I may
become a vagrant monk, but a bishop never!" On his death-bed he promised
a friend to return and report as to his condition in the other world,
and did so as the latter was praying at the altar. He announced that he
was among the blessed, but it had been revealed to him by the Trinity
that if he had accepted the bishopric he would have been numbered with
the damned. Peter of Blois, who relates this story, and Peter Cantor,
who repeats it, both manifested their belief in it by persistently
refusing bishoprics; and not long after an ecclesiastic in Paris
declared that he could believe all things except that any German bishop
could be saved, because they bore the two swords, of the spirit and of
the flesh. All this Cæsarius of Heisterbach explains by the rarity of
worthy prelates, and the superabounding multitude of wicked ones; and he
further points out that the tribulations to which they were exposed
arose from the fact that the hand of God was not visible in their
promotion. Language can scarce be stronger than that employed by Louis
VII. in describing the worldliness and pomp of the bishops, when he
vainly appealed to Alexander III. to utilize his triumph over Frederic
Barbarossa by reforming the Church.[6]

In fact, the records of the time bear ample testimony to the rapine and
violence, the flagrant crimes and defiant immorality of these princes of
the Church. The only tribunal to which they were amenable was that of
Rome. It required the courage of desperation to cause complaints to be
made there against them, and when such complaints were made, the
difficulty of proving charges, the length to which proceedings were
drawn out, and the notorious venality of the Roman curia, afforded
virtual immunity. When a resolute and incorruptible pontiff like
Innocent III. occupied the papal chair, there was some chance for
sufferers to make themselves heard, and the number of such trials
alluded to in his epistles show how wide-spread and deep-rooted was the
evil. Yet, even under him, the protraction of the proceedings, and the
evident shrinking from final condemnation, show how little encouragement
there was for prosecutions likely to react so dangerously on the
prosecutor. Thus, in 1198, Gérard de Rougemont, Archbishop of Besançon,
was accused by his chapter of perjury, simony, and incest. When summoned
to Rome the accusers did not dare to prosecute the charges, though they
did not withdraw them, and Innocent, charitably quoting the woman taken
in adultery, sent him back to purge himself and be absolved. Then
followed a long course of undisturbed scandals, through which religion
in his diocese became a mockery. He continued to live in incest with his
relative, the Abbess of Remiremont, and other concubines, one of whom
was a nun, and another the daughter of a priest; no church could be
consecrated or preferment conferred without payment; by his exactions
and oppressions his clergy were reduced to live like peasants, and were
exposed to the contempt of their parishioners; and monks and nuns who
could bribe him were allowed to abandon their convents and marry. At
last another attempt was made, in 1211, to remove him, which, after more
than a year, resulted in a sentence that he should undergo canonical
purgation; _i.e._, find two bishops and three abbots to join him in an
oath of disculpation, when negotiations as to the character of the oath
ensued, lasting until 1214. Finally the citizens rose and drove him out;
he retired to the Abbey of Bellevaux, where he died in 1225. Maheu de
Lorraine, Bishop of Toul, was a prelate of the same stamp. Consecrated
in 1200, within two years his chapter applied to Innocent for his
deposition, alleging that he had already reduced the revenues of the see
from a thousand livres to thirty. It was not until 1210 that his removal
could be effected, after a most intricate series of commissions and
appeals, interspersed with acts of violence. He was wholly abandoned to
debauchery and the chase, and his favorite concubine was his daughter by
a nun of Épinal, but he retained a valuable preferment, as Grand-prévôt
of Saint-Dié. In 1217 he caused his successor Renaud de Senlis to be
murdered, soon after which his uncle, Thiebault, Duke of Lorraine,
happening to meet him, slew him on the spot. Ordinary justice,
apparently, could do nothing with him. Very similar was the case of the
Bishop of Vence, whom Celestin III. had ordered suspended and sent to
Rome to answer for his enormities, and who had defiantly continued in
the exercise of his functions. On Innocent's accession, in 1198, his
excommunication was ordered, which was equally ineffectual; and at
length, in 1204, Innocent sent peremptory orders to the Archbishop of
Embrun to investigate the charges, and, if they were found correct, to
depose him. Meanwhile the diocese had been brought to the verge of ruin,
the churches were demolished, and divine service was performed in only a
few parishes. So in Narbonne, the headquarters of heresy, the
Archbishop, Berenger II., natural son of Raymond Berenger, Count of
Barcelona, preferred to live in Aragon, where he held a rich abbey and
the bishopric of Lerida, and never even visited his province.
Consecrated in 1190, he had never seen it in 1204, though he drew large
revenues from it, both in the regular way and by the sale of bishoprics
and benefices, which were indiscriminately bestowed on children or on
men of the most abandoned lives. The condition of the province, the
highest ecclesiastical dignity of France, was consequently shocking in
the extreme, through the misconduct of the clergy, the boldness of the
heretics, and the violence of the laity. As early as the year 1200,
Innocent III. summoned Berenger to account. In 1204 he made another
attempt, continued during the following years, as no amendment was
visible, and as the farce of appeals from legate to pope was
persistently kept up. At length, in 1210, we find Innocent still writing
to his legate to investigate the archbishops of Narbonne and Ausch and
execute without appeal whatever the canons require, but it was not until
1212 that Berenger was removed. It is probable that even then he might
have escaped had not the legate, Arnaud of Citeaux, been desirous of the
succession, which he obtained. We can readily believe the assertion of a
writer of the thirteenth century, that the process of deposing a prelate
was so cumbrous that even the most wicked had no dread of

Even where the enormity of offences did not call for papal intervention,
the episcopal office was prostituted in a thousand ways of oppression
and exaction which were sufficiently within the law to afford the
sufferers no opportunity of redress. How thoroughly its profitable
nature was recognized, is shown by the case of a bishop who, when fallen
in years, summoned together his nephews and relatives that they might
agree among themselves as to his succession. They united upon one of
their number, and conjointly borrowed the large sums requisite to
purchase the election. Unluckily the bishop-elect died before obtaining
possession, and on his death-bed was heartily objurgated by his ruined
kinsmen, who saw no means of repaying the borrowed capital which they
had invested in the abortive episcopal partnership. As St. Bernard says,
boys were inducted into the episcopate at an age when they rejoiced
rather at escaping from the ferule of their teachers than at acquiring
rule; but, soon growing insolent, they learn to sell the altar and empty
the pouches of their subjects. In thus exploiting their office the
bishops only followed the example set them by the papacy, which,
directly or through its agents, by its exactions, made itself the terror
of the Christian churches. Arnold, who was Archbishop of Trèves from
1169 to 1183, won great credit for his astuteness in saving his people
from spoliation by papal nuncios, for whenever he heard of their
expected arrival he used to go to meet them, and by heavy bribes induce
them to bend their steps elsewhere, to the infinite relief of his own
flock. In 1160 the Templars complained to Alexander III. that their
labors for the Holy Land were seriously impaired by the extortions of
papal legates and nuncios, who were not content with the free quarters
and supply of necessaries to which they were entitled, and Alexander
graciously granted the Order special exemption from the abuse, except
when the legate was a cardinal. It was worse when the pope came
himself. Clement V., after his consecration at Lyons, made a progress to
Bordeaux, in which he and his retinue so effectually plundered the
churches on the road that, after his departure from Bourges, Archbishop
Gilles, in order to support life, was obliged to present himself daily
among his canons for a share in the distribution of provisions; and the
papal residence at the wealthy Priory of Grammont so impoverished the
house that the prior resigned in despair of being able to reestablish
its affairs, and his successor was obliged to levy a heavy tax on all
the houses of the order. England, after the ignominious surrender of
King John, was peculiarly subjected to papal extortion. Rich benefices
were bestowed on foreigners, who made no pretext of residence, until the
annual revenue thus withdrawn from the island was computed to amount to
seventy thousand marks, or three times the income of the crown, and all
resistance was suppressed by excommunications which disturbed the whole
kingdom. At the general council of Lyons, held in 1245, an address was
presented in the name of the Anglican Church, complaining of these
oppressions in terms more energetic than respectful, but it accomplished
nothing. Ten years later the papal legate, Rustand, made a demand in the
name of Alexander IV. for an immense subsidy--the share of the Abbey of
St. Albans was no less than six hundred marks--when Fulk, Bishop of
London, declared that he would be decapitated, and Walter of Worcester
that he would be hanged, sooner than submit; but this resistance was
broken down by the device of trumping up fictitious claims of debts due
Italian bankers for moneys alleged to have been advanced to defray
expenses before the Roman curia, and these claims were enforced by
excommunication. When Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln found that his
efforts to reform his clergy were rendered nugatory by appeals to Rome,
where the offenders could always purchase immunity, he visited Innocent
IV. in hopes of obtaining some change for the better, and on utterly
failing, he bluntly exclaimed to the pope, "Oh, money, money, how much
thou canst effect, especially in the Roman court!" This special abuse
was one of old standing, and complaints of its demoralizing effect upon
the priesthood date back from the time of the establishment of the
appellate jurisdiction of Rome under Charles le Chauve. Prelates like
Hildebert of Le Mans, who honestly sought to better the depraved lives
of their clergy, constantly found their efforts frustrated, and had
scant reticence in remonstrating. Remonstrances, however, were of little
avail, though occasionally an upright pope like Innocent III., whose
biographer finds special cause of praise in his refusal of
"propinas"--gifts or bribes for issuing letters--would sometimes recall
a letter of remission avowedly issued in ignorance of the facts, or
would even grant to a prelate the right to punish without appeal, while
other popes were found who sought to neutralize the effects of their
letters without diminishing the business and fees of the chancery. Even
when papal letters were not of this demoralizing character, they were
never issued without payment. When Luke, the holy Archbishop of Gran,
was thrown in prison by the usurper Ladislas, in 1172, he refused to
avail himself of letters of liberation procured from Alexander III.,
saying that he would not owe his freedom to simony.[8]

This was by no means the only mode in which the supreme jurisdiction of
Rome worked inestimable evil throughout Christendom. While the feudal
courts were strictly territorial and local, and the judicial functions
of the bishops were limited to their own dioceses so that every man knew
to whom he was responsible in a tolerably well-settled system of
justice, the universal jurisdiction of Rome gave ample opportunity for
abuses of the worst kind. The pope, as supreme judge, could delegate to
any one any portion of his authority, which was supreme everywhere; and
the papal chancery was not too nice in its discrimination as to the
character of the persons to whom it issued letters empowering them to
exercise judicial functions and enforce them with the last dread
sentence of excommunication--letters, indeed, which, if the papal
chancery is not wronged, were freely sold to all able to pay for them.
Europe thus was traversed by multitudes of men armed with these weapons,
which they used without remorse for extortion and oppression. Bishops,
too, were not backward in thus farming out their more limited
jurisdictions, and, in the confusion thus arising, it was not difficult
for reckless adventurers to pretend to the possession of these delegated
powers and use them likewise for the basest purposes, no one daring to
risk the possible consequences of resistance. These letters thus
afforded a _carte blanche_ through which injustice could be perpetrated
and malignity gratified to the fullest extent. An additional
complication which not unnaturally followed was the fabrication and
falsification of these letters. It was not easy to refer to distant Rome
to ascertain the genuineness of a papal brief confidently produced by
its bearer, and the impunity with which powers so tremendous could be
assumed was irresistibly attractive. When Innocent III. ascended the
throne he found a factory of forged letters in full operation in Rome,
and although this was suppressed, the business was too profitable to be
broken up by even his vigilance. To the end of his pontificate the
detection of fraudulent briefs was a constant preoccupation. Nor was
this industry confined to Rome. About the same period Stephen, Bishop of
Tournay, discovered in his episcopal city a similar nest of
counterfeiters, who had invented an ingenious instrument for the
fabrication of the papal seals. To the people, however, it mattered
little whether they were genuine or fictitious; the suffering was the
same whether the papal chancery had received its fee or not.[9]

Thus the Roman curia was a terror to all who were brought in contact
with it. Hildebert of le Mans pictures its officials as selling justice,
delaying decisions on every pretext, and, finally, oblivious when bribes
were exhausted. They were stone as to understanding, wood as to
rendering judgment, fire as to wrath, iron as to forgiveness, foxes in
deceit, bulls in pride, and minotaurs in consuming everything. In the
next century Robert Grosseteste boldly told Innocent IV. and his
cardinals that the curia was the source of all the vileness which
rendered the priesthood a hissing and a reproach to Christianity, and,
after another century and a half, those who knew it best described it as

       *       *       *       *       *

When such was the example set by the head of the Church, it would have
been a marvel had not too many bishops used all their abundant
opportunities for the fleecing of their flocks. Peter Cantor, an
unexceptionable witness, describes them as fishers for money and not for
souls, with a thousand frauds to empty the pockets of the poor. They
have, he says, three hooks with which to catch their prey in the
depths--the confessor, to whom is committed the hearing of confessions
and the cure of souls; the dean, archdeacon, and other officials, who
advance the interest of the prelate by fair means or foul; and the rural
provost, who is chosen solely with regard to his skill in squeezing the
pockets of the poor and carrying the spoil to his master. These places
were frequently farmed out, and the right to torture and despoil the
people was sold to the highest bidder. The general detestation in which
these gentry were held is illustrated by the story of an ecclesiastic
who, having by an unlucky run of the dice lost all his money but five
sols, exclaimed in blasphemous madness that he would give them to any
one who would teach him how most greatly to offend God, and a bystander
was adjudged to have won the money when he said, "If you wish to offend
God beyond all other sinners, become an episcopal official or
collector." Formerly, continues Peter Cantor, there was some decent
concealment in absorbing the property of rich and poor, but now it is
publicly and boldly seized through infinite devices and frauds and
novelties of extortion. The officials of the prelates are not only their
leeches, who suck and are squeezed, but are strainers of the milk of
their rapine, retaining for themselves the dregs of sin.[11]

From this honest burst of indignation we see that the main instrument of
exaction and oppression was the judicial functions of the episcopate.
Considerable revenues, it is true, were derived from the sale of
benefices and the exaction of fees for all official acts, and many
prelates did not blush to derive a filthy gain from the licentiousness
universal among a celibate clergy by exacting a tribute known as
"cullagium," on payment of which the priest was allowed to keep his
concubine in peace, but the spiritual jurisdiction was the source of the
greatest profit to the prelate and of the greatest misery to the people.
Even in the temporal courts, the fines arising from litigation formed no
mean portion of the income of the seigneurs; and in the Courts
Christian, embracing the whole of spiritual jurisprudence and much of
temporal, there was an ample harvest to be gathered. Thus, as Peter
Cantor says, the most holy sacrament of matrimony, owing to the remote
consanguinity coming within the prohibited degrees, was made a subject
of derision to the laity by the venality with which marriages were made
and unmade to fill the pouches of the episcopal officials.
Excommunication was another fruitful source of extortion. If an unjust
demand was resisted, the recalcitrant was excommunicated, and then had
to pay for reconciliation in addition to the original sum. Any delay in
obeying a summons to the court of the Officiality entailed
excommunication with the same result of extortion. When litigation was
so profitable, it was encouraged to the utmost, to the infinite
wretchedness of the people. When a priest was inducted into a benefice,
it was customary to exact of him an oath that he would not overlook any
offences committed by his parishioners, but would report them to the
Ordinary that the offenders might be prosecuted and fined, and that he
would not allow any quarrels to be settled amicably; and though
Alexander III. issued a decretal pronouncing all such oaths void, yet
they continued to be required. As an illustration of the system a case
is recorded where a boy in play accidentally killed a comrade with an
arrow. The father of the slayer chanced to be wealthy, and the two
parents were not permitted to be reconciled gratuitously. Peter of
Blois, Archdeacon of Bath, was probably not far wrong when he described
the episcopal Ordinaries as vipers of iniquity transcending in malice
all serpents and basilisks, as shepherds, not of lambs, but of wolves,
and as devoting themselves wholly to malice and rapine.[12]

Even more efficient as a cause of misery to the people and hostility
towards the Church was the venality of many of the episcopal courts. The
character of the transactions and of the clerical lawyers who pleaded
before them is visible in an attempted reformation by the Council of
Rouen, in 1231, requiring the counsel who practised in these courts to
swear that they would not steal the papers of the other side or produce
forgeries or perjured testimony in support of their cases. The judges
were well fitted to preside over such a bar. They are described as
extortioners who sought by every device to filch the money of suitors to
the last farthing, and when any fraud was too glaring for their own
performance they had subordinate officials ever ready to play into their
hands, rendering their occupation more base than that of a pimp with his
bawds. That money was supreme in all judicial matters was clearly
assumed when the Abbey of Andres quarrelled with the mother-house of
Charroux, and the latter assured the former that it could spend in any
court one hundred marks of silver against every ten livres that the
other could afford; and in effect, when the ten years' litigation was
over, including three appeals to Rome, Andres found itself oppressed
with the enormous debt of fourteen hundred livres _parisis_, while the
details of the transaction show the most unblushing bribery. The Roman
court set the example to the rest, and its current reputation is visible
in the praise bestowed on Eugenius III. for rebuking a prior who
commenced a suit before him by offering a mark of gold to win his

There was another source of oppression which had a loftier motive and
better results, but which was none the less grinding upon the mass of
the people. It was about this time that the fashion set in of building
magnificent churches and abbeys, and the invention of stained glass and
its rapid introduction show the luxury of ornamentation which was
sought. While these structures were in some degree the expression of
ardent faith, yet more were they the manifestation of the pride of the
prelates who erected them, and in our admiration of these sublime relics
of the past, in whatever reverential spirit we may view the towering
spire, the long-arched nave, and the glorious window, we must not lose
sight of the supreme effort which they cost--an effort which inevitably
fell upon suffering serf and peasant. Peter Cantor assures us that they
were built out of exactions on the poor, out of the unhallowed gains of
usury, and out of the lies and deceits of the _quæstuarii_ or pardoners;
and the vast sums lavished upon them, he assures us, would be much
better spent in redeeming captives and relieving the necessities of the

It was hardly to be expected that prelates such as filled most of the
sees of Christendom should devote themselves to the real duties of their
position. Foremost among these duties was that of preaching the word of
God and instructing their flocks in faith and morals. The office of
preacher, indeed, was especially an episcopal function; he was the only
man in the diocese authorized to exercise it; it formed no part of the
duty or training of the parish priest, who could not presume to deliver
a sermon without a special license from his superior. It need not
surprise us, therefore, to see this portion of Christian teaching and
devotion utterly neglected, for the turbulent and martial prelates of
the day were too wholly engrossed in worldly cares to bestow a thought
upon a matter for which their unfitness was complete. In 1031 the
Council of Limoges expressed a wish that preaching should be done, not
only at the episcopal seat, but in other churches, when the will of God
inspires a competent doctor to the task; but the Church slumbered on
until the spread of heresy aroused it to a sense of its unwisdom in
neglecting so powerful a source of influence. In 1209 the Council of
Avignon ordered the bishops to preach more frequently and diligently
than heretofore, and, when opportunity offered, to cause preaching to be
done by honest and discreet persons. In 1215 the great Council of
Lateran admitted the impracticability of bishops attending to this among
so many more pressing avocations, and directed them to provide and pay
proper persons to visit their parishes and edify the people by word and
example. Yet little improvement could be expected from exhortations such
as these, and the heretics had the field virtually to themselves until
the Preaching Friars arose and were steadily rebuffed by those whose
negligence they replaced. The Troubadour Inquisitor Izarn does not
hesitate to declare that heresy never could have spread had there been
good preachers to oppose it, and that it never could have been subdued
but for the Dominicans.[15]

       *       *       *       *       *

The character of the lower orders of ecclesiastics could not be
reasonably expected to be better than that of their prelates. Benefices
were mostly in the gift of the bishops, though, of course, advowsons
were frequently held by the laity; special rights of patronage were held
by religious bodies, and many of these latter filled vacancies in their
own ranks by co-optation. Whatever was the nominating power, however,
the result was apt to be the same. It is the universal complaint of the
age that benefices were openly sold, or were bestowed through favor,
without examination into the qualifications of the appointee, or the
slightest regard as to his fitness. Even the rigid virtue of St. Bernard
did not prevent him, in 1151, from soliciting a provostship for a
graceless youth, the nephew of his friend the Bishop of Auxerre, though
repentance induced by cooller reflection led him to withdraw his
application, which he could the more easily do on learning that his
friend, in dying, had left no less than seven churches to his beloved
nephew. In the same year he was more cautious in refusing Count Thibaut
of Champagne some preferment which he had asked for his son, a child of
tender years; but the mere request for it shows how benefices, when not
sold, were wont to be distributed; and it is safe to say that there were
few like St. Bernard, with courage and conviction to reject the
solicitations of the powerful. It is true that the canon law was full
of admirable precepts respecting the virtues and qualifications
requisite for incumbents, but in practice they were a dead letter.
Alexander III. was moved to indignation when he learned that the Bishop
of Coventry was in the habit of giving churches to boys under ten years
of age, but he could only order that the cures should be intrusted to
competent vicars until the nominees reached a proper age, and this age
he himself fixed at fourteen; while other popes charitably reduced to
seven the minimum age for holding simple benefices or prebends. No
effectual check for abuses of patronage, of course, could be expected of
Rome, when the curia itself was the most eager recipient of benefit from
the wrong. Its army of pimps and parasites was ever on the watch to
obtain fat preferments in all the lands of Europe, and the popes were
constantly writing to bishops and chapters demanding places for their

That pluralities, with all their attendant evils and abuses, should be
habitual under such a system follows as a matter of course. In vain
reforming popes and councils issued constitutions prohibiting them; in
vain indignant moralists inveighed against the scandals and injuries
which they occasioned, the ruin of the temporalities, the sacrifice of
souls, and the general contempt excited for the Church. Forbidden by the
canon law, like all other abuses they were a source of profit to the
Roman curia, which was always ready to issue dispensations when the
holders of pluralities found themselves likely to be disturbed in their
sin; or they could be used for purposes of statecraft, as when Innocent
IV., in 1246, by skilful use of such dispensations broke up the menacing
combination of the nobles of France. In fact, learned doctors of
theology were found to defend the lawfulness of the abuse, as was done
in a public disputation about the year 1238 by Master Philip, Chancellor
of the University of Paris, who was a notorious pluralist himself. His
fate, however, was a solemn warning to others. On his death-bed his
friend, William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris, urged him to resign all
his benefices but one, promising to make good the sacrifice if he should
recover, but Philip refused, on the ground that he wished to experience
whether he should be subjected to damnation on that account. The
disputatious ardor of the schoolman was gratified. Soon after his death
a dusky shade appeared to the good bishop at his prayers, announced
itself to be the chancellor's soul, and declared that it was damned to
eternity; though it must be admitted that habitual licentiousness was
super-added to pluralism as a cause of hopeless perdition.[17]

A clergy recruited in such a manner and subjected to such influences
could only, for the most part, be a curse to the people under their
spiritual direction. A purchased benefice was naturally regarded as a
business investment, to be exploited to the utmost profit, and there was
little scruple in turning to account every device for extorting money
from parishioners, while the duties of the Christian pastorate received
little attention.

One of the most fruitful sources of quarrel and discontent was the
tithe. This most harassing and oppressive form of taxation had long been
the cause of incurable trouble, aggravated by the rapacity with which it
was enforced, even to the pitiful collections of the gleaner. It had
proved the greatest of the obstacles to Charlemagne's proselyting
efforts among the Saxons, and, as we shall see, in the thirteenth
century it led to a most devastating crusade against the Frisians. The
resistance of the people to its exaction in some places was such that
its non-payment was stigmatized as heresy, and everywhere we see it the
cause of scandalous altercation between pastor and flock, and between
rival claimants, giving rise to a very intricate branch of canon law.
Carlyle states that at the outbreak of the French Revolution there were
no less than sixty thousand cases arising from tithes then pending
before the courts, and though the statement may be exaggerated, it is by
no means improbable. Anciently the tithe had been divided into four
parts, of which one went to the bishop, one to the parish priest, one to
the fabric of the Church, and one to the poor, but in the prevailing
acquisitiveness of the period, bishop and priest each seized and held
all they could get, the Church received little, and the poor none at

The portion of the tithe which the priest could retain in this scramble
was rarely sufficient for his wants, addicted as he frequently was to
dissolute living, and exposed to the rapacity of his superiors. The form
of simony which consists in selling his sacred ministrations therefore
became general. Thus confession, which was now becoming obligatory on
the faithful and the exclusive function of the priest, afforded a wide
field for perverse ingenuity. Some confessors rated the sacrament of
penitence so low that for a chicken or a pint of wine they would grant
absolution for any sin, but others understood its productiveness far
better. It is related of Einhardt, the priest of Soest, by a
contemporary, that he sharply reproved a parishioner who, in preparation
for Easter, confessed incontinence during Lent, and demanded of him
eighteen deniers that he might say eighteen masses for his soul. Another
came who said that during Lent he had abstained from his wife, and he
was fined the same amount for masses because he had lost the chance of
begetting a child, as was his duty. Both men had to sell their harvests
prematurely to raise money to pay the fine, and, happening to meet upon
the market-place, compared notes, when they complained to the Dean and
Chapter of St. Patroclus, and the story came out, to the scandal of the
faithful, but Einhardt was permitted to continue his speculative career.
Every function of the priest was thus turned to account, and the
complaints of the practice are too frequent and sweeping for us to doubt
that it was a general custom. Marriage and funeral ceremonies were
refused until the fees demanded were paid in advance, and the Eucharist
was withheld from the communicant unless he offered an oblation. To the
believer in Transubstantiation nothing could be more inexpressibly
shocking, and Peter Cantor well describes the priests of his day as
worse than Judas Iscariot, who sold the body of the Lord for thirty
pieces of silver, while they do it daily for a denier. Not content with
this, many of them transgressed the rules which forbade, except on
special occasions, the celebration by a priest of more than one mass a
day, and it was almost impossible to enforce its observance; while those
who obeyed the rule invented an ingenious evasion through which, by
repeating the Introit, they would split a single mass up into half a
dozen, and collect an oblation for each.[19]

If the faithful Christian thus was mulcted throughout life at every
turn, the pursuit of gain was continued to his death-bed, and even his
body had a speculative value which was turned to account by the ghouls
who quarrelled over it. The necessity of the final sacraments for
salvation gave rise to an occasional abuse by which they were refused
unless an illegal fee or perquisite was paid, such as the sheet on which
the dying sinner lay, but this we may well believe was not usual. More
profitable was the custom by which the fears of approaching judgment
were exploited and legacies for pious uses were suggested as an
appropriate atonement for a life of wickedness or cruelty. It is well
known how large a portion of the temporal possessions of the Church was
procured in this manner, and already in the ninth century it had become
a subject of complaint. In 811 Charlemagne, in summoning provincial
councils throughout his empire, asks them whether that man can be truly
said to have renounced the world who unceasingly seeks to augment his
possessions, and by promises of heaven and threats of hell persuades the
simple and unlearned to disinherit their heirs, who are thus compelled
by poverty to robbery and crime. To this pregnant question the Council
of Chalons, in 813, responded by a canon forbidding such practices, and
reminding the clergy that the Church should succor the needy rather than
despoil them; that of Tours replied that it had made inquiry and could
find no one complaining of exheredation; that of Reims prudently passed
the matter over in silence; and that of Mainz promised restoration in
such cases. This check was but temporary; the Church continued to urge
its claims on the fears of the dying, and finally Alexander III., about
1170, decreed that no one could make a valid will except in the presence
of his parish priest. In some places the notary drawing a will in the
absence of the priest was excommunicated and the body of the testator
was refused Christian burial. The reason sometimes alleged for this was
the preventing of a heretic from leaving his property to heretics, but
the flimsiness of this is shown by the repeated promulgation of the rule
in regions where heresy was unknown, and the loud remonstrances against
local customs which sought to defeat this development of ecclesiastical
greed. Complaints were also sometimes made that the parish priest
converted to his personal use legacies which were left for the benefit
of pious foundations.[20]

Even after death the control which the Church exercised over the living
and the profit to be derived from him were not abandoned. So general was
the custom of leaving considerable sums for the pious ministrations by
which the Church lightened the torments of purgatory, and so usual was
the bestowal of oblations at the funeral, that the custody of the corpse
became a source of gain not to be despised, and the parish in which the
sinner had lived and died claimed to have a reversionary right in the
ashes which were thus so profitable. Occasionally intruders would
trespass upon their preserves, and some monastery would prevail upon the
dying to bequeath his fertilizing remains to its care, giving rise to
unseemly squabbles over the corpse and the privilege of burying it and
saying mortuary masses for its soul. As early as the fifth century Leo
the Great did not hesitate to condemn in the severest terms the rapacity
which led the monasteries to invite the living to their retreats for the
sake of the possessions which they would bring with them, to the
manifest detriment of the parish priest, thus deprived of his legitimate
expectations. Leo therefore ordered a compromise, by which one half of
the goods and chattels thus acquired should be transferred to the church
of the deceased, whether he had entered the monastery dead or alive. The
parish churches at last came to claim the bodies of their parishioners
as a matter of right, and to deny to the dying the privilege of electing
a place of sepulture. It required repeated papal decisions to set aside
claims so persistently urged, but these decisions invariably conceded to
the churches a portion of one fourth, one third, or one half the sum the
deceased had set apart for the care of his soul. In some places the
parish church asserted a right by custom to certain payments on the
death of a parishioner, and the Council of Worcester, in 1240, decided
that when this claim would reduce the widow and orphans to beggary, the
Church should mercifully content itself with one third of the estate and
relinquish the other two thirds to the family of the defunct; while in
Lisbon the last consolations of religion were denied to any one who
refused to leave a portion, usually one third, of his property to the
Church. Under other local customs, the priest claimed as a perquisite
the bier on which a corpse was brought to his church, leading, in case
of resistance, to quarrels more lively than edifying. In Navarre the law
stepped in to define the amount which the poorer classes should give as
an offering in the mortuary mass, being two measures of corn for a
peasant. Among the caballeros the usual offering was the incongruous one
of a war-horse, a suit of armor, and jewels; and the cost of this was
frequently defrayed by the king to honor the memory of some
distinguished knight. That the amounts were not small is evident when we
see that, in 1372, Charles II. of Navarre paid to the Franciscan
Guardian of Pampeluna thirty livres to redeem the charger, armor, etc.,
offered at the funeral of Masen Seguin de Badostal. With the rise of the
mendicant orders and their enormous popularity, the rivalry between them
and the secular clergy for the possession of corpses and the
accompanying fees became more intense than ever, creating scandals of
which we shall have more to say hereafter.[21]

On no point were the relations between the clergy and the people more
delicate than on that of sexual purity. I have treated this subject
fully in another work, and can be spared further reference to it, except
to say that at the period under consideration the enforced celibacy of
the priesthood had become generally recognized in most of the countries
owing obedience to the Latin Church. It had not been accompanied,
however, by the gift of chastity so confidently promised by its
promoters. Deprived as was the priesthood of the gratification afforded
by marriage to the natural instincts of man, the wife at best was
succeeded by the concubine; at worst by a succession of paramours, for
which the functions of priest and confessor gave peculiar opportunity.
So thoroughly was this recognized that a man confessing an illicit amour
was forbidden to name the partner of his guilt for fear it might lead
the confessor into the temptation of abusing his knowledge of her
frailty. No sooner had the Church, indeed, succeeded in suppressing the
wedlock of its ministers, than we find it everywhere and incessantly
busied in the apparently impossible task of compelling their
chastity--an effort the futility of which is sufficiently demonstrated
by its continuance to modern times. The age was not particularly
sensitive on the subject of female virtue, but yet the spectacle of a
priesthood professing ascetic purity as an essential prerequisite to
its functions, and practising a dissoluteness more cynical than that of
the average layman, was not adapted to raise it in popular esteem; while
the individual cases in which the peace and honor of families were
sacrificed to the lusts of the pastor necessarily tended to rouse the
deepest antagonism. As for darker and more deplorable crimes, they were
sufficiently frequent, not alone in monasteries from which women were
rigorously excluded; and, moreover, they were committed with virtual
immunity. Not the least of the evils involved in the artificial
asceticism ostensibly imposed on the priesthood was the erection of a
false standard of morality which did infinite harm to the laity as well
as to the Church. So long as the priest did not defy the canons by
marrying, everything could be forgiven. Alexander II., who labored so
strenuously to restore the rule of celibacy, in 1064 decided that a
priest of Orange who had committed adultery with the wife of his father
was not to be deprived of communion for fear of driving him to
desperation; and, in view of the fragility of the flesh, he was to be
allowed to remain in holy orders, though in the lower grades. Two years
later the same pope charitably diminished the penance imposed on a
priest of Padua who had committed incest with his mother, and left it to
his bishop whether he should be retained in the priesthood. It would be
difficult to exaggerate the disastrous influence on the people of such

Yet perhaps the most efficient cause of demoralization in the clergy,
and of hostility between them and the laity, was the personal
inviolability and the immunity from secular jurisdiction which they
succeeded in establishing as a recognized principle of public law. While
this was doubtless necessary for the independence, and even for the
safety of a presumably peaceful class in an age of violence, it worked
unhappily in a double sense. The readiness with which acquittal was
obtainable in ecclesiastical procedure by canonical purgation, or the
"wager of law," and the comparative mildness of the penalties in case of
conviction, relieved the ecclesiastic in great measure from the terrors
of the law, and removed from him the necessity of restraining his evil
propensities. At the same time it attracted to the Church vast numbers
of worthless men, who, without abandoning their worldly pursuits,
entered the lower grades and enjoyed the irresponsibility of their
position, to the injury of its character and the detriment of all who
came in contact with them. How, in maintaining its privileges, the
Church habitually threw its ægis over those least deserving of sympathy,
is well illustrated by the intervention of Innocent III. in favor of
Waldemar, Bishop of Sleswick. He was the natural son of Cnut V. of
Denmark, and had headed an armed insurrection against Waldemar II., the
reigning king, on the suppression of which he was cast into prison.
Innocent demanded his liberation, as his incarceration was a violation
of the immunities of the Church. Waldemar naturally hesitated thus to
expose his kingdom to the repetition of revolt, and Innocent at first
modified his command in so far as to order the offender conveyed to
Hungary and liberated there, promising that he should not be permitted
again to disturb the realm; but he subsequently evoked the case to Rome,
where, in spite of the bishop being the offspring of a double adultery
and thus ineligible to holy orders, and in spite of the representations
of the Danish envoys that he had been guilty of perjury, adultery,
apostasy, and dilapidation, Innocent, in behalf of the liberties of the
Church, restored him to his bishopric and patrimony, with the special
privilege of administering it by deputy if he feared that residence
would endanger his personal safety. When requested to decide whether
laymen could arrest and bring before the episcopal court a clerk caught
red-handed in the commission of gross wickedness, Innocent replied that
they could only do so under the special command of a prelate--which was
tantamount to granting virtual impunity in such cases. A sacerdotal
body, whose class-privileges of wrong-doing were so tenderly guarded,
was not likely to prove itself a desirable element of society; and when
the orderly enforcement of law gradually established itself throughout
Christendom, the courts of justice found in the immunity of the
ecclesiastic a more formidable enemy to order than in the pretensions of
the feudal seigniory. Indeed, when malefactors were arrested, their
first effort habitually was to prove their clergy, that they wore the
tonsure, and that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the
secular courts, while zeal for ecclesiastical rights, and possibly for
fees, always prompted the episcopal officials to support their claims
and demand their release. The Church thus became responsible for crowds
of unprincipled men, clerks only in name, who used the immunity of their
position as a stalking-horse in preying upon the community.[23]

The similar immunity attaching to ecclesiastical property gave rise to
abuses equally flagrant. The cleric, whether plaintiff or defendant, was
entitled in civil cases to be heard before the spiritual courts, which
were naturally partial in his favor, even when not venal, so that
justice was scarce to be obtained by the laity. That such, in fact, was
the experience is shown by the practice which grew up of clerks
purchasing doubtful claims from laymen and then enforcing them before
the Courts Christian--a speculative proceeding, forbidden, indeed, by
the councils, but too profitable to be suppressed. Another abuse which
excited loud complaint consisted in harassing unfortunate laymen by
citing them to answer in the same case in several spiritual courts
simultaneously, each of which enforced its process remorselessly by the
expedient of excommunication, with consequent fines for reconciliation,
on all who by neglect placed themselves in an apparent attitude of
contumacy, frequently without even pausing to ascertain whether the
parties thus amerced had actually been cited. To estimate properly the
amount of wrong and suffering thus inflicted on the community, we must
bear in mind that culture and training were almost exclusively confined
to the ecclesiastical class, whose sharpened intelligence thus enabled
them to take the utmost advantage of the ignorant and defenceless.[24]

       *       *       *       *       *

The monastic orders formed too large and important a class not to share
fully in the responsibility of the Church for good or for evil. Great as
were their unquestioned services to religion and culture, they were
peculiarly exposed to the degrading tendencies of the age, and their
virtues suffered proportionally. At this period they were rapidly
obtaining exemption from episcopal jurisdiction and subjecting
themselves immediately to Rome. This inevitably stimulated conventual
degeneracy. Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury, complained bitterly to
Alexander III. of the fatal relaxation thus induced in monastic
discipline, but to no purpose. It abased the episcopate; it increased
the authority of the Holy See, both directly and indirectly, through the
important allies thus acquired in its struggles with the bishops; and it
was, moreover, a source of revenue, if we may believe the Abbot of
Malmesbury, who boasted that for an ounce of gold per year paid to Rome
he could obtain exemption from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of
Salisbury. In too many cases the abbeys thus became centres of
corruption and disturbance, the nunneries scarce better than houses of
prostitution, and the monasteries feudal castles where the monks lived
riotously and waged war upon their neighbors as ferociously as the
turbulent barons, with the added disadvantage that, as there was no
hereditary succession, the death of an abbot was apt to be followed by a
disputed election producing internal broils and outside interference.
Thus in a quarrel of this kind occurring in 1182, the rich abbey of St.
Tron was attacked by the Bishops of Metz and Liège, the town and abbey
were burned, and the inhabitants put to the sword. The trouble lasted
until the end of the century, and when it was temporarily patched up by
a pecuniary transaction, the wretched vassals and serfs were reduced to
starvation to raise the funds which bought the elevation of an ambitious
monk. It is true that all establishments were not lost to the duties for
which they had received so abundantly of the benefactions of the
faithful. In the famine of 1197, though the monastery of Heisterbach was
still young and poor, the Abbot Gebhardt distributed alms so lavishly
that sometimes he fed fifteen hundred people a day, while the
mother-house of Hemmenrode was even more liberal, and supported all the
poor of its district till harvest-time. At the same time a Cistercian
abbey in Westphalia slaughtered all its flocks and herds and pledged its
books and sacred vessels to feed the starving. It is satisfactory to be
assured that in each case the expenditures were more than made up by the
donations which the establishments received in consequence of their
charity. Such instances go far to redeem the institution of monachism,
but for the most part the abbeys were sources of evil rather than of

This is scarce to be wondered at if we consider the material from which
their inmates were drawn. It is the severest reproach upon their
discipline to find so enthusiastic an admirer of the strict Cistercian
rule as Cæsarius of Heisterbach asserting as an admitted fact that boys
bred in monasteries made bad monks and frequently became apostates. As
for those who took the vows in advanced life, he enumerates their
motives as sickness, poverty, captivity, infamy, mortal danger, dread of
hell or desire of heaven, among which the predominance of selfish
impulses was not likely to secure a desirable class of devotees. In
fact, he assures us that criminals frequently escaped punishment by
agreeing to enter monasteries, which thus in some sort became penal
settlements, or prisons, and he illustrates this with the case of a
robber baron in 1209, condemned to death for his crimes by the Count
Palatine Henry, who was rescued by Daniel, Abbot of Schonau, on
condition of his entering the Cistercian order. Scarcely less desirable
inmates were those who, moved by a sudden revulsion of conscience, would
turn from a life stained with crime and violence to bury themselves in
the cloister while yet in the full vigor of strength and with passions
unexhausted, finding, perhaps, at last their fierce and untamed natures
unfitted to bear the unaccustomed restraint. The chronicles are full of
illustrations of this passionate religious energy in natures wholly
untrained in self-control, and they explain much that otherwise would
seem incredible to the calmer and more self-contained world of to-day.
For instance when, in 1071, Arnoul III. of Flanders, fell at Montcassel
in defending his dominions against his uncle, Robert the Frisian,
Gerbald, the knight who slew his suzerain, was seized with remorse for
his act and wandered to Rome, where he presented himself before Gregory
VII. with the request that his hands be stricken off as a fitting
penance. Gregory assented, and ordered his chief cook to do the service,
secretly instructing him that if, when the axe was raised, Gerbald
shrank or wavered, he was to strike without mercy, but if the penitent
was firm, then he was to announce that he was spared. Gerbald did not
blench, and the pope declared to him that the hands thus preserved were
no longer his but the Lord's, and sent him to Cluny to be placed under
the charge of the holy Abbot Hugh, where the fierce warrior peacefully
ended his days. If, as sometimes happened, these untamable souls chafed
under the irrevocable vow, after the fit of repentance had passed, they
offered ample material for internal sedition and external violence.[26]

Among these ill-assorted crowds it was impossible to maintain the
community of property which was the essence of the rule of Benedict.
Gregory the Great, when Abbot of St. Andreas, denied the last
consolations of religion to a dying brother, and kept his soul for sixty
days in the torments of purgatory, because three pieces of gold had been
found among his garments. Yet the good monks of St. Andreas, of Vienne,
found it necessary to adopt a formal constitution segregating as a
sacrilegious thief any of the brethren detected in stealing clothing
from the dormitory, or cups or plates from the refectory, and
threatening to call in the intervention of the bishop if the offence
could not be otherwise suppressed. So it is mentioned that in the Abbey
of St. Tron, about the year 1200, each monk had a locked cupboard behind
his seat in the refectory, wherein he carefully secured his napkin,
spoon, cup, and dish, to preserve them from his brethren. In the
dormitory matters were even worse. Those who could procure chests threw
into them their bed-clothes on rising, and those who could not were
constantly complaining of the thievish propensities of their

The name of monk was rendered still more despicable by the crowds of
"gyrovagi" and "sarabaitæ" and "stertzer"--wanderers and vagrants,
bearded and tonsured and wearing the religious habit, who traversed
every corner of Christendom, living by begging and imposture, peddling
false relics and false miracles. This was a pest which had afflicted the
Church ever since the rise of monachism in the fourth century, and it
continued unabated. Though there were holy and saintly men among these
ghostly tramps, yet were they all subjected to common abhorrence. They
were often detected in crime and slain without mercy; and in a vain
effort to suppress the evil, the Synod of Cologne, early in the
thirteenth century, absolutely forbade that any of them should be
received to hospitality throughout that extensive province.[28]

It was not that earnest efforts were lacking to restore the neglected
monastic discipline. Individual monasteries were constantly being
reformed, to sink back after a time into relaxation and indulgence.
Ingenuity was taxed to frame new and severer rules, such as the
Premonstratensian, the Carthusian, the Cistercian, which should repel
all but the most ardent souls in search of ascetic self-mortification,
but as each order grew in repute for holiness, the liberality of the
faithful showered wealth upon it, and with wealth came corruption. Or
the humble hermitage founded by a few self-denying anchorites, whose
only thought was to secure salvation by macerating the flesh and eluding
temptation, would become possessed of the relics of some saint, whose
wonder-working powers drew flocks of pious pilgrims and sufferers in
search of relief. Offerings in abundance would flow in, and the fame and
riches thus showered on the modest retreat of the hermits speedily
changed it to a splendid structure where the severe virtues of the
founders disappeared amid a crowd of self-indulgent monks, indolent in
all good works and active only in evil. Few communities had the cautious
wisdom of the early denizens in the celebrated Priory of Grammont,
before it became the head of a powerful order. When its founder and
first prior, St. Stephen of Thiern, after his death in 1124, commenced
to show his sanctity by curing a paralytic knight and restoring sight to
a blind man, his single-minded followers took alarm at the prospect of
wealth and notoriety thus about to be forced upon them. His successor,
Prior Peter of Limoges, accordingly repaired to his tomb and
reproachfully addressed him: "O servant of God, thou hast shown us the
path of poverty and hast earnestly striven to teach us to walk therein.
Now thou wishest to lead us from the straight and narrow way of
salvation to the broad road of eternal death. Thou hast preached the
solitude, and now thou seekest to convert the solitude into a
market-place and a fair. We already believe sufficiently in thy
saintliness. Then work no more miracles to prove it and at the same time
to destroy our humility. Be not so solicitous for thy own fame as to
neglect our salvation; this we enjoin on thee, this we ask of thy
charity. If thou dost otherwise, we declare, by the obedience which we
have vowed to thee, that we will dig up thy bones and cast them into the
river." This mingled supplication and threat proved sufficient, and
until St. Stephen was formally canonized he ceased to perform the
miracles so dangerous to the souls of his followers. The canonization,
which occurred in 1189, was the result of the first official act of
Prior Girard, in applying for it to Clement III., and as Girard had been
elected in place of two contestants set aside by papal authority, after
dissensions which had almost ruined the monastery, it shows that worldly
passions and ambition had invaded the holy seclusion of Grammont, to
work out their inevitable result.[29]

In the failure of all these partial efforts at reform to rescue the
monastic orders from their degradation, we hardly need the emphatic
testimony of the venerable Gilbert, Abbot of Gemblours, about 1190, when
he confesses with shame that monachism had become an oppression and a
scandal, a hissing and reproach to all men.[30]

       *       *       *       *       *

The religion which was thus exploited by priest and monk had
necessarily become a very different creed from that taught by Christ and
Paul. Doctrines are beyond my province, but a brief reference is
requisite to certain phases of belief and observance to render clear the
relation between clergy and people, and to explain the religious revolt
of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The theory of justification by works, to which the Church owed so much
of its power and wealth, had, in its development, to a great extent
deprived religion of all spiritual vitality, replacing its essentials
with a dry and meaningless formalism. It was not that men were becoming
indifferent to the destiny of their souls, for never, perhaps, have the
terrors of perdition, the bliss of salvation, and the never-ending
efforts of the arch-fiend possessed a more burning reality for man, but
religion had become in many respects a fetichism. Teachers might still
inculcate that pious and charitable works to be efficient must be
accompanied with a change of heart, with repentance, with amendment,
with an earnest seeking after Christ and a higher life; but in a gross
and hardened generation it was far easier for the sinner to fall into
the practices habitual around him, which taught that absolution could be
had by the repetition of a certain number of Pater Nosters or Ave Marias
accompanied by the magical sacrament of penitence; nay, even that if the
penitent himself were unable to perform the penance enjoined, it could
be undertaken by his friends, whose merits were transferred to him by
some kind of sacred jugglery. When a congregation, in preparation for
Easter, was confessed and absolved as a whole, or in squads and batches,
as was customary with some careless priests, the lesson taught was that
the sacrament of penitence was a magic ceremony or incantation, in which
the internal condition of the soul was a matter of virtual

More serviceable to the Church, and quite as disastrous in its influence
on faith and morals, was the current belief that the posthumous
liberality of the death-bed, which founded a monastery or enriched a
cathedral out of the spoils for which the sinner had no further use,
would atone for a lifelong course of cruelty and rapine; and that a few
weeks' service against the enemies of a pope would wipe out all the
sins of him who assumed the cross to exterminate his fellow-Christians.
The use, or abuse, of indulgences, indeed, is a subject which would
repay extended investigation, and a brief reference to it may be
pardoned here, in view of the frequent allusions to it which will occur

That sin, confessed and repented, could be remitted through penance, was
a doctrine dating back to primitive times. That penance could be
redeemed by sacrifices made for the Church was a corollary of later
origin, but yet well established at this period. Thus, in 1059, we see
Guido, Archbishop of Milan, imposing on himself a penance of one hundred
years, to atone for rebellion against Rome, and redeeming it at a
certain sum for each year--a transaction which satisfied even so stern a
moralist as St. Peter Damiani. Then the schoolmen invented the theory of
the treasure of salvation, accumulated through the merits of the
Crucifixion and of the saints, and the pope, as the vicar of God, had
the unlimited dispensation of that treasure. It was for him to prescribe
the methods by which the faithful could partake of it, and no theologian
before Wickliffe was hardy enough to question his decisions. In the
administration of this treasure the pope issued "pardons," either
plenary or partial, the former releasing the soul absolutely from the
purgatorial punishment of its sins after their guilt had been wiped out
in the sacrament of penitence, the latter shortening the punishment by
the equivalent of the penance remitted by the terms of the concession.
At first this partial indulgence was granted in return for pious works,
pilgrimages to shrines, contributions towards the building of churches,
bridges, etc.--for a spiritual punishment could be commuted to a
corporal or to a pecuniary one, and the power to grant such indulgence
was a valuable franchise to the church which obtained it, for it served
as a constant attraction to pilgrims. Abuses, of course, crept in,
denounced by Abelard, who vents his indignation at the covetousness
which habitually made a traffic of salvation. Alexander III., about
1175, expressed his disapproval of these corruptions, and the great
Council of Lateran, in 1215, sought to check the destruction of
discipline and the contempt felt for the Church by limiting to one year
the amount of penance released by any one episcopal indulgence. At
length St. Francis of Assisi was said to have procured, in 1223, from
Honorius III. the celebrated "Portiuncula" indulgence, whereby all who
visited the Church of Santa Maria de Portiuncula, at Assisi, from the
vespers of August 1st to the vespers of August 2d, obtained complete and
entire remission of all sins committed since baptism; and even the fact
that St. Francis had been directed by God to apply to Honorius for it,
and the admission of Satan that this indulgence was depopulating hell,
did not serve to reconcile the Dominicans to so great an advantage given
to the Franciscans. Boniface VIII., when he conceived the fruitful idea
of the jubilee, carried this out still further by promising to all who
should perform certain devotions in the basilicas of St. Peter and St.
Paul, during the year 1300, not only "_plena venia_," but
"_plenissima_," of all their sins. By this time the idea that an
indulgence might avert the entire penalty of all sins had become
familiar to the Christian mind. When the Church sought to arouse Europe
to supreme exertion for the redemption of the Holy Sepulchre some
infinite reward was requisite to excite the enthusiastic fanaticism
requisite for the crusades. If Mahomet could stimulate his followers to
court death by the promise of immediate and eternal bliss to him who
fell fighting for the Crescent, the vicegerent of the true God must not
be behindhand in his promises to the martyrs of the Cross. It was to be
a death-struggle between the two faiths, and Christianity must not be
less liberal than Islam in its bounty to its recruits. Accordingly when
Urban II. held the great Council of Clermont, which resolved on the
first crusade, and where thirteen archbishops, two hundred and fifteen
bishops, and ninety mitred abbots represented the universal Church
Militant, the device of plenary indulgence was introduced, and the
military pilgrims were exhorted to have full faith that those who fell
repentant would gain the completest fruit of eternal mercy. The device
was so successful that it became an established rule in all the holy
wars in which the Church engaged; all the more attractive, perhaps,
because of the demoralizing character of the service, for it was a
commonplace of the _jongleurs_ of the period that the crusader, if he
escaped the perils of sea and land, was tolerably sure to return home a
lawless bandit, even as the pilgrim who went to Rome to secure pardon
came back much worse than he started. As the novelty of crusading wore
off, still greater promises were necessary. Thus, in 1291, Nicholas IV.
promised full remission of sins to every one who would send a crusader
or go at another's expense; while he who went at his own expense was
vaguely told that in addition he would have an increase of salvation--a
term which the Decretalists perhaps could not find it easy to explain.
Finally, forgotten sins were included in the pardon, as well as those
confessed and repented.[32]

As an additional inducement to crusaders they were, moreover, released
from earthly as well as heavenly justice, by being classed with clerks
and subjected only to spiritual jurisdiction. When accused, the
ecclesiastical judge was directed to take them from the secular courts
by the use of excommunication, if necessary, and when found guilty of
enormous crime, such as murder, they were merely divested of the cross,
and punished with the same leniency as ecclesiastics. This became
embodied in secular jurisprudence, and its attraction to the reckless
adventurers who formed so large a portion of the papal armies is readily
conceivable. When, in 1246, those who had taken the cross in France were
indulging themselves in robbery, murder, and rape, St. Louis was obliged
to appeal to Innocent IV., and the pope responded by instructing his
legate that such malefactors were not to be protected.[33]

Still further rewards were offered when personal ambition and
vindictiveness were to be gratified in the crusade preached by Innocent
IV. against the Emperor Conrad IV., after the death of Frederic II.,
when he granted a larger remission of sins than for the voyage to the
Holy Land, and included the father and mother of the crusader as
beneficiaries in the assurance of heaven. A profitable device had also
been introduced by which crusaders, unwilling or unable to perform their
vow, were absolved from it on a money payment proportioned to their
ability, and very large sums were raised in this manner, which were
expended, nominally at least, for the furtherance of the holy cause. The
development of the system continued until it came to be employed in the
pettiest private quarrels of the popes as masters of the patrimony of
St. Peter. If Alexander IV. could use it successfully against Eccelin da
Romano, the next century saw John XXII. have recourse to it, not only in
making war against a formidable antagonist like Matteo Visconti or the
Marquis of Montefeltre, but even when he wished to reduce the rebellious
citizens of little places like Osimo and Recanati, in the March of
Ancona, or the turbulent people of Rome itself. The ingenious method of
granting indulgences to those who took the cross, and then releasing
them from service for a sum of money, had become too cumbrous, and the
purchase of salvation simplified itself into a direct payment, so that
John was able to raise funds for his private wars by thus distributing
the treasures of salvation over Christendom, and ordering the prelates
everywhere to establish coffers in the churches by which the pious could
help the Church while they saved their souls. The prelates who saw with
regret the coins of their parishioners disappear into the
never-satisfied maelstrom of the Holy See, in vain endeavored to resist.
They were no longer independent, and the slender barriers which they
sought to erect were easily swept away.[34]

These money payments were doubtless more practically efficacious than an
indulgence, remitting a certain number of days of penance, offered to
all who would earnestly pray to God, especially during the solemnity of
the mass, for the success of the same pope in his death-struggle with
Louis of Bavaria. This is a specimen of the minor indulgences which were
frequently granted as a stimulus to acts of devotion, such as visiting
cathedrals on the anniversaries of their patron saints; reciting, for
the peace and prosperity of the Church, on bended knees, the Pater
Noster five times, in honor of the five wounds of Christ; the Ave Maria
seven times, in honor of the seven joys of the Virgin, and other similar

A more demoralizing system of indulgences was that of sending out
"quaestuarii," or pardoners, sometimes furnished with relics, by a
church or hospital in need of money, and sometimes merely carrying papal
or episcopal letters, by which they were authorized to issue pardons for
sin in return for contributions. Though these letters were cautiously
framed, yet they were ambiguous enough to enable the pardoners to
promise, not only the salvation of the living, but the liberation of the
damned from hell for a few small coins. Already, in 1215, the Council of
Lateran inveighs bitterly against these practices, and prohibits the
removal of relics from the churches; but the abuse was too profitable to
be suppressed. Needy bishops and popes were constantly issuing such
letters, and the business of the pardoner became a regular profession,
in which the most impudent and shameless were the most successful, so
that we can readily believe the pseudo Peter of Pilichdorf, when he
sorrowfully admits that the "indiscreet" but profitable granting of
indulgences to all sorts of men weakened the faith of many Catholics in
the whole system. As early as 1261 the Council of Mainz can hardly find
words strong enough to denounce the pestilent sellers of indulgences,
whose knavish tricks excite the hatred of all men, who spend their
filthy gains in vile debauchery, and who so mislead the faithful that
confession is neglected on the ground that sinners have purchased
forgiveness of their sins. Complaint was useless, however, and the
lucrative abuse continued unchecked until it aroused the indignation
which found a mouthpiece in Luther. Subsequent councils are full of
complaints of the lies and frauds of these peddlers of salvation, who
continued to flourish until the Reformation; and Tassoni fairly
represents the popular conviction that this was an unfailing resort of
the Church in its secular aims--

    "Le cose della guerra andavan zoppe;
      I Bolognesi richiedean danari
    Al Papa, ad egli rispondeva coppe,
      E mandava indulgenze per gli altari."[36]

The sale of indulgences illustrates effectively the sacerdotalism which
formed the distinguishing feature of mediæval religion. The believer did
not deal directly with his Creator--scarce even with the Virgin or hosts
of intercessory saints. The supernatural powers claimed for the priest
interposed him as the mediator between God and man; his bestowal or
withholding of the sacraments decided the fate of immortal souls; his
performance of the mass diminished or shortened the pains of purgatory;
his decision in the confessional determined the very nature of sin
itself. The implements which he wielded--the Eucharist, the relics, the
holy water, the chrism, the exorcism, the prayer--became in some sort
fetiches which had a power of their own entirely irrespective of the
moral or spiritual condition of him who employed them or of him for whom
they were employed; and in the popular view the rites of religion could
hardly be more than magic formulas which in some mysterious way worked
to the advantage, temporal and spiritual, of those for whom they were

How sedulously this fetichism was inculcated by those who profited from
the control of the fetiches is shown by a thousand stories and incidents
of the time. Thus a twelfth-century chronicler piously narrates that
when, in 887, the relics of St. Martin of Tours were brought home from
Auxerre, whither they had been carried to escape the Danish incursions,
two cripples of Touraine, who earned an easy livelihood by beggary, on
hearing of the approach of the saintly bones, counselled together to
escape from the territory as quickly as possible, lest the returning
saint should cure them and thus deprive them of claims on the alms of
the charitable. Their fears were well founded, but their means of
locomotion were insufficient, for the relics arrived in Touraine before
they could get beyond the bounds of the province, and they were cured in
spite of themselves. The eagerness with which rival princes and
republics disputed with each other the possession of these
wonder-working fetiches, and the manner in which the holy objects were
obtained by force or fraud and defended by the same methods, form a
curious chapter in the history of human credulity, and show how
completely the miraculous virtue was held to reside in the relic itself,
wholly irrespective of the crimes through which it was acquired or the
frame of mind of the possessor. Thus in the above case, Ingelger of
Anjou was obliged to reclaim from the Auxerrois the bones of St. Martin
at the head of an armed force, more peaceful means of recovering the
venerated relics having failed; and in 1177 we see a certain Martin,
canon of the Breton church of Bomigny, stealing the body of St. Petroc
from his own church for the benefit of the Abbey of St. Mevennes, which
would not surrender it until the intervention of King Henry II. was
brought to bear. Two years after the capture of Constantinople the
Venetian leaders, in 1206, forcibly broke into the Church of St. Sophia
and carried off a picture of the Virgin, said to have been painted by
St. Luke, in which popular superstition imagined her to reside, and kept
it in spite of excommunication and interdict launched against them by
the patriarch and confirmed by the papal legate. Fairly illustrative of
this belief is a story told of a merchant of Groningen who in one of his
voyages coveted the arm of St. John the Baptist belonging to a hospital,
and obtained it by bribing heavily the mistress of the guardian, who
induced him to steal it. On his return the merchant built a house and
secretly encased the relic in a pillar forming part of the structure.
Under its protection he prospered mightily and grew wealthy, till once
in a conflagration he refused to take measures to save the house, saying
that it was under good guardianship. The house was not burned, and
public curiosity was so much excited that he was forced to reveal his
talisman, when the people carried it off and deposited it in a church,
where it worked many miracles, while the merchant was reduced to
poverty. It was a superstition even less rational than that which led
the Romans to conjure into their camp the tutelary deity of a city which
they were besieging; and the universal wearing of relics as charms or
amulets had in it nothing to distinguish it from the similar practices
of paganism. Even the images and portraits of saints and martyrs had
equal virtue. A single glance at the representation of St. Christopher,
for instance, was held to preserve one from disease or sudden death for
the rest of the day--

    "Christophori sancti speciem quicumque tuetur
     Illo namque die nullo languore tenetur--

and a huge image of the gigantic saint was often painted on the outside
of churches for the preservation of the population. The custom of
selecting a patron saint by lot at the altar is another manifestation of
the same blindness of superstition.[37]

The Eucharist was particularly efficacious as a fetich. During the
persecution of heresy in the Rhinelands by the inquisitor Conrad of
Marburg, in 1233, one obstinate culprit refused to burn in spite of all
the efforts of his zealous executioners, until 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. A conventicle of these same heretics possessed an
image of Satan which gave forth oracular responses, until a priest
entering the room produced from his bosom a pyx containing the body of
Christ, when Satan at once acknowledged his inferiority by falling down.
Not long afterwards St. Peter Martyr overcame, by the same means, the
imposture of a Milanese heretic in whose behalf a demon was wont to
appear in a heterodox church in the shape of the Virgin, resplendent and
holding in her arms the holy Child. The evidence in favor of heresy
seemed to be overwhelming, until St. Peter dispelled it by presenting to
the demon a host, and saying, "If thou art the true Mother of God,
adore this thy Son," whereupon the demon disappeared in a flash of
lightning, leaving an intolerable stench behind him. The consecrated
wafer was popularly believed to possess a magic efficacy of incomparable
power, and stories are numerous of the punishment inflicted on those who
sacrilegiously sought thus to use it. A priest who retained it in his
mouth for the purpose of using it to overcome the virtue of a woman of
whom he was enamoured, was afflicted with the hallucination that he had
swelled to the point that he could not pass through a doorway; and on
burying the sacred object in his garden it was changed into a small
crucifix bearing a man of flesh and freshly bleeding. So when a woman
kept the wafer and placed it in her beehive to stop an epidemic among
the bees, the pious insects built around it a complete chapel, with
walls, windows, roof, and bell-tower, and inside an altar on which they
reverently placed it. Another woman, to preserve her cabbages from the
ravages of caterpillars, crumbled a holy wafer and sprinkled it over the
vegetables, when she was at once afflicted with incurable paralysis.
This particular form of fetichism was evidently not regarded with favor,
but it was the direct evolution of orthodox teaching. It was the same in
respect to the water in which a priest washed his hands after handling
the Eucharist, to which supernatural virtues were ascribed, but the use
of which was condemned as savoring of sorcery.[38]

The power of these magic formulas, as I have said, was wholly
disconnected with any devotional feeling on the part of those who
employed them. Thus the efficacy of St. Thomas of Canterbury was
illustrated by a story of a matron whose veneration for him led her to
invoke him on all occasions, and even to teach her pet bird to repeat
the formula "Sancte Thoma adjuva me!" Once a hawk seized the bird and
flew away with it, but on the bird uttering the accustomed phrase, the
hawk fell dead and the bird returned unhurt to its mistress. So little,
indeed, of sanctity was requisite, that wicked priests employed the mass
as an incantation and execration, mentally cursing their enemies while
engaged in its solemnization, and expecting that in some way the
malediction would work evil on the person against whom it was directed.
Nay, it was even used in connection with the immemorial superstition of
the wax figurine which represented the enemy to be destroyed, and mass
celebrated ten times over such an image was supposed to insure his death
within ten days.[39]

Even confession could be used as a magic formula to escape the detection
of guilt. As demons professed a knowledge of every crime committed, and
would reveal them through the mouth of those whom they possessed,
demoniacs were frequently used as detectives in case of suspected
persons. Yet when sins were confessed with due contrition, the
absolution wiped them forever from the demon's memory, and he would deny
all knowledge of them--a fact which was regularly acted on by those
afraid of exposure; for even after the demon had revealed the guilt, the
perpetrator could go at once and confess, and then confidently return
and challenge a repetition of the denunciation.[40]

Examples such as these could be multiplied almost indefinitely, but they
would only serve to weary the reader. What I have given will probably
suffice to illustrate the degeneracy of the Christianity superimposed
upon paganism and wielded by a sacerdotal body so worldly in its
aspirations as that of the Middle Ages.

       *       *       *       *       *

The picture which I have drawn of the Church in its relations with the
people is perhaps too unrelieved in its blackness. All popes were not
like Innocent IV. and John XXII.; all bishops were not cruel and
licentious; all priests were not intent solely on impoverishing men and
dishonoring women. In many sees and abbeys, and in thousands of
parishes, doubtless, there were prelates and pastors earnestly seeking
to do God's work, and illuminate the darkened souls of their flocks with
such gospel light as the superstition of the time would permit. Yet the
evil was more apparent than the good; the humble workers passed away
unobtrusively, while pride and cruelty and lust and avarice were
demonstrative and far-reaching in their influence. Such as I have
depicted the Church it appeared to all the men of the time who had the
clearest insight and the loftiest aspirations; and its repulsiveness
must be understood by those who would understand the movements that
agitated Christendom.

No more unexceptionable witness as to the Church of the twelfth century
can be had than St. Bernard, and he is never weary of denouncing the
pride, the wickedness, the ambition, and the lust that reigned
everywhere. When fornication, adultery, incest, palled upon the
exhausted senses, a zest was sought in deeper depths of degradation. In
vain the cities of the plain were destroyed by the avenging fire of
heaven; the enemy has scattered their remains everywhere, and the Church
is infected with their accursed ashes. The Church is left poor and bare
and miserable, neglected and bloodless. Her children seek not to bedeck,
but to spoil her; not to guard her, but to destroy her; not to defend,
but to expose; not to institute, but to prostitute; not to feed the
flock, but to slay and devour it. They exact the price of sins and give
no thought to sinners. "Whom can you show me among the prelates who does
not seek rather to empty the pockets of his flock than to subdue their
vices?" St. Bernard's contemporary, Potho of Pruhm, in 1152, voices the
same complaints. The Church is rushing to ruin, and not a hand is raised
to stay its downward progress; there is not a single priest fitted to
rise up as a mediator between God and man and approach the divine throne
with an appeal for mercy.[41]

The papal legate, Cardinal Henry of Albano, in his Encyclical letter of
1188 to the prelates of Germany, is equally emphatic though less
eloquent. The triumph of the Prince of Darkness is to be expected in
view of the depravity of the clergy--their luxury, their gluttony, their
disregard of the fasts, their holding of pluralities, their hunting,
hawking, and gambling, their trading and their quarrels, and, chief of
all, their incontinence, whence the wrath of God is provoked to the
highest degree and the worst scandals are created between the clergy and
the people. Peter Cantor, about the same time, describes the Church as
filled to the mouth with the filth of temporalities, of avarice, and of
negligence, so that in these points it far surpasses the laity; and he
points out that nothing is more damaging to the Church than to see
laymen superior, as a class, to the clergy. Gilbert of Gemblours tells
the same tale. The prelates for the most part enter the Church not by
election, but by the use of money and the favor of princes; they enter,
not to feed, but to be fed; not to minister, but to be ministered to;
not to sow, but to reap; not to labor, but to rest; not to guard the
sheep from the wolves, but, fiercer than wolves, themselves to tear the
sheep. St. Hildegarda, in her prophecies, espouses the cause of the
people against the clergy. "The prelates are ravishers of the churches;
their avarice consumes all that it can acquire. With their oppressions
they make us paupers and contaminate us and themselves.... Is it fitting
that wearers of the tonsure should have greater store of soldiers and
arms than we? Is it becoming that a clerk should be a soldier and a
soldier a clerk?... God did not command that one son should have both
coat and cloak and that the other should go naked, but ordered the cloak
to be given to one and the coat to the other. Let the laity then have
the cloak on account of the cares of the world, and let the clergy have
the coat that they may not lack that which is necessary."[42]

One of the main objects in convoking the great Council of Lateran, in
1215, was the correction of the prevailing vices of the clergy, and it
adopted numerous canons looking to the suppression of the chief abuses,
but in vain. Those abuses were too deeply rooted, and four years later
Honorius III., in an Encyclical addressed to all the prelates of
Christendom, says that he has waited to see the result. He finds the
evils of the Church increasing rather than diminishing. The ministers of
the altar, worse than beasts wallowing in their dung, glory in their
sins, as in Sodom. They are a snare and a destruction to the people.
Many prelates consume the property committed to their trust and scatter
the stores of the sanctuary throughout the public places; they promote
the unworthy, waste the revenues of the Church on the wicked, and
convert the churches into conventicles of their kindred. Monks and nuns
throw off the yoke, break their chains, and render themselves
contemptible as dung. "Thus it is that heresies flourish. Let each of
you gird his sword to his thigh and spare not his brother and his
nearest kindred." What was accomplished by this earnest exhortation may
be estimated from the description which Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of
Lincoln, gave of the Church in the presence of Innocent IV. and his
cardinals in 1250. The details can well be spared, but they are summed
up in his assertion that the clergy were a source of pollution to the
whole earth; they were antichrists and devils masquerading as angels of
light, who made the house of prayer a den of robbers. When the earnest
inquisitor of Passau, about 1260, undertook to explain the stubbornness
of the heresy which he was vainly endeavoring to suppress, he did so by
drawing up a list of the crimes prevalent among the clergy, which is
awful in the completeness of its details. A church such as he describes
was an unmitigated curse, politically, socially, and morally.[43]

This is all ecclesiastical testimony. How the clergy were regarded by
the laity is illustrated in a remark by William of Puy-Laurens, that it
was a common phrase "I had rather be a priest than do that," just as one
might say "I had rather be a Jew." It is true that the priests had the
same contempt for the monks, for Emeric, Abbot of Anchin, tells us that
a clerk would never associate with any one whom he had once seen wearing
the black Benedictine habit. But priest and monk were both comprehended
in the general detestation of the people. Walther von der Vogelweide
sums up the popular appreciation of the whole ecclesiastical body, from
pope downward:

    "St. Peter's chair is filled to-day as well
      As when 'twas fouled by Gerbert's sorcery;
    For he consigned himself alone to hell,
      While this pope thither drags all Christentie.
    Why are the chastisements of Heaven delayed?
      How long wilt thou in slumber lie, O Lord?
    Thy work is hindered and thy word gainsaid,
      Thy treasurer steals the wealth that thou hast stored.
    Thy ministers rob here and murder there,
    And o'er thy sheep a wolf has shepherd's care."[44]

Walther's echo is heard from the other end of Europe in the Troubadour
Pierre Cardinal, who enlarges on the same theme in a manner to show how
popular were these invectives and how completely they expressed the
general feeling:

    "I see the pope his sacred trust betray,
    For, while the rich his grace can gain alway,
      His favors from the poor are aye withholden.
    He strives to gather wealth as best he may,
    Forcing Christ's people blindly to obey,
      So that he may repose in garments golden.
    The vilest traffickers in souls are all
    His chapmen, and for gold a prebend's stall
      He'll sell them, or an abbacy or mitre.
    And to us he sends clowns and tramps who crawl
    Vending his pardon briefs from cot to hall--
      Letters and pardons worthy of the writer,
      Which leave our pokes, if not our souls, the lighter.

    "No better is each honored cardinal.
    From early morning's dawn to evening's fall,
      Their time is passed in eagerly contriving
    To drive some bargain foul with each and all.
    So, if you feel a want, or great or small,
      Or if for some preferment you are striving,
    The more you please to give the more 'twill bring,
    Be it a purple cap or bishop's ring.
      And it need ne'er in any way alarm you
    That you are ignorant of everything
    To which a minister of Christ should cling,
      You will have revenue enough to warm you--
      And, bear in mind, that lesser gifts won't harm you.

    "Our bishops, too, are plunged in similar sin,
    For pitilessly they flay the very skin
      From all their priests who chance to have fat livings.
    For gold their seal official you can win
    To any writ, no matter what's therein.
      Sure God alone can make them stop their thievings.

    'Twere hard, in full, their evil works to tell,
    As when, for a few pence, they greedily sell
      The tonsure to some mountebank or jester,
    Whereby the temporal courts are wronged as well,
    For then these tonsured rogues they cannot quell,
      Howe'er their scampish doings may us pester,
      While round the church still growing evils fester.

    "Then as for all the priests and minor clerks,
    There are, God knows, too many of them whose works
      And daily life belie their daily preaching.
    Scarce better are they than so many Turks,
    Though they, no doubt, may be well taught--it irks
      Me not to own the fulness of their teaching--
    For, learned or ignorant, they're ever bent
    To make a traffic of each sacrament,
      The Mass's holy sacrifice included;
    And when they shrive an honest penitent,
    Who will not bribe, his penance they augment,
      For honesty should never be obtruded--
      But this, by sinners fair, is easily eluded.

    "Tis true the monks and friars make ample show
    Of rules austere which they all undergo,
      But this the vainest is of all pretences.
    In sooth, they live full twice as well, we know,
    As e'er they did at home, despite their vow,
      And all their mock parade of abstinences.
    No jollier life than theirs can be, indeed;
    And specially the begging friars exceed,
      Whose frock grants license as abroad they wander.
    These motives 'tis which to the Orders lead
    So many worthless men, in sorest need
      Of pelf, which on their vices they may squander,
      And then, the frock protects them in their plunder."[45]

It was inevitable that such a religion should breed dissidence and such
a priesthood provoke revolt.



The Church, which we have seen so far removed from its ideal and so
derelict in its duties, found itself, somewhat unexpectedly, confronted
by new dangers and threatened in the very citadel of its power. Just as
its triumph over king and kaiser was complete a new enemy arose in the
awakened consciousness of man. The dense ignorance of the tenth century,
which followed the evanescent Carlovingian civilization, had begun in
the eleventh to yield to the first faint pulsations of intellectual
movement. Early in the twelfth century that movement already shows in
its gathering force the promise of the development which was to render
Europe the home of art and science, of learning, culture, and
civilization. The stagnation of the human mind could not be thus broken
without leading to inquiry and to doubt. When men began to reason and to
ask questions, to criticise and to speculate on forbidden topics, it was
not possible for them to avoid seeing how woful was the contrast between
the teaching and the practice of the Church, and how little
correspondence existed between religion and ritual, between the lives of
monk and priest and the profession of their vows. Even the blind
reverence which for generations had been felt for the utterances of the
Church began to be shaken. Such a book as Abelard's "Sic et Non," in
which the contradictions of tradition and decretal were pitilessly set
forth, was not only an indication of mental disquiet ripening to
rebellion, but a fruitful source of future trouble in sowing the seeds
of further investigation and irreverence. Vainly, at the command of the
Roman curia, might Gratian seek to show, in his famous "Concordantia
Discordantium Canonum," that the contradictions might be reconciled, and
that the canon law was not merely a mass of clashing rules called forth
by special exigencies, but an harmonious body of spiritual law. The
fatal word had been spoken, and the efforts of the Glossators, of
Masters of Sentences, of Angelic Doctors, and of the innumerable crowd
of scholastic theologians and canon lawyers, with all their skilful
dialectics, could never restore to the minds of men the placid and
unbroken trust in the divine inspiration of the Church Militant. Few as
were the assailants as yet, and intermittent as were their attacks, the
very number of the defenders and the vigor of the defence show the
danger which was recognized as dwelling in the spirit of inquiry which
had at last been partially aroused from its long slumber.

That spirit had received a powerful impulse from the school of Toledo,
whither adventurous scholars flocked as to the fountain where they could
take long draughts of Arabic and Grecian and Jewish lore. Even in the
darkness of the tenth century Sylvester II., while yet plain Gerbert of
Aurillac, had acquired a sinister reputation as a magician, owing to his
asserted studies of forbidden science at that centre of intellectual
activity. Towards the middle of the twelfth century Robert de Rétines,
at the instance of Peter the Venerable of Cluny, laid aside for a while
his studies in astronomy and geometry, in order to translate the Koran,
and enable his patron to controvert the errors of Islam. The works of
Aristotle and Ptolemy, of Abubekr, Avicenna, and Alfarabi, and finally
those of Averrhoes, were rendered into Latin, and were copied with
incredible zeal in all the lands of Christendom. The Crusaders, too,
brought home with them fragmentary remains of ancient thought which met
with an equally warm reception. It is true that judicial astrology was
the chief subject of study and speculation among these new-found
treasures, but the earnestness with which more fruitful topics were
investigated and the danger which lurked in them are evidenced by the
repeated prohibitions of the works of Aristotle and the denunciations of
their use in the University of Paris. Even more menacing to the Church
was the revival of the Civil Law. Whether or not this was caused by the
discovery of the Pandects of Amalfi, the ardor with which it came, by
the middle of the twelfth century, to be studied in all the great
centres of learning is incontestable, and men found, to their surprise,
that there was a system of jurisprudence of wonderful symmetry and
subtle adjustment of right, immeasurably superior to the clumsy and
confused canon law and the barbarous feudal customs, while drawing its
authority from immutable justice as represented by the sovereign, and
not from canon or decretal, from pope or council, or even from Holy
Writ. The clearsightedness of St. Bernard was not in fault when, as
early as 1149, he recognized the danger to the Church, and complained
that the courts rang with the laws of Justinian rather than with those
of God.[46]

To understand fully the effect of this intellectual movement upon the
popular mind and heart, we must picture to ourselves a state of society
in many respects wholly unlike our own. It is not only that in civilized
lands settled institutions have rendered men more submissive to law and
custom, but the diffusion of intelligence and the training of
generations have brought them more under the control of reason and
rendered them less susceptible to impulse and emotion. Even in modern
times we have seen, in outbursts like the Revolution of '89, the
possibilities of popular frenzy when reason is dethroned by passion. Yet
the madness of the Reign of Terror is no unapt illustration of the
violent emotions to which mediæval populations were subject, for good or
for evil, giving occasion to the startling contrasts which render the
period so picturesque, and relieve the sordidness of its daily life with
splendid exhibitions of the loftiest enthusiasm or with hideous deeds of
brutality. Unaccustomed to restraint, vigorous manhood asserted itself
in all its greatness and its littleness, whether in wreaking cruel
vengeance upon the defenceless or in offering itself joyfully as a
sacrifice to humanity. Thrills of delirious emotion spread from land to
land, arousing the populations from their lethargy in blind attempts to
achieve they scarcely knew what--in crusades which bleached the sands of
Palestine with Christian bones, in wild excesses of flagellation, in
purposeless wanderings of the Pastoureaux. In the deep and hopeless
misery which oppressed the mass of the people there was an ever-present
feeling of unrest which constantly saw in the near future the coming of
Antichrist, the end of the world, and the Day of Judgment. In the
deplorable condition of society, torn with unceasing and savage
neighborhood-war and ground under the iron heel of feudalism, the common
man might indeed well imagine that the reign of Antichrist was ever
imminent, or might welcome any change which possibly might benefit, and
scarce could injure, his condition. The invisible world, moreover, with
its mysterious attraction and horrible fascination, was ever present and
real to every one. Demons were always around him, to smite him with
sickness, to ruin his pitiful little cornfield or vineyard, or to lure
his soul to perdition; while angels and saints were similarly ready to
help him, to listen to his invocations, and to intercede for him at the
throne of mercy, which he dared not to address directly. It was among a
population thus impressionable, emotional, and superstitious, slowly
awakening in the intellectual dawn, that orthodoxy and heterodoxy--the
forces of conservatism and progress--were to fight the battle in which
neither could win permanent victory.

It is a noteworthy fact, presaging the new form which modern
civilization and enlightenment were to assume, that the heresies which
were to shake the Church to its foundations were no longer, as of old,
mere speculative subtleties propounded by learned theologians and
prelates in the gradual evolution of Christian doctrine. We have not to
deal with men like Arius or Priscillian, or Nestorius or Eutyches,
scholars and prelates who filled the Church with the disputatious
wrangles of their learning. Hierarchical organization was too perfect,
and theological dogma too thoroughly petrified, to admit of this; and
the occasional deviations, real or assumed, of the schoolmen from
orthodoxy, as in the case of Berenger of Tours, of Abelard, of Gilbert
de la Porée, of Peter Lombard, of Folkmar von Trieffenstein, were
readily suppressed by the machinery of the establishment. Nor have we,
for the most part, to deal with the governing classes, for the alliance
between Church and State to keep the people in subjection had been
handed down from the Roman Empire, and however much monarchs like John
of England or Frederic II. had to complain of ecclesiastical
pretensions, they never dared to loosen the foundations on which rested
their own prerogatives. As a rule, heresy had to be thoroughly
disseminated among the people before those of gentle blood would meddle
with it, as we shall see in Languedoc and Lombardy. The blows which
brought real danger to the hierarchy came from obscure men, laboring
among the poor and oppressed, who, in their misery and degradation, felt
that the Church had failed in its mission, whether through the
worldliness of its ministers or through defects in its doctrine. Among
these lost sheep of Israel, like the Goim, whom, neglected and despised
by the rabbis, it was Christ's mission to bring into the fold, they
found ready and eager listeners, and the heresies which they taught
divide themselves naturally into two classes. On the one hand we have
sectaries holding fast to all the essentials of Christianity, with
antisacerdotalism as their mainspring, and on the other hand we have

In briefly reviewing these and their vicissitudes, it must be borne in
mind that, with scarce an exception, the authorities are exclusively
their antagonists and persecutors. Saving a few Waldensian tracts and a
single Catharan ritual, their literature has wholly perished. We are
left, for the most part, to gather their doctrines from those who wrote
to confute them or to excite popular odium against them, and we can only
learn their struggles and their fate from their ruthless exterminators.
I shall say no word in their praise that is not based upon the
admissions or accusations of their enemies; and if I reject some of the
abuse lavished upon them, it is because that abuse is so manifestly
conscious or unconscious exaggeration that it is deprived of all
historical value. In general, the _prima facie_ case may be assumed to
be in favor of those who were ready to endure persecution and face death
for the sake of what they believed to be truth; nor, in the existing
corruption of the Church, can it be imagined, as the orthodox
controversialists assumed, that any one would place himself outside of
the pale for the purpose of more freely indulging disorderly appetites.

The fact is, as we have seen, that the highest authorities in the Church
admitted that its scandals were the cause, if not the justification, of
heresy. An inquisitor who was actively engaged in its suppression
enumerates among the efficient agents in its dissemination the depraved
lives of the clergy, their ignorance, leading to the preaching of false
and frivolous things, their irreverence for the sacraments, and the
hatred commonly entertained for them. Another informs us that the
leading arguments of the heretics were drawn from the pride, the
avarice, and the unclean lives of clerks and prelates. All this,
according to Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, who laboriously confuted heterodoxy,
was exaggerated by false stories of miracles skilfully directed against
the observances of the Church and the weaknesses of its ministers; but
if so this was a work of surplusage, for nothing that the heretics could
invent was likely to be more appalling than the reality as stated by the
most resolute champions of the Church. Not many controversialists,
indeed, were capable of the frank assurance of the learned author of the
tract which passes under the name of Peter of Pilichdorf, in answering
the arguments of the heretics, that the Catholic priests were
fornicators and usurers and drunkards and dicers and forgers, by boldly
saying, "What then? They are none the less priests, and the worst of men
who is a priest is worthier than the most holy layman. Was not Judas
Iscariot, on account of his apostleship, worthier than Nathaniel, though
less holy?" The Troubadour Inquisitor Isarn only uttered a truth
generally recognized when he said that no believer would be misled into
Catharism or Waldensianism if he had a good pastor:

    "Ja no fara crezens heretje ni baudes
    Si agues bon pastor que lur contradisses."[47]

The antisacerdotal heresies were directed against the abuses in doctrine
and practice which priestcraft had invented to enslave the souls of men.
One feature common to them all was a revival of the Donatist tenet that
the sacraments are polluted in polluted hands, so that a priest living
in mortal sin is incapable of administering them. In the existing
condition of ecclesiastical morals this was destructive to the functions
of nearly the whole body of the priesthood, and its readiness as a means
of attack had been facilitated by the policy of the Holy See in its
efforts to suppress clerical marriage and concubinage. In 1059 the Synod
of Rome, under the impulsion of Nicholas II., had adopted a canon
forbidding any one to be present at the mass of a priest known to keep a
concubine or wife. This was inviting the flock to sit in judgment on the
pastor; and though it remained virtually a dead letter for fifteen
years, when it was revived and effectually put in force by Gregory
VII., in 1074, it produced immense confusion, for continent priests were
rare exceptions. So violent was the contest excited that, in 1077, at
Cambrai, the married or concubinary priesthood actually burned at the
stake an unfortunate who resolutely maintained the orthodoxy of the
papal rescripts. The orders of Gregory were reiterated by Innocent II.
as late as the Council of Reims, in 1131, and in that of Lateran, in
1139, and Gratian embodied the whole series in the canon law, where they
still remain. Although Urban II. had endeavored to point out that it was
merely a matter of discipline, and that the virtue of the sacraments
remained unaltered in the hands of the worst of men, still it was
difficult for the popular mind to recognize so subtle a distinction. A
learned theologian like Geroch of Reichersperg might safely declare that
he paid no more attention to the masses of concubinary priests than if
they were those of so many pagans, and yet be unimpeached in his
orthodoxy, but to minds less robust in faith the question presented
insoluble difficulties. Albero, a priest of Mercke, near Cologne,
shortly afterwards, when he taught that the consecration of the host was
imperfect in sinful hands, was forced, by the unanimous testimony of the
Fathers, to recant; but he adopted the theory that such sacraments were
profitable to those who took them in ignorance of the wickedness of the
celebrant, while they were useless to the dead and to those who were
cognizant of the sin. This was likewise heretical, and Albero's offer to
prove its orthodoxy by undergoing the ordeal of fire was rejected on the
logical ground that sorcery might thus enable false doctrine to triumph.
The question continued to plague the Church until, about 1230, Gregory
IX. abandoned the position of his predecessors, and undertook to settle
it by an authoritative decision that every priest in mortal sin is
suspended, as far as concerns himself, until he repents and is absolved,
yet his offices are not to be avoided, because he is not suspended as
regards others, unless the sin is notorious by judicial confession or
sentence, or by evidence so clear that no tergiversation is possible. To
the Church it was, of course, impossible to admit that the virtue of the
sacrament depended upon the virtue of the ministrant, but these
fine-drawn distinctions show how the question troubled the minds of the
faithful, and how readily the heresy could suggest itself that
transubstantiation might fail in the hands of the wicked. In fact, even
without the suggestive commands of Gregory and Innocent, to a thoughtful
and pious mind there was a grievous incompatibility between the awful
powers vested by the Church in her ministers and the flagitious lives
which disgraced so many of them. That the error should be stubborn was
unavoidable. As late as 1396 it was taught by Jean de Varennes, a priest
of the Remois, who was forced to recant, and in 1458 we find Alonso de
Spina declaring it to be common to the Waldenses, the Wickliffites, and
the Hussites.[48]

       *       *       *       *       *

One or two of the earlier antisacerdotal heresies may be mentioned which
were local and temporary in their character, but which yet have interest
as showing how ready were the lower ranks of the people to rise in
revolt against the Church, and how contagious was the enthusiasm excited
by any leader bold enough to voice the general feeling of unrest and
discontent. About 1108, in the Zeeland Isles, there appeared a preacher
named Tanchelm, who seems to have been an apostate monk, subtle and
skilled in disputation. He taught the nullity of all hierarchical
dignities, from pope to simple clerk, that the Eucharist was polluted in
unworthy hands, and that tithes were not to be paid. The people listened
eagerly, and after filling all Flanders with his heresy, he found in
Antwerp an appropriate centre of influence. Although that city was
already populous and wealthy through commerce, it had but a single
priest, and he, involved in an incestuous union with a near relative,
had neither leisure nor inclination for his duties. A people thus
destitute of orthodox instruction fell an easy prey to the tempter and
eagerly followed him, reverencing him to that degree that the water in
which he bathed was distributed and preserved as a relic. He readily
raised a force of three thousand fighting men, with which he dominated
the land, nor was there duke or bishop who dared withstand him. The
stories that he pretended to be God and the equal of Jesus Christ, and
that he celebrated his marriage with the Virgin Mary, may safely be
rejected as the embroideries of frightened clerks; nor could Tanchelm
have really considered himself as a heretic, for we find him visiting
Rome with a few followers for the purpose of obtaining a division of the
extensive see of Utrecht and the allotment of a portion of it to the
episcopate of Terouane. On his return from Rome, in 1112, while passing
through Cologne, he and his retinue were thrown in prison by the
archbishop, who the next year summoned a synod to sit in judgment on
them. Several of them purged themselves by the water-ordeal, while
others succeeded in escaping by flight. Of these, three were burned at
Bonn, preferring a frightful death to abandoning their faith, while
Tanchelm himself reached Bruges in safety. The anathema which had been
pronounced against him, however, had impaired his credit, and the clergy
of Bruges had little difficulty in procuring his ejectment. Yet Antwerp
remained faithful, and he continued his missionary career until 1115,
when, being in a boat with but few followers, a zealous priest piously
knocked him on the head, and his soul went to rejoin its master, Satan.
Even this did not suppress the effect of his teaching and his heresy
continued to flourish. In vain the bishop gave twelve assistants to the
lonely priest of St. Michael's in Antwerp; it was not until 1126, when
St. Norbert, the ardent ascetic who founded the Premonstratensian order,
was placed in charge of the city with his followers, and undertook to
evangelize it with his burning eloquence, that the people could be
brought back to the faith. St. Norbert built other churches and filled
them with disciples zealous as himself, and the stubborn heretics were
docile enough to pastors who taught by example as well as by words their
sympathy for those who had so long been neglected. Consecrated hosts
which had lain hidden for fifteen years in chinks and corners were
brought forth by pious souls, and the heresy vanished without leaving a

Somewhat similar was the heresy propagated not long afterwards in
Brittany by Éon de l'Étoile, except that in this case the heresiarch was
unquestionably insane. Sprung from a noble family, he had gained a
reputation for sanctity by the life of a hermit in the wilderness, when,
from the words of the collect, "per _eum_ qui venturus est judicare
vivos et mortuos," he conceived the idea that he was the Son of God. It
was not difficult to find sharers in this belief who adored him as the
Deity incarnate, and he soon had a numerous band of followers, with
whose aid he pillaged the churches of their ill-used treasures, and
distributed them to the poor. The heresy became sufficiently formidable
to induce the legate, Cardinal Alberic of Ostia, to preach against it at
Nantes in 1145, and Ilugues, Archbishop of Rouen, to combat it with
dreary polemics; but the most convincing argument used was the soldiery
despatched against the heretics, many of whom were captured and burned
at Alet, refusing obstinately to recant. Éon retired to Aquitaine for a
season, but in 1148 he ventured to appear in Champagne, where he was
seized with his followers by Samson, Archbishop of Reims, and brought
before Eugenius III. at the Council of Rouen. Here his insanity was so
manifest that he was charitably consigned to the care of Suger, Abbot of
St. Denis, where he soon after died, but many of his disciples were
stubborn, and preferred the stake to recantation.[50]

       *       *       *       *       *

More durable and more formidable were the heresies which about the same
time took stubborn root in the south of France, where the condition of
society was especially favorable for their propagation. There the
population and civilization were wholly different from those of the
north. The first wave of the Aryan invasion of Europe had driven to the
Mediterranean littoral the ancient Ligurian inhabitants, who had left
abundant traces of their race in the swarthy skins and black hair of
their descendants. Greek and Phœnician colonies had still further
crossed the blood. Gothic domination had been long continued, and the
Merovingian conquest had scarce given to the Frank a foothold in the
soil. Even Saracenic elements were not wanting to make up the strange
admixture of races which rendered the citizen of Narbonne or Marseilles
so different a being from the inhabitant of Paris--quite as different as
the Langue d'Oc from the Langue d'Oyl. The feudal tie which bound the
Count of Toulouse, or the Marquis of Provence, or the Duke of Aquitaine
to the King of Paris or the Emperor was but feeble, and when the last
named fief was carried by Eleanor to Henry II., the rival pretensions of
England and France preserved the virtual independence of the great
feudatories of the South, leading to antagonisms of which we shall see
the full fruits in the Albigensian crusades.

The contrast of civilization was as marked as that of race. Nowhere in
Europe had culture and luxury made such progress as in the south of
France. Chivalry and poetry were assiduously cultivated by the nobles;
and, even in the cities, which had acquired for themselves a large
measure of freedom, and which were enriched by trade and commerce, the
citizens boasted a degree of education and enlightenment unknown
elsewhere. Nowhere in Europe, moreover, were the clergy more negligent
of their duties or more despised by the people. There was little
earnestness of religious conviction among either prelates or nobles to
stimulate persecution, so that there was considerable freedom of belief.
In no other Christian land did the despised Jew enjoy such privileges.
His right to hold land in _franc-alleu_ was similar to that of the
Christian; he was admitted to public office, and his administrative
ability rendered him a favorite in such capacity with both prelate and
noble; his synagogues were undisturbed; and the Hebrew school of
Narbonne was renowned in Israel as the home of the Kimchis. Under such
influences, those who really possessed religious convictions were but
little deterred by prejudice or the fear of persecution from criticising
the shortcomings of the Church, or from seeking what might more nearly
respond to their aspirations.[51]

It was in such a population as this that the first antisacerdotal heresy
was preached in Vallonise about 1106, by Pierre de Bruys, a native of
the diocese of Embrun. The prelates of Embrun, Gap, and Die endeavored
in vain to stay his progress until they procured assistance from the
king, when he was driven out and took refuge in Gascony. For twenty
years he continued his mission, and the openness and success with which
he taught is shown by the story that in one place, to show his contempt
for the objects of sacerdotal veneration, he caused a great pile of
consecrated crosses to be accumulated, and then, setting fire to them,
deliberately roasted meat at the flames. Persecution at length became
more active, and about the year 1126 he was seized and burned at St.

His teaching was simply antisacerdotal--to some extent a revival of the
errors of Claudius of Turin. Pædo-baptism was useless, for the faith of
another cannot help him who cannot use his own--a far-reaching
proposition, fraught with immeasurable consequences. For the same reason
offerings, alms, masses, prayers and other good works for the dead are
useless and each will be judged on his own merits. Churches are
unnecessary and should be destroyed, for holy places are not wanted for
Christian prayer, since God listens to those who deserve it, whether
invoked in church or tavern, in temple or market-place, before the altar
or before the stable; and the Church of God does not consist of a
multitude of stones piled together, but in the united congregation of
the faithful. As for the cross, as a senseless thing it is not to be
invoked with foolish prayers, but is rather to be destroyed as the
instrument on which Christ was cruelly tortured to death. His most
serious error, however, was his rejection of the Eucharist.
Transubstantiation had not yet had time to become immovably fixed in the
perceptions of all men, and Pierre de Bruys went even further than
Berenger of Tours. His only recorded utterance is his vigorous rejection
of the sacrament: "O people, believe not the bishops, the priests, and
the clerks, who, as in much else, seek to deceive you as to the office
of the altar, where they lyingly pretend to make the body of Christ and
give it to you for the salvation of your souls. They plainly lie, for
the body of Christ was but once made by Christ in the supper before the
Passion, and but once given to the disciples. Since then it has been
never made and never given."[52]

There was evidently nothing to do with such a man but to burn him, but
even this did not suffice to suppress his heresy. The Petrobrusians
continued to diffuse his doctrines, secretly or openly, and, some five
or six years after his death, Peter the Venerable of Cluny considered
them still so formidable as to require his controversial tract, to which
we are indebted for almost all we know about the sect. This is dedicated
to the bishops of Embrun, Arles, Die, and Gap, and urges them to renewed
efforts for the suppression of the heresy by preaching and by the arms
of the laity.

All their efforts might well be needed, for Peter was succeeded by a yet
more formidable heresiarch. Little is known of the earlier life of
Henry, the Monk of Lausanne, except that he left his convent there under
circumstances for which St. Bernard afterwards reproached him, but which
may well have been but the first ebullition of the reformatory spirit to
which he finally fell a victim. We next hear of him at Le Mans, perhaps
as early as 1116, but the dates are uncertain. Here his austerities
gained him the veneration of the people, which he turned with disastrous
effect upon the clergy. We know little of his doctrines at this time,
except that he rejected the invocation of saints, but we are told that
his eloquence was so persuasive that under its influence women abandoned
their jewels and sumptuous apparel, and young men married courtesans to
reclaim them. While thus teaching asceticism and charity, he so lashed
the vices of the Church that the clergy throughout the diocese would
have been destroyed but for the active protection of the nobles. Henry
had taken advantage of the absence in Rome of the bishop, the celebrated
Hildebert of Le Mans, who, on his return, overcame the heretic in
disputation and forced him to abandon the field, but could not punish
him. We have glimpses of his activity in Poitiers and Bordeaux, and then
lose sight of him till we find him a prisoner of the Archbishop of
Arles, who took him to the presence of Innocent II. at the Council of
Pisa, in 1134. Here he was convicted of heresy and condemned to
imprisonment, but was subsequently released and sent back to his
convent, whence he departed with the intention of entering the strict
Cistercian order at Clairvaux. What led to his resuming his heretical
mission we do not know, but we meet him again, bolder than before,
adopting substantially the Petrobrusian tenets, rejecting the Eucharist,
refusing all reverence for the priesthood, all tithes, oblations, and
other sources of ecclesiastical revenue, and all attendance at church.

The scene of this activity was southern France, where the embers of
Petrobrusianism were ready to be kindled into flame. His success was
immense. In 1147 St. Bernard despairingly describes the condition of
religion in the extensive territories of the Count of Toulouse: "The
churches are without people, the people without priests, the priests
without the reverence due them, and Christians without Christ. The
churches are regarded as synagogues, the sanctuary of the Lord is no
longer holy; the sacraments are no more held sacred; feast days are
without solemnities; men die in their sins, and their souls are hurried
to the dread tribunal, neither reconciled by penance nor fortified by
the holy communion. The little ones of Christ are debarred from life
since baptism is denied them. The voice of a single heretic silences all
those apostolic and prophetic voices which have united in calling all
the nations into the Church of Christ." The prelates of southern France
were powerless to arrest the progress of the bold heresiarch, and
imploringly appealed for assistance. The nobles would not aid them, for,
like the people, they hated the clergy and were glad of the excuses
which Henry's doctrines gave them for spoiling and oppressing the
Church. The papal legate, Alberic, was summoned, and he prevailed upon
St. Bernard to accompany him with Geoffrey, Bishop of Chartres, and
other men of mark. Though St. Bernard was sick, the perilous condition
of the tottering establishment aroused all his zeal, and he
unflinchingly undertook the mission. What was the condition of popular
feeling and how boldly it dared to express itself may be gathered from
the reception of the legate at Albi, where the people went forth to meet
him with asses and drums in sign of derision, and when they were
convoked to be present at his celebration of mass scarcely thirty
attended. If we may believe the accounts of his disciples, the success
of Bernard was immense. His reputation had preceded him, and it was
heightened by the stories of miracles which he daily performed, no less
than by his burning eloquence and skill in disputation. Crowds flocked
to hear him preach, and were converted. At Albi, two days after the
miserable failure of the legate, St. Bernard arrived, and the cathedral
was scarcely able to hold the multitude which assembled to listen to
him. On the conclusion of his discourse he adjured them: "Repent, then,
all ye who have been contaminated. Return to the Church; and that we may
know who repents, let each penitent raise his right hand"--and every
hand was raised. Scarce less effective was his rejoinder when, after
preaching to an immense assemblage, he mounted his horse to depart and a
hardened heretic, thinking to confuse him, said, "My lord abbot, our
heretic, of whom you think so ill, has not a horse so fat and spirited
as yours." "Friend," replied the saint, "I deny it not. The horse eats
and grows fat for itself, for it is but a brute and by nature given to
its appetites, whereby it offends not God. But before the judgment seat
of God I and your master will not be judged by horse's necks, but each
by his own neck. Now, then, look at my neck and see if it is fatter than
your master's, and if you can justly reprehend me." Then he threw down
his cowl and displayed his neck, long and thin and wasted by maceration
and austerities, to the confusion of the misbelievers. If he failed to
make converts at Verfeil, where a hundred knights refused to listen to
him, he at least had the satisfaction of cursing them, which we are
assured caused them all to perish miserably.

St. Bernard challenged Henry to a disputation, which the prudent heretic
declined, whether through fear of his antagonist's eloquence or a
reasonable regard for the safety of his own person. It mattered little
which, for his refusal discredited him in the eyes of many of the nobles
who had hitherto protected him, and thenceforth he was obliged to lie in
hiding. Orthodoxy took heart and was soon on his track: he was captured
the next year and brought in chains before his bishop. His end is not
known, but he is presumed to have died in prison.[53]

We hear no more of the Henricians as a definite sect, though in 1151 a
young girl, miraculously inspired by the Virgin Mary, is said to have
converted many of them, and they probably continued to exist throughout
Languedoc, furnishing material in the next generation for the spread of
the Waldenses. We have scanty indications, however, in widely separated
places, of the existence of sectaries probably Henrician, showing how,
in spite of persecution, the antisacerdotal spirit continued to manifest
itself. Contemporary with St. Bernard's mission to Languedoc is a letter
addressed to him by Evervin, Provost of Steinfeld, imploring his aid
against heretics recently discovered at Cologne--some Manichæans and
others, evidently Henricians, who had betrayed themselves by their
mutual quarrels. These Henricians boasted that their sect was numerously
scattered throughout all the lands of Christendom, and their zeal is
shown by an allusion to those among their number who perished at the
stake. Probably Henrician, too, were heretics who infested Perigord
under a teacher named Pons, whose austerities and external holiness drew
to them numerous adherents, including nobles and priests, monks and
nuns. Besides the antisacerdotal tenets described above, these
enthusiasts anticipated St. Francis in proclaiming poverty to be
essential to salvation and in refusing to receive money. The impression
which they produced upon a worldly generation is shown by the marvellous
legends which grew around them. They courted persecution and sought for
persecutors who should slay them, yet they could not be punished, for
their master, Satan, liberated them from chains and prison. Thus if one
should be fettered hand and foot and placed under an inverted hogshead
watched by guards, he would disappear until it pleased him to return. We
know nothing as to the fate of Pons and his disciples, but their numbers
and activity were a manifestation of the pervading disquiet and yearning
for a change.[54]

       *       *       *       *       *

Arnald of Brescia's heresy was much more limited in its scope. A pupil
of Abelard, he was accused of sharing his master's errors, and
incorrect notions respecting pædo-baptism and the Eucharist were
attributed to him. Whatever may have been his theological aberrations,
his real offence was the energetic way in which he lashed the vices of
the clergy and stimulated the laity to repossess the ample wealth and
extended privileges which the Church had acquired. Profoundly convinced
that the evils of Christendom arose from the worldliness of the
ecclesiastical body, he taught that the Church should hold neither
temporal possessions nor jurisdiction, and should confine itself rigidly
to its spiritual functions. Of austere and commanding virtue,
irreproachable in his self-denying life, trained in all the learning of
the schools, and gifted with rare persuasive eloquence, he became the
terror of the hierarchy, and found the laity ready enough to listen and
to act upon doctrines which satisfied their worldly aspirations as well
as their spiritual longings. The second Lateran Council, in 1139,
endeavored to suppress the revolt which he excited in the Lombard cities
by condemning and imposing silence on him; he refused obedience, and the
next year Innocent II., in approving the proceedings of the Council of
Sens, included him in the condemnation of Abelard, and ordered both to
be imprisoned and their writings burned. Arnald had fled from Italy to
France, and now he was driven to Switzerland, where we find his restless
activity at work in Constance and then in Zurich, pursued by the
sleepless watchfulness of St. Bernard. According to the latter, his
conquests over souls in Switzerland were rapid, for his teeth were arms
and arrows, and his tongue was a sharp sword. After the death of
Innocent II. he returned to Rome, where he seems to have been reconciled
to Eugenius III. in 1145 or 1146. The new pope, speedily wearied with
the turbulence of the city which had exhausted his predecessors,
abandoned it and finally sought refuge in France. Arnald was not idle in
these movements, and was generally held responsible for them. Vain were
the remonstrances of St. Bernard to the Roman commonalty, and equally
vain his appeals to the Emperor Conrad to restore the papal power by
force. At the same time Conrad treated with disdain envoys sent by the
Roman republic, protesting that their object was to restore the imperial
supremacy as it had existed under the Cæsars, and inviting him to come
and assume the empire of Italy. Eugenius, on his return to Italy, in
1148, issued from Brescia a condemnation of Arnald, directed especially
to his supporters among the Roman clergy, who were threatened with
deprivation of preferment; but the citizens stood firm, and the pope was
only allowed to return to his city on condition of allowing Arnald to
remain there. After the death of Conrad III., in 1152, Eugenius III.
hastened to win the support of the new King of the Romans, Frederic
Barbarossa, by intimating that Arnald and his partisans were conspiring
to elect another emperor and make the empire Roman in fact as well as in
name. The papal favor seemed necessary to Frederic to secure his coveted
coronation and recognition. Blindly overlooking the irreconcilable
antagonism between the temporal and spiritual swords, he cast his
fortunes with the pope, swore to subdue for him the rebellious city and
regain for him the territory of which he had been deprived; while
Eugenius, on his side, promised to crown him when he should invade
Italy, and to use freely the artillery of excommunication for the
abasement of his enemies. The domination of the Roman populace has not
been wholly moderate and peaceful. In more than one emeute the palaces
of noble and cardinal had been sacked and destroyed and their persons
maltreated, and at length, in 1154, in some popular uprising, the
cardinal of Santa Pudenziana was slain. Adrian IV., the masterful
Englishman who had recently ascended the papal throne, took advantage of
the opportunity and set the novel example of laying an interdict on the
capital of Christianity until Arnald should be expelled from the city;
the fickle populace, dismayed at the deprivation of the sacrament,
indispensable to all Christians at the approaching Easter solemnities,
were withdrawn from his support, and he retired to the castle of a
friendly baron of the Campagna. The next year Frederic reached Rome,
after entering into engagements with Adrian which included the sacrifice
of Arnald, and he lost no time in performing his share of the bargain.
Arnald's protectors were summoned to surrender him, and were obliged to
obey. For the cruel ending the Church sought to shirk the
responsibility, but there would seem to be no reasonable doubt that he
was regularly condemned by a spiritual tribunal as a heretic, for he was
in holy orders, and could be tried only by the Church, after which he
was handed over to the secular arm for punishment. He was offered pardon
if he would recant his erroneous doctrines, but he persistently refused,
and passed his last moments in silent prayer. Whether or not he was
mercifully hanged before being reduced to ashes is perhaps doubtful, but
those ashes were cast into the Tiber to prevent the people of Rome from
preserving them as relics and honoring him as a martyr. It was not long
before Frederic had ample cause to repent the loss of an ally who might
have saved him from the bitter humiliation of his surrender to Alexander

Though the immediate influence of Arnald of Brescia was evanescent, his
career has its importance as a manifestation of the temper with which
the more spiritually minded received the encroachments and corruption of
the Church. Yet, though he failed in his attempt to revolutionize
society, and perished through miscalculating the tremendous forces
arrayed against him, his sacrifice was not wholly in vain. His teachings
left a deep impress in the minds of the population, and his followers in
secret cherished his memory and his principles for centuries. It was not
without a full knowledge of the position that the Roman curia scattered
his ashes in the Tiber, dreading the effect of the veneration which the
people felt for their martyr. Secret associations of Arnaldistas were
formed who called themselves "Poor Men," and adopted the tenet that the
sacraments could only be administered by virtuous men. In 1184 we find
them condemned by Lucius III. at the so-called Council of Verona; about
1190 they are alluded to by Bonaccorsi, and even until the sixteenth
century their name occurs in the lists of heresies proscribed in
successive bulls and edicts. Yet the complete oblivion into which they
fell is seen in the learned glossator Johannes Andreas, who died in
1348, remarking that perhaps the name of the sect may be derived from
some one who founded it. When Peter Waldo of Lyons endeavored, in more
pacific wise, to carry out the same views, and his followers grew into
the "Poor Men of Lyons," the Italian brethren were ready to welcome the
new reformers and to co-operate with them. Though there were some
unimportant points of difference between the two schools, yet their
resemblance was so great that they virtually coalesced; they were
usually confounded by the Church, and were enveloped in a common
anathema. Closely connected with them were the Umiliati, described as
wandering laymen who preached and heard confessions, to the great
scandal of the priesthood, but who were yet not strictly heretics.[56]

       *       *       *       *       *

Far greater in importance and more durable in results was the
antisacerdotal movement unconsciously set on foot by Peter Waldo of
Lyons, in the second half of the twelfth century. He was a rich
merchant, unlearned, but eager to acquire the truths of Scripture, to
which end he caused the translation into Romance of the New Testament
and a collection of extracts from the Fathers, known as "Sentences."
Diligently studying these, he learned them by heart, and arrived at the
conviction that nowhere was the apostolic life observed as commanded by
Christ. Striving for evangelical perfection, he gave his wife the choice
between his real estate and his movables. On her selecting the former,
he sold the latter; portioned his two daughters, and placed them in the
Abbey of Fontevraud, and distributed the rest of the proceeds among the
poor then suffering from a famine. It is related that after this he
begged for bread of an acquaintance who promised to support him during
his life, and this coming to the ears of his wife, she appealed to the
archbishop, who ordered him in future to accept food only from her.
Devoting himself to preaching the gospel through the streets and by the
wayside, admiring imitators of both sexes sprang up around him, whom he
despatched as missionaries to the neighboring towns. They entered
houses, announcing the gospel to the inmates; they preached in the
churches, they discoursed in the public places, and everywhere they
found eager listeners, for, as we have seen, the negligence and
indolence of the clergy had rendered the function of preaching almost a
forgotten duty. According to the fashion of the time, they speedily
adopted a peculiar form of dress, including, in imitation of the
apostles, a sandal with a kind of plate upon it, whence they acquired
the name of the "Shoed," Insabbatati, or Zaptati--though the appellation
which they bestowed upon themselves was that of Li Poure de Lyod, or
Poor Men of Lyons.[57]

It was not possible that ignorant zeal could thus undertake the office
of religious instruction without committing errors which acute
theologians could detect. It is not likely, moreover, that it would
spare the vices and crimes of the clergy in summoning the faithful to
repentance and salvation. Complaint speedily arose of the scandals which
the new evangelists disseminated, and the Archbishop of Lyons, Jean aux
Bellesmains, summoned them before him, and prohibited them from further
preaching. They disobeyed and were excommunicated. Peter Waldo then
appealed to the pope (probably Alexander III.), who approved his vow of
poverty and authorized him to preach when permitted by the priests--a
restriction which was observed for a time and then disregarded. The
obstinate Poor Men gradually put forward one dangerous tenet after
another, while their attacks upon the clergy became sharper and sharper;
yet as late as the year 1179 they came before the Council of Lateran,
submitted their version of the Scriptures, and asked for license to
preach. Walter Mapes, who was present, ridicules their ignorant
simplicity, and chuckles over his own shrewdness in confusing them when
he was delegated to examine their theological acquirements, yet he bears
emphatic testimony to their holy poverty and zeal in imitating the
apostles and following Christ. Again they applied to Rome for authority
to found an order of preachers, but Lucius III. objected to their
sandals, to their monkish copes, and to the companionship of men and
women in their wandering life. Finding them obstinate, he finally
anathematized them at the Council of Verona in 1184, but they still
refused to abandon their mission, or even to consider themselves as
separated from the Church. Though again condemned in a council held at
Narbonne, they agreed, about 1190, to take the chances of a disputation
held in the Cathedral of Narbonne, with Raymond of Daventer, a religious
and God-fearing Catholic, as judge. Of course the decision went against
them, and of course they were as little inclined as before to submit,
but the colloquy has an interest as showing what progress at that period
they had made in dissidence from Rome. The six points on which the
argument was held were, 1st. That they refused obedience to the
authority of pope and prelate; 2d. That all, even laymen, can preach;
3d. That, according to the apostles, God is to be obeyed rather than
man; 4th. That women may preach; 5th. That masses, prayers, and alms for
the dead are of no avail, with the addition that some of them denied the
existence of purgatory; and 6th. That prayer in bed, or in a chamber, or
in a stable, is as efficacious as in a church.[58] All this was
rebellion against sacerdotalism rather than actual heresy; but we learn,
about the same period, from the "Universal Doctor," Alain de l'Isle,
who, at the request of Lucius III., wrote a tract for their refutation,
that they were prepared to carry these principles to their legitimate
but dangerous conclusions, and that they added various other doctrines
at variance with the teachings of the Church.

Good prelates, they held, who led apostolic lives, were to be obeyed,
and to them alone was granted the power to bind and loose--which was
striking a mortal blow at the whole organization of the Church. Merit,
and not ordination, conferred the power to consecrate and bless, to bind
and to loose; every one, therefore, who led an apostolic life had this
power, and as they assumed that they all led such a life, it followed
that they, although laymen, could execute all the functions of the
priesthood. It likewise followed that the ministrations of sinful
priests were invalid, though at first the French Waldenses were not
willing to admit this, while the Italians boldly affirmed it. A further
error was, that confession to a layman was as efficacious as to a
priest, which was a serious attack upon the sacrament of penitence;
though, as yet, the Fourth Council of Lateran had not made priestly
confession indispensable, and Alain is willing to admit that in the
absence of a priest, confession to a layman is sufficient. The system
of indulgences was another of the sacerdotal devices which they
rejected; and they added three specific rules of morality which became
distinctive characteristics of the sect. Every lie is a mortal sin;
every oath, even in a court of justice, is unlawful; and homicide is
under no circumstances to be permitted, whether in war or in execution
of judicial sentences. This necessarily involved non-resistance,
rendering the Waldenses dangerous only from such moral influence as they
could acquire. Even as late as 1217, a well-informed contemporary
assures us that the four chief errors of the Waldenses were, their
wearing sandals after the fashion of the apostles, their prohibition of
oaths and of homicide, and their assertion that any member of the sect,
if he wore sandals, could in case of necessity consecrate the

All this was a simple-hearted endeavor to obey the commands of Christ
and make the gospel an actual standard for the conduct of daily life;
but these principles, if universally adopted, would have reduced the
Church to a condition of apostolic poverty, and would have swept away
much of the distinction between priest and layman. Besides, the
sectaries were inspired with the true missionary spirit; their
proselyting zeal knew no bounds; they wandered from land to land
promulgating their doctrines, and finding everywhere a cordial response,
especially among the lower classes, who were ready enough to embrace a
dogma that promised to release them from the vices and oppression of the
clergy. We are told that one of their chief apostles carried with him
various disguises, appearing now as a cobbler, then as a barber, and
again as a peasant, and though this may have been, as alleged, for the
purpose of eluding capture, it shows the social stratum to which their
missions were addressed. The Poor Men of Lyons multiplied with
incredible rapidity throughout Europe; the Church became seriously
alarmed, and not without reason, for an ancient document of the
sectaries shows a tradition among them that under Waldo, or immediately
afterwards, their councils had an average attendance of about seven
hundred members present. Not long after the Colloquy of Narbonne, in
1194, the note of persecution was sounded by Alonso II. of Aragon, in an
edict which is worthy of note as the first secular legislation, with the
exception of the Assizes of Clarendon, in the modern world against
heresy. The Waldenses and all other heretics anathematized by the Church
are ordered, as public enemies, to quit his dominions by the day after
All-Saints'. Any one who receives them on his lands, listens to their
preaching, or gives them food shall incur the penalties of treason, with
confiscation of all his goods and possessions. The decree is to be
published by all pastors on Sundays, and all public officials are
ordered to enforce it. Any heretic remaining after three days' notice of
the law can be despoiled by any one, and any injury inflicted on him,
short of death or mutilation, so far from being an offence, shall be
regarded as meriting the royal favor. The ferocious atrocity of these
provisions, which rendered the heretic an outlaw, which condemned him in
advance, and which exposed him without a trial to the cupidity or malice
of every man, was exceeded three years later by Alonso's son, Pedro II.
In a national council of Girona, in 1197, he renewed his father's
legislation, adding the penalty of the stake for the heretic. If any
noble failed to eject these enemies of the Church, the officials and
people of the diocese were ordered to proceed to his castle and seize
them without responsibility for any damages committed, and any one
failing to join in the foray was subjected to the heavy fine of twenty
pieces of gold to the royal fisc. Moreover, all officials were
commanded, within eight days after summons, to present themselves before
their bishop, or his representative, and take an oath to enforce the

The character of this legislation reveals the spirit in which Church
and State were prepared to deal with the intellectual and spiritual
movement of the time. Harmless as the Waldenses might seem to be, they
were recognized as most dangerous enemies, to be mercilessly persecuted.
In southern France they were devoted to common destruction with the
Albigenses, though the distinction between the sects was clearly
recognized. The documents of the Inquisition constantly refer to "heresy
and Waldensianism," designating Catharism by the former term as the
heresy _par excellence_. The Waldenses themselves regarded the Cathari
as heretics to be combated intellectually, though the persecution which
they shared forced them to associate freely together.[61]

In a sect so widely scattered, from Aragon to Bohemia, consisting mostly
of poor and simple folk, hiding their belief in the lowlands, or
dwelling in separate communities among the mountain fastnesses of the
Cottian Alps or of Calabria, it was inevitable that differences of
organization and doctrine should arise, and that there should be
variations in the rapidity of independent development. The labors of
Dieckhoff, Herzog, and especially of Montet in recent times, have shown
that the early Waldenses were not Protestants in our modern sense, and
that, in spite of persecution, many of them long continued to regard
themselves as members of the Church of Rome, with a persistence proving
how real were the abuses which had forced them to schism, and finally to
heresy. Yet, in others, the spirit of revolt ripened much more rapidly,
and it is impossible, within our limited space, to present a definite
scheme of a doctrine which differed in so many points according to time
and circumstance.

In the crucial test of belief in transubstantiation, for instance, as
early as the thirteenth century, an experienced inquisitor, in drawing
up instructions for the examination of Waldenses, assumes disbelief in
the existence of the body and blood in the Eucharist as one of the
points whereby to detect them, and in 1332 we hear of such a denial
among the Waldenses of Savoy. Yet about this latter date Bernard Gui
assures us that they believed in it, and M. Montet has shown from their
successive writings how their views on the subject changed. The
inquisitor who burned the Waldenses of Cologne in 1392 tells us that
they denied transubstantiation, but they added, that if it occurred it
could not be wrought in the hands of a sinful priest. So it was with
regard to purgatory--which for a long while was regarded as an open
question, to be definitely decided in the negative by the close of the
fourteenth century--together with the suffrages of the saints, the
invocation of the Virgin, and the other devices of which it was the
excuse. The antisacerdotalism in which the sect took its rise,
naturally, in its development, tended to do away with all that
interposed mediators between God and man, although this progress was by
no means uniform. The Waldenses burned in Strassburg, in 1212, rejected
all distinction between the laity and the priesthood. In Lombardy, about
the same time, the community elected ministers either temporary or for
life. Both the French and Lombard Waldenses of this period held that the
Eucharist could only be made by an ordained priest, though they differed
as to the necessity of his not being in mortal sin. Bernard Gui speaks
of three orders among them--deacons, priests, and bishops; M. Montet has
found in a MS. of 1404 a form of Waldensian ordination; and when the
Unitas Fratrum of Bohemia was organized in 1467, it had recourse, as we
shall see hereafter, to the Waldensian Bishop Stephen to consecrate its
first bishops. Yet the antisacerdotal tendencies were so strong that the
difference between the laity and priesthood was greatly diminished, and
the power of the keys was wholly rejected. About 1400, the Nobla Leyczon
declares that all the popes, cardinals, bishops, and abbots since the
days of Silvester could not pardon a single mortal sin, for God alone
has the power of pardon. As the soul thus dealt directly with God, the
whole machinery of indulgences and so-called pious works was thrown
aside. It is true that faith without works was idle--"_la fe es ociosa
sensa las obras_"--but good works were piety, repentance, charity,
justice, not pilgrimages and formal exercises, the founding of churches
and the honoring of saints.[62]

The Waldensian system thus created a simple church organization with a
tendency ever to grow simpler. As a general proposition it may be stated
that the distinction between the clergy and laity was reduced to a
minimum, especially when transubstantiation was rejected. The layman
could hear confessions, baptize, and preach. In some places it was the
custom for each head of a family on Holy Thursday to administer
communion in a simple fashion, consecrating the elements and
distributing them himself. Yet of necessity there was a recognized
priesthood, known as the Perfected, or Majorales, who taught the
faithful and converted the unbeliever, who renounced all property and
separated themselves from their wives, or who had observed strict
chastity from youth, who wandered around hearing confessions and making
converts, and were supported by the voluntary contributions of those who
labored for their bread. The Pomeranian Waldenses believed that every
seven years two of these were transported to the gate of Paradise, that
they might understand the wisdom of God. One marked distinction between
them and the laity was that, when on trial before the Inquisition, the
prohibition of swearing was relaxed in favor of the latter, who might
take an oath under compulsion, while the Perfects would die rather than
violate the precept. The inquisitors, while complaining of the ingenuity
with which the heretics evaded their examination, admitted that all were
much more solicitous to save their friends and kindred than

With this tendency towards a restoration of evangelical simplicity, it
followed that the special religious teaching of the Waldenses was to a
great extent ethical. The reply of an unfortunate before the Inquisition
of Toulouse, when questioned as to what his instructors had taught him,
was "that he should neither speak nor do evil, that he should do nothing
to others that he would not have done to himself, and that he should not
lie or swear"--a simple formula enough, but one which practically leaves
little to be desired; and a similar statement was made to the
Celestinian Peter in his inquisition of the Pomeranian Waldenses in
1394. A persecuted Church is almost inevitably a pure Church, and the
men who through those dreary centuries lay in hiding, with the stake
ever before their eyes, to spread what they believed to be the
unadulterated truths of the gospel in obedience to the commands of
Christ, were not likely to contaminate their high and holy mission with
vulgar vices. In fact, the unanimous testimony of their persecutors is
that their external virtues were worthy of all praise, and the contrast
between the purity of their lives and the depravity which pervaded the
clergy of the dominant Church is more than once deplored by their
antagonists as a most effective factor in the dissemination of heresy.
An inquisitor who knew them well describes them: "Heretics are
recognizable by their customs and speech, for they are modest and well
regulated. They take no pride in their garments, which are neither
costly nor vile. They do not engage in trade, to avoid lies and oaths
and frauds, but live by their labor as mechanics--their teachers are
cobblers. They do not accumulate wealth, but are content with
necessaries. They are chaste and temperate in meat and drink. They do
not frequent taverns or dances or other vanities. They restrain
themselves from anger. They are always at work; they teach and learn and
consequently pray but little. They are to be known by their modesty and
precision of speech, avoiding scurrility and detraction and light words
and lies and oaths. They do not even say _vere_ or _certe_, regarding
them as oaths." Such is the general testimony, and the tales which were
told as to the sexual abominations customary among them may safely be
set down as devices to excite popular detestation, grounded possibly on
extravagances of asceticism, such as were common among the early
Christians, for the Waldenses held that connubial intercourse was only
lawful for the procurement of offspring. An inquisitor admits his
disbelief as to these stories, for which he had never found a basis
worthy of credence, nor does anything of the kind make its appearance
in the examinations of the sectaries under the skilful handling of their
persecutors, until in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the
inquisitors of Piedmont and Provence found it expedient to extract such
confessions from their victims.[64]

There was also objected to them the hypocrisy which led them to conceal
their belief under assiduous attendance at mass and confession, and
punctual observance of orthodox externalities; but this, like the
ingenious evasions under examination, which so irritated their
inquisitorial critics, may readily be pardoned to those with whom it was
the necessity of self-preservation, and who, at least during the earlier
period, had often no other means of enjoying the sacraments which they
deemed essential to salvation. They were also ridiculed for their humble
condition in life, being almost wholly peasants, mechanics, and the
like--poor and despised folk of whom the Church took little count,
except to tax when orthodox and burn when heretic. But their crowning
offence was their love and reverence for Scripture, and their burning
zeal in making converts. The Inquisitor of Passau informs us that they
had translations of the whole Bible in the vulgar tongue, which the
Church vainly sought to suppress, and which they studied with incredible
assiduity. He knew a peasant who could recite the Book of Job word for
word; many of them had the whole of the New Testament by heart, and,
simple as they were, were dangerous disputants. As for the missionary
spirit, he tells of one who, on a winter night, swam the river Ips in
order to gain a chance of converting a Catholic; and all, men and women,
old and young, were ceaseless in learning and teaching. After a hard
day's labor they would devote the night to instruction; they sought the
lazar-houses to carry salvation to the leper; a disciple of ten days'
standing would seek out another whom he could instruct, and when the
dull and untrained brain would fain abandon the task in despair they
would speak words of encouragement: "Learn a single word a day, in a
year you will know three hundred, and thus you will gain in the end."
Surely if ever there was a God-fearing people it was these unfortunates
under the ban of Church and State, whose secret passwords were, "_Ce dit
sainct Pol, Ne mentir_," "_Ce dit sainct Jacques, Ne jurer_," "_Ce dit
sainct Pierre, Ne rendre mal pour mal, mais biens contraires_." The
"Nobla Leyczon" scarce says more than the inquisitors, when it bitterly
declares that the sign of a Vaudois, deemed worthy of death, was that he
followed Christ and sought to obey the commandments of God.

    "Que si n'i a alcun bon que ame e tema Yeshu Xrist,
    Que non volha maudire ni jurar ni mentir,
    Ni avoutrar ni aucir ni penre de l'altruy,
    Ni venjar se de li seo enemis,
    Ilh dion qu'es Vaudes e degne de punir,
    E li troban cayson en meczonja e engan."

In fact, amid the license of the Middle Ages ascetic virtue was apt to
be regarded as a sign of heresy. About 1220 a clerk of Spire, whose
austerity subsequently led him to join the Franciscans, was only saved
by the interposition of Conrad, afterwards Bishop of Hildesheim, from
being burned as a heretic, because his preaching led certain women to
lay aside their vanities of apparel and behave with humility.[65]

The sincerity with which the Waldenses adhered to their beliefs is shown
by the thousands who cheerfully endured the horrors of the prison, the
torture-chamber, and the stake, rather than return to a faith which they
believed to be corrupt. I have met with a case in 1320, in which a poor
old woman at Pamiers submitted to the dreadful sentence for heresy
simply because she would not take an oath. She answered all
interrogations on points of faith in orthodox fashion, but though
offered her life if she would swear on the Gospels, she refused to
burden her soul with the sin, and for this she was condemned as a

       *       *       *       *       *

That all antisacerdotalists should agree, even under persecution, in a
common creed, is not to be expected. In the decrees against heretics and
in the writings of controversialists we meet the names of other sects,
but they are of too little importance in numbers and duration to require
more than a passing notice. The Passagii ("all-holy" or "vagabond") or
Circumcisi were Judaizing Christians, who sought to escape the
domination of Rome by a recourse to the old law and denying the equality
of Christ with God. The Joseppini were still more obscure, and their
errors appear mostly to lie in the region of artificial and unclean
sexual asceticism. The Siscidentes were virtually the same as the
Waldenses, the only difference being as to the administration of the
Eucharist. The Ordibarii and Ortlibenses, followers of Ortlieb of
Strassburg, who flourished about the year 1216, were likewise externally
akin to the Waldenses, but indulged in doctrinal errors to which we
shall have to recur hereafter. The Runcarii appear to have been a
connecting link between the Poor Men of Lyons and the Albigenses or
Manichæans; an intermediate sect whose existence might be presupposed as
an almost necessary result of the common interests and common sufferings
of the two leading branches of heresy.[67]



The movements described above were the natural outcome of
antisacerdotalism seeking to renew the simplicity of the Apostolic
Church. It is a singular feature of the religious sentiment of the time
that the most formidable development of hostility to Rome was based on a
faith that can scarce be classed as Christian, and that this hybrid
doctrine spread so rapidly and resisted so stubbornly the sternest
efforts at suppression that at one time it may fairly be said to have
threatened the permanent existence of Christianity itself. The
explanation of this may perhaps be found in the fascination which the
dualistic theory--the antagonism of co-equal good and evil
principles--offers to those who regard the existence of evil as
incompatible with the supremacy of an all-wise and beneficent God. When
to Dualism is added the doctrine of transmigration as a means of reward
and retribution, the sufferings of man seem to be fully accounted for;
and in a period when those sufferings were so universal and so hopeless
as in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it is possible to understand
that many might be predisposed to adopt so ready an explanation. Yet
this will not account for the fact that the Manichæism of the Cathari,
Patarins, or Albigenses, was not a mere speculative dogma of the
schools, but a faith which aroused fanaticism so enthusiastic that its
devotees shrank from no sacrifices in its propagation and mounted the
blazing pyre with steadfast joy. A profound conviction of the emptiness
of sacerdotal Christianity, of its failure and approaching extinction,
and of the speedy triumph of their own faith may partially explain the
unselfish fervor which it excited among the poor and illiterate.

Of all the heresies with which the early Church had to contend, none had
excited such mingled fear and loathing as Manichæism. Manes had so
skilfully compounded Mazdean Dualism with Christianity and with Gnostic
and Buddhist elements, that his doctrine found favor with high and low,
with the subtle intellects of the schools and with the toiling masses.
Instinctively recognizing it as the most dangerous of rivals, the
Church, as soon as it could command the resources of the State,
persecuted it relentlessly. Among the numerous edicts of both Pagan and
Christian emperors, repressing freedom of thought, those directed
against the Manichæans were the sharpest and most cruel. Persecution
attained its end, after prolonged struggle, in suppressing all outward
manifestations of Manichæism within the confines of the imperial power,
though it long afterwards maintained a secret existence, even in the
West. In the East it withdrew ostensibly to the boundaries of the
empire, still keeping up hidden relations with its sectaries scattered
throughout the provinces, and even in Constantinople itself. It
abandoned its reverence for Manes as the paraclete and transferred its
allegiance to two others of its leaders, Paul and John of Samosata, from
the first of whom it acquired the name of Paulicianism. Under the
Emperor Constans, in 653, a certain Constantine perfected its doctrine,
and it maintained itself under repeated and cruel persecutions, which it
endured with the unflinching willingness of martyrdom and persistent
missionary zeal that we shall see characterize its European descendants.
Sometimes driven across the border to the Saracens and then driven back,
the Paulicians at times maintained an independent existence among the
mountains of Armenia and carried on a predatory warfare with the empire.
Leo the Isaurian, Michael Curopalates, Leo the Armenian, and the Regent
Empress Theodora in vain sought their extermination in the eighth and
ninth centuries, until at length, in the latter half of the tenth
century, John Zimiskes tried the experiment of toleration, and
transplanted a large number of them to Thrace, where they multiplied
greatly, showing equal vigor in industry and in war. In 1115 we hear of
Alexis Comnenus spending a summer at Philippopolis and amusing himself
in disputation with them, resulting in the conversion of many of the
heretics.[68] It was almost immediately after their transfer to Europe
by Zimiskes that we meet with traces of them in the West, showing that
the activity of their propagandism was unabated.

In all essentials the doctrine of the Paulicians was identical with that
of the Albigenses. The simple Dualism of Mazdeism, which regards the
universe as the mingled creations of Hormazd and Ahriman, each seeking
to neutralize the labors of the other, and carrying on interminable
warfare in every detail of life and nature, explains the existence of
evil in a manner to enlist man to contribute his assistance to Hormazd
in the eternal conflict, by good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
Enticed by Gnostic speculation, Manes modified this by identifying
spirit with the good and matter with the evil principle--perhaps a more
refined and philosophical conception, but one which led directly to
pessimistic consequences and to excesses of asceticism, since the soul
of man could only fulfil its duty by trampling on the flesh. Thus in the
Paulician faith we find two co-equal principles, God and Satan, of whom
the former created the invisible, spiritual, and eternal universe, the
latter the material and temporal, which he governs. Satan is the Jehovah
of the Old Testament; the prophets and patriarchs are robbers, and,
consequently, all Scripture anterior to the Gospels is to be rejected.
The New Testament, however, is Holy Writ, but Christ was not a man, but
a phantasm--the Son of God who appeared to be born of the Virgin Mary
and came from Heaven to overthrow the worship of Satan. Transmigration
provides for the future reward or punishment of deeds done in life. The
sacraments are rejected, and the priests and elders of the Church are
only teachers without authority over the faithful. Such are the outlines
of Paulicianism as they have reached us, and their identity with the
belief of the Cathari is too marked for us to accept the theory of
Schmidt, which assigns to the latter an origin among the dreamers of the
Bulgarian convents. A further irrefragable evidence of the derivation of
Catharism from Manichæism is furnished by the sacred thread and garment
which were worn by all the Perfect among the Cathari. This custom is too
peculiar to have had an independent origin, and is manifestly the
Mazdean _kosti_ and _saddarah_, the sacred thread and shirt, the wearing
of which was essential to all believers, and the use of which by both
Zends and Brahmans shows that its origin is to be traced to the
prehistoric period anterior to the separation of those branches of the
Aryan family. Among the Cathari the wearer of the thread and vestment
was what was known among the inquisitors as the "hæreticus indutus" or
"vestitus," initiated into all the mysteries of the heresy.[69]

Catharism thus was a thoroughly antisacerdotal form of belief. It cast
aside all the machinery of the Church. The Roman Church indeed was the
synagogue of Satan, in which salvation was impossible. Consequently the
sacraments, the sacrifices of the altar, the suffrages and interposition
of the Virgin and saints, purgatory, relics, images, crosses, holy
water, indulgences, and the other devices by which the priest procured
salvation for the faithful were rejected, as well as the tithes and
oblations which rendered the procuring of salvation so profitable. Yet
the Catharan Church, as the Church of Christ, inherited the power to
bind and to loose bestowed by Christ on his disciples; the
Consolamentum, or Baptism of the Spirit, wiped out all sin, but no
prayers were of use for the sinner who persisted in wrong-doing.
Curiously enough, though Catharism translated the Scripture, it retained
the Latin language in its prayers, which were thus unintelligible to
most of the disciples, and it had its consecrated class who conducted
its simple services. Some regular form of organization, indeed, was
necessary for the government of its rapidly increasing communities and
for the missionary work which was so zealously carried forward. Thus
there came to be four orders selected from among the "Perfected," who
were distinguished from the mass of believers, or simple
"Christians"--the Bishop, the Filius Major, the Filius Minor, and the
Deacon. Each of the three higher grades had a deacon as an assistant, or
to replace him; for the functions of all were the same, though the Filii
were mostly employed in visiting the members of the church. The Filius
Major was elected by the congregation and promotions were made to the
episcopate as vacancies occurred. Ordination was conferred by the
imposition of hands or Consolamentum, which was the equivalent of
baptism, administered to all who were admitted to the Church. The belief
that sacraments were vitiated in sinful hands gave rise to considerable
anxiety, and to guard against it the Consolamentum was generally
repeated a second and a third time. It was generally, though not
universally, held that the lower in grade could not consecrate the
higher, and therefore in many cities there were habitually two bishops,
so that in the case of death consecration should not be sought at the
hands of a filius major.[70]

The Catharan ritual was severe in its simplicity. The Catholic Eucharist
was replaced by the benediction of bread, which was performed daily at
table. He who was senior by profession or position took the bread and
wine, while all stood up and recited the Lord's Prayer. The senior then
saying, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us," broke the
bread, and distributed it to all present. This blessed bread was
regarded with special reverence by the great mass of the Cathari, who
were, as a rule, merely "crezentz," "credentes," or believers, and not
fully received or "perfected" in the Church. These would sometimes
procure a piece of this bread and keep it for years, occasionally taking
a morsel. Every act of eating or drinking was preceded by prayer; when a
"perfected" minister was at the table, the first drink and every new
dish that was tasted was accompanied by the guests with "Benedicite," to
which he responded "_Diaus vos benesiga_." There was a monthly ceremony
of confession, which, however, was general in its character and was
performed by the assembled faithful. The great ceremony was the
"Cossolament," "Consolamentum," or Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which
reunited the soul to the Holy Spirit, and which, like the Christian
baptism, worked absolution of all sin. It consisted in the imposition of
hands, it required two ministrants, and could be performed by any one of
the Perfected not in mortal sin--even by a woman. It was inefficacious,
however, when one of these was involved in sin. This was the process of
"heretication," as the inquisitors termed the admission into the Church,
and except in the case of those who proposed to become ministers was, as
a rule, postponed until the death-bed, probably for fear of persecution;
but the "credens" frequently entered into an agreement, known as "la
covenansa," binding himself to undergo it at the last moment, and this
engagement authorized its performance even though he had lost the power
of speech and was unable to make the responses. In form it was
exceedingly simple, though it was generally preceded by preparation,
including a prolonged fast. The ministrant addressed the postulant,
"Brother, dost thou wish to give thyself to our faith?" The neophyte,
after several genuflexions and blessings, said, "Ask God for this
sinner, that he may lead me to a good end and make me a good Christian,"
to which the ministrant rejoined, "Let God be asked to make thee a good
Christian and to bring thee to a good end. Dost thou give thyself to God
and to the gospel?" and after an affirmative response, "Dost thou
promise that in future thou wilt eat no meat, nor eggs, nor cheese, nor
any victual except from water and wood; that thou wilt not lie or swear
or do any lust with thy body, or go alone when thou canst have a comrade
or abandon the faith for fear of water or fire or any other form of
death?" These promises being duly made, the bystanders knelt, while the
minister placed on the head of the postulant the Gospel of St. John and
recited the text: "In the beginning was the Word," etc., and invested
him with the sacred thread. Then the kiss of peace went round, the women
receiving it by a touch of the elbow. The ceremony was held to symbolize
the abandonment of the Evil Spirit, and the return of the soul to God,
with the resolve to lead henceforth a pure and sinless life. With the
married, the assent of the spouse was of course a condition precedent.
When this heretication occurred on the death-bed, it was commonly
followed by the "Endura" or "privation." The ministrant asked the
neophyte whether he desired to be a confessor or a martyr; if the
latter, a pillow or a towel (known among the German Cathari as
Untertuch) was placed over his mouth while certain prayers were recited;
if he chose the former he remained without food or drink, except a
little water, for three days; and in either case, if he survived, he
became one of the Perfected. This Endura was also sometimes used as a
mode of suicide, which was frequent in the sect. Torture at the end of
life relieved them of torment in the next world, and suicide by
voluntary starvation, by swallowing pounded glass or poisonous potions,
or opening the veins in a bath, was not uncommon--and, failing this, it
was a kind office for the next of kin to extinguish life when death was
near. The ceremony known to the sectaries as "Melioramentum," and
described by the inquisitors as "veneration," was important as affording
to them a proof of heresy. When a "credens" approached or took leave of
a minister of the sect, he bent the knee thrice, saying "benedicite,"
to which the minister replied, "_Diaus vos benesiga_." It was a mark of
respect to the Holy Ghost assumed to dwell in the minister, and in the
records of trials we find it eagerly inquired into, as it served to
convict those who performed it.[71]

These customs, and the precepts embodied in the formula of heretication,
illustrate the strong ascetic tendency of the faith. This was the
inevitable consequence of its peculiar form of Dualism. As all matter
was the handiwork of Satan, it was in its nature evil; the spirit was
engaged in a perpetual conflict with it, and the Catharan's earnest
prayer to God was not to spare the flesh sprung from corruption, but to
have mercy on the imprisoned spirit--"_no aias merce de la carn nada de
corruptio, mais aias merce de l esperit pausat en carcer_."
Consequently, whatever tended to the reproduction of animal life was to
be shunned. To mortify the flesh the Catharan fasted on bread and water
three days in each week, except when travelling, and in addition there
were in the year three fasts of forty days each. Marriage was also
forbidden except among a few, who permitted it between virgins provided
they separated as soon as a child was born, and the mitigated Dualists
who confined the prohibition to the Perfect and permitted marriage to
the believers. Among the rigid, carnal matrimony was replaced by the
spiritual union between the soul and God effected by the rite of
Consolamentum. Sexual passion, in fact, was the original sin of Adam and
Eve, the forbidden fruit whereby Satan has continued his empire over
man. In a confession before the Inquisition of Toulouse in 1310, it is
said of one heretic teacher that he would not touch a woman for the
whole world; in another case a woman relates of her father that after he
was hereticated he told her she must never touch him again, and she
obeyed the command even when he was on the death-bed. So far was this
carried that the use of meat, of eggs, of milk, of everything, in short,
which was the result of animal propagation, was inhibited, except fish,
which by a strange inconsistency seems to have been regarded as having
some different origin. The condemnation of marriage and the rejection of
meat constituted, with the prohibition of oaths, the chief external
characteristics of Catharism, by which the sectaries were marked and
known. In 1229 two leading Tuscan Cathari, Pietro and Andrea, performed
public abjuration before Gregory IX. in Perugia, and two days later,
June 26th, they gave solemn assurance of the sincerity of their
conversion by eating flesh in the presence of a number of prelates,
which was duly recorded in an instrument drawn up for the purpose.[72]

It was inevitable that, in process of time, diversities should spring up
in a sect so widely scattered, and accordingly we find among the Italian
Cathari two minor divisions known as Concorrezenses (from Concorrezo,
near Monza, in Lombardy) and Bajolenses (from Bagnolo in Piedmont), who
held a modified form of Dualism in which Satan was inferior to God, by
whose permission he created and ruled the world, and formed man. The
Concorrezenses taught that Satan infused in Adam an angel who had sinned
a little, and they revived the old Traducian heresy in maintaining that
all human souls are derived from that spirit. The Bajolenses differed
from this in saying that all human souls were created by God before the
world was formed, and that even then they had sinned. These speculations
were expanded into a myth relating that Satan was the steward of heaven,
charged with the duty of collecting the daily amount of praise and
psalmody due by the angels to God. Desiring to become like the Highest,
he abstracted and retained for himself a portion of the praise, when
God, detecting the fraud, replaced him by Michael and ejected him and
his accomplices. Satan thereupon uncovered the earth from water and
created Adam and Eve, but labored in vain for thirty years to infuse
souls into them, until he procured from heaven two angels who favored
him, and who subsequently passed through the bodies of Enoch, Noah,
Abraham, and all the patriarchs and prophets, wandering and vainly
seeking salvation until, as Simeon and Anna, at the advent of Christ
(Luke iii. 25-38), they accomplished their redemption and were permitted
to return to heaven. Human souls are similarly all fallen spirits
passing through probation, and this was very generally the belief of all
the sects of Cathari, leading to a theory of transmigration very similar
to that of Buddhism, though modified by the belief that Christ's earthly
mission was the redemption of these fallen spirits. Until the perfected
soul could return to its Creator, as in the _moksha_ or absorption in
Brahma of the Hindu, it was forced to undergo repeated existence. As it
could be still further punished for evil deeds by transmission into the
lower animal forms, there naturally followed the Buddhistic and
Brahmanical prohibition of slaying any created thing, except reptiles
and fish. The Cathari who were hanged at Goslar in 1052 refused to kill
a pullet, even with the gallows before their eyes, and in the thirteenth
century this test was regarded as a ready means of identifying them.[73]

There were a few philosophic spirits in the sect, moreover, who emerged
from these vain speculations and curiously anticipated the theories of
modern Rationalism. With these Nature took the place of Satan; God,
after forming the universe, abandoned its conduct to Nature, which has
the power of creating all things and regulating them. Even the
production of individual species is not the act of divine Providence,
but is a process of nature--in fact, of evolution, in modern parlance.
These Naturalists, as they called themselves, denied the existence of
miracles; they explained, by an exegesis not much more strained than
that of orthodoxy, all those in the Gospels; and they held that it was
useless to pray to God for good weather, for Nature alone controlled the
elements. They wrote much, and a Catholic antagonist admits the
attraction of their writings, especially the work known as
"Perpendiculum Scientiarum," or the "Plummet of Science," which he says
was well adapted to make a deep impression on the reader through its
array of philosophy and happily-chosen texts of Scripture.[74]

There was nothing in such a faith to attract the sensual and
carnal-minded. In fact, it was far more repellant than attractive, and
nothing but the discontent excited by the pervading corruption and
oppression of the Church can explain its rapid diffusion and the deep
hold which it obtained upon the veneration of its converts. Although the
asceticism which it inculcated was beyond the reach of average humanity,
its ethical teachings were admirable. As a rule they were reasonably
obeyed, and the orthodox admitted with regret and shame the contrast
between the heretics and the faithful. It is true that the exaggerated
condemnation of marriage expressed in the formula, that relations with a
wife were as sinful as incest with mother or sister, was naturally
enough perverted into the statement that such incest was permissible and
was practised. Wild stories, moreover, were told of the nightly orgies
in which the lights were extinguished and promiscuous intercourse took
place; and the stubbornness of heresy was explained by telling how, when
a child was born of these foul excesses, it was tossed from hand to hand
through a fire until it expired; and that from its body was made an
infernal eucharist of such power that whoever partook of it was
thereafter incapable of abandoning the sect. There is ample store of
such tales, but however useful they might be in exciting a wholesome
popular detestation of heresy, the candid and intelligent inquisitors
who had the best means of knowing the truth admit that they have no
foundation in fact; and in the many hundreds of examinations and
sentences which I have read there is no allusion to anything of the
kind, except in some proceedings of Frà Antonio Secco among the Alpine
valleys in 1387. As a rule, the inquisitors wasted no time in searching
for what they knew was non-existent. As St. Bernard says, "If you
interrogate them, nothing can be more Christian; as to their
conversation, nothing can be less reprehensible, and what they speak
they prove by deeds. As for the morals of the heretic, he cheats no one,
he oppresses no one, he strikes no one; his cheeks are pale with
fasting, he eats not the bread of idleness, his hands labor for his
livelihood." This last assertion is especially true, for they were
mostly simple folk, industrious peasants and mechanics, who felt the
evils around them and welcomed any change. The theologians who combated
them ridiculed them as ignorant churls, and in France they were
popularly known by the name of Texerant (Tisserands), on account of the
prevalence of the heresy among the weavers, whose monotonous occupation
doubtless gave ample opportunity for thought. Rude and ignorant they
might be for the most part, but they had skilled theologians for
teachers, and an extensive popular literature which has utterly
perished, saving a Catharan version of the New Testament in Romance and
a book of ritual. Their familiarity with Scripture is vouched for by
the warning of Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, that the Christian should dread
their conversation as he would a tempest, unless he is deeply skilled in
the law of God, so that he can overcome them in argument. Their strict
morality was never corrupted, and a hundred years after St. Bernard the
same testimony is rendered to the virtues of those who were persecuted
in Florence in the middle of the thirteenth century. In fact the formula
of confession used in their assemblies shows how strict a guard was
maintained over every idle thought and careless word.[75]

Their proselyting zeal was especially dreaded. No labor was too severe,
no risks too great, to deter them from spreading the faith which they
deemed essential to salvation. Missionaries wandered over Europe through
strange lands to carry the glad tidings to benighted populations,
regardless of hardship, and undeterred by the fate of their brethren,
whom they saw expiate at the stake the hardihood of their revolt.
Externally they professed to be Catholics, and were exemplary in the
performance of their religious duties till they had won the confidence
of their new neighbors, and could venture on the attempt of secret
conversion whenever they saw opportunity. They scattered by the wayside
writings in which the poison of their doctrine was skilfully conveyed
without being obtrusive, and sometimes they had no scruple in calling to
their aid the superstitions of orthodoxy, as when such writings would
promise indulgences to those who would read them carefully and circulate
them among their neighbors, or when they purported to come from Jesus
Christ and be conveyed by angels. It does not say much for the
intelligence of the clergy when we are told that many priests were
corrupted by such papers, picked up by shepherds and carried to them to
be deciphered. Even more reprehensible was the device of the Cathari of
Moncoul in France, who made an image of the Virgin, deformed and ugly
and one-eyed, saying that Christ, to show his humility, had selected
such a woman for a mother. Then they proceeded to work miracles with it,
feigning to be sick and to be cured by it, until it acquired such
reputation that many similar ones were made and placed in churches or
oratories, until the heretics divulged the secret, to the great
confusion of the faithful. The same device was carried out with a
crucifix having no upper arm, the feet of Christ crossed, and only three
nails--an unconventional form which was, imitated and caused great
scandal when the mockery was discovered. Even bolder frauds were
attempted in Leon, and not without success, as we shall see

The zeal for the faith, which prompted these eccentric missionary
efforts, manifested itself in a resolute adherence to the precepts
enjoined on the neophyte when admitted into the circle of the Perfects.
As in the case of the Waldenses, while the Inquisition complained
bitterly of the difficulty of obtaining an avowal from the simple
"credens," whose rustic astuteness eluded the practised skill of the
interrogator, it was the general testimony that the perfected heretic
refused to lie, or to take an oath; and one member of the Holy Office
warns his brethren not to begin by asking "Are you truly a Catharan?"
for the answer will simply be "Yes," and then nothing more can be
extracted; but if the Perfect is exhorted by the God in whom he believes
to tell all about his life, he will faithfully detail it without
falsehood. When we consider that this frankness led inevitably to the
torture of death by burning, it is curious to observe that the
inquisitor seems utterly unconscious of the emphatic testimony which he
renders to the super-human conscientiousness of his victims.[77]

It is not easy for us to realize what there was in the faith of the
Cathari to inspire men with the enthusiastic zeal of martyrdom, but no
religion can show a more unbroken roll of those who unshrinkingly and
joyfully sought death in its most abhorrent form in preference to
apostasy. If the blood of the martyrs were really the seed of the
Church, Manichæism would now be the dominant religion of Europe. It may
be partially explained by the belief that a painful death for the faith
insured the return of the soul to God; but human weakness does not often
permit such habitual triumph of the spirit over the flesh as that which
rendered the Cathari a proverb in their thirst for martyrdom. The
hostile testimony to this effect is virtually unanimous. In the earliest
persecution on record, at Orleans, about 1017, out of fifteen, thirteen
remained steadfast in the face of the fire kindled for their
destruction; they refused to recant though pardon was offered, and their
constancy was the wonderment of the spectators. When, about 1040, the
heretics of Monforte were discovered, and Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan,
sent for Gherardo, their leader, he came at once and voluntarily set
forth his belief, rejoicing in the opportunity of sealing his faith with
torment. Those who were burned at Cologne in 1163 produced a profound
impression by the cheerful alacrity with which they endured their
fearful punishment; and while they were in their agony it is related
that their leader, Arnold, half roasted to death, placed a liberated arm
on the heads of his disciples, calmly saying, "Be ye constant in your
faith, for this day shall ye be with Lawrence!" Among this group of
heretics was a beautiful girl whose modesty moved the compassion of even
the brutal executioners. She was withdrawn from the flames and promises
were made to find her a husband or place her in a convent. Seeming to
assent, she remained quiet till the rest were dead, and then asked her
guards to show her the seducer of souls. In pointing out the body of
Arnold they loosened their hold, when she suddenly broke from them, and,
covering her face with her dress, threw herself upon the remains of her
teacher, and, burning to death, descended with him into hell for
eternity. Those who about the same time were detected at Oxford,
rejected all offers of mercy, with the words of Christ, "Blessed are
they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven;" and when they were led forth after a sentence which
virtually consigned them to a shameful and lingering death, they went
rejoicing to the punishment, their leader Gerhard preceding them,
singing "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you." In the Albigensian
Crusade, at the capture of the Castle of Minerve, the Crusaders piously
offered their prisoners the alternative of recantation or the stake, and
a hundred and eighty preferred the stake, when, as the monkish
chronicler quietly remarks, "no doubt all these martyrs of the devil
passed from temporal to eternal flames." An experienced inquisitor of
the fourteenth century tells us that the Cathari usually were either
truly converted by the efforts of the Holy Office or else were ready to
die for their faith; while the Waldenses were apt to feign conversion in
order to escape. This obdurate zeal, we are assured by the orthodox
writers, had in it nothing of the constancy of Christian martyrdom, but
was simply hardness of heart inspired by Satan; and Frederic II.
enumerated among their evil traits the obstinacy which led the survivors
to be in no way dismayed or deterred by the ruthless example made of
those who were punished.[78]

It was, perhaps, natural that these Manichæans should be accused of
worshipping the devil. To men bred in the current orthodox practices of
purchasing by prayer, or money, or other good works whatever blessings
they desired, and expecting nothing without such payment, it seemed
inevitable that the Manichæan, regarding all matter to be the work of
Satan, should invoke him for worldly prosperity. The husbandman, for
instance, could not pray to God for a plentiful harvest, but must do so
to Satan, who was the creator of corn. It is true that there was a sect,
known as Luciferani, who were said to worship Satan, regarding him as
the brother of God, unjustly banished from heaven, and the dispenser of
worldly good, but these, as we shall see hereafter, were a branch of the
Brethren of the Free Spirit, probably descended from the Ortlibenses,
and there is absolutely no evidence that the Cathari ever wavered in
their trust in Christ or diverted their aspirations from the hope of
reunion with God.[79]

Such was the faith whose rapid spread throughout the south of Europe
filled the Church with well-grounded dismay; and, however much we may
deprecate the means used for its suppression and commiserate those who
suffered for conscience' sake, we cannot but admit that the cause of
orthodoxy was in this case the cause of progress and civilization. Had
Catharism become dominant, or even had it been allowed to exist on equal
terms, its influence could not have failed to prove disastrous. Its
asceticism with regard to commerce between the sexes, if strictly
enforced, could only have led to the extinction of the race, and as this
involves a contradiction of nature, it would have probably resulted in
lawless concubinage and the destruction of the institution of the
family, rather than in the disappearance of the human race and the
return of exiled souls to their Creator, which was the _summum bonum_ of
the true Catharan. Its condemnation of the visible universe and of
matter in general as the work of Satan rendered sinful all striving
after material improvement, and the conscientious belief in such a creed
could only lead man back, in time, to his original condition of
savagism. It was not only a revolt against the Church, but a
renunciation of man's domination over nature. As such it was doomed from
the start, and our only wonder must be that it maintained itself so long
and so stubbornly even against a Church which had earned so much of
popular detestation. Yet though the exaltation caused by persecution
might keep it alive among the enthusiastic and the discontented, had it
obtained the upper hand and maintained its purity it must surely have
perished through its fundamental errors. Had it become a dominant faith,
moreover, it would have bred a sacerdotal class as privileged as the
Catholic priesthood, for the "veneration" offered to the consecrated
ministers as the tabernacles of the Holy Ghost shows us what vantage
ground they would have had when persecution had given place to power,
and carnal human nature had asserted itself in the ambitious men who
would have sought its high places.

The soil was probably prepared for its reception by remains of the older
Manichæism which, with strange pertinacity, long maintained itself in
secret after its public manifestation had been completely suppressed.
Muratori has printed a Latin anathema of its doctrines, probably dating
about the year 800, which shows that even so late as the ninth century
it was still an object of persecution. It was about 970 that John
Zimiski transplanted the Paulicians to Thrace, whence they spread with
great rapidity through the Balkan peninsula. When the Crusaders under
Bohemond of Tarento, in 1097, arrived in Macedonia they learned that the
city of Pelagonia was inhabited wholly by heretics, whereupon they
paused in their pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre long enough to capture
the town, to raze it to the earth, and to put all the citizens to the
sword. In Dalmatia the Paulicians founded the seaport of Dugunthia
(Trau), which became the seat of one of their leading episcopates; and
in the time of Innocent III. we find them in great numbers throughout
the whole Slav territory, making extensive conversions with their
customary missionary zeal, and giving that pontiff much concern, in
unavailing efforts for their suppression. Numerous as the Cathari of
Western Europe became, they always looked to the east of the Adriatic as
to the headquarters of their sect. It was there that arose the form of
modified Dualism known as Concorrezan, under the influence of the
Bogomili, and religious questions were wont to be referred thither for

Their missionary activity made itself felt in the West in a marvellously
short period after their settlement in Bulgaria. Our materials for an
intimate acquaintance with that age are very scanty, and we must content
ourselves with occasional vague indications, but when we see that
Gerbert of Aurillac, on his election to the archiepiscopate of Reims in
991, was obliged to utter a profession of faith in which he declared his
belief that Satan was wicked of free-will, that the Old and New
Testaments were of equal authority, and that marriage and the use of
meat were allowable, it shows that Paulician opinions were already well
understood and dreaded as far north as Champagne. There seems, indeed,
to have been a centre of Catharism there, for in 1000 a peasant named
Leutard, at Vertus, was convicted of teaching antisacerdotal doctrines
which were evidently of Manichæan origin, and he is discreetly said to
have drowned himself in a well when overcome in argument by Bishop
Liburnius. The Château of Mont Wimer, in the neighborhood of Vertus,
retained its evil reputation as a centre of the heresy. About the same
period we have a misty account of a Ravennatese grammarian named
Vilgardus who, inspired by demons in the shape of Virgil, Horace, and
Juvenal, erected the Latin poets into infallible guides and taught much
that was contrary to the faith. His heresy was probably Manichæan; it
could not have been simply blind worship of classic writers, for culture
was too rare in that age for such belief to become popular, and we are
told that Vilgardus had numerous disciples in all the cities in Italy,
who, after his condemnation by Peter, Archbishop of Ravenna, were put to
death by the sword or at the stake. His heresy likewise spread to
Sardinia and Spain, where it was ruthlessly exterminated.[81]

Shortly after this Cathari were discovered in Aquitaine, where they made
many converts, and their heresy spread secretly throughout southern
France in spite of the free use of the fagot. Even as far north as
Orleans it was discovered, in 1017, under circumstances which aroused
general attention. A female missionary from Italy had carried the
infection there, and a number of the most prominent clergy of the city
fell victims to it. In their proselyting zeal they sent out emissaries,
and were discovered. On hearing of it, King Robert the Pious hastened
to Orleans with Queen Constance, and summoned a council of bishops to
determine what should be done to meet the novel and threatening danger.
The heretics, on being questioned, made no secret of their faith, and
boldly declared themselves ready to die rather than to abandon it. The
popular feeling was so bitter against them that Robert stationed his
queen at the door of the church in which the assembly was held, to
preserve them from being torn to pieces by the mob when they were led
forth; but Constance shared the passions of her subjects, and as they
passed her she smote with a rod one who had been her confessor, and put
out his eye. They were taken beyond the walls, and again, in the
presence of the blazing pyre, were entreated to recant, but they
preferred death, and their unshrinking firmness was the wonder of all
spectators. Such converts as they had made elsewhere were diligently
hunted up and mercilessly despatched. In 1025 there was a further
discovery of the heresy at Liége, but the sectaries proved less
stubborn, and were pardoned on professing conversion. About the same
time we hear of others, in Lombardy, in the Castle of Monforte, near
Asti, who were the objects of active persecution by the neighboring
nobles and bishops, and who were burned whenever they could be captured.
At length, about 1040, Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan, in visiting his
province, came to Asti, and, hearing of these heretics, sent for them.
They came willingly enough, including their teacher, Gherardo, and the
Countess of Monforte who was of their sect; all boldly professed their
faith, and were carried by Eriberto back to Milan, where he hoped to
convert them. In place of this, they labored to spread their heresy
among those who crowded to see them in prison, until the enraged people,
against the will of the archbishop, forcibly dragged them out, and gave
them the choice between the cross and the stake. A few of them yielded,
but the most part, covering their faces with their hands, boldly leaped
into the flames, and sealed their faith with martyrdom. In 1045 we find
them in Chalons, when Bishop Roger applied to Bishop Wazo of Liége,
asking what he should do with them, and whether the secular arm should
be called in to prevent the leaven from corrupting the whole people, to
which the good Wazo replied that they should be left to God, "for those
whom the world now regards as tares may be garnered by him as wheat when
comes the harvest-time. Those whom we deem the adversaries of God he
may make superior to us in heaven." Wazo, indeed, had heard that
heretics were commonly detected by their pallor, and, under the delusion
that those who were pale must necessarily be heretics, many good
Catholics had been slain. By the year 1052 the heresy had extended to
Germany, where the pious emperor, Henry the Black, caused a number to be
hanged at Goslar. During the rest of the century we hear little more of
them, though traces of them occur at Toulouse in 1056 and Béziers in
1062, and about the year 1200 they are described as infecting the whole
diocese of Agen.[82]

In the twelfth century the evil continued unabated in northern France.
Count John of Soissons was noted as a protector of heretics, but, in
spite of his favor, Lisiard, the bishop, captured several, and gave the
first example of what subsequently became common enough--the use of the
ordeal to determine heretical guilt. One, at least, of the accused,
floated when thrown into exorcised water, and the bishop, not knowing
what to do with them, held them in prison while he went to the Council
of Beauvais, in 1114, to consult his episcopal brethren. The populace,
however, felt no doubts on the subject, and, fearing that they would be
deprived of their prey, broke open the jail and burned them during the
bishop's absence--a manifestation of holy zeal which greatly pleased the
pious chronicler. About the same time Flanders was the scene of another
discovery of Catharism. The heresiarch, on being summoned before the
Bishop of Cambrai, made no secret of his crime; he was stubborn, and
was shut up in a hut, which was fired, and he died in prayer. The people
must, in this case, have been rather favorably inclined to him, for they
allowed his friends to collect his remains, and he was found to have
many followers, especially among the craft of weavers. When, about the
same period, we see Paschal II. advising the Bishop of Constance that
converted heretics were to be welcomed back, we may conclude that error
had penetrated even into Switzerland.[83]

As the century wore on the manifestations of heresy became more
numerous. In 1144 at Liége again; in 1153 again in Artois; in 1157 at
Reims; in 1163 at Vezelai, where there was a significant concomitant
attempt to throw off the temporal jurisdiction of the Abbey of St.
Madelaine; about 1170 at Besançon; and in 1180 at Reims again. This
latter case has picturesque features recited for us by one of the actors
in the drama, Gervais of Tilbury, at that time a young man and a canon
of Reims. Riding out one afternoon as part of the retinue of his
archbishop, William, his fancy was caught by a pretty girl laboring
alone in a vineyard. He lost no time in pressing his suit, but was
repulsed with the assertion that if she listened to his addresses she
would be irretrievably damned. Virtue so severe as this was a manifest
sign of heresy, and the archbishop, coming up, ordered her at once into
custody, for he recognized her as necessarily belonging to the Cathari,
whom Philip of Flanders had for some time been mercilessly persecuting.
Under examination, she gave the name of her instructress, who was
forthwith arrested, and who manifested such thorough familiarity with
Scripture and such consummate dexterity in defending her faith, that no
doubt was felt of her being inspired by Satan. The defeated theologians
respited the pair till the next day, when they obstinately refused to
yield to threats or promises, and were unanimously condemned to the
stake. At this the elder woman laughed, saying, "Foolish and unjust
judges, think you to burn me in your fire? I fear not your sentence, and
dread not your stake." With that she pulled from her bosom a ball of
thread and tossed it out of the window, retaining one end, and calling
out, "Take it!" The ball arose in the air, and the old woman followed it
through the window, and was seen no more. The girl was left, and as she
was insensible alike to offers of wealth and threats of punishment, she
was duly burned, suffering her torment cheerfully and without a groan.
Even in distant Britanny Catharism appeared in 1208, at Nantes and St.

In Flanders the heresy seems to have taken deep root the industrious
craftsmen who were already making their cities centres of wealth and
progress. In 1162 Henry, Archbishop of Reims, in a visitation of
Flanders, which formed part of his province, found Manichæism prevailing
there to an alarming extent. In the existing confusion and uncertainty
of the canon law as respects the treatment of heresy, he allowed the
appeal of those whom he captured to Alexander III., then in Touraine.
The pope inclined to mercy, much to the disgust of the archbishop and of
his brother, Louis VII., who urged the adoption of rigorous measures,
and asserted that the enormous bribe of six hundred marks had been
offered for their liberation. If this were so, the heresy must have
penetrated to the upper ranks of society. In spite of Alexander's
humanity the persecution was sharp enough, however, to drive many of the
heretics away, and we shall meet with some of them at Cologne. Twenty
years later we find the evil still growing, and Philip I., Count of
Flanders, whose zeal for the faith was manifested subsequently by his
death in Palestine, busily engaged in persecuting them with the aid of
William, Archbishop of Reims. They are described as comprising all
classes, nobles and peasants, clerks, soldiers, and mechanics, maids,
wives, and widows, and numbers of them were burned without putting an
end to the pestilence.[85]

The Teutonic peoples were comparatively free from the infection,
although the propinquity of the Rhinelands to France led to occasional
visitations. About 1110 we hear of some heretics at Trèves, who seem to
have escaped without punishment, though two among them were priests, and
in 1200 eight more were found there and burned. In 1145 a number were
discovered in Cologne, some of whom were tried; but, during the
examination, the impatient populace, fearing to be balked of their
spectacle, broke in, carried off the culprits, and burned them out of
hand--a fate which they bore not only with patience, but with
joyfulness. There must have been a Catharan Church established by this
time at Cologne, since one of the sufferers was called their bishop. In
1163 fugitives from the Flemish persecution were found at Cologne--eight
men and three women, who had taken refuge in a barn. As they associated
with no one, and did not frequent the churches, the Christian neighbors
recognized them as heretics, seized them, and took them before the
bishop, when they boldly avowed their faith, and suffered burning with
the resolute gladness which distinguished the sect. We hear of others,
about the same time, burned at Bonn, but this scanty catalogue exhausts
the list of German heresies in the twelfth century. Missionaries
penetrated the country from Hungary, Italy, and Flanders; they are found
in Switzerland, Bavaria, Suabia, and even as far as Saxony, but they
made few converts.[86]

England was likewise little troubled with heresy. It was shortly after
the persecutions in Flanders that in 1166 there were discovered thirty
rustics--men and women--German in race and speech, probably Flemings,
fleeing from the pious zeal of Henry of Reims, who had come and were
endeavoring to propagate their errors. They made but one convert, a
woman, who deserted them in the hour of trial. The rest stood firm when
Henry II., then engaged in his quarrel with Becket, and anxious to prove
his fidelity to the Church, called a council of bishops at Oxford, and
presided over it, to determine their faith. They openly avowed it, and
were condemned to be scourged, branded in the face with a key, and
driven forth. The importance which Henry attached to the matter is shown
by his devoting, soon after, in the Assizes of Clarendon, an article to
the subject, forbidding any one to receive them under penalty of having
his house torn down, and requiring all sheriffs to swear to the
observance of the law, and to make all stewards of the barons and all
knights and franc-tenants swear likewise--the first secular law on the
subject in any statute-book since the fall of Rome. I have already
mentioned the steadfastness with which the unfortunates endured their
martyrdom. Stripped to the waist and soundly scourged, and branded on
the forehead, they were sent adrift shelterless in the winter-time, and
speedily, one by one, they miserably perished. England was not
hospitable to heresy, and we hear little more of it there. Towards the
close of the century some heretics were found in the province of York,
and early in the next century a few were discovered in London, and one
was burned; but practically the orthodoxy of England was unsullied until
the rise of Wickliffe.[87]

Italy, as the channel through which the Bulgarian heresy passed to the
West, was naturally deeply infected. Milan had the reputation of being
its centre, whence missionaries were despatched to other lands, whither
pilgrims resorted from the western kingdoms, and where originated the
sinister term of Patarins, by which the Cathari became generally known
to the people of Europe.[88] Yet the popes, involved in a
death-struggle with the empire, and frequently wanderers abroad, paid
little attention to them during the first half of the twelfth century,
and the indications which have reached us of their existence are but
scanty, though sufficient to show that they were numerous and aggressive
in the consciousness of growing strength. Thus at Orvieto, in 1125, they
actually obtained the mastery for a while, but after a bloody struggle
were subdued by the Catholics. In 1150 the effort was resumed by
Diotesalvi of Florence and Gherardo of Massano; but the bishop succeeded
in expelling them, when they were replaced by two women
missionaries--Milita of Monte-Meano, and Giulitta of Florence--whose
piety and charity won the esteem of the clergy and sympathy of the
people, until the heresy was discovered, in 1163, when many heretics
were burned and hanged, and the rest exiled. Yet soon afterwards Peter
the Lombard undertook to propagate it again, and formed a numerous
community, embracing many nobles, and towards the close of the century
San Pietro di Parenzo earned his canonization by his severe measures of
repression, in retaliation for which the heretics took his life in 1199.
This may be regarded as an example of the struggle which was going on in
many Italian cities, showing the stubborn vitality of the heresy. In the
political condition of Italy, subdivided into innumerable virtually
self-governing communities, torn by mutual quarrels and civic strife,
general measures of repression were almost impossible. Heresy,
suppressed by spasmodic exertion in one city, was always flourishing
elsewhere, and ready to furnish new missionaries and new martyrs as soon
as the storm had passed. Through all these vicissitudes its growth was
constant. All the northern half of the peninsula, from the Alps to the
Patrimony of St. Peter, was honeycombed with it, and even as far south
as Calabria it was to be found. When Innocent III., in 1198, ascended
the papal throne he at once commenced active proceedings for its
extermination, and the obstinacy of the heretics may be estimated by the
struggle in Viterbo, a city subject to the temporal as well as spiritual
jurisdiction of the papacy. In March, 1199, Innocent, stimulated by the
increase of heresy and the audacity of its public display, wrote to the
Viterbians, renewing and sharpening the penalties against all who
received or favored heretics. Yet, in spite of this, in 1205, the
heretics carried the municipal election and elected as chamberlain a
heretic under excommunication. Innocent's indignation was boundless. If
the elements, he told the citizens, should conspire to destroy them,
without sparing age or sex, leaving their memory an eternal shame, the
punishment would be inadequate. He ordered obedience to be refused to
the newly-elected municipality, which was to be deposed; that the
bishop, who had been ejected, should be received back, that the laws
against heresy should be enforced, and that if all this was not done
within fifteen days the people of the surrounding towns and castles were
commanded to take up arms and make active war upon the rebellious city.
Even this was insufficient. Two years later, in February, 1207, there
were fresh troubles, and it was not until June of that year, when
Innocent himself came to Viterbo, and all the Patarins fled at his
approach, that he was able to purify the town by tearing down all the
houses of the heretics and confiscating all their property. This he
followed up in September with a decree addressed to all the faithful in
the Patrimony of St. Peter, ordering measures of increasing severity to
be inscribed in the local laws of every community, and all podestà, and
other officials to be sworn to their enforcement under heavy penalties.
Proceedings of more or less rigor commanded in Milan, Ferrara, Verona,
Rimini, Florence, Prato, Faenza, Piacenza, and Treviso show the extent
of the evil, the difficulty of restraining it, and the encouragement
given to heresy by the scandals of the clergy.[89]

It was in southern France, however, that the struggle was deadliest and
the battle was fought to its bitter end. There the soil, as we have
seen, was the most favorable, and the growth of heresy the rankest.
Early in the century we find open resistance at Albi, when the bishop,
Sicard, aided by the Abbot of Castres, endeavored to imprison obstinate
heretics and was baffled by the people, leading to a dangerous quarrel
between the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions. About the same time,
Amelius of Toulouse tried milder methods by calling in the aid of the
celebrated Robert d'Arbrissel, whose preaching, we are told, was
rewarded with many conversions. In 1119 Calixtus II. presided over a
council at Toulouse which condemned the Manichæan heresy, but was forced
to content itself with sentencing the heretics to expulsion from the
Church. It is perhaps remarkable that when Innocent II., driven from
Rome by the antipope Pier-Leone, was wandering through France and held a
great council at Reims in 1131, no measures were taken for the
repression of heresy; but when restored to Rome he seems to have
awakened to the necessity of action, and in the Second General Lateran
Council, in 1139, he issued a decisive decree which is interesting as
the earliest example of the interpellation of the secular arm. Not only
were the Cathari condemned and expelled from the Church, but the
temporal authorities were ordered to coerce them and all those who
favored or defended them. This policy was followed up in 1148 by the
Council of Reims, which forbade any one to receive or maintain on his
lands the heretics dwelling in Gascony, Provence, and elsewhere, and not
to afford them shelter in passing or give them a refuge, under pain of
excommunication and interdict.[90]

When Alexander III. was exiled from Rome by Frederic Barbarossa and his
antipope Victor, and came to France, he called, in 1163, a great council
at Tours. It was an imposing assemblage, comprising seventeen cardinals,
one hundred and twenty-four bishops (including Thomas Becket) and
hundreds of abbots, besides hosts of other ecclesiastics and a vast
number of laymen. This august body, after performing its first duty of
anathematizing the rival pope, proceeded to deplore the heresy which,
arising in the Toulousain, had spread like a cancer throughout Gascony,
deeply infecting the faithful everywhere. The prelates of those regions
were ordered to be vigilant in suppressing it by anathematizing all who
should permit heretics to dwell on their lands or should hold
intercourse with them, in buying or selling, so that, being cut off from
human society, they might be compelled to abandon their errors. All
secular princes moreover were commanded to imprison them and to
confiscate their property. By this time, it is evident that heresy was
no longer concealed, but displayed itself openly and defiantly; and the
futility of the papal commands at Tours to cut heretics off from human
intercourse was shown two years later at the council, or rather
colloquy, of Lombers near Albi. This was a public disputation between
representatives of orthodoxy and the _bos homes, bos Crestias_, or "good
men," as they styled themselves, before judges agreed upon by both
sides, in the presence of Pons, Archbishop of Narbonne, and sundry
bishops, besides the most powerful nobles of the region--Constance,
sister of King Louis VII. and wife of Raymond of Toulouse, Trencavel of
Béziers, Sicard of Lautrec, and others. Nearly all of the population of
Lombers and Albi assembled, and the proceedings were evidently regarded
as of the greatest public interest and importance. A full report of the
discussion, including the decision against the Cathari, has reached us
from several orthodox sources, but the only interest which the affair
has is its marked significance in showing that heresy had fairly
outgrown all the means of repression at command of the local churches,
that reason had to be appealed to in place of force, that heretics had
no scruple in manifesting and declaring themselves, and that the
Catholic disputants had to submit to their demands in citing only the
New Testament as an authority. The powerlessness of the Church was still
further exhibited in the fact that the council, after its argumentative
triumph, was obliged to content itself with simply ordering the nobles
of Lombers no longer to protect the heretics. What satisfaction Pons of
Narbonne found the next year in confirming the conclusions of the
Council of Lombers, in a council held at Cabestaing, it would be
difficult to define. So great was the prevailing demoralization that
when some monks of the strict Cistercian order left their monastery of
Villemagne near Agde, and publicly took wives, he was unable to punish
this gross infraction of their vows, and the interposition of Alexander
III. was invoked--probably without result.[91]

Evidently the Church was powerless. When it could condemn the doctrines
and not the persons of heretics it confessed to the world that it
possessed no machinery capable of dealing with opposition on a scale of
such magnitude. The nobles and the people were indisposed to do its
bidding, and without their aid the fulmination of its anathema was an
empty ceremony. The Cathari saw this plainly, and within two years of
the Council of Lombers they dared, in 1167, to hold a council of their
own at St. Felix de Caraman near Toulouse. Their highest dignitary,
Bishop Nicetas, came from Constantinople to preside, with deputies from
Lombardy; the French Church was strengthened against the modified
Dualism of the Concorrezan school; bishops were elected for the vacant
sees of Toulouse, Val d'Aran, Carcassonne, Albi, and France north of the
Loire, the latter being Robert de Sperone, subsequently a refugee in
Lombardy, where he gave his name to the sect of the Speronistæ;
commissioners were named to settle a disputed boundary between the sees
of Toulouse and Carcassonne; in short, the business was that of an
established and independent Church, which looked upon itself as destined
to supersede the Church of Rome. Based upon the affection and reverence
of the people, which Rome had forfeited, it might well look forward to
ultimate supremacy.[92]

In fact, its progress during the next ten years was such as to justify
the most enthusiastic hopes. Raymond of Toulouse, whose power was
virtually that of an independent sovereign, adhered to Frederic
Barbarossa, acknowledged the antipope Victor and his successors, and
cared nothing for Alexander III., who was received by the rest of
France; and the Church, distracted by the schism, could offer little
opposition to the development of heresy. In 1177, however, Alexander
triumphed and received the submission of Frederic. Raymond necessarily
followed his suzerain (a large portion of his territories was subject to
the empire) and suddenly awoke to the necessity of arresting the
progress of heresy. Powerful as he was, he felt himself unequal to the
task. The burgesses of his cities, independent and intractable, were for
the most part Cathari. A large portion of his knights and gentlemen were
secretly or avowedly protectors of heresy; the common people throughout
his dominions despised the clergy and honored the heretics. When a
heretic preached they crowded to listen and applaud; when a Catholic
assumed the rare function of religious instruction they jeered at him
and asked him what he had to do with proclaiming the Word of God. In a
state of chronic war with powerful vassals and more powerful neighbors,
like the kings of Aragon and England, it was manifestly impossible for
Raymond to undertake the extermination of a half or more than half of
his subjects. Whether he was sincere in his desire to suppress heresy is
doubtful, but in any case his situation is interesting, as an
illustration of the difficulties which surrounded his son and grandson,
and led to the Crusades and the extinction of his house. Whatever his
motives, however, Raymond V. craftily placed himself on the right side.
He called upon the king, Louis VII., to come to his assistance, and,
remembering how St. Bernard had, in the previous generation, aided to
suppress the Henricians, he applied to Bernard's successor, Henry of
Clairvaux, head of the great Cistercian order, to support his appeal.
He described the condition of religion in his dominions as desperate.
The priesthood had allowed itself to be seduced; the churches were
abandoned and falling into ruin; the sacraments were despised and no
longer in use; Dualism had prevailed over Trinitarianism. Anxious as he
was to be the minister of the vengeance of God, he was powerless, for
his principal subjects had embraced the false faith, together with the
better part of his people. Spiritual punishment no longer had any
terror, and force alone would be of service. If the king would come,
Raymond promised personally to conduct him through the land and point
out the heretics to be chastised, and with their united efforts success
could hardly fail to crown the good work.[93]

Henry II. of England, who as Duke of Aquitaine was nearly concerned in
the matter, had just concluded a peace with Louis of France, and, free
from the preoccupation of mutual war, the monarchs conferred together
with the intention of proceeding in person with a heavy force in
response to Raymond's appeal. The Abbot of Clairvaux also wrote to
Alexander III., with more earnestness than courtesy, stimulating him to
do his duty and put down heresy as he had quelled schism; the two kings,
he said, were debating as to the measures to be taken, and no remissness
of the spiritual power must serve as excuse for lack of energy on the
part of the temporal: in Languedoc, priest and people were alike
infected, or rather the contagion proceeded from the shepherds to the
flock; the least the pope could do was to instruct his legate, Cardinal
Peter of St. Chrysogono, to remain longer in France and to attack the
heretics. During these preliminaries the zeal of the monarchs had
cooled, and in place of marching at the head of armies they contented
themselves with sending a mission consisting of the cardinal legate, the
archbishops of Narbonne and Bourges, Henry of Clairvaux and other
prelates, at the same time urging the Count of Toulouse, the Viscount of
Turenne, and other nobles to aid them.[94]

If Raymond was sincere, this was not the assistance he required. The
kings had resolved to depend upon the spiritual sword, and he was too
shrewd to exhaust his strength in an unaided struggle with his subjects,
especially as a menacing league was then forming against him by Alonso
II. of Aragon with the nobles of Narbonne, Nimes, Montpellier, and
Carcassonne. While, therefore, he protected the missionary prelates, he
made no pretence of drawing the carnal sword. When they entered Toulouse
the heretics crowded around them jeering and calling them hypocrites,
apostates, and other opprobrious names; and Henry of Clairvaux consoles
himself for the insignificant positive results of the mission with the
reflection that if it had been postponed until three years later, they
would not have found a single Catholic in the city. Lists of heretics,
interminable in length, were made out for them, at the head of which
stood Pierre Mauran, an old man of great wealth and influence, and so
universally respected by his co-religionists that he was popularly known
as John the Evangelist. He was selected to be made an example. After
many tergiversations he was convicted of heresy, when, to save his
confiscated property, he agreed to recant and undergo such penance as
might be assigned to him. Stripped to the waist, with the Bishop of
Toulouse and the Abbot of St. Sernin busily scourging him on either
side, he was led through an immense crowd to the high altar of the
Cathedral of St. Stephen, where, for the good of his soul, he was
ordered to undertake a three years' pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to be
daily scourged through the streets of Toulouse until his departure, to
make restitution of all Church lands occupied by him and of all moneys
acquired by usury, and to pay to the count five hundred pounds of silver
in redemption of his forfeited property. This resolute beginning
produced the desired effect, and multitudes of Cathari hastened to make
their peace with the Church; but how little real result it had is shown
by the fact that when Mauran returned from Palestine his fellow-citizens
thrice honored him with election to the office of capitoul, and his
family remained bitterly anti-Catholic. In 1234 an old man named Mauran
was condemned as a "perfected" heretic, and in 1235 another Mauran, one
of the capitouls, was excommunicated for impeding the introduction of
the Inquisition. The enormous fine for the benefit of the Count of
Toulouse was well calculated to excite the religious fervor of that
potentate, but even that stimulus failed to arouse him to the decisive
action which he doubtless felt to be impracticable. When the legate
desired to confute two heresiarchs, Raymond de Baimiac and Bernard
Raymond, the Catharan bishops of Val d'Aran and Toulouse, he was obliged
to give them a safe-conduct before they would present themselves before
him, and to content himself afterwards with excommunicating them; and
when proceedings were had against the powerful Roger Trencavel, Viscount
of Béziers, for keeping the Bishop of Albi in prison, excommunication
was likewise the only penalty, nor do we read that the captured prelate
was liberated. The mission so pompously heralded returned to France, and
we can readily believe the statement of contemporary chroniclers that it
had accomplished little or nothing. It is true that Raymond of Toulouse
and his nobles had been induced to issue an edict banishing all
heretics, but this remained a dead letter.[95]

It was in September of the same year, 1178, that Alexander III.
published the call for the assembling of the Third Council of Lateran,
and an ominous allusion in it to the tares which choke the wheat and
must be pulled up by the roots shows that he recognized the futility of
all measures heretofore adopted to check the daily growing power of
heresy. Accordingly, when the council met, in 1179, it bemoaned the
damnable perversity of the Patarins, who publicly seduced the faithful
throughout Gascony, the Albigeois, and the Toulousain; it commended the
employment of force by the secular power to compel men to their own
salvation; it anathematized, as usual, the heretics and those who
sheltered and protected them, and it included among heretics the
Cotereaux, Brabançons, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, and Triaverdins,
of whom more anon. It then proceeded to take a step of much significance
in proclaiming a crusade against all these enemies of the Church--the
first experiment of a resort to this weapon against Christians, which
afterwards became so common, and gave the Church in its private quarrels
the services of a warlike militia in every land, ever ready to be
mobilized. Two years' indulgence was promised to all who should take up
arms in the holy cause; they were received under the protection of the
Church, and those who should fall were assured of eternal salvation.
Among the restless and sinful warriors of the time it was not difficult
to raise an army, serving without pay, on terms like these.[96]

Immediately on his return from the council Pons, Archbishop of Narbonne,
made haste to publish this decree, with all its anathemas and
interdicts, and he included in its terms those who exacted new and
unaccustomed tolls from travellers--a rapidly growing extortion of the
feudal nobles which we shall constantly see reappear, like the
Cotereaux, in the Albigensian quarrels. Henry of Clairvaux had refused
the troublesome see of Toulouse, which had become vacant shortly after
his mission thither in 1178, but had accepted the cardinalate of Albano,
and he was forthwith sent as papal legate to preach and lead the
crusade. His eloquence enabled him to raise a considerable force of
horse and foot, with which, in 1181, he fell upon the territories of the
Viscount of Béziers and laid siege to the stronghold of Lavaur where the
Viscountess Adelaide, daughter of Raymond of Toulouse, and the leading
Patarins had taken refuge. We are told that Lavaur was captured through
a miracle, and that in various parts of France consecrated wafers
dropping blood announced the success of the Christian arms. Roger of
Béziers hastened to make his submission and swear no longer to protect
heresy. Raymond de Baimiac and Bernard Raymond, the Catharan bishops,
who were taken prisoners, renounced their heresy and were rewarded with
prebends in two churches of Toulouse. Many other heretics gave in their
submission, but returned to the false faith as soon as the danger was
past. The short term for which the Crusaders had enlisted expired; the
army disbanded itself, and the next year the cardinal-legate went back
to Rome, having accomplished, virtually, nothing except to increase the
mutual exasperation by the devastation of the country through which his
troops had passed. Raymond of Toulouse, involved in desperate war with
the King of Aragon, seems to have preserved complete indifference as to
this expedition, taking no part in it on either side.[97]

The Cotereaux and Brabançons, whom we have seen included with the
Patarins in the denunciations of the Council of Lateran, are a feature
of the period whose significance deserves a passing notice. We shall
find them constantly reappearing, and their maintenance was one of the
sins which gained for Raymond VI. of Toulouse almost as much hostility
from the Church as the support of heresy which was imputed to him. They
were freebooters, the precursors of the dreaded Free Companies which,
especially during the fourteenth century, were the terror of all
peaceable men, inflicting incalculable damage to the advancement of
civilization. Their various names of Brabançons, Hainaulters, Catalans,
Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, etc., show how wide-spread was the evil
and how every province ascribed the hated bands to its neighbors; while
the more familiar terms of Brigandi, Pilardi, Ruptarii, Mainatae
(mesnie), etc., express their function and occupation; and the names of
Cotarelli, Palearii, Triaverdins, Asperes, Vales, have afforded ample
field for fanciful etymology. They consisted of the idle and dissipated,
peasants who had been hopelessly ruined in the increasing desolation of
war, fugitives from serfdom, outlaws, escaped criminals, worthless
ecclesiastics, outcast monks, and in general the scum which society
threw upon the surface in its constant turmoil. They preyed upon the
community in bands of varying size, and their swords were ever at the
service of the nobles who would grant them pay or plunder when a
military force was needed for a longer term than the short campaign
prescribed as due from the vassal to his feudal lord. The chronicles of
the time are full of lamentations over their incessant devastations; and
it is significant of the relations between the Church and the community
that the ecclesiastical annalists insist that their blows ever fell
heavier on church and monastery than on the castle of the seigneur or
the cottage of the peasant. They ridiculed the priests as singers, and
it was one of their savage sports to beat them to death while mockingly
begging their intercession--"Sing for us, you singer, sing for us;" and
the culmination of their irreverent sacrilege was seen in their casting
out and trampling on the holy wafers whose precious pyxes they eagerly
seized. They were popularly classed as heretics, and were accused of
openly denying the existence of God. In 1181 Bishop Stephen of Tournay
feelingly describes his terror while traversing, on a mission from the
king, through the Toulousain, then recently the seat of war between the
Count of Toulouse and the King of Aragon, where deserted solitudes
revealed nothing but ruined churches and desolated villages, and where
he was ever in expectation of attack, from robbers or from the more
dreaded bands of Cotereaux. It was probably a result of the crusade
decreed against them, in common with the Patarins, that a concerted
attack was soon after made upon the bandits in central France. They were
driven together, and in July, 1183, at Châteaudun, a signal victory over
them was won, the number of the slain brigands being variously estimated
at from six thousand to ten thousand five hundred and twenty-five. An
immense booty was obtained, among which may perhaps be reckoned fifteen
hundred strumpets, who accompanied the robber host. The victors, who had
assumed the name of Paciferi in token of their peaceful object, were not
merciful. Fifteen days later we hear of the capture of one of the
routier captains with fifteen hundred men, who were all summarily
hanged; and about the same time of eighty more, who were caught and
blinded. In spite of these ruthless measures, the evil continued
unabated. The causes which produced it remained as active as ever, and
the services of the reckless and Godless mercenaries continued useful to
the great feudatories involved in endless war with their neighbors.[98]

       *       *       *       *       *

The admitted failure of the crusade of 1181 seems to have rendered the
Church hopeless, for the time, of making headway against heresy. For a
quarter of a century it was allowed to develop in comparative toleration
throughout the territories of Gascony, Languedoc, and Provence. It is
true that the decree of Lucius III., issued at Verona in 1184, is
important as attempting the foundation of an organized Inquisition, but
it worked no immediate effect. It is true that in 1195 another papal
legate, Michael, held a provincial council at Montpellier, where he
commanded the enforcement of the Lateran canons on all heretics and
Mainatæ, or brigands, whose property was to be confiscated and whose
persons reduced to slavery;[99] but all this fell dead upon the
indifference of the nobles, who, involved in perpetual war with each
other, preferred to risk the anathemas of the Church rather than to
complicate their troubles by attempting the extermination of a majority
of their subjects at the behest of a hierarchy which no longer inspired
respect or reverence. Perhaps, also, the fall of Jerusalem, in 1186, in
arousing an unprecedented fervor of fanaticism, directed it towards
Palestine, and left little for the vindication of the faith nearer home.
Be this as it may, no effective persecution was undertaken until the
vigorous ability of Innocent III., after vainly trying milder measures,
organized overwhelming war against heresy. During this interval the Poor
Men of Lyons arose, and were forced to make common cause with the
Cathari; the proselyting zeal which had been so successful in secrecy
and tribulation had free scope for its development, and had no effective
antagonism to dread from a negligent and disheartened clergy. The
heretics preached and made converts, while the priests were glad if they
could save a fraction of their tithes and revenues from rapacious nobles
and rebellious or indifferent parishioners. Heresy throve accordingly.
Innocent III. admitted the humiliating fact that the heretics were
allowed to preach and teach and make converts in public, and that unless
speedy measures were taken for their suppression there was danger that
the infection would spread to the whole Church. William of Tudela says
that the heretics possessed the Albigeois, the Carcasses, and the
Lauragais, and that to describe them as numerous throughout the whole
district from Béziers to Bordeaux is not saying enough. Walter Mapes
asserts that there were none of them in Britanny, but that they abounded
in Anjou, while in Aquitaine and Burgundy their number was infinite.
William of Puy-Laurens assures us that Satan possessed in peace the
greater part of southern France; the clergy were so despised that they
were accustomed to conceal the tonsure through very shame, and the
bishops were obliged to admit to holy orders whoever was willing to
assume them; the whole land, under a curse, produced nothing but thorns
and thistles, ravishers and bandits, robbers, murderers, adulterers, and
usurers. Cæsarius of Heisterbach declares that the Albigensian errors
increased so rapidly that they soon infected a thousand cities, and he
believes that if they had not been repressed by the sword of the
faithful the whole of Europe would have been corrupted. A German
inquisitor informs us that in Lombardy, Provence, and other regions
there were more schools of heresy than of orthodox theology, with more
scholars; that they disputed publicly, and summoned the people to public
debates; that they preached in the market-places, the fields, the
houses; and that there were none who dared to interfere with them, owing
to the multitude and power of their protectors. As we have seen, they
were regularly organized in dioceses; they had their educational
establishments for the training of women as well as men; and, at least
in one instance, all the nuns of a convent embraced Catharism without
quitting the house or the habit of their order.[100] Such was the
position to which corruption had reduced the Church. Intent upon the
acquisition of temporal power, it had well-nigh abandoned its spiritual
duties; and its empire, which rested on spiritual foundations, was
crumbling with their decay, and threatening to pass away like an
unsubstantial vision. There have been few crises in the history of the
Church more dangerous than that which Lothario Conti, when he assumed
the triple crown at the early age of thirty-eight, was called upon to
meet. In his consecration sermon he announced that one of his principal
duties would be the destruction of heresy, and of this he never lost
sight to the end, amid his endless conflicts with emperors and
princes.[101] It is fortunate for civilization that he possessed the
qualifications which enabled him to guide the shattered bark of St.
Peter through the tempest and among the rocks--if not always wisely, yet
with a resolute spirit, an unswerving purpose, and an unfailing trust
that accomplished his mission in the end.



The Church admitted that it had brought upon itself the dangers which
threatened it--that the alarming progress of heresy was caused and
fostered by clerical negligence and corruption. In his opening address
to the great Lateran Council, Innocent III. had no scruple in declaring
to the assembled fathers: "The corruption of the people has its chief
source in the clergy. From this arise the evils of Christendom: faith
perishes, religion is defaced, liberty is restricted, justice is trodden
under foot, the heretics multiply, the schismatics are emboldened, the
faithless grow strong, the Saracens are victorious;" and after the
futile attempt of the council to strike at the root of the evil,
Honorius III., in admitting its failure, repeated the assertion. In fact
this was an axiom which none were so hardy as to deny, yet when, in
1204, the legates whom Innocent had sent to oppose the Albigenses
appealed to him for aid against prelates whom they had failed to coerce,
and whose infamy of life gave scandal to the faithful and an
irresistible argument to the heretic, Innocent curtly bade them attend
to the object of their mission and not allow themselves to be diverted
by less important matters. The reply fairly indicates the policy of the
Church. Thoroughly to cleanse the Augean stable was a task from which
even Innocent's fearless spirit might well shrink. It seemed an easier
and more hopeful plan to crush revolt with fire and sword.[102]

We have seen how promptly and persistently Innocent took in hand the
heretics of Italy, nor were his dealings with those beyond the Alps
less active and decisive, though they manifest an evident desire to do
exact justice, and not to confound the innocent with the guilty. The
Nivernois had long been noted as a deeply infected district. The
troubles occasioned by Catharism at Vezelai in 1167 have already been
alluded to, and the sharp repression of heresy then had put an end to
its outward manifestation without destroying its germs. Towards the end
of the century Bishop Hugues of Auxerre earned the title of the Hammer
of Heretics by his energy and success in persecution; and though he was
likewise noted for avarice, usurpation of illegal rights, oppression of
his flock, and ferocity in ruining those who had offended him, his zeal
for the faith covered the multitude of sins, hardly needing the urgency
with which, in 1204, Innocent commanded him to clear his diocese of
heresy. By the pitiless employment of confiscation, exile, and the stake
he labored to purify it, but the evil was stubborn and constantly
reappeared. The chief propagator was an anchorite named Terric who dwelt
in a cavern near Corbigny, where he was finally surprised and burned,
through the exertions of Foulques de Neuilly, but the infection was not
confined to the poor and humble. In 1199 we find the Dean of Nevers and
the Abbot of St. Martin of Nevers appealing to Innocent from
prosecutions commenced against them, and the answers of the pope show
both his anxious desire that they should have full opportunity to prove
their innocence, and the uncertainty and cumbrous nature of the
ecclesiastical procedure of the time. In 1201 Bishop Hugues was more
successful with a criminal of equal importance, the knight, Everard of
Châteauneuf, to whom Count Hervey of Nevers had intrusted the
stewardship of his territories. In this case, the Legate Octavian called
a council in Paris, comprising many bishops and theologians, for his
trial; he was convicted principally on the testimony of Bishop Hugues
and was handed over to the secular arm and burned, after a respite for
the purpose of rendering an account of his office to Count Hervey. His
nephew, Thierry, an equally hardened heretic, escaped to Toulouse, where
five years later we find him a bishop among the Albigenses, who were
gratified in having a Frenchman as an accomplice. La Charité was an
especially active centre of heresy in the Nivernois, and from 1202 to
1208 there are frequent appeals to Innocent from its citizens, showing
that Rome was regarded as more indulgent than the local courts; and the
papal decisions continue to manifest a laudable desire to prevent
injustice. All this proved inefficient, and it was one of the first
places to which, in 1233, an inquisitor was sent. At Troyes, in 1200,
five male and three female Catharans were burned; and at Braisne, in
1204, a number were similarly put to death, among whom was Nicholas, the
most renowned painter in France.[103]

In 1199 another danger threatened the Church in Metz, where Waldensian
sectaries were found in possession of French translations of the New
Testament, the Psalter, Job, and other portions of Scripture, which they
contumaciously studied with unwearied perseverance and refused to
abandon at the command of their parish priests; nay, they were hardy
enough to assert that they knew more of Holy Writ than their pastors,
and that they had a right to the consolation which they found in its
perusal. The case was somewhat puzzling, since the Church as yet had had
no occasion to interdict formally the popular reading of the Bible, and
these poor folk were not accused of any definite heretical tenets.
Innocent, therefore, when applied to, admitted that there was nothing
condemnable in the desire to understand Scripture, but he added that
such is its profundity that even the learned and wise are unequal to its
comprehension, and consequently it is far beyond the grasp of the simple
and illiterate. The people of Metz were therefore exhorted to abandon
these reprehensible practices and return to a proper degree of respect
for their pastors if they wished pardon for their sins, with a
significant threat of compulsion in case of further obstinacy; and when
the simple and illiterate folk proved deaf to this command, a commission
was sent to the Abbot of Citeaux and two others, to proceed to Metz and
put a stop, without appeal, to these unlawful studies--with what success
we may infer from the fact that in 1231 the heretics of Trèves were
found in possession of German versions of Holy Writ.[104]

It was the stronghold of heresy in southern France, however, which
rightly gave rise to chief concern in Rome, and to this Innocent
resolutely bent his energies. Raymond VI. of Toulouse, in the full vigor
of mature manhood, at the age of thirty-eight, had, in January, 1195,
succeeded his father in the possession of territories which rendered him
the most powerful feudatory of the monarchy and almost an independent
sovereign. Besides the county of Toulouse, the duchy of Narbonne
conferred on him the dignity of first lay peer of France. He was
likewise suzerain, with more or less direct authority, of the Marquisate
of Provence, the Comtat Venaissin and the counties of St. Gilles, Foix,
Comminges, and Rodez, and of the Albigeois, Vivarais, Gévaudan, Velai,
Rouergue, Querci, and Agenois. Even in distant Italy he was known as the
greatest count on earth, with fourteen counts as his vassals, and his
troubadour flatterers assured him that he was the equal of emperors--

    Car il val tan qu'en la soa valor
    Auri' assatz ad un emperador.

Even after the sacrifice of a major part of the possessions of the
house, his son, Raymond VII., at his splendid Christmas court of 1244,
conferred the honor of knighthood on no less than two hundred nobles. So
far as matrimonial alliances can have weight, Raymond VI. was
strengthened with them on every side, for he was of close kindred to the
royal houses of Castile, Aragon, Navarre, France, and England. His
fourth wife was Joan of England, whom he married in 1196 in pursuance of
a favorable treaty with her brother Richard, thus relieving him of the
enmity of that redoubtable warrior, who, as Duke of Aquitaine, had
pressed his father hard. Yet that treaty with Richard gave secret
offence to Philip Augustus, destined to bear bitter fruit thereafter.
Almost at the same time he was liberated from another formidable
hereditary foe by the death of Alonso II. of Aragon, whose large
possessions and still larger pretensions in southern France had at times
almost threatened the extinction of the house of Toulouse. With his
successor, Pedro II., Raymond's relations were most friendly, cemented
in 1200 by his marriage with Pedro's sister Eleanor, and in 1205 by the
engagement of his young son, Raymond VII., with Pedro's infant daughter.
Though the distant sovereignty of France troubled him but little, yet
the friendliness manifested to him on his accession by Philip Augustus
was a not unimportant element in the prosperity which on every side
seemed to give him assurance of a peaceful and fortunate reign. Thus
secured against external aggression and confident of the future, he
recked little of an excommunication which had been fulminated against
him in 1195 by Celestin III. on account of the invasion of the rights of
the Abbey of St. Gilles--an excommunication which Innocent III. removed
shortly after his accession, but not without words of reproof and
warning which Raymond defiantly disregarded, thus laying the foundation
of a quarrel destined to result so disastrously. Though not a heretic,
his indifference on religious questions led him to tolerate the heresy
of his subjects. Most of his barons were either heretics or favorably
inclined to a faith which, by denying the pretensions of the Church,
justified its spoliation or, at least, liberated them from its
domination. Raymond himself was doubtless influenced by the same motive,
and when, in 1195, the Council of Montpellier anathematized all princes
who neglected to enforce the Lateran canons against heretics and
mercenaries, he paid no attention to its utterances. It would, in fact,
have required the most ardent fanaticism to lead a prince so
circumstanced to provoke his vassals, to lay waste his territories, to
massacre his subjects, and to invite assault from watchful rivals, for
the purpose of enforcing uniformity in religion and subjugation to a
Church known only by its rapacity and corruption. Toleration had endured
for nearly a generation; the land was blessed with peace after almost
interminable war, and all the dictates of worldly prudence counselled
him to follow in his father's footsteps. Surrounded by one of the gayest
and most cultured courts in Christendom, fond of women, a patron of
poets, somewhat irresolute of purpose, and enjoying the love of his
subjects, nothing could have appeared to him more objectless than a
persecution such as Rome held to be the most indispensable of his

The condition of the Church in his dominions might well excite the
indignation of a pontiff like Innocent III., who conscientiously
believed in the full measure of its awful authority and imprescriptible
rights. A chronicler assures us that among many thousands of the people
there were but few Catholics to be found; and although this is doubtless
an exaggeration, we have seen in the preceding chapter what rapid
strides heresy had made. How utterly discredited the Church had become,
and how loss of respect for the spirituality had led to spoliation of
the temporality is shown by the condition of the episcopate of the
capital, Toulouse. Bishop Fulcrand, who died in 1200, is described as
living perforce in apostolical poverty like a private citizen. His
tithes had been seized by the knights and the monasteries; his
first-fruits by the parish priests, and his only revenue was derived
from a few farms and from the public baking-oven over which he retained
a feudal right. In his extremity he brought suit against his own chapter
to compel them to assign to him the income of a single prebend as a
means of livelihood. When he visited the parishes, he was obliged to beg
an escort from the lords of the lands over which he passed. When
Fulcrand's wretched life came to an end, uninviting as the episcopate
seemed to be, it was the subject of a bitter and disgraceful contest
which ended in the success of Raymond de Rabastens, Archdeacon of Agen,
whose career was even more miserable than that of his predecessor.
Perhaps his poverty might excuse the unblushing simony with which he
sought to augment his revenues; but when he had pledged or parted with
all the remaining possessions of his see to defray the expenses of a
fruitless litigation with Raymond de Beaupuy, one of his vassals, he was
rightly adjudged a wicked and slothful servant, and was deposed with an
annual assignment of thirty livres toulousains to keep him from beggary.
His successor, Foulques of Marseilles, a distinguished troubadour who
had renounced the world and become Abbot of Florèges, used to relate
that when he took possession of the see he was obliged to water his
mules at home, having no one to send with them to the common
watering-place on the Garonne. Foulques was a man of different temper,
whose ruthless bigotry in time carried fire and sword throughout his

The evil was constantly increasing, and unless checked it seemed only a
question of time when the Church would disappear throughout all the
Mediterranean provinces of France. Yet it must be said for the credit of
the heretics that there was no manifestation of a persecuting spirit on
their part. The rapacity of the barons, it is true, was rapidly
depriving the ecclesiastics of their revenues and possessions; as they
neglected their duties, and as the law of the strongest was
all-prevailing, the invader of Church property had small scruple in
despoiling lazy monks and worldly priests whose numbers were constantly
diminishing; but the Cathari, however much they may have deemed
themselves the Church of the future, seem never to have thought of
extending their faith by force. They reasoned and argued and disputed
when they found a Catholic zealous enough to contend with them, and they
preached to the people, who had no other source of instruction; but,
content with peaceable conversions and zealous missionary work, they
dwelt in perfect amity with their orthodox neighbors. To the Church this
state of affairs was unbearable. It has always held the toleration of
others to be persecution of itself. By the very law of its being it can
brook no rivalry in its domination over the human soul; and, in the
present case, as toleration was slowly but surely leading to its
destruction, it was bound by its sense of duty no less than of
self-preservation to put an end to a situation so abhorrent. Yet, before
it could resort effectually to force it was compelled to make what
efforts it could at persuasion--not of heretics, indeed, but of their

Innocent was consecrated February 22, 1198, and already by April 1st we
find him writing to the Archbishop of Ausch, deploring the spread of
heresy and the danger of its becoming universal. The prelate and his
brethren are ordered to extirpate it by the utmost rigor of
ecclesiastical censures, and if necessary by bringing the secular arm to
bear through the assistance of princes and people. Not only are heretics
themselves to be punished, but all who have any dealings with them, or
who are suspect by reason of undue familiarity with them. In the
existing posture of affairs, the prelates to whom these commands were
addressed can only have regarded them with mingled derision and despair;
and we can readily imagine the replies in which they declared their zeal
and lamented their powerlessness. Innocent probably was aware of this in
advance and did not await the response. By April 21st he had two
commissioners ready to represent the Holy See on the spot--Rainier and
Gui--whom he sent armed with letters to all the prelates, princes,
nobles, and people of southern France, empowering them to enforce
whatever regulations they might see fit to employ to avert the imminent
peril to the Church arising from the countless increase of Cathari and
Waldenses, who corrupted the people by simulated works of justice and
charity. Those heretics who will not return to the true faith are to be
banished and their property confiscated; these provisions are to be
enforced by the secular authorities under penalty of interdict for
refusal or negligence, and with the reward for obedience of the same
indulgences as those granted for a pilgrimage to Rome or Compostella;
and all who consort or deal with heretics or show them favor or
protection are to share their punishment. It was apparently an
after-thought when Rainier, six months later, was empowered to remove
the source of the evil by reforming the churches and restoring
discipline. Rainier's powers evidently proved insufficient, and in July,
1199, they were enlarged, both as a reformer and a persecutor, and he
was appointed legate, to be received and obeyed with as much reverence
as the pope himself. About this time there appeared to be a gleam of
success in the application of William, Lord of Montpellier, for a legate
to assist him in suppressing heresy; but though William was a good
Catholic this special manifestation of zeal was due to his anxiety to
obtain the legitimation of the children of a second wife whom he had
married without legally divorcing a previous one, and as Innocent
refused to sanction the wrong, no great results were to be anticipated
for religion. A vigorous show of reform was also commenced by attacking
two high-placed and notorious offenders, the archbishops of Narbonne and
Ausch, whose personal wickedness, negligence, and toleration of heresy
had reduced the Church in their provinces to a most deplorable state;
but as these proceedings dragged on for ten or twelve years before the
removal of the sinners could be effected, no immediate purification
could be hoped for by the most sanguine.[107]

In fact, for a time at least, these spasmodic efforts at reform only
rendered matters worse. Angered and humiliated by the powers conferred
on the representatives of Rome, and alarmed at the attempts to punish
their evil lives, the local prelates were in no mood to second the
exertions put forth for the eradication of heresy, and at one time it
would even seem as though they might be driven to make common cause with
the heretics, in opposition to the Holy See, in order to protect
themselves and their clergy. Rainier had fallen sick in the summer of
1202 and had been replaced by Pierre de Castelnau and Raoul, two
Cistercian monks of Fontfroide, who succeeded, after infinite trouble,
by threats of the royal vengeance, in persuading the magistracy of
Toulouse to swear to abjure heresy and expel heretics, in return for an
oath pledging immunity and the preservation of the liberties of the
city; but no sooner were their backs turned than heresy was as flagrant
as before. Encouraged by this apparent success, they undertook the task
of obtaining a similar oath from Count Raymond. This they finally
accomplished, with equally slender result, but the process showed what
assistance they might expect from the hierarchy. When they summoned the
Archbishop of Narbonne to accompany them to the Count of Toulouse for
the purpose, he not only refused, but declined to aid them in any way,
and it was only after long entreaty that he would even furnish them a
horse for the journey. With the Bishop of Béziers their success was no
better. He likewise declined to go with them to Raymond; and when they
asked his co-operation in summoning the consuls of Béziers to abjure
heresy and defend the Church against heretics, he not only withheld it,
but impeded their efforts; and though he finally promised to
excommunicate the magistrates for contumacy, he never did so, in spite
of the fact that heresy so predominated in the town that the viscount
was obliged to authorize the cathedral canons to fortify the Church of
St. Peter for fear that the heretics would seize it. Possibly he was
deterred by the example made of his neighbor, Berenger, Bishop of
Carcassonne, who, in consequence of threatening his flock for heresy,
was expelled the city and a heavy fine imposed on any one who should
have dealings with him.[108]

Evidently pope and legate were of small account in the chaos which
reigned in Languedoc. The prelates refused to be reformed, and yet the
legates, in their disputations with the heretics, were so continually
answered with references to the evil lives of the clergy that they
recognized reformation as a condition precedent to any peaceable
conversion of the people. The heretics were daily growing bolder, as if
to show their scorn of the futile efforts of Innocent. About this very
time Esclairmonde, sister of the powerful Count of Foix, with five other
ladies of rank, was "hereticated" in a public assemblage of Cathari,
where many knights and nobles were present, and it was remarked that the
count was the only one who did not give the heretical salute or
"veneration" to the ministrants. Even Pedro the Catholic of Aragon
presided over a public debate at Carcassonne, between the legates and a
number of leading heretics, which had no result. The situation was
desperate, and Innocent may be pardoned if he reached the conclusion
that a deluge was needed to cleanse the land of sin and prepare it for a
new race.[109]

Enough time had been lost in half-measures while the evil was daily
increasing in magnitude, and Innocent proceeded to put forth the whole
strength of the Church. To the monks of Fontfroide he adjoined as chief
legate the "Abbot of abbots," Arnaud of Citeaux, head of the great
Cistercian Order, a stern, resolute, and implacable man, full of zeal
for the cause and gifted with rare persistency. Since the time of St.
Bernard the abbots of Citeaux had seemed to feel a personal
responsibility for the suppression of heresy in Languedoc, and Arnaud
was better fitted for the work before him than any of his predecessors.
To the legation thus constituted, at the end of May, 1204, Innocent
issued a fresh commission of extraordinary powers. The prelates of the
infected provinces were bitterly reproached for the negligence and
timidity which had permitted heresy to assume its alarming proportions.
They were ordered to obey humbly whatever the legates might see fit to
command, and the vengeance of the Holy See was threatened for slackness
or contumacy. Wherever heresy existed, the legates were armed with
authority "to destroy, throw down, or pluck up whatever is to be
destroyed, thrown down, or plucked up, and to plant and build whatever
is to be built or planted." With one blow the independence of the local
churches was destroyed and an absolute dictatorship was created.
Recognizing, moreover, of how little worth were ecclesiastical censures,
Innocent proceeded to appeal to force, which was evidently the only
possible cure for the trouble. Not only were the legates directed to
deliver all impenitent heretics to the secular arm for perpetual
proscription and confiscation of property, but they were empowered to
offer complete remission of sins, the same as for a crusade to the Holy
Land, to Philip Augustus and his son, Louis Cœur-de-Lion, and to all
nobles who should aid in the suppression of heresy. The dangerous
classes were also stimulated by the prospect of pardon and plunder,
through a special clause authorizing the legates to absolve all under
excommunication for crimes of violence who would join in persecuting
heretics--an offer which subsequent correspondence shows was not
unfruitful. To Philip Augustus, also, Innocent wrote at the same time,
earnestly exhorting him to draw the sword and slay the wolves who had
thus far found no one to withstand their ravages in the fold of the
Lord. If he could not proceed in person, let him send his son, or some
experienced leader, and exercise the power conferred on him for the
purpose by Heaven. Not only was remission of sins promised him, as for
a voyage to Palestine, but he was empowered to seize and add to his
dominions the territories of all nobles who might not join in
persecution and expel the hated heretic.[110]

Innocent might well feel disheartened at the failure of this vigorous
move. He had played his last card and lost. The prelates of the infected
provinces, indignant at the usurpation of their rights, were less
disposed than ever to second the efforts of the legates. Philip Augustus
was unmoved by the dazzling bribes, spiritual and temporal, offered to
him. He had already had the benefit of an indulgence for a crusade to
the Holy Land, and had probably not found his spiritual estate much
benefited thereby; while his recent acquisitions in Normandy, Anjou,
Poitou, and Aquitaine, at the expense of John of England, required his
whole attention, and might be endangered by creating fresh enmities in
too sudden a renewal of conquest. He took no steps, therefore, in
response to the impassioned arguments of Innocent, and the legates found
the heretics more obdurate than ever. Pierre de Castelnau grew so
discouraged that he begged the pope to permit him to return to his
abbey; but Innocent refused permission, assuring him that God would
reward him according to the labor rather than to the result. A second
urgent appeal to Philip in February, 1205, was equally fruitless; and a
concession in the following June, to Pedro of Aragon, of all the lands
that he could acquire from heretics, and a year later of all their
goods, was similarly without result, except that Pedro seized the Castle
of Escure, belonging to the papacy, which had been occupied by Cathari.
If something appeared to be gained when at Toulouse, in 1205, some dead
heretics were prosecuted and their bones exhumed, it was speedily lost,
for the municipality promptly adopted a law forbidding trials of the
dead who had not been accused during life, unless they had been
hereticated on the death-bed.[111]

The work might well seem hopeless, and all three legates were on the
point of abandoning it peremptorily in despair, even Arnaud's iron will
yielding to the insurmountable passive resistance of a people among whom
the heretics would not be converted and the orthodox could not be
stimulated to persecution. Bishop Foulques of Toulouse used to relate
that in a disputation at which he was present the Cathari were, as
usual, vanquished, when he asked Pons de Rodelle, a knight renowned for
wisdom and a good Catholic, why he did not drive from his lands those
who were so manifestly in error. "How can we do it?" replied the knight.
"We have been brought up with these people, we have kindred among them,
and we see them live righteously." Dogmatic zeal fell powerless before
such kindliness; and we can readily believe the monk of Vaux-Cernay,
when he tells us that the barons of the land were nearly all protectors
and receivers of heretics, loving them fervently and defending them
against God and the Church.[112]

The case seemed desperate, when a new light fell as though from heaven
upon those groping blindly in the darkness. About mid-summer in 1206 the
three legates met at Montpellier, and the result of their conference was
a determination to withdraw from the thankless labor. By chance, a
Spanish prelate, Diego de Azevedo, Bishop of Osma, arrived there on his
return from Rome, where he had vainly supplicated Innocent to permit his
resignation of his bishopric in order that he might devote his life to
missionary work among the infidel. On learning the decision of the
legates, he earnestly dissuaded them, and suggested their dismissing
their splendid retinues and worldly pomp and going among the people,
barefooted and poor like the apostles, to preach the Word of God. The
idea was so novel that the legates hesitated, but finally assented, if
an example were set them by one in authority. Diego offered himself for
the purpose and was accepted, whereupon he sent his servitors home,
retaining only his sub-prior, Domingo de Guzman, who had already, on the
voyage towards Rome, converted a heretic in Toulouse. Arnaud returned to
Citeaux to hold a general chapter of the order and to obtain recruits
for the missionary work, while the other two legates with Diego and
Dominic commenced their experiment at Caraman, where for eight days they
disputed with the heresiarchs Baldwin and Thierry, the latter of whom we
have seen driven from the Nivernois some years before. We are told that
they converted all the simple folk, but that the lord of the castle
would not allow the two disputants to be expelled.[113]

Further colloquies of similar character are recorded, occupying the
autumn and winter, and, with the opening of spring, in 1207, Arnaud had
held his chapter and obtained numerous volunteers for the pious work,
among them no less than twelve abbots. Taking boats, they descended the
Saone to the Rhone, without horses or retinue, and proceeded to their
field of labor, where they separated into twos and threes, wandering
barefoot among the towns and villages and seeking to gather in the lost
sheep of Israel. For three months they thus labored diligently, like
real evangelists, finding thousands of heretics and few orthodox, but
the harvest was scanty and conversions rarely rewarded their pains--in
fact, the only practical result was to excite the heretics to renewed
missionary zeal. It speaks well for the tolerant temper of the Cathari
that men who had been invoking the most powerful sovereigns of
Christendom to exterminate them with fire and sword, should have
incurred no real danger in a task apparently so full of risk. The
missionaries had to complain of occasional insult, but never were even
threatened with injury, except perhaps, at Béziers, Pierre de Castelnau,
who seems to have attracted to himself the special dislike of the
sectaries. It shows, moreover, the zealous care with which the Church
restricted the office of preaching that the legates, in spite of the
extraordinary powers with which they were clothed, felt obliged to apply
to Innocent for special authority to confer the license to teach in
public on those whom they deemed worthy. The favorable answer of the
pope was in reality one of the important events of the century, for it
gave the impulsion out of which eventually grew the great Dominican

Pierre de Castelnau left his colleagues and visited Provence to make
peace among the nobles, in the hope of uniting them for the expulsion of
heretics. Raymond of Toulouse refused to lay down his arms until the
intrepid monk excommunicated him and laid his dominions under interdict,
finally reproaching him bitterly to his face for his perjuries and
other misdeeds. Raymond submitted in patience to this reproof, while
Pierre applied to Innocent for confirmation of the sentence. By this
time, in fact, Raymond had acquired the special hatred of the papalists,
through his obstinate neglect to persecute his heretical subjects, in
spite of his readiness to take what oaths were required of him.
Notwithstanding his outward conformity to orthodoxy, they accused him of
being at heart a heretic, and stories were circulated that he always
carried with him "perfected" heretics, disguised in ordinary vestments,
together with a New Testament, that he might be "hereticated" in case of
sudden death; that he had declared that he would rather be like a
certain crippled heretic living in poverty at Castres than be a king or
an emperor; that he knew that he would in the end be disinherited for
the sake of the "Good Men," but that he was ready to suffer even
beheading for them. All this and much more, including exaggerated gossip
as to his undoubted frailties, was diligently published in order to
render him odious, but there is no proof that his religious indifference
ever led him to deviate from the faith, and no accusation that he had
ever interfered with the legates in their mission. They were free to
make what converts they could by persuasion or argument, but he
committed the unpardonable crime of refusing at their bidding to plunge
his dominions in blood.[115]

Innocent promptly confirmed the sentence of his legate, May 29, 1207, in
an epistle to Raymond which was an unreserved expression of the passions
accumulated through long years of zealous effort frustrated in its
results. In the harshest vituperation of ecclesiastical rhetoric,
Raymond was threatened with the vengeance of God here and hereafter. The
excommunication and interdict were to be strictly observed until due
satisfaction and obedience were rendered; and he was warned that these
must be speedy, or he would be deprived of certain territories which he
held of the Church, and if this did not suffice, the princes of
Christendom would be summoned to seize and partition his dominions so
that the land might be forever freed from heresy. Yet in the recital of
misdeeds which were held to justify this rigorous sentence there was
nothing that had not been for two generations so universal in Languedoc
that it might almost be regarded as a part of the public law of the
land. He had continued to wage war when desired by the legates to make
peace, and had refused to suspend operations on feast-days or holidays;
he had violated his oaths to purge his land of heresy, and had shown
such favor to heretics as to render his own faith vehemently suspected;
in derision of the Christian religion he had bestowed public office on
Jews; he had despoiled the Church and ill-treated certain bishops; he
had continued to employ the robber bands of mercenaries and had
increased the tolls. Such is the summary of crime alleged against him,
which we may reasonably assume to cover everything possibly susceptible
of proof.[116]

Innocent waited awhile to prove the effect of this threat and the
results of the missionary effort so auspiciously started by Bishop
Azevedo. Both were null. Raymond, indeed, made peace with the Provençal
nobles, and was released from excommunication, but he showed no signs of
awakening from his exasperating indifference on the religious question,
while the Cistercian abbots, disheartened by the obstinacy of the
heretics, dropped off one by one, and retired to their monasteries.
Legate Raoul died, and Arnaud of Citeaux was called elsewhere by
important affairs. Bishop Azevedo went to Spain to set his diocese in
order and return to devote his life to the work; but he, too, died when
on the point of setting out. He had left behind him the saintly Dominic,
who was quietly bringing together a few ardent souls, the germs of the
great Order of Preachers, and Pierre de Castelnau remained as the sole
representative of Rome until Raoul was replaced by the Bishop of
Conserans. Everything thus had been tried and had failed, except the
appeal to the sword, and to this Innocent again recurred with all the
energy of despair. A milder tone towards Philip Augustus with regard to
his matrimonial complications between Ingeburga of Denmark and Agnes of
Meran might predispose him to vindicate energetically the wrongs of the
Church; but, while condescending to this, Innocent now addressed, not
only the king, but all the faithful throughout France, and the leading
magnates were honored with special missives. November 17, 1207, the
letters were sent out, pathetically representing the incessant and
alarming growth of heresy and the failure of all endeavors to bring the
heretics to reason, to frighten them with threats, or to allure them
with blandishments. Nothing was left but an appeal to arms; and to all
who would embark in this good work the same indulgences were offered as
for a crusade to Palestine. The lands of all engaged in it were taken
under the special protection of holy Church, and those of the heretics
were abandoned to the spoiler. All creditors of Crusaders were obliged
to postpone their claims without interest, and clerks taking part were
empowered to pledge their revenues in advance for two years.[117]

Earnest and impassioned as was this appeal, it fell, like the previous
one, upon deaf ears. Innocent had for years been invoking the religious
martial ardor of Europe in aid of the Latin kingdoms of the East, and
that ardor seemed for a time exhausted. Philip Augustus coolly responded
that his relations with England did not allow him to let the forces of
his kingdom be divided, but that, if he could be assured of a two years'
truce, then, if the barons and knights of France wanted to undertake a
crusade, he would permit them, and aid it with fifty livres a day for a
year. Apparently the present effort was destined to prove as inefficient
as the former one had been, when a startling incident suddenly changed
the whole aspect of affairs. The murder of the legate Pierre de
Castelnau sent a thrill of horror throughout Christendom like that
caused by the assassination of Becket thirty-eight years before. Of its
details, however, the accounts are so contradictory that it is
impossible to speak of it with precision. This much we know, that Pierre
had greatly angered Raymond by the bitterness of his personal
reproaches; that the count, aroused by the sense of impending danger in
the fresh call for a crusade, had invited the legates to an interview at
St. Gilles, promising to show himself in all things an obedient son of
the Church; that difficulties arose in the conference, the demands of
the legates being greater than Raymond was willing to concede. The
Romance version of the catastrophe is simply that, during the
conference, Pierre became entangled in an angry religious dispute with
one of the gentlemen of the court, who drew his dagger and slew him;
that the count was greatly concerned at an event so deplorable, and
would have taken summary vengeance on the murderer but for his escape
and hiding with friends at Beaucaire. The story carried to Rome by the
Bishops of Conserans and Toulouse, who hastened thither to inflame
Innocent against Raymond, was that, wearied with the count's
tergiversations, the legates announced their intentions to withdraw,
when he was heard to threaten them with death, saying that he would
track them by land and water. That the Abbot of St. Gilles and the
citizens, unable to appease his wrath, furnished the legates with an
escort, and they reached the Rhone in safety, where they passed the
night. While preparing to cross the river in the morning (January 16,
1208), two strangers, who had joined the party, approached the legates,
and one of them suddenly thrust his lance through Pierre, who, turning
on his murderer, said, "May God forgive thee, for I forgive thee!" and
speedily breathed his last; and that Raymond, so far from punishing the
crime, protected and rewarded the perpetrator, even honoring him with a
seat at his own table. The papal account, it must be owned, is somewhat
impaired in effect by the remark that Pierre, as a martyr, would
certainly have shone forth in miracles but for the incredulity of the
people. It may well be that a proud and powerful prince, exasperated by
continued objurgation and menace, may have uttered some angry
expression, which an over-zealous servitor hastened to translate into
action, and Raymond, certainly, never was able to clear himself of
suspicion of complicity; but there are not wanting indications to show
that Innocent eventually regarded his exculpation as satisfactory.[118]

The crime gave the Church an enormous advantage, of which Innocent
hastened to make the most. On March 10 he issued letters to all the
prelates in the infected provinces commanding that, in all churches, on
every Sunday and feast-day, the murderers and their abettors, including
Raymond, be excommunicated with bell, book, and candle, and every place
cursed with their presence was declared under interdict. As no faith was
to be kept with him who kept not faith with God, all of Raymond's
vassals were released from their oaths of allegiance, and his lands were
declared the prey of any Catholic who might assail them, while, if he
applied for pardon, his first sign of repentance must be the
extermination of heresy throughout his dominions. These letters were
likewise sent to Philip Augustus and his chief barons, with eloquent
adjurations to assume the cross, and rescue the imperilled Church from
the assaults of the emboldened heretics; commissioners were sent to
negotiate and enforce a truce for two years between France and England,
that nothing might interfere with the projected crusade, and every
effort was made to transmute into warlike zeal the horror which the
sacrilegious murder was so well fitted to arouse. Arnaud of Citeaux
hastened to call a general chapter of his Order, where it was
unanimously resolved to devote all its energies to preaching the
crusade, and soon multitudes of fiery monks were inflaming the passions
of the people, and offering redemption in every church and on every
market-place in Europe.[119]

The flame which had been so long kindling burst forth at last. To
estimate fully the force of these popular ebullitions in the Middle
Ages, we must bear in mind the susceptibility of the people to
contagious emotions and enthusiasms of which we know little in our
colder day. A trifle might start a movement which the wisest could not
explain nor the most powerful restrain. It was during the preaching of
this crusade that villages and towns in Germany were filled with women
who, unable to expend their religious ardor in taking the cross,
stripped themselves naked and ran silently through the roads and
streets. Still more symptomatic of the diseased spirituality of the time
was the Crusade of the Children, which desolated thousands of homes.
From vast districts of territory, incited apparently by a simultaneous
and spontaneous impulse, crowds of children set forth, without leaders
or guides, in search of the Holy Land; and their only answer, when
questioned as to their object, was that they were going to Jerusalem.
Vainly did parents lock their children up; they would break loose and
disappear; and the few who eventually found their way home again could
give no reason for the overmastering longing which had carried them
away. Nor must we lose sight of other and less creditable springs of
action which brought to all crusades the vile, who came for license and
spoil, and the base, who sought the immunity conferred by the quality of
Crusader. This is illustrated by the case of a knave who took the cross
to evade the payment of a debt contracted at the fair of Lille, and was
on the point of escaping when he was arrested and delivered to his
creditor. For this invasion of immunity the Archbishop of Reims
excommunicated the Countess Matilda of Flanders, and placed her whole
land under interdict in order to compel his release. How this principle
worked to secure the higher order of recruits was shown when Gui, Count
of Auvergne, who had been excommunicated for the unpardonable offence of
imprisoning his brother, the Bishop of Clermont, was absolved on
condition of joining the Host of the Lord.[120]

Other special motives contributed in this case to render the crusade
attractive. There was antagonism of race, jealousy of the wealth and
more advanced civilization of the South, and a natural desire to
complete the Frankish conquest so often begun and never yet
accomplished. More than all, the pardon to be gained was the same as
that for the prolonged and dangerous and costly expedition to Palestine,
while here the distance was short and the term of service limited to
forty days. Paradise, surely, could not be gained on easier terms, and
the preachers did not fail to point out that the labor was small and the
reward illimitable. With Christendom fairly aroused by the murder of the
legate, there could be no doubt, therefore, as to the result. Whether
Philip Augustus contributed, in men or money, is more than doubtful, but
he made no opposition to the service of his barons, and endeavored to
turn his acquiescence to account in the affair of his divorce, while he
declined personal participation on the ground of the threatening aspect
of his relations with King John and the Emperor Otho. He significantly
warned the pope, however, that Raymond's territories could not be
exposed to seizure until he had been condemned for heresy, which had not
yet been done, and that when such condemnation should be pronounced it
would be for the suzerain, and not for the Holy See, to proclaim the
penalty. This was strictly in accordance with existing law, for the
principle had not yet been introduced into European jurisprudence that
suspicion of heresy annulled all rights--a principle which the case of
Raymond went far to establish, for the Church without a trial stripped
him of his possessions and then decided that he had forfeited them,
after which the king could only acquiesce in the decision. Scruples of
this kind, however, did not dampen the zeal of those whom the Church
summoned to defend the faith. Many great nobles assumed the cross--the
Duke of Burgundy and the Counts of Nevers, St. Pol, Auxerre, Montfort,
Geneva, Poitiers, Forez, and others, with numerous bishops. With time
there came large contingents from Germany, under the Dukes of Austria
and Saxony, the Counts of Bar, of Juliers, and of Berg. Recruits were
drawn from distant Bremen on the one hand, and Lombardy on the other,
and we even hear of Slavonian barons leaving the original home of
Catharism to combat it in its seat of latest development. There was
salvation to be had for the pious, knightly fame for the warrior, and
spoil for the worldly; and the army of the Cross, recruited from the
chivalry and the scum of Europe, promised to be strong enough to settle
decisively the question which had now for three generations defied all
the efforts of the faithful.[121]

All this was, necessarily, a work of time, and Raymond sought in the
interval to conjure the coming storm. Roused at last from his dream of
security, he recognized the fatal position in which the murder of the
legate had placed him, and if he could save his dignities he was ready
to sacrifice his honor and his subjects. He hastened to his uncle,
Philip Augustus, who received him kindly and counselled submission, but
forbade an appeal to his enemy, the Emperor Otho. Raymond, however, in
his despair, sought the emperor, whose vassal he was for his territories
beyond the Rhone, obtaining no help, and incurring the ill-will of
Philip, which was of much greater moment. On his return, learning that
Arnaud was about to hold a council at Aubinas, Raymond hurried thither
with his nephew, the young Raymond Roger, Viscount of Béziers, and
endeavored to prove his innocence and make his peace, but was coldly
refused a hearing, and was referred to Rome. Returning much
disconcerted, he took counsel with his nephew, who advised resisting the
invasion to the death; but Raymond's courage was unequal to the manly
part. They quarrelled, whereupon the hot-headed youth commenced to make
war on his uncle, while the latter sent envoys to Rome for terms of
submission, and asked for new and impartial legates to replace those who
were irrevocably prejudiced against him. Innocent demanded that, as
security for his good faith, he should place in the hands of the Church
his seven most important strongholds, after which he should be heard,
and, if he could prove his innocence, be absolved. Raymond gladly
ratified the conditions, and earnestly welcomed Milo and Theodisius, the
new representatives of the Church, who treated him with such apparent
friendliness that, when Milo subsequently died at Arles, he mourned
greatly, believing that he had lost a protector who would have saved him
from his misfortunes. He did not know that the legates had secret
instructions from Innocent to amuse him with fair promises, to detach
him from the heretics, and when they should be disposed of by the
Crusaders, to deal with him as they should see fit.[122]

He was played with accordingly, skilfully, cruelly, and remorselessly.
The seven castles were duly delivered to Master Theodisius, thus fatally
crippling him for resistance; the consuls of Avignon, Nîmes, and St.
Gilles were sworn to renounce their allegiance to him if he did not obey
implicitly the future commands of the pope, and he was reconciled to the
Church by the most humiliating of ceremonies. The new legate, Milo, with
some twenty archbishops and bishops, went to St. Gilles, the scene of
his alleged crime, and there, June 18, 1209, arrayed themselves before
the portal of the Church of St. Gilles. Stripped to the waist, Raymond
was brought before them as a penitent, and swore on the relics of St.
Gilles to obey the Church in all matters whereof he was accused. Then
the legate placed a stole around his neck, in the fashion of a halter,
and led him into the Church, while he was industriously scourged on his
naked back and shoulders up to the altar, where he was absolved. The
curious crowd assembled to witness the degradation of their lord was so
great that return through the entrance was impossible, and Raymond was
carried down to the crypt where the martyred Pierre de Castelnau lay
buried, whose spirit was granted the satisfaction of seeing his humbled
enemy led past his tomb with shoulders dropping blood. From a
churchman's point of view the conditions of absolution laid upon him
were not excessive, though well known to be impossible of fulfilment.
Besides the extirpation of heresy, he was to dismiss all Jews from
office and all his mercenary bands from his service; he was to restore
all property of which the churches had been despoiled, to keep the roads
safe, to abolish all arbitrary tolls, and to observe strictly the Truce
of God.[123]

All that Raymond had gained by these sacrifices was the privilege of
joining the crusade and assisting in the subjugation of his country.
Four days after the absolution he solemnly assumed the cross at the
hands of the legate Milo and took the oath--"In the name of God, I,
Raymond, Duke of Narbonne, Count of Toulouse, and Marquis of Provence,
swear with hand upon the Holy Gospels of God that when the crusading
princes shall reach my territories I will obey their commands in all
things, as well as regards security as whatever they may see fit to
enjoin for their benefit and that of the whole army." It is true that in
July, Innocent, faithful to his prearranged duplicity, wrote to Raymond
benignantly congratulating him on his purgation and submission, and
promising him that it should redound to his worldly as well as spiritual
benefit; but the same courier carried a letter to Milo urging him to
continue as he had begun; and Milo, on whom Raymond was basing his
hopes, soon after, hearing a report that the count had gone to Rome,
warned his master, with superabundant caution, not to spoil the game.
"As for the Count of Toulouse," writes the legate, "that enemy of truth
and justice, if he has sought your presence to recover the castles in my
hands, as he boasts that he can easily do, be not moved by his tongue,
skilful only in his slanders, but let him, as he deserves, feel the hand
of the Church heavier day by day. After I had received security for his
oath on at least fifteen heads, he has perjured himself on them all.
Thus he has manifestly forfeited his rights on Melgueil as well as the
seven castles which I hold. They are so strong by nature and art that,
with the assistance of the barons and people who are devoted to the
Church, it will be easy to drive him from the land which he has polluted
with his vileness." Already the absolution which had cost so much was
withdrawn, and Raymond was again excommunicated and his dominions laid
under a fresh interdict, because he had not, within sixty days, during
which he was with the Crusaders, performed the impossible task of
expelling all heretics, and the city of Toulouse lay under a special
anathema because it had not delivered to the Crusaders all the heretics
among its citizens. It is true that subsequently a delay until
All-Saints' (Nov. 1) was mercifully granted to Raymond to perform all
the duties imposed on him; but he was evidently prejudged and
foredoomed, and nothing but his destruction would satisfy the implacable

Meanwhile the Crusaders had assembled in numbers such as never before,
according to the delighted Abbot of Citeaux, had been gathered together
in Christendom; and it is quite possible that there is but slight
exaggeration in the enumeration of twenty thousand cavaliers and more
than two hundred thousand foot, including villeins and peasants, besides
two subsidiary contingents which advanced from the West. The legates had
been empowered to levy what sums they saw fit from all the ecclesiastics
in the kingdom, and to enforce the payment by excommunication. As for
the laity, their revenues were likewise subjected to the legatine
discretion, with the proviso that they were not to be coerced into
payment without the consent of their seigneurs. With all the wealth of
the realm thus under contribution, backed by the exhaustless treasures
of salvation, it was not difficult to provide for the motley host whose
campaign opened under the spirit-stirring adjuration of the vicegerent
of God--"Forward, then, most valiant soldiers of Christ! Go to meet the
forerunners of Antichrist and strike down the ministers of the Old
Serpent! Perhaps you have hitherto fought for transitory glory; fight
now for everlasting glory; you have fought for the world; fight now for
God! We do not exhort you to perform this great service to God for any
earthly reward, but for the kingdom of Christ, which we most confidently
promise you!"[125]

Under this inspiration the Crusaders assembled at Lyons about St. John's
day (June 24, 1209), and Raymond hastened from the scene of his
humiliation at St. Gilles to complete his infamy by leading them against
his countrymen, offering them his son as a hostage in pledge of his good
faith. He was welcomed by them at Valence, and, under the supreme
command of Legate Arnaud, guided them against his nephew of Béziers. The
latter, after a vain attempt at composition with the legate, who sternly
refused his submission, had hurriedly placed his strongholds in
condition of defence and levied what forces he could to resist the

The war, it should be observed, despite its religious origin, was
already assuming a national character. The position taken by Raymond and
the rejected submission of the Viscount of Béziers, in fact, deprived
the Church of all colorable excuse for further action; but the men of
the North were eager to complete the conquest commenced seven centuries
before by Clovis, and the men of the South, Catholics as well as
heretics, were virtually unanimous in resisting the invasion,
notwithstanding the many pledges given by nobles and cities at the
commencement. We hear nothing of religious dissensions among them, and
comparatively little of assistance rendered to the invaders by the
orthodox, who might be presumed to welcome the Crusaders as liberators
from the domination or the presence of a hated antagonistic faith.
Toleration had become habitual and race-instinct was too strong for
religious feeling, presenting almost the solitary example of the kind
during the Middle Ages, when nationality had not yet been developed out
of feudalism and religious interests were universally regarded as
dominant. This explains the remarkable fact that the pusillanimous
course of Raymond was distasteful to his own subjects, who were
constantly urging him to resistance, and who clung to him and his son
with a fidelity that no misfortune or selfishness could shake, until the
extinction of the House of Toulouse left them without a leader.

Raymond Roger of Béziers had fortified and garrisoned his capital, and
then, to the great discouragement of his people, had withdrawn to the
safer stronghold of Carcassonne. Reginald, Bishop of Béziers, was with
the crusading forces, and when they arrived before the city, humanely
desiring to save it from destruction, he obtained from the legate
authority to offer it full exemption if the heretics, of whom he had a
list, were delivered up or expelled. Nothing could be more moderate,
from the crusading standpoint, but when he entered the town and called
the chief inhabitants together the offer was unanimously spurned.
Catholic and Catharan were too firmly united in the bonds of common
citizenship for one to betray the other. They would, as they
magnanimously declared, although abandoned by their lord, rather defend
themselves to such extremity that they should be reduced to eat their
children. This unexpected answer stirred the legate to such wrath that
he swore to destroy the place with fire and sword--to spare neither age
nor sex, and not to leave one stone upon another. While the chiefs of
the army were debating as to the next step, suddenly the camp-followers,
a vile and unarmed folk as the legates reported, inspired by God, made a
rush for the walls and carried them, without orders from the leaders and
without their knowledge. The army followed, and the legate's oath was
fulfilled by a massacre almost without parallel in European history.
From infancy in arms to tottering age, not one was spared--seven
thousand, it is said, were slaughtered in the Church of Mary Magdalen to
which they had fled for asylum--and the total number of slain is set
down by the legates at nearly twenty thousand, which is more probable
than the sixty thousand or one hundred thousand reported by less
trustworthy chroniclers. A fervent Cistercian contemporary informs us
that when Arnaud was asked whether the Catholics should be spared, he
feared the heretics would escape by feigning orthodoxy, and fiercely
replied, "Kill them all, for God knows his own!" In the mad carnage and
pillage the town was set on fire, and the sun of that awful July day
closed on a mass of smouldering ruins and blackened corpses--a holocaust
to a deity of mercy and love whom the Cathari might well be pardoned for
regarding as the Principle of Evil. To the orthodox the whole was so
manifestly the work of God that the Crusaders did not doubt that the
blessing of Heaven attended their arms. Indeed, other miracles were not
wanting to encourage them. Although in their senseless havoc they
destroyed all the mills within their reach, bread was always
miraculously plentiful and cheap in the camp--thirty loaves for a denier
was the ordinary price; and during the whole campaign it was noted as
an encouragement from heaven that no vulture, or crow, or other bird
ever flew over the host.[127]

Similar good-fortune had attended the smaller crusading armies on their
way to join the main body. One, under the Viscount of Turenne and Gui
d'Auvergne, had captured the almost impregnable castle of Chasseneuil
after a short siege. The garrison obtained terms and were allowed to
depart, but the inhabitants were left to the discretion of the
conquerors. The choice between conversion and the stake was offered
them, and, proving obstinate in their errors, they were pitilessly
burned--an example which was generally followed. The other force, under
the Bishop of Puy, had put to ransom Caussade and St. Antonin, and was
generally censured for this misplaced avaricious mercy. Such terror
pervaded the land that when a fugitive came to the Castle of Villemur
falsely reporting that the Crusaders were coming and would treat it like
the rest, the inhabitants abandoned it under cover of the night and
themselves set it on fire. Innumerable strongholds, in fact, were
surrendered without a blow, or were found vacant, though amply
provisioned and strengthened for a siege, and a mountainous region
bristling with castles, which would have cost years to conquer if
obstinately defended, was occupied in a campaign of a month or two. The
populous and mutinous town of Narbonne, to save itself, adopted the
severest laws against heresy, raised a large subvention in aid of the
crusade, and surrendered sundry castles as security.[128]

Without dallying over the ruins of Béziers, the Crusaders, still under
the guidance of Raymond, moved swiftly to Carcassonne, a place regarded
as impregnable, where Raymond Roger had elected to make his final stand.
The wiser heads among the invaders, looking to a permanent occupation of
the country, had no desire to repeat the example already given, and have
on their hands a land without defences. Arriving before the walls on
August 1st, only nine days after the sack of Béziers, a regular siege
was commenced. The outer suburb, which was scarce defensible, was
carried and burned after a desperate resistance. The second suburb,
strongly fortified, cost a prolonged effort, in which all the resources
of the military art of the day were brought into play on both sides, and
when it was no longer tenable the besieged evacuated and burned it.
There remained the city itself, the capture of which seemed hopeless.
Tradition related that Charlemagne had vainly besieged it for seven
years and had finally become its master only by a miracle. Terms were
offered to the viscount; he was free to depart with eleven of his own
choosing, if the city and its people were abandoned to the discretion of
the Crusaders, but he rejected the proposal with manly indignation.
Still, the situation was becoming insupportable; the town was crowded
with refugees from the surrounding country; the summer had been cursed
with drought, and the water supply had given out, causing a pestilence
under which the wretched people were daily dying by scores. In his
anxiety for peace the young viscount allowed himself to be decoyed into
the besieging camp, where he was treacherously detained as a
prisoner--dying shortly after, it was said, of dysentery, but not
without well-grounded suspicions of foul play. Deprived of their chief,
the people lost heart; but to avoid the destruction of the city, they
were allowed to depart, carrying with them nothing but their sins--the
men in their breeches and the women in their chemises--and the place was
occupied without further struggle. Curiously enough, we hear nothing of
any investigation into their faith, or any burning of heretics.[129]

The siege of Carcassonne brings before us two men, with whom we shall
have much to do hereafter, representing so typically the opposing
elements in the contest that we may well pause for a moment to give them
consideration. These are Pedro II. of Aragon and Simon de Montfort.

Pedro was the suzerain of Béziers, and the young viscount was bound to
him with ties of close friendship. Though when appealed to in advance
for aid he had declined, yet when he heard of the sack of Béziers he
hurried to Carcassonne to mediate if possible for his vassal, though his
efforts were fruitless. He was everywhere regarded as a model for the
chivalry of the South. Heroic in stature and trained in every knightly
accomplishment, he was ever in the front of battle; and on the
tremendous day of Las Navas de Tolosa, which broke the Moorish power in
Spain, it was he, by common consent, among all the kings and nobles
present, who won the loftiest renown. In the bower he was no less
dangerous than in the field. His gallantries were countless, and his
licentiousness notorious, even in that age of easy morals. He was
munificent to prodigality, fond of magnificent display, courteous to all
comers, and magnanimous to all enemies. Like his father, Alonso II.,
moreover, he was a troubadour, and his songs won applause, none the less
hearty, perhaps, that he was a liberal patron of rival poets. With all
this his religious zeal was ardent, and he gloried in the title of el
Catolico. This he manifested not only in the savage edict against the
Waldenses, referred to in a previous chapter, but by an extraordinary
act of devotion to the Holy See. In 1085 his ancestor, Sancho I., had
placed the kingdom of Aragon under the special protection of the popes,
from whom his successors were to receive it on their accession and to
pay an annual tribute of five hundred mancuses. In 1204 Pedro II.
resolved to perform this act of fealty in person. With a splendid
retinue he sailed for Rome, where he took an oath of allegiance to
Innocent, including a pledge to persecute heresy. He was crowned with a
crown of unleavened bread, and received from the pope the sceptre,
mantle, and other royal insignia, which he reverently laid upon the
altar of St. Peter, to whom he offered his kingdom, taking in lieu his
sword from Innocent, subjecting his realm to an annual tribute, and
renouncing all rights of patronage over churches and benefices. As an
equivalent for all this he was satisfied with the title of First Alferez
or Standard-bearer of the Church and the privilege for his successors of
being crowned by the Archbishop of Tarragona in his cathedral church.
The nobles of Aragon, however, regarded this as an inadequate return for
the taxes occasioned by his extravagance and for the loss of Church
patronage, and their dissatisfaction was expressed in forming the
confederation known as La Union, which for generations was of dangerous
import to his successors. Impulsive and generous, Pedro's career reads
like a romance of chivalry, and, with such a character, it was
impossible for him to avoid participating in the Albigensian wars, in
which he had a direct interest, owing to his claims upon Provence,
Montpellier, Béarn, Roussillon, Gascony, Comminges, and Béziers.[130]

In marked contrast with this splendid knight-errantry was the solid and
earnest character of de Montfort, who had distinguished himself, as was
his wont, at the siege of Carcassonne. He was the first to lead in the
assault on the outer suburb; and when an attack upon the second had been
repulsed and a Crusader was left writhing in the ditch with a broken
thigh, de Montfort with a single squire leaped back into it, under a
shower of missiles, and bore him off in safety. The younger son of the
Count of Evreux, a descendant of Rollo the Norman, he was Earl of
Leicester by right of his mother the heiress, and had won a
distinguished name for prowess in the field and wisdom and eloquence in
the council. Religious to bigotry, he never passed a day without hearing
mass; and the true-hearted affection which his wife, Alice of
Montmorency, bore him, shows that his reputation for chastity--a rare
virtue in those days--was probably not undeserved. In 1201 he had joined
the crusade of Baldwin of Flanders; and when, during the long detention
in Venice, the Crusaders sold their services to the Venetians for the
destruction of Zara, de Montfort alone refused, saying that he had come
to fight the infidel and not to make war on Christians. He left the host
in consequence, made his way to Apulia, and with a few friends took ship
to Palestine, where he served the cross with honor. It is curious to
speculate what change there might have been in the destiny of both
France and England had he remained with the crusade to the capture of
Constantinople, when he, and his yet greater son, Simon of Leicester,
might have founded principalities in Greece or Thessaly and have worn
out their lives in obscure and forgotten conflicts. When the
Albigensian crusade was preached, one of the Cistercian abbots who
devoted himself most earnestly to the work was Gui of Vaux-Cernay, who
had been a Crusader with de Montfort at Venice. It was owing to his
persuasion that the Duke of Burgundy took the cross on the present
occasion, and he was the bearer of letters from the duke to de Montfort
making him splendid offers if he would likewise take up arms. At de
Montfort's castle of Rochefort, Gui found the pious count in his
oratory, and set forth the object of his mission. De Montfort hesitated,
and then, taking up a psalter, opened it at random and placed his finger
on a verse which he asked the abbot to translate for him. It read:

     "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all
     thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands, that thou hurt not
     thy foot against a stone" (Ps. XCI. 11, 12).

The divine encouragement was manifest. De Montfort took the cross, which
was to be his life's work, and the brilliant valor of the Catalan knight
proved no match for the deep earnestness of the Norman, who felt himself
an instrument in the hand of God.[131]

       *       *       *       *       *

With the capture of Carcassonne the Crusaders seem to have felt that
their mission was accomplished; at least, the brief service of forty
days which sufficed to earn the pardon was rendered, and they were eager
to return home. The legate naturally held that the conquered territory
was to be so occupied and organized that heresy should have no further
foothold there, and it was offered first to the Duke of Burgundy and
then successively to the Counts of Nevers and St. Pol, but all were too
wary to be tempted, and alleged in refusal that the Viscount of Béziers
had already been sufficiently punished. Then two bishops and four
knights, with Arnaud at their head, were appointed to select the one on
whom the confiscated land should be bestowed; and these seven, under the
manifest influence of the Holy Ghost, unanimously selected de Montfort.
We may well believe, from his reputation for sagacity, that his
unwillingness to accept the offer was unfeigned, and that after prayers
had proved unavailing, he yielded only to the absolute commands of the
legate, speaking with all the authority of the Holy See. He made it a
condition, however, that the continued and efficient support which he
foresaw would be requisite should be given him. This was duly promised,
with little intention of fulfilment. The Count of Nevers, between whom
and the Duke of Burgundy a mortal quarrel had arisen, withdrew almost
immediately after the capture of Carcassonne, and with him the great
body of the Crusaders. The duke remained for a short time, when he
likewise turned his face homewards, and de Montfort was left with but
about forty-five hundred men, mostly Burgundians and Germans, for whose
services he was obliged to offer double pay.[132]

De Montfort's position was perilous in the extreme. It mattered little
that in August, during the full flush of success, the legates had held a
council in Avignon which ordered all bishops to swear every knight,
noble, and magistrate in their dioceses to exterminate heresy, or that
such an oath had already been forced upon Montpellier and other cities
which were trembling before the wrath to come. Such oaths, extorted by
fear, were but an empty form, and the homage which de Montfort received
from his new vassals was equally hollow. It is true that he regulated
his boundaries with Raymond, who promised to marry his son with de
Montfort's daughter, and he styled himself Viscount of Béziers and
Carcassonne, but Pedro of Aragon refused to receive his homage, and
secretly comforted the castellans who still held out with promises of
early assistance, while others who had submitted revolted, and castles
which had been occupied were recaptured. The country was recovering from
its terror. An annoying partisan warfare sprang up; small parties of his
men were cut off, and his rule extended no farther than the reach of his
lance. At one time it was with difficulty that he restrained those who
were with him in Carcassonne from flight; and when he set forth to
besiege Termes it was almost impossible to find a knight willing to
assume command of Carcassonne, so dangerous was the post considered. Yet
with all this he succeeded in subduing additional strongholds, and
extended his dominion over the Albigeois and into the territory of the
Count of Foix. He hastened, moreover, to acquire the good graces of
Innocent, whose confirmation of his new dignity was requisite, and whose
influence for further succor he earnestly implored. All tithes and
first-fruits were to be rigorously paid to the churches; any one
remaining under excommunication for forty days was to be heavily fined
according to his station; Rome, in return for the treasures of salvation
so lavishly expended, was to receive from a devastated land an annual
tax of three deniers on every hearth, while a yearly tribute from the
count himself was vaguely promised. To this, in November, Innocent
replied, full of joy at the wonderful success which had wrested five
hundred cities and castles from the grasp of heretics. He graciously
accepted the offered tribute, and confirmed de Montfort's title to both
Béziers and Albi, with an adjuration to be sleepless in the extirpation
of heresy; but he could scarce have appreciated the Crusader's perilous
position, for he excused himself from efficient aid on the score of
complaints which reached him from Palestine that the succor sorely
needed there had been diverted to subdue heretics nearer home. He
therefore only called upon the Emperor Otho, the Kings of Aragon and
Castile, and sundry cities and nobles from whom no real aid could be
expected. The archbishops of the whole infected region were directed to
persuade their clergy to contribute to him a portion of their revenues,
and his troops were exhorted to be patient and to ask no pay until the
following Easter; neither of which requests were likely to yield
results. Somewhat more fruitful was the release of all Crusaders from
any obligations which they might have assumed to pay interest on sums
borrowed; but the most practical measure was one which forcibly
illustrates the friendly and confidential intercourse which had existed
between the heretics and the clergy in southern France, for all abbots
and prelates throughout Narbonne, Béziers, Toulouse, and Albi were
directed to confiscate for de Montfort's benefit all deposits placed by
obstinate heretics for safe-keeping in their hands, the amount of which
was said to be considerable.[133]

After losing most of his conquests, de Montfort's position became more
hopeful towards the spring of 1210, as his forces were swelled by the
arrival of successive bands of "pilgrims"--as these peaceful folk were
accustomed to style themselves--and his ambitious views expanded. The
short term for which the cross was assumed rendered it necessary to turn
the new-comers to immediate account, and de Montfort was unceasingly
active in recovering his ground and in reducing the castles which still
held out. It is not worth our while to follow in detail these exploits
of military religious ardor, which, when successful, were usually
crowned by putting the garrison to the sword and offering the
non-combatants the choice between obedience to Rome and the stake--a
choice which gave occasion to zealous martyrdom on the part of hundreds
of obscure and forgotten enthusiasts. Lavaur, Minerve, Casser, Termes,
are names which suggest all that man can inflict and man can suffer for
the glory of God. The spirit of the respective parties was well
exhibited at the capitulation of Minerve, where Robert Mauvoisin, de
Montfort's most faithful follower, objected to the clause which spared
the heretics who should recant, and was told by Legate Arnaud that he
need not fear the conversion of many, as ample experience had shown
their prevailing obstinacy. Arnaud was right; for, with the exception of
three women, they unanimously refused to secure safety by apostasy, and
saved their captors the trouble of casting them on the blazing pyre by
leaping exultingly into the flames. If the playful zeal of the pilgrims
sometimes manifested itself in eccentric fashion, as when they blinded
the monks of Bolbonne and cut off their noses and ears till there was
scarce a trace of the human visage left, we must remember the sources
whence the Church drew her recruits, and the immunity which she secured
for them, here and hereafter.[134]

If Raymond had fancied that he had skilfully saved himself at the
expense of his nephew of Béziers, he had at last discovered his
mistake. Arnaud of Citeaux had fully resolved upon his ruin, and de
Montfort was eager to extend his lordship and the purity of the faith.
Already, in the autumn of 1209, the citizens of Toulouse had been
startled by a demand from the legate to surrender all whom his envoys
might select as heretics, under pain of excommunication and interdict.
They protested that there were no heretics among them; that all who were
named were ready to purge themselves of heresy; that Raymond V. had, at
their instance, passed laws against heretics, under which they had
burned many and were burning all who could be found. Therefore they
appealed to the pope, naming January 29, 1210, as the day for the
hearing. At the same time de Montfort had notified Raymond that unless
the legate's demands were conceded he would assail him and enforce
obedience. Raymond replied that he would settle the matter with the
pope, and lost no time in appealing in person to Philip Augustus and the
Emperor Otho, from whom he received only fair words. On reaching Rome he
was apparently more fortunate. He had a strong case. He had never been
convicted, or even tried, for the crimes whereof he was accused; he had
always professed obedience to the Church and readiness to prove his
innocence, according to the legal methods of the age, by canonical
purgation; he had undergone cruel penance as though convicted, and had
been absolved as though forgiven, since when he had rendered faithful
and valuable service against his friends and had made what reparation he
could to the churches which he had despoiled. He boldly asserted his
innocence, demanded a trial, and claimed the restoration of his castles.
Innocent seems at first to have been touched by the wrongs inflicted on
him and the ruin impending over him; but if so the impression was but
momentary, and he returned to the duplicity which thus far had worked so
well. The citizens of Toulouse he pronounced to have justified
themselves, and ordered their excommunication removed. As regards
Raymond, he instructed the Archbishops of Narbonne and Arles to assemble
a council of prelates and nobles for the trial which Raymond so
earnestly demanded. If there an accuser should assert his heresy and
responsibility for the murder of Pierre de Castelnau, both sides should
be heard and judgment be rendered and sent to Rome for final decision;
if no formal accuser appeared, then fitting purgation should be assigned
to him, on performance of which he should be declared a good Catholic
and his castles be restored. All this was fair seeming enough, yet it is
impossible not to see the purposed deceit in an accompanying letter to
the legate Arnaud, praising him warmly for what had been done and
explaining that the conduct of the matter had been ostensibly intrusted
to the new commissioner, Master Theodisius, merely as a lure for
Raymond; or, to use the pope's own words, that the legate was to be the
hook of which Theodisius was the bait. Instructions were also given as
to some minor matters, and to lull Raymond to a more complete sense of
security, on his final audience Innocent presented him with a rich
mantle and with a ring which he drew from his own finger.[135]

Joy reigned in Toulouse when the count returned, bringing with him the
removal of the interdict and the promise of a speedy settlement of the
troubles. Legate Arnaud entered fully into the spirit of his
instructions and suddenly became friendly and affectionate. We even hear
of a visit paid by him and de Montfort to Raymond in Toulouse, where
they were magnificently received; and Raymond, it is said, was persuaded
to give the citadel of the town, known as the Château Narbonnois, as a
residence to the legate, from whose hands it passed into those of de
Montfort, costing eventually the lives of a thousand men for its
recapture. Arnaud, moreover, exacted a promise of one thousand livres
toulousains from the citizens before he would give effect to the papal
letters removing the interdict; when one half was paid, he gave them his
benediction, but a delay in raising the other half caused him to renew
the interdict, which cost them much trouble to remove.[136]

Master Theodisius joined the legate at Toulouse, as we are told by a
fiercely orthodox eye-witness, for the purpose of consulting with him as
to the most plausible excuse for eluding Innocent's promise to Raymond
of an opportunity of purgation, for they foresaw that he would purge
himself and that the destruction of the faith would follow. The readiest
method of attaining this pious object lay in Raymond's failure to
perform the impossible task assigned him of clearing his lands of
heresy; but in order to avoid the appearance of premeditated
unfairness, the solemn mockery was arranged of assigning him a day three
months distant, to appear at St. Gilles and offer his purgation as to
heresy and the murder of the legate--a warning being added about his
slackness in persecution. At the appointed time, in September, 1210, a
number of prelates and nobles were assembled at St. Gilles, and Raymond
presented himself with his compurgators in the full confidence of a
final reconciliation with the Church. He was coolly informed that his
purgation would not be received; that he was manifestly a perjurer in
not having executed the promises to which he had repeatedly sworn, and
his oath being worthless in minor matters, it could not be accepted in
charges so weighty as those of heresy and legate-murder, nor were those
of his accomplices any better. A man of stronger character would have
been roused to fiery indignation at this contemptuous revelation of the
deception practised on him; but Raymond, overwhelmed with the sudden
destruction of his illusions, simply burst into tears--which was duly
recorded by his judges as an additional proof of his innate depravity,
and he was promptly again placed under the excommunication which it had
cost him such infinite pains to remove. For form's sake, however, he was
told that when he should clear the land of heresy and otherwise show
himself worthy of mercy, the papal commands in his favor would be
fulfilled. The Provençal was evidently no match for the wily Italians;
and Innocent's approbation of this cruel comedy is seen in a letter
addressed by him to Raymond, in December, 1210, expressing his grief
that the count had not yet performed his promises as to the
extermination of heretics, and warning him that if he did not do so his
lands would be delivered to the Crusaders. Another epistle by the same
courier to de Montfort, complaining of the scanty returns of the
three-denier hearth-tax, shows that even Innocent kept an eye on the
profitable side of persecution; while exhortations addressed to the
Counts of Toulouse, Comminges, and Foix, and Gaston of Béarn, requiring
them to help de Montfort, with threats of holding them to be fautors of
heresy in case they resisted him, showed how completely all questions
were prejudged and that they were doomed to be delivered up to the

Raymond at length began to see what all clear-visioned men must long
before have recognized, that his ruin was the deliberate purpose of the
legates. Had the nobles of Languedoc been united at the beginning, they
could probably have offered successful resistance to the spasmodic
attacks of the Crusaders, but they were being devoured one by one, while
Raymond, their natural leader, was kept idle with delusive hopes of
reconciliation. The restoration of his castles was hopeless, and it was
time for him to prepare himself as best he could for the inevitable war.
With this object, to unite his subjects, he circulated a list of
conditions which he said had been proposed to him at a conference in
Arles, in February, 1211--conditions which were onerous and degrading to
the last degree to the people as well as to himself--which would have
placed the whole territory and its population under the control of the
legates and of de Montfort, would have branded every inhabitant,
Catholic as well as heretic, noble as well as villein, with the mark of
servitude, and would have banished Raymond to the Holy Land virtually
for life. Whether such demands were really made or not, their effect was
great upon the people, who rallied around their sovereign and were ready
for any self-sacrifice.[138]

That the list of conditions was supposititious is rendered probable by
other negotiations in which Raymond desperately strove to avert the
inevitable rupture. In December, 1210, we find him at Narbonne in
conference with the legates, de Montfort, and Pedro of Aragon, where
impracticable terms were offered him, and where Pedro finally consented
to receive de Montfort's homage for Béziers. Shortly afterwards another
meeting was held at Montpellier, equally fruitless, except for de
Montfort, who made a treaty with Pedro and received from him his infant
son Jayme, to be held as a hostage. Even in the spring of 1211 Raymond
again visited de Montfort at the siege of Lavaur and allowed provisions
to be supplied for a while to the Crusaders from Toulouse, although he
had fruitlessly endeavored to prevent the marching of a contingent
which the Toulousains furnished to the besiegers. Almost as soon as
Lavaur was taken, May 3, 1211, de Montfort fell upon his territories and
captured some of his castles, apparently without defiance or declaration
of war, when he made a last miserable effort of submission by offering
his whole possessions except the city of Toulouse, to be held by the
legate and de Montfort as security for the performance of what might be
demanded of him, reserving only his life and his son's right of
inheritance. Even these terms were contemptuously rejected. He had so
abased himself that he seems to have been regarded as no longer an
element of weight in the situation. Besides, the Count of Bar was
speedily expected with a large force of Crusaders, whose forty-days'
term was to be utilized to the utmost, and the siege of Toulouse was
resolved on.[139]

As soon as the citizens heard of this design they sent an embassy to the
Crusaders to deprecate it. They had been reconciled to the Church, and
had assisted at the siege of Lavaur, but they were sternly told that
they would not be spared unless they would eject Raymond from the city
and renounce their allegiance to him. This they refused unanimously. All
the old civic quarrels were forgotten, and as one man they prepared for
resistance. It is a noteworthy illustration of the strength of the
republican institution of the civic commune, that the siege of Toulouse
was the first considerable check received by the Crusaders. The town was
well fortified and garrisoned; the Counts of Foix and Comminges had come
at the summons of their suzerain, and the citizens were earnest in
defence. They not only kept their gates open, but made breaches in the
walls to facilitate the furious sallies which cost the besiegers
heavily. The latter retired, June 29th, under cover of the night, so
hastily that they abandoned their sick and wounded, having accomplished
nothing except the complete devastation of the land--dwellings,
vineyards, orchards, women and children were alike indiscriminately
destroyed in their wrath--and de Montfort turned from the scene of his
defeat to carry the same ravage into Foix. This final effort of
self-defence was naturally construed as fautorship of heresy and drew
from Innocent a fresh excommunication of Raymond and of the city for
"persecuting" de Montfort and the Crusaders.[140]

Encouraged by his escape, Raymond now took the offensive, but with
little result. The siege of Castelnaudary was a failure, and a good deal
of desultory fighting occurred, mostly to the advantage of de Montfort,
whose military skill was exhibited to the best advantage in his
difficult position. The crusade was still industriously preached
throughout Christendom, and his forces were irregularly renewed with
fresh swarms of "pilgrims" for forty-days' service, so that he would
frequently find himself at the head of a considerable army, which again
would soon melt away to a handful. To utilize this varying stream of
strangers of all nationalities in a difficult country which was bitterly
hostile required capacity of a high order, and de Montfort proved
himself thoroughly equal to it. His opponents, though frequently greatly
superior in numbers, never ventured on a pitched battle, and the war was
one of sieges and devastations, conducted on both sides with savage
ferocity. Prisoners were frequently hanged, or less mercifully blinded
or mutilated, and mutual hate grew stronger and fiercer as de Montfort
gradually extended his boundaries and Raymond's territories grew less
and less. The defection of his natural brother Baldwin, whom he had
always treated with suspicion, and who had been won over by de Montfort
when captured at Montferrand, before the siege of Toulouse, had been a
severe blow to the national cause; how deeply felt was seen when, in
1214, he was treacherously given up and Raymond hanged him, with
difficulty granting his last prayer for the consolations of

Early in 1212 the Abbot of Vaux-Cernay received in the bishopric of
Carcassonne the reward of his zeal in furthering the crusade, and Legate
Arnaud obtained the great archbishopric of Narbonne on the death or
degradation of the negligent Berenger. Not content with the
ecclesiastical dignity, Arnaud claimed to be likewise duke, giving rise
to a vigorous quarrel with de Montfort, who, notwithstanding his
devotion to the Church, had no intention of surrendering to it his
temporal possessions. Possibly it was the commencement of coolness
between them that induced Arnaud to favor the crusade preached at the
request of Alonso IX. of Castile, at that time threatened by a desperate
effort of the Moors, largely reinforced from Africa, to regain their
Spanish possessions. Much as de Montfort needed every man, the new
Archbishop of Narbonne marched into Spain at the head of a large force
of Crusaders to swell the army with which the kings of Aragon, Castile,
and Navarre advanced against the Saracen. It is characteristic of the
tenacity of the man that, when the French contingent grew weary of the
service and refused to advance after the capture of Calatrava, returning
ingloriously home, Arnaud remained with those whom he could persuade to
stay, and shared in the glory of Las Navas de Tolosa, where a cross in
the sky encouraged the Christians, and two hundred thousand Moors were

The spring and summer of 1212 saw an almost unbroken series of successes
for de Montfort, until Raymond's territories were reduced to Montauban
and Toulouse, and the latter city, crowded with refugees from the
neighboring districts, was virtually beleaguered, as the Crusaders from
their surrounding strongholds made forays up to the very gates. De
Montfort desired the papal confirmation of his new acquisitions, and for
this application was made to Rome by the legates. Innocent seems to have
been aroused to a sense of the scandal created by the faithful carrying
out of his policy, for Raymond, though constantly claiming a trial, had
never been heard or convicted, and yet had been punished by the seizure
of nearly all his dominions. Innocent accordingly assumed a tone of
grave surprise. It is true, he said, that the count had been found
guilty of many offences against the Church, for which he had been
excommunicated and his lands exposed to the first comer; but the loss of
most of them had served as a punishment, and it must be remembered that,
although suspected of heresy and of the murder of the legate, he had
never been convicted, nor did the pope know why his commands to afford
him an opportunity of purging himself had never been carried out. In the
absence of a formal trial and conviction his lands could not be adjudged
to another. The proper forms must be observed, or the Church might be
deemed guilty of fraud in continuing to hold the castles made over to it
in pledge. Innocent evidently felt that his representatives, involved in
the passions and ambitions of the strife, had done what could not be
justified, and he wound up by ordering them to report to him the full
and simple truth. Another letter, in the same sense, to Master
Theodisius and the Bishop of Riez, cautioned them not to be remiss in
their duty, as they were said to have thus far been, which undoubtedly
refers to their withholding from Raymond the opportunity of
justification. At the same time, a prolonged correspondence on the
subject of the hearth-tax, and the acceptance of an opportune donation
of a thousand marks from de Montfort, place Innocent in an unfortunate
light as an upright and impartial judge.[143]

To this Theodisius and the Bishop of Riez replied with the transparent
falsehood that they had not been remiss, but had repeatedly summoned
Raymond to justify himself, and that Raymond had neglected to make
reparation to certain prelates and churches, which was quite likely,
seeing that de Montfort had been giving him ample occupation. They
proceeded, however, to make a bustling show of activity in compliance
with Innocent's present commands, and they called a council at Avignon
to give a colorable pretext for pushing Raymond to the wall. Avignon,
however, was fortunately unhealthy, so that many prelates refused to
attend, and Theodisius had a timely sickness, rendering a postponement
necessary. Another council was therefore summoned to convene at Lavaur,
a castle not far from Toulouse, in the hands of de Montfort, who, at the
request of Pedro of Aragon, graciously granted an eight days' suspension
of hostilities for the purpose.[144]

The matter, in fact, had assumed a shape which could no longer be
eluded. Pedro of Aragon, fresh from the triumph of Las Navas, was a
champion of the faith who was not to be treated with contempt, and he
had finally come forward as the protector of Raymond and of his own
vassals. As overlord he could not passively see the latter stripped of
their lands, and his interests in the whole region were too great for
him to view with indifference the establishment of so overmastering a
power as de Montfort was rapidly consolidating. The conquered fiefs
were being filled with Frenchmen; a parliament had just been held at
Pamiers to organize the institutions of the country on a French basis,
and everything looked to an overturning of the old order. It was full
time for him to act. He had already sent a mission to Innocent to
complain of the proceedings of the legates as arbitrary, unjust, and
subversive of the true interests of religion, and he came to Toulouse
for the avowed purpose of interceding for his ruined brother-in-law. By
assuming this position he was assuring the supremacy of the House of
Aragon over that of Toulouse, with which it had had so many fruitless
struggles in the past.[145]

Pedro's envoys drew from Innocent a command to de Montfort to give up
all lands seized from those who were not heretics, and instructions to
Arnaud not to interfere with the crusade against the Saracens by using
indulgences to prolong the war in the Toulousain. This action of
Innocent, coupled with the powerful intercession of Pedro, created a
profound impression, and all the ecclesiastical organization of
Languedoc was summoned to meet the crisis. When the council assembled at
Lavaur, in January, 1213, a petition was presented by King Pedro, humbly
asking mercy rather than justice for the despoiled nobles. He produced a
formal cession executed by Raymond and his son and confirmed by the city
of Toulouse, together with similar cessions made by the Counts of Foix
and Comminges and by Gaston of Béarn, of all their lands, rights, and
jurisdictions to him, to do with as he might see fit in compelling them
to obey the commands of the pope in case they should prove recalcitrant.
He asked restitution of the lands conquered from them, on their
rendering due satisfaction to the Church for all misdeeds; and if
Raymond could not be heard, the proposal was made that he should retire
in favor of his young son--the father serving with his knights against
the infidel in Spain or Palestine, and the youth being retained in
careful guardianship until he should show himself worthy the confidence
of the Church. All this, in fact, was virtually the same as the offers
already transmitted by Pedro to Innocent.[146]

No submission could be more complete; no guarantees more absolute could
be demanded. There was no pretence of shielding heretics, who could,
under such a settlement, be securely exterminated; but the prelates
assembled at Lavaur were under the domination of passions and ambitions
and hatreds, the memory of wrongs suffered and inflicted, and the dread
of reprisals, which rendered them deaf to everything that might
interfere with the predetermined purpose. The ruin of the house of
Toulouse was essential to their comfort--they might well believe even to
their personal safety--and it was pressed unswervingly. As legates,
Master Theodisius and the Bishop of Riez presided, while the assembled
prelates of the land were led by the intractable Arnaud of Narbonne. All
forms were duly observed. The legates, as judges, asked the opinion of
the prelates as assessors, whether Raymond should be admitted to
purgation. A written answer was returned in the negative, not only for
the reason previously alleged, that he was too notorious a perjurer to
be listened to, but also because of fresh offences committed during the
war, the slaying of Crusaders who were attacking him being seriously
included among his sins. As a further subterfuge it was agreed that the
excommunication under which he lay could only be removed by the pope.
Shielding themselves behind this answer, the legates notified Raymond
that they could proceed no further without special license from the
pope--a repetition of the eternal shifting of responsibility, like a
shuttlecock from one player in the game to another--and when Raymond
implored for mercy and begged an interview, he was coldly told that it
would be useless trouble and expense for both parties. There remained
the appeal of King Pedro to be disposed of, and this was treated with
the same disingenuous evasion. The prelates undertook to answer this
without the legates, so as to be able to say that Raymond's affairs were
out of their hands, as he had himself committed them to the legates;
and, besides, his excesses had rendered him unworthy of all mercy or
kindness. As for the other three nobles, their crimes were recited,
especially their self-defence against the Crusaders, and it was added
that if they would satisfy the Church and obtain absolution, their
complaints would be listened to; but no method was indicated by which
absolution could be obtained, and no notice was deigned to the
guarantees offered in Pedro's petition. Indeed, Arnaud of Narbonne, in
his capacity of legate, wrote to him in violent terms, threatening him
with excommunication for consorting with excommunicants and accused
heretics, and his request for a truce until Pentecost, or at least until
Easter, was refused on the ground that it would interfere with the
success of the crusade, which was still preached in France with a vigor
justifying doubts of the sincerity of Innocent's orders to the

The whole proceedings were so defiant a mockery of justice that there
was a very manifest alarm lest Innocent should repudiate them and yield
to the powerful intercession of King Pedro. Master Theodisius and
several bishops were despatched to Rome with the documents so as to
bring personal influence to bear. The prelates of the council addressed
him, adjuring him by the bowels of the mercy of God not to draw back
from the good work which he had commenced, but to lay his axe to the
root of the tree and cut it down forever. Raymond was painted in the
blackest colors. The effort he had made to obtain succor from the
Emperor Otho, and the assistance at one time rendered him by Savary de
Mauleon, lieutenant of King John in Aquitaine, were skilfully used to
excite odium, as both these monarchs were hostile to Rome; and he was
even accused of having implored help from the Emperor of Morocco, to the
subversion of Christianity itself. Fearing that this might be
insufficient, letters were showered on Innocent by bishops from every
part of the troubled region, assuring him that peace and prosperity had
followed on the footsteps of the Crusaders, that the land which had been
ravaged by heretics and bandits was restored to religion and safety,
that if but one more supreme effort were made and the city of Toulouse
were wiped out, with its villainous brood, wicked as the children of
Sodom and Gomorrah, the faithful could enjoy the Land of Promise; but
that if Raymond were allowed to raise his head, chaos would come again,
and it would be better for the Church to take refuge among the
barbarians. Yet in all this nothing was said to the pope of the
guarantees offered through King Pedro, who was obliged, in March, 1213,
to transmit to Rome copies of the cessions executed by the inculpated
nobles, duly authenticated by the Archbishop of Tarragona and his

Master Theodisius and his colleagues found the task harder than they had
anticipated. Innocent had solemnly declared that Raymond should have the
opportunity of vindication, and that condemnation should only follow
trial. He was now required to eat his words, while the persistent
refusal to allow a trial must have shown him that the charges so
industriously made were destitute of proof. The struggle was hard for a
proud man, but he finally yielded to the pressure, though the delay of
the decision until May 21, 1213, shows what effort it cost. When the
decree came, however, its decisiveness proved that pride and consistency
had been overcome. Innocent's letters to his legates have not reached
us--perhaps a prudent reticence kept them out of the Regesta--but to
Pedro he wrote sternly, commanding him to abandon the protection of
heretics unless he was ready to be included in the objects of the new
crusade which was threatened if further resistance was attempted. The
orders which Pedro had obtained for the restoration of non-heretical
lands were withdrawn as granted through misrepresentation, and the lords
of Foix, Comminges, and Navarre were remitted to the discretion of
Arnaud of Narbonne. The city of Toulouse could obtain reconciliation by
banishment and confiscation inflicted on all whom Foulques, its fanatic
bishop, might point out, and no peace or truce or other engagement
entered into with heretics was to be observed. As to Raymond, the
complete silence preserved with respect to him was more significant than
could have been the severest animadversions. He was simply ignored, as
though no further account was to be taken of him.[149]

Meanwhile both parties had proceeded without waiting the event in Rome.
In France the crusade had been vigorously preached; Louis
Cœur-de-Lion, son of Philip Augustus, had taken the cross with many
barons, and great hopes were entertained of the overwhelming force which
would put an end to further resistance, when Philip's preparations for
the invasion of England caused him to intervene and stop the movement
which threatened seriously to interfere with his designs. On the other
hand, King Pedro entered into still closer alliance with Raymond and the
excommunicated nobles, and received an oath of fidelity from the
magistracy of Toulouse. When the papal mandate was received, he made a
pretence of obeying it, but continued, nevertheless, his preparations
for the war, among which the one which best illustrates the man and the
age was his procuring from Innocent the renewal of Urban's bull of 1095,
placing his kingdom under the special protection of the Holy See, with
the privilege that it should not be subjected to interdict except by the
pope himself. A _sirvente_ by an anonymous troubadour shows how
anxiously he was expected in Languedoc. He is reproached with his
delays, and urged to come to collect his revenues from the Carcassès
like a good king, and to suppress the insolence of the French, whom may
God confound.[150]

The rupture came with a formal declaration of war from Pedro, accepted
by de Montfort, though he had but few troops and the hoped-for
reinforcements from France were not forthcoming; indeed, a legate sent
by Innocent to preach the crusade for the Holy Land had turned in that
direction all the effort which Philip would permit to be made. Pedro had
left in Toulouse his representatives and had gone to his own dominions
to raise forces, with which he recrossed the Pyrenees and was received
enthusiastically by all those who had submitted to de Montfort. He
advanced to the castle of Muret, within ten miles of Toulouse, where de
Montfort had left a slender garrison, and was joined by the Counts of
Toulouse, Foix, and Comminges, their united forces amounting to a
considerable army, though far from the hundred thousand men represented
by the eulogists of de Montfort. Pedro had brought about a thousand
horsemen with him; the three counts, stripped of most of their
dominions, can scarce have furnished a larger force of cavaliers, and
the great mass of their array consisted of the militia of Toulouse, on
foot and untrained in arms.[151]

The siege of Muret commenced September 10, 1213. Word was immediately
carried to de Montfort, who lay about twenty-five miles distant at
Fanjeaux, with a small force, including seven bishops and three abbots
sent by Arnaud of Narbonne to treat with Pedro. Notwithstanding the
disparity of numbers, he did not hesitate a moment to advance and succor
his people. Sending back the Countess Alice, who was with him, to
Carcassonne, where she persuaded some retiring Crusaders to return to
his aid, he set forth at once, hastily collecting such troops as were
within reach. At Bolbonne, near Saverdun, where he halted to hear mass,
Maurin, the sacristan, afterwards Abbot of Pamiers, expressed wonder at
his risking with a mere handful of men an encounter with a warrior so
renowned as the King of Aragon. De Montfort in reply drew from his pouch
an intercepted letter to a lady in Toulouse, in which Pedro assured her
that he was coming out of love for her to drive the Frenchman from her
land, and when Maurin asked him what he meant by it, he exclaimed, "What
do I mean? God help me as much as I little fear him who comes for the
sake of a woman to undo the work of God!" It was the God-trusting Norman
against the chivalrous Catalan gallant, and he never doubted the result.

The next day de Montfort entered Muret, which was besieged only on one
side, the enemy interposing no obstacle, as they hoped to capture the
chief of the Crusaders. The bishops sought to negotiate with Pedro, but
no terms could be reached, and the following morning, Thursday,
September 13, the Crusaders, numbering perhaps a thousand cavaliers,
sallied forth for the attack. As they passed, the Bishop of Comminges
comforted them greatly by assuring them that on the Day of Judgment he
would be their witness, and that none who might be slain would have to
undergo the fires of purgatory for any sins which they had confessed or
might intend to confess after the battle. The holy men then gathered in
the church, praying fervently to God for the success of his warriors;
and here we get a traditional glimpse of Dominic, who is said to have
been one of the little band; indeed, we are gravely told by his
followers that the ensuing victory was due to the devotion of the
Rosary, which he invented and assiduously practised.

As de Montfort drew away in the opposite direction, the besiegers at
first thought that he was abandoning the town, and they were only
undeceived when he wheeled and they saw he had made a circuit to obtain
a level field for the attack. Count Raymond counselled awaiting the
onset behind the rampart of wagons and exhausting the Crusaders with
missiles, but the fiery Catalan rejected the advice as pusillanimous.
Then armor was donned in hot haste, and the horsemen rushed forth in a
confused mass, leaving the footmen to continue the labors of the siege.
Emulous rather of the fame of a good knight than of a general, Pedro was
immediately behind the vanguard, as two squadrons of the Crusaders came
on in solid order, and was readily found by two renowned French knights,
Alain de Roucy and Florent de Ville, who had concerted to set upon him.
He was speedily thrown from his horse and slain. The confusion into
which his followers were thrown was converted into a panic as de
Montfort, at the head of a third squadron, charged them in flank. They
turned and fled, followed by the Frenchmen, who slew them without mercy,
and then, returning from the pursuit, fell upon the camp where the
infantry had remained unconscious of the evil-fortune of the field. Here
the slaughter was tremendous, until the flying wretches succeeded in
crossing the Garonne, in which many were drowned. The loss of the
Crusaders was less than twenty, that of the allies from fifteen to
twenty thousand, and no one was hardy enough to doubt that the hand of
God was visible in a triumph so miraculous, especially as on the last
Sunday in August a great procession had been held in Rome with solemn
ceremonies, followed by a two days' fast, for the success of the
Catholic arms. Yet King Jayme tells us that his father's death, and the
consequent loss of the battle, arose from his prevailing vice. The
Albigensian nobles, to ingratiate themselves with him, had placed their
wives and daughters at his disposal, and he was so exhausted by his
excesses that on the morning of the battle he could not stand at the
celebration of the mass.[152]

With the few men at his command de Montfort was unable to follow up his
advantage, and the immediate effect of the miraculous victory was
scarcely perceptible. The citizens of Toulouse professed a desire for
reconciliation, but when their bishop, Foulques, demanded two hundred
hostages as security, they refused to give more than sixty, and when the
bishop assented to this, they withdrew the offer. De Montfort made a
foray into Foix, carrying desolation in his track, and showed himself
before Toulouse, but was soon put on the defensive. When he came
peaceably to the city of Narbonne, of which he claimed the overlordship,
he was refused entrance; the same thing happened to him at Montpellier,
and he was obliged to digest these affronts in silence. His condition,
indeed, was almost desperate in the winter of 1214, when affairs
suddenly took a different turn. The prohibition to preach the crusade in
France was removed, and news came that an army of one hundred thousand
fresh pilgrims might be expected after Easter. Besides this a new
legate, Cardinal Peter of Benevento, arrived with full powers from the
pope, and at Narbonne received the unqualified submission of the Counts
of Toulouse, Foix, and Comminges, of Aimeric, Viscount of Narbonne, and
of the city of Toulouse. All these agreed to expel heretics and to
comply explicitly with all demands of the Church, furnishing whatever
security might be demanded. Raymond, moreover, placed his dominions in
the hands of the legate, at whose command he engaged to absent himself,
either at the English court or elsewhere, until he could go to Rome; and
in effect, on his return to Toulouse he and his son lived as private
citizens with their wives, in the house of David de Roaix. Rome having
thus obtained everything that she had ever demanded, the legate absolved
all the penitents and reconciled them to the Church.

If the land expected peace with submission it was cruelly deceived. The
whole affair had been but another act in the comedy which Innocent and
his agents had so long played, another juggle with the despair of whole
populations. The legate had merely desired to tide de Montfort over the
time during which in his weakness he might have been overwhelmed, and to
amuse the threatened provinces until the arrival of the fresh swarm of
pilgrims. The trick was perfectly successful, and the monkish chronicler
is delighted with the pious fraud so astutely conceived and so
dexterously managed. His admiring ejaculation, "O pious fraud of the
legate! O fraudulent piety!" is the key which unlocks to us the secrets
of Italian diplomacy with the Albigenses.[153]

In spite of King Philip's war with John of England and the Emperor Otho,
the expected hordes of Crusaders, eager to win pardon so easily, poured
down upon the unhappy southern provinces. Their initial exploit was the
capture of Maurillac, notable to us as conveying the first distinct
reference to the Waldenses in the history of the war. Of these
sectaries, seven were found among the captives; they boldly affirmed
their faith before the legate, and were burned, as we are told, with
immense rejoicings by the soldiers of Christ. With his wonted ability de
Montfort made use of his reinforcements to extend his authority over the
Agenois, Quercy, Limousin, Rouergue, and Périgord. Resistance being now
at an end, the legate, in January, 1215, assembled a council of prelates
at Montpellier. The jealous citizens would not allow de Montfort to
enter the town, though he directed the deliberations from the house of
the Templars beyond the walls; and once, when he had been secretly
introduced to attend a session, the people discovered it, and would have
set upon him, had he not been conveyed away through back streets. The
council fulfilled its functions by deposing Raymond and electing de
Montfort as lord over the whole land; and, as the confirmation of
Innocent was required, an embassy was sent to Rome, which obtained his
assent. He declared that Raymond, who had never yet had the trial so
often demanded, was deposed on account of heresy; his wife was to have
her dower, and one hundred and fifty marks were assigned to her, secured
by the Castle of Beaucaire. The final disposition of the territory was
postponed for the decision of the general council of Lateran, called for
the ensuing November; and meanwhile it was confided to the custody of de
Montfort, whom the bishops were exhorted to assist and the inhabitants
to obey, while from its revenues some provision was contemptuously
ordered to be made for the support of Raymond. Bishop Foulques returned
to his city of Toulouse, of which he was virtually master, under the
legate who continued to hold it and Narbonne, to keep them out of the
hands of Louis Cœur-de-Lion, who was shortly expected in fulfilment
of his Crusader's vow, taken three years previously; and the "faidits,"
as the dispossessed knights and gentlemen were called, were graciously
permitted to seek a livelihood throughout the country, provided they
never entered castles or walled towns, and travelled on ponies, with but
one spur, and without arms.[154]

The battle of Bouvines had released France from the dangers which had
been so threatening, and the heir-apparent could be spared for the
performance of his vow. Louis came with a noble and gallant company, who
earned the pardon of their sins by a peaceful pilgrimage of forty days.
The fears which had been felt as to his intentions proved groundless. He
showed no disposition to demand for the crown the acquisitions made by
previous crusades, and advantage was taken of his presence to obtain
temporary investiture for de Montfort, and to order the dismantling of
the two chief centres of discontent--Toulouse and Narbonne. De
Montfort's brother Gui took possession of the former city, and saw to
the levelling of its walls. As for Narbonne, Archbishop Arnaud, mindful
rather of his pretensions as duke than of the interests of religion,
vainly protested against its being rendered defenceless. In making over
Raymond's territories to de Montfort, however, Innocent had excepted the
county of Melgueil, over which the Church had a sort of claim, and this
he sold to the Bishop of Maguelonne, costing the latter, including
gratifications to the creatures of the papal camera, no less a sum than
thirty-three thousand marks. The transaction held good, in spite of the
claims of the crown as the eventual heir of the Count of Toulouse, and,
until the Revolution, the Bishops of Maguelonne or Montpellier had the
satisfaction of styling themselves Counts of Melgueil. It was but a
small share of the gigantic plunder, and Innocent would have best
consulted his dignity by abstention.[155]

Meanwhile the two Raymonds had withdrawn--possibly to the English court,
where King John is said to have given them ten thousand marks in return
for the rendering of a worthless homage, to which is perhaps
attributable the permission given by Philip Augustus to his son to
perform the crusade and grant investiture to de Montfort of the lands
thus transferred to English sovereignty.[156] Foreign humiliations and
domestic revolt, however, rendered John useless as an ally or a
suzerain, and Raymond awaited, with what patience he might, the
assembling of the great council to which the final decision of his fate
had been referred. Here, at least, he would have a last chance of being
heard, and of appealing for the justice so long and so steadily denied

In April, 1213, had gone forth the call for the Parliament of
Christendom, the Twelfth General Council, where the assembled wisdom and
piety of the Church were to deliberate on the recovery of the Holy Land,
the reformation of the Church, the correction of excesses, the
rehabilitation of morals, the extirpation of heresy, the strengthening
of faith, and the quieting of discord. All these were specified as the
objects of the convocation, and two years and a half had been allowed
for preparation. By the appointed day, November 1, 1215, the prelates
had gathered together, and Innocent's pardonable ambition was gratified
in opening and presiding over the most august assemblage that Latin
Christianity had ever seen. The Frankish occupation of Constantinople
gave opportunity for the reunion, nominal at least, of the Eastern and
the Western churches, and Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem
were there in humble obedience to St. Peter. All that was foremost in
Church and State had come, in person or by representative. Every monarch
had his ambassador there, to see that his interests suffered no
detriment from a body which, acting under the direct inspiration of the
Holy Ghost, and under the principle that temporal concerns were wholly
subordinate to spiritual, might have little respect for the rights of
sovereigns. The most learned theologians and doctors were at hand to
give counsel as to points of faith and intricate questions of canon law.
The princes of the Church were present in numbers wholly unprecedented.
Besides patriarchs, there were seventy-one primates and metropolitans,
four hundred and twelve bishops, more than eight hundred abbots and
priors, and the countless delegates of those prelates who were unable
to attend in person.[157] Two centuries were to pass away before Europe
was again to show its collective strength in a body such as now crowded
the ample dimensions of the Basilica of Constantine; and it is a weighty
illustration of the service which the Church has rendered in
counteracting the centrifugal tendencies of the nations, that such a
federative council of Christendom, attainable in no other way, was
brought together at the summons of the Roman pontiff. Without some such
cohesive power modern civilization would have worn a very different

The Counts of Toulouse, Foix, and Comminges had reached Rome in advance,
where they were joined by the younger Raymond, coming through France
from England disguised as the servitor of a merchant, to escape the
emissaries of de Montfort. In repeated interviews with Innocent they
pleaded their cause, and produced no little impression on him. Arnaud of
Narbonne, embittered by his quarrel with de Montfort, is said to have
aided them, but the other prelates, to whom it was almost a question of
life or death, were so violent in their denunciations of Raymond, and
drew so fearful a picture of the destruction impending over religion,
that Innocent, after a short period of irresolution, was deterred from
action. De Montfort had sent his brother Gui to represent him, and when
the council met both parties pressed their claims before it. Its
decision was prompt, and, as might be expected, was in favor of the
champion of the Church. The verdict, as promulgated by Innocent,
December 15, 1215, recited the labors of the Church to free the province
of Narbonne from heresy, and the peace and tranquillity with which its
success had been crowned. It assumed that Raymond had been found guilty
of heresy and spoliation, and therefore deprived him of the dominion
which he had abused, and sentenced him to dwell elsewhere in penance for
his sins, promising him four hundred marks a year so long as he proved
obedient. His wife was to retain the lands of her dower, or to receive a
competent equivalent for them. All the territories won by the Crusaders,
together with Toulouse, the centre of heresy, and Montauban, were
granted to de Montfort, who was extolled as the chief instrument in the
triumph of the faith. The other possessions of Raymond, not as yet
conquered, were to be held by the Church for the benefit of the younger
Raymond, to be delivered to him when he should reach the proper age, in
whole or in part, as might be found expedient, provided he should
manifest himself worthy. So far as Count Raymond was concerned, the
verdict was final; thereafter the Church always spoke of him as "the
former count," "_quondam comes_." Subsequent decisions as to Foix and
Comminges at least arrested the arms of de Montfort in that direction,
although they proved far less favorable to the native nobles than they
appeared on the surface.[158]

The highest tribunal of the Church Universal had spoken, and in no
uncertain tone; and we may see a significant illustration of the
forfeiture of its hold on popular veneration in the fact that this, in
place of meeting with acquiescence, was the signal of revolt. Apparently
the decision had been awaited in the confidence that it would repair the
long course of wrong and injustice perpetrated in the name of religion;
and, with the frustration of that hope, there was no hesitation in
resorting to resistance, with the national spirit inflamed to the
highest pitch of enthusiasm. If de Montfort thought that his conquests
were secured by the voice of the Lateran fathers, and by King Philip's
reception of the homage which he lost no time in rendering, he only
showed how little he had learned of the temper of the race with which he
had to deal. Yet in France he was naturally the hero of the hour, and
the journey on his way to tender allegiance was a triumphal progress.
Crowds flocked to see the champion of the Church; the clergy marched
forth in solemn procession to welcome him to every town, and those
thought themselves happy who could touch the hem of his garment.[159]

The younger Raymond, at this time a youth of eighteen, hardened by years
of adversity, was winning in manner, and is said to have made a most
favorable impression on Innocent, who dismissed him with a benediction
and good advice; not to take what belonged to another, but to defend his
own--"res de l'autrui non pregas; lo teu, se degun lo te vol hostar,
deffendas"--and he made haste to follow the counsel, according to his
own interpretation. The part of his inheritance which had been reserved
for him under custody of the Church lay to the east of the Rhone, and
thither, on their return from Italy, early in 1216, father and son took
their way, to find a basis of operations. The outlook was encouraging,
and after a short stay the elder Raymond proceeded to Spain to raise
what troops he could. Marseilles, Avignon, Tarascon--the whole country,
in fact--rose as one man to welcome their lord, and demanded to be led
against the Frenchmen, reckless of the fulminations of the Church, and
placing life and property at his disposal. The part which the cities and
the people play in the conflict becomes henceforth even more noticeable
than heretofore--the semi-republican communes fighting for life against
the rigid feudalism of the North. How subordinated was the religious
question, and how confused were religious notions, is manifested by the
fact that, while thus warring against the Church, at the siege of the
castle of Beaucaire, when entrenchments were necessary against the
relieving army of de Montfort, Raymond's chaplain offered salvation to
any one who would labor on the ramparts, and the townsfolk set eagerly
to work to obtain the promised pardons. The people apparently reasoned
little as to the source from whence indulgences came, nor the object for
which they were granted.[160]

De Montfort met this unexpected turn of fortune with his wonted
activity, but his hour of prosperity was past, and one might almost say,
with the Church historians, that he was weighed down by the
excommunication launched at him by the implacable Arnaud of Narbonne,
whom he had treated harshly in their quarrel over the dukedom--an
excommunication which he wholly disregarded, not even intermitting his
attendance at mass, though he had looked upon the censures of the Church
with such veneration when they were directed against his antagonists.
Obliged, after hard fighting, to leave Beaucaire to its fate, he marched
in angry mood to Toulouse, which was preparing to recall its old lord.
He set fire to the town in several places, but the citizens barricaded
the streets, and resisted his troops step by step, till accommodation
was made, and he agreed to spare the city for the immense sum of thirty
thousand marks; but he destroyed what was left of the fortifications,
filled up the ditches, rendered the place as defenceless as possible,
and disarmed the inhabitants. Despite his excommunication, he still had
the earnest support of the Church. Innocent died July 20, 1216, but his
successor, Honorius III., inherited his policy, and a new legate,
Cardinal Bertrand of St. John, and St. Paul, was, if possible, more
bitter than his predecessors in the determination to suppress the revolt
against Rome. The preaching of the crusade had been resumed, and in the
beginning of 1217, with fresh reinforcements of Crusaders and a small
contingent furnished by Philip Augustus, de Montfort crossed the Rhone,
and made rapid progress in subduing the territories left to young

He was suddenly recalled by the news that Toulouse was in rebellion;
that Raymond VI. had been received there with rejoicings, bringing with
him auxiliaries from Spain; that Foix and Comminges, and all the nobles
of the land, had flocked thither to welcome their lord, and that the
Countess of Montfort was in peril in the Château Narbonnais, the citadel
outside of the town, which he had left to bridle the citizens.
Abandoning his conquests, he hastened back. In September, 1217,
commenced the second siege of the heroic city, in which the burghers
displayed unflinching resolve to preserve themselves from the yoke of
the stranger--or perhaps, rather, the courage of desperation, if the
account is to be believed that the cardinal-legate ordered the Crusaders
to slay all the inhabitants, without distinction of age or sex. In spite
of the defenceless condition of the town, which men and women unitedly
worked night and day to repair; in spite of the threatening and
beseeching letters which Honorius wrote to the Kings of Aragon and
France, to the younger Raymond, the Count of Foix, the citizens of
Toulouse, Avignon, Marseilles, and all whom he thought to deter or
excite; in spite of heavy reinforcements brought by a vigorous renewal
of preaching the crusade, for nine weary months the siege dragged on, in
furious assaults and yet more furious sallies, with intervals of
suspended operations as the crusading army swelled or decreased. De
Montfort's brother Gui and his eldest son Amauri were seriously wounded.
The baffled chieftain's troubles were rendered sorer by the legate, who
taunted him with his ill-success, and accused him of ignorance or
slackness in his work. Sick at heart, and praying for death as a
welcome release, on the morrow of St. John's day, 1218, he was
superintending the reconstruction of his machines, after repelling a
sally, when a stone from a mangonel, worked, as Toulousain tradition
says, by women, went straight to the right spot--"E venc tot dret la
peira lai on era mestiers"--it crushed in his helmet, and he never more
spoke word. Great was the sorrow of the faithful through all the lands
of Europe when the tidings spread that the glorious champion of Christ,
the new Maccabee, the bulwark of the faith, had fallen as a martyr in
the cause of religion. He was buried at Haute-Bruyère, a cell of the
Monastery of Dol, and the miracles worked at his tomb showed how
acceptable to God had been his life and death, though there were not
wanting those who drew the moral that his sudden downfall, just as his
success seemed to be firmly established, was the punishment of
neglecting the persecution of heresy in his eagerness to gratify his

If proof were lacking of de Montfort's pre-eminent capacity it would be
furnished by the rapid undoing of all that he had accomplished, in the
hands of his son and successor Amauri. Even during the siege his
prestige was yet such that, December 18, 1217, the powerful Jourdain de
l'Isle-Jourdain made submission to him as Duke of Narbonne and Count of
Toulouse and furnished as securities Géraud, Count of Armagnac and
Fézenzac, Roger, Viscount of Fézenzaquet, and other nobles; and in
February, 1218, the citizens of Narbonne abandoned their rebellious
attitude. His death was regarded as the signal of liberation, and
wherever the French garrisons were not too strong, the people arose,
massacred the invaders, and gave themselves back to their ancient lords.
Vainly did Honorius recognize Amauri as the successor to his father's
lordships, put the two Raymonds to the ban, and grant Philip Augustus a
twentieth of ecclesiastical revenues as an incentive to another
crusade, while plenary indulgence was offered to all who would serve.
Vainly did Louis Cœur-de-Lion, with his father's sanction, and
accompanied by the Cardinal-Legate Bertrand, lead a gallant army of
pilgrims which numbered in its ranks no less than thirty-three counts
and twenty bishops. They penetrated, indeed, to Toulouse, but the third
siege of the unyielding city was no more successful than its
predecessors, and Louis was obliged to withdraw ingloriously, having
accomplished nothing but the massacre of Marmande, where five thousand
souls were put to the sword, without distinction of age or sex. Indeed,
the pitiless cruelty and brutal licentiousness habitual among the
Crusaders, who spared no man in their wrath, and no woman in their lust,
aided no little in inflaming the resistance to foreign domination. One
by one the strongholds still held by the French were wrested from their
grasp, and but very few of the invaders founded families who kept their
place among the gentry of the land. In 1220 a new legate, Conrad, tried
the experiment of founding a military order under the name of the
Knights of the Faith of Jesus Christ, but it proved useless. Equally
vain was the papal sentence of excommunication and exheredation
fulminated in 1221; and when, in the same year, Louis undertook a new
crusade and received from Honorius a twentieth of the Church revenues to
defray the expenses, he turned the army thus raised against the English
possessions and captured La Rochelle, in spite of the protests of king
and pope.[162]

Early in 1222, Amauri, reduced to desperation, offered to Philip
Augustus all his possessions and claims, urging Honorius to support the
proposal. The pope welcomed it as the only feasible mode of
accomplishing the result for which years of effort had been fruitlessly
spent, and he wrote to the king, May 14, representing that in this way
alone could the Church be saved. The heretics who had hid themselves in
caverns and mountain fastnesses where French domination prevailed, came
forth again as soon as the invaders were driven out, and their unceasing
missionary efforts were aided by the common detestation in which the
foreigner was held by all. The Church had made itself the national
enemy, and we can easily believe the description which Honorius gives of
the lamentable condition of orthodoxy in Languedoc. Heresy was openly
practised and taught; the heretic bishops set themselves up defiantly
against the Catholic prelates, and there was danger that the pestilence
would spread throughout the land. In spite of all this, however, and of
an offer of a twentieth of the church revenues and unlimited indulgences
for a crusade, Philip turned a deaf ear to the entreaty; and when
Amauri's offer was transferred to Thibaut of Champagne, and the latter
applied to the king for encouragement, he was coldly told that if, after
due consideration, he resolved on the undertaking, the king wished him
all success, but could render him no aid nor release him from his
obligations of service in view of the threatening relations with
England. Possibly encouraged by this, the younger Raymond in June
appealed to Philip as his lord, and, if he dared so to call him, as his
kinsman, imploring his pity, and begging in the humblest terms his
intervention to procure his reconciliation to the Church, and thus
remove the incapacity of inheritance to which he was subjected.[163]

This must have been suggested by the expectation of the death of Raymond
VI., which occurred shortly after, in August, 1222. It made no change in
the political or religious situation, but is not without interest in
view of the charge of heresy so persistently made and used as an excuse
for his destruction. In 1218 he had executed his will, in which he left
pious legacies to the Templars and Hospitallers of Toulouse, declared
his intention of entering the latter order, and desired to be buried
with them. On the morning of his sudden death he had twice visited for
prayer the church of la Daurade, but his agony was short and he was
speechless when the Abbot of St. Sernin, who had been hurriedly sent
for, reached his bedside, to administer to him the consolations of
religion. A Hospitaller who was present cast over him his cloak with the
cross, to secure the burial of the body for his house; but a zealous
parishioner of St. Sernin pulled it off, and a disgraceful squabble
arose over the dying man, for the abbot claimed the sepulture, as the
death chanced to take place in his parish, and he summoned the people
not to allow the corpse to be removed beyond its precincts. This ghastly
struggle over the remains has its ludicrous aspect, from the fact that
the Church would never permit the inhumation of its enemy, and the body
remained unburied in spite of the reiterated pious efforts of Raymond
VII., after his reconciliation, to secure the repose of his father's
soul. It was in vain that the inquest ordered by Innocent IV., in 1247,
gathered evidence from a hundred and twenty witnesses to prove that
Raymond VI. had been the most pious and charitable of men and most
obedient to the Church. His remains lay for a century and a half the
sport of rats in the house of the Hospitallers, and when they
disappeared piece-meal, the skull was still kept as an object of
curiosity, at least until the end of the seventeenth century.[164]

After his father's death Raymond VII. pursued his advantage, and in
December Amauri was reduced to offering again his claims to Philip
Augustus, only to be exposed to another refusal. In May, 1223, there
seem to have been hopes that Philip would undertake a crusade, and the
Legate Conrad of Porto, with the bishops of Nîmes, Agde, and Lodève
wrote to him urgently from Béziers describing the deplorable state of
the land in which the cities and castles were daily opening their gates
to the heretics and inviting them to take possession. Negotiations with
Raymond followed, and matters went so far that we find Honorius writing
to his legate to look after the interest of the Bishop of Viviers in the
expected settlement. There was fresh urgency felt for the pacification
in the absence of any hope of assistance from the king, since the
progress of the Catharan heresy was ever more alarming. Additional
energy had been infused into it by the activity of its Bulgarian
antipope. Heretics from Languedoc were resorting to him in increasing
numbers and returning with freshened zeal; and his representative,
Bartholomew, Bishop of Carcassonne, who styled himself, in imitation of
the popes, Servant of the servants of the Holy Faith, was making
successful efforts to spread the belief. Truces between Amauri and
Raymond were therefore made and conferences held, and finally the legate
called a council to assemble at Sens, July 6, 1223, where a final
pacification was expected. It was transferred to Paris, because Philip
Augustus desired to be present, and its importance in his eyes must have
been great, since he set out on his journey thither in spite of a raging
fever, to which he succumbed on the road, at Meudon, July 14. Raymond's
well-grounded hopes were shattered on the eve of realization, for
Philip's death rendered the council useless and changed in a moment the
whole face of affairs.[165]

Though Philip showed his practical sympathy with de Montfort by leaving
him a legacy of thirty thousand livres to assist him in his Albigensian
troubles, his prudence had avoided all entanglements, and he had
steadily rejected the proffer of the de Montfort claims. Yet his
sagacity led him to prophesy truly that after his death the clergy would
use every effort to involve Louis, whose feeble health would prove
unequal to the strain, and the kingdom would be left in the hands of a
woman and a child. It was probably the desire to avert this by a
settlement which led him to make the fatal effort to attend the council,
and his prediction did not long await its fulfilment. Louis, on the very
day of his coronation, promised the legate that he would undertake the
matter; Honorius urged it with vehemence, and in February, 1224, Louis
accepted a conditional cession from Amauri of all his rights over
Languedoc. Raymond thus found himself confronted by the King of France
as his adversary.[166]

The situation was full of new and unexpected peril. But a month before,
Amauri, in utter penury, had been obliged to surrender what few
strongholds he yet retained, and had quitted forever the land which he
and his father had cursed, a portion of Philip's legacy being used to
extricate his garrisons. The triumph, so long hoped for and won by so
many years of persistent struggle, was a Dead-Sea apple, full of ashes
and bitterness. The discomfited adversary was now replaced by one who
was rash and enterprising, who wielded all the power gained by Philip's
long and fortunate reign, and whose pride was enlisted in avenging the
check which he had received five years before under the walls of
Toulouse. Already in February he wrote to the citizens of Narbonne,
praising their loyalty and promising to lead a crusade three weeks after
Easter, which should restore to the crown all the lands forfeited by the
house of Toulouse. Zealous as he was, however, he felt that the
eagerness of the Church warranted him in driving the best bargain he
could for his services to the faith, and he demanded as conditions of
taking up arms that peace abroad and at home should be assured to him,
that a crusade should be preached with the same indulgences as for the
Holy Land, that all his vassals not joining in it should be
excommunicated, that the Archbishop of Bourges should be legate in place
of the Cardinal of Porto, that all the lands of Raymond, of his allies,
and of all who resisted the crusade should be his prize, that he should
have a subsidy of sixty thousand livres parisis a year from the Church,
and that he should be free to return as soon or remain as long as he
might see fit.[167]

Louis asserted that these conditions were accepted, and went on with his
preparations, while Raymond made desperate efforts to conjure the coming
storm. Henry III. of England used his good offices with Honorius, and
Raymond was encouraged to make offers of obedience through envoys to
Rome, whose liberalities among the officials of the curia are said to
have produced a most favorable impression. Honorius replied in a most
gracious letter, promising to send Romano, Cardinal of Sant' Angelo, as
legate to arrange a settlement, and he followed this by informing Louis
that the offers of Frederic II. to recover the Holy Land were so
favorable that everything else must be postponed to that great object,
and all indulgences must be used solely for that purpose; but that if he
will continue to threaten Raymond, that prince will be forced to submit.
Instructions were at the same time sent to Arnaud of Narbonne to act
with other prelates in leading Raymond to offer acceptable terms. Louis,
justly indignant at being thus played with, made public protestation
that he washed his hands of the whole business, and told the pope the
curia might come to what terms it pleased with Raymond, that he had
nothing to do with points of faith, but that his rights must be
respected and no new tributes be imposed. At a parliament held in Paris,
May 5, 1224, the legate withdrew the indulgences granted against the
Albigenses and approved of Raymond as a good Catholic, while Louis made
a statement of the whole transaction in terms which showed how
completely he felt himself to be duped. He turned his military
preparations to account, however, by wrenching from Henry III. a
considerable portion of the remaining English possessions in

The storm seemed to be successfully conjured. Nothing remained but to
settle the terms, and Raymond's escape had been too narrow for him to
raise difficulties on this score. At Pentecost (June 2) with his chief
vassals, he met Arnaud and the bishops at Montpellier, where he agreed
to observe and maintain the Catholic faith throughout his dominions, and
expel all heretics pointed out by the Church, confiscate their property
and punish their bodies, to maintain peace and dismiss the bandit
mercenaries, to restore all rights and privileges to the churches, to
pay twenty thousand marks for reparation of ecclesiastical losses and
for Amauri's compensation, on condition that the pope would cause Amauri
to renounce his claims and deliver up all documents attesting them. If
this would not suffice, he would submit himself entirely to the Church,
saving his allegiance to the king. His signature to this was accompanied
by those of the Count of Foix and the Viscount of Béziers. As an
evidence of good faith he reinstated his father's old enemy, Theodisius,
in the bishopric of Agde, which the quondam legate had obtained and from
which he had been driven, and in addition he restored various other
church properties. These conditions were transmitted to Rome for
approbation with notice that a council would be held August 20 for their
ratification, and Honorius returned an equivocal answer which might be
construed as accepting them. On the appointed day the council met at
Montpellier. Amauri sent a protest begging the bishops desperately not
to throw away the fruits of victory within their grasp. The King of
France, he said, was on the point of making the cause his own, and to
abandon it now would be a scandal and a humiliation to the Church
Universal. Notwithstanding this, the bishops received the oaths of
Raymond and his vassals to the conditions previously agreed, with the
addition that the decision of the pope should be followed as to the
composition with Amauri, and that any further commands of the Church
should be obeyed, saving the supremacy of the king and the emperor, for
all of which satisfactory security was offered.[169]

What more the Church could ask it is hard to see. Raymond had triumphed
over it and all the Crusaders whom it could muster, and yet he offered
submission as complete as could reasonably have been exacted of his
father in the hour of his deepest abasement. At this very time,
moreover, a public disputation held at Castel-Sarrasin between some
Catholic priests and Catharan ministers shows the growing confidence of
heresy and the necessity of an accommodation if its progress was to be
checked. Not less significant was a Catharan council held not long after
at Pieussan, where, with the consent of Guillabert of Castres, heretic
bishop of Toulouse, the new episcopate of Rasez was carved out of his
see and that of Carcassès. Yet the vicissitudes and surprises in this
business were not yet exhausted. In October, when Raymond's envoys
reached Rome to obtain the papal confirmation of the settlement, they
were opposed by Gui de Montfort, sent by Louis to prevent it. There were
not wanting Languedocian bishops who feared that with peace they would
be forced to restore possessions usurped during the troubles, and who
consequently busied themselves with proving that Raymond was at heart a
heretic. Honorius shuffled with the negotiation until the commencement
of 1225, when he sent Cardinal Romano again to France with full powers
as legate, and with instructions to threaten Raymond and to bring about
a truce between France and England so as to free Louis's hands. He wrote
to Louis in the same sense, while to Amauri he sent money and words of
encouragement. His description of Languedoc, as a land of iron and
brass of which the rust could only be removed by fire, shows the side
which he had finally determined to take.[170]

After several conferences with Louis and the leading bishops and nobles,
the legate convened a national council at Bourges in November, 1225, for
the final settlement of the question. Raymond appeared before it, humbly
seeking absolution and reconciliation; he offered his purgation and
whatever amends might be required by the churches, promising to render
his lands peaceful and secure and obedient to Rome. As for heresy, he
not only engaged to suppress it, but urged the legate to visit every
city in his dominions and make inquisition into the faith of the people,
pledging himself to punish rigorously all delinquents and to coerce any
town offering opposition. For himself, he was ready to render full
satisfaction for any derelictions, and to undergo an examination as to
his faith. On the other hand, Amauri exhibited the decrees of Innocent
condemning Raymond VI. and bestowing his lands on Simon, and Philip's
recognition of the latter. There was much wrangling in the council until
the legate ordered each archbishop to deliberate separately with his
suffragans and deliver to him the result in writing, to be submitted to
the king and pope, under the seal of secrecy, enforced by

There is an episode in the proceedings of this council worth attention
as an illustration of the relations between Rome and the local churches
and the character of the establishment to which the heretics were
invited to return with the gentle inducements of the stake and gibbet.
After the ostensible business of the assemblage was over, the legate
craftily gave to the delegates of the chapters permission to depart,
while retaining the bishops. The delegates thus dismissed were keen to
scent some mischief in the wind; they consulted together and sent to the
legate a committee from all the metropolitan chapters to say that they
understood him to have special letters from the Roman curia demanding
for the pope in perpetuity the fruits of two prebends in every episcopal
and abbatial chapter and one in every conventual church. They adjured
him, for the sake of God, not to cause so great a scandal, assuring him
that the king and the barons would be ready to resist at the peril of
life and dignity, and that it would cause a general subversion of the
Church. Under this pressure the legate exhibited the letters and argued
that the grant would relieve the Roman Church of the scandal of
concupiscence, as it would put an end to the necessity of demanding and
receiving presents. On this the delegate from Lyons quietly observed
that they did not wish to be without friends in the Roman court, and
were perfectly willing to bribe them; others represented that the
fountain of cupidity never would run dry, and that the added wealth
would only render the Romans more madly eager, leading to mutual
quarrels which would end in the destruction of the city; others, again,
pointed out that the revenues thus accruing to the curia, computed to be
greater than those of the crown, would render its members so rich that
justice would be more costly than ever; moreover, it was evident that
the host of officials in each church, whom the pope would be entitled to
appoint to look after the collections, would not only lead to infinite
additional exactions, but would be used to control the elections of the
chapters, and end by bringing them all under subjection to Rome. They
wound up by assuring him that it was for the interest of Rome itself to
abandon the project, for if oppression thus became universal it would be
followed by universal revolt. The legate, unable to face the storm,
agreed to suppress the letters, saying that he disapproved of them, but
had had no opportunity of remonstrance, as they had only reached him
after his arrival in France. An equally audacious proposition, by which
the curia hoped to obtain control over all the abbeys in the kingdom,
was frustrated by the active opposition of the archbishops. Heresy might
well hold itself justifiable in keeping aloof from such a Church as

What were really the conclusions reached in the Albigensian matter by
the archiepiscopal caucuses no one might reveal, but with pope and king
resolved on intervention there could be little doubt as to the practical
result. Moreover, the stars in their courses had fought against Raymond,
for in this critical juncture death had carried off Archbishop Arnaud of
Narbonne, who had become his vigorous friend, and who was succeeded by
Pierre Amiel, his bitter enemy. There could be no effective resistance
to royal and papal wishes; it was announced that no peace honorable to
the Church could be reached with Raymond, and that a tithe of
ecclesiastical revenues for five years was offered to Louis if he would
undertake the holy war. Reckless as was Louis, however, and eager to
clutch at the tempting prize, he shrank from the encounter with the
obstinate patriotism of the South while involved in hostilities with
England. He demanded therefore that Honorius should prohibit Henry III.
from disturbing the French territories during the crusade. When Henry
received the papal letters he was eagerly preparing an expedition to
relieve his brother, Richard of Cornwall, but his counsellors urged him
not to prevent Louis from entangling himself in so difficult and costly
an enterprise, and one of them, William Pierrepont, a skilled
astrologer, confidently predicted that Louis would either lose his life
or be overwhelmed with misfortune. In the nick of time, news arrived
from Richard giving good accounts of his success; Henry's anxieties were
calmed, and he gave the required assurances, in spite of an alliance
into which he had shortly before entered with Raymond. As a further
precaution to insure the success of the crusade, all private wars were
forbidden during its continuance.[173]

The question of religion had practically disappeared by this time,
except as an excuse for indulgences and ecclesiastical subsidies and as
a cloak for dynastic expansion. If Raymond had not yet actively
persecuted his heretic subjects it was merely because of the impolicy,
under constant threats of foreign aggression, of alienating so large a
portion of the population on which he relied for support. He had shown
himself quite ready to do so in exchange for reconciliation to the
Church, and he had urged the legate to establish an organized
inquisition throughout his dominions. Amid all the troubles the
Dominicans had been allowed to grow and establish themselves in his
territories; and when their rivals in persecution, the Franciscans, had
come to Toulouse, he had welcomed them and assisted them in taking root.
In this very year, 1225, St. Antony of Padua, who stands next to St.
Francis in the veneration of the order, came to France to preach against
heresy, and in the Toulousain his eloquence excited such a storm of
persecution as to earn for him the honorable title of the Tireless
Hammer of Heretics. The coming struggle thus, even more than its
predecessors, was to be a war of races, with the whole power of the
North, led by the king and the Church, against the exhausted provinces
which clung to Raymond as their suzerain. We cannot wonder that he was
willing to submit to any terms to avert it, for he was left to breast
the tempest alone. His greatest vassal, the Count of Foix, it is true,
stood by him, but the next in importance, the Count of Comminges, made
his peace, and is found acting for the king; the Count of Provence
entered into the alliance against him, while, at a warning from Louis,
Jayme of Aragon and Nuñez Sancho of Roussillon forbade their subjects
from lending aid to the heretic.[174]

Meanwhile the crusade was organized on the largest scale. At a great
parliament held in Paris, January 28, 1226, the nobles presented an
address urging the king to undertake it and pledging their assistance to
the end. He assumed the cross under condition that he should lay it
aside when he pleased, and his example was followed by nearly all the
bishops and barons, though we are told that many did so unwillingly,
holding it an abuse to assail a faithful Christian who, at the Council
of Bourges, had offered all possible satisfaction. Amauri and his uncle
Gui executed a renunciation of all their claims in favor of the crown;
the cross was diligently preached throughout the kingdom, with the
customary offer of indulgences, and the legate guaranteed that the
ecclesiastical tithe granted for five years should amount to at least
one hundred thousand livres per annum. The only cloud to mar the
prospect was the discovery that Honorius had sent letters and legates to
the barons of Poitou and Aquitaine, ordering them within a month to
return to their allegiance to England in spite of any oaths taken to the
contrary. This curious piece of treachery can only be explained by
persuasive bribes from Raymond or from Henry III., and Louis promptly
met it with liberal payments to the pope, by which he procured the
suspension of the letters. This being got out of the way, another
council was held March 29, where Louis commanded his lieges to assemble
on May 17, at Bourges, fully equipped and prepared to remain with him as
long as he should stay in the South. The forty day's service which had
so repeatedly snatched from de Montfort the fruits of his victories was
no longer to arrest the tide of a permanent conquest.[175]

On the appointed day the chivalry of the kingdom gathered around their
monarch at Bourges, but before setting forth there was much to be done.
Innumerable abbots and delegates from chapters besieged the king,
imploring him not to reduce the national Church to servitude by exacting
the tithe bestowed on him, and promising to make ample provision for his
needs; but he was unrelenting, and they departed, secretly cursing both
crusade and king. The legate was busy dismissing the boys, women, old
men, paupers, and cripples who had assumed the cross. These he forced to
swear as to the amount of money which they possessed; of this he took
the major part and let them go after granting them absolution from the
vow--an indirect way of selling indulgences which became habitual and
produced large sums. Louis drove a thriving trade of the same kind from
a higher class of Crusaders by accepting heavy payments from those who
owed him service and were not ambitious of the glory or the perils of
the expedition. He also forced the Count of La Marche to send back to
Raymond his young daughter Jeanne, betrothed to La Marche's son, and
reserved, as we shall see, for loftier nuptials. To Bourges likewise
flocked many of the nobles of Narbonne, eager to show their loyalty by
doing homage to the king and to advise him not to advance through their
district, which was devastated by war, but to march by way of the Rhone
to Avignon--disinterested counsel which he adopted.[176]

Louis set forth from Lyons with a magnificent army consisting, it is
said, of fifty thousand horse and innumerable foot. The terror of his
coming preceded him; many of Raymond's vassals and cities made haste to
offer their submission--Nîmes, Narbonne, Carcassonne, Albi, Béziers,
Marseilles, Castres, Puylaurens, Avignon--and he seemed reduced to the
last extremity. When the host reached Avignon, however, and Louis
proposed to march through the city, the inhabitants, with sudden fear,
shut their gates in his face, and though they offered him unmolested
passage around it, he resolved on a siege, in spite of its being a fief
of the empire. It had lain for ten years under excommunication, and was
noted as a nest of Waldenses, so the Cardinal-Legate Romano ordered the
Crusaders to purge it of heresy by force of arms. The task proved no
easy one. From June 10 till about September 10 the citizens resisted
desperately, inflicting heavy loss upon the besiegers. Raymond had
devastated the surrounding country and was ever on the watch to cut off
foraging-parties, so that supplies were scanty. An epidemic set in, and
a plague of flies carried infection from the dead to the living.
Disaffection in the camp aggravated the trouble. Pierre Mauclerc of
Britanny was offended with Louis for traversing his plot of marriage
with Jeanne of Flanders, whose divorce from her husband he had procured
from the pope, and he entered into a league with Thibaut of Champagne
and the Count of La Marche, who were all suspected of entertaining
secret relations with the enemy. Thibaut even left the army without
leave, after forty days of service, returned home and commenced
strengthening his castles. The crusade, so brilliantly begun, was on the
point of abandoning its first serious enterprise, when the Avignonese,
reduced to the utmost straits, unexpectedly offered to capitulate.
Considering the customs of the age, the terms were not hard. They agreed
to satisfy the king and Church, they paid a considerable ransom, their
walls were thrown down and three hundred fortified houses in the town
were dismantled, and they received as bishop, at the hands of the
legate, Nicholas de Corbie, who instituted laws for the suppression of
heresy. It was fortunate for Louis that the submission came when it did,
for a few days later there occurred an inundation of the Durance which
would have drowned his camp.[177]

From Avignon Louis marched westward, everywhere receiving the submission
of nobles and cities until within a few leagues of Toulouse. The
reduction of that obstinate focus of heresy was apparently all that
remained to complete the ruin of Raymond and the success of the crusade,
when Louis suddenly turned his face homeward. No explanation of this
unlooked-for termination of the campaign is furnished by any of the
chroniclers, but it is probably to be sought in the sickness which
pursued the Crusaders, and possibly in the commencement of the disease
which terminated the march and the life of the king at Montpensier on
November 8--fulfilling the prophecy of Merlin, "In ventris monte
morietur leo pacificus"--and not without suspicion of poisoning by
Thibaut of Champagne. Throughout Europe, however, the retreat was
regarded as the result of serious military reverses. Louis had designed
to return the following year, and had left garrisons in the places which
had submitted to him, with Humbert de Beaujeu, a renowned captain, in
supreme command, and Gui de Montfort under him, but their feats of arms
were few, though the burning of heretics was not neglected, when
occasion offered, if only to maintain the sacred character of the

Saved as by a miracle from the ruin which had seemed inevitable, Raymond
lost no time in recovering a portion of his dominions. The death of
Louis had worked a complete revolution in the situation, and, for a
time at least, he had little to fear. It is true that Louis IX., a child
of thirteen, was crowned without delay at Reims, and the regency was
confided to his mother, Blanche of Castile, but the great barons were
restive, and the conspiracy, hatched before the walls of Avignon, was
yet in existence. Britanny, Champagne, and La Marche ostentatiously kept
away from the coronation, delayed offering their homage, and intrigued
with England. Early in 1227, however, they quarrelled, when a show of
force and favorable terms brought them in one by one; short truces were
made with Henry III. and the Viscount of Thouars, and a temporary
respite was obtained. Gregory IX., who mounted the papal throne March
19, 1227, took the regent and the boy-king under the papal protection,
on the ground of their being engaged in war against heresy; but the
succors which they sent from time to time to de Beaujeu were probably
only enough to give color to a continuance of the ecclesiastical tithe,
which the four great provinces of Reims, Rouen, Sens, and Tours resisted
till the legate authorized the regent to seize church property and
compel the payment. Raymond thus was enabled to continue the struggle
with varying fortune. The Council of Narbonne, held during Lent, 1227,
in excommunicating those who had proved faithless to the oaths given to
Louis shows that the people had returned to their ancient allegiance
where they safely could; and in commanding a strict perquisition of
heretics by the bishops and their punishment by the secular authorities,
it indicates that even in territories held by the French the duties of
persecution were slackly performed.[179]

The war dragged on through 1227 with varying result. De Beaujeu,
assisted by Pierre Amiel of Narbonne and Foulques of Toulouse, captured,
after a desperate siege, the castle of Bécède, when the garrison was
slaughtered and the heretic deacon Géraud de Motte and his comrades were
burned, the castellan, Pagan de Bécède, becoming a "faidit" and a
leader among the proscribed heretics, to be burned at last in 1233.
Raymond recovered Castel-Sarrasin, but could not prevent the Crusaders
from devastating the land up to the walls of Toulouse. The following
year found both parties inclined for peace. We have seen that Raymond
was eager to make sacrifices for it, even before the last crusade had
stripped him of most of his possessions. The regent Blanche had ample
motives to come to terms. With all her firmness and capacity the task
before her was no easy one. The nobles of Aquitaine were corresponding
with Henry III. who always cherished the hope of reconquering the ample
territories wrenched from the English crown by Philip Augustus. The
great barons, despising the rule of a woman, were quarrelling between
themselves and involving a large portion of the kingdom in war. The hope
of completing the conquest of the South could scarce repay the constant
drain on the royal resources, while chronic warfare there was highly
dangerous in the explosive condition of the realm. The difficulty of
collecting the tithe from the recalcitrant churches was increasing, and
it could not be continued permanently. Every motive of policy would
therefore incline Queen Blanche to listen to the humble prayers for
reconciliation which Raymond and his father had never ceased to utter,
and a way of securing for the royal line the rich inheritance of the
house of Toulouse seemed to offer itself in the fact that Raymond had
but one child, Jeanne, still unmarried. A union between her and one of
the younger brothers of St. Louis, with a reversion of the territories
to them and to their heirs, would attain peaceably all the political
advantages of the crusade, while, as to its religious objects, Raymond
had left no doubts of his willingness to secure them.

Gregory IX. was quite content thus to close the war which Innocent had
commenced twenty years before. Already, in March, 1228, he wrote to
Louis IX., urging him to make peace according to the judgment of the
legate, Cardinal Romano, who had full powers in the premises, and it was
in the name of the legate that the first overtures were made to Raymond
through the Abbot of Grandselve. That the marriage was the pivot upon
which from the beginning the negotiations turned is shown by another
letter of June 25, authorizing Romano to dispense with the impediment of
consanguinity if the union between Jeanne and one of the king's
brothers would lead to peace. Another epistle of October 21, announcing
to all the prelates of France that he had renewed the indulgences for a
crusade against the Albigenses, would seem to show that the terms
offered to Raymond were hard of acceptance, and that renewed pressure on
him was necessary. This was enforced by extensive devastations in his
territories, and in December, 1228, he gave the abbot full power to
assent to whatever might be agreed upon by Thibaut of Champagne, who
acted as mediator for him. A conference was held at Meaux, where we find
the consuls of Toulouse also represented, and preliminaries were signed
in January, 1229. Finally, on Holy Thursday, April 12, 1229, the long
war came to an end. Before the portal of Nôtre Dame de Paris Raymond
humbly approached the legate and begged for reconciliation to the
Church; barefooted and in his shirt he was conducted to the altar as a
penitent, received absolution in the presence of the dignitaries of
Church and State, and his followers were relieved from excommunication.
After this he constituted himself a prisoner in the Louvre until his
daughter and five of his castles should be in the hands of the king, and
five hundred toises of the walls of Toulouse should be demolished.[180]

The terms to which he had agreed were hard and humiliating. In the royal
proclamation of the treaty, he is represented as acting at the command
of the legate, and humbly praying Church and king for mercy and not for
justice. He swore to persecute heresy with his whole strength, including
heretics and believers, their protectors and receivers, and not sparing
his nearest kindred, friends, and vassals. On all these speedy
punishment was to be inflicted, and an inquisition for their detection
was to be instituted in such form as the legate might dictate, while in
its aid Raymond agreed to offer the large reward of two marks per head
for every manifest ("perfected") heretic captured during two years, and
one mark forever thereafter. As for other heretics, believers,
receivers, and defenders, he agreed to do whatever the legate or pope
should command. His _baillis_, or local officers, moreover, were to be
good Catholics, free of all suspicion. He was to defend the Church and
all its members and privileges; to enforce its censures by seizing the
property of all who should remain for a year under excommunication; to
restore all church lands and lands of ecclesiastics occupied since the
commencement of the troubles, and to pay as damages for personal
property taken the sum of ten thousand silver marks; to enforce for the
future the payment of tithes, and, as a special fine, to pay five
thousand marks to five religious houses named, besides six thousand
marks to be expended in fortifying certain strongholds to be held by the
king as security for the Church, and between three thousand and four
thousand marks to support for ten years at Toulouse two masters in
theology, two decretalists, and six masters in grammar and the liberal
arts. Moreover, as penance, he agreed to assume the cross immediately on
receiving absolution, and to proceed within two years to Palestine, to
serve there for five years--a penance which he never performed, though
repeatedly summoned to do so, until in 1247 he made preparations for a
departure which was arrested by death. An oath was further to be
administered to his people, renewable every five years, binding them to
make active war upon all heretics, their believers, receivers, and
fautors, and to help the Church and king in subduing heresy.

The interests of the Church and of religion being thus provided for, the
marriage of Jeanne with one of the king's brothers was treated as a
favor bestowed on Raymond. It was tacitly assumed that all his dominions
had been forfeited, and the king graciously granted him all the lands
comprised within the ancient bishopric of Toulouse, subject to their
reversion after his death to his daughter and her husband, in such wise
that whether there was issue of the marriage or not, or whether she
survived her husband or not, they passed irrevocably to the royal
family. Agen, Rouergue, Quercy, except Cahors, and part of Albi were
likewise granted to Raymond, with reversion to his daughter in default
of lawful heirs; but the king retained the extensive territories
comprised within the duchy of Narbonne and the counties of Velay,
Gévaudan, Viviers, and Lodève. The marquisate of Provence, beyond the
Rhone, a dependency of the empire, was given to the Church. Raymond thus
lost two thirds of his vast dominions. In addition to this he was
obliged to destroy the fortifications of Toulouse and of thirty other
strongholds, and was prohibited from strengthening any in their stead;
he was to deliver to the king eight other specified places for ten
years, and to pay fifteen hundred marks per annum for five years for
their maintenance; and he was to take active measures to reduce to
subjection any recalcitrant vassals, especially the Count of Foix, who,
being thus abandoned, came in the same year and made a humiliating
peace. A general amnesty was proclaimed, and the "faidits," or ejected
knights and gentlemen, were restored, excluding, of course, all who were
heretics. Raymond, moreover, engaged to maintain peace throughout the
land, and the _routiers_, or bandit mercenaries, who for fifty years had
been the special objects of animadversion by the Church, were to be
expelled forever. To all these conditions his vassals and people were to
be sworn, obligating themselves to assist him in the performance; and
if, after forty days' notice, he continued derelict on any point, all
the lands granted him reverted to the king, his subjects' allegiance was
transferred, and he fell back into his present condition of an

The king's assumed right to the territories thus disposed of arose
partly from the conquests of his father, and partly from Amauri, who a
few days later executed a third cession of all his claims without
reserve or consideration, other than what the king in his bounty might
see fit to grant. The reward he obtained was the reversion of the
dignity of Constable of France, which fell in the next year on the death
of Matthieu de Montmorency. In 1237 he foolishly revived his claims,
again styled himself Duke of Narbonne, made an unsuccessful effort to
seize Dauphiné in right of his wife, and invaded the county of Melgueil,
thereby incurring the wrath of Gregory IX., who ordered him as a penance
to join the crusade then preparing to start for the Holy Land. In effect
he did so, and Gregory generously granted him, to be paid after he was
beyond seas, the large sum of three thousand marks out of the fund
arising from the redemption of their vows by Crusaders staying at
home--by this time a customary mode of selling indulgences, and one
exceedingly lucrative, for this payment was assigned simply on the
province of Sens and the lands of Amauri himself. In 1238 he sailed, and
his customary ill-luck pursued him, for in 1241 we hear of him as a
prisoner of the Saracens, and Gregory again came to his aid by
contributing to his ransom four thousand marks from the same redemption
fund. His death occurred the same year at Otranto, on his return from
Palestine, thus closing a life of strange vicissitudes and almost
uninterrupted misfortune.[182]

       *       *       *       *       *

The house of Toulouse was thus reduced from the position of the most
powerful feudatory, with possessions greater than those of the crown, to
a condition in which it was to be no longer dreaded, though Gregory IX.
and Frederic II., in 1234, at the reiterated request of Louis IX.,
restored to it the Marquisate of Provence, probably as a reward for
increased zeal in persecution. Raymond no longer, as Duke of Narbonne,
held the first rank among the six lay peers of France, but was relegated
to the fourth place. The treaty resulted as its framers intended. In
1229 Jeanne of Toulouse and her destined husband Alphonse, brother of
Louis, were children in their ninth year. Their marriage was deferred
until 1237, and when Raymond, in 1249, closed his unquiet career, they
succeeded to his territories. They both died without issue in 1271, when
Philip III. took possession, not only of the county of Toulouse, as
provided for in the settlement, but also of the other possessions which
Jeanne had vainly attempted to dispose of by will, thus rendering the
crown supreme throughout southern France, and preparing it for the rude
shocks of the wars with Edward III. and Henry V. It is fairly
questionable, indeed, whether, during those convulsions, the house of
Toulouse might not have become independently royal, governing a
well-defined territory of homogeneous population, had not the religious
enthusiasm excited by heresy enabled the Capets, with the assistance of
the papacy, to destroy it in the thirteenth century.

That a monarchy so distracted and weakened as that of France during the
minority of Louis IX. could demand and exact terms so humiliating as
those which Raymond was glad to accept, shows the helpless isolation to
which the religious question had reduced him, despite the fidelity of
his subjects and the repeated failure of the assaults upon him. Those
assaults he had met with the courage of a gallant knight and the
resources of a skilful leader, but his neglect to persecute heresy
deprived him of sympathy and of allies, and the anathema of the Church
hung over him as an ever-present curse. To the public law of the period
he was an outlaw, without even the right of self-defence against the
first-comer, for his very self-defence was rated among his crimes; in
the popular faith of the age he was an accursed thing, without hope,
here or hereafter. The only way of readmission into human fellowship,
the only hope of salvation, lay in reconciliation with the Church
through the removal of the awful ban which had formed part of his
inheritance. To obtain this he had repeatedly offered to sacrifice his
honor and his subjects, and the offer had been contemptuously spurned.
Now that the necessities of the royal court had rendered the regent and
her counsellors unwilling to risk the drain and the dangers of prolonged
war, he was too eager to escape from his cruel position to hesitate long
in accepting the hard conditions which were exacted of him, although, as
Bernard Gui says, the single provision which assured the reversion of
Toulouse to the royal house would have been sufficiently hard if the
king had captured Count Raymond on a stricken field.[183]

There was much that he could allege in justification, had he imagined
that justification was needed. Born in 1197, he was yet a child when the
storm had broken over his father's head. Ever since he could observe and
reason he had seen his land the prey of the ruthless chivalry of the
North, at the head of vagabond hordes, as eager for spoil as for the
redemption of their sins. As soon as one host had melted away it had
been succeeded by another, and for twenty years the wretched people who
clung to him had known no peace. He and they had barely escaped as by a
miracle from destruction in the last crusade, and there was no prospect
of better days in the future, so long as Rome's implacable enmity to
heresy, acting upon the ambition of the restless Franks, could always
call forth fresh swarms of marauders and dignify them with the Cross.
Though he could not be a fervent disciple of a Church which had been to
him so stern a stepmother, he was yet no Catharan; and while perfectly
ready to tolerate the heresy of a large portion of his subjects, he
might well ask himself whether their toleration was to be purchased at
the cost of the whole population, who could never look for peace so long
as heresy was endured among them. The choice lay between sacrificing one
side or both sides; and what well might seem the lesser evil coincided
with his own selfish instincts of self-preservation. He never hesitated
as to the choice; and, after he had accomplished his object, he
faithfully adhered to his promise of uprooting heresy, though more than
once he interfered when the excessive rigor of the Inquisition
threatened trouble. Perhaps the task at first was a distasteful one, but
he had no alternative. He was but a man of his time; had he been more he
might have played a martyr's part without better securing the happiness
of his people.

       *       *       *       *       *

The battle of toleration against persecution had been fought and lost;
nor, with such a warning as the fate of the two Raymonds, was there risk
that other potentates would disregard the public opinion of Christendom
by ill-advised mercy to the heretic. Calling upon the state for its
assured support, the Church made haste to reap the fruits of victory,
and the Inquisition was soon at work among those who had so long bidden
her defiance. That this was unanimously regarded by Europe as necessary
and righteous, in spite of the vices and corruption of the
ecclesiastical body, is so strange a development of the religion of
Christ as to render the process of its evolution an indispensable
subject for our consideration.



The Church had not always been an organization which considered its
highest duty to be the forcible suppression of dissidence at any cost.
In the simplicity of apostolic times its members were held together by
the bond of love, and the spirit with which discipline was enforced is
expressed in St. Paul's precept to the Galatians (VI. 1, 2)--

     "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are
     spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
     considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

     "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

Christ had commanded his disciples to forgive their brethren seventy
times seven, and as yet his teachings had been too recent to be buried
beneath a mass of observances and doctrines in which the letter which
kills overpowered the spirit which saves. The great primal principles of
Christianity were enough for the fervor of the faithful. Dogmatic
theology, with its endless complexities and metaphysical subtleties, as
yet was not. Even its vocabulary had still to be created and its
innumerable points of faith to be evolved out of the chance expressions
of writers on other topics, and by the literal interpretation of the
imagery of poetical diction.

It is an inexpressible relief to turn from the heated wranglings over
questions scarce appreciable by the average human intellect to St.
Paul's reproof to the Ephesians for giving heed to fables and endless
genealogies, and questions which had in them little of godly
edification, for "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure
heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (I. Tim. I. 4,
5). Those who indulged in these vain janglings he denounces as men
"desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say
nor whereof they affirm" (Ib. 7), and he commands his chosen disciple,
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they engender
strife" (II. Tim. II. 23). The Ebionitic section of the Church agreed
with the Pauline branch in this simplicity of teaching--"Pure religion
and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless
and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the
world" (James, I. 27).

Yet already was the seed scattered which was to bear so abounding a
harvest of wrong and misery. St. Paul will listen to no deviation from
the strictness of his teachings--"But though we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have
preached, let him be accursed" (Galat. I. 8); and he boasts of
delivering unto Satan Hymenæus and Alexander "that they may learn not to
blaspheme" (I. Tim. I. 20). How this spirit increased as time wore on
may be seen in the apocalyptic threats with which the backsliders and
heretics of the seven churches are assailed (Rev. II., III.). The
process went on with accelerating rapidity. Theology could not form
itself without starting a cloud of questions unsettled by the gospel:
earnest disputants arose who, in the heat of controversy, magnified the
points at issue till they assumed an importance rendering them the vital
tests of Christianity, and men believed with the most fervid conviction
that their adversaries were not Christians because they differed on some
unimportant fragment of ritual or discipline, or on some infinitesimal
dogma which only the mind trained in the dialectics of the schools could
comprehend. When Quintilla taught that water was not necessary in
baptism, Tertullian shrieks to her that there is nothing in common
between them, not even the same God or the same Christ. The Donatist
heresy with its deplorable results arose on the question of the
eligibility of an individual bishop. When Eutyches, in his zeal against
the doctrines of Nestorius, was led to confuse in some degree the double
nature of Christ, thinking that he was only defending the dogmas of his
friend St. Cyril, he suddenly found himself convicted of a heresy as
damnable as Nestorianism; while his defence against the practised
rhetoric of Eusebius of Dorylæum shows that he was not able to grasp the
subtle distinction between _substantia_ and _subsistentia_--a fatal
failing which proved the ruin of thousands. Thus, during the first six
centuries, as men explored the infinite problems of existence here and
hereafter, new questions constantly arose and were disputed with
merciless vehemence. Those who held commanding positions in the Church
and could enforce their opinions were necessarily orthodox; those who
were weaker became heterodox, and the distinction between the faithful
and the heretic became year by year more marked.[184]

Nor was it merely the _odium theologicum_ that raised these passions;
not only pride of opinion and zeal for the purity of faith. Wealth and
power have charms even for bishop and priest, and in the Church, as it
grew through the centuries, wealth and power depended upon the obedience
of the flock. A hardy disputant who questioned the dogmatic accuracy of
his ecclesiastical superior was a mutineer of the worst kind; and if he
succeeded in attracting followers they became the nucleus of a rebellion
which threatened revolution, and every motive, good or evil, prompted
the suppression of such sedition at all hazards and by every available
means. If the sectaries became sufficiently numerous to form a community
of their own, cutting them off from the communion of the Church was of
no avail; the keenest shafts of ecclesiastical censure rebounded
harmless from their armor of conscientious belief. This naturally led to
an animosity against them greater than that visited on the worst of
criminals. No matter how trivial may have been the original cause of
schism, nor how pure and fervent might be the faith of the schismatics,
the fact that they had refused to bend to authority, and had thus sought
to divide the seamless garment of Christ, became an offence in
comparison with which all other sins dwindled into insignificance,
neutralizing all the virtues and all the devotion which men could
possess. Even Augustin could see nothing to soften his heart in the
enthusiastic ardor with which the Donatists endured, and even courted,
martyrdom. Had they carried Christ in their hearts their self-abnegation
might have merited praise, but as it was they acted only under the
promptings of Satan, like the swine who were driven into the sea by the
unclean spirit. Martyrdom, even for Christ's sake, could not save
heretic or schismatic from sharing eternal fire with Satan and his

Yet the spirit of persecution was too repugnant to the spirit of Christ
for its triumph to come without a struggle, which can be traced in the
writings of the early fathers. Tertullian warmly defends the freedom of
conscience; it is irreligious to enforce religion; no one wishes to be
venerated unwillingly, so that God may be assumed to desire only the
worship which comes from the heart. Still, when the combative energy of
the man was aroused in disputation with the Gnostics, it was not
difficult for him to find in Deuteronomy and Numbers ample warrant for
the maxim that obstinacy is to be conquered, not persuaded. Cyprian says
that it is for us to endeavor to become wheat, leaving the tares to God,
and he qualifies as sacrilegious presumption the spirit which assumes
the function of God in seeking to separate and destroy the tares; yet
Cyprian had no hesitation in cutting off from the Church all who
differed from him, and consigning them to perdition, which was the only
form of persecution at that time within reach. It was, indeed, natural
that a persecuted Church should plead for toleration, and the fact that,
even in this early period, there should be these flashes of intolerance
gives ample warning of what was to come with the power of enforcing
dogma on the recalcitrant. Lactantius was the last of the fathers of the
persecuted Church, and he could feelingly argue that belief is not to be
enjoined by force, that slaughter and piety are in no sense connected,
and he boasts that none are coerced into remaining in the Church, for he
who lacks piety is useless to God.[186]

The triumph of intolerance was inevitable when Christianity became the
religion of the State, yet the slowness of its progress shows the
difficulty of overcoming the incongruity between persecution and the
gospel. Hardly had orthodoxy been defined by the Council of Nicæa when
Constantine brought the power of the State to bear to enforce
uniformity. All heretic and schismatic priests were deprived of the
privileges and immunities bestowed on the clergy and were subjected to
the burdens of the State; their meeting-places were confiscated for the
benefit of the Church, and their assemblies, whether public or private,
were prohibited. There is an instructive illustration of theological
perversity in the watchful energy with which these provisions were
enforced to the suppression of heresy while yet the pagan temples and
ceremonies remained undisturbed. Yet while the churchmen might feel it
to be a duty thus to obstruct the development and dissemination of
teachings which they regarded as destructive to religion, they still
shrank from pushing intolerance to extremity and enforcing uniformity
with blood, although the Emperor Julian declared that he had found no
wild beasts so cruel to men as most of the Christians were to each
other. Constantine, it is true, commanded the surrender of all copies of
the writings of Arius under penalty of death, but it does not appear
that any executions actually took place in consequence; and at last,
tired of the endless strife, he ordered Athanasius to admit all
Christians to the churches without distinction. No effort of the
sovereign, however, could soothe the bitterness of doctrinal strife,
which grew fiercer and fiercer. In 370 Valens is said to have put to
death eighty orthodox ecclesiastics who had complained to him of the
violence of the Arians, but this was not a judicial execution, but in
pursuance of a secret order to the Prefect Modestus, who decoyed them on
board of a vessel and caused it to be burned at sea.[187]

It was in 385 that the first instance was given of judicial capital
punishment for heresy, and the horror which it excited shows that it was
regarded everywhere as a hideous innovation. The Gnostic and Manichæan
speculations of Priscillian were looked upon with the peculiar
detestation which that group of heresies ever called forth; but when he
was tried by the tyrant Maximus, at Trèves, with the use of torture, and
was put to death with six of his disciples, while others were banished
to a barbarous island beyond Britain, there was a most righteous burst
of indignation. Of the two prosecuting bishops, Ithacius and Idacius,
one was expelled from the episcopate and the other resigned. The saintly
Martin of Tours, who had done all in his power to prevent the atrocity,
refused to join in communion with them, or with any who communed with
them. If he finally yielded, in order to save the lives of some men for
whom he had come to Maximus to beg mercy, and also to prevent the
tyrant from persecuting the Priscillianists of Spain (where, like the
subsequent Cathari, they were detected by their pallor), yet, in spite
of the consoling visit of an angel, he was overcome with grief at what
he had done, and he found that he had lost for some time the power to
expel devils and heal the sick.[188]

If the Church thus still shrank from shedding blood, it had by this time
reached the point of using all other means without scruple to enforce
conformity. Early in the fifth century we find Chrysostom teaching that
heresy must be suppressed, heretics silenced and prevented from
ensnaring others, and their conventicles broken up, but that the
death-penalty is unlawful. About the same time St. Augustin entreats the
Prefect of Africa not to put any Donatists to death because, if he does
so, no ecclesiastic can make complaint of them, for they will prefer to
suffer death themselves rather than be the cause of it to others. Yet
Augustin approved of the imperial laws which banished and fined them and
deprived them of their churches and of testamentary power, and he
consoled them by telling them that God did not wish them to perish in
antagonism to Catholic unity. To constrain any one from evil to good, he
argued, was not oppression, but charity; and when the unlucky
schismatics urged that no one ought to be coerced in his faith, he
freely admitted it as a general principle, but added that sin and
infidelity must be punished.[189]

Step by step the inevitable progress was made, and men easily found
specious arguments to justify the indulgence of their passions. The
fiery Jerome, when his wrath was excited by Vigilantius forbidding the
adoration of relics, expressed his wonder that the bishop of the hardy
heretic had not destroyed him in the flesh for the benefit of his soul,
and argued that piety and zeal for God could not be cruelty; rigor, in
fact, he argues in another place, is the most genuine mercy, since
temporal punishment may avert eternal perdition. It was only sixty-two
years after the slaughter of Priscillian and his followers had excited
so much horror, that Leo. I., when the heresy seemed to be reviving, in
447, not only justified the act, but declared that if the followers of
heresy so damnable were allowed to live there would be an end of human
and divine law. The final step had been taken, and the Church was
definitely pledged to the suppression of heresy at whatever cost. It is
impossible not to attribute to ecclesiastical influence the successive
edicts by which, from the time of Theodosius the Great, persistence in
heresy was punished with death.[190]

A powerful impulse to this development is to be found in the
responsibility which grew upon the Church from its connection with the
State. When it could influence the monarch and procure from him edicts
condemning heretics to exile, deportation, to the mines, and even to
death, it felt that God had put into its hands powers to be exercised
and not to be neglected. At the same time, with natural human
inconsistency, it could argue that it was not responsible for the
execution of the laws, and that its own hands were unstained with blood.
Even Ithacius, in the case of Priscillian, had shrunk from the function
of prosecutor and had put forward a layman in his place. Similar
devices, as we shall see, were practised by the Inquisition, and in
either case they were transparently false. In the vast body of imperial
edicts inflicting upon heretics every variety of disability and
punishment, the most ardent churchmen might find conviction that the
State recognized the preservation of the purity of the faith as its
first duty. Yet whenever the State or any of its officials lagged in the
enforcement of these laws, the churchman was at hand to goad them on.
Thus the African Church repeatedly asked the intervention of the secular
power to suppress the Donatists; Leo the Great insisted with the Empress
Pulcheria that the destruction of the Eutychians should be her highest
care; and Pelagius I., in urging Narses to suppress heresy by force,
sought to quiet the scruples of the soldier by assuring him that to
prevent or to punish evil was not persecution, but love. It became the
general doctrine of the Church, as expressed by St. Isidor of Seville,
that princes are bound not only to be orthodox themselves, but to
preserve the purity of the faith by the fullest exercise of their power
against heretics. How abundantly these assiduous teachings bore their
bitter fruit is shown in the deplorable history of the Church during
those centuries, consisting as it does of heresy after heresy
relentlessly exterminated, until the Council of Constantinople, under
the Patriarch Michael Oxista, introduced the penalty of burning alive as
the punishment of the Bogomili. Nor were the heretics always behindhand,
when they gained opportunity, in improving the lesson which had been
taught them so effectually. The persecution of the Catholics by the
Arian Vandals in Africa under Genseric was quite worthy of orthodoxy;
and when Hunneric succeeded his father, and his proposition to the
Emperor Zeno of mutual toleration was refused, his barbarous zeal was
inflamed to pitiless wrath. Under King Euric the Wisigoth, also, there
was a spasmodic persecution in Aquitaine. Yet, as a rule, the Arian
Goths and Burgundians set an example of toleration worthy of imitation,
and their conversion to Catholicism was attended with but little cruelty
on either side, except a passing ebullition in Spain at the crisis under
Leuvigild, about 585, followed by disturbances which were rather
political than religious. Later Catholic monarchs, however, enacted laws
punishing with exile and confiscation any deviations from orthodoxy,
which are notable as the only examples of the kind under the Barbarians.
The Catholic Merovingians in France seem never to have troubled their
Arian subjects, who were numerous in Burgundy and Aquitaine. The
conversion of these latter was gradual and apparently peaceful.[191]

The Latin Church through all this had taken little part in actual
persecution, for the Western mind lacked the perverse ingenuity of the
East in originating and adopting heresy. With the downfall of the
Western Empire it commenced the great task which absorbed its energies
and by which it earned the thanks of all succeeding generations--the
conversion and civilization of the Barbarians. Its new converts were not
likely to indulge in abstruse speculations; they accepted the faith
which was taught them, acquiesced for the most part in the established
discipline, and while oft unruly and turbulent, gave little trouble on
the score of orthodoxy. Under these influences the persecuting spirit
died out. Claudius of Turin, whose iconoclastic zeal destroyed all the
images in his diocese, escaped without punishment. Felix of Urgel was
forgiven his Adoptianism, and was welcomed back into the Church in spite
of his repeated tergiversations, and though not restored to his see, his
residence for fifteen or twenty years at Lyons does not seem to have
been an imprisonment, for he secretly maintained his doctrines, and an
heretical declaration was found among his papers after his death. No
force is alluded to when Archbishop Leidrad converted twenty thousand of
the Catalan followers of Felix, whose principal disciple, Elipandus,
Archbishop of Toledo, retained his primatial seat although there is no
evidence that he ever recanted his errors. In the case of the monk
Gottschalc, who disseminated his predestinarian heresy in extensive
wanderings throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Austria, and Bavaria, apparently
without opposition, Rabanus of Mainz finally summoned a council which
condemned his doctrine in the presence of Louis le Germanique. Yet it
did not venture to punish him, but sent him to his prelate, Hincmar of
Reims, who, with the authority of Charles le Chauve, declared him an
incorrigible heretic in the Council of Chiersy in 849. So little
disposition was there to inflict penalties for heresy, though his
theories struck at the root of the mediatory power of the Church, that
the scourging ordered for him was carefully stated to be merely the
discipline provided by the Council of Agde for the infraction of the
Benedictine rule prohibiting monks from travelling without commendatory
letters from their bishops; and if he was imprisoned, we are told that
this was simply to prevent him from continuing to contaminate others.
The Carlovingian legislation was exceedingly moderate as to heretics,
merely classing them with Pagans, Jews, and infamous persons, and
subjecting them to certain disabilities.[192]

The stupor of the tenth century was too profound for heresy, which
presupposes a certain amount of healthy mental activity. The Church,
ruling unquestioned over the slumbering consciences of men, laid aside
the rusted weapons of persecution and forgot their use. When, about
1018, Bishop Burchard compiled his collection of canon law he made no
reference to heretical opinions or their punishment save a couple of
regulations exhumed from the forgotten Council of Elvira in 305,
respecting the treatment of apostates to idolatry. Even the introduction
of the doctrine of transubstantiation was received submissively until,
two centuries after Gottschalc, Berenger of Tours called it in question;
but he had not in him the stuff of martyrdom, and yielded to moderate
pressure. The warmer faith of the Cathari, who commenced to disturb the
stagnation of orthodoxy in the eleventh century, called for energetic
measures, but even with those abhorred sectaries the Church was
wonderfully slow to resort to extremities. It hesitated before the
unaccustomed task; it shrank from contradicting its teachings of charity
and was driven forward by popular fanaticism. The persecution of Orleans
in 1017 was the work of King Robert the Pious; the burning at Milan soon
after was done by the people against the will of the archbishop. So
unfamiliar was the Church with its duty that when, about 1045, some
Manichæans were discovered at Chalons, Bishop Roger applied to Bishop
Wazo of Liége for advice as to what he should do with them, and whether
he should hand them over to the secular arm for punishment; to which the
good Wazo replied, urging that their lives should not be forfeited to
the secular sword, as God, their Creator and Redeemer, showed them
patience and mercy; and Canon Anselm, Wazo's biographer, strongly
condemns the executions under Henry III., at Goslar, in 1052, saying
that if our Wazo had been there he would have acted as did St. Martin in
the case of Priscillian. The same lenity was manifested by St. Anno of
Cologne about 1060, when some of his flock refused, after repeated
commands, to abandon the use of milk, eggs, and cheese during Lent, and
the archbishop at length allowed them to have their own way, saying that
those who were firm in the faith could not be much harmed by a
difference in food. Even as late as 1144 the Church of Liége
congratulated itself on having, by the mercy of God, saved the greater
part of a number of confessed and convicted Cathari from the turbulent
mob which strove to burn them. Those who were thus preserved were
distributed among the religious houses while awaiting the response of
Lucius II., to whom application was made for advice as to what should be
done with them.[193]

It is not worth while to repeat in detail the cases related in a former
chapter which show how uncertain was the position of the Church towards
heresy at this period. There was no definite policy, no fixed rule, and
heretics continued to be treated with rigor or with mercy according to
the temper of the prelate concerned. Theodwin, Wazo's successor in the
see of Liége, writes in 1050 to King Henry I. of France, urging him to
punish the followers of Berenger of Tours without even giving them a
hearing. This uncertainty is well reflected by St. Bernard in his
remarks on the occurrence at Cologne in 1145, when the zealous populace
seized the Cathari and burned them despite the resistance of the
ecclesiastical authorities. He argues that heretics should be won over
by reason rather than by coercion, and if they will not be converted
they are to be avoided; he approves the zeal of the people, but not of
their action, for faith is to be spread by persuasion and not by force;
yet he assumes the duty of the secular power to avenge the wrong done to
God by heresy, and, blind to the danger of man's assuming himself to be
the minister of the wrath of God, he quotes St. Paul, "For he beareth
not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, and revenger to
execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Rom. XIII. 4). Alexander III.
leaned decidedly to the side of mercy when, in 1162, he refused to pass
judgment on the Cathari sent to him by the Archbishop of Reims, saying
that it was better to pardon the guilty than to take the lives of the
innocent. Even at the close of the century Peter Cantor dared to argue
that the apostle ordered the heretic to be avoided, not slain, and he
dwelt upon the inconsistency of the severity shown to the slightest
deviation from faith, while the grossest sins and immoralities were
allowed to go unpunished.[194]

This hesitation and uncertainty extended to the punishment appropriate
to heresy. We have seen numerous cases of burning alive interspersed
with sentences of imprisonment, and it was long before a definite
formula was reached. Even when Alexander III., at the Council of Tours,
in 1163, sought to check the alarming progress of Manichæism in
Languedoc, he only commanded the secular princes to imprison the
heretics and confiscate their property; though in the same year the
Cathari detected in Cologne were sentenced to be burned by judges
appointed for the purpose. In 1157 the punishment inflicted by the
Council of Reims was branding in the face; and the same expedient was
resorted to by that of Oxford in 1166. Even as late as 1199, the first
measures of Innocent III. against the Albigenses only threaten exile and
confiscation; there is no allusion to any duty on the part of the
secular power beyond enforcing these penalties, and their enforcement is
rewarded by the same indulgences as those to be gained by pilgrimage to
Rome or to Compostella. As the struggle increased in bitterness, we have
seen how stronger measures were adopted; yet even Simon de Montfort, in
the code promulgated at Pamiers, December 1, 1212, while stimulating
persecution to the utmost, and rendering it the duty of every man, does
not formally adjudge the heretic to the stake, although in this very
year eighty heretics were burned in Strassburg. This form of punishment
had been enacted for the first time in positive law, as already stated,
by Pedro II. of Aragon, in his edict of 1197, but the example was not
speedily followed. Otho IV., in his constitution of 1210, simply places
heretics under the imperial ban, orders their property confiscated and
their houses torn down. Frederic II., in his famous statute of November
22, 1220, which made the persecution of heresy a part of the public law
of Europe, only threatened confiscation and outlawry, although this, it
must be added, placed their lives at the mercy of the first comer. In
his constitution of March, 1224, he went farther and decreed death by
fire or loss of the tongue, at the discretion of the judge; and the
contemporary practice in Germany left the penalty to be similarly
decided. It was not until 1231, in the Sicilian Constitutions, that
Frederic rendered the punishment by cremation absolute. This was in
force merely in his Neapolitan dominions, and the edict of Ravenna, in
March, 1232, while inflicting the death penalty does not prescribe the
method; but that of Cremona, in May, 1238, embodied the Sicilian law and
thus rendered the fagot and stake the recognized punishment for heresy
throughout the empire, as we find it subsequently embodied in both the
Sachsenspiegel and the Schwabenspiegel, or municipal laws of northern
and southern Germany. In Venice, after 1249, the ducal oath of office
contained a pledge to burn all heretics. In 1255 Alonso the Wise of
Castile decreed the stake for all Christians who apostatized to Islam or
to Judaism. In France the legislation adopted by both Louis IX. and
Raymond of Toulouse, for carrying out the provisions of the settlement
of 1229, is discreetly silent with regard to the penalty of heresy,
though under it the use of the stake was universal, and it is not until
Louis issued his _Établissements_, in 1270, that we find the heretic
formally condemned to be burned alive, thus rendering it part of the
recognized law of the land, although the terms in which Beaumanoir
alludes to it show that it had long been a settled custom. England,
which was free from heresy, was even later in adopting it, and it was
not until the rise of the Lollards caused fear in both Church and State
that the writ "_de hæretico comburendo_" was created by statute in

The practice of burning the heretic alive was thus not the creature of
positive law, but arose generally and spontaneously, and its adoption by
the legislator was only the recognition of a popular custom. We have
seen numerous instances of this in a former chapter, and even as late as
1219, at Troyes, an insane enthusiast who maintained that he was the
Holy Ghost was seized by the people, placed in a wicker crate surrounded
by combustibles, and promptly reduced to ashes. The origin of this
punishment is not easily traced, unless it is to the pagan legislation
of Diocletian, who decreed this penalty for Manichæism. The torturing
deaths to which the martyrs were exposed in times of persecution seem to
suggest, and in some sort to justify, a similar infliction on heretics;
sorcerers were sometimes burned under the imperial jurisprudence, and
Gregory the Great mentions a case in which one was thus put to death by
the Christian zeal of the people. As heresy was regarded as the greatest
of crimes, the desire which was felt alike by laity and clergy to render
its punishment as severe and as impressive as possible found in the
stake its appropriate instrument. With the system of exegesis then in
vogue, it was not difficult to discover an emphatic command to this
effect in John, XV. 6. "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a
branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire
and they are burned." The literal interpretation of Scriptural metaphor
has been too frequent a source of error for us to wonder at this
application of the text. An authoritative commentary on the decree of
Lucius III. in 1184, ordering heretics to be delivered to the secular
arm for due punishment, quotes the text of John and the imperial
jurisprudence, and thence triumphantly concludes that death by fire is
the penalty due to heretics, not only by divine but also by human law
and by universal custom. Nor was the heretic mercifully strangled in
advance; the authorities of the Inquisition assure us that he must be
burned alive before the people, nay, even a whole city may be burned if
heretics dwell there.[196]

Whatever scruples the Church had, during the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, as to its duty towards heresy, it had none as to that of the
secular power, though it kept its own hands free from blood. A decent
usage from early times forbade any ecclesiastic from being concerned in
judgments involving death or mutilation, and even from being present in
the torture-chamber where criminals were placed on the rack. This
sensitiveness continued, and even was exaggerated in the time of the
bloodiest persecution. While thousands were being slaughtered in
Languedoc the Council of Lateran, in 1215, revived the ancient canons
prohibiting clerks from uttering a judgment of blood or being present at
an execution. In 1255 the Council of Bordeaux added to this a
prohibition of dictating or writing letters connected with such
judgments; and that of Buda, in 1279, in repeating this canon, appended
to it a clause forbidding clerks to practise any surgery requiring
burning or cutting. The pollution of blood was so seriously felt that a
church or cemetery in which blood chanced to be shed could not be used
until it had been reconciled, and this was carried so far that priests
were forbidden to allow judges to administer justice in churches,
because cases involving corporal punishment might be tried before them.
Had this shrinking from participation in the infliction of human
suffering been genuine, it would have been worthy of all respect; but
it was merely a device to avoid responsibility for its own acts. In
prosecutions for heresy the ecclesiastical tribunal passed no judgments
of blood. It merely found the defendant to be a heretic and "relaxed"
him, or relinquished him to the secular authorities with the
hypocritical adjuration to be merciful to him, to spare his life and not
to spill his blood. What was the real import of this plea for mercy is
easily seen from the theory of the Church as to the duty of the temporal
power, when inquisitors enforced as a legal rule that the mere belief
that persecution for conscience' sake was sinful was in itself a heresy,
to be visited with the full penalties of that unpardonable crime.[197]

The early teachings of Leo and Pelagius were revived as soon as heresy
became alarming. Early in the twelfth century Honorius of Autun
proclaimed that the rebels against God who were obdurate to the voice of
the Church must be coerced with the material sword. In the compilations
of canon law by Ivo and Gratian the allusions to the treatment of
heretics by the Church are singularly few, but there are abundant
citations to show the duty of the sovereign to extirpate heresy and to
obey the mandates of the Church to that end. Frederic Barbarossa gave
the imperial sanction to the theory that the sword had been intrusted to
him for the purpose of smiting the enemies of Christ, when he alleged
this in 1159 as a reason for persecuting Alexander III. and supporting
his antipope, Victor IV. The second Lateran Council, in 1139, orders all
potentates to coerce heretics into obedience; the third, in 1179,
sanctimoniously says that the Church does not seek blood, but it is
helped by the secular laws, for men will seek the salutary remedy to
escape bodily punishment. We have seen how inefficacious all this
proved; and in despair of voluntary assistance from the temporal princes
the Church took a further step by which it assumed for itself the
responsibility for the material as well as the spiritual punishment of
heretics. The decree of Lucius III. at the so-called Council of Verona,
in 1184, commanded that all potentates should take an oath before their
bishops to enforce the ecclesiastical and secular laws against heresy
fully and efficaciously. Any refusal or neglect was to be punished by
excommunication, deprivation of rank, and incapacity to hold other
station, while in the case of cities they were to be segregated and
debarred from all commerce with other places.[198]

The Church thus undertook to coerce the sovereign to persecution. It
would not listen to mercy, it would not hear of expediency. The monarch
held his crown by the tenure of extirpating heresy, of seeing that the
laws were sharp and were pitilessly enforced. Any hesitation was visited
with excommunication, and if this proved inefficacious, his dominions
were thrown open to the first hardy adventurer whom the Church would
supply with an army for his overthrow. Whether this new feature in the
public law of Europe could establish itself was the question at issue in
the Albigensian crusades. Raymond's lands were forfeited simply because
he would not punish heretics, and those which his son retained were
treated as a fresh gift from the crown. The triumph of the new principle
was complete, and it never was subsequently questioned.

It was applied from the highest to the lowest, and the Church made every
dignitary feel that his station was an office in a universal theocracy
wherein all interests were subordinate to the great duty of maintaining
the purity of the faith. The hegemony of Europe was vested in the Holy
Roman Empire, and its coronation was a strangely solemn religious
ceremony in which the emperor was admitted to the lower orders of the
priesthood, and was made to anathematize all heresy raising itself
against the holy Catholic Church. In handing him the ring, the pope told
him that it was a symbol that he was to destroy heresy; and in girding
him with the sword, that with it he was to strike down the enemies of
the Church. Frederic II. declared that he had received the imperial
dignity for the maintenance and propagation of the faith. In the bull of
Clement VI. recognizing Charles IV. the first named of the imperial
duties enumerated are the extension of the faith and the extirpation of
heretics; and the neglect of the Emperor Wenceslas to suppress
Wickliffitism was regarded as a satisfactory reason for his deposition.
In fact, according to the high churchmen, the only reason of the
transfer of the empire from the Greeks to the Germans was that the
Church might have an efficient agent. The principles applied to Raymond
of Toulouse were embodied in the canon law, and every prince and noble
was made to understand that his lands would be exposed to the spoiler
if, after due notice, he hesitated in trampling out heresy. Minor
officials were subjected to the same discipline. According to the
Council of Toulouse in 1229, any bailli not diligent in persecuting
heresy forfeited his property and was ineligible to public employment,
while by the Council of Narbonne in 1244, any one holding temporal
jurisdiction who delayed in exterminating heretics was held guilty of
fautorship of heresy, became an accomplice of heretics, and thus was
subjected to the penalties of heresy; this was extended to all who
should neglect a favorable opportunity of capturing a heretic, or of
helping those seeking to capture him. From the emperor to the meanest
peasant the duty of persecution was enforced with all the sanctions,
spiritual and temporal, which the Church could command. Not only must
the ruler enact rigorous laws to punish heretics, but he and his
subjects must see them strenuously executed, for any slackness of
persecution was, in the canon law, construed as fautorship of heresy,
putting a man on his purgation.[199]

These principles were tacitly or explicitly received into the public
law of Europe. Frederic II. accepted them in his cruel edicts against
heresy, whence they passed into the general compilations of civil and
feudal law, and even into bodies of local jurisprudence. Thus we see in
the statutes of Verona, in 1228, the Podestà swearing, on taking office,
to expel all heretics from the city; and in the Schwabenspiegel, or code
in force throughout southern Germany, it is laid down that a ruler who
neglects to persecute heresy is to be stripped of all possessions, and
if he does not burn those who are delivered to him as heretics by the
ecclesiastical courts he is to be punished as a heretic himself. The
Church took care that this legislation should not remain a dead letter.
Frederic's decrees in all their atrocity were required to be read and
taught in the great law-school of Bologna as a fundamental portion of
jurisprudence, and were even embodied in the canon law itself. We shall
see that they were repeatedly ordered by the popes to be inscribed
irrevocably among the laws of all the cities and states which they could
control, and the inquisitor was commanded to coerce all officials to
their rigid enforcement, by excommunicating those who were negligent in
the good work. Even excommunication, which rendered a magistrate
incompetent to perform his official functions, did not relieve him from
the duty of punishing heretics when called upon by bishop or inquisitor.
In view of this earnestness to embody in the statute-books the sharpest
laws for the extermination of heretics and to oblige the secular
officials to execute those laws, under the alternative of being
themselves condemned and punished as heretics, the adjuration for mercy
with which the inquisitors handed over their victims to be burned was
evidently, as we shall see hereafter, a mere technical formula to avoid
the "irregularity" of being concerned in judgments of blood. In process
of time the moral responsibility was freely admitted, as when in
February, 1418, the Council of Constance decreed that all who should
defend Hussitism, or regard Huss or Jerome of Prague as holy men, should
be treated as relapsed heretics and be punished with fire--"_puniantur
ad ignem_." It is altogether a modern perversion of history to assume,
as apologists do, that the request for mercy was sincere, and that the
secular magistrate and not the Inquisition was responsible for the death
of the heretic. We can imagine the smile of amused surprise with which
Gregory IX. or Gregory XI. would have listened to the dialectics with
which the Comte Joseph de Maistre proves that it is an error to suppose,
and much more to assert, that Catholic priests can in any manner be
instrumental in compassing the death of a fellow-creature.[200]

Not only were all Christians thus made to feel that it was their highest
duty to aid in the extermination of heretics, but they were taught that
they must denounce them to the authorities regardless of all
considerations, human or divine. No tie of kindred served as an excuse
for concealing heresy. The son must denounce the father, and the husband
was guilty if he did not deliver his wife to a frightful death. Every
human bond was severed by the guilt of heresy; children were taught to
desert their parents, and even the sacrament of matrimony could not
unite an orthodox wife to a misbelieving husband. No pledge was to
remain unbroken. It was an old rule that faith was not to be kept with
heretics--as Innocent III. emphatically phrased it, "according to the
canons, faith is not to be kept with him who keeps not faith with God."
No oath of secrecy, therefore, was binding in a matter of heresy, for if
one is faithful to a heretic he is unfaithful to God. Apostasy from the
faith is the greatest of all sins, says Bishop Lucas of Tuy; therefore
if any one has bound himself by oath to keep the secret of such
inexplicable wickedness, he must reveal the heresy and perform penance
for the perjury, with the comfortable assurance that, as charity
covereth a multitude of sins, he will be gently dealt with in
consideration of his zeal.[201]

Thus the hesitation as to the treatment of heretics which marked the
eleventh and twelfth centuries disappeared in the thirteenth, when the
Church was involved in mortal struggle with the sectaries. There was no
pretence of moderation, and, save in the technical adjuration for mercy,
no attempt to evade the responsibility. St. Raymond of Pennaforte, the
compiler of the decretals of Gregory IX., who was the highest authority
in his generation, lays it down as a principle of ecclesiastical law
that the heretic is to be coerced by excommunication and confiscation,
and if they fail, by the extreme exercise of the secular power. The man
who was doubtful in faith was to be held a heretic, and so also was the
schismatic who, while believing all the articles of religion, refused
the obedience due to the Roman Church. All alike were to be forced into
the Roman fold, and the fate of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram was invoked
for the destruction of the obstinate.[202]

St. Thomas Aquinas, whose overshadowing authority superseded all his
predecessors, and who brought canon and dogma into a permanent system
still in force, lays down the rules with merciless precision. Heretics,
he tells us, are not to be tolerated. The tenderness of the Church
allows them to have two warnings, after which, if pertinacious, they are
to be abandoned to the secular power, to be removed from the world by
death. This, he argues, shows the abounding charity of the Church, for
it is much more wicked to corrupt the faith on which depends the life
of the soul than to debase the coinage which provides merely for
temporal life; wherefore, if coiners and other malefactors are justly
doomed at once to death, much more may heretics be justly slain as soon
as they are convicted. Yet in its mercy the Church will always receive
the heretic back into its bosom, no matter how often he may have
relapsed, and will kindly give him penance whereby he may win eternal
life; but charity to one must not be allowed to work evil to others.
Therefore for once the heretic who repents and recants will be received
and his life be spared; but if he relapses, though he may be received to
penance for his soul's salvation, he will not be released from the
death-penalty. This is the definite expression of the policy of the
Church, which, as we shall see, became its unalterable rule of

Nor was the Church content to exercise its power over the living only;
the dead must feel its chastening hand. It seemed intolerable that one
who had successfully concealed his iniquity and had died in communion
should be left to lie in consecrated ground and should be remembered in
the prayers of the faithful. Not only had he escaped the penalty due to
his sins, but his property, which was forfeit to Church and State, had
unlawfully descended to his heirs, and must be recovered from them.
Ample reason therefore existed for the trial of those who had passed to
the judgment-seat of God. It had been a debatable question in the
earlier Church whether excommunication, with all its tremendous
penalties, here and hereafter, could be directed against departed souls.
As early as the time of Cyprian the custom of excommunicating the dead
had come into fashion; and about 382 St. John Chrysostom had denounced
the frequency of such sentences as an interference attempted with the
judgment of God. Leo I., in 432, took the same position, and it was
confirmed by Gelasius I. and a council of Rome towards the end of the
century. At the fifth general council, however, held in Constantinople
in 553, the question came up as to the power of the Church to
anathematize Theodoret of Cyrus, Ibas of Edessa, and Theodore of
Mopsuestia, who had been dead for a hundred years. Many of the fathers
of the council doubted it, when Eutychius, a man well versed in
Scripture, pointed out that the pious King Josiah had not only put to
death the priests of pagandom, but had dug up the remains of those who
were deceased. The argument was irrefragable, and the anathema was
pronounced in spite of the protests of Pope Vigilius, who stubbornly
refused to be convinced. The ingenuity of Eutychius, till then an
obscure man, was rewarded with the patriarchate of Constantinople, and
Vigilius was compelled, by means not the most gentle, to subscribe to
the anathema. In 618 the Council of Seville denied the power of
condemning the dead; but in 680 the sixth general council, held at
Constantinople, exercised the largest liberty in anathematizing all whom
it regarded as heretical, both living and dead. In 897 Stephen VII.
accordingly held himself authorized to dig up the body of his
predecessor, Pope Formosus, then seven months in the tomb, drag it by
the feet and seat it in the synod which he had assembled in judgment,
and, after condemning it, to cut off two fingers of the right hand and
throw it into the Tiber, whence it chanced to be rescued and buried. The
next year, however, a new pope, John IX., annulled these proceedings and
caused a synod to declare that no one should be condemned after death,
for the accused must have the opportunity of defence. This did not
prevent Sergius III., in 905, from again exhuming the body, when it was
clothed in pontifical robes, seated on a throne, and once more solemnly
condemned, beheaded, three more fingers cut off, and thrown in the
Tiber. Yet the iniquity of these proceedings was proved when the
restless remains were dragged from the river by some fishermen, and, on
being carried to the church of St. Peter, the images of saints there
bowed before them and saluted them reverently. About the year 1100, St.
Ivo of Chartres, the foremost canonist of his day, pronounced
unhesitatingly that the power of the Church to bind and to loose was
confined to things on earth; that the dead had passed beyond human
judgment, they could not be condemned, and burial must not be refused to
those who had not been tried while living. Yet as heresy multiplied and
its obstinacy seemed to justify the passionate hatred which it excited,
the churchman might well feel himself unable to endure the thought that
the bones of heretics polluted the sacred precincts of church and
cemetery, and that unconsciously he was including them in his prayers
for the dead. It was easy to find a method of reaching them. The Council
of Verona in 1184, and subsequent popes and councils, repeatedly and
formally excommunicated all heretics. It was an old rule of the Church
that all excommunicates who did not within a year apply for absolution
were condemned. All heretics who died without confession or recantation
were thus self-condemned, and were ineligible to sepulture in
consecrated ground. Though they could not be excommunicated, being
already under _ipso facto_ excommunication, they could be anathematized.
If mistakenly they had received Christian burial, as soon as the fact
was discovered they were to be dug up and burned; the inquisition which
established their guilt was merely an examination into the facts, not a
condemnation, and the penalties followed of themselves. That it required
some effort to establish the rule is shown by an epistle of Innocent
III., in 1207, to the abbot and monks of St. Hippolytus of Faenza, who
had refused, at the order of a legate, to exhume the body of Otto of
damnable memory, a heretic buried in their cemetery, or to observe the
interdict pronounced against them in consequence, and Innocent is
obliged to threaten the most energetic measures to compel them to
obedience. With time, however, the principle became firmly established;
it was recognized as a grievous offence knowingly to bury the body of a
heretic or a fautor of heretics--an offence only to be pardoned on
condition of the offender exhuming the remains with his own hands, while
the grave was accursed forever. We shall see that the business of
investigating the record of the dead became no small or unimportant part
of the duties of the Inquisition.[204]

The influence which these teachings and practices had in guiding the
actions and policy of the age is well exemplified in the career of
Frederic II. Half Italian in blood, and wholly Italian in training, he
was a philosophical free-thinker. The accusations of Gregory IX., that
he was secretly a disciple of Mahomet, and the tradition that he was
privately in the habit of calling Moses, Christ, and Mahomet the three
impostors, contradict each other, but show what ground he gave for such
imputations. Yet this man, whom Gregory declared to take the sacrament
only to show his contempt for excommunication, was too sagacious not to
recognize that he could only reign over a Christian people by at least
pretending zeal in the work of exterminating heresy. He obtained his
coronation in St. Peter's, November 22, 1220, by issuing the edict which
is memorable in the history of persecution; and, as part of the
solemnities, Honorius paused in the ineffable mysteries of the mass to
fulminate an anathema in the name of Almighty God against all heresies
and heretics, including those rulers whose laws interfered with their
extermination. To the function thus assumed Frederic was ever true,
perhaps even more so because, in his recognition of the necessity of
ecclesiastical reform, he indulged in dreams of a caliphate in which he
would wield both the temporal and spiritual swords. However this may be,
his lifelong quarrel with the papacy only rendered him the more
merciless in his extirpation of heresy; and just when Gregory IX. was
engrossed in laying the foundation of the Inquisition we find Frederic
audaciously urging him to greater zeal in defence of the faith, and
suggesting his own example as one which the pope would do well to

       *       *       *       *       *

The cruel ferocity of barbarous zeal which, through so many centuries,
wrought misery on mankind in the name of Christ, has been explained in
many ways. Fanatics on the other side have denounced it as mere
bloodthirstiness or selfish lust of power. Philosophers have traced it
to the doctrine of exclusive salvation, through which it seemed the duty
of those in authority to coerce the recalcitrant for their own benefit,
and prevent them from leading other souls to perdition. Another school
has taught that it arose from the survival of the atavistic notion of
tribal solidarity, expanded into that of Christendom, making all share
the guilt of sin offensive to God which they neglected to exterminate.
Human impulses and motives, however, are too complex to be analyzed by a
single solvent, even in the case of an individual, while here we have to
deal with the whole Church, in its broadest acceptation, embracing the
laity as well as the clergy. There is no doubt that the people were as
eager as their pastors to send the heretic to the stake. There is no
doubt that men of the kindliest tempers, the profoundest intelligence,
the noblest aspirations, the purest zeal for righteousness, professing a
religion founded on love and charity, were ruthless when heresy was
concerned, and were ready to trample it out at the cost of any
suffering. Dominic and Francis, Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas, Innocent
III. and St. Louis, were types, in their several ways, of which
humanity, in any age, might well feel proud, and yet they were as
unsparing of the heretic as Ezzelin da Romano was of his enemies. With
such men it was not hope of gain or lust of blood or pride of opinion or
wanton exercise of power, but sense of duty, and they but represented
what was universal public opinion from the thirteenth to the seventeenth

To comprehend it, we must picture to ourselves a stage of civilization
in many respects wholly unlike our own. Passions were fiercer,
convictions stronger, virtues and vices more exaggerated, than in our
colder and more self-contained time. The age, moreover, was a cruel one.
The military spirit was everywhere dominant; men were accustomed to rely
upon force rather than on persuasion, and habitually looked on human
suffering with indifference. The industrial spirit, which has so
softened modern manners and modes of thought, was as yet hardly
known.[206] We have only to look upon the atrocities of the criminal law
of the Middle Ages to see how pitiless men were in their dealings with
each other. The wheel, the caldron of boiling oil, burning alive,
burying alive, flaying alive, tearing apart with wild horses, were the
ordinary expedients by which the criminal jurist sought to deter crime
by frightful examples which would make a profound impression on a not
over-sensitive population. An Anglo-Saxon law punishes a female slave
convicted of theft by making eighty other female slaves each bring three
pieces of wood and burn her to death, while each contributes a fine
besides; and in mediæval England burning was the customary penalty for
attempts on the life of the feudal lord. In the Customs of Arques,
granted by the Abbey of St. Bertin in 1231, there is a provision that,
if a thief have a concubine who is his accomplice, she is to be buried
alive; though, if pregnant, a respite is given till after childbirth.
Frederic II., the most enlightened prince of his time, burned captive
rebels to death in his presence, and is even said to have encased them
in lead in order to roast them slowly. In 1261 St. Louis humanely
abolished a custom of Touraine by which the theft of a loaf of bread or
a pot of wine by a servant from his master was punished by the loss of a
limb. In Frisia arson committed at night was visited with burning alive;
and, by the old German law, the penalty of both murder and arson was
breaking on the wheel. In France women were customarily burned or buried
alive for simple felonies, and Jews were hung by the feet between two
savage dogs, while men were boiled to death for coining. In Milan
Italian ingenuity exhausted itself in devising deaths of lingering
torture for criminals of all descriptions. The _Carolina_, or criminal
code of Charles V., issued in 1530, is a hideous catalogue of blinding,
mutilation, tearing with hot pincers, burning alive, and breaking on the
wheel. In England poisoners were boiled to death even as lately as 1542,
as in the cases of Rouse and Margaret Davie; the barbarous penalty for
high treason--of hanging, drawing, and quartering--is well known, while
that for petty treason was enforced no longer ago than 1726, on
Catharine Hayes, who was burned at Tyburn for murdering her husband. By
the laws of Christian V. of Denmark, in 1683, blasphemers were beheaded
after having the tongue cut out. As recently as 1706, in Hanover, a
pastor named Zacharie Georg Flagge was burned alive for coining. Modern
tenderness for the criminal is evidently a matter of very recent date.
So careless were legislators of human suffering in general that, in
England, to cut out a man's tongue, or to pluck out his eyes with
malice prepense, was not made a felony until the fifteenth century, in a
criminal law so severe that, even in the reign of Elizabeth, the robbing
of a hawk's nest was similarly a felony; and as recently as 1833 a child
of nine was sentenced to be hanged for breaking a patched pane of glass
and stealing twopence worth of paint.[207]

The nations thus habituated to the most savage cruelty, moreover,
regarded the propagation of heresy with peculiar detestation, as not
merely a sin, but as the worst of crimes. Heresy itself, says Bishop
Lucas of Tuy, justifies, by comparison, the infidelity of the Jews; its
pollution cleanses the filthy madness of Mahomet; its vileness renders
pure even Sodom and Gomorrah. Whatever is worst in other sin becomes
holy in comparison with the turpitude of heresy. Less rhetorical, but
equally emphatic, is Thomas Aquinas, when his merciless logic
demonstrates that the sin of heresy separates man from God more than all
other sins, and therefore it is the worst of sins, and is to be punished
more severely. Of all kinds of infidelity, that of heresy is the worst.
So sensitive did the clerical mind become on the subject that Stephen
Palecz of Prague declared, in a sermon before the Council of Constance,
that if a belief was Catholic in a thousand points, and false in one,
the whole was heretical. The heretic, therefore, who labored, as all
earnest heretics necessarily did, to convert others to his way of
thinking, was inevitably regarded as a demon, striving to win souls to
share his own damnation, and none of the orthodox doubted that he was
the direct and efficient instrument of Satan in his warfare with God.
The intensity of the abhorrence thus awakened can only be realized by
those who recognize the vividness of mediæval eschatology, the living
horror which all men felt as to the possibilities of the dread

That this view of heresy and of the duty of its suppression was not
reached at once by the mediæval Church and peoples we have seen in the
hesitation and vacillation which characterized the proceedings of the
eleventh and twelfth centuries; and this shows that the idea of
solidarity in the responsibility before God, while it undoubtedly had a
share in exaggerating the persecuting spirit, cannot by any means wholly
account for it. It stimulated the masses, who snatched the sectaries
from the hands of protecting priests, but had less influence on the
educated clergy. As heresies increased and grew more threatening, and
milder means seemed only to aggravate the evil, the minds of earnest and
enlightened men brooding over it, and contemplating the awful
possibilities of the future, when the Church of God might be overthrown
by the conventicles of Satan, grew inflamed, and fanaticism inevitably
followed. When this point was reached, when people and pastor alike felt
that the Church Militant must strike without pity if it would prevail
against the legions of hell, no firm believer in the doctrine of
exclusive salvation could doubt that the truest mercy lay in sweeping
away the emissaries of Satan with fire and sword. God had wonderfully
raised the Church to fight his battle. It had become supreme over
temporal princes, and could command their implicit obedience. It had
full power over the sword of the flesh, and with that power came
responsibility. It was responsible not only in the present, but also for
the souls of the faithful yet unborn through countless generations, and,
if weakly untrue to its trust, it could not plead inability in
extenuation. In view of the awful possibilities of neglected duty, what
were the sufferings of a few thousand hardened wretches who, deaf to the
solicitations of repentance, were hurried, but a few years before their
time, to their master the Devil?

We must also bear in mind the character which Christianity had assumed
in the gradual development of its theology, and its consequent influence
on those who guided the policy of the Church. They knew that Christ had
said "I am not come to destroy the law but to fulfil" (Matt. v. 17).
They also knew from Holy Writ that Jehovah was a God delighting in the
extermination of his enemies. They read how Saul, the chosen King of
Israel, had been divinely punished for sparing Agag of Amalek, and how
the prophet Samuel had hewn him in pieces; how the wholesale slaughter
of the unbelieving Canaanites had been ruthlessly commanded and
enforced; how Elijah had been commended for slaying four hundred and
fifty priests of Baal; and they could not conceive how mercy to those
who rejected the true faith could be aught but disobedience to God.
Moreover, Jehovah was a God who was only to be placated by the continual
sacrifice of victims. The very doctrine of the Atonement assumed that
the human race could only be rendered eligible to salvation by the most
awful sacrifice that the human mind could conceive--that of one of the
members of the Trinity. The Christian worshipped a God who had subjected
himself to the most painful and humiliating of sacrifices, and the
salvation of souls was dependent on the daily repetition of this
sacrifice in the mass, throughout Christendom. To minds moulded in such
a belief, it might well seem that the extremity of punishment inflicted
on the enemies of the Church of God was nothing in itself, and that it
was an acceptable offering to him who had commanded that neither age nor
sex should be spared in the land of Canaan.

These tendencies had been fostered and exaggerated by the growth of
asceticism. That mortal life was a thing to be despised and that heaven
was to be purchased by shunning the pleasures of existence and
extinguishing all human affections, was a lesson taught broadly
throughout the hagiology of the Church. Maceration and mortification
were the surest roads to Paradise, and sin was to be redeemed by
self-inflicted penance. This theory worked in a double sense. On the one
hand, the practices of the zealot--strict celibacy, fasting, solitude,
are direct incentives to insanity, as is shown by the epidemics of
diabolical possession and suicide which were so frequent in the
stricter monastic establishments;[209] and without assuming that such a
man as St. Peter Martyr was mad, it is impossible to read the extremity
of ascetic maceration which he habitually practised--fasts, vigils,
scourgings, and every device which perverse ingenuity could
suggest--without recognizing morbid mental conditions which could
readily render him a monomaniac on any subject which greatly engrossed
his feelings. On the other hand, the men who thus tamed their own strong
passions and mastered the rebellious flesh by these means, were not
likely to feel for the suffering of those who had abandoned themselves
to Satan, and who might be saved by temporal fire from eternal flame. Or
if, perchance, they had softer hearts and compassionated the agonies of
their victims, they might well regard the repression of their own
emotions at the spectacle as part of the penance which they were called
upon to endure. In any case, life was but an infinitesimal point in
eternity, and all human interests shrank into nothingness in comparison
with the one overmastering duty of keeping the flock from straying and
of preventing an infected sheep from communicating his poison to his
fellows. Charity itself could not hesitate over whatever methods might
be requisite to accomplish this.

That the men who conducted the Inquisition and who toiled sedulously in
its arduous, repulsive, and often dangerous labor, were thoroughly
convinced that they were furthering the kingdom of God, is shown by the
habitual practice of encouraging them with the remission of sins,
similar to that offered for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Besides the
consciousness of duty performed, it was the only recognized reward of
their joyless lives, and it was considered enough.[210] How, moreover,
cruelty to the heretic could be conjoined with boundless love and
good-will to men is well exemplified in the career of the Dominican, Frà
Giovanni Schio da Vicenza. Profoundly moved by the condition of
northern Italy, filled with dissensions which raged, not only between
city and city, and burgher and noble, but which divided families in the
factions of Guelf and Ghibelline, he devoted himself to the mission of
an Apostle of Peace. In 1233 his eloquence at Bologna induced the
opposing parties to lay aside their arms, and led enemies to swear
mutual forgiveness in a delirium of joyful reconciliation. So great was
the enthusiasm which he excited that the magistrates submitted to him
the statutes of the city and allowed him to revise them at discretion.
The same success attended him at Padua, Treviso, Feltro, and Belluno.
The lords of Camino, Romano, Conigliano, and San Bonifacio, and the
republics of Brescia, Vicenza, Verona, and Mantua made him the arbiter
of their differences and urged him to alter their political organization
as he saw fit. On the plain of Paquara, near Verona, he called a great
assembly of the Lombard peoples, and that innumerable multitude, swayed
by his fervor as by a voice from heaven, proclaimed a general
pacification. Yet this man, so worthy a disciple of the Great Teacher of
divine love, when installed in power in Verona, proceeded to burn in the
public square sixty men and women of the principal families of the town,
whom he had condemned as heretics; and twenty years later he reappears
as the leader of a Bolognese contingent in the crusade preached by
Alexander IV. against Ezzelin de Romano.[211]

In fact the zealot, however loving and charitable he might otherwise be,
was taught and believed that compassion for the sufferings of the
heretic was not only a weakness but a sin. As well might he sympathize
with Satan and his demons writhing in the endless torment of hell. If a
just and omnipotent God wreaked divine vengeance on those of his
creatures who offended him, it was not for man to question the
righteousness of his ways, but humbly to imitate his example and rejoice
when the opportunity to do so was vouchsafed to him. The stern moralists
of the age held it to be a Christian duty to find pleasure in
contemplating the anguish of the sinner. Gregory the Great, five
centuries before, had argued that the bliss of the elect in heaven would
not be perfect unless they were able to look across the abyss and enjoy
the agonies of their brethren in eternal fire. This idea was a popular
one and was not allowed to grow obsolete. Peter Lombard, the great
"Master of Sentences," whose "Sentences," produced about the middle of
the twelfth century, was the leading authority in the schools, quotes
St. Gregory with approbation, and enlarges upon the satisfaction which
the just will feel in the ineffable misery of the damned. Even the
mystic tenderness of Bonaventura does not prevent him from echoing the
same terrible exultation. When such were the sentiments in which all
thinking men were trained, and such were the views which they
disseminated among the people, it is not to be supposed that any
feelings of compassion for the sufferers would deter the most charitable
from the rigid exercise of justice. The ruthless extermination of heresy
was a work which could only be pleasing to the righteous, whether simply
as spectators or whether they were called by conscience or by station to
the higher duties of active persecution. If, notwithstanding this, any
scruple remained, the schoolmen easily removed it by proving that
persecution was a work of charity, for the benefit of the

It is true that all popes were not like Innocent III. nor all
inquisitors like Frà Giovanni. Selfish and interested motives were at
work, as they are in all human institutions, and the actions even of the
best may doubtless have unconsciously been stimulated by pride of
opinion and by ambition as well as by a sense of duty to God and man.
The religious revolt threatened the temporal possessions of the Church
and the privileges of its members, and the desire to preserve these had
its share in the resistance which was organized against innovation.
Selfish as this desire may have been, we must not forget that, in the
thirteenth century, the power and wealth of the hierarchy, however much
abused, had yet long been recognized by the public law of Europe. The
rulers of the Church could only regard as a sacred duty the maintenance
of rights which they had inherited, against audacious assailants whose
doctrines threatened the overthrow of what they regarded as the basis of
social order. Sympathize as we must with the Waldenses and the Cathari
in their hideous martyrdom, we cannot but feel that the treatment which
they endured was inevitable, and we should pity the blindness of the
persecutor as well as the sufferings of the persecuted.

Man is seldom wholly consistent in the practical application of his
principles, and the persecutors of the thirteenth century made one
concession to humanity and common-sense which was fatal to the
completeness of the theory on which they acted. To carry it out fully,
they should have proselyted with the sword among all non-Christians whom
fate threw in their power; but from this they abstained. Infidels who
had never received the faith, such as Jews and Saracens, were not to be
compelled to Christianity. Even their children were not to be baptized
without parental consent, as this would be contrary to natural justice,
as well as dangerous to the purity of the faith. It was necessary that
the misbeliever should have been united with the Church by baptism in
order to give her jurisdiction over him.[213]



In the struggle which the Church was making to regain its forfeited hold
upon the veneration of Christendom its most efficient instrument was not
force. It is true that the dignitaries at its head relied solely on
persecution, and by skilful use of popular superstition and princely
ambition they succeeded in crushing the open revolt which threatened its
supremacy. Something more was required to render that success permanent
by arousing anew the trust and confidence of the people, and that
something could not be supplied by a worldly and ambitious prelacy. Far
down in the ranks of the Church, however, were men with truer insight
and nobler aspirations, who saw its fatal omissions and who sought in
their humble spheres to do the work which lay immediately around them.
They builded better than they knew, and to them rather than to the
Innocents and the de Montforts did the hierarchy owe the restoration of
the tottering edifice. The response which they met showed how deep was
the popular longing for a church which should in some degree fitly
reflect the precepts of its Founder.

It is not to be supposed that the corruption of the ecclesiastical body
was allowed to pass unnoticed and unreproved by the pious among the
orthodox, and that occasional efforts at reform were not made by those
who would have shrunk with horror from open opposition or even secret
dissidence. The free speaking of St. Bernard, Geroch of Reichersberg,
and Peter Cantor show how deeply the offences of priest and prelate were
felt and how sharply they were criticised. The self-imposed mission of
Peter Waldo was an effort to evangelize the Church, which in its
inception had no thought of antagonizing the existing order, and was
forced into schism by the obstinacy of the disciples in recurring to
Scripture, and the natural dread which conservatism feels of all
enthusiasm that may become dangerous. As the twelfth century drew to an
end there appeared another apostle whose brief career for a space seemed
to give assurance that both clergy and people might be aroused to a
practical sense of the changes requisite to enable the Church to fulfil
its bright promises to mankind.

Foulques de Neuilly was an obscure priest, with little education or
training and with profound contempt for the dialectics of the schools,
but whose conviction of the sins of Church and people led him to abandon
the cure of souls for the more arduous duties of a missionary. Moved by
his enthusiasm, Peter Cantor procured for him from Innocent III. a
license to preach, but at first his success was disheartening. He had
not discovered the secret of reaching the hearts of his hearers, but the
experience gained by earnest work acquired it for him, and his legend
explains it in the customary shape of a special revelation from God,
accompanied with the gift of working miracles. He caused, it is said,
the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the crippled to walk, but he
selected his subjects and ofttimes refused to work cures, telling the
applicant that his time had not yet come, and that health would but give
him fresh opportunity to sin. Though popularly known as "_le sainct
homme_," he was no ascetic, and at a time when maceration was popularly
deemed an indispensable accompaniment of holiness, it was remarked with
wonder that he would eat thankfully whatever was set before him, and
that he was not observant of vigils. Yet he was irascible, and was wont
to give over to Satan those who refused to listen to him, when it was
observed that they would shortly perish through the divine vengeance.
Thousands of sinners flocked to hear him and were converted to
repentance, though few of them persevered in the path of righteousness,
and he was so successful in reclaiming women of evil life who became
nuns that the Convent of St. Antoine in Paris was founded to receive
them. Many Cathari, also, were won over by him to the faith, and it was
through his exertions that Terric, the heresiarch of the Nivernois, was
discovered in his cave at Corbigny and was burned. He was especially
severe on the licentiousness of the clergy, and at Lisieux he so angered
them with his invectives that they seized and threw him in a dungeon and
loaded him with chains, when his miraculous powers stood him in good
stead and he walked forth without difficulty. The same thing occurred at
Caen, when the officials of Richard of England imprisoned him, thinking
to gratify their master, who was supposed to be offended by the
preacher's plain speaking. Foulques warned him to marry off his three
daughters lest worse should befall him; and when the king retorted that
Foulques was a hypocrite who knew that he had no daughters, the monitor
rejoined that the first daughter was pride, the second avarice, and the
third lust. Richard, however, was too keen-witted to be overcome in a
war of words; he assembled his court, and solemnly repeating what
Foulques had said, added, "My pride I give to the Templars, my avarice
to the Cistercians, and my lust to the prelates in general."

Foulques suffered somewhat in public estimation from the backsliding of
Pierre de Roissi, whom he had taken as an associate, and who in
preaching poverty amassed wealth and obtained a canonry at Chartres,
where he rose to be chancellor. Yet he might have accomplished much had
not Innocent III., who thought more of the recovery of the Holy Land
than of the spiritual awakening of souls, sent him, in 1198, an urgent
request to preach the crusade. Into this work Foulques threw himself
with all his enthusiasm. It was owing to his eloquence that Baldwin of
Flanders and other magnates undertook the crusade; he is said with his
own hand to have imposed the cross upon two hundred thousand pilgrims,
taking the poor by preference, as he deemed the rich unworthy of it, and
the Latin Empire of Constantinople, which was the outcome of the
crusade, was his work. Scandal said that of the immense sum which he
raised he kept a portion, but this may be safely set to the account of
malice; certain it is that never was money more joyfully received by the
struggling Christians in Palestine than the large remittances from him
which enabled them to rebuild the walls of Tyre and Ptolemais, recently
overthrown by an earthquake. As the crusade was about to set out, which
he proposed to accompany, he died at Neuilly, in May, 1202, leaving
whatever he possessed to the pilgrims. Had his life been lengthened and
had he not been diverted from his true career, he might possibly have
accomplished permanent results.[214]

Wholly different from Foulques was Durán de Huesca the Catalan. Despite
the persecuting edicts of Alonso and Pedro, the Waldensian heresy had
taken deep root in Aragon. Durán was one of its leaders, who took part
in the disputation held at Pamiers about 1207 between the Waldenses and
the Bishops of Osma, Toulouse, and Conserans, in the presence of the
Count of Foix. It is probable that Dominic also took part in it, and as
the two men had so much in common, one is tempted to believe that to
Dominic's eloquence was due the conversion of Durán, which was the only
substantial result of the colloquy. Durán was too earnest a man to
remain satisfied with assuring his own salvation, and sought thenceforth
to win over other erring souls. He not only wrote various tracts against
his recent heresy, but he conceived the idea of founding an order which
should serve as a model of poverty and self-abnegation, and be devoted
to preaching and missionary work, thus fighting the heretics with the
very weapons which they had found so efficacious in obtaining converts
from the wealthy and worldly Church. Filled with this inspiration, he
labored among his brethren and brought many of them over to his way of
thinking, from Spain to Italy. In Milan a hundred of them agreed to
return to the Church if a building erected by them for a school, which
the archbishop had torn down, were restored to them. Durán, with three
companions, presented himself before Innocent, who was satisfied with
his profession of faith and approved of his plan. Most of the associates
were clerks, who had already given away all their possessions in
charity. Renouncing the world, they proposed to live in the strictest
chastity, to sleep on boards, except in case of sickness, praying seven
times a day and observing specified fasts in addition to those
prescribed by the Church. Absolute poverty was to be enforced; no
thought was to be taken of the morrow, all gifts of gold and silver were
to be refused, and only the necessaries of food and clothing were to be
accepted. A habit of white or gray was adopted, with sandals to
distinguish them from the Waldenses. Those of them who were learned and
fit for the work were to devote themselves to preaching to the faithful
and converting the heretic, pledging themselves not to attack the vices
of the clergy. Laymen unable to serve in this capacity were to live in
houses and labor with their hands, giving due tithes, oblations, and
first-fruits to the Church. The care of the poor, moreover, was to be a
special duty, and a rich layman in the diocese of Elne proposed to build
for them a hospital with fifty beds, to erect a church, and to
distribute garments to the naked. They were to elect their own superior,
but were to be in no wise exempt from the regular jurisdiction of the

In this institution of the "Pauperes Catholici," or Poor Catholics--as
they called themselves in contradistinction to the "Pauperes de Lugduno"
or Waldenses--there lay the possibilities of all that Dominic and
Francis afterwards conceived and executed. It was the origin, or at
least the precursor, of the great Mendicant Orders, the germ of the
great fructifying idea which accomplished results so marvellous; and
while it is not likely that Francis in Italy borrowed his conception
from Durán, it is more than probable that Dominic in France, where he
must have been familiar with the movement, was led by the plan of the
Poor Catholics to that of the Preaching Friars, which was so closely
modelled on it. Yet though at the start Durán had apparently far better
prospects of success than either Dominic or Francis, his project was
foredoomed from the beginning. Already in 1209 he had communities
planted in Aragon, Narbonne, Béziers, Usez, Carcassonne, and Nîmes, but
the prelates of Languedoc were universally suspicious of the project and
secretly or actively hostile. Cavils were raised as to the
reconciliation of converted heretics; complaints were made that the
conversions were feigned and that the converts were lacking in respect
for the Church and its observances. The crusade was on foot; it seemed
easier to crush than to persuade, and in the tumultuous passions of that
fierce time the humble methods of Durán and his brethren were laughed to
scorn. In vain he appealed to Innocent. In vain Innocent, who viewed the
project with the intuition of a Christian statesman, assured him of the
papal protection, and wrote again and again to the prelates commanding
them to favor the Poor Catholics, reminding them that wandering sheep
were to be welcomed back to the fold, that souls were to be won by
gentleness and mercy, and commanding them not to insist on trifles. In
vain he even conceded to Durán that secular members of his society
should not be required to join in war against Christians, or to take
oaths in secular matters, in so far as was compatible with justice and
with the rights of their suzerains. The passions and the prejudices
which he had unchained in Languedoc had grown beyond his control, and
the Poor Catholics disappeared in the tumult. After 1212 we hear little
more of them. We find Gregory IX., in 1237, ordering the Dominican
Provincial of Tarragona to reform them and let them select one of the
approved Rules under which to live. A mandate of Innocent IV., in 1247,
to the Archbishop of Narbonne and Bishop of Elne to restrain them from
preaching shows that when they attempted to perform the function for
which the order had been established they were promptly silenced. It was
left to other hands to develop the enormous possibilities of the scheme
which Durán had devised.[216]

Far different were the results achieved by Domingo de Guzman, whom the
Latin Church reverences as the greatest and most successful of its

    "Della fede Christiana santo atleta,
    Benigno a' suoi, et a' nemici crudo--
    --E negli sterpi eretici percosse
    L'impeto suo più vivamente quivi
    Dove le resistenze eran più grosse."
      --PARADISO, XII.

Born at Calaruega, in Old Castile, in 1170, of a stock which his
brethren love to connect with the royal house, his saintliness was so
penetrating that it reflected back upon his mother, who is reverenced as
St. Juana de Aga, and at one time there was danger that even his father
might be drawn into the saintly circle. Both parents were buried in the
convent of San Pedro de Gumiel, until, about 1320, the Infante Juan
Manuel of Castile obtained the body of Juana to enrich the Dominican
convent of San Pablo de Peñafiel which he had founded; when Fray
Geronymo Orozco, the Abbot of Gumiel, prudently transferred the remains
of Don Felix de Guzman to an unknown spot in order to preserve it from
an extension of acquisitive veneration. Even the font of white stone,
fashioned like a shell, in which Dominic was baptized could not escape.
In 1605 Philip III. transported it with much pomp from Calaruega to
Valladolid. Thence it was translated to the royal Convent of San Domingo
in Madrid, where it has since been used for the baptism of the royal

Ten years of training in the University of Palencia made of Dominic an
accomplished theologian and equipped him thoroughly for the missionary
work to which his life was devoted. Entering the Chapter of Osma, he was
speedily made sub-prior, and in this capacity we have seen him accompany
his bishop, who from 1203 onward for some years was employed on missions
that carried him through Languedoc. Dominic's biographers relate that
his career was determined by an incident in this first voyage, when he
chanced to lodge in the house of a heretic of Toulouse and spent the
night in converting him. This success, and the sight of the wide extent
of heresy, led him to devote his life to its extirpation. When in 1206
Bishop Diego dismissed his retinue and remained to evangelize the land,
Dominic alone was retained; when Diego returned to Spain to die, Dominic
remained behind and continued to make Languedoc the scene of his

The legend which has grown around Dominic represents him as one of the
chief causes of the overthrow of the Albigensian heresies. Doubtless he
did all that an earnest and single-hearted man could do in a cause to
which he had surrendered himself, but historically his influence was
imperceptible. The monk of Vaux-Cernay alludes to him but once, as a
follower of Bishop Diego, and the epithet there applied to him of "_vir
totius sanctitatis_" is but one of the customary meaningless civilities
of the day. That he was one of the preachers licensed by the legates
under the authority granted by Innocent, in 1207, is shown by an
absolution issued by him which has chanced to be preserved, in which he
styles himself canon of Osma and "_prædicator minimus_;" but his
subordinate position is indicated by the absolution being subject to
the pleasure of Legate Arnaud, from whom his authority was derived. This
and a dispensation to a burgher of Toulouse to lodge a heretic in his
house are the only extant evidences of his activity as a missionary. Yet
already his talent for organization had been shown by his founding the
Monastery of Prouille. One of the most efficient means by which the
heretics propagated their belief was by establishments in which poor
girls of gentle blood could obtain gratuitous education. To meet them on
their own ground, Dominic, about 1206, conceived the idea of a similar
foundation for Catholics, and with the aid of Bishop Foulques of
Toulouse he carried it out. Prouille became a large and wealthy convent,
which boasted of being the germ of the great Dominican Order.[219]

For the next eight years the life of Dominic is a blank. That he labored
strenuously in his self-imposed mission we cannot doubt, gaining, if not
souls, at least skill in disputation, knowledge of men, and the force
which comes from the concentration of energies on a task of conscience;
but of results there is not a trace in the wild tumult of the crusades.
We may safely dismiss as a fable the tradition that he refused
successively the bishoprics of Béziers, Conserans, and Comminges, and
the legends of the miracles which he wrought in vain among hard-hearted
Cathari. He emerges again to view after the battle of Muret had
destroyed the hopes of Count Raymond, when the cause of orthodoxy seemed
triumphant and the field was unobstructed for conversions. In 1214 he
was in his forty-fifth year, in the full strength of mature manhood, yet
having thus far accomplished nothing that gave promise of what was to
follow. Divested of their supernatural adornments, the accounts which we
have of him show him to us as a man of earnest, resolute purpose, deep
and unalterable convictions, full of burning zeal for the propagation of
the faith, yet kindly in heart, cheerful in temper, and winning in
manner. It is significant of the impression produced on his
contemporaries that with scarce an exception the miracles related of him
are beneficent ones--raising the dead, healing the sick and converting
heretics, not by punishment, but by showing that he spoke by command of
the Almighty. The accounts of his habitual austerities may be
exaggerated, but no one who is familiar with the self-inflicted
macerations of the hagiology need hesitate to believe that Dominic was
as severe with himself as with his fellows, even though we may not place
faith in the legend that his constant falling out of bed when an infant
was caused by an early ascetic development which led him to prefer
mortifying the flesh on a hard floor to the luxury of a soft couch. His
endless scourgings, his tireless vigils, and, when exhausted nature
could bear them no longer, his short repose on a board, or in the corner
of a church where he had passed the night, his almost uninterrupted
prayer, his super-human fasts, are probably only harmless exaggerations
of the truth. So, too, may be the legends which tell of his boundless
charity and his love for his fellows; how, when a student, in a time of
dearth he sold all his books to relieve the distress around him, and
would, unless divinely prevented, have sold himself to redeem from the
Moors a captive whose sister he saw overwhelmed with grief. Whether
these stories be true or not, they at least show us the ideal which his
immediate disciples thought to realize in him.[220]

The brief remaining years of Dominic's life witnessed the rapid
garnering of the harvest sowed in the period of humble but zealous
obscurity. In 1214 Pierre Cella, a rich citizen of Toulouse, moved by
his earnestness, resolved to join him in his mission-work, and gave for
the purpose a stately house near the Château Narbonnais, which for more
than a hundred years remained the home of the Inquisition. A few other
zealous souls gathered around him, and the little fraternity commenced
to live like monks. Foulques, the fanatic Bishop of Toulouse, assigned
to them a sixth of the tithes, to provide them with books and other
necessaries, that they might not lack the means of training themselves
and others for the work of preaching, which was the main object of the
community. By this time Durán de Huesca's attempt had proved a failure,
and Dominic, who must have been familiar with it, doubtless saw the
causes of its ill-success and the means to avoid them. Yet it is
noteworthy that in the inception of the plan there was no thought of
employing force. The heretics of Languedoc lay defenceless at the feet
of de Montfort, an easy prey to the spoiler, but Dominic's project only
looked to their peaceful conversion and to performing the duties of
instruction and exhortation of which the Church had been so wholly

All eyes were now bent on the Lateran Council which was to decide the
fate of the land. Foulques of Toulouse on his voyage thither took with
him Dominic to obtain from the pope his approval of the new community.
Tradition relates that Innocent hesitated; his experience with Durán de
Huesca had not taught him to expect much from the irregular action of
enthusiasts; the council had forbidden the formation of new orders of
monkhood, and had commanded that zeal for the future should satisfy
itself with those already established. Yet Innocent's doubts were
removed by a dream in which he saw the Lateran Basilica tottering and
ready to fall, and a man in whom he recognized the humble Dominic
supporting it on his shoulders. Thus divinely warned that the crumbling
church edifice was to be restored by the man whose zeal he had despised,
he approved the project on condition that Dominic and his brethren
should adopt the Rule of some established order.[222]

Dominic returned and assembled his brethren at Prouille. They were by
this time sixteen in number, and it is a curious illustration of the
denationalizing influence of the Church to observe in this little
gathering of earnest men in that remote spot that Castile, Navarre,
Normandy, France, Languedoc, England, and Germany were represented. This
self-devoted band adopted the rule of the Canons Regular of St.
Augustin, which was Dominic's own, and elected Matthieu le Gaulois as
their abbot. He was the first and last who bore this title, for as the
Order grew its organization was modified to secure greater unity and at
the same time greater freedom of action. It was divided into provinces,
the head of each being a provincial prior. Supreme over all was the
general master. These offices were filled by election, with tenure
during good behavior, and provisions were made for stated assemblies, or
chapters, both provincial and general. Each brother, or friar, was held
to implicit obedience. Like a soldier on duty, he was liable at any
moment to be despatched on any mission that the interest of religion or
of the Order might demand. They deemed themselves, in fact, soldiers of
Christ, not devoted, like the monks, to a life of contemplation, but
trained to mix with the world, exercised in all the arts of persuasion,
skilled in theology and rhetoric, and ready to dare and suffer all
things in the interest of the Church Militant. The name of Preaching
Friars, which acquired such world-wide significance, was the result of
accident. During the Lateran Council, while Dominic was in Rome,
Innocent had occasion to address a note to him and ordered his secretary
to begin, "To brother Dominic and his companions;" then, correcting
himself, he said, "To brother Dominic and the preachers with him," and
finally, considering further, "to Master Dominic and the brethren
preachers." This greatly pleased them, and they at once commenced
calling themselves Friar Preachers.[223]

Curiously enough, poverty formed no part of the original design. The
impulse to found the order was given by Cella's donation of his property
and the share of the tithes offered by Bishop Foulques; and, as soon as
it was organized, Dominic had no scruple in accepting three churches
from Foulques--one in Toulouse, one in Pamiers, and one in Puylaurens.
The historians of the Order endeavor to explain this by saying that its
founders desired to make poverty a feature of the Rule, but were
deterred for fear that so novel an idea would prevent the papal
confirmation. As Innocent had already approved of poverty in Durán de
Huesca's scheme, the futility of this excuse is apparent, and we may
well doubt the legends about Dominic's rigidity in requiring his
brethren to dispense absolutely with the use of money. Certain it is
that as early as 1217 we find the friars quarrelling with the agents of
Bishop Foulques over the grant of tithes, and demanding that churches
with only half a dozen communicants should be reckoned as parish
churches and subject to their claim on the tithes. It was not until the
success of the Franciscans had shown the attractive power of poverty
that it was adopted by the Dominicans in the General Chapter of 1220. It
was finally embodied in the constitution adopted by the Chapter of 1228,
which prohibited that lands or revenues should be acquired, ordered
preachers not to solicit money, and classed among the graver offences
the retention by a brother of any of the things forbidden to be
received. The Order speedily outgrew these restrictions, but Dominic
himself set an example of the utmost rigidity in this respect, and when
he died in Bologna, in 1221, it was in the bed of Friar Moneta, as he
had none of his own, and in Moneta's gown, for his own was worn out and
he had not another to replace it; and when the Rule was adopted in 1220
such property as was not essential for the needs of the Order was made
over to the Convent of Prouille.[224]

All that now was lacking was the papal confirmation of the Order and its
statutes. Before Dominic could reach Rome on the errand to obtain this,
Innocent had died, but his successor, Honorius III., entered fully into
his views, and the sanction of the Holy See was given on December 21,
1216. Returning to Toulouse in 1217, Dominic lost no time in dispersing
his followers. It was not for them to practise the strenuous idleness of
conventual life, in a ceaseless round of barren liturgies. They were the
leaven which was to leaven Christianity, the soldiers of Christ who were
to carry the banner of salvation to the farthest corners of the earth,
and for them there was no pause or rest. The little band seemed absurdly
inadequate for the task, but Dominic never hesitated. Some were sent to
Spain, others to Paris, others again to Bologna, while Dominic himself
went to Rome, where, under the favor of the papal court, his enthusiasm
was rewarded with an abundance of disciples. Those who went to Paris
were warmly received, and were granted the house of St. Jacques, where
they founded the famous convent of the Jacobins, which endured until the
Order was swept away in the Revolution. The state of mental exaltation
in which laymen and ecclesiastics of all ranks hastened to join the new
Order is shown by the persecutions which the early brethren of St.
Jacques endured from Satan. Frightful or sensual visions were constant
with them, so that they were obliged by turns to keep watch at night
over each other. Many of them were diabolically possessed and became
mad. Their only refuge was the Virgin, and to the gracious assistance
which she rendered them in their trials is attributed the Dominican
custom of singing "Salve Regina" after complins, during which pious
exercise she was frequently seen hovering over them in a sphere of
light. Men in such a frame of mind were ready to suffer and to inflict
all things for the sake of salvation.[225]

It is not worth while to follow further in detail the marvellous growth
of the Order in all the lands of Europe. Already in 1221, when Dominic
as General Master held the second General Chapter in Bologna, four years
after the sixteen disciples had parted in Toulouse, the Order already
had sixty convents, and was organized into eight provinces--Spain,
Provence, France, England, Germany, Hungary, Lombardy, and Romagnuola.
The same year witnessed the death of Dominic, but his work was done and
his removal from the scene made no change in the mighty machine which he
had built and set in motion. Everywhere the strongest intellects of the
age were donning the Dominican scapular, and everywhere they were
earning the respect and veneration of the people. Their services to the
papacy were fully recognized, and they are speedily found filling
important offices in the curia. In 1243 the learned Hugh of Vienne
became the first Dominican cardinal, and in 1276 the Dominicans rejoiced
to see Brother Peter of Tarentaise raised to the chair of St. Peter as
Innocent V. Yet the delay in Dominic's canonization would seem to show
that personally he made less impression on his contemporaries than his
followers would have us believe. Dying in 1221, the bull enrolling him
in the calendar of saints only bears date July 3, 1234. His great
colleague, or rival, Francis, who died in 1226, was canonized within two
years, in 1228; the young Franciscan, Antony of Padua, who died in 1231,
was recognized as a saint in 1233; and when the great Dominican martyr,
St. Peter Martyr, was slain, April 12, 1252, proceedings for his
canonization were commenced August 31 of the same year and were
completed by March 25, 1253, less than a twelvemonth after his death.
That thirteen years should have elapsed in the case of Dominic shows
that his merits were recognized but slowly.[226]

       *       *       *       *       *

If the Franciscans were in the end closely assimilated to the
Dominicans, it was through the overmastering demands of the work to be
accomplished by both, for in their origin the Orders were destined to
objects as diverse as the characters of their founders. If St. Dominic
was the type of the active practical missionary, St. Francis was the
ideal of the contemplative ascetic, modified by boundless love and
charity for his fellows.

Born in 1182, Giovanni Bernardone was the son of a prosperous trader of
Assisi, who trained him in his business. Accompanying his father on a
voyage to France, he came back with the accomplishment of speaking
French, which gained for him among his companions the nickname of
Francesco, a name which he adopted as his own. A dissipated youth was
brought to a sudden close in his twentieth year by a dangerous illness
which resulted in his conversion, and thereafter he devoted himself to
works of mercy and charity, earning for himself with no little
verisimilitude the reputation of insanity. In order to restore the
dilapidated church of St. Damiani he stole a quantity of his father's
cloths, which he sold at Foligno, together with the horse that carried
them. Finding him irrevocably bent on following his own devices, the
exasperated parent took him before the bishop to make him renounce all
claim on his inheritance, which Francis willingly did, and to render the
renunciation more complete stripped off all his clothes, save a hair
shirt worn to mortify the flesh, when the bishop, to cover his
nakedness, gave him the worn-out cloak of a peasant serving-man.[227]

Francis was now fairly embarked on a life of wandering beggary, which he
used to so good an account that he was able to restore four churches
which were sinking to ruin. He had no thought other than to work out his
own salvation in poverty and acts of loving charity, especially to
lepers; but the fame of his holiness spread, and the Blessed Bernard of
Quintavalle asked to be associated with him. The solitary ascetic at
first was indisposed to companionship, but to learn the will of God he
thrice opened the Gospels at random, and his finger lit on the three
texts on which the great Franciscan order was founded:

     "And Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that
     thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
     heaven: and come and follow me" (Matt. XIX. 21).

     "Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what
     things ye have need of before ye ask him" (Matt. VI. 8).

     "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me,
     let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt.
     XVI. 24).

The command was obeyed and the recruit accepted. Others joined from time
to time, till the little band numbered eight. Then Francis announced
that the time had come for them to evangelize the world, and dispersed
them in pairs to the four points of the compass. On their reuniting,
four more volunteers were added, when Francis drew up a Rule for their
governance, and the twelve proceeded to Rome, according to the
Franciscan legend, at the time of the Lateran Council, to procure the
papal confirmation. When Francis presented himself to the pope in the
aspect of a beggar the pontiff indignantly ordered him away, but
tradition relates that a vision that night induced him to send for the
mendicant. There was much hesitation among the papal advisers, but the
earnestness and eloquence of Francis won the day, and finally the Rule
was approved and the brethren were authorized to preach the Word of

Even yet were they undecided whether to abandon themselves to the
contemplative life of anchorites or to undertake the great work of
evangelization which lay before them in its immensity. They withdrew to
Spoleto and counselled earnestly together without being able to reach a
conclusion, until a revelation from God, which we can readily believe as
actual to a mind such as that of Francis, turned the scale, and the
Franciscan Order, in place of dying out in a few scattered hermitages,
became one of the most powerful organizations of Christendom, though the
abandoned hovel to which they resorted on their return to Assisi gave
little promise of future splendor. The rapidity of the growth of the
Order may be measured by the fact that when Francis called together his
first General Chapter in 1221, it was attended by brethren variously
reported as from three thousand to five thousand, including a cardinal
and several bishops; and when, in the General Chapter of 1260, under
Bonaventura, the Order was redistributed to accord with its growth, it
was partitioned into thirty-three provinces and three vicariates,
comprehending in all one hundred and eighty-two guardianships. This
organization can be understood by the example of England, which formed a
province divided into seven guardianships, containing, as we learn from
another source, in 1256, forty-nine houses with twelve hundred and
forty-two friars. The Order then extended into every corner of what was
regarded as the civilized world and its contiguous regions.[229]

The Minorites, as in humility they called themselves, were so different
in their inception from any existing organization of the Church that
when, in 1219, St. Francis made the first dispersion and sent his
disciples to evangelize Europe, those who went to Germany and Hungary
were regarded as heretics, and were roughly handled and expelled. In
France they were taken for Cathari, to whose wandering perfected
missionaries their austerity doubtless gave them close resemblance. They
were asked if they were Albigenses, and, not knowing the meaning of the
term, knew not what to say, and it was only after the authorities had
consulted Honorius III. that they were relieved from suspicion. In Spain
five of them endured martyrdom. Innocent had only given a verbal
approbation of the Rule; he was dead, and something more formal was
requisite to protect the brethren from persecution. Francis accordingly
drew up a second Rule, more concise and less rigid than the first, which
he submitted to Honorius. The pope approved it, though not without
objecting to some of the clauses; but Francis refused to modify them,
saying that it was not his but Christ's, and that he could not change
the words of Christ. From this his followers assumed that the Rule had
been divinely revealed to him. This belief passed into the traditions of
the Order, and the Rule has been maintained unaltered in letter, though,
as we shall see, its spirit has been more than once explained away by
ingenious papal casuists.[230]

It is simple enough, amounting hardly to more than a gloss on the
entrance-oath required of each friar, to live according to the gospel,
in obedience, chastity, and without possessing property. The applicant
for admission was required to sell all he had and give it to the poor,
and if this were impossible the will so to do sufficed. Each one was
permitted to have two gowns, but they must be vile in texture, and were
to be patched and repaired as long as they could be made to hang
together. Shoes were allowed to those who found it impossible to forego
them. All were to go on foot, except in case of sickness or necessity.
No one was to receive money, either directly or through a third party,
except that the ministers (as the provincial superiors were called)
could do so for the care of the sick and for provision of clothing,
especially in rigorous climates. Labor was strenuously enjoined on all
those able to perform it, but wages were not to be in money, but in
necessaries for themselves and their brethren. The clause requiring
absolute poverty caused, as we shall see, a schism in the order, and
therefore is worth giving textually: "The brethren shall appropriate to
themselves nothing, neither house, nor place, nor other thing, but shall
live in the world as strangers and pilgrims, and shall go confidently
after alms. In this they shall feel no shame, since the Lord for our
sake made himself poor in the world. It is this perfection of poverty
which has made you, dearest brethren, heirs and kings of the kingdom of
heaven. Having this, you should wish to have naught else under heaven."
The head of the Order, or General Minister, was chosen by the Provincial
Ministers, who could at any time depose him when the general good
required it. Faculties for preaching were to be issued by the General,
but no brother was to preach in any diocese without the assent of the

This is all; and there is nothing in it to give promise of the immense
results achieved under it. What gave it an enduring hold on the
affections of the world was the spirit which the founder infused in it
and in his brethren. No human creature since Christ has more fully
incarnated the ideal of Christianity than Francis. Amid the
extravagance, amounting at times almost to insanity, of his asceticism,
there shines forth the Christian love and humility with which he devoted
himself to the wretched and neglected--the outcasts for whom, in that
rude time, there were few indeed to care. The Church, absorbed in
worldliness, had outgrown the duties on which was founded its control
over the souls and hearts of men, and there was need of the exaggeration
of self-sacrifice taught by Francis to recall humanity to a sense of its
obligations. Thus, of all the miseries of that age of misery, the
hardest lot was that of the leper--the being afflicted by God with a
loathsome, incurable, and contagious disease, who was cut off from all
intercourse with fellow-men, and who, when he wandered abroad for alms
from the lazar-house in which he was herded, was obliged, by clattering
sticks, to give notice of his approach, that all might shun his
pestiferous neighborhood. It was to these, the most helpless and
hopeless and abhorred of mankind, that the boundless charity and love of
Francis was especially directed. The example which he set in his own
person he required to be followed by his brethren; and when noble or
simple applied for admission to the Order he was told that prominent
among the obligations which he assumed was that of humbly serving the
lepers in their hospitals. Francis did not hesitate to sleep in the
lazar-houses, to handle the dangerous sores of the afflicted, to apply
medicaments, and to minister to the sufferings of the body as well as of
the soul. For the sake of the leper he relaxed the rule as to receiving
alms in money. Yet his humility led him to forbid his disciples from
leading in public the "Christian brethren," as he called them. Once,
when Friar James had taken with him to church a leper who was shockingly
eaten by disease, Francis reproved him; then, reproaching himself for
what the sufferer might regard as a slight, he asked Friar Peter of
Catania, at that time the minister-general of the Order, to confirm the
penance which he had appointed for himself, and when Peter, who looked
upon him with too much reverence to deny him anything, had assented, he
announced that he would eat out of the same dish as the sick man. At the
next simple meal, therefore, the leper was seated among them, and the
brethren were terrified to see a single dish set between the two, and
the leper dipping his fingers, dripping with blood and purulent
discharge, into the food common to both.[232]

It would perhaps be too much to assert one's faith in the absolute
veracity of such stories, but that makes little difference. If they be
but legendary, the very growth of the legend shows the impression which
Francis left on those who followed him; and the value of such an ideal
on an age so hard and cruel can scarce be exaggerated. We know as a fact
that the Franciscans were ever foremost in the cure of the sick, that
they tended the hospitals in the midst of pestilence, and that to their
intelligent devotion is due whatever progress the science of healing
made in the dark ages. We are told, moreover, that the tender love of
Francis lavished itself on the brute creation as well as on man--on
insects, birds, and beasts, whom he was wont to call his brethren and
sisters, and for whom he was never weary in caring. All the stories
related of him and his immediate disciples, in fact, are instinct with
infinite love and self-sacrifice, with the perfection of humility and
patience and long-suffering, with the control of the passions, and with
endless striving to subdue all that renders human nature imperfect, and
to realize the standard which Christ had erected for the guidance of
man. Viewed in this aspect, even the semi-blasphemy of the "Book of
Conformities of Christ and Francis" loses its grotesqueness. We may,
indeed, smile at the absurdity of some of its parallels, and they may
seem shocking enough when cleverly presented, stripped of all that
softens them, in the "Alcoran des Cordeliers." We may doubt the verity
of the Stigmata which it took so long and so many miracles, and
repetition of papal bulls, to impose upon the incredulity of a
hard-hearted generation. We may think that Satan showed less than his
usual shrewdness when he so repeatedly wasted his energies in seeking to
tempt or to terrify the saint in the crude form of a lion or of a
dragon. Yet, in spite of all the absurdities of the cult of St. Francis,
we recognize the profound impression which his virtues made on his
followers in the vision which showed the heavenly throne of Lucifer,
next to the Highest, kept vacant to be filled by Francis.[233]

To the pride and cruelty of the age he opposed patience and humility.
"The perfection of gladness," he says, "consists not in working
miracles, in curing the sick, expelling devils, or raising the dead;
nor in learning and knowledge of all things; nor in eloquence to convert
the world, but in bearing all ills and injuries and injustice and
despiteful treatment with patience and humility." So far from valuing
himself on his virtues, he humbly confesses that he had himself not
lived up to the Rule, and apologizes for it through his infirmity and
ignorance. To what extravagant lengths his disciples carried this
striving for humility is shown by Giacomo Benedettone, better known as
Jacopone da Todi, the author of the Stabat Mater, an active and
successful lawyer, who, crushed by the death of a lovely wife, entered
the Order, and for ten years feigned idiocy in order to revel in the
abuse and ill-treatment that were showered upon him.[234]

Obedience was taught and enforced to the utter renunciation of the will,
and many are the stories related to show how completely the earlier
disciples subjected themselves to each other and to their superiors.
When, in 1224, the Franciscans were first sent to England, Gregory, the
Provincial Minister of France, asked Friar William of Esseby if he
wished to go. William replied that he did not know whether he wished it
or not, because his will was not his own, but the minister's, and
therefore he wished whatever the minister wished him to wish. Somewhat
similar is a story told of two brethren of Salzburg in 1222. This
blindness of obedience produced a discipline in the Order which
increased incalculably its importance to the Church when it grew to be
an instrument in the hands of the papacy. St. Francis was especially
emphatic in urging upon the brethren the most implicit devotion to Rome,
and the Franciscans became an army which played in the thirteenth
century the part filled by the Jesuits in the sixteenth.[235]

It was no part of Francis's design that the friars should live by idle
mendicancy, and we have seen that the Rule expresses the obligation to
labor. This was obeyed by the stricter members. Thus his third disciple,
the blessed Giles, earned his subsistence by the rudest work, such as
that of carrying wood, and he always adhered to the precept not to take
wages in money, but in necessaries for his support. When he had earned
more than enough for the scanty subsistence of the day, he would give
away the surplus in charity, and trust to God for the morrow. It was
well that, in an age of class distinctions so rigid, there should be
some to teach practically the dignity of labor as a Christian doctrine.
When St. Bonaventura was elevated to the cardinalate, in 1273, he had
for seventeen years been the head of what by that time was the most
powerful organization in Christendom, yet the messengers sent to
announce to him his promotion arrived while he was engaged in his daily
task of washing the dishes used in the frugal dinner of his convent. He
refused to see them till his work was finished, and meanwhile the hat
which they had brought was hung upon the branch of a tree.[236]

Thus the aim of St. Francis and his followers was to realize the
simplicity of Christ and the apostles, and in nothing was this
manifested with so much fervor as in their seeking after poverty. They
argued that Jesus and his disciples owned nothing, and that the perfect
Christian must likewise divest himself of all property. Of food and
clothing and shelter he might have the use, as likewise of books
requisite for his religious needs, but property of all kinds was
absolutely prohibited, and the Christian's trust in God rendered
forethought for the morrow a sin. As a protest against the avarice and
worldliness of the Church, this was of exceeding value, but it was
pushed to an extravagance which idealized poverty as an intrinsic good,
and the greatest of all goods. "Brethren," said St. Francis, "know that
poverty is the special path to salvation, the inciter to humility, and
the root of perfection.... He who seeks to attain the height of poverty
must, in a sense, renounce not only worldly prudence, but the knowledge
of letters, so that, divesting himself of these possessions, he may
offer himself naked to the arms of the Crucified.... Wherefore, like
beggars, build little hovels in which to live, not as in your own, but
as strangers and pilgrims in the houses of others." His prayer to Christ
for poverty is a curiously earnest rhapsody. She is Lady Poverty, the
Queen of virtues, for whose sake Christ descended unto earth, to marry
her and beget on her all the children of perfection. She clung to him
with inseparable fidelity, and in her arms he died upon the cross. She
alone possesses the seal with which to mark the elect who choose the way
of perfection. "Grant me, O Jesus, that I may never possess under heaven
anything of my own, and sustain the flesh sparely by the use of the
things of others!" This exaggerated lust of poverty he carried out to
the last, and on his death-bed stripped himself naked that he might die
possessing absolutely nothing. Poverty thus was the corner-stone on
which he founded the Order, and, as we shall see, the effort to maintain
this super-human perfection led to a schism and gave to the Inquisition
an ample store of victims whose heresy consisted in fidelity to the
precepts of their founder.[237]

With all this there was too much kindliness in his nature for gloom, and
cheerfulness was a virtue which he constantly inculcated. Sadness he
held to be one of the most deadly weapons of Satan, while cheerfulness
was the Christian's thankful acknowledgment of the blessings bestowed by
God upon his creatures. This was consequently a distinguishing
characteristic of the Friars in the early days of the Order. In
Eccleston's simple and quiet narration of their advent to England, in
1224, when nine of them crossed to Dover without knowing what their fate
might be from day to day, there is something singularly beautiful in the
picture of their zeal, their trustfulness, their patience, their
unfailing cheerfulness under privation and disappointment, and in their
tireless activity in ministering to the spiritual and corporeal wants of
the neglected children of the Church. Such men were real apostles, and
had the Order continued to follow the lines laid down by its founder its
services to humanity would have been incalculable.[238]

       *       *       *       *       *

The Mendicant Orders were a startling innovation upon the monastic
theory. In its essence monachism was the selfish effort of the
individual to secure his own salvation by repudiating all the duties and
responsibilities of life. It is true that at one time it had earned the
gratitude of the world by leaving its retreats and carrying civilization
and Christianity into barbarous regions, under such men as St. Columba,
St. Gall, and St. Willibrod, but that time had long past, and for ages
it had sunk into worse than its primitive selfishness. The Mendicants
came upon Christendom like a revelation--men who had abandoned all that
was enticing in life to imitate the apostles, to convert the sinner and
unbeliever, to arouse the slumbering moral sense of mankind, to instruct
the ignorant, to offer salvation to all; in short, to do what the Church
was paid so enormously in wealth and privileges and power for
neglecting. Wandering on foot over the face of Europe, under burning
suns or chilling blasts, rejecting alms in money but receiving
thankfully whatever coarse food might be set before the wayfarer, or
enduring hunger in silent resignation, taking no thought for the morrow,
but busied eternally in the work of snatching souls from Satan, and
lifting men up from the sordid cares of daily life, of ministering to
their infirmities and of bringing to their darkened souls a glimpse of
heavenly light--such was the aspect in which the earliest Dominicans and
Franciscans presented themselves to the eyes of men who had been
accustomed to see in the ecclesiastic only the sensual worldling intent
solely upon the indulgence of his appetites. It is no wonder that such
an apparition accomplished much in restoring to the populations the
faith in Christianity which had begun to be so sorely shaken, or that it
spread through Christendom the hope of an approaching regeneration in
the Church which greatly lessened popular impatience under its
exactions, and doubtless staved off a rebellion which would have altered
the aspect of modern civilization.

It is no wonder, moreover, that the love and veneration of the people
followed the Mendicants; that the charitable showered their gifts upon
them, to the destruction of the primal obligation of poverty; that the
men of earnest convictions pressed forward to join their ranks. The
purest and noblest intellects might well see in such a career the
realization of their loftiest aspirations; and whenever in the
thirteenth century we find a man towering above his fellows, we are
almost sure to trace him to one of the Mendicant Orders. Raymond of
Pennaforte, Alexander Hales, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas,
Bonaventura, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, are names which show how
irresistibly the men of highest gifts were led to seek among the
Dominicans or Franciscans their ideal of life. That they failed to find
it goes without saying, but their presence in the Orders is at once an
evidence of the impression which the Mendicants made upon all that was
worthiest in the age, and an explanation of the enormous influence which
the Orders obtained with such marvellous rapidity. Even Dante cannot
refuse to them the tribute of his admiration--

    "L'un fu tutto serafico in ardore,
    L'altro per sapienza in terra fue
    Di cherubica luce uno splendore."


There was another instrumentality of vast importance, in utilizing which
both Francis and Dominic manifested their organizing ability--the
Tertiary Orders through which laymen, without abandoning the world, were
assimilated to the respective brotherhoods, aided in their labors,
shared in their glory, and added to their influence, thus stimulating
and utilizing the zeal of the community at large. There is a trace of an
order of Crucigeri or Cross-bearers, laymen organized for the defence of
the Church, claiming to date back to the time of Helena, mother of
Constantine, and revived in 1215 by the Lateran Council, but there is no
evidence of its activity or usefulness. Francis, however, who, though
unlearned in scholastic theology and untrained in rhetoric, excelled his
contemporaries in insight into the gospel and possessed a simple,
earnest eloquence which carried the hearts of his hearers, on one
occasion produced by his preaching so profound an impression that all
the inhabitants of the town, men, women, and children, begged admission
to his Order. This was manifestly impossible, and he bethought him of
framing a Rule by which persons of both sexes, while remaining in the
world, could be subjected to wholesome discipline and be connected with
the fraternity, which in turn promised them its protection. Of the
restrictions placed on them perhaps the most significant was that they
should carry no weapons of offence except for the defence of the Roman
Church, the Christian faith, and their own lands. The project and the
Rule were approved by the pope in 1221, and the official name of the
organization was "The Brothers and Sisters of Penitence," though it
became popularly known as the Tertiary Order of Minorites, or
Franciscans. Under the more aggressive name of "Militia Jesu Christi,"
or Soldiery of Christ, Dominic founded a similar association of laymen
connected with his Order. The idea proved a most fruitful one. It
reorganized to some degree the Church by removing a portion of the
barrier which separated the layman from the ecclesiastic. It brought
immense support to the Mendicant Orders by enlisting with them
multitudes of the earnest and zealous, as well as those who from less
worthy motives sought to share their protection and enjoy the benefit of
their influence. Types of both classes may be found in the royal house
of France, for both St. Louis and Catherine de Medicis were Tertiaries
of St. Francis.[239]

To comprehend fully the magnitude and influence of these movements we
must bear in mind the impressionable character of the populations and
their readiness to yield to contagious emotion. When we are told that
the Franciscan Berthold of Ratisbon frequently preached to crowds of
sixty thousand souls we realize what power was lodged in the hands of
those who could reach masses so easily swayed and so full of blind
yearnings to escape from the ignoble life to which they were condemned.
How the slumbering souls were awakened is shown by the successive waves
of excitement which swept over one portion of Europe after another about
the middle of the century. The dumb, untutored minds began to ask
whether an existence of hopeless and brutal misery was all that was to
be realized from the promises of the gospel. The Church had made no real
effort at internal reform; it was still grasping, covetous, licentious,
and a strange desire for something--they knew not exactly what--began to
take possession of men's hearts and spread like an epidemic from village
to village and from land to land. In Germany and France there is another
Crusade of the Children, earning from Gregory IX. the declaration that
they gave a fitting rebuke to their elders, who were basely abandoning
the birth-place of humanity.[240]

But the most formidable and significant manifestation of this universal
restlessness and gregarious enthusiasm is seen in the uprising of the
peasantry--the first of the wandering bands known as Pastoureaux. The
helpless and hopeless state of the lower classes of society in those
dreary ages has probably never been exceeded in any period of the
world's history. The terrible maxim of the feudal law, that the
villein's only appeal from his lord was to God--"Mès par notre usage
n'a-il entre toi et ton vilein juge fors Deu"--condenses in a word the
abject defencelessness of the major part of the population, and human
degradation has never, perhaps, been more forcibly expressed than in the
infamous _jus primæ noctis_ or "droit de marquette." The bitter humor of
the trouvère Rutebœuf describes how Satan considered the soul of the
villein too despicable to be received in hell; there was no place for it
in heaven, so that, after a life of misery on earth, it had no refuge in
the hereafter. It is noteworthy in many ways that the Church, which
should have been the mediator between the villein and his lord, and
which, in teaching the common brotherhood of man, should have earned the
gratitude of the miserable serf, was always the special object of
aversion and attack in the brief saturnalia of the self-enfranchised

Suddenly, about Easter, 1251, there appeared a mysterious preacher,
known as the Hungarian, advanced in years, and clothed with the
attributes which most excite popular awe and veneration. In his clenched
hand, which never was opened, he carried a paper given to him by the
Virgin Mary herself, which was his mandate and commission. Yet men said
that he had from his youth been an apostate from Christ to Mahomet, that
he had drunk deeply of the poisonous wells of magic flowing at Toledo,
and that he had received from Satan the mission of carrying the unarmed
populations of Europe to the East, so that the Soldan of Babylon should
find Christendom an easy prey. Remembering the Crusade of the Children,
people leaped to the conclusion that it was he who had devastated so
many houses with his magic arts, leading forth the tender youth to
perish of starvation and exposure. Tall and pale, gifted with eloquence
to win the hearts of the multitude, speaking like a native in French and
German and Latin, he set forth, preaching from town to town the
supineness of the rich and powerful who allowed the Holy Land to remain
in the grasp of the Infidel and the good King Louis to languish in his
Egyptian dungeon. God had tired of the selfishness and ambition of the
nobles, and he called the poor and humble, without arms and captains, to
rescue the Holy Places and the Good King. All this found ready response,
but even greater applause followed his attacks upon the clergy. The
Mendicant Orders were vagrants and hypocrites; the Cistercians were
greedy of money and lands; the Benedictines proud and gluttonous; the
canons wholly given to secular aims and the lusts of the flesh; the
bishops and their officials were money-seekers, who shrank from no
trickery to accomplish their aims. As for Rome, no terms of objurgation
were too strong for the papal court. The people, whose hate and contempt
for the clergy were unbounded, listened to this rhetoric with delight,
and eagerly joined a movement which promised a reform in some unseen
way. Shepherds left their sheep, husbandmen their ploughs, deaf to the
commands of their lords, and followed him unarmed, taking no thought of
the morrow, nor asking how they were to be fed.

There were not lacking those high in station who, carried away with the
general enthusiasm, imagined that God was about to work miracles with
the poor and helpless after the great ones of the earth had failed. Even
Queen Blanche, eager for any means that promised to liberate her son,
looked upon the movement for a while with favor, and lent it her
countenance. It swelled and grew till the wandering multitudes amounted
to more than a hundred thousand men, bearing fifty banners as an emblem
of victory. It was impossible, of course, to confine such an uprising to
the peaceful and humble. No sooner did it assume proportions promising
immunity than it inevitably drew to itself all the disorderly elements
inseparable from the society of the time--the "ruptarii" and "ribaldi,"
whom we have seen figure so largely in the Albigensian troubles. These
flocked to it from all sides, bringing knife and dagger, sword and axe,
and giving to the immense procession a still more menacing aspect. That
outrages were committed we can well believe, for the wrongs of class
against class were too flagrant to remain unavenged when opportunity
offered for reprisals.

On June 11, 1251, they entered Orleans, against the commands of the
bishop, but welcomed by the people, though the richer citizens
prudently locked their doors. All might have passed peaceably there as
elsewhere but for a hot-headed student of the flourishing university of
the city, who interrupted the preaching of the Hungarian to denounce him
as a liar, and was promptly brained by a zealous follower. A tumult
followed, in which the Pastoureaux made short work of the Orleans
clergy, breaking into their houses, burning their books, and slaying
many, or tossing them into the Loire; and, what is most significant, the
people are described as looking on approvingly. The bishop, and all who
could hide themselves from the fury of the mob, escaped during the
night, and valiantly laid the city under interdict for the guilty
complicity of the citizens.

On hearing this the Regent Blanche said, "God knows I thought they would
recover the Holy Land in simplicity and holiness. But since they are
deceivers, let them be excommunicated and destroyed." Accordingly they
were excommunicated, but before the anathema could be published they had
reached Bourges, where, in a tumult, the Hungarian was slain, and they
broke up into bands. The authorities, recovering from their stupor,
pursued the luckless wretches everywhere, who were slain like mad dogs.
Some emissaries who penetrated to England, and succeeded in raising a
revolt of some five hundred peasants, met the same fate; and it was
reported that the second in command under the Hungarian was captured in
a vessel on the Garonne, while endeavoring to escape, and on his person
were found magic powders and strange letters in Arabic and Chaldee
characters from the Soldan of Babylon promising his co-operation.

The quasi-religious nature of the uprising is shown in the functions
exercised by the leaders, who acted the part of bishops, blessing the
people, sprinkling holy water, and even celebrating marriages. The favor
which the people everywhere showed them was attributed principally to
their spoiling, beating, and slaying the clergy, thus indicating the
deep-seated popular antagonism to the Church, and justifying the
declaration made by prelates high in station that so great a danger had
never threatened Christendom since the time of Mahomet.[242]

Even more remarkable, as a manifestation of popular emotion, was the
first apparition of the Flagellants. Suddenly, in 1259, in Perugia, no
one knew why, the population was seized with a fury of devotional
penitence, without incitement by friar or priest. The contagion spread,
and soon the whole of upper Italy was filled with tens of thousands of
penitents. Nobles and peasants, old and young, even to children five
years of age, walked solemnly in procession, two by two, naked except a
loin-cloth, weeping and praying God for mercy, and scourging themselves
with leather thongs to the drawing of blood. The women decently
inflicted the penance on themselves in their chambers, but the men
marched through the cities by day and night, in the sharpest winter,
preceded by priests with crosses and banners, to the churches, where
they prostrated themselves before the altars. A contemporary tells us
that the fields and mountains echoed with the voices of the sinners
calling to God, while music and love-songs were heard no more. A general
fever of repentance and amendment seized the people. Usurers and robbers
restored their ill-gotten gain; criminals confessed their sins and
renounced their vices; the prison doors were thrown open, and the
captives walked forth; homicides offered themselves on their knees, with
drawn swords, to the kindred of their victims, and were embraced with
tears; old enmities were forgiven, and exiles were permitted to return
to their homes. Everywhere was seen the operation of divine grace, and
men seemed to be consumed with heavenly fire. The movement even spread
to the Rhinelands and throughout Germany and Bohemia; but whatever hopes
were aroused of the regeneration of man vanished with the subsidence of
the excitement, which disappeared as rapidly as it came, and was even
denounced as a heresy. Uberto Pallavicino took effectual means of
keeping the Flagellants out of his city of Milan; for when he heard of
their approach he erected three hundred gibbets by the roadside, at
sight of which they abruptly retraced their steps.[243]

It was in a population subject to such tempests of emotion, and groping
thus blindly for something higher and better than the hopeless
degradation around them, that the Mendicant Orders came to gather to
themselves the potential religious exaltation of the time. That they
should develop with unexampled rapidity was inevitable.

Everything favored them. The papal court early recognized in them an
instrument more efficient than had yet been devised to bring the power
of the Holy See to bear directly upon the Church and the people in every
corner of Christendom; to break down the independence of the local
prelates; to combat the temporal enemies of the papacy, and to lead the
people into direct relations with the successor of St. Peter. Privileges
and exemptions of all kinds were showered upon them, until, by a series
of bulls issued, between 1240 and 1244, by Gregory IX. and Innocent IV.,
they were rendered completely independent of the regular ecclesiastical
organization. A time-honored rule of the Church required that any
excommunication or anathema could only be removed by him who had
pronounced it, but this was revolutionized in their favor. Not only were
the bishops required to give absolution to any Dominican or Franciscan
who should apply for it, except in cases of such enormity that the Holy
See alone could act, but the Mendicant priors and ministers were
authorized to absolve their friars from any censures inflicted on them.
These extraordinary measures removed them entirely from the regular
jurisdiction of the establishment; the members of each Order became
responsible only to their own superiors, and in their all-pervading
activity throughout Europe they could secretly undermine the power and
influence of the local hierarchy, and replace it with that of Rome,
which they so directly represented. This independent position, however,
had only been reached by degrees. Papal briefs of 1229 and 1234,
enjoining them to show proper respect and obedience to the bishops, and
empowering the bishops to condemn any friars who abuse their privileges
of preaching for purposes of gain, show that complaints of their
aggressions had commenced thus early, and that Rome was not yet prepared
to render them independent of the hierarchy; but when the policy had
once been adopted it was carried to its fullest development, and the
cycle of legislation was completed by Boniface VIII., in 1295 and 1296,
by a series of bulls in which, following his predecessors, the
Mendicants were formally released from all episcopal jurisdiction, and
the statutes of the Orders were declared to be the only laws by which
they were to be judged, all provisions of the canon law to the contrary
notwithstanding. At the same time, by a new issue of the bull _Virtute
conspicuos_, commonly known as the _Mare Magnum_, he codified and
confirmed all the privileges conferred by his predecessors.[244]

The Holy See was thus provided with a militia, recruited and sustained
at the expense of the faithful, panoplied in invulnerability, and
devoted to its exclusive service. In order that its usefulness might
suffer no limitation, in 1241 Gregory IX. granted to the friars the
privilege of freely living in the lands of excommunicates, and of asking
and receiving assistance and food from them. They could, therefore,
penetrate everywhere, and serve as secret emissaries in the dominions of
those hostile to Rome. Human ingenuity could have devised no more
efficient army, for, not only were they full of zeal and inspired with
profound convictions, but the reputation for superior sanctity which
they everywhere acquired secured for them popular sympathy and support,
and gave them an enormous advantage in any contest with local

Their efficiency, when directed against temporal opponents, was
thoroughly tried in the long and mortal struggle of the papacy with
Frederic II., the most powerful and dangerous enemy whom Rome has ever
had. As early as the year 1229 we hear of the banishment of all the
Franciscans from the kingdom of Naples, as papal emissaries seeking to
withdraw from the emperor the allegiance of his subjects. In 1234 we
find them raising money in England to enable the pope to carry on the
struggle, and using every device of persuasion and menace with a success
which realized immense sums and reduced numbers to beggary. When, in the
solemnities of Easter, 1239, Gregory fulminated an excommunication
against the emperor, it was to the Franciscan priors that he
communicated it, with a full recital of the imperial misdeeds, and
ordered them to publish it with ringing of bells on every Sunday and
feast-day. It was the most effective method that could be devised to
create public opinion against his adversary, and Frederic retorted with
another edict of expulsion. When Frederic was deposed by the Council of
Lyons, in 1244, it was the Dominicans who were selected to announce the
sentence in all accessible public places, with an indulgence of forty
days for all who would gather to listen to them, and plenary remission
of sins to the friars who might suffer persecution in consequence. Soon
afterwards we find them playing the part, which the Jesuits filled in
Jacobean England, of secret emissaries engaged in hidden plots and
fomenting disturbances. Frederic always declared that the conspiracy
against his life in 1244 was the work of Franciscans who had been
commissioned to preach a secret crusade against him in his own
dominions, and who encouraged his enemies with prophecies of his speedy
death. When, as the result of papal intrigues, Henry Raspe of Thuringia
was elected, in 1246, as King of the Romans, to supersede Frederic,
Innocent IV. sent a circular brief of instructions to the Franciscans to
use every opportunity, public or secret, to advocate his cause, and to
promise remission of sins to those who should aid him. Again, in 1248,
we find friars of both orders sent as secret emissaries to stir up
disaffection in Frederic's territories. He complained bitterly of it, as
he had always cherished and protected the Mendicants, and he met the
attempt with savage ferocity. The Dominican Simon de Montesarculo, who
was caught, was subjected to eighteen successive tortures; and Frederic
instructed his son-in-law, the Count of Caserta, that all friars showing
signs of disaffection, or contravening the strict regulations which he
prescribes, shall not be exiled as heretofore, but shall be promptly
burned. The shrewd and experienced prince evidently recognized them as
the most dangerous enemies to whom he was exposed. They continued to
earn his hostility by the zeal with which they preached the crusade
against him, and, after his death, against his son Conrad; and we can
regard as not improbable the statement that Ezzelin da Romano, his vicar
in the March of Treviso, put to death no less than sixty Franciscans
during his thirty years of power.[246]

The Mendicants gradually superseded the bishops, when papal commands
were to be communicated to the people or papal mandates enforced. Even
when fugitives were to be tracked, they formed an invisible network of
police, spread over Europe and available in a thousand ways. Formerly,
when a complaint reached Rome of an abuse to be rectified or of a
prelate whose conduct required investigation or trial, a commission
would be issued to two or three neighboring bishops or abbots to make an
examination and report, or to reform churches and monasteries neglectful
of discipline. Gradually this changed, and the Mendicants alone were
charged with these duties, which made the papal power felt so directly
in every episcopal palace and every abbey in Europe. They complained
repeatedly of the amount of this extra work thrown upon them, and they
were promised relief, but they were too useful to be dispensed with in
thus subjecting the Church to the Apostolic See. How disagreeable and
even dangerous these duties might be is visible in a case which shows
how little the condition of the Church in the middle of the thirteenth
century had changed from what we had seen it in the previous age. The
great electoral archiepiscopate of Trèves, in 1259, was claimed by two
rivals who litigated with each other for two years in Rome, to the great
profit of the curia, till Alexander IV. set them both aside. The Dean of
Metz, Henry of Fistigen, went on some pretext to Rome, where, by
promising to pay the enormous debts left behind by the two litigants, he
obtained the appointment from Alexander. On his return the pallium was
withheld as security for the debts which he had incurred, but without
waiting for it he assumed archiepiscopal functions, consecrated his
suffragan Bishop of Metz, and commenced a series of military
enterprises, in the course of which he devastated the Abbey of St.
Matthias and nearly burned to death the unhappy monks. These misdeeds,
and his neglect to pay his debts, led Urban IV., in 1261, to commission
the Bishops of Worms and Spires and the Abbot of Rodenkirk to
investigate the charges against him of simony, perjury, homicide,
sacrilege, and other sins, but the archbishop bribed them, and they did
nothing. Then, in 1262, Urban sent another commission to William and
Roric, two Franciscans of the province of Trèves, ordering them to
investigate and report under pain of excommunication. This frightened
all the Mendicants of the province. The Franciscan guardian and the
Dominican prior, more worldly-wise than righteous, forbade them under
pain of dungeon from exercising the functions imposed on them, and the
two unlucky commissioners were glad to escape with their lives by flying
from Trèves to Metz. The Franciscan provincial had the effrontery to
send envoys to Rome asking that the investigation be postponed or
committed to others. They were heard in full consistory, in presence of
Urban himself and of Bonaventura, the general of the Order, when Urban
bitterly retorted, "If I had sent bishoprics to two of your brethren
they would have been accepted with avidity. You shall not refuse to do
what is necessary for the honor of God and the Church." It is not worth
while to pursue the intricate details of the dreary quarrel, which
lasted until 1272 and presented in its successive phases every variety
of fraud, forgery, robbery, and outrage. It is sufficient to say that
when William and Roric were forced to work, they seem to have performed
their duty with independence and fidelity, and that the Roman curia, in
the course of the proceedings, managed to extort from the unfortunate
diocese the enormous sum of thirty-three thousand sterling marks--in
spite of which Archbishop Henry attended the coronation of Rodolph of
Hapsburg, in 1273, with a splendid retinue of eighteen hundred armed

       *       *       *       *       *

It is easy to imagine that such functions as these produced antagonism
between the new orders and the old organization which they were
undermining and supplanting. Yet this was, perhaps, the least of the
causes of bitterness between them. A far more fruitful source of discord
was the intrusion of the Mendicants in the office of preaching and
hearing confessions. We have seen how jealously the former had always
been reserved by the bishops and how utterly it had been neglected until
the primary object of St. Dominic had been to supply the deficiency,
which Honorius III. lamented as one of the pressing wants of the age.
The Church was scarce better prepared to discharge the duty of the
confessional, which the Lateran Council had rendered obligatory and had
confined to the priesthood. Lazy and sensual priests, intent only on
maintaining their revenues, neglected the souls of their flocks and
permitted no intrusion which might diminish their gains. In the populous
town of Montpellier there was only one church in which the sacrament of
penitence could be administered, and the consuls, in 1213, petitioned
Innocent III., in view of the multitude of perishing souls, to empower
four or five of the other churches of the town to divide the duty. As
late as 1247, Ypres, with two hundred thousand inhabitants, had but four
parish churches. If the Church Militant was to perform its duty, and if
it was to regain the veneration of the people, these deficiencies must
be supplied.[248]

The first efforts of Dominic had been based on the power granted to the
legates of Languedoc to issue licenses for preaching, and these were, of
course, at the time independent of episcopal permission, but in the Rule
of 1228 it was especially provided that no friar should preach in a
diocese without first obtaining permission of the bishop, and in no case
was he to declaim against the vices of the secular priesthood. Francis
professed the humblest reverence for the established clergy; he declared
that if he were to meet simultaneously a priest and an angel, he would
first turn to kiss the hands of the priest, saying to the angel, "Wait,
for these hands handle the Word of Life and possess something more than
human;" and in his Rule it was also provided that no friar should preach
in any diocese against the will of the bishop. The bishops were not
particularly disposed to welcome the intruders, and Honorius III.
condescended to entreaty in asking them to permit the Dominicans to
preach, while he also took steps to provide preachers from among the
secular clergy by stimulating their study of theology. The intrusion of
the Mendicants on the functions of the parish priests was gradual, and
was commenced with the privilege granted them of celebrating mass
everywhere on portable altars. Some resistance was made to this, but it
was broken down; and when Gregory IX., in 1227, signalized his accession
by empowering both Orders to preach, hear confessions, and grant
absolution everywhere, the wandering friars, in spite of the
prohibitions of the Rules, gradually invaded every parish and performed
all the duties of the cure of souls, to the immense discomfort of the
local priesthood, who had always guarded with extreme jealousy the
rights which were the main source of their influence and revenue.
Complaints were loud and reiterated, and were sometimes listened to, but
were more frequently answered by an emphatic confirmation of the

The matter was made worse by the fact that everywhere the laity welcomed
the intruders and preferred them to their own curates. The fervor of
their preaching and their reputation for superior sanctity brought
crowds to the sermon and the confessional. Training and experience
rendered them far more skilful directors of conscience than the indolent
incumbents, and there arose a natural popular feeling that the penance
which they imposed was more holy and their absolution more efficacious.
If the beneficed clergy complained that this was because they soothed
and indulged their penitents, they were able to retort with justice that
the laymen preferred them for themselves and their wives rather than the
drunken and unchaste priests who filled most of the parishes. A friar
would come and set up his portable altar, as he said, for a day. His
preaching was attractive; penitents aroused to a sense of their sins
would hasten to confess; his stay was prolonged and he became a fixture.
If the place was populous, he would be joined by others. The gifts of
the charitable would flow in. A modest chapel and cloisters would be
provided, which grew till it overshadowed the parish church and was
filled at its expense. Worse than all, the dying sinner would assume the
robe of the Mendicant on his death-bed, bequeath his body to the friars,
and make them the recipient of his legacies, leading to a prolonged and
embittered renewal of the old ghoul-like quarrels over corpses. In 1247,
at Pamplona, some bodies long lay unburied owing to a fierce contention
between the canons and the Franciscans; and a division of the spoils, by
which a share varying from a half to a quarter, was allotted to the
parish priests, only gave rise to new disputes. Whenever an open
conflict arose, however much the pope might deprecate scandal, the
decision would be almost certainly in favor of the friars, and the
clergy saw with dismay and hatred that the upstarts were supplanting
them in all their functions, in the veneration of the people, and in the
profitable results of that veneration. When, in 1268, a popular uprising
against tyranny occurred in Holland and Guelderland, and, encouraged by
success, the rebels formulated a policy for the reformation of society,
they proposed to slay all nobles and prelates and monks, but to spare
the Mendicants and such few parish priests as might be necessary to
administer the sacraments. Some feeble efforts were made by the clergy
to emulate the services and activity of the new-comers, but the sloth
and self-indulgence of ages could not be overcome. It was inevitable
that the strongest antagonism between the old order and the new should
spring up, heightened by the duty which the friars felt of denouncing
publicly the vices and corruption of the clergy. Already in the previous
century the secular priesthood had complained bitterly of the impulse
given to monachism by the founding and development of the Cistercians.
They had even dared to make vigorous representations to the third
Council of Lateran, in 1179, alleging that they were threatened with
pauperization. Here was a new and vastly more dangerous inroad, and it
was impossible that they should submit without an effort of
self-preservation. There must be a struggle for supremacy between the
local churches on the one hand and the papacy with its new militia on
the other, and the conservatives manifested skill in their selection of
the field of battle.[250]

The University of Paris was the centre of scholastic theology.
Cosmopolitan in its character, a long line of great teachers had
lectured to immense masses of students from every land, until its
reputation was European and it was looked upon as the bulwark of
orthodoxy. In every episcopate it could count its graduates and the
holders of its degrees, who looked back upon it with filial affection as
to their _alma mater_. It had welcomed Dominic's first missionaries when
they came to Paris to found a house of the Order, and it had admitted
Dominicans to its corps of teachers. Suddenly there arose a quarrel, the
insignificance of its cause showing the tension which existed and the
eagerness of all classes of the clergy to repress the growing influence
of the Mendicants. The University had always been jealous of its
privileges, among which not the least was the jurisdiction which it
enjoyed over its students. One of these was slain and several were
wounded by the Paris watch in a disturbance, and the reparation tendered
for the offence was deemed insufficient. The University closed its
doors, but the Dominican teachers, Bonushomo and Elias, continued their
lectures. To punish this contumacy they were ordered to be silent, and
students were forbidden to listen to them. They appealed to the pope,
but their appeal was disregarded; and when the University resumed its
functions, they were required to take an oath to observe its statutes,
provided there was nothing therein to conflict with the Rule of the
Order. This they refused unless they were allowed two teachers of
theology, and after a delay of a fortnight they were expelled. The
provincials of both Orders at Paris took up the quarrel and appealed to
Rome, and Innocent IV. demanded the repeal of the obnoxious rules.[251]

The gage of battle was thrown and the university was resolved on no
half-measures. It would reduce the Mendicants to the condition of the
other religious orders and earn the gratitude of all the prelates and
clergy by stripping them of the privileges which rendered them so
dangerous. For this purpose it was necessary to win the favor of Rome,
and the students enthusiastically assessed themselves, economizing in
their expenses that they might contribute to the fund which was
necessary if anything was to be done with the curia. The leader of the
faculty in the quarrel was William of St. Amour, noted both as a
preacher and a teacher, learned, eloquent, and inflexible of purpose.
He was sent to the Holy See, where he found Innocent IV. in a frame of
mind adapted to listen to his arguments that the Mendicant Rules were
fitted only to lead souls to perdition. The pope had been the friend of
the Orders, and had confirmed and enlarged their privileges, but just
now was out of humor. The Dominicans asserted that this arose from their
having secretly received into the Order one of his cousins whom he loved
greatly and intended to advance in the world; and also from the
malevolence of another cousin, who proposed to build at Genoa a
fortress-palace to dominate the city, and had been prevented by the
Dominicans refusing to sell a piece of ground essential to his purpose.
Innocent's mind must indeed have been receptive of William of St.
Amour's arguments. In July and August, 1254, he had issued repeated
briefs in favor of the Mendicants and against the University. On
November 21 he promulgated the bull _Etsi Animarum_, known among the
Mendicants as the "terrible" bull, by which the members of all religious
orders were forbidden to receive in their churches on Sundays and
feast-days the parishioners of others; they were not to hear confessions
without the special license of the parish priests, they were not to
preach in their own churches before mass, so that parishioners should
not be drawn away from their parish churches, nor were they to preach in
the parish churches, nor when bishops preached or caused preaching to be

The bull was in reality a terrible one, for it shattered at a blow the
edifice erected with such infinite labor and self-sacrifice. To meet it,
the Dominicans not only summoned their greatest and wisest members, but
appealed to Heaven. Every friar was ordered daily after matins to recite
seven psalms and the litanies of the Virgin and St. Dominic. A brother,
during this exercise, was encouraged with a vision of the Virgin
pleading with the Son and saying "Listen to them, my Son, listen to
them!" He did listen to them, for though we may doubt the Dominican
story that Innocent was stricken with paralysis the very day that he
signed the "_crudelissimum edictum_" he certainly did die on December 7,
within sixteen days after it, and a pious Roman had a vision of his soul
handed over to the two wrathful saints, Dominic and Francis. Moreover
the Cardinal of Albano, whose hostility to the Orders had led him to
take an active part in advising Innocent to the measure, was imprudent
enough to boast that he had caused the subjugation of the Mendicants to
the bishops and would place them under the feet of the lowest priests.
The same day a beam in his house gave way; he fell and broke his neck.
It would perhaps be unjust to accuse the Dominicans of having assisted
nature in these catastrophes; but, strange as it seems to hear them
boast of having prayed a pope to death, they certainly do relate with
pride that "Beware of the Dominican litanies, for they work miracles,"
became a common phrase.[253]

The death of Innocent saved the Mendicant Orders. That his successor was
elected after an interval of only fourteen days was due to the provident
care of the Prefect of Rome, who, distrusting the operation of the Holy
Ghost, put the fathers of the Conclave on short rations, resulting in
the election of Alexander IV. The new pope was specially favorable to
the Mendicants. When John of Parma, the Franciscan general, came to him
with the customary request that he would appoint a cardinal as
"Protector" of the Order, he refused, saying that so long as he lived it
should need no other protector than himself; and his selection of the
Dominican Raymond of Pennaforte and the Franciscan Ruffino as papal
chaplains showed how willingly he subjected himself to their influence.
On December 31, ten days after his elevation, he addressed letters to
both Orders asking their suffrages and intercession with God, and the
same day he issued an encyclical, revoking the terrible bull of Innocent
and pronouncing it void.[254]

Before such a judge the case of the University was evidently lost. On
April 14, 1255, appeared the bull _Quasi lignum vitæ_, deciding the
quarrel in favor of the Dominicans. Yet William of St. Amour returned
to Paris resolved to carry on the war. In the pulpit he and his friends
thundered forth against the Mendicants. They were not specifically
named, but there was no mistaking the ingenious application to them of
the signs foretold by the prophets of those who should usher in the days
of Antichrist, nor the description of the Pharisees and Publicans made
to fit them. New and unimagined perils threatened the Church in the last
times. The devil has found that he gained nothing in sending heretics
who were easily confuted, so now he has sent the Pale Horse of the
Apocalypse--the hypocrites and false brethren who, under an external
guise of sanctity, convulse the Church. The persecution of the
hypocrites will be more disastrous than all previous persecutions.
Another weapon which lay to his hand was eagerly grasped. In 1254 there
appeared a work under the name of "Introduction to the Everlasting
Gospel," of which the authorship was ascribed to John of Parma, the
Franciscan general. We shall have occasion to recur to this, and need
only say here that a section of the Franciscans were strongly inclined
to the mysticism which now began to show itself, and that the writings
of Abbot Joachim of Fiore, now revived and hardily developed, predicted
the downfall, in 1260, of the existing order of things in Church and
State, the substitution of a new evangel for that of Christ, and the
replacement of the hierarchy by mendicant monachism. The "Introduction
to the Everlasting Gospel" attracted universal attention and offered too
tempting an opening for attack to be neglected.

The University sullenly held out, while Alexander fulminated bull after
bull against the recalcitrants, threatening them with varied penalties,
and finally calling in the assistance of the secular arm by an appeal to
St. Louis. The clergy of Paris, delighted with the opportunity afforded
by the temporary unpopularity of the Mendicants, reviled them from the
pulpit, and even attacked them personally with blows and threats of
worse treatment, till they scarce ventured to appear in the streets and
beg their daily bread. The controversy raged wilder as the indomitable
St. Amour, undeterred by Alexander's request to the king to throw him
into jail, issued a tract entitled "_De Periculis novissimorum
Temporum_," in which he boldly set forth all the arguments of his
discourses against the Mendicants. He proved that the pope had no right
to contravene the commands of the prophets and apostles, and that they
were convicted of error when they upturned the established order of the
Church in permitting these wandering hypocrites and false prophets to
preach and hear confessions. Those who live by beggary are flatterers
and liars and detractors and thieves and avoiders of justice. Whoever
asserts that Christ was a beggar denies that he was the Messiah, and
thus is a heresiarch who destroys the foundation of all Christian faith.
An able-bodied man commits sacrilege if he receives the alms of the poor
for his own use, and if the Church has permitted this for the monks it
has been in error and should be corrected. It rests with the bishops to
purge their dioceses of these hypocrites; they have the power, and if
they neglect their duty the blood of those who perish will be upon their
heads. This was answered by Aquinas and Bonaventura. The former, in his
tract "_Contra Impugnantes Religionem_," proved in the most finished
style of scholastic logic that the friars have a right to teach, to
preach and hear confessions, and to live without labor; in the same mode
he rebutted the charges as to their morals and influence, showing that
they were not precursors of Antichrist. He also demonstrated the more
suggestive theorems that they had a right to resist their defamers, to
use the courts in their defence, to secure their safety if necessary by
resort to arms, and to punish their persecutors. That his dialectics
were equal to bringing out any desired conclusion when once his premises
were granted is well known, and they did not fail him on this occasion.
Bonaventura also replied in several treatises--"_De Paupertate
Christi_," in which he earnestly pleaded the example of Christ as an
argument for poverty and mendicancy; the "_Libellus Apologeticus_" and
the "_Tractatus quia Fratres Minores prœdicent_," in which he carried
the war into the enemy's territory with a vigorous and plain-spoken
onslaught on the shortcomings and defects and sins and corruption and
vileness of the clergy. Heretics might well feel justified in seeing the
two parties into which the Church was divided thus expose each other;
and the faithful might well doubt whether salvation was assured with

Yet this wordy war was mere surplusage. On the appearance of St. Amour's
book, St. Louis had hastened to send copies to Alexander for judgment.
The University likewise sent St. Amour at the head of a delegation to
demand the condemnation of the Everlasting Gospel. Albertus Magnus and
Bonaventura came to defend their Orders, and a hot disputation was held
before the consistory. The Everlasting Gospel and its Introduction were
condemned with decent reserve by a special commission assembled at
Anagni, in July, 1255, but St. Amour's book was declared by the bull
_Romanus Pontifex_, October 5, 1256, to be lying, scandalous, deceptive,
wicked, and execrable. It was ordered to be burned before the curia and
the University; every copy was to be surrendered within eight days to be
burned, and any one presuming to defend it was pronounced a rebel. The
envoys of St. Louis and the University were obliged to subscribe to a
declaration assenting to this and to the right of the Mendicants to
preach and hear confessions and to live on alms without labor, William
of St. Amour alone resolutely refusing. Alexander moreover ordered all
teachers and preachers to abstain from reviling the Mendicants and to
retract the abuse they had uttered under pain of loss of preferment--a
command which was but slackly obeyed.[255]

The victory was won for the Mendicants. The University submitted
ungraciously to the irresistible power of the papacy, and the
unconquerable William of St. Amour alone held out. He would make no
acknowledgments, no concessions. He had sworn to abide by the mandates
of the Church, but he refused to recant like his comrades. When about to
return, in August, 1257, Alexander forbade him to go to France and
perpetually interdicted him from teaching, and so great was the dread
which he inspired that the pope wrote to St. Louis asking him to prevent
the inflexible theologian from entering his kingdom. Yet from abroad he
maintained an active correspondence with his old colleagues, and the
University continued in a state of disquiet. It was in vain that
Alexander prohibited all intercourse with him. Though the Mendicants
were allowed to teach, they were ridiculed in indecent rhymes and
lampoons, which were eagerly circulated; and, on Palm Sunday of 1259 the
beadle of the University, Guillot of Picardy, interrupted the preaching
of Thomas Aquinas by publishing a scandalous and libellous book against
the Mendicants. Yet this gradually died out, and the final act of the
quarrel is seen in an epistle of Alexander's, December 3, 1260,
authorizing the Bishop of Paris to absolve those who had incurred
excommunication by keeping copies of St. Amour's book, on their
surrendering them to be burned, the number of these "rebels" apparently
being quite large. Still St. Amour remained steadfast in exile. He was
allowed to return to Paris by Clement IV. who ascended the papal throne
in 1264, and in 1266 he sent to the pontiff another book on the same
theme. Clement had hastened, in 1265, to proclaim his good-will to the
Mendicant Orders by a bull in which he confirmed in the amplest manner
their independence of the bishops, and, as was inevitable, he rejected
St. Amour's new book as filled with the old virus. William died in 1272,
obstinate and unrepentant, and was honorably buried in his native
village of St. Amour, though he is reputed as a heretic by all good
Dominicans and Franciscans.[256]

The embers of the controversy had been rekindled in 1269 by an anonymous
Franciscan who assailed St. Amour's book. Gerald of Abbeville, who is
ranked with Aquinas, Bonaventura, and Robert of Sorbonne, as one of the
four chief theologians of the age, replied with an attack on the
doctrine of poverty and a defence of the ownership of property.
Bonaventura rejoined with his "_Apologia Pauperum_," an eloquent defence
of poverty, and the Franciscan annalists relate with natural glee how
Gerard was so overcome by his adversary's logic that, under the
vengeance of God, he lost the faculty of reasoning, sank into
paralysis, and ended with a horrible death by leprosy.[257]

Though an occasional outbreak like this might occur, the victory was
won. The aggressions of the Mendicants had raised a deep and wide-spread
hostility against them in all ranks of the clergy, who recognized not
only that their privileges and wealth were impaired, that the reverence
of the people was intercepted, but, what was even more important, that
this new papal militia was subjecting them to Rome with a force that
would deprive them of what little independence had been left by former
encroachments. When, therefore, the upstarts had dared a combat with the
honored and powerful University of Paris--the shining sun, to use the
words of Alexander IV., which pours the light of pure doctrine through
the whole world, the body from which, as from the bosom of a parent, are
born the noble race of doctors who enlighten Christendom and uphold the
Catholic faith--it might well be thought that the rash interlopers had
provoked their fate. Everything had been tried--learning and wit,
reverence for established institutions, popular favor, the long-enjoyed
right of the governing faculty to regulate its internal affairs--yet
everything had failed against the steadfastness of the Mendicants
supported by the unwavering favor of Alexander. When the University of
Paris had been worsted in the struggle, though aided with the sympathy
of all the prelates of Christendom, there was little hope in further
opposition to those whom the pope, in forbidding the prelates to side
with the University, described as "Golden vials filled with sweet

Yet spasmodic resistance, however hopeless, still continued. A bull of
Clement IV., in 1268, forbidding the archbishops and bishops from even
interpreting the privileges conferred on the Mendicants, shows that the
hostility was as bitter as ever. The clergy would also still
occasionally endeavor to prevent the establishment of new Mendicant
houses, or seek to drive them away by ill-treatment, with the inevitable
result of calling forth the papal vengeance. They had a gleam of hope
when the wise and learned John XXI. ascended the papal throne, but his
antagonism to the Mendicants, like that of Innocent IV., was not
conducive to longevity. The roof of his palace fell in upon him after a
pontificate of but eight months, and the pious chroniclers of the Orders
handed down his memory as that of a heretic and magician. About 1284 the
interpretation put on some fresh concessions by Martin IV. aroused the
antagonism anew. The whole Gallican Church uprose. In 1287 the
Archbishop of Reims called a provincial council to consider the subject.
He pathetically described his futile efforts to reach a peaceful
solution, the unbearable encroachments of the friars, the intolerable
injuries inflicted on both clergy and laity, and the necessity of an
appeal to Rome. The expenses of such an appeal were known to be heavy,
and all the bishops agreed to contribute five per cent. of their
revenues, while a levy of one per cent. was made on all abbots, priors,
deans, chapters, and parochial churches of the province. The pious
Franciscan Salimbene informs us that a hundred thousand livres tournois
were raised and Honorius IV. was won over. On Good Friday of 1287 he was
to issue a bull depriving the Mendicants of the right to preach and hear
confessions. They were in despair, but this time it was the prayers of
the Franciscans which prevailed, as those of the Dominicans had done in
the case of Innocent IV. The hand of God fell upon Honorius in the night
of Wednesday, he died on Thursday, and the Orders were saved. Yet the
struggle continued till the bull of Martin IV. was withdrawn in 1298 by
Boniface VIII., who in vain attempted to put an end to the quarrel which
distracted the Church. Benedict XI. was no more successful, and
complained that the trouble was a hydra, putting forth seven heads for
every one which was cut off. In 1323 John XXII. pronounced heretical the
doctrine of Jean de Poilly, who held that confession to the friars was
void and that every one must confess to his parish priest. In 1351 the
clergy again took heart for another attack. Possibly the devotion shown
by the Mendicants during the Black Death, when twenty-five million human
beings were swept away, when the priests abandoned their posts, and the
friars alone were found to tend the sick and console the dying, may have
led to fresh progress by them and have enkindled antagonism anew. Be
this as it may, a vast deputation, embracing cardinals, bishops, and
minor clergy, waited on Clement VI. and petitioned for the abolition of
the Orders, or at least the prohibition of their preaching and hearing
confessions, and enjoying the burial profits, by which they were
enormously enriched at the expense of the parish priests. The Mendicants
deigned no reply, but Clement spoke for them, denying the allegation of
the petition that they were useless to the Church, and asserting that,
on the contrary, they were most valuable. "And if," he continued, "their
preaching be stopped, about what can you preach to the people? If on
humility, you yourselves are the proudest of the world, arrogant and
given to pomp. If on poverty, you are the most grasping and most
covetous, so that all the benefices in the world will not satisfy you.
If on chastity--but we will be silent on this, for God knoweth what each
man does and how many of you satisfy your lusts. You hate the Mendicants
and shut your doors on them lest they should see your mode of life,
while you waste your temporal wealth on pimps and swindlers. You should
not complain if the Mendicants receive some temporal possessions from
the dying to whom they minister when you have fled, nor that they spend
it in buildings where everything is ordered for the honor of God and the
Church, in place of wasting it in pleasure and licentiousness. And
because you do not likewise, you accuse the Mendicants, for most of you
give yourselves up to vain and worldly lives." Under this fierce rebuke,
even though uttered by a pope whom St. Birgitta denounced as himself a
follower of the lusts of the flesh, there was evidently nothing
practicable but submission. Yet the prelates were not silenced, for a
few years later Richard, Archbishop of Armagh, preached in London some
sermons against the Mendicants, for which they accused him of heresy
before Innocent VI. In 1357 he defended himself in a discourse wherein
he handled them unsparingly, but his case dragged on, and he died in
Avignon, in 1360, before it reached an end. This was not reassuring for
the secular clergy, but still the quarrel went on. Thus in 1373 the
Franciscan Guardian of Syracuse applied to Gregory XI. for an authentic
copy of the bull of John XXII. against the errors of Jean de Poilly,
showing that in Sicily the secular clergy were contesting the right of
the Mendicants to hear confessions. In 1386 the Council of Salzburg
forcibly described the scandals wrought by the intrusion in all
parishes, uninvited and irrepressible, of those licentious wandering
friars, who kindled discord and set an example of evil, and it proceeded
to decree that in future they should not be allowed to preach and hear
confessions without the license of the bishop and the invitation of the
pastor. In 1393 Conrad II., Archbishop of Mainz, varied his persecution
of the Waldenses by an edict in which he described the Mendicants as
wolves in sheep's clothing, and prohibited them from hearing
confessions. On the other hand, Maître Jean de Gorelle, a Franciscan, in
1408, publicly argued that curates were not competent to preach and hear
confessions, which was the business of the friars--a proposition which
the University of Paris promptly compelled him to retract.[259]

The quarrel seemed endless. In 1409 the Mendicants complained that the
clergy stigmatized them as robbers and wolves, and insisted that all
sins confessed to them must be confessed again to the parish curates,
thus reviving the error of Jean de Poilly condemned by John XXII.
Alexander V., himself a Franciscan, responded to their request by
issuing the bull _Regnans in excelsis_, which threatened with the pains
of heresy all who should uphold such doctrines, or that the consent of
the priest was requisite before the parishioner could confess to the
friars. During the great schism the papacy was no longer an object of
terror. The University of Paris boldly took up the quarrel, and under
the leadership of John Gerson refused to receive this bull, compelling
the Dominicans and Carmelites publicly to renounce it, and expelling
the Franciscans and Augustinians, who refused to do likewise. Gerson did
not hesitate to preach publicly against it in a sermon, in which he
enumerated the four persecutions of the Church in the order of their
severity--tyrants, heretics, the Mendicants, and Antichrist. This
unflattering collocation was not likely to promote harmony, but the
matter seems to have slept for a while in the greater questions raised
by the councils of Constance and Basle, though the latter assembly took
occasion to decide against the Mendicants on the points at issue, as
well as to condemn the wide-spread popular belief that any one dying in
a Franciscan habit would not spend more than a year at most in
purgatory, since St. Francis made an annual visit there and carried off
all his followers to heaven. When the papacy regained its strength it
renewed the struggle for its favorites. In 1446 Eugenius IV. put forth a
new bull, _Gregis nobis crediti_, condemning the doctrines of Jean de
Poilly, which attracted little attention, and was followed in 1453 by
Nicholas V. with another, _Provisionis nostrœ_, of similar import.
This was brought in 1456 to the notice of the University, which
denounced it as surreptitious, destructive to peace, and subversive of
hierarchial subordination. Calixtus III. continued the struggle, and,
finding the University unyielding, appealed to Louis XI. for secular
interposition, but in vain; the University refused to admit into its
body any friars who would not pledge themselves not to make use of these
bulls. It is true that in 1458 a priest of Valladolid who denied the
authority of the Mendicants to supersede the parish priests was forced
to recant publicly in his own church; but the trouble continued, leading
in Germany to such scandals that the archbishops of Mainz and Trèves,
with other bishops, and the Duke of Bavaria, were obliged to appeal to
the Holy See. A commission of two cardinals and two bishops was
appointed to determine upon a compromise, which was accepted by both
parties and approved by Sixtus IV. about 1480. The priests were not to
teach that the Orders were fruitful of heresies, the friars were not to
teach that parishioners need not hear mass on Sundays and feast days in
their parish churches, or confess to their curates at Easter, though
they were not to be deprived of hearing confessions and granting
absolutions. Neither priests nor friars were to endeavor to get the
laity to choose sepulture with either; and neither party was to assail
or detract from the other in their sermons. The insertion of this
compromise in the canon law shows the importance attached to it, and
that it was regarded as a lasting settlement, applicable throughout
Latin Christendom. Its effect is seen in the inclusion, among the
heresies of Jean Lallier condemned in Paris in 1484, of those which
revived the doctrine of Jean de Poilly and declared that John XXII. had
no power to pronounce it heretical. Yet, at the Lateran Council, in
1515, a determined effort was made by the bishops to obtain the
revocation of the special privileges of the Mendicants. By refusing to
vote for any measures they obtained a promise of this, but skilful delay
enabled Leo X. to elude performance till the following year, when a
compromise was effected, which merely shows by what it forbade to the
Mendicants how contemptuous had been their defiance of episcopal
authority. They lost little by this, for in 1519 Erasmus complains in a
letter to Albert, Cardinal-Archbishop of Mainz, "The world is
overburdened with the tyranny of the Mendicants, who, though they are
the satellites of the Roman See, are yet so numerous and powerful that
they are formidable to the pope himself and even to kings. To them, when
the pope aids them, he is more than God, when he displeases them he is
worthless as a dream."[260]

       *       *       *       *       *

It must be confessed that both Dominicans and Franciscans had greatly
fallen away from the virtues of their founders. Scarce had the Orders
commenced to spread when false brethren were found who, contrary to
their vow of poverty, made use of their faculty of preaching for
purposes of filthy gain; and as early as 1233 we find Gregory IX.
sharply reminding the Dominican chapter-general that the poverty
professed by the Order should be genuine and not fictitious. The wide
employment of the friars by the popes as political emissaries
necessarily diverted them from their spiritual functions, attracted
ambitious and restless men into their ranks, and gave the institutions a
worldly character thoroughly in opposition to their original design.
Their members, moreover, were peculiarly subject to temptation.
Wanderers by profession, they were relieved from supervision, and were
subject only to the jurisdiction of their own superiors and to the laws
of their own Orders, thus intensifying and rendering peculiarly
dangerous the immunity common to all ecclesiastics.[261]

The "Seraphic Religion" of the Franciscans, as it was based on a lofty
ideal, was especially subject to the reaction of human imperfection.
This was manifest even in the lifetime of St. Francis, who resigned the
generalate on account of the abuses which were creeping in, and offered
to resume it if the brethren would walk according to his will. It was
inevitable that trouble should come between those who conscientiously
adhered to the Rule in all its strictness and the worldlings who saw in
the Order the instrument of their ambition; and it did not need the
prophetic spirit to lead Francis to predict on his death-bed future
scandals and divisions and the persecution of those who would not
consent to error--a forecast which we will see abundantly verified, as
well as that in which he foretold that the Order would become so defamed
that it would be ashamed to be seen in public. His successor in the
mastership, Elias, gave the Order a powerful impetus on its downward
path. Reckoned the shrewdest and most skilful political manager in
Italy, he greatly increased its influence and public activity, till his
relaxation of the strictness of the Rule gave such offence to the more
rigid brethren that, after a hard struggle, they compelled Gregory IX.
to remove him, whereupon he went over to the party of Frederic II., and
was duly excommunicated. As the Order spread it was not in human nature
to reject the wealth which came pouring in upon it from all sides, and
ingenious dialectics were resorted to to reconcile its ample possessions
with the absolute rejection of property prescribed by the Rule. The
humble hovels which Francis had enjoined became stately palaces, which
arose in every city, rivalling or putting to shame the loftiest
cathedrals and most sumptuous abbeys. In 1257 St. Bonaventura, who had
just succeeded John of Parma as General of the Order, varied his
controversy with William of St. Amour by an encyclical to his
provincials in which he bewailed the contempt and dislike felt
universally for the Order, caused by its greedy seeking after money; the
idleness of so many of its members, leading them into all manner of
vices; the excesses of the vagabond friars, who oppress those who
receive them and leave behind them the memory of scandals rather than
examples of virtue; the importunate beggary which renders the friar more
terrible than a robber to the wayfarer; the construction of magnificent
palaces, which oppress friends and give occasion to attacks from
enemies; the intrusting of preaching and confession to those wholly
unfit; the greedy grasping after legacies and burial fees, to the great
disturbance of the clergy, and in general the extravagance which would
inevitably cause the chilling of charity. Evidently the assaults of St.
Amour and the complaints of the clergy were not without foundation; but
this vigorous rebuke was ineffective, and ten years later Bonaventura
was obliged to repeat it in even stronger terms. This time he expressed
his special horror at the shameless audacity of those brethren who, in
their sermons to the laity, attacked the vices of the clergy, and gave
rise to scandals, quarrels, and hatreds; and he wound up by declaring,
"It is a foul and profane lie to assert one's self the voluntary
professor of absolute poverty and then refuse to submit to the lack of
anything; to beg abroad like a pauper and to roll in wealth at home."
Bonaventura's declamations were in vain, and the struggle in the Order
continued, until it ejected its stricter members as heretics, as we
shall see when we come to consider the Spiritual Franciscans and the
Fraticelli. In the succeeding century both Orders gave free rein to
their worldly propensities. St. Birgitta, in her Revelations, which were
sanctioned by the Church as inspired, declares that "although founded
upon vows of poverty they have amassed riches, place their whole aim in
increasing their wealth, dress as richly as bishops, and many of them
are more extravagant in their jewelry and ornaments than laymen who are
reputed wealthy."[262]

       *       *       *       *       *

Such was the development of the Mendicant Orders and their complicated
relations with the Church. Yet their activity was too great to be
confined to the defence of the Holy See and to the religious revival by
which they, for a time, reacquired for Rome the veneration of the
people. One of the collateral objects to which they devoted a portion of
their energies was missionary work, and in this they set a worthy
example to their successors, the Jesuits of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. Among the incessant labors of St. Francis his
efforts to convert the infidel were conspicuous. He proposed to visit
Morocco, in the hope of converting King Miramolin, and had reached Spain
on his voyage thither, when compelled by sickness to return. In the
thirteenth year of his conversion he travelled to Syria for the purpose
of bringing over the Soldan of Babylon to the Christian faith, although
war was then raging with the Saracens. Captured between the hostile
lines, he was carried with his companion in chains to the soldan, when
he offered to undergo the ordeal of fire to prove the truth of his
faith; he was offered magnificent presents, but spurned them, and was
allowed to depart. His followers were true to his example. No distance
and no danger deterred them from the task of winning souls to
Christianity, and in these arduous labors there was a noble emulation
between them and the Dominicans, for Dominic had likewise proposed an
extended scheme of missions in which to close his life's work. As early
as 1225 we find missionaries of both orders laboring in Morocco. In 1233
Franciscans were despatched to convert Miramolin, the Sultan of
Damascus, the caliph, and Asia in general. In 1237 the Eastern Jacobites
were brought back to Catholic unity by the zeal of Dominicans, and they
were at work among Nestorians, Georgians, Greeks, and other Eastern
schismatics. Indulgences, the same as for a crusade, were offered to all
who engaged in these enterprises, which were perilous enough, for soon
after we hear of ninety Dominicans suffering martyrdom among the Cumans
in eastern Hungary, when the hordes of Genghis Khan swept over the land.
After the retirement of the Tartars they returned and converted the
Cumans by wholesale, besides laboring among the Cathari of Bosnia and
Dalmatia, where several of them were slain and two of their convents
were burned by the heretics. The extent of the Franciscan missions may
be judged by a bull of Alexander IV., in 1258, addressed to all the
brethren in the lands of the Saracens, Pagans, Greeks, Bulgarians,
Cumans, Ethiopians, Syrians, Iberians, Alans, Cathari, Goths, Zichori,
Russians, Jacobites, Nubians, Nestorians, Georgians, Armenians, Indians,
Muscovites, Tartars, Hungarians, and the missionaries to the Christian
captives among the Turks; and however hazy may be the geography of this
enumeration, the extent of the ground sought to be covered shows the
activity and self-sacrificing energy of the good brethren. Among the
Tartars their success was for a while encouraging. The great khan
himself was baptized, and the converts were so numerous that a bishop
became necessary for their organization; but the khan apostatized and
the missionaries paid with their lives the forfeit of their zeal, nor
were they by any means the only martyrs who suffered in the cause. The
efficacy of their Armenian mission may be seen in the renunciation of
King Haito of Armenia, who entered the Order and assumed the name of
Friar John, though the vicissitudes of his subsequent career were not
encouraging to future imitators. He was not, however, the only royal
Franciscan, for St. Louis of Toulouse, son of Charles the Lame of Naples
and Provence, resisted his father's offer of a crown to become a
Franciscan. Less authentic, perhaps, are the Dominican accounts of eight
missionaries of their Order who, in 1316, penetrated to the empire of
Prester John in Abyssinia, where they founded so durable a Church that
in half a century they had the Inquisition organized there, with Friar
Philip, son of one of Prester John's subject kings, as inquisitor-general.
His zeal led him to attack with both spiritual and fleshly weapons
another king who indulged in bigamy, and by whom he was treacherously
seized and put to death, November 4, 1366, his martyrdom and sanctity
being attested by numerous miracles. Be this as it may, the Franciscans
record with pardonable pride that members of their Order accompanied
Columbus on his second voyage to America, eager to commence the
conversion of the New World.[263]

The special field of activity of the Mendicants, however, which more
particularly concerns us, was that of the conversion and persecution of
heretics--of the Inquisition, which they made their own. It was
inevitable that this should fall into their hands as soon as the
inadequacy of the ancient episcopal courts required the organization of
a new system. The discovery and conviction of the heretic was no easy
task. It required special training, and that training was exactly what
the Orders sought to give their neophytes to fit them for the work of
preaching and conversion. With no ties of locality, soldiers of the
Cross ready to march to any point at the word of command, they could be
despatched at a moment's notice whenever their services were required.
Moreover, their peculiar devotion to the Holy See rendered them
specially useful in organizing the papal Inquisition which was to
supersede by degrees the episcopal jurisdiction, and prove so efficient
an instrument in reducing the local churches to subjection.

That Dominic was the founder of the Inquisition and the first
inquisitor-general has become a part of Roman tradition. It is affirmed
by all the historians of the Order, and by all the panegyrists of the
Inquisition; it has the sanction of infallibility in the bull
_Invictarum_ of Sixtus V., and it is confirmed by quoting a bull of
Innocent III. appointing him inquisitor-general. Yet it is safe to say
that no tradition of the Church rests on a slenderer basis. That Dominic
devoted the best years of his life to combating heresy there is no
doubt, and as little that, when a heretic was deaf to argument or
persuasion, he would cheerfully stand by the pyre and see him burned,
like any other zealous missionary of the time; but in this he was no
more prominent than hundreds of others, and of organized work in this
direction he was utterly guiltless. Indeed, from the year 1215, when he
laid the foundation of his Order, he was engrossed in it to the
exclusion of all other objects, and was obliged to forego his cherished
design of ending his days as a missionary to Persia. We shall see that
it was not until more than ten years after his death, in 1221, that
such an institution as the papal Inquisition can be said to have
existed. The prominent part assigned in it to his successors easily
explains the legend which has grown around his name, a legend which may
safely be classed with the enthusiastic declaration of an historian of
the Order that more than a hundred thousand heretics had been converted
by his teaching, his merits, and his miracles.[264]

A similar legendary halo exaggerates the exclusive glory, claimed by the
Order, of organizing and perfecting the Inquisition. The bulls of
Gregory IX. alleged in support of the assertion are simply special
orders to individual Dominican provincials to depute brethren fitted for
the purpose to the duty of preaching against heresy and examining
heretics, and prosecuting their defenders. Sometimes Dominicans are sent
to special districts to proceed against heretics, with an apology to the
bishops and an explanation that the friars are skilful in convincing
heretics, and that the other episcopal duties are too engrossing to
enable the prelates to give proper attention to this. The fact simply is
that there was no formal confiding of the Inquisition to the Dominicans
any more than there was any formal founding of the Inquisition itself.
As the institution gradually assumed shape and organization in the
effort to find some effectual means to ferret out concealed heretics,
the Dominicans were the readiest instrument at hand, especially as they
professed the function of preaching and converting as their primary
business. As conversion became less the object, and persecution the main
business of the Inquisition, the Franciscans were equally useful, and
the honors of the organization were divided between them. Indeed, there
was no hesitation in confiding inquisitorial functions to clerics of any
denomination when occasion required. As early as 1258 we find two canons
of Lodève acting under papal commissions as inquisitors of Albi, and we
shall meet hereafter, at the close of the fourteenth century, Peter the
Celestinian discharging the duties of papal inquisitor with abundant
energy from the Baltic to Styria.[265]

Yet the earliest inquisitors, properly so called, were unquestionably
Dominicans. When, after the settlement between Raymond of Toulouse and
St. Louis, the extirpation of heresy in the Albigensian territories was
seriously undertaken, and the episcopal organization proved unequal to
the task, it was Dominicans who were sent thither to work under the
direction of the bishops. In northern France the business gradually fell
almost exclusively into the hands of Dominicans. In Aragon, as early as
1232, they are recommended to the Archbishop of Tarragona as fitting
instruments, and in 1249 the institution was confided to them.
Eventually southern France was divided between them and the Franciscans,
the western portion being given to the Dominicans, while the Comtat
Venaissin, Provence, Forcalquier, and the states of the empire in the
provinces of Arles, Aix, and Embrun were under charge of the
Franciscans. As for Italy, after some confusion arising from the
conflicting pretensions of the two Orders, it was, in 1254, formally
divided between them by Innocent IV., the Dominicans being assigned to
Lombardy, Romagnola, Tarvesina, and Genoa, while the central portion of
the peninsula fell to the Franciscans; Naples, as yet, being free from
the institution. This division, however, was not always strictly
observed, for at times we find Franciscan inquisitors in Milan,
Romagnola, and Tarvesina. In Germany and Austria the Inquisition, as we
shall see, never took deep root, but, in so far as it was organized
there, it was in Dominican hands, while Bohemia and Dalmatia were under
the care of Franciscans.[266]

Sometimes the two orders were conjoined. In 1237 the Franciscan Étienne
de Saint Thibéry was associated with the Dominican Guillem Arnaud in
Toulouse, in hopes that the reputation of his Order for greater mildness
might diminish the popular aversion for the new institution. In April,
1238, Gregory IX. appointed the provincials of the two Orders in Aragon
as inquisitors for that kingdom, and in the same year the same policy
was pursued in Navarre. In 1255 the Franciscan Guardian of Paris was
associated with the Dominican prior as the heads of the Inquisition in
France; in 1267 we find both Orders furnishing inquisitors for Burgundy
and Lorraine; and in 1311 we hear of two Dominicans and one Franciscan
as inquisitors in the province of Ravenna. It was found the wisest
course, however, to define sharply the boundaries of their respective
jurisdictions, for the active and incessant jealousy between the two
bodies rendered any concurrence or competition between them an explosive
mine liable to be started by a spark. Their mutual hatreds began early,
and the unscrupulous means by which they were gratified were a perpetual
scandal and danger to the Church. In 1266, for instance, a lively
quarrel arose between the Dominicans of Marseilles and the Franciscan
inquisitor of that city. The dissension spread until the two Orders were
embroiled throughout Provence, Forcalquier, Avignon, Arles, Beaucaire,
Montpellier, and Carcassonne, and everywhere they were preaching against
and insulting each other in public. Several briefs of Clement IV. show
that the pope was obliged to intervene, and his command that in future
inquisitors shall forbear to use their powers to prosecute each other,
no matter how guilty the offending party may apparently be, indicates
that the sharpest weapons of the Holy Office had been used in the
strife. When, as late as 1479, Sixtus IV. forbade inquisitors of either
Order to sit in judgment on brethren of the other, it would indicate
that the intervening two centuries had not diminished the tendency. The
jealousy with which their respective limits were defended is illustrated
by troubles which occurred in 1290 about the Tarvesina. This was
Dominican territory, but for many years the office of inquisitor at
Treviso was filled by the Franciscan Filippo Bonaccorso. When, in 1289,
he accepted the episcopate of Trent, the Dominicans expected the office
to be restored to them, and were indignant at seeing it given to another
Franciscan, Frà Bonajuncta. The Dominican inquisitor of Lombardy Frà
Pagano, and his vicar, Frà Viviano, went so far in their resistance that
serious disturbances were excited in Verona, and it became necessary for
Nicholas IV. to intervene in 1291, when he punished the recalcitrants by
perpetual deprivation of their functions. To the heretics it must have
offered excusable delight to see their persecutors persecuting each
other. So ineradicable was the hostility between the two Orders that
Clement IV. established the rule that there should be a distance of at
least three thousand feet between their respective possessions--a
regulation which only led to new and more intricate disputes. They even
quarrelled as to the right of precedence in processions and funerals,
which was claimed by the Dominicans, and settled in their favor by
Martin V. in 1423. We shall see hereafter how important in the
development of the mediæval Church was this implacable rivalry.[267]

In the busy world of the thirteenth century there was thus no agency
more active than that of the Mendicant Orders, for good and for evil. On
the whole perhaps the good preponderated, for they undoubtedly aided in
postponing a revolution for which the world was not yet ready. Though
the self-abnegation of their earlier days was a quality too rare and
perishable to be long preserved, and though they soon sank to the level
of the social order around them, yet had their work not been altogether
lost. They had brought afresh to men's minds some of the forgotten
truths of the gospel, and had taught them to view their duties to their
fellows from a higher plane. How well they recognized and appreciated
their own services is shown by the story, common to the legend of both
Orders, which tells that while Dominic and Francis were waiting the
approval of Innocent III. a holy man had a vision in which he saw Christ
brandishing three darts with which to destroy the world, and the Virgin
inquiring his purpose. Then said Christ, "The world is full of pride,
avarice, and lust; I have borne with it too long, and with these darts
will I consume it." The Virgin fell on her knees and interceded for man,
but in vain, until she revealed to him that she had two faithful
servants who would reduce it to his dominion. Then Christ desired to see
the champions; she showed him Dominic and Francis, and he was content.
The pious author of the story could hardly have foreseen that in 1627
Urban VIII. would be obliged to deprive the Mendicant Friars of Cordova
of their dearly prized immunity, and to subject them to episcopal
jurisdiction, in the hope of restraining them from seducing their
spiritual daughters in the confessional.[268]



The gradual organization of the Inquisition was simply a process of
evolution arising from the mutual reaction of the social forces which we
have described. The Albigensian Crusades had put an end to open
resistance, yet the heretics were none the less numerous, and, if less
defiant, were only the more difficult to discover. The triumph of force
had increased the responsibility of the Church, while the imperfection
of its means of discharging that responsibility was self-confessed in
the enormous spread of heresy during the twelfth century. We have seen
the confused and uncertain manner in which the local prelates had sought
to meet the new demands upon them. When the existence of hidden crime is
suspected there are three stages in the process of its suppression--the
discovery of the criminal, the proof of his guilt, and finally his
punishment. Of all others the crime of heresy was the most difficult to
discover and to prove, and when its progress became threatening the
ecclesiastics on whom fell the responsibility of its eradication were
equally at a loss in each of the three steps to be taken for its

Immersed, for the most part, in the multiplied troubles connected with
the overgrown temporalities of their sees, the bishops would await
popular rumor to designate some man or group of men as heretical. On
seizing the suspected persons, there was rarely any external evidence to
prove their guilt, for except where numbers rendered repression
impossible, the sectaries were assiduous in outward conformity to
orthodox observance, and the slender theological training of episcopal
officials was generally unequal to the task of extracting confessions
from thoughtful and keen-witted men, or of convicting them out of their
own mouths. The judicial use of torture was as yet happily unknown, and
the current substitute of a barbarous age, the Ordeal, was resorted to
with a frequency which shows how ludicrously helpless were the
ecclesiastics called upon to perform functions so novel. Even St.
Bernard approved of this expedient, and in 1157 the Council of Reims
prescribed it as the rule in all cases of suspected heresy. More
enlightened churchmen viewed its results with well-grounded disbelief,
and Peter Cantor mentions several cases to prove its injustice. A poor
woman accused of Catharism was abandoned to die of hunger, till in
confession to a religious dean she protested her innocence and was
advised by him to offer the hot-iron ordeal in proof, which she did with
the result of being burned first by the iron and then at the stake. A
good Catholic, against whom the only suspicious evidence was his poverty
and his pallor, was ordered by an assembly of bishops to undergo the
same ordeal, which he refused to do unless the prelates would prove to
him that this would not be a mortal sin in tempting God. This tenderness
of conscience was sufficient, so without further parley they unanimously
handed him over to the secular authorities, and he was promptly burned.
With the study of the Roman law, however, this mode of procedure
gradually fell into disfavor with the Church, and the enlightenment of
Innocent III. peremptorily forbade its use in 1212, when it was
extensively employed by Henry of Vehringen, Bishop of Strassburg, to
convict a number of heretics; while in 1215 the Council of Lateran,
following the example of Alexander III. and Lucius III., formally
prohibited all ecclesiastics from taking part in the administration of
ordeals of any kind. How great was the perplexity of ignorant prelates,
debarred from this ready method of seeking the judgment of God, may be
guessed by the expedient which had, in 1170, been adopted by the good
Bishop of Besançon, when the religious repose of his diocese was
troubled by some miracle-working heretics. He is described as a learned
man, and yet to solve his doubts as to whether the strangers were saints
or heretics, he summoned the assistance of an ecclesiastic deeply
skilled in necromancy and ordered him to ascertain the truth by
consulting Satan. The cunning clerk deceived the devil into a
confidential mood and learned that the strangers were his servants; they
were deprived of the satanic amulets which were their protection, and
the populace, which had previously sustained them, cast them pitilessly
into the flames.[269]

When supernatural means were not resorted to, the proceedings were far
too cumbrous and uncertain to be efficient against an evil so widely
spread and against malefactors so numerous. In 1204 Gui, Archbishop of
Reims, summoned Count Robert, cousin of Philip Augustus, the Countess
Yolande, and many other laymen and ecclesiastics to sit in judgment on
some heretics discovered at Brienne, with the result of burning the
unfortunate wretches. In 1201, when the Knight Everard of Châteauneuf
was accused of Catharism by Bishop Hugues of Nevers, the Legate Octavian
summoned for his trial at Paris a council composed of archbishops,
bishops, and masters of the university, who condemned him. All this was
complicated by the supreme universal jurisdiction of Rome, which enabled
those who were skilful and rich to protract indefinitely the proceedings
and perhaps at last to escape. Thus in 1211 a canon of Langres, accused
of heresy, was summoned by his bishop to appear before a council of
theologians assembled to examine him. Though he had sworn to do so and
had given bail, he failed to come forward, and was, after three days'
waiting, condemned in default. His absence was accounted for when he
turned up in Rome and asserted to Innocent that he had been forced to
take the oath and give security after he had appealed to the Holy See.
The pope sent him back to the Archbishop of Sens, to the Bishop of
Nevers, and Master Robert de Corzon, with instructions to examine into
his orthodoxy. Two years later, in 1213, he is again seen in Rome,
explaining that he had feared to come before his judges at the appointed
time, because the popular feeling against heresy was so strong that not
only were all heretics burned, but all who were even suspected,
wherefore he craved papal protection and permission to perform due
purgation at Rome. Innocent again sent him back with orders to the
prelates to give him a safe-conduct and protection until his case should
be decided. Whether he was innocent or guilty, whether absolved or
condemned, is of little moment. The case sufficiently shows the
impossibility of efficient suppression of heresy under the existing

Even after conviction had been obtained there was the same uncertainty
as to penalties. In the case of the Cathari who confessed at Liége in
1144, and were with difficulty rescued from the mob who sought to burn
them, the church authorities applied to Lucius II. for instructions as
to what disposition should be made of them. Those who were captured in
Flanders in 1162 were sent to Alexander III., then in France, for
judgment, and he sent them back to the Archbishop of Reims. William
Abbot of Vezelai possessed full jurisdiction, but when, in 1167, he had
some confessed heretics on his hands, in his embarrassment he asked the
assembled crowd what he should do with them, and the ready sentence was
found in the unanimous shout, "Burn them! burn them!" which was duly
executed, although one who recanted and was yet condemned by the water
ordeal was publicly scourged and banished by the abbot in spite of a
popular demand for concremation. In 1114 the Bishop of Soissons, after
convicting some heretics by the water ordeal, went to the Council of
Beauvais to consult as to their punishment; but during his absence the
people, fearing the lenity of the bishops, broke into the jail and
burned them.[271]

It was not that the Church was absolutely devoid of the machinery for
discharging its admitted function of suppressing heresy. It is true that
in the early days of the Carlovingian revival, Zachary's instructions to
St. Boniface show that the only recognized method at that time of
disposing of heretics was by summoning a council, and sending the
convicted culprits to Rome for final judgment. Charlemagne's civilizing
policy, however, made efficient use of all instrumentalities capable of
maintaining order and security in his empire, and the bishops assumed an
important position in his system. They were ordered, in conjunction with
the secular officials, zealously to prohibit all superstitious
observances and remnants of paganism; to travel assiduously throughout
their dioceses making strict inquiry as to all sins abhorred of God,
and thus a considerable jurisdiction was placed in their hands, although
strictly subordinated to the State. During the troubles which followed
the division of the empire, as the feudal system arose on the ruins of
the monarchy, gradually the bishops threw off not only dependence on the
crown, but acquired extensive rights and powers in the administration of
the canon law, which now no longer depended on the civil or municipal
law, but assumed to be its superior. Thus came to be founded the
spiritual courts which were attached to every episcopate and which
exercised exclusive jurisdiction over a constantly widening field of
jurisprudence. Of course all errors of faith necessarily came within
their purview.[272]

The organization and functions of these courts received a powerful
impetus through the study of the Roman law after the middle of the
twelfth century. Ecclesiastics, in fact, monopolized to such an extent
the educated intelligence of the age that at first there were few
besides themselves to penetrate into the mysteries of the Code and
Digest. Even in the second half of the thirteenth century Roger Bacon
complains that a civil lawyer, even if wholly untrained in canon law and
theology, had a much better chance of high preferment than a theologian,
and he exclaims in bitterness that the Church is governed by lawyers to
the great injury of all Christian folk. Thus long before the feudal and
seignorial courts felt the influence of the imperial jurisprudence, it
had profoundly modified the principles and practice of ecclesiastical
procedure. The old archdeacon gave way, not without vituperation, before
the formal episcopal judge, known as the Official or Ordinary, who was
usually a doctor of both laws--an LL.D. in fact--learned in both civil
and canon law; and the effect of this was soon seen in a systematizing
of ecclesiastical jurisprudence which gave it an immense advantage over
the rude processes of the feudal and customary law. These episcopal
courts, moreover, were soon surrounded by a crowd of clerkly advocates,
whose zeal for their clients often outran their discretion, furnishing
the first mediæval representatives of the legal profession.[273]

Following in the traces of the civil law, there were three forms of
action in criminal cases--_accusatio_, _denunciatio_, and _inquisitio_.
In _accusatio_ there was an accuser who formally inscribed himself as
responsible and was subject to the _talio_ in case of failure.
_Denunciatio_ was the official act of the public officer, such as the
_testis synodalis_ or archdeacon, who summoned the court to take action
against offenders coming within his official knowledge. In _inquisitio_
the Ordinary cited the suspected criminal, imprisoning him if necessary;
the indictment, or _capitula inquisitionis_, was communicated to him,
and he was interrogated thereupon, with the proviso that nothing
extraneous to the indictment could be subsequently brought into the case
to aggravate it. If the defendant could not be made to confess, the
Ordinary proceeded to take testimony, and though the examination of
witnesses was not conducted in the defendant's presence, their names and
evidence were communicated to him, he could summon witnesses in
rebuttal, and his advocate had full opportunity to defend him by
argument, exception, and appeal. The Ordinary finally gave the verdict;
if uncertain as to guilt, he prescribed the _purgatio canonica_, or oath
of denial shared by a given number of peers of the accused, more or
less, according to the nature of the charge and degree of suspicion. In
all cases of conviction by the inquisitorial process, the penalty
inflicted was lighter than in accusation or denunciation. The danger was
recognized of a procedure in which the judge was also the accuser; a man
must be popularly reputed as guilty before the Ordinary could commence
inquisition against him, and this not by merely a few men or by his
enemies, or those unworthy of belief. There must be ample ground for
esteeming him guilty before this extraordinary power vested in the judge
could be exercised. It is important to bear in mind the equitable
provisions of all this episcopal jurisdiction when we come to consider
the methods of what we call the Inquisition, erected on these

Theoretically there also existed a thorough system of general
inquisition or inquest for the detection of all offences, including
heresy; and as it was only an application of this which gave rise to the
Inquisition, it is worth our brief attention. The idea of a systematic
investigation into infractions of the law was familiar to secular as
well as to ecclesiastical jurisprudence. In the Roman law, although
there was no public prosecutor, it was part of the duty of the ruler or
proconsul to make perquisition after all criminals with a view to their
detection and punishment, and Septimius Severus, in the year 202, had
made the persecution of Christians an especial feature of this official
inquisition. The Missi Dominici of Charlemagne were officials
commissioned to traverse the empire, making diligent inquisition into
all cases of disorder, crime, and injustice, with jurisdiction over
clerk and layman alike. They held their assizes four times a year,
listened to all complaints and accusations, and were empowered to
redress all wrongs and to punish all offenders of whatever rank. The
institution was maintained by the successors of Charlemagne so long as
the royal power could assert itself; and after the Capetian revolution,
as soon as the new dynasty found itself established with a jurisdiction
that could be enforced beyond the narrow bounds set by feudalism, it
adopted a similar expedient of "inquisitors," with a view of keeping the
royal officials under control and insuring a due enforcement of the law.
The same device is seen in the itinerant justiciaries of England, at
least as early as the Assizes of Clarendon in 1166, when, utilizing the
Anglo-Saxon organization, they made an inquest in every hundred and
tithing by the lawful men of the vicinage to try and punish all who were
publicly suspected of crime, giving rise to the time-honored system of
the grand-jury--in itself a prototype of the incipient papal
Inquisition. Similar in character were the "Inquisitors and Manifestors"
whom we find in Verona in 1228, employed by the State for the detection
and punishment of blasphemy; and a still stronger resemblance is seen in
the _Jurados_ of Sardinia in the fourteenth century--inhabitants
selected in each district and sworn to investigate all cases of crime,
to capture the malefactor, and to bring him before court for trial.[275]

The Church naturally fell into the same system. We have just seen that
Charlemagne ordered his bishops to make diligent visitations throughout
their dioceses, investigating all offences; and with the growth of
ecclesiastical jurisdiction this inquisitorial duty was, nominally at
least, perfected and organized. Already at the commencement of the tenth
century we find in use a method (falsely attributed to Pope Eutychianus)
which was subsequently imitated by the Inquisition. As the bishop
reached each parish in his visitation, the whole body of the people was
assembled in a local synod. From among these he selected seven men of
mature age and approved integrity who were then sworn on relics to
reveal without fear or favor whatever they might know or hear, then or
subsequently, of any offence requiring investigation. These _testes
synodales_, or synodal witnesses, became an institution established,
theoretically at least, in the Church, and long lists of interrogatories
were drawn up to guide the bishops in examining them so that no possible
sin or immorality might escape the searching inquisition. Yet how
completely these well-devised measures fell into desuetude, under the
negligence of the bishops, is seen in the surprise awakened when, in
1246, Robert Grosseteste, the reforming Bishop of Lincoln, ordered, at
the suggestion of the Franciscans, such a general inquisition into the
morals of the people throughout his extensive diocese. His archdeacons
and deans summoned both noble and commoner before them and examined them
under oath, as required by the canons; but the proceeding was so unusual
and brought to light so many scandals that Henry III. was induced to
interfere and ordered the sheriffs to put an end to it.[276]

The Church thus possessed an organization well adapted for the discovery
and investigation of heretics. All that it lacked were the men who
should put that organization to its destined use; and the progress of
heresy up to the date of the Albigensian Crusades manifests how utterly
neglectful were the ignorant prelates of the day, immersed in worldly
cares, for the most part, and thinking only of the methods by which
their temporalities could be defended and their revenues increased.
Successive popes made fruitless efforts to arouse them to a sense of
duty and induce them to use the means at their disposal for a systematic
and vigorous onslaught on the sectaries, who daily grew more alarming.
From the assembly of prelates who attended, in 1184, the meeting at
Verona between Lucius III. and Frederic Barbarossa, the pope issued a
decretal at the instance of the emperor and with the assent of the
bishops, which if strictly and energetically obeyed might have
established an episcopal instead of a papal Inquisition. In addition to
the oath--referred to in a previous chapter--prescribed to every ruler,
to assist the Church in persecuting heresy, all archbishops and bishops
were ordered, either personally or by their archdeacons or other fitting
persons, once or twice a year to visit every parish where there was
suspicion of heresy, and compel two or three men of good character, or
the whole vicinage if necessary, to swear to reveal any reputed heretic,
or any person holding secret conventicles, or in any way differing in
mode of life from the faithful in general. The prelate was to summon to
his presence those designated, who, unless they could purge themselves
at his discretion, or in accordance with local custom, were to be
punished as the bishop might see fit. Similarly, any who refused to
swear, through superstition, were to be condemned and punished as
heretics _ipso facto_. Obstinate heretics, refusing to abjure and return
to the Church with due penance, and those who after abjuration relapsed,
were to be abandoned to the secular arm for fitting punishment. There
was nothing organically new in all this--only a utilizing of existing
institutions and an endeavor to recall the bishops to a sense of their
duties; but a further important step was taken in removing all
exemptions from episcopal jurisdiction in the matter of heresy and
subjecting to their bishops the privileged monastic orders which
depended directly on Rome. Fautors of heresy were, moreover, declared
incapable of acting as advocates or witnesses or of filling any public

We have already seen how utterly this effort failed to arouse the
hierarchy from their sloth. The weapons rusted in the careless hands of
the bishops, and the heretics became ever more numerous and more
enterprising, until their gathering strength showed clearly that if Rome
would retain her domination she must summon the faithful to the
arbitrament of arms. She did not shrink from the alternative, but she
recognized that even the triumph of her crusading hosts would be
comparatively a barren victory in the absence of an organized system of
persecution. Thus while de Montfort and his bands were slaying the
abettors of heresy who dared to resist in the field, a council assembled
in Avignon, in 1209, under the presidency of the papal legate, Hugues,
and enacted a series of regulations which are little more than a
repetition of those so fruitlessly promulgated twenty-five years before
by Lucius III., the principal change being that in every parish a priest
should be adjoined to the laymen who were to act as synodal witnesses or
local inquisitors of heresy. Under this arrangement, repeated by the
Council of Montpellier in 1215, there was considerable persecution and
not a few burnings. In the same spirit, when the Council of Lateran met
in 1215 to consolidate the conquests which then seemed secure to the
Church, it again repeated the orders of Lucius. No other device
suggested itself, no further means seemed either available or requisite,
if only this could be carried out, and its enforcement was sought by
decreeing the deposition of any bishop neglecting this paramount duty,
and his replacement by one willing and able to confound heresy.[278]

This utterance of the supreme council of Christendom was as ineffectual
as its predecessors. An occasional earnest fanatic was found, like
Foulques of Toulouse or Henry of Strassburg, who labored vigorously in
the suppression of heresy, but for the most part the prelates were as
negligent as ever, and there is no trace of any sustained and systematic
endeavor to put in practice the periodical inquisition so strenuously
enjoined. The Council of Narbonne, in 1227, imperatively commanded all
bishops to institute in every parish _testes synodales_ who should
investigate heresy and other offences, and report them to the episcopal
officials, but the good prelates who composed the assembly, satisfied
with this exhibition of vigor, separated and allowed matters to run on
their usual course. We hardly need the assurance of the contemporary
Lucas of Tuy, that bishops for the most part were indifferent as to the
matter of heresy, while some even protected heretics for filthy gain,
saying, when reproached, "How can we condemn those who are neither
convicted nor confessed?" No better success followed the device of the
Council of Béziers in 1234, which earnestly ordered the parish priests
to make out lists of all suspected of heresy and keep a strict watch
upon them.[279]

The popes had endeavored to overcome this episcopal indifference by a
sort of irregular and spasmodic Legatine Inquisition. As the papal
jurisdiction extended itself under the system of Gregory VII. the legate
had become a very useful instrument to bring the papal power to bear
upon the internal affairs of the dioceses. As the direct representatives
and plenipotentiaries of the vicegerent of God the legates carried and
exercised the supreme authority of the Holy See into the remotest
corners of Christendom. That they should be employed in stimulating
languid persecution was inevitable. We have already seen the part they
played in the affairs of the Albigenses, from the time of Henry of
Citeaux to that of Cardinal Romano. In the absence of any systematic
method of procedure they were even used in special cases to supplement
the ignorance of local prelates, as when, in 1224, Honorius III. ordered
Conrad, Bishop of Hildesheim, to bring before the Legate Cinthio,
Cardinal of Porto, for judgment Henry Minneke, Provost of St. Maria of
Goslar, whom he held in prison on suspicion of heresy. It was, however,
in Toulouse, after the treaty of Paris, in 1229, that we find the most
noteworthy case of the concurrence of legatine and episcopal action,
showing how crude as yet were the conceptions of the nascent
Inquisition. After Count Raymond had been reconciled to the Church, he
returned in July to his dominions, followed by the Cardinal-Legate
Romano, to see to the execution of the treaty and to turn back the armed
"pilgrims" who were swarming to fight for the Cross, and who revenged
themselves for their disappointment by wantonly destroying the harvests
and creating a famine in the land. In September a council was assembled
at Toulouse, consisting of all the prelates of Languedoc, and most of
the leading barons. This adopted a canon ordering anew all archbishops,
bishops, and exempted abbots to put in force the device of the synodal
witnesses, who were charged with the duty of making constant inquisition
for heretics and examining all suspected houses, subterranean rooms, and
other hiding-places; but there is no trace of any obedience to this
command or of any results arising from it. Under the impulsion of the
legate and of Foulques of Toulouse, however, the council itself was
turned into an inquisition. A converted "perfected" Catharan, named
Guillem de Solier, was found and was restored to his legal rights in
order to enable him to give evidence against his former brethren, while
Bishop Foulques industriously hunted up other witnesses. Each bishop
present took his share in examining these, sending to Foulques the
evidence reduced to writing, and thus, we are told, a vast amount of
business was accomplished in a short time. It was found that the
heretics had mostly pledged each other to secrecy, and that it was
virtually impossible to extract anything from them, but a few of the
more timid came forward voluntarily and confessed, and of course each
one of these, under the rules in force, was obliged to tell all he knew
about others, as the condition of reconciliation. A vast amount of
evidence was thus collected, which was taken by the legate for the
purpose of deciding the fate of the accused, and with it he left
Toulouse for Montpellier. A few of the more hardy offenders endeavored
to defend themselves judicially, and demanded to see the names of the
witnesses, even following the legate to Montpellier for that purpose;
but he, under the pretext that this demand was for the purpose of
slaying those who had testified against them, adroitly eluded it by
exhibiting a combined list of all the witnesses, so that the culprits
were forced to submit without defence. He then held another council at
Orange, and sent to Foulques the sentences, which were duly communicated
to the accused assembled for the purpose in the church of St. Jacques.
All the papers of the inquisition were carried to Rome by the legate for
fear that if they should fall into the hands of the evil-minded they
would be the cause of many murders--and, in fact, a number of the
witnesses were slain on simple suspicion.[280]

All this shows how crude and cumbrous an implement was the episcopal and
legatine Inquisition even in the most energetic hands, and how formless
and tentative was its procedure. A few instances of the use of synodal
witnesses are subsequently to be found, as in the Council of Arles, in
1234, that of Tours, in 1239, that of Béziers, in 1246, of Albi, in
1254, and in a letter of Alphonse of Poitiers in 1257, urging his
bishops to appoint them as required by the Council of Toulouse. An
occasional example of the legatine Inquisition may also be met with. In
1237 the inquisitors of Toulouse were acting under legatine powers, as
sub-delegates to the Legate Jean de Vienne; and in the same year, when
the people of Montpellier asked the pope for assistance to suppress the
growth of heresy, their bishop apparently being supine, he sent Jean de
Vienne there with instructions to act vigorously. The episcopal office
was similarly disregarded in 1239, when Gregory IX. sent orders to the
inquisitors of Toulouse to obey the instructions of his legate. Yet this
legatine function in time passed so completely out of remembrance that
in 1351 the Signiory of Florence asked the papal legate to desist from a
charge of heresy on which he had cited the Camaldulensian abbot, because
the republic had never permitted its citizens to be judged for such an
offence except by the inquisitors; and as early as 1257, when the
inquisitors of Languedoc complained of the zeal of the Legate Zoen,
Bishop of Avignon, in carrying on inquisitorial work, Alexander IV.
promptly decided that he had no such power outside of his own

The public opinion of the ruling classes of Europe demanded that heresy
should be exterminated at whatever cost, and yet with the suppression of
open resistance the desired end seemed as far off as ever. Bishop and
legate were alike unequal to the task of discovering those who carefully
shrouded themselves under the cloak of the most orthodox observance; and
when by chance a nest of heretics was brought to light, the learning and
skill of the average Ordinary failed to elicit a confession from those
who professed the most entire accord with the teachings of Rome. In the
absence of overt acts it was difficult to reach the secret thoughts of
the sectary. Trained experts were needed whose sole business it should
be to unearth the offenders and extort a confession of their guilt. As
this necessity became more and more apparent two new factors contributed
to the solution of the long-vexed problem.

The first of these was the organization of the Mendicant Orders, whose
peculiar fitness for the work which had outgrown the capacity of the
episcopal courts might well make their establishment seem a providential
interposition to supply the Church of Christ with what it most sorely
needed. As the necessity grew apparent of special and permanent
tribunals devoted exclusively to the wide-spread sin of heresy, there
was every reason why they should be wholly free from the local
jealousies and enmities which might tend to the prejudice of the
innocent, or the local favoritism which might connive at the escape of
the guilty. If, in addition to this freedom from local partialities, the
examiners and judges were men specially trained to the detection and
conversion of the heretic; if, also, they had by irrevocable vows
renounced the world; if they could acquire no wealth and were dead to
the enticements of pleasure, every guarantee seemed to be afforded that
their momentous duties would be fulfilled with the strictest
justice--that while the purity of the faith would be protected, there
would be no unnecessary oppression or cruelty or persecution dictated by
private interests and personal revenge. Their unlimited popularity was
also a warrant that they would receive far more efficient assistance in
their arduous labors than could be expected by the bishops, whose
position was generally that of antagonism to their flocks and to the
petty seigneurs and powerful barons whose aid was indispensable. That
the Mendicant Orders, to which this duty thus naturally fell, were
peculiarly devoted to the papacy, and that they made the Inquisition a
powerful instrument to extend the influence of Rome and destroy what
little independence was left to the local churches, became subsequently
doubtless an additional reason for their employment, but could scarce
have been a motive in the early tentative efforts. Thus to the public of
the thirteenth century the organization of the Inquisition and its
commitment to the children of St. Dominic and St. Francis appeared a
perfectly natural or rather inevitable development arising from the
admitted necessities of the time and the instrumentalities at hand.

The other factor which promised success to the Church, in an organized
effort to discharge the duty of persecution, was the secular legislation
against heresy which at this period took form and shape. We have seen
the spasmodic edicts of England and Aragon in the twelfth century, which
have interest only as showing the absence of anterior penal laws.
Frederic Barbarossa took no effective steps to give validity to the
regulations which Lucius III. issued from Verona in 1184, though they
purported to be drawn up with the emperor's sanction. The body of
customary law which de Montfort adopted at Pamiers in 1212 of course
disappeared with his short-lived domination. There had been, it is true,
some fragmentary attempts at legislation, as when the Emperor Henry VI.,
in 1194, prescribed confiscation of property, severe personal
punishment, and destruction of houses for heretics, and heavy fines for
persons or communities omitting to arrest them; and this was virtually
repeated in 1210 by Otho IV., showing how soon it had been forgotten.
How little uniformity, indeed, there was in the treatment of heresy is
proved by such stray edicts of the period as chance to have reached us.
Thus in 1217 Nuñez Sancho of Rosellon decreed outlawry for heretics, and
in 1228 Jayme I. of Aragon followed his example, showing that this could
not have previously been customary. On the other hand, the statutes of
Pignerol in 1220 only inflict a fine of ten sols for knowingly giving
shelter to Vaudois. Louis VIII. of France, just before his death, issued
an _ordonnance_ punishing this same crime with confiscation and
deprivation of all legal rights, while the royal officials were ordered
to inflict proper and immediate punishment on all who were convicted of
heresy by the ecclesiastical judges. The statutes in force in Florence
in 1227 required the bishop to act in conjunction with the podestà in
all prosecutions for heresy, which was a serious limitation on the
episcopal courts. In 1228 we hear of new laws adopted in Milan, at the
instance of the papal legate, Goffredo, by which all heretics were
banished from the territory of the republic, their houses torn down, the
contents confiscated, their persons outlawed, with graduated fines for
harboring them. A mixed secular and ecclesiastical inquisition was
established for the discovery of heretics, and the archbishop and
podestà were to co-operate in their examination and sentence; while the
latter was bound to put to death within ten days all convicts. In
Germany, as late as 1231, it required the decision of King Henry VII. to
determine the disposition of property confiscated on heretics, and
allodial lands were allowed to descend to the heirs, in contradiction,
as we shall see, to all subsequent ruling.[282]

To put in action any comprehensive system of persecution, it evidently
was requisite to overcome the centrifugal tendency of mediæval
legislation, which finds its ultimate expression in free Navarre, where
every town of importance had its special _fuero_, and almost every house
its individual custom. Innocent III. endeavored, at the Lateran Council
of 1215, to secure uniformity by a series of severe regulations defining
the attitude of the Church to heretics, and the duties which the secular
power owed to exterminate them under pain of forfeiture, and this became
a recognized part of canon law; but in the absence of active secular
co-operation its provisions for a while remained practically a dead
letter. It was reserved for the arch-enemy of the Church, Frederic II.,
to break down, throughout the greater part of Europe, the particularism
of local statutes, and place the population at the mercy of such
emissaries as the popes might send to represent them. It was requisite
for him to acquire the favor of Honorius III. to secure his coronation
in 1220; and when the inevitable rupture took place, it was still
necessary for him to meet the charge of heresy so freely brought
against him by manifesting special zeal in the persecution of heretics,
though doubtless, if left to himself, philosophic indifference would
have led him to tolerate any form of belief that did not threaten
disobedience to the ruler.[283]

In a series of edicts dating from 1220 to 1239 he thus enacted a
complete and pitiless code of persecution, based upon the Lateran
canons. Those who were merely suspected of heresy were required to purge
themselves at command of the Church, under penalty of being deprived of
civil rights and placed under the imperial ban; while, if they remained
in this condition for a year, they were to be condemned as heretics.
Heretics of all sects were outlawed; and when condemned as such by the
Church they were to be delivered to the secular arm to be burned. If,
through fear of death, they recanted, they were to be thrust in prison
for life, there to perform penance. If they relapsed into error, thus
showing that their conversion had been fictitious, they were to be put
to death. All the property of the heretic was confiscated and his heirs
disinherited. His children, to the second generation, were declared
ineligible to any positions of emolument or dignity, unless they should
win mercy by betraying their father or some other heretic. All
"credentes," fautors, defenders, receivers, or advocates of heretics
were banished forever, their property confiscated, and their descendants
subjected to the same disabilities as those of heretics. Those who
defended the errors of heretics were to be treated as heretics unless,
on admonition, they mended their ways. The houses of heretics and their
receivers were to be destroyed, never to be rebuilt. Although the
evidence of a heretic was not receivable in court, yet an exception was
made in favor of the faith, and it was to be held good against another
heretic. All rulers and magistrates, present or future, were required to
swear to exterminate with their utmost ability all whom the Church might
designate as heretics, under pain of forfeiture of office. The lands of
any temporal lord who neglected, for a year after summons by the Church,
to clear them of heresy, were exposed to the occupancy of any Catholics
who, after extirpating the heretics, were to possess them in peace
without prejudice to the rights of the suzerain, provided he had
offered no opposition. When the papal Inquisition was commenced,
Frederic hastened, in 1232, to place the whole machinery of the State at
the command of the inquisitors, who were authorized to call upon any
official to capture whomsoever they might designate as a heretic, and
hold him in prison until the Church should condemn him, when he was to
be put to death.[284]

This fiendish legislation was hailed by the Church with acclamation, and
was not allowed to remain, like its predecessors, a dead letter. The
coronation-edict of 1220 was sent by Honorius to the University of
Bologna to be read and taught as a part of practical law. It was
consequently embodied in the authoritative compilation of the feudal
customs, and its most stringent enactments were incorporated in the
Civil Code. The whole series of edicts was subsequently promulgated by
successive popes in repeated bulls, commanding all states and cities to
inscribe these laws irrevocably in their local statute-books. It became
the duty of the inquisitors to see that this was done, to swear all
magistrates and officials to enforce them, and to compel their obedience
by the free use of excommunication. In 1222, when the magistrates of
Rieti adopted laws conflicting with them, Honorius at once ordered the
offenders removed from office; in 1227 the people of Rimini resisted,
but were coerced to submission; in 1253, when some of the Lombard cities
demurred, Innocent IV. promptly ordered the inquisitors to subdue them;
in 1254 Asti peacefully accepted them as part of its local laws; Como
followed the example, September 10, 1255; and in the recension of the
laws of Florence made as late as 1355, they still appear as an integral
part. Finally, they were incorporated in the latest additions to the
Corpus Juris as part of the canon law itself, and, technically speaking,
they may be regarded as in force to the present day.[285]

This virtually provided for a very large portion of Europe, extending
from Sicily to the North Sea. The western regions made haste to follow
the pious example. Coincident with the Treaty of Paris, in 1229, was an
_ordonnance_ issued in the name of the boy-king, Louis IX., giving
efficient assistance by the royal officials to the Church in its efforts
to purge the land of heresy. In the territories which remained to Count
Raymond his vacillating course gave rise to much dissatisfaction, until,
in 1234, he was compelled to enact, with the consent of his prelates and
barons, a statute drawn up by the fanatic Raymond du Fauga of Toulouse,
which embodied all the practical points of Frederic's legislation, and
decreed confiscation against every one who failed, when called upon, to
aid the Church in the capture and detention of heretics. In the
compilations and law books of the latter half of the century we see the
system thoroughly established as the law of the whole land, and in 1315
Louis Hutin formally adopted the edicts of Frederic and made them valid
throughout France.[286]

In Aragon Don Jayme I., in 1226, issued an edict prohibiting all
heretics from entering his dominions, probably on account of the
fugitives driven out of Languedoc by the crusade of Louis VIII. In 1234,
in conjunction with his prelates, he drew up a series of laws
instituting an episcopal Inquisition of the severest character, to be
supported by the royal officials; in this appears for the first time a
secular prohibition of the Bible in the vernacular. All possessing any
books of the Old or New Testament, "in Romancio," are summoned to
deliver them within eight days to their bishops to be burned, under pain
of being held suspect of heresy. Thus, with the exception of farther
Spain and the Northern nations, where heresy had never taken root,
throughout Christendom the State was rendered completely subservient to
the Church in the great task of exterminating heresy. And, when the
Inquisition had been established, the enforcing of this legislation was
the peculiar privilege of the inquisitors, whose ceaseless vigilance and
unlimited powers gave full assurance that it would be relentlessly
carried into effect.[287]

Meanwhile zeal or jealousy led, in the confusion and uncertainty of this
transition period, to the experiment, in several parts of Italy, of a
secular Inquisition. In Rome, in 1231, Gregory IX. drew up a series of
regulations which was issued by the Senator Annibaldo in the name of the
Roman people. Under this the senator was bound to capture all who were
designated to him as heretics, whether by inquisitors appointed by the
Church or other good Catholics, and to punish them within eight days
after condemnation. Of their confiscated property one third went to the
detector, one third to the senator, and one third to repairing the city
walls. Any house in which a heretic was received was to be destroyed,
and converted forever into a receptacle of filth. "Credentes" were
treated as heretics, while fautors, receivers, etc., forfeited one third
of their possessions, applicable to the city walls. A fine of twenty
lire was imposed on any one cognizant of heresy and not denouncing it;
while the senator who neglected to enforce the law was subject to a
mulct of two hundred marks and perpetual disability to office. To
appreciate the magnitude of these fines we must consider the rude
poverty of the Italy of the period as described by a contemporary--the
squalor of daily life and the scarcity of the precious metals, as
indicated by the absence of gold and silver ornaments in the dress of
the period. Not satisfied with the local enforcement of these
regulations, Gregory sent them to the archbishops and princes throughout
Europe, with orders to put them in execution in their respective
territories, and for some time they formed the basis of inquisitorial
proceedings. In Rome the perquisition was successful, and the faithful
were rewarded with the spectacle of a considerable number of burnings;
while Gregory, encouraged by success, proceeded to issue a decretal,
forming the basis of all subsequent inquisitorial legislation, by which
condemned heretics were to be abandoned to the secular arm for exemplary
punishment, those who returned to the Church were to be perpetually
imprisoned, and every one cognizant of heresy was bound to denounce it
to the ecclesiastical authorities under pain of excommunication.[288]

At the same time Frederic II., who desired to give Rome as little
foothold as possible in his Neapolitan dominions, placed the business of
persecution there in the hands of the royal officials. In his Sicilian
Constitutions, issued in 1231, he ordered his representatives to make
diligent inquisition into the heretics who walk in darkness. All,
however slightly suspected, are to be arrested and subjected to
examination by ecclesiastics, and those who deviate ever so little from
the faith, if obstinate, are to be gratified with the fiery martyrdom to
which they aspire, while any one daring to intercede for them shall feel
the full weight of the imperial displeasure. As the legislation of a
free-thinker, this shows the irresistible weight of public opinion, to
which Frederic dared not run counter. Nor did he allow this to remain a
dead letter. A number of executions under it took place forthwith, and
two years later we find him writing to Gregory deploring that this had
not been sufficient, for heresy was reviving, and that he therefore had
ordered the justiciary of each district, in conjunction with some
prelate, to renew the inquisition with all activity; the bishops were
required to traverse their dioceses thoroughly, in company, when
necessary, of judges delegated for the purpose; in each province the
General Court held two assizes a year, when heresy was punished like any
other crime. Yet, so far from praising this systematized persecution,
Gregory replied that Frederic was using pretended zeal to punish his
personal enemies, and was burning good Catholics rather than

       *       *       *       *       *

In this confused and irregular striving to accomplish the extirpation of
heresy, it was inevitable that the Holy See should intervene, and
through the exercise of its supreme apostolic authority seek to provide
some general system for the efficient performance of the indispensable
duty. The only wonder, indeed, is that this should have been postponed
so long and have been at last commenced so tentatively and

In 1226 an effort was made to check the rapid spread of Catharism in
Florence by the arrest of the heretic bishop Filippo Paternon, whose
diocese extended from Pisa to Arezzo. He was tried, in accordance with
the existing Florentine statutes, by the bishop and podestà conjointly,
when he cut short the proceedings by abjuration, and was released; but
he speedily relapsed, and became more odious than ever to the orthodox.
In 1227 a converted heretic complained of this backsliding to Gregory
IX., and the pontiff, who had just ascended the papal throne, made haste
to remedy the evil by issuing a commission, which may be regarded as the
foundation of the papal Inquisition. Yet it was exceedingly unobtrusive,
though the church of Florence was so directly under papal control.
Bearing date June 20, 1227, it simply authorizes Giovanni di Salerno,
prior of the Dominican house of Santa Maria Novella, with one of his
frati and Canon Bernardo, to proceed judicially against Paternon and his
followers and force them to abjuration; acting, in case of obstinacy,
under the canons of the Lateran Council, and, if necessary, calling upon
the clerks and laymen of the sees of Florence and Fiesole for aid. Thus,
while there was no scruple in invading the jurisdiction of the Bishop of
Florence, there was no legislation other than the Lateran canons to
guide the proceedings. What the commissioners accomplished with regard
to the inferior heretics is not known. They succeeded in capturing
Bishop Paternon and cast him in prison, but he was forcibly rescued by
his friends and disappeared, leaving his episcopate to his successor,

Frà Giovanni retained his commission until his death in 1230, when a
successor was appointed in the person of another Dominican, Aldobrandino
Cavalcanti. Still, their jurisdiction was as yet wholly undetermined,
for in June, 1229, we hear of the Abbot of San Miniato carrying to
Gregory IX., in Perugia, two leading heretics, Andrea and Pietro, who
were forced to a public abjuration in presence of the papal court; and
in several cases in 1234 we find Gregory IX. intervening, taking bail of
the accused and sending special instructions to the inquisitor in
charge. Yet the Inquisition was gradually taking shape, for shortly
afterwards there were numerous heretics discovered, some of whom were
burned, their trials being still preserved in the archives of Santa
Maria Novella. Yet how little thought there could have been of founding
a permanent institution is shown, in 1233, by the persecuting statutes
drawn up by Bishop Ardingho, approved by Gregory, and ordered by him to
be irrevocably inscribed in the statute-book of Florence. In these the
bishop is still the persecuting representative of the Church, and there
is no allusion to inquisitors. The podestà is bound to arrest any one
pointed out to him by the bishop, and to punish him within eight days
after the episcopal condemnation, with other provisions borrowed from
the edicts of Frederic II. Frà Aldobrandino seems to have relied rather
on preaching than on persecution; in fact he nowhere in the documents
signed by him qualifies himself as inquisitor, and neither his efforts
nor those of Bishop Ardingho were able to prevent the rapid growth of
heresy. In 1235, when the project of an organized Inquisition throughout
Europe was taking shape, Gregory appointed the Dominican Provincial of
Rome inquisitor throughout his extensive province, which embraced both
Sicily and Tuscany; but this seems to have proved too large a district,
and about 1240 we find the city of Florence under the charge of Frà
Ruggieri Calcagni. He was of a temper well fitted to extend the
prerogatives of his office and to render it effective; but it was not
until 1243 that he qualified himself as "_Inquisitor Domini Papœ in
Tuscia_," and in a sentence rendered in 1245 he is careful to call
himself inquisitor of Bishop Ardingho as well as of the pope, and
recites the episcopal commission given him as authority to act. In the
proceedings of this period the rudimentary character of the Inquisition
is evident. One confession in 1244 bears only the names of two frati,
the inquisitor not being even present. In 1245 there are sentences
signed by Ruggieri alone, while other proceedings show him to be acting
conjointly with Ardingho. He may be said, indeed, to have given the
Inquisition in Florence form and shape when, about 1243, he opened for
the first time his independent tribunal in Santa Maria Novella, taking
as assessors two or three prominent friars of the convent and employing
public notaries to make record of his proceedings.[291]

This is a fair illustration of the gradual development of the
Inquisition. It was not an institution definitely projected and founded,
but was moulded step by step out of the materials which lay nearest to
hand fitted for the object to be attained. In fact, when Gregory,
recognizing the futility of further dependence on episcopal zeal, sought
to take advantage of the favorable secular legislation against heresy,
the preaching friars were the readiest instruments within reach for the
accomplishment of his object. We shall see hereafter how, as in
Florence, the experiment was tried in Aragon and Languedoc and Germany,
and the success which on the whole attended it and led to an extended
and permanent organization.

The Inquisition has sometimes been said to have been founded April 20,
1233, the day on which Gregory issued two bulls making the persecution
of heresy the special function of the Dominicans; but the apologetic
tone in which he addresses the prelates shows how uncertain he felt as
to their enduring this invasion of their jurisdiction, while the
character of his instructions proves that he had no conception of what
the innovation was to lead to. In fact, his immediate object seems
rather the punishment of priests and other ecclesiastics, concerning
whom there was a standing complaint that they favored heretics by
instructing them how to evade examination by concealing their beliefs
and feigning orthodoxy. After reciting the necessity of subduing heresy
and the raising up by God of the preaching friars, who devote themselves
in voluntary poverty to spreading the Word and extirpating misbelief,
Gregory proceeds to tell the bishops: "We, seeing you engrossed in the
whirlwind of cares and scarce able to breathe in the pressure of
overwhelming anxieties, think it well to divide your burdens that they
may be more easily borne. We have therefore determined to send preaching
friars against the heretics of France and the adjoining provinces, and
we beg, warn, and exhort you, ordering you as you reverence the Holy
See, to receive them kindly and treat them well, giving them in this, as
in all else, favor, counsel, and aid, that they may fulfil their
office." The other bull is addressed "to the Priors and Friars of the
Order of Preachers, Inquisitors," and after alluding to the sons of
perdition who defend heresy, it proceeds: "Therefore you, or any of you,
wherever you may happen to preach, are empowered, unless they desist
from such defence (of heretics) on monition, to deprive clerks of their
benefices forever, and to proceed against them and all others, without
appeal, calling in the aid of the secular arm, if necessary, and
coercing opposition, if requisite, with the censures of the Church,
without appeal."[292]

This experiment of investing all the Dominican preachers with legatine
authority to condemn without appeal was inconsiderate. It could only
lead to exasperation, as we shall see hereafter in Germany, and Gregory
soon adopted a more practical expedient. Shortly after the issue of the
above bulls we find him ordering the Provincial Prior of Toulouse to
select some learned friars who should be commissioned to preach the
cross in the diocese, and to proceed against heretics in accordance with
the recent statutes. Though here there is still some incongruous
mingling of duties, yet Gregory had finally hit upon the device which
remained the permanent basis of the Inquisition--the selection by the
provincial of certain fitting brethren, who exercised within their
province the delegated authority of the Holy See in searching out and
examining heretics with a view to the ascertainment of their guilt.
Under this bull the provincial appointed Friars Pierre Cella and Guillem
Arnaud, whose labors will be detailed in a subsequent chapter. Thus the
Inquisition, as an organized system, may be considered as fairly
commenced, though it is noteworthy that these early inquisitors in their
official papers qualify themselves as acting under legatine and not
under papal authority. How little idea there was as yet of creating a
general and permanent institution is seen when the Archbishop of Sens
complained of the intrusion of inquisitors in his province, and Gregory,
by a brief of February 4, 1234, apologetically revoked all commissions
issued for it, adding a suggestion that the archbishop should call in
the assistance of the Dominicans if he thought that their superior skill
in confuting heretics was likely to prove useful.[293]

As yet there was no idea of superseding the episcopal functions. About
this time we find Gregory writing to the bishops of the province of
Narbonne, threatening them if they shall not inflict due chastisement on
heretics, and making no allusion to the new expedient; and as late as
October 1, 1234, Pierre Amiel, Archbishop of Narbonne, exacted an oath
from his people to denounce all heretics to him or to his officials,
apparently in ignorance of the existence of special inquisitors. Even
where the latter were commissioned, their duties and functions, their
powers and responsibilities, were wholly undefined and remained to be
determined. As they were regarded simply in the light of assistants to
the bishops in the exercise of the immemorial episcopal jurisdiction
over heresy, it was naturally to the bishops that were referred the
questions which immediately arose. Many points as to the treatment of
heretics had been settled, not only by Gregory's Roman statutes of
1231, but by the Council of Toulouse in 1229, and those of Béziers and
Arles in 1234, which were solely occupied with stimulating and
organizing the episcopal Inquisition, yet matters of detail constantly
suggested themselves in practice, and a new code of some kind was
evidently required to render persecution effective. The suspension of
the Inquisition for some years at the request of Count Raymond postponed
this, but when the Holy Office resumed its functions in 1241 the
necessity became pressing, and the bishops were looked to as the
authority from which such a code should emanate. Sentences rendered in
1241 by Guillem Arnaud recite not only that Bishop Raymond of Toulouse
acted as assessor, but that the special advice of the Archbishop of
Narbonne had been asked. It was evident that general principles for the
guidance of the Inquisition must be laid down, and accordingly a great
council of the three provinces of Narbonne, Arles, and Aix was assembled
at Narbonne in 1243 or 1244, where an elaborate series of canons were
framed, which remained the basis of inquisitorial action. These were
addressed to "Our cherished and faithful children in Christ the
Preaching Friars Inquisitors;" and though the bishops discreetly say,
"We write this to you, not that we wish to bind you down by our
counsels, as it would not be fitting to limit the liberty accorded to
your discretion by other forms and rules than those of the Holy See, to
the prejudice of the business; but we wish to help your devotion as we
are commanded to do by the Holy See, since you, who bear our burdens,
ought to be, through mutual charity, assisted with help and advice in
our own business," yet the tone of the whole is that of absolute
command, both in the definition of jurisdiction and the instructions as
to dealing with heretics. It is highly significant that, in surrendering
control over the bodies of their flocks, these good shepherds strictly
reserved to themselves the profits to be expected from persecution, for
they straitly enjoined upon the new officials, "You are to abstain from
these pecuniary penances and exactions, both for the sake of the honor
of your Order, and because you will have fully enough other work to
attend to." While thus carefully preserving their financial interests,
they abandoned what was vastly more important, the right of passing
judgment and imposing sentence. Sentences of this period are rendered in
the name of the inquisitors, though if the bishop or other notable
person took part, as was frequently the case, he is mentioned as an

The transfer of the old episcopal jurisdiction over heresy to the
Inquisition naturally rendered the connection between bishop and
inquisitor a matter of exceeding delicacy, and the new institution could
not establish itself without considerable friction, revealed in the
varying and contradictory policy adopted at successive periods in
adjusting their mutual relations. This renders itself especially
noticeable in the development of the Inquisition in the different lands
of Europe. In Italy the independence of the episcopate had long since
been broken down, and it could offer no efficient opposition to the
encroachment on its jurisdiction. In Germany, on the other hand, the
lordly prince-bishops looked with jealous eyes on the intruder, and, as
we shall see hereafter, never allowed it to obtain a permanent foothold.
In France, and more especially in Languedoc, although the prelates were
far more independent than those of Italy, the prevalence of heresy
required for its suppression a vigilance and an activity far beyond
their ability, and they found themselves obliged to sacrifice a portion
of their prerogatives in order to escape the more painful sacrifice of
performing their long-neglected duties. Yet they did not submit to this
without a struggle which may be dimly traced in the successive efforts
to establish a _modus vivendi_ between the respective tribunals.

We have just seen that at an early period the inquisitors assumed to
render sentences in their own names, without reference to the bishops.
This invasion of the latter's jurisdiction was evidently too great an
innovation to be permanent; indeed, almost immediately we find the
Cardinal Legate of Albano instructing the Archbishop of Narbonne to
order the inquisitors not to condemn heretics or impose penances without
the concurrence of the bishops. This order had to be repeated and
rendered more absolute; and the question was settled in this sense by
the Council of Béziers in 1246, where the bishops, on the other hand,
surrendered the fines to be used for the expenses of the Inquisition,
and drew up another elaborate series of instructions for the
inquisitors, "willingly yielding to your devout requests which you have
humbly made to us." For a while the popes continued to treat the bishops
as responsible for the suppression of heresy in their respective
dioceses, and consequently as the real source of jurisdiction. In 1245
Innocent IV., in permitting inquisitors to modify or commute previous
sentences, specified that this must be done with the advice of the
bishop. In 1246 he orders the Bishop of Agen to make diligent
inquisition against heresy under the rules prescribed by the Cardinal
Legate of Albano, and with the same power as the inquisitor to grant
indulgences. In 1247 he treats the bishops as the real judges of heresy
in instructing them to labor sedulously for the conversion of the
convict, before passing sentence involving death, perpetual
imprisonment, or pilgrimages beyond seas; even with obstinate heretics
they are to consult diligently with the inquisitor or other discreet
persons whether to pass sentence or to postpone it, as may best subserve
the salvation of the sinner and the interest of the faith. Still, in
spite of all this, the sentences of Bernard de Caux, from 1246 to 1248,
bear no trace of episcopal concurrence. There evidently was jealousy and
antagonism. In 1248 the Council of Valence was obliged to coerce the
bishops into publishing and observing the sentences of the inquisitors,
by interdicting the entry into their own churches to those who refused
to do so, showing that the bishops were not consulted as to the
sentences and were indisposed to enforce them. In 1249 we find the
Archbishop of Narbonne complaining to the pope that the inquisitor
Pierre Durant and his colleagues had, without his knowledge, absolved
the Chevalier Pierre de Cugunham, who had been convicted of heresy,
whereupon Innocent forthwith annulled their proceedings. In fact the
pardoning power seems to have been considered as specially vested in the
Holy See, and about this period we find several instances in which it is
conferred by Innocent on bishops, sometimes with and sometimes without
injunctions to confer with the inquisitors. Finally this question of
practice was settled by adopting the habit of reserving in every
sentence the right to modify, increase, diminish, or abrogate it.[295]

Inasmuch as the inquisitors in 1246 still expected the bishops to defray
their expenses, they recognized themselves, at least in theory, as
merely an adjunct to the episcopal tribunals. The bishops, moreover,
were expected to build the prisons for the confinement of converts, and
though they eluded this and the king was obliged to do it, the Council
of Albi, held in 1254 by the papal legate, Zoen of Avignon, assumes that
the prisons are under episcopal control. The same council drew up an
elaborate series of instructions for the treatment of heretics, which
marks the termination of episcopal control of such matters, for all
subsequent regulations were issued by the Holy See. Even so experienced
a persecutor as Bernard de Caux, notwithstanding his neglect of
episcopal jurisdiction in his sentences, admitted in 1248 his
subordination to the episcopate by applying for advice to Guillem of
Narbonne, and the archbishop replied, not only with directions as to
special cases, but with general instructions. Indeed, in 1250 and 1251
the archbishop was actively employed in making an inquisition of his own
and in punishing heretics without the intervention of papal inquisitors;
and a brief of Innocent IV. in 1251 alludes to a previous intention,
subsequently abandoned, of restoring the whole business to the bishops.
In spite of these indications of reaction the intruders continued to win
their way, with struggles, bitter enough, no doubt, in many places, and
intensified by the hostility between the secular clergy and the
Mendicants, but only to be conjectured from the scattered indications
visible in the fragmentary remains of the period. There is an effort to
retain vanishing authority in the offer made in 1252 by the bishops of
Toulouse, Albi, Agen, and Carpentras to give full authority as
inquisitors to any Dominicans who might be selected by the commissioners
of Alphonse of Poitiers, only stipulating that their assent must be
asked to all sentences, and promising to observe in all cases the rules
established by the Inquisition. This question of episcopal concurrence
in condemnations evidently excited strong feeling and was long contested
with varying success. If previous orders requiring it had not been
treated with contempt, Innocent IV. would not have been obliged, in
1254, to reiterate the instructions that no condemnations to death or
life-imprisonment should be uttered without consulting the bishops; and
in 1255 he conjoined bishop and inquisitor to interpret in consultation
any obscurities in the laws against heresy and to administer the lighter
penalties of deprivation of office and preferment. This recognition of
episcopal jurisdiction was annulled by Alexander IV., who, after some
vacillation, in 1257 rendered the Inquisition independent by releasing
it from the necessity of consulting with the bishops even in cases of
obstinate and confessed heretics, and this he repeated in 1260. Then
there was a reaction. In 1262 Urban IV., in an elaborate code of
instructions, formally revived the consultation in all cases involving
the death-penalty or perpetual imprisonment; and this was repeated by
Clement IV. in 1265. Either these instructions, however, were revoked in
some subsequent enactment or they soon fell into desuetude, for in 1273
Gregory X., after alluding to the action of Alexander IV. in annulling
consultation, proceeds to direct that inquisitors in deciding upon
sentences shall proceed in accordance with the counsel of the bishops or
their delegates, so that the episcopal authority may share in decisions
of such moment. Up to this period the Inquisition seems to have been
regarded as merely a temporary expedient to meet a special exigency, and
every pope on his accession had issued a series of bulls renewing its
provisions. Heresy, however, was apparently ineradicable; the
populations had accepted the new institution, and its usefulness had
been proved in many ways besides that of preserving the purity of the
faith. Henceforth it was considered a permanent part of the machinery of
the Church, and its rules were definitely settled. Gregory's decision in
favor of concurrent episcopal and inquisitorial action in all cases of
condemnation consequently remained unaltered, and we shall see hereafter
that when Clement V. endeavored to check the more scandalous abuses of
inquisitorial power, he sought the remedy, insufficient enough, in some
slight increase of episcopal supervision and responsibility, following
in this an effort in the same direction which had been essayed by
Philippe le Bel. Yet when bishop and inquisitor chanced to be on good
terms, the slender safeguard thus afforded for the accused was eluded by
one of them giving to the other power to act for him, and cases are on
record in which the bishop acts as the inquisitor's deputy, or the
inquisitor as the bishop's. The question as to whether either of them
could render without the other a valid sentence of absolution was one
which greatly vexed the canonists, and names of high repute are ranged
on either side, with the weight of authority inclining to the

The control of the bishops was vastly increased, at least in Italy, over
the vital question of expenditures, when Nicholas IV., in 1288, ordered
that all moneys arising from fines and confiscations should be deposited
with men selected jointly by the inquisitor and bishop, to be expended
only with the advice of the latter, to whom accounts were to be rendered
regularly. This was a serious limitation of inquisitorial independence,
and it was not of long duration. The bishops soon made use of their
supervisory power to demand a share of the spoils under pretext of
conducting inquisitions of their own. The quarrel was an unseemly one,
and Benedict XI., in 1304, put an end to it by annulling the regulations
of his predecessor. The bishops were prohibited from requiring accounts,
and these were ordered to be rendered to the papal camera or to special
papal deputies.[297]

       *       *       *       *       *

If there was this not unnatural vacillation in regulating the delicate
relations of these competing jurisdictions, there was none whatever in
regard to those between the Inquisition and society at large. Even in
its early years of tentative existence and uncertain organization it
developed such abundant promise of usefulness in bringing the secular
laws to bear upon heresy that means were sought to give it a fixed
organization which should render it still more efficient in its
functions both of detection and punishment. The death of Frederic II.,
in 1250, in removing the principal antagonist of the papacy, offered the
opportunity of giving practical enforcement to his edicts, and
accordingly, May 15, 1252, Innocent IV. issued to all the potentates and
rulers of Italy his famous bull, _Ad extirpanda_, a carefully considered
and elaborate law which should establish machinery for systematic
persecution as an integral part of the social edifice in every city and
every state, though the uncertain way in which bishop, inquisitor, and
friar are alternately referred to in it shows how indefinite were still
their respective relations and duties in the matter. All rulers were
ordered in public assembly to put heretics to the ban, as though they
were sorcerers. Any one finding a heretic could seize him, and take
possession of his goods. Each chief magistrate, within three days after
assuming office, was to appoint, on the nomination of his bishop and of
two friars of each of the Mendicant Orders, twelve good Catholics with
two notaries and two or more servitors whose sole business was to arrest
heretics, seize their goods, and deliver them to the bishop or his
vicars. Their wages and expenses were to be defrayed by the State, their
evidence was receivable without oaths, and no testimony was good against
the concurrent statement of any three of them. They held office for six
months, to be reappointed or replaced then, or at any time, on demand of
the bishop and friars; they were entitled to one third of the proceeds
of all fines and confiscations inflicted on heretics; they were exempt
from all public duties and services incompatible with their functions,
and no statutes were to be passed interfering with their actions. The
ruler was bound when required to send his assessor or a knight to aid
them, and every inhabitant when called upon was obliged to assist them,
under a heavy penalty. When the inquisitors visited any portion of the
jurisdiction they were accompanied by a deputy of the ruler elected by
themselves or by the bishop. In each place visited, this official was to
summon under oath three men of good repute, or even the whole vicinage,
to reveal any heretics within their knowledge, or the property of such,
or of any persons holding secret conventicles or differing in life or
manners from the ordinary faithful. The State was bound to arrest all
accused, to hold them in prison, to deliver them to the bishop or
inquisitor under safe escort, and to execute within fifteen days, in
accordance with Frederic's decrees, all judgments pronounced against
them. The ruler was further required, when called upon, to inflict
torture on those who would not confess and betray all the heretics of
their acquaintance. If resistance was made to an arrest, the community
where it occurred was liable to an enormous fine unless it delivered up
to justice within three days all who were implicated. The ruler was
required to have four lists made out of all who were defamed or banned
for heresy; this was to be read in public thrice a year and a copy given
to the bishop, one to the Dominicans and one to the Franciscans; he was
likewise to execute the destruction of houses within ten days of
sentence, and the exaction of fines within three months, throwing in
prison those who could not pay and keeping them until they should pay.
The proceeds of fines, commutations, and confiscations were divisible
into three parts, one enuring to the city, one to those concerned in the
business, and the remainder to the bishop and inquisitors to be expended
in persecuting heresy.

The enforcement of this stupendous measure was provided for with equally
careful elaboration. It was to be inscribed ineffaceably in all the
local statute-books, together with all subsequent laws which the popes
might issue, under penalty of excommunication for recalcitrant
officials, and interdict upon the city. Any attempt to alter these laws
consigned the offender to perpetual infamy and fine, enforced by the
ban. The rulers and their officials were to swear to their observance
under pain of loss of office; and any neglect in their enforcement was
punishable as perjury with perpetual infamy, a fine of two hundred
marks, and suspicion of heresy involving loss of office and disability
for all official position in future. Every ruler, within ten days after
assuming office, was required to appoint, on the nomination of the
bishop or the Mendicants, three good Catholics, who under oath were to
investigate the acts of his predecessor and prosecute him for any
failure of obedience. Moreover each podestà at the beginning and end of
his term was required to have the bull read in all places that might be
designated by the bishop and inquisitors, and to erase from the
statute-books all laws in conflict with them. At the same time Innocent
issued instructions to the inquisitors to enforce by excommunication the
embodiment of this and of the edicts of Frederic in the statutes of all
cities and states, and he soon after conferred on them the dangerous
power of interpreting, in conjunction with the bishops, all doubtful
points in local laws on the subject of heresy.

These provisions are not the wild imaginings of a nightmare, but sober
matter-of-fact legislation shrewdly and carefully devised to accomplish
a settled policy, and it affords us a valuable insight into the public
opinion of the day to find that there was no effective resistance to its
acceptance. Before the death of Innocent IV., in 1254, he made one or
two slight modifications suggested by experience in its working. In
1255, 1256, and 1257 Alexander IV. revised the bull, explaining some
doubts which had arisen, and providing for the enforcement in all cases
of the appointment of examiners of rulers going out of office, and in
1259 he reissued the bull as a whole. In 1265 Clement IV. again went
over it carefully, making some changes, principally in adding the words
"inquisitors" in passages where Innocent had only designated the bishops
and friars, thus showing that the Inquisition had during the interval
established itself as the recognized instrumentality in the persecution
of heresy; and the next year he repeated Innocent's emphatic order to
the inquisitors to enforce the insertion of his legislation and that of
his predecessors upon the statute-books everywhere, with the free use of
excommunication and interdict. This shows that it had not been
universally accepted with alacrity, but the few instances which we find
recorded of refusal show how generally it was submitted to. Thus in 1256
Alexander IV. learned that the authorities of Genoa were recalcitrant,
and he promptly ordered the censure and interdict if they did not comply
within fifteen days; and in 1258 a similar course was observed with
those of Mantua; while the retention of the bull in the statutes of
Florence as late as the recension of 1355, even in the midst of
incongruous legislation, shows how literally the papal mandates had been
obeyed for a century.[298]

In Italy this furnished the Inquisition with a completely organized
_personnel_ paid and sustained by the State, rendering it a substantive
institution armed with all the means and appliances necessary for the
thorough performance of its work. Whether the popes ever endeavored to
render the bulls operative elsewhere does not appear, but if they did so
they failed, for the measure was not recognized as in force beyond the
Alps. Yet this was scarce necessary so long as public law and the
conservative spirit of the ruling class everywhere rendered it the
highest duty of the citizen of every degree to aid in every way the
business of the inquisitor, and pious monarchs hastened to enforce the
obligation of their subjects. By the terms of the Treaty of Paris all
public officials were obliged to aid in the inquisition and capture of
heretics, and all inhabitants, males over fourteen years of age and
females over twelve, were to be sworn to reveal all offenders to the
bishops. The Council of Narbonne in 1229 put these provisions in force;
that of Albi in 1254 included inquisitors among those to whom the
heretic was to be denounced, and it freely threatened with the censures
of the Church all temporal seigneurs who neglected the duty of aiding
the Inquisition and of executing its sentences of death or confiscation.
The aid demanded was freely given, and every inquisitor was armed with
royal letters empowering him to call upon all officials for
safe-conduct, escort, and assistance in the discharge of his functions.
In a memorial dated about 1317 Bernard Gui says that the inquisitors
make under these letters full use of the baillis, sergeants, and other
officials, both of the king and of the seigneurs, without which they
would accomplish little. This was not confined to France, for Eymerich,
writing in Aragon, informs us that the first act of the inquisitor on
receiving his commission was to exhibit it to the king or ruler, and ask
and exhort him for these letters, explaining to him that he is bound by
the canons to give them if he desires to avoid the numerous penalties
decreed in the bulls _Ad abolendam_ and _Ut inquisionis_. His next step
is to exhibit these letters to the officials and swear them to obey him
in his official duties to the utmost of their power. Thus the whole
force of the State was unreservedly at command of the Holy Office. Not
only this, indeed, but every individual was bound to lend his aid when
called upon, and any slackness of zeal exposed him to excommunication as
a fautor of heresy, leading after twelve months, if neglected, to
conviction as a heretic, with all its tremendous penalties.[299]

The right to abrogate any laws which impeded the freest exercise of the
powers of the Inquisition was likewise arrogated on both sides of the
Alps. When, in 1257, Alexander IV. heard with indignant emotion that
Mantua had adopted certain damnable statutes interfering with the
absolutism of the Inquisition, he straightway ordered the Bishop of
Mantua to investigate the matter, and to annul anything which should
impede or delay its operations, enforcing his action by excommunicating
the authorities and laying an interdict on the city. This was simply in
furtherance of the bull _Ad extirpanda_, but in 1265 Urban IV. repeated
the order and made it universally applicable, and it was carried into
the canon law as the expression of the undoubted rights of the Church.
This rendered the Inquisition virtually supreme in all lands, and it
became an accepted maxim of law that all statutes interfering with the
free action of the Inquisition were void, and those who enacted them
were to be punished; where such laws existed the inquisitor was
instructed to have them submitted to him, and if he found them
objectionable the authorities were obliged to repeal or modify them. It
was not the fault of the Church if a bold monarch like Philippe le Bel
occasionally ventured to incur divine vengeance by protecting his

Beyond the Alps there was no legal responsibility admitted, as in Italy,
to defray the expenses of the Inquisition by the State. This is a
subject which will be treated more fully hereafter, and meanwhile I may
briefly state that royal generosity was amply sufficient to keep the
organization in effective condition. Its necessary expenses were
exceedingly small. The Dominican convents furnished buildings in which
to hold its tribunals. The public officials were bound under royal order
and the tremendous penalties involved in suspicion of heresy to render
service whenever called upon. If the bishops had neglected the duty of
establishing and maintaining prisons, the royal zeal had stepped in, had
built them and had kept them up. In 1317 we learn that during the past
eight years the king had spent the large sum of six hundred and thirty
livres tournois on that of Toulouse alone, and he also regularly paid
the jailers. Besides this, the inquisitors, whenever they needed aid and
counsel, were empowered to summon experts to attend them and to enforce
obedience to the summons. There was no exception of dignity or station.
All the learning and wisdom of the land were made subservient to the
supreme duty of suppressing heresy and were placed gratuitously at the
service of the Inquisition; and any prelate who hesitated to render
assistance of any kind when called upon was threatened in no gentle
terms with the full force of the papal vengeance.[301]

That the powers thus conferred on the inquisitors were real and not
merely theoretical we see in 1260 in the case of Capello di Chia, a
powerful noble of the Roman province, who incurred the suspicion of
heresy, was condemned, proscribed, and his lands confiscated. He refused
to submit, when Frà Andrea, the inquisitor, called for assistance on the
citizens of the neighboring town of Viterbo, and they obeyed him by
raising an army with which he marched to besiege Capello in his castle
of Colle-Casale. Capello had craftily conveyed his lands to a Roman
noble named Pietro Giacomo Surdi, and the pious enterprise of the
Viterbians was arrested by a command from the senator of Rome forbidding
violence to the property of a good Catholic Roman citizen. Then
Alexander IV. intervened, ordering Surdi to withdraw from the quarrel,
as his claim to the castle was null and void. He likewise commanded the
senator to abandon his indefensible position, and warmly thanked the
Viterbians for the zeal and alacrity with which they had obeyed the
summons of Frà Andrea. Frà Andrea, in fact, had only exercised the power
which Zanghino declares to be inherent in the office of inquisitor, of
levying open war against heretics and heresy.[302]

       *       *       *       *       *

In the exercise of this almost limitless authority, inquisitors were
practically relieved from all supervision and responsibility. Even a
papal legate was not to interfere with them or inquire into heresy
within their inquisitorial districts. They were not liable to
excommunication while in discharge of their duties, nor could they be
suspended by any delegate of the Holy See. If such a thing were
attempted, the excommunication or suspension was pronounced void,
unless, indeed, it was issued by special command of the pope. Already,
in 1245, they were empowered to absolve their familiars for any
excesses, and in 1261 they were authorized to absolve each other from
excommunication for any cause; which, as each inquisitor usually had a
subordinate associate ready to perform this office for him, rendered
them virtually invulnerable. Moreover, they were released from all
obedience to their provincials and generals, whom they were even
forbidden to obey in anything relating to the business of their office,
and they were secured from any attempt to undermine them with the curia
by the enormous privilege of being able to go to Rome at any time and to
stay there as long as they might see fit, even in spite of prohibition
by provincial or general chapters. At first their commissions were
thought to expire with the death of the pope who issued them, but in
1267 they were declared to be continuously valid.[303]

The question of the removability of inquisitors was one which bore
directly upon their subordination or independence, and was the subject
of much conflicting legislation. When the power of appointment was first
conferred upon the provincials it carried with it authority to remove
and replace them after consultation with discreet brethren; and in 1244
Innocent IV. declared that the provincials and generals of the Mendicant
Orders had full power to remove, revoke, supersede, and transfer all
members of their orders serving as inquisitors, even when commissioned
by the pope. Some ten years later the vacillating policy of Alexander
IV. indicates an earnest effort on the part of the inquisitors to obtain
independence. In 1256 he asserted the removing power of the provincials;
July 5, 1257, he withdrew their power, and December 9, of the same year,
he reaffirmed it in his bull _Quod super nonnullis_, which was
repeatedly reissued by himself and his successors. Later popes issued
conflicting orders, until at length Boniface VIII. decided in favor of
the removing power; but the inquisitors claimed that it could only be
exercised for cause and after due trial, which practically reduced it to
a nullity. It is true that in the reformatory effort of Clement V. _ipso
facto_ excommunication, removable only by the pope, was provided for
three crimes of inquisitors--falsely prosecuting or neglecting to
prosecute for favor, enmity, or profit, for extorting money, and for
confiscating church property for the offence of a clerk--but these
provisions, although they called forth the earnest protest of Bernard
Gui, only amounted to a declaration of what was desirable, and were of
no practical effect.[304]

The Franciscans endeavored to reduce their inquisitors to subjection by
the expedient of issuing commissions for a limited term. Thus in 1320
the General Michele da Cesena adopted the term of five years, which
seems to have long continued the rule, for in 1375 we see Gregory XI.
requesting the Franciscan general to keep in office as inquisitor of
Rome Frà Gabriele da Viterbo on account of his eminent merits. In 1439 a
commission as inquisitor of Florence, issued to Frà Francesco da
Michele, to take effect on the expiration of the term of the incumbent,
Frà Jacopo della Biada, indicates that appointments were still for
specified times, although in 1432 Eugenius IV. had conferred on the
Franciscan general, Guglielmo di Casale, full power of appointment and
removal. The Dominicans do not seem to have adopted this expedient, and
no precautions of any kind were available to enforce subordination and
discipline in view of the constant interference of the Holy See, which
doubtless could always be obtained by those who knew how to approach it.
Commissions were continually issued directly by the pope, and those who
held them seem not to have been removable by any one else. Even when
this was not done, it mattered little that the popes admitted the power
of the provincials to remove, when they interposed to nullify its
exercise. In 1323 John XXII. gave to Frà Piero da Perugia, inquisitor of
Assisi, letters which protected him from suspension and removal. In 1339
we happen to hear of Giovanni di Borgo removed by the Franciscan general
and replaced by Benedict XII. Even more subversive of discipline was the
case of Francisco de Sala, appointed by the provincial of Aragon,
removed by his successor, and reinstated by Martin V. in 1419, with a
provision of inamovability by any superior of his Order. Yet in 1439
Eugenius IV., and in 1474 Sixtus IV. renewed the provisions of Clement
IV. rendering inquisitors removable at will by both generals and
provincials; and in 1479, Sixtus IV., to impress them with some sense of
responsibility, adopted the expedient of requiring all complaints
against them to be brought before the general of the Order to which
they belonged, to whom was confided power of punishment up to

The natural result of this conflicting legislation was that the
inquisitors held themselves accountable to their superiors only for
their actions as friars and not as inquisitors; in the latter capacity
they acknowledged responsibility only to the pope, and they asserted
that the power of removal could only be exercised in cases of inability
to act through sickness, age, or ignorance. Their vicars and
commissioners they held to be completely beyond any jurisdiction but
their own, and any attempt on the part of a provincial to remove such a
subordinate was to be met with a prosecution for suspicion of heresy, as
an impeding of the Inquisition, to be followed by excommunication, when,
if this was endured for a year, it was to be ended by condemnation for
heresy. Men armed with these tremendous powers, and animated with this
resolute spirit, were not lightly to be meddled with. The warmth with
which Eymerich argues the subject suggests the character of the struggle
continually going on between the provincials and their appointees, and
the conclusions to which he arrives indicate the temper in which the
latter vindicated their independence. The grave abuses and disorders to
which this led obliged John XXIII. to intervene and declare that the
inquisitors should in all things be subject and obedient to their
superiors. The Great Schism, however, had weakened the papal authority,
and this injunction met with scant respect, so that one of the first
utterances of Martin V., in 1418, when the Church was reunited at
Constance, was to repeat the order, and to prescribe implicit obedience
to it. Yet, as in the matter of removals, the insatiable greed of the
curia was a fatal obstacle to the enforcement of subordination, for
those who were commissioned directly by the pope could not be expected
to endure subjection to the officials of their Orders.[306]

From Eymerich's remarks we see that an inquisitor was bound to have
little hesitation in prosecuting his superior. His jurisdiction, in
fact, was almost unlimited, for the dread suspicion of heresy brought,
with few exceptions, all mankind to a common level, and suspicion of
heresy was to be technically inferred from anything which affected the
dignity or crossed the purposes of those who carried on the Inquisition.
Even the jealously-guarded right of asylum in the churches was waived in
its favor, and the immunities of the Mendicant Orders gave them no
exemption from its jurisdiction. Kings, themselves, were subject to this
jurisdiction, though Eymerich discreetly observes that in their case it
is more prudent to inform the pope and await his instructions. Yet one
exception there was. The episcopal office still retained enough of its
earlier dignity to render its possessor exempt unless the inquisitor was
furnished with special papal letters. It was his duty, however, in case
a bishop was suspected of vacillating in the faith, to collect with
diligence all the evidence procurable, and to forward it to Rome for
examination and decision--a duty in the exercise of which he could
render himself abundantly disagreeable, and even dangerous. The choleric
John XXII., in 1327, introduced another exemption when provoked by the
arrogance of the Sicilian inquisitor, Matthieu de Pontigny, who dared to
excommunicate Guillaume de Balet, archdeacon of Fréjus, papal chaplain
and representative of the Avignonese papacy in the Campagna and
Maritima. The angry pope issued a decretal forbidding all judges and
inquisitors to attack in any way the officials and nuncios of the Holy
See without special letters of authority--but the mere audacity of the
attempt shows the height of presumption to which the members of the Holy
Office had attained. That laymen learned to address them as "your
religious majesty" shows the impression made on the popular mind by
their irresponsible supremacy.[307]

If bishops were exempt from judgment by the Inquisition they were not
released from obedience to the inquisitors. In the ordinary papal
commission issued to the latter, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and
other prelates are commanded to obey them in all concerning their
office, under pain of excommunication, suspension, and interdict. That
this was not a mere idle form is manifest by the tone of arrogant
domination in which the inquisitors issued their commands to episcopal
officials. Though the papal superscription to the bishop was "venerable
brother" and to the inquisitor "cherished son," yet the inquisitors held
that they were superior to the bishops, as being direct delegates of the
Holy See, and that if any one were cited simultaneously by a bishop and
an inquisitor he must first attend to the summons of the latter. The
inquisitor was to be obeyed as the pope himself, and this supremacy
included the bishop. This formed part of the papal policy, for the
inquisitor was a convenient instrument to reduce the episcopate to
subjection. Thus in 1296 Boniface VIII., in giving directions to the
bishops to suppress certain irregular and unauthorized hermits and
mendicants, enclosed copies of the bull to the inquisitors with
instructions to stimulate the bishops to their duty and to report to him
all who showed themselves negligent. In spite of the assumed superiority
of the inquisitor, however, the Inquisition was very commonly used as a
stepping-stone to the episcopate. It is not easy to set bounds to the
sources of influence which the office placed within reach of an
ambitious man, and this influence was constantly employed to procure
promotion into the ranks of the hierarchy. Instances of this are too
frequent to be specified, commencing with the earliest inquisitors, Frà
Aldobrandino Cavalcanti of Florence, who became Bishop of Viterbo, while
his successor, Frà Ruggieri Calcagni, in 1245, was rewarded with the
bishopric of Castro in the Maremma. I need only refer to the case of
Florence, in 1343, where the inquisitor, Frà Andrea da Perugia was
advanced to the episcopate and was succeeded by Frà Pietro di Aquila,
who in 1346 was made Bishop of Santangelo dei Lombardi. His successor
was Frà Michele di Lapo, and in 1350 we find the Signiory writing to the
pope with the request that he be placed in the bishopric of Florence,
which had become vacant. The office also afforded opportunities of
promotion within the Orders which were not neglected. Thus in a list of
Dominican provincials of Saxony in the latter half of the fourteenth
century, three who occupied that post in succession from 1369 to 1382,
Walther Kerlinger, Hermann Helstede, and Heinrich von Albrecht, are all
described as having been previously inquisitors.[308]

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not to be imagined that this gigantic structure which overshadowed
Christendom was allowed to establish itself wholly without opposition,
despite the favor of popes and kings. When we come to consider the
details of its history we shall find numerous cases of popular
resistance, desperate and isolated struggles, crushed remorselessly
before revolt could so extend as to become dangerous. It required,
indeed, courage to foolhardiness for any one to raise hand or voice
against an inquisitor, no matter how cruel or nefarious were his
actions. Under the canon law, any one, from the meanest to the highest,
who opposed or impeded in any way the functions of an inquisitor, or
gave aid or counsel to those who did so, became at once _ipso facto_
excommunicate. After the lapse of a year in this condition he was
legally a heretic to be handed over without further ceremony to the
secular arm for burning, without trial and without forgiveness. The
awful authority which thus shrouded the inquisitor was rendered yet more
terrible by the elasticity of definition given to the crime of impeding
the Holy Office and the tireless tenacity with which those guilty of it
were pursued. If friendly death came to shield them, the Inquisition
attacked their memories, and visited their offences upon their children
and grandchildren.[309]

All unorganized efforts of insubordination were easily repressed. Had
the bishops united in resistance, they could readily have prevented the
serious encroachment on their jurisdiction and influence, and have saved
their flocks from the horrors in store for them. There was no unity of
action, however, among the prelates. Some of them were honest fanatics
who welcomed the Holy Office and assisted it in every way. Others were
indifferent. Multitudes, engrossed in worldly cares and quarrels, were
rather glad to be relieved of duties which were onerous and for which
they had neither learning nor leisure. If any foresaw the end from the
humble beginning, none dared to raise a voice against what was
everywhere regarded by pious souls as supplying the most urgent need of
the time. Still, that the episcopate at large looked with disfavor on
these new functions and activities of the upstart Mendicants there can
be no doubt, although jealousy could only manifest itself through a
futile pretence to discharge the neglected duties in which the
Mendicants had been summoned to replace them. Accordingly we find a
certain bustling show of activity in ordering perquisition against
heretics by the old device of the synodal witnesses, in the Council of
Tours in 1239, that of Béziers in 1246, that of Albi in 1254; while that
of Lille (Venaissin) in 1251 made a bolder effort to recover lost ground
by not only ordering the bishops to make searching inquisition in their
dioceses, but by demanding from the Inquisition the surrender of all its
records to the Ordinaries; and when this failed the Council of Albi, in
1254, made a fruitless effort to obtain duplicate copies. The spirit in
which the rival tribunals regarded each other is seen in the complaint
of an inquisitor, not long after 1250, that heretics were encouraged and
rendered audacious by the constant attacks and detraction to which the
inquisitors were exposed, as being fools, and negligent and slow, and
incapable of bringing any affair to a termination, as punishing the
innocent and allowing the guilty to escape. These slanders, he says,
proceed from judges, both secular and ecclesiastical, who profess great
zeal for the extermination of heresy, but who are really impelled by
covetousness for bribes, or who are secretly inclined to heresy, or have
friends or relatives who are heretics or suspected of heresy. Evidently
there was little love lost between the old organization and the

If any thought existed of combined opposition, outside of Germany, it
might well be thrown aside as impracticable after the spectacle of the
defeat of the University of Paris on its own ground by the Mendicants.
The jealousy perpetually fed by the constant encroachments of the
inquisitors could only find vent in obscure squabbles wherein the final
decision of the Holy See could always be confidently reckoned upon as
against the episcopate. In 1330 we see the inquisitor, Henri de Chamay,
complaining to John XXII. that the Bishop of Maguelonne was interfering
with the free exercise of his office in Montpellier, on the ground of
certain papal privileges granted him, when the pope at once instructs
him to proceed without hesitation and to disregard the bishop's
pretensions. Such a decision was a foregone conclusion, as the
Archbishop of Narbonne and all his suffragans found in 1441, when they
united in addressing Eugenius IV., complaining of the exorbitant
pretensions of the Inquisition, and asking him to delay action till they
should send him full details. Without waiting to hear their specific
charges, he replied that the inquisitor had already accused them of
impeding him in his office and with vexing him with proceedings and
suits at law. There is no business, he added, of greater importance to
the Church than the destruction of heresy, and no way to win his favor
more efficacious than by aiding the Inquisition. It had been organized
for the purpose of relieving bishops of a portion of their cares, and
any interference with it would be visited with his displeasure. In the
present case, for the sake of concord, the inquisitor would revoke the
grievances complained of, and the pope pronounced all suits against him
quashed and extinguished. Evidently in any contest the odds were too
great against the episcopate, and the danger of systematic opposition
too real, to render any organized antagonism feasible. How completely
the papacy regarded the Inquisition as an instrumentality for furthering
its schemes of aggrandizement is seen when, on the outbreak of the Great
Schism, inquisitors were required to take a formal feudal oath of
fidelity to the pope appointing him and to his successors.[311]

       *       *       *       *       *

With so little to check and so much to stimulate, the spread of the
Inquisition was rapid throughout most of the lands of Christendom. I
shall have occasion hereafter to trace its vicissitudes in the principal
centres of its activity, and need here only indicate the limits of its

The northern nations were too far removed from the focus of heresy to be
exposed to aberrations from the faith at the time when papal supremacy
found its most useful instruments in the Mendicant inquisitors.
Consequently the papal Inquisition cannot be said to have had an
existence in the British Islands, Denmark, or Scandinavia. The edicts of
Frederic II. had no currency there; and when, in 1277, Robert Kilwarby,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the masters of Oxford denounced certain
errors springing from the Averrhoist doctrines; when, in 1286,
Archbishop Peckham condemned the heresy of Friar Richard Crapewell, and
in 1368 Archbishop Langham denounced as heretical thirty articles of
scholastic speculation, even had there been martyrs ready there were no
laws under which to punish them, although lawyers had sought to
introduce the penalty of the stake, and it had once been inflicted by a
council of Oxford, in 1222, on a clerk who had apostatized to Judaism.
We shall see hereafter that in the affair of the Templars the papal
Inquisition was found necessary to procure condemnation, but even then
it was so opposed to the character of English institutions that it
worked defectively and disappeared as soon as the occasion for its
temporary introduction passed away. When Wickliff came and was followed
by Lollardry, the English conceptions of the relations between Church
and State had already become such that there was no thought of applying
to Rome for a special tribunal with which to meet the threatened danger.
The statute of May 25, 1382, directs the king to issue to his sheriffs
commissions to arrest Wickliff's travelling preachers, and aiders and
abettors of heresy, and to hold them till they justify themselves
"_selonc reson et la ley de seinte esglise_;" and, in the following
July, royal letters ordered the authorities of Oxford to make
inquisition for heresy throughout the university. The weakness of
Richard II. allowed the Lollards to become a powerful political as well
as religious party, but their chances disappeared with the revolution
which placed Henry IV. on the throne. The support of the Church was a
necessity to the new dynasty, which lost no time in earning its
gratitude. After the burning of Sawtré by a royal warrant confirmed by
Parliament, in 1400, the statute "_de hæretico comburendo_" for the
first time inflicted in England the death-penalty as a settled
punishment for heresy. It restricted preaching to the beneficed curates
and those _ex officio_ privileged, it forbade the dissemination of
heretical opinions and books, empowered the bishops to seize all
offenders and hold them in prison until they should purge themselves or
abjure, and ordered the bishops to proceed against them within three
months after arrest. For minor offences the bishops were empowered to
imprison during pleasure and fine at discretion--the fine enuring to the
royal exchequer. For obstinate heresy or relapse, involving under the
canon law abandonment to the secular arm, the bishops and their
commissioners were the sole judges, and, on their delivery of such
convicts, the sheriff of the county or the mayor and bailiffs of the
nearest town were obliged to burn them before the people on an eminence.
Henry V. followed this up, and the statute of 1414 established
throughout the kingdom a sort of mixed secular and ecclesiastical
inquisition for which the English system of grand inquests gave especial
facilities. Under this legislation burning for heresy became a not
unfamiliar sight to English eyes, and Lollardry was readily suppressed.
In 1533 Henry VIII. repealed the statute of 1400, while retaining those
of 1382 and 1414, and also the penalty of burning alive for contumacious
heresy and relapse, and the dangerous admixture of politics and religion
rendered the stake a favorite instrument of statecraft. One of the
earliest measures of the reign of Edward VI. was the repeal of this law,
as well as of those of 1382 and 1414, together with all the atrocious
legislation of the Six Articles. With the reaction under Philip and Mary
came a revival of the sharp laws against heresy. Scarce had the Spanish
marriage been concluded when an obedient Parliament reenacted the
legislation of 1382, 1400, and 1414, which afforded ample machinery for
the numerous burnings which followed. The earliest act of the first
Parliament of Elizabeth was the repeal of the legislation of Philip and
Mary and of the old statutes which it had revived; but the writ _de
hæretico comburendo_ had become an integral part of English law and
survived until the desire of Charles II. for Catholic toleration caused
him, in 1676, to procure its abrogation and the restraint of the
ecclesiastical courts "in cases of atheism, blasphemy, heresy, and
schism and other damnable doctrines and opinions" to the ecclesiastical
remedies of "excommunication, deprivation, degradation, and other
ecclesiastical censures not extending to death." Scotland was more tardy
than England in humanitarian development, but the last execution for
heresy in the British Islands was that of a youth of eighteen, a medical
student named Aikenhead, who was hanged in Edinburgh in 1696.[312]

In Ireland the fiery temper of the Franciscan, Richard Ledred, Bishop of
Ossory, led him into a prolonged struggle with presumed heretics--the
Lady Alice Kyteler, accused of sorcery, and her accomplices. So little
was known in Ireland of the laws concerning heresy that at first the
secular officials refused contemptuously to take the oath prescribed by
the canons to aid inquisitors in their persecuting duties, but Ledred
finally obliged them to do so and had the satisfaction of burning some
of the accused in 1325. He incurred, however, the enmity of the chief
personages of the island, leading to a counter-charge of heresy against
himself. For years he was obliged to live in exile, and it was not till
1354 that he was able to reside quietly in his diocese, though in 1335
we find Benedict XII. writing to Edward III., deploring the absence in
England of so useful an institution as the Inquisition, and urging him
to order the secular officials to lend efficient aid to the pious Bishop
of Ossory in his struggles with the heretics, of whom the most
exaggerated description is given. Even Alexander, Archbishop of Dublin,
in 1347, was declared to have been a fautor of heresy because he
interfered with Ledred's violent proceedings; and, in 1351, his
successor, Archbishop John, was directed to take active measures to
punish those who had escaped from Ossory and had taken refuge in his

It is true that when the Hussite troubles became alarming and there was
danger that the disaffection might spread to the North, Martin V., in
1421, authorized the Bishop of Sleswick to appoint a Franciscan, Friar
Nicholas John, as inquisitor for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but there
is no trace of his activity in those regions, and the Inquisition may be
considered as non-existent there.[314]

As the mediæval missions for the conversion of schismatics and heathen
were exclusively Dominican and Franciscan, the churches which they built
up, however slender in membership, were nevertheless completely equipped
with apparatus for preserving the orthodoxy of converts, and thus we
read of Inquisitions in Africa and Asia. Friar Raymond Martius is
honored as the founder of the Inquisition in Tunis and Morocco. About
1370 Gregory XI. appointed the Dominican Friar John Gallus as inquisitor
in the East, who in conjunction with Friar Elias Petit planted the
institution, as we are told, in Armenia, Russia, Georgia, and Wallachia,
while Upper Armenia was similarly provided by Friar Bartolomeo Ponco. On
the death of Friar Gallus, Urban VI., about 1378, applied to the
Dominican general to select three brethren to serve as inquisitors, one
in Armenia and Georgia, one in Greece and Tartary, and one in Russia and
the two Wallachias; and in 1389 one of these, Friar Andreas of Caffa,
obtained the privilege of appointing an associate in his extensive
province of Greece and Tartary. In the fourteenth century an inquisitor
seems to have been regarded as a necessary portion of the missionary
outfit. Even in the fabled Ethiopian empire of Prester John we hear of
an Inquisition founded in Abyssinia by the Dominican Friar, St.
Pantaleone, and another in Nubia by Friar Bartolomeo de Tybuli, who was
also honored as a saint in those regions. Grotesque as all this sounds,
one cannot help honoring the unselfish zeal of the men who thus devoted
themselves to the diffusion of the gospel among barbarous Gentiles, and
one can find comfort in the conviction that their Inquisitions were
comparatively harmless so long as they were not backed by the terrible
laws of a Frederic II. or of a St. Louis.[315]

Even the decaying fragments of the Kingdom of Jerusalem could not be
allowed burial without an inquisitor to attend the obsequies. The
misfortunes of war, according to Nicholas IV., the first Franciscan
pope, gave opportunity for the growth of heresy and Judaism. Therefore,
in 1290, he granted full powers to his legate, Nicholas, Patriarch of
Jerusalem, to appoint inquisitors, with the advice of the Mendicant
provincials. This was accordingly done, but the fatherly care of
Nicholas was a trifle tardy. The capture of Acre, May 19, 1291, drove
the Christians finally from the Holy Land, and the career of the Syrian
Inquisition was therefore of the briefest. It was revived, however, in
1375, by Gregory XI., who empowered the Franciscan provincial of the
Holy Land to act as inquisitor in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, to check
the too prevalent apostasy of the Christian pilgrims who continued to
flock to those regions.[316]

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not to be supposed that the triumph of the Inquisition over the
bishops gave to it a monopoly of persecution. The ordinary episcopal
jurisdiction remained intact. About 1240 we see the Bishop of Toulouse
and his provost conducting, without the aid of an inquisitor, an inquest
for heresy upon the powerful seigneurs de Niort. Bishops who were
zealous were frequently seen co-operating with inquisitors in the
examination of heretics, as well as holding their own inquisitions.
Thus, in a number of cases occurring at Albi in 1299, we find the trials
held in the episcopal palace before the bishop, assisted sometimes by
Nicholas d'Abbeville, inquisitor of Carcassonne, and sometimes by
Bertrand de Clermont, inquisitor of Toulouse, and sometimes by both. At
first, as we have seen, the inquisitor was only the assistant of the
bishop, and the latter was by no means relieved of his duties and
responsibilities in the extermination of heresy. In fact the bishops
themselves sometimes appointed inquisitors of their own in order to
operate more efficiently; and the names of such functionaries acting for
the archbishops of Narbonne appear in documents of 1251 and 1325. There
was nothing, moreover, to prevent a zealous prelate, who thought less
of the dignity of his order than the suppression of heresy, from
accepting a commission as inquisitor from the pope, as was the case with
Guillem Arnaud, Bishop of Carcassonne, who, during his episcopate,
lasting from 1249 to 1255, presided over the tribunal of Carcassonne
with an energy that Dominicans might have envied.[317]

Yet, as the Inquisition achieved its independence of the episcopate, two
concurrent jurisdictions could hardly coexist without jarring, even when
both were animated by the desire of harmony: when jealousy and rivalry
were strong, quarrels were inevitable. It was even hinted that bishops,
desiring to preserve friends from the zeal of the inquisitors, would
prosecute them in their own courts to preserve them from the rigorous
impartiality of the Holy Office. To settle the questions which thus were
constantly arising, Urban IV., in 1262, empowered the inquisitors to
proceed in all cases at their discretion, whether or not these were also
under examination by the bishops; and this was repeated in 1265 and 1266
by Clement IV., with strong injunctions to the inquisitors that they
were not to allow their processes to be impeded by concurrent action of
the bishops. In 1273 Gregory X. laid down the same rule; and it became
the settled practice of the Church, embodied in the canon law, that both
courts could simultaneously try the same case, communicating at
intervals their proceedings to each other. Mutual conference, moreover,
was necessary at the final sentence, and when they could not agree a
full statement had to be submitted to the pope for decision. Even when
proceeding alone and by his ordinary authority, the bishop was obliged
to call in the concurrence of an inquisitor when he rendered

During this period, at one time, it became a question whether the
episcopal jurisdiction over heresy was not completely superseded by the
papal commission given to an inquisitor to act in his diocese. Gui
Foucoix, the foremost jurist of his day, in his "_Quæstiones_," which
long remained an authority in the inquisitorial tribunals, answered this
question in the affirmative, and argued that the bishop was debarred
from action by the special delegation of papal powers to the inquisitor.
Yet, when Gui became pope, under the name of Clement IV., his bulls of
1265 and 1266, quoted above, show that he abandoned this position, and
Gregory X. also expressly declared that the diocesan jurisdiction was
not interfered with. Still the question was regarded as doubtful by
canon lawyers, and for a period the episcopal jurisdiction sank almost
into abeyance. There were few more active prelates in his day than
Simon, Archbishop of Bourges, who, from 1284 to 1291, made repeated
visitations of his southern dioceses, such as Albi, Rodez, Cahors, etc.
Yet, in the records of these visitations, there is no allusion to his
taking any cognizance of heresy, unless, indeed, his forcing, in 1285, a
number of usurers of Gourdon to abjure be assumed as such, though usury
was not justiciable by the Inquisition unless it became heresy by the
assertion of its legality. About 1298, however, Boniface VIII.
reasserted the jurisdiction of the episcopate, and we see Bernard de
Castanet, Bishop of Albi, stirring up a revolt among his flock by the
energy with which he scourged the heretics of Albi. Soon afterwards
Clement V. enlarged the functions of the episcopate as a means of
curbing the atrocities of the Inquisition, and the glossators argued
that the appointment of inquisitors in no way relieved the bishop from
the duty of investigating and suppressing heresy in his diocese--indeed,
he was liable to deposition by the pope for negligence in this respect,
though he was shielded by his position from prosecution by the
inquisitor. Yet, even after the Clementines, Bernard Gui asserts it to
be improper for the episcopal ordinary to cite any one who is already
before the Inquisition. Still, if the power of the bishop had been
limited by requiring him to consult with the inquisitor before rendering
sentence, it had been enlarged in another direction by authorizing him
to summon witnesses as well as offenders who had fled to other dioceses.
There was one discrimination, however, against the bishop which
handicapped him heavily. His attempts to get a share of the proceeds of
fines and confiscations to meet the expenses of prosecution were
ineffectual. He was told that he and his officials had revenues for the
functions of the Church, and these must suffice to pay him for the
service. Ingenious dialecticians reasoned this away as far as regards
the bishop when he acted personally, but it held good against his
officials. To the latter it was not encouraging to be urged to work and
pay their own costs, while the inquisitor, at least in Italy, had
control of the confiscations, without accountability to the bishop.[319]

Under the legislation of Boniface VIII. and Clement V. it was natural
that the first quarter of the fourteenth century should witness a
revival of the episcopal Inquisition. Even in Italy the provincial
Council of Milan, held at Bergamo in 1311 under the Archbishop Gastone
Torriani, organized a thorough system of inquisition on the model of the
papal institution. The growing power of the Visconti, hostile to the
papacy, had greatly crippled the Dominicans, and a vigorous effort was
made to replace them. In every town the arch-priest or provost was
instructed to raise an armed guard, whose duty was the ceaseless
perquisition of heresy, and whose privileges and immunities were the
same as those of the familiars of the Dominican inquisitors; and all
citizens, from the noble to the peasant, were summoned to lend
assistance, when called upon, under significant threats. In France some
proceedings, in 1319 and 1320, at Béziers, Pamiers, and Montpellier show
the episcopal courts in full activity, with the occasional appearance of
an inquisitor in a subordinate capacity as assistant, or of an episcopal
inquisitor as a colleague of equal rank with those who acted under papal
authority. In fact we find one such, in 1322, representing the see of
Ausch, contending with the great Bernard Gui himself over a prisoner
whom they both claimed. When, also, in 1319, the great opponent of the
Inquisition, Friar Bernard Délicieux, was to be tried for impeding it,
John XXII. appointed a special commission for the work, consisting of
the Archbishop of Toulouse and the Bishops of Pamiers and St. Papoul,
while one of the most experienced inquisitors of the time, Jean de
Beaune of Carcassonne, acted as prosecutor, and not as judge.[320]

In Germany, about the same time, there was a sudden development of
episcopal activity in the prosecutions of the Beghards by the Bishop of
Strassburg and the Archbishop of Cologne, leading to a fair trial of
strength between the hierarchy and the Dominicans in the case of Master
Eckhart, the teacher of Suso and Tauler and the founder of the German
mystics. He was looked upon with pride by the whole Order as one of its
most prominent members. He had taught theology with applause in the
great University of Paris; in 1303, when Germany was divided into two
provinces, he had been made the first provincial Prior of Saxony; in
1307 the general had appointed him Vicar of Bohemia. In 1326 we find
him, as teacher of theology in the Dominican school of Cologne, falling
under suspicion of complicity with the heresy of the Beghards, against
whom a sharp persecution was raging. His lofty mysticism trenched
dangerously on their pantheism, and possibly they may have sought to
shelter themselves behind his great name. At the general chapter of 1325
complaints had been made that in Germany members of the Order preached
to the people in the vulgar tongue doctrines that might lead to error,
and Gervaise, Prior of Angers, was ordered to investigate them; while,
about the same time, John XXII., in concurrence with the wishes of the
Order, appointed Nicholas of Strassburg, lector or teacher of the
Cologne Dominicans, as his inquisitor for the province of Germany, to
inquire into the faith and life of the brethren. Thus far everything had
been kept within the precincts of the Order, but the archbishop was
growing hot in his pursuit of the Beghards. He evidently was
dissatisfied with what was on foot, and he appointed two episcopal
commissioners or inquisitors to look after Master Eckhart. Nicholas of
Strassburg was himself inclined to mysticism; every motive conspired to
lead him to deal tenderly with the accused, and Eckhart was accordingly
acquitted, in July, 1326. The episcopal inquisitors were not content
with this (one of them was a Franciscan), and proceeded to take evidence
against Eckhart. After six months, on January 14, 1327, they summoned
Nicholas, as was their right, to communicate to them his proceedings. He
came, accompanied by ten friars, not to obey the command, but to enter a
solemn protest against the whole business, demanding his "Apostoli," or
letters of appeal to the pope, on the ground that Dominicans were not
subject to the episcopal Inquisition, and that he in especial was an
inquisitor appointed by the pope with full jurisdiction. As early as
1184 Lucius III. had abolished all immunities of monastic orders in
cases of heresy, but the Dominicans were of later origin, they had been
strengthened with special privileges, and they claimed this exemption
although they could not prove it. The episcopal inquisitors promptly
answered this by commencing the same day an action against Nicholas
himself, who on the morrow interjected an appeal to the Holy See. They
further summoned Master Eckhart to appear before them on January 31, but
on the 24th he came with numerous supporters and filed an indignant
protest, in which he complained bitterly of their protracting the
proceedings for the purpose of ruining his reputation, in place of
pushing them to an end, as they could readily have done six months
before; besides, they were using for the same purpose certain vile
Dominicans who were notorious for their crimes. He demanded his
"Apostoli," and named May 4 as the term for prosecuting the appeal in
the Roman court. To this the archiepiscopal inquisitors had by law
thirty days to reply, and during the interval, on February 13, he took
an extra-judicial step, which seems to show how greatly his reputation
had suffered by these proceedings, and which has given rise to the
assertion that he recanted his errors. After preaching in the Dominican
church he caused a paper to be read in which he exculpated himself to
the people from the erroneous doctrines attributed to him--denying that
he had said that his little finger had created all things, or that there
was in the soul something uncreated and uncreatable. At the expiration
of the thirty days, on February 22, the archiepiscopal inquisitors
rejected Eckhart's appeal as frivolous. Worn out with the controversy,
he died soon after, but his Order had sufficient influence with John
XXII. to obtain an evocation of the case to Avignon. There the
regularity of the archbishop's action was recognized, and on March 27,
1329, judgment was rendered, defining in Eckhart's teachings seventeen
heretical articles and eleven suspect of heresy. Although his assumed
recantation saved his bones from exhumation and incremation, the result
was none the less a full justification of the archbishop's proceedings.
For once the old order had triumphed over the new. The episcopal
jurisdiction was confirmed, for Eckhart's heresy was declared to have
been proved both by the inquisition held by the archbishop under his
ordinary authority, and by the investigation subsequently made in
Avignon by papal command, and the decision was the more emphatic, since
John XXII. had at the moment every motive to soothe the Dominicans,
involved as he was in mortal struggle at once with Louis of Bavaria and
with the whole puritanic section of the Franciscans.[321]

The episcopal Inquisition was thus fairly re-established as part of the
recognized organization of the Church. The Council of Paris in 1350
treats of the persecution of heresy as part of the recognized duties of
the bishop, and instructs the Ordinaries as to their powers of arrest
and authority to call upon the secular officials for assistance in
precisely the same terms as the Inquisition might do. A brief of Urban
V. in 1363 refers to a knight and five gentlemen suspected of heresy,
then in the custody of the Bishop of Carcassonne, and orders their trial
by the bishop or inquisitor, or by both conjointly, the result to be
referred to the papal court. When a bishop had spirit to resist the
invasion of his rights by an inquisitor, he was able to make them
respected. In 1423 the Inquisitor of Carcassonne had gone to Albi, where
he swore in two notaries and some other officials to act for him; he had
then taken certain evidence relating to a case before him, and had sworn
the witnesses to secrecy in order that the accused might not receive
warning. Of all this the Bishop of Albi complained as an invasion of his
jurisdiction. The swearing in of the officials he claimed should only
have been done in presence of his ordinary or of a deputy; the secrecy
imposed on the witnesses was an impediment to his own inquisitorial
procedure, as depriving him of evidence in the event of his prosecuting
the case. The points were somewhat nice, and illustrate the friction and
jealousy inseparable from the concurrent and competing jurisdictions;
but in the present case, to avoid unseemly strife, the Bishop of
Carcassonne was chosen as arbitrator, the inquisitor acknowledged
himself in the wrong and annulled his acts, and a public instrument was
drawn up in attestation of the settlement. Yet in spite of these
inevitable quarrels a _modus vivendi_ was practically established.
Eymerich, writing about 1375, almost always represents the bishop and
inquisitor as co-operating together, not only in the final sentence, but
in the preliminary proceedings; he evidently seeks to represent the two
powers as working harmoniously for a common end, and that the
Inquisition in no way superseded the episcopal jurisdiction or relieved
the bishop from the responsibility inherent in his office. A century
later Sprenger, in discussing the jurisdiction of the Inquisition from
the standpoint of an inquisitor, takes virtually the same position; and
the commissions issued to inquisitors usually contained a clause to the
effect that no prejudice was intended to the inquisitorial jurisdiction
of the Ordinaries. In the habitual negligence of the episcopal
officials, however, the inquisitors found little difficulty in
trespassing upon their functions, and complaints of this interference
continued until the eve of the Reformation.[322]

Technically there was no difference between the episcopal and papal
Inquisitions. The equitable system of procedure borrowed from the Roman
law by the courts of the Ordinaries was cast aside, and the bishops were
permitted and even instructed to follow the inquisitorial system, which
was a standing mockery of justice--perhaps the most iniquitous that the
arbitrary cruelty of man has ever devised. In tracing the history of the
institution, therefore, there is no distinction to be drawn between its
two branches, and the exploits of both are to be recorded as springing
from the same impulses, using the same methods, and leading to the same

Yet the papal Inquisition was an instrument of infinitely greater
efficiency for the work in hand. However zealous an episcopal official
might be, his efforts were necessarily isolated, temporary, and
spasmodic. The papal Inquisition, on the other hand, constituted a
chain of tribunals throughout Continental Europe perpetually manned by
those who had no other work to attend to. Not only, therefore, did
persecution in their hands assume the aspect of part of the endless and
inevitable operations of nature, which was necessary to accomplish its
end, and which rendered the heretic hopeless that time would bring
relief, but by constant interchange of documents and mutual co-operation
they covered Christendom with a network rendering escape almost
hopeless. This, combined with the most careful preservation and indexing
of records, produced a system of police singularly perfect for a period
when international communication was so imperfect. The Inquisition had a
long arm, a sleepless memory, and we can well understand the mysterious
terror inspired by the secrecy of its operations and its almost
supernatural vigilance. If public proclamation was desired, it summoned
all the faithful, with promises of eternal life and reasonable temporal
reward, to seize some designated heresiarch, and every parish priest
where he was suspected to be in hiding was bound to spread the call
before the whole population. If secret information was required, there
were spies and familiars trained to the work. The record of every
heretical family for generations could be traced out from the papers of
one tribunal or another. A single lucky capture and extorted confession
would put the sleuth-hounds on the track of hundreds who deemed
themselves secure, and each new victim added his circle of
denunciations. The heretic lived over a volcano which might burst forth
at any moment. During the fierce persecution of the Spiritual
Franciscans in 1317 and 1318 a number of pitying souls had assisted
fugitives, had stood by the pyres of their martyrs and had comforted
them in various ways. Some had been suspected, had fled and changed
their names: others had remained in favoring obscurity; all might well
have fancied that the affair was forgotten. Suddenly, in 1325, some
chance--probably the confession of a prisoner--placed the Inquisition on
their track. Twenty or more were traced out and seized. Kept in prison
for a year or two, their resolution broke down one by one; they
successively confessed their half-forgotten guilt and were duly
penanced. Even more significant was the case of Guillelma Maza of
Castres, who lost her husband in 1302. In the first grief of her
widowhood she was induced to listen to the teachings of two Waldensian
missionaries whose exhortations brought her comfort. They visited her
but twice, in the darkness of the night; she never saw their faces nor
those of others. After twenty-five years of orthodox observance, in
1327, she is brought before the Inquisition of Carcassonne, confesses
this single aberration from the faith, and repents. Unforgiving and
unforgetting, no trifle was beneath the minute vigilance of the Holy
Office. Thus in the case of Manenta Rosa, who, in 1325, was called
before it at Carcassonne on the mortal charge of relapse, the
prosecution was because, after having abjured the heresy of the
Spirituals, she had been seen talking with a man who was under suspicion
and had sent by him two sols to a sick woman likewise suspect.[324]

Flight was of little avail. Descriptions of heretics who disappeared
were sent throughout Europe, to every spot where they could be supposed
to seek refuge, putting the authorities on the alert to search for every
stranger who wore the air of one differing in life and conversation from
the ordinary run of the faithful. News of captures was transmitted from
one tribunal to another, evidence of guilt was furnished, or the hapless
victim was returned to the spot where his extorted evidence would be
most effective in implicating others. In 1287 an arrest of heretics at
Treviso included some from France. Immediately the French inquisitors
request that they be sent to them, especially one who ranked as bishop
among the Cathari, for they may be induced to reveal the names of many
others; and Nicholas IV. forthwith sends instructions to Friar Philip of
Treviso to deliver them, after extracting all he can from them, to the
messenger of the French Inquisition. Well might the orthodox imagine
that only the hand of God, the heretic that only the inspiration of
Satan, could produce such results as would follow the return of these
poor wretches. To human apprehension the papal Inquisition was well-nigh
ubiquitous, omniscient, and omnipotent.[325]

Occasionally, it is true, the efficiency of the organization was marred
with quarrels. Antagonisms could not always be avoided, and the jealousy
and mutual dislike of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders would
sometimes interfere with the harmony essential to mutual co-operation. I
have already alluded to the troubles arising from this cause at
Marseilles in 1266 and at Verona in 1291. A further symptom of lack of
unity is seen in 1327, when Pierre Trencavel, a noted Spiritual, who had
escaped from the prison of Carcassonne, was captured in Provence with
his daughter Andrée, likewise a fugitive. There could be no question as
to their belonging to those from whom they had fled, yet Friar Michel,
the Franciscan inquisitor of Provence, refused to surrender them, and
the Carcassonne tribunal was obliged to appeal to John XXII., who
intervened with a peremptory command to Friar Michel to lay aside all
opposition and surrender the prisoners at once. Yet, considering the
imperfections of human nature, these quarrels seem to have been

Properly to govern and direct an engine of such infinite power, dealing
with the life and happiness of countless thousands, would require more
than human wisdom and virtue; and it may be worth a moment's attention
to see what was the ideal of those to whom the practical working of the
Holy Office was confided. Bernard Gui, the most experienced inquisitor
of his day, concludes his elaborate instructions as to procedure with
some general directions as to conduct and character. The inquisitor, he
tells us, should be diligent and fervent in his zeal for the truth of
religion, for the salvation of souls, and for the extirpation of heresy.
Amid troubles and opposing accidents he should grow earnest, without
allowing himself to be inflamed with the fury of wrath and indignation.
He must not be sluggish of body, for sloth destroys the vigor of action.
He must be intrepid, persisting through danger to death, laboring for
religious truth, neither precipitating peril by audacity nor shrinking
from it through timidity. He must be unmoved by the prayers and
blandishments of those who seek to influence him, yet not be, through
hardness of heart, so obstinate that he will yield nothing to entreaty,
whether in granting delays or in mitigating punishment, according to
place and circumstance, for this implies stubbornness; nor must he be
weak and yielding through too great a desire to please, for this will
destroy the vigor and value of his work--he who is weak in his work is
brother to him who destroys his work. In doubtful matters he must be
circumspect and not readily yield credence to what seems probable, for
such is not always true; nor should he obstinately reject the opposite,
for that which seems improbable often turns out to be fact. He must
listen, discuss, and examine with all zeal, that the truth may be
reached at the end. Like a just judge let him so bear himself in passing
sentence of corporal punishment that his face may show compassion, while
his inward purpose remains unshaken, and thus will he avoid the
appearance of indignation and wrath leading to the charge of cruelty. In
imposing pecuniary penalties, let his face preserve the severity of
justice as though he were compelled by necessity and not allured by
cupidity. Let truth and mercy, which should never leave the heart of a
judge, shine forth from his countenance, that his decisions may be free
from all suspicion of covetousness or cruelty.[327]

       *       *       *       *       *

To appreciate rightly the career and influence of the Inquisition will
require a somewhat minute examination into its methods and procedure. In
no other way can we fully understand its action; and the lessons to be
drawn from such an investigation are perhaps the most important that it
has to teach.



We have seen how the Church had found persuasion powerless to arrest the
spread of heresy. St. Bernard, Foulques de Neuilly, Durán de Huesca, St.
Dominic, St. Francis, had successively tried the rarest eloquence to
convince, and the example of the sublimest self-abnegation to convert.
Only force remained, and it had been pitilessly employed. It had
subjected the populations, only to render heresy hidden in place of
public; and, in order to reap the fruits of victory, it became apparent
that organized, ceaseless persecution continued to perpetuity was the
only hope of preserving Catholic unity, and of preventing the garment of
the Lord from being permanently rent. To this end the Inquisition was
developed into a settled institution manned by the Mendicant Orders,
which had been formed to persuade by argument and example, and which now
were utilized to suppress by force.

The organization of the Inquisition was simple, yet effective. It did
not care to impress the minds of men with magnificence, but rather to
paralyze them with terror. To the secular prelacy it left the gorgeous
vestments and the imposing splendors of worship, the picturesque
processions and the showy retinues of retainers. The inquisitor wore the
simple habits of his Order. When he appeared abroad he was at most
accompanied by a few armed familiars, partly as a guard, partly to
execute his orders. His principal scene of activity was in the recesses
of the dreaded Holy Office, whence he issued his commands and decided
the fate of whole populations in a silence and secrecy which impressed
upon the people a mysterious awe a thousand times more potent than the
external magnificence of the bishop. Every detail in the Inquisition was
intended for work and not for show. It was built up by resolute, earnest
men of one idea who knew what they wanted, who rendered everything
subservient to the one object, and who sternly rejected all that might
embarrass with superfluities the unerring and ruthless justice which it
was their mission to enforce.

The previous chapter has shown us the simplicity which marked the
beginnings of the institution, consisting virtually of the individual
friars selected to hunt up heretics and determine their guilt. Their
districts were naturally coterminous with the provinces of the Mendicant
Orders, whose provincials were charged with the duty of appointment, and
these provinces each comprised many bishoprics. Though the chief town of
each province came to be regarded as the seat of the Inquisition, with
its building and prisons, yet it was the duty of the inquisitor to go in
pursuit of the heretics, to visit all places where heresy might be
suspected to exist, and to summon the people to assemble, exactly as the
bishops formerly did in their visitations, with the added inducement of
an indulgence of twenty or forty days for all who attended. It is true
that at first the inquisitors of Toulouse established themselves in that
city and cited before them all whom they wished to appear, but such
complaints arose as to the intolerable hardship of this that, in 1237,
the Legate Jean de Vienne ordered them to transport themselves to the
places where they wished to make inquest. In obedience to this we see
them going to Castelnaudari, where they were baffled by the people, who
had entered into a common understanding not to betray each other, so
they turned unexpectedly to Puy Laurens, where they took the population
by surprise and gathered an ample harvest. The murders of Avignonet, in
1242, gave warning that these itinerant inquests were not without risk,
yet they continued to be prescribed by the Cardinal of Albano, about
1244, and by the Council of Béziers, in 1246. Although, in 1247,
Innocent IV. authorized inquisitors, when there was danger, to summon
heretics and witnesses to some place of safety, yet the theory of
personal visitation remained unchanged. In Italy we see it in the bulls
_Ad extirpanda_; a contemporary German inquisitor describes it as the
customary practice; in northern France we have the formulas used in 1278
by Friar Simon Duval for summoning the people on such occasions; about
1330 Bernard Gui alludes to it as one of the special privileges of the
Inquisition; and, about 1375, Eymerich describes the method of
conducting these inquests as part of the established routine.[328]

Nothing could well be devised more effective than these visitations, and
though they may have become neglected when the machinery of spies and
familiars was perfected, or when the heretics had been nearly weeded
out, during the busy times of the Inquisition they must have formed an
important portion of its functions. A few days in advance of his visit
to a city, the inquisitor would send notice to the ecclesiastical
authorities requiring them to summon the people to assemble at a
specified time, with an announcement of the indulgence given to all who
should attend. To the populace thus brought together he preached on the
faith, urging them to its defence with such eloquence as he could
command, summoning every one within a certain radius to come forward
within six or twelve days and reveal to him whatever they may have known
or heard of any one leading to the belief or suspicion that he might be
a heretic, or defamed for heresy, or that he had spoken against any
article of faith, or that he differed in life and morals from the common
conversation of the faithful. Neglect to comply with this command
incurred _ipso facto_ excommunication, removable only by the inquisitor
himself; compliance with it was rewarded with an indulgence of three
years. At the same time he proclaimed a "time of grace," varying from
fifteen to thirty days, during which any heretic coming forward
spontaneously, confessing his guilt, abjuring, and giving full
information about his fellow-sectaries, was promised mercy. This mercy
varied at different times from complete immunity to exemption from the
severer penalties of death, imprisonment, exile, or confiscation. The
latter is the grace promised in the earliest allusion to the practice
in 1235, and in a sentence of 1237 on such an occasion the offender
escaped with a penance consisting of two of the shorter pilgrimages, the
finding of a beggar daily during life, and a fine of ten livres Morlaas
given "for the love of God" to the Inquisition. After the expiration of
the term they were told that no mercy would be shown; while it lasted,
the inquisitor was instructed to keep himself housed, so as to be ready
at any moment to receive denunciations and confessions; and long series
of interrogatories, most searching and suggestive, were drawn up to
prompt him in the examination of those who should present themselves.
Even as late as 1387 when Frà Antonio Secco attacked the heretics of the
Waldensian valleys, he commenced by publishing in the church of Pignerol
a summons giving a week of grace during which all who should confess as
to themselves and others should escape public punishment except for
perjury committed before the Inquisition, and all who did not come
forward were denounced as excommunicates.[329]

Bernard Gui assures us that this device was exceedingly fruitful, not
only in causing numerous happy conversions, but also in furnishing
information of many heretics who would not otherwise have been thought
of, as each penitent was forced to denounce all whom he knew or
suspected; and he particularly dwells upon its utility in securing the
capture of the "perfected" Catharans who habitually lay in hiding and
who thus were betrayed by those in whom they trusted. It is easy, in
fact, to imagine the terror into which a community would be thrown when
an inquisitor suddenly descended upon it and made his proclamation. No
one could know what stories might be circulating about himself which
zealous fanaticism or personal enmity might exaggerate and carry to the
inquisitor, and in this the orthodox and the heretic would suffer alike.
All scandals passing from mouth to mouth would be brought to light. All
confidence between man and man would disappear. Old grudges would be
gratified in safety. To him who had been heretically inclined the
terrible suspense would grow day by day more insupportable, with the
thought that some careless word might have been treasured up to be now
revealed by those who ought to be nearest and dearest to him, until at
last he would yield and betray others rather than be betrayed himself.
Gregory IX. boasted that, on at least one such occasion, parents were
led to denounce their children, and children their parents, husbands
their wives, and wives their husbands. We may well believe Bernard Gui
when he says that each revelation led to others, until the invisible net
extended far and wide, and that not the least of the benefits thence
arising were the extensive confiscations which were sure to follow.[330]

These preliminary proceedings were commonly held in the convent of the
Order to which the inquisitor belonged, if such there were, or in the
episcopal palace if it were a cathedral town. In other cases the church
or municipal buildings would afford the necessary accommodation, for the
authorities, both lay and clerical, were bound to afford all assistance
demanded. Each inquisitor, however, necessarily had his headquarters to
which he would return after these forays, carrying with him the
depositions of accusers and confessions of accused, and such prisoners
as he deemed it important to secure, the secular authorities being bound
to furnish him the necessary transportation and guards. Others he would
cite to appear before him at a specified time, taking sufficient bail to
secure their punctuality. In the earlier period, the seat of his
tribunal was the Mendicant convent, while the episcopal or public prison
was at his disposal for the detention of his captives; but in time
special buildings were provided, amply furnished with the necessary
appliances and dungeons--cells built along the walls and thence known as
"_murus_," in contradistinction to the "_carcer_" or prison--where the
unfortunates awaiting sentence were under the immediate supervision of
their judge. It was here, for the most part, that the judicial
proceedings were carried on, though we occasionally hear of the
episcopal palace being used, especially when the bishop was zealous and
co-operated with the Inquisition.

During the earlier period there was no limitation as to the age of the
inquisitor; the provincial who held the appointing power could select
any member of his Order. That this frequently led to the nomination of
young and inexperienced men is presumable from the language in which
Clement V., when reforming the Holy Office, prescribed forty years as
the minimum age in future. Bernard Gui remonstrated against this, not
only because younger men were often thoroughly capable of the duties,
but also because bishops and their ordinaries who exercised
inquisitorial power were not required to be so old. The rule, however,
held good. In 1422 the Provincial of Toulouse appointed an inquisitor of
Carcassonne, Friar Raymond du Tille, who was only thirty-two years of
age. Though he was confirmed by the general of the Order, it was held
that the office was vacant until an appeal was made to Martin V., who
ordered the Official of Alet to investigate his fitness, and, if found
worthy, the Clementine canon might be suspended in his favor.[331]

The trials were usually conducted by a single inquisitor, though
sometimes two would work together. One, however, sufficed, but he
generally had subordinate assistants, who prepared the cases for him,
and took the preliminary examinations. He had a right to call upon the
provincial to assign to him as many of these assistants as he deemed
necessary, but he could not select them for himself. Sometimes, when the
bishop was eager for persecution and careless of the episcopal dignity,
he would accept the position; and it was frequently filled by the
Dominican prior of the local convent. When the state defrayed the
expenses of the Inquisition, it seems to have exercised some control
over the number of officials. Thus in Naples Charles of Anjou, in 1269,
only provides for one assistant.[332]

These assistants represented the inquisitor during his absence, and thus
were closely assimilated to the commissioners who came to be a
permanent feature of the Holy Office. Even in the twelfth century it was
determined that a judicial delegate of the Holy See could delegate his
powers; and in 1246 the Council of Béziers authorized the inquisitor to
appoint a deputy whenever he wished to have an inquest made in any place
to which he could not himself proceed. Special commissions were
sometimes issued, as when, in 1276, Pons de Pornac, Inquisitor of
Toulouse, authorized the Dominican Prior of Montauban to take testimony
against Bernard de Solhac and forward it to him under seal. In the
extensive districts of the Inquisition the work must necessarily have
been divided in this manner, especially during the earlier period, when
the harvest of heresy was abundant and numerous laborers were requisite.
Yet the formal authority to appoint commissioners with full powers does
not seem to have been granted to inquisitors until 1262 by Urban IV.,
and this had to be confirmed by Boniface VIII. towards the close of the
century. These commissioners, or vicars, differed from the assistants,
inasmuch as they were appointed and discharged at the discretion of the
inquisitor. They became a permanent feature of the institution, and
conducted its business in places remote from the main tribunal; or, in
case of the absence or incapacity of the inquisitor, one of them might
be summoned to replace him temporarily, or the inquisitor could appoint
a vicar-general. Like their principal, they had, after the Clementine
reforms in 1317, to be at least forty years of age, and they wielded
full inquisitorial powers, in the citation, arrest, and examination of
witnesses and prisoners, even to the infliction of torture and
condemnation to imprisonment. Whether they could proceed to final
sentence in capital cases was a disputed question, and Eymerich
recommends that such authority should always be reserved to the
inquisitor himself; but, as we shall see, the cases of Joan of Arc and
of the Vaudois of Arras show that this reservation was rarely observed.
A further limitation on their powers was the inability to appoint

In the later period there seems to have been occasionally another
official with the title of "counsellor." In 1370 the Inquisition of
Carcassonne claimed the right to appoint three, who should be exempt
from all local taxation. In a document of 1423 the person filling this
position is not a Dominican, but is qualified as a licentiate in law;
and doubtless such a functionary was a useful and usual member of the
tribunal, though with no precise official status. Zanghino informs us
that in general inquisitors were utterly ignorant of law. In most cases
this made no difference, for, as we shall see, they enjoyed the widest
latitude of arbitrary procedure, with little danger that any one would
dare to complain, but occasionally they had to deal with victims not
entirely unresisting, and then some adviser as to their legal duties and
responsibilities was desirable. Eymerich, in fact, recommends that a
commissioner should always associate with himself some discreet lawyer
to save him from mistakes which may redound to the disadvantage of the
Inquisition, call for papal interposition, and perhaps cost him his

As absolute secrecy became a main feature of all the proceedings of the
Inquisition after its earlier tentative period, it was a universal rule
that testimony, whether of witnesses or of accused, should only be taken
in the presence of two impartial men, not connected with the
institution, but sworn to silence. The inquisitor was empowered to
compel the attendance of any one whom he might summon to perform this
duty. These representatives of the public were preferably clerics, and
usually Dominicans, "discreet and religious men," who were expected to
sign with the notary the written report of the testimony in attestation
of its fidelity. Though not alluded to in the instructions of the
Council of Béziers in 1246, a deposition taken in 1244 shows that
already the practice had become customary; and the frequent repetitions
of the rule by successive popes and its embodiment in the canon law show
what importance was attached to it as a means of preventing injustice,
and giving at least a color of impartiality to the proceedings. Yet in
this, as in everything else, the inquisitors were a law unto themselves,
and disregarded at pleasure the very slender restrictions imposed on
them. One of the rare cases in which the Inquisition lost a victim
turned upon the neglect of this rule. In 1325 a priest named Pierre de
Tornamire, accused of Spiritual Franciscanism, was brought to the
Inquisition of Carcassonne in a dying state. The inquisitor was absent.
His deputy and notary took the deposition in the presence of three
laymen who chanced to be present, and the priest died before it was well
concluded. Two Dominicans came, after he was speechless, and, without
making any inquiry as to its correctness, signed their names to the
deposition in attestation. On this irregular evidence a prosecution
against Pierre's memory was based, and was contested by his heirs to
save his property from confiscation. Thirty-two years the struggle
lasted, and when the inquisitor came, in 1357, to ask assent to his
sentence of condemnation in the customary assembly of experts,
twenty-five jurists unanimously voted against it on the ground of
irregularity, and only two, both Dominicans, ventured to uphold it. It
was not long after this that Eymerich instructed his brethren how the
rule could be evaded, when it was inconvenient, by at least having two
honest persons present at the close of the examination, when the
testimony was read over to the deponent. No one else was allowed to be
present at the trial, except at Avignon for a brief period, about the
middle of the thirteenth century, when the magistrates temporarily
secured the right of attendance for themselves and a certain number of
seigneurs. With this exception, the unfortunates who were wrestling for
their lives with their judges were wholly at the discretion of the
inquisitor and his creatures.[335]

The _personnel_ of the tribunal was completed by the notary--an official
of considerable standing and dignity in the Middle Ages. All the
proceedings of the Inquisition were taken down in writing--every
question and every answer--each witness and each defendant being obliged
to confirm his testimony when read over to him at the close of the
interrogatory, and judgment was finally rendered on an inspection of the
evidence thus recorded. The function of the notary was no light one, and
occasionally scriveners were called in to his assistance, but he
formally attested every document. Not only was there the fearful
multiplication of papers accumulating in the current business of the
tribunal, and their careful transcription for preservation, but the
several Inquisitions were continually furnishing each other with copies
of their records, so that a considerable force must have been
necessarily employed. As in everything else, the inquisitor was
empowered to call for gratuitous service on the part of any one whom he
might summon, but the continuous business of the office required
undivided attention, and its proper despatch rendered desirable the
peculiar training acquired by experience. In the earlier periods, the
authorization to impress any notary to serve, and the advice to select
if possible Dominicans who had been notaries, with the power, if none
such could be had, to replace him with two discreet persons, shows that
the itinerant tribunals depended for the most part on this chance
conscription; but in the permanent seats of the Inquisition the notary
was a regular official, in receipt of a salary. In the attempted reform
of Clement V. it was provided that he should take his official oath
before the bishop as well as before the inquisitor, and to this Bernard
Gui objected on the ground that the exigencies of business sometimes
required the force to be suddenly increased to two or three or four, and
that in places where no public notaries were to be had, other competent
persons were necessarily employed on the spur of the moment, as it often
happens that the guilty will confess when in the mood, and if their
confession is not promptly taken they draw back, and they are always
more given to concealment than to truth. Curiously enough, the power to
appoint notaries was regarded with so much jealousy that it was denied
to the inquisitor. He may if he choose, says Eymerich, send three or
four names to the pope, who will appoint them for him, but this leads to
such bad feeling on the part of the local authorities that he had better
content himself with the notaries of the bishops or of the secular

The enormous mass of documents produced by these innumerable busy hands
was the object of well-deserved solicitude. At the very inception of the
work its value was recognized. In 1235 we hear of the confessions of
penitents being sedulously recorded in books kept for the purpose. This
speedily became the universal custom, and the inquisitors were
instructed to preserve careful records of all their proceedings, from
the first summons to the final sentence in every case, together with
lists of all who took the oath enforced on every one to defend the faith
and persecute heresy. The importance attached to this is shown by the
frequent iteration of the command, and by the further precaution that
all the papers should be duplicated, and a copy lodged in a safe place
or with the bishop. With what elaborate care they were rendered
practically useful is shown by the Book of Sentences of the Inquisition
of Toulouse, from 1308 to 1323, printed by Limborch, where at the end
there is an index of the 636 culprits sentenced, grouped under their
places of residence alphabetically arranged, with reference to the pages
on which their names occur and brief mention of the several punishments
inflicted on each, and of any subsequent modifications of the penalty,
thus enabling the official who wished information as to the people of
any hamlet to see at a glance who among them had been suspected and what
had been done. One case in the same book will illustrate the
completeness and the exactitude of the previous records. In 1316 an old
woman was brought before the tribunal; on examination it was found that
in 1268, nearly fifty years before, she had confessed and abjured heresy
and had been reconciled, and as this aggravated her guilt the miserable
wretch was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in chains. Thus in
process of time the Inquisition accumulated a store of information
which not only increased greatly its efficiency, but which rendered it
an object of terror to every man. The confiscations and disabilities
which, as we shall see hereafter, were inflicted on descendants,
rendered the secrets of family history so carefully preserved in its
archives the means by which a crushing blow might at any moment fall on
the head of any one; and the Inquisition had an awkward way of
discovering disagreeable facts about the ancestry of those who provoked
its ill-will, and possibly its cupidity. Thus, in 1306, during the
troubles at Albi, when the royal _viguier_, or governor, supported the
cause of the people, the inquisitor, Geoffroi d'Ablis, issued letters
declaring that he had found among the records that the grandfather of
the _viguier_ had been a heretic, and his grandson consequently was
incapable of holding office. The whole population was thus at the mercy
of the Holy Office.[337]

The temptation to falsify the records when an enemy was to be struck
down was exceedingly strong, and the opponents of the Inquisition had no
hesitation in declaring that it was freely yielded to. Friar Bernard
Délicieux, speaking for the whole Franciscan Order of Languedoc, in a
formal document of the year 1300, not only declared that the records
were unworthy of trust, but that they were generally believed to be so.
We shall see hereafter facts which fully justified this assertion, and
the popular mistrust was intensified by the jealous secrecy which
rendered it an offence punishable with excommunication for any one to
possess any papers relating to the proceedings of the Inquisition or to
prosecutions against heretics. On the other hand, the temptation on the
part of those who were endangered to destroy the archives was equally
strong, and the attempts to effect this show the importance attached to
their possession. As early as 1235 we find the citizens of Narbonne, in
an insurrection against the Inquisition, carefully destroying all the
books and records. The order of the Council of Albi in 1254, to make
duplicates and lodge them in some safe place was doubtless caused by
another successful effort made in 1248 by the heretics of Narbonne. On
the occasion of an assembly of bishops in that city a clerk and a
messenger bearing records with the names of heretics were slain and the
books burned, giving rise to a good many troublesome questions with
regard to existing and future prosecutions. About 1285, at Carcassonne,
a plot was entered into by the consuls of the town and several of its
leading ecclesiastics to destroy the inquisitorial records. They bribed
one of the familiars, Bernard Garric, to burn them, but the conspiracy
was discovered and its authors punished. One of these, a lawyer named
Guillem Garric, languished in prison for about thirty years before his
final sentence in 1321.[338]

       *       *       *       *       *

Not the least important among the functionaries of the Inquisition were
the lowest class--the apparitors, messengers, spies, and bravos, known
generally by the name of familiars, which came to have so ill-omened a
significance in the popular ear. The service was not without risk, and
it had few attractions for the honest and peaceable, but it was full of
promise for the reckless and evil-minded. Not only did they enjoy the
immunity from secular jurisdiction attaching to all in the service of
the Church, but the special authority granted by Innocent IV., in 1245,
to the inquisitors to absolve their familiars for acts of violence
rendered them independent even of the ecclesiastical tribunals. Besides,
as any molestation of the servants of the Inquisition was qualified as
impeding its operations and thus savoring of heresy, any one who dared
to resist aggression rendered himself liable to prosecution before the
tribunal of the aggressor. Thus panoplied, they could tyrannize at will
over the defenceless population, and it is easy to imagine the amount of
extortion which they could practise with virtual impunity by threatening
arrest or accusation at a time when falling into the hands of the
Inquisition was about the heaviest misfortune which could befall any
man, whether orthodox or heretic.[339]

All that was needed to render this social scourge complete was devised
when the familiars were authorized to carry arms. The murders at
Avignonet, in 1242, with that of Peter Martyr, and other similar events,
seemed to justify the inquisitors in desiring an armed guard; and the
service of tracking and capturing heretics was frequently one of peril,
yet the privilege was a dangerous one to bestow on such men as could be
got for the work, while releasing them from the restraints of law. In
the turbulence of the age the carrying of weapons was rigidly repressed
in all peace-loving communities. As early as the eleventh century we
find it prohibited in the city of Pistoja, and in 1228 in Verona. In
Bologna knights and doctors only were allowed to bear arms, and to have
one armed servant. In Milan, a statute of Gian-Galeazzo, in 1386,
forbids the carrying of weapons, but allows the bishops to arm the
retainers living under their roofs. In Paris an _ordonnance_ of 1288
inhibits the citizens from carrying pointed knives, swords, bucklers, or
other similar weapons. In Beaucaire, an edict of 1320 prescribes various
penalties, including the loss of a hand, for bearing arms, except in the
case of travellers, who are restricted simply to swords and knives. Such
regulations were of inestimable value in the progress of civilization,
but they amounted to little when the inquisitor could arm any one he
pleased, and invest him with the privileges and immunities of the Holy

As early as 1249 the scandals and abuses arising from the unlimited
employment of scriveners and familiars who oppressed the people with
their extortions called forth the indignant rebuke of Innocent IV., who
commanded that their numbers should be reduced to correspond with the
bare exigencies of duty. In those countries in which the Inquisition was
supported by the State there was not much opportunity for the
development of overgrown abuses of this nature. Thus, in Naples, Charles
of Anjou, in permitting the carrying of arms, specifies three as the
number of familiars for each inquisitor; and when Bernard Gui protested
against the reforms of Clement V. he pointed out the contrast between
France, where the inquisitors relied upon the secular officials, and
were forced to be content with few retainers, and Italy, where they had
almost unlimited opportunities. There, in fact, as we shall see, the
Inquisition was self-supporting and independent by reason of its share
in the fines and confiscations, and restraint of any kind was difficult.
Clement V. forbade the useless multiplication of officials and the abuse
of the right to bear arms, but his well-meant efforts availed little. In
1321 we find John XXII. reproving the inquisitors of Lombardy for
creating scandals and tumults in Bologna by their armed familiars of
depraved character and perverse habits, who committed murders and other
outrages. In 1337 the papal nuncio, Bertrand, Archbishop of Embrun,
seeing by personal observation the troubles which existed in Florence,
owing to the practice of the inquisitor issuing licenses to carry arms,
which was abused to the frequent injury of defenceless citizens,
restricted him to twelve armed familiars, informing him that the secular
authorities would furnish whatever additional armed assistance might be
necessary for the capture of heretics. Yet within nine years one of the
accusations brought against a new inquisitor, Frà Piero di Aquila, was
that he had sold licenses to carry arms to more than two hundred and
fifty men, bringing him in an annual revenue of about one thousand gold
florins, and proving sadly detrimental to the peace of the city.
Accordingly a law was passed restricting the inquisitor to six familiars
bearing arms, the Bishop of Florence to twelve, and the Bishop of
Fiesole to six, all of whom were required to wear the insignia of their
masters. Still, the profit arising from the sale of such licenses was
too great a temptation, and in the Florentine code of 1355 we find
general regulations intended to check it in another way. Any one caught
bearing arms and pleading a license was deported beyond the territory of
the republic, to a distance of at least fifty miles from the city, and
had to give a bond to remain there for a year. Even the podestà was
prohibited from issuing such licenses under the penalties of perjury and
a fine of five hundred lire. All this was an infraction of the liberties
of the Church, and formed the substance of one of the complaints of
Gregory XI., when, in 1376, he excommunicated the republic; and when, in
1378, Florence was forced to submit, one of the conditions was that a
papal commissioner should expunge from the statute-book all the
obnoxious laws. Yet the excesses of these brawling ruffians were too
great to be long submitted to, and in 1386 another device was tried. The
two bishops and the inquisitor were forbidden to have armed familiars
who were taxable or inscribed on the roll of citizens; those to whom
they issued licenses had to be declared their familiars by the priors of
the arts, and this declaration had to be renewed yearly by a public
instrument delivered to them. Some restraint thus was exercised, and
this provision was retained in the recension of the code in 1415. This
same struggle was doubtless going on in all the Italian cities which had
independence enough to seek a remedy for the daily outrages inflicted by
these licensed bravos, though the record of the troubles may not be
accessible to history. Even in Venice, which kept the Inquisition in so
subordinate a position, and wisely maintained its rights by defraying
the expenses of the institution--even Venice felt the necessity of
restraining the multiplication of pretended armed retainers. In August,
1450, the Great Council, by a vote of fourteen to two, denounced the
abuse by which the inquisitor had sold to twelve persons the license to
bear arms; such a force, it is said, was wholly unnecessary, as he could
always invoke the assistance of the secular power, and therefore he
should, in accordance with ancient custom, be restricted to four armed
familiars. Six months later, in February, 1451, at the earnest request
of the Franciscan general minister, this regulation was rescinded; the
inquisitor was allowed to increase the number to twelve, but the police
were directed to observe and report whether they were really engaged in
the duties of the Inquisition. Yet Eymerich assures us that all such
interference is unlawful, and that any secular ruler who endeavors to
prevent the familiars of the Holy Office from bearing arms is impeding
the Inquisition and is a fautor of heresy, while Bernard Gui
characterizes in similar terms any limitation of the number of officials
below what the inquisitor may deem requisite, all of which, according to
Zanghino, is punishable at the discretion of the inquisitor.[341]

In the preceding chapter I have alluded to the power claimed and often
exercised of abrogating all local statutes obnoxious to the Holy Office,
and of the duty of every secular official to lend aid whenever called
upon. This duty was recognized and enforced so that the organization of
the Inquisition may be said to have embraced that of the State, whose
whole resources were placed at its disposition. The oath of obedience
which the inquisitor was empowered and directed to exact of all holding
official station was no mere form. Refusal to take it was visited with
excommunication, leading to prosecution for heresy in case of obduracy,
and humiliating penance on submission. At times it was neglected by
careless inquisitors, but the earnest ones made a point of it. Bernard
Gui, at all his _autos de fé_, solemnly administered it to all the royal
officials and local magistrates, and when, in May, 1309, Jean de
Maucochin, the royal seneschal of the Tolosain and Albigeois declined to
take it, he was speedily brought to see his error, and submitted within
a month. Bernard himself, as we have seen, admits that the help thus
promised was efficiently rendered, and when, in 1329, Henri de Chamay,
Inquisitor of Carcassonne, applied to Philippe de Valois for a
reaffirmation of the privileges of the Inquisition, the monarch promptly
responded in an edict in which he proclaimed that "each and all, dukes,
counts, barons, seneschals, baillis, provosts, viguiers, castellans,
sergeants, and other justiciaries of the kingdom of France are bound to
obey the inquisitors and their commissioners in seizing, holding,
guarding, and taking to prison all heretics and suspects of heresy, and
to execute diligently the sentences of the inquisitors, and to give to
the inquisitors, their commissioners and messengers, safe-conduct,
prompt help and favor, through all the lands of their jurisdictions, in
all that concerns the business of the Inquisition, whenever and how
often soever they may be called upon." Any hesitation on the part of
public officials to grant assistance when summoned was promptly
punished. Thus, in 1303, when Bonrico di Busca, vicar of the podestà of
Mandrisio, refused to furnish men to the representatives of the Milanese
Inquisition, he was forthwith condemned to a fine of a hundred imperial
solidi, to be paid within five days. Even the condition of an
excommunicate, which rendered an official incapable of performing any
other function, did not relieve him from this duty; he could be called
upon to execute the commands of the inquisitor, but he was warned that
he must not imagine himself competent therefore to do anything

In addition to this the Inquisition had, to a greater or less extent, at
its service the whole orthodox population, and especially the clergy. It
was the duty of every man to give information as to all cases of heresy
with which he might become acquainted under pain of incurring the guilt
of fautorship. It was further his duty to arrest all heretics, as
Bernard de St. Genais found in 1242, when he was tried by the
Inquisition of Toulouse for the offence of not capturing certain
heretics when it was in his power to do so, and was condemned to the
penance of pilgrimages to the shrines of Puy, St. Gilles, and
Compostella. The parish priests, moreover, were required, whenever
called upon, to cite their parishioners for appearance, either publicly
from the pulpit or secretly as the case might require, and to publish
all sentences of excommunication. They were likewise held to the duty of
surveillance over penitents to see that the penances enjoined were duly
performed, and to report any cases of neglect. A very thorough system of
local police, framed upon the model of the old synodal witnesses, was
devised by the Council of Béziers in 1246, under which the inquisitor
was empowered to appoint in every parish a priest and one or two
laymen, whose duty it should be to search for heretics, examining all
houses, inside and out, and especially all secret hiding-places. In
addition to this they were instructed to watch over penitents and
enforce the faithful observance of the sentences of the Inquisition, and
a manual of practice of the period instructs inquisitors to see that
this system is thoroughly carried out. In fact, the whole resources of
the land, public and private, were freely placed at the disposal of the
Holy Office, so that nothing should be wanting in its sacred mission of
extirpating heresy.[343]

       *       *       *       *       *

An important feature in the organization of the Inquisition was the
assembly in which the fate of the accused was finally determined. The
inquisitor had technically no power to pass sentence by himself. We have
seen how, after various fluctuations of policy, the co-operation of the
bishops was established as indispensable. As in everything else, the
inquisitors contemptuously neglected this limitation on their powers,
and when Clement V. endeavored to reform abuses he pronounced null and
void any sentences rendered independently, yet to avert delays he
permitted consent to be expressed in writing if after eight days a
meeting could not be arranged. If, indeed, we may judge from some
specimens of these written consultations which have reached us, they
were perfunctory to the last degree and placed no real check upon the
discretion of the inquisitor. Still Bernard Gui complained bitterly even
of this restriction in terms which show how little respect had
previously been paid to the rule, and he adds, in justification, that
one bishop kept the trials of some persons of his diocese from being
finished for two years and more, while another delayed the celebration
of an _auto de fé_ for six months. He himself observed the regulation
scrupulously, both before and after the publication of the Clementines,
and in the reports of the _autos_ held by him in Toulouse the
participation of the bishops of the prisoners, or of episcopal
delegates, is always carefully specified. Yet how easy was the evasion
of this, as of all other regulations for the protection of the accused,
is seen when even Bernard Gui accepted commissions from three
bishops--those of Cahors, St. Papoul, and Montauban--to act for them in
the _auto_ of September 30, 1319. This device became frequent, and
inquisitors constantly rendered sentence on their individual
responsibility under power granted them by the bishops, as in the
persecutions of the Waldenses of Piedmont in 1387, and that of the
witches of Canavese in 1474. Sometimes, however, the bishops were not
altogether free agents, as when, in the early persecution of the
Spiritual Franciscans, about 1318, those of the province of Narbonne
were coerced to consent to the burning of some unfortunates by the
inquisitor threatening them with the pope, who was known to have the
prosecutions much at heart.[344]

This episcopal concurrence in the sentence was reached in consultation
with the assembly of experts. As the inquisitors from the beginning were
chosen rather with regard to zeal than learning, and as they maintained
a reputation for ignorance, it was soon found requisite to associate
with them in the rendering of sentences men versed in the civil and
canon law, which had by this time become an intricate study requiring
the devotion of a lifetime. Accordingly they were empowered to call in
experts to deliberate with them over the evidence and advise with them
on the sentence to be rendered, and those who were thus summoned could
not refuse to serve gratuitously, though it is intimated that the
inquisitor can pay them if he feels so inclined. At first it would seem
as though notables were assembled at the condemnation of prominent
heretics rather to give solemnity to the occasion than for actual
consultation, as when, in 1237, at the sentence passed on Alaman de
Roaix in Toulouse, the presence is recorded of the Bishop of Toulouse,
the Abbot of Moissac, the Dominican and Franciscan provincials, and a
number of other notables. The amount of work, in fact, performed by the
Inquisition of Languedoc in the early years of its existence would seem
to preclude the idea of any serious deliberation by counsellors thus
called in, who would have to consider the interminable reports of
examinations and interrogations; especially as, at a comparatively
early date, the practice was adopted of allowing a number of culprits to
accumulate whose fate was determined and announced in a solemn "_Sermo_"
or _auto de fé_. Still, the form was kept up, and in 1247 a sentence
rendered by Bernard de Caux and Jean de St. Pierre on seven relapsed
heretics is specified as being "with the counsel of many prelates and
other good men." In the final shape which the assembly of counsellors
assumed, we find it summoned to meet on Fridays, the "_Sermo_" always
taking place on Sundays. When the number of criminals was large there
was thus not much time for deliberation on special cases. The assessors
were always to be jurists and Mendicant friars, selected by the
inquisitor in such numbers as he saw fit. They were severally sworn on
the Gospels to secrecy, and to give good and wise counsel, each one
according to his conscience and the knowledge vouchsafed him by God. The
inquisitor then read over to them his summary of each case, sometimes
withholding the name of the accused, and they voted the
sentence--"Penance at the discretion of the inquisitor"--"That person is
to be imprisoned, or abandoned to the secular arm," while the Gospels
lay on the table in their midst, "so that our judgment may come from the
face of God and our eyes may see justice."[345]

As a rule it is safe to assume that these proceedings were scarcely more
than formal. Not only was the inquisitor at liberty to present each case
in such aspect as he saw fit, but it became the custom to call in such
numbers of experts that in the press of business deliberation was scarce
possible. Thus the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, Henri de Chamay, assembled
at Narbonne, December 10, 1328, besides himself and the episcopal
Ordinary, forty-two counsellors, consisting of canons, jurisconsults,
and lay experts. In the two days allotted to them this unwieldly
assemblage despatched thirty-four cases, which would show that little
consideration could have been given to each. In only two cases, indeed,
was there any difference of opinion expressed, and these were of no
special importance. On September 8, 1329, he held another assembly at
Carcassonne, attended by forty-seven experts, which in its two days'
session acted upon forty cases. Yet these assemblies were not always so
expeditious and self-effacing. From Narbonne Henri de Chamay passed to
Pamiers, where, January 7, 1329, he called together thirty-five experts
besides the Bishop of Toulouse. On the first day several cases were
postponed for greater deliberation, and of these some were acted upon
and others were not. Considerable debate took place, each individual
expressing his opinion, and the result was apparently settled by the
majority vote. They evidently felt and assumed the responsibility of the
decision; and yet the impossibility of deliberate action by so cumbrous
a body is seen in their bunching together all the cases of "believing"
heretics, condemning them _en masse_ to prison, and leaving it with the
inquisitor to determine the character of the imprisonment for each
individual. Curiously enough, this assembly also assumed legislative
functions in laying down general rules of punishment for false-witness.
A still more notable instance of deliberation occurred at an assembly
convoked by Henri de Chamay at Béziers, May 19, 1329, where there were
thirty-five experts present. In the case of a Franciscan friar, Pierre
Julien, all agreed that, strictly speaking, he was a "relapsed," but
many were anxious to show him mercy. After long debate, the inquisitor
told them to meet again in the evening, and in the meanwhile consider
whether they could devise some means of grace. At the evening session
there was again earnest discussion, and postponement was agreed to on
the excuse that no bishop could be had in time for his degradation. The
experts were finally summoned, under pain of excommunication, to give
their opinions, which were taken down in writing and ranged from simple
purgation to abandonment to the secular arm. The assembly then was
dismissed and consultation was held with some of the more prominent
members, when it was agreed either to send to Avignon, Toulouse, or
Montpellier for advice or to await an _auto de fé_ at Carcassonne for
further counsel.[346]

Yet, while the forms were thus preserved, the inquisitors, with their
customary arbitrary disregard of all that limited their discretion,
paid attention or not to the decisions of the experts, as best suited
them. In the sentences which follow the reports of these assemblies it
is by no means unusual to find names which had never been laid before
them. After the assembly of Pamiers, for instance, which showed so much
disposition to act for itself, there is a sentence condemning five
defuncts, only two of whom are named in the proceedings. On the same
occasion, another culprit, Ermessende, daughter of Raymond Monier, was
condemned by the assembly for false-witness to the "_murus largus_," or
simple prison, and was sentenced by the inquisitor to "_murus
strictus_," or imprisonment in chains, which was a very different
penalty. In fact, it was a disputed point whether the inquisitor was
bound to obey the counsel of the assembly, and though Eymerich decides
in the affirmative, Bernardo di Como positively asserts the

       *       *       *       *       *

From the necessity of these consultations with bishops and experts it is
easy to understand the origin of the "_Sermo generalis_," or _auto de
fé_. It was evidently impossible to bring all parties together to
consult over each individual case, and convenience was not only served
by allowing the cases to accumulate, but opportunity was also afforded
of arranging an impressive solemnity which should strike terror on the
heretic and comfort the hearts of the faithful. In the rudimentary
Inquisition of Florence, in 1245, where the inquisitor Ruggieri Calcagni
and Bishop Ardingho were zealously co-operating, and no assembly of
experts was required, we find the heretics sentenced and executed day by
day, singly or in twos or threes, but the form was already adopted of
assembling the people in the cathedral and reading the sentence to them,
when doubtless the occasion was improved of delivering a discourse upon
the wickedness of dissent and the duty of all citizens to persecute the
children of Satan. In Toulouse the fragment of the register of sentences
of Bernard de Caux and Jean de Saint-Pierre, from March, 1246, to June,
1248, shows a similar disregard of form. The _autos_ or _Sermones_ are
sometimes held every few days--there are five in May, 1246--and often
there are only one or two heretics to be sentenced, rendering it
exceedingly probable that the co-operation of the bishop was not asked
for, especially as he is never mentioned as joining in the condemnation.
There are always present, however, a certain number of local
magistrates, civil and ecclesiastical, and the ceremony is usually
performed in the cloister of the church of St. Sernin, though other
places are sometimes mentioned, and among them the Hotel-de-Ville twice,
showing that divine service as yet formed no part of the solemnity.[348]

With time the ceremony grew in stateliness and impressiveness. Sunday
became prescribed for it, and as no other sermons were allowed on that
day in the city, it was forbidden to be held on Quadragesima or Advent
Sunday, or any other of the principal feast-days. Notice was given in
advance from all the pulpits summoning all the people to be present and
obtain the indulgence of forty days. A staging was erected in the centre
of the church, on which the "penitents" were placed, surrounded by the
secular and clerical officials. The sermon was delivered by the
inquisitor, after which the oath of obedience was administered to the
representatives of the civil power, and a solemn decree of
excommunication was fulminated against all who should in any manner
impede the operations of the Holy Office. Then the notary commenced
reading the confessions one by one in the vulgar tongue, and as each was
finished the culprit was asked if he acknowledged it to be true--care
being taken, however, only to do this when he was known to be truly
penitent and not likely to create scandal by a denial. On his replying
in the affirmative he was asked whether he would repent, or lose body
and soul by persevering in heresy; and on his expressing a desire to
abjure, the form of abjuration was read and he repeated it, sentence by
sentence. Then the inquisitor absolved him from the _ipso facto_
excommunication which he had incurred by heresy, and promised him mercy
if he behaved well under the sentence about to be imposed. The sentence
followed, and thus the penitents were brought forward successively,
commencing with the least guilty and proceeding with those incurring
severer penalties. Those who were to be "relaxed," or abandoned to the
secular arm, were reserved to the last, and for them the ceremony was
adjourned to the public square, where a platform had been constructed
for the purpose, in order that the holy precincts of the church might
not be polluted by a sentence leading to blood. For the same reason it
was not to be performed on a holy day. The execution, however, was not
to take place on the same day, but on the following, so as to afford the
convicts time for conversion, that their souls might not pass from
temporal to eternal flame, and care was enjoined not to permit them to
address the people, lest sympathy should be aroused by their assertions
of innocence.[349]

We can readily picture to ourselves the effect produced on the popular
mind by these awful celebrations, when, at the bidding of the
Inquisition, all that was great and powerful in the land was called
together humbly to take the oath of obedience and witness its exercise
of the highest expression of human authority, regulating the destinies
of fellow-creatures here and hereafter. In the great _auto de fé_ held
by Bernard Gui at Toulouse, in April, 1310, the solemnities lasted from
Sunday the 5th until Thursday the 9th. After the preliminary work of
mitigating the penances of some deserving penitents, twenty persons were
condemned to wear crosses and perform pilgrimages, sixty-five were
consigned to perpetual imprisonment, three of them in chains, and
eighteen were delivered to the secular justice and were duly burned. In
that of April, 1312, fifty-one were sentenced to crosses, eighty-six to
imprisonment, ten defunct persons were pronounced worthy of prison and
their estates confiscated, the bones of thirty-six were ordered to be
exhumed and burned, five living ones were handed over to the secular
court to be burned, and five more condemned for contumacy in absenting
themselves. The faith which could thus vindicate itself might certainly
inspire the respect of fear if not the attraction of love. Sometimes,
however, a godless heretic would interfere with the prescribed order of
solemnities, as when, in October, 1309, Amiel de Perles, a noted
Catharan teacher, who defiantly avowed his heterodoxy, immediately on
his capture commenced the _endura_ and refused all food and drink.
Unwilling thus to be robbed of his victim, Bernard hastened the usual
dilatory proceedings, and gave to Amiel the honor of a special _auto_
in which he was the only victim. A similar case occurred in 1313, when a
certain Pierre Raymond, who as a Catharan "_credens_" had been led to
abjure and seek reconciliation in the _auto_ of 1310, and had been
condemned to imprisonment, repented of his weakness in his solitary
cell. The mental tortures of the poor wretch grew so strong that at last
he defiantly proclaimed his relapse into heresy, in which he declared he
would live and die, only regretting that he could not have access to
some minister of his faith in order to be "perfected" or "hereticated."
He likewise placed himself in _endura_, and after six days of
starvation, as he was evidently nearing the end which he so resolutely
sought, he was hurriedly sentenced, and a small _auto_ was arranged with
a few other culprits in order that the stake might not be cheated of its

       *       *       *       *       *

With such an organization as this, in the hands of able, vigorous, and
earnest men, it shows the marvellous constancy of the heretics that the
Cathari for a hundred years opposed to it the simple resistance of
inertia, and that the Waldenses were never trampled out. The
effectiveness of the organization was unhampered by any limits of
jurisdiction, and was multiplied by the co-operation of the tribunals
everywhere, so that there was no resting-place, no harbor of refuge for
the heretic in any land where the Inquisition existed. Vainly might he
change his abode, it was ever on his track. A suspicious stranger would
be observed and arrested; his birthplace would be ascertained, and as
soon as swift messengers could traverse the intervening distance, full
official documents as to his antecedents would be received from the Holy
Office of his former home. It was a mere matter of convenience whether
he should be tried where he was caught or sent back, for every tribunal
had full jurisdiction over all offences committed within its district,
and over all such offenders wherever they should stray. When Jacopo
della Chiusa, one of the assassins of St. Peter Martyr, discreetly
absented himself, notices commanding his capture were sent as far as the
Inquisition of Carcassonne. Of course, questions sometimes arose which
seemed likely to give trouble. Before the Inquisition was thoroughly
organized, Jayme I. of Aragon, in 1248, complained of the Tolosan
inquisitor, Bernard de Caux, for citing his subjects to appear, and
Innocent IV. commanded that the abuse should cease, an order which
received but slack obedience; and with the growth of the Holy Office
such reclamations were not likely to be repeated. Cases, of course,
occurred, in which two tribunals would claim the same culprit, and in
this the rule of the Council of Narbonne, in 1244, was generally
observed, that he should be tried by the inquisitor who had first
commenced prosecution. Considering, indeed, the abundant causes of
jealousy, and especially the bitter rivalry between the Dominican and
Franciscan Orders, the cases of quarrel seem to have been singularly
few. Whatever there were, they were hushed up with prudent reserve, and
with occasional exceptions we find a hearty and zealous co-operation in
the holy work to which all were alike devoted.[351]

The implacable energy with which the resources of this organization were
employed may be understood from one or two instances. Under the
Hohenstaufens the two Sicilies had served as a refuge for many heretics
self-exiled by the rigor of the Inquisition of Languedoc, and merciless
as was Frederic when it suited him, his system was by no means so
searching and unintermittent as that of the Holy Office. After his
death, the active warfare between Manfred and the papacy doubtless left
the heretics in comparative peace, but when Charles of Anjou conquered
the kingdom as the vassal of Rome, it was at once thrown open and the
French inquisitors made haste to pursue those who had eluded them. But
seven months after the execution of Conradin, Charles issued his
letters-patent, May 31, 1269, to all the nobles and magistrates of the
realm, setting forth that the inquisitors of France were about coming or
sending agents to track and seize the fugitive heretics who had sought
refuge in Italy, and ordering his subjects to give them safe-conduct and
assistance whenever they might require it. In fact, the inquisitor's
jurisdiction was personal as well as local, and it accompanied him.
When, in 1359, some renegade converted Jews escaped from Provence to
Spain, Innocent VI. authorized the Provençal inquisitor, Bernard du Puy,
to follow them, arrest, try, condemn, and punish them wherever he might
find them, with power to coerce the aid of the secular authorities
everywhere; and he wrote at the same time to the kings of Aragon and
Castile, instructing them to give to Bernard all necessary

How the same tireless and unforgiving zeal was habitually brought to
bear upon the humblest objects is seen in the case of Arnaud Ysarn, who,
when a youth of fifteen, was condemned at Toulouse in 1309, after an
imprisonment of two years, to wear crosses and perform certain
pilgrimages, his sole offence being that he had once "adored" a heretic
at the command of his father. He wore the insignia of his shame for more
than a year, when, finding that they prevented him from earning a
livelihood, he threw them off and obtained employment as a boatman on
the Garonne between Moissac and Bordeaux. In his obscurity he might well
fancy himself safe; but the inquisitorial police was too well organized,
and he was discovered. Cited in 1312 to appear, he was afraid to do so,
though urged by his father to take the chance of mercy. In 1315 he was
excommunicated for contumacy, and, remaining under the censure for a
year, he was finally declared a heretic, and was condemned as such in
the _auto de fé_ of 1319. In June, 1321, by command of Bernard Gui, he
was captured at Moissac, but escaped on the road to be recaptured and
taken to Toulouse. He had been guilty of no act of heresy during the
interval, but his contumacious rejection of the parental chastisement of
the Inquisition was an offence worthy of death, and he was mercifully
treated in being condemned, in 1322, to imprisonment for life on bread
and water. The net of the Inquisition extended everywhere, and no prey
was too small to elude its meshes.[353]

The whole organization of the Church was at its service. In 1255 a
Dominican of Alessandria, Frà Niccolò da Vercelli, confessed voluntarily
some heretical beliefs to his sub-prior, who thereupon promptly ejected
him. He entered a neighboring Cistercian convent, and then, fearing the
pursuit of the Inquisition, quietly disappeared to some other convent
beyond the Alps. There would not seem much to be feared from a heretic
who would bury himself in the rigid Cistercian Order, and yet at once
Alexander IV. issued letters to all Cistercian abbots and to all
archbishops and bishops everywhere, commanding them to seize him and
send him to Rainerio Saccone, the Lombard inquisitor.[354]

       *       *       *       *       *

To render it an instrumentality perfect for the work assigned to it, all
that was wanting to the Inquisition was its subjection to a chief who
should command the implicit obedience of its members and weld the
organization into an organic whole. This function the pope could perform
but imperfectly amid the overwhelming diversity of his cares, and he
needed a minister who, as inquisitor-general, could devote his undivided
attention to the innumerable questions arising from the conflict between
orthodoxy and heresy, and between papal supremacy and local episcopal
independence. The importance of such a measure seems to have made itself
felt at a comparatively early period, and in 1262 Urban IV. created a
virtual inquisitor-general when he ordered all inquisitors to report,
either in person or by letter, to Caietano Orsini, Cardinal of S.
Niccolò in carcere Tulliano, all impediments to the due performance of
their functions, and to obey the instructions which he might give.
Cardinal Orsini speaks of himself as inquisitor-general, and he labored
to bring the several tribunals into the closest relations with each
other and subjection to himself. May 19, 1273, we find him ordering the
Italian inquisitors to furnish to the inquisitors of France facilities
for the transcription of all the depositions of witnesses already on
record in their archives, as well as of all future ones. The perpetual
migration of Catharans and Waldenses between France and Italy rendered
this information most valuable, and the French inquisitors had requested
it of him, but the excessive diffuseness of the inquisitorial documents
made the task appalling in magnitude and cost, and the terms of the
cardinal's missive show that it was not expected to be welcome. Whether
any further attempt was made to carry out this gigantic plan, which
would have so greatly multiplied the effectiveness of the Inquisition,
does not appear, but its conception shows the view entertained by Orsini
of the powers of his office and of the possibilities of what the
Inquisition might become under energetic supervision. Another letter of
his, dated May 24, 1273, to the inquisitors of France, indicates that
for a time at least the general instructions to the functionaries of the
Holy Office were issued through him.[355]

We have no further evidence of his activity, but his elevation to the
papacy in 1277, as Nicholas III., may possibly indicate that the
position was one which afforded abundant opportunities of influence,
perhaps rendering its possessor disagreeably, if not dangerously
powerful, and when Nicholas appointed his nephew, Cardinal Latino
Malebranca, as his successor in the office vacated by his elevation, he
may have felt it necessary to secure himself by keeping the position in
his family. Malebranca was Dean of the Sacred College, and his influence
was shown when, in 1294, he ended the weary conflict of the conclave by
procuring the election of the hermit, Pietro Morrone, as pope, under the
name of Celestin V. He did not survive the short pontificate of
Celestin, and the proud and vigorous Boniface VIII. regarded it as
impolitic or unnecessary to continue the office. It remained in abeyance
under the Avignonese popes, until Clement VI. revived it for William,
Cardinal of S. Stefano in Monte Celio, who signalized his zeal by
burning several heretics, and in other ways. After his death the post
remained vacant, and at no time does it appear to have exercised any
special influence over the development and activity of the



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.[357]

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.[358] 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. 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, Frà 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.[359]

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

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, Béziers, 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. 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.[361]

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 Béziers 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

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, Frà Grimaldo the inquisitor commenced a successful
prosecution against their ancestor who had died prior to 1250.[363]

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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 fé_. 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.[365]

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.[366]

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 Béziers 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 Manichæan who consorted with Manichæans 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 Sicrède 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.[367]

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 advantage 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.[368]

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

"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.'

"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.'

"A. 'Willingly.'

"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 '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

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.[370]

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

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.[371]

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.[372]

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.[373]

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 fé_ 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

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. 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.[375]

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, Frà 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

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.[377]

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

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.[379]

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. Zanghino, 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.[380]

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 Délicieux, 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

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 fé_,
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

       *       *       *       *       *

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.[383]



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.[384] 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

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. Innocent III., in his
instructions as to the Cathari of La Charité, 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."[385]

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
Montréal 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.[386]

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

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

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.[389]

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.
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.[390]

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 Montségur, where the Inquisition
gathered so goodly a 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.[391]

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.[392]

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. 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.[393]

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
hœreticus 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 Béziers 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 Béziers 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 Délicieux, 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.[394]

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.[395]

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 fé_ 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.[396]

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



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.[398] 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 Béziers 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. 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 Délicieux 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.[399]

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.[400]

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

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.[402]

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

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.[404]

That plain-spoken friar, Bernard Délicieux, 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.[405]

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. 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 fé_. 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.[406]

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

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 Alizaïs 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.[408]

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.[409]

       *       *       *       *       *

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 mediæval 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.[410]

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 Angermünde, 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.[411]

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
fé_, 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

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.



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

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

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. 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.[415]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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 "_pœnœ 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 Béziers, 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.[417]

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 Tréville 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 Manichæan 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.[418]

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
Loubatière 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

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 Béziers, 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.[420]

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 mediæval 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.[421]

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

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
Béziers, 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. 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.[423]

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 _pœna
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, in doors 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 fé_ of 1309
Bernard Gui permitted Raymonde, wife of Étienne Got, to remove the
crosses which she had been condemned to wear, some forty years before,
by Pons de Poyet and Étienne de Gâtine.[424]

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 Béziers 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.[425]

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 Béziers, 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

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 fé_. 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.[427]

       *       *       *       *       *

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 almo