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Title: A History of The Inquisition of The Middle Ages; volume III
Author: Lea, Henry Charles, 1825-1909
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A History of The Inquisition of The Middle Ages; volume III" ***

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Copyright, 1887, by HARPER & BROTHERS

_All rights reserved_





Dissensions in the Franciscan Order from Elias to John of Parma        1

Joachim of Flora.--His Reputation as a Prophet                        10

His Apocalyptic Speculations as to the Third Era                      14

Adopted by the Spiritual Franciscans                                  18

The Everlasting Gospel.--Its Condemnation                             20

The Spirituals Compromised.--John of Parma Removed                    23

Persistence of the Joachites                                          25

Increasing Strife over Poverty                                        27

Bull _Exiit qui seminat_                                              30

Persecution of Italian Spirituals                                     32

The French Spirituals.--Jean Pierre Olivi                             42

Arnaldo de Vilanova                                                   52

Disputation before Clement V.--Decision of Council of Vienne          57

Renewed Persecution of the Spirituals                                 61

Commencement of Rebellion.--Dissensions among Them                    62

Election of John XXII.--His Character                                 66

He Enforces Obedience and Creates a Heresy                            69

Bloody Persecution of the Olivists                                    73

They Form a New Church                                                79

Their Fanaticism.--Naprous Boneta                                     81

Suppression of the Sect.--Its Career in Aragon                        84

Jean de la Rochetaillade.--Remains of Joachitism                      86


Incarnation of Holy Ghost in Guglielma                                90

The Guglielmites Form a New Church                                    94

Prosecuted by the Inquisition                                         98

Fate of the Sectaries                                                100

The Order of Apostles.--Spiritual Tendencies                         103

Gherardo Segarelli.--Burned in 1300                                  104

Dolcino Assumes the Leadership                                       109

His Open Revolt.--Suppressed after Four Crusades                     113

Continuance and Character of the Heresy                              120


Question Raised as to the Poverty of Christ                          129

Reaction against the Holiness of Poverty                             130

Doctrine of the Poverty of Christ Declared a Heresy                  134

It Complicates the Quarrel with Louis of Bavaria                     135

Marsiglio of Padua and William of Ockham                             139

Gradual Estrangement of the Franciscans                              142

Louis Deposes John XXII. as a Heretic                                145

Michele da Cesena Revolts                                            147

Utility of the Inquisition.--Submission of the Antipope              149

Struggle in Germany.--The Franciscans Support Louis                  153

Louis gradually Gains Strength.--His Death                           156

Dissident Franciscans Known as Fraticelli                            158

Sympathy for them under Persecution                                  160

Their Tenets                                                         162

Fraticelli in France and Spain                                       167

Orthodox Ascetism.--Jesuats.--Observantines                          171

The Observantines Replace and Suppress the Fraticelli                174


Denial of Papal Claims Pronounced Heresy                             181

The Stedingers.--Tithes Enforced by Crusades                         182

Crusades to Support Italian Interests of Papacy                      189

Importance of Inquisition as a Political Agency                      190

Advantage of the Charge of Heresy                                    191

Manfred of Naples.--The Colonnas.--Ferrara                           193

John XXII. and the Visconti                                          196

Cola di Rienzo.--The Maffredi                                        203

Use of Inquisition in the Great Schism                               204

Case of Thomas Connecte                                              208

Girolamo Savonarola                                                  209


Use of Inquisition by Secular Potentates                             238

The Templars.--Growth and Relations of the Order                     238

  Causes of its Downfall.--Facilities Furnished by the Inquisition   249

  Papal Complicity Sought.--Use made of Inquisition                  257

  Errors Charged against the Templars                                263

  The Question of their Guilt                                        264

  Vacillation of Clement.--The Assembly of Tours                     277

  Bargain between King and Pope.--Clement Joins the Prosecution      281

  Prosecution throughout Europe.--Its Methods in France              284

  The Papal Commission.--Its Proceedings                             289

  Defence Prevented by Burning those who Retract                     295

  Proceedings in England.--The Inquisition Necessary                 298

  Action in Lorraine and Germany                                     301

  In Italy and the East                                              304

  In Spain and Majorca                                               310

  Torture in Preparation for the Council of Vienne                   317

  Arbitrary Proceedings Required at the Council                      319

  Disposition of Property and Persons of the Order                   322

  Fate of de Molay                                                   325

  Popular Sympathies                                                 326

  Distribution of the Property of the Order                          329

Case of Doctor Jean Petit                                            334

Case of Joan of Arc.--Condition of the French Monarchy               338

  Career of Joan up to her Capture                                   340

  The Inquisition Claims her.--Delivered to the Bishop of Beauvais   357

  Her Trial                                                          360

  Her Condemnation and Execution                                     372

  Her Imitators and her Rehabilitation                               376


Satan and the Spirit World                                           379

Incubi and Succubi                                                   383

Human Ministers of Satan.--Sorcerers                                 385

Penalties under the Roman Law                                        392

Struggle between Pagan and Christian Theurgy                         393

Repression of Sorcery by the Early Church                            395

Magic Practices of the Barbarians                                    400

Leniency of Barbarian Legislation                                    408

Legislation of Church and State in Carlovingian Period               412

Practical Toleration in Early Mediæval Period                        416

Indifference of Secular Legislation                                  427

The Inquisition Assumes Jurisdiction                                 434

All Magic Becomes Heretical                                          435

Astrology.--Pietro di Abano.--Cecco d'Ascoli                         437

Divination by Dreams                                                 446

Comminatory Church Services                                          447

The Inquisition Stimulates Sorcery by Persecution                    448

Unfortunate Influence of John XXII                                   452

Growth of Sorcery in the Fourteenth Century                          454

Increase in the Fifteenth Century                                    464

Case of the Maréchal de Rais                                         468

Enrique de Villena                                                   489


Its Origin in the Fifteenth Century                                  492

The Sabbat.--Regarded at first as a Diabolic Illusion                493

  Adopted by the Church as a Reality                                 497

  Its Ceremonies                                                     500

Power and Malignity of the Witch                                     501

The Church Helpless to Counteract her Spells                         506

Belief Stimulated by Persecution                                     508

Witches Lose Power when Arrested                                     509

Secular and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction over Witchcraft              511

Inquisitorial Process as Applied to Witchcraft                       513

Case of the Witches of the Canavese                                  518

Case of the Vaudois of Arras                                         519

Slow Development of the Witchcraft Craze                             534

Stimulated by the Inquisition and the Church                         538

Influence of the _Malleus Maleficarum_                               543

Opposition to the Inquisition.--France.--Cornelius Agrippa           544

Opposition of Venice.--The Witches of Brescia                        546

Terrible Development in the Sixteenth Century                        549


Intellectual Aberrations not Dangerous                               550

Theological Tendencies and Development                               551

Roger Bacon                                                          552

Nominalism and Realism                                               555

Rivalry between Philosophy and Theology                              557

Averrhoism                                                           558

Toleration in Italy in the Fifteenth Century                         565

Modified Averrhoism.--Pomponazio.--Nifo                              574

Raymond Lully                                                        578

Evolution of Dogma.--The Beatific Vision                             590

The Immaculate Conception                                            596

Censorship of the Press                                              612


Omissions of the Inquisition.--The Greek Heretics                    616

Quæstuari, or Pardoners                                              621

Simony                                                               624

Demoralization of the Church                                         627

Morals of the Laity                                                  641

Materials for the Improvement of Humanity                            645

The Reformation Inevitable                                           647

Encouraging Advance of Humanity                                      649

APPENDIX OF DOCUMENTS                                                651

INDEX                                                                665






In a former chapter we considered the Mendicants as an active agency in
the suppression of heresy. One of the Orders, however, by no means
restricted itself to this function, and we have now to examine the
career of the Franciscans as the subjects of the spirit of persecuting
uniformity which they did so much to render dominant.

While the mission of both Orders was to redeem the Church from the depth
of degradation into which it had sunk, the Dominicans were more
especially trained to take part in the active business of life. They
therefore attracted the more restless and aggressive spirits; they
accommodated themselves to the world, like the Jesuits of later days,
and the worldliness which necessarily came with success awakened little
antagonism within the organization. Power and luxury were welcomed and
enjoyed. Even Thomas Aquinas, who, as we have seen, eloquently defended,
against William of Saint-Amour, the superlative holiness of absolute
poverty, subsequently admitted that poverty should be proportioned to
the object which an Order was fitted to attain.[1]

It was otherwise with the Franciscans. Though, as we have seen, the
founders determined not to render the Order a simply contemplative one,
the salvation of the individual through retreat from the world and its
temptations bore a much larger part in their motives than in those of
Dominic and his followers.[2] Absolute poverty and self-abnegation were
its primal principles, and it inevitably drew to itself the intellects
which sought a refuge from the temptations of life in self-absorbing
contemplation, in dreamy speculation, and in the renunciation of all
that renders life attractive to average human nature. As the
organization grew in wealth and power there were necessarily developed
within its bosom antagonisms in two directions. On the one hand, it
nourished a spirit of mysticism, which, though recognized in its
favorite appellation of the Seraphic Order, sometimes found the trammels
of orthodoxy oppressive. On the other, the men who continued to cherish
the views of the founders as to the supreme obligation of absolute
poverty could not reconcile their consciences to the accumulation of
wealth and its display in splendor, and they rejected the ingenious
devices which sought to accommodate the possession of riches with the
abnegation of all possession.

In fact, the three vows, of poverty, obedience, and chastity, were all
equally impossible of absolute observance. The first was irreconcilable
with human necessities, the others with human passions. As for chastity,
the whole history of the Church shows the impracticability of its
enforcement. As for obedience, in the sense attached to it of absolute
renunciation of the will, its incompatibility with the conduct of human
affairs was shown at an early period, when Friar Haymo of Feversham
overthrew Gregory, the Provincial of Paris, and, not long afterwards,
withstood the general Elias, and procured his deposition. As for
poverty, we shall see to what inextricable complications it led, despite
the efforts of successive popes, until the imperious will and resolute
common-sense of John XXII. brought the Order from its seraphic heights
down to the every-day necessities of human life--at the cost, it must be
confessed, of a schism. The trouble was increased by the fact that St.
Francis, foreseeing the efforts which would be made to evade the spirit
of the Rule, had, in his Testament, strictly forbidden all alterations,
glosses, and explanations, and had commanded that these instructions
should be read in all chapters of the Order. With the growth of the
Franciscan legend, moreover, the Rule was held to be a special divine
revelation, equal in authority to the gospel, and St. Francis was
glorified until he became a being rather divine than human.[3]

Even before the death of the founder, in 1226, a Franciscan is found in
Paris openly teaching heresies--of what nature we are not told, but
probably the mystic reveries of an overwrought brain. As yet there was
no Inquisition, and, as he was not subject to episcopal jurisdiction, he
was brought before the papal legate, where he asserted many things
contrary to the orthodox faith, and was imprisoned for life. This
foreshadowed much that was to follow, though there is a long interval
before we hear again of similar examples.[4]

The more serious trouble concerning poverty was not long in developing
itself. Next to St. Francis himself in the Order stood Elias. Before
Francis went on his mission to convert the Soldan he had sent Elias as
provincial beyond the sea, and on his return from the adventure he
brought Elias home with him. At the first general chapter, held in 1221,
Francis being too much enfeebled to preside, Elias acted as spokesman
and Francis sat at his feet, pulling his gown when he wanted anything
said. In 1223 we hear of Cæsarius, the German provincial, going to Italy
"to the blessed Francis or the Friar Elias." When, through infirmity or
inability to maintain discipline, Francis retired from the generalate,
Elias was vicar-general of the Order, to whom Francis submitted himself
as humbly as the meanest brother, and on the death of the saint, in
October, 1226, it was Elias who notified the brethren throughout Europe
of the event, and informed them of the Stigmata, which the humility of
Francis had always concealed. Although in February, 1227, Giovanni
Parenti of Florence was elected general, Elias seems practically to have
retained control. Parties were rapidly forming themselves in the Order,
and the lines between them were ever more sharply drawn. Elias was
worldly and ambitious; he had the reputation of being one of the ablest
men of affairs in Italy; he could foresee the power attaching to the
command of the Order, and he had not much scruple as to the means of
attaining it. He undertook the erection of a magnificent church at
Assisi to receive the bones of the humble Francis, and he was unsparing
in his demands for money to aid in its construction. The very handling
of money was an abomination in the eyes of all true brethren, yet all
the provinces were called upon to contribute, and a marble coffer was
placed in front of the building to receive the gifts of the pious. This
was unendurable, and Friar Leo went to Perugia to consult with the
blessed Gilio, who had been the third associate to join St. Francis, who
said it was contrary to the precepts of the founder. "Shall I break it,
then?" inquired Leo. "Yes," replied Gilio, "if you are dead, but if you
are alive, let it alone, for you will not be able to endure the
persecution of Elias." Notwithstanding this warning, Leo went to Assisi,
and with the assistance of some comrades broke the coffer; Elias filled
all Assisi with his wrath, and Leo took refuge in a hermitage.[5]

When the edifice was sufficiently advanced, a general chapter was held
in 1230 to solemnize the translation of the saintly corpse. Elias sought
to utilize the occasion for his own election to the generalate by
summoning to it only those brethren on whose support he could reckon,
but Giovanni got wind of this and made the summons general. Elias then
caused the translation to be effected before the brethren had assembled;
his faction endeavored to forestall the action of the chapter by
carrying him from his cell, breaking open the doors, and placing him in
the general's seat. Giovanni appeared, and after tumultuous proceedings
his friends obtained the upper hand; the disturbers were scattered among
the provinces, and Elias retreated to a hermitage, where he allowed his
hair and beard to grow, and through this show of sanctity obtained
reconciliation to the Order. Finally, in the chapter of 1232, his
ambition was rewarded. Giovanni was deposed and he was elected

These turbulent intrigues were not the only evidence of the rapid
degeneracy of the Order. Before Francis's Testament was five years old
his commands against evasions of the Rule by cunning interpretations had
been disregarded. The chapter of 1231 had applied to Gregory IX. to know
whether the Testament was binding upon them in this respect, and he
replied in the negative, for Francis could not bind his successors. They
also asked about the prohibition to hold money and property, and Gregory
ingeniously suggested that this could be effected through third parties,
who could hold money and pay debts for them, arguing that such persons
should not be regarded as their agents, but as the agents of those who
gave the money or of those to whom it was to be paid. These elusory
glosses of the Rule were not accepted without an energetic opposition
which threatened a schism, and it is easy to imagine the bitterness with
which the sincere members of the Order watched its rapid degeneracy; nor
was this bitterness diminished by the use which Elias made of his
position. His carnality and cruelty, we are told, convulsed the whole
Order. His rule was arbitrary, and for seven years, in defiance of the
regulations, he held no general chapter. He levied exactions on all the
provinces to complete the great structure at Assisi. Those who resisted
him were relegated to distant places. Even while yet only vicar he had
caused St. Anthony of Padua, who had come to Assisi to worship at the
tomb of Francis, to be scourged to the blood, when Anthony only
expostulated with, "May the blessed God forgive you, brethren!" Worse
was the fate of Cæsarius of Speier, who had been appointed Provincial of
Germany in 1221 by St. Francis himself, and had built up the Order to
the north of the Alps. He was the leader of the puritan malcontents, who
were known as Cæsarians, and he felt the full wrath of Elias. Thrown
into prison, he lay there in chains for two years. At length the fetters
were removed, and, early in 1239, his jailer having left the door of his
cell open, he ventured forth to stretch his cramped limbs in the wintry
sun. The jailer returned and thought that he was attempting to escape.
Fearing the pitiless anger of Elias, he rushed after the prisoner and
dealt him a mortal blow with a cudgel. Cæsarius was the first, but by no
means the last, martyr who shed his blood for the strict observance of a
Rule breathing nothing but love and charity.[7]

The cup at last was full to overflowing. In 1237 Elias had sent visitors
to the different provinces whose conduct caused general exasperation.
The brethren of Saxony appealed to him from their visitor, and, finding
this fruitless, they carried their complaint to Gregory. The pope at
length was roused to intervene. A general chapter was convened in 1239,
when, after a stormy scene in presence of Gregory and nine cardinals,
the pope finally announced to Elias that his resignation would be
received. Possibly in this there may have been political as well as
ascetic motives. Elias was a skilful negotiator, and was looked upon
with a friendly eye by Frederic II., who forthwith declared that the
dismissal was done in his despite, for Elias was at the time engaged in
an effort to heal the irremediable breach between the papacy and the
empire. Certain it is that Elias at once took refuge with Frederic and
became his intimate companion. Gregory made an effort to capture him by
inviting him to a conference. Failing in this, a charge was brought
against him of visiting poor women at Cortona without permission, and on
refusing to obey a summons he was excommunicated.[8]

Thus already in the Franciscan Order there were established two
well-defined parties, which came to be known as the Spirituals and the
Conventuals, the one adhering to the strict letter of the Rule, the
other willing to find excuses for its relaxation in obedience to the
wants of human nature and the demands of worldliness. After the fall of
Elias the former had the supremacy during the brief generalates of
Alberto of Pisa, and Haymo of Feversham. In 1244 the Conventuals
triumphed in the election of Crescenzio Grizzi da Jesi, under whom
occurred what the Spirituals reckoned as the "Third Tribulation," for,
in accordance with their apocalyptic speculations, they were to undergo
seven tribulations before the reign of the Holy Ghost should usher in
the Millennium. Crescenzio followed in the footsteps of Elias. Under
Haymo, in 1242, there had been an attempt to reconcile with the Rule
Gregory's declaration of 1231. Four leading doctors of the Order, with
Alexander Hales at their head, had issued the _Declaratio Quatuor
Magistrorum_, but even their logical subtlety had failed. The Order was
constantly growing, it was constantly acquiring property, and its needs
were constantly increasing. A bull of Gregory IX. in 1239, authorizing
the Franciscans of Paris to acquire additional land with which to
enlarge their monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Près, is an example of what
was going on all over Europe. In 1244, at the chapter which elected
Crescenzio, the Englishman, John Kethene, succeeded, against the
opposition of nearly the whole body of the assembly, in obtaining the
rejection of Gregory's definition, but the triumph of the Puritans was
short-lived. Crescenzio sympathized with the laxer party, and applied to
Innocent IV. for relief. In 1245 the pope responded with a declaration
in which he not only repeated the device of Gregory IX. by authorizing
deposits of money with parties who were to be regarded as the agents of
donors and creditors, but ingeniously assumed that houses and lands, the
ownership of which was forbidden to the Order, should be regarded as
belonging to the Holy See, which granted their use to the friars. Even
papal authority could not render these transparent subterfuges
satisfying to the consciences of the Spirituals, and the growing
worldliness of the Order provoked continuous agitation. Crescenzio
before taking the vows had been a jurist and physician, and there was
further complaint that he encouraged the brethren in acquiring the vain
and sterile science of Aristotle rather than in studying divine wisdom.
Under Simone da Assisi, Giacopo Manfredo, Matteo da Monte Rubiano, and
Lucido, seventy-two earnest brethren, finding Crescenzio deaf to their
remonstrances, prepared to appeal to Innocent. He anticipated them, and
obtained from the pope in advance a decision under which he scattered
the recalcitrants in couples throughout the provinces for punishment.
Fortunately his reign was short. Tempted by the bishopric of Jesi, he
resigned, and in 1248 was succeeded by Giovanni Borelli, better known as
John of Parma, who at the time was professor of theology in the
University of Paris.[9]

The election of John of Parma marked a reaction in favor of strict
observance. The new general was inspired with a holy zeal to realize the
ideal of St. Francis. The exiled Spirituals were recalled and allowed to
select their own domiciles. During the first three years John visited on
foot the whole Order, sometimes with two, and sometimes with only one
companion, in the most humble guise, so that he was unrecognized, and
could remain in a convent for several days, observing its character,
when he would reveal himself and reform its abuses. In the ardor of his
zeal he spared the feelings of no one. A lector of the Mark of Ancona,
returning home from Rome, described the excessive severity of a sermon
preached by him, saying that the brethren of the Mark would never have
allowed any one to say such things to them; and when asked why the
masters who were present had not interfered, he replied, "How could
they? It was a river of fire which flowed from his lips." He suspended
the declaration of Innocent IV. until the pontiff, better informed,
could be consulted. It was, however, impossible for him to control the
tendencies to relaxation of the Rule, which were ever growing stronger,
and his efforts to that end only served to strengthen disaffection which
finally grew to determined opposition. After consultation between some
influential members of the Order it was resolved to bring before
Alexander IV. formal accusations against him and the friends who
surrounded him. The attitude of the Spirituals, in fact, fairly invited

To understand the position of the Spirituals at this time, and
subsequently, it is necessary to cast a glance at one of the most
remarkable spiritual developments of the thirteenth century. Its opening
years had witnessed the death of Joachim of Flora, a man who may be
regarded as the founder of modern mysticism. Sprung from a rich and
noble family, and trained for the life of a courtier under Roger the
Norman Duke of Apulia, a sudden desire to see the holy places took him,
while yet a youth, to the East, with a retinue of servitors. A
pestilence was raging when he reached Constantinople, which so impressed
him with the miseries and vanities of life that he dismissed his suite
and continued his voyage as an humble pilgrim with a single companion.
His legend relates that he fell in the desert overcome with thirst, and
had a vision of a man standing by a river of oil, and saying to him,
"Drink of this stream," which he did to satiety, and when he awoke,
although previously illiterate, he had a knowledge of all Scripture. The
following Lent he passed in an old well on Mount Tabor; in the night of
the Resurrection a great splendor appeared to him, he was filled with
divine light to understand the concordance of the Old and New Laws, and
every difficulty and every obscurity vanished. These tales, repeated
until the seventeenth century, show the profound and lasting impression
which he left upon the minds of men.[11]

Thenceforth his life was dedicated to the service of God. Returning
home, he avoided his father's house, and commenced preaching to the
people; but this was not permissible to a layman, so he entered the
priesthood and the severe Cistercian Order. Chosen Abbot of Corazzo, he
fled, but was brought back and forced to assume the duties of the
office, till he visited Rome, in 1181, and obtained from Lucius III.
permission to lay it down. Even the severe Cistercian discipline did not
satisfy his thirst for austerity, and he retired to a hermitage at
Pietralata, where his reputation for sanctity drew disciples around him,
and in spite of his yearning for solitude he found himself at the head
of a new Order, of which the Rule, anticipating the Mendicants in its
urgency of poverty, was approved by Celestin III. in 1196. Already it
had spread from the mother-house of San Giovanni in Fiore, and numbered
several other monasteries.[12]

Joachim considered himself inspired, and though in 1200 he submitted his
works unreservedly to the Holy See, he had no hesitation in speaking of
them as divinely revealed. During his lifetime he enjoyed the reputation
of a prophet. When Richard of England and Philip Augustus were at
Messina, they sent for him to inquire as to the outcome of their
crusade, and he is said to have foretold to them that the hour had not
yet come for the deliverance of Jerusalem. Others of his fulfilled
prophecies are also related, and the mystical character of the
apocalyptic speculations which he left behind him served to increase,
after his death, his reputation as a seer. His name became one
customarily employed for centuries when any dreamer or sharper desired
to attract attention, and quite a literature of forgeries grew up which
were ascribed to him. Somewhat more than a century after his death we
find the Dominican Pipino enumerating a long catalogue of his works with
the utmost respect for his predictions. In 1319 Bernard Délicieux places
unlimited confidence in a prophetical book of Joachim's in which there
were representations of all future popes with inscriptions and symbols
under them. Bernard points out the different pontiffs of his own period,
predicts the fate of John XXII., and declares that for two hundred years
there had been no mortal to whom so much was revealed as to Joachim.
Cola di Rienzo found in the pseudo-prophecies of Joachim the
encouragement that inspired his second attempt to govern Rome. The
Franciscan tract _De ultima, Ætate Ecclesiæ_, written in 1356, and long
ascribed to Wickliff, expresses the utmost reverence for Joachim, and
frequently cites his prophecies. The _Liber Conformitatum_, in 1385,
quotes repeatedly the prediction ascribed to Joachim as to the
foundation of the two Mendicant Orders, symbolized in those of the Dove
and of the Crow, and the tribulations to which the former was to be
exposed. Not long afterwards the hermit Telesforo da Cosenza drew from
the same source prophecies as to the course and termination of the Great
Schism, and the line of future popes until the coming of
Antichrist--prophecies which attracted sufficient attention to call for
a refutation from Henry of Hesse, one of the leading theologians of the
day. Cardinal Peter d'Ailly speaks with respect of Joachim's prophecies
concerning Antichrist, and couples him with the prophetess St.
Hildegarda, while the rationalistic Cornelius Agrippa endeavors to
explain his predictions by the occult powers of numbers. Human credulity
preserved his reputation as a prophet to modern times, and until at
least as late as the seventeenth century prophecies under his name were
published, containing series of popes with symbolical figures,
inscriptions, and explanations, apparently similar to the _Vaticinia
Pontificum_ which so completely possessed the confidence of Bernard
Délicieux. Even in the seventeenth century the Carmelites printed the
_Oraculum Angelicum_ of Cyril, with its pseudo-Joachitic commentary, as
a proof of the antiquity of their Order.[13]

Joachim's immense and durable reputation as a prophet was due not so
much to his genuine works as to the spurious ones circulated under his
name. These were numerous--Prophecies of Cyril, and of the Erythræan
Sybil, Commentaries on Jeremiah, the _Vaticinia Pontificum_, the _De
Oneribus Ecclesiæ_ and _De Septem Temporibus Ecclesiæ_. In some of
these, reference to Frederic II. would seem to indicate a period of
composition about the year 1250, when the strife between the papacy and
empire was at the hottest, and the current prophecies of Merlin were
freely drawn upon in framing their exegesis. There can be little doubt
that their authors were Franciscans of the Puritan party, and their
fearless denunciations of existing evils show how impatient had grown
the spirit of dissatisfaction. The apocalyptic prophecies were freely
interpreted as referring to the carnal worldliness which pervaded all
orders in the Church; all are reprobate, none are elect; Rome is the
Whore of Babylon, and the papal curia the most venal and extortionate of
all courts; the Roman Church is the barren fig-tree, accursed by Christ,
which shall be abandoned to the nations to be stripped. It would be
difficult to exaggerate the bitterness of antagonism displayed in these
writings, even to the point of recognizing the empire as the instrument
of God which is to overthrow the pride of the Church. These outspoken
utterances of rebellion excited no little interest, especially within
the Order itself. Adam de Marisco, the leading Franciscan of England,
sends to his friend Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, some extracts from
these works which have been brought to him from Italy. He speaks of
Joachim as one justly credited with divine insight into prophetic
mysteries; he asks to have the fragments returned to him after copying,
and meanwhile commends to the bishop's consideration the impending
judgments of Providence which are invited by the abounding wickedness of
the time.[14]

Of Joachim's genuine writings the one which, perhaps, attracted the most
attention in his own day was a tract on the nature of the Trinity,
attacking the definition of Peter Lombard, and asserting that it
attributed a Quaternity to God. The subtleties of theology were
dangerous, and in place of proving the Master of Sentences a heretic,
Joachim himself narrowly escaped. Thirteen years after his death, the
great Council of Lateran, in 1215, thought his speculation sufficiently
important to condemn it as erroneous in an elaborate refutation, which
was carried into the canon law, and Innocent III. preached a sermon on
the subject to the assembled fathers. Fortunately Joachim, in 1200, had
expressly submitted all his writings to the judgment of the Holy See and
had declared that he held the same faith as that of Rome. The council,
therefore, refrained from condemning him personally and expressed its
approbation of his Order of Flora; but notwithstanding this the monks
found themselves derided and insulted as the followers of a heretic,
until, in 1220, they procured from Honorius III. a bull expressly
declaring that he was a good Catholic, and forbidding all detraction of
his disciples.[15]

His most important writings, however, were his expositions of Scripture
composed at the request of Lucius III., Urban III., and Clement III. Of
these there were three--the Concordia, the Decachordon, or _Psalterium
decem Cordarum_, and the _Expositio in Apocalypsin_. In these his system
of exegesis is to find in every incident under the Old Law the
prefiguration of a corresponding fact in chronological order under the
New Dispensation, and by an arbitrary parallelism of dates to reach
forward and ascertain what is yet to come. He thus determines that
mankind is destined to live through three states--the first under the
rule of the Father, which ended at the birth of Christ, the second under
that of the Son, and the third under the Holy Ghost. The reign of the
Son, or of the New Testament, he ascertains by varied apocalyptic
speculations is to last through forty-two generations, or 1260
years--for instance, Judith remained in widowhood three years and a
half, or forty-two months, which is 1260 days, the great number
representing the years through which the New Testament is to endure, so
that in the year 1260 the domination of the Holy Ghost is to replace it.
In the forty-second generation there will be a purgation which will
separate the wheat from the chaff--such tribulations as man has never
yet endured: fortunately they will be short, or all flesh would perish
utterly. After this, religion will be renewed; man will live in peace
and justice and joy, as in the Sabbath which closed the labors of
creation; all shall know God, from sea to sea, to the utmost confines of
the earth, and the glory of the Holy Ghost shall be perfect. In that
final abundance of spiritual grace the observances of religion will be
no longer requisite. As the paschal lamb was superseded by the
Eucharist, so the sacrifice of the altar will become superfluous. A new
monastic Order is to arise which will convert the world; contemplative
monachism is the highest development of humanity, and the world will
become, as it were, one vast monastery.[16]

In this scheme of the future elevation of man, Joachim recognized fully
the evils of his time. The Church he describes as thoroughly given over
to avarice and greed; wholly abandoned to the lusts of the flesh, it
neglects its children, who are carried off by zealous heretics. The
Church of the second state, he says, is Hagar, but that of the third
state will be Sarah. With endless amplitude he illustrates the
progressive character of the relations between God and man in the
successive eras. The first state, under God, was of the circumcision;
the second, under Christ, is of the crucifixion; the third, under the
Holy Ghost, will be of quietude and peace. Under the first was the order
of the married; under the second, that of the priesthood; under the
third will be that of monachism, which has already had its precursor in
St. Benedict. The first was the reign of Saul, the second that of David,
the third will be that of Solomon enjoying the plenitude of peace. In
the first, man was under the law, in the second under grace, in the
third he will be under ampler grace. The people of the first state are
symbolized by Zachariah the priest, those of the second by John the
Baptist, those of the third by Christ himself. In the first state there
was knowledge, in the second piety, in the third will be plenitude of
knowledge; the first state was servitude, the second was filial
obedience, the third will be liberty; the first state was passed in
scourging, the second in action, the third will be in contemplation; the
first was in fear, the second in faith, the third will be in love; the
first was of slaves, the second of freemen, the third will be of
friends; the first was of old men, the second of youths, the third will
be of children; the first was starlight, the second dawn, the third will
be perfect day; the first was winter, the second opening spring, the
third will be summer; the first brought forth nettles, the second roses,
the third will bear lilies; the first was grass, the second grain in
the ear, the third will be the ripened wheat; the first was water, the
second wine, the third will be oil. Finally, the first belongs to the
Father, creator of all things, the second to the Son, who assumed our
mortal clay, the third will belong to the pure Holy Spirit.[17]

It is a very curious fact that while Joachim's metaphysical subtleties
respecting the Trinity were ostentatiously condemned as a dangerous
heresy, no one seems at the time to have recognized the far more
perilous conclusions to be drawn from these apocalyptic reveries. So far
from being burned as heretical, they were prized by popes, and Joachim
was honored as a prophet until his audacious imitators and followers
developed the revolutionary doctrines to which they necessarily led. To
us, for the moment, their chief significance lies in the proof which
they afford that the most pious minds confessed that Christianity was
practically a failure. Mankind had scarce grown better under the New
Law. Vices and passions were as unchecked as they had been before the
coming of the Redeemer. The Church itself was worldly and carnal; in
place of elevating man it had been dragged down to his level; it had
proved false to its trust and was the exemplar of evil rather than the
pattern of good. To such men as Joachim it was impossible that crime and
misery should be the ultimate and irremediable condition of human life,
and yet the Atonement had thus far done little to bring it nearer to the
ideal. Christianity, therefore, could not be a finality in man's
existence upon earth; it was merely an intermediate condition, to be
followed by a further development, in which, under the rule of the Holy
Ghost, the law of love, fruitlessly inculcated by the gospel, should at
last become the dominant principle, and men, released from carnal
passions, should realize the glad promises so constantly held out
before them and so miserably withheld in the performance. Joachim
himself might seek to evade these deductions from his premises, yet
others could not fail to make them, and nothing could be more
audaciously subversive of the established spiritual and temporal order
of the Church.

Yet for a time his speculations attracted little attention and no
animadversion. It is possible that the condemnation of his theory of the
Trinity may have cast a shadow over his exegetical works and prevented
their general dissemination, but they were treasured by kindred spirits,
and copies of them were carried into various lands and carefully
preserved. Curiously enough, the first response which they elicited was
from the bold heretics known as the Amaurians, whose ruthless
suppression in Paris, about the year 1210, we have already considered.
Among their errors was enumerated that of the three Eras, which was
evidently derived from Joachim, with the difference that the third Era
had already commenced. The power of the Father only lasted under the
Mosaic Law; with the advent of Christ all the sacraments of the Old
Testament were superseded. The reign of Christ has lasted till the
present time, but now commences the sovereignty of the Holy Ghost; the
sacraments of the New Testament--baptism, the Eucharist, penitence, and
the rest--are obsolete and to be discarded, and the power of the Holy
Ghost will operate through the persons in whom it is incarnated. The
Amaurians, as we have seen, promptly disappeared, and the derivative
sects--the Ortlibenses, and the Brethren of the Free Spirit--seem to
have omitted this feature of the heresy. At all events, we hear nothing
more of it in that quarter.[18]

Gradually, however, the writings of Joachim obtained currency, and with
the ascription to him of the false prophecies which appeared towards the
middle of the century his name became more widely known and of greater
authority. In Provence and Languedoc, especially, his teachings found
eager reception. Harried successively by the crusades and the
Inquisition, and scarce as yet fairly reunited with the Church, those
regions furnished an ample harvest of earnest minds which might well
seek in the hoped-for speedy realization of Joachim's dreams
compensation for the miseries of the present. Nor did those dreams lack
an apostle of unquestionable orthodoxy. Hugues de Digne, a hermit of
Hyères, had a wide reputation for learning, eloquence, and sanctity. He
had been Franciscan Provincial of Provence, but had laid down that
dignity to gratify his passion for austerity, and his sister, St.
Douceline, lived in a succession of ecstasies in which she was lifted
from the ground. Hugues was intimate with the leading men of the Order;
Alexander Hales, Adam de Marisco, and the general, John of Parma, are
named as among his close friends. With the latter, especially, he had
the common bond that both were earnest Joachites. He possessed all the
works of Joachim, genuine and spurious, he had the utmost confidence in
their prophecies, which he regarded as divine inspiration, and he did
much to extend the knowledge of them, which was not difficult, as he
himself had the reputation of a prophet.[19]

The Spiritual section of the Franciscans was rapidly becoming leavened
with these ideas. To minds inclined to mysticism, filled with unrest,
dissatisfied with the existing unfulfilment of their ideal, and longing
earnestly for its realization, there might well be an irresistible
fascination in the promises of the Calabrian abbot, of which the term
was now so rapidly approaching. If these Joachitic Franciscans developed
the ideas of their teacher with greater boldness and definiteness, their
ardor had ample excuse. They were living witnesses of the moral failure
of an effort from which everything had been expected for the
regeneration of humanity. They had seen how the saintly teachings of
Francis and the new revelation of which he had been the medium were
perverted by worldly men to purposes of ambition and greed; how the
Order, which should have been the germ of human redemption, was growing
more and more carnal, and how its saints were martyred by their fellows.
Unless the universe were a failure, and the promises of God were lies,
there must be a term to human wickedness; and as the Gospel of Christ
and the Rule of Francis had not accomplished the salvation of mankind, a
new gospel was indispensable. Besides, Joachim had predicted that there
would arise a new religious Order which would rule the world and the
Church in the halcyon age of the Holy Ghost. They could not doubt that
this referred to the Franciscans as represented by the Spiritual group,
which was striving to uphold in all its strictness the Rule of the
venerated founder.[20]

Such, we may presume, were the ideas which were troubling the hearts of
the earnest Spirituals as they pondered over the prophecies of Joachim.
In their exaltation many of them were themselves given to ecstasies and
visions full of prophetic insight. Prominent members of the Order had
openly embraced the Joachitic doctrines, and his prophecies, genuine and
spurious, were applied to all events as they occurred. In 1248
Salimbene, the chronicler, who was already a warm believer, met at the
Franciscan convent of Provins (Champagne) two ardent condisciples,
Gherardo da Borgo San Donnino and Bartolommeo Ghiscolo of Parma. St.
Louis was just setting forth on his ill-starred Egyptian crusade. The
Joachites had recourse to the pseudo-Joachim on Jeremiah, and foretold
that the expedition would be a failure, that the king would be taken
prisoner, and that pestilence would decimate the host. This was not
calculated to render them popular; the peace of the good brethren was
sadly broken by quarrels, and the Joachites found it advisable to
depart. Salimbene went to Auxerre, Ghiscolo to Sens, and Gherardo to
Paris, where his learning secured for him admission to the university as
the representative of Sicily, and he obtained a chair in theology. Here
for four years he pursued his apocalyptic studies.[21]

Suddenly, in 1254, Paris was startled with the appearance of a book
under the title of "The Everlasting Gospel"--a name derived from the
Apocalypse--"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having
the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and
to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Rev. xiv. 6). It
consisted of Joachim's three undoubted works, with explanatory glosses,
preceded by a long Introduction, in which the hardy author developed the
ideas of the prophet audaciously and uncompromisingly. The daring
venture had an immediate and immense popular success, which shows how
profoundly the conviction which prompted it was shared among all
classes. The rhymes of Jean de Meung indicate that the demand for it
came from the laity rather than the clergy, and that it was sought by
women as well as by men--

    "Ung livre de par le grant diable
     Dit l'Évangile pardurable ...
     A Paris n'eust home ne feme
     Au parvis devant Nostre-Dame
     Qui lors avoir ne le péust
     A transcrire, s'il li pléust."[22]

Nothing more revolutionary in spirit, more subversive of the established
order of the Church, can be conceived than the assertions which thus
aroused popular sympathy and applause. Joachim's computations were
accepted, and it was assumed absolutely that in six years, in 1260, the
reign of Christ would end and the reign of the Holy Ghost begin.
Already, in 1200, the spirit of life had abandoned the Old and New
Testaments in order to give place to the Everlasting Gospel, consisting
of the Concordia, the Expositio, and the Decachordon--the development
and spiritualization of all that had preceded it. Even as Joachim had
dwelt on the ascending scale of the three Eras, so the author of the
Introduction characterized the progressive methods of the three
Scriptures. The Old Testament is the first heaven, the New Testament the
second heaven, the Everlasting Gospel the third heaven. The first is
like the light of the stars, the second like that of the moon, and the
third like that of the sun; the first is the porch, the second the holy
place, and the third the Holy of Holies; the first is the rind, the
second the nut, the third the kernel; the first is earth, the second
water, the third fire; the first is literal, the second spiritual, and
the third is the law promised in Jeremiah XXXI. The preaching and
dissemination of this supreme and eternal law of God is committed to the
barefooted Order (the Franciscans). At the threshold of the Old Law were
three men, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: at that of the New Law were three
others, Zachariah, John the Baptist, and Christ: and at that of the
coming age are three, the man in linen (Joachim), the Angel with the
sharp sickle, and the Angel with the sign of the living God (Francis).
In the blessed coming reign of the Holy Ghost men will live under the
law of love, as in the first Era they lived in fear, and in the second
in grace. Joachim had argued against the continuance of the sacraments;
Gherardo regarded them as symbols and enigmas, from which man would be
liberated in the time to come, for love would replace all the
observances founded upon the second Dispensation. This was destructive
of the whole sacerdotal system, which was to be swept away and relegated
to the limbo of the forgotten past; and scarce less revolutionary was
his bold declaration that the Abomination of Desolation would be a pope
tainted with simony, who, towards the end of the sixth age, now at hand,
would obtain the papacy.[23]

The authorship of this bold challenge to an infallible Church was long
attributed to John of Parma himself, but there would seem little doubt
that it was the work of Gherardo--the outcome of his studies and
reveries during the four years spent in the University of Paris,
although John of Parma possibly had a hand in it. Certainly, as Tocco
well points out, he at least sympathized with it, for he never punished
the author, in spite of the scandal which it brought upon the Order, and
Bernard Gui tells us that at the time it was commonly ascribed to him. I
have already related with what joy William of Saint Amour seized upon it
in the quarrel between the University and the Mendicants, and the
advantage it momentarily gave the former. Under existing circumstances
it could have no friends or defenders. It was too reckless an onslaught
on all existing institutions, temporal and spiritual. The only thing to
be done with it was to suppress it as quietly as possible. Consideration
for the Franciscan Order demanded this, as well as the prudence which
counselled that attention should not be unduly called to it, although
hundreds of victims had been burned for heresies far less dangerous. The
commission which sat at Anagni in July, 1255, for its condemnation had a
task over which there could be no debate, but I have already pointed out
the contrast between the reserve with which it was suppressed and the
vindictive clamor with which Saint Amour's book against the Mendicants
was ordered to be burned.[24]

The Spiritual section of the Franciscans was fatally compromised, and
the worldly party, which had impatiently borne the strict rule of John
of Parma, saw its opportunity of gaining the ascendency. Led by Bernardo
da Bessa, the companion of Bonaventura, formal articles of accusation
were presented to Alexander IV. against the general. He was accused of
listening to no explanations of the Rule and Testament, holding that the
privileges and declarations of the popes were of no moment in
comparison. It was not hinted that he was implicated in the Everlasting
Gospel, but it was alleged that he pretended to enjoy the spirit of
prophecy and that he predicted a division of the Order between those who
procured papal relaxations and those who adhered to the Rule, the latter
of whom would flourish under the dew of heaven and the benediction of
God. Moreover, he was not orthodox, but defended the errors of Joachim
concerning the Trinity, and his immediate comrades had not hesitated, in
sermons and tracts, to praise Joachim immoderately and to assail the
leading men of the Order. In this, as in the rest of the proceedings,
the studied silence preserved as to the Everlasting Gospel shows how
dangerous was the subject, and how even the fierce passions of the
strife shrank from compromising the Order by admitting that any of its
members were responsible for that incendiary production.[25]

Alexander was easily persuaded, and a general chapter was held in the
Aracœli, February 2, 1257, over which he personally presided. John of
Parma was warned to resign, and did so, pleading age, weariness, and
disability. After a decent show of resistance his resignation was
accepted and he was asked to nominate a successor. His choice fell upon
Bonaventura, then only thirty-four years of age, whose participation in
the struggle with the University of Paris had marked him as the most
promising man in the Order, while he was not identified with either
faction. He was duly elected, and the leaders of the movement required
him to proceed against John and his adherents. Bonaventura for a while
hesitated, but at length consented. Gherardo refused to recant, and
Bonaventura sent for him to come to Paris. In passing through Modena he
met Salimbene, who had cowered before the storm and had renounced
Joachitism as a folly. The two friends had a long colloquy, in which
Gherardo offered to prove that Antichrist was already at hand in the
person of Alonso the Wise of Castile. He was learned, pure-minded,
temperate, modest, amiable--in a word, a most admirable and lovable
character; but nothing could wean him from his Joachitic convictions,
though in his trial discreet silence, as usual, was observed about the
Everlasting Gospel, and he was condemned as an upholder of Joachim's
Trinitarian speculations. Had he not been a Franciscan he would have
been burned. It was a doubtful mercy which consigned him to a dungeon in
chains and fed him on bread and water for eighteen years, until his
weary life came to an end. He never wavered to the last, and his remains
were thrust into a corner of the garden of the convent where he died.
The same fate awaited his comrade Leonardo, and also another friar named
Piero de' Nubili, who refused to surrender a tract of John of

Then John himself was tried by a special court, to preside over which
Alexander appointed Cardinal Caietano, afterwards Nicholas III. The
accused readily retracted his advocacy of Joachim, but his bearing
irritated the judges, and, with Bonaventura's consent, he would have
shared the fate of his associates but for the strenuous intercession of
Ottoboni, Cardinal of S. Adrian, afterwards Adrian V. Bonaventura gave
him the option of selecting a place of retreat, and he chose a little
convent near Rieti. There he is said to have lived for thirty-two years
the life of an angel, without abandoning his Joachitic beliefs. John
XXI., who greatly loved him, thought of making him a cardinal in 1277,
but was prevented by death. Nicholas III., who had presided at his
trial, a few years later offered him the cardinalate, so as to be able
to enjoy his advice, but he quietly answered, "I could give wholesome
counsel if there were any one to listen to me, but in the Roman court
there is little discussed but wars and triumphs, and not the salvation
of souls." In 1289, however, notwithstanding his extreme age, he
accepted from Nicholas IV. a mission to the Greek Church, but he died at
Camerino soon after setting out. Buried there, he speedily shone in
miracles; he became the object of a lasting cult, and in 1777 he was
formally beatified, in spite of the opposition arising from his alleged
authorship of the Introduction to the Everlasting Gospel.[27]

The faith of the Joachites was by no means broken by these reverses.
William of Saint Amour thought it necessary to return to the charge with
another bitter tract directed against them. He shares their belief in
the impending change, but declares that in place of being the reign of
love under the Holy Ghost, it will be the reign of Antichrist, whom he
identifies with the Friars. Persecution, he says, had put an end to the
open defence of the pestiferous doctrine of the Everlasting Gospel, but
it still had many believers in secret. The south of France was the
headquarters of the sect. Florent, Bishop of Acre, had been the official
prosecutor before the Commission of Anagni in 1255. He was rewarded with
the archbishopric of Arles in 1262, and in 1265 he held a provincial
synod with the object of condemning the Joachites, who were still
numerous in his province. An elaborate refutation of the errors of the
Everlasting Gospel was deemed necessary; it was deplored that many
learned men still suffered themselves to be misled by it, and that books
containing it were written and eagerly passed from hand to hand. The
anathema was decreed against this, but no measures of active persecution
seem to have been adopted, nor do we hear of any steps taken by the
Inquisition to suppress the heresy. As we shall see hereafter, the
leaven long remained in Languedoc and Provence, and gave a decided
impress to the Spiritual Franciscanism of those regions. It mattered
little that the hoped-for year 1260 came and passed away without the
fulfilment of the prophecy. Earnest believers can always find excuses
for such errors in computation, and the period of the advent of the Holy
Ghost could be put off from time to time, so as always to stimulate hope
with the prospect of emancipation in the near future.[28]

       *       *       *       *       *

Although the removal of John of Parma from the generalate had been the
victory of the Conventuals, the choice of Bonaventura might well seem to
give to the Spirituals assurance of continued supremacy. In his
controversy with William of Saint Amour he had taken the most advanced
ground in denying that Christ and the apostles held property of any
kind, and in identifying poverty with perfection. "Deep poverty is
laudable; this is true of itself: therefore deeper poverty is more
laudable, and the deepest, the most laudable. But this is the poverty of
him who neither in private nor in common keeps anything for himself....
To renounce all things, in private or in common, is Christian
perfection, not only sufficient but abundant: it is the principal
counsel of evangelical perfection, its fundamental principle and sublime
foundation." Not only this, but he was deeply imbued with mysticism and
was the first to give authoritative expression to the Illuminism which
subsequently gave the Church so much trouble. His _Mystica Theologia_
is in sharp contrast to the arid scholastic theology of the day as
represented by Thomas Aquinas. The soul is brought face to face with
God; its sins are to be repented of in the silent watches of the night,
and it is to seek God through its own efforts. It is not to look to
others for aid or leadership, but, depending on itself, strive for the
vision of the Divine. Through this Path of Purgation it ascends to the
Path of Illumination, and is prepared for the reception of the Divine
Radiance. Finally it reaches the Third Path, which leads to union with
the Godhead and participation in Divine Wisdom. Molinos and Madame Guyon
indulged in no more dangerous speculations; and the mystic tendencies of
the Spirituals received a powerful stimulus from such teachings.[29]

It was inevitable that the strife within the Order between property and
poverty should grow increasingly bitter. Questions were constantly
arising which showed the incompatibility of the vows as laid down by St.
Francis with the functions of an organization which had grown to be one
of the leading factors of a wealthy and worldly Church. In 1255 we find
the sisters of the monastery of St. Elizabeth complaining to Alexander
IV. that when property was given or bequeathed to them the
ecclesiastical authorities enforced on them the observance of the Rule,
by compelling them to part with it within a year by sale or gift, and
the pope graciously promised that no such custom should be enforced in
future. About the same time John of Parma complained that when his
friars were promoted to the episcopate they carried away with them books
and other things of which they had properly only the use, being unable
to own anything under peril of their souls. Again Alexander graciously
replied that friars, on promotion, must deliver to the provincial
everything which they had in their hands. Such troubles must have been
of almost daily occurrence, and it was inevitable that the increasing
friction should result in schism. When the blessed Gilio, the third
disciple who joined St. Francis, was taken to Assisi to view the
splendid buildings erected in honor of the humble Francis, and was
carried through three magnificent churches, connected with a vast
refectory, a spacious dormitory, and other offices and cloisters,
adorned with lofty arches and spacious portals, he kept silent until one
of his guides pressed him for an expression of admiration. "Brethren,"
he then said, "there is nothing lacking except your wives." This seemed
somewhat irrelevant, till he explained that the vows of poverty and
chastity were equally binding, and now that one was set aside the other
might as well follow. Salimbene relates that in the convent of Pisa he
met Frà Boncampagno di Prato, who, in place of the two new tunics per
year distributed to each of the brethren, would only accept one old one,
and who declared that he could scarce satisfy God for taking that one.
Such exaggerated conscientious sensitiveness could not but be peculiarly
exasperating to the more worldly members.[30]

The Conventuals had lost no time in securing the results of their
victory over John of Parma. Scarce had his resignation been secured, and
before Bonaventura could arrive from Paris they obtained from Alexander,
February 20, 1257, a repetition of the declaration of Innocent IV. which
enabled the Order to handle money and hold property through the
transparent device of agents and the Holy See. The disgust of the
Puritan party was great, and even the implicit reverence prescribed for
the papacy could not prevent ominous mutterings of disobedience, raising
questions as to the extent of the papal power to bind and to loose,
which in time were to ripen into open rebellion. The Rule had been
proclaimed a revelation equal in authority to the gospel, and it might
well be asked whether even the successor of St. Peter could set it
aside. It was probably about this time that Berthold of Ratisbon, the
most celebrated Franciscan preacher of his day, in discoursing to his
brethren on the monastic state, boldly declared that the vows of
poverty, obedience, and chastity were so binding that even the pope
could not dispense for them. This, in fact, was admitted on all sides as
a truism. About 1290 the Dominican Provincial of Germany, Hermann of
Minden, in an encyclical, alludes to it as a matter of course, but in
little more than a quarter of a century we shall see that such
utterances were treated as heresy, and were sternly suppressed with the

Bonaventura, as we have seen, honestly sought to restrain the growing
laxity of the Order. Before leaving Paris he addressed, April 23, 1257,
an encyclical letter to the provincials, calling their attention to the
prevalent vices of the brethren and the contempt to which they exposed
the whole Order. Again, some ten years later, at the instance of Clement
IV., he issued another similar epistle, in which he strongly expressed
his horror at the neglect of the Rule shown in the shameless greed of so
many members, the importunate striving for gain, the ceaseless
litigation caused by their grasping after legacies and burials, and the
splendor and luxury of their buildings. The provincials were instructed
to put an end to these disorders by penance, imprisonment, or expulsion;
but however earnest in his zeal Bonaventura may have been, and however
self-denying in his own life, he lacked the fiery energy which enabled
John of Parma to give effect to his convictions. How utter was the
prevailing degeneracy is seen in the complaint presented in 1265 to
Clement IV., that in many places the ecclesiastical authorities held
that the friars, being dead to the world, were incapable of inheritance.
Relief was prayed from this, and Clement issued a bull declaring them
competent to inherit and free to hold their inheritances, or to sell
them, and to use the property or its price as might to them seem

The question of poverty evidently was one incapable of permanent and
satisfactory settlement. Dissension in the Order could not be healed. In
vain Gregory X., about 1275, was appealed to, and decided that the
injunction of the Rule against the possession of property, individually
or in common, was to be strictly observed. The worldly party continued
to point out the incompatibility of this with the necessities of human
nature; they declared it to be a tempting of God and a suicide of the
individual; the quarrel continually grew more bitterly envenomed, and in
1279 Nicholas III. undertook to settle it with a formal declaration
which should forever close the mouths of all cavillers. For two months
he secretly labored at it in consultation with the two Franciscan
cardinals, Palestrina and Albano, the general, Bonagrazia, and some of
the provincials. Then it was submitted to a commission in which was
Benedetto Caietano, afterwards Boniface VIII. Finally it was read and
adopted in full consistory, and it was included, twenty years later, in
the additions to the canon law compiled and published by order of
Boniface. No utterance of the Holy See could have more careful
consideration and more solemn authority than the bull known as _Exiit
qui seminat_, which was thus ushered into the world, and which
subsequently became the subject of such deadly controversy.[33]

It declares the Franciscan Rule to be the inspiration of the Holy Ghost
through St. Francis. The renunciation of property, not only individual
but in common, is meritorious and holy. Such absolute renunciation of
possession had been practised by Christ and the apostles, and had been
taught by them to their disciples; it is not only meritorious and
perfect, but lawful and possible, for there is a distinction between
use, which is permitted, and ownership, which is forbidden. Following
the example of Innocent IV. and Alexander IV., the proprietorship of all
that the Franciscans use is declared to be vested, now and hereafter, in
the Roman Church and pontiff, which concede to the friars the usufruct
thereof. The prohibition to receive and handle money is to be enforced,
and borrowing is especially deprecated; but, when necessity obliges,
this may be effected through third parties, although the brethren must
abstain from handling the money or administering or expending it. As for
legacies, they must not be left directly to the friars, but only for
their use; and minute regulations are drawn up for exchanging or selling
books and utensils. The bull concludes with instructions that it is to
be read and taught in the schools, but no one, under pain of
excommunication and loss of office and benefice, shall do anything but
expound it literally--it is not to be glossed or commented upon, or
discussed, or explained away. All doubts and questions shall be
submitted directly to the Holy See, and any one disputing or commenting
on the Franciscan Rule or the definitions of the bull shall undergo
excommunication, removable only by the pope.

Had the question been capable of permanent settlement in this sense,
this solemn utterance would have put an end to further trouble.
Unluckily, human nature did not cease to be human nature, with its
passions and necessities, on crossing the threshold of a Franciscan
convent. Unluckily, papal constitutions were as cobwebs when they sought
to control the ineradicable vices and weakness of man; Unluckily,
moreover, there were consciences too sensitive to be satisfied with
fine-drawn distinctions and subtleties ingeniously devised to evade the
truth. Yet the bull _Exiit qui seminat_ for a while relieved the papacy
from further discussion, although it could not quiet the intestine
dissensions of the Order. There was still a body of recalcitrants, not
numerous, it is true, but eminent for the piety and virtue of its
members, which could not be reconciled by these subterfuges. These
recalcitrants gradually formed themselves into two distinct bodies, one
in Italy, and the other in southern France. At first there is little to
distinguish them apart, and for a long while they acted in unison, but
there gradually arose a divergence between them, which in the end became
decisively marked, owing to the greater influence exercised in Languedoc
and Provence by the traditions of Joachim and the Everlasting Gospel.

We have seen how the thirst for ascetic poverty, coupled in many cases,
doubtless, with the desire to escape from the sordid cares of daily
life, led thousands to embrace a career of wandering mendicancy.
Sarabites and _circumcelliones_--vagrant monks, subjected to no
rule--had been the curse of the Church ever since the invention of
cenobitism; and the exaltation of poverty in the thirteenth century had
given a new impulse to the crowds who preferred the idleness of the
road or of the hermitage to the restraints and labor of civilized
existence. It was in vain that the Lateran Council had prohibited the
formation of new and unauthorized Orders. The splendid success of the
Mendicants had proved too alluring, and others were formed on the same
basis, without the requisite preliminary of the papal approval. The
multitudes of holy beggars were becoming a serious nuisance, oppressive
to the people and disgraceful to the Church. When Gregory X. summoned
the General Council of Lyons, in 1274, this was one of the evils to be
remedied. The Lateran canon prohibiting the formation of unauthorized
Orders was renewed. Gregory proposed to suppress all the congregations
of hermits, but, at the instance of Cardinal Richard, the Carmelites and
Augustinians were allowed to exist on sufferance until further order,
while the audacity of other associations, not as yet approved, was
condemned, especially that of the mendicants, whose multitude was
declared to exceed all bounds. Such mendicant Orders as had been
confirmed since the Council of Lateran were permitted to continue, but
they were instructed to admit no new members, to acquire no new houses,
and not to sell what they possessed without special license from the
Holy See. Evidently it was felt that the time had come for decisive
measures to check the tide of saintly mendicancy.[34]

Some vague and incorrect rumors of this legislation penetrating to
Italy, led to an explosion which started one of the most extraordinary
series of persecutions which the history of human perversity affords. On
the one hand there is the marvellous constancy which endured lifelong
martyrdom for an idea almost unintelligible to the modern mind; on the
other there is the seemingly causeless ferocity, which appears to
persecute for the mere pleasure of persecution, only to be explained by
the bitterness of the feuds existing within the Order, and the savage
determination to enforce submission at every cost.

It was reported that the Council of Lyons had decreed that the
Mendicants could hold property. Most of the brethren acquiesced readily
enough, but those who regarded the Rule as divine revelation, not to be
tampered with by any earthly authority, declared that it would be
apostasy, and a thing not to be admitted under any circumstances.
Several disputations were held which only confirmed each side in its
views. One point which gave rise to peculiar animosity was the refusal
of the Spirituals to take their turns in the daily rounds in quest of
moneyed alms, which had grown to be the custom in most places; and it is
easy to imagine the bitter antagonism to which this disobedience must
have led. It shows how strained were the relations between the factions
that proceedings for heresy were forthwith commenced against these
zealots. The rumor proved false, the excitement died away, and the
prosecutions were allowed to slumber for a few years, when they were
revived through fear that these extreme opinions, if left unpunished,
might win over the majority. Liberato da Macerata, Angelo da Cingoli (il
Clareno), Traymondo, Tommaso da Tollentino, and one or two others whose
names have not reached us were the obdurate ones who would make no
concession, even in theory. Angelo, to whom we owe an account of the
matter, declared that they were ready to render implicit obedience, that
no offence was proved against them, but that nevertheless they were
condemned, as schismatics and heretics, to perpetual imprisonment in
chains. The sentence was inhumanly harsh. They were to be deprived of
the sacraments, even upon the death-bed, thus killing soul as well as
body; during life no one was to speak with them, not even the jailer who
brought the daily pittance of bread and water to their cells, and
examined their fetters to see that they were attempting no escape. As a
warning, moreover, the sentence was ordered to be read weekly in all the
chapters, and no one was to presume to criticise it as unjust. This was
no idle threat, for when Friar Tommaso da Casteldemilio heard it read
and said it was displeasing to God, he was cast into a similar prison,
where he rotted to death in a few months. The fierce spirits in control
of the Order were evidently determined that at least the vow of
obedience should be maintained.[35]

The prisoners seem to have lain in jail until after the election to the
generalate of Raymond Gaufridi, at Easter, 1289. Visiting the Mark of
Ancona, where they were incarcerated, he investigated the case, blamed
severely the perpetrators of the injustice, and set the martyrs free in
1290. The Order had been growing more lax in its observance than ever,
in spite of the bull _Exiit qui seminat_. Matteo d'Acquasparta, who was
general from 1287 to 1289, was easy and kindly, well-intentioned but
given to self-indulgence, and by no means inclined to the effort
requisite to enforce the Rule. Respect for it, indeed, was daily
diminishing. Coffers were placed in the churches to receive offerings;
bargains were made as to the price of masses and for the absolution of
sinners; boys were stationed at the church-doors to sell wax tapers in
honor of saints; the Friars habitually begged money in the streets,
accompanied by boys to receive and carry it; the sepulture of the rich
was eagerly sought for, leading to disgraceful quarrels with the heirs
and with the secular clergy. Everywhere there was self-seeking and
desire for the enjoyment of an idle and luxurious life. It is true that
lapses of the flesh were still rigidly punished, but these cases were
sufficiently frequent to show that ample cause for scandal arose from
the forbidden familiarity with women which the brethren permitted
themselves. So utter was the general demoralization that Nicholas, the
Provincial of France, even dared to write a tract calling in question
the bull _Exiit qui seminat_ and its exposition of the Rule. As this was
in direct contravention of the bull itself, Acquasparta felt compelled
to condemn the work and to punish its author and his supporters, but the
evil continued to work. In the Mark of Ancona and in some other places
the reaction against asceticism was so strong that the Testament of the
revered Francis was officially ordered to be burned. It was the main
bulwark of the Spirituals against relaxation of the Rule, and in one
instance it was actually burned on the head of a friar, N. de Recanate,
who presumably had made himself obnoxious by insisting on its

Raymond Gaufridi was earnestly desirous of restoring discipline, but the
relaxation of the Order had grown past curing. His release of the
Spirituals at Ancona caused much murmuring; he was ridiculed as a patron
of fantastic and superstitious men, and conspiracies were set on foot
which never ceased till his removal was effected in 1295. It was perhaps
to conjure these attempts that he sent Liberato, Angelo, Tommaso, and
two kindred spirits named Marco and Piero to Armenia, where they induced
King Haito II. to enter the Franciscan Order, and won from him the
warmest eulogies. Even in the East, however, the hatred of their
fellow-missionaries was so earnest and so demonstrative that they were
forced to return in 1293. On their arrival in Italy the provincial,
Monaldo, refused to receive them or to allow them to remain until they
could communicate with Raymond, declaring that he would rather entertain

The unreasoning wrath which insisted on these votaries of poverty
violating their convictions received a check when, in 1294, the choice
of the exhausted conclave fell by chance on the hermit Pier Morrone, who
suddenly found his mountain burrow transformed into the papal palace.
Celestin V. preserved in St. Peter's chair the predilection for solitude
and maceration which had led him to the life of the anchorite. To him
Raymond referred the Spirituals, whom he seemed unable to protect.
Celestin listened to them kindly and invited them to enter his special
Order--the Celestinian Benedictines--but they explained to him the
difference of their vows, and how their brethren detested the observance
of the Rule. Then in public audience he ordered them to observe strictly
the Rule and Testament of Francis; he released them from obedience to
all except himself and to Liberato, whom he made their chief; Cardinal
Napoleone Orsini was declared their protector, and the abbot of the
Celestinians was ordered to provide them with hermitages. Thus they
were fairly out of the Order; they were not even to call themselves
Minorites or Franciscans, and it might be supposed that their brethren
would be as glad to get rid of them and their assumption of superior
sanctity as they were to escape from oppression.[38]

Yet the hatred provoked by the quarrel was too deep and bitter to spare
its victims, and the breathing-space which they enjoyed was short.
Celestin's pontificate came to an abrupt termination. Utterly unfitted
for his position, speedily made the tool of designing men, and growing
weary of the load which he felt himself unable to endure, after less
than six months he was persuaded to abdicate, in December, 1294, and was
promptly thrown into prison by his successor, Boniface VIII., for fear
that he might be led to reconsider an abdication the legality of which
might be questioned. All of Celestin's acts and grants were forthwith
annulled, and so complete was the obliteration of everything that he had
done, that even the appointment of a notary is found to require
confirmation and a fresh commission. Boniface's contempt for the
unworldly enthusiasm of asceticism did not lead him to make any
exception in favor of the Spirituals. To him the Franciscan Order was
merely an instrument for the furtherance of his ambitious schemes, and
its worldliness was rather to be stimulated than repressed. Though he
placed in his Sixth Book of Decretals the bull _Exiit qui seminat_, his
practical exposition of its provisions is seen in two bulls issued July
17, 1296, by one of which he assigns to the Franciscans of Paris one
thousand marks, to be taken from the legacies for pious uses, and by the
other he converts to them a legacy of three hundred livres bequeathed by
Ada, lady of Pernes, for the benefit of the Holy Land. Under such
auspices the degradation of the Order could not but be rapid. Before his
first year was out, Boniface had determined upon the removal of the
general, Raymond. October 29, 1295, he offered the latter the bishopric
of Pavia, and on his protesting that he had not strength for the burden,
Boniface said that he could not be fit for the heavier load of the
generalate, of which he relieved him on the spot. We can understand the
insolence which led a party of the Conventual faction to visit Celestin
in his prison and taunt and insult him for the favor which he had shown
to the Spirituals. A prosecution for heresy which Boniface ordered, in
March, 1295, against Frà Pagano di Pietra-Santa was doubtless instigated
by the same spirit.[39]

More than this. To Boniface's worldly, practical mind the hordes of
wandering mendicants, subjected to no authority, were an intolerable
nuisance, whether it arose from ill-regulated asceticism or idle
vagabondage. The decree of the Council of Lyons had failed to suppress
the evil, and, in 1496 and 1497, Boniface issued instructions to all
bishops to compel such wanderers or hermits, popularly known as Bizochi,
either to lay aside their fictitious religious habits and give up their
mode of life, or to betake themselves to some authorized Order. The
inquisitors were instructed to denounce to the bishops all suspected
persons, and if the prelates were remiss, to report them to the Holy
See. One remarkable clause gives special authority to the inquisitors to
prosecute such of these Bizochi as may be members of their own Orders,
thus showing that there was no heresy involved, as otherwise the
inquisitors would have required no additional powers.[40]

The following year Boniface proceeded to more active measures. He
ordered the Franciscan, Matteo da Chieti, Inquisitor of Assisi, to visit
personally the mountains of the Abruzzi and Mark of Ancona and to drive
from their lurking-places the apostates from various religious Orders
and the Bizochi who infested those regions. His previous steps had
probably been ineffective, and possibly also he may have been moved to
more decisive action by the rebellious attitude of the Spirituals and
proscribed mendicants. Not only did they question the papal authority,
but they were beginning to argue that the papacy itself was vacant. So
far from being content with the bull _Exiit qui seminat_, they held that
its author, Nicholas III., had been deprived by God of the papal
functions, and consequently that he had had no legitimate successors.
Thereafter there had been no true ordinations of priest and prelate, and
the real Church consisted in themselves alone. To remedy this, Frère
Matthieu de Bodici came from Provence, bringing with him the books of
Pierre Jean Olivi, and in the Church of St. Peter in Rome he was elected
pope by five Spirituals and thirteen women. Boniface promptly put the
Inquisition on their track, but they fled to Sicily, which, as we shall
see, subsequently became the headquarters of the sect.[41]

Friar Jordan, to whom we are indebted for these details, assumes that
Liberato and his associates were concerned in this movement. The dates
and order of events are hopelessly confused, but it would rather seem
that the section of the Spirituals represented by Liberato kept
themselves aloof from all such revolutionary projects. Their sufferings
were real and prolonged, but had they been guilty of participating in
the election of an antipope they would have had but the choice between
perpetual imprisonment and the stake. They were accused of holding that
Boniface was not a lawful pope, that the authority of the Church was
vested in themselves alone, and that the Greek Church was preferable to
the Latin--in other words of Joachitism--but Angelo declares
emphatically that all this was untrue, and his constancy of endurance
during fifty years of persecution and suffering entitles his assertion
to respect. He relates that after their authorization by Celestin V.
they lived as hermits in accordance with the papal concession,
sojourning as paupers and strangers wherever they could find a place of
retreat, and strictly abstaining from preaching and hearing confessions,
except when ordered to do so by bishops to whom they owed obedience.
Even before the resignation of Celestin, the Franciscan authorities,
irritated at the escape of their victims, disregarded the papal
authority and endeavored with an armed force to capture them. Celestin
himself seems to have given them warning of this, and the zealots,
recognizing that there was no peace for them in Italy, resolved to
expatriate themselves and seek some remote spot where they could gratify
their ascetic longings and worship God without human interference. They
crossed the Adriatic and settled on a desert island off the Achaian
coast. Here, lost to view, they for two years enjoyed the only period of
peace in their agitated lives; but at length news of their place of
retreat reached home, and forthwith letters were despatched to the
nobles and bishops of the mainland accusing them of being Cathari, while
Boniface was informed that they did not regard him as pope, but held
themselves to be the only true Church. In 1299 he commissioned Peter,
Patriarch of Constantinople, to try them, when they were condemned
without a hearing, and he ordered Charles II. of Naples, who was
overlord of the Morea, to have them expelled, an order which Charles
transmitted to Isabelle de Villehardouin, Princess of Achaia. Meanwhile
the local authorities had recognized the falsity of the accusations, for
the refugees celebrated mass daily and prayed for Boniface as pope, and
were willing to eat meat, but this did not relieve them from
surveillance and annoyance, one of their principal persecutors being a
certain Geronimo, who came to them with some books of Olivi's, and whom
they were forced to eject for immorality, after which he turned accuser
and was rewarded with the episcopate.[42]

The pressure became too strong, and the little community gradually broke
up. An intention to accompany Frà Giovanni da Monte on a mission to
Tartary had to be abandoned on account of the excommunication consequent
upon the sentence uttered by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Liberato
sent two brethren to appeal to Boniface, and then two more, but they
were all seized and prevented from reaching him. Then Liberato himself
departed secretly and reached Perugia, but the sudden death of Boniface
(October 11, 1303) frustrated his object. The rest returned at various
times, Angelo being the last to reach Italy, in 1305. He found his
brethren in evil plight. They had been cited by the Dominican
inquisitor, Tommaso di Aversa, and had obediently presented themselves.
At first the result was favorable. After an examination lasting several
days, Tommaso pronounced them orthodox, and dismissed them, saying
publicly, "Frà Liberato, I swear by Him who created me that never the
flesh of a poor man could be sold for such a price as I could get for
yours. Your brethren would drink your blood if they could." He even
conducted them in safety back to their hermitages, and when the rage of
the Conventuals was found to be unappeasable he gave them the advice
that they should leave the kingdom of Naples that night and travel by
hidden ways to the pope; if they could bring letters from the latter, or
from a cardinal, he would defend them as long as he held the office. The
advice was taken; Liberato left Naples that night, but fell sick on the
road and died after a lingering illness of two years. Meanwhile, as we
shall see hereafter, the exploits of Dolcino in Lombardy were exciting
general terror, which rendered all irregular fraternities the object of
suspicion and dread. The Conventuals took advantage of this and incited
Frà Tommaso to summon before him all who wore unauthorized religious
habits. The Spirituals were cited again, to the number of forty-two, and
this time they did not escape so easily. They were condemned as
heretics, and when Andrea da Segna, under whose protection they had
lived, interposed in their favor, Tommaso carried them to Trivento,
where they were tortured for five days. This excited the compassion of
the bishop and nobles of the town, so they were transferred to Castro
Mainardo, a solitary spot, where for five months they were afflicted
with the sharpest torments. Two of the younger brethren yielded and
accused themselves and their comrades, but revoked when released. Some
of them died, and finally the survivors were ordered to be scourged
naked through the streets of Naples and were banished the kingdom,
although no specific heresy was alleged against them in the sentence.
Through all this the resolution of the little band never faltered.
Convinced that they alone were on the path of salvation, they would not
be forced back into the Order. On the death of Liberato, Angelo was
chosen as their leader, and amid persecution and obloquy they formed a
congregation in the Mark of Ancona, known as the Clareni, from the
surname of their chief, and under the protection of the cardinal,
Napoleone Orsini.[43]

This group had not been by any means alone in opposing the laxity of the
Conventuals, although it was the only one which succeeded in throwing
off the yoke of its opponents. The Spirituals were numerous in the
Order, but the policy of Boniface VIII. led him to support the efforts
of the Conventuals to keep them in subjection. Jacopone da Todi, the
author of the Stabat Mater, was perhaps the most prominent of these, and
his savage verses directed against the pope did not tend to harmonize
the troubles. After the capture of Palestrina, in 1298, Boniface threw
him into a foul dungeon, where he solaced his captivity with canticles
full of the mystic ardor of divine love. It is related that Boniface
once, passing the grating of his cell, jeeringly called to him, "Jacopo,
when will you get out?" and was promptly answered, "When you come in."
In a sense the prophecy proved true, for one of the first acts of
Benedict XI., in December, 1303, was to release Jacopone from both
prison and excommunication.[44]

Frà Corrado da Offida was another prominent member of the Spiritual
group. He had been a friend of John of Parma; for fifty-five years he
wore but a single gown, patched and repatched as necessity required, and
this with his rope girdle constituted his sole worldly possessions. In
the mystic exaltation which characterized the sect he had frequent
visions and ecstasies, in which he was lifted from the ground after the
fashion of the saints. When Liberato and his companions were in their
Achaian refuge he designed joining them with Jacopo de' Monti and
others, but the execution of the project was in some way prevented.[45]

Such men, filled with the profoundest conviction of their holy calling,
were not to be controlled by either kindness or severity. It was in vain
that the general, Giovanni di Murro, at the chapter of 1302, held in
Genoa, issued a precept deploring the abandonment, by the Order, of holy
poverty, as shown by the possession of lands and farms and vineyards,
and the assumption by friars of duties which involved them in worldly
cares and strife and litigation. He ordered the sale of all property,
and forbade the members of the Order from appearing in any court. Yet
while he was thus rigid as to the ownership of property, he was lax as
to its use, and condemned as pernicious the doctrine that the vow of
poverty involved restriction in its enjoyment. He was, moreover,
resolved on extinguishing the schism in the Order, and his influence
with Boniface was one of the impelling causes of the continued
persecution of the Spirituals. They stubbornly rejected all attempts at
reconciliation, and placed a true estimate on these efforts of reform.
Before the year was out Giovanni was created Cardinal Bishop of Porto,
and was allowed to govern the Order through a vicar; the reforms were
partially enforced in some provinces for a short time; then they fell
into desuetude, and matters went on as before.[46]

       *       *       *       *       *

In France, where the influence of Joachim and the Everlasting Gospel was
much more lasting and pronounced than in Italy, the career of the
Spirituals revolves around one of the most remarkable personages of the
period--Pierre Jean Olivi. Born in 1247, he was placed in the Franciscan
Order at the age of twelve, and was trained in the University of Paris,
where he obtained the baccalaureate. His grave demeanor, seasoned with a
lively wit, his irreproachable morals, his fervid eloquence, and the
extent of his learning won for him universal respect, while his piety,
gentleness, humility, and zeal for holy poverty gained for him a
reputation for sanctity which assigned to him the gift of prophecy. That
such a man should attach himself to the Spirituals was a matter of
course, and equally so was the enmity which he excited by unsparing
reproof of the laxity of observance into which the Order had declined.
In his voluminous writings he taught that absolute poverty is the
source of all the virtues and of a saintly life; that the Rule
prohibited all proprietorship, whether individual or in common, and that
the vow bound the members to the most sparing use of all necessaries,
the meanest garments, the absence of shoes, etc., while the pope had no
power to dispense or absolve, and much less to order anything contrary
to the Rule. The convent of Béziers, to which he belonged, became the
centre of the Spiritual sect, and the devotion which he excited was
shared by the population at large, as well as by his brethren. The
temper of the man was shown when he underwent his first rebuke. In 1278
some writings of his in praise of the Virgin were considered to trench
too closely on Mariolatry. The Order had not yet committed itself to
this, and complaint was made to the general, Geronimo d'Ascoli,
afterwards Nicholas IV., who read the tracts and condemned him to burn
them with his own hands. Olivi at once obeyed without any sign of
perturbation, and when his wondering brethren asked how he could endure
such mortification so tranquilly, he replied that he had performed the
sacrifice with a thoroughly placid mind; he had not felt more pleasure
in writing the tracts than in burning them at the command of his
superior, and the loss was nothing, for if necessary he could easily
write them again in better shape. A man so self-centred and
imperturbable could not fail to impress his convictions on those who
surrounded him.[47]

What his convictions really were is a problem not easily solved at the
present day. The fierce antagonisms which he excited by his fiery
onslaughts on individuals as well as on the general laxity of the Order
at large, caused his later years to be passed in a series of
investigations for heresy. At the general chapter of Strassburg, in
1282, his writings were ordered to be examined. In 1283 Bonagrazia di S.
Giovanni, the general, came to France, collected and placed them all in
the hands of seven of the leading members of the Order, who found in
them propositions which they variously characterized as false,
heretical, presumptuous, and dangerous, and ordered the tracts
containing them to be surrendered by all possessing them. Olivi
subscribed to the judgment in 1284, although he complained that he had
not been permitted to appear in person before his judges and explain the
censured passages, to which distorted meanings had been applied. With
some difficulty he procured copies of his inculpated writings and
proceeded to justify himself. Still the circle of his disciples
continued to increase; incapable of the self-restraint of their master,
and secretly imbued with Joachitic doctrines, they were not content with
the quiet propagation of their principles, but excited tumults and
seditions. Olivi was held responsible. The chapter held at Milan in 1285
elected as general minister Arlotto di Prato, one of the seven who had
condemned him, and issued a decree ordering a strict perquisition and
seizure of his writings. The new general, moreover, summoned him to
Paris for another inquisition into his faith, of which the promoters
were two of the members of the previous commission, Richard Middleton
and Giovanni di Murro, the future general. The matter was prolonged
until 1286, when Arlotto died, and nothing was done. Matteo
d'Acquasparta vouched for his orthodoxy in appointing him teacher in the
general school of the Order at Florence. Raymond Gaufridi, who succeeded
Matteo d'Acquasparta in 1290, was a friend and admirer of Olivi, but
could not prevent fresh proceedings, though he appointed him teacher at
Montpellier. Excitement in Languedoc had reached a point which led
Nicholas IV., in 1290, to order Raymond to suppress the disturbers of
the peace. He commissioned Bertrand de Cigotier, Inquisitor of the
Comtat Venaissin, to investigate and report, in order that the matter
might be brought before the next general chapter, to be held in Paris.
In 1292, accordingly, Olivi appeared before the chapter, professed his
acceptance of the bull _Exiit qui seminat_, asserted that he had never
intentionally taught or written otherwise, and revoked and abjured
anything that he might inadvertently have said in contradiction of it.
He was dismissed in peace, but twenty-nine of his zealous and headstrong
followers, whom Bertrand de Cigotier had found guilty, were duly
punished. His few remaining years seem to have passed in comparative
peace. Two letters written in 1295, one to Corrado da Offida and the
other to the sons of Charles II. of Naples, then held as hostages in
Catalonia, who had asked him to visit them, show that he was held in
high esteem, that he desired to curb the fanatic zeal of the more
advanced Spirituals, and that he could not restrain himself from
apocalyptic speculation. On his death-bed, in 1298, he uttered a
confession of faith in which he professed absolute submission to the
Roman Church and to Boniface as its head. He also submitted all his
works to the Holy See, and made a declaration of principles as to the
matters in dispute within the Order, which contained nothing that
Bonaventura would not have signed, or Nicholas III. would have impugned
as contrary to the bull _Exiit_, although it sharply rebuked the
money-getting practices and relaxation of the Order.[48]

He was honorably buried at Narbonne, and then the controversy over his
memory became more lively than ever, rendering it almost impossible to
determine his responsibility for the opinions which were ascribed to him
by both friends and foes. That his bones became the object of assiduous
cult, in spite of repeated prohibitions, that innumerable miracles were
worked at his tomb, that crowds of pilgrims flocked to it, that his
feast-day became one of the great solemnities of the year, and that he
was regarded as one of the most efficient saints in the calendar, only
shows the popular estimate of his virtues and the zeal of those who
regarded themselves as his disciples. Certain it is that the Council of
Vienne, in 1312, treated his memory with great gentleness. While it
condemned with merciless severity the mystic extravagances of the
Brethren of the Free Spirit, it found only four errors to note in the
voluminous writings of Olivi--errors of merely speculative interest,
such as are frequent among the schoolmen of the period--and these it
pointed out without attributing them to him or even mentioning his name.
These his immediate followers denied his holding, although eventually
one of them, curiously enough, became a sort of shibboleth among the
Olivists. It was that Christ was still alive on the cross when pierced
by the lance, and was based on the assertion that the relation in
Matthew originally differed in this respect from that in John, and had
been altered to secure harmony. All other questions relating to the
teachings of Olivi the council referred to the Franciscans for
settlement, showing that they were deemed of minor importance, after
they had been exhaustively debated before it by Bonagrazia da Bergamo in
attack and Ubertino da Casale in defence. Thus the council condemned
neither his person nor his writings; that the result was held as
vindicating his orthodoxy was seen when, in 1313, his feast-day was
celebrated with unexampled enthusiasm at Narbonne, and was attended by a
concourse equal to that which assembled at the anniversary of the
Portiuncula. Moreover, after the heat of the controversy had passed
away, the subsequent condemnation of his writings by John XXII. was
removed by Sixtus IV., towards the end of the fifteenth century. Olivi's
teachings may therefore fairly be concluded to have contained no very
revolutionary doctrines. In fact, shortly after his death all the
Franciscans of Provence were required to sign an abjuration of his
errors, among which was enumerated the one respecting the wound of
Christ, but nothing was said respecting the graver aberrations
subsequently attributed to him.[49]

On the other hand he was unquestionably the heresiarch of the
Spirituals, both of France and Italy, regarded by them as the direct
successor of Joachim and Francis. The _Historia Tribulationum_ finds in
the pseudo-Joachitic prophecies a clear account of all the events in his
career. Enthusiastic Spirituals, who held the revolutionary doctrines of
the Everlasting Gospel, testified before the Inquisition that the third
age of the Church had its beginning in Olivi, who thus supplanted St.
Francis himself. He was inspired of heaven; his doctrine had been
revealed to him in Paris, some said, while he was washing his hands;
others that the illumination came to him from Christ while in church, at
the third hour of the day. Thus his utterances were of equal authority
with those of St. Paul, and were to be obeyed by the Church without the
change of a letter. It is no wonder that he was held accountable for the
extravagances of those who regarded him with such veneration and
recognized him as their leader and teacher.[50]

When Olivi died, his former prosecutor, Giovanni di Murro, was general
of the Order, and, strong as were his own ascetic convictions, he lost
no time in completing the work which he had previously failed to
accomplish. Olivi's memory was condemned as that of a heretic, and an
order was issued for the surrender of all his writings, which was
enforced with unsparing rigor, and continued by his successor, Gonsalvo
de Balboa. Pons Botugati, a friar eminent for piety and eloquence,
refused to surrender for burning some of the prohibited tracts, and was
chained closely to the wall in a damp and fetid dungeon, where bread and
water were sparingly flung to him, and where he soon rotted to death in
filth, so that when his body was hastily thrust into an unconsecrated
grave it was found that already the flesh was burrowed through by worms.
A number of other recalcitrants were also imprisoned with almost equal
harshness, and in the next general chapter the reading of all of Olivi's
works was formally prohibited. That much incendiary matter was in
circulation, attributed directly or indirectly to him, is shown by a
catalogue of Olivist tracts, treating of such dangerous questions as the
power of the pope to dispense from vows, his right to claim implicit
obedience in matters concerning faith and morals, and other similar
muttering of rebellion.[51]

The work of Olivi which called forth the greatest discussion, and as to
which the evidences are peculiarly irreconcilable, was his Postil on the
Apocalypse. It was from this that the chief arguments were drawn for his
condemnation. In an inquisitorial sentence of 1318 we learn that his
writings were then again under examination by order of John XXII.; that
they were held to be the source of all the errors which the sectaries
were then expiating at the stake, and that principal among them was his
work on the Apocalypse, so that, until the papal decision, no one was to
hold him as a saint or a Catholic. When the condemnatory report of eight
masters of theology came, in 1319, the Spirituals held that the outrage
thus committed on the faith deprived of all virtue the sacrament of the
altar. No formal judgment was rendered, however, until February 8, 1326,
when John XXII. finally condemned the Postil on the Apocalypse after a
careful scrutiny in the Consistory, and the general chapter of the Order
forbade any one to read or possess it. One of the reports of the experts
upon it has reached us. It is impossible to suppose that they
deliberately manufactured the extracts on which their conclusions are
based, and these extracts are quite sufficient to show that the work was
an echo of the most dangerous doctrines of the Everlasting Gospel. The
fifth age is drawing to an end, and, under the figure of the mystical
Antichrist, there are prophecies about the pseudo-pope, pseudo-Christs,
and pseudo-prophets in terms which clearly allude to the existing
hierarchy. The pseudo-pope will be known by his heresies concerning the
perfection of evangelical poverty (as we shall see was the case with
John XXII.), and the pseudo-Joachim's prophecies concerning Frederic II.
are quoted to show how prelates and clergy who defend the Rule will be
ejected. The carnal church is the Great Whore of Babylon; it makes
drunken and corrupts the nations with its carnalities, and oppresses
the few remaining righteous, as under Paganism it did with its
idolatries. In forty generations from the harvest of the apostles there
will be a new harvest of the Jews and of the whole world, to be garnered
by the Evangelical Order, to which all power and authority will be
transferred. There are to be a sixth and a seventh age, after which
comes the Day of Judgment. The date of this latter cannot be computed,
but at the end of the thirteenth century the sixth age is to open. The
carnal church, or Babylon, will expire, and the triumph of the spiritual
church will commence.[52]

It has been customary for historians to assume that this resurrection of
the Everlasting Gospel was Olivi's work, though it is evident from the
closing years of his career that he could not have been guilty of
uttering such inflammatory doctrines, and this is confirmed by the
silence of the Council of Vienne concerning them, although it condemned
his other trifling errors after a thorough debate on the subject by his
enemies and friends. In fact, Bonagrazia, in the name of the
Conventuals, bitterly attacked his memory and adduced a long list of his
errors, including cursorily certain false and fantastic prophecies in
the Postil on the Apocalypse and his stigmatizing the Church as the
Great Whore. Had such passages as the above existed they would have been
set forth at length and defence would have been impossible. Ubertino in
reply, however, boldly characterized the assertion as most mendacious
and impious; Olivi, he declared, had always spoken most reverently of
the Church and Holy See; the Postil itself closed with a submission to
the Roman Church as the universal mistress, and in the body of the work
the Holy See was repeatedly alluded to as the seat of God and of Christ;
the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are spoken of as the seats
of God which will last to the end, while the reprobate are Babylon and
the Great Whore. It is impossible that Ubertino can have quoted these
passages falsely, for Bonagrazia would have readily overwhelmed him with
confusion, and the Council of Vienne would have rendered a far different
judgment. We know from undoubted sources that the revolutionary
doctrines commonly attributed to Olivi were entertained by those who
considered themselves and were considered to be his disciples, and we
can only assume that in their misguided zeal they interpolated his
Postil, and gave to their own mystic dreams the authority of his great

After the death of Olivi the Franciscan officials seem to have felt
themselves unable to suppress the sect which was spreading and
organizing throughout Languedoc. For some reason not apparent, unless it
may have been jealousy of the Dominicans, the aid of the Inquisition was
not called in, and the inquisitors withheld their hands from offenders
of the rival Order. The regular church authorities, however, were
appealed to, and in 1299 Gilles, Archbishop of Narbonne, held at Béziers
a provincial synod, in which were condemned the Beguines of both sexes
who under the lead of learned men of an honorable Order (the
Franciscans) engaged in religious exercises not prescribed by the
Church, wore vestments distinguishing them from other folk, performed
novel penances and abstinences, administered vows of chastity, often not
observed, held nocturnal conventicles, frequented heretics, and
proclaimed that the end of the world was at hand, and that already the
reign of Antichrist had begun. From them many scandals had already
arisen, and there was danger of more and greater troubles. The bishops
were therefore ordered, in their several dioceses, to investigate these
sectaries closely and to suppress them. We see from this that there was
rapidly growing up a new heresy based upon the Everlasting Gospel, with
the stricter Franciscans as a nucleus, but extending among the people.
For this popular propaganda the Tertiary Order afforded peculiar
facilities, and we shall find hereafter that the Beguines, as they were
generally called, were to a great extent Tertiaries, when not full
members of the Order. There was nothing, however, to tempt the cupidity
of the episcopal officials to the prosecution of those whose principal
belief consisted in the renunciation of all worldly goods, and it is not
likely that they showed themselves more diligent in their duties than we
have seen them when greater interests were at stake. The action of the
council may therefore be safely assumed as wasted, except as justifying
persecution within the Order. The lay Beguines doubtless enjoyed
practical immunity, while the Spiritual Friars continued to endure the
miseries at the hands of their superiors for which monastic life
afforded such abundant opportunities. Thus, at Villefranche, when
Raymond Auriole and Jean Prime refused to admit that their vows
permitted a liberal use of the things of the world, they were imprisoned
in chains and starved till Raymond died, deprived of the sacraments as a
heretic, and Jean barely escaped with his life.[54]

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus passed away the unfortunate thirteenth century--that age of lofty
aspirations unfulfilled, of brilliant dreams unsubstantial as visions,
of hopes ever looking to fruition and ever disappointed. The human
intellect had awakened, but as yet the human conscience slumbered, save
in a few rare souls who mostly paid in disgrace or death the penalty of
their precocious sensitiveness. That wonderful century passed away and
left as its legacy to its successor vast progress, indeed, in
intellectual activity, but on the spiritual side of the inheritance a
dreary void. All efforts to elevate the ideals of man had miserably
failed. Society was harder and coarser, more carnal and more worldly
than ever, and it is not too much to say that the Inquisition had done
its full share to bring this about by punishing aspirations, and by
teaching that the only safety lay in mechanical conformity, regardless
of abuses and unmindful of corruption. The results of that hundred years
of effort and suffering are well symbolized in the two popes with whom
it began and ended--Innocent III. and that pinchbeck Innocent, Boniface
VIII., who, in the popular phrase of the time, came in like a fox, ruled
like a lion, and died like a dog. In intellect and learning Boniface was
superior to his model, in imperious pride his equal, in earnestness, in
self-devotion, in loftiness of aim, in all that dignifies ambition,
immeasurably his inferior. It is no wonder that the apocalyptic
speculations of Joachim should acquire fresh hold on the minds of those
who could not reconcile the spiritual desert in which they lived with
their conception of the merciful providence of God. To such men it
seemed impossible that he could permit a continuance of the cruel
wickedness which pervaded the Church, and through it infected society at
large. This was plainly beyond the power of a few earnest zealots to
cure, or even to mitigate, so the divine interposition was requisite to
create a new earth, inhabited only by the few virtuous Elect, under a
reign of ascetic poverty and all-embracing love.

One of the most energetic and impetuous missionaries of these beliefs
was Arnaldo de Vilanova, in some respects, perhaps, the most remarkable
man of his time, whom we have only of late learned to know thoroughly,
from the researches of Señor Pelayo. As a physician he stood unrivalled.
Kings and popes disputed his services, and his voluminous writings on
medicine and hygiene were reprinted in collective editions six times
during the sixteenth century, besides numerous issues of special
treatises. As a chemist he is more doubtfully said to have left his mark
in several useful discoveries. As an alchemist he had the repute of
producing ingots of gold in the court of Robert of Naples, a great
patron of the science, and his treatises on the subject were included in
collections of such works printed as lately as the eighteenth century. A
student of both Arabic and Hebrew, he translated from Costa ben Luca
treatises on incantations, ligatures, and other magic devices. He wrote
on astronomy and on oneiromancy, for he was an expert expounder of
dreams, and also on surveying and wine-making. He draughted laws for
Frederic of Trinacria which that enlightened monarch promulgated and
enforced, and his advice to Frederic and his brother Jayme II. of Aragon
on their duties as monarchs stamps him as a conscientious statesman.
When Jayme applied to him for the explanation of a mysterious dream he
not only satisfied the king with his exposition, but proceeded to warn
him that his chief duty lay in administering justice, first to the poor,
and then to the rich. When asked how often he gave audience to the poor,
Jayme answered, once a week, and also when he rode out for pleasure.
Arnaldo sternly reproved him; he was earning damnation; the rich had
access to him every day, morning, noon, and night, the poor but seldom;
he made of God the hog of St. Anthony, which received only the refuse
rejected by all. If he wished to earn salvation he must devote himself
to the welfare of the poor, without which, in spite of the teachings of
the Church, neither psalms, nor masses, nor fasting, nor even alms would
suffice. To Jayme he was not only physician but counsellor, venerable
and much beloved, and he was repeatedly employed on diplomatic missions
by the kings of both Aragon and Sicily.[55]

Multifarious as were these occupations, they consumed but a portion of
his restless activity. In dedicating to Robert of Naples his treatise on
surveying, he describes himself--

    "Yeu, Arnaut de Vilanova ...
     Doctor en leys et en decrets,
     Et en siensa de strolomia,
     Et en l'art de medicina,
     Et en la santa teulogia"--

and, although a layman, married, and a father, his favorite field of
labor was theology, which he had studied with the Dominicans of
Montpellier. In 1292 he commenced with a work on the Tetragrammaton, or
ineffable name of Jehovah, in which he sought to explain by natural
reasons the mystery of the Trinity. Embarked in such speculations he
soon became a confirmed Joachite. To a man of his lofty spiritual
tendencies and tender compassion for his fellows, the wickedness and
cruelty of mankind were appalling, and especially the crimes of the
clergy, among whom he reckoned the Mendicants as the worst. Their vices
he lashed unsparingly, and he naturally fell in with the speculations of
the pseudo-Joachitic writings, anticipating the speedy advent of
Antichrist and the Day of Judgment. In numberless works composed in both
Latin and the vernacular he commented upon and popularized the Joachitic
books, even going so far as to declare that the revelation of Cyril was
more precious than all Scripture. Such a man naturally sympathized with
the persecuted Spirituals. He boldly undertook their defence in sundry
tracts, and when, in 1309, Frederic of Trinacria applied to him to
expound his dream, he seized the opportunity to invoke the monarch's
commiseration for their suffering, by explaining to him how, when they
sought to appeal to the Holy See, their brethren persecuted and slew
them, and how evangelical poverty was treated as the gravest of crimes.
He used his influence similarly at the court of Naples, thus providing
for them, as we shall see, a place of refuge in their necessity.[56]

With his impulsive temperament it was impossible for him to hold aloof
from the bitter strife then raging. Before the thirteenth century was
out he addressed letters to the Dominicans and Franciscans of Paris and
Montpellier, to the Kings of France and Aragon, and even to the Sacred
College, announcing the approaching end of the world; the wicked
Catholics, and especially the clergy, were the members of the coming
Antichrist. This aroused an active controversy, in which neither party
spared the other. After a war of tracts the Catalan Dominicans formally
accused him before the Bishop of Girona, and he responded that they had
no standing in court, as they were heretics and madmen, dogs and
jugglers, and he cited them to appear before the pope by the following
Lent. It could only have been the royal favor which preserved him from
the fate at the stake of many a less audacious controversialist; and
when, in 1300, King Jayme sent him on a mission to Philippe le Bel, he
boldly laid his work on the advent of Antichrist before the University
of Paris. The theologians looked askance on it, and, in spite of his
ambassadorial immunity, on the eve of his return he was arrested without
warning by the episcopal Official. The Archbishop of Narbonne interposed
in vain, and he was bailed out on security of three thousand livres,
furnished by the Viscount of Narbonne and other friends. Brought before
the masters of theology, he was forced by threats of imprisonment to
recant upon the spot, without being allowed to defend himself, and one
can well believe his statement that one of his most eager judges was a
Franciscan, whose zeal was doubtless inflamed by the portentous
appearance of another Olivi from the prolific South.[57]

A formal appeal to Boniface was followed by a personal visit to the
papal court. Received at first with jeers, his obstinacy provoked
repression. As a relapsed, he might have been burned, but he was only
imprisoned and forced to a second recantation, in spite of which
Philippe le Bel, at the assembty of the Louvre in 1303, in his charges
of heresy against Boniface asserted that the pope had approved a book of
Arnaldo's which had already been burned by himself and by the University
of Paris. Boniface, in fact, in releasing him, imposed on him silence on
theologic matters, though appreciating his medical skill and appointing
him papal physician. For a while he kept his peace, but a call from
heaven forced him to renewed activity, and he solemnly warned Boniface
of the divine vengeance if he remained insensible to the duty of
averting the wrath to come by a thorough reformation of the Church. The
catastrophe of Anagni soon followed, and Arnaldo, who had left the papal
court, naturally regarded it as a confirmation of his prophecy, and
looked upon himself as an envoy of God. With a fierce denunciation of
clerical corruptions he repeated the warning to Benedict XI., who
responded by imposing a penance on him and seizing all his apocalyptic
tracts. In about a month Benedict, too, was dead, and Arnaldo announced
that a third message would be sent to his successor, "though when and by
whom has not been revealed to me, but I know that if he heeds it divine
power will adorn him with its sublimest gifts; if he rejects it, God
will visit him with a judgment so terrible that it will be a wonder to
all the earth."[58]

For some years we know nothing of his movements, although his fertile
pen was busily employed with little intermission, and the Church vainly
endeavored to suppress his writings. In 1305 Fray Guillermo, Inquisitor
of Valencia, excommunicated and ejected from church Gambaldo de Pilis, a
servant of King Jayme, for possessing and circulating them. The king
applied to Guillermo for his reasons, and, on being refused, angrily
wrote to Eymerich, the Dominican general. He declared that Arnaldo's
writings were eagerly read by himself, his queen and his children, by
archbishops and bishops, by the clergy and the laity. He demanded that
the sentence be revoked as uncanonical, else he would punish Fray
Guillermo severely and visit with his displeasure all the Dominicans of
his dominions. It was probably this royal favor which saved Arnaldo when
he came near being burned at Santa Christina, and escaped with no worse
infliction than being stigmatized as a necromancer and enchanter, a
heretic and a pope of the heretics.[59]

When the persecution of the Spirituals of Provence was at its height,
Arnaldo procured from Charles the Lame of Naples, who was also Count of
Provence, a letter to the general, Gerald, which for a time put a stop
to it. In 1309 we find him at Avignon, on a mission from Jayme II., well
received by Clement V., who prized highly his skill as a physician. He
used effectively this position by secretly persuading the pope to send
for the leaders of the Spirituals, in order to learn from them orally
and in writing of what they complained and what reformation they desired
in their Order. With regard to his own affairs he was not so fortunate.
At a public hearing before the pope and cardinals, in October, 1309, he
predicted the end of the world within the century, and the advent of
Antichrist within its first forty years; he dwelt at much length on the
depravity of clergy and laity, and complained bitterly of the
persecution of those who desired to live in evangelical poverty. All
this was to be expected of him, but he added the incredible indiscretion
of reading a detailed account of the dreams of Jayme II. and Frederic of
Trinacria, their doubts and his explanations and exhortations--matters,
all of them, as sacredly confidential as the confession of a penitent.
Cardinal Napoleone Orsini, the protector of the Spirituals, wrote to
Jayme congratulating him on his piety as revealed by that wise and
illuminated man, inflamed with the love of God, Master Arnaldo, but this
effort to conjure the tempest was unavailing. The Cardinal of Porto and
Ramon Ortiz, Dominican Provincial of Aragon, promptly reported to Jayme
that he and his brother had been represented as wavering in the faith
and as believers in dreams, and advised him no longer to employ as his
envoy such a heretic as Arnaldo. Jayme's pride was deeply wounded. It
was in vain that Clement assured him that he had paid no attention to
Arnaldo's discourse; the king wrote to the pope and cardinals and to his
brother denying the story of his dream and treating Arnaldo as an
impostor. Frederic was less susceptible: he wrote to Jayme that the
story could do them no harm, and that the real infamy would lie in
abandoning Arnaldo in his hour of peril. Arnaldo took refuge with him,
and not long afterwards was sent by him again to Avignon on a mission,
but perished during the voyage. The exact date of his death is unknown,
but it was prior to February, 1311. For selfish reasons Clement mourned
his loss, and issued a bull announcing that Arnaldo had been his
physician and had promised him a most useful book which he had written;
he had died without doing so, and now Clement summoned any one
possessing the precious volume to deliver it to him.[60]

       *       *       *       *       *

The interposition of Arnaldo offered to the Spirituals an unexpected
prospect of deliverance. From Languedoc to Venice and Florence they were
enduring the bitterest persecution from their superiors; they were cast
into dungeons where they starved to death, and were exposed to the
infinite trials for which monastic life afforded such abundant
opportunities, when Arnaldo persuaded Clement to make an energetic
effort to heal the schism in the Order and to silence the accusations
which the Conventuals brought against their brethren. An occasion was
found in an appeal from the citizens of Narbonne setting forth that the
books of Olivi had been unjustly condemned, that the Rule of the Order
was disregarded, and those who observed it were persecuted, and further
praying that a special cult of Olivi's remains might be permitted. A
commission of important personages was formed to investigate the faith
of Angelo da Clarino and his disciples, who still dwelt in the
neighborhood of Rome, and who were pronounced good Catholics. Such
leading Spirituals as Raymond Gaufridi, the former general, Ubertino da
Casale, the intellectual leader of the sect, Raymond de Giniac, former
Provincial of Aragon, Gui de Mirepoix, Bartolommeo Sicardi, and others
were summoned to Avignon, where they were ordered to draw up in writing
the points which they deemed requisite for the reformation of the Order.
To enable them to perform this duty in safety they were taken under
papal protection by a bull which shows in its minute specifications how
real were the perils incurred by those who sought to restore the Order
to its primitive purity. Apparently stimulated by these warnings, the
general, Gonsalvo, at the Chapter of Padua in 1310, caused the adoption
of many regulations to diminish the luxury and remove the abuses which
pervaded the Order, but the evil was too deep-seated. He was resolved,
moreover, on reducing the Spirituals to obedience, and the hatred
between the two parties grew bitterer than ever.[61]

The articles of complaint, thirty-five in number, which the Spirituals
laid before Clement V. in obedience to his commands formed a terrible
indictment of the laxity and corruption which had crept into the Order.
It was answered but feebly by the Conventuals, partly by denying its
allegations, partly by dialectical subtleties to prove that the Rule did
not mean what it said, and partly by accusing the Spirituals of heresy.
Clement appointed a commission of cardinals and theologians to hear both
sides. For two years the contest raged with the utmost fury. During its
continuance Raymond Gaufridi, Gui de Mirepoix, and Bartolommeo Sicardi
died--poisoned by their adversaries, according to one account, worn out
with ill-treatment and insult according to another. Clement had
temporarily released the delegates of the Spirituals from the
jurisdiction of their enemies, who had the audacity, March 1, 1311, to
enter a formal protest against his action, alleging that they were
excommunicated heretics under trial, who could not be thus protected. In
this prolonged discussion the opposing leaders were Ubertino da Casale
and Bonagrazia (Boncortese) da Bergamo. The former, while absorbed in
devotion on Mont' Alverno, the scene of St. Francis's transfiguration,
had been anointed by Christ and raised to a lofty degree of spiritual
insight. His reputation is illustrated by the story that while laboring
with much success in Tuscany he had been summoned to Rome by Benedict
XI. to answer some accusations brought against him. Soon afterwards the
people of Perugia sent a solemn embassy to the pope with two
requests--one that Ubertino be restored to them, the other that the pope
and cardinals would reside in their city--whereat Benedict smiled and
said, "I see you love us but a little, since you prefer Fra Ubertino to
us." He was a Joachite, moreover, who did not hesitate to characterize
the abdication of Celestin as a horrible innovation, and the accession
of Boniface as a usurpation. Bonagrazia was perhaps superior to his
opponent in learning and not his inferior in steadfast devotion to what
he deemed the truth, though Ubertino characterized him as a lay novice,
skilled in the cunning tricks of the law. We shall see hereafter his
readiness to endure persecution in defence of his own ideal of poverty;
and the antagonism of two such men upon the points at issue between them
is the most striking illustration of the impracticable nature of the
questions which raised so heated a strife and cost so much blood.[62]

The Spirituals failed in their efforts to obtain a decree of separation
which should enable them, in peace, to live according to their
interpretation of the Rule, but in other respects the decision of the
commission was wholly in their favor, in spite of the persistent effort
of the Conventuals to divert attention from the real questions at issue
to the assumed errors of Olivi. Clement accepted the decision, and in
full consistory, in presence of both parties, ordered them to live in
mutual love and charity, to bury the past in oblivion, and not to insult
each other for past differences. Ubertino replied, "Holy Father, they
call us heretics and defenders of heresy; there are whole books full of
this in your archives and those of the Order. They must either allege
these things and let us defend ourselves, or they must recall them.
Otherwise there can be no peace between us." To this Clement rejoined,
"We declare as pope, that from what has been stated on both sides before
us, no one ought to call you heretics and defenders of heresy. What
exists to that effect in our archives or elsewhere we wholly erase and
pronounce to be of no validity against you." The result was seen in the
Council of Vienne (1311-12), which adopted the canon known as _Exivi de
Paradiso_, designed to settle forever the controversy which had lasted
so long. Angelo da Clarino declares that this was based wholly upon the
propositions of Ubertino; that it was the crowning victory of the
Spirituals, and his heart overflows with joy when he communicates the
good news to his brethren. It determined, he says, eighty questions
concerning the interpretation of the Rule; hereafter those who serve the
Lord in hermitages and are obedient to their bishops are secured against
molestation by any person. The inquisitors, he further stated, were
placed under control of the bishops, which he evidently regarded as a
matter of special importance, for in Provence and Tuscany the
Inquisition was Franciscan, and thus in the hands of the Conventuals. We
have seen that Clement delayed issuing the decrees of the council. He
was on the point of doing so, after careful revision, when his death, in
1314, followed by a long interregnum, caused a further postponement.
John XXII. was elected in August, 1316, but he, too, desired time for
further revision, and it was not until November, 1317, that the canons
were finally issued. That they underwent change in this process is more
than probable, and the canon _Exici de Paradiso_ was on a subject
peculiarly provocative of alteration. As it has reached us it certainly
does not justify Angelo's pæan of triumph. It is true that it insists on
a more rigid compliance with the Rule. It forbids the placing of coffers
in churches for the collection of money; it pronounces the friars
incapable of enjoying inheritances; it deprecates the building of
magnificent churches, and convents which are rather palaces; it
prohibits the acquisition of extensive gardens and great vineyards, and
even the storing up of granaries of corn and cellars of wine where the
brethren can live from day to day by beggary; it declares that whatever
is given to the Order belongs to the Church of Rome, and that the friars
have only the use of it, for they can hold nothing, either individually
or in common. In short, it fully justified the complaints of the
Spirituals and interpreted the Rule in accordance with their views, but
it did not, as Angelo claimed, allow them to live by themselves in
peace, and it subjected them to their superiors. This was to remand them
into slavery, as the great majority of the Order were Conventuals,
jealous of the assumption of superior sanctity by the Spirituals, and
irritated by their defeat and by the threatened enforcement of the Rule
in all its rigidity. This spirit was still further inflamed by the
action of the general, Gonsalvo, who zealously set to work to carry out
the reforms prescribed by the canon _Exivi_. He traversed the various
provinces, pulling down costly buildings and compelling the return of
gifts and legacies to donors and heirs. This excited great indignation
among the laxer brethren, and his speedy death, in 1313, was attributed
to foul play. The election of his successor, Alessandro da Alessandria,
one of the most earnest of the Conventuals, showed that the Order at
large was not disposed to submit quietly to pope and council.[63]

As might have been expected, the strife between the parties became
bitterer than ever. Clement's leaning in favor of asceticism is shown by
his canonization, in 1313, of Celestin V., but when the Spirituals
applied to him for protection against their brethren he contented
himself with ordering them to return to their convents and commanding
them to be kindly treated. These commands were disregarded. Mutual
hatreds were too strong for power not to be abused. Clement did his best
to force the Conventuals to submission; as early as July, 1311, he had
ordered Bonagrazia to betake himself to the convent of Valcabrère in
Comminges, and not to leave it without special papal license. At the
same time he summoned before him Guiraud Vallette, the Provincial of
Provence, and fifteen of the principal officials of the Order throughout
the south of France, who were regarded as the leaders in the oppression
of the Spirituals. In public consistory he repeated his commands,
scolded them for disobedience and rebellion, dismissed from office those
who had positions, and declared ineligible those who were not officials.
Those whom he ejected he replaced with suitable persons whom he strictly
commanded to preserve the peace and show favor to the sorely afflicted
minority. In spite of this the scandals and complaints continued, until
the general, Alessandro, granted to the Spirituals the three convents of
Narbonne, Béziers, and Carcassonne, and ordered that the superiors
placed over them should be acceptable. The change was not effected
without the employment of force, in which the Spirituals had the
advantage of popular sympathy, and the convents thus favored became
houses of refuge for the discontented brethren elsewhere. Then for a
while there seems to have been quiet, but with Clement's death, in 1314,
the turmoil commenced afresh. Bonagrazia, under pretext of sickness,
hastened to leave his place of confinement, and joined eagerly in the
renewed disturbance; the dismissed officials again made their influence
felt; the Spirituals complained that they were abused and defamed in
private and in public, pelted with mud and stones, deprived of food and
even of the sacraments, despoiled of their habits, and scattered to
distant places or imprisoned.[64]

It is possible that Clement might have found some means of dissolving
the bonds between these irreconcilable parties, but for the
insubordination of the Italian Spirituals. These grew impatient during
the long conferences which preceded the Council of Vienne. Subjected to
daily afflictions and despairing of rest within the Order, they eagerly
listened to the advice of a wise and holy man, Canon Martin of Siena,
who assured them that, however few their numbers, they had a right to
secede and elect their own general. Under the lead of Giacopo di San
Gemignano they did so, and effected an independent organization. This
was rank rebellion and greatly prejudiced the case of the Spirituals at
Avignon. Clement would not listen to anything that savored of
concessions to those who thus threw off their pledged obedience. He
promptly sent commissions for their trial, and they were duly
excommunicated as schismatics and rebels, founders of a superstitious
sect, and disseminators of false and pestiferous doctrines. Persecution
against them raged more furiously than ever. In some places, supported
by the laity, they ejected the Conventuals from their houses and
defended themselves by force of arms, disregarding the censures of the
Church which were lavished on them. Others made the best of their way to
Sicily, and others again, shortly before Clement's death, sent letters
to him professing submission and obedience, but the friends of the
Spirituals feared to compromise themselves by even presenting them.
After the accession of John XXII. they made another attempt to reach the
pope, but by that time the Conventuals were in full control and threw
the envoys into prison as excommunicated heretics. Such of them as were
able to do so escaped to Sicily. It is worthy of note that everywhere
the virtues and sanctity of these so-called heretics won for them
popular favor, and secured them protection more or less efficient, and
this was especially the case in Sicily. King Frederic, mindful of the
lessons taught him by Arnaldo de Vilanova, received the fugitives
graciously and allowed them to establish themselves, in spite of
repeated remonstrances on the part of John XXII. There Henry da Ceva,
whom we shall meet again, had already sought refuge from the persecution
of Boniface VIII. and had prepared the way for those who were to follow.
In 1313 there are allusions to a pope named Celestin whom the "Poor Men"
in Sicily had elected, with a college of cardinals, who constituted the
only true Church and who were entitled to the obedience of the faithful.
Insignificant as this movement may have seemed at the time, it
subsequently aided the foundation of the sect known as Fraticelli, who
so long braved with marvellous constancy the unsparing rigor of the
Italian Inquisition.[65]

Into these dangerous paths of rebellion the original leaders of the
Italian Spirituals were not obliged to enter, as they were released from
subjection to the Conventuals, and could afford to remain in obedience
to Rome. Angelo da Clarino writes to his disciples that torment and
death were preferable to separation from the Church and its head; the
pope was the bishop of bishops, who regulated all ecclesiastical
dignities; the power of the keys is from Christ, and submission is due
in spite of persecution. Yet, together with these appeals are others
which show how impracticable was the position created by the belief in
St. Francis as a new evangelist whose Rule was a revelation. If kings or
prelates command what is contrary to the faith, then obedience is due to
God, and death is to be welcomed. Francis placed in the Rule nothing but
what Christ bade him write, and obedience is due to it rather than to
prelates. After the persecution under John XXII. he even quotes a
prophecy attributed to Francis, to the effect that men would arise who
would render the Order odious, and corrupt the whole Church; there would
be a pope not canonically elected who would not believe rightly as to
Christ and the Rule; there would be a split in the Order, and the wrath
of God would visit those who cleaved to error. With clear reference to
John, he says that if a pope condemns evangelical truth as an error he
is to be left to the judgment of Christ and the doctors; if he
excommunicates as heresy the poverty of the Gospel, he is excommunicate
of God and is a heretic before Christ. Yet, though his faith and
obedience were thus sorely tried, Angelo and his followers never
attempted a schism. He died in 1337, worn out with sixty years of
tribulation and persecution--a man of the firmest and gentlest spirit,
of the most saintly aspirations, who had fallen on evil days and had
exhausted himself in the hopeless effort to reconcile the
irreconcilable. Though John XXII. had permitted him to assume the habit
and Rule of the Celestins, he was obliged to live in hiding, with his
abode known only to a few faithful friends and followers, of some of
whom we hear as on trial before the Inquisition as Fraticelli, in 1334.
It was in the desert hermitage of Santa Maria di Aspro in the
Basilicata; but three days before his death a rumor spread that a saint
was dying there, and such multitudes assembled that it was necessary to
place guards at the entrance of his retreat, and admit the people two by
two to gaze on his dying agonies. He shone in miracles, and was finally
beatified by the Church, which through the period of two generations had
never ceased to trample on him, but his little congregation, though lost
to sight in the more aggressive energy of the Fraticelli, continued to
exist, even after the tradition of self-abnegation was taken up under
more fortunate auspices by the Observantines, until it was finally
absorbed into the latter in the reorganization of 1517 under Leo X.[66]

       *       *       *       *       *

In Provence, even before the death of Clement V., there were ardent
spirits, nursing the reveries of the Everlasting Gospel, who were not
satisfied with the victory won at the Council of Vienne. When, in 1311,
the Conventuals assailed the memory of Olivi, one of their accusations
was that he had given rise to sects who claimed that his doctrine was
revealed by Christ, that it was of equal authority with the gospel, that
since Nicholas III. the papal supremacy had been transferred to them,
and they consequently had elected a pope of their own. This Ubertino did
not deny, but only argued that he knew nothing of it; that if it were
true Olivi was not responsible, as it was wholly opposed to his
teaching, of which not a word could be cited in support of such
insanity. Yet, undoubtedly there were sectaries calling themselves
disciples of Olivi among whom the revolutionary leaven was working, and
they could recognize no virtue or authority in the carnal and worldly
Church. In 1313 we hear of a Frère Raymond Jean, who, in a public sermon
at Montréal, prophesied that they would suffer persecution for the
faith, and when, after the sermon, he was asked what he meant, boldly
replied in the presence of several persons, "The enemies of the faith
are among ourselves. The Church which governs us is symbolled by the
Great Whore of the Apocalypse, who persecutes the poor and the ministers
of Christ. You see we do not dare to walk openly before our brethren."
He added that the only true pope was Celestin, who had been elected in
Sicily, and his organization was the only true Church.[67]

Thus the Spirituals were by no means a united body. When once the
trammels of authority had been shaken off, there was among them too much
individuality and too ardent a fanaticism for them to reach precisely
the same convictions, and they were fractioned into little groups and
sects which neutralized what slender ability they might otherwise have
had to give serious trouble to the powerful organization of the
hierarchy. Yet, whether their doctrines were submissive like those of
Angelo, or revolutionary like those of Raymond Jean, they were all
guilty of the unpardonable crime of independence, of thinking for
themselves where thought was forbidden, and of believing in a higher law
than that of papal decretals. Their steadfastness was soon to be put to
the test. In 1314 the general, Alessandro, died, and after an interval
of twenty months Michele da Cesena was chosen as his successor. To the
chapter of Naples which elected him the Spirituals of Narbonne sent a
long memorial reciting the wrongs and afflictions which they had endured
since the death of Clement had deprived them of papal protection. The
nomination of Michele might seem to be a victory over the Conventuals.
He was a distinguished theologian, of resolute and unbending temper, and
resolved on enforcing the strict observance of the Rule. Within three
months of his election he issued a general precept enjoining rigid
obedience to it. The vestments to be worn were minutely prescribed,
money was not to be accepted except in case of absolute necessity; no
fruits of the earth were to be sold; no splendid buildings to be
erected; meals were to be plain and frugal; the brethren were never to
ride, nor even to wear shoes except under written permission of their
convents when exigency required it. The Spirituals might hope that at
last they had a general after their own heart, but they had
unconsciously drifted away from obedience, and Michele was resolved that
the Order should be a unit, and that all wanderers should be driven back
into the fold.[68]

A fortnight before the issuing of this precept the long interregnum of
the papacy had been closed by the election of John XXII. There have been
few popes who have so completely embodied the ruling tendencies of their
time, and few who have exerted so large an influence on the Church, for
good or for evil. Sprung from the most humble origin, his abilities and
force of character had carried him from one preferment to another, until
he reached the chair of St. Peter. He was short in stature but robust in
health, choleric and easily moved to wrath, while his enmity once
excited was durable, and his rejoicing when his foes came to an evil end
savored little of the Christian pastor. Persistent and inflexible, a
purpose once undertaken was pursued to the end regardless of opposition
from friend or enemy. He was especially proud of his theologic
attainments, ardent in disputation, and impatient of opposition. After
the fashion of the time he was pious, for he celebrated mass almost
every day, and almost every night he arose to recite the Office or to
study. Among his good works is enumerated a poetical description of the
Passion of Christ, concluding with a prayer, and he gratified his vanity
as an author by proclaiming many indulgences as a reward to all who
would read it through. His chief characteristics, however, were ambition
and avarice. To gratify the former he waged endless wars with the
Visconti of Milan, in which, as we are assured by a contemporary, the
blood shed would have incarnadined the waters of Lake Constance, and the
bodies of the slain would have bridged it from shore to shore. As for
the latter, his quenchless greed displayed an exhaustless fertility of
resource in converting the treasures of salvation into current coin. He
it was who first reduced to a system the "Taxes of the Penitentiary,"
which offered absolution at fixed prices for every possible form of
human wickedness, from five grossi for homicide or incest, to
thirty-three grossi for ordination below the canonical age. Before he
had been two years in the papacy he arrogated to himself the
presentation to all the collegiate benefices in Christendom, under the
convenient pretext of repressing simony, and then from their sale we are
told that he accumulated an immense treasure. Another still more
remunerative device was the practice of not filling a vacant episcopate
from the ranks, but establishing a system of promotion from a poorer see
to a richer one, and thence to archbishoprics, so that each vacancy gave
him the opportunity of making numerous changes and levying tribute on
each. Besides these regular sources of unhallowed gains he was fertile
in special expedients, as when, in 1326, needing money for his Lombard
wars, he applied to Charles le Bel for authority to levy a subsidy on
the churches of France, Germany being for the time cut off by his
quarrel with Louis of Bavaria. Charles at first refused, but finally
agreed to divide the spoils, and granted the power in consideration of a
papal grant to him of a tithe for two years--as a contemporary remarks,
"_et ainsi sainete yglise, quant l'un le tont, l'autre l'escorche_."
John proceeded to extort a large sum; from some he got a full tithe,
from others a half, from others again as much as he could extract, while
all who held benefices under papal authority had to pay a full year's
revenue. His excuse for this insatiable acquisitiveness was that he
designed the money for a crusade, but as he lived to be a nonagenary
without executing that design, the contemporary Villani is perhaps
justified in the cautious remark--"Possibly he had such intention."
Though for the most part parsimonious, he spent immense sums in
advancing the fortunes of his nephew--or son--the Cardinal-legate Poyet,
who was endeavoring to found a principality in the north of Italy. He
lavished money in making Avignon a permanent residence for the papacy,
though it was reserved for Benedict XII. to purchase and enlarge the
enormous palace-fortress of the popes. Yet after his death, when an
inventory of his effects came to be made, there was found in his
treasury eighteen millions of gold florins, and jewels and vestments
estimated at seven millions more. Even in mercantile Florence, the sum
was so incomprehensible that Villani, whose brother was one of the
appraisers, feels obliged to explain that each million is a thousand
thousands. When we reflect upon the comparative poverty of the period
and the scarcity of the precious metals, we can estimate how great an
amount of suffering was represented by such an accumulation, wrung as it
was, in its ultimate source, from the wretched peasantry, who gleaned at
the best an insufficient subsistence from imperfect agriculture. We can,
perhaps, moreover, imagine how, in its passage to the papal treasury, it
represented so much of simony, so much of justice sold or denied to the
wretched litigants in the curia, so much of purgatory remitted, and of
pardons for sins to the innumerable applicants for a share of the
Church's treasury of salvation.[69]

The permanent evil which he wrought by his shameless traffic in
benefices, and the reputation which he left behind him, are visible in
the bitter complaints which were made at the Council of Siena, a century
later, by the deputies of the Gallican nation. They refer to his
pontificate as that in which the Holy See reserved all benefices to
itself, when graces, expectatives, etc., were publicly sold to the
highest bidder, without regard to qualification, so that in France many
benefices were utterly ruined by reason of the insupportable burdens
laid upon them. It is no wonder, therefore, that when St. Birgitta of
Sweden was applied to, in the latter half of the fourteenth century, by
some Franciscans to learn whether John's decretals on the subject of the
poverty of Christ were correct, and she was vouchsafed two visions of
the Virgin to satisfy their scruples, the Virgin reported that his
decretals were free from error, but discreetly announced that she was
not at liberty to say whether his soul was in heaven or in hell. Such
was the man to whom the cruel irony of fate committed the settlement of
the delicate scruples which vexed the souls of the Spirituals.[70]

John had been actively engaged in the proceedings of the Council of
Vienne, and was thoroughly familiar with all the details of the
question. When, therefore, the general, Michele, shortly after his
accession, applied to him to restore unity in the distracted Order, his
imperious temper led him to take speedy and vigorous action. King
Frederic of Trinacria was ordered to seize the refugees in his
dominions, and deliver them to their superiors to be disciplined.
Bertrand de la Tour, the Provincial of Aquitaine, was instructed to
reduce to obedience the rebels of the convents of Béziers, Narbonne,
and Carcassonne. Bertrand at first tried persuasion. The outward sign of
the Spirituals was the habit. They wore smaller hoods, and gowns
shorter, narrower, and coarser than the Conventuals; and, holding this
to be in accordance with the precedent set by Francis, it was as much an
article of faith with them as the absence of granaries and wine-cellars
and the refusal to handle money. When he urged them to abandon these
vestments they therefore replied that this was one of the matters in
which they could not render obedience. Then he assumed a tone of
authority under the papal rescript, and they rejoined by an appeal to
the pope better informed, signed by forty-five friars of Narbonne, and
fifteen of Béziers. On receipt of the appeal, John peremptorily ordered,
April 27, 1317, all the appellants to present themselves before him
within ten days, under pain of excommunication. They set forth,
seventy-four in number, with Bernard Délicieux at their head, and on
reaching Avignon did not venture to lodge in the Franciscan convent, but
bivouacked for the night on the public place in front of the papal

They were regarded as much more dangerous rebels than the Italian
Spirituals. The latter had already had a hearing in which Ubertino da
Casale confuted the charges brought against them, and he, Goffrido da
Cornone, and Philippe de Caux, while expressing sympathy and readiness
to defend Olivi and his disciples, had plainly let it be seen that they
regarded themselves as not personally concerned with them. John drew the
same distinction; and though Angelo da Clarino was for a while
imprisoned on the strength of an old condemnation by Boniface VIII., he
was soon released and permitted to adopt the Celestin habit and Rule.
Ubertino was told that if he would return for a few days to the
Franciscan convent proper provision would be made for his future. To
this he significantly replied, "After staying with the friars for a
single day I will not require any provision in this world from you or
any one else," and he was permitted to transfer himself to the
Benedictine Order, as were likewise several others of his comrades. He
had but a temporary respite, however, and we shall see hereafter that
in 1325 he was obliged to take refuge with Louis of Bavaria.[72]

The Olivists were not to escape so easily. The day after their arrival
they were admitted to audience. Bernard Délicieux argued their case so
ably that he could only be answered by accusing him of having impeded
the Inquisition, and John ordered his arrest. Then François Sanche took
up the argument, and was accused of having vilified the Order publicly,
when John delivered him to the Conventuals, who promptly imprisoned him
in a cell next to the latrines. Then Guillaume de Saint-Amand assumed
the defence, but the friars accused him of dilapidation and of deserting
the Convent of Narbonne, and John ordered his arrest. Then Geoffroi
attempted it, but John interrupted him, saying, "We wonder greatly that
you demand the strict observance of the Rule, and yet you wear five
gowns." Geoffroi replied, "Holy Father, you are deceived, for, saving
your reverence, it is not true that I wear five gowns," John answered
hotly, "Then we lie," and ordered Geoffroi to be seized until it could
be determined how many gowns he wore. The terrified brethren, seeing
that their case was prejudged, fell on their knees, crying, "Holy
Father, justice, justice!" and the pope ordered them all to go to the
Franciscan convent, to be guarded till he should determine what to do
with them. Bernard, Guillaume, and Geoffroi, and some of their comrades
were subjected to harsh imprisonment in chains by order of the pope.
Bernard's fate we have already seen. As to the others, an inquisition
was held on them, when all but twenty-five submitted, and were
rigorously penanced by the triumphant Conventuals.[73]

The twenty-five recalcitrants were handed over to the Inquisition of
Marseilles, under whose jurisdiction they were arrested. The inquisitor
was Frère Michel le Moine, one of those who had been degraded and
imprisoned by Clement V. on account of their zeal in persecuting the
Spirituals. Now he was able to glut his revenge. He had ample warrant
for whatever he might please to do, for John had not waited to hear the
Spirituals before condemning them. As early as February 17, he had
ordered the inquisitors of Languedoc to denounce as heretics all who
styled themselves Fraticelli or _Fratres de paupere vita_. Then, April
13, he had issued the constitution _Quorumdam_, in which he had
definitely settled the two points which had become the burning questions
of the dispute--the character of vestments to be worn, and the legality
of laying up stores of provisions in granaries, and cellars of wine and
oil. These questions he referred to the general of the Order with
absolute power to determine them. Under Michele's instructions, the
ministers and guardians were to determine for each convent what amount
of provisions it required, what portion might be stored up, and to what
extent the friars were to beg for it. Such decisions were to be
implicitly followed without thinking or asserting that they derogated
from the Rule. The bull wound up with the significant words, "Great is
poverty, but greater is blamelessness, and perfect obedience is the
greatest good." There was a hard common-sense about this which may seem
to us even commonplace, but it decided the case against the Spirituals,
and gave them the naked alternative of submission or rebellion.[74]

This bull was the basis of the inquisitorial process against the
twenty-five recalcitrants. The case was perfectly clear under it, and in
fact all the proceedings of the Spirituals after its issue had been
flagrantly contumacious--their refusal to change their vestments, and
their appeal to the pope better informed. Before handing them over to
the Inquisition they had been brought before Michele da Cesena, and
their statements to him when read before the consistory had been
pronounced heretical and the authors subject to the penalty of heresy.
Efforts of course had been made to secure their submission, but in vain,
and it was not until November 6, 1317, that letters were issued by John
and by Michele da Cesena to the Inquisitor Michel, directing him to
proceed with the trial. Of the details of the process we have no
knowledge, but it is not likely that the accused were spared any of the
rigors customary in such cases, when the desire was to break the spirit
and induce compliance. This is shown, moreover, in the fact that the
proceedings were protracted for exactly six months, the sentence being
rendered on May 7, 1318, and by the further fact that most of the
culprits were brought to repentance and abjuration. Only four of them
had the physical and mental endurance to persevere to the last--Jean
Barrani, Déodat Michel, Guillem Sainton, and Pons Rocha--and these were
handed over the same day to the secular authorities of Marseilles and
duly burned. A fifth, Bernard Aspa, who had said in prison that he
repented, but who refused to recant and abjure, was mercifully condemned
to prison for life, though under all inquisitorial rules he should have
shared the fate of his accomplices. The rest were forced to abjure
publicly and to accept the penances imposed by the inquisitor, with the
warning that if they failed to publish their abjuration wherever they
had preached their errors they would be burned as relapsed.[75]

Although in the sentence the heresy of the victims is said to have been
drawn from the poisoned doctrine of Olivi, and though the inquisitor
issued letters prohibiting any one from possessing or reading his books,
there is no allusion to any Joachite error. It was simply a question of
disobedience to the bull _Quorumdam_. They affirmed that this was
contrary to the Gospel of Christ, which forbade them to wear garments of
other fashion than that which they had adopted, or to lay up stores of
corn and wine. To this the pope had no authority to compel them; they
would not obey him, and this they declared they would maintain until the
Day of Judgment. Frivolous as the questions at issue undoubtedly were,
it was on the one hand a case of conscience from which reason had long
since been banished by the bitterness of controversy, and on the other
the necessity of authority compelling obedience. If private judgment
were allowed to set aside the commands of a papal decretal, the moral
power of the papacy was gone, and with it all temporal supremacy. Yet,
underlying all this was the old Joachitic leaven which taught that the
Church of Rome had no spiritual authority, and thus that its decrees
were not binding on the elect. When Bernard Délicieux was sent, in 1319,
from Avignon to Castelnaudari for trial, on the road he talked freely
with his escort and made no secret of his admiration for Joachim, even
going so far as to say that he had erased from his copy of the Decretum
the Lateran canon condemning Joachim's Trinitarian error, and that if
he were pope he would abrogate it. The influence of the Everlasting
Gospel is seen in the fact that of those who recanted at Marseilles and
were imprisoned, a number fled to the Infidel, leaving behind them a
paper in which they defiantly professed their faith, and prophesied that
they would return triumphantly after the death of John XXII.[76]

Thus John, ere yet his pontificate was a year old, had succeeded in
creating a new heresy--that which held it unlawful for Franciscans to
wear flowing gowns or to have granaries and cellars. In the multiform
development of human perversity there has been perhaps none more
deplorably ludicrous than this, that man should burn his fellows on such
a question, or that men should be found dauntless enough to brave the
flames for such a principle, and to feel that they were martyrs in a
high and holy cause. John probably, from the constitution of his mind
and his training, could not understand that men could be so enamoured of
holy poverty as to sacrifice themselves to it, and he could only regard
them as obstinate rebels, to be coerced into submission or to pay the
penalty. He had taken his stand in support of Michele da Cesena's
authority, and resistance, whether active or passive, only hardened him.

The bull _Quorumdam_ had created no little stir. A defence of it,
written by an inquisitor of Carcassonne and Toulouse, probably Jean de
Beaune, shows that its novel positions had excited grave doubts in the
minds of learned men, who were not convinced of its orthodoxy, though
not prepared to risk open dissent. There is also an allusion to a priest
who persisted in maintaining the errors which it condemned and who was
handed over to the secular arm, but who recanted ere the fagots were
lighted and was received to penance. To silence discussion, John
assembled a commission of thirteen prelates and doctors, including
Michele da Cesena, who after due consideration solemnly condemned as
heretical the propositions that the pope had no authority to issue the
bull, and that obedience was not due to prelates who commanded the
laying aside of short and narrow vestments and the storing up of corn
and wine. All this was rapidly creating a schism, and the bull _Sancta
Romana_, December 30, 1317, and _Gloriosam ecclesiam_, January 23, 1318,
were directed against those who under the names of Fraticelli, Beguines,
Bizochi, and _Fratres de paupere vita_, in Sicily, Italy, and the south
of France, were organizing an independent Order under the pretence of
observing strictly the Rule of Francis, receiving multitudes into their
sect, building or receiving houses in gift, begging in public, and
electing superiors. All such are declared excommunicate _ipso facto_,
and all prelates are commanded to see that the sect is speedily

Among the people, the cooler heads argued that if the Franciscan vow
rendered all possession sinful it was not a vow of holiness, for in
things in which use was consumption, such as bread and cheese, use
passed into possession. He who took such a vow, therefore, by the mere
fact of living broke that vow, and could not be in a state of grace. The
supreme holiness of poverty, however, had been so assiduously preached
for a hundred years that a large portion of the population sympathized
with the persecuted Spirituals; many laymen, married and unmarried,
joined them as Tertiaries, and even priests embraced their doctrines.
There speedily grew up a sect, by no means confined to Franciscans, to
replace the fast-vanishing Cathari as an object for the energies of the
Inquisition. It is the old story over again, of persecuted saints with
the familiars ever at their heels, but always finding refuge and
hiding-place at the hands of friendly sympathizers. Pierre Trencavel, a
priest of Béziers, may be taken as an example. His name recurs
frequently in the examinations before the Inquisition as that of one of
the principal leaders of the sect. Caught at last, he was thrown into
the prison of Carcassonne, but managed to escape, when he was condemned
in an _auto de fé_ as a convicted heretic. Then a purse was raised among
the faithful to send him to the East. After an absence of some years he
returned and was as active as ever, wandering in disguise throughout the
south of France and assiduously guarded by the devotees. What was his
end does not appear, but he probably perished at length at the stake as
a relapsed heretic, for in 1327 we find him and his daughter Andrée in
the pitiless hands of Michel of Marseilles. Jean du Prat, then
Inquisitor of Carcassonne, wanted them, in order to extort from them the
names of their disciples and of those who had sheltered them. Apparently
Michel refused to surrender them, and a peremptory order from John XXII.
was requisite to obtain their transfer. In 1325 Bernard Castillon of
Montpellier confesses to harboring a number of Beguines in his house,
and then to buying a dwelling for them in which he visited them. Another
culprit acknowledges to receiving many fugitives in his house at
Montpellier. There was ample sympathy for them and ample occasion for

The burning of the four martyrs of Marseilles was the signal for active
inquisitorial work. Throughout all the infected region the Holy Office
bent its energies to the suppression of the new heresy; and as
previously there had been no necessity for concealing opinions, the
suspects were readily laid hold of. There was thus an ample harvest,
and the rigor of the inquisition set on foot is shown by the order
issued in February, 1322, by John XXII., that all Tertiaries in the
suspected districts should be summoned to appear and be closely
examined. This caused general terror. In the archives of Florence there
are preserved numerous letters to the papal curia, written in February,
1322, by the magistrates and prelates of the Tuscan cities, interceding
for the Tertiaries, and begging that they shall not be confounded with
the new sect of Beguines. This is doubtless a sample of what was
occurring everywhere, and the all-pervading fear was justified by the
daily increasing roll of martyrs. The test was simple. It was whether
the accused believed that the pope had power to dispense with vows,
especially those of poverty and chastity. As we have seen, it was a
commonplace of the schools, which Aquinas proved beyond cavil, that he
had no such power, and even as recently as 1311 the Conventuals, in
arguing before Clement V., had admitted that no Franciscan could hold
property or take a wife under command from the pope; but things had
changed in the interval, and now those who adhered to the established
doctrine had the alternative of recantation or the stake. Of course but
a small portion of the culprits had the steadfastness to endure to the
end against the persuasive methods which the Inquisition knew so well
how to employ, and the number of the victims who perished shows that the
sect must have been large. Our information is scanty and fragmentary,
but we know that at Narbonne, where the bishops at first endeavored to
protect the unfortunates, until frightened by the threats of the
inquisitors, there were three burned in 1319, seventeen in Lent, 1321,
and several in 1322. At Montpellier, persecution was already active in
1319. At Lunel there were seventeen burned; at Béziers, two at one time
and seven at another; at Pézénas, several, with Jean Formayron at their
head; in Gironde, a number in 1319; at Toulouse, four in 1322, and
others at Cabestaing and Lodève. At Carcassonne there were burnings in
1319, 1320, and 1321, and Henri de Chamay was active there between 1325
and 1330. A portion of his trials are still extant, with very few cases
of burning, but Mosheim had a list of one hundred and thirteen persons
executed at Carcassonne as Spirituals from 1318 to about 1350. All these
cases were under Dominican inquisitors, and the Franciscans were even
more zealous, if we may believe Wadding's boast that in 1323 there were
one hundred and fourteen burned by Franciscan inquisitors alone. The
Inquisition at Marseilles, in fact, which was in Franciscan hands, had
the reputation of being excessively severe with the recalcitrant
brethren of the Order. In a case occurring in 1329 Frère Guillem de
Salvelle, the Guardian of Béziers, states that their treatment there was
very harsh and the imprisonment of the most rigorous description.
Doubtless Angelo da Clarino has justification for the assertion that the
Conventuals improved their triumph over their antagonists like mad dogs
and wolves, torturing, slaying, and ransoming without mercy. Trivial as
may seem to us the cause of quarrel, we cannot but respect the simple
earnestness which led so many zealots to seal their convictions with
their blood. Many of them, we are told, courted martyrdom and eagerly
sought the flames. Bernard Léon of Montréal was burned for persistently
declaring that, as he had vowed poverty and chastity, he would not obey
the pope if ordered to take a wife or accept a prebend.[79]

Ferocious persecution such as this of course only intensified the
convictions of the sufferers and their antagonism to the Holy See. So
far as regards the ostensible subject of controversy, we learn from
Pierre Tort, when he was before the Inquisition of Toulouse in 1322,
that it was allowable to lay in stores of corn and wine sufficient for
eight or fifteen days, while of salt and oil there might be provision
for half a year. As to vestments, Michele da Cesena had exercised the
power conferred on him by the bull _Quorumdam_ by issuing, in 1317, a
precept requiring the gown to be made of coarse stuff, reaching down to
cover only half the foot, while the cord was to be of hemp and not of
flax. Although he seems to have left the burning question of the hood
untouched, this regulation might have satisfied reasonable scruples, but
it was a case of conscience which admitted of no compromise. The
Spirituals declared that they were not bound to abandon the still
shorter and more ungainly gowns which their tradition attributed to St.
Francis, no matter what might be commanded by pope or general, and so
large was the importance attributed to the question that in the popular
belief the four martyrs of Marseilles were burned because they wore the
mean and tightly-fitting garments which distinguished the

Technically they were right, for, as we have seen above, it had hitherto
been generally admitted that the pope could not dispense for vows; and
when Olivi developed this to the further position that he could not
order anything contrary to an evangelical vow, it was not reckoned among
his errors condemned by the Council of Vienne. While all this, however,
had been admitted as a theoretical postulate, when it came to be set up
against the commands of such a pope as John XXII. it was rebellious
heresy, to be crushed with the sternest measures. At the same time it
was impossible that the sufferers could recognize the authority which
was condemning them to the stake. Men who willingly offered themselves
to be burned because they asserted that the pope had no power to
dispense from the observance of vows; who declared that if there were
but one woman in the world, and if she had taken a vow of chastity, the
pope could give her no valid dispensation, even if it were to prevent
the human race from coming to an end; who asserted that John XXII. had
sinned against the gospel of Christ when he had attempted to permit the
Franciscans to have granaries and cellars; who held that although the
pope might have power over other Orders he had none over that of St.
Francis, because his Rule was divine revelation, and not a word in it
could be altered or erased--such men could only defend themselves
against the pope by denying the source of his authority. All the latent
Joachitic notions which had been dormant were vivified and became the
leading principles of the sect. John XXII., when he issued the bull
_Quorumdam_, became the mystical Antichrist, the forerunner of the true
Antichrist. The Roman Church was the carnal Church; the Spirituals would
form the new Church, which would fight with Antichrist, and, under the
guidance of the Holy Ghost, would usher in the new age when man would
be ruled by love and poverty be universal. Some of them placed this in
1325, others in 1330, others again in fourteen years from 1321. Thus the
scheme of the Everlasting Gospel was formally adopted and brought to
realization. There were two churches--one the carnal Church of Rome, the
Whore of Babylon, the Synagogue of Satan, drunk with the blood of the
saints, over which John XXII. pretended to preside, although he had
forfeited his station and become a heretic of heretics when he consented
to the death of the martyrs of Marseilles. The other was the true
Church, the Church of the Holy Ghost, which would speedily triumph
through the arms of Frederic of Trinacria. St. Francis would be
resurrected in the flesh, and then would commence the third age and the
seventh and last state of mankind. Meanwhile, the sacraments were
already obsolete and no longer requisite for salvation. It is to this
period of frenzied exaltation that we may doubtless attribute the
interpolations of Olivi's writings.[81]

This new Church had some sort of organization. In the trial of Naprous
Boneta at Carcassonne, in 1325, there is an allusion to a Frère Guillem
Giraud, who had been ordained by God as pope in place of John XXII.,
whose sin had been as great as Adam's, and who had thus been deposed by
the divine will. There were not lacking saints and martyrs, besides
Francis and Olivi. Fragments of the bodies and bones of those who
perished at the stake were treasured up as relics, and even pieces of
the stakes at which they suffered. These were set before altars in their
houses, or carried about the person as amulets. In this cult, the four
martyrs of Marseilles were pre-eminently honored; their suffrages with
God were as potent as those of St. Laurence or St. Vincent, and in them
Christ had been spiritually crucified on the four arms of the cross. One
poor wretch, who was burned at Toulouse in 1322, had inserted in his
litany the names of seventy Spirituals who had suffered; he invoked them
among the other saints, attaching equal importance to their
intervention; and this was doubtless a customary and recognized form of
devotion. Yet this cult was simpler than that of the orthodox Church,
for it was held that the saints needed no oblations, and if a man had
vowed a candle to one of them or to the Virgin, or a pilgrimage to
Compostella, it would be better to give to the poor the money that it
would cost.[82]

The Church composed of these enthusiastic fanatics broke off all
relations with the Italian Spirituals, whose more regulated zeal seemed
lukewarmness and backsliding. The prisoners who were tried by Bernard
Gui in 1322 at Toulouse described the Franciscan Order as divided into
three fragments--the Conventuals, who insisted on having granaries and
cellars, the Fraticelli under Henry da Ceva in Sicily, and the
Spirituals, or Beguines, then under persecution. The two former groups
they said did not observe the Rule and would be destroyed, while their
own sect would endure to the end of the world. Even the saintly and
long-suffering Angelo da Clarino was denounced as an apostate, and there
were hot-headed zealots who declared that he would prove to be the
mystical Antichrist. Others were disposed to assign this doubtful honor,
or even the position of the greater Antichrist, to Felipe of Majorca,
brother of that Ferrand whom we have seen offered the sovereignty of
Carcassonne. Felipe's thirst for asceticism had led him to abandon his
brother's court and become a Tertiary of St. Francis. Angelo alludes to
him repeatedly, with great admiration, as worthy to rank with the
ancient perfected saints. In the stormy discussions soon after John's
accession he had intervened in favor of the Spirituals, petitioning that
they be allowed to form a separate Order. After taking the full vows, he
renewed this supplication in 1328, but it was refused in full
consistory, after which we hear of him wandering over Europe and living
on beggary. In 1341, with the support of Robert of Naples, he made a
third application, which Benedict XII. rejected for the reason that he
was a supporter and defender of the Beguines, whom he had justified
after their condemnation by publicly asserting many enormous heretical
lies about the Holy See. Such were the men whose self-devotion seemed to
these fiery bigots so tepid as to render them objects of

The heights of exaltation reached in their religious delirium are
illustrated by the career of Naprous Boneta, who was reverenced in the
sect as an inspired prophetess. As early as 1315 she had fallen into the
hands of the Inquisition at Montpellier, and had been thrown into
prison, to be subsequently released. She and her sister Alissette were
warmly interested in the persecuted Spirituals and gave refuge to many
fugitives in their house. As persecution grew hotter, her exaltation
increased. In 1320 she commenced to have visions and ecstasies, in which
she was carried to heaven and had interviews with Christ. Finally, on
Holy Thursday, 1321, Christ communicated to her the Divine Spirit as
completely as it had been given to the Virgin, saying, "The Blessed
Virgin Mary was the giver of the Son of God: thou shalt be the giver of
the Holy Ghost." Thus the promises of the Everlasting Gospel were on the
point of fulfilment, and the Third Age was about to dawn. Elijah, she
said, was St. Francis, and Enoch was Olivi; the power granted to Christ
lasted until God gave the Holy Spirit to Olivi, and invested him with as
much glory as had been granted to the humanity of Christ. The papacy has
ceased to exist, the sacraments of the altar and of confession are
superseded, but that of matrimony remains. That of penitence, indeed,
still exists, but it is purely internal, for heartfelt contrition works
forgiveness of sins without sacerdotal intercession or the imposition of
penance. One remark, which she casually made when before her judges, is
noteworthy as manifesting the boundless love and charity of these poor
souls. The Spirituals and lepers, she said, who had been burned were
like the innocents massacred by Herod--it was Satan who procured the
burning of the Spirituals and lepers. This alludes to the hideous
cruelties which, as we have seen, were perpetrated on the lepers in 1321
and 1322, when the whole of France went mad with terror over a rumored
poisoning of the wells by these outcasts, and when, it seems, the
Spirituals were wise enough and humane enough to sympathize with them
and condemn their murder. Naprous, at length, was brought before Henri
de Chamay, the Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in 1325. Sincere in the
belief of her divine mission, she spontaneously and fearlessly related
her history and stated her faith, and in her replies to her examiners
she was remarkably quick and intelligent. When her confession was read
over to her she confirmed it, and to all exhortations to retract she
quietly answered that she would live and die in it as the truth. She was
accordingly handed over to the secular arm and sealed her convictions
with her blood.[84]

Extravagances of belief such as this were not accompanied with
extravagance of conduct. Even Bernard Gui has no fault to find with the
heretics' mode of life, except that the school of Satan imitated the
school of Christ, as laymen imitate like monkeys the pastors of the
Church. They all vowed poverty and led a life of self-denial, some of
them laboring with their hands and others begging by the wayside. In the
towns and villages they had little dwellings which they called Houses of
Poverty, and where they dwelt together. On Sundays and feast-days their
friends would assemble and all would listen to readings from the
precepts and articles of faith, the lives of the saints, and their own
religious books in the vulgar tongue--mostly the writings of Olivi,
which they regarded as revelations from God, and the "_Transitus Sancti
Patris_" which was a legendary account of his death. The only external
signs by which Bernard says they were to be recognized were that on
meeting one another, or entering a house, they would say, "Blessed be
Jesus Christ," or "Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." When
praying in church or elsewhere they sat with hooded heads and faces
turned to the wall, not standing or kneeling, or striking their hands,
as was customary with the orthodox. At dinner, after asking a blessing,
one of them would kneel and recite _Gloria in excelsis_, and after
supper, _Salve Regina_, This was all inoffensive enough, but they had
one peculiarity to which Bernard as an inquisitor took strong
exceptions. When on trial they were ready enough to confess their own
faith, but nothing would induce them to betray their associates. In
their simplicity they held that this would be a violation of Christian
charity to which they could not lawfully be compelled, and the
inquisitor wasted infinite pains in the endeavor to show that it is
charity to one's neighbor, and not an injury, to give him a chance of

       *       *       *       *       *

Evidently these poor folk would have been harmless enough if let alone,
and their persecution could only be justified by the duty of the Church
to preserve erring souls from perdition. A sect based upon the absolute
abnegation of property as its chief principle, and the apocalyptic
reveries of the Everlasting Gospel, could never become dangerous, though
it might be disagreeable, from its mute--or perhaps vivacious--protest
against the luxury and worldliness of the Church. Even if let alone it
would probably soon have died out. Springing as it did in a region and
at a period in which the Inquisition was thoroughly organized, it had no
chance of survival, and it speedily succumbed under the ferocious energy
of the proceedings brought to bear against it. Yet we cannot fix with
any precision the date of its extinction. The records are imperfect, and
those which we possess fail to draw a distinction between the Spirituals
and the orthodox Franciscans, who, as we shall see, were driven to
rebellion by John XXII. on the question of the poverty of Christ. This
latter dogma became one of so much larger importance that the dreams of
the Spirituals were speedily lost to view, and in the later cases it is
reasonable to assume that the victims were Fraticelli. Still, there are
several prosecutions on record at Carcassonne in 1329, which were
doubtless of Spirituals. One of them was of Jean Roger, a priest who had
stood in high consideration at Béziers; he had been an associate of
Pierre Trencavel in his wanderings, and the slight penance imposed on
him would seem to indicate that the ardor of persecution was abating,
though we learn that the bones of the martyrs of Marseilles were still
handed around as relics. John XXII. was not disposed to connive at any
relaxation of rigor, and in February, 1331, he reissued his bull _Sancta
Romana_, with a preface addressed to bishops and inquisitors in which he
assumes that the sect is flourishing as vigorously as ever, and orders
the most active measures taken for its suppression. Doubtless there were
subsequent prosecutions, but the sect as a distinctive one faded out of

During the period of its active existence it had spread across the
Pyrenees into Aragon. Even before the Council of Béziers, in 1299, took
official cognizance of the nascent heresy, the bishops of Aragon,
assembled at Tarragona in 1297, instituted repressive measures against
the Beguines who were spreading errors throughout the kingdom, and all
Franciscan Tertiaries were subjected to supervision. Their books in the
vulgar tongue were especially dreaded, and were ordered to be
surrendered. These precautions did not avert the evil. As we have seen,
Arnaldo de Vilanova became a warm advocate of the Spirituals; his
indefatigable pen was at their service, his writings had wide
circulation, and his influence with Jayme II. protected them. With his
death and that of Clement V. persecution commenced. Immediately after
the latter event, in 1314, the Inquisitor Bernardo de Puycerda, one of
Arnaldo's special antagonists, undertook their suppression. At their
head stood a certain Pedro Oler, of Majorca, and Fray Bonato. They were
obstinate, and were handed over to the secular arm, when all were burned
except Bonato, who recanted on being scorched by the flames. He was
dragged from the burning pile, cured, and condemned to perpetual
imprisonment, but after some twenty years he was found to be still
secretly a Spiritual, and was burned as a relapsed in 1335. Emboldened
by the accession of John XXII., in November, 1316, Juan de Llotger, the
inquisitor, and Jofre de Cruilles, provost of the vacant see of
Tarragona, called together an assembly of Dominicans, Franciscans, and
Cistercians, who condemned the apocalyptic and spiritualistic writings
of Arnaldo, which were ordered to be surrendered within ten days under
pain of excommunication. The persecution continued. Durán de Baldach was
burned as a Spiritual, with a disciple, in 1325. About the same time
John XXII. issued several bulls commanding strict inquisition to be made
for them throughout Aragon, Valencia, and the Balearic Isles, and
subjecting them to the jurisdiction of the bishops and inquisitors in
spite of any privileges or immunities which they might claim as
Franciscans. The heresy, however, seems never to have obtained any firm
foothold on Spanish soil. Yet it penetrated even to Portugal, for Alvaro
Pelayo tells us that there were in Lisbon some pseudo-Franciscans who
applauded the doctrine that Peter and his successors had not received
from Christ the power which he held on earth.[87]

A somewhat different development of the Joachitic element is seen in the
Franciscan Juan de Pera-Tallada or de Rupescissa, better known perhaps
through Froissart as Jean de la Rochetaillade. As a preacher and
missionary he stood pre-eminent and his voice was heard from his native
Catalonia to distant Moscow. Somewhat given to occult science, various
treatises on alchemy have been attributed to him, among which Pelayo
tells us that it is difficult to distinguish the genuine from the
doubtful. Not only in this did he follow Arnaldo de Vilanova, but in
mercilessly lashing the corruptions of the Church, and in commenting on
the prophecies of the pseudo-Joachim. No man of this school seemed able
to refrain from indulging in prophecy himself, and Juan gained wide
reputation by predictions which were justified by the event, such as the
battle of Poitiers and the Great Schism. Perhaps this might have been
forgiven had he not also foretold that the Church would be stripped of
the superfluities which it had so shockingly abused. One metaphor which
he employed was largely quoted. The Church, he said, was a bird born
without feathers, to which all other fowls contributed plumage, which
they would reclaim in consequence of its pride and tyranny. Like the
Spirituals he looked fondly back to the primitive days before
Constantine, when in holy poverty the foundations of the faith were
laid. He seems to have steered clear of the express heresy as to the
poverty of Christ, and when he came to Avignon, in 1349, to proclaim his
views, although several attempts to burn him were ineffectual, he was
promptly thrown into jail. He was "_durement grand clerc_," and his
accusers were unable to convict him, but he was too dangerous a man to
be at large, and he was kept in confinement. When he was finally
liberated is not stated, but if Pelayo is correct in saying that he
returned home at the age of ninety he must have been released after a
long incarceration.[88]

The ostensible cause of his punishment was his Joachitic speculation as
to Antichrist, though, as Wadding observes, many holy men did the same
without animadversion, like St. Vicente Ferrer, who in 1412 not only
predicted Antichrist, but asserted that he was already nine years old,
and who was canonized, not persecuted. Miliez of Cremsier also, as we
have seen, though persecuted, was acquitted. Fray Juan's reveries,
however, trenched on the borders of the Everlasting Gospel, although
keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy. In his prison, in November,
1349, he wrote out an account of a miraculous vision vouchsafed him in
1345, in return for continued prayer and maceration. Louis of Bavaria
was the Antichrist who would subjugate Europe and Africa in 1366, while
a similar tyrant would arise in Asia. Then would come a schism with two
popes; Antichrist would lord it over the whole earth and many heretical
sects would arise. After the death of Antichrist would follow fifty-five
years of war; the Jews would be converted, and with the destruction of
the kingdom of Antichrist the Millennium would open. Then the converted
Jews would possess the world, all would be Tertiaries of St. Francis,
and the Franciscans would be models of holiness and poverty. The
heretics would take refuge in inaccessible mountains and the islands of
the sea, whence they would emerge at the close of the Millennium; the
second Antichrist would appear and bring a period of great suffering,
until fire would fall from heaven and destroy him and his followers,
after which would follow the end of the world and the Day of

Meditation in prison seems to have modified somewhat his prophetic
vision, and in 1356 he wrote his _Vade mecum in Tribulatione_, in which
he foretold that the vices of the clergy would lead to the speedy
spoliation of the Church; in six years it would be reduced to a state of
apostolical poverty, and by 1370 would commence the process of
recuperation which would bring all mankind under the domination of
Christ and of his earthly representative. During the interval there
would be a succession of the direst calamities. From 1360 to 1365 the
worms of the earth would arise and destroy all beasts and birds; tempest
and deluge and earthquake, famine and pestilence and war would sweep
away the wicked; in 1365 Antichrist would come, and such multitudes
would apostatize that but few faithful would be left. His reign would be
short, and in 1370 a pope canonically elected would bring mankind to
Christianity, after which all cardinals would be chosen from the Greek
Church. During these tribulations the Franciscans would be nearly
exterminated, in punishment for their relaxation of the Rule, but the
survivors would be reformed and the Order would fill the earth,
innumerable as the stars of heaven; in fact, two Franciscans of the most
abject poverty were to be the Elias and Enoch who would conduct the
Church through that disastrous time. Meanwhile he advised that ample
store should be made in mountain caves of beans and honey, salt meats,
and dried fruits by those who desired to live through the convulsions of
nature and society. After the death of Antichrist would come the
Millennium; for seven hundred years, or until about A.D. 2000, mankind
would be virtuous and happy, but then would come a decline; existing
vices, especially among the clergy, would be revived, preparatory to the
advent of Gog and Magog, to be followed by the final Antichrist. It
shows the sensitiveness of the hierarchy that this harmless nympholepsy
was deemed worthy of severe repression.[90]

The influence of the Everlasting Gospel was not yet wholly exhausted. I
have alluded above to Thomas of Apulia, who in 1388 insisted on
preaching to the Parisians that the reign of the Holy Ghost had
commenced, and that he was the divinely commissioned envoy sent to
announce it, when his mission was humanely cut short by confining him as
a madman. Singularly identical in all but the result was the career of
Nicholas of Buldesdorf, who, about 1445, proclaimed that God had
commanded him to announce that the time of the New Testament had passed
away, as that of the Old had done; that the Third Era and Seventh Age of
the world had come, under the reign of the Holy Ghost, when man would be
restored to the state of primal innocence; and that he was the Son of
God deputed to spread the glad tidings. To the council still sitting at
Basle he sent various tracts containing these doctrines, and he finally
had the audacity to appear before it in person. His writings were
promptly consigned to the flames and he was imprisoned. Every effort was
made to induce him to recant, but in vain. The Basilian fathers were
less considerate of insanity than the Paris doctors, and Nicholas
perished at the stake in 1446.[91]

A last echo of the Everlasting Gospel is heard in the teaching of two
brothers, John and Lewin of Würzburg, who in 1466 taught in Eger that
all tribulations were caused by the wickedness of the clergy. The pope
was Antichrist, and the cardinals and prelates were his members.
Indulgences were useless and the ceremonies of the Church were vanities,
but the time of deliverance was at hand. A man was already born of a
virgin, who was the anointed of Christ and would speedily come with the
third Evangel and bring all the faithful into the fold. The heresy was
rapidly and secretly spreading among the people, when it was discovered
by Bishop Henry of Ratisbon. The measures taken for its suppression are
not recorded, and the incident is only of interest as showing how
persistently the conviction reappeared that there must be a final and
higher revelation to secure the happiness of man in this world and his
salvation in the next.[92]



The spiritual exaltation which produced among the Franciscans the
developments described in the last chapter was by no means confined to
the recognized members of that Order. It manifested itself in even more
irregular fashion in the little group of sectaries known as
Guglielmites, and in the more formidable demonstration of the
Dolcinists, or Apostolic Brethren.

About the year 1260 there came to Milan a woman calling herself
Guglielma. That she brought with her a son shows that she had lived in
the world, and was doubtless tried with its vicissitudes, and as the
child makes no further appearance in her history, he probably died
young. She had wealth, and was said to be the daughter of Constance,
queen and wife of the King of Bohemia. Her royal extraction is
questionable, but the matter is scarce worth the discussion which it has
provoked.[93] She was a woman of pre-eminent piety, who devoted herself
to good works, without practising special austerities, and she gradually
attracted around her a little band of disciples, to whom such of her
utterances as have been recorded show that she gave wholesome ethical
instruction. They adopted the style of plain brown garment which she
habitually wore, and seem to have formed a kind of unorganized
congregation, bound together only by common devotion to her.[94]

At that period it was not easy to set bounds to veneration; the
spiritual world was felt to be in the closest relation with the
material, and the development of Joachitism shows how readily received
were suggestions that a great change was impending, and a new era about
to open for mankind. Guglielma's devotees came to regard her as a saint,
gifted with thaumaturgic power. Some of her disciples claimed to be
miraculously cured by her--Dr. Giacobbe da Ferno of an ophthalmic
trouble, and Albertono de' Novati of a fistula. Then it was said that
she had received the supereminent honor of the Stigmata, and although
those who prepared her body for the grave could not see them, this was
held to be owing to their unworthiness. It was confidently predicted
that she would convert the Jews and Saracens, and bring all mankind into
unity of faith. At last, about 1276, some of the more enthusiastic
disciples began to whisper that she was the incarnation of the Holy
Ghost, in female form--the Third Person of the Trinity, as Christ was of
the Second, in the shape of a man. She was very God and very man; it was
not alone the body of Christ which suffered in the Passion, but also
that of the Holy Ghost, so that her flesh was the same as that of
Christ. The originators of this strange belief seem to have been Andrea
Saramita, a man of standing in Milan, and Suor Maifreda di Pirovano, an
Umiliata of the ancient convent of Biassono, and a cousin of Matteo
Visconti. There is no probability that Guglielma countenanced these
absurd stories. Andrea Saramita was the only witness who asserted that
he had them from her direct, and he had a few days before testified to
the contrary. The other immediate disciples of Guglielma stated that she
made no pretensions to any supernatural character. When people would ask
her to cure them or relieve them of trouble she would say, "Go, I am not
God." When told of the strange beliefs entertained of her she
strenuously asserted that she was only a miserable woman and a vile
worm. Marchisio Secco, a monk of Chiaravalle, testified that he had had
a dispute with Andrea on the subject, and they agreed to refer it to
her, when she indignantly replied that she was flesh and bone, that she
had brought a son with her to Milan, and that if they did not do penance
for uttering such words they would be condemned to hell. Yet to minds
familiar with the promises of the Everlasting Gospel, it might well seem
that the era of the Holy Ghost would be ushered in with such an

Guglielma died August 24, 1381, leaving her property to the great
Cistercian house of Chiaravalle, near Milan, where she desired to be
buried. There was war at the time between Milan and Lodi; the roads were
not safe, and she was temporarily interred in the city, while Andrea and
Dionisio Cotta went to the Marquis of Montferrat to ask for an escort of
troops to accompany the cortége. The translation of the body took place
in October, and was conducted with great splendor. The Cistercians
welcomed the opportunity to add to the attractions and revenues of their
establishment. At that period the business of exploiting new saints was
exceedingly profitable, and was prosecuted with corresponding energy.
Salimbene complains bitterly of it in referring to a speculation made in
1279, at Cremona, out of the remains of a drunken vintner named Alberto,
whose cult brought crowds of devotees with offerings, to the no small
gain of all concerned. Such things, as we have seen in the case of
Armanno Pongilupo and others, were constantly occurring, though
Salimbene declares that the canons forbade the veneration of any one, or
picturing him as a saint, until the Roman Church had authoritatively
passed upon his claims. In this Salimbene was mistaken. Zanghino
Ugolini, a much better authority, assures us that the worship of
uncanonized saints was not heretical, if it were believed that their
miracles were worked by God at their intercession, but if it were
believed that they were worked by the relics without the assent of God,
then the Inquisition could intervene and punish; but so long as a saint
was uncanonized his cult was at the discretion of the bishop, who could
at any time command its cessation, and the mere fact that miracles were
performed was no evidence, as they are frequently the work of demons to
deceive the faithful.[96]

In this case the Archbishop of Milan offered no interference, and the
worship of Guglielma was soon firmly established. A month after the
translation Andrea had the body exhumed and carried into the church,
where he washed it with wine and water and arrayed it in a splendid
embroidered robe. The washings were carefully preserved, to be used as a
chrism for the sick; they were placed on the altar of the nunnery of
Biassono, and Maifreda employed them in anointing the affected parts of
those who came to be healed. Presently a chapel with an altar arose over
her tomb, and tradition still points out at Chiaravalle the little
oratory where she is said to have lain, and a portrait on the wall over
the vacant tomb is asserted to be hers. It represents her as kneeling
before the Virgin, to whom she is presented by St. Bernard, the patron
of the abbey; a crowd of other figures is around her, and the whole
indicates that those who dedicated it to her represented her as merely a
saint, and not as an incarnation of the Godhead. Another picture of her
was placed by Dionisio Cotta in the Church of St. Maria fuori di Porta
Nuova, and two lamps were kept burning before it to obtain her suffrage
for the soul of his brother interred there. Other pictures were hung in
the Church of S. Eufemia and in the nunnery of Biassono. In all this the
good monks of Chiaravalle were not remiss. They kept lighted lamps
before her altar. Two feast-days were assigned to her--the anniversaries
of her death and of her translation--when the devotees would assemble at
the abbey, and the monks would furnish a simple banquet, outside of the
walls--for the Cistercian rules forbade the profanation of a woman's
presence within the sacred enclosure--and some of the monks would
discourse eloquently upon the saintliness of Guglielma, comparing her to
other saints and to the moon and stars, and receiving such oblations as
the piety of the worshippers would offer. Nor was this the only gain to
the abbey. Giacobbe de' Novati, one of the believers, belonged to one of
the noblest families of Milan, and at his castle the Guglielmites were
wont to assemble. When he died he instituted the abbey as his heir, and
the inheritance could not have been inconsiderable. There were,
doubtless, other instances of similar liberality of which the evidences
have not reached us.[97]

All this was innocent enough, but within the circle of those who
worshipped Guglielma there was a little band of initiated who believed
in her as the incarnation of the Holy Ghost. The history of the
Joachites has shown us the readiness which existed to look upon
Christianity as a temporary phase of religion, to be shortly succeeded
by the reign of the Holy Ghost, when the Church of Rome would give place
to a new and higher organization. It was not difficult, therefore, for
the Guglielmites to persuade themselves that they had enjoyed the
society of the Paraclete, who was shortly to appear, when the Holy
Spirit would be received in tongues of flame by the disciples, the
heathen and the Jew would be converted, and there would be a new church
ushering in the era of love and blessedness, for which man had been
sighing through the weary centuries. Of this doctrine Andrea was chief
apostle. He claimed to be the first and only spiritual son of Guglielma,
from whom he had received the revelation, and he embroidered it to suit
the credulity of the disciples. The Archangel Raphael had announced to
the blessed Constance the incarnation in her of the Holy Ghost; a year
afterwards, Guglielma was born on the holy day of Pentecost; she had
chosen the form of a woman, for if she had come as man she would have
died like Christ, and the whole world would have perished. On one
occasion, in her chamber, she had changed a chair into an ox, and had
told him to hold it if he could, but when he attempted to do so it
disappeared. The same indulgences were obtainable by visiting her tomb
at Chiaravalle as by a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre. Wafers which
had been consecrated by laying them on the tomb were eagerly partaken of
by the disciples, as a new form of communion. Besides the two regular
feast-days, there was a third for the initiated, significantly held on
Pentecost, the day when she was expected to reappear. Meanwhile, the
devotion of the faithful was stimulated by stories of her being in
communication with her representatives, both in her own form and in
that of a dove. How slight was the evidence required for believers was
seen in an incident which gave them great comfort in 1293. At a banquet
in the house of Giacobbe da Ferno, a warm discussion arose between those
who doubted and those whose convictions were decided. Carabella, wife of
Amizzone Toscano, one of the earnest believers, was sitting on her
mantle, and when she arose she found three knots in the cords which had
not been there before. This was at once pronounced a great miracle, and
was evidently regarded as a full confirmation of the truth.[98]

If it were not for the tragedy which followed there would be nothing to
render Guglielmitism other than a jest, for the Church which was to
replace the massive structure of Latin Christianity was as ludicrous in
its conception as these details of its faith. The Gospels were to be
replaced by sacred writings produced by Andrea, of which he had already
prepared several, in the names of some of the initiated--"The Epistle of
Sibilia to the Novaresi," "The Prophecy of Carmeo the Prophet to all
Cities and Nations," and an account of Guglielma's teachings commencing,
"In that time the Holy Ghost said to his disciples." Maifreda also
composed litanies of the Holy Ghost and prayers for the use of the
Church. When, on the second advent of Guglielma, the papacy was to pass
away, Maifreda was to become pope, the vicar of the Holy Ghost, with the
keys of heaven and hell, and baptize the Jew and the Saracen. A new
college of cardinals was to be formed, of whom only one appears to have
been selected--a girl named Taria, who, to judge from her answers when
before the Inquisition, and the terms of contempt in which she is
alluded to by some of the sect, was a worthy representative of the whole
absurd scheme. While awaiting her exaltation to the papacy Maifreda was
the object of special veneration. The disciples kissed her hands and
feet, and she gave them her blessing. It was probably the spiritual
excitement caused by the jubilee proclaimed by Boniface VIII.,
attracting pilgrims to Rome by the hundred thousand to gain the
proffered indulgences, which led the Guglielmites to name the Pentecost
of 1300 for the advent of the Holy Ghost. With a curious manifestation
of materialism, the worshippers prepared splendid garments for the
adornment of the expected God--a purple mantle with a silver clasp
costing thirty pounds of terzioli, gold-embroidered silks and gilt
slippers--while Pietra de' Alzate contributed forty-two dozen pearls,
and Catella de' Giori gave an ounce of pearls. In preparation for her
new and holy functions, Maifreda undertook to celebrate the mysteries of
the mass. During the solemnities of Easter, in sacerdotal vestments, she
consecrated the host, while Andrea in a dalmatic read the Gospel, and
she administered communion to those present. When should come the
resurrection of Guglielma, she was to repeat the ceremony in S. Maria
Maggiore, and the sacred vessels were already prepared for this, on an
extravagant scale, costing more than two hundred lire.[99]

The sums thus lavished show that the devotees belonged to the wealthy
class. What is most noteworthy, in fact, in the whole story, is that a
belief so absurd should have found acceptance among men of culture and
intelligence, showing the spirit of unrest that was abroad, and the
readiness to accept any promise, however wild, of relief from existing
evils. There were few more prominent families in Milan than the
Garbagnati, who were Ghibellines and closely allied with the Visconti.
Gasparo Garbagnate filled many positions of importance, and though his
name does not appear among the sectaries, his wife Benvenuta was one of
them, as well as his two sons, Ottorino and Francesco, and Bella, the
wife of Giacobbe. Francesco was a man of mark as a diplomat and a
lawyer. Sent by Matteo Visconti in 1309 on a mission to the Emperor
Henry VII., he won high favor at the imperial court and obtained the
objects for which he had been despatched. He ended his career as a
professor of jurisprudence in the renowned University of Padua. Yet this
man, presumably learned and cool-headed, was an ardent disciple, who
purchased gold-embroidered silks for the resurrection of Guglielma, and
composed prayers in her honor. One of the crimes for which Matteo was
condemned in 1323 by the Inquisition was retaining in his service this
Francesco Garbagnate, who had been sentenced to wear crosses for his
participation in the Guglielmite heresy; and when John XXII., in 1324,
confirmed the sentence, he added that Matteo had terrorized the
inquisitors to save his son Galeazzo, who was also a Guglielmite.[100]

When the heresy became known popular rumor of course attributed to it
the customary practices of indiscriminate sexual indulgence which were
ascribed to all deviations from the faith. In the legend which was
handed down by tradition there appears the same story as to its
discovery which we have seen told at Cologne about the Brethren of the
Free Spirit--of the husband tracking his wife to the nocturnal
rendezvous, and thus learning the obscene practices of the sect. In this
case the hero of the tale is Corrado Coppa, whose wife Giacobba was an
earnest believer.[101] It is sufficient to say that the official reports
of the trial, in so far as they have reached us, contain no allusions
whatever to any licentious doctrines or practices. The inquisitors
wasted no time on inquiries in that direction, showing that they knew
there was nothing of the kind to reward investigation.

Numerically speaking, the sect was insignificant. It is mentioned that
on one occasion, at a banquet in honor of Guglielma, given by the monks
of Chiaravalle, there were one hundred and twenty-nine persons present,
but these doubtless included many who only reverenced her as a saint.
The inner circle of the initiated was apparently much smaller. The names
of those inculpated in the confessions before the Inquisition amount
only to about thirty, and it is fair to assume that the number of the
sectaries at no time exceeded thirty-five or forty.[102]

It is not to be supposed that this could go on for nearly twenty years
and wholly escape the vigilance of the Milanese inquisitors. In 1284,
but a few years after Guglielma's death, two of the disciples,
Allegranza and Carabella, incautiously revealed the mysteries of their
faith to Belfiore, mother of Frà Enrico di Nova, who at once conveyed it
to the inquisitor, Frà Manfredo di Donavia. Andrea was forthwith
summoned, with his wife Riccadona, his sister, Migliore, and his
daughter, Fiordebellina; also Maifreda, Bellacara de' Carentani,
Giacobba dei Bassani, and possibly some others. They readily abjured and
were treated with exceptional mildness, for Frà Manfredo absolved them
by striking them over the shoulders with a stick, as a symbol of the
scourging which as penitents they had incurred. He seems to have
attached little importance to the matter, and not to have compelled them
to reveal their accomplices. Again, in 1295 and 1296, there was an
investigation made by the Inquisitor Frà Tommaso di Como, of which no
details have reached us, but which evidently left the leaders

We do not know what called the attention of the Inquisition to the sect
in the spring of 1300, but we may conjecture that the expected
resurrection of Guglielma at the coming Pentecost, and the preparations
made for that event, caused an agitation among the disciples leading
possibly to incautious revelations. About Easter (April 10) the
inquisitors summoned and examined Maifreda, Giacobba dei Bassani, and
possibly some others, but without result. Apparently, however, they were
watched, secret information was gathered, and in July the Holy Office
was ready to strike effectively. On July 18 a certain Frà Ghirardo
presented himself to Lanfranco de' Amizzoni and revealed the whole
affair, with the names of the principal disciples. Andrea sought him out
and endeavored to learn what he had said, but was merely told to look to
himself, for the inquisitors were making many threats. On the 20th
Andrea was summoned; his assurances that he had never heard that
Guglielma was regarded as more than an ordinary saint were apparently
accepted, and he was dismissed with orders to return the next day and
meanwhile to preserve absolute secrecy.[104]

Andrea and Maifreda were thoroughly frightened; they begged the
disciples, if called before the inquisitors, to preserve silence with
regard to them, as otherwise they could not escape death. It is a
peculiar illustration of the recognized hostility between the two
Mendicant Orders that the first impulse was to seek assistance from the
Franciscans. No sooner were the citations issued than Andrea, with the
Doctor Beltramo da Ferno, one of the earnest believers, went to the
Franciscan convent, where they learned from Frà Daniele da Ferno that
Frà Guidone de Cocchenato and the rest of the inquisitors had no power
to act, as their commissions had been annulled by the pope, and that Frà
Pagano di Pietra Santa had a bull to that effect. Some intrigue would
seem to be behind this, which it would be interesting to disentangle,
for we meet here with old acquaintances. Frà Guidone is doubtless the
same inquisitor whom we have seen in 1279 participating in the
punishment of Corrado da Venosta, and Frà Pagano has come before us as
the subject of a prosecution for heresy in 1295. Possibly it was this
which now stimulated his zeal against the inquisitors, for when the
Guglielmites called upon him the next day he produced the bull and urged
them to appear, and thus afford him evidence that the inquisitors were
discharging their functions--evidence for which he said that he would
willingly give twenty-five lire. It is a striking proof of the
impenetrable secrecy in which the operations of the Inquisition were
veiled that he had been anxiously and vainly seeking to obtain testimony
as to who were really discharging the duties of the tribunal; when,
latterly, a heretic had been burned at Balsemo he had sent thither to
find out who had rendered the sentence, but was unable to do so. Then
the Guglielmites applied to the Abbot of Chiaravalle and to one of his
monks, Marchisio di Veddano, himself suspected of Guglielmitism. These
asked to have a copy of the bull, and one was duly made by a notary and
given to them, which they took to the Archbishop of Milan at Cassano,
and asked him to place the investigation of the matter in their hands.
He promised to intervene, but if he did so he was probably met with the
information, which had been speedily elicited from the culprits, that
they held Boniface VIII. not to be pope, and consequently that the
archbishop whom he had created was not archbishop. Either in this or in
some other way the prelate's zeal was refrigerated, and he offered no
opposition to the proceedings.[105]

The Inquisition was well manned, for, besides Frà Guidone, whose age and
experience seem to have rendered him the leading actor in the tragedy,
and Lanfranco, who took little part in it, we meet with a third
inquisitor, Rainerio di Pirovano, and in their absence they are replaced
with deputies, Niccolò di Como, Niccolò di Varenna, and Leonardo da
Bergamo. They pushed the matter with relentless energy. That torture was
freely used there can be no doubt. No conclusion to the contrary can be
drawn from the absence of allusion to it in the depositions of the
accused, for this is customary. Not only do the historians of the affair
speak without reserve of its employment, but the character of the
successive examinations of the leading culprits indicates it
unerringly--the confident asseverations at first of ignorance and
innocence, followed, after a greater or less interval, with unreserved
confession. This is especially notable in the cases of those who had
abjured in 1284, such as Andrea, Maifreda, and Giacobba, who, as
relapsed, knew that by admitting their persistent heresy they were
condemning themselves to the flames without hope of mercy, and who
therefore had nothing to gain by confession, except exemption from
repetition of torment.[106]

The documents are too imperfect for us to reconstruct the process and
ascertain the fate of all of those implicated. In Languedoc, after all
the evidence had been taken, there would have been an assembly held in
which their sentences would have been determined, and at a solemn Sermo
these would have been promulgated, and the stake would have received its
victims. Much less formal were the proceedings at Milan. The only
sentence of which we have a record was rendered August 23 in an assembly
where the archbishop sat with the inquisitors and Matteo Visconti
appears among the assessors; and in this the only judgment was on Suor
Giacobba dei Bassani, who, as a relapsed, was necessarily handed over to
the secular arm for burning. It would seem that even before this Ser
Mirano di Garbagnate, a priest deeply implicated, had been burned.
Andrea was executed probably between September 1 and 9, and Maifreda
about the same time--but we know nothing about the date of the other
executions, or of the exhumation and cremation of Guglielma's
bones--while the examinations of other disciples continued until the
middle of October. Another remarkable peculiarity is that for the minor
penalties the inquisitors called in no experts and did not even consult
the archbishop, but acted wholly at their own discretion, a single frate
absolving or penancing each individual as he saw fit. The Lombard
Inquisition apparently had little deference for the episcopate, even of
the Ambrosian Church.[107]

Yet the action of the Inquisition was remarkable for its mildness,
especially when we consider the revolutionary character of the heresy.
The number of those absolutely burned cannot be definitely stated, but
it probably did not exceed four or five. These were the survivors of
those who had abjured in 1284, for whom, as relapsed and obstinate
heretics, there could be no mercy. The rest were allowed to escape with
penalties remarkably light. Thus Sibilia Malcolzati had been one of the
most zealous of the sect; in her early examinations she had resolutely
perjured herself, and it had cost no little trouble to make her confess,
yet when, on October 6, she appeared before Frà Rainerio and begged to
be relieved from the excommunication which she had incurred, he was
moved by her prayers and assented, on the ordinary conditions that she
would stand to the orders of the Church and Inquisition, and perform the
obligations laid upon her. Still more remarkable is the leniency with
which two sisters, Catella and Pietra Oldegardi, were treated, for Frà
Guidone absolved them on their abjuring their heresy, contenting himself
with simply referring them to their confessors for the penance which
they were to perform. The severest punishment recorded for any except
the relapsed was the wearing of crosses, and these, imposed in September
and October, were commuted in December for a fine of twenty-five lire,
payable in February--showing that confiscation was not a part of the
penalty. Even Taria, the expectant cardinal of the New Dispensation, was
thus penanced and relieved. Immediately after Andrea's execution an
examination of his wife Riccadona, as to the furniture in her house and
the wine in her cellar, shows that the Inquisition was prompt in looking
after the confiscations of those condemned to death; and the fragment of
an interrogatory, February 12, 1302, of Marchisio Secco, a monk of
Chiaravalle, indicates that it was involved in a struggle with the abbey
to compel the refunding of the bequest of Guglielma, as the heresy for
which she had been condemned, of course, rendered void all dispositions
of her property. How this resulted we have no means of knowing, but we
may feel assured that the abbey was forced to submit; indeed, the
complicity of the monks with the heretics was so clearly indicated that
we may wonder none of their names appear in the lists of those

Thus ended this little episode of heresy, of no importance in its origin
or results, but curious from the glimpse which it affords into the
spiritual aberrations of the time, and the procedure of the Lombard
Inquisition, and noteworthy as a rare instance of inquisitorial

About the time when Guglielma settled in Milan, Parma witnessed the
commencement of another abnormal development of the great Franciscan
movement. The stimulus which monachism had received from the success of
the Mendicant Orders, the exaltation of poverty into the greatest of
virtues, the recognition of beggary as the holiest mode of life, render
it difficult to apportion between yearnings for spiritual perfection and
the attractions of idleness and vagabondage in a temperate climate the
responsibility for the numerous associations which arose in imitation of
the Mendicants. The prohibition of unauthorized religious orders by the
Lateran Council was found impossible of enforcement. Men would herd
together with more or less of organization in caves and hermitages, in
the streets of cities, and in abandoned dwellings and churches by the
roadsides. The Carmelites and Augustinian hermits won recognition after
a long struggle, and became established Orders, forming, with the
Franciscans and Dominicans, the four Mendicant religions. Others, less
reputable, or more independent in spirit, were condemned, and when they
refused to disband they were treated as rebels and heretics. In the
tension of the spiritual atmosphere, any man who would devise and put in
practice a method of life assimilating him most nearly to the brutes
would not fail to find admirers and followers; and, if he possessed
capacity for command and organization, he could readily mould them into
a confraternity and become an object of veneration, with an abundant
supply of offerings from the pious.

The year 1260 was that in which, according to Abbot Joachim, the era of
the Holy Ghost was to open. The spiritual excitement which pervaded the
population was seen in the outbreak of the Flagellants, which filled
northern Italy with processions of penitents scourging themselves, and
in the mutual forgiveness of injuries, which brought an interval of
peace to a distracted land. In such a condition of public feeling,
gregarious enthusiasm is easily directed to whatever responds to the
impulse of the moment, and the self-mortification of a youth of Parma,
called Gherardo Segarelli, found abundant imitators. Of low extraction,
uncultured and stupid, he had vainly applied for admission into the
Franciscan Order. Denied this, he passed his days vacantly musing in the
Franciscan church. The beatitude of ecstatic abstraction, carried to the
point of the annihilation of consciousness, has not been confined to the
Tapas and Samadhi of the Brahman and Buddhist. The monks of Mt. Athos,
known as Umbilicani from their pious contemplation of their navels, knew
it well, and Jacopone da Todi shows that its dangerous raptures were
familiar to the zealots of the time.[110] Segarelli, however, was not so
lost to external impressions but that he remarked in the scriptural
pictures which adorned the walls the representations of the apostles in
the habits which art has assigned to them. The conception grew upon him
that the apostolic life and vestment would form the ideal religious
existence, superior even to that of the Franciscans which had been
denied to him. As a preliminary, he sold his little property; then,
mounting the tribune in the Piazza, he scattered the proceeds among the
idlers sunning themselves there, who forthwith gambled it away with
ample floods of blasphemy. Imitating literally the career of Christ, he
had himself circumcised; then, enveloped in swaddling clothes, he was
rocked in a cradle and suckled by a woman. His apprenticeship thus
completed, he embarked on the career of an apostle, letting hair and
beard grow, enveloped in a white mantle, with the Franciscan cord around
his waist, and sandals on his feet. Thus accoutred he wandered through
the streets of Parma crying at intervals "_Penitenzagite_" which was his
ignorant rendering of "_Penitentiam agite!_"--the customary call to

For a while he had no imitators. In search of disciples he wandered to
the neighboring village of Collechio, where, standing at the roadside,
he shouted "Enter my vineyard!" The passers-by who knew his crazy ways
paid no attention to him, but strangers took his call to be an
invitation to help themselves from the ripening grapes of an adjacent
vineyard, which they accordingly stripped. At length he was joined by a
certain Robert, a servant of the Franciscans, who, as Salimbene informs
us, was a liar and a thief, too lazy to work, who flourished for a while
in the sect as Frà Glutto, and who finally apostatized and married a
female hermit. Gherardo and Glutto wandered through the streets of Parma
in their white mantles and sandals, calling the people to repentance.
They gathered associates, and the number rapidly grew to three hundred.
They obtained a house in which to eat and sleep, and lacked for nothing,
for alms came pouring in upon them more liberally than on the regular
Mendicants. These latter wondered greatly, for the self-styled Apostles
gave nothing in return--they could not preach, or hear confessions, or
celebrate mass, and did not even pray for their benefactors. They were
mostly ignorant peasants, swineherds and cowherds, attracted by an idle
life which was rewarded with ample victuals and popular veneration. When
gathered together in their assemblies they would gaze vacantly on
Segarelli and repeat at intervals in honor of him, "Father! Father!

When the Council of Lyons, in 1274, endeavored to control the pest of
these unauthorized mendicant associations, it did not disperse them, but
contented itself with prohibiting the reception of future members, in
the expectation that they would thus gradually become extinguished. This
was easily eluded by the Apostles, who, when a neophyte desired to join
them, would lay before him a, habit and say, "We do not dare to receive
you, as this is prohibited to us, but it is not prohibited to you; do as
you think fit." Thus, in spite of papal commands, the Order increased
and multiplied, as we are told, beyond computation. In 1284 we hear of
seventy-two postulants in a body passing through Modena and Reggio to
Parma to be adopted by Segarelli, and a few days afterwards twelve young
girls came on the same errand, wrapped in their mantles and styling
themselves Apostolesses. Imitating Dominic and Francis, Segarelli sent
his followers throughout Europe and beyond seas to evangelize the world.
They penetrated far, for already in 1287 we find the Council of Würzburg
stigmatizing the wandering Apostles as tramps, and forbidding any one
to give them food on account of their religious aspect and unusual
dress. Pedro de Lugo (Galicia), who abjured before the Inquisition of
Toulouse in 1322, testified that he had been inducted in the sect twenty
years previous by Richard, an Apostle from Alessandria in Lombardy, who
was busily spreading the heresy beyond Compostella.[113]

Notwithstanding the veneration felt by the brethren for Segarelli he
steadily refused to assume the headship of the Order, saying that each
must bear his own burden. Had he been an active organizer, with the
material at his disposition, he might have given the Church much
trouble, but he was inert and indisposed to abandon his contemplative
self-indulgence. He seems to have hesitated somewhat as to the form
which the association should assume, and consulted Alberto of Parma, one
of the seven notaries of the curia, whether they should select a
superior. Alberto referred him to the Cistercian Abbot of Fontanaviva,
who advised that they should not found houses, but should continue to
wander over the land wrapped in their mantles, and they would not fail
of shelter by the charitable. Segarelli was nothing loath to follow his
counsel, but a more energetic spirit was found in Guidone Putagi,
brother of the Podestà of Bologna, who entered the Order with his sister
Tripia. Finding that Segarelli would not govern, he seized command and
for many years conducted affairs, but he gave offence by abandoning the
poverty which was the essence of the association. He lived splendidly,
we are told, with many horses, lavishing money like a cardinal or papal
legate, till the brethren grew tired and elected Matteo of Ancona as his
successor. This led to a split. Guidone retained possession of the
person of Segarelli, and carried him to Faenza. Matteo's followers came
there and endeavored to seize Segarelli by force; the two parties came
to blows and the Anconitans were defeated. Guidone, however, was so much
alarmed for his safety that he left the Apostles and joined the

Bishop Opizo of Parma, a nephew of Innocent IV., had a liking for
Segarelli, and for his sake protected the Apostles, which serves to
account for their uninterrupted growth. In 1286, however, three of the
brethren misbehaved flagrantly at Bologna, and were summarily hanged by
the podestà. This seems to have drawn attention to the sectaries, for
about the same time Honorius IV. issued a bull especially directed
against them. They were commanded to abandon their peculiar vestments
and enter some recognized order; prelates were required to enforce
obedience by imprisonment, with recourse, if necessary, to the secular
arm, and the faithful at large were ordered not to give them alms or
hospitality. The Order was thus formally proscribed. Bishop Opizo
hastened to obey. He banished the brethren from his diocese and
imprisoned Segarelli in chains, but subsequently relenting kept him in
his palace as a jester, for when filled with wine the Apostle could be

For some years we hear little of Segarelli and his disciples. The papal
condemnation discouraged them, but it received scant obedience. Their
numbers may have diminished, and public charity may have been to some
extent withdrawn, but they were still numerous, they continued to wear
the white mantle, and to be supported in their wandering life. The best
evidence that the bull of Honorius failed in its purpose is the fact
that in 1291 Nicholas IV. deemed its reissue necessary. They were now in
open antagonism to the Holy See--rebels and schismatics, rapidly
ripening into heretics, and fair subjects of persecution. Accordingly,
in 1294, we hear of four of them--two men and two women--burned at
Parma, and of Segarelli's condemnation to perpetual imprisonment by
Bishop Opizo. There is also an allusion to an earnest missionary of the
sect, named Stephen, dangerous on account of the eloquence of his
preaching, who was burned by the Inquisition. Segarelli had saved his
life by abjuration; possibly after a few years he may have been
released, but he did not abandon his errors; the Inquisitor of Parma,
Frà Manfredo, convicted him as a relapsed heretic, and he was burned in
Parma in 1300. An active persecution followed of his disciples. Many
were apprehended by the Inquisition and subjected to various
punishments, until Parma congratulated itself that the heresy was fairly
stamped out.[116]

Persecution, as usual, had the immediate effect of scattering the
heretics, of confirming them in the faith, and of developing the heresy
into a more decided antagonism towards the Church. Segarelli's disciples
were not all ignorant peasants. In Tuscany a Franciscan of high
reputation for sanctity and learning was in secret an active missionary,
and endeavored even to win over Ubertino da Casale. Ubertino led him on
and then betrayed him, and when we are told that he was forced to reveal
his followers, we may assume that he was subjected to the customary
inquisitorial processes. This points to relationship between the
Apostles and the disaffected Franciscans, and the indication is
strengthened by the anxiety of the Spirituals to disclaim all
connection. The Apostles were deeply tinged with Joachitism, and the
Spirituals endeavor to hide the fact by attributing their errors to
Joachim's detested heretic imitator, the forgotten Amaury. The
Conventuals, in fact, did not omit this damaging method of attack, and
in the contest before Clement V. the Spirituals were obliged to disavow
all connection with Dolcinism.[117]

We know nothing of any peculiar tenets taught by Segarelli. From his
character it is not likely that he indulged in any recondite
speculations, while the toleration which he enjoyed until near the end
of his career probably prevented him from formulating any revolutionary
doctrines. To wear the habit of the association, to live in absolute
poverty, without labor and depending on daily charity, to take no
thought of the morrow, to wander without a home, calling upon the people
to repent, to preserve the strictest chastity, was the sum of his
teaching, so far as we know, and this remained to the last the exterior
observance of the Apostles. It was rigidly enforced. Even the austerity
of the Franciscans allowed the friar two gowns, as a concession to
health and comfort, but the Apostle could have but one, and if he
desired it washed he had to remain covered in bed until it was dried.
Like the Waldenses and Cathari, the Apostles seem to have considered the
use of the oath as unlawful. They were accused, as usual, of inculcating
promiscuous intercourse, and this charge seemed substantiated by the
mingling of the sexes in their wandering life, and by the crucial test
of continence to which they habitually exposed themselves, in imitation
of the early Christians, of lying together naked; but the statement of
their errors drawn up by the inquisitors who knew them, for the
instruction of their colleagues, shows that license formed no part of
their creed, though it would not be safe to say that men and women of
evil life may not have been attracted to join them by the idleness and
freedom from care of their wandering existence.[118]

By the time of Gherardo's death, however, persecution had been
sufficiently sharp and long-continued to drive the Apostles into denying
the authority of the Holy See and formulating doctrines of pronounced
hostility to the Church. An epistle written by Frà Dolcino, about a
month after Segarelli's execution, shows that minds more powerful than
that of the founder had been at work framing a body of principles suited
to zealots chafing under the domination of a corrupt church, and eagerly
yearning for a higher theory of life than it could furnish. Joachim had
promised that the era of the Holy Ghost should open with the year 1260.
That prophecy had been fulfilled by the appearance of Segarelli, whose
mission had then commenced. Tacitly accepting this coincidence, Dolcino
proceeds to describe four successive states of the Church. The first
extends from the Creation to the time of Christ; the second from Christ
to Silvester and Constantine, during which the Church was holy and poor;
the third from Silvester to Segarelli, during which the Church declined,
in spite of the reforms introduced by Benedict, Dominic, and Francis,
until it had wholly lost the charity of God. The fourth state was
commenced by Segarelli, and will last till the Day of Judgment. Then
follow prophecies which seem to be based on those of the
Pseudo-Joachim's Commentaries on Jeremiah. The Church now is honored,
rich, and wicked, and will so remain until all clerks, monks, and friars
are cut off with a cruel death, which will happen within three years.
Frederic, King of Trinacria, who had not yet made his peace with the
Holy See, was regarded as the coming avenger, in consequence, doubtless,
of his relations with the Spirituals and his tendencies in their favor.
The epistle concludes with a mass of Apocalyptical prophecies respecting
the approaching advent of Antichrist, the triumph of the saints, and the
reign of holy poverty and love, which is to follow under a saintly pope.
The seven angels of the churches are declared to be Benedict, of
Ephesus; Silvester, of Pergamus; Francis, of Sardis; Dominic, of
Laodicea; Segarelli, of Smyrna; Dolcino himself, of Thyatira; and the
holy pope to come, of Philadelphia. Dolcino announces himself as the
special envoy of God, sent to elucidate Scripture and the prophecies,
while the clergy and the friars are the ministers of Satan, who
persecute now, but who will shortly be consumed, when he and his
followers, with those who join them, will prevail till the end.[119]

Segarelli had perished at the stake, July 18, and already in August here
was a man assuming with easy assurance the dangerous position of
heresiarch, proclaiming himself the mouthpiece of God, and promising his
followers speedy triumph in reward for what they might endure under his
leadership. Whether or not he believed his own prophecies, whether he
was a wild fanatic or a skilful charlatan, can never be absolutely
determined, but the balance of probability lies in his truthfulness.
With all his gifts as a born leader of men, it is safe to assert that if
he had not believed in his mission he could not have inspired his
followers with the devotion which led them to stand by him through
sufferings unendurable to ordinary human nature; while the cool sagacity
which he displayed under the most pressing emergencies must have been
inflamed by apocalyptic visions ere he could have embarked in an
enterprise in which the means were so wholly inadequate to the end--ere
he could have endeavored single-handed to overthrow the whole majestic
structure of the theocratic church and organized feudalism. Dante
recognized the greatness of Dolcino when he represents him as the only
living man to whom Mahomet from the depths of hell deigns to send a
message, as to a kindred spirit. The good Spiritual Franciscans, who
endured endless persecution without resistance, could only explain his
career by a revelation made to a servant of God beyond the seas, that he
was possessed by a malignant angel named Furcio.[120]

The paternity of Dolcino is variously attributed to Giulio, a priest of
Trontano in the Val d'Ossola, and to Giulio, a hermit of Prato in the
Valsesia, near Novara. Brought as a child to Vercelli, he was bred in
the church of St. Agnes by a priest named Agosto, who had him carefully
trained. Gifted with a brilliant intellect, he soon became an excellent
scholar, and, though small of stature, he was pleasant to look upon and
won the affection of all. In after-times it was said that his eloquence
and persuasiveness were such that no one who once listened to him could
ever throw off the spell. His connection with Vercelli came to a sudden
end. The priest lost a sum of money and suspected his servant Patras.
The man took the boy and by torturing him forced him to confess the
theft--rightly or wrongly. The priest interfered to prevent the matter
from becoming public, but shame and terror caused Dolcino to depart in
secret, and we lose sight of him until we hear of him in Trent, at the
head of a band of Apostles. He had joined the sect in 1291; he must
early have taken a prominent position in it, for he admitted in his
final confession that he had thrice been in the hands of the
Inquisition, and had thrice abjured. This he could do without forfeiting
his position, for it was one of the principles of the sect, which
greatly angered the inquisitors, that deceit was lawful when before the
Inquisition; that oaths could then be taken with the lips and not with
the heart; but that if death could not be escaped, then it was to be
endured cheerfully and patiently, without betraying accomplices.[121]

For three years after his epistle of August, 1300, we know nothing of
Dolcino's movements, except that he is heard of in Milan, Brescia,
Bergamo, and Como, but they were busy years of propagandism and
organization. The time of promised liberation came and passed, and the
Church was neither shattered nor amended. Yet the capture of Boniface
VIII. at Anagni, in September, 1303, followed by his death, might well
seem to be the beginning of the end, and the fulfilment of the prophecy.
In December, 1303, therefore, Dolcino issued a second epistle, in which
he announced as a revelation from God that the first year of the
tribulations of the Church had begun in the fall of Boniface. In 1304
Frederic of Trinacria would become emperor, and would destroy the
cardinals, with the new evil pope whom they had just elected; in 1305 he
would carry desolation through the ranks of all prelates and
ecclesiastics, whose wickedness was daily increasing. Until that time
the faithful must lie hid to escape persecution, but then they would
come forth, they would be joined by the Spirituals of the other orders,
they would receive the grace of the Holy Ghost, and would form the new
Church which would endure to the end. Meanwhile he announced himself as
the ruler of the Apostolic Congregation, consisting of four thousand
souls, living without external obedience, but in the obedience of the
Spirit. About a hundred, of either sex, were organized in control of the
brethren, and he had four principal lieutenants, Longino Cattaneo da
Bergamo, Federigo da Novara, Alberto da Otranto, and Valderigo da
Brescia. Superior to these was his dearly-loved sister in Christ,
Margherita. Margherita di Trank is described to us as a woman of noble
birth, considerable fortune, and surpassing beauty, who had been
educated in the convent of St. Catharine at Trent. Dolcino had been the
agent of the convent, and had thus made her acquaintance. Infatuated
with him, she fled with him, and remained constant to the last. He
always maintained that their relations were purely spiritual, but this
was naturally doubted, and the churchmen asserted that she bore him a
child whose birth was represented to the faithful as the operation of
the Holy Ghost.[122]

Although in this letter of December, 1303, Dolcino recognizes the
necessity of concealment, perhaps the expected approaching fruition of
his hopes may have encouraged him to relax his precautions. Returning in
1304 to the home of his youth with a few sectaries clad in the white
tunics and sandals of the Order, he commenced making converts in the
neighborhood of Gattinara and Serravalle, two villages of the Valsesia,
a few leagues above Vercelli. The Inquisition was soon upon the track,
and, failing to catch him, made the people of Serravalle pay dearly for
the favor which they had shown him. Deep-seated discontent, both with
the Church and their feudal lords, can alone explain the assistance
which Dolcino received from the hardy population of the foot-hills of
the Alps, when he was forced to raise openly the standard of revolt. A
short distance above Serravalle, on the left bank of the Sesia, a stream
fed by the glaciers of Monte Rosa, lay Borgo di Sesia, in the diocese of
Novara. Thither a rich husbandman, much esteemed by his neighbors, named
Milano Sola, invited Dolcino, and for several months he remained there
undisturbed, making converts and receiving his disciples, whom he seems
to have summoned from distant parts, as though resolved to make a stand
and take advantage of the development of his apocalyptic prophecies.
Preparations made to dislodge him, however, convinced him that safety
was only to be found in the Alps, and under the guidance of Milano Sola
the Apostles moved up towards the head-waters of the Sesia, and
established themselves on a mountain crest, difficult of access, where
they built huts. Thus passed the year 1304. Their numbers were not
inconsiderable--some fourteen hundred of both sexes--inflamed with
religious zeal, regarding Dolcino as a prophet whose lightest word was
law. Thus contumaciously assembled in defiance of the summons of the
Inquisition, they were in open rebellion against the Church. The State
also soon became their enemy, for as the year 1305 opened, their slender
stock of provisions was exhausted and they replenished their stores by
raids upon the lower valleys.[123]

The Church could not afford to brook this open defiance, to say nothing
of the complaints of rapine and sacrilege which filled the land, yet it
shows the dread which Dolcino already inspired that recourse was had to
the pope, under whose auspices a formal crusade was preached, in order
to raise a force deemed sufficient to exterminate the heretics. One of
the early acts of Clement V. after his election, June 5, 1305, was to
issue bulls for this purpose, and the next step was to hold an assembly,
August 24, where a league was formed and an agreement signed pledging
the assembled nobles to shed the last drop of their blood to destroy the
Gazzari, who had been driven out of Sesia and Biandrate, but had not
ceased to trouble the land. Armed with the papal commissions, Rainerio,
Bishop of Vercelli, and the inquisitors raised a considerable force and
advanced to the mountain refuge of the Apostles. Dolcino, seeing the
futility of resistance, decamped by night and established his little
community on an almost inaccessible mountain, and the crusaders,
apparently thinking them dispersed, withdrew. Dolcino was now fairly at
bay; the only hope of safety lay in resistance, and since the Church was
resolved on war, he and his followers would at least sell their lives as
dearly as they could. His new retreat was on the Parete Calvo--the Bare
Wall--whose name sufficiently describes its character, a mountain
overlooking the village of Campertogno. On this stronghold the Apostles
fortified themselves and constructed such habitations as they could, and
from it they ravaged the neighboring valleys for subsistence. The
Podestà of Varallo assembled the men of the Valsesia to dislodge them,
but Dolcino laid an ambush for him, attacked him with stones and such
other weapons as the Apostles chanced to have, and took him prisoner
with most of his men, obtaining ransoms which enabled the sectaries to
support life for a while longer. Their depredations continued till all
the land within striking distance was reduced to a desert, the churches
despoiled, and the inhabitants driven off.[124]

The winter of 1305-6 put to the test the endurance of the heretics on
their bare mountain-top. As Lent came on they were reduced to eating
mice and other vermin, and hay cooked in grease. The position became
untenable, and on the night of March 10, compelled by stern necessity to
abandon their weaker companions, they left the Parete Calvo, and,
building paths which seemed impossible over high mountains and through
deep snows, they established themselves on Monte Rubello, overlooking
the village of Triverio, in the diocese of Vercelli. By this time,
through want and exhaustion, their numbers were reduced to about a
thousand, and the sole provisions which they brought with them were a
few scraps of meat. With such secrecy and expedition had the move been
executed that the first intimation that the people of Triverio had of
the neighborhood of the dreaded heretics was a foray by night, in which
their town was ravaged. We do not hear that any of the unresisting
inhabitants were slain, but we are told that thirty-four of the Apostles
were cut off in their retreat and put to death. The whole region was now
alarmed, and the Bishop of Vercelli raised a second force of crusaders,
who bravely advanced to Monte Rubello. Dolcino was rapidly learning the
art of war; he made a sally from his stronghold, though again we learn
that some of his combatants were armed only with stones, and the
bishop's troops were beaten back with the loss of many prisoners who
were exchanged for food.[125]

The heretic encampment was now organized for permanent occupation.
Fortifications were thrown up, houses built, and a well dug. Thus
rendered inexpugnable, the hunted Apostles were in safety from external
attack, and on their Alpine crag, with all mankind for enemies, they
calmly awaited in their isolation the fulfilment of Dolcino's
prophecies. Their immediate danger was starvation. The mountain-tops
furnished no food, and the remains of the episcopal army stationed at
Mosso maintained a strict blockade. To relieve himself, early in May,
Dolcino by a clever stratagem lured them to an attack, set upon them
from an ambush, and dispersed them, capturing many prisoners, who, as
before, were exchanged for provisions. The bishop's resources were
exhausted. Again he appealed to Clement V., who graciously
anathematized the heretics, and offered plenary indulgence to all who
would serve in the army of the Lord for thirty days against them, or pay
a recruit for such service. The papal letters were published far and
wide, the Vercellese ardently supported their aged bishop, who
personally accompanied the crusade; a large force was raised,
neighboring heights were seized and machines erected which threw stones
into the heretic encampment and demolished their huts. A desperate
struggle took place for the possession of one commanding eminence, where
mutual slaughter so deeply tinged the waters of the Riccio that its name
became changed to that of Rio Carnaschio, and so strong was the
impression made upon the popular mind that within the last century it
would have fared ill with any sceptical traveller who should aver within
hearing of a mountaineer of the district that its color was the same as
that of the neighboring torrents.[126]

This third crusade was as fruitless as its predecessors. The assailants
were repulsed and fell back to Mosso, Triverio, and Crevacore, while
Dolcino, profiting by experience, fortified and garrisoned six of the
neighboring heights, from which he harried the surrounding country and
kept his people supplied with food. To restrain them the crusaders built
two forts and maintained a heavy force within them, but to little
purpose. Mosso, Triverio, Cassato, Flecchia, and other towns were
burned, and the accounts of the wanton spoliation and desecration of the
churches show how thoroughly antisacerdotal the sect had become. Driven
to desperation, the ancient loving-kindness of their creed gave place to
the cruelty which they learned from their assailants. To deprive them of
resources it was forbidden to exchange food with them for prisoners, and
their captives were mercilessly put to death. According to the
contemporary inquisitor to whom we are indebted for these details, since
the days of Adam there had never been a sect, so execrable, so
abominable, so horrible, or which in a time so short accomplished so
much evil. The worst of it was that Dolcino infused into his followers
his own unconquerable spirit. In male attire the women accompanied the
men in their expeditions. Fanaticism rendered them invincible, and so
great was the terror which they inspired that the faithful fled from
the faces of these dogs, of whom we are told a few would put to flight
a host and utterly destroy them. The land was abandoned by the
inhabitants, and in December, seized with a sudden panic, the crusaders
evacuated one of the forts, and the garrison of the other, amounting to
seven hundred men, was rescued with difficulty.[127]

Dolcino's fanaticism and military skill had thus triumphed in the field,
but the fatal weakness of his position lay in his inability to support
his followers. This was clearly apprehended by the Bishop of Vercelli,
who built five new forts around the heretic position; and when we are
told that all the roads and passes were strictly guarded so that no help
should reach them, we may infer that, in spite of the devastation to
which they had been driven, they still had friends among the population.
This policy was successful. During the winter of 1306-7 the sufferings
of the Apostles on their snowy mountain-top were frightful. Hunger and
cold did their work. Many perished from exhaustion. Others barely
maintained life on grass and leaves, when they were fortunate enough to
find them. Cannibalism was resorted to; the bodies of their enemies who
fell in successful sorties were devoured, and even those of their
comrades who succumbed to starvation. The pious chronicler informs us
that this misery was brought upon them by the prayers and vows of the
good bishop and his flock.[128]

To this there could be but one ending, and even the fervid genius of
Dolcino could not indefinitely postpone the inevitable. As the dreary
Alpine winter drew to an end, towards the close of March, the bishop
organized a fourth crusade. A large army was raised to deal with the
gaunt and haggard survivors; hot fighting occurred during Passion Week,
and on Holy Thursday (March 23, 1307) the last entrenchments were
carried. The resistance had been stubborn, and again the Rio Carnaschio
ran red with blood. No quarter was given. "On that day more than a
thousand of the heretics perished in the flames, or in the river, or by
the sword, in the cruellest of deaths. Thus they who made sport of God
the Eternal Father and of the Catholic faith came, on the day of the
Last Supper, through hunger, steel, fire, pestilence, and all
wretchedness, to shame and disgraceful death, as they deserved." Strict
orders had been given by the bishop to capture alive Dolcino and his two
chief subordinates, Margherita and Longino Cattaneo, and great were the
rejoicings when they were brought to him on Saturday, at the castle of

No case could be clearer than theirs, and yet the bishop deemed it
necessary to consult Pope Clement--a perfectly superfluous ceremony,
explicable perhaps, as Gallenga suggests, by the opportunity which it
afforded of begging assistance for his ruined diocese and exhausted
treasury. Clement's avarice responded in a niggardly fashion, though the
extravagant pæan of triumph in which the pope hastened to announce the
glad tidings to Philippe le Bel on the same evening in which he received
them shows how deep was the anxiety caused by the audacious revolt of
the handful of Dolcinists. The Bishops of Vercelli, Novara, and Pavia,
and the Abbot of Lucedio were granted the first fruits of all benefices
becoming vacant during the next three years in their respective
territories, and the former, in addition, was exempted during life from
the exactions of papal legates, with some other privileges. While
awaiting this response the prisoners were kept, chained hand and foot
and neck, in the dungeon of the Inquisition at Vercelli, with numerous
guards posted to prevent a rescue, indicating a knowledge that there
existed deep popular sympathy for the rebels against State and Church.
The customary efforts were made to procure confession and abjuration,
but while the prisoners boldly affirmed their faith they were deaf to
all offers of reconciliation. Dolcino even persisted in his prophecies
that Antichrist would appear in three years and a half, when he and his
followers would be translated to Paradise; that after the death of
Antichrist he would return to the earth to be the holy pope of the new
church, when all the infidels would be converted. About two months
passed away before Clement's orders were received, that they should be
tried and punished at the scene of their crimes. The customary assembly
of experts was convened in Vercelli: there could be no doubt as to their
guilt, and they were abandoned to the secular arm. For the superfluous
cruelty which followed the Church was not responsible; it was the
expression of the terror of the secular authorities, leading them to
repress by an awful example the ever-present danger of a peasant revolt.
On June 1, 1307, the prisoners were brought forth. Margherita's beauty
moved all hearts to compassion, and this, coupled with the reports of
her wealth, led many nobles to offer her marriage and pardon if she
would abjure, but, constant to her faith and to Dolcino, she preferred
the stake. She was slowly burned to death before his eyes, and then
commenced his more prolonged torture. Mounted on a cart, provided with
braziers to keep the instruments of torment heated, he was slowly driven
along the roads through that long summer day and torn gradually to
pieces with red-hot pincers. The marvellous constancy of the man was
shown by his enduring it without rewarding his torturers with a single
change of feature. Only when his nose was wrenched off was observed a
slight shiver in the shoulders, and when a yet crueller pang was
inflicted, a single sigh escaped him. While he was thus dying in
lingering torture Longino Cattaneo, at Biella, was similarly utilized to
afford a salutary warning to the people. Thus the enthusiasts expiated
their dreams of the regeneration of mankind.[130]

Complete as was Dolcino's failure, his character and his fate left an
ineffaceable impression on the population. The Parete Calvo, his first
mountain refuge, was considered to be haunted by evil spirits, whom he
had left to guard a treasure buried in a cave, and who excited such
tempests when any one invaded their domain that the people of Triverio
were forced to maintain guards to warn off persistent treasure-seekers.
Still stronger was the influence which he exerted upon his fastness on
Monte Rubello. It became known as the Monte dei Gazzari, and to it, as
to an accursed spot, priests grew into the habit of consigning demons
whom they exorcised on account of hail-storms. The result of this was
that the congregated spirits caused such fearful tempests that the
neighboring lands were ruined, the harvests were yearly destroyed, and
the people reduced to beggary. Finally, as a cure, the inhabitants of
Triverio vowed to God and to St. Bernard that if they were relieved they
would build on the top of the mountain a chapel to St. Bernard. This was
done, and the mountain thus acquired its modern name of Monte San
Bernardo. Every year on June 15, the feast of St. Bernard, one man from
every hearth in the surrounding parishes marched with their priests in
solemn procession, bearing crosses and banners, and celebrating solemn
services, in the presence of crowds assembled to gain the pardons
granted by the pope, and to share in a distribution of bread provided by
a special levy made on the parishes of Triverio and Portola. This custom
lasted till the French invasion under Napoleon. Renewed in 1815, it was
discontinued on account of the disorders which attended it. Again
resumed in 1839, it was accompanied with a hurricane which is still in
the Valsesia attributed to the heresiarch, and even to the present day
the mountaineers see on the mountain-crest a procession of Dolcinists
during the night before its celebration. Dolcino's name is still
remembered in the valleys as that of a great man who perished in the
effort to free the populations from temporal and spiritual tyranny.[131]

       *       *       *       *       *

Dolcino and his immediate band of followers were thus exterminated, but
there remained the thousands of Apostles, scattered throughout the land,
who cherished their belief in secret. Under the skilful hand of the
Inquisition, the harmless eccentricities of Segarelli were hardened and
converted into a strongly antisacerdotal heresy, antagonistic to Rome,
precisely as we have seen the same result with the exaggerated
asceticism of the Olivists. There was much in common between the sects,
for both drew their inspiration from the Everlasting Gospel. Like the
Olivists, the Apostles held that Christ had withdrawn his authority from
the Church of Rome on account of its wickedness; it was the Whore of
Babylon, and all spiritual power was transferred to the Spiritual
Congregation, or Order of Apostles, as they styled themselves. As time
passed on without the fulfilment of the apocalyptic promises, as
Frederic of Trinacria did not develop into a deliverer, and as
Antichrist delayed his appearance, they seem to have abandoned these
hopes, or at least to have repressed their expression, but they
continued to cherish the belief that they had attained spiritual
perfection, releasing them from all obedience to man, and that there was
no salvation outside of their community. Antisacerdotalism was thus
developed to the fullest extent. There seems to have been no
organization in the Order. Reception was performed by the simplest of
ceremonies, either in church before the altar or in any other place. The
postulant stripped himself of all his garments, in sign of renunciation
of all property and of entering into the perfect state of evangelical
poverty; he uttered no vows, but in his heart he promised to live
henceforth in poverty. After this he was never to receive or carry
money, but was to live on alms spontaneously offered to him, and was
never to reserve anything for the morrow. He made no promise of
obedience to mortal man, but only to God, to whom alone he was subject,
as were the apostles to Christ. Thus all the externals of religion were
brushed aside. Churches were useless; a man could better worship Christ
in the woods, and prayer to God was as effective in a pigsty as in a
consecrated building. Priests and prelates and monks were a detriment to
the faith. Tithes should only be given to those whose voluntary poverty
rendered it superfluous. Though the sacrament of penitence was not
expressly abrogated, yet the power of the keys was virtually annulled by
the principle that no pope could absolve for sin unless he were as holy
as St. Peter, living in perfect poverty and humility, abstaining from
war and persecution, and permitting every one to dwell in liberty; and,
as all prelates, from the time of Silvester, had been seducers and
prevaricators, excepting only Frà Pier di Morrone (Celestin V.). it
followed that the indulgences and pardons so freely hawked around
Christendom were worthless. One error they shared with the
Waldenses--the prohibition of oaths, even in a court of justice.[132]

The description which Bernard Gui gives of the Apostles, in order to
guide his brother inquisitors in their detection, shows how fully they
carried into practice the precepts of their simple creed. They wore a
special habit, closely approaching a conventual garb--probably the white
mantle and cord adopted by Segarelli. They presented all the exterior
signs of saintliness. As they wandered along the roads and through the
streets they sang hymns, or uttered prayers and exhortations to
repentance. Whatever was spontaneously set before them they ate with
thankfulness, and when appetite was satisfied they left what might
remain and carried nothing with them. In their humble fashion they seem
to have imitated the apostles as best they could, and to have carried
poverty to a pitch which Angelo da Clarino himself might have envied.
Bernard Gui, in addition, deplores their intractable obstinacy, and
adduces a case in which he had kept one of them in prison for two years,
subjecting him to frequent examination, before he was brought to
confession and repentance--by what gentle persuasives we may readily

All this may seem to us the most harmless of heresies, and yet the
impression produced by the exploits of Dolcino caused it to be regarded
as one of the most formidable; and the earnestness of the sectaries in
making converts was rendered dangerous by their drawing their chief
arguments from the evil lives of the clergy. When the Brethren of the
Free Spirit were condemned in the Clementines, Bernard Gui wrote
earnestly to John XXII., urging that a clause should be inserted
including the Apostles, whom he described as growing like weeds and
spreading from Italy to Languedoc and Spain. This is probably one of the
exaggerations customary in such matters, but about this time a Dolcinist
named Jacopo da Querio was discovered and burned in Avignon. In 1316
Bernard Gui found others within his own district, when his energetic
proceedings soon drove the poor wretches across the Pyrenees, and he
addressed urgent letters to all the prelates of Spain, describing them
and calling for their prompt extermination, which resulted, as mentioned
in a former chapter, in the apprehension of five of the heretics at far
off Compostella, doubtless the remnants of the disciples of the Apostle
Richard. Possibly this may have driven some of them back to France for
safety, for in the _auto_ of September, 1322, at Toulouse, there figures
the Galician already referred to named Pedro de Lugo, who had been
strenuously labored with for a year in prison, and on his abjuration was
incarcerated for life on bread and water. In the same _auto_ there was
another culprit whose fate illustrates the horror and terror inspired by
the doctrines of the Dolcinists. Guillem Ruffi had been previously
forced to abjuration as a Beguine, and subsequently had betrayed two of
his former associates, one of whom had been burned and the other
imprisoned. This would seem to be sufficient proof of his zeal for
orthodoxy, and yet, when he happened to state that in Italy there were
Fraticelli who held that no one was perfect who could not endure the
test of continence above alluded to, adding that he had tried the
experiment himself with success, and had taught it to more than one
woman, this was considered sufficient, and without anything further
against him he was incontinently burned as a relapsed heretic.[134]

In spite of Bernard Gui's exaggerated apprehensions, the sect, although
it continued to exist for some time, gave no further serious trouble.
The Council of Cologne in 1306 and that of Trèves in 1310 allude to the
Apostles, showing that they were not unknown in Germany. Yet about 1335
so well-informed a writer as Alvar Pelayo speaks of Dolcino as a
Beghard, showing how soon the memory of the distinctive characteristics
of the sect had faded away. At this very time, however, a certain Zoppio
was secretly spreading the heresy at Rieti, where it seems to have found
numerous converts, especially among the women. Attention being called to
it, Frà Simone Filippi, inquisitor of the Roman province, hastened
thither, seized Zoppio, and after examining him delivered him to the
authorities for safe-keeping. When he desired to proceed with the trial
the magistrates refused to surrender the prisoner, and abused the
inquisitor. Benedict XII. was appealed to, who scolded roundly the
recalcitrant officials for defending a heresy so horrible that decency
forbids his describing it; he threatened them with exemplary punishment
for continued contumacy, and promised that, if they were afraid of
damage to the reputation of their women, the latter should be mildly
treated and spared humiliating penance on giving information as to their

After a long interval we hear of the Apostles again in Languedoc, where,
in 1368, the Council of Lavaur calls attention to them as wandering
through the land in spite of the condemnation of the Holy See, and
disseminating errors under an appearance of external piety, wherefore
they are ordered to be arrested and punished by the episcopal courts. In
1374 the Council of Narbonne deemed it necessary to repeat this
injunction; and we have seen that in 1402 and 1403 the zeal of the
Inquisitor Eylard was rewarded in Lubec and Wismar by the capture and
burning of two Apostles. This is the last authentic record of a sect
which a hundred years before had for a brief space inspired so wide a

       *       *       *       *       *

Closely allied with the Dolcinists, and forming a link between them and
the German Brethren of the Free Spirit, were some Italian heretics known
as followers of the Spirit of Liberty, of whom a few scattered notices
have reached us. They seem to have avoided the pantheism of the Germans,
and did not teach the return of the soul to its Creator, but they
adopted the dangerous tenet of the perfectibility of man, who in this
life can become as holy as Christ. This can be accomplished by sins as
well as by virtues, for both are the same in the eye of God, who directs
all things and allows no human free-will. The soul is purified by sin,
and the greater the pleasure in carnal indulgences the more nearly they
represent God. There is no eternal punishment, but souls not
sufficiently purified in this life undergo purgation until admitted to

We first hear of these sectaries as appearing among the Franciscans of
Assisi, where, under active proceedings, seven of the friars confessed,
abjured, and were sentenced to perpetual prison. When, in 1309, Clement
V. sought to settle the points in dispute between the Spirituals and
Conventuals, the first of the four preliminary questions which he put to
the contending factions related to the connection between the Order and
this heresy, of which both sides promptly sought to clear themselves.
The next reference to them is in April, 1311, when they were said to be
multiplying rapidly in Spoleto, among both ecclesiastics and laymen, and
Clement sent thither Raimundo, Bishop of Cremona, to stamp out the new
heresy. The effort was unavailing, for in 1327, at Florence, Donna
Lapina, belonging to the sect "of the Spirit" whose members believed
themselves impeccable, was condemned by Frà Accursio, the inquisitor, to
confiscation and wearing crosses; and in 1329 Frà Bartolino da Perugia,
in announcing a general inquisition to be made of the province of
Assisi, enumerates the new heresy of the Spirit of Liberty among those
which he proposes to suppress. More important was the case of Domenico
Savi of Ascoli, who was regarded as a man of the most exemplary piety.
In 1337 he abandoned wife and children for a hermit's life, and the
bishop built for him a cell and oratory. This gave him still greater
repute, and his influence was such that when he began to disseminate the
doctrines of the Spirit of Liberty, which he undertook by means of
circulating written tracts, the number of his followers is reckoned at
ten thousand. It was not long before this attracted the attention of the
Inquisition. He was tried, and recanted, while his writings were ordered
to be burned. His convictions, however, were too strong to allow him to
remain orthodox. He relapsed, was tried a second time, appealed to the
pope, and was finally condemned by the Holy See in 1344, when he was
handed over to the secular arm and burned at Ascoli. As nothing is said
about the fate of his disciples it may be assumed that they escaped by
abjuration. He is usually classed with the Fraticelli, but the errors
attributed to him bear no resemblance to those of that sect, and are
evidently exaggerations of the doctrines of the Spirit of Liberty.[138]

       *       *       *       *       *

Before dismissing the career of Dolcino, it may be worth while to cast a
passing glance at that of a modern prophet which, like the cases of the
modern Guglielmites, teaches us that such spiritual phenomena are common
to all ages, and that even in our colder and more rationalistic time the
mysteries of human nature are the same as in the thirteenth century.

Dolcino merely organized a movement which had been in progress for
nearly half a century, and which was the expression of a widely diffused
sentiment. David Lazzaretti of Arcidosso was both founder and martyr. A
wagoner in the mountains of southern Tuscany, his herculean strength and
ready speech made him widely known throughout his native region, when a
somewhat wild and dissipated youth was suddenly converted into an
ascetic of the severest type, dwelling in a hermitage on Monte Labbro,
and honored with revelations from God. His austerities, his visions, and
his prophecies soon brought him disciples, many of whom adopted his mode
of life, and the peasants of Arcidosso revered him as a prophet. He
claimed that, as early as 1848, he had been called to the task of
regenerating the world, and that his sudden conversion was caused by a
vision of St. Peter, who imprinted on his forehead a mark (O+C) in
attestation of his mission. He was by no means consistent in his
successive stages of development. A patriot volunteer in 1860, he
subsequently upheld the cause of the Church against the assaults of
heretic Germany, but in 1876 his book, "My Struggle with God," reveals
his aspirations towards the headship of a new faith, and describes him
as carried to heaven and discoursing with God, though he still professed
himself faithful to Rome and to the papacy. The Church disdained his aid
and condemned his errors, and he became a heresiarch. In the spring of
1878 he urged the adoption of sacerdotal marriage, he disregarded
fast-days, administered communion to his disciples in a rite of his own,
and composed for them a creed of which the twenty-fourth article was, "I
believe that our founder, David Lazzaretti, the anointed of the Lord,
judged and condemned by the Roman curia, is really Christ, the leader
and the judge." That the people accepted him is seen in the fact that
for three successive Sundays the priest of Arcidosso found his church
without a worshipper. David founded a "Society of the Holy League, or
Christian Brotherhood," and proclaimed the coming Republic or Kingdom of
God, when all property should be equally divided. Even this communism
did not frighten off the small proprietors who constituted the greater
portion of his following. There was general discontent, owing to a
succession of unfortunate harvests and the increasing pressure of
taxation, and when, on August 14, 1878, he announced that he would set
out with his disciples peacefully to inaugurate his theocratic republic,
the whole population gathered on Monte Labbro. After four days spent in
religious exercises the extraordinary crusade set forth, consisting of
all ages and both sexes, arrayed in a fantastic uniform of red and blue,
and bearing banners and garlands of flowers with which to revolutionize
society. Its triumphal march was short. At the village of Arcidosso its
progress was disputed by a squad of nine carabineers, who poured volleys
into the defenceless crowd. Thirty-four of the Lazzarettists fell,
killed and wounded, and among them David himself, with a bullet in his
brain.[139] Whether he was enthusiast or impostor may remain an open
question. Travel and study had brought him training; he was no longer a
rude mountain peasant, but could estimate the social forces against
which he raised the standard of revolt, and could recognize that they
were insuperable save to an envoy of God. Possibly on the slopes of
Monte Amiata his memory may linger like that of Dolcino in the Valsesia;
certain it is that many of his disciples long expected his



We have seen how John XXII. created and exterminated the heresy of the
Spiritual Franciscans, and how Michele da Cesena enforced obedience
within the Order as to the question of granaries and cellars and the
wearing of short and narrow gowns. The settlement of the question,
however, on so illogical a basis as this was impossible, especially in
view of the restless theological dogmatism of the pope and his
inflexible determination to crush all dissidence of opinion. Having once
undertaken to silence the discussions over the rule of poverty which had
caused so much trouble for nearly a century, his logical intellect led
him to carry to their legitimate conclusions the principles involved in
his bulls _Quorumdam, Sancta Romana_, and _Gloriosam Ecclesiam_, while
his thorough worldliness rendered him incapable of anticipating the
storm which he would provoke. A character such as his was unable to
comprehend the honest inconsistency of men like Michele and Bonagrazia,
who could burn their brethren for refusing to have granaries and
cellars, and who, at the same time, were ready to endure the stake in
vindication of the absolute poverty of Christ and the apostles, which
had so long been a fundamental belief of the Order, and had been
proclaimed as irrefragable truth in the bull _Exiit qui seminat_.

In fact, under a pope of the temperament of John, the orthodox
Franciscans had a narrow and dangerous path to tread. The Spirituals
were burned as heretics because they insisted on following their own
conception of the Rule of Francis, and the distinction between this and
the official recognition of the obligation of poverty was shadowy in the
extreme. The Dominicans were not slow to recognize the dubious position
of their rivals, nor averse to take advantage of it. If they could bring
the received doctrines of the Franciscan Order within the definition of
the new heresy they would win a triumph that might prove permanent. The
situation was so artificial and so untenable that a catastrophe was
inevitable, and it might be precipitated by the veriest trifle.

In 1321, when the persecution of the Spirituals was at its height, the
Dominican inquisitor, Jean de Beaune, whom we have seen as the colleague
of Bernard Gui and the jailer of Bernard Délicieux, was engaged at
Narbonne in the trial of one of the proscribed sect. To pass judgment he
summoned an assembly of experts, among whom was the Franciscan Berenger
Talon, teacher in the convent of Narbonne. One of the errors which he
represented the culprit as entertaining was that Christ and the
apostles, following the way of perfection, had held no possessions,
individually or in common. As this was the universal Franciscan
doctrine, we can only regard it as a challenge when he summoned Frère
Berenger to give his opinion respecting it. Berenger thereupon replied
that it was not heretical, having been defined as orthodox in the
decretal _Exiit_, when the inquisitor hotly demanded that he should
recant on the spot. The position was critical, and Berenger, to save
himself from prosecution, interjected an appeal to the pope. He hastened
to Avignon, but found that Jean de Beaune had been before him. He was
arrested; the Dominicans everywhere took up the question, and the pope
allowed it to be clearly seen that his sympathies were with them. Yet
the subject was a dangerous one for disputants, as the bull _Exiit_ had
anathematized all who should attempt to gloss or discuss its decisions;
and, as a preliminary to reopening the question, John was obliged, March
26, 1322, to issue a special bull, _Quia nonnunquam_, wherein he
suspended, during his pleasure, the censures pronounced in _Exiit qui
seminat_. Having thus intimated that the Church had erred in its former
definition, he proceeded to lay before his prelates and doctors the
significant question whether the pertinacious assertion that Christ and
the apostles possessed nothing individually or in common was a

The extravagances of the Spirituals had borne their fruit, and there was
a reaction against the absurd laudation of poverty which had grown to be
a fetich. This bore hard on those who had been conscientiously trained
in the belief that the abnegation of property was the surest path to
salvation; but the follies of the ascetics had become uncomfortable, if
not dangerous, and it was necessary for the Church to go behind its
teachings since the days of Antony and Hilarion and Simeon Stylites, to
recur to the common-sense of the gospel, and to admit that, like the
Sabbath, religion was made for man and not man for religion. In a work
written some ten years after this time, Alvar Pelayo, papal penitentiary
and himself a Franciscan, treats the subject at considerable length, and
doubtless represents the views which found favor with John. The
anchorite should be wholly dead to the world and should never leave his
hermitage; memorable is the abbot who refused to open his door to his
mother for fear his eye should rest upon her, and not less so the monk
who, when his brother asked him to come a little way and help him with a
foundered ox, replied, "Why dost thou not ask thy brother who is yet in
the world?" "But he has been dead these fifteen years!" "And I have been
dead to the world these twenty years!" Short of this complete
renunciation, all men should earn their living by honest labor. In spite
of the illustrious example of the sleepless monks of Dios, the apostolic
command "Pray without ceasing" (Thessal. v. 17) is not to be taken
literally. The apostles had money and bought food (John IV. 8), and
Judas carried the purse of the Lord (John XII. 6). Better than a life of
beggary is one blessed by honest labor, as a swineherd, a shepherd, a
cowherd, a mason, a blacksmith, or a charcoal-burner, for a man is thus
fulfilling the purpose of his creation. It is a sin for the able-bodied
to live on charity, and thus usurp the alms due to the sick, the infirm,
and the aged. All this is a lucid interval of common-sense, but what
would Aquinas or Bonaventura have said to it, for it sounds like the
echo of their great antagonist, William of Saint-Amour?[141]

It was inevitable that the replies to the question submitted by John
should be adverse to the poverty of Christ and the apostles. The bishops
were universally assumed to be the representatives of the latter, and
could not be expected to relish the assertion that their prototypes had
been commanded by Christ to own no property. The Spirituals had made a
point of this. Olivi had proved not only that Franciscans promoted to
the episcopate were even more bound than their brethren to observe the
Rule in all its strictures, but that bishops in general were under
obligation to live in deeper poverty than the members of the most
perfect Order. Now that there was a chance of justifying their
worldliness and luxury, it was not likely to be lost. Yet John himself
for a while held his own opinion suspended. In a debate before the
consistory, Ubertino da Casale, the former leader of the orthodox
Spirituals, was summoned to present the Franciscan view of the poverty
of Christ, in answer to the Dominicans, and we are told that John was
greatly pleased with his argument. Unluckily, at the General Chapter
held at Perugia, May 30, 1322, the Franciscans appealed to Christendom
at large by a definition addressed to all the faithful, in which they
proved that the absolute poverty of Christ was the accepted doctrine of
the Church, as set forth in the bulls _Exiit_ and _Exivi de Paradiso_,
and that John himself had approved of these in his bull _Quorumdum_.
Another and more comprehensive utterance to the same effect received the
signatures of all the Franciscan masters and bachelors of theology in
France and England. With a disputant such as John this was an act of
more zeal than discretion. His passions were fairly aroused, and he
proceeded to treat the Franciscans as antagonists. In December of the
same year he dealt them a heavy blow in the bull _Ad conditorem_,
wherein with remorseless logic he pointed out the fallacy of the device
of Innocent IV. for eluding the provisions of the Rule by vesting the
ownership of property in the Holy See and its use in the Friars. It had
not made them less eager in acquisitiveness, while it had led them to a
senseless pride in their own asserted superiority of poverty. He showed
that use and consumption as conceded to them were tantamount to
ownership, and that pretended ownership subject to such usufruct was
illusory, while it was absurd to speak of Rome as owning an egg or a
piece of cheese given to a friar to be consumed on the spot. Moreover,
it was humiliating to the Roman Church to appear as plaintiff or
defendant in the countless litigations in which the Order was involved,
and the procurators who thus appeared in its name were said to abuse
their position to the injury of many who were defrauded of their rights.
For these reasons he annulled the provisions of Nicholas III., and
declared that henceforth no ownership in the possessions of the Order
should inhere in the Roman Church and no procurator act in its

The blow was shrewdly dealt, for though the question of the poverty of
Christ was not alluded to, the Order was deprived of its subterfuge, and
was forced to admit practically that ownership of property was a
necessary condition of its existence. Its members, however, had too long
nursed the delusion to recognize its fallacy now, and in January, 1323,
Bonagrazia, as procurator specially commissioned for the purpose,
presented to the pope in full consistory a written protest against his
action. If Bonagrazia had not arguments to adduce he had at least ample
precedents to cite in the long line of popes since Gregory IX.,
including John himself. He wound up by audaciously appealing to the
pope, to Holy Mother Church, and to the apostles, and though he
concluded by submitting himself to the decisions of the Church, he could
not escape the wrath which he had provoked. It was not many years since
Clement V. had confined him for resisting too bitterly the extravagance
of the Spirituals: he still consistently occupied the same position, and
now John cast him into a foul and dismal dungeon because he had not
moved with the world, while the only answer to his protest was taking
down from the church doors the bull _Ad conditorem_ and replacing it
with a revised edition, more decided and argumentative than its

All this did not conduce to a favorable decision of the question as to
the poverty of Christ. John was now fairly enlisted against the
Franciscans, and their enemies lost no opportunity of inflaming his
passions. He would listen to no defence of the decision of the Chapter
of Perugia. In consistory a Franciscan cardinal and some bishops timidly
ventured to suggest that possibly there might be some truth in it, when
he angrily silenced them--"You are talking heresy"--and forced them to
recant on the spot. When he heard that the greatest Franciscan schoolman
of the day, William of Ockham, had preached that it was heretical to
affirm that Christ and the apostles owned property, he promptly wrote to
the Bishops of Bologna and Ferrara to investigate the truth of the
report, and if it was correct to cite Ockham to appear before him at
Avignon within a month. Ockham obeyed, and we shall hereafter see what
came of it.[144]

The papal decision on the momentous question was at last put forth,
November 12, 1323, in the bull _Cum inter nonnullos_. In this there was
no wavering or hesitation. The assertion that Christ and the apostles
possessed no property was flatly declared to be a perversion of
Scripture; it was denounced for the future as erroneous and heretical,
and its obstinate assertion by the Franciscan chapter was formally
condemned. To the believers in the supereminent holiness of poverty, it
was stunning to find themselves cast out as heretics for holding a
doctrine which for generations had passed as an incontrovertible truth,
and had repeatedly received the sanction of the Holy See in its most
solemn form of ratification. Yet there was no help for it, and unless
they were prepared to shift their belief with the pope, they could only
expect to be delivered in this world to the Inquisition and in the next
to Satan.[145]

Suddenly there appeared a new factor in the quarrel, which speedily gave
it importance as a political question of the first magnitude. The
sempiternal antagonism between the papacy and the empire had been
recently assuming a more virulent aspect than usual under the imperious
management of John XXII. Henry VII. had died in 1313, and in October,
1314, there had been a disputed election. Louis of Bavaria and Frederic
of Austria both claimed the kaisership. Since Leo III., in the year 800,
had renewed the line of Roman emperors by crowning Charlemagne, the
ministration of the pope in an imperial coronation had been held
essential, and had gradually enabled the Holy See to put forward
undefined claims of a right to confirm the vote of the German electors.
For the enforcement of such claims a disputed election gave abundant
opportunity, nor were there lacking other elements to complicate the
position. The Angevine papalist King of Naples, Robert the Good, had
dreams of founding a great Italian Guelf monarchy, to which John XXII.
lent a not unfavorable ear; especially as his quarrel with the
Ghibelline Visconti of Lombardy was becoming unappeasable. The
traditional enmity between France and Germany, moreover, rendered the
former eager in everything that could cripple the empire, and French
influence was necessarily dominant in Avignon. It would be foreign to
our purpose to penetrate into the labyrinth of diplomatic intrigue which
speedily formed itself around these momentous questions. An alliance
between Robert and Frederic, with the assent of the pope, seemed to give
the latter assurance of recognition, when the battle of Mühldorf,
September 28, 1322, decided the question. Frederic was a prisoner in the
hands of his rival, and there could be no further doubt as to which of
them should reign in Germany. It did not follow, however, that John
would consent to place the imperial crown on the head of Louis.[146]

So far was he from contemplating any such action that he still insisted
on deciding between the claims of the competitors. Louis contemptuously
left his pretensions unanswered and proceeded to settle matters by
concluding a treaty with his prisoner and setting him free. Moreover, he
intervened effectually in the affairs of Lombardy, rescued the Visconti
from the Guelf league which was about to overwhelm them, and ruined the
plans of the cardinal legate, Bertrand de Poyet, John's nephew or son,
who was carving out a principality for himself. It would have required
less than this to awaken the implacable hostility of such a man as John,
whose only hope for the success of his Italian policy now lay in
dethroning Louis and replacing him with the French king, Charles le Bel.
He rushed precipitately to the conflict and proclaimed no quarter.
October 8, 1323, in the presence of a vast multitude, a bull was read
and affixed to the portal of the cathedral of Avignon, which declared
not only that no one could act as King of the Romans until his person
had been approved by the pope, but repeated a claim, already made in
1317, that until such approval the empire was vacant, and its government
during the interregnum belonged to the Holy See. All of Louis's acts
were pronounced null and void; he was summoned within three months to
lay down his power and submit his person to the pope for approval, under
pain of the punishments which he had incurred by his rebellious pretence
of being emperor; all oaths of allegiance taken to him were declared
annulled; all prelates were threatened with suspension, and all cities
and states with excommunication and interdict if they should continue to
obey him. Louis at first received this portentous missive with singular
humility. November 12 he sent to Avignon envoys, who did not arrive
until January 2, 1324, to ask whether the reports which he had heard of
the papal action were true, and if so to request a delay of six months
in which to prove his innocence. To this John, on January 7, gave answer
extending the term only two months from that day. Meanwhile Louis had
taken heart, possibly encouraged by the outbreak of the quarrel between
John and the Franciscans, for the date of the credentials of the envoys,
November 12, was the same as that of the bull _Cum inter nonnullos_. On
December 18, he issued the Nuremberg Protest, a spirited vindication of
the rights of the German nation and empire against the new pretensions
of the papacy; he demanded the assembling of a general council before
which he would make good his claims; it was his duty, as the head of the
empire, to maintain the purity of the faith against a pope who was a
fautor of heretics. It shows how little he yet understood about the
questions at issue that to sustain this last charge he accused John of
unduly protecting the Franciscans against universal complaints that they
habitually violated the secrecy of the confessional, this being
apparently his version of the papal condemnation of John of Poilly's
thesis that confession to a Mendicant friar was insufficient.[147]

If Louis at first thought to gain strength by thus utilizing the
jealousy and dislike felt by the secular clergy towards the Mendicants,
he soon realized that a surer source of support was to be found in
espousing the side of the Franciscans in the quarrel forced upon them by
John. The two months' delay granted by John expired March 7 without
Louis making an appearance, and on March 25 the pope promulgated against
him a sentence of excommunication, with a threat that he should be
deprived of all rights if he did not submit within three months. To this
Louis speedily rejoined in a document known as the Protest of
Sachsenhausen, which shows that since December he had put himself in
communication with the disaffected Franciscans, had entered into
alliance with them, and had recognized how great was the advantage of
posing as the defender of the faith and assailing the pope with the
charge of heresy. After paying due attention to John's assaults on the
rights of the empire, the Protest takes up the question of his recent
bulls respecting poverty and argues them in much detail. John had
declared before Franciscans of high standing that for forty years he had
regarded the Rule of Francis as fantastic and impossible. As the Rule
was revealed by Christ, this alone proves him to be a heretic. Moreover,
as the Church is infallible in its definitions of faith, and as it has
repeatedly, through Honorius III., Innocent IV., Alexander IV., Innocent
V., Nicholas III., and Nicholas IV., pronounced in favor of the poverty
of Christ and the apostles, John's condemnation of this tenet abundantly
shows him to be a heretic. His two constitutions, _Ad conditorem_ and
_Cum inter nonnullos_, therefore, have cut him off from the Church as a
manifest heretic teaching a condemned heresy, and have disabled him from
the papacy; all of which Louis swore to prove before a general council
to be assembled in some place of safety.[148]

John proceeded with his prosecution of Louis by a further declaration,
issued July 11, in which, without deigning to notice the Protest of
Sachsenhausen, he pronounced Louis to have forfeited by his contumacy
all claim to the empire; further obstinacy would deprive him of his
ancestral dukedom of Bavaria and other possessions, and he was summoned
to appear October 1, to receive final sentence. Yet John could not leave
unanswered the assault upon his doctrinal position, and on November 10
he issued the bull _Quia quorumdam_, in which he argued that he had
exercised no undue power in contradicting the decisions of his
predecessors: he declared it a condemned heresy to assert that Christ
and the apostles had only simple usufruct, without legal possession, in
the things which Scripture declared them to have possessed, for if this
were true it would follow that Christ was unjust, which is blasphemy.
All who utter, write, or teach such doctrines fall into condemned
heresy, and are to be avoided as heretics.[149]

Thus the poverty of Christ was fairly launched upon the world as a
European question. It is a significant illustration of the intellectual
condition of the fourteenth century that in the subsequent stages of
the quarrel between the papacy and the empire, involving the most
momentous principles of public law, those principles, in the manifestoes
of either side, assume quite a subordinate position. The shrewd and able
men who conducted the controversy evidently felt that public opinion was
much more readily influenced by accusations of heresy, even upon a point
so trivial and unsubstantial, than by appeals to reason upon the
conflicting jurisdictions of Church and State.[150] Yet, as the quarrel
widened and deepened, and as the stronger intellects antagonistic to
papal pretensions gathered around Louis, they were able, in unwonted
liberty of thought and speech, to investigate the theory of government
and the claims of the papacy with unheard-of boldness. Unquestionably
they aided Louis in his struggle, but the spirit of the age was against
them. Spiritual authority was still too awful for successful rebellion,
and when Louis passed away affairs returned to the old routine, and the
labors of the men who had waged his battle in the hope of elevating
humanity disappeared, leaving but a doubtful trace upon the modes of
thought of the time.

The most audacious of these champions was Marsiglio of Padua.
Interpenetrated with the principles of the imperial jurisprudence, in
which the State was supreme and the Church wholly subordinated, he had
seen in France how the influence of the Roman law was emancipating the
civil power from servitude, and perhaps in the University of Paris had
heard the echoes of the theories of Henry of Ghent, the celebrated
Doctor Solemnis, who had taught the sovereignty of the people over their
princes. He framed a conception of a political organization which should
reproduce that of Rome under the Christian emperors, with a recognition
of the people as the ultimate source of all civil authority. Aided by
Jean de Jandum he developed these ideas with great hardihood and skill
in his "_Defensor Pacis_", and in 1326, when the strife between John and
Louis was at its hottest, the two authors left Paris to lay the result
of their labors before the emperor. In a brief tract, moreover, "_De
translatione imperii_," Marsiglio subsequently sketched the manner in
which the Holy Roman Empire had arisen, showing the ancient subjection
of the Holy See to the imperial power, and the baselessness of the papal
claims to confirm the election of the emperors. John XXII. had no
hesitation in condemning the daring authors as heretics, and the
protection which Louis afforded them added another count to the
indictment against him for heresy. Unable to wreak vengeance upon them,
all who could be supposed to be their accomplices were sternly dealt
with. A certain Francesco of Venice, who had been a student with
Marsiglio at Paris, was seized and carried to Avignon on a charge of
having aided in the preparation of the wicked book, and of having
supplied the heresiarch with money. Tried before the Apostolic Chamber,
he stoutly maintained that he was ignorant of the contents of the
"_Defensor Pacis_," that he had deposited money with Marsiglio, as was
customary with scholars, and that Marsiglio had left Paris owing him
thirteen sols parisis. Jean de Jandun died in 1328, and Marsiglio not
later than 1343, thus mercifully spared the disappointment of the
failure of their theories. In so far as purely intellectual conceptions
had weight in the conflict they were powerful allies for Louis. In the
"_Defensor Pacis_" the power of the keys is argued away in the clearest
dialectics. God alone has power to judge, to absolve, to condemn. The
pope is no more than any other priest, and a priestly sentence may be
the result of hatred, favor, or injustice, of no weight with God.
Excommunication, to be effective, must not proceed from the judgment of
a single priest, but must be the sentence of the whole community, with
full knowledge of all the facts. It is no wonder that when, in 1376, a
French translation of the work appeared in Paris it created a profound
sensation. A prolonged inquest was held, lasting from September to
December, in which all the learned men in the city were made to swear
before a notary as to their ignorance of the translator.[151]

More vehement and more fluent as a controversialist was the great
schoolman, William of Ockham. When the final breach came between the
papacy and the rigid Franciscans he was already under inquisitorial
trial for his utterances. Escaping from Avignon with his general,
Michele, he found refuge, like the rest, with Louis, whose cause he
strengthened by skilfully linking the question of Christ's poverty with
that of German independence. Those who refused to accept a papal
definition on a point of faith could only justify themselves by proving
that popes were fallible and their power not unlimited. Thus the strife
over the narrow Franciscan dogmatism on poverty broadened until it
embraced the great questions which had disturbed the peace of Europe
since the time of Hildebrand, nearly three centuries before. In 1324
Ockham boasted that he had set his face like flint against the errors of
the pseudo-pope, and that so long as he possessed hand, paper, pens, and
ink, no abuse or lies or persecution or persuasion would induce him to
desist from attacking them. He kept his promise literally, and for
twenty years he poured forth a series of controversial works in defence
of the cause to which he had devoted his life. Without embracing the
radical doctrines of Marsiglio on the popular foundation of political
institutions, he practically reached the same outcome. While admitting
the primacy of the pope, he argued that a pope can fall into heresy, and
so, indeed, can a general council, and even all Christendom. The
influence of the Holy Ghost did not deprive man of free-will and prevent
him from succumbing to error, no matter what might be his station. There
was nothing sure but Scripture; the poorest and meanest peasant might
adhere to Catholic truth revealed to him by God, while popes and
councils erred. Above the pope is the general council representing the
whole Church. A pope refusing to entertain an appeal to a general
council, declining to assemble it, or arrogating its authority to
himself is a manifest heretic, whom it is the duty of the bishops to
depose, or, if the bishops refuse, then that of the emperor, who is
supreme over the earth. But it was not only by the enunciation of
general principles that he carried on the war; merciless were his
assaults on the errors and inconsistencies of John XXII., who was proved
guilty of seventy specific heresies. Thus to the bitter end his
dauntless spirit kept up the strife; one by one his colleagues died and
submitted, and he was left alone, but he continued to shower ridicule on
the curia and its creatures in his matchless dialectics. Even the death
of Louis and the hopeless defeat of his cause did not stop his fearless
pen. Church historians claim that in 1349 he at last made his peace and
was reconciled, but this is more than doubtful, for Giacomo della Marca
classes him with Michele and Bonagrazia as the three unrepentant
heretics who died under excommunication. It is not easy to determine
with accuracy what influence was exercised by the powerful intellects
which England, France, and Italy thus contributed to the defence of
German independence. Possibly they may have stimulated Wickliff to
question the foundation of papal power and the supremacy of the Church
over the State, leading to Hussite insubordination. Possibly, too, they
may have contributed to the movement which in various development
emboldened the Councils of Constance and Basle to claim superiority over
the Holy See, the Gallican Church to assert its liberties, and England
to frame the hostile legislation of the Statutes of Provisors and
Præmunire. If this be so, the hopeless entanglements of German politics
caused them to effect less in their own chosen battle-field than in
lands far removed from the immediate scene of conflict.[152]

       *       *       *       *       *

This rapid glance at the larger aspects of the strife has been necessary
to enable us to follow intelligently the vicissitudes of the discussion
over the poverty of Christ, which occupied in the struggle a position
ludicrously disproportionate to its importance. For some time after the
issue of the bulls _Cum inter nonnullos_ and _Quia quorumdam_ there was
a sort of armed neutrality between John and the heads of the Franciscan
Order. Each seemed to be afraid of taking a step which should
precipitate a conflict, doubtless secretly felt by both sides to be
inevitable. Still there was a little skirmishing for position. In 1325
Michele had summoned the general chapter to assemble at Paris, but he
feared that an effort would be made to annul the declarations of
Perugia, and that John would exercise a pressure by means of King
Charles le Bel, whose influence was great through the number of
benefices at his disposal. Suddenly, therefore, he transferred the call
to Lyons, where considerable trouble was experienced through the efforts
of Gerard Odo, a creature of the pope, and subsequently the successor of
Michele, to obtain relaxations of the Rule as regarded poverty. Still
the brethren stood firm, and these attempts were defeated, while a
constitution threatening with imprisonment all who should speak
indiscreetly and disrespectfully of John XXII. and his decretals
indicates the passions which were seething under the surface. Not long
after this we hear of a prosecution suddenly commenced against our old
acquaintance Ubertino da Casale, in spite of his Benedictine habit and
his quiet residence in Italy. He seems to have been suspected of having
furnished the arguments on the subject of the poverty of Christ in the
Protest of Sachsenhausen, and, September 16, 1325, an order was sent for
his arrest, but he got wind of it and escaped to Germany--the first of
the illustrious band of refugees who gathered around Louis of Bavaria,
though he appears to have made his peace in 1330. John seems to have at
last grown restive at the tacit insubordination of the Franciscans, who
did not openly deny his definitions as to the poverty of Christ, but
whom he knew to be secretly cherishing in their hearts the condemned
doctrine. In 1326 Michele issued decrees subjecting to a strict
censorship all writings by the brethren and enforcing one of the rules
which prohibited the discussion of doubtful opinions, thus muzzling the
Order in the hope of averting dissension; but it was not in John's
nature to rest satisfied with silence which covered opposition, and in
August, 1327, he advanced to the attack. In the bull _Quia nonnunquam_,
addressed to archbishops and inquisitors, he declared that many still
believed in the poverty of Christ in spite of his having pronounced such
belief a heresy, and that those who entertained it should be treated as
heretics. He therefore now orders the prelates and inquisitors to
prosecute them vigorously, and though the Franciscans are not specially
named, the clause which deprives the accused of all papal privileges
and subjects them to the ordinary jurisdictions sufficiently shows that
they were the object of the assault. It is quite possible that this was
provoked by some movement among the remains of the moderate Spirituals
of Italy--men who came to be known as Fraticelli--who had never indulged
in the dangerous enthusiasms of the Olivists, but who were ready to
suffer martyrdom in defence of the sacred principles of poverty. Such
men could not but have been at once excited by the papal denial of
Christ's poverty, and encouraged by finding the Order at large driven
into antagonism with the Holy See. Sicily had long been a refuge for the
more zealous when forced to flee from Italy. At this time we hear of
their crossing back to Calabria, and of John writing to Niccolò da
Reggio, the Minister of Calabria, savage instructions to destroy them
utterly. Lists are to be made out and sent to him of all who show them
favor, and King Robert is appealed to for aid in the good work. Robert,
in spite of his close alliance with the pope, and the necessity of the
papal favor for his ambitious plans, was sincerely on the side of the
Franciscans. He seems never to have forgotten the teachings of Arnaldo
de Vilanova, and as his father, Charles the Lame, had interfered to
protect the Spirituals of Provence, so now both he and his queen did
what they could with the angry pope to moderate his wrath, and at the
same time he urged the Order to stand firm in defence of the Rule. In
the protection which he afforded he did not discriminate closely between
the organized resistance of the Order under its general, and the
irregular mutiny of the Fraticelli. His dominions, as well as Sicily,
served as a refuge for the latter. With the troubles provoked by John
their numbers naturally grew. Earnest spirits, dissatisfied with
Michele's apparent acquiescence in John's new heresy, would naturally
join them. They ranged themselves under Henry da Ceva, who had fled to
Sicily from persecution under Boniface VIII.; they elected him their
general minister and formed a complete independent organization, which,
when John triumphed over the Order, gathered in its recalcitrant
fragments and constituted a sect whose strange persistence under the
fiercest persecution we shall have to follow for a century and a

On the persecution of these insubordinate brethren Michele da Cesena
could afford to look with complacency, and he evidently desired to
regard the bull of August, 1327, as directed against them. He maintained
his attitude of submission. In June the pope had summoned him from Rome
to Avignon, and he had excused himself on the ground of sickness. His
messengers with his apologies were graciously received, and it was not
until December 2 that he presented himself before John. The pope
subsequently declared that he had been summoned to answer for secretly
encouraging rebels and heretics, and doubtless the object was to be
assured of his person, but he was courteously welcomed, and the
ostensible reason given for sending for him was certain troubles in the
provinces of Assisi and Aragon, in which Michele obediently changed the
ministers. Until April, 1328, he remained in the papal court, apparently
on the best of terms with John.[154]

Meanwhile the quarrel between the empire and the papacy had been
developing apace. In the spring of 1326 Louis suddenly and without due
preparation undertook an expedition to Italy, at the invitation of the
Ghibellines, for his imperial coronation. When he reached Milan in April
to receive the iron crown John sternly forbade his further progress, and
on this being disregarded, proceeded to excommunicate him afresh. Thus
commenced another prolonged series of citations and sentences for
heresy, including the preaching of a crusade with Holy Land indulgences
against the impenitent sinner. Unmoved by this, Louis slowly made his
way to Rome, which he entered January 7, 1327, and where he was crowned
on the 17th, in contemptuous defiance of papal prerogative, by four
syndics elected by the people, after which, according to usage, he
exchanged the title of King of the Romans for that of Emperor. As the
defender of the faith he proceeded to try the pope on the charge of
heresy, based upon his denial of the poverty of Christ. April 14 he
promulgated a law authorizing the prosecution and sentence _in absentia_
of those notoriously defamed for treason or heresy, thus imitating the
papal injustice of which he himself complained bitterly; and, on the
17th, sentence of deposition was solemnly read to the assembled people
before the basilica of St. Peter. It recited that it was rendered at the
request of the clergy and people of Rome; it recapitulated the crimes of
the pope, whom it stigmatized as Antichrist; it pronounced him a heretic
on account of his denying the poverty of Christ, deposed him from the
papacy, and threatened confiscation on all who should render him support
and assistance.[155]

As a pope was necessary to the Church, and as the college of cardinals
were under excommunication as fautors of heresy, recourse was had to the
primitive method of selection: some form of election by the people and
clergy of Rome was gone through on May 12, and a new Bishop of Rome was
presented to the Christian world in the person of Pier di Corbario, an
aged Franciscan of high repute for austerity and eloquence. He was
Minister of the province of the Abruzzi and papal penitentiary. He had
been married, his wife was still living, and he was said to have entered
the Order without her consent, which rendered him "irregular" and led to
an absurd complication, for the woman, who had never before complained
of his leaving her, now came forward and put in her claims to be bought
off. He assumed the name of Nicholas V., a college of cardinals was
readily created for him, he appointed nuncios and legates and proceeded
to degrade the Guelfic bishops and replace them with Ghibellines. In the
confusion attendant upon these revolutionary proceedings it can be
readily imagined that the Fraticelli emerged from their hiding-places
and indulged in glowing anticipations of the future which they fondly
deemed their own.[156]

Although the Franciscan prefect of the Roman province assembled a
chapter at Anagni which pronounced against Pier di Corbario, and ordered
him to lay aside his usurped dignity, it was impossible that the Order
should escape responsibility for the rebellion, nor is it likely that
Michele da Cesena was not privy to the whole proceeding. He had remained
quietly at Avignon, and John had manifested no abatement of cordiality
until April 9, when, on being summoned to an audience, the pope attacked
him on the subject of the Chapter of Perugia, which six years before had
asserted the poverty of Christ and the apostles. Michele stoutly
defended the utterances of the chapter, saying that if they were
heretical then Nicholas IV. and the other popes who had affirmed the
doctrine were heretics. Then the papal wrath exploded. Michele was a
headstrong fool, a fautor of heretics, a serpent nourished in the bosom
of the Church; and when the stream of invective had exhausted itself he
was placed under constructive arrest, and ordered not to leave Avignon
without permission, under pain of excommunication, of forfeiture of
office, and of future disability. A few days later, on April 14, in the
secrecy of the Franciscan convent, he relieved his feelings by executing
a solemn notarial protest, in the presence of William of Ockham,
Bonagrazia, and other trusty adherents, in which he recited the
circumstances, argued that the pope either was a heretic or no pope, for
either his present utterances were erroneous or else Nicholas IV. had
been a heretic; in the latter case Boniface VIII. and Clement V., who
had approved the Bull _Exiit qui seminat_, were likewise heretics, their
nominations of cardinals were void, and the conclave which elected John
was illegal. He protested against whatever might be done in derogation
of the rights of the Order, that he was in durance and in just fear, and
that what he might be forced to do would be null and void. The whole
document is a melancholy illustration of the subterfuges rendered
necessary by an age of violence.[157]

Michele was detained in Avignon while the general chapter of the Order
was held at Bologna, to which John sent Bertrand, Bishop of Ostia, with
instructions to have another general chosen. The Order, however, was
stubborn. It sent a somewhat defiant message to the pope and re-elected
Michele, requesting him moreover to indicate Paris as the next place of
assemblage, to be held, according to rule, in three years, to which he
assented. In view of the drama which was developing in Rome he might
reasonably fear for liberty or life. Preparations were made for his
escape. A galley, furnished, according to John, by the Emperor Louis,
but according to other and more trustworthy accounts, by Genoese
refugees, was sent to Aigues-mortes. Thither he fled, May 26,
accompanied by Ockham and Bonagrazia. The Bishop of Porto sent by John
in hot haste after him, had an interview with him on the deck of his
galley, but failed to induce him to return. He reached Pisa on June 9,
and there ensued a war of manifestoes of unconscionable length, in which
Michele was pronounced excommunicate and deposed, and John was proved to
be a heretic who had rightfully forfeited the papacy. Michele could only
carry on a wordy conflict, while John could act. Bertrand de la Tour,
Cardinal of San Vitale, was appointed Vicar-general of the Order,
another general chapter was ordered to assemble in Paris, June, 1329,
and preparations were made for it by removing all provincials favorable
to Michele, and appointing in their places men who could be relied on.
Out of thirty-four who had met in Bologna only fourteen were seen in
Paris; Michele was deposed and Gerard Odo was elected in his place; but
even under this pressure no declaration condemning the poverty of Christ
could be obtained from the chapter. The mass of the Order, reduced to
silence, remained faithful to the principles represented by its deposed
general, until forced to acquiescence by the arbitrary measures so
freely employed by the pope and the examples made of those who dared to
express opposition. Still John was not disposed to relax the Franciscan
discipline, and when, in 1332, Gerard Odo, in the hope of gaining a
cardinal's hat, persuaded fourteen provincial ministers to join him in
submitting a gloss which would have virtually annulled the obligation of
poverty, his only reward was the ridicule of the pope and sacred

The settlement of the question depended much more upon political than
upon religious considerations. Louis had abandoned Rome and established
himself in Pisa with his pope, his cardinals, and his Franciscans, but
the Italians were becoming tired of their kaiser. It mattered little
that in January, 1329, he indulged in the childish triumph of solemnly
burning John XXII. in effigy; he was obliged soon after to leave the
city, and towards the end of the year he returned to Germany, carrying
with him the men who were to defend his cause with all the learning of
the schools, and abandoning to their fate those of his partisans who
were unable to follow him.[159] The proceedings which ensued at Todi
will serve to show how promptly the Inquisition tracked his retreating
footsteps, and how useful it was as a political agency in reducing
rebellious communities to submission.

The Todini were Ghibelline. In 1327, when John XXII. had ordered
Francisco Damiani, Inquisitor of Spoleto, to proceed vigorously against
Mucio Canistrario of Todi as a rebel against the Church, and Mucio had
accordingly been imprisoned, the people had risen in insurrection and
liberated the captive, while the inquisitor had been forced to fly for
his life. In August, 1328, they had welcomed Louis as emperor and Pier
di Corbario as pope, and had ordered their notaries to use the regnal
years of the latter in their instruments; they had, moreover, attacked
and taken the Guelf city of Orvieto and, like all the cities which
adhered to Louis, they had expelled the Dominicans. In August, 1329,
abandoned by Louis, proceedings were commenced against them by the
Franciscan, Frà Bartolino da Perugia, the inquisitor, who announced his
intention of making a thorough inquest of the whole district of Assisi
against all Patarins and heretics, against those who assert things not
to be sins which the Church teaches to be sins, or are minor sins which
the Church holds to be greater, against those who understand the
Scriptures in a sense different from what the Holy Spirit demands,
against those who talk against the state and observance of the Roman
Church and its teachings, and against those who have detracted from the
dignity and person of the pope and his constitutions. Under this
searching examinations were made as to the acts of the citizens during
the visit of Louis, any sign of respect paid to him being regarded as a
crime, and two sets of prosecutions were commenced--one against the
Ghibellines of the city and the other against the "rebellious"
Franciscans. These latter were summoned to reply to five articles--1, If
they believed in, favored, or adhered to the Bavarian and the intrusive
antipope; 2, If they had marched with a cross to meet these heretics on
their entrance into Todi; 3, If they had obeyed or done reverence to the
Bavarian as emperor or to P. di Corbario as pope; 4, If they had taught
or preached that the constitutions of John were heretical or himself a
heretic; 5, If, after Michele da Cesena was condemned and deposed for
heresy, they had adhered to him and his errors. These interrogations
show how conveniently the religious and political questions were mingled
together, and how thorough was the investigation rendered possible by
the machinery of the Inquisition. The proceedings dragged on, and, July
1, 1330, John condemned the whole community as heretics and fautors of
heresy. July 7 he sent this sentence to the legate, Cardinal Orsini,
with instructions to cite the citizens peremptorily and to try them,
according to the inquisitorial formula, "_summarie et de plano et sine
strepitu et figura_" Under this the Todini finally made submission, the
cardinal sent Frà Bartolino and his colleague thither, and the city was
reconciled, subject to the papal approval. They had been obliged to make
a gift of ten thousand florins to Louis, and now a fine of equal amount
was levied upon them, besides one hundred lire imposed on each of one
hundred and thirty-four citizens. Apparently the terms exacted were not
satisfactory to John, for a papal brief of July 20, 1331, declared the
submission of the citizens deceitful, and ordered the interdict renewed.
The last document which we have in the case is one of June 1, 1332, in
which the legate sends to the Bishop of Todi a list of one hundred and
ninety-seven persons, including Franciscans, parish priests, heads of
religious houses, nobles, and citizens, who are ordered to appear before
him at Orvieto on June 15, to stand trial on the inquisitions which have
been found against them. That the proceedings were pushed to the bitter
end there can be no doubt, for when in this year the General Gerard Odo
proposed to revoke the commission of Frà Bartolino, John intervened and
extended it for the purpose of enabling him to continue the prosecutions
to a definite sentence. This is doubtless a fair specimen of the minute
persecution which was going on wherever the Ghibellines were not strong
enough to defend themselves by force of arms.[160]

As for the unhappy antipope, his fate was even more deplorable. Confided
at Pisa by Louis to the care of Count Fazio da Doneratico, the leading
noble of the city, he was concealed for a while in a castle in Maremma.
June 18, 1329, the Pisans rose and drove out the imperialist garrison,
and in the following January they were reconciled to the Church. A part
of the bargain was the surrender of Pier di Corbario, to whom John
promised to show himself a kind father and benevolent friend, besides
enriching Fazio for the betrayal of his trust. After making public
abjuration of his heresies in Pisa, Pier was sent, guarded by two state
galleys, to Nice, where he was delivered to the papal agents. In every
town on the road to Avignon he was required publicly to repeat his
abjuration and humiliation. August 25, 1330, with a halter around his
neck, he was brought before the pope in public consistory. Exhausted and
broken with shame and suffering, he flung himself at his rival's feet
and begged for mercy, abjuring and anathematizing his heresies, and
especially that of the poverty of Christ. Then, in a private consistory,
he was made again to confess a long catalogue of crimes, and to accept
such penance as might be awarded him. No humiliation was spared him, and
nothing was omitted to make his abject recantation complete. Having thus
rendered him an object of contempt and deprived him of all further power
of harm, John mercifully spared him bodily torment. He was confined in
an apartment in the papal palace, fed from the papal table, and allowed
the use of books, but no one was admitted to see him without a special
papal order. His wretched life soon came to an end, and when he died, in
1333, he was buried in the Franciscan habit. Considering the ferocity of
the age, his treatment is one of the least discreditable acts in the
career of John XXII. It was hardly to be expected, after the savage
vindictiveness of the Ernulphine curse which he had published, April 20,
1329, on his already fallen rival--"May he in this life feel the wrath
of Peter and Paul, whose church he has sought to confound! May his
dwelling-place be deserted, and may there be none to live under his
roof! May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow! May they be
driven forth from their hearth-stones to beggary! May the usurer devour
their substance, and strangers seize the work of their hands! May the
whole earth fight against him, may the elements be his enemies, may the
merits of all the saints at rest confound him and wreak vengeance on him
through life!"[161]

During the progress of this contest public opinion was by no means
unanimous in favor of John, and the Inquisition was an efficient
instrumentality in repressing all expression of adverse sentiments. In
1328, at Carcassonne, a certain Germain Frevier was tried before it for
blaspheming against John, and stigmatizing his election as simoniacal
because he had promised never to set foot in stirrup till he should set
out for Rome. Germain, moreover, had declared that the Franciscan pope
was the true pope, and that if he had money he would go there and join
him and the Bavarian. Germain was not disposed to martyrdom; at first he
denied, then, after being left to his reflections in prison for five
months, he pleaded that he had been drunk and knew not what he was
saying; a further delay showed him that he was helpless, he confessed
his offences and begged for mercy.[162]

Another case, in 1329, shows us what were the secret feelings of a large
portion of the Franciscan Order, and the means required to keep it in
subordination. Before the Inquisition of Carcassonne, Frère Barthelémi
Bruguière confessed that in saying mass and coming to the prayer for the
pope he had hesitated which of the two popes to pray for, and had
finally desired his prayer to be for whichever was rightfully the head
of the Church. Many of his brethren, he said, were in the habit of
wishing that God would give John XXII. so much to do that he would
forget the Franciscans, for it seemed to them that his whole business
was to afflict them. It was generally believed among them that their
general, Michele, had been unjustly deposed and excommunicated. In a
large assembly of friars he had said, "I wish that antipope was a
Dominican, or of some other Order," when another rejoined, "I rejoice
still more that the antipope is of our Order, for if he was of another
we should have no friend, and now at least we have the Italian," whereat
all present applauded. For a while Frère Barthelémi held out, but
imprisonment with threats of chains and fasting broke down his
resolution, and he threw himself upon the mercy of the inquisitor, Henri
de Chamay. That mercy consisted in a sentence of harsh prison for life,
with chains on hands and feet and bread and water for food. Possibly the
Dominican inquisitor may have felt pleasure in exhibiting a Franciscan
prisoner, for he allowed Barthelémi to retain his habit; and it shows
the minute care of John's vindictiveness that a year later he wrote
expressly to Henri de Chamay reciting that, as the delinquent had been
expelled from the Order, the habit must be stripped from him and be
delivered to the Franciscan authorities.[163]

In Germany the Franciscans for the most part remained faithful to
Michele and Louis, and were of the utmost assistance to the latter in
the struggle. The test was the observance of the interdict which for so
many years suspended divine service throughout the empire, and was a
sore trial to the faithful. To a great extent this was disregarded by
the Franciscans. It was to little purpose that, in January, 1331, John
issued a special bull directed against them, deprived of all privileges
and immunities those who recognized Louis as emperor and celebrated
services in interdicted places, and ordered all prelates and inquisitors
to prosecute them. On the other hand, Louis was not behindhand in
enforcing obedience by persecution wherever he had the power. An
imperial brief of June, 1330, addressed to the magistrates of Aix,
directs them to assist and protect those teachers of the truth, the
Franciscans Siegelbert of Landsberg and John of Royda, and to imprison
all their brethren whom they may designate as rebels to the empire and
to the Order until the general, Michele, shall decide what is to be done
with them. This shows that even in Germany the Order was not unanimous,
but doubtless the honest Franciscan, John of Winterthur, reflects the
feelings of the great body when he says that the reader will be struck
with horror and stupor on learning the deeds with which the pope
convulsed the Church. Inflamed by some madness, he sought to argue
against the poverty of Christ, and when the Franciscans resisted him he
persecuted them without measure. The Dominicans encouraged him, and he
largely rewarded them. The traditional enmity between the Orders found
ample gratification. The Dominicans, to excite contempt for the
Franciscans, exhibited paintings of Christ with a purse, putting in his
hand to take out money; nay, to the horror of the faithful, on the walls
of their monasteries, in the most frequented places, they pictured
Christ hanging on the cross with one hand nailed fast, and with the
other putting money in a pouch suspended from his girdle. Yet rancor and
religious zeal did not wholly extinguish patriotism among the
Dominicans; they were, moreover, aggrieved by the sentence of heresy
passed upon Master Eckart, which may perhaps explain the fact that
Tauler supported Louis, as also did Margaret Ebner, one of the Friends
of God, and the most eminent Dominican sister of the day. It is true
that many Dominican convents were closed for years, and their inmates
scattered and exiled for persistently refusing to celebrate, but others
complied unwillingly with the papal mandates. At Landshut they had
ceased public service, but when the emperor came there they secretly
arranged with the Duke of Teck to assail their house with torches and
threaten to burn it down, so that they might have the excuse of
constraint for resuming public worship, and the comedy was successfully
carried out. In fact, the General Chapter of 1328 complained that in
Germany the brethren in many places were notably negligent in publishing
the papal bulls about Louis.[164]

All this, however, was but an episode in the political struggle, which
was to be decided by the rivalries between the houses of Wittelsbach,
Hapsburg, and Luxemburg, and the intrigues of France. Louis gradually
succeeded in arousing and centring upon himself the national spirit,
aided therein by the arrogant disdain with which John XXII. and his
successors received his repeated offers of qualified submission. When,
in 1330, Louis had temporarily secured the support of John of Luxemburg,
King of Bohemia, and the Duke of Austria, and they offered themselves as
sureties that he would fulfil what might be required of him, provided
the independence of the empire was recognized, John retorted that Louis
was a heretic and thus incapacitated; he was a thief and a robber, a
wicked man who consorted with Michele, Ockham, Bonagrazia, and
Marsiglio; not only had he no title to the empire, but the state of
Christendom would be inconceivably deplorable if he were recognized.
After the death of John in December, 1334, another attempt was made, but
it suited the policy of France and of Bohemia to prolong the strife, and
Benedict XII. was as firm as his predecessor. Louis was at all times
ready to sacrifice his Franciscan allies, but the papacy demanded the
right practically to dictate who should be emperor, and by a skilful use
of appeals to the national pride Louis gradually won the support of an
increasing number of states and cities. In 1338 the convention of Rhense
and the Reichstag of Frankfort formally proclaimed as a part of the law
of the empire that the choice of the electors was final, and that the
papacy had no confirmatory power. The interdict was ordered not to be
observed, and in all the states adhering to Louis ecclesiastics were
given the option of resuming public worship within eight days or of
undergoing a ten years' exile. It was some relief to them in this
dilemma that the Roman curia sold absolutions in such cases for a

In the strife between Louis and the papacy the little colony of
Franciscan refugees at Munich was of the utmost service to the imperial
cause, but their time was drawing to an end. Michele da Cesena died
November 29, 1342, his latest work being a long manifesto proving that
John had died an unrepentant heretic, and that his successors in
defending his errors were likewise heretics; if but one man in
Christendom holds the true faith, that man in himself is the Church.
The dithyrambic palinode which passes as his death-bed recantation is
clearly a forgery, and there can be no doubt that Michele persisted to
the end. When dying he handed the seal of the Order over to William of
Ockham, who used it as Vicar-general; he had already, in April, 1342,
appointed two citizens of Munich, John Schito and Grimold Treslo, as
syndics and procurators of the Order, the latter of whom subsequently
assumed the generalate. Bonagrazia died in June, 1347, declaring with
the last breath of his indomitable soul that the cause of Louis was
righteous. The date of William of Ockham's death is uncertain, but it
occurred between 1347 and 1350.[166]

Thus dropped off, one by one, the men who had so gallantly defended the
doctrine of the poverty of Christ. As regards the political conceptions
which were the special province of Marsiglio and Ockham, their work was
done, and they could exercise no further influence over the
uncontrollable march of events. With the death of Benedict XII., in
1342, Louis made renewed efforts for pacification, but John of Bohemia
was intriguing to secure the succession for his house, and they were
fruitless, except to strengthen Louis by demonstrating the impossibility
of securing terms tolerable to the empire. Still the intrigue went on,
and in July, 1346, the three ecclesiastical electors, Mainz, Trèves, and
Cologne, with Rodolph of Saxony, and John of Bohemia, assembled at
Rhense under the impulsion of Clement VI. and elected the son of John,
Charles Margrave of Moravia, as a rival king of the Romans. The
movement, however, had no basis of popular support, and when Louis
hastened to the Rhinelands all the cities and nearly all the princes and
nobles adhered to him. Had the election been postponed for a few weeks
it would never have taken place, for the next month occurred the battle
of Crécy, where the gallant knight, John of Bohemia, died a chivalrous
death, Charles, the newly-elected king, saved his life by flight, and
French influence was temporarily eclipsed. Thus unauspiciously
commenced, the reign of Charles IV. had little promise of duration,
when, in October, 1347, Louis, while indulging in his favorite pastime
of hunting, was struck with apoplexy and fell dead from his horse. The
hand of God might well be traced in the removal of all the enemies of
the Holy See, and Charles had no further organized opposition to

Desirous of obtaining the fullest advantage from this unlooked-for
good-fortune, Clement VI. commissioned the Archbishop of Prague and the
Bishop of Bamberg to reconcile all communities and individuals who had
incurred excommunication by supporting the Bavarian, with a formula of
absolution by which they were obliged to swear that they held it heresy
for an emperor to depose a pope, and that they would never obey an
emperor until he had been approved by the pope. This excited intense
disgust, and in many places it could not be enforced. The teachings of
Marsiglio and Ockham had at least borne fruit in so far that the papal
pretensions to virtually controlling the empire were disdainfully
rejected. The German spirit thus aroused is well exemplified by what
occurred at Basle, a city which had observed the interdict and was eager
for its removal. When Charles and the Bishop of Bamberg appeared before
the gates they were received by the magistrates and a great crowd of
citizens. Conrad of Barenfels, the burgomaster, addressed the bishop:
"My Lord of Bamberg, you must know that we do not believe, nor will we
confess, that our late lord, the Emperor Louis, ever was a heretic.
Whomsoever the electors or a majority of them shall choose as King of
the Romans we will hold as such, whether he applies to the pope or not,
nor will we do anything else that is contrary to the rights of the
empire. But if you have power from the pope and are willing to remit all
our sins, so be it." Then, turning to the people, he called out, "Do you
give to me and to Conrad Münch power to ask for the absolution of your
sins?" The crowd shouted assent; the two Conrads took an oath in
accordance with this; divine services were resumed, and the king and
bishop entered the town.[168]

Yet the question as to the poverty of Christ, which had been put forward
by John and Louis as the ostensible cause of quarrel, and which had been
so warmly embraced by a portion at least of the German Franciscans, sank
completely out of sight north of the Alps with the death of Louis and
the extinction of the Munich colony of refugees. Germany had her own
hordes of mendicants, regular and irregular, in the Beguines and
Beghards, who seem to have troubled themselves but little about points
so purely speculative; and though we occasionally hear of Fraticelli in
those regions, it is rather as a convenient name employed by monkish
chroniclers than as really representing a distinctive sect.

It was otherwise in the South, and especially in Italy, the native home
of Franciscanism and of the peculiar influences which moulded the
special ascetic development of the Order. There the impulses which had
led the earlier Spirituals to endure the extremity of persecution in
vindication of the holiness of absolute poverty were still as strong as
ever. Under Boniface and Clement and during the earlier years of John
its professors had lain in hiding or had sought the friendly refuge of
Sicily. In the confusion of the Franciscan schism they had emerged and
multiplied. With the downfall of the antipope and the triumph of John
they were once more proscribed. In the quarrel over the poverty of
Christ, that tenet had naturally become the distinguishing mark of the
sectaries, and its condemnation by John necessarily entailed the
consequence of denying the papal authority and asserting the heresy of
the Holy See. Yet there can be no doubt that among the austerer members
of the orthodox Order who accepted the definitions of the papacy there
was much sympathy felt for the rebellious dissidents. Resistance to the
imperious will of John XXII. having failed, there were abundant stories
of visions and miracles circulated from convent to convent, as to the
wrath of God and of St. Francis visited upon those who infringed upon
the holy vow of poverty. The _Liber Conformitatum_ is manifestly the
expression of the aspirations of those who wished to enforce the Rule in
all its strictness as the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. Such men
felt that the position of their proscribed brethren was logically
correct, and they were unable to reconcile the decrees of Nicholas III.
with those of John XXII. One of these, described as a man much beloved
of God, applied to St. Birgitta to resolve his doubts, whereupon she
had two visions in which the Virgin sent him her commands to say to all
who believed that the pope was no pope, and that priests do not truly
consecrate the host in the mass, that they were heretics filled with
diabolical iniquity. All this points to a strong secret sympathy with
the Fraticelli which extended not only among the people, but among the
friars and occasionally even among the prelates, explaining the ability
of the sectaries to maintain their existence from generation to
generation in spite of almost unremitting persecution by the

In 1335, one of the earliest cares of Benedict XII. after his accession
was the repression of these _Fratres de paupere Vita_, as they styled
themselves. They still in many places publicly displayed their contumacy
by wearing the short and narrow gowns of the Spirituals. They still held
Michele to be their general, insulted the memory of John XXII., and were
earnestly and successfully engaged in proselytism. Moreover, they were
openly protected by men of rank and power. All the inquisitors, from
Treviso and Lombardy to Sicily, were commanded to free the Church from
these impious hypocrites by vigorous action, and directions were sent to
the prelates to lend efficient assistance. There were some, at least, of
the latter who did not respond, for in 1336 Francesco, Bishop of
Camerino, and Giacopo, Bishop of Firmo, were summoned to answer for
favoring the sectaries and permitting them to live in their dioceses.
The whole Order, in fact, was still infected with these dangerous
doctrines, and could not be brought to view the dissidents with proper
abhorrence. Benedict complained that in the kingdom of Naples many
Franciscan convents gave shelter to these perverse brethren, and in a
bull regulating the Order issued this same year he alludes to those
among them who wear peculiar vestments and, under a pretended exterior
of sanctity, maintain heresies condemned by the Church of Rome; all
such, together with those who protect them, are to be imprisoned until
they submit. It was not always easy to enforce obedience to these
mandates. The Bishop of Camerino was stubborn, and the next year, 1337,
Frà Giovanni di Borgo, the inquisitor of the Mark of Ancona, was
instructed to proceed severely against him and other fautors of these
heretics. By his active operations Frà Giovanni incurred the ill-will of
the nobles of his district, who had sufficient influence with the
general, Gerard Odo, to procure his replacement by his associate Giacomo
and subsequently by Simone da Ancona, but the Cardinal Legate Bertrand
intervened, and Benedict restored him with high encomiums on his
efficiency. Although persecution was thus active, it is probable that
few of the sectaries had the spirit of martyrdom, and that they recanted
under pressure, but there was no hesitation in inflicting the full
punishment of heresy on those who were persistent. June 3, 1337, at
Venice, Frà Francesco da Pistoia was burned for pertinaciously asserting
the poverty of Christ in contempt of the definitions of John XXII., nor
was he the only victim.[170]

The test of heresy, as I have said, was the assertion that Christ and
the apostles held no property. This appears from the abjuration of Frà
Francesco d' Ascoli in 1344, who recants that belief and declares that
in accordance with the bulls of John XXII. he holds it to be heretical.
That such continued to be the customary formula appears from Eymerich,
who instructs his inquisitor to make the penitent declare under oath, "I
swear that I believe in my heart and profess that our Lord Jesus Christ
and his apostles while in this mortal life held in common the things
which Scripture declares them to have had, and that they had the right
of giving, selling, and alienating them."[171]

The heresy was thus so purely an artificial one, created by the Holy
See, that perhaps it is not difficult to understand the sympathy excited
by these poor and self-denying ascetics, who bore all the external marks
of what the Church had for ages taught to be exceeding holiness.
Camerino continued to be a place of refuge. In 1343 Clement VI. ordered
the Bishops of Ancona and Osimo to cite before him within three months
Gentile, Lord of Camerino, for various offences, among which was
protecting the Fraticelli, impeding the inquisitors in the prosecution
of their duties, and despising for several years the excommunication
which they had pronounced against him. Even the inquisitors themselves,
especially in Franciscan districts, were not always earnest in the work,
possibly because there was little prospect of profitable confiscations
to be procured from those who regarded the possession of property as a
sin, and in 1346 Clement found himself obliged to reprove them sharply
for their tepidity. In such districts the Fraticelli showed themselves
with little concealment. When, in 1348, Cola di Rienzo fled from Rome
after his first tribuneship, he betook himself to the Fraticelli of
Monte Maiella; he was charmed with their holiness and poverty, entered
the Order as a Tertiary, and deplored that men so exemplary should be
persecuted by the pope and the Inquisition. Tuscany was full of them. It
was in vain that about this period Florence adopted severe laws for
their repression, placing them under the ban, empowering any one to
capture them, and deliver them to the Inquisition, and imposing a fine
of five hundred lire on any official declining, when summoned by the
inquisitors, to assist in their arrest. The very necessity of enacting
such laws shows how difficult it was to stimulate the people to join the
persecution. Even this appears to have been ineffectual. There is extant
a letter from Giovanni delle Celle of Vallombrosa to Tommaso di Neri, a
Fraticello of Florence, in which the former attacks the fatuity of the
latter in making an idol of poverty; the letter was answered and led to
a controversy which seems to have been conducted openly.[172]

Yet, trivial as was apparently the point at issue, it was impossible
that men could remain contentedly under the ban of the Church without
being forced to adopt principles destructive of the whole ecclesiastical
organization. They could only justify themselves by holding that they
were the true Church, that the papacy was heretical and had forfeited
its claim of obedience, and could no longer guide the faithful to
salvation. It is an interesting proof of the state of public opinion in
Italy, that in spite of the thoroughly organized machinery of
persecution, men who held these doctrines were able to disseminate them
almost publicly and to make numerous proselytes. About the middle of
the century they circulated throughout Italy a document written in the
vernacular, "so that it can be understood by every one," giving their
reasons for separating themselves from pope and prelate. It is
singularly temperate in tone and logical in structure. The argument is
drawn strictly from Scripture and from the utterances of the Church
itself, and from even the standpoint of a canonist it is unanswerable.
There are no apocalyptic hysterics, no looking forward to Antichrist or
to new ages of the world, no mysticism. There is not even any reference
to St. Francis, nor any claim that his Rule is inspired and inviolable.
Yet none the less the whole body of the Church is declared to be
heretic, and all the faithful are summoned to cut loose from it.

The reasons alleged for this are three--First, heresy; second, simony;
third, fornication. As to the first, John XXII. is proved to be a
heretic by the bulls pronouncing heretical the doctrine that Christ and
the apostles possessed nothing. This is easily done by reason of the
definitions of the previous popes confirmed by the Council of Vienne.
The corollary of course follows that all his successors and their
cardinals are heretics. As regards simony, the canons of the Decretum
and the utterances of the doctors are quoted to show that it is heresy.
As regards fornication, it was easy to cite the canons embodying the
Hildebrandine doctrine that the sacraments of fornicating priests are
not to be received. It is true that there are many priests who are not
fornicators, but there are none who are not simonists--who have not
given or received money for the sacraments. Even if he could be found
who is innocent on all these heads, it would be necessary for him to
separate himself from the rest, for, as Raymond of Pennaforte shows in
his Summa, those are guilty of mortal sin and idolatry who receive the
sacraments of heretics. The Fraticelli, therefore, have been obliged to
withdraw from a heretical church, and they issue this manifesto to
justify their course. If in any way it is erroneous, they ask to have
the error pointed out; and if it is correct, the faithful are bound to
join them, because, after the facts are known, association with prelates
and clergy thus heretical and excommunicate will involve in heresy all
who are guilty of it.[173]

All the Fraticelli, however, were not uniformly agreed upon all points.
In the above document a leading argument is drawn from the assumed
vitiation of the sacraments in polluted hands--a dangerous tenet,
constantly recurring to plague the successors of Hildebrand--which we do
not find in other utterances of the sectaries. In fact, we find them, in
1362, divided into two branches, one of which recognized as its leader
Tommaso, ex-Bishop of Aquino, and held that as John XXII. and his
successors were heretics, the sacrament of ordination derived from them
was void, and reordination was required of all ecclesiastics entering
the sect. The other, which took its name from Felipe of Majorca, was
regularly organized under a general minister, and, while equally
regarding the popes as heretics, recognized the ordinations of the
establishment. All branches of the sect, however, drew ample store of
reasons from the venality and corruption of the Church, which was
doubtless their most convincing argument with the people. There is
extant a letter in the vulgar tongue from a frate to two female
devotees, arguing, like the more formal manifesto, that they are bound
to withdraw from the communion of the heretical church. This is the
beast with seven horns, which are: 1, supreme pride; 2, supreme cruelty;
3, supreme folly or wrath; 4, supreme deceit and inimitable falsehood;
5, supreme carnality or lust; 6, supreme cupidity or avarice; 7, supreme
hatred of truth, or malice. The ministers of this heretic church have no
shame in publicly keeping concubines, and in selling Christ for money in
the sacraments. This letter further indicates the legitimate descent of
the Fraticelli from the Spirituals by a quotation from Joachim to show
that St. Francis is Noah, and the faithful few of his children are those
who are saved with him in the Ark.[174]

A still closer connection may be inferred from a bull of Urban V.,
issued about 1365, instructing inquisitors to be active in exterminating
heretics, and describing for their information the different heresies.
The Fraticelli are represented as indulging in gluttony and
lasciviousness under the cover of strict external sanctity, pretending
to be Franciscan Tertiaries, and begging publicly or living in their own
houses. It is possible, however, that his description of their holding
assemblies in which they read Olivi's "Postil on the Apocalypse" and his
other works, but chiefly the account of his death, is rather borrowed
from Bernard Gui's account of the Spirituals of Languedoc, than a
correct statement of the customs of the Fraticelli of his time.[175]

Of the final shape which the heresy assumed we have an authoritative
account from its ruthless exterminator, the Inquisitor Giacomo della
Marca. In his "Dialogue with a Fraticello," written about 1450, there is
no word about the follies of the Spirituals, or any extraneous dogmas.
The question turns wholly on the poverty of Christ and the heresy of
John's definitions of the doctrine. The Fraticelli stigmatize the
orthodox as Joannistæ, and in turn are called Michaelistæ, showing that
by this time the extravagances of the Spirituals had been forgotten, and
that the heretics were the direct descendants of the schismatic
Franciscans who followed Michele da Cesena. The disorders and immorality
of the clergy still afforded them their most effective arguments in
their active missionary work. Giacomo complains that they abused the
minds of the simple by representing the priests as simonists and
concubinarians, and that the people, imbued with this poison, lost faith
in the clergy, refused to confess to them, to attend their masses, to
receive their sacraments, and to pay their tithes, thus becoming
heretics and pagans and children of the devil, while fancying themselves
children of God.[176]

The Fraticelli thus formed one or more separate organizations, each of
which asserted itself to be the only true Church. In the scanty
information which we possess, it is impossible to trace in detail the
history of the fragmentary parts into which they split, and we can only
say in general terms that the sect did not consist simply of anchorites
and friars, but had its regular clergy and laity, its bishops and their
supreme head or pope, known as the Bishop of Philadelphia, that being
the name assigned to the community. In 1357 this position was filled by
Tommaso, the ex-Bishop of Aquino; chance led to the discovery of such a
pope in Perugia in 1374; in 1429 we happen to know that a certain
Rainaldo filled the position, and shortly after a frate named Gabriel.
There is even talk of a chief of the laity who styled himself Emperor of
the Christians.[177]

It was in vain that successive popes ordered the Inquisition to take the
most active measures for the suppression of the sect, and that
occasional holocausts rewarded their exertions, as when, under Urban V.
nine were burned at Viterbo, and in 1389 Frà Michele Berti de Calci
suffered the same fate at Florence. This last case reveals in its
details the popular sympathy which favored the labors of the Fraticelli.
Frà Michele had been sent to Florence as a missionary by a congregation
of the sect which met in a cavern in the Mark of Ancona. He preached in
Florence and made many converts, and was about leaving the city, April
19, when he was betrayed by five female zealots, who sent for him
pretending to seek conversion. His trial was short. A colleague saved
his life by recantation, but Michele was firm. When brought up in
judgment to be degraded from the priesthood he refused to kneel before
the bishop, saying that heretics are not to be knelt to. In walking to
the place of execution many of the crowd exchanged words of cheer with
him, leading to considerable disturbance, and when tied to a stake in a
sort of cabin which was to be set on fire, a number put their heads
inside to beg him to recant. The place was several times filled with
smoke to frighten him, but he was unyielding, and after his incremation
there were many people, we are told, who regarded him as a saint.[178]

Proceedings such as this were not likely to diminish the favor with
which the Fraticelli were popularly regarded. The two Sicilies continued
to be thoroughly interpenetrated with the heresy. When, in 1362, Luigi
di Durazzo made his abortive attempt at rebellion, he regarded the
popularity of the Fraticelli as an element of sufficient importance for
him to publicly proclaim sympathy with them, to collect them around him,
and have Tommaso of Aquino celebrate mass for him. Francesco Marchisio,
Archdeacon of Salerno, was a Fraticello, in spite of which he was
elevated to the see of Trivento in 1362, and occupied it till his death
about twenty years later. In 1372 Gregory XI. was shocked to learn that
in Sicily the bones of Fraticelli were venerated as the relics of
saints, that chapels and churches were built in their honor, and that on
their anniversaries the populace flocked thither with candles to worship
them; but it is not likely that his instructions to the inquisitors to
put an end to these unseemly manifestations of mistaken piety were
successful. At Perugia, in 1368, the magistrates were induced to throw
many of the Fraticelli into prison, but to so little purpose that the
people persisted in regarding them as the true children of St. Francis
and in giving them shelter, while the Franciscans were despised on
account of the laxity of their observance, the luxury of their houses,
the costliness of their vestments, and the profusion of their table.
They were ridiculed and insulted in the streets until they scarce dared
to venture in public; if one chanced to let the collar of his shirt show
above his gown, some one would pull up the linen and ask the jeering
crowd if this was the austerity of St. Francis. As a last resort, in
1374, they sent for Paoluccio of Foligno and a public disputation was
arranged with the Fraticelli. Paoluccio turned the tide of popular favor
by proving that obedience to the pope was of greater moment than
obedience to the Rule, and the Fraticelli were driven from the town.
Even then the Inquisition seems not to have dared to prosecute

The proselyting efforts of the Fraticelli were by no means confined to
Italy. Believing themselves the only true Church, it was their duty to
carry salvation throughout the world, and there were earnest spirits
among them who were ready to dare as much as the orthodox among the
infidels and barbarians. Already, in 1344, Clement VI. found himself
obliged to address the archbishops, bishops, and all the faithful
throughout Armenia, Persia, and the East, warning them against these
emissaries of Satan, who were seeking to scatter among them the seeds of
error and schism. He had no inquisitors to call upon in those regions,
but he ordered the prelates to inquire after them and to punish them,
authorizing them, with a singular lack of perception, to invoke, if
necessary, the aid of the secular arm. The Fraticelli made at least one
convert of importance, for in 1346 Clement felt himself obliged to cite
for appearance within four months no less a personage than the
Archbishop of Seleucia, who, infected with pseudo-minorite errors, had
written in Armenian and was circulating throughout Asia a postil on St.
John in which he asserted the forbidden doctrine of the poverty of
Christ. In 1354 Innocent VI. heard of Fraticellian missionaries laboring
among the Chazars of the Crimea, and he forthwith ordered the Bishop of
Caffa to repress them with inquisitorial methods. In 1375 Gregory XI.
learned that they were active in Egypt, Syria, and Asia, and he promptly
ordered the Franciscan provincial of those regions to enforce on them
the severity of the laws. One, named Lorenzo Carbonello, had ventured to
Tunis, to infect with his heresy the Christians of that kingdom,
whereupon Gregory commanded Giacomo Patani and Guillen de Ripoll, the
captains of the Christian troops in the service of the Bey of Tunis, to
seize him and send him in chains to the Archbishop of Naples or of Pisa.
Doubtless, if the command was obeyed, it led the unthinking Moslem to
thank Allah that they were not Christians.[180]

In Languedoc and Provence the rigorous severity with which the
Spirituals had been exterminated seems to have exercised a wholesome
influence in repressing the Fraticelli, but nevertheless a few cases on
record shows the existence of the sect. In 1336 we hear of a number
confined in the papal dungeons of Avignon--among them a papal
chaplain--and that Guillaume Lombard, the judge of ecclesiastical
causes, was ordered to exert against them the full severity of the
laws. In 1354 two Tuscan Fraticelli, Giovanni da Castiglione and
Francesco d' Arquata, were arrested at Montpellier for holding that John
XXII. had forfeited his authority by altering the definitions of the
bull _Exiit_, and that his successors were not the true Church. Innocent
VI. caused them to be brought before him, but all efforts to make them
recant were vain; they went tranquilly to the stake, singing _Gloria in
excelsis_, and were reverenced as martyrs by a large number of their
brethren. Two others, named Jean de Narbonne and Maurice had not long
before met the same fate at Avignon. In northern France we hear little
of the heresy. The only recorded case seems to be that of Denis
Soulechat, a professor of the University of Paris, who taught in 1363
that the law of divine love does away with property, and that Christ and
the apostles held none. Summoned by the Inquisitor Guillaume Rochin, he
abjured before the Faculty and then appealed to the pope. At Avignon,
when he endeavored to purge himself before an assembly of theologians,
he only added new errors to his old ones, and was sent back to the
Cardinal of Beauvais and the Sorbonne with orders to make him recant,
and to punish him properly with the advice of the inquisitor. In 1368 he
was forced to a public abjuration.[181]

In Spain a few cases show that the heresy extended across the Pyrenees.
In Valencia, Fray Jayme Justi and the Tertiaries Guillermo Gelabert and
Marti Petri, when arrested by R. de Masqueta, commissioner of the
Inquisitor Leonardo de Puycerda, appealed to Clement VI., who ordered
the Bishop of Valencia to release them on their giving bail not to leave
the city until their case should be decided at Avignon. They must have
had wealthy disciples, for security was furnished in the heavy sum of
thirty thousand sols, and they were discharged from prison. The papal
court was in no hurry with the case--probably it was forgotten--when, in
1353, Clement learned that the two Tertiaries were dead, and that Justi
was in the habit of leaving the city and spreading his pestiferous
doctrines among the people. He therefore ordered Hugo, Bishop of
Valencia, and the Inquisitor Nicolas Roselli to prosecute the case
forthwith. Justi must have recanted, for he was merely imprisoned for
life, while the bones of the two Tertiaries were dug up and burned. Even
more obdurate was Fray Arnaldo Mutaner, who for nineteen years infected
Puycerda and Urgel with the same heresy. He was contumacious and refused
to appear when summoned to abjure. After consultation with Gregory XI.,
Berenger Darili, Bishop of Urgel, condemned him, and so did Eymerich.
Pursuit apparently grew hot, and he fled to the East. The last we hear
of him is in 1373, when Gregory ordered his vicar, the Franciscan
Arnaud, to seize him and send him in chains to the papal court, but
whether the effort was successful we have no means of knowing. A bull of
Martin V. in 1426 shows the continued existence of Fraticelli in Aragon
and Catalonia, and the necessity of active measures for their

It was probably a heresy of the same nature which, in 1442, was
discovered in Durango, Biscay. The heresiarch was the Franciscan Alonso
de Mella, brother of Juan, Cardinal-bishop of Zamora, and the sectaries
were known as Cerceras. The story that Alonso taught indiscriminate
sexual intercourse is doubtless one of the customary exaggerations. King
Juan II., in the absence of the Inquisition, sent the Franciscan,
Francisco de Soria, and Juan Alonso Cherino, Abbot of Alcalá la Real, to
investigate the matter, with two alguazils and a sufficient force. The
heretics were seized and carried, some to Valladolid and some to Santo
Domingo de la Calçada, where torture was used to extract confession, and
the obstinate ones were burned in considerable numbers. Fray Alonso de
Mella, however, managed to escape and fled to Granada, it is said, with
some of his girls; but he did not avert his fate, for he was
_acañavereado_ by the Moors--that is, put to a lingering death with
pointed sticks. The affair must have made a profound impression on the
popular mind, for even until modern times the people of Durango were
reproached by their neighbors with the "_autos de Fray Alonso_" and in
1828 an overzealous alcalde, to obliterate all record of the matter,
burned the original documents of the process, which till then had
reposed quietly among the records of the parish church.[183]

       *       *       *       *       *

The violent measures of John XXII., followed up by his successors, for a
while effectually repressed the spiritual asceticism of the Franciscans.
Yet it was impossible that impulses which were so marked a
characteristic of the age should be wholly obliterated in an Order in
which they had become traditional. We see this in the kindness
manifested by the Franciscans to the Fraticelli when it could be done
without too much risk, and we cannot doubt that there were many who
aspired to imitate the founder without daring to overleap the bounds of
obedience. Such men could not but look with alarm and disgust at the
growing worldliness of the Order under the new dispensation of John.
When the Provincial of Tuscany could lay aside five hundred florins out
of the alms given to his brethren, and then lend this sum to the
Hospital of S. Maria of Siena at ten per cent. per annum, although so
flagrant a violation of his vows and of the canons against usury brought
upon him the penalty of degradation, it required a divine visitation to
impress his sin upon the minds of his fellows, and he died in 1373 in
great agony and without the sacraments. Various other manfestations
about the same time indicate the magnitude of the evil and the
impossibility of suppressing it by human means. Under Boniface IX.,
Franciscans, we are told, were in the habit of seeking dispensations to
enable them to hold benefices and even pluralities; and the pope decreed
that any Mendicant desiring to be transferred to a non-Mendicant Order
should, as a preliminary, pay a hundred gold florins to the papal
camera. Under such a system there could be scarce a pretence of
maintaining the holy poverty which had been the ideal of Francis and his

Yet the ardent thirst of poverty and the belief that in it lay the only
assured path to salvation were too widely diffused to be repressed.
Giovanni Colombini, a rich and ambitious citizen of Siena had his
thoughts accidentally directed to heaven. His career strikingly
resembles that of Peter Waldo, save that the Church, grown wiser,
utilized his zeal instead of antagonizing him. The Order of Jesuats
which he founded was approved by Urban V. in 1367. It was an order of
lay brethren under the Augustinian Rule, vowed to poverty and devoted to
the care of the sick, not unlike that of the Cellites or Alexians of the

It was inevitable that there should be dissatisfaction among the more
ascetic Franciscans, and that the more zealous of these should seek some
remedy short of heresy. In 1350 Gentile of Spoleto obtained from Clement
VI. authorization for some houses of stricter observance. Immediately
the experience of Angelo and Liberato was repeated. The wrath of the
Conventuals was excited. The innovators were accused of adopting the
short and narrow gowns which had been the distinguishing mark of the
dreaded Olivists. In the General Chapter of 1353, the General Farignano
was urged to exterminate them by the measures which had proved so
effective in Languedoc. To this he did not assent, but he set spies to
work to obtain evidence against them, and soon was able to accuse them
of receiving Fraticelli. They admitted the fact, but argued that this
had been in the hope of converting the heretics, and when they proved
obstinate they had been expelled--but they had not been reported to the
Inquisition as duty required. Armed with this, Farignano represented to
Innocent VI. the grave dangers of the innovation, and obtained a
revocation of the papal authorization. The brethren were dispersed,
Gentile and two companions were thrown into prison at Orvieto; his
coadjutor, Frà Martino, a most exemplary man, who shone in miracles
after death, died the next year, and the rest were reduced to obedience.
After prolonged captivity Gentile was released, and died in 1362, worn
out with fruitless labors to restore the discipline of the Order.[186]

More fortunate was his disciple, Paoluccio da Trinci, of Foligno, a
simple and unlearned friar, who had obtained from his kinsman, Ugolino,
Lord of Foligno, a dungeon in which to gratify his thirst for
asceticism. Though he had permission for this from his superiors, he
suffered much from the hostility of the laxer brethren, but his
austerities gained him great popular reverence and many disciples. In
1368 the General Farignano chanced to attend a provincial chapter at
Foligno, and was persuaded to ask of Ugolino a spot called Brulliano, in
the mountains between Foligno and Camerino, as a hermitage for Paoluccio
and his followers. After his request was granted he dreaded a schism in
the Order and wished to recall it, but Ugolino held him to his purpose.
The place was wild, rocky, marshy, unwholesome, infested with serpents,
and almost uninhabited. Thither Paoluccio led his brethren, and they
were forced to adopt the sabots or wooden shoes, which became the
distinguishing foot-gear of their Order. Their reputation spread apace;
converts flocked to them; their buildings required enlargement;
associate houses were founded in many places, and thus arose the
Observantines, or Franciscans of strict observance--an event in the
history of the Church only second in importance to the original
foundation of the Mendicant Orders.[187]

When Paoluccio died, in 1390, he was already reckoned as a provincial
within the Order. After an interval he was succeeded by his coadjutor,
Giovanni Stronconi. In 1405 began the marvellous career of St.
Bernardino of Siena, who counts as the formal founder of the
Observantines. They had merely been called the Brethren of the
Hermitages until the Council of Constance established them as an
organization virtually independent of the Conventuals, when they took
the name by which they have since been known. Everywhere their
institution spread. New houses arose, or those of the Conventuals were
reformed and given over to them. Thus in 1426 they were introduced into
the province of Strassburg through the intervention of Matilda of Savoy,
wife of the Palsgrave Louis the Bearded. Familiar in her youth with
their virtues, she took occasion at Heidelberg to point out to her
husband the Franciscans in their convent garden below them, amusing
themselves with military exercises. It resulted in the reform of all the
houses in his dominions and the introduction of the Observantine
discipline, not without serious trouble. In 1453 Nicholas of Cusa, as
legate, forced all the houses in the diocese of Bamberg to adopt the
Observantine discipline, under threat of forfeiting their privileges. In
1431 the holy house on Mt. Alverno, the Franciscan Mecca, was made over
to them, and in 1434 the guardianship of the Holy Places in Jerusalem.
In 1460 we hear of their penetrating to distant Ireland. It is not to be
supposed that the Conventuals submitted quietly to the encroachments and
triumphs of the hated ascetics whom for a century and a half they had
successfully baffled and persecuted. Quarrels, sharper and bitterer even
than those with the Dominicans, were of constant occurrence, and were
beyond the power of the popes to allay. A promising effort at reunion
attempted by Capistrano in 1430, under the auspices of Martin V., was
defeated by the incurable laxity of the Conventuals, and there was
nothing left for both sides but to continue the war. In 1435 the strife
rose to such a pitch in France that Charles VII. was obliged to appeal
to the Council of Basle, which responded with a decree in favor of the
Observantines. The struggle was hopeless. The corruption of the
Conventuals was so universally recognized that even Pius II. does not
hesitate to say that, though they generally excel as theologians, virtue
is the last thing about which most of them concern themselves. In
contrast with this the holiness of the new organization won for it the
veneration of the people, while the unflagging zeal with which it served
the Holy See secured for it the favor of the popes precisely as the
Mendicant Orders had done in the thirteenth century. At first merely a
branch of the Franciscans, then placed under a virtually independent
vicar-general, at length Leo X., after vainly striving to heal the
differences, gave the Observantines a general minister and reduced the
Conventuals to a subordinate position under a general master.[188]

A religious revival such as this brought into service a class of men who
were worthy representatives of the Peter Martyrs and Guillem Arnauds of
the early Inquisition. Under their ruthless energy the Fraticelli were
doomed to extinction. The troubles of the Great Schism had allowed the
heretics to flourish almost unnoticed and unmolested, but after the
Church had healed its dissensions at Constance and had entered upon a
new and vigorous life, it set to work in earnest to eradicate them.
Hardly had Martin V. returned to Italy from Constance when he issued
from Mantua, November 14, 1418, a bull in which he deplores the increase
of the abominable sect in many parts, and especially in the Roman
province. Fortified with the protection of the temporal lords, they
abuse and threaten the bishops and inquisitors who attempt to repress
them. The bishops and inquisitors are therefore instructed to proceed
against them vigorously, without regard to limits of jurisdiction, and
to prosecute their protectors, even if the latter are of episcopal or
regal dignity, which sufficiently indicates that the Fraticelli had
found favor with those of highest rank in both Church and State. This
accomplished little, for in a subsequent bull of 1421 Martin alludes to
the continued increase of the heresy, and tries the expedient of
appointing the Cardinals of Albano and Porto as special commissioners
for its suppression. The cardinals proved as inefficient as their
predecessors. In 1423 the General Council of Siena was greatly
scandalized at finding that at Peniscola there was a heretic pope with
his college of cardinals, apparently flourishing without an attempt at
concealment, and the Gallican nation made several ineffectual efforts to
induce the council to take active measures against the secular
authorities under whose favor these scandals were allowed to exist. How
utterly the machinery of persecution had broken down is illustrated by
the case of three Fraticelli who had at this period been detected in
Florence--Bartolommeo di Matteo, Giovanni di Marino of Lucca, and
Bartolommeo di Pietro of Pisa. Evidently distrusting the Florentine
Inquisition, which was Franciscan, Martin V. specially intrusted the
matter to his legates then presiding over the Council of Siena. On the
sudden dissolution of the council the legates returned to Rome, except
the Dominican General, Leonardo of Florence, who went to Florence. To
him, therefore, Martin wrote, April 24, 1424, empowering him to
terminate the case himself, and expressly forbidding the Inquisitor of
Florence from taking any part in it. In September of the same year
Martin instructed Piero, Abbot of Rosacio, his rector of the Mark of
Ancona, to extirpate the Fraticelli existing there, and the difficulty
of the undertaking was recognized in the unwonted clemency which
authorized Piero to reconcile even those who had been guilty of repeated

Some new motive force was evidently required. There were laws in
abundance for the extermination of heresy, and an elaborate organization
for their enforcement, but a paralysis seemed to have fallen upon it,
and all the efforts of the Holy See to make it do its duty was in vain.
The problem was solved when, in 1426, Martin boldly overslaughed the
Inquisition and appointed two Observantines as inquisitors, without
limitation of districts and with power to appoint deputies, thus
rendering them supreme over the whole of Italy. These were the men whom
we have so often met before where heresy was to be combated--San
Giovanni da Capistrano, and the blessed Giacomo da Monteprandone,
generally known as della Marca--both full of zeal and energy, who richly
earned their respective canonization and beatification by lifelong
devotion and by services which can scarce be overestimated. It is true
that Giacomo was commissioned only as a missionary, to preach to the
heretics and reconcile them, but the difference was practically
undiscoverable, and when, a quarter of a century later, he fondly looked
back over the exploits of his youth, he related with pride how the
heretics fled from before his face, abandoned their strongholds, and
left their flocks to his mercy. Their headquarters seem to have been in
the Mark of Ancona, and chiefly in the dioceses of Fabriano and Jesi.
There the new inquisitors boldly attacked them. There was no resistance.
Such of the teachers as could do so sought safety in flight, and the
fate of the rest may be guessed from the instructions of Martin in 1428
to Astorgio, Bishop of Ancona, his lieutenant in the Mark, with respect
to the village of Magnalata. As it had been a receptacle of heretics, it
is to be levelled with the earth, never to be rebuilt. Stubborn heretics
are to be dealt with according to the law--that is, of course, to be
burned, as Giacomo della Marca tells us was the case with many of them.
Those who repent may be reconciled, but their leaders are to be
imprisoned for life, and are to be tortured, if necessary, to force them
to reveal the names of their fellows elsewhere. The simple folk who have
been misled are to be scattered around in the vicinage where they can
cultivate their lands, and are to be recompensed by dividing among them
the property confiscated from the rest. The children of heretic parents
are to be taken away and sent to a distance, where they can be brought
up in the faith. Heretic books are to be diligently searched for
throughout the province; and all magistrates and communities are to be
warned that any favor or protection shown to heretics will be visited
with forfeiture of municipal rights.[190]

Such measures ought to have been effective, as well as the device of
Capistrano, who, after driving the Fraticelli out of Massacio and
Palestrina, founded Observantine houses there to serve as citadels of
the faith, but the heretics were stubborn and enduring. When Eugenius
IV. succeeded to the papacy he renewed Capistrano's commission in 1432
as a general inquisitor against the Fraticelli. We have no details of
his activity during this period, but he was doubtless busily employed,
though he was deprived of the assistance of Giacomo, who until 1440 was,
as we have seen, at work among the Cathari of Bosnia and the Hussites of
Hungary. The Fraticelli of Ancona were still troublesome, for, on his
return from Asia in 1441, Giacomo was sent thither as special inquisitor
for their suppression. When, in 1447, Nicholas V. ascended the papal
throne, he made haste to renew Capistrano's commission, and in 1449 a
combined attack was made on the heretics of the Mark, possibly
stimulated by the capture, in his own court, of a bishop of the
Fraticelli named Matteo, disguised in a Franciscan habit. Nicholas
himself went to Fabriano, while Capistrano and Giacomo scoured the
country. Magnalata had been rebuilt in spite of the prohibition, and it,
with Migliorotta, Poggio, and Merulo, was brought back to the faith, by
what means we can well guess. Giacomo boasts that the heretics gave five
hundred ducats to a bravo to slay Capistrano, and on one occasion two
hundred and on another one hundred and fifty to procure his own death,
but the assassins in each case were touched with compunction and came in
and made confession--doubtless a profitable revelation for sharpers to
make, for no one acquainted with Italian society at that period can
imagine that such sums would not have effected their object. The
inquisitors, however, were specially protected by Heaven. Capistrano's
legend relates that on one occasion the heretics waited for him in
ambush. His companions passed in safety, and when he followed alone,
absorbed in meditation and prayer, a sudden whirlwind, with torrents of
rain, kept his assailants in their lair, and he escaped. Giacomo was
similarly divinely guarded. At Matelica a heretic concealed himself in a
chapel of the Virgin, to assail the inquisitor as he passed, but the
Virgin appeared to him with threats so terrible that he fell to the
ground and lay there till the neighbors carried him to a hospital, and
it was three months before he was able to seek Giacomo at Fermo and

The unlucky captives were brought before Nicholas at Fabriano and
burned. Giacomo tells us that the stench lasted for three days and
extended as far as the convent in which he was staying. He exerted
himself to save the souls of those whose bodies were forfeit by reason
of relapse, and succeeded in all cases but one. This hardened heretic
was the treasurer of the sect, named Chiuso. He refused to recant, and
would not call upon God or the Virgin or the saints for aid, but simply
said "Fire will not burn me." His endurance was tested to the utmost.
For three days he was burned piecemeal at intervals, but his resolution
never gave way, and at last he expired impenitent, in spite of the
kindly efforts to torture him to heaven.[192]

After this we hear little of the Fraticelli, although the sect still
continued to exist for a while in secret. In 1467 Paul II. converted a
number of them who were brought from Poli to Rome. Eight men and six
women, with paper mitres on their heads, were exposed to the jeers of
the populace on a high scaffold at the Aracœli, while the papal vicar
and five bishops preached for their conversion. Their penance consisted
in imprisonment in the Campidoglio, and in wearing a long robe bearing a
white cross on breast and back. It was probably on this occasion that
Rodrigo Sanchez, a favorite of Paul's, and subsequently Bishop of
Palencia, wrote a treatise on the poverty of Christ, in which he proved
that ecclesiastics led apostolic lives in the midst of their
possessions. In 1471 Frà Tommaso di Scarlino was sent to Piombino and
the maritime parts of Tuscany to drive out some Fraticelli who had been
discovered there. This is the last allusion to them that I have met
with, and thereafter they may be considered as virtually extinct. That
they soon passed completely out of notice may be inferred from the fact
that in 1487, when the Spanish Inquisition persecuted some
Observantines, Innocent VIII. issued a general order that any
Franciscans imprisoned by Dominican inquisitors should be handed over
for trial to their own superiors, and that no such prosecutions should
be thereafter undertaken.[193]

The Observantine movement may be credited with the destruction of the
Fraticelli, not so much by furnishing the men and the zeal required for
their violent suppression as by supplying an organization in which
ascetic longings could be safely gratified, and by attracting to
themselves the popular veneration which had so long served as a
safeguard to the heretics. When we read of Capistrano's reputation among
his countrymen--how in Vicenza, in 1451, the authorities had to shut the
city gates to keep out the influx of surging crowds, and when he walked
the streets he had to be accompanied by a guard of Frati to keep off the
people seeking to touch him with sticks or to secure a fragment of his
garment as a relic; how in Florence, in 1456, an armed guard was
requisite to prevent his suffocation--we can realize the tremendous
influence exercised by him and his fellows in diverting the current of
public opinion to the Church which they represented. Like the Mendicants
of the thirteenth century, they restored to it much of the reverence
which it had forfeited, in spite of the relaxation and self-indulgence
to which, if Poggio is to be believed, many of them speedily

Not less effective was the refuge which the Observantines afforded to
those whose morbid tendencies led them to seek superhuman austerity. The
Church having at last recognized the necessity of furnishing an outlet
for these tendencies, as the old Fraticelli died or were burned there
were none to take their place, and the sect disappears from view without
leaving a trace behind it. Ascetic zeal must indeed have been intense
when it could not be satiated by such a life as that of Lorenzo da
Fermo, who died in 1481 at the age of one hundred and ten, after passing
ninety years with the Observantines. For forty of these years he lived
on Mont Alverno, wearing neither cowl nor sandals--bareheaded and
barefooted in the severest weather, and with the thinnest garments. If
there were natures which craved more than this, the Church had learned
either to utilize or to control them. Thus was organized the Order of
the Strict Observance, better known as the Recollects. The Conde de
Sotomayor, of the noblest blood of Spain, had entered the Franciscan
Order, and, becoming dissatisfied with its laxity, obtained from
Innocent VIII., in 1487, authority to found a reformed branch, which he
established in the wilds of the Sierra Morena. In spite of the angry
opposition of both Conventuals and Observantines, it proved successful
and spread permanently through France and Italy. An irregular and
unfortunate effort in the same direction was made not long after by
Matteo da Tivoli, a Franciscan whose thirst for supreme asceticism had
led him to adopt the life of a hermit, with about eighty followers, in
the Roman province. They threw off all obedience to the Order, under the
influence of Satan, who appeared to Matteo in the guise of Christ. He
was seized and imprisoned, and commenced to doubt the reality of his
mission, when another vision confirmed him. He succeeded in escaping
with a comrade, and lived in caves among the mountains with numerous
disciples, illuminated by God and gifted with miraculous power. He
organized his followers into an independent Order, with general,
provincials, and guardians, but the Church succeeded in breaking it up
in 1495, Matteo finally returning to the Conventuals, while most of his
disciples entered the Observantines.[195]

       *       *       *       *       *

In reviewing this history of the morbid aberrations of lofty impulses,
it is impossible not to recognize how much the Church lost in vitality,
and how much causeless suffering was inflicted by the theological
arrogance and obstinate perversity of John XXII. With tact and
discretion the zeal of the Fraticelli could have been utilized, as was
subsequently that of the Observantines. The ceaseless quarrels of the
Conventuals with the latter explain the persecutions endured by the
Spirituals and the Fraticelli. Paoluccio was fortunate in finding men
high in station who were wise enough to protect his infant organization
until it had demonstrated its usefulness and was able to defend itself,
but there never was a time, even when it was the most useful weapon in
the hands of the Holy See, when the Conventuals would not, had they been
able, have treated it as inhumanly as they had treated the followers of
Angelo and Olivi and Michele da Cesena.



The identification of the cause of the Church with that of God was no
new thing. Long before the formulation of laws against heresy and the
organization of the Inquisition for its suppression, the advantage had
been recognized of denouncing as heretics all who refused obedience to
the demands of prelate and pope. In the quarrel between the empire and
papacy over the question of the investitures, the Council of Lateran, in
1102, required all the bishops in attendance to subscribe a declaration
anathematizing the new heresy of disregarding the papal anathema, and
though the Church as yet was by no means determined on the death-penalty
for ordinary heresy, it had no hesitation as to the punishment due to
the imperialists who maintained the traditional rights of the empire
against its new pretensions. In that same year the monk Sigebert, who
was by no means a follower of the antipope Alberto, was scandalized at
the savage cruelty of Paschal II. in exhorting his adherents to the
slaughter of all the subjects of Henry IV. Robert the Hierosolymitan of
Flanders, on his return from the first crusade, had taken up arms
against Henry IV. and had signalized his devotion by depopulating the
Cambresis, whereupon Paschal wrote to him with enthusiastic praises of
this good work, urging him to continue it as quite as pious as his
labors to recover the Holy Sepulchre, and promising remission of sins to
him and to all his ruthless soldiery. Paschal himself became a heretic
when, in 1111, yielding to the violence of Henry V., he conceded the
imperial right of investiture of bishops and abbots, although when
Bruno, Bishop of Segni and Abbot of Monte Casino, boldly proved his
heresy to his face, he deprived the audacious reasoner of the abbacy and
sent him back to his see. In his settlement with Henry, he had broken a
consecrated host, each taking half, and had solemnly said, "Even as
this body of Christ is divided, so let him be divided from the kingdom
of Christ who shall attempt to violate our compact;" but the stigma of
heresy was unendurable, and in 1112 he presided over the Council of
Lateran, which pronounced void his oath and his bulls. When Henry
complained that he had violated his oath, he coolly replied that he had
promised not to excommunicate Henry, but not that he should not be
excommunicated by others. If Paschal was not forced literally to abjure
his heresy he did so constructively, and the principle was established
that even a pope could not abandon a claim of which the denial had been
pronounced heretical. When, not long afterwards, the German prelates
were required at their consecration to abjure all heresy, and especially
the Henrician, the allusion was not to the errors of Henry of Lausanne,
but to those of the emperor who had sought to limit the encroachments of
the Holy See on the temporal power.[196]

As heresy, rightly so called, waxed and grew more and more threatening,
and the struggle for its suppression increased in bitterness and took an
organized shape under a formidable body of legislation, and as the
application of the theory of indulgences gave to the Church an armed
militia ready for mobilization without cost whenever it chose to
proclaim danger to the faith, the temptation to invoke the fanaticism of
Christendom for the defence or extension of its temporal interests
inevitably increased in strength. In so far as such a resort can be
justified, the Albigensian crusades were justified by a real antagonism
of faith which foreboded a division of Christianity, and their success
irresistibly led to the application of the same means to cases in which
there was not the semblance of a similar excuse. Of these one of the
earliest, as well as one of the most typical, was that of the

The Stedingers were a mixed race who had colonized on the lower Weser
the lands which their industry won from the overflow of river and sea,
their territory extending southward to the neighborhood of Bremen. A
rough and semi-barbarous folk, no doubt--hardy herdsmen and fishermen,
with perhaps an occasional tendency to piracy in the ages which
celebrated the exploits of the Vikings of Jomsburg. They were freemen
under the spiritual care of the Archbishops of Bremen, who in return
enjoyed their tithes. This tithe question had been immemorially a
troublesome one, ever since a tincture of Christianity had overspread
those regions. In the eleventh century Adam of Bremen tells us that
throughout the archiepiscopate the bishops sold their benedictions and
the people were not only abandoned to lust and gluttony, but refused to
pay their tithes. The Stedingers were governed by judges of their own
choice, administering their own laws, until, about 1187, trouble arose
from the attempts of the Counts of Oldenburg to extend their authority
over the redeemed marshes and islands, by building a castle or two which
should keep the population in check. There were few churches, and, as
the parishes were large, the matrons were accustomed to carry their
daughters to mass in wagons. The garrisons were in the habit of sallying
forth and seizing these women to solace their solitude, till the people
arose, captured the castles, slew the garrisons, and dug a ditch across
a neck of their territory, leaving only one gate for entrance. John
Count of Oldenburg recovered his castles, but after his death the
Stedingers reasserted their independence. Among their rights they
included the non-payment of tithes, and they treated with contumely the
priests sent to compel their obedience. They strengthened their
defences, and their freedom from feudal and ecclesiastical tyranny
attracted to them refugees from all the neighboring lands. Hartwig,
Archbishop of Bremen, when on his way to the Holy Land in 1197, is said
to have asked Celestin III. to preach a crusade against them as
heretics, but this is evidently an error, for the Albigensian wars had
not as yet suggested the employment of such methods. Matters became more
embroiled when some monks who ventured to inculcate upon the peasants
the duty of tithe-paying were martyred. Still worse was it when a
priest, irritated at the smallness of an oblation offered at Easter by a
woman of condition, in derision slipped into her mouth the coin in place
of the Eucharist. Unable to swallow it, and fearing to commit sacrilege,
the woman kept it in her mouth till her return home, when she ejected it
in some clean linen and discovered the trick. Enraged at this insult her
husband slew the priest, and thus increased the general ferment. After
his return Hartwig endeavored, in 1207, to reduce the recalcitrant
population, but without success, except to get some money.[197]

Yet the Stedingers were welcomed as fully orthodox when their aid was
wanted in the struggle which raged from 1208 till 1217, between the
rival archbishops of Bremen, first between Waldemar and Burchard, and
then between Waldemar and Gerhardt. Ranged at first on the side of
Waldemar, after the triumph of Frederic II. over Otho their defection to
Gerhardt was decisive, and in 1217 the latter obtained his
archiepiscopal seat, where he held his allies in high favor until his
death in 1219. He was succeeded by Gerhardt II., of the House of Lippe,
a warlike prelate who endeavored to overthrow the liberties of Bremen
itself, and to levy tolls on all the commerce of the Weser. The
Stedinger tithes were not likely to escape his attention. Other
distractions, including a war with the King of Denmark and strife with
the recalcitrant citizens of Bremen, prevented any immediate effort to
subjugate the Stedingers, but at length his hands were free. His
brother, Hermann Count of Lippe, came to his assistance with other
nobles, for the independence of the Weser peasant-folk was of evil
import to the neighboring feudal lords. To take advantage of the ice in
those watery regions the expedition set forth in December, 1229, under
the leadership of the count and the archbishop. The Stedingers resisted
valiantly. On Christmas Day a battle was fought in which Count Hermann
was slain and the crusaders put to flight. To celebrate the triumph the
victors in derision appointed mock officials, styling one emperor,
another pope, and others archbishops and bishops, and these issued
letters under these titles--a sorry jest, which when duly magnified
represented them as rebels against all temporal and spiritual

It was evident that some more potent means must be found to overcome the
indomitable peasantry, and the device adopted was suggested by the
success, in 1230, of the crusade preached by Wilbrand, Bishop of
Utrecht, against the free Frisians in revenge for their slaying his
predecessor Otho, a brother of Archbishop Gerhardt, and imprisoning his
other brother, Dietrich, Provost of Deventer, after their victory of
Coevorden. It was scarce possible not to follow this example. At a synod
held in Bremen in 1230, the Stedingers were put to the ban as the vilest
of heretics, who treated the Eucharist with contempt too horrible for
description, who sought responses from wise-women, made waxen images,
and wrought many other works of darkness.[199]

Doubtless there were remnants of pagan superstition in Steding, such as
we shall hereafter see existing throughout many parts of Christendom,
which served as a foundation for these accusations, but that in fact
there were no religious principles involved, and that the questions at
issue were purely political, is indicated by the praise which Frederic
II., in an epistle dated June 14, 1230, bestows on the Stedingers for
the aid which they had rendered to a house of the Teutonic Knights, and
his exhortation that they should continue to protect it. We learn,
moreover, that everywhere the peasantry openly favored them and joined
them when opportunity permitted. It was simply an episode in the
extension of feudalism and sacerdotalism. The scattered remains of the
old Teutonic tribal independence were to be crushed, and the combined
powers of Church and State were summoned to the task. How readily such
accusations could be imposed on the credulity of the people we have seen
from the operations of Conrad of Marburg, and the stories to which he
gave currency of far-pervading secret rites of demon-worship. Yet the
preliminaries of a crusade consumed time, and during 1231 and 1232
Archbishop Gerhardt had all he could do to withstand the assaults of the
victorious peasants, who twice captured and destroyed the castle of
Schlütter, which he had rebuilt to protect his territories from their
incursions; he sought support in Rome, and in October, 1232, after
ordering an investigation of the heresy by the Bishops of Lubeck,
Ratzeburg, and Minden, Gregory IX. came to his aid with bulls addressed
to the Bishops of Minden, Lubeck, and Verden, ordering them to preach
the cross against the rebels. In these there is nothing said about
tithes, but the Stedingers are described as heretics of the worst
description, who deny God, worship demons, consult seeresses, abuse the
sacrament, make wax figurines to destroy their enemies, and commit the
foulest excesses on the clergy, sometimes nailing priests to the wall
with arms and legs spread out, in derision of the Crucified. Gregory's
long pontificate was devoted to two paramount objects--the destruction
of Frederic II. and the suppression of heresy. The very name of heretic
seemed to awake in him a wrath which deprived him of all reasoning
powers, and he threw himself into the contest with the unhappy peasants
of the Weser marshes as unreservedly as he did into that which Conrad of
Marburg was contemporaneously waging with the powers of darkness in the
Rhinelands. In January, 1233, he wrote to the Bishops of Paderborn,
Hildesheim, Verden, Münster, and Osnabrück, ordering them to assist
their brethren of Ratzeburg, Minden, and Lubeck, whom he had
commissioned to preach a crusade, with full pardons, against the
heretics called Stedingers, who were destroying the faithful people of
those regions. An army had meanwhile been collected which accomplished
nothing during the winter against the steadfast resolution of the
peasants, and dispersed on the expiration of its short term of service.
In a papal epistle of June 17, 1233, to the Bishops of Minden, Lubeck,
and Ratzeburg, this lack of success is represented as resulting from a
mistaken belief on the part of the crusaders that they were not getting
the same indulgences as those granted for the Holy Land, leading them to
withdraw after gaining decisive advantages. The bishops are therefore
ordered to preach a new crusade in which there shall be no error as to
the pardons to be earned, unless meanwhile the Stedingers shall submit
to the archbishop and abandon their heresies. Already, however, another
band of crusaders had been organized, which, towards the end of June,
1233, penetrated eastern Steding, on the right bank of the Weser. This
district had hitherto kept aloof from the strife, and was defenceless.
The crusaders devastated the land with fire and sword, slaying without
distinction of age or sex, and manifesting their religious zeal by
burning all the men who were captured. The crusade came to an inglorious
end, however; for, encouraged by its easy success, Count Burchard of
Oldenburg, its leader, was emboldened to attack the fortified lands on
the west bank, when he and some two hundred crusaders were slain and the
rest were glad to escape with their lives.[200]

Matter's were evidently growing serious. The success of the Stedingers
in battling for the maintenance of their independence was awakening an
uneasy feeling among the populations, and the feudal nobles were no less
interested than the prelates in subduing what might prove to be the
nucleus of a dangerous and far-reaching revolt. The third crusade was
therefore preached with additional energy over a wider circle than
before, and preparations were made for an expedition in 1234 on a scale
to crush all resistance. Dominicans spread like a cloud over Holland,
Flanders, Brabant, Westphalia, and the Rhinelands, summoning the
faithful to defend religion. In Friesland they had little success, for
the population sympathized with their kindred and were rather disposed
to maltreat the preachers, but elsewhere their labors were abundantly
rewarded. Bulls of February 11 take under papal protection the
territories of Henry Raspe of Thuringia, and Otho of Brunswick, who had
assumed the cross--the latter, however, only with a view to
self-protection, for he was an enemy of Archbishop Gerhardt. The
heaviest contingent came from the west, under Hendrik, Duke of Brabant,
consisting, it is said, of forty thousand men led by the _preux
chevalier_, Florent, Count of Holland, together with Thierry, Count of
Cleves, Arnoul of Oudenarde, Rasso of Gavres, Thierry of Dixmunde,
Gilbert of Zotteghem, and other nobles, eager to earn salvation and
preserve their feudal rights. Three hundred ships from Holland gave
assurance that the maritime part of the expedition should not be
lacking. Apparently warned by the disastrous outcome of his zeal in the
affair of Conrad of Marburg, Gregory at the last moment seems to have
felt some misgiving, and in March, 1234, sent to Bishop Guglielmo, his
legate in North Germany, orders to endeavor by peaceful means to bring
about the reconciliation of the peasants, but the effort came too late.
In April the hosts were already assembling, and the legate did, and
probably could do, nothing to avert the final blow. Overwhelming as was
the force of the crusaders, the handful of peasants met it with their
wonted resolution. At Altenesch, on May 27, they made their stand and
resisted with stubborn valor the onslaught of Hendrik of Brabant and
Florent of Holland; but, in the vast disparity of numbers, Thierry of
Cleves was able to make a flank attack with fresh troops which broke
their ranks, when they were slaughtered unsparingly. Six thousand were
left dead upon the field, besides those drowned in the Weser in the vain
attempt at flight, and we are asked to believe that the divine favor was
manifested in that only seven of the crusaders perished. The land now
lay defenceless before the soldiers of the Lord, who improved their
victory by laying it waste with fire and sword, sparing neither age nor
sex. Six centuries later, on May 27, 1834, a monument was solemnly
dedicated on the field of Altenesch to the heroes who fell in desperate
defence of their land and liberty.[201]

Bald as was the pretence for this frightful tragedy, the Church assumed
all the responsibility and kept up the transparent fiction to the last.
When the slaughter and devastation were over, came the solemn farce of
reconciling the heretics. As the land had been so long under their
control, their dead were buried indistinguishably with the remains of
the orthodox, so, November 28, 1234, Gregory graciously announced that
the necessity of exhumation would be waived in view of the impossibility
of separating the one from the other, but that all cemeteries must be
consecrated anew to overcome the pollution of the heretic bodies within
them. Considerable time must have been consumed in the settlement of all
details, for it is not until August, 1236, that Gregory writes to the
archbishop that, as the Stedingers have abandoned their rebellion and
humbly supplicated for reconciliation, he is authorized to reconcile
them on receiving proper security that they will be obedient for the
future and make proper amends for the past. In this closing act of the
bloody drama it is noteworthy that there is no allusion to any of the
specific heresies which had been alleged as a reason for the
extermination of the heretics. Perhaps the breaking of Conrad of
Marburg's bubble had shown the falsity of the charges, but whether this
were so or not those charges had been wholly supererogatory except as a
means of exciting popular animosity. Disobedience to the Church was
sufficient; resistance to its claims was heresy, punishable here and
hereafter with all the penalties of the temporal and spiritual

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not to be supposed that Gregory neglected to employ in his own
interest the moral and material forces which he had thus put at the
disposal of Gerhardt of Bremen. When, in 1238, he became involved in a
quarrel with the Viterbians and their leader Aldobrandini, he commuted
the vow of the Podestà of Spoleto to serve in Palestine into service
against Viterbo, and he freely offered Holy Land indulgences to all who
would enlist under his banner. In 1241 he formally declared the cause of
the Church to be more important than that of Palestine, when, being in
want of funds to carry on his contest with Frederic II., he ordered that
crusaders be induced to commute their vows for money, while still
receiving full indulgences, or else be persuaded to turn their arms
against Frederic in the crusade which he had caused to be preached
against him. Innocent IV. pursued the same policy when he had set up a
rival emperor in the person of William of Holland, and a crusade was
preached in 1248 for a special expedition to Aix-la-Chapelle, of which
the capture was necessary in order to his coronation, and vows for
Palestine were redeemed that the money should be handed over to him.
After Frederic's death his son Conrad IV. was the object of similar
measures, and all who bore arms in his favor against William of Holland
were the subject of papal anathemas. To maintain the Italian interests
of the papacy, men slaughtered each other in holy wars all over Europe.
The disastrous expedition to Aragon which cost Philippe le Hardi his
life in 1284 was a crusade preached by order of Martin IV. to aid
Charles of Anjou, and to punish Pedro III. for his conquest of Sicily
after the Sicilian Vespers.[203]

With the systematization of the laws against heresy and the organization
of the Inquisition, proceedings of this nature assume a more regular
shape, especially in Italy. It was in their character as Italian princes
that the popes found the supreme utility of the Holy Office. Frederic
II. had been forced to pay for his coronation not only by the edict of
persecution, but by the confirmation of the grant of the Countess
Matilda. Papal ambition thus stimulated aspired to the domination of the
whole of Italy, and for this the way seemed open with the death of
Frederic in 1250, followed by that of Conrad in 1254. When the hated
Suabians passed away, the unification of Italy under the triple crown
seemed at hand, and Innocent IV., before his death in December, 1254,
had the supreme satisfaction of lording it in Naples, the most powerful
pope that the Holy See had known. Yet the nobles and cities were as
unwilling to subject themselves to the Innocents and Alexanders as to
the Frederics, and the turbulent factions of Guelf and Ghibelline
maintained the civil strife in every corner of central and upper Italy.
To the papal policy it was an invaluable assistance to have the power of
placing in every town of importance an inquisitor whose devotion to Rome
was unquestioned, whose person was inviolable, and who was authorized to
compel the submissive assistance of the secular arm under terror of a
prosecution for heresy in the case of slack obedience. Such an agent
could cope with podestà and bishop, and even an unruly populace rarely
ventured a resort to temporary violence. The statutes of the republics,
as we have seen, were modified and moulded to adapt them to the fullest
development of the new power, under the excuse of facilitating the
extermination of heresy, and the Holy Office became the ultimate
expression of the serviceable devotion of the Mendicant Orders to the
Holy See. From this point of view we are able to appreciate the full
significance of the terrible bulls _Ad extirpanda_, described in a
previous chapter.

It was possibly with a view thus to utilize the force of both Orders
that the Inquisitions of northern and central Italy were divided between
them, and their respective provinces permanently assigned to each. Nor
perhaps would we err in recognizing an object in the assignment to the
Dominicans, who were regarded as sterner and more vigorous than their
rivals, of the province of Lombardy, which not only was the hot-bed of
heresy, but which retained some recollections of the ancient
independence of the Ambrosian Church, and was more susceptible to
imperial influences from Germany.

With the development of the laws against heresy, and the organization of
special tribunals for the application of those laws, it was soon
perceived that an accusation of heresy was a peculiarly easy and
efficient method of attacking a political enemy. No charge was easier to
bring, none so difficult to disprove--in fact, from what we have seen of
the procedure of the Inquisition, there was none in which acquittal was
so absolutely impossible where the tribunal was desirous of
condemnation. When employed politically the accused had the naked
alternative of submission or of armed resistance. No crime, moreover,
according to the accepted legal doctrines of the age, carried with it a
penalty so severe for a potentate who was above all other laws. Besides,
the procedure of the Inquisition required that when a suspected heretic
was summoned to trial, his first step was humbly to swear to stand to
the mandates of the Church, and perform whatever penance it should see
fit to impose in case he failed to clear himself of the suspicion. Thus
an immense advantage was gained over a political enemy by merely citing
him to appear, when he was obliged either to submit himself in advance
to any terms that might be dictated to him, or, by refusing to appear,
expose himself to condemnation for contumacy with its tremendous
temporal consequences.

It mattered little what were the grounds on which a charge of heresy was
based. In the intricate intrigues and factional strife which seethed and
boiled in every Italian city, there could be no lack of excuse for
setting the machinery of the Inquisition in motion whenever there was an
object to be attained. With the organization of the Hildebrandine
theocracy the heretical character of simple disobedience, which had been
implied rather than expressed, came to be distinctly formulated. Thomas
Aquinas did not shrink from proving that resistance to the authority of
the Roman Church was heretical. By embodying in the canon law the bull
_Unam Sanctam_ the Church accepted the definition of Boniface VIII. that
whoever resists the power lodged by God in the Church resists God,
unless, like a Manichæan, he believes in two principles, which shows him
to be a heretic. If the supreme spiritual power errs, it is to be judged
of God alone; there is no earthly appeal. "We say, declare, define, and
pronounce that it is necessary to salvation that every human creature be
subjected to the Roman pontiff." Inquisitors, therefore, were fully
justified in laying it down as an accepted principle of law that
disobedience to any command of the Holy See was heresy; so was any
attempt to deprive the Roman Church of any privilege which it saw fit to
claim. As a corollary to this was the declaration that inquisitors had
power to levy war against heretics and to give it the character of a
crusade by granting all the indulgences offered for the succor of the
Holy Land. Armed with such powers, it would be difficult to exaggerate
the importance of the Inquisition as a political instrument.[204]

Incidental allusion has been made above to the application of these
methods in the cases of Ezzelin da Romano and Uberto Pallavicino, and we
have seen their efficacy even in the tumultuous lawlessness of the
period as one of the factors in the ruin of those powerful chiefs. When
the crusade against Ezzelin was preached in the north of Europe he was
represented to the people simply as a powerful heretic who was
persecuting the faith. Even more conspicuous was the application of this
principle in the great struggle on which all the rest depended, which
in fact decided the destiny of the whole peninsula. The destruction of
Manfred was an actual necessity to the success of the papal policy, and
for years the Church sought throughout Europe a champion who could be
allured by the promise of an earthly crown and assured salvation. In
1255 Alexander IV. authorized his legate, Rustand, Bishop of Bologna, to
release Henry III. of England from his crusader's vow if he would turn
his arms against Manfred, and the bribe of the Sicilian throne was
offered to Henry's son, Edmund of Lancaster. When Rustand preached the
crusade against Manfred and offered the same indulgences as for the Holy
Land the ignorant islanders wondered greatly at learning that the same
pardons could be earned for shedding Christian blood as for that of the
infidel. They did not understand that Manfred was necessarily a heretic,
and that, as Alexander soon afterwards declared to Rainerio Saccone, it
was more important to defend the faith at home than in foreign lands. In
1264, when Alphonse of Poitiers was projecting a crusade, Urban IV.
urged him to change his purpose and assail Manfred. Finally, when
Charles of Anjou was induced to strive for the glittering prize, all the
enginery of the Church was exerted to raise for him an army of crusaders
with a lavish distribution of the treasures of salvation. The shrewd
lawyer, Clement IV., seconded and justified the appeal to arms by a
formal trial for heresy. Just as the crusade was bursting upon him,
Clement was summoning him to present himself for trial as a suspected
heretic. The term assigned to him was February 2, 1266; Manfred had more
pressing cares at the moment, and contented himself with sending
procurators to offer purgation for him. As he did not appear personally,
Clement, on February 21, called upon the consistory to declare him
condemned as a contumacious heretic, arguing that his excuse that the
enemy were upon him was invalid, since he had only to give up his
kingdom to avert attack. As but five days after this, on February 26,
Manfred fell upon the disastrous field of Benevento, the legal
proceedings had no influence on the result, yet none the less do they
serve to show the spirit in which Rome administered against its
political opponents the laws which it had enacted against heresy.[205]

This was the virtual destruction of the imperial power in Italy. With
the Angevines on the throne of Naples and the empire nullified by the
Great Interregnum and its consequences, the popes had ample opportunity
to employ the penalties for heresy to gratify hatred or to extend their
power. How they used the weapon for the one purpose is seen when
Boniface VIII. quarrelled with the Colonnas and condemned them as
heretics, driving the whole family out of Italy, tearing down their
houses and destroying their property; though after Sciarra Colonna
vindicated his orthodoxy by capturing and causing the death of Boniface
at Anagni, Benedict XI. made haste to reverse the sentence, except as to
confiscation.[206] How the principle worked when applied to temporal
aggrandizement may be estimated from the attempt of Clement V. to gain
possession of Ferrara. When the Marchese Azzo d' Este died, in 1308, he
left no legitimate heirs, and the Bishop of Ferrara was Frà Guido
Maltraverso, the former inquisitor who had succeeded in burning the
bones of Armanno Pongilupo. He forthwith commenced intriguing to secure
the city for the Holy See, which had some shadowy claims arising under
the donations of Charlemagne. Clement V. eagerly grasped at the
opportunity. He pronounced the rights of the Church unquestionable, and
condoled with the Ferrarese on their having been so long deprived of the
sweetness of clerical rule and subjected to those who devoured them.
There were two pretenders, Azzo's brother Francesco and his natural son
Frisco. The Ferrarese desired neither; they even manifested a disregard
for the blessings promised them by Clement and proclaimed a republic.
Frisco sought the aid of the Venetians, while Francesco secured the
support of the Church. Frisco obtained possession, but fled when
Francesco advanced with the papal legate, Arnaldo di Pelagrua, who
assumed the domination of the city--as a contemporary chronicler
observes, Francesco had no reason to be disappointed, for ecclesiastics
always act like rapacious wolves. Then, with the aid of the Venetians,
Frisco regained possession, and peace was made in December, 1308. This
was but the commencement of the struggle for the unhappy citizens. In
1309 Clement proclaimed a crusade against the Venetians. March 7 he
issued a bull casting an interdict over Venice with confiscation of all
its possessions, excommunicating the doge, the senate, and all the
gentlemen of the republic, and offering Venetians to slavery throughout
the world. As their ships sailed to every port, many Venetian merchants
were reduced to servitude throughout Christendom. The legate assiduously
preached the crusade, and all the bishops of the region assembled at
Bologna with such forces as they could raise. Multitudes took the cross
to gain the indulgence, Bologna alone furnishing eight thousand troops,
and the legate advanced with an overwhelming army. After severe fighting
the Venetians were defeated with such slaughter that the legate, to
avert a pestilence, offered an indulgence to every man who would bury a
dead body, and the fugitives drowned in the Po were so numerous that the
water was corrupted and rendered unfit to drink. All the prisoners taken
he blinded and sent to Venice, and on entering the city he hanged all
the adherents of Frisco. Appointing a governor in the name of the
Church, he returned to Avignon and was splendidly rewarded for his
services in the cause of Christ, while Clement unctuously congratulated
the Ferrarese on their return to the sweet bosom of the Church, and
declared that no one could, without sighs and tears, reflect upon their
miseries and afflictions under their native rulers. In spite of this the
ungrateful people, chafing under the foreign domination, arose in 1310
and massacred the papalists. Then the legate returned with a Bolognese
force, regained possession and hanged the rebels, with the exception of
one, who bought off his life. Fresh tumults occurred, with bloody
reprisals and frightful atrocities on both sides until, in 1314.
Clement, wearied with his prize, made it over to Sancha, wife of Robert
of Naples. The Gascon garrison excited the hatred of the people, who in
1317 invited Azzo, son of Francesco, to come to their relief. After a
stubborn resistance the Gascons surrendered on promise of life, but the
fury of the people would not be restrained, and they were slain to the
last man. From this brief episode in the history of an Italian city we
can conceive what was the influence of papal ambition stimulated by the
facility with which its opponents could be condemned as heretics and
armies be raised at will to defend the faith.[207]

John XXII. was not a pope to allow the spiritual sword to rust in the
sheath, and we have seen incidentally the use which he made of the
charge of heresy in his mortal combat with Louis of Bavaria. Still more
characteristic were his proceedings against the Visconti of Milan. On
his accession in August, 1316, his first thought was to unite Italy
under his overlordship, and to keep the empire beyond the Alps, for
which the contested election of Louis of Bavaria and Frederic of Austria
seemed to offer full opportunity. Early in December he despatched
Bernard Gui, the Inquisitor of Toulouse, and Bertrand, Franciscan
Minister of Aquitaine, as nuncios to effect that purpose. Neither Guelfs
nor Ghibellines were inclined to accept his views--the Ferrarese
troubles, not as yet concluded, were full of pregnant warnings.
Especially recalcitrant were the three Ghibelline chiefs of Lombardy,
Matteo Visconti, known as the Great, who ruled over the greater part of
the region and still retained the title of Imperial Vicar bestowed on
him by Henry VII., Cane della Scala, Lord of Verona, and Passerino of
Mantua. They received his envoys with all due honor, but found excuses
for evading his commands. In March, 1317, John issued a bull in which he
declared that all the imperial appointments had lapsed on the death of
Henry, that until his successor had received the papal approval all the
power of the empire vested in the Holy See, and that whoever presumed to
exercise those powers without permission was guilty of treason to the
Church. Papal imperiousness on one side and Ghibelline stubbornness on
the other rendered a rupture inevitable. It is not our province to trace
the intricate maze of diplomatic intrigue and military activity which
followed, with the balance of success preponderating decidedly in favor
of the Ghibellines. April 6, 1318, came a bull decreeing excommunication
on Matteo, Cane, Passerino, and all who refused obedience. This was
speedily followed by formal monitions and citations to trial on charges
of heresy, Matteo and his sons being the chief objects of persecution.
It was not difficult to find materials for these, furnished by refugees
from Milan at the papal court--Bonifacio di Farra, Lorenzo Gallini, and
others. The Visconti were accused of erring in the faith, especially as
to the resurrection, of invoking the devil, with whom they had compacts,
of protecting Guglielma; they were fautors of heretics and impeders of
the Inquisition; they had robbed churches, violated nuns, and tortured
and slain priests. The Visconti remained contumaciously absent and were
duly condemned as heretics. Matteo summoned a conference of the
Ghibelline chiefs at Soncino, which treated the action of the pope as an
effort to resuscitate the failing cause of the Guelfs. A Ghibelline
league was formed with Can Grande della Scala as captain of its forces.
To meet this John called in the aid of France, appointed Philippe de
Valois Imperial Vicar, and procured a French invasion which proved
bootless. Then he sent his son or nephew, Cardinal Bertrand de Poyet as
legate, with the title of "pacifier," at the head of a crusading army
raised by a lavish distribution of indulgences. As Petrarch says, he
assailed Milan as though it were an infidel city, like Memphis or
Damascus, and Poyet, whose ferocity was a proof of his paternity, came
not as an apostle, but as a robber. A devastating war ensued, with
little advantage to the papalists, but the spiritual sword proved more
effective than the temporal. May 26, 1321, the sentence of condemnation
was solemnly promulgated in the Church of San Stefano at Bassegnano, and
was repeated by the inquisitors March 14, 1322, at Valenza.[208]

Strange as it may seem, these proceedings appear to have had a decisive
influence on public opinion. It is true that when, in the seventeenth
century, Paolo Sarpi alluded to these transactions and assumed that
Matteo's only crime was his adherence to Louis of Bavaria, Cardinal
Albizio admitted the fact, and argued that those who adhered to a
schismatic and heretic emperor, and disregarded the censures of the
Church, rendered themselves suspect of heresy and became formal
heretics. Yet this was not the impression at the time, and John had
recognized that something more was required than such a charge of mere
technical heresy. The Continuation of Nangis, which reflects with
fidelity the current of popular thought, recounts the sins of Matteo and
his sons, described in the papal sentence, as a new heresy arisen in
Lombardy, and the papalist military operations as a righteous crusade
for its suppression. Although this was naturally a French view of the
matter, it was not confined to France. In Lombardy Matteo's friends were
discouraged and his enemies took fresh heart. A peace party speedily
formed itself in Milan, and the question was openly asked whether the
whole region should be sacrificed for the sake of one man. In spite of
Matteo's success in buying off Frederic of Austria, whom John had bribed
with gold and promises to intervene with an army, the situation grew
untenable even for his seasoned nerves. It is, perhaps, worthy of
mention that Francesco Garbagnate, the old Guglielmite, association with
whom was one of the proofs of heresy alleged against Matteo, was one of
the efficient agents in procuring his downfall, for Matteo had
estranged him by refusing him the captaincy of the Milanese militia.
Matteo sent to the legate to beg for terms, and was told that nothing
short of abdication would be listened to; he consulted the citizens and
was given to understand that Milan would not expose itself to ruin for
his sake. He yielded to the storm--perhaps his seventy-two years had
somewhat weakened his powers of resistance--he sent for his son
Galeazzo, with whom he had quarrelled, and resigned to him his power,
with an expression of regret that his quarrel with the Church had made
the citizens his enemies. From that time forth he devoted himself to
visiting the churches. In the Chiesa Maggiore he assembled the clergy,
recited the Symbol in a loud voice, crying that it had been his faith
during life, and that any assertion to the contrary was false, and of
this he caused a public instrument to be drawn up. Departing thence like
to one crazed, he hastened to Monza to visit the Church of S. Giovanni
Battista, where he was taken sick and was brought back to the Monastery
of Cresconzago, and died within three days, on June 27, to be thrust
into unconsecrated ground. The Church might well boast that its ban had
broken the spirit of the greatest Italian of the age.[209]

The younger Visconti--Galeazzo, Lucchino, Marco, Giovanni, and
Stefano--were not so impressionable, and rapidly concentrated the
Ghibelline forces which seemed to be breaking in pieces. To give them
their _coup de grâce_, the pope, December 23, 1322, ordered Aicardo, the
Archbishop of Milan, and the Inquisition to proceed against the memory
of Matteo. January 13, 1323, from the safe retreat of Asti, Aicardo and
three inquisitors, Pace da Vedano, Giordano da Montecucho, and Honesto
da Pavia, cited him for appearance on February 25, in the Church of
Santa Maria at Borgo, near Alessandria, to be tried and judged, whether
present or not, and this citation they affixed on the portals of Santa
Maria and of the cathedral of Alessandria. On the appointed day they
were there, but a military demonstration of Marco Visconti disturbed
them, to the prejudice of the faith and impeding of the Inquisition.
Transferring themselves to the securer walls of Valenza, they heard
witnesses and collected testimony, and on March 14 they condemned Matteo
as a defiant and unrepentant heretic. He had imposed taxes on the
churches and collected them by violence; he had forcibly installed his
creatures as superiors in monasteries and his concubines in nunneries;
he had imprisoned ecclesiastics and tortured them--some had died in
prison and others still lingered there; he had expelled prelates and
seized their lands; he had prevented the transmission of money to the
papal camera, even sums collected for the Holy Land; he had intercepted
and opened letters between the pope and the legates; he had attacked and
slain crusaders assembled in Milan for the Holy Land; he had disregarded
excommunication, thus showing that he erred in the faith as to the
sacraments and the power of the keys; he had prevented the interdict
laid upon Milan from being observed; he had obstructed prelates from
holding synods and visiting their dioceses, thus favoring heresies and
scandals; his enormous crimes show that he is an offshoot of heresy, his
ancestors having been suspect and some of them burned, and he has for
officials and confidants heretics, such as Francesco Garbagnate, on whom
crosses had been imposed; he has expelled the Inquisition from Florence
and impeded it for several years; he interposed in favor of Maifreda who
was burned; he is an invoker of demons, seeking from them advice and
responses; he denies the resurrection of the flesh; he has endured papal
excommunication for more than three years, and when cited for
examination into his faith he refused to appear. He is, therefore,
condemned as a contumacious heretic, all his territories are declared
confiscated, he himself deprived of all honors, station, and dignities,
and liable to the penalties decreed for heresy, his person to be
captured, and his children and grandchildren subjected to the customary

This curious farrago of accusations is worth reciting, as it shows what
was regarded as heresy in an opponent of the temporal power of the
papacy--that the simplest acts of self-defence against an enemy who was
carrying on active war against him were gravely treated as heretical,
and constituted valid reasons for inflicting all the tremendous
penalties prescribed by the laws for lapses in faith. Politically,
however, the portentous sentence was inoperative. Galeazzo maintained
the field, and in February, 1324, inflicted a crushing defeat on the
papal troops, the cardinal-legate barely escaping by flight, and his
general, Raymondo di Cardona being carried a prisoner to Milan. Fresh
comminations were necessary to stimulate the faithful, and March 23 John
issued a bull condemning Matteo and his five sons, reciting their evil
deeds for the most part in the words of the inquisitorial sentence,
though the looseness of the whole incrimination is seen in the omission
of the most serious charge of all--that of demon-worship--and the
defence of Maifreda is replaced by a statement that Matteo had
interfered to save Galeazzo, who was now stated to have been a
Guglielmite. The bull concludes by offering Holy Land indulgences to all
who would assail the Visconti. This was followed, April 12, by another,
reciting that the sons of Matteo had been by competent judges duly
convicted and sentenced for heresy, but in spite of this, Berthold of
Nyffen, calling himself Imperial Vicar of Lombardy, and other
representatives of Louis of Bavaria, had assisted the said heretics in
resisting the faithful Catholics who had taken up arms against them.
They are therefore allowed two months in which to lay down their
pretended offices and submit, as they have rendered themselves
excommunicate and subject to all the penalties, spiritual and temporal,
of fautorship.[211]

It is scarce worth while to pursue further the dreary details of these
forgotten quarrels, except to indicate that the case of the Visconti was
in no sense exceptional, and that the same weapons were employed by John
against all who crossed his ambitious schemes. The Inquisitor Accursio
of Florence had proceeded in the same way against Castruccio of Lucca,
as a fautor of heretics; the inquisitors of the March of Ancona had
condemned Guido Malapieri, Bishop of Arezzo, and other Ghibellines for
supporting Louis of Bavaria. Frà Lamberto del Cordiglio, Inquisitor of
Romagnuola, was ordered to use his utmost exertions to punish those
within his district. Louis of Bavaria, in his appeal of 1324, states
that the same prosecutions were brought, and sentences for heresy
pronounced, against Cane della Scala, Passerino, the Marquises of
Montferrat, Saluces, Ceva, and others, the Genoese, the Lucchese, and
the cities of Milan, Como, Bergamo, Cremona, Vercelli, Trino, Vailate,
Piacenza, Parma, Brescia, Alessandria, Tortona, Albenga, Pisa, Aretino,
etc. We have a specimen of Frà Lamberto's operations in a sentence
pronounced by him, February 28, 1328, against Bernardino, Count of Cona.
He had already condemned for heresy Rainaldo and Oppizo d' Este, in
spite of which Bernardino had visited them in Ferrara, had eaten and
drunk with them, and was said to have entered into a league with them.
For these offences Lamberto summoned him to stand trial before the
Inquisition. He duly appeared, and admitted the visit and banquet, but
denied the alliance. Lamberto proceeded to take testimony, called an
assembly of experts, and in due form pronounced him a fautor of
heretics, condemning him, as such, to degradation from his rank and
knighthood, and incapacity to hold any honors; his estates were
confiscated to the Church, his person was to be seized and delivered to
the Cardinal-legate Bertrand or to the Inquisition, and his descendants
for two generations were declared incapable of holding any office or
benefice. All this was for the greater glory of God, for when, in 1326,
John begged the clergy of Ireland to send him money, it was, he said,
for the purpose of defending the faith against the heretics of Italy.
Yet the Holy See was perfectly ready, when occasion suited, to admit
that this wholesale distribution of damnation was a mere prostitution of
its control over the salvation of mankind. After the Visconti had been
reconciled with the papacy, in 1337, Lucchino, who was anxious to have
Christian burial for his father, applied to Benedict XII. to reopen the
process. In February of that year, accordingly, Benedict wrote to Pace
da Vedano, who had conducted the proceedings against the Visconti and
against the citizens of Milan, Novara, Bergamo, Cremona, Como, Vercelli,
and other places for adhering to them, and who had been rewarded with
the bishopric of Trieste, requiring him to send by Pentecost all the
documents concerning the trial. The affair was protracted, doubtless
owing to political vicissitudes, but at length, in May, 1341, Benedict
took no shame in pronouncing the whole proceedings null and void for
irregularity and injustice. Still the same machinery was used against
Bernabo Visconti, who was summoned by Innocent VI. to appear at Avignon
on March 1, 1363, for trial as a heretic, and as he only sent a
procurator, he was promptly condemned by Urban V. on March 3, and a
crusade was preached against him. In 1364 he made his peace, but in 1372
the perennial quarrel broke out afresh, he was excommunicated by Gregory
XI., and in January, 1373, he was summoned to stand another trial for
heresy on March 28.[212]

In the same way heresy was the easiest charge to bring against Cola di
Rienzo when he disregarded the papal sovereignty over Rome. When he
failed to obey the summons to appear he was duly excommunicated for
contumacy; the legate Giovanni, Bishop of Spoleto, held an inquisition
on him, and in 1350 he was formally declared a heretic. The decision was
sent to the Emperor Charles IV., who held him at that time prisoner in
Prague, and who dutifully despatched him to Avignon. There, on a first
examination, he was condemned to death, but he made his peace, and there
appeared to be an opportunity of using him to advantage; he was
therefore finally pronounced a good Christian, and was sent back to Rome
with a legate.[213]

The Maffredi of Faenza afford a case very similar to that of the
Visconti. In 1345 we find them in high favor with Clement VI. In 1350
they are opposing the papal policy of aggrandizement in Romagnuola.
Cited to appear in answer to charges of heresy, they refuse to do so,
and in July, 1352, are excommunicated for contumacy. In June, 1354,
Innocent VI. recites their persistent endurance of this excommunication,
and gives them until October 10 to put in an appearance. On that day he
condemns them as contumacious heretics, declares them deprived of all
lands and honors, and subject to the canonical and civil penalties of
heresy. To execute the sentence was not so easy, but in 1356 Innocent
offered Louis, King of Hungary, who had shown his zeal against the
Cathari of Bosnia, three years' tithe of the Hungarian churches if he
would put down those sons of damnation, the Maffredi, who have been
sentenced as heretics, and other adversaries of the Church, including
the Ordelaffi of Friuli. Frà Fortanerio, Patriarch of Grado, was also
commissioned to preach a crusade against them, and succeeded in raising
an army under Malatesta of Rimini. The appearance of forty thousand
Hungarians in the Tarvisina frightened all Italy; the Maffredi
succumbed, and in the same year Innocent ordered their absolution and

It would be easy to multiply instances, but these will probably suffice
to show the use made by the Church of heresy as a political agent, and
of the Inquisition as a convenient instrumentality for its application.
When the Great Schism arose it was natural that the same methods should
be employed by the rival popes against each other. As early as 1382 we
find Charles III. of Naples confiscating the property of the Bishop of
Trivento, just dead, as that of a heretic because he had adhered to
Clement VII. In the commission issued in 1409 by Alexander V. to Pons
Feugeyron, as Inquisitor of Provence, the adherents of Gregory XII. and
of Benedict XIII. are enumerated among the heretics whom he is to
exterminate. It happened that Frère Étienne de Combes, Inquisitor of
Toulouse, held to the party of Benedict XIII., and he retaliated by
imprisoning a number of otherwise unimpeachable Dominicans and
Franciscans, including the Provincial of Toulouse and the Prior of
Carcassonne, for which the provincial, as soon as he had an opportunity,
removed him and appointed a successor, giving rise to no little

The manner in which the Inquisition was used as an instrument by the
contending factions in the Church is fairly illustrated by the
adventures of John Malkaw, of Prussian Strassburg (Brodnitz). He was a
secular priest and master of theology, deeply learned, skilful in
debate, singularly eloquent, and unflinching even to rashness. Espousing
the cause of the Roman popes against their Avignonese rivals with all
the enthusiasm of his fiery nature, he came to the Rhinelands in 1390,
where his sermons stirred the popular heart and proved an effective
agency in the strife. After some severe experiences in Mainz at the
hands of the opposite faction, he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome, but
tarried at Strassburg, where he found a congenial field. The city had
adhered to Urban VI. and his successors, but the bishop, Frederic of
Blankenheim, had alienated a portion of his clergy by his oppressions.
In the quarrel he excommunicated them; they appealed to Rome and had the
excommunication set aside, whereupon he went over, with his following,
to Clement VII., the Avignonese antipope, giving rise to inextricable
confusion. The situation was exactly suited to Malkaw's temperament; he
threw himself into the turmoil, and his fiery eloquence soon threatened
to deprive the antipapalists of their preponderance. According to his
own statement he quickly won over some sixteen thousand schismatics and
neutrals, and the nature of his appeals to the passions of the hour may
be guessed by his own report of a sermon in which he denounced Clement
VII. as less than a man, as worse than the devil, whose portion was with
Antichrist, while his followers were all condemned schismatics and
heretics; neutrals, moreover, were the worst of men and were deprived of
all sacraments. Besides this he assailed with the same unsparing
vehemence the deplorable morals of the Strassburg clergy, both regular
and secular, and in a few weeks he thus excited the bitterest
hostility. A plot was made to denounce him secretly in Rome as a
heretic, so that on his arrival there he might be seized by the
Inquisition and burned; his wonderful learning, it was said, could only
have been acquired by necromancy; he was accused of being a runaway
priest, and it was proposed to arrest him as such, but the people
regarded him as an inspired prophet and the project was abandoned. After
four weeks of this stormy agitation he resumed his pilgrimage, stopping
at Basle and Zurich for missionary work, and finally reached Rome in
safety. On his return, in crossing the Pass of St. Bernard, he had the
misfortune to lose his papers. News of this reached Basle, and on his
arrival there the Mendicants, to whom he was peculiarly obnoxious,
demanded of Bishop Imer that he should be arrested as a wanderer without
license. The bishop, though belonging to the Roman obedience, yielded,
but shortly dismissed him with a friendly caution to return to his home.
His dauntless combativeness, however, carried him back to Strassburg,
where he again began to preach under the protection of the burgomaster,
John Bock. On his previous visit he had been personally threatened by
the Dominican inquisitor, Böckeler--the same who in 1400 persecuted the
Winkelers--and it was now determined to act with vigor. He had preached
but three sermons when he was suddenly arrested, without citation, by
the familiars of the inquisitor and thrown in prison, whence he was
carried in chains to the episcopal castle of Benfeld and deprived of his
books and paper and ink. Sundry examinations followed, in which his rare
dexterity scarce enabled him to escape the ingenious efforts to entrap
him. Finally, on March 31, 1391, Böckeler summoned an assembly,
consisting principally of Mendicants, where he was found guilty of a
series of charges, which show how easily the accusation of heresy could
be used for the destruction of any man. His real offence was his attacks
on the schismatics and on the corruption of the clergy, but nothing of
this appears in the articles. It was assumed that he had left his
diocese without the consent of his bishop, and this proved him to be a
Lollard; that he discharged priestly functions without a license,
showing him to be a Vaudois; because his admirers ate what he had
already bitten, he was declared to belong to the Brethren of the Free
Spirit; because he forbade the discussion as to whether Christ was alive
when pierced with the lance, he was asserted to have taught that
doctrine, and, therefore, to be a follower of Jean Pierre Olivi. All
this was surely enough to warrant his burning, if he should obstinately
refuse to recant, but apparently it was felt that the magistracy would
decline to execute the sentence, and the assembly contented itself with
referring the matter to the bishop and asking his banishment from the
diocese. Nothing further is known of the trial, but as, in 1392, Malkaw
is found matriculating himself in the University of Cologne, the bishop
probably did as he was asked.

We lose sight of Malkaw until about 1414, when we meet him again in
Cologne. He had maintained his loyalty to the Roman obedience, but that
obedience had been still further fractioned between Gregory XII. and
John XXIII. Malkaw's support of the former was accompanied with the same
unsparing denunciation of John as he had formerly bestowed on the
Avignonese antipopes. The Johannites were heretics, fit only for the
stake. Cologne was as attractive a field for the audacious polemic as
the Strassburg of a quarter of a century earlier. Two rival candidates
for the archbishopric were vindicating their claims in a bloody civil
war, one of them as a supporter of Gregory, the other of John. Malkaw
was soon recognized as a man whose eloquence was highly dangerous amid
an excitable population, and again the Inquisition took hold of him as a
heretic. The inquisitor, Jacob of Soest, a Dominican and professor in
the university, seems to have treated him with exceptional leniency, for
while the investigation was on foot he was allowed to remain in the St.
Ursula quarter, on parole. He broke his word and betook himself to
Bacharach, where, under the protection of the Archbishop of Trèves, and
of the Palsgrave Louis III., both Gregorians, he maintained the fight
with his customary vehemence, assailing the inquisitor and the
Johannites, not only in sermons, but in an incessant stream of pamphlets
which kept them in a state of indignant alarm. When Cardinal John of
Ragusa, Gregory's legate to the Council of Constance, came to Germany.
Malkaw had no difficulty in procuring from him absolution from the
inquisitorial excommunication, and acquittal of the charge of heresy;
and this was confirmed when on healing the schism the council, in July,
1415, declared null and void all prosecutions and sentences arising from
it. Still, the wounded pride of the inquisitor and of the University of
Cologne refused to be placated, and for a year they continued to seek
from the Council the condemnation of their enemy. Their deputies,
however, warned them that the prosecution would be prolonged, difficult,
and costly, and they finally came to the resolution that the action of
the Cardinal of Ragusa should be regarded as binding, so long as Malkaw
kept away from the territory of Cologne, but should be disregarded if he
ventured to return--a very sensible, if somewhat illogical, conclusion.
The obstinacy with which Benedict XIII. and Clement VIII. maintained
their position after the decision of the Council of Constance prolonged
the struggle in southwestern Europe, and as late as 1428 the remnants of
their adherents in Languedoc were proceeded against as heretics by a
special papal commissioner.[216]

When the schism was past the Inquisition could still be utilized to
quell insubordination. Thomas Connecte, a Carmelite of Britanny, seems
to have been a character somewhat akin to John Malkaw. In 1428 we hear
of him in Flanders, Artois, Picardy, and the neighboring provinces,
preaching to crowds of fifteen or twenty thousand souls, denouncing the
prevalent vices of the time. The _hennins_, or tall head-dresses worn by
women of rank, were the object of special vituperation, and he used to
give boys certain days of pardon for following ladies thus attired, and
crying "_au hennin_" or even slyly pulling them off. Moved by the
eloquence of his sermons, great piles would be made of dice, tables,
chess-boards, cards, nine-pins, head-dresses, and other matters of vice
and luxury, which were duly burned. The chief source, however, of the
immense popular favor which he enjoyed was his bitter lashing of the
corruption of all ranks of the clergy, particularly their public
concubinage, which won him great applause and honor. He seems to have
reached the conclusion that the only cure for this universal sin was the
restoration of clerical marriage. In 1432 he went to Rome in the train
of the Venetian ambassadors, to declaim against the vices of the curia.
Usually there was a good-natured indifference to these attacks--a
toleration born of contempt--but the moment was unpropitious. The
Hussite heresy had commenced in similar wise, and its persistence was a
warning not to be disregarded. Besides, at that time Eugenius IV. was
engaged in a losing struggle with the Council of Basle, which was bent
on reforming the curia, in obedience to the universal demand of
Christendom, and Sigismund's envoys were representing to Eugenius, with
more strength than courtliness, the disastrous results to be expected
from his efforts to prorogue the council. Connecte might well be
suspected of being an emissary of the fathers of Basle, or, if not, his
eloquence at least was a dangerous element in the perturbed state of
public opinion. Twice Eugenius sent for him, but he refused to come,
pretending to be sick; then the papal treasurer was sent to fetch him,
but on his appearing Thomas jumped out of the window and attempted to
escape. He was promptly secured and carried before Eugenius, who
commissioned the Cardinals of Rouen and Navarre to examine him. These
found him suspect of heresy; he was duly tried and condemned as a
heretic, and his inconsiderate zeal found a lasting quietus at the

       *       *       *       *       *

There are certain points of resemblance between Thomas Connecte and
Girolamo Savonarola, but the Italian was a man of far rarer intellectual
and spiritual gifts than the Breton. With equal moral earnestness, his
plans and aspirations were wider and of more dangerous import, and they
led him into a sphere of political activity in which his fate was
inevitable from the beginning.

In Italy the revival of letters, while elevating the intellectual
faculties, had been accompanied with deeper degradation in both the
moral and spiritual condition of society. Without removing superstition,
it had rendered scepticism fashionable, and it had weakened the
sanctions of religion without supplying another basis for morality. The
world has probably never seen a more defiant disregard of all law, human
and divine, than that displayed by both the Church and the laity during
the pontificates of Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI.
Increase of culture and of wealth seemed only to afford new attractions
and enlarged opportunities for luxury and vice, and from the highest to
the lowest there was indulgence of unbridled appetites, with a cynical
disregard even of hypocrisy. To the earnest believer it might well seem
that God's wrath could not much longer be restrained, and that
calamities must be impending which would sweep away the wicked and
restore to the Church and to mankind the purity and simplicity fondly
ascribed to primitive ages. For centuries a succession of
prophets--Joachim of Flora, St. Catharine of Siena, St. Birgitta of
Sweden, the Friends of God, Tommasino of Foligno, the Monk
Telesforo--had arisen with predictions which had been received with
reverence, and as time passed on and human wickedness increased, some
new messenger of God seemed necessary to recall his erring children to a
sense of the retribution in store for them if they should continue deaf
to his voice.

That Savonarola honestly believed himself called to such a mission, no
one who has impartially studied his strange career can well doubt. His
lofty sense of the evils of the time, his profound conviction that God
must interfere to work a change which was beyond human power, his
marvellous success in moving his hearers, his habits of solitude and of
profound meditation, his frequent ecstasies with their resultant visions
might well, in a mind like his, produce such a belief, which, moreover,
was one taught by the received traditions of the Church as within the
possibilities of the experience of any man. Five years before his first
appearance in Florence, a young hermit who had been devotedly serving in
a leper hospital at Volterra, came thither, preaching and predicting the
wrath to come. He had had visions of St. John and the angel Raphael, and
was burdened with a message to unwilling ears. Such things, we are told
by the diarist who happens to record this, were occurring every day. In
1491 Rome was agitated by a mysterious prophet who foretold dire
calamities impending in the near future. There was no lack of such
earnest men, but, unlike Savonarola, their influence and their fate were
not such as to preserve their memory.[218]

When, in his thirtieth year, Savonarola came to Florence, in 1481, his
soul was already full of his mission as a reformer. Such opportunity as
he had of expressing his convictions from the pulpit he used with
earnest zeal, but he produced little effect upon a community sunk in
shameless debauchery, and in the Lent of 1486 he was sent to Lombardy.
For three years he preached in the Lombard cities, gradually acquiring
the power of touching the hearts and consciences of men, and when he was
recalled to Florence in 1489, at the instance of Lorenzo de' Medici, he
was already known as a preacher of rare ability. The effect of his
vigorous eloquence was enhanced by his austere and blameless life, and
within a year he was made Prior of San Marco--the convent of the
Observantine Dominicans, to which Order he belonged. In 1494 he
succeeded in re-establishing the ancient separation of the Dominican
province of Tuscany from that of Lombardy, and when he was appointed
Vicar-general of the former he was rendered independent of all authority
save that of the general, Giovacchino Torriani, who was well affected
towards him.[219]

He claimed to act under the direct inspiration of God, who dictated his
words and actions and revealed to him the secrets of the future. Not
only was this accepted by the mass of the Florentines, but by some of
the keenest and most cultured intellects of the age, such as Francesco
Pico della Mirandola and Philippe de Commines. Marsilio Ficino, the
Platonist, admitted it, and went further by declaring, in 1494, that
only Savonarola's holiness had saved Florence for four years from the
vengeance of God on its wickedness. Nardi relates that when, in 1495,
Piero de' Medici was making a demonstration upon Florence, he personally
heard Savonarola predict that Piero would advance to the gates and
retire without accomplishing anything, which duly came to pass. Others
of his prophecies were fulfilled, such as those of the deaths of Lorenzo
de' Medici and Charles VIII. and the famine of 1497, and his fame spread
throughout Italy, while in Florence his influence became dominant.
Whenever he preached, from twelve to fifteen thousand persons hung upon
his lips, and in the great Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore it was
necessary to build scaffolds and benches to accommodate the thronging
crowds, multitudes of whom would have cast themselves into fire at a
word from him. He paid special attention to children, and interested
them so deeply in his work that we are told they could not be kept in
bed on the mornings when he preached, but would hurry to the church in
advance of their parents. In the processions which he organized
sometimes five or six thousand boys would take part, and he used them
most effectively in the moral reforms which he introduced in the
dissolute and pleasure-loving city. The boys of Frà Girolamo were
regularly organized, with officers who had their several spheres of duty
assigned to them, and they became a terror to evil-doers. They entered
the taverns and gambling-houses and put a stop to revelry and dicing and
card-playing, and no woman dared to appear upon the streets save in
fitting attire and with a modest mien. "Here are the boys of the Frate"
was a cry which inspired fear in the most reckless, for any resistance
to them was at the risk of life. Even the annual horse-races of
Santo-Barnabo were suppressed, and it was a sign of Girolamo's waning
influence when, in 1497, the Signoria ordered them resumed, saying, "Are
we all to become monks?" From the gayest and wickedest of cities
Florence became the most demure, and the pious long looked back with
regret to the holy time of Savonarola's rule, and thanked God that they
had been allowed to see it.[220]

In one respect we may regret his puritanism and the zeal of his boys.
For the profane mummeries of the carnival in 1498 he substituted a
bonfire of objects which he deemed immodest or improper, and the
voluntary contributions for this purpose were supplemented by the energy
of the boys, who entered houses and palaces and carried off whatever
they deemed fit for the holocaust. Precious illuminated MSS., ancient
sculptures, pictures, rare tapestries, and priceless works of art thus
were mingled with the gewgaws and vanities of female attire, the
mirrors, the musical instruments, the books of divination, astrology,
and magic, which went to make up the total. We can understand the
sacrifice of copies of Boccaccio, but Petrarch might have escaped even
Savonarola's severity of virtue. In this ruthless _auto de fé_, the
value of the objects was such that a Venetian merchant offered the
Signoria twenty thousand scudi for them, which was answered by taking
the would-be chapman's portrait and placing it on top of the pyre. We
cannot wonder that the pile had to be surrounded the night before by
armed guards to prevent the _tiepidi_ from robbing it.[221]

Had Savonarola's lot been cast under the rigid institutions of feudalism
he would probably have exercised a more lasting influence on the moral
and religious character of the age. It was his misfortune that in a
republic such as Florence the temptation to take part in politics was
irresistible. We cannot wonder that he eagerly embraced what seemed to
be an opportunity of regenerating a powerful state, through which he
might not unreasonably hope to influence all Italy, and thus effect a
reform in Church and State which would renovate Christendom. This, as he
was assured by the prophetic voice within him, would be followed by the
conversion of the infidel, and the reign of Christian charity and love
would commence throughout the world.

Misled by these dazzling day-dreams, he had no scruple in making a
practical use of the almost boundless influence which he had acquired
over the populace of Florence. His teachings led to the revolution which
in 1494 expelled the Medici, and he humanely averted the pitiless
bloodshed which commonly accompanied such movements in the Italian
cities. During the Neapolitan expedition of Charles VIII., in 1494, he
did much to cement the alliance of the republic with that monarch, whom
he regarded as the instrument destined by God to bring about the reform
of Italy. In the reconstruction of the republic in the same year he had,
perhaps, more to do than any one else, both in framing its structure and
dictating its laws; and when he induced the people to proclaim Jesus
Christ as the King of Florence, he perhaps himself hardly recognized
how, as the mouthpiece of God, he was inevitably assuming the position
of a dictator. It was not only in the pulpit that he instructed his
auditors as to their duties as citizens and gave vent to his inspiration
in foretelling the result, for the leaders of the popular party were
constantly in the habit of seeking his advice and obeying his wishes.
Yet, personally, for the most part, he held himself aloof in austere
retirement, and left the management of details to two confidential
agents, selected among the friars of San Marco--Domenico da Pescia, who
was somewhat hot-headed and impulsive, and Salvestro Maruffi, who was a
dreamer and somnambulist. In thus descending from the position of a
prophet of God to that of the head of a faction, popularly known by the
contemptuous name of _Piagnoni_ or Mourners, he staked his all upon the
continued supremacy of that faction, and any failure in his political
schemes necessarily was fatal to the larger and nobler plans of which
they were the unstable foundation. In addition to this, his resolute
adherence to the alliance with Charles VIII. finally made his removal
necessary to the success of the policy of Alexander VI. to unite all the
Italian states against the dangers of another French invasion.[222]

As though to render failure certain, under a rule dating from the
thirteenth century, the Signoria was changed every two months, and thus
reflected every passing gust of popular passion. When the critical time
came everything turned against him. The alliance with France, on which
he had staked his credit both as a statesman and a prophet, resulted
disastrously. Charles VIII. was glad at Fornovo to cut his way back to
France with shattered forces, and he never returned, in spite of the
threats of God's wrath which Savonarola repeatedly transmitted to him.
He not only left Florence isolated to face the league of Spain, the
papacy, Venice, and Milan, but he disappointed the dearest wish of the
Florentines by violating his pledge to restore to them the stronghold of
Pisa. When the news of this reached Florence, January 1, 1496, the
incensed populace held Savonarola responsible, and a crowd around San
Marco at night amused itself with loud threats to burn "the great hog of
a Frate." Besides this was the severe distress occasioned by the
shrinking of trade and commerce in the civic disturbances, by the large
subsidies paid to Charles VIII., and by the drain of the Pisan war,
leading to insupportable taxation and the destruction of public credit,
to all which was added the fearful famine of 1497, followed by
pestilence; such a succession of misfortunes naturally made the
unthinking masses dissatisfied and ready for a change. The _Arrabbiati_,
or faction in opposition, were not slow to take advantage of this
revulsion of feeling, and in this they were supported by the dangerous
classes and by all those on whom the puritan reform had pressed heavily.
An association was formed, known as the Compagnacci, composed of
reckless and dissolute young nobles and their retainers, with Doffo
Spini at their head and the powerful house of Altoviti behind them,
whose primary object was Savonarola's destruction, and who were ready to
resort to desperate measures at the first favorable opportunity.[223]

Such opportunity could not fail to come. Had Savonarola contented
himself with simply denouncing the corruptions of the Church and the
curia he would have been allowed to exhale his indignation in safety, as
St. Birgitta, Chancellor Gerson, Cardinal d'Ailly, Nicholas de
Clemangis, and so many others among the most venerated ecclesiastics had
done. Pope and cardinal were used to reviling, and endured it with the
utmost good-nature, so long as profitable abuses were not interfered
with, but Savonarola had made himself a political personage of
importance whose influence at Florence was hostile to the policy of the
Borgias. Still, Alexander VI. treated him with good-natured indifference
which for a while almost savored of contempt. When at last his
importance was recognized, an attempt was made to bribe him with the
archbishopric of Florence and the cardinalate, but the offer was spurned
with prophetic indignation--"I want no hat but that of martyrdom,
reddened with my own blood!" It was not till July 21, 1495, after
Charles VIII. had abandoned Italy and left the Florentines to face
single-handed the league of which the papacy was the head, that any
antagonism was manifested towards him, and then it assumed the form of a
friendly summons to Rome to give an account of the revelations and
prophecies which he had from God. To this he replied, July 31, excusing
himself on the ground of severe fever and dysentery; the republic,
moreover, would not permit him to leave its territories for fear of his
enemies, as his life had already been attempted by both poison and
steel, and he never quitted his convent without a guard; besides, the
unfinished reforms in the city required his presence. As soon as
possible, however, he would come to Rome, and meanwhile the pope would
find what he wanted in a book now printing, containing his prophecies on
the renovation of the Church and the destruction of Italy, a copy of
which would be submitted to the holy father as soon as ready.[224]

However lightly Savonarola might treat this missive, it was a warning
not to be disregarded, and for a while he ceased preaching. Suddenly, on
September 8, Alexander returned to the charge with a bull intrusted to
the rival Franciscans of Santa Croce, in which he ordered the reunion of
the Tuscan congregation with the Lombard province; Savonarola's case was
submitted to the Lombard Vicar general, Sebastiano de Madiis; Domenico
da Pescia and Salvestro Maruffi were required within eight days to
betake themselves to Bologna, and Savonarola was commanded to cease
preaching until he should present himself in Rome. To this Savonarola
replied September 29, in a labored justification, objecting to
Sebastiano as a prejudiced and suspected judge, and winding up with a
request that the pope should point out any errors in his teaching, which
he would at once revoke, and submit whatever he had spoken or written to
the judgment of the Holy See. Almost immediately after this the
enterprise of Piero de' Medici against Florence rendered it impossible
for him to keep silent, and, without awaiting the papal answer, on
October 11 he ascended the pulpit and vehemently exhorted the people to
unite in resisting the tyrant. In spite of this insubordination
Alexander was satisfied with Savonarola's nominal submission, and on
October 16 replied, merely ordering him to preach no more in public or
in private until he could conveniently come to Rome, or a fitting person
be sent to Florence to decide his case; if he obeyed, then all the papal
briefs were suspended. To Alexander the whole affair was simply one of
politics. The position of Florence under Savonarola's influence was
hostile to his designs, but he did not care to push the matter further,
provided he could diminish the Frate's power by silencing him.[225]

His voice, however, was too potent a factor in Florentine affairs for
his friends in power to consent to his silence. Long and earnest efforts
were made to obtain permission from the pope that he should resume his
exhortations during the coming Lent, and at length the request was
granted. The sermons on Amos which he then delivered were not of a
character to placate the curia, for, besides lashing its vices with
terrible earnestness, he took pains to indicate that there were limits
to the obedience which he would render to the papal commands. These
sermons produced an immense sensation, not only in Florence, but
throughout Italy, and on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1496, Alexander
assembled fourteen Dominican masters of theology, to whom he denounced
their audacious comrade as heretical, schismatic, disobedient, and
superstitious. It was admitted that he was responsible for the
misfortunes of Piero de' Medici, and it was resolved, with but one
dissentient voice, that means must be found to silence him.[226]

Notwithstanding this he continued, without interference, to preach at
intervals until November 2. Even then it is a significant tribute to his
power that Alexander again had recourse to indirect means to suppress
him. On November 7, 1496, a papal brief was issued creating a
congregation of Rome and Tuscany and placing it under a Vicar-general
who was to serve for two years, and be ineligible to reappointment
except after an interval. Although the first Vicar-general was Giacomo
di Sicilia, a friend of Savonarola, the measure was ingeniously framed
to deprive him of independence, and he might at any moment be
transferred from Florence to another post. To this Savonarola replied
with open defiance. In a printed "_Apologia della Congregazione di San
Marco_," he declared that the two hundred and fifty friars of his
convent would resist to the death, in spite of threats and
excommunication, a measure which would result in the perdition of their
souls. This was a declaration of open war, and on November 26 he boldly
resumed preaching. The series of sermons on Ezekiel, which he then
commenced and continued through the Lent of 1497, shows clearly that he
had abandoned all hope of reconciliation with the pope. The Church was
worse than a beast, it was an abominable monster which must be purified
and renovated by the servants of God, and in this work excommunication
was to be welcomed. To a great extent, moreover, these sermons were
political speeches, and indicate how absolutely Savonarola from the
pulpit dictated the municipal affairs of Florence. The city had been
reduced almost to despair in the unequal contest with Pisa, Milan,
Venice, and the papacy, but the close of the year 1496 had brought some
unexpected successes which seemed to justify Savonarola's exhortations
to trust in God, and with the reviving hopes of the republic his credit
was to some extent restored.[227]

Still Alexander, though his wrath was daily growing, shrank from an open
rupture and trial of strength, and an effort was made to utilize against
Savonarola the traditional antagonism of the Franciscans. The
Observantine convent of San Miniato was made the centre of operations,
and thither were sent the most renowned preachers of the Order--Domenico
da Poza, Michele d' Aquis, Giovanni Tedesco, Giacopo da Brescia, and
Francesco della Puglia. It is true that when, January 1, 1497, the
Piagnoni, strengthened by recent successes in the field, elected
Francesco Valori as Gonfaloniero di Giustizia, he endeavored to stop the
Franciscans from preaching, prohibited them from begging bread and wine
and necessaries, and boasted that he would starve them out, and one of
them was absolutely banished from the city, but the others persevered,
and Savonarola was freely denounced as an impostor from the pulpit of
Santo-Spirito during Lent. Yet this had no effect upon his followers,
and his audiences were larger and more enthusiastic than ever. No better
success awaited a nun of S. Maria di Casignano, who came to Florence on
the same errand.[228]

The famine was now at its height, and pestilence became threatening. The
latter gave the Signoria, which was now composed of Arrabbiati, an
excuse for putting a stop to this pulpit warfare, which doubtless
menaced the peace of the city, and on May 3 all preaching after
Ascension Day (May 4) was forbidden for the reason that, with the
approach of summer, crowds would facilitate the dissemination of the
plague. That passions were rising beyond control was shown when, the
next day, Savonarola preached his farewell sermon in the Duomo. The
doors had been broken open in advance, and the pulpit was smeared with
filth. The Compagnacci had almost openly made preparations to kill him;
they gathered there in force, and interrupted the discourse with a
tumult, during which the Frate's friends gathered around him with drawn
swords and conveyed him away in safety.[229]

The affair made an immense sensation throughout Italy, and the
sympathies of the Signoria were shown by the absence of any attempt to
punish the rioters. Encouraged by this evidence of the weakness of the
Piagnoni, on May 13 Alexander sent to the Franciscans a bull ordering
them to publish Savonarola as excommunicate and suspect of heresy, and
that no one should hold converse with him. This, owing to the fears of
the papal commissioner charged with it, was not published till June 18.
Before the existence of the bull was known, on May 22, Savonarola had
written to Alexander an explanatory letter, in which he offered to
submit himself to the judgment of the Church; but two days after the
excommunication was published he replied to it with a defence in which
he endeavored to prove that the sentence was invalid, and on June 25 he
had the audacity to address to Alexander a letter of condolence on the
murder of his son, the Duke of Gandia. Fortunately for him another
revulsion in municipal politics restored his friends to power on July 1,
the elections till the end of the year continued favorable, and he did
not cease to receive and administer the sacraments, though, under the
previous orders of the Signoria, there was no preaching. It must be
borne in mind that at this period there was a spirit of insubordination
abroad which regarded the papal censures with slender respect. We have
seen above (Vol. II. p. 137) that in 1502 the whole clergy of France,
acting under a decision of the University of Paris, openly defied an
excommunication launched at them by Alexander VI. It was the same now in
Florence. How little the Piagnoni recked of the excommunication is seen
by a petition presented September 17 to the Signoria, by the children
of Florence, asking that their beloved Frate be allowed to resume
preaching, and by a sermon delivered in his defence, October 1, by a
Carmelite who declared that in a vision God had told him that Savonarola
was a holy man, and that all his opponents would have their tongues torn
out and be cast to the dogs. This was flat rebellion against the Holy
See, but the only punishment inflicted on the Carmelite by the episcopal
officials was a prohibition of further preaching. Meanwhile the Signoria
had made earnest but vain attempts to have the excommunication removed,
and Savonarola had indignantly refused an offer of the Cardinal of Siena
(afterwards Pius III.) to have it withdrawn on the payment of five
thousand scudi to a creditor of his. Yet, in spite of this disregard of
the papal censures, Savonarola considered himself as still an obedient
son of the Church. He employed the enforced leisure of this summer in
writing the _Trionfo della Croce_, in which he proved that the papacy is
supreme, and that whoever separates himself from the unity and doctrine
of Rome separates himself from Christ.[230]

January, 1498, saw the introduction of a Signoria composed of his
zealous partisans, who were not content that a voice so potent should be
hushed. It was an ancient custom that they should go in a body and make
oblations at the Duomo on Epiphany, which was the anniversary of the
Church, and on that day citizens of all parties were astounded at seeing
the still excommunicated Savonarola as the celebrant, and the officials
humbly kiss his hand. Not content with this act of rebellion, it was
arranged that he should recommence preaching. A new Signoria was to be
elected for March, the people were becoming divided in their allegiance
to him, and his eloquence was held to be indispensable for his own
safety and for the continuance in power of the Piagnoni. Accordingly, on
February 11 he again appeared in the Duomo, where the old benches and
scaffolds had been replaced to accommodate the crowd. Yet many of the
more timid Piagnoni abstained from listening to an excommunicate:
whether just or unjust, they argued, the sentence of the Church was to
be feared.[231]

In the sermons on Exodus preached during this Lent--the last which he
had the opportunity of uttering--Savonarola was more violent than ever.
His position was such that he could only justify himself by proving that
the papal anathema was worthless, and this he did in terms which excited
the liveliest indignation in Rome. A brief was despatched to the
Signoria, February 26, commanding them, under pain of interdict, to send
Savonarola as a prisoner to Rome. This received no attention, but at the
same time another letter was sent to the canons of the Duomo ordering
them to close their church to him, and March 1 he appeared there to say
that he would preach at San Marco, whither the crowded audience followed
him. His fate, however, was sealed the same day by the advent to power
of a government composed of a majority of Arrabbiati, with one of his
bitterest enemies, Pier Popoleschi, at its head as Gonfaloniero di
Giustizia. Yet he was too powerful with the people to be openly
attacked, and occasion for his ruin had to be awaited.[232]

The first act of the new Signoria was an appeal to the pope, March 4,
excusing themselves for not obeying his orders and asking for clemency
towards Savonarola, whose labors had been so fruitful, and whom the
people of Florence believed to be more than man. Possibly this may have
been insidiously intended to kindle afresh the papal anger; at all
events, Alexander's reply shows that he recognized fully the advantage
of the situation. Savonarola is "that miserable worm" who in a sermon
recently printed had adjured God to deliver him to hell if he should
apply for absolution. The pope will waste no more time in letters; he
wants no more words from them, but acts. They must either send their
monstrous idol to Rome, or segregate him from all human society, if they
wish to escape the interdict which will last until they submit. Yet
Savonarola is not to be perpetually silenced, but, after due
humiliation, his mouth shall be again opened.[233]

This reached Florence March 13 and excited a violent discussion. We have
seen that an interdict inflicted by the pope might be not merely a
deprivation of spiritual privileges, but that it might comprehend
segregation from the outside world and seizure of person and property
wherever found, which was ruin to a commercial community. The merchants
and bankers of Florence received from their Roman correspondents the
most alarming accounts of the papal wrath and of his intention to expose
their property to pillage. Fear took possession of the city, as rumors
spread from day to day that the dreaded interdict had been proclaimed.
It shows the immense influence still wielded by Savonarola that, after
earnest discussions and various devices, the Signoria could only bring
itself, March 17, to send to him five citizens at night to beg him to
suspend preaching for the time. He had promised that, while he would not
obey the pope, he would respect the wishes of the civil power, but when
this request reached him he replied that he must first seek the will of
Him who had ordered him to preach. The next day, from the pulpit of San
Marco, he gave his answer--"Listen, for this is what the Lord saith: In
asking this Frate to give up preaching it is to Me that the request is
made, and not to him, for it is I who preach; it is I who grant the
request and who do not grant it. The Lord assents as regards the
preaching, but not as regards your salvation."[234]

It was impossible to yield more awkwardly or in a manner more convincing
of self-deception, and Savonarola's enemies grew correspondingly bold.
The Franciscans thundered triumphantly from the pulpits at their
command; the disorderly elements, wearied with the rule of
righteousness, commenced to agitate for the license which they could see
was soon to be theirs. Profane scoffers commenced to ridicule the Frate
openly in the streets, and within a week placards were posted on the
walls urging the burning of the palaces of Francesco Valori and Paolo
Antonio Soderini, two of his leading supporters. The agents of the Duke
of Milan were not far wrong when they exultingly wrote to him predicting
the speedy downfall of the Frate, by fair means or foul.[235]

Just at this juncture there came to light a desperate expedient to which
Savonarola had recourse. After giving Alexander fair warning, March 13,
to look to his safety, for there could no longer be truce between them,
Savonarola appealed to the sovereigns of Christendom, in letters
purporting to be written under the direct command of God and in his
name, calling upon the monarchs to convoke a general council for the
reformation of the Church. It was diseased, from the highest to the
lowest, and on account of its intolerable stench God had not permitted
it to have a lawful head. Alexander VI. was not pope and was not
eligible to the papacy, not only by reason of the simony through which
he had bought the tiara, and the wickedness which, when exposed, would
excite universal execration, but also because he was not a Christian,
and not even a believer in God. All this Savonarola offered to prove by
evidence and by miracles which God would execute to convince the most
sceptical. This portentous epistle, with trifling variants, was to be
addressed to the Kings of France, Spain, England, and Hungary, and to
the emperor. A preliminary missive from Domenico Mazzinghi to Giovanni
Guasconi, Florentine Ambassador in France, happened to be intercepted by
the Duke of Milan, who was hostile to Savonarola, and who promptly
forwarded it to the pope.[236]

Alexander's wrath can easily be conceived. It was not so much the
personal accusations, which he was ready to dismiss with cynical
indifference, as the effort to bring about the convocation of a council
which, since those of Constance and Basle, had ever been the cry of the
reformer and the terror of the papacy. In the existing discontent of
Christendom it was an ever-present danger. So recently as 1482 the
half-crazy Andreas, Archbishop of Krain, had set all Europe in an uproar
by convoking from Basle a council on his own responsibility, and defying
for six months, under the protection of the magistrates, the efforts of
Sixtus IV. and the anathemas of the inquisitor, Henry Institoris, until
Frederic III., after balancing awhile, had him thrown into jail. In the
same year, 1482, Ferdinand and Isabella, by the threat of calling a
council, brought Sixtus to renounce the claim of filling the sees of
Spain with his own creatures. In 1495 a rumor was current that the
emperor was about to cite the pope to a council to be held in Florence.
Some years earlier the rebellious Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who
had fled to France, persistently urged Charles VIII. to assemble a
general council; in 1497 Charles submitted the question to the
University of Paris, and the University pronounced in its favor. Wild as
was Savonarola's notion that he could, single-handed, stimulate the
princes to such action, it was, nevertheless, a dart aimed at the mortal
spot of the papacy, and the combat thereafter was one in which no
quarter could be given.[237]

The end, in fact, was inevitable, but it came sooner and more
dramatically than the shrewdest observer could have anticipated. It is
impossible, amid the conflicting statements of friends and foes, to
determine with positiveness the successive steps leading to the strange
_Sperimento del Fuoco_ which was the proximate occasion of the
catastrophe, but it probably occurred in this wise: Frà Girolamo being
silenced, Domenico da Pescia took his place. Matters were clearly
growing desperate, and in his indiscreet zeal Domenico offered to prove
the truth of his master's cause by throwing himself from the roof of the
Palazzo de' Signori, by casting himself into the river, or by entering
fire. Probably this was only a rhetorical flourish without settled
purpose, but the Franciscan, Francesco della Puglia, who was preaching
with much effect at the Church of Santa-Croce, took it up and offered to
share the ordeal with Frà Girolamo. The latter, however, refused to
undertake it unless a papal legate and ambassadors from all Christian
princes could be present, so that it might be made the commencement of a
general reform in the Church. Frà Domenico then accepted the challenge,
and on March 27 or 28 he caused to be affixed to the portal of
Santa-Croce a paper in which he offered to prove, by argument or
miracle, these propositions: I. The Church of God requires renovation;
II. The Church is to be scourged; III. The Church will be renovated; IV.
After chastisement Florence will be renovated and will prosper; V. The
infidel will be converted; VI. The excommunication of Frà Girolamo is
void; VII. There is no sin in not observing the excommunication. Frà
Francesco reasonably enough said that most of these propositions were
incapable of argument, but, as a demonstration was desired, he would
enter fire with Frà Domenico, although he fully expected to be burned;
still, he was willing to make the sacrifice in order to liberate the
Florentines from their false idol.[238]

Passions were fierce on both sides, and eager partisans kept the city in
an uproar. To prevent an outbreak the Signoria sent for both disputants
and caused them to enter into a written agreement, March 30, to undergo
this strange trial. Three hundred years earlier it would have seemed
reasonable enough, but the Council of Lateran, in 1215, had reprobated
ordeals of all kinds, and they had been definitely marked with the ban
of the Church. When it came to the point Frà Francesco said that he had
no quarrel with Domenico; that if Savonarola would undergo the trial, he
was ready to share it, but with any one else he would only produce a
champion--and one was readily found in the person of Frà Giuliano
Rondinelli, a noble Florentine of the Order. On the other side, all the
friars of San Marco, nearly three hundred in number, signed the
agreement pledging to submit themselves to the ordeal, and Savonarola
declared that in such a cause any one could do so without risk. So great
was the enthusiasm that when, on the day before the trial, he preached
on the subject in San-Marco, all the audience rose in mass, and offered
to take Domenico's place in vindicating the truth. The conditions
prescribed by the Signoria were, that if the Dominican champion
perished, whether alone or with his rival, Savonarola should leave the
city until officially recalled; if the Franciscan alone succumbed, then
Frà Francesco should do likewise; and the same was decreed for either
side that should decline the ordeal at the last moment.[239]

The Signoria appointed ten citizens to conduct the trial, and fixed it
for April 6, but postponed it for a day in hopes of receiving from the
pope a negative answer to an application for permission--a refusal which
came, but came too late, possibly delayed on purpose. On April 7,
accordingly, the preparations were completed. In the Piazza de' Signori
a huge pile of dry wood was built the height of a man's eyes, with a
central gangway through which the champions were to pass. It was
plentifully supplied with gunpowder, oil, sulphur, and spirits, to
insure the rapid spread of the flames, and when lighted at one end the
contestants were to enter at the other, which was to be set on fire
behind them, so as to cut off all retreat. An immense mass of earnest
spectators filled the piazza, and every window and house-top was
crowded. These were mostly partisans of Savonarola, and the Franciscans
were cowed until cheered by the arrival of the Compagnacci, the young
nobles fully armed on their war-horses, and each accompanied by eight or
ten retainers--some five hundred in all, with Doffo Spini at their

First came on the scene the Franciscans, anxious and terrified. Then
marched in procession the Dominicans, about two hundred in number,
chanting psalms. Both parties went before the Signoria, when the
Franciscans, professing fear of magic arts, demanded that Domenico
should change his garments. Although this was promptly acceded to, and
both champions were clothed anew, considerable time was consumed in the
details. The Dominicans claimed that Domenico should be allowed to carry
a crucifix in his right hand and a consecrated wafer in his left. An
objection being made to the crucifix he agreed to abandon it, but was
unmoved by the cry of horror with which the proposition as to the host
was received. Savonarola was firm. It had been revealed to Frà Salvestro
that the sacrament was indispensable, and the matter was hotly disputed
until the shades of evening fell, when the Signoria announced that the
ordeal was abandoned, and the Franciscans withdrew, followed by the
Dominicans. The crowd which had patiently waited through torrents of
rain, and a storm in which the air seemed filled with howling demons,
were enraged at the loss of the promised spectacle, and a heavy armed
escort was necessary to convey the Dominicans in safety back to San
Marco. Had the matter been one with which reason had anything to do, we
might perhaps wonder that it was regarded as a triumph for the
Franciscans; but Savonarola had so confidently promised a miracle, and
had been so implicitly believed by his followers, that they accepted the
drawn battle as a defeat, and as a confession that he could not rely on
the interposition of God. Their faith in their prophet was shaken, while
the exultant Compagnacci lavished abuse on him, and they had not a word
to utter in his defence.[241]

His enemies were prompt in following up their advantage. The next day
was Palm Sunday. The streets were full of triumphant Arrabbiati, and
such Piagnoni as showed themselves were pursued with jeers and pelted
with stones. At vespers, the Dominican Mariano de' Ughi attempted to
preach in the Duomo, which was crowded, but the Compagnacci were there
in force, interrupted the sermon, ordered the audience to disperse, and
those who resisted were assailed and wounded. Then arose the cry, "To
San Marco!" and the crowd hurried thither. Already the doors of the
Dominican church had been surrounded by boys whose cries disturbed the
service within, and who, when ordered to be silent, had replied with
showers of stones which compelled the entrance to be closed. As the
crowd surged around, the worshippers were glad to escape with their
lives through the cloisters. Francesco Valori and Paolo Antonio Soderini
were there in consultation with Savonarola. Soderini made good his exit
from the city; Valori was seized while skirting the walls, and carried
in front of his palace, which had already been attacked by the
Compagnacci. Before his eyes, his wife, who was pleading with the
assailants from a window, was slain with a missile, one of his children
and a female servant were wounded, and the palace was sacked and burned,
after which he was struck from behind and killed by his enemies of the
families Tornabuoni and Ridolfi. Two other houses of Savonarola's
partisans were likewise pillaged and burned.[242]

In the midst of the uproar there came forth successive proclamations
from the Signoria ordering Savonarola to quit the Florentine territories
within twelve hours, and all laymen to leave the church of San Marco
within one hour. Although these were followed by others threatening
death to any one entering the church, they virtually legalized the riot,
showing what had doubtless been the secret springs that set it in
motion. The assault on San Marco then became a regular siege. Matters
had for some time looked so threatening that during the past fortnight
the friars had been secretly providing themselves with arms. These they
and their friends used gallantly, even against the express commands of
Savonarola, and a _melée_ occurred in which more than a hundred on both
sides were killed and wounded. At last the Signoria sent guards to
capture Savonarola and his principal aids, Domenico and Salvestro, with
a pledge that no harm should be done to them. Resistance ceased; the two
former were found in the library, but Salvestro had hidden himself, and
was not captured till the next day. The prisoners were ironed hand and
foot and carried through the streets, where their guards could not
protect them from kicks and buffets by the raging mob.[243]

The next day there was comparative quiet. The revolution in which the
aristocracy had allied itself with the dangerous classes was complete.
The Piagnoni were thoroughly cowed. Opprobrious epithets were freely
lavished on Savonarola by the victors, and any one daring to utter a
word in his defence would have been slain on the spot. To render the
triumph permanent, however, it was necessary first to discredit him
utterly with the people and then to despatch him. No time was lost in
preparing to give a judicial appearance to the foregone conclusion.
During the day a tribunal of seventeen members selected from among his
special enemies, such as Doffo Spini, was nominated, which set promptly
to work on April 10, although its formal commission, including power to
use torture, was not made out until the 11th. Papal authority to
disregard the clerical immunity of the prisoners was applied for, but
the proceedings were not delayed by waiting for the answer, which, of
course, was favorable, and two papal commissioners were adjoined to the
tribunal. Savonarola and his companions, still ironed hand and foot,
were carried to the Bargello. The official account states that he was
first interrogated kindly, but as he would not confess he was threatened
with torture, and this proving ineffectual he was subjected to three and
a half _tratti di fune_. This was a customary form of torture, known as
the strappado, which consisted in tying the prisoner's hands behind his
back, then hoisting him by a rope fastened to his wrists, letting him
drop from a height and arresting him with a jerk before his feet reached
the floor. Sometimes heavy weights were attached to the feet to render
the operation more severe. Officially it is stated that this first
application was sufficient to lead him to confess freely, but the
general belief at the time was that it was repeated with extreme

Be this as it may, Savonarola's nervous organization was too sensitive
for him to endure agony which he knew would be indefinitely prolonged by
those determined to effect a predestined result. He entreated to be
released from the torture and promised to reveal everything. His
examination lasted until April 18, but even in his complying frame of
mind the resultant confession required to be manipulated before it could
be made public. For this infamous piece of work a fitting instrument was
at hand. Ser Ceccone was an old partisan of the Medici whose life had
been saved by Savonarola's secretly giving him refuge in San Marco, and
who now repaid the benefit by sacrificing his benefactor. As a notary he
was familiar with such work, and under his skilful hands the incoherent
answers of Savonarola were moulded into a narrative which is the most
abject of self-accusations and most compromising to all his

He is made to represent himself as being from the first a conscious
impostor, whose sole object was to gain power by deceiving the people.
If his project of convoking a council had resulted in his being chosen
pope he would not have refused the position, but if not he would at all
events have become the foremost man in the world. For his own purposes
he had arrayed the citizens against each other and caused a rupture
between the city and the Holy See, striving to erect a government on the
Venetian model, with Francesco Valori as perpetual doge. The animus of
the trial is clearly revealed in the scant attention paid to his
spiritual aberrations, which were the sole offences for which he could
be convicted, and the immense detail devoted to his political activity,
and to his relations with all obnoxious citizens whom it was desired to
involve in his ruin. Had there been any pretence of observing ordinary
judicial forms, the completeness with which he was represented as
abasing himself would have overreached its purpose. In forcing him to
confess that he was no prophet, and that he had always secretly believed
the papal excommunication to be valid, he was relieved from the charge
of persistent heresy, and he could legally be only sentenced to penance;
but, as there was no intention of being restricted to legal rules, the
first object was to discredit him with the people, after which he could
be judicially murdered with impunity.[246]

The object was thoroughly attained. On April 19, in the great hall of
the council, the confession was publicly read in the presence of all who
might see fit to attend. The effect produced is well described by the
honest Luca Landucci, who had been an earnest and devout, though timid,
follower of Frà Girolamo, and who now grieved bitterly at the
disappearance of his illusions, and at the shattering of the gorgeous
day-dreams in which the disciples had nursed themselves. Deep was his
anguish as he listened to the confession of one "whom we believed to be
a prophet and who now confessed that he was no prophet, and that what he
preached was not revealed to him by God. I was stupefied and my very
soul was filled with grief to see the destruction of such an edifice,
which crumbled because it was founded on a lie. I had expected to see
Florence a new Jerusalem, whence should issue the laws and the splendor
and the example of the holy life; to see the renovation of the Church,
the conversion of the infidel, and the rejoicing of the good. I found
the reverse of all this, and I swallowed the dose"--a natural enough
metaphor, seeing that Landucci was an apothecary.[247]

Yet even with this the Signoria was not satisfied. On April 21 a new
trial was ordered; Savonarola was tortured again, and further avowals of
his political action were wrung from him,[248] while a general arrest
was made of those who were compromised by his confessions, and those of
Domenico and Salvestro, creating a terror so widespread that large
numbers of his followers fled from the city. On the 27th the prisoners
were taken to the Bargello and so tortured that during the whole of the
afternoon their shrieks were heard by the passers-by, but nothing was
wrung from them to incriminate Savonarola. The officials in power had
but a short time for action, as their term of office ended with the
month, although by arbitrary and illegal devices they secured successors
of their own party. Their last official act, on the 30th, was the exile
of ten of the accused citizens, and the imposition on twenty-three of
various fines, amounting in all to twelve thousand florins.[249]

The new government which came in power May 1 at once discharged the
imprisoned citizens, but kept Savonarola and his companions. These, as
Dominicans, were not justiciable by the civil power, but the Signoria
immediately applied to Alexander for authority to condemn and execute
them. He refused, and ordered them to be delivered to him for judgment,
as he had already done when the news reached him of Savonarola's
capture. To this the republic demurred, doubtless for the reason
privately alleged to the ambassador, that Savonarola was privy to too
many state secrets to be intrusted to the Roman curia; but it suggested
that the pope might send commissioners to Florence to conduct the
proceedings in his name. To this he assented. In a brief of May 11 the
Bishop of Vaison, the suffragan of the Archbishop of Florence, is
instructed to degrade the culprits from holy orders, at the requisition
of the commissioners who had been empowered to conduct the examination
and trial to final sentence. In the selection of these commissioners the
Inquisition does not appear. Even had it not fallen too low in popular
estimation to be intrusted with an affair of so much moment, in Tuscany
it was Franciscan, and to have given special authority to the existing
inquisitor, Frà Francesco da Montalcino, would have been injudicious in
view of the part taken by the Franciscans in the downfall of Savonarola.
Alexander showed his customary shrewdness in selecting for the miserable
work the Dominican general, Giovacchino Torriani, who bore the
reputation of a kind-hearted and humane man. He was but a
stalking-horse, however, for the real actor was his associate, Francesco
Romolino, a clerk of Lerida, whose zeal in the infamous business was
rewarded with the cardinalate and archbishopric of Palermo. After all,
their duties were only ministerial and not judicial, for the matter had
been prejudged at Rome. Romolino openly boasted, "We shall have a fine
bonfire, for I bring the sentence with me,"[250]

The commissioners reached Florence May 19, and lost no time in
accomplishing their object. The only result of the papal intervention
was to subject the victims to a surplusage of agony and shame. For
form's sake, the papal judges could not accept the proceedings already
had, but must inflict on Savonarola a third trial. Brought before
Romolino on the 20th, he retracted his confession as extorted by
torture, and asserted that he was an envoy of God. Under the
inquisitorial formulas this retraction of confession rendered him a
relapsed heretic, who could be burned without further ceremony, but his
judges wanted to obtain information desired by Alexander, and again the
sufferer was repeatedly subjected to the strappado, when he withdrew his
retraction. Special inquiries were directed to ascertain whether the
Cardinal of Naples had been privy to the design of convoking a general
council, and under the stress of reiterated torture Savonarola was
brought to admit this on the 21st, but on the 22d he withdrew the
assertion, and the whole confession, although manipulated by the skilful
hand of Ser Ceccone, was so nearly a repetition of the previous one that
it was never given to the public. This mattered little, however, for the
whole proceedings were a barefaced mockery of justice. From some
oversight Domenico da Pescia's name had not been included in the papal
commission. He was an individual of no personal importance, but some
zealous Florentine warned Romolino that there might be danger in sparing
him, when the commissioner carelessly replied "A _frataccio_ more or
less makes no difference," and his name was added to the sentence. He
was an impenitent heretic, for with heroic firmness he had borne the
most excruciating torture without retracting his faith in his beloved

The accused were at least spared the torment of suspense. On the 22d
judgment was pronounced. They were condemned as heretics and
schismatics, rebels from the Church, sowers of tares and revealers of
confessions, and were sentenced to be abandoned to the secular arm. To
justify relaxation, it was requisite that the culprit should be a
relapsed or a defiant heretic, and Savonarola was not regarded as coming
under either category. He had always declared his readiness to retract
anything which Rome might define as erroneous. He had confessed all that
had been required of him, nor was his retraction when removed from
torture treated as a relapse, for he and his companions were admitted to
communion before execution, without undergoing the ceremony of
abjuration, which shows that they were not considered as heretics, nor
cut off from the Church. In fact, as though to complete the irregularity
of the whole transaction, Savonarola himself was allowed to act as the
celebrant, and to perform the sacred mysteries on the morning of the
execution. All this went for nothing, however, when a Borgia was eager
for revenge. On the previous evening a great pile had been built in the
piazza. The next morning, May 23, the ceremony of degradation from holy
orders was performed in public, after which the convicts were handed
over to the secular magistrates. Was it hypocrisy or remorse that led
Romolino at this moment to give to his victims, in the name of
Alexander, plenary indulgence of their sins, thus restoring them to a
state of primal innocence? Irregular as the whole affair had been, it
was rendered still more so by the Signoria, which modified the customary
penalty to hanging before the burning, and the three martyrs endured
their fate in silence.[252]

The utmost care was taken that the bodies should be utterly consumed,
after which every fragment of ashes was scrupulously gathered up and
thrown into the Arno, in order to prevent the preservation of relics.
Yet, at the risk of their lives, some earnest disciples secretly managed
to secure a few floating coals, as well as some fragments of garments,
which were treasured and venerated even to recent times. Though many of
the believers, like honest Landucci, were disillusioned, many were
persistent in the faith, and for a long while lived in the daily
expectation of Savonarola's advent, like a new Messiah, to work out the
renovation of Christianity and the conversion of the infidel--the
realization of the splendid promises with which he had beguiled himself
and them. So profound and lasting was the impression made by his
terrible fate that for more than two centuries, until 1703, the place of
execution was secretly strewed with flowers on the night of the
anniversary, May 23.[253]

The papal commissioners reaped a harvest by summoning to Rome the
followers of Savonarola, and then speculating on their fears by selling
them exemptions. Florence itself was not long in realizing the strength
of the reaction against the puritanic methods which Savonarola had
enforced. The streets again became filled with reckless desperadoes,
quarrels and murders were frequent, gambling was unchecked, and license
reigned supreme. Nardi tells us that it seemed as if decency and virtue
had been prohibited by law, and the common remark was, that since the
coming of Mahomet no such scandal had been inflicted upon the Church of
God. As Landucci says, it seemed as if hell had broken loose. As though
in very wantonness to show the Church what were the allies whom it had
sought in the effort to crush unwelcome reform, on the following
Christmas eve a horse was brought into the Duomo, and deliberately
tortured to death, goats were let loose in San Marco, and in all the
churches assafœtida was placed in the censers; nor does it seem that any
punishment was visited upon the perpetrators of these public sacrileges.
The Church had used the sceptics to gain her ends, and could not
complain of the manner in which they repaid her for her assistance in
the unholy alliance.[254]

Savonarola had built his house upon the sand, and was swept away by the
waters. Yet, in spite of his execution as a heretic, the Church has
tacitly confessed its own crime by admitting that he was no heretic, but
rather a saint, and the most convenient evasion of responsibility was
devoutly to refer the whole matter, as Luke Wadding does, to the
mysterious judgment of God. Even Torriani and Romolino, after burning
him, when they ordered, May 27, under pain of excommunication, all his
writings to be delivered up to them for examination, were unable to
discover any heretical opinions, and were obliged to return them without
erasures. Perhaps it might have been as well to do this before
condemning him. Paul III. declared that he would hold as a heretic any
one who should assail the memory of Frà Girolamo; and Paul IV. had his
works rigorously examined by a special congregation, which declared that
they contained no heresy. Fifteen of his sermons, denunciatory of
ecclesiastical abuses, and his treatise _De Veritate Prophetica_, were
placed upon the index as unfitted for general reading, _donec
corrigantur_, but not as heretical. Benedict XIV., in his great work,
_De Servorum Dei Beatificatione_, includes Savonarola's name in a list
of the saints and men illustrious for sanctity. Images of him graced
with the nimbus of sanctity were allowed to be publicly sold, and St.
Filippo Neri kept one of these constantly by him. St. Francesco di Paola
held him to be a saint. St. Catarina Ricci used to invoke him as a
saint, and considered his suffrage peculiarly efficacious; when she was
canonized, her action with regard to this was brought before the
consistory, and was thoroughly discussed. Prospero Lambertini,
afterwards Benedict XIV., was the _Promotor fidei_, and investigated the
matter carefully, coming to the conclusion that this in no degree
detracted from the merits of St. Catarina. Benedict XIII. also examined
the case thoroughly, and, dreading a renewal of the old controversy as
to the justice of Savonarola's sentence, ordered the discussion to cease
and the proceedings to continue without reference to it, which was a
virtual decision in favor of the martyr's saintliness. In S. Maria
Novella and S. Marco he is pictured as a saint, and in the frescos of
the Vatican Raphael included him among the doctors of the Church. The
Dominicans long cherished his memory, and were greatly disposed to
regard him as a genuine prophet and uncanonized saint. When Clement
VIII., in 1598, hoped to acquire Ferrara, he is said to have made a vow
that if successful he would canonize Savonarola, and the hopes of the
Dominicans grew so sanguine that they composed a litany for him in
advance. In fact, in many of the Dominican convents of Italy during the
sixteenth century, on the anniversary of his execution an office was
sung to him as to a martyr. His marvellous career thus furnishes the
exact antithesis of that of his Ferrarese compatriot, Armanno
Pongilupo--the one was venerated as a saint and then burned as a
heretic, the other was burned as a heretic and then venerated as a



It was inevitable that secular potentates should follow the example of
the Church in the employment of a weapon so efficient as the charge of
heresy, when they chanced to be in the position of controlling the
ecclesiastical organization.

A typical illustration of this is seen when, during the anarchy which
prevailed in Rome after the death of Innocent VII. in 1406, Basilio
Ordelaffi incurred the enmity of the Colonnas and the Savelli, and they
found that the easiest way to deal with him was through the Inquisition.
Under their impulsion it seized him and two of his adherents, Matteo and
Merenda. Through means procured by his daughter, Ordelaffi escaped from
prison and was condemned _in contumaciam_. The others confessed--doubtless
under torture--the heresies attributed to them, were handed over to the
secular arm, and were duly burned. Their houses were torn down, and on
their sites in time were erected two others, one of which afterwards
became the dwelling of Michael Angelo and the other of Salvator

Secular potentates, however, had not waited till the fifteenth century
to appreciate the facilities afforded by heresy and the Inquisition for
the accomplishment of their objects. Already a hundred years earlier the
methods of the Inquisition had suggested to Philippe le Bel the great
crime of the Middle Ages--the destruction of the Order of the Temple.

When, in 1119, Hugues de Payen and Geoffroi de Saint-Adhémar with seven
companions devoted themselves to the pious task of keeping the roads to
Jerusalem clear of robbers, that pilgrims might traverse them in safety,
and when Raymond du Puy about the same time organized the Poor Brethren
of the Hospital of St. John, they opened a new career which was
irresistibly attractive to the warlike ardor and religious enthusiasm of
the age. The strange combination of monasticism and chivalry
corresponded so exactly to the ideal of Christian knighthood that the
Military Orders thus founded speedily were reckoned among the leading
institutions of Europe. At the Council of Troyes, in 1128, a Rule, drawn
up it is said by St. Bernard, was assigned to Hugues and his associates,
who were known as the Poor Soldiers of the Temple. They were assigned a
white habit, as a symbol of innocence, to which Eugenius III. added a
red cross, and their standard, _Bauséant_, half black and half white,
with its legend, "_Non nobis Domine_," soon became the rallying-point of
the Christian chivalry. The Rule, based upon that of the strict
Cistercian Order, was exceedingly severe. The members were bound by the
three monastic vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, and these were
enforced in the statutes of the Order with the utmost rigor. The
applicant for admission was required to ask permission to become the
serf and slave of the "House" forever, and was warned that he henceforth
surrendered his own will irrevocably. He was promised bread and water
and the poor vestments of the House; and if after death gold or silver
were found among his effects his body was thrust into unconsecrated
ground, or, if buried, it was exhumed. Chastity was prescribed in the
same unsparing fashion, and even the kiss of a mother was

The fame of the Order quickly filled all Europe; knights of the noblest
blood, dukes and princes, renounced the world to serve Christ in its
ranks, and soon in its general chapter three hundred knights were
gathered, in addition to serving brethren. Their possessions spread
immensely. Towns and villages and churches and manors were bestowed upon
them, from which the revenues were sent to the Grand Master, whose
official residence was Jerusalem, together with the proceeds of the
collections of an organized system of beggary, their agents for which
penetrated into every corner of Christendom. Scarce had the Order been
organized when, in 1133, the mighty warrior, Alonso I. of Aragon, known
as _el Batallador_ and also as _el Emperador_, because his rule extended
over Navarre and a large portion of Castile, dying without children,
left his whole dominions to the Holy Sepulchre and to the Knights of the
Temple and of the Hospital in undivided thirds; and though the will was
not executed, the knights were promised and doubtless received
compensation from his successor, Ramiro el Monje. More practical was the
liberality of Philip Augustus, in 1222, when he left the two Orders two
thousand marks apiece absolutely, and the enormous sum of fifty thousand
marks each on condition of keeping in service for three years three
hundred knights in the Holy Land. We can understand how, in 1191, the
Templars could buy the Island of Cyprus from Richard of England for
twenty-five thousand silver marks, although they sold it the next year
for the same price to Gui, King of Jerusalem. We can understand, also,
that this enormous development began to excite apprehension and
hostility. At the Council of Lateran, in 1179, there was bitter strife
between the prelates and the Military Orders, resulting in a decree
which required the Templars to surrender all recently acquired churches
and tithes--an order which, in 1186, Urban III. defined as meaning all
acquired within the ten years previous to the council.[258]

This indicates that already the prelates were beginning to feel jealous
of the new organization. In fact, the antagonism which we have already
traced in the thirteenth century between the Mendicant Orders and the
secular clergy was but the repetition of that which had long existed
with respect to the Military Orders. These from the first were the
especial favorites of the Holy See, whose policy it was to elevate them
into a militia depending solely on Rome, thus rendering them an
instrument in extending its influence and breaking down the independence
of the local churches. Privileges and immunities were showered upon
them: they were exempted from tolls and tithes and taxes of all kinds;
their churches and houses were endowed with the right of asylum; their
persons enjoyed the inviolability accorded to ecclesiastics; they were
released from all feudal obligations and allegiance; they were
justiciable only by Rome; bishops were forbidden to excommunicate them,
and were even ordered to refer to the Roman curia all the infinite
questions which arose in local quarrels. In 1255, after the misfortunes
of the crusade of St. Louis, alms given to their collectors were
declared to entitle the donors to Holy Land indulgences. In short,
nothing was omitted by the popes that would stimulate their growth and
bind them firmly to the chair of St. Peter.[259]

Thus it was inevitable that antagonism should spring up between the
secular hierarchy and the Military Orders. The Templars were continually
complaining that the prelates were endeavoring to oppress them, to
impose exactions, and to regain by various devices the jurisdiction from
which the popes had relieved them; their right of asylum was violated;
the priests interfered with their begging collectors, and repressed and
intercepted the pious legacies designed for them; the customary quarrels
over burials and burial-fees were numerous, for, until the rise of the
Mendicants, and even afterwards, it was a frequent thing for nobles to
order their sepulture in the Temple or the Hospital. To these complaints
the popes ever lent a ready ear, and the favoritism which they
manifested only gave a sharper edge to the hostility of the defeated
prelates. In 1264 there was a threatened rupture between the papacy and
the Temple. Étienne de Sissy, Marshal of the Order and Preceptor of
Apulia, refused to assist in the crusade preparing against Manfred, and
was removed by Urban IV. When ordered to resign his commission he boldly
replied to Urban that no pope had ever interfered with the internal
affairs of the Order, and that he would resign his office only to the
Grand Master who had conferred it. Urban excommunicated him, but the
Order sustained him, being discontented because the succors levied for
the Holy Land were diverted to the papal enterprise against Manfred. The
following year a new pope, Clement IV., in removing the excommunication,
bitterly reproached the Order for its ingratitude, and pointed out that
only the support of the papacy could sustain it against the hostility of
the bishops and princes, which apparently was notorious. Still the Order
held out, and in common with the Hospitallers and Cistercians, refused
to pay a tithe to Charles of Anjou, in spite of which Clement issued
numerous bulls confirming and enlarging its privileges.[260]

That this antagonism on the part of temporal and spiritual potentates
had ample justification there can be little doubt. If, as we have seen,
the Mendicant Orders rapidly declined from the enthusiastic
self-abnegation of Dominic and Francis, such a body as the Templars,
composed of ambitious and warlike knights, could hardly be expected long
to retain its pristine ascetic devotion. Already, in 1152, the selfish
eagerness of the Grand Master, Bernard de Tremelai, to secure the spoils
of Ascalon nearly prevented the capture of that city, and the fall of
the Kingdom of Jerusalem was hastened when, in 1172, the savage ferocity
of Eudes de Saint-Amand, then Grand Master, prevented the conversion of
the King of the Assassins and all his people. It was not without show of
justification that about this time Walter Mapes attributes the
misfortunes of the Christians of the East to the corruption of the
Military Orders. By the end of the century we have seen from King
Richard's rejoinder to Foulques de Neuilly that Templar was already
synonymous with pride, and in 1207 Innocent III. took the Order to task
in an epistle of violent denunciation. His apostolic ears, he said, were
frequently disturbed with complaints of their excesses. Apostatizing
from God and scandalizing the Church, their unbridled pride abused the
enormous privileges bestowed upon them. Employing doctrines worthy of
demons, they give their cross to every tramp who can pay them two or
three pence a year, and then assert that these are entitled to
ecclesiastical services and Christian burial, even though laboring under
excommunication. Thus ensnared by the devil they ensnare the souls of
the faithful. He forbears to dwell further on these and other
wickednesses by which they deserve to be despoiled of their privileges,
preferring to hope that they will free themselves from their turpitude.
A concluding allusion to their lack of respect towards papal legates
probably explains the venomous vigor of the papal attack, but the
accusations which it makes touch points on which there is other
conclusive evidence. Although by the statutes of the Order the purchase
of admission, directly or indirectly, was simony, entailing expulsion on
him who paid and degradation on the preceptor who was privy to it, there
can be no doubt that many doubtful characters thus effected entrance
into the Order. The papal letters and privileges so freely bestowed upon
them were moreover largely abused, to the vexation and oppression of
those with whom they came in contact, for, exclusively justiciable in
the Roman curia, they were secure against all pleaders who could not
afford that distant, doubtful, and expensive litigation. The evils
thence arising were greatly intensified when the policy was adopted of
forming a class of serving brethren, by whom their extensive properties
were cultivated and managed without the cost of hired labor. Churls of
every degree, husbandmen, shepherds, swineherds, mechanics, household
servants, were thus admitted into the Order, until they constituted at
least nine tenths of it, and although these were distinguished by a
brown mantle in place of the white garment of the knights, and although
they complained of the contempt and oppression with which they were
treated by their knightly brethren, nevertheless, in their relations
with the outside world, they were full members of the Order, shrouded
with its inviolability and entitled to all its privileges, which they
were not likely by moderation to render less odious to the

Thus the knights furnished ample cause for external hostility and
internal disquiet, though there is probably no ground for the accusation
that, in 1229, they betrayed Frederic II. to the infidel, and, in 1250,
St. Louis to the Soldan of Egypt. Yet Frederic II. doubtless had ample
reason for dissatisfaction with their conduct during his crusade, which
he revenged by expelling them from Sicily in 1229, and confiscating
their property; and though he recalled them soon after and assumed to
restore their possessions, he retained a large portion. Still, pious
liberality continued to increase the wealth of the Order, though as the
Christian possessions in the East shrank more and more, people began to
attribute the ceaseless misfortunes to the bitter jealousy and animosity
existing between the rival Orders of the Temple and the Hospital, which
in 1243 had broken out into open war in Palestine, to the great comfort
of the infidel. A remedy was naturally sought in a union of the two
Orders, together with that of the Teutonic Knights. At the Council of
Lyons, in 1274, Gregory N. vainly endeavored to effect this, but the
countervailing influences, including, it was said, the gold of the
brethren, were too powerful. In these reproaches perhaps the Orders were
held to an undeserved accountability, for while their quarrels and the
general misconduct of the Latins in Palestine did much to wreck the
kingdom of Jerusalem, the real responsibility lay rather with the
papacy. When thousands of heretics were sent as crusaders in punishment,
the glory of the service was fatally tarnished. When money raised and
vows taken for the Holy Land were diverted to the purposes of the papal
power in Italy, when the doctrine was publicly announced that the home
interests of the Holy See were more important than the recovery of the
Holy Sepulchre, the enthusiasm of Christendom against the infidel was
chilled. When salvation could be trained at almost any time by a short
term of service near home in the quarrels of the Church, whether on the
Weser or in Lombardy, the devotion which had carried thousands to the
Syrian deserts found a less rugged and a safer path to heaven. It is
easy thus to understand how in the development of papal aggrandizement
through the thirteenth century recruits and money were lacking to
maintain against the countless hordes of Tartars the conquests of
Godfrey of Bouillon. In addition to all this the Holy Land was made a
penal settlement whither were sent the malefactors of Europe, rendering
the Latin colony a horde of miscreants whose crimes deserved and whose
disorders invited the vengeance of Heaven.[262]

With the fall of Acre, in 1291, the Christians were driven definitely
from the shores of Syria, causing intense grief and indignation
throughout Europe. In that disastrous siege, brought on by the perfidy
of a band of crusaders who refused to observe an existing truce, the
Hospital won more glory than the Temple, although the Grand Master,
Guillaume de Beaujeu, had been chosen to command the defence, and fell
bravely fighting for the cross. After the surrender and massacre, his
successor, the monk Gaudini, sailed for Cyprus with ten knights, the
sole survivors of five hundred who had held out to the last. Again, not
without reason, the cry went up that the disaster was the result of the
quarrels between the Military Orders, and Nicholas IV. promptly sent
letters to the kings and prelates of Christendom asking their opinions
on the project of uniting them, in view of the projected crusade which
was to sail on St. John's day, 1293, under Edward I. of England. At
least one affirmative answer was received from the provincial council of
Salzburg, but ere it reached Rome Nicholas was dead. A long interregnum,
followed by the election of the hermit Pier Morrone, put an end to the
project for the time, but it was again taken up by Boniface VIII., to
be interrupted and laid aside, probably by his engrossing quarrel with
Philippe le Bel. What was the drift of public opinion at the time is
probably reflected in a tract on the recovery of the Holy Land addressed
to Edward I. It is there proposed that the two Orders, whose scandalous
quarrels have rendered them the object of scorn, shall be fused together
and confined to their eastern possessions, which should be sufficient
for their support, while their combined revenues from their western
property, estimated at eight hundred thousand livres Tournois per annum,
be employed to further the crusade. Evidently the idea was spreading
that their wealth could be seized and used to better purpose than it was
likely to be in their hands.[263]

Thus the Order was somewhat discredited in popular estimation when, in
1297, Jacques de Molay, whose terrible fate has cast a sombre shadow
over his name through the centuries, was elected Grand Master, after a
vigorous and bitter opposition by the partisans of Hugues de Peraud. A
few years of earnest struggle to regain a foothold in Palestine seemed
to exhaust the energy and resources of the Order, and it became
quiescent in Cyprus. Its next exploit, though not official, was not of a
nature to conciliate public opinion. Charles de Valois, the evil genius
of his brother Philippe le Bel, and of his nephews, in 1300 married
Catherine, granddaughter of Baldwin II. of Constantinople, and titular
empress. In 1306 he proposed to make good his wife's claims on the
imperial throne, and he found a ready instrument in Clement V., who
persuaded himself that the attempt would not be a weakening of
Christianity in the East, but a means of recovering Palestine, or at
least of reducing the Greek Church to subjection. He therefore
endeavored to unite the Italian republics and princes in this crusade
against Christians. Charles II. of Naples undertook an expedition in
conjunction with the Templars. A fleet was fitted out under the command
of Roger, a Templar of high reputation for skill and audacity. It
captured Thessalonica, but in place of actively pursuing Andronicus II.,
the Templars turned their arms against the Latin princes of Greece,
ravaged cruelly the shores of Thrace and the Morea, and returned with
immense booty, having aroused enmities which were an element in their
downfall. In contrast to this the Hospitallers were acquiring fresh
renown as the champions of Christ by gallantly conquering, after a four
years' struggle, the island of Rhodes, in which they so long maintained
the cause of Christianity in the East. In 1306 Clement V. sent for de
Molay and Guillaume de Villaret, Grand Master of the Hospitallers, to
consult about a new crusade and the often discussed project of the union
of the Orders. He told them to come as secretly as possible, but while
the Hospitaller, engrossed with preparations for the siege of Rhodes,
excused himself, de Molay came in state, with a retinue of sixty
knights, and manifested no intention of returning to his station in the
East. This well might arouse the question whether the Templars were
about to abandon their sphere of duty, and if so, what were the
ambitious schemes which might lead them to transfer their headquarters
to France. The Teutonic knights in withdrawing from the East were
carving out for themselves a kingdom amid the Pagans of northeastern
Europe. Had the Templars any similar aspirations nearer home?[264]

Suspicions of the kind might not unnaturally be excited, and yet be
wholly without foundation. Modern writers have exercised their ingenuity
in conjecturing that there was a plot on hand for the Templars to seize
the south of France and erect it into an independent kingdom. The Order
had early multiplied rapidly in the provinces from the Garonne to the
Rhone; it is assumed that they were deeply tinctured with Catharism, and
held relations with the concealed heretics in those regions. All this is
the sheerest assumption without the slightest foundation. There was not
a trace of Catharism in the Order,[265] and we have seen how by this
time the Cathari of Languedoc had been virtually exterminated, and how
the land had been Gallicized by the Inquisition. Such an alliance would
have been a source of weakness, not of strength, for it would have
brought upon them all Europe in arms, and had there been a shred of
evidence to that effect, Philippe le Bel would have made the most of it.
Neither can it be assumed that they were intriguing with the
discontented, orthodox population. Bernard Délicieux and the Carcassais
would never have turned to the feeble Ferrand of Majorca if they could
have summoned to their assistance the powerful Order of the Temple. Yet
even the Order of the Temple, however great might have been its
aggregate, was fatally weakened for such ambitious projects by being
scattered in isolated fragments over the whole extent of Europe; and its
inability to concentrate its forces for either aggression or defence was
shown when it surrendered with scarce an effort at self-preservation in
one country after another. Besides, it was by no means so numerous and
wealthy as has been popularly supposed. The dramatic circumstances of
its destruction have inflamed the imagination of all who have written
about it, leading to a not unnatural exaggeration in contrasting its
prosperity and its misery. An anonymous contemporary tells us that the
Templars were so rich and powerful that they could scarce have been
suppressed but for the secret and sudden movement of Philippe le Bel.
Villani, who was also a contemporary, says that their power and wealth
were well-nigh incomputable. As time went on conceptions became
magnified by distance. Trithemius assures us that it was the richest of
all the monastic Orders, not only in gold and silver, but in its vast
dominions, towns and castles in all the lands of Europe. Modern writers
have even exceeded this in their efforts to present definite figures.
Maillard de Chambure assumes that at the time of its downfall it
numbered thirty thousand knights with a revenue of eight million livres
Tournois. Wilcke estimates its income at twenty million thalers of
modern money, and asserts that in France alone it could keep in the
field an army of fifteen thousand cavaliers. Zöckler calculates its
income at fifty-four millions of francs, and that it numbered twenty
thousand knights. Even the cautious Havemann echoes the extravagant
statement that in wealth and power it could rival all the princes of
Christendom, while Schottmüller assumes that in France alone there were
fifteen thousand brethren, and over twenty thousand in the whole

The peculiar secrecy in which all the affairs of the Order were shrouded
renders such estimates purely conjectural. As to numbers, it has been
overlooked that the great body of members were serving brethren, not
fighting-men--herdsmen, husbandmen, and menials employed on the lands
and in the houses of the knights, and adding little to their effective
force. When they considered it a legitimate boast that in the one
hundred and eighty years of their active existence twenty thousand of
the brethren had perished in Palestine, we can see that at no time could
the roll of knights have exceeded a few thousand at most. At the Council
of Vienne the dissolution of the Order was urged on the ground that more
than two thousand depositions of witnesses had been taken, and as these
depositions covered virtually all the prisoners examined in France,
England, Spain, Italy, and Germany, whose evidence could be used, it
shows that the whole number can only have been insignificant in
comparison with what had been generally imagined. Cyprus was the
headquarters of the Order after the fall of Acre, yet at the time of the
seizure there were but one hundred and eighteen members there of all
ranks, and the numbers with which we meet in the trials everywhere are
ludicrously out of proportion with the enormous total popularly
attributed to the Order. A contemporary, of warmly papalist sympathies,
expresses his grief at the penalties righteously incurred by fifteen
thousand champions of Christ, which may be taken as an approximate guess
at the existing number; and if among these we assume fifteen hundred
knights, we shall probably be rather over than under the reality. As for
the wealth of the Order, in the general effort to appropriate its
possessions it was every one's interest to conceal the details of the
aggregate, but we chance to have a standard which shows that the
estimates of its supereminent riches are grossly exaggerated. In 1244
Matthew Paris states that it possessed throughout Christendom nine
thousand manors, while the Hospitallers had nineteen thousand. Nowhere
was it more prosperous than in Aquitaine, and about the year 1300, in a
computation of a tithe granted to Philippe le Bel, in the province of
Bordeaux, the Templars are set down at six thousand livres, the
Hospitallers at the same, while the Cistercians are registered for
twelve thousand. In the accounts of a royal collector in 1293 there are
specified in Auvergne fourteen Temple preceptories, paying in all three
hundred and ninety-two livres, while the preceptories of the
Hospitallers number twenty-four, with a payment of three hundred and
sixty-four livres. It will be remembered that a contemporary writer
estimates the combined revenues of the two Orders at eight hundred
thousand livres Tournois per annum, and of this the larger portion
probably belonged to the Hospital.[267]

Yet the wealth of the Order was more than sufficient to excite the
cupidity of royal freebooters, and its power and privileges quite enough
to arouse distrust in the mind of a less suspicious despot than Philippe
le Bel. Many ingenious theories have been advanced to explain his
action, but they are superfluous. In his quarrel with Boniface VIII.,
though the Templars were accused of secretly sending money to Rome in
defiance of his prohibition, they stood by him and signed an act
approving and confirming the assembly of the Louvre in June, 1303, where
Boniface was formally accused of heresy, and an appeal was made to a
future council to be assembled on the subject. So cordial, in fact, was
the understanding between the king and the Templars that royal letters
of July 10, 1303, show that the collection of all the royal revenues
throughout France was intrusted to Hugues de Peraud, the Visitor of
France, who had narrowly missed obtaining the Grand Mastership of the
Order. In June, 1304, Philippe confirmed all their privileges, and in
October he issued an Ordonnance granting them additional ones and
speaking of their merits in terms of warm appreciation. They lent him,
in 1299, the enormous sum of five hundred thousand livres for the dowry
of his sister. As late as 1306, when Hugues de Peraud had suffered a
loss of two thousand silver marks deposited with Tommaso and Vanno
Mozzi, Florentine bankers, who fraudulently disappeared, Philippe
promptly intervened and ordered restitution of the sum by Aimon, Abbot
of S. Antoine, who had gone security for the bankers. When in his
extreme financial straits he debased the coinage until a popular
insurrection was excited in Paris, it was in the Temple that he took
refuge, and it was the Templars that defended him against the assaults
of the mob. But these very obligations were too great to be incurred by
a monarch who was striving to render himself absolute, and the
recollection of them could hardly fail to suggest that the Order was a
dangerous factor in a kingdom where feudal institutions were being
converted into a despotism. While it might not have strength to sever a
portion of the provinces and erect an independent principality, it might
at any moment become a disagreeable element in a contest with the great
feudatories to whom the knights were bound by common sympathies and
interests. He was engaged in reducing them to subjection by the
extension of the royal jurisdiction, and the Templars were subject to no
jurisdiction save that of the Holy See. They were not his subjects; they
owed him no obedience or allegiance; he could not summon them to perform
military service as he could his bishops, but they enjoyed the right to
declare war and make peace on their own account without responsibility
to any one; they were clothed in all the personal inviolability of
ecclesiastics, and he possessed no means of control over them as he did
with the hierarchy of the Gallican Church. They were exempt from all
taxes and tolls and customs dues; their lands contributed nothing to his
necessities, save when he could wring from the pope the concession of a
tithe. While thus in every way independent of him, they were bound by
rules of the blindest and most submissive obedience to their own
superiors. The command of the Master was received as an order from God;
no member could have a lock upon a bag or trunk, could bathe or let
blood, could open a letter from a kinsman without permission of his
commander, and any disobedience forfeited the habit and entailed
imprisonment in chains, with its indelible disabilities. It is true that
in 1295 there had been symptoms of turbulence in the Order, when the
intervention of Boniface VIII. was required to enforce subjection to the
Master, but this had passed away, and the discipline within its ranks
was a religious obligation which rendered it vastly more efficient for
action than the elastic allegiance of the vassal to his seigneur. Such a
body of armed warriors was an anomaly in a feudal organization, and when
the Templars seemed to have abandoned their military activity in the
East, Philippe, in view of their wealth and numbers in France, may well
have regarded them as a possible obstacle to his schemes of monarchical
aggrandizement to be got rid of at the first favorable moment. At the
commencement of his reign he had endeavored to put a stop to the
perpetual acquisitions of both the religious Orders and the Templars,
through which increasing bodies of land were falling under mainmorte,
and the fruitlessness of the effort must have strengthened his
convictions of its necessity. If it be asked why he attacked the
Templars rather than the Hospitallers, the answer is probably to be
found in the fact that the Temple was the weaker of the two, while the
secrecy shrouding its ritual rendered it an object of popular

Walsingham asserts that Philippe's design in assailing the Templars was
to procure for one of his younger sons the title of King of Jerusalem,
with the Templar possessions as an appanage. Such a project was
completely within the line of thought of the time, and would have
resulted in precipitating Europe anew upon Syria. It may possibly have
been a motive at the outset, and was gravely discussed in the Council of
Vienne in favor of Philippe le Long, but it is evident that no sovereign
outside of France would have permitted the Templar dominions within his
territories to pass under the control of a member of the aspiring house
of Capet.[269]

For the explanation of Philippe's action, however, we need hardly look
further than to financial considerations. He was in desperate straits
for money to meet the endless drain of the Flemish war. He had imposed
taxes until some of his subjects were in revolt, and others were on the
verge of it. He had debased the currency until he earned the name of the
Counterfeiter, had found himself utterly unable to redeem his promises,
and had discovered by experience that of all financial devices it was
the most costly and ruinous. His resources were exhausted and his
scruples were few. The stream of confiscations from Languedoc was
beginning to run dry, while the sums which it had supplied to the royal
treasury for more than half a century had shown the profit which was
derivable from well-applied persecution of heresy. He had just carried
out a financial expedient of the same kind as his dealings with the
Templars, by arresting all the Jews of the kingdom simultaneously,
stripping them of their property, and banishing them under pain of
death. A memorandum of questions for consideration, still preserved in
the Trésor des Chartres, shows that he expected to benefit in the same
way from the confiscation of the Templar possessions, while, as we shall
see, he overlooked the fact that these, as ecclesiastical property, were
subject to the imprescriptible rights of the Church.[270]

The stories about Squin de Florian, a renegade Templar, and Noffo Dei, a
wicked Florentine, both condemned to death and concocting the
accusations to save themselves, are probably but the conception of an
imaginative chronicler, handed down from one annalist to another.[271]
Such special interposition was wholly unnecessary. The foolish secrecy
in which the Templars enveloped their proceedings was a natural stimulus
of popular curiosity and suspicion. Alone among religious Orders, the
ceremonies of reception were conducted in the strictest privacy;
chapters were held at daybreak with doors closely guarded, and no
participant was allowed to speak of what was done, even to a
fellow-Templar not concerned in the chapter, under the heaviest penalty
known--that of expulsion. That this should lead to gossip and stories of
rites too repulsive and hideous to bear the light was inevitable. It was
the one damaging fact against them, and when Humbert Blanc, Preceptor of
Auvergne, was asked on his trial why such secrecy was observed if they
had nothing to conceal, he could only answer "through folly." Thus it
was common report that the neophyte was subjected to the humiliation of
kissing the posteriors of his preceptor--a report which the Hospitallers
took special pleasure in circulating. That unnatural lusts should be
attributed to the Order is easily understood, for it was a prevalent
vice of the Middle Ages, and one to which monastic communities were
especially subject; as recently as 1292 a horrible scandal of this kind
had led to the banishment of many professors and theologians of the
University of Paris. Darker rumors were not lacking of unchristian
practices introduced in the Order by a Grand Master taken prisoner by
the Soldan of Babylon, and procuring his release under promise of
rendering them obligatory on the members. There was also a legend that
in the early days of the Order two Templars were riding on one horse in
a battle beyond seas. The one in front recommended himself to Christ and
was sorely wounded; the one behind recommended himself to him who best
could help, and he escaped. The latter was said to be the demon in human
shape who told his wounded comrade that if he would believe him the
Order would grow in wealth and power. The Templar was seduced, and
thence came error and unbelief into the organization. We have seen how
readily such stories obtained credence throughout the Middle Ages, how
they grew and became embroidered with the most fantastic details. The
public mind was ripe to believe anything of the Templars; a spark only
was needed to produce a conflagration.[272]

Philippe's ministers and agents--Guillaume de Nogaret, Guillaume de
Plaisian, Renaud de Roye, and Enguerrand de Marigny--were quite fitted
to appreciate such an opportunity to relieve the royal exchequer, nor
could they be at a loss in finding testimony upon which to frame a
formidable list of charges, for we have already seen how readily
evidence was procured from apparently respectable witnesses convicting
Boniface VIII. of crimes equally atrocious. In the present case the task
was easier: the Templars could have been no exception to the general
demoralization of the monastic Orders, and in their ranks there must
have been many desperate adventurers, ready for any crime that would
bring a profit. Expelled members there were in plenty who had been
ejected for their misdeeds, and who could lose nothing by gratifying
their resentments. Apostates also were there who had fled from the Order
and were liable to imprisonment if caught, besides the crowd of
worthless ribalds whom the royal agents could always secure when
evidence for any purpose was wanted. These were quietly collected by
Guillaume de Nogaret, and kept in the greatest secrecy at Corbeil under
charge of the Dominican, Humbert. Heresy was, of course, the most
available charge to bring. The Inquisition was there as an unfailing
instrument to secure conviction. Popular rumor, no matter by whom
affirmed, was sufficient to require arrest and trial, and when once on
trial there were few indeed from whom the inquisitorial process could
not wring conviction. When once the attempt was determined upon the
result was inevitable.[273]

Still, the attempt could not be successful without the concurrence of
Clement V., for the inquisitorial courts, both of the Holy Office and of
the bishops, were under papal control, and, besides, public opinion
would require that the guilt of the Order should be proved in other
lands besides France. To enable Philippe to enjoy the expected
confiscations in his own dominions, confiscation must be general
throughout Europe, and for this the co-operation of the Holy See was
essential. Clement subsequently declared that Philippe broached the
subject to him in all its details before his coronation at Lyons,
November 14, 1305,[274] but the papal bulls throughout the whole matter
are so infected with mendacity that slender reliance is to be placed on
their statements. Doubtless there was some discussion about the current
reports defaming the Order, but Clement is probably not subject to the
imputation which historians have thrown upon him, that his summons to de
Molay and de Villaret in 1306 was purely a decoy. It seems to me
reasonable to conclude that he sent for them in good faith, and that de
Molay's own imprudence in establishing himself in France, as though for
a permanence, excited at once the suspicions and cupidity of the king,
and ripened into action what had previously been merely a vague

If such was the case, Philippe was not long in maturing the project, nor
were his agents slow in gathering material for the accusation. In his
interview with Clement at Poitiers, in the spring of 1307, he vainly
demanded the condemnation of the memory of Boniface VIII., and, failing
in this, he brought forward the charges against the Templars, while
temporarily dropping the other matter, but with equal lack of immediate
result. Clement sent for de Molay, who came to him with Raimbaud de
Caron, Preceptor of Cyprus, Geoffroi de Gonneville, Preceptor of
Aquitaine and Poitou, and Hugues de Peraud, Visitor of France, the
principal officers of the Order then in the kingdom. The charges were
communicated to them in all their foulness. Clement subsequently had
the audacity to declare to all Europe that de Molay before his arrest
confessed their truth in the presence of his subordinates and of
ecclesiastics and laymen, but this is a manifest lie. The Templars
returned to Paris evidently relieved of all anxiety, thinking that they
had justified themselves completely, and de Molay, on October 12, the
eve of the arrest, had the honor to be one of the four pall-bearers at
the obsequies of Catharine, wife of Charles de Valois, evidently for the
purpose of lulling him with a sense of security. Nay, more, on August
24, Clement had written to Philippe urging him to make peace with
England, and referring to his charges against the Templars in their
conversations at Lyons and Poitiers, and the representations on the
subject made by his agents. The charges, he says, appear to him
incredible and impossible, but as de Molay and the chief officers of the
Order had complained of the reports as injurious, and had repeatedly
asked for an investigation, offering to submit to the severest
punishment if found guilty, he proposes in a few days, on his return to
Poitiers, to commence, with the advice of his cardinals, an examination
into the matter, for which he asks the king to send him the proofs.[276]

No impression had evidently thus far been made upon Clement, and he was
endeavoring, in so far as he dared, to shuffle the affair aside.
Philippe, however, had under his hands the machinery requisite to attain
his ends, and he felt assured that when the Church was once committed to
it, Clement would not venture to withdraw. The Inquisitor of France,
Guillaume de Paris, was his confessor as well as papal chaplain, and
could be relied upon. It was his official duty to take cognizance of all
accusations of heresy, and to summon the secular power to his
assistance, while his awful authority overrode all the special
immunities and personal inviolability of the Order. As the Templars were
all defamed for heresy by credible witnesses, it was strictly according
to legal form for Frère Guillaume to summon Philippe to arrest those
within his territories and bring them before the Inquisition for trial.
As the enterprise was a large one, secrecy and combined operations were
requisite for its success, and Philippe, as soon as Clement's letter had
shown him that he was not to expect immediate papal co-operation, lost
no time. He always asserted that he had acted under requisition from the
inquisitor, and excused his haste by declaring that his victims were
collecting their treasures and preparing to fly. On September 14 royal
letters were sent out to the king's representatives throughout France,
ordering the simultaneous arrest, under authority from Frère Guillaume,
of all members of the Order on October 13, and the sequestration of all
property. Frère Guillaume, on September 20, addressed all inquisitors
and all Dominican priors, sub-priors, and lectors, commissioning them to
act, and reciting the crimes of the Templars, which he characterized as
sufficient to move the earth and disturb the elements. He had, he said,
examined the witnesses, he had summoned the king to lend his aid, and he
cunningly added that the pope was informed of the charges. The royal
instructions were that the Templars when seized were to be strictly
guarded in solitary confinement; they were to be brought before the
inquisitorial commissioners one by one; the articles of accusation were
to be read over to them; they were to be promised pardon if they would
confess the truth and return to the Church, and be told that otherwise
they were to be put to death, while torture was not to be spared in
extracting confession. The depositions so obtained were to be sent to
the king as speedily as possible, under the seals of the inquisitors.
All Templar property was to be sequestrated and careful inventories be
made out. In undertaking an act which would shock public opinion in no
common fashion, it was necessary that it should be justified at once by
the confessions wrung from the prisoners, and nothing was to be spared,
whether by promises, threats, or violence, to secure the result.[277]

This was all strictly in accordance with inquisitorial practice, and the
result corresponded with the royal expectations. Under the able
management of Guillaume de Nogaret, to whom the direction of the affair
was confided, on October 13 at daybreak the arrests took place
throughout the land, but few of the Templars escaping. Nogaret himself
took charge of the Paris Temple, where about a hundred and forty
Templars, with de Molay and his chief officials at their head, were
seized, and the vast treasure of the Order fell into the king's hands.
The air had been thick with presages of the impending storm, but the
Templars underrated the audacity of the king and had made no
preparations to avert the blow. Now they were powerless in the hands of
the unsparing tribunal which could at will prove them guilty out of
their own mouths, and hold them up to the scorn and detestation of

Philippe's first care was to secure the support of public opinion and
allay the excitement caused by this unexpected move. The next day,
Saturday, October 14, the masters of the university and the cathedral
canons were assembled in Nôtre Dame, where Guillaume de Nogaret, the
Prévôt of Paris, and other royal officials made a statement of the
offences which had been proved against the Templars. The following day,
Sunday the 15th, the people were invited to assemble in the garden of
the royal palace, where the matter was explained to them by the
Dominicans and the royal spokesmen, while similar measures were adopted
throughout the kingdom. On Monday, the 16th, royal letters were
addressed to all the princes of Christendom announcing the discovery of
the Templar heresy, and urging them to aid the king in the defence of
the faith by following his example. At once the Inquisition was set
busily at work. From October 19 to November 24 Frère Guillaume and his
assistants were employed in recording the confessions of a hundred and
thirty-eight prisoners captured in the Temple, and so efficacious were
the means employed that but three refused to admit at least some of the
charges. What these methods were the records of course fail to show,
for, as we have seen, the official confession was always made after
removal from the torture-chamber, and the victim was required to swear
that it was free and unconstrained, without fear or force, though he
knew that if he retracted what he had uttered or promised to utter on
the rack he would be liable to fresh torture, or to the stake as a
relapsed heretic. The same scenes were enacting all over France, where
the commissioners of Frère Guillaume, and sometimes Frère Guillaume
himself, with the assistance of the royal officials, were engaged in the
same work. In fact, the complaisant Guillaume, in default of proper
material for labor so extensive, seems occasionally to have commissioned
the royal deputies to act. A few of the reports of these examinations
have been preserved, from Champagne, Normandy, Querci, Bigorre,
Beaucaire, and Languedoc, and in these the occasional allusions to
torture show that it was employed whenever necessary. In all cases, of
course, it was not required, for the promise of pardon and the threat of
burning would frequently suffice, in conjunction with starvation and the
harshness of the prison. The rigor of the application of the
inquisitorial process is shown by the numerous deaths and the occasional
suicides prompted by despair to which the records bear testimony. In
Paris alone, according to the testimony of Ponsard de Gisiac, thirty-six
Templars perished under torture; at Sens, Jacques de Saciac said that
twenty-five had died of torment and suffering, and the mortality
elsewhere was notorious. When a number of the Templars subsequently
repeated their confessions before the pope and cardinals in consistory,
they dwelt upon the excessive tortures which they had endured, although
Clement in reporting the result was careful to specify that their
confessions were free and unconstrained. De Molay, of course, was not
spared. He was speedily brought into a complying state of mind. Although
his confession, October 24, is exceedingly brief, and only admits a
portion of the errors charged, yet he was induced to sign a letter
addressed to the brethren stating that he had confessed and
recommending them to do the same, as having been deceived by ancient
error. As soon as he and other chiefs of the Order were thus committed,
the masters and students of all the faculties of the university were
summoned to meet in the Temple; the wretched victims were brought before
them and were required to repeat their confessions, which they did, with
the addition that these errors had prevailed in the Order for thirty
years and more.[279]

The errors charged against them were virtually five: I. That when a
neophyte was received the preceptor led him behind the altar, or to the
sacristy or other secret place, showed him a crucifix and made him
thrice renounce the prophet and spit upon the cross. II. He was then
stripped, and the preceptor kissed him thrice, on the posteriors, the
navel, and the mouth. III. He was then told that unnatural lust was
lawful, and it was commonly indulged in throughout the Order. IV. The
cord which the Templars wore over the shirt day and night as a symbol of
chastity had been consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form
of a human head with a great beard, and this head was adored in the
chapters, though only known to the Grand Master and the elders. V. The
priests of the Order do not consecrate the host in celebrating mass.
When, in August, 1308, Clement sent throughout Europe a series of
articles for the interrogation of the accused, drawn up for him by
Philippe, and varying according to different recensions from
eighty-seven to one hundred and twenty-seven in number, these charges
were elaborated, and varied on the basis of the immense mass of
confessions which had meanwhile been obtained. The indecent kisses were
represented as mutual between the receptor and the received; disbelief
in the sacrament of the altar was asserted; a cat was said to appear in
the chapters and to be worshipped; the Grand Master or preceptor
presiding in a chapter was held to have power of absolving from all sin;
all brethren were instructed to acquire property for the Order by fair
means or foul, and all the above were declared to be fixed and absolute
rules of the Order, dating from a time beyond the memory of any member.
Besides these, it was reproached for the secrecy of its proceedings and
neglect in the distribution of alms. Even this however, did not satisfy
the public imagination, and the most absurd exaggerations found
credence, such as we have so frequently seen in the case of other
heresies. The Templars were said to have admitted betraying St. Louis
and the stronghold of Acre, and that they had such arrangements with the
Soldan of Babylon that if a new crusade were undertaken the Christians
would all be sold to him. They had conveyed away a portion of the royal
treasure, to the great injury of the kingdom. The cord of chastity was
magnified into a leather belt, worn next the skin, and the _mahommerie_
of this girdle was so powerful that as long as it was worn no Templar
could abandon his errors. Sometimes a Templar who died in this false
belief was burned, and of his ashes a powder was made which confirmed
the neophytes in their infidelity. When a child was born of a virgin to
a Templar it was roasted, and of its fat an ointment was made wherewith
to anoint the idol worshipped in the chapters, to which, according to
other rumors, human sacrifices were offered. Such were the stories which
passed from mouth to mouth and served to intensify popular

It is, perhaps, necessary at this point to discuss the still mooted
question as to the guilt or innocence of the Order. Disputants have from
various motives been led to find among the Templars Manichæan, Gnostic,
and Cabalistic errors justifying their destruction. Hammer-Purgstall
boasted that he had discovered and identified no less than thirty
Templar images, in spite of the fact that at the time of their sudden
arrest the Inquisition, aided by the eager creatures of Philippe, was
unable to lay its hands on a single one. The only thing approaching it
was a metal reliquary in the form of a female head produced from the
Paris Temple, which, on being opened, was found to contain a small skull
preserved as a relic of the eleven thousand virgins.[281]

This fact alone would serve to dispose of the gravest of the charges,
for, if the depositions of some of the accused are to be believed, these
idols were kept in every commandery and were employed in every reception
of a neophyte. With regard to the other accusations, not admitting thus
of physical proof, it is to be observed that much has been made by
modern theorists of the fact that the rules and statutes of the Order
were reserved exclusively for its chiefs, and it has been assumed that
in them were developed the secret mysteries of the heresy. Yet nothing
of the kind was alleged in the proceedings; the statutes were never
offered in evidence by the prosecution, although many of them must have
been obtained in the sudden seizure, and this for the best of reasons.
Sedulously as they were destroyed, two or three copies escaped, and
these, carefully collated, have been printed. They breathe nothing but
the most ascetic piety and devotion to the Church, and the numerous
illustrative cases cited in them show that up to a period not long
anterior to the destruction of the Order there were constant efforts
made to enforce the rigid Rule framed by St. Bernard and promulgated by
the Council of Troyes in 1128. Thus there is absolutely no external
evidence against the Order, and the proof rests entirely upon
confessions extracted by the alternative of pardon or burning, by
torture, by the threat of torture, or by the indirect torture of prison
and starvation, which the Inquisition, both papal and episcopal, know so
well how to employ. We shall see, in the development of the affair, that
when these agencies were not employed no admissions of criminality could
be obtained.[282] No one who had studied the criminal jurisprudence of
the later Middle Ages will attach the slightest weight to confessions
obtained under such conditions. We have seen, in the case of the
Stedingers, how easy it was to create belief in the most groundless
charges. We have seen, under Conrad of Marburg, how readily the fear of
death and the promise of absolution would cause nobles of birth and
station to convict themselves of the foulest and most impossible
offences. We shall see, when we come to consider persecution for
witchcraft, with what facility the rack and strappado procured from
victims of all ranks confessions of participating in the Sabbat, and of
holding personal intercourse with demons, of charming away harvests, of
conjuring hail-storms, and of killing men and cattle with spells. Riding
through the air on a broomstick, and commerce with incubi and succubi
rest upon evidence of precisely the same character and of much greater
weight than that upon which the Templars were convicted, for the witch
was sure of burning if she confessed, and had a chance of escaping if
she could endure the torture, while the Templar was threatened with
death for obstinacy, and was promised immunity as a reward for
confession. If we accept the evidence against the Templar we cannot
reject it in the case of the witch.

As the testimony thus has no intrinsic weight, the only scientific
method of analyzing the affair is to sift the whole mass of confessions,
and determine their credibility according to the internal evidence which
they afford of being credible or otherwise. Several hundred depositions
have reached us, taken in France, England, and Italy, for the most part
naturally those incriminating the Order, for the assertions of innocence
were usually suppressed, and the most damaging witnesses were made the
most of. These are sufficiently numerous to afford us ample material for
estimating the character of the proof on which the Order was condemned,
and to obtain from them a reasonable approximation to the truth requires
only the application of a few tests suggested by common-sense.

There is, firstly, the extreme inherent improbability that a rich,
worldly, and ambitious body of men like the Templars should be secretly
engaged in the dangerous and visionary task of laying the foundations of
a new religion, which would bring them no advantage if they succeeded in
supplanting Christianity, and which was certain to lead them to
destruction in the infinite chances of detection. To admit this is to
ascribe to them a spiritual exaltation and a readiness for martyrdom
which we might expect from the asceticism of a Catharan or a Dolcinist,
but not from the worldliness which was the real corroding vice of the
Order. Secondly, if the Templars were thus engaged in the desperate
enterprise of propagating a new faith under the eyes of the Inquisition,
they would be wary in initiating strangers; they would exercise extreme
caution as to the admission of members, and only reveal to them their
secrets by degrees, as they found them worthy of confidence and
zealously willing to incur the risk of martyrdom. Thirdly, if a new
dogma were thus secretly taught as an indispensable portion of the Rule,
its doctrines would be rigidly defined and its ritual be closely
administered. The witnesses who confessed to initiation would all tell
the same story and give the same details.

Thus evidence of the weightiest and most coherent character would be
requisite to overcome the inherent improbability that the Templars could
be embarked in an enterprise so insane, in place of which we have only
confessions extracted by the threat or application of torture, and not a
single instance of a persistent heretic maintaining the belief imputed
to him. Turning to the testimony to see whether it comports with the
conditions which we have named, we find that no discrimination whatever
was exercised in the admission of neophytes. Not a single witness speaks
of any preliminary preparation, though several intimate that they
obtained entrance by making over their property to the Order.[283]
Indeed, one of the charges was, that there was no preliminary probation,
and that the neophyte at once became a professed member in full
standing, which, as explained by a knight of Mas Deu, was because their
services were considered to be at once required against the
Saracens.[284] Youths and even children of tender years were admitted,
although in violation of the statutes of the Order, of ages ranging
from ten or eleven years upward.[285] High-born knights, priding
themselves on their honor, priests, laborers, husbandmen, menials of all
kinds were brought in, and, if we are to believe their evidence, they
were without notice obliged, by threats of death and lifelong
imprisonment, to undergo the severest personal humiliation, and to
perform the awful task of renouncing their Saviour and spitting on, or
even more outrageously defiling, the cross which was the object of their
veneration and the symbol of their faith. Such a method of propagating
heresy by force in the Europe of the Inquisition, of trusting such
fearful secrets to children and to unwilling men of all conditions, is
so absurd that its mere assertion deprives the testimony of all claim to

Equally damaging to the credibility of the evidence is the
self-contradictory character of its details. It was obtained by
examining the accused on a series of charges elaborately drawn up, and
by requiring answers to each article in succession, so that the general
features of the so-called confessions were suggested in advance. Had the
charges been true there could have been little variation in the answers,
but in place of a definite faith or a systematic ritual we find every
possible variation that could suggest itself to witnesses striving to
invent stories that should satisfy their torturers. Some say that they
were taught Deism--that God in heaven alone was to be worshipped.[286]
Others, that they were forced to renounce God.[287] The usual formula
reported, however, was simply to renounce Christ, or Jesus, while others
were called upon to renounce Notre Sire, or la Profeta, or Christ, the
Virgin, and the Saints.[288] Some professed that they could not
recollect whether their renunciation had been of God or of Christ.[289]
Sometimes we hear that instruction was given that they should not
believe in Christ, that he was a false prophet, that he suffered for his
own sins, but more frequently that the only reason alleged was that such
was the Rule of the Order.[290] It was the same with the idol which has
so greatly exercised the imagination of commentators. Some witnesses
swore that it was produced whenever a neophyte was received, and that
its adoration was a part of the ceremony; others that it was only
exhibited and worshipped in the secrecy of chapters; by far the greater
number, however, had never seen it or heard of it. Of those who
professed to have seen it, scarce two described it alike, within the
limits suggested by the articles of accusation, which spoke of it as a
head. Sometimes it is black, sometimes white, sometimes with black hair,
and sometimes white and black mixed, and again with a long white beard.
Some witnesses saw its neck and shoulders covered with gold; one
declared that it was a demon (_Maufé_) on which no one could look
without trembling; another that it had for eyes carbuncles which lighted
up the room; another that it had two faces; another three faces; another
four legs, two behind and two before, and yet another said it was a
statue with three heads. On one occasion it is a picture, on another a
painting on a plaque, on another a small female figure which the
preceptor draws from under his garments, and on another the statue of a
boy, a cubit in height, sedulously concealed in the treasury of the
preceptory. According to the testimony of one witness it degenerated
into a calf. Sometimes it is called the Saviour, and sometimes Bafomet
or Maguineth--corruptions of Mahomet--and is worshipped as Allah.
Sometimes it is God, creating all things, causing the trees to bloom and
the grass to germinate, and then again it is a friend of God who can
approach him and intercede for the suppliant. Sometimes it gives
responses, and sometimes it is accompanied or replaced by the devil in
the form of a black or gray cat or raven, who occasionally answers the
questions addressed to him, the performance winding up, like the
witches' Sabbat, with the introduction of demons in the form of
beautiful women.[291]

Similar contradictions are observable in the evidence as to the ritual
of reception. The details laid down in the Rule are accurately and
uniformly described, but when the witnesses come to speak of the
sacrilegious rites imputed to them, they flounder among almost every
variation that could suggest itself to their imaginations. Usually
renunciation of God or Christ and spitting on the cross are both
required, but in many cases renunciation without spitting suffices, and
in as many more spitting without renunciation.[292] Occasionally
spitting is not sufficient, but trampling is added, and even urination;
indeed some over-zealous witnesses declared that the Templars assembled
yearly to perform the latter ceremony, while others, while admitting the
sacrilege of their reception rites, say that the yearly adoration of the
cross on Good Friday, prescribed in the Rule, was also observed with
great devotion.[293] Generally a plain cross is described as the object
of contempt, but sometimes a crucifix is used, or a painting of the
crucifixion in an illuminated missal; the cross on the preceptor's
mantle is a common device, and even two straws laid crosswise on the
ground suffices. In some cases spitting thrice upon the ground was only
required, without anything being said as to its being in disrespect of
Christ.[294] Many witnesses declared that the sacrilege was performed in
full view of the assembled brethren, others that the neophyte was taken
into a dark corner, or behind the altar, or into another room carefully
closed; in one case it took place in a field, in another in a grange, in
another in a cooper-shop, and in another in a room used for the
manufacture of shoes.[295] As a rule the preceptor was represented as
enforcing it, but in many cases the duty was confided to one or more
serving brethren, and in one instance the person officiating had his
head hidden in a cowl.[296] Almost universally it formed part of the
ceremonies of reception, sometimes even before the vows were
administered or the mantle bestowed, but generally at the conclusion,
after the neophyte was fully committed, but there were occasional
instances in which it was postponed until a later hour, or to the next
day, or to longer intervals, extending, in one or two cases, to months
and years.[297] Some witnesses declared that it formed part of all
receptions; others that it had been enforced in their case, but they had
never seen it or heard of it in other receptions at which they had been
present. In general they swore that they were told it was a rule of the
Order, but some said that it was explained to them as a joke, and others
that they were told to do it with the mouth and not with the heart. One,
indeed, deposed that he had been offered the choice between renouncing
Christ, spitting on the cross, and the indecent kiss, and he selected
the spitting.[298] In fact, the evidence as to the enforcement of the
sacrilege is hopelessly contradictory. In many cases the neophyte was
excused after a slight resistance; in others he was thrust into a dark
dungeon until he yielded. Egidio, Preceptor of San Gemignano of
Florence, stated that he had known two recalcitrant neophytes carried in
chains to Rome, where they perished in prison, and Niccolò Regino,
Preceptor of Grosseto, said that recusants were slain, or sent to
distant parts, like Sardinia, where they ended their days. Geoffroi de
Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, swore that he enforced it upon the first
neophyte whom he received, but that he never did so afterwards, and Gui
Dauphin, one of the high officers of the Order, said virtually the same
thing; Gaucher de Liancourt, Preceptor of Reims, on the other hand,
testified that he had required it in all cases, for if he had not he
would have been imprisoned for life, and Hugues de Peraud, the Visitor
of France, declared that it was obligatory on him.[299]

It would be a work of supererogation to pursue this examination further.
The same irreconcilable confusion reigns in the evidence as to the other
charges--the cord of chastity, the obscene kiss, the mutilation of the
canon of the mass,[300] the power of absolution assigned to the Grand
Master, the license for unnatural crime. It might be argued, as these
witnesses had been received into the Order at times varying from fifty
to sixty years previous to within a few months, and at places so widely
apart as Palestine and England, that these variations are explicable by
local usages or by a gradually perfected belief and ritual. An
investigation of the confessions shows, however, that no such
explanation will suffice; there can be no grouping as to the time or
place of the ceremony. Yet there can be a grouping which is of supreme
significance, a grouping as to the tribunal through which the witness
passed. This is often very notable among the two hundred and twenty-five
who were sent to the papal commission from various parts of France, and
examined in 1310 and 1311. As a rule they manifested extreme anxiety
that their present depositions should accord with those which they had
made when subject to inquisition by the bishops--doubtless they made
them as nearly so as their memories would permit--and it is easy to see
how greater or less rigor, or how concert between those confined in the
same prison, had led to the concoction of stories such as would satisfy
their judges. Thus the confessions obtained by the Ordinary of Poitiers
have a character distinct from those extorted by the Bishop of Clermont,
and we can classify the penitents of the Bishop of Le Mans, the
Archbishop of Sens, the Archbishop of Tours, the Bishops of Amiens,
Rodez, Macon, in fact of nearly all the prelates who took part in the
terrible drama.[301]

Another feature indicating the untrustworthy character of the evidence
is that large numbers of the witnesses swore that they had confessed the
sacrilege committed to priests and friars of all kinds, to bishops, and
even to papal penitentiaries, and had received absolution by the
imposition of penance, usually of a trifling character, such as fasting
on Fridays for a few months or a year.[302] No ordinary confessor could
absolve for heresy; it was a sin reserved for the inquisitor, papal or
episcopal. The most that the confessor could have done would have been
to send the penitent to some one competent to grant absolution, which
would only have been administered under the heaviest penance, including
denunciation of the Order. To suppose, in fact, that thousands of men,
during a period of fifty or a hundred years, could have been entrapped
into such a heresy without its becoming matter of notoriety, is in
itself so violent an assumption as to deprive the whole story of all
claims upon belief.

Thus the more closely the enormous aggregate of testimony is examined
the more utterly worthless it appears, and this is confirmed by the fact
that nowhere could compromising evidence be obtained without the use of
inquisitorial methods. Had thousands of men been unwillingly forced to
abjure their faith and been terrorized into keeping the dread secret, as
soon as the pressure was removed by the seizure there would have been a
universal eagerness to unburden the conscience and seek reconciliation
with the Church. No torture would have been requisite to obtain all the
evidence required. In view, therefore, of the extreme improbability of
the charge, of the means employed to obtain proof for its support, and
the lack of coherence in the proof so obtained, it appears to me that no
judicial mind in possession of the facts can hesitate to pronounce a
sentence, not merely of not proven, but of acquittal. The theory that
there were inner grades in the Order, by which those alone to be trusted
were initiated in its secret doctrines, is perfectly untenable. As there
is no evidence of any kind to support it, it is a matter of mere
conjecture, which is sufficiently negatived by the fact that with scarce
an exception those who confessed, whether ploughmen or knights, relate
the sacrilege as taking place on their admission. If the witnesses on
whom the prosecution relied are to be believed at all, the infection
pervaded the whole Order.

Yet it is by no means improbable that there may have been some
foundation for the popular gossip that the neophyte at his reception was
forced to kiss the posteriors of his preceptor. As we have seen, a large
majority of the Order consisted of serving brethren on whom the knights
looked down with infinite contempt. Some such occasional command on the
part of a reckless knight, to enforce the principle of absolute
obedience, in admitting a plebeian to nominal fraternity and equality,
would not have been foreign to the manners of the age. Who can say,
moreover, that men, soured with the disillusion of life within the
Order, chafing under the bonds of their irrevocable vow, and perhaps
released from all religious convictions amid the license of the East,
may not occasionally have tested the obedience of a neophyte by bidding
him to spit at the cross on the mantle that had grown hateful to
him?[303] No one who recognizes the wayward perversity of human nature,
or who is familiar with the condition of monasticism at the period, can
deny the possibilities of such occasional performances, whether as
brutal jokes or spiteful assertions of supremacy, but the only rational
conclusion from the whole tremendous tragedy is that the Order was
innocent of the crime for which it was punished.

       *       *       *       *       *

While Philippe was seizing his prey, Clement, at Poitiers, was occupied
in the equally lucrative work of sending collectors throughout Germany
to exact a tithe of all ecclesiastical revenues for the recovery of the
Holy Land. When aroused from this with the news that Philippe, under the
authority of Frère Guillaume the inquisitor, had thus taken decided and
irrevocable action in a matter which was still before him for
consideration, his first emotion naturally was that of wounded pride and
indignation, sharpened perhaps by the apprehension that he would not be
able to secure his share of the spoils. He dared not publicly disavow
responsibility for the act, and what would be the current of public
opinion outside of France no man could divine. In this cruel dilemma he
wrote to Philippe, October 27, 1307, expressing his indignation that the
king should have taken action in a matter which the brief of August 24
showed to be receiving papal consideration. Carefully suppressing the
fact of the intervention of the Inquisition which legally justified the
whole proceeding, Clement sought a further ground of complaint by
reminding the king that Templars were not under royal jurisdiction, but
under that of the Holy See, and he had committed a grave act of
disobedience in seizing their persons and property, both of which must
be forthwith delivered to two cardinals sent for the purpose. These were
Berenger de Frédole, Cardinal of SS. Nereo and Achille, and Étienne de
Suissi of S. Ciriaco, both Frenchmen and creatures of Philippe, who had
procured their elevation to the sacred college. He seems to have had no
trouble in coming to an understanding with them, for, though the trials
and tortures were pushed unremittingly, another letter of Clement's,
December 1, praises the king for putting the matter in the hands of the
Holy See, and one of Philippe's of December 24 announces that he had no
intention of infringing on the rights of the Church and does not intend
to abandon his own; he has, he says, delivered the Templars to the
cardinals, and the administration of their property shall be kept
separate from that of the crown. Clement's susceptibilities being thus
soothed, even before the trials at Paris were ended he issued, November
22, the bull _Pastoralis præeminentiæ_, addressed to all the potentates
of Europe, in which he related what Philippe had done at the requisition
of the Inquisitor of France, in order that the Templars might be
presented to the judgment of the Church; how the chiefs of the Order had
confessed the crimes imputed to them; how he himself had examined one of
them who was employed about his person and had confirmed the truth of
the allegations. Therefore he orders all the sovereigns to do likewise,
retaining the prisoners and holding their property in the name of the
pope and subject to his order. Should the Order prove innocent the
property is to be restored to it, otherwise it is to be employed for the
recovery of the Holy Land.[304] This was the irrevocable act which
decided the fate of the Templars, as we shall see hereafter when we
consider the action of the princes of Europe outside of France.

Philippe thus had forced Clement's hand, and Clement was fairly
committed to the investigation, which in the hands of the Inquisition
could only end in the destruction of the Order. Secure in his position,
the king pushed on the examination of the prisoners throughout the
kingdom, and the vigilance of his agents is shown in the case of two
German Templars returning home, whom they arrested at Chaumont and
delivered to the Inquisitor of the Three Bishoprics. One was a priest,
the other a serving brother, and the inquisitor in reporting to Philippe
says that he had not tortured the latter because he was very sick, but
that neither had admitted that there was in the Order aught that was not
pure and holy. The examinations went on during the winter of 1308, when
Clement unexpectedly put a stop to them. What was his motive we can only
conjecture; probably he found that Philippe's promises with regard to
the Templar possessions were not likely to be fulfilled, and that an
assertion of his control was necessary. Whatever his reasons, he
suddenly suspended in the premises the power of all the inquisitors and
bishops in France and evoked to himself the cognizance of the whole
affair, alleging that the suddenness of the seizure without consulting
him, although so near and so accessible, had excited in him grave
suspicions, which had not been allayed by the records of the
examinations submitted to him, for these were of a character rather to
excite incredulity--though in November he had proclaimed to all
Christendom his conviction of their truth. It shows how completely the
whole judicial proceedings were inquisitional that this brought them to
an immediate close, provoking Philippe to uncontrollable wrath. Angrily
he wrote to Clement that he had sinned greatly: even popes, he hints,
may fall into heresy; he had wronged all the prelates and inquisitors of
France; he had inspired the Templars with hopes and they were retracting
their confessions, especially Hugues de Peraud, who had had the honor of
dining with the cardinal-deputies. Evidently some intrigue was on foot,
and Clement was balancing, irresolute as to which side offered most
advantage, and satisfied at least to show to Philippe that he was
indispensable. Philippe at first was disposed to assert his
independence and claim jurisdiction, and he applied to the University
for an opinion to support his claims, but the Faculty of Theology
replied, March 25, 1308, as it could not help doing: the Templars were
religious and consequently exempt from secular jurisdiction; the only
cognizance which a secular court could have over heresy was at the
request of the Church after it had abandoned the heretic; in case of
necessity the secular power could arrest a heretic, but it could only be
for the purpose of delivering him to the ecclesiastical court; and
finally the Templar property must be held for the purpose for which it
was given to the Order.[305]

Philippe, thus foiled, proceeded to bring a still stronger pressure to
bear on Clement. He appealed to his subservient bishops and summoned a
national assembly, to meet April 15 in Tours, to deliberate with him on
the subject of the Templars. Already, at the Assembly of Paris in 1302,
he had called in the Tiers-État and had learned to value its support in
his quarrel with Boniface, and now he again brought in the communes,
thus founding the institution of the States-General. After some delay
the assembly met in May. In his summons Philippe had detailed the crimes
of the Templars as admitted facts which ought to arouse for their
punishment not only arms and the laws, but brute cattle and the four
elements. He desired his subjects to participate in the pious work, and
therefore he ordered the towns to select each two deputies zealous for
the faith. From a gathering collected under such impulsion it was not
difficult, in spite of the secret leaning of the nobles to the
proscribed Order, to procure a virtually unanimous expression of opinion
that the Templars deserved death.[306]

With the prestige of the nation at his back, Philippe went from Tours,
at the end of May, to Clement at Poitiers, accompanied by a strong
deputation, including his brothers, his sons, and his councillors. Long
and earnest were the disputations over the affair, Philippe urging,
through his spokesman, Guillaume de Plaisian, that the Templars had been
found guilty and that immediate punishment should follow; Clement
reiterating his grievance that an affair of such magnitude, exclusively
appertaining to the Holy See, should be carried on without his
initiative. A body like the Order of the Temple had powerful friends all
over Europe whose influence with the curia was great, and the papal
perplexities were manifold as one side or the other preponderated; but
Clement had irrevocably committed himself in the face of all Europe by
his bull of November 22, and it was in reality but a question of the
terms on which he would allow the affair to go on in France by removing
the suspension of the powers of the Inquisition. The bargaining was
sharp, but an agreement was reached. As Clement had reserved the matter
for papal judgment, it was necessary that some show of investigation
should be had. Seventy-two Templars were drawn from the prisons of Paris
to be examined by the pope and sacred college, that they might be able
to assert personal knowledge of their guilt. Clement might well shrink
from confronting de Molay and the chiefs of the Order whom he was
betraying, while at the same time they could not be arbitrarily omitted.
They were therefore stopped at Chinon near Tours, under pretext of
sickness, while the others were sent forward to Poitiers. From the 28th
of June to July 1 they were solemnly examined by five cardinals friendly
to Philippe deputed for the purpose. The official report of the
examinations shows the care which had been exercised in the selection of
those who were to perform this scene in the drama. A portion of them
were spontaneous witnesses who had left, or had tried to leave, the
Order. The rest, with the terrible penalty for retraction impending over
them, confirmed the confessions made before the Inquisition, which in
many cases had been extracted by torture. Then, July 2, they were
brought before the pope in full consistory and the same scene was
enacted. Thus the papal jurisdiction was recognized; Clement in his
subsequent bulls could speak of his own knowledge, and could declare
that the accused had confessed their errors spontaneously and without
coercion, and had humbly begged for absolution and reconciliation.[307]

The agreement duly executed between Clement and Philippe bore that the
Templars should be delivered to the pope, but be guarded in his name by
the king; that their trials should be proceeded with by the bishops in
their several dioceses, to whom, at the special and earnest request of
the king, the inquisitors were adjoined--but de Molay and the Preceptors
of the East, of Normandy, Poitou, and Provence, were reserved for the
papal judgment; the property was to be placed in the hands of
commissioners named by the pope and bishops, to whom the king was
secretly to add appointees of his own, but he was to pledge himself in
writing that it should be employed solely for the Holy Land. Clement
assumed that the fate of the Order, as an institution, was too weighty a
question to be decided without the intervention of a general council,
and it was decided to call one in October, 1310. The Cardinal of
Palestrina was named as the papal representative in charge of the
persons of the Templars--a duty which he speedily fulfilled by
transferring them to the king under condition that they should be held
at the disposition of the Church. Clement performed his part of the
bargain by removing, July 5, the suspension of the inquisitors and
bishops, and restoring their jurisdiction in the matter. Directions were
sent at the same time to each of the bishops in France to associate with
himself two cathedral canons, two Dominicans, and two Franciscans, and
proceed with the trials of the individual Templars within his diocese,
admitting inquisitors to participate at will, but taking no action
against the Order as a whole; all persons were ordered, under pain of
excommunication, to arrest Templars and deliver them to the inquisitors
or episcopal officials, and Philippe furnished twenty copies of royal
letters commanding his subjects to restore to the papal deputies all
property, real and personal, of the Order.[308]

Although Clement declared in his bulls to Europe that Philippe had
manifested his disinterestedness by surrendering all the Templar
property, the question was one which gave rise to a good deal of skilful
fencing on both sides. It is not worth while to pursue the affair in its
details, but we shall see how in the end Philippe successfully cheated
his partner in the game and retained the control which he apparently
gave up.[309]

The rival powers having thus come to an understanding about their
victims, proceedings were resumed with fresh energy. Clement made up for
his previous hesitation with ample show of zeal. De Molay and the chief
officials with him were detained at Chinon until the middle of August,
when the Cardinals of SS. Nereo and Achille, of S. Ciriaco and of S.
Angelo, were sent thither to examine them. These reported, August 20, to
Philippe, that on the 17th and following days they had interrogated the
Grand Master, the Master of Cyprus, the Visitor of France, and the
Preceptors of Normandy and Poitou, who had confirmed their previous
confessions and had humbly asked for absolution and reconciliation,
which had been duly given them, and the king is asked to pardon them.
There are two things noteworthy in this which illustrate the duplicity
pervading the whole affair. In the papal bulls of August 12, five days
before this examination was commenced, its results are fully set forth,
with the assertion that the confessions were free and spontaneous.
Moreover, when, in November, 1309, this bull was read over by the papal
commission to de Molay, on hearing its recital of what he was said to
have confessed he was stupefied, and, crossing himself twice, said he
wished to God the custom of the Saracens and Tartars were observed
towards persons so perverse, for they beheaded or cut in two those who
thus perverted the truth. He might have said more had not Guillaume de
Plaisian, the royal agent, who pretended to be his friend, cautioned him
as to the risk which he ran in thus constructively retracting his
confession, and he contented himself with asking for time for

On August 12 Clement issued a series of bulls which regulated the
methods of procedure in the case, and showed that he was prepared fully
to perform his part of the agreement with Philippe. The bull _Faciens
misericordiam_, addressed to the prelates of Christendom, recited at
great length the proceedings thus far taken against the accused, and the
guilt which they had spontaneously acknowledged; it directed the
bishops, in conjunction with inquisitorial commissioners appointed by
the pope, to summon all Templars before them and make inquisition
concerning them. After this provincial councils were to be summoned,
where the guilt or innocence of the individuals was to be determined,
and in all the proceedings the local inquisitors had a right to take
part. The results of the inquisitions, moreover, were to be promptly
transmitted to the pope. With this was enclosed a long and elaborate
series of articles on which the accused were to be examined--articles
drawn up in Paris by the royal officials--and the whole was ordered to
be published in the vernacular in all parish churches. The bull _Regnans
in cælis_, addressed to all princes and prelates, repeated the narrative
part of the other, and ended by convoking, for October 1, 1310, a
general council at Vienne, to decide as to the fate of the Order, to
consult as to the recovery of the Holy Land, and to take such action as
might be required for the reformation of the Church. By another bull,
_Faciens misericordiam_, dated August 8, a formal summons was issued to
all and singular of the Templars to appear before the council,
personally or by procurators, on a certain day, to answer to the charges
against the Order, and the Cardinal of Palestrina, who was in charge of
them, was ordered to produce de Molay and the Preceptors of France,
Normandy, Poitou, Aquitaine, and Provence to receive sentence. This was
the simplest requirement of judicial procedure, and the manner in which
it was subsequently eluded forms one of the darkest features in the
whole transaction. Finally there were other bulls elaborately providing
for the payment of the papal commissioners and inquisitors, and ordering
the Templar possessions everywhere to be sequestrated to await the
result of the trial, and to be devoted to the Holy Land in case of
condemnation. Much, it was stated, had already been wickedly seized and
appropriated, and all persons were summoned to make restitution, under
pain of excommunication. All debtors to the Order were summoned to pay,
and all persons cognizant of such debts or of stolen property were
required to give information. The series of bulls was completed by one
of December 30, to be read in all churches, declaring all Templars to be
suspect of heresy, ordering their capture as such and delivery to the
episcopal ordinaries, and forbidding all potentates and prelates from
harboring them or showing them any aid or favor, under pain of
excommunication and interdict. At the same time another bull was
directed to all the princes of Christendom, commanding them to seize any
Templars who might as yet not have been arrested.[311]

The prosecution of the Templars throughout Europe was thus organized.
Even such distant points as Achaia, Corsica, and Sardinia were not
neglected. The large number of special inquisitors to be appointed was a
work of time, and the correspondence between Philippe and Clement on the
subject shows that they virtually were selected by the king. In France
the work of prosecution was speedily set on foot, and, after a respite
of some six months, the Templars found themselves transferred from the
improvised inquisitorial tribunals set on foot by Frère Guillaume to the
episcopal courts as provided by Clement. In every diocese the bishops
were soon busily at work. Curiously enough, some of them doubted whether
they could use torture, and applied for instructions, to which Clement
answered that they were to be governed by the written law, which removed
their misgivings. The papal instructions indicate that these proceedings
only concerned those Templars who had not passed through the hands of
Frère Guillaume and his commissioners, but there seems to have been
little distinction observed as to this. Clement urged forward the
proceedings with little regard to formality, and authorized the bishops
to act outside of their respective dioceses, and without respect to the
place of origin of the accused. The sole object evidently was to extract
from them satisfactory confessions, as a preparation for the provincial
councils which were to be summoned for their final judgment. Those who
had already confessed were not likely to retract. Before the papal
commission in 1310, Jean de Cochiac exhibited a letter from Philippe de
Vohet and Jean de Jamville, the papal and royal custodians of the
prisoners, to those confined at Sens at the time the Bishop of Orleans
was sent there to examine them (the archbishopric of Sens was then
vacant), warning them that those who revoked the confessions made before
"_los quizitor_" would be burned as relapsed. Vohet, when summoned
before the commission, admitted the seal to be his, but denied
authorizing the letter, and the commission prudently abstained from
pushing the investigation further. The nervous anxiety manifested by
most of those brought before the commission that their statements should
accord with what they had said before the bishops, shows that they
recognized the danger which they incurred.[312]

The treatment of those who refused to confess varied with the temper of
the bishops and their adjuncts. The records of their tribunals have
mostly disappeared, and we are virtually left to gather what we can from
the utterances of a few witnesses who made to the commission chance
allusions to their former experiences. Yet the proceedings before the
Bishop of Clermont would show that they were not in all cases treated
with undue harshness. He had sixty-nine Templars, of whom forty
confessed, and twenty-nine refused to admit any evil in the Order. Then
he assembled them and divided them into the two groups. The recusants
declared that they adhered to their assertion, and that if they should
subsequently confess through fear of torture, prison, or other
affliction, they protested that they should not be believed, and that it
should not prejudice them, nor does it appear that any constraint was
afterwards put upon them. The others were asked whether they had any
defence to offer, or whether they were ready for definitive sentence,
when they unanimously declared that they had nothing to offer nor wished
to hear their sentence, but submitted themselves to the mercy of the
Church. What that mercy was we shall see hereafter. All bishops were not
as mild as he of Clermont, but in the fragmentary recitals before the
commission it is not always easy to distinguish the action of the
episcopal tribunals from that of Frère Guillaume's inquisitors. A few
instances will suffice to show how, between the two, testimony was
obtained against the Order. Jean de Rompreye, a husbandman, declared
that he knew nothing but good of the Order, although he had confessed
otherwise before the Bishop of Orleans after being thrice tortured.
Robert Vigier, a serving brother, likewise denied the accusations,
though he had confessed them before the Bishop of Nevers at Paris, on
account of the fierceness of the torture, under which he understood that
three of his comrades, Gautier, Henri, and Chanteloup, had died. Bernard
de Vado, a priest, had been tortured by fire applied to the soles of the
feet to such an extent that a few days afterwards the bones of his heels
dropped out, in testimony of which he exhibited the bones. Nineteen
brethren from Périgord had confessed before the Bishop of Périgord
through torture and starvation--one of them had been kept for six months
on bread and water, without shoes or upper clothing. Guillaume d'Erré,
when brought before the Bishop of Saintes, had denied all the charges,
but after being put on bread and water and threatened with torture, had
confessed to renouncing Christ and spitting at the cross--a confession
which he now retracts. Thomas de Pamplona, under many tortures inflicted
on him at St. Jean d'Angely, had confirmed the confession made by de
Molay, and then, upon being put upon bread and water, had confessed
before the Bishop of Saintes to spitting at the cross, all of which he
now retracts. These instances might be multiplied out of the few who
had the hardihood to incur the risk of martyrdom attendant upon
withdrawing their confessions. Indeed, in the universal terror impressed
on the friendless and defenceless wretches, we cannot condemn those who
yielded, and can only admire the constancy of those who endured the
torture and braved the stake in defence of the Order. What was the
general feeling among them was voiced by Aymon de Barbara, who had
thrice been tortured, and had for nine weeks been kept on bread and
water. He pitifully said that he had suffered in body and soul, but as
for retracting his confession, he would not do so as long as he was in
prison. The mental struggles which the poor creatures endured are well
illustrated by Jean de Cormèle, Preceptor of Moissac, who when brought
before the commission hesitated and would not describe the ceremonies at
his own reception, though he declared that he had seen nothing wrong at
the reception of others. The recollection of the tortures which he had
endured in Paris, in which he had lost four teeth, completely unnerved
him, and he begged to have time for consideration. He was given until
the next day, and when he reappeared his resolution had broken down. He
confessed the whole catalogue of villainies; and when asked if he had
consulted any one, denied it, but said that he had requested a priest to
say for him a mass of the Holy Ghost that God might direct him what to

These instances will illustrate the nature of the work in which the
whole episcopate of France was engaged during the remainder of the year
1308 and through 1309 and 1310. All this, however, concerned merely the
members of the Order as individuals. The fate of the Templar possessions
depended upon the judgment to be rendered on the Order as a body
corporate, and for this purpose Clement had assigned for it a day on
which it was to appear by its syndics and procurators before the Council
of Vienne, to put in its defence and show cause why it should not be
abolished. Seeing that the officers and members were scattered in prison
throughout Europe, this was a manifest impossibility, and some method
was imperatively required by which they could, at least constructively,
be represented, if only to hear their sentence. Among the bulls of
August 12, 1308, therefore, there was one creating a commission, with
the Archbishop of Narbonne at its head, authorized to summon before it
all the Templars of France, to examine them, and to report the result.
Subsequent bulls of May, 1309, directed the commission to set to work,
and notified Philippe concerning it. August 8, 1309, the commission
assembled in the abbey of Sainte-Genevieve, and by letters addressed to
all the archbishops of the kingdom cited all Templars to appear before
them on the first working-day after Martinmas, and the Order itself to
appear by its syndics and procurators at the Council of Vienne, to
receive such sentence as God should decree. On the appointed day,
November 12, the commissioners reassembled, but no Templars appeared.
For a week they met daily, and daily the form was gone through of a
proclamation by the apparitor that if any one wished to appear for the
Order or its members the commission was ready to listen to him kindly,
but without result. On examining the replies of the prelates they were
found to have imperfectly fulfilled their duty. Philippe evidently
regarded the whole proceeding with distrust, and was not inclined to aid
it. A somewhat peremptory communication on November 18 was addressed to
the Bishop of Paris, explaining that their proceedings were not against
individuals, but against the whole Order; that no one was to be forced
to appear, but that all who so chose must be allowed to come. This
brought the bishop before them on November 22, with explanations and
apologies; and a summons to Philippe de Vohet and Jean de Jamville, the
papal and royal custodians of the Templars, brought those officials to
promise obedience. Yet the obstacles to the performance of their task
did not disappear. On the 22d they were secretly informed that some
persons had come to Paris in lay garments to defend the Order, and had
been thrown in prison. Thereupon they sent for Jean de Plublaveh,
_prévôt_ of the Châtelet, who said that by royal order he had arrested
seven men said to be Templars in disguise, who had come with money to
engage advocates in defence of the Order, but on torturing two of them
he had found this not to be the case. The matter proved to be of little
significance except as manifesting the purpose of the king to control
the action of the commission.[314]

At length the commission succeeded in securing the presence of de Molay,
of Hugues de Peraud, and of some of the brethren confined in Paris. De
Molay said he was not wise and learned enough to defend the Order, but
he would hold himself vile and miserable if he did not attempt it. Yet
he was a prisoner and penniless; he had not four deniers to spend, and
only a poor serving brother with whom to advise; he prayed to have aid
and counsel, and he would do his best. The commissioners reminded him
that trials for heresy were not conducted according to legal forms, that
advocates were not admitted, and they cautioned him as to the risk he
incurred in defending the Order after the confession which he had made.
Kindly they read over to him the report of the cardinals as to his
confession at Chinon; and on his manifesting indignation and
astonishment, Guillaume de Plaisian, who seems to have been watching the
proceedings on the part of the king, gave him, as we have already seen,
another friendly caution which closed his lips. He asked for delay, and
when he reappeared Guillaume de Nogaret was there to take advantage of
any imprudence. From the papal letters which had been read to him he
learned that the pope had reserved him and the other chiefs of the Order
for special judgment, and he therefore asked to have the opportunity of
appearing before the papal tribunal without delay. The shrewdness of
this device thus made itself apparent. It separated the leaders from the
rest; de Molay, Hugues de Peraud, and Geoffroi de Gonneville were led to
hope for special consideration, and selfishly abandoned their followers.
As for the brethren, their answers to the commission were substantially
that of Géraud de Caux--he was a simple knight, without horse, arms, or
land; he knew not how, and could not defend the Order.[315]

By this time Philippe seems to have been satisfied that no harm could
come from the operations of the commission. His opposition disappeared,
and he graciously lent them his assistance. November 28, a second
summons was sent to the bishops threatening them with papal indignation
for a continuance of their neglect, and, what was far more efficacious,
it was accompanied with orders from Philippe directing his jailers to
afford to the episcopal officials access to the imprisoned Templars,
while the baillis were instructed to send to Paris, under sure guard,
all Templars desiring to defend their Order.[316]

February 3, 1310, was the day named in this new citation. By the 5th
Templars began to pour in, nearly all eager to defend their Order. They
accumulated until the commission was embarrassed how to deal with them,
and finally, on March 28, five hundred and forty-six who had offered to
defend were assembled in the garden of the episcopal palace, where the
commissioners explained to them what was proposed, and suggested that
they should nominate six or eight or ten of their number to act as
procurators; they would not again have an opportunity of meeting, and
the commission would proceed on the 31st, but the procurators should
have access to them in their several prisons, and should agree with them
as to what defence should be offered. A promiscuous crowd, whose
differences of dialect rendered intercommunication impossible, abandoned
by their natural leaders and thus suddenly brought together, was not
fitted for deliberation on so delicate an emergency. Many hesitated
about acting without orders from the Master, for all initiative on the
part of subordinates was strictly forbidden by the Rule. The
commissioners seem to have been sincerely desirous of getting the matter
into some sort of shape, and finally, on the 31st, they ordered their
notaries to visit the houses in which the Templars were confined and
report their wishes and conclusions. This was a process requiring time,
and the reports of the notaries after making their daily rounds are
pitiful enough. The wretched prisoners floundered helplessly when called
upon to resolve as to their action. Most of them declared the Order to
be pure and holy, but knew not what to do in the absence of their
superiors. There was a general clamor, often on bended knees, for
readmission to the sacraments. Many begged to be assured that when they
died they should be buried in consecrated ground; others offered to pay
for a chaplain out of the miserable allowance doled to them; some asked
that the allowance be increased, others that they should have clothes to
cover their nakedness. They were urgent in the impossible request that
they should have experts and learned men to advise with and appear for
them, for they were simple and illiterate, chained in prison and unable
to act; and they further begged that security should be given to
witnesses, as all who had confessed were threatened with burning if they
should retract. A paper presented April 4 by those confined in the house
of the Abbot of Tiron is eloquent in its suggestiveness as to their
treatment, for the houses in which they were quartered had apparently
taken them on speculation. They assert the purity of the Order and their
readiness to defend it as well as men can who are fettered in prison and
pass the night in dark fosses. They further complain of the
insufficiency of their allowance of twelve deniers a day, for they pay
three deniers each per day for their beds; for hire of kitchen, napery,
and cloths, two sols six deniers per week; two sols for taking off and
replacing their fetters when they appear before the commission; for
washing, eighteen deniers a fortnight; wood and candles, four deniers a
day, and ferriage across from Nôtre Dame, sixteen deniers. It is evident
that the poor creatures were exploited relentlessly.[317]

The outcome of the matter was that on April 7 nine representatives
presented a paper in the name of all, declaring that without authority
from the Master and Convent they could not appoint procurators, but they
offer themselves one and all in defence of the Order, and ask to be
present at the council or wherever it is on trial. They declare the
charges to be horrible and impossible lies fabricated by apostates and
fugitives expelled for crime from the Order, confirmed by torturing
those who uphold the truth, and encouraging liars with recompenses and
great promises. It is wonderful, they say, to see greater faith reposed
in those corrupted thus by worldly advantage than in those who, like the
martyrs of Christ, have died in torture with the palm of martyrdom, and
in the living who, for conscience' sake, have suffered and daily suffer
in their dungeons so many torments, tribulations, and miseries. In the
universal terror prevailing they pray that when the brethren are
examined there may be present no laymen or others whom they may fear,
and that security may be assured them, for all who have confessed are
daily threatened with burning if they retract. In reply the
commissioners disavowed responsibility for their ill-usage, and promised
to ask that they be humanely treated in accordance with the orders of
the Cardinal of Palestrina, to whom they had been committed by the pope.
The Grand Master, they added, had been urged to defend the Order, but
had declined, and claimed that he was reserved for the pope.[318]

Having thus given the Templars a nominal opportunity for defence, the
commissioners proceeded to take testimony, appointing four of the
representatives, Renaud de Provins, Preceptor of Orleans, Pierre de
Boulogne, procurator of the Order in the papal court, and Geoffroi de
Chambonnet and Bertrand de Sartiges, knights, to be present at the
swearing of the witnesses, and to do what might be requisite without
constituting them formal defenders of the Order. These four on April 13
presented another paper in which, after alluding to the tortures
employed to extort confessions, they stated it to be a notorious fact
that to obtain testimony from Templars sealed royal letters had been
given them promising them liberty and large pensions for life, and
telling them that the Order was permanently abolished. This was
evidently intended as a protest to pave the way for disabling the
adverse witnesses, which, as we have seen, was the only defence in the
inquisitorial process, and with the same object they also asked for the
names of all witnesses. They did not venture to ask for a copy of the
evidence, but they earnestly requested that it should be kept secret, to
avert the danger that might otherwise threaten the witnesses. Subject to
the interruption of the Easter solemnities, testimony, mostly adverse to
the Order, continued to be taken up to May 9, from witnesses apparently
carefully selected for the purpose. On Sunday, May 10, the commissioners
were suddenly called together, at the request of Renaud de Provins and
his colleagues, to receive the startling announcement that the
provincial Council of Sens, which had been hastily assembled at Paris,
proposed to prosecute all the Templars who had offered to defend the
Order. Most of these had previously confessed; they had heroically taken
their lives in their hands when, by asserting the purity of the Order,
they had constructively revoked their confessions. The four Templars
therefore appealed to the commissioners for protection, as the action of
the council would fatally interfere with the work in hand; they demanded
_apostoli_, and that their persons and rights and the whole Order should
be placed under the guardianship of the Holy See, and time and money be
allowed to prosecute the appeal. They further asked the commissioners to
notify the Archbishop of Sens to take no action while the present
examination was in progress, and that they be sent before him with one
or two notaries to make a protest, as they can find no one who dares to
draw up such an instrument for them. The commissioners were sorely
perplexed and debated the matter until evening, when they recalled the
Templars to say that while they heartily compassionated them they could
do nothing, for the Archbishop of Sens and the council were acting under
powers delegated by the pope.[319]

It was no part of Philippe's policy to allow the Order any opportunity
to be heard. The sudden rally of nearly six hundred members, after their
chiefs had been skilfully detached from them, and their preparations for
defence at the approaching council promised a struggle which he
proceeded to crush at the outset with his customary unscrupulous energy.
The opportunity was favorable, for after long effort he had just
obtained from Clement the archbishopric of Sens (of which Paris was a
suffragan see) for a youthful creature of his own, Philippe de Marigny,
brother of his minister Enguerrand, who took possession of the dignity
only on April 5. The bull _Faciens misericordiam_ had prescribed that,
after the bishops had completed their inquests, provincial councils were
to be called to sit in judgment on the individual brethren. In pursuance
of this, the king through his archbishops was master of the situation.
Provincial councils were suddenly called, that for Sens to meet at
Paris, for Reims at Senlis, for Normandy at Pont de l'Arche, and for
Narbonne at Carcassonne, and a demonstration was organized which should
paralyze at once and forever all thought of further opposition to his
will. No time was wasted in any pretence of judicial proceedings, for
the canon law provided that relapsed heretics were to be condemned
without a hearing. On the 11th the Council of Sens was opened at Paris.
On the 12th, while the commissioners were engaged in taking testimony,
word was brought them that fifty-four of those who had offered to defend
the Order had been condemned as relapsed heretics for retracting their
confessions, and were to be burned that day. Hastily they sent to the
council Philippe de Vohet, the papal custodian of the Templars, and
Amis, Archdeacon of Orleans, to ask for delay. Vohet, they said, and
many others asserted that the Templars who died in prison declared on
peril of their souls that the crimes alleged were false; Renaud de
Provins and his colleagues had appealed before them from the council; if
the proposed executions took place the functions of the commission would
be impeded, for the witnesses that day and the day before were crazed
with terror and wholly unfit to give evidence. The envoys hurried to the
council-hall, where they were treated with contempt and told that it was
impossible that the commission could have sent such a message. The
fifty-four martyrs were piled in wagons and carried to the fields near
the convent of S. Antoine, where they were slowly tortured to death with
fire, refusing all offers of pardon for confession, and manifesting a
constancy which, as a contemporary tells us, placed their souls in great
peril of damnation, for it led the people into the error of believing
them innocent. The council continued its work, and a few days later
burned four more Templars, so that if there were any who still proposed
to defend the Order they might recognize what would be their fate. It
ordered the bones of Jean de Tourne, former treasurer of the Temple, to
be exhumed and burned; those who confessed and adhered to their
confessions were reconciled to the Church and liberated; those who
persisted in refusing to confess were condemned to perpetual prison.
This was rather more humane than the regular inquisitorial practice, but
it suited the royal policy of the moment. A few weeks later, at Senlis,
the Council of Reims burned nine more; at Pont de l'Arche three were
burned, and a number at Carcassonne.[320]

This ferocious expedient accomplished its purpose. When, on the day
after the executions at Paris, May 13, the commission opened its
session, the first witness, Aimery de Villiers, threw himself on his
knees, pale and desperately frightened; beating his breast and
stretching forth his hands to the altar, he invoked sudden death and
perdition to body and soul if he lied. He declared that all the crimes
imputed to the Order were false, although he had, under torture,
confessed to some of them. When he had yesterday seen his fifty-four
brethren carried in wagons to be burned, and heard that they had been
burned, he felt that he could not endure it and would confess to the
commissioners or to any one else whatever might be required of him, even
that he had slain the Lord. In conclusion he adjured the commissioners
and the notaries not to reveal what he had said to his jailers, or to
the royal officials, for he would be burned like the fifty-four. Then a
previous witness, Jean Bertrand, came before the commission to
supplicate that his deposition be kept secret on account of the danger
impending over him. Seeing all this, the commission felt that during
this general terror it would be wise to suspend its sittings, and it did
so. It met again on the 18th to reclaim fruitlessly from the Archbishop
of Sens, Renaud de Provins, who had been put on trial before the
council. Pierre de Boulogne was likewise snatched away and could not be
obtained again. Many of the Templars who had offered to defend the Order
made haste to withdraw, and all effort to provide for it an organized
hearing before the Council of Vienne was perforce abandoned. Whether
Clement was privy to this high-handed interruption of the functions of
his commission is perhaps doubtful, but he did nothing to rehabilitate
it, and his quiescence rendered him an accomplice. He had only
succeeded in betraying to a fiery death the luckless wretches whom he
had tempted to come forward.[321]

On April 4, by the bull _Alma Mater_, Clement had postponed the Council
of Vienne from October, 1310, until October, 1311, in consequence of the
inquisition against the Templars requiring more time than had been
expected. There was, therefore, no necessity for haste on the part of
the commission, and it adjourned until November 3. Its members were long
in getting together, and it did not resume its sessions until December
17. Then Guillaume de Chambonnet and Bertrand de Sartiges were brought
before it, when they protested that they could not act for the Order
without the aid of Renaud de Provins and Pierre de Boulogne. These, the
commission informed them, had solemnly renounced the defence of the
Order, had returned to their first confessions, and had been condemned
to perpetual imprisonment by the Council of Sens, after which Pierre had
broken jail and fled. The two knights were offered permission to be
present at the swearing of the witnesses, with opportunity to file
exceptions, but they declared themselves unfitted for the task and
retired. Thus all pretence of affording the Order a chance to be heard
was abandoned, and the subsequent proceedings of the commission became
merely an _ex parte_ accumulation of adverse testimony. It sat until
June, industriously hearing the witnesses brought before it: but as
those were selected by Philippe de Vohet and Jean de Jamville, care was
evidently taken as to the character of the evidence that should reach
it. Most of the witnesses, in fact, had been reconciled to the Church
through confession, abjuration, and absolution, and no longer belonged
to the Order which they had abandoned to its fate. Among the large
number of Templars who had refused to confess, only a few, and these
apparently by accident, were allowed to appear before it. There were
also a few who dared to retract what they had stated before the bishops,
but with these slender exceptions all the evidence was adverse to the
Order. In fact, it frequently happened that witnesses were sworn who
never reappeared to give their testimony, and that this was not
accidental is rendered probable by the fact that Renaud de Provins was
one of these. Finally, on June 5, the commission closed its labors and
transmitted without comment to Clement its records as part of the
material to guide the judgment of the assembled Church at the Council of

       *       *       *       *       *

Before proceeding to the last scene of the drama at Vienne, it is
necessary to consider briefly the action taken with the Templars outside
of France. In England, Edward II., on October 30, 1307, replied to
Philippe's announcement of October 16, to the effect that he and his
council have given the most earnest attention to the matter; it has
caused the greatest astonishment, and is so abominable as to be
well-nigh incredible, and, to obtain further information, he had sent
for his Seneschal of Agen. So strong were his convictions and so earnest
his desire to protect the threatened Order that on December 4 he wrote
to the Kings of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, and Naples that the
accusations must proceed from cupidity and envy, and begging them to
shut their ears to detraction and do nothing without deliberation, so
that an Order so distinguished for purity and honor should not be
molested until legitimately convicted. Not content with this, on the
10th he replied to Clement that the reputation of the Templars in
England for purity and faith is such that he cannot, without further
proof, believe the terrible rumors about them, and he begs the pope to
resist the calumnies of envious and wicked men. In a few days, however,
he received Clement's bull of November 22, and could no longer doubt the
facts asserted by the head of Christendom. He hastened to obey its
commands, and on the 15th elaborate orders were already prepared and
sent out to all the sheriffs in England, with minute instructions to
capture all the Templars on January 10, 1308, including directions as to
the sequestration and disposition of their property, and this was
followed on the 20th by similar commands to the English authorities in
Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Possibly Edward's impending voyage to
Boulogne to marry Isabella, the daughter of Philippe le Bel, may have
had something to do with his sudden change of purpose.[323]

The seizure was made accordingly, and the Templars were kept in
honorable durance, not in prison, awaiting papal action; for there seems
to have been no disposition on the part either of Church or State to
take the initiative. The delay was long, for though commissions were
issued August 12, 1308, to the papal inquisitors, Sicard de Lavaurand
the Abbot of Lagny, they did not start until September, 1309, and on the
13th of that month the royal safe-conducts issued for them show their
arrival in England. Then instructions were sent out to arrest all
Templars not yet seized and gather them together in London, Lincoln, and
York, for the examinations to be held, and the bishops of those sees
were strictly charged to be present throughout. Similar orders were sent
to Ireland and Scotland, where the inquisitors appointed delegates to
attend to the matter. It apparently was not easy to get the officials to
do their duty, for December 14 instructions were required to all the
sheriffs to seize the Templars who were wandering in secular habits
throughout the land, and in the following March and again in January,
1311, the Sheriff of York was scolded for allowing those in his custody
to wander abroad. Popular sympathy evidently was with the inculpated

At length, on October 20, 1309, the papal inquisitors and the Bishop of
London sat in the episcopal palace to examine the Templars collected in
London. Interrogated singly on all the numerous articles of accusation,
they all asserted the innocence of the Order. Outside witnesses were
called in who mostly declared their belief to the same effect, though
some gave expression to the vague popular rumors and scandalous stories
suggested by the secrecy of proceedings within the Order. The
inquisitors were nonplussed. They had come to a country whose laws did
not recognize the use of torture, and without it they were powerless to
accomplish the work for which they had been sent. In their disgust they
finally applied to the king, and on December 15 they obtained from him
an order to the custodians of the prisoners to permit the inquisitors
and episcopal ordinaries to do with the bodies of the Templars what they
pleased, "in accordance with ecclesiastical law"--ecclesiastical law, by
the hideous perversion of the times, having come to mean the worst of
abuses, from which secular law still shrank. Either the jailers or the
episcopal officials interposed difficulties, for the mandate was
repeated March 1, 1310, and again March 8, with instructions to report
the cause if the previous one had not been obeyed. Still no evidence
worth the trouble was gained, though the examinations were prolonged
through the winter and spring until May 24, when three captured
fugitives were induced by means easily guessed to confess what was
wanted, of which use was made to the utmost. At length Clement grew
impatient under this lack of result. On August 6 he wrote to Edward that
it was reported that he had prohibited the use of torture as contrary to
the laws of the kingdom, and that the inquisitors were thus powerless to
extract confessions. No law or usage, he said, could be permitted to
override the canons provided for such cases, and Edward's counsellors
and officials who were guilty of thus impeding the Inquisition were
liable to the penalties provided for that serious offence, while the
king himself was warned to consider whether his position comported with
his honor and safety, and was offered remission of his sins if he would
withdraw from it--perhaps the most suggestive sale of an indulgence on
record. Similar letters at the same time were sent to all the bishops of
England, who were scolded for not having already removed the impediment,
as they were in duty bound to do. Under this impulsion Edward, August
26, again ordered that the bishops and inquisitors should be allowed to
employ ecclesiastical law, and this was repeated October 6 and 23,
November 22, and April 28, 1311--in the last instances the word torture
being used, and in all of them the king being careful to explain that
what he does is through reverence for the Holy See. August 18, 1311,
similar instructions were sent to the Sheriff of York.[325]

Thus for once the papal Inquisition found a foothold in England, but
apparently its methods were too repugnant to the spirit of the nation to
be rewarded with complete success. In spite of examinations prolonged
for more than eighteen months, the Templars could not be convicted. The
most that could be accomplished was, that in provincial councils held in
London and York in the spring and summer of 1311, they were brought to
admit that they were so defamed for heresy that they could not furnish
the purgation required by law; they therefore asked for mercy and
promised to perform what penance might be enjoined on them. Some of
them, moreover, submitted to a form of abjuration. The councils ordered
them scattered among different monasteries to perform certain penance
until the Holy See should decide as to the future of the Order. This was
the final disposition of the Templars in England. A liberal provision of
fourpence a day was made for their support, while two shillings was
assigned to William de la More, the Master of England, and on his death
it was continued to Humbert Blanc, the Preceptor of Auvergne, who,
fortunately for himself, was in England at the time of arrest, and was
caught there. This shows that they were not regarded as criminals, and
the testimony of Walsingham is that in the monasteries to which they
were assigned they comported themselves piously and righteously in every
respect. In Ireland and Scotland their examinations failed to procure
any proof against the Order, save the vague conjectures and stories of
outside witnesses industriously gathered together.[326]

       *       *       *       *       *

In Lorraine, as soon as news came of the seizure in France, the
Preceptor of Villencourt ordered the brethren under him to shave and
abandon their mantles, which was virtually releasing them from the
Order. Duke Thiebault followed the exterminating policy of Philippe
with complete success. A large number of the Templars were burned, and
he managed to secure most of their property.[327]

In Germany our knowledge of what took place is somewhat fragmentary. The
Teutonic Order afforded a career for the German chivalry, and the
Templars were by no means so numerous as in France, their fate was not
so dramatic, and it attracted comparatively little attention from the
chroniclers. One annalist informs us that they were destroyed with the
assent of the Emperor Henry on account of their collusion with the
Saracens in Palestine and Egypt, and their preparation for establishing
a new empire for themselves among the Christians, which shows how little
impression on the popular mind was made by the assertion of their
heresies. For the most part, indeed, the action taken depended upon the
personal views of the princely prelates who presided over the great
archbishoprics. Burchard III. of Magdeburg was the first to act. Obliged
to visit the papal court in 1307 to obtain the pallium, he returned in
May, 1308, with orders to seize all the Templars in his province; and as
he was already hostile to them, he obeyed with alacrity. There were but
four houses in his territories: on these and their occupants he laid his
hands, leading to a long series of obscure quarrels, in which he
incurred excommunication from the Bishop of Halberstadt, which Clement
hastened to remove; by burning some of the more obstinate brethren,
moreover, he involved himself in war with their kindred, in which he
fared badly. As late as 1318 the Hospitallers are found complaining to
John XXII. that Templars were still in possession of the greater portion
of their property.[328]

The bull _Faciens misericordiam_ of August, 1308, sent to the German
prelates, reserved, with Clement's usual policy, the Grand Preceptor of
Germany for papal judgment. With the exception of Magdeburg, its
instructions for active measures received slack obedience. It was not
to much purpose that, on December 30 of the same year, he wrote to the
Duke of Austria to arrest all the Templars in his dominions, and
commissioned the Ordinaries of Mainz, Trèves, Cologne, Magdeburg,
Strassburg, and Constance as special inquisitors within their several
dioceses, while he sent the Abbot of Crudacio as inquisitor for the rest
of Germany, ordering the prelates to pay him five gold florins a day. It
was not until 1310 that the great archbishops could be got to work, and
then the results were disappointing. Trèves and Cologne, in fact, made
over to Burchard of Magdeburg, in 1310, their authority as commissioners
for the seizure of the Templar lands, and Clement confirmed this with
instructions to proceed with vigor. As regards the persons of the
Templars, at Trèves an inquest was held in which seventeen witnesses
were heard, including three Templars, and resulting in their acquittal.
At Mainz the Archbishop Peter, who had incurred Clement's displeasure by
transferring to his suffragans his powers as commissioner over the
Templar property, was at length forced to call a provincial council. May
11, 1310. Suddenly and unbidden there entered the Wild and Rheingraf,
Hugo of Salm, Commander of Grumbach, with twenty knights fully armed.
There were fears of violence, but the archbishop asked Hugo what he had
to say: the Templar asserted the innocence of the Order; those who had
been burned had steadfastly denied the charges, and their truth had been
proved by the crosses on their mantles remaining unburned--a miracle
popularly believed, which had much influence on public opinion. He
concluded by appealing to the future pope and the whole Church, and the
archbishop, to escape a tumult, admitted the protest. Clement, on
hearing of these proceedings, ordered the council to be reassembled and
to do its work. He was obeyed. The Wildgraf Frederic of Salm, brother of
Hugo and Master of the Rhine-province, offered to undergo the red-hot
iron ordeal, but it was unnecessary. Forty-nine witnesses, of whom
thirty-seven were Templars, were examined, and all swore to the
innocence of the Order. The twelve non-Templars, who were personages of
distinction, were emphatic in their declarations in its favor. Among
others, the Archpriest John testified that in a time of scarcity, when
the measure of corn rose from three sols to thirty-three, the commandery
at Mostaire fed a thousand persons a day. The result was a verdict of
acquittal, which was so displeasing to the pope that he ordered
Burchard of Magdeburg to take the matter in hand and bring it to a more
satisfactory conclusion. Burchard seems to have eagerly obeyed but the
results have not reached us. Archbishop Peter continued to hope for some
adjustment, and when, after the Council of Vienne, he was forced to hand
over the Templar property to the Hospitallers, he required the latter to
execute an agreement to return the manor of Topfstadt if the pope should
restore the Order.[329]

       *       *       *       *       *

In Italy the Templars were not numerous, and the pope had better control
over the machinery for their destruction. In Naples the appeal of Edward
II. was in vain. The Angevine dynasty was too closely allied to the
papacy to hesitate, and when a copy of the bull _Pastoralis
prœeminentiœ_, of November 21, 1307, was addressed to Robert, Duke of
Calabria, son of Charles II., there was no hesitation in obedience.
Orders were speedily sent out to all the provinces under the Neapolitan
crown to arrest the Templars and sequestrate their property. Philip,
Duke of Achaia and Romania, the youngest son of Charles, was forthwith
commanded to carry out the papal instructions in all the possessions in
the Levant. January 3, 1308, the officials in Provence and Forcalquier
were instructed to make the seizure January 23. The Order was numerous
in those districts, but the members must have mostly fled, for only
forty-eight were arrested, who are said to have been tried and executed,
but a document of 1318 shows that Albert de Blacas, Preceptor of Aix and
St. Maurice, who had been imprisoned in 1308, was then still enjoying
the Commandery of St. Maurice, with consent of the Hospitallers. The
Templar movables were divided between the pope and king, and the landed
possessions were made over to the Hospital. In the kingdom of Naples
itself, some fragmentary reports of the papal commission sent in 1310
to obtain evidence against the Order as a whole and against the Grand
Preceptor of Apulia, Oddo de Valdric, show that no obstacle was thrown
in the way of the inquisitors in obtaining by the customary methods the
kind of testimony desired. The same may be said of Sicily, where, as we
have seen, Frederic of Aragon had admitted the Inquisition in 1304.[330]

In the States of the Church we have somewhat fuller accounts of the
later proceedings. Although we know nothing of what was done at the time
of arrest, there can be no doubt that in a territory subjected directly
to Clement his bull of November 22, 1307, was strictly obeyed; that all
members of the Order were seized and that appropriate means were
employed to secure confessions. When the papal commission was sent to
Paris to afford the Order an opportunity to prepare its defence at the
Council of Vienne, similar commissions, armed with inquisitorial powers,
were despatched elsewhere, and the report of Giacomo, Bishop of Sutri,
and Master Pandolfo di Sabello, who were commissioned in that capacity
in the Patrimony of St. Peter, although unfortunately not complete,
gives us an insight into the real object which underlay the ostensible
purpose of these commissions. In October, 1309, the inquisitors
commenced at Rome, where no one appeared before them, although they
summoned not only members of the Order, but every one who had anything
to say about it. In December they went to Viterbo, where five Templars
lay in prison, who declined to appear and defend the Order. In January,
1310, they proceeded to Spoleto without finding either Templars or other
witnesses. In February they moved to Assisi, where they adopted the form
of ordering all Templars and their fautors to be brought before them,
and this they repeated in March at Gubbio, but in both places without
result. In April, at Aquila, they summoned witnesses to ascertain
whether the Templars had any churches in the Abruzzi, but not even the
preceptor of the Hospitallers could give them any information. All the
Franciscans of the place were then assembled, but they knew nothing to
the discredit of the Order. A few days later, at Penna, they adopted a
new formula by inviting all Templars and others who desired to defend
the Order to appear before them. Here two Templars were found, who were
personally summoned repeatedly, but they refused, saying that they would
not defend the Order. One of them, Walter of Naples, was excused, owing
to doubts as to his being a Templar, but the other, named Cecco, was
brought before the inquisitors and told them of an idol kept for worship
in the treasure-chamber of a preceptory in Apulia. In May, at Chieti,
they succeeded in getting hold of another Templar, who confessed to
renouncing Christ, idol-worship, and other of the charges. By May 23
they were back in Rome issuing citations, but again without result. The
following week they were back at Viterbo, resolved to procure some
evidence from the five captives imprisoned there, but the latter again
sent word that none of them wished to appear before the inquisitors or
to defend the Order. Five times in all they were summoned and five times
they refused, but the inquisitors were not to be balked. Four of the
prisoners were brought forward, and by means which can readily be
guessed were induced to talk. From the 7th of June to the 19th, the
inquisitors were employed in receiving their depositions as to
renouncing Christ, spitting on the cross, etc., all of which was duly
recorded as free and spontaneous. On July 3 the commissioners were at
Albano issuing the customary summons, but on the 8th their messenger
reported that he could find no Templars in Campania and Maritima; and a
session at Velletri on the 16th was similarly fruitless. The next day
they summoned other witnesses, but eight ecclesiastics who appeared had
nothing to tell. Then at Segni they heard five witnesses without
obtaining any evidence. Castel Fajole and Tivoli were equally barren,
but on the 27th, at Palombara, Walter of Naples was brought to them from
Penna, the doubts as to his membership of the Order having apparently
been removed. Their persistence in this case was rewarded with full
details of heretical practices. Here the record ends, the industrious
search of nine months through these extensive territories having
resulted in finding eight Templars, and obtaining seven incriminating
depositions.[331] Even making allowance for those who may have succeeded
in escaping, it shows, like the rest of the Italian proceedings, how
scanty were the numbers of the Order in the Peninsula.

In the rest of Italy Clement's bull of 1307, addressed to the
archbishops and ordering an inquest, seems to have been somewhat slackly
obeyed. The earliest action on record is an order, in 1308, of Frà
Ottone, Inquisitor of Lombardy, requiring the delivery of three Templars
to the Podestà of Casale. Some further impulsion apparently was
requisite, and in 1309 Giovanni, Archbishop of Pisa, was appointed
Apostolic Nuncio in charge of the affair throughout Tuscany, Lombardy,
Dalmatia, and Istria, with a stipend of eight florins _per diem_, to be
assessed on the Templar property. In Ancona the Bishop of Fano examined
one Templar who confessed nothing, and nineteen other witnesses who
furnished no incriminating evidence, and in Romagnuola, Rainaldo,
Archbishop of Ravenna, and the Bishop of Rimini interrogated two
Templars at Cesena, both of whom testified to the innocence of the
Order. The archbishop, who was papal inquisitor against the Templars in
Lombardy, Tuscany, Tarvisina, and Istria, seems to have extended his
inquest over part of Lombardy, though no results are recorded. Papal
letters were published throughout Italy, empowering the inquisitors to
look after the Templar property, of which the Archbishops of Bologna and
Pisa were appointed administrators; it was farmed out and the proceeds
remitted to Clement. Rainaldo of Ravenna sympathized with the Templars,
and no very earnest efforts were to be expected of him. He called a
synod at Bologna in 1309, where some show was made of taking up the
subject, but no results were reached, and when, in 1310, his vicar,
Bonincontro, went to Ravenna with the papal bulls, he made no secret of
his favor towards the accused. At length Rainaldo was forced to action,
and issued a proclamation, November 25, 1310, reciting the papal
commands to hold provincial councils for the examination and judgment of
the Templars, in obedience to which he summoned one to assemble at
Ravenna in January, 1311, calling upon the inquisitors to bring thither
the evidence which they had obtained by the use of torture. The council
was held and the matter discussed, but no conclusion was reached.
Another was summoned to meet at Bologna on June 1, but was transferred
to Ravenna and postponed till June 18. To this the bishops were ordered
to bring all Templars of their dioceses under strict guard, the result
of which was that on June 16, seven knights were produced before the
council. They were sworn and interrogated _seriatim_ on all the
articles as furnished by the pope, which they unanimously denied. The
question was then put to the council whether they should be tortured,
and it was answered in the negative, in spite of the opposition of two
Dominican inquisitors present. It was decided that the case should not
be referred to the pope, in view of the nearness of the Council of
Vienne, but that the accused should be put upon their purgation. The
next day, however, when the council met this action was reversed and
there was a unanimous decision that the innocent should be acquitted and
the guilty punished, reckoning among the innocent those who had
confessed through fear of torture and had revoked, or who would have
revoked but for fear of repetition of torture. As for the Order as a
whole, the council recommended that it should be preserved if a majority
of the members were innocent, and if the guilty were subjected to
abjuration and punishment within the Order. In addition to the seven
knights there were five brethren who were ordered to purge themselves by
August 1, before Uberto, Bishop of Bologna, with seven conjurators; of
these the purgations of two are extant, and doubtless all succeeded in
performing the ceremony. It was no wonder that Clement was indignant at
this reversal of all inquisitorial usage and ordered the burning of
those who had thus relapsed--though the command was probably not obeyed,
as Bishop Bini assures us that no Templars were burned in Italy. The
council further, in appointing delegates to Vienne, instructed them that
the Order should not be abolished unless it was found to be thoroughly
corrupted. For Tuscany and Lombardy, Clement appointed as special
inquisitors Giovanni, Archbishop of Pisa, Antonio, Bishop of Florence,
and Pietro Giudici of Rome, a canon of Verona. These were instructed to
hold the inquests, one upon the brethren individually and one upon the
Order. They were troubled with no scruples as to the use of torture and,
as we shall presently see, secured a certain amount of the kind of
testimony desired. Venice kindly postponed the inevitable uprooting of
the Order, and when it eventually took place there was no unnecessary

Cyprus was the headquarters of the Order. There resided the marshal,
Ayme d'Osiliers, who was its chief in the absence of the Grand Master,
and there was the "Convent," or governing body. It was not until May,
1308, that the papal bull commanding the arrest reached the island, and
there could be no pretence of a secret and sudden seizure, for the
Templars were advised of what had occurred in France. They had many
enemies, for they had taken an active part in the turbulent politics of
the time, and it had been by their aid that the regent, Amaury of Tyre,
had been placed in power. He hastened to obey the papal commands, but
with many misgivings, for the Templars at first assumed an attitude of
defence. Resistance, however, was hopeless, and in a few weeks they
submitted; their property was sequestrated and they were kept in
honorable confinement, without being deprived of the sacraments. This
continued for two years, until, in April, 1310, the Abbot of Alet and
the Archpriest Tommaso of Rieti came as papal inquisitors to inquire
against them individually and the Order in general, under the guidance
of the Bishops of Limisso and Famagosta. The examination commenced May 1
and continued until June 5, when it came abruptly to an end, in
consequence, doubtless, of the excitement caused by the murder of the
Regent Amaury. All the Templars on the island, seventy-five in number,
together with fifty-six other witnesses, were duly interrogated upon the
long list of articles of accusation. That the Templars were unanimous in
denying the charges and in asserting the purity of the Order shows that
torture cannot have been employed. More convincing as to their innocence
is the evidence of the other witnesses, consisting of ecclesiastics of
all ranks, nobles, and burghers, many of them political enemies, who yet
rendered testimony emphatically favorable. As some of them said, they
knew nothing but good of the Order. All dwelt upon its liberal
charities, and many described the fervor of the zeal with which the
Templars discharged their religious duties. A few alluded to the popular
suspicions aroused by the secrecy observed in the holding of chapters
and the admission of neophytes; the Dominican Prior of Nicosia spoke of
the reports brought from France by his brethren after the arrest and
Simon de Sarezariis, Prior of the Hospitallers, said that he had had
similar intelligence sent to him by his correspondents, but the evidence
is unquestionable that in Cyprus, where they were best known, among
friends and foes, and especially among those who had been in intimate
relations with the Templars for long periods, there was general sympathy
for the Order, and that there had been no evil attributed to it until
the papal bulls had so unqualifiedly asserted its guilt. All this, when
sent to Clement, was naturally most unsatisfactory, and when the time
approached for the Council of Vienne, he despatched urgent orders, in
August, 1311, to have the Templars tortured so as to procure
confessions. What was the result of this we have no means of

       *       *       *       *       *

In Aragon, Philippe's letter of October 16, 1307, to Jayme II. was
accompanied with one from the Dominican, Fray Romeo de Bruguera,
asserting that he had been present at the confession made by de Molay
and others. Notwithstanding this, on November 17 Jayme, like Edward II.,
responded with warm praises of the Templars of the kingdom, whom he
refused to arrest without absolute proof of guilt or orders from the
pope. To the latter he wrote two days later for advice and instructions,
and when, on December 1, he received Clement's bull of November 22, he
could hesitate no longer. Ramon, Bishop of Valencia, and Ximenes de
Luna, Bishop of Saragossa, who chanced to be with him, received orders
to make in their respective dioceses diligent inquisition against the
Templars, and Fray Juan Llotger, Inquisitor-general of Aragon, was
instructed to extirpate the heresy. As resistance was anticipated, royal
letters were issued December 3 for the immediate arrest of all members
of the Order and the sequestration of their property, and the inquisitor
published edicts summoning them before him in the Dominican Convent of
Valencia, to answer for their faith, and prohibiting all local officials
from rendering them assistance. Jayme also summoned a council of the
prelates to meet January 6, 1308, to deliberate on the subject with the
inquisitor. A number of arrests were effected; some of the brethren
shaved and threw off their mantles and succeeded in hiding themselves;
some endeavored to escape by sea with a quantity of treasure, but
adverse storms cast them back upon the coast and they were seized. The
great body of the knights, however, threw themselves into their castles.
Ramon Sa Guardia, Preceptor of Mas Deu in Roussillon, was acting as
lieutenant of the Commander of Aragon, and fortified himself in Miravet,
while others occupied the strongholds of Ascon, Montço, Cantavieja,
Vilell, Castellot, and Chalamera. On January 20, 1308, they were
summoned to appear before the Council of Tarragona, but they refused,
and Jayme promised the prelates that he would use the whole forces of
the kingdom for their subjugation. This proved no easy task. The
temporal and spiritual lords promised assistance, except the Count of
Urgel, the Viscount of Rocaberti, and the Bishop of Girona; but public
sympathy was with the Templars. Many noble youths embraced their cause
and joined them in their castles, while the people obeyed slackly the
order to take up arms against them. The knights defended themselves
bravely. Castellot surrendered in November, soon after which Sa Guardia,
in Miravet, rejected the royal ultimatum that they should march out with
their arms and betake themselves by twos and threes to places of
residence, from which they were not to wander farther than two or three
bow-shots, receiving a liberal allowance for their support, while the
king should ask the pope to order the bishops and inquisitors to
expedite the process. In response to this Sa Guardia addressed Clement a
manly appeal, pointing out the services rendered to religion by the
Order; that many knights captured by the Saracens languished in prison
for twenty or thirty years, when by abjuring they could at once regain
their liberty and be richly rewarded--seventy of their brethren were at
that moment enduring such a fate. They were ready to appear in judgment
before the pope, or to maintain their faith against all accusers by
arms, as was customary with knights, but they had no prelates or
advocates to defend them, and it was the duty of the pope to do so. A
month after this Miravet was forced to surrender at discretion, and in
another month all the rest, except Montço and Chalamera, which held out
until near July, 1309. Clement at once took measures to get possession
of the Templar property, but Jayme refused to deliver it to the papal
commissioners, alleging that most of it had been derived from the
crown, and that he had made heavy outlays on the sieges; the most that
he would promise was that if the council should abolish the Order he
would surrender the property, subject to the rights and claims of the
crown. Clement seems to have sought a temporary compromise. In letters
of January 5, 1309, he announces that the Templars of Aragon and
Catalonia, like faithful sons of the Church, had written to him offering
to surrender their persons and property to the Holy See, and to obey his
commands in every way; he therefore sends his chaplain, Bertrand, Prior
of Cessenon, to receive them and transfer them to the custody and care
of the king, taking from him sealed letters that he holds them in the
name of the Holy See. Whether Jayme assented to this arrangement as to
the property does not appear, but he was not punctilious about the
persons of the Templars, and on July 14 he issued orders to the viguiers
to deliver them to the inquisitor and ordinaries when required. In 1310
Clement sent to Aragon, as elsewhere, special papal inquisitors to
conduct the trials. They were met by the same difficulties as in
England: in Aragon torture was not recognized by the law, and in 1325 we
find the Cortes protesting against its use and against the inquisitorial
process as infractions of the recognized liberties of the land, and the
king admitting the protest and promising that such methods should not be
employed except for counterfeiters, and then only in the case of
strangers and vagabonds. Still the inquisitors did what they could. At
their request the king, July 5, 1310, ordered his baillis to put the
Templars in irons and to render their prison harsher. Then the Council
of Tarragona interfered and asked that they be kept in safe but not
afflictive custody, seeing that nothing had as yet proved their guilt,
and their case was still undecided. In accordance with this, on October
20, the king ordered that they should be free in the castles where they
were confined, giving their parole not to escape under pain of being
reputed heretics. This was not the way to obtain the desired evidence,
and Clement, March 18, 1311, ordered them to be tortured, and asked
Jayme to lend his aid to it, seeing that the proceedings thus far had
resulted only in "vehement suspicion." This cruel command was not at
first obeyed. In May the Templars prayed the king to urge the Archbishop
of Tarragona to have their case decided in the council then impending,
and Jayme accordingly addressed the archbishop to that effect, but
nothing was done, and in August he ordered them to be again put in
chains and harshly imprisoned. The papal representatives were evidently
growing impatient, as the time set for the Council of Vienne was
approaching, and the papal demands for adverse evidence remained
unsatisfied. Finally, on the eve of the assembling of the council, the
king yielded to the pope. September 29 he issued an order appointing
Umbert de Capdepont, one of the royal judges, to assist at the judgment,
when sentence should be rendered by the inquisitors, Pedro de Montclus
and Juan Llotger, along with the Bishops of Lerida and Vich, who had
been especially commissioned by the pope. We have no knowledge of the
details of the investigation, but there is evidence that torture was
unsparingly used, for there is a royal letter of December 3 ordering
medicaments to be prepared for those of the Templars who might need them
in consequence of sickness or torture. At last, in March, 1312, the
Archbishop of Tarragona asked to have them brought before his provincial
council, then about to assemble, and the king assented, but nothing was
done, probably because the Council of Vienne was still in session; but
after the dissolution of the Order had been proclaimed by Clement, and
the fate of the members was relegated to the local councils, one was
held, October 18, 1312, at Tarragona, which decided the question so long
pending. The Templars were brought before it and rigorously examined.
November 4 the sentence was publicly read, pronouncing an unqualified
acquittal from all the errors, crimes, and impostures with which they
were charged; they were declared beyond suspicion, and no one should
dare to defame them. In view of the dissolution of the Order the council
was somewhat puzzled to know what to do with them, but after prolonged
debate it was determined that until the pope should otherwise decree
they should reside in the dioceses in which their property lay,
receiving proper support from their sequestrated lands. This decree was
carried out, and when the property passed into the hands of the
Hospitallers it was burdened with these charges. In 1319 a list of
pensions thus payable by the Hospitallers would seem to show that the
Templars were liberally provided for, and received what was due to

Jayme I. of Majorca was in no position to resist the pressure brought
upon him by Philippe le Bel and Clement. His little kingdom consisted of
the Balearic Isles, the counties of Roussillon and Cerdagne, the
Seignory of Montpellier and a few other scattered possessions at the
mercy of his powerful neighbor. He promptly therefore obeyed the papal
bull of November 22, 1307, and by the end of the month the Templars in
his dominions were all arrested. In Roussillon the only preceptory was
that of Mas Deu, which was one of the strongholds of the land, and there
the Templars were collected and confined to the number of twenty-five,
including the Preceptor, Ramon Sa Guardia, the gallant defender of
Miravet, who after his surrender was demanded by the King of Majorca and
willingly joined his comrades. We know nothing of what took place on the
islands beyond the fact of the arrest, but on the mainland we can follow
with some exactness the course of events. Roussillon constituted the
diocese of Elne, which was suffragan to the archbishopric of Narbonne.
May 5, 1309, the archbishop sent to Ramon Costa, Bishop of Elne, the
articles of accusation with the papal bull ordering an inquest. The good
bishop seems to have been in no haste to comply, but, pleading illness,
postponed the matter until January, 1310. Then, in obedience to the
instructions, he summoned two Franciscans and two Dominicans, and with
two of his cathedral canons he proceeded to interrogate the prisoners.
It is evident that no torture was employed, for in their prolonged
examinations they substantially agreed in asserting the purity and piety
of the Order, and their chaplain offered in evidence their book of
ritual for receptions in the vernacular, commencing, "_Quan aleum proom
requer la compaya de la Mayso_." With manly indignation they refused to
believe that the Grand Master and chiefs of the Order had confessed to
the truth of the charges, but if they had done so they had lied in their
throats--or, as one of them phrased it, they were demons in human skin.
With regard to the cord of chastity, an humble peasant serving brother
explained not only that it was procured wherever they chose, but that if
it chanced to break while ploughing it was at once temporarily replaced
with one made of reeds. The voluminous testimony was forwarded, with a
simple certificate of its accuracy, by Bishop Ramon, August 31, 1310,
which shows that he was in no haste to transmit it. It could have proved
in no sense satisfactory, and there can be little doubt that the cruel
orders of Clement, in March, 1311, to procure confessions by torture
were duly obeyed, for Jean de Bourgogne, sacristan of Majorca, was
appointed by Clement inquisitor for the Templars in Aragon, Navarre, and
Majorca, and the same methods must unquestionably have been followed in
all the kingdoms. After the Council of Vienne there ensued a rather
curious controversy between the archbishops of Tarragona and Narbonne on
the subject. The former, with the Bishop of Valencia, was papal
custodian of Templar property in Aragon, Majorca, and Navarre. He seems
thus to have imagined that he held jurisdiction over the Templars of
Roussillon, for, October 15, 1313, he declared Ramon Sa Guardia absolved
and innocent, and directed him to live with his brethren at Mas Deu,
with a pension of three hundred and fifty livres, and the use of the
gardens and orchards, the other Templars having pensions ranging from
one hundred to thirty livres. Yet, in September, 1315, Bernard,
Archbishop of Narbonne, ordered Bishop Ramon's successor Guillen to
bring to the provincial council which he had summoned all the Templars
imprisoned in his diocese, together with the documents relating to their
trials, in order that their persons might be disposed of. King Jayme I.
had died in 1311, but his son and successor, Sancho, intervened, saying
that Clement had placed the Templars in his charge, and he would not
surrender them without a papal order--the papacy at that time being
vacant, with little prospect of an early election. He added that if they
were to be punished it belonged to him to have them tried in his court,
and to protect his jurisdiction he appealed to the future pope and
council. This was effectual, and the Templars remained undisturbed. A
statement of pensions paid in 1319 shows that of the twenty-five
examined at Mas Deu in 1310 ten had died; the remainder, with one
additional brother, were drawing pensions amounting in the aggregate to
nine hundred and fifty livres a year. On the island of Majorca there
were still nine whose total pensions were three hundred and sixty-two
livres ten sols. In 1329 there were still nine Templars receiving
pensions allotted on the Preceptory of Mas Deu, though most of them had
retired to their houses, for they do not appear to have been restricted
as to their place of residence. By this time the indomitable Ramon Sa
Guardia's name had disappeared. One by one they dropped off, until in
1350 there was but a single survivor, the knight Berenger dez Coll.[335]

In Castile no action seems to have been taken until the bull _Faciens
misericordiam_ of August 12, 1308, was sent to the prelates ordering
them to act in conjunction with the Dominican, Eymeric de Navas, as
inquisitor. Fernando IV. then ordered the Templars arrested, and their
lands placed in the hands of the bishops until the fate of the Order
should be determined. There was no alacrity, however, in pursuing the
affair, for it was not until April 15, 1310, that Archbishop Gonzalo of
Toledo cited the Master of Castile, Rodrigo Ybañez, and his brethren to
appear before him at Toledo. For the province of Compostella, comprising
Portugal, the archbishop held a council at Medina del Campo, where
thirty Templars and three other witnesses were examined, all of whom
testified in favor of the Order; a priest swore that he had heard the
confessions of many Templars on their death-beds, as well as others
mortally wounded by the infidel, and all were orthodox. No better
success attended inquests held by the Bishop of Lisbon at Medina Celi
and Orense. The only judicial action of which we have notice was that of
the Council of Salamanca for the province of Compostella, where the
Templars were unanimously acquitted, and the cruel orders to torture
them issued the next year by Clement seem to have been disregarded.
After the Order was dissolved the Templars for the most part continued
to lead exemplary lives. Many retired to the mountains and ended their
days as anchorites, and after death their bodies remained incorruptible,
in testimony of the saintliness of their martyrdom.[336]

Portugal belonged ecclesiastically to the province of Compostella, and
the Bishop of Lisbon, commissioned to investigate the Order, found no
ground for the charges. The fate of the Templars there was exceptionally
fortunate, for King Diniz, grateful for their services in his wars with
the Saracens, founded a new Order, that of Jesus Christ, or de Avis, and
procured its approval in 1318 from John XXII. To this safe refuge the
Templars and their lands were transferred, the commander and many of the
preceptors retaining their rank, and the new Order was thus merely a
continuation of the old.[337]

       *       *       *       *       *

The period finally set for the Council of Vienne was approaching, and
thus far Clement had failed to procure any evidence of weight against
the Templars beyond the boundaries of France, where bishop and
inquisitor had been the tools of Philippe's remorseless energy. Clement
may at the first have been Philippe's unwilling accomplice, but if so he
had long since gone too far to retract. Whether, as believed by many of
his contemporaries, he was sharing the spoils, is of little moment. He
had committed himself personally to all Europe, in the bull of November
22, 1307, to the assertion of the Templars' guilt, and had repeated this
emphatically in his subsequent utterances, with details admitting of no
retraction or explanation; he, as well as they, was on trial before
Christendom, and their acquittal by the council would be his conviction.
He was, therefore, no judge, but an antagonist, forced by the instinct
of self-preservation to destroy them, no matter through what
unscrupulous methods. As the council drew near his anxiety increased,
and he cast around for means to secure the testimony which should
justify him by proving the heresy of the Order. We have seen how he
urged Edward II. to introduce torture into the hitherto unpolluted
courts of England, and how he succeeded in having the brethren of Aragon
tortured in violation of the liberties of the land. These were but
specimens of a series of bulls, perhaps the most disgraceful that ever
proceeded from a vicegerent of God. From Cyprus to Portugal, prince and
prelate were ordered to obtain confessions by torture; in some places,
he said, it had been negligently and imprudently omitted, and the
omission must be repaired. The canons required that in such cases those
who refused to confess must be submitted to a "religious torturer" and
the truth thus be forced from them. So earnest was he that he wrote to
his legate in Rhodes to go to Cyprus and personally see that it was
done. The result in such cases was to be sent to him as speedily as

How much of human agony these inhuman orders caused can never be known.
It was not merely that those who had hitherto been spared the rack were
now subjected to it, but, in the eagerness to supplement the evidence on
hand, those who had already undergone torture were brought from their
dungeons and again subjected to it with enhanced severity, in order to
obtain from them still more extravagant admissions of guilt. Thus at
Florence thirteen Templars had been duly inquisitioned in 1310, and some
of them had confessed. Under the fresh papal urgency the inquisitors
again assembled in September, 1311, and put them through a fresh series
of examinations. Six of them yielded testimony in every way
satisfactory--the adoration of idols and cats and the rest. Seven of
them, however, were obstinate, and testified to the innocence of the
Order. The inquisitors showed their appreciation of what Clement wanted
by sending him only the six confessions. The other seven brethren, they
reported, had been duly tortured, but had stated nothing that was worth
the sending, as they were serving brethren or newly initiated members
who, presumably, were ignorant--although elsewhere the most damaging
evidence had been obtained from such brethren and utilized. Clement
evidently knew his man when he selected the Archbishop of Pisa as the
head of this inquisition. We happen to have another illustration of the
results of Clement's urgency in preparing for the council. In the
Château d'Alais the Bishop of Nîmes held thirty-three Templars who had
already been examined and confessions extorted from some of them, which
had mostly been retracted. Under Clement's orders for fresh tortures
twenty-nine survivors of these (four having meanwhile died in prison)
were brought out in August, 1311. Some of them had already been
tortured three years before, but now all were tortured again, with the
result of obtaining the kind of testimony required, including

In spite of all these precautions it required the most arbitrary use of
both papal and kingly influence to force from the council a reluctant
assent to what was evidently regarded by Christendom as the foulest
injustice. It is, perhaps, significant that the acts of the council
vanished from the papal archives, and we are left to gather its
proceedings from such fragmentary allusions as occur in contemporary
chroniclers and from the papal bulls which record its results. Good
orthodox Catholics have even denied to it the right to be considered
Œcumenic, in spite of the presence of more than three hundred bishops
from all the states of Europe, the presidency of a pope, and the book of
canon laws which was adopted in it, no one knows how.[340]

The first question to be settled was Clement's demand that the Order
should be condemned without a hearing. He had, as we have seen, solemnly
summoned it to appear, through its chiefs and procurators, before the
council, and had ordered the Cardinal of Palestrina, whom he had
appointed their custodian, to present them for that purpose; he had
organized a commission expressly to listen to those who were willing to
defend it, and to arrange for them to nominate procurators, and he had
uttered no protest when Philippe's savage violence had put an end to the
attempt. Now the council had met and the chiefs of the Order were not
brought before it. The subject was too delicate a one to be trusted to
the body of the council, and a picked convocation was formed of prelates
selected from the nations represented--Spain, France, Italy, Germany,
Hungary, England, Ireland, and Scotland--to discuss the matter with the
pope and cardinals. On a day in November, while this body was listening
to the reports sent in by the inquisitors, suddenly there appeared
before them seven Templars offering to defend the Order in the name,
they said, of fifteen hundred or two thousand brethren, refugees who
were wandering in the mountains of the Lyonnais. In place of hearing
them, Clement promptly cast them into prison, and when, a few days
later, two more, undeterred by the fate of their predecessors, made a
similar attempt, they were likewise incarcerated. Clement's principal
emotion was fear for his own life from the desperation of the outcasts,
leading him to take extra precautions and to advise Philippe to do the
same. This was not calculated to make the prelates feel less keenly the
shame of what they were asked to do, for which the only reason alleged
was the injury to the Holy Land arising from the delay to be anticipated
from discussion; and when the matter came to a vote only one Italian
bishop and three Frenchmen (the Archbishops of Sens, Reims, and Rouen,
who had burned the relapsed Templars) were found to record themselves in
favor of the infamy of condemning the Order unheard. They might well
hesitate. In Germany, Italy, and Spain provincial councils had solemnly
declared that they could find no evil in the Order or its members. In
England the Templars had only confessed themselves defamed of heresy. In
France alone had there been any general confession of guilt. Even if
individuals were guilty, they had been condemned to appropriate penance,
and there was no warrant for destroying without a hearing so noble a
member of the Church Militant as the great Order of the Temple.[341]

Clement vainly used every effort to win over the Council. The most that
he could do was to prolong the discussion until the middle of February,
1313, when Philippe, who had called a meeting of the Three Estates at
Lyons, hard by Vienne, came thence with Charles de Valois, his three
sons and a following numerous enough to impress the prelates with his
power. A royal order of March 14 to the Seneschal of Toulouse to make a
special levy to defray the expenses of the delegates sent by that city
successively to Tours, Poitiers, Lyons, and Vienne, "on the business of
the faith or of the Templars," shows how the policy, begun at Tours, of
overawing the Church by pressure from the laity of the kingdom was
unscrupulously pursued to the end. Active discussions followed. Philippe
had dexterously brought forward again the question of the condemnation
of Boniface VIII. for heresy, which he had promised, a year previous, to
abandon. It was an impossibility to grant this without impugning the
legitimacy of Boniface's cardinals and of Clement's election, but it
served the purpose of affording an apparent concession. The combined
pressure brought to bear upon the council became too strong for further
resistance, and the Gordian knot was resolutely severed. In a secret
consistory of cardinals and prelates held March 22, Clement presented
the bull _Vox in excelso_, in which he admitted that the evidence did
not canonically justify the definitive condemnation of the Order, but he
argued that it had been so scandalized that no honorable men hereafter
could enter it, that delay would lead to the dilapidation of its
possessions with consequent damage to the Holy Land, and that,
therefore, its provisional abolition by the Holy See was expedient.
April 3 the second session of the council was held, in which the bull
was published, and Clement apologized for it by explaining that it was
necessary to propitiate his dear son, the King of France. If the popular
belief was that the sentence was rendered by Philippe's command, it was
not without justification. Thus, after all this cruelty and labor, the
Order was abolished without being convicted. There can be little doubt
that the council acquiesced willingly in this solution of the question.
The individual members were thus relieved of responsibility, and they
felt that the Order had been so foully dealt with that policy required
injustice to be carried out to the bitter end.[342]

The next point to be determined was the disposition of the Templar
property, which gave rise to a long and somewhat bitter debate. Various
plans were proposed, but finally Clement succeeded in procuring its
transfer to the Hospitallers. It may not be true that they bribed him
heavily to accomplish this, but such a belief prevailed extensively at
the time, and sufficiently illustrates the estimate entertained of him
by his contemporaries. May 2 the bull _Ad providam_ announced that,
although in view of the proceedings thus far had the Order could not
legally be suppressed, it was provisionally and irrevocably abolished by
apostolic ordinance; it was placed under perpetual inhibition, and any
one presuming to enter it or to assume its habit incurred _ipso facto_
excommunication. All the property of the Order was assumed by the Holy
See, and was transferred to the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem,
saving in the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Majorca, and Portugal. As
early as August, 1310, Jayme of Aragon had urged his brother monarchs to
unite with him in defending their claims before the papal court; and
though he disregarded Clement's invitation to appear in person before
the council to state his reasons, the three kings took care to have
their views energetically represented. Elsewhere, all who occupied and
detained such property, no matter what their rank or station, were
required, under pain of excommunication, to hand it over to the
Hospitallers within a month after summons. This bull was sent to all
princes and prelates, and the latter were instructed to enforce the
surrender of the property by a vigorous use of excommunication and

The burning question as to the property being thus settled, the less
material one as to the persons of the Templars was shuffled off by
referring them to their provincial councils for judgment, with the
exception of the chiefs of the Order still reserved to the Holy See. All
fugitives were cited to appear within a year before their bishops for
examination and sentence; failure to do so incurred _ipso facto_
excommunication, which if endured for another year became condemnation
for heresy. General instructions were given that the impenitent and
relapsed were to be visited with the utmost penalties of the law. Those
who, even under torture, denied all knowledge of error afforded a
problem insoluble to the wisdom of the council and were referred to the
provincial councils to be treated as justice and the equity of the
canons required: to those who confessed, the rigor of justice should be
tempered with abundant mercy. They were to be placed in the former
houses of the Order or in monasteries, taking care that no great number
should be herded together, and be decently maintained out of the
property of the Order. Interest in the subject, however, passed away
with the alienation of the property, and few provincial councils seem to
have been held save those of Tarragona and Narbonne already mentioned.
Many Templars rotted to death in their dungeons; some of the so-called
"relapsed" were burned; many wandered over Europe as homeless vagabonds;
others maintained themselves as best they might by manual labor. In
Naples, curiously enough, John XXII. in 1318 ordered them to be
supported by the Dominicans and Franciscans. When some attempted to
marry, John XXII. pronounced that their vows were still binding and
their marriages void, thus admitting that their reception had been
regular and not vitiated. He likewise assumed their orthodoxy when he
permitted them to enter other Orders. A certain number of them did so,
especially in Germany, where their fate was less bitter than elsewhere,
and where the Hospitallers welcomed them by formal resolution of the
Conference of Frankfurt-am-Mayn in 1317. The last Preceptor of
Brandenburg, Frederic of Alvensleben, was received into the Hospital
with the same preferment. In fact, popular sympathy in Germany seems to
have led to the assignment to them of revenues of which the Hospitallers
complained as an insupportable burden, and in 1318 John XXII. ordered
that they should not be so provided for as to enable them to lay up
money and live luxuriously, but should have merely a living and garments
suited to spiritual persons.[344]

There remained to be disposed of de Molay and the other chiefs reserved
by Clement for his personal judgment--a reservation which, as we have
seen, by inspiring them with selfish hopes, led them to abandon their
brethren. When this purpose had been accomplished Clement for a while
seemed to forgot them in their drear captivity. It was not till December
22, 1313, that he appointed a commission of three cardinals, Arnaud of
S. Sabina, Nicholas of S. Eusebio, and Arnaldo of S. Prisca, to
investigate the proceedings against them and to absolve or condemn, or
to inflict penance proportionate to their offences, and to assign to
them on the property of the Order such pensions as were fitting. The
cardinals dallied with their duty until March 19, 1314, when, on a
scaffold in front of Nôtre Dame, de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney, Master
of Normandy, Hugues de Peraud, Visitor of France, and Godefroi de
Gonneville, Master of Aquitaine, were brought forth from the jail in
which for nearly seven years they had lain, to receive the sentence
agreed upon by the cardinals, in conjunction with the Archbishop of Sens
and some other prelates whom they had called in. Considering the
offences which the culprits had confessed and confirmed, the penance
imposed was in accordance with rule--that of perpetual imprisonment. The
affair was supposed to be concluded when, to the dismay of the prelates
and wonderment of the assembled crowd, de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney
arose. They had been guilty, they said, not of the crimes imputed to
them, but of basely betraying their Order to save their own lives. It
was pure and holy; the charges were fictitious and the confessions
false. Hastily the cardinals delivered them to the Prévôt of Paris, and
retired to deliberate on this unexpected contingency, but they were
saved all trouble. When the news was carried to Philippe he was furious.
A short consultation with his council only was required. The canons
pronounced that a relapsed heretic was to be burned without a hearing;
the facts were notorious and no formal judgment by the papal commission
need be waited for. That same day, by sunset, a pile was erected on a
small island in the Seine, the Isle des Juifs, near the palace garden.
There de Molay and de Charney were slowly burned to death, refusing all
offers of pardon for retraction, and bearing their torment with a
composure which won for them the reputation of martyrs among the people,
who reverently collected their ashes as relics. It remained for a modern
apologist of the Church to declare that their intrepid self-sacrifice
proved them to be champions of the devil. In their death they triumphed
over their persecutor and atoned for the pusillanimity with which they
had abandoned those committed to their guidance. Hugues de Peraud and
the Master of Aquitaine lacked courage to imitate them, accepted their
penance, and perished miserably in their dungeons. Raimbaud de Caron,
the Preceptor of Cyprus, had doubtless been already released by

The fact that in little more than a month Clement died in torment of the
loathsome disease known as lupus, and that in eight months Philippe, at
the early age of forty-six, perished by an accident while hunting,
necessarily gave rise to the legend that de Molay had cited them before
the tribunal of God. Such stories were rife among the people, whose
sense of justice had been scandalized by the whole affair. Even in
distant Germany Philippe's death was spoken of as a retribution for his
destruction of the Templars, and Clement was described as shedding tears
of remorse on his death-bed for three great crimes, the poisoning of
Henry VI. and the ruin of the Templars and Beguines. An Italian
contemporary, papalist in his leanings, apologizes for introducing a
story of a wandering outcast Templar carried from Naples to the presence
of Clement, bearding him to his face, condemned to the stake, and from
the flames summoning him and Philippe to the judgment-seat of God within
the year, which was marvellously fulfilled. These tales show how the
popular heart was stirred and how the popular sympathies were

In fact, outside of France, where, for obvious reasons, contemporary
opinion was cautious in expression, the downfall of the Templars was
very largely attributed to the remorseless cupidity of Philippe and
Clement. Even in France public sentiment inclined in their favor.
Godefroi de Paris evidently goes as far as he dares when he says:

    "Dyversement de ce l'en parle,
     Et ou monde en est grant bataille--
     --L'en puet bien décevoir l'yglise
     Mès l'en ne puet en nule guise
     Diex décevoir. Je n'en dis plus:
     Qui voudra dira le seurplus."

It required courage animated by a lofty sense of duty when, at the
height of the persecution, the Dominican, Pierre de la Palu, one of the
foremost theologians of the day, voluntarily appeared before the papal
commission in Paris to say that he had been present at many examinations
where some of the accused confessed the charges and others denied them,
and it appeared to him that the denials were worthy of confidence
rather than the confessions.[347] As time wore on the conviction as to
their innocence strengthened. Boccaccio took their side. St. Antonino of
Florence, whose historical labors largely influenced opinion in the
fifteenth century, asserted that their downfall was attributable to the
craving for their wealth, and popular writers in general adopted the
same view. Even Raynaldus hesitates and balances arguments on either
side, and Campi assures us that in Italy, in the seventeenth century,
they were regarded by many as saints and martyrs. At length, about the
middle of the seventeenth century, the learned Du Puy undertook to
rehabilitate the memory of Philippe le Bel in a work of which the array
of documentary evidence renders it indispensable to the student.
Gürtler, who followed him with a history of the Templars, is evidently
unable to make up his mind. Since then the question has been argued pro
and con with a vehemence which promises to leave it one of the unsettled
problems of history.[348]

Be this as it may, Philippe obtained the object of his desires. After
1307 his financial embarrassments visibly decreased. There was not only
the release from the obligation of the five hundred thousand livres
which he had borrowed of the Order, but its vast accumulations of
treasure and of valuables of all kinds fell into his hands and were
never accounted for. He collected all the debts due to it, and his
successors were still busy at that work as late as 1322. The extensive
banking business which the Templars had established between the East and
the West doubtless rendered this feature of the confiscation exceedingly
profitable, and it is safe to assume that Philippe enforced the rule
that debts due by convicted heretics were not to be paid. Despite his
pretence of surrendering the landed estates to the pope, he retained
possession of them till his death and enjoyed their revenues. Even those
in Guyenne, belonging to the English crown, he collected in spite of the
protests of Edward, and he claimed the Templar castles in the English
territories until Clement prevailed upon him to withdraw. The great
Paris Temple, half palace, half fortress, one of the architectural
wonders of the age, was retained with a grip which nothing but death
could loosen. After the property had been adjudged to the Hospitallers,
in May, 1312, by the Council of Vienne with Philippe's concurrence, and
he had formally approved of it in August, Clement addressed him in
December several letters asking his assistance in recovering what had
been seized by individuals--assistance which doubtless was freely
promised; but in June, 1313, we find Clement remonstrating with him over
his refusal to permit Albert de Châteauneuf, Grand Preceptor of the
Hospital, to administer the property either of his own Order or that of
the Temple in France. In 1314 the General Chapter of the Hospital gave
unlimited authority to Leonardo and Francesco de Tibertis to take
possession of all the Temple property promised to the Order, and in
April an _arrêt_ of Parlement recites that it had been given to the
Hospital at Philippe's special request, and that he had invested
Leonardo de Tibertis with it; but there was a reservation that it was
liable for the expenses of the imprisoned Templars and for the costs
incurred by the king in pushing the trials. This was a claim elastic
both in amount and in the time required for settlement. Had Philippe's
life been prolonged it is probable that no settlement would have been
made. As it was, the Hospitallers at last, in 1317, were glad to close
the affair by abandoning to Philippe le Long all claim on the income of
the landed estates which the crown had held for ten years, with an
arrangement as to the movables which virtually left them in the king's
hands. They also assumed to pay the expenses of the imprisoned Templars,
and this exposed them to every species of exaction and pillage on the
part of the royal officials.[349]

In fact, it is the general testimony that the Hospitallers were rather
impoverished than enriched by the splendid gift. There had been a
universal Saturnalia of plunder. Every one, king, noble, and prelate,
who could lay hands on a part of the defenceless possessions had done
so, and to reclaim it required large payments either to the holder or to
his suzerain. In 1286 the Margrave Otto of Brandenburg had entered the
Order of the Temple and had enriched it with extensive domains. These
the Margrave Waldemar seized, and did not surrender till 1322, nor was
the transfer confirmed till 1350, when the Hospital was obliged to pay
five hundred silver marks. In Bohemia many nobles seized and retained
Templar property; the chivalrous King John is said to have kept more
than twenty castles, and Templars themselves managed to hold some and
bequeath them to their heirs. Religious orders were not behindhand in
securing what they could out of the spoils--Dominicans, Carthusians,
Augustinians, Celestinians, all are named as participators. Even the
pious Robert of Naples had to be reminded by Clement that he had
incurred excommunication because he had not surrendered the Templar
property in Provence. In fact, he had secretly sent orders to his
seneschal not to deliver it to the Archbishops of Arles and Embrun, the
commissioners appointed by the pope, and before he was finally obliged
to make it over he realized what he could from it. Perhaps the Hospital
fared better in Cyprus than elsewhere, for when the papal nuncio, Peter,
Bishop of Rhodes, published the bull, November 7, 1313, the Templar
possessions seem to have been made over to it without contest. In
England, even the weakness of Edward II. made a feeble attempt to keep
the property. Clement had ordered him, February 25, 1309, to make it
over to the papal commissioners designated for the purpose, but he seems
to have paid no attention to the command. After the Council of Vienne we
find him, August 12, 1312, expressing to the Prior of the Hospital his
surprise that he is endeavoring under the color of papal letters to
obtain possession of it, to the manifest prejudice of the dignity of the
crown. Much of it had been farmed out and alienated to Edward's
worthless favorites, and he resisted its surrender as long as he dared.
When forced to succumb he did so in a manner as self-abasing as
possible, by executing, November 24, 1313, a notarial instrument to the
effect that he protested against it, and only yielded out of fear of the
dangers to him and his kingdom to be apprehended from a refusal. It may
be doubted whether his orders were obeyed that it should be burdened
with the payment of the allowances to the surviving Templars. He
succeeded, however, in getting a hundred pounds from the Hospitallers
for the London Temple; and in 1317 John XXII. was obliged to intervene
with an order for the restitution of lands still detained by those who
had succeeded in occupying them.[350]

The Spanish peninsula had been excepted from the operation of the bull
transferring the property to the Hospital, but subject to the further
discretion of Clement. As regards the kingdom of Majorca he exercised
this discretion in 1313 by giving King Sancho II. the personal property,
and ordering him to make over the real estate to the Hospital, under
condition that the latter should be subject to the duties which had been
performed by the Temple. Even this did not relieve the Hospitallers from
the necessity of bargaining with King Sancho. It was not until February,
1314, that the lands on the island of Majorca were surrendered to them
in consideration of an annual payment of eleven thousand sols, and an
allowance of twenty-two thousand five hundred sols to be made on the
mesne profits to be accounted for since the donation was made. All
profits previous to that time were to remain with the crown. No
documents are extant to show what was done on the mainland, but
doubtless there was a similar transaction. In addition to this the
pensions of the Templars assigned on the property were a heavy burden
for many years.[351]

In Aragon there was less disposition to accede to the papal wishes.
Constant struggle with the Saracen had left memories of services
rendered, or sharpened the sense of benefits to come from some new Order
devoted wholly to national objects, which could not be expected of a
body like the Hospitallers, whose primary duty was devotion to the Holy
Land. The Templars had contributed largely to all the enterprises which
had enlarged the boundaries of the kingdom. They had rendered faithful
service to the monarchy in the council as well as in the field; to them
was in great part attributed the rescue of Jayme I. from the hands of de
Montfort, and they had been foremost in the glorious campaigns which had
earned for him the title of _el Conquistador_. Pedro III. and Jayme II.
had scarce had less reason for gratitude to them, and the latter, after
sacrificing them, naturally desired to use their forfeited property for
the establishment of a new Order from which he might expect similar
advantages, but Clement's engagements with the Hospitallers were such
that he turned a deaf ear to the king's repeated representations. On
the accession of John XXII., however, matters assumed a more favorable
aspect, and in 1317 Vidal de Vilanova, Jayme's envoy, procured from him
a bull authorizing the formation of the Order of Nuestra Señora de
Montesa, affiliated to the Order of Calatrava, from which its members
were to be drawn. Its duties were defined to be the defence of the
coasts and frontier of Valencia from corsairs and Moors; the Templar
property in Aragon and Catalonia was made over to the Hospitallers,
while the new Order was to have in Valencia not only the possessions of
the Temple, but all those of the Hospital, except in the city of
Valencia and for half a league around it. In 1319 the preliminaries were
accomplished, and the new Order was organized with Guillen de Eril as
its Grand Master.[352]

In Castile Alonso XI. retained for the crown the greater part of the
Templar lands, though, along the frontier, nobles and cities succeeded
in obtaining a portion. Some were given to the Orders of Santiago and
Calatrava, and the Hospitallers received little. After an interval of
half a century another effort was made, and in 1366 Urban V. ordered the
delivery within two months of all the Templar property to the
Hospitallers, but it is safe to assume that the mandate was disregarded,
though in 1387 Clement VII., the Avignonese antipope, confirmed some
exchanges made of Templar property by the Hospitallers with the Orders
of Santiago and Calatrava.[353] Castile, as we have already seen, was
always singularly independent of the papacy. In Portugal, as mentioned
above, the property was handed over as a whole to the Order of Jesus

In the Morea, where the Templar possessions were extensive, Clement had,
as early as November 11, 1310, exercised rights of proprietorship by
ordering his administrators, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the
Archbishop of Patras, to lend to Gautier de Brienne, Duke of Athens,
all the proceeds which they had collected, and all that they might
collect for a year to come.[354]

Thus disappeared, virtually without a struggle, an organization which
was regarded as one of the proudest, wealthiest, and most formidable in
Europe. It is not too much to say that the very idea of its destruction
could not have suggested itself, but for the facilities which the
inquisitorial process placed in able and unscrupulous hands to
accomplish any purpose of violence under the form of law. If I have
dwelt on the tragedy at a length that may seem disproportionate, my
apology is that it affords so perfect an illustration of the
helplessness of the victim, no matter how high-placed, when once the
fatal charge of heresy was preferred against him, and was pressed
through the agency of the Inquisition.

       *       *       *       *       *

The case of the learned theologian, Jean Petit, Doctor of Sorbonne, is
of no great historical importance, but it is worth noting as an example
of the use made of the charge of heresy as a weapon in political
warfare, and of the elastic definition by which heresy was brought to
include offences not easily justiciable in the ordinary courts.

Under Charles VI. of France the royal power was reduced to a shadow. His
frequently recurring fits of insanity rendered him incapable of
governing, and the quarrels of ambitious princes of the blood reduced
the kingdom almost to a state of anarchy. Especially bitter was the feud
between the king's brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans, and his cousin, Jean
sans Peur of Burgundy. Yet even that age of violence was startled when,
by the procurement of Jean sans Peur, the Duke of Orleans, in 1407, was
assassinated in the streets of Paris--a murder which remained unavenged
until 1419, when the battle-axe of Tanneguy du Châtel balanced the
account on the bridge of Montereau. Even Jean sans Peur felt the need of
some apology for his bloody deed, and he sought the assistance of Jean
Petit, who read before the royal court a thesis--the _Justificatio Ducis
Burgundiæ_--to prove that he had acted righteously and patriotically,
and that he deserved the thanks of king and people. Written in the
conventional scholastic style, the tract was not a mere political
pamphlet, but an argument based on premises of general principles. It is
a curious coincidence that, nearly three centuries earlier, another
Johannes Parvus, better known as John of Salisbury, the worthiest
representative of the highest culture of his day, in a purely
speculative treatise had laid down the doctrine that a tyrant was to be
put to death without mercy. According to the younger Jean Petit, "Any
tyrant can and ought properly to be slain by any subject or vassal, and
by any means, specially by treachery, notwithstanding any oath or
compact, and without awaiting judicial sentence or order." This rather
portentous proposition was limited by defining the tyrant to be one who
is endeavoring through cupidity, fraud, sorcery, or evil mind to deprive
the king of his authority, and the subject or vassal is assumed to be
one who is inspired by loyalty, and him the king should cherish and
reward. It was not difficult to find Scriptural warrant for such
assertion in the slaying of Zimri by Phineas, and of Holofernes by
Judith; but Jean Petit ventured on debatable ground when he declared
that St. Michael, without awaiting the divine command and moved only by
natural love, slew Satan with eternal death, for which he was rewarded
with spiritual wealth as great as he was capable of receiving.[355]

That this was not a mere lawyer's pleading is shown by the fact that it
was written in the vernacular and exposed for sale. Doubtless Jean sans
Peur circulated it extensively, and it was doubtless convincing to those
who were already convinced. It might safely have been allowed to perish
in the limbo of forgetfulness, but when, some six years later, the
Armagnac faction obtained the upper hand, it was exhumed from the dust
as a ready means of attacking the Burgundians. Jean Petit himself, by
opportunely dying some years before, escaped a trial for heresy, but in
November, 1313, a national council was assembled in Paris to consider
nine propositions extracted from his work. Gérard, Bishop of Paris, and
Frère Jean Polet, the inquisitor, summoned the masters of theology of
the University to give their opinions, which solemnly condemned the
propositions. The council debated the question with unwearied prolixity
through twenty-eight sessions, and finally, on February 23, 1314, it
adopted a sentence condemning the nine propositions to be burned as
erroneous in faith and morals, and manifestly scandalous. The sentence
was duly executed two days later on a scaffold in front of Nôtre Dame,
in presence of a vast crowd, to whom the famous doctor, Benoist Gencien,
elaborately explained the enormity of the heresy. Jean sans Peur
thereupon appealed to the Holy See from this sentence, and John XXIII.
appointed a commission of three cardinals--Orsini, Aquileia, and
Florence--to examine and report. Thus Jean Petit had succeeded in
becoming a European question, but in spite of this a royal ordonnance on
March 17 commanded all the bishops of the kingdom to burn the
propositions; on March 18, the University ordered them burned; on June 4
there was a royal mandate to publish the condemnation; on December 4 the
University came to the royal court and delivered an oration on the
subject, and on December 27 Charles VI. addressed a royal letter to the
Council of Constance asking it to join in the condemnation. Evidently
the affair was exploited to the uttermost; and when, on January 4, 1315,
the long-delayed obsequies of the Duke of Orleans were performed in
Nôtre Dame, Chancellor Gerson preached a sermon before the king and the
court, the boldness of which excited general comment. The government of
the Duke of Orleans had been better than any which had succeeded it; the
death of the Duke of Burgundy was not counselled, but his humiliation
was advocated; the burning of Petit's propositions was well done, but
more remained to do, and all this Gerson was ready to maintain before
all comers.[356]

It was in this mood that Gerson went to Constance as head of the French
nation. In his first address to the council, March 23, 1415, he urged
the condemnation of the nine propositions. The trial of John XXIII., the
condemnation of Wickliff and of communion in both elements, and the
discussion over Huss for a while monopolized the attention of the
council, and no action was taken until June 15. Meanwhile Gerson found
an ally in the Polish nation. John of Falckenberg had written a tract
applying the arguments of Jean Petit to the slaying of Polish princes,
of which the Archbishop of Gnesen had readily procured the condemnation
by the University of Paris, and the Polish ambassador joined Gerson in
the effort to have both put under the ban. On June 15, Andrea Lascaris,
Bishop of Posen, proposed that a commission be appointed to conduct an
inquisition upon new heresies. Jean Petit was not alluded to, but it was
understood that his propositions were aimed at, for the only negative
vote was that of Martin, Bishop of Arras, the ambassador of Jean sans
Peur, who asserted that the object of the movement was to assail his
master; and he further protested against Cardinal Peter d'Ailly, who was
put on the commission with Orsini, Aquileia, and Florence, as well as
two representatives of the Italian nation and four each of the French,
English, and German. On July 6, after rendering judgment against Huss,
the council condemned as heretical and scandalous the proposition
_Quilibet tyrannus_, which was virtually the first of the nine condemned
in Paris. This did not satisfy the French, who wanted the judgment of
the University confirmed on the whole series. During the two years and a
half that the council remained assembled, Gerson was unwearied in his
efforts to accomplish this object. These heresies he declared to be of
more importance than those of Huss and Jerome, and bitterly he scolded
the fathers for leaving the good work unfinished. Interminable was the
wrangling and disputation, appeals from Charles VI. and the University
on the one side, and from the Duke of Burgundy on the other. John of
Falckenberg was thrown into prison, but nothing would induce the council
to take further action, and the affair at last died out. It is difficult
for us at the present day to understand the magnitude which it assumed
in the eyes of that generation. Gerson subsequently felt himself obliged
to meet the jeers of those who reproached him with having risked a
question of such importance before such a body as the council, and he
justified himself by alleging that he had acted under instructions from
the king and the University, and the Gallican Church as represented in
the province of Sens. Moreover, he argued, when the council had
manifested such zeal in condemning the Wickliffite doctrines and in
burning Huss and Jerome, he would have been rash and unjust to suppose
that it would not have been equally earnest in repressing the yet more
pernicious heresies of Jean Petit. To us the result of greatest interest
was its influence on the fate of Gerson himself. On the dissolution of
the council he was afraid to risk the enmity of the Duke of Burgundy by
returning to France, and gladly accepted a refuge offered him in Austria
by Duke Ernest, which he repaid in a grateful poem. He never ventured
nearer home than Lyons, where his brother was friar of a convent of
Celestinian hermits, and where he supported himself by teaching school
till his death, July 14, 1429.[357]

       *       *       *       *       *

Criticism would doubtless ere this have demonstrated the meteoric career
of Joan of Arc to be a myth, but for the concurrent testimony of friend
and foe and the documentary evidence, which enable us with reasonable
certainty to separate its marvellous vicissitudes from the legendary
details with which they have been obscured. For us her story has a
special interest, as affording another illustration of the ease with
which the inquisitorial process was employed for political ends.

In 1429 the French monarchy seemed doomed beyond hope of resuscitation.
In the fierce dissensions which marked the reign of the insane Charles
VI. a generation had grown up in whom adherence to faction had replaced
fidelity to the throne or to the nation; the loyalists were known not as
partisans of Charles VII., but as Armagnacs, and the Burgundians
welcomed the foreign domination of England as preferable to that of
their hereditary sovereign. Paris, in spite of the fearful privations
and losses entailed by the war, submitted cheerfully to the English
through the love it bore to their ally, the Duke of Burgundy. Joan of
Arc said that, in her native village, Domremy on the Lorraine border,
there was but one Burgundian, and his head she wished were cut off; but
Domremy and Vaucouleurs constituted the only Armagnac spot in
northeastern France, and its boys used to have frequent fights with the
Burgundian boys of Marey, from which they would be brought home wounded
and bleeding. Such was the all-pervading bitterness of discord
throughout the kingdom.[358]

Even the death of the brilliant Henry V., in 1423, had seemed to check
in no degree the progress of the English arms. Under the able regency of
his brother, the Duke of Bedford, seconded by such captains as
Salisbury, Talbot, Scales, and Fastolf, the infant Henry VI. appeared
destined to succeed to the throne of his grandfather, Charles VI., as
provided in the treaty of Troyes. In 1424 the victory of Verneuil
repeated the triumph of Agincourt. From Dauphiné alone three hundred
knights were left upon the field, and but for the fidelity of the
provinces won by the Albigensian crusades, Charles VII. would already
have been a king without a kingdom. Driven beyond the Loire, he was
known by the nickname of the Roi de Bourges. Vacillating and irresolute,
dominated by unworthy favorites, he hardly knew whether to retreat
farther to the south and make a final stand among the mountains of
Dauphiné, or to seek a refuge in Spain or Scotland. In 1428 his last
line of defence on the Loire was threatened by the leaguer of Orleans.
He was powerless to raise the siege, and for five months the heroic city
resisted till, reduced to despair, it sent the renowned knight, Pothon
de Xaintrallies to the Duke of Burgundy to ask him to accept its
allegiance. The duke was nothing loath, but the acquisition required the
assent of his English ally, and Bedford scornfully refused--he would
not, he said, beat the bush for another to win the bird. Two months more
of weary siege elapsed: as the spring of 1429 opened, further resistance
seemed useless, and for Charles there appeared nothing left but
ignominious retreat and eventual exile.[359]

Such was the hopeless condition of the French monarchy when the
enthusiasm of Joan of Arc introduced a new factor in the tangled
problem, kindling anew the courage which had been extinguished by an
unbroken series of defeats, arousing the sense of loyalty which had
been lost in faction, bringing religion as a stimulus to patriotism, and
replacing despair with eager confidence and hopefulness. It has been
given to few in the world's history thus to influence the destiny of a
nation, and perhaps to none so obscure and apparently so unfitted.[360]

Born January 6, 1484, in the little hamlet of Domremy, on the border
line of Lorraine, she had but completed her seventeenth year when she
confidently assumed the function of the saviour of her native land.[361]
Her parents, honest peasants, had given her such training as comported
with her station; she could, of course, neither read nor write, but she
could recite her Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo; she had herded the
kine, and was a notable sempstress--on her trial she boasted that no
maid or matron of Rouen could teach her anything with the needle. Thanks
to her rustic employment she was tall and strong-limbed, active and
enduring. It was said of her that she could pass six days and nights
without taking off her harness, and marvellous stories were told of her
abstinence from food while undergoing the most exhausting labor in
battle and assault. Thus a strong physical constitution was dominated by
a still stronger and excitable nervous organization. Her resolute
self-reliance was shown when she was sought in marriage by an honest
citizen of Toul, whose suit her parents favored. Finding her obdurate,
he had recourse, it would seem with her parents' consent, to the law,
and cited her before the Official of Toul to fulfil the marriage promise
which he alleged she had made to him. Notwithstanding her youth, Joan
appeared undaunted before the court, swore that she had given no
pledges, and was released from the too-ardent suitor. At the age of
thirteen she commenced to have ecstasies and visions. The Archangel
Michael appeared to her first, and he was followed by St. Catharine and
St. Margaret, whom God had specially commissioned to watch over and
guide her. Even the Archangel Gabriel sometimes came to counsel her,
and she felt herself the instrument of the divine will, transmuting by a
subtle psychical alchemy her own impulses into commands from on high. At
length she could summon her heavenly advisers at will and obtain from
them instructions in any doubtful emergency. In her trial great stress
was laid upon an ancient beech-tree, near Domremy, known as the Ladies'
Tree, or Fairies' Tree, from near the roots of which gushed forth a
spring of miraculous healing virtue. A survival of tree and fountain
worship was preserved in the annual dances and songs of the young girls
of the village around the tree, and the garlands which they hung upon
its boughs, but Joan, although she joined her comrades in these
observances, usually reserved her garlands to decorate the shrine of the
Virgin in the church hard by. Extreme religious sensibility was
inseparable from such a character as hers, and almost at the first
apparition of her celestial visitants she made a vow of virginity. She
believed herself consecrated and set apart for some high and holy
purpose, to which all earthly ties must be subordinate. When she related
to her judges that her parents were almost crazed at her departure, she
added that if she had had a hundred fathers and mothers she would have
abandoned them to fulfil her mission. To this self-concentration,
reflected in her bearing, is probably to be attributed the remark of
several of her chroniclers, that no man could look upon her with a
lascivious eye.[362]

At first her heavenly guides merely told her to conduct herself well and
to frequent the church, but as she grew to understand the desperate
condition of the monarchy and to share the fierce passions of the time,
it was natural that these purely moral instructions should change into
commands to bear from God the message of deliverance to the despairing
people. In her ecstasies she felt herself to be the chosen instrument,
and at length her Voices, as she habitually called them, urged her
several times a week to hasten to France and to raise the siege of
Orleans. To her parents she feared to reveal her mission; some unguarded
revelation they must have had, for, two years before her departure, her
father, Jacques Darc, had dreams of her going off with the soldiers, and
he told her brothers that if he thought that his dreams would come true
he wished they would drown her, or he would do it himself. Thenceforth
she was closely watched, but the urgency of her celestial counsellors
grew into reproaches for her tardiness, and further delay was
unendurable. Obtaining permission to visit her uncle, Denis Laxart, she
persuaded him to communicate her secret to Robert de Baudricourt, who
held for the king the neighboring castle of Vaucouleurs. Her Voices had
predicted that she would be twice repulsed and would succeed the third
time. It so turned out. The good knight, who at first contemptuously
advised her uncle to box her ears, at length was persuaded to ask the
king's permission to send the girl to him. She must have acquired a
reputation of inspiration, for while awaiting the response the Duke of
Lorraine, who was sick, sent for her and she told him that if he wished
a cure he must first reconcile himself with his wife. On the royal
permission being accorded, de Baudricourt gave to her a man's dress and
a sword, with a slender escort of a knight and four men, and washed his
hands of the affair.[363]

The little party started, February 13, 1429, on their perilous ride of a
hundred and fifty leagues, in the depth of winter, through the enemy's
country. That they should accomplish it without misadventure in eleven
days was in itself regarded as a miracle, and as manifesting the favor
of God. On February 24 they reached Chinon, where Charles held his
court, only to encounter new obstacles. It is true that some persons of
sense, as we are told, recognized in her the fulfilment of Merlin's
prophecy, "_Descendet virgo dorsum sagittarii et flores virgineos
obscurabit_;" others found her foretold by the Sibyl and by the
Venerable Bede; others asked her whether there was not in her land a
forest known as the Bois Chênu, for there was an ancient prediction that
from the Bois Chênu there would come a wonder-working maiden--and they
were delighted on learning that it lay but a league from her father's
house. Those, however, who relied on worldly wisdom shook their heads
and pronounced her mission an absurdity--in fact, it was charitable to
regard her as insane. It shows, indeed, to what depth of despair the
royal cause had fallen, that her pretensions were regarded as of
sufficient importance to warrant investigation. Long were the debates.
Prelates and doctors of theology, jurists and statesmen examined her for
a month, and one by one they were won over by her simple earnestness,
her evident conviction, and the intelligence of her replies. This was
not enough, however. In Poitiers sat Charles's Parlement and a
University composed of such schoolmen as had abandoned the anglicized
University of Paris. Thither was Joan sent, and for three weeks more she
was tormented with an endless repetition of questioning. Meanwhile her
antecedents were carefully investigated, with a result in every way
confirming her good repute and truthfulness. Charles was advised to ask
of her a sign by which to prove that she came from God, but this she
refused, saying that it was the divine command that she should give it
before Orleans, and nowhere else. Finally, the official conclusion,
cautiously expressed, was that in view of her honest life and
conversation, and her promising a sign before Orleans, the king should
not prevent her from going there, but should convey her there in safety;
for to reject her without the appearance of evil would be to rebuff the
Holy Ghost, and to render himself unworthy the grace and aid of

Two months had been wasted in these preliminaries, and it was the end of
April before the determination was reached. A convoy was in preparation
to throw provisions into the town, and it was resolved that Joan should
accompany it. Under instructions from her Voices she had a standard
prepared, representing on a white field Christ holding the world, with
an angel on each side--a standard which was ever in the front of battle,
which was regarded as the surest guarantee of success, and which in the
end was gravely investigated as a work of sorcery. She had assigned to
her a troop or guard, but does not seem to have been intrusted with any
command, yet she assumed that she was taking the field as the
representative of God, and must first give the enemy due notice of
defiance. Accordingly, on April 18, she addressed four letters, one to
Henry VI. and the others to the Regent Bedford, the captains before
Orleans, and the English soldiers there, in which she demanded the
surrender of the keys of all the cities held in France; she announced
herself ready to make peace if they will abandon the land and make
compensation for the damages inflicted, otherwise she is commissioned by
God, and will drive them out with a shock of arms such as had not been
seen in France for a thousand years. It is scarce to be wondered that
these uncourtly epistles excited no little astonishment in the English
camp. Rumors of her coming had spread; she was denounced as a sorceress,
and all who placed faith in her as heretics. Talbot declared that he
would burn her if she was captured, and the heralds who brought her
letters were only saved from a similar fate by a determined threat of
reprisals on the part of Dunois, then in command at Orleans.[365]

Some ten days later the convoy started under command of Gilles de Rais
and the Maréchal de Sainte-Sevère. Joan had promised that it should meet
with no opposition, and faith in her was greatly enhanced when her words
proved true. Although it passed within one or two bow-shots of the
English siege-works, and though there was considerable delay in ferrying
the cattle and provisions across the Loire into the city, not an attempt
at interference was made. The same occurred with a second convoy which
reached Orleans May 4, to the surprise of the French and the disgust of
the Parisians, who watched the affair from a distance, and were unable
to understand the paralysis which seemed to have fallen on the English
arms. Joan had impatiently awaited these last reinforcements, and urged
immediate offensive measures against the besiegers. Without consulting
her, on the same day an assault was made on one of the English works on
the other side of the Loire. Her legend relates that she started up from
slumber exclaiming that her people were being slaughtered, and, scarcely
waiting for her armor to be adjusted, sprang on her horse and galloped
to the gate leading to the scene of action. The attack had miscarried,
but after her arrival on the scene not an Englishman could wound a
Frenchman, and the _bastille_ was carried. Hot fighting occurred on the
following days. On the 6th she was wounded in the foot by a caltrop, and
on the 7th in the shoulder by an arrow, but in spite of desperate
resistance all the English works on the farther bank of the Loire were
taken, and their garrisons slain or captured. The English loss was
estimated at from six thousand to eight thousand men, while that of the
French was not over one hundred. On the 8th the English abandoned the
siege, marching off in such haste that they left behind them their sick
and wounded, their artillery and magazines. The French, flushed with
victory, were eager to attack them, but Joan forbade it--"Let them go;
it is not the will of Messire that they should be fought to-day; you
will have them another time"--and by this time her moral ascendency was
such that she was obeyed. So marvellous was the change in the spirit of
the opposing forces, that it was a common remark that before her coming
two hundred English would rout five hundred Frenchmen, but that
afterwards two hundred French would chase four hundred English. Even the
unfriendly Monstrelet admits that after the raising of the siege of
Orleans there was no captain who so filled the mouths of men as she,
though she was accompanied by knights so renowned as Dunois, La Hire,
and Pothon de Xaintrailles. The Regent Bedford, in writing to the
English council, could only describe it as a terrible blow from the
divine hand, especially "caused of unleyefulle doubte that thei hadde of
a Desciple and Lyme of the Feende called the Pucelle that used fals
Enchauntements and Sorcerie." Not only, he says, were the English forces
diminished in number and broken in spirit, but the enemy was encouraged
to make great levies of troops.[366]

In the chronic exhaustion of the royal treasury it was not easy for
Charles to take full advantage of this unexpected success, but the
spirit of the nation was aroused and a force could be kept spasmodically
in the field. D'Alençon was sent with troops to clear the Loire valley
of the enemy, and took Joan with him. Suffolk had fortified himself in
Jargeau, but the place was carried by assault and he was captured with
all his men who were not slain. Then want of money caused a return to
Tours, where Joan earnestly urged Charles to go to Reims for his
coronation: she had always claimed that her mission was to deliver
Orleans and to crown the king; that her time was short and that the
counsel of her Voices must not be disregarded, but prudence prevailed,
and it was felt that the English power in the central provinces must
first be crushed. A second expedition was organized. Beaugency was
besieged and taken, and on June 18 the battle of Patay gave some slight
amends for Agincourt and Verneuil. After feeble resistance the English
fled. Twenty-five hundred of them were left upon the field, and large
numbers were captured, including Talbot, Scales, and others of note.
Thus in little more than six weeks all the leading English captains were
slain or in captivity, except Fastolf, whose flight from Patay Bedford
avenged by tearing from him the Order of the Garter. Their troops were
dispersed and dispirited, their prestige was gone. It was no wonder that
in all this one side recognized the hand of God and the other that of
the devil. Even the Norman chronicler, P. Cochon, says that the English
would have abandoned France if the regent would have allowed it, and
that they were so dispirited that one Frenchman would chase three of

A letter written from the court of Charles VII. to the Duke of Milan
three days after the triumph of Patay, recounting the marvels of the
previous weeks, shows how Joan was regarded and how rapidly her legend
was growing. At her birth the villagers of Domremy were joyously
excited, they knew not why, and the cocks for two hours flapped their
wings and uttered a song wholly different from their ordinary crowing.
Her visions were described in the most exaggerated terms, as well as her
personal prowess and endurance. The relief of Orleans, the capture of
Jargeau, Mehun-sur-Loire, and Beaugency, and the crowning mercy of Patay
were all attributed to her: hers was the initiative, the leadership, and
the success; no one else is alluded to. We are told, moreover, that she
was already predicting the deliverance of Charles of Orleans, a prisoner
in England for fifteen years, and had sent a notice to the English to
surrender him.[368]

It could no longer be doubted that Joan was under the direct inspiration
of God, and when at Gien, on June 25, there was a consultation as to the
next movement, though Charles's councillors advised him to reduce La
Charité and clear the Orleannais and Berri of the enemy, it is no wonder
that he yielded to Joan's urgency and gave his assent to a march to
Reims. The enterprise seemed a desperate one, for it lay through a
hostile country with strong cities along the road, and the royal
resources were inadequate to equipping and provisioning an army or
providing it with siege-trains. But enthusiasm was rising to fever
heat, and human prudence was distrust of God. Volunteers came pouring in
as soon as the king's intentions were noised abroad, and gentlemen too
poor to arm and mount themselves were content to serve as simple archers
and retainers. La Trémouille, the royal favorite, thinking his own
position endangered, caused the services of multitudes to be rejected,
but for which, it was said, an army sufficient to drive the English from
France could readily have been collected. On went the ill-conditioned
forces. Auxerre, though not garrisoned, refused to open its gates, but
gave some provisions, and in spite of Joan's desire to take it by
assault the king went forward, induced, it was said, by La Trémouille,
who had received from the town a bribe of two thousand livres. At Troyes
there was a strong English and Burgundian garrison; it could not be left
behind, and the army encamped before it for five or six days, with no
artillery to breach its walls. There was neither money nor victual, and
the only subsistence was ears of corn and beans plucked in the fields.
The situation was discouraging, and a council of war under the impulse
of the Chancellor Renaud de Chartres, Archbishop of Reims, advised
retreat. Joan was sent for and declared that within two days the town
would surrender. She was given the time she asked, and at once proceeded
to gather material to fill the trenches, and to mount some small
culverins. A panic seized the inhabitants and they demanded to
surrender; the garrison was allowed to march out, and the city returned
to its allegiance.[369]

When Joan entered the town she was met by a Frère Richard, whom the
people had sent to examine her and report what she was. The worthy
friar, doubtful whether she was of heaven or hell, approached her
cautiously, sprinkling holy water and making the sign of the cross, till
she smiled and told him to come boldly on, as she was not going to fly
away. This Frère Richard was a noted Franciscan preacher who had
recently returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and in April had made
the deepest impression on Paris with his eloquence. From April 16th to
the 26th he had preached daily to audiences of five and six thousand
souls, and had excited such a tempest of emotion that on one day a
hundred bonfires were built in the streets into which men threw their
cards and dice and tables, and women their ornaments and frippery. Over
this man Joan obtained so complete a mastery that he devoted himself to
her and followed her in her campaigns, using his eloquence to convert
the people, not from their sins, but from their disloyalty to Charles.
When the good Parisians heard of this they resumed their cards and dice
to spite him. Even a tin medal with the name of Jesus which he had given
them to wear was cast aside for the red cross of Burgundy. In the
passion of the hour on both sides religion was but the handmaid of

After this the march to Reims was a triumphant progress.
Chalons-sur-Marne sent half a day's journey in advance to submit and
took the oath of allegiance. At Septsaux the garrison fled and the
people welcomed their king, while the Dukes of Lorraine and Bar came to
join him with a heavy force. Reims was held for Burgundy by the Seigneur
de Saveuse, one of the doughtiest warriors of the day, but the citizens
were so frightened by the coming of the Pucelle, whose reported wonders
had impressed their imaginations, that they declared for Charles, and
Saveuse was obliged to fly. Charles entered the town on July 16, and was
joyfully received. The next day, Sunday, July 17, he was crowned King of
France. During the ceremony Joan stood by the altar with the standard:
her judges on her trial seemed to imagine that she held it there for
some occult influence which it was supposed to exercise, and inquired
curiously as to her motive; when she answered simply, "It had been in
the strife, it had a right to be in the honor."[371]

Joan might well claim that her mission was accomplished. In little more
than three months she had made the intending fugitive of Chinon a
conquering king, to whom his flatterers gave the title of the
Victorious. A few months more of such success would establish him firmly
on the throne of a reunited France, and no one could doubt that success
would grow more rapid if only with its own momentum. Negotiations were
on foot with the Duke of Burgundy, which were expected to result in
detaching him from the English cause. Joan had written to him some
weeks earlier asking him to be present at the coronation, and on the day
of the ceremony she addressed him another letter, summoning and
entreating him to return to his allegiance. In a few days Beauvais,
Senlis, Laon, Soissons, Château-Thierry, Provins, Compiègne, and other
places acknowledged Charles as king and received his garrisons. There
was universal exultation and a contagious delirium of returning loyalty.
As he marched the peasantry would gather with tears in their eyes to
bless him, and thank God that peace was at hand. All men admitted that
this was Joan's work. Christine de Pisan, in a poem written about this
time, compares her to Esther, Judith, Deborah, Gideon, and Joshua, and
even Moses is not her superior. A litany of the period contains a prayer
recognizing that God had delivered France by her hand. A Burgundian
chronicler tells us that the belief was general among the French
soldiery that she was an envoy of God who could expel the English; even
after the enthusiasm of the time had passed away Thomassin, who wrote
officially in a work addressed to Louis XI., does not hesitate to say
that of all the signs of love manifested by God to France, there has not
been one so great or so marvellous as this Pucelle--to her was due the
restoration of the kingdom, which was so low that it would have reached
its end but for her coming. That she was regarded as an oracle of God on
other subjects is seen in the application to her by the Comte d'Armagnac
to tell him which of the three popes to believe in; and her acceptance
of the position is shown by her answer, that when she is relieved from
the pressure of the war she will resolve his doubts by the counsel of
the King of all the world. If on the one hand her dizzy elevation turned
her head to the extent of addressing threatening letters to the
Hussites, on the other she never lost her kindly sympathy with the poor
and humble; she protected them as far as she could from the horrors of
war, comforted and supported them, and their grateful veneration shown
in kissing her hands and feet and garments was made a crime to her by
her pitiless judges.[372]

With all this it does not seem that Joan had any definite rank or
command in the royal armies. Christine de Pisan, it is true, speaks of
her as being the recognized chief--

    "Et de nos gens preux et habiles
     Est principale chevetaine"--

but it does not appear that her position had any other warrant than the
moral influence which her prodigious exploits and the belief in her
divine mission afforded. Charles's gratitude gave her a handsome
establishment. She was magnificently attired, noble damsels were
assigned to her service, with a _maître d'hotel_, pages, and valets; she
had five war-horses, with seven or more roadsters, and at the time of
her capture she had in her hands ten or twelve thousand francs, which,
as she told her judges, was little enough to carry on war with. Shortly
after his coronation, Charles, at her request, granted to Domremy and
Greux the privilege of exemption from all taxes, a favor which was
respected until the Revolution; and in December, 1429, he spontaneously
ennobled her family and all their posterity, giving them as arms on a
field azure two _fleurs-de-lis or_, traversed by a sword, and
authorizing them to bear the name of Du Lis--in all a slender return for
the priceless service rendered, and affording to her judges another
count in the indictment on her trial.[373]

All Europe was aroused with so portentous an apparition. It was not only
statesmen and warriors that watched with astonishment the strange
vicissitudes of the contest, but learned men and theologians were
divided in opinion as to whether she was under the influence of heavenly
or of infernal spirits, and were everywhere disputing and writing tracts
to uphold the one opinion or the other. In England, of course, there was
no dissent from the popular belief which Shakespeare puts in the mouth
of Talbot--

    "A witch by fear, not force, like Hannibal,
     Drives back our troops and conquers as she lists."

So general, indeed, was the terror that she excited that when, in May,
1430, it was proposed to send Henry VI. to Paris for coronation, both
captains and soldiers in the levies appointed for his escort deserted
and lay in hiding; and when, in December, after Joan lay a prisoner in
Rouen Castle and the voyage was performed, the same trouble was
experienced, requiring another proclamation to the sheriffs for the
arrest of those who were daily deserting, to the great peril of the
royal person and of the kingdom of France. Elsewhere the matter was not
thus taken for granted, and was elaborately argued with all the
resources of scholastic logic. Some tracts of this character attributed
to Gerson have been preserved, and exhibit to us the nature of the
doubts which suggested themselves to the learned of the time--whether
Joan is a woman or a phantasm; whether her acts are to be considered as
divine or phitonic and illusory; whether, if they are the result of
supernatural causes, they come from good or evil spirits. To Joan's
defenders the main difficulty was her wearing male attire and cutting
her hair short--an offence which in the end proved to be the most
tangible one to justify her condemnation. Even her advocates in the
schools felt that in this the case was weak. It had to be admitted that
the Old Law prohibits a woman from wearing man's garments, but this, it
was argued, was purely juridical, and was not binding under the New Law;
it had merely a moral object, to prevent indecency, and the
circumstances and objects were to be considered, so that the law could
not be held to prohibit manly and military vesture to Joan, who was both
manly and military. The cutting of her hair, prohibited by the Apostle,
was justified in the same manner.[374]

For a few weeks after the coronation Joan was at the culmination of her
career. An uninterrupted tide of success had demonstrated the reality of
her divine mission. She had saved the monarchy, and no one could doubt
that the invader would shortly be expelled from France. Possibly she
may, as has been represented, have declared that all which God had
appointed her to do had been accomplished, and that she desired to
return to her parents and herd their cattle as she had been accustomed
of old. In view of what followed, this was the only way to uphold the
theory of divine inspiration, and such a statement inevitably formed
part of her legend, whether it was true or not. In her subsequent
failures, as at Paris and La Charité, Joan naturally persuaded herself
that they had been undertaken against the counsel of her Voices, but all
the evidence goes to prove that at the time she was as confident of
success as ever. Thus a letter written from Reims on the day of
coronation, evidently by a well-informed person, states that the army
was to start the next day for Paris, and that the Pucelle had no doubts
as to her reducing it to obedience. Nor did she really consider her
mission as ended, for she had at the commencement proclaimed the
liberation of Charles of Orleans as one of her objects, and on her trial
she explained that she proposed either to invade England to set him free
or to capture enough prisoners to force an exchange: her Voices had
promised it to her, and had she not been captured she would have
accomplished it in three years.[375]

Be this as it may, from this time the marvellous fortune which had
attended her disappears; alternations of success and defeat show that
either the French had lost the first flush of confident enthusiasm, or
that the English had recovered from their panic and were doggedly
resolved to fight the powers of hell. Bedford managed to put a
respectable force in the field, with the assistance of Cardinal
Beaufort, who made over to him, it was said for a heavy bribe, four
thousand crusaders whom he was leading from England to the Hussite wars.
He barred the way to Paris, and three times the opposing armies, of
nearly equal strength, lay face to face, but Bedford always skilfully
chose a strong position which Charles dared not attack, showing that
human prudence had replaced the reckless confidence of the march to
Reims. We catch a glimpse of the intrigues of the factions surrounding
Charles in the attempted retreat to the Loire, frustrated at
Bray-sur-Seine, when the defeat of the courtiers who assailed the
English guarding the passage of the river was hailed with delight by
Joan, Bourbon, Alençon, and the party opposed to La Trémouille. Charles,
perforce, remained in the North. Towards the end of August, Bedford,
fearing an inroad on Normandy, marched thither, leaving the road to
Paris open, and Charles advanced to St. Denis, which he occupied without
resistance, August 25. On September 7 an attempt was made to capture
Paris by surprise, with the aid of friends within the walls, and this
failing, on the 8th, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, an assault
in force was made at the Porte St. Honoré. The water in the inner moat,
however, was too deep and the artillery on the walls too well served:
after five or six hours of desperate fighting the assailants were
disastrously repulsed with a loss of five hundred killed and one
thousand wounded. As usual Joan had been at the front till she fell with
an arrow through the leg, and her standard-bearer was slain by her side.
Joan subsequently averred that she had had no counsel from her Voices to
make this attempt, but had been over-persuaded by the eager chivalry of
the army; but this is contradicted by contemporary evidence, and her
letter to d'Armagnac promises him a reply when she shall have leisure in
Paris, showing that she fully expected to capture the city.[376]

From this time her checkered career was rather of evil fortune than of
good. If at St. Pierre-les-Moustiers the old enthusiasm made the forlorn
hope imagine that it ascended the breach as easily as a broad stairway,
the siege of La Charité, to which it was a preliminary, proved
disastrous, and again Joan averred that she had undertaken this without
orders from her Voices. It was freely said that La Trémouille had sent
her on the enterprise with insufficient forces and had withheld the
requisite succors. During the winter she was at Lagny, where occurred a
little incident which was subsequently used to confirm the charge of
sorcery. A child was born apparently dead; the parents, dreading to have
it buried without baptism, had it carried to the church, where it lay,
to all appearance, lifeless for three days; the young girls of the town
assembled in the church to pray for it, and Joan joined them. Suddenly
the infant gave signs of life, gaped thrice, was hurriedly baptized,
died, and was buried in consecrated ground, and Joan had the credit of
working a miracle, to be turned subsequently to her disadvantage.
Probably about the same time, there was trouble about a horse of the
Bishop of Senlis, which Joan took for her own use. She found it
worthless for her purposes and sent it back to him, and also caused him
to be paid two hundred saluts d'or for it (the salut d'or was equivalent
to twenty-two sols parisis), but on her trial the matter was gravely
charged against her, showing how eagerly every incident in her career
was scrutinized and utilized.[377]

As the spring of 1430 opened, the Duke of Burgundy came to the
assistance of his English allies by raising a large army for the
recovery of Compiègne. The activity of Joan was unabated. During Easter
week, about the middle of April, we hear of her in the trenches at
Melun, where her Voices announced to her that she would be a prisoner
before St. John's day, but would give her no further particulars. Before
the close of the month she attacked the advancing Burgundians at
Pont-l'Évêque, with her old comrade-in-arms Pothon de Xaintrailles, and
was worsted. Then she had a desperate fight with a Burgundian partisan,
Franquet d'Arras, whom she captured with all his troop; he had been a
notorious plunderer, the magistrates of Lagny claimed him for trial, and
after an investigation which lasted for fifteen days they executed him
as a robber and murderer, for which Joan was held responsible, his death
being one of the most serious charges pressed against her. About May 1
Compiègne was invested. Its siege was evidently to be the decisive event
of the campaign, and Joan hastened to the rescue. Before daylight on the
morning of the 5th she succeeded in entering the town with
reinforcements. In the afternoon of the same day a sally was resolved
upon, and Joan as usual led it, with Pothon and other captains by her
side. She fell upon the camp of a renowned knight of the Golden Fleece
named Bauldon de Noyelle, who, though taken by surprise, made a gallant
resistance. From the neighboring lines troops hastened to his
assistance, and the tide of battle swayed back and forth. A force of a
thousand Englishmen on their way to Paris had tarried to aid Philip of
Burgundy, and these were brought up between the French and the town to
take them in the rear. Joan fell back and endeavored to bring her men
off in safety, but while covering the retreat she was unable to regain
the fortifications, and was taken prisoner by the Bâtard de Vendôme, a
follower of Jean de Luxembourg, Comte de Ligny, second in command to the
duke. There was naturally talk of treachery, but it would seem without
foundation.. Pothon was likewise captured, and it evidently was but the
fortune of war.[378]

Great was the joy in the Burgundian camp when the news spread that the
dreaded Pucelle was a prisoner. English and Burgundians gave themselves
up to rejoicing, for, as the Burgundian Monstrelet, who was present,
informs us, they valued her capture more than five hundred fighting men,
for there was no captain or chief of whom they were so afraid. They
crowded around her quarters at Marigny, and even the Duke of Burgundy
himself paid her a visit and exchanged some words with her. At once the
question arose as to her possession. She was a prisoner of war,
belonging to Jean de Luxembourg, and, in those days of ransoming,
prisoners were valuable property. Under existing customs, Henry VI., as
chief of the alliance, had the right to claim the transfer of any
captured commanding general or prince on paying the captor ten thousand
livres--a sort of eminent domain, for in the wars of Edward III.
Bertrand du Guesclin had been held at a ransom of one hundred thousand
livres, the Constable de Clisson at the same, and in 1429 it had cost
the Duc d'Alençon two hundred thousand crowns to effect his liberation
from the English. In the exhausted state of the English exchequer,
however, even ten thousand livres was a sum not readily procurable. It
was a matter of absolute necessity to the English to have her, not only
to prevent her ransom by the French, but to neutralize her sorceries by
condemning and executing her under the jurisdiction of the Church. To
accomplish this the Inquisition was the most available instrumentality:
inside the English lines Joan was publicly reported to be a sorceress,
and as such was judiciable by the Inquisition, which therefore had a
right to claim her for trial. Accordingly, but a few days had elapsed
after her capture when Martin Billon, Vicar of the Inquisitor of France,
formally demanded her surrender, and the University of Paris addressed
two letters to the Duke of Burgundy urging that she should be promptly
tried and punished, lest his enemies should effect her deliverance. We
have seen how by this time the importance of the Inquisition in France
had shrunken, and Jean de Luxembourg was by no means disposed to
surrender his valuable prize without consideration. Then another device
was adopted. Compiègne, where Joan was captured, was in the diocese of
Beauvais. Pierre Cauchon, the Count-bishop of Beauvais, though a
Frenchman of the Remois, was a bitter English partisan, whose
unscrupulous cruelty at a later period excited the cordial detestation
even of his own faction. He had been driven from his see the previous
year by the returning loyalty of its people under the impulse given by
Joan, and may be assumed to have looked upon her with no loving eye. He
was told to claim her for trial under his episcopal jurisdiction, but
even he shrank from the odious business, and refused unless it could be
proved that it was his duty. Possibly the promise of the reversion of
the bishopric of Lisieux, with which he was subsequently rewarded, may
have assisted in convincing him, while the authority of the University
of Paris was invoked to quiet his scruples. July 14, the University
addressed letters to Jean de Luxembourg reminding him that his oath of
knighthood required him to defend the honor of God and the Catholic
faith, and the holy Church. Through Joan, idolatries, errors, false
doctrines, and evils innumerable had spread through France, and the
matter admitted of no delay. The Inquisition had earnestly demanded her
for trial, and Jean was urgently begged to surrender her to the Bishop
of Beauvais, who had likewise claimed her; all inquisitor-prelates are
judges of the faith, and all Christians of every degree are bound to
obey them under the heavy penalties of the law, while obedience will
acquire for him the divine grace and love, and will aid in the
exaltation of the faith. When furnished with this, Pierre Cauchon lost
no time. He left Paris at once with a notary and a representative of the
University, and on the 16th presented it to the Duke of Burgundy in the
camp before Compiègne, together with a summons of his own addressed to
the Duke, Jean de Luxembourg, and the Bâtard de Vendôme, demanding the
surrender of Joan for trial before him on charges of sorcery, idolatry,
invocation of the devil, and other matters involving the faith--trial
which he is ready to hold, with the assistance of the inquisitor and of
doctors of theology, for the exaltation of the faith and the edification
of those who have been misled by her. He further offered a ransom of six
thousand livres and a pension to the Bâtard de Vendôme of two or three
hundred livres, and if this was not enough the sum would be increased to
ten thousand livres, although Joan was not so great a person as the king
would have a right to claim on giving that amount; if required, security
would be furnished for the payment. These letters the duke transferred
to Jean de Luxembourg, who after some discussion agreed to sell her for
the stipulated sum. He would not trust his allies, however, even with
security, and refused to deliver his prisoner until the money was paid.
Bedford was obliged to convene the states of Normandy and levy a special
tax to raise it, and it was not till October 20 that Jean received his
price and transferred his captive.[379]

During all this long delay Charles, to his eternal dishonor, made no
effort to save the woman to whom he owed his crown. While her prolonged
trial was under way he did not even appeal to Eugenius IV. or to the
Council of Basle to evoke the case to their tribunal, an appeal which
would hardly have been rejected in a matter of so much interest. It is
true that her recent labors had not been so brilliantly successful as
those of the earlier period: he may have recognized that after all she
was but human; or he may have satisfied his conscience with the
reflection that if she were an envoy of God, God might be trusted to
extricate her. Besides, the party of peace in his court, headed by La
Trémouille, the favorite, had no desire to see the heroine at large
again, and the weak and self-indulgent monarch abandoned her to her fate
as, twenty years later, he abandoned Jacques Cœur.

Meanwhile Joan had been carried, strictly guarded to prevent her escape
by magic arts, from Marigny to the Castle of Beaulieu, and thence to the
Castle of Beaurevoir. In the latter prison she excited the interest of
the Dame de Beaurevoir, and of the Demoiselle de Luxembourg, aunt of
Jean. The latter earnestly remonstrated with her nephew when she learned
that he was treating with the English, and both ladies endeavored to
persuade Joan to adopt female habiliments. They must have impressed her
with their kindness, for she subsequently declared that she would have
made the change for them rather than for any other ladies in France. Her
restless energy chafed at the long captivity, and twice she made
attempts to escape. Once she succeeded in shutting her guards up in her
cell, and would have got off but that her jailer saw her and secured
her. Again, when she heard that she was to be surrendered to the
English, she despairingly threw herself from her lofty tower into the
ditch, careless whether it would kill her or not. Her Voices had
forbidden the attempt, but she said that she had rather die than fall
into English hands--and this was subsequently charged against her as an
attempted suicide and a crime. She was picked up for dead, but she was
reserved for a harsher fate and speedily recovered. She might well
regret the recovery when she was carried to Rouen, loaded with chains
and confined in a narrow cell where brutal guards watched her day and
night. It is even said that an iron cage was made, into which she was
thrust with fetters on wrist, waist, and ankles. She had been delivered
to the Church, not to the secular authorities; she was entitled to be
kept in an ecclesiastical prison, but the English had paid for her and
would listen to no reclamations. Warwick had charge of her and would
trust her to no one.[380]

Pierre Cauchon still was in no haste to commence the iniquitous work
which he had undertaken. After a month had passed, Paris grew excited at
the delay. The city, so ardently Anglicized, had a special grudge
against Joan, not only on account of believing that she had promised her
soldiers on the day of assault to allow them to sack the city and put
the inhabitants to the sword, but because they were exposed to the
greatest privations by the virtual blockade resulting from the extension
of the royal domination caused by her successes. This feeling found
expression in the University, which from the first pursued her with
unrelenting ferocity. Not content with having intervened to procure her
surrender to the English, it addressed letters, November 21, to Pierre
Cauchon, reproaching him with his tardiness in commencing the process,
and to the King of England, asking that the trial be held in Paris,
where there are so many learned and excellent doctors. Still Cauchon
hesitated. Doubtless when he came to consider the evidence on which he
would have to act he recognized, as irresponsible partisans could not,
how flimsy it was, and he was busy in obtaining information as to all
the points in her career--for the interrogatories showed a marvellous
familiarity with everything that could possibly be wrested against her.
Besides, there were indispensable preliminaries to be observed. His
jurisdiction arose from her capture in his diocese, but he was an exile
from it, and was expected to try her not only in another diocese, but in
another province. The archbishopric of Rouen was vacant, and he adopted
the expedient of requesting of the chapter permission to hold an
ecclesiastical court within their jurisdiction. The request was granted,
and he selected an assembly of experts to sit with him as assessors. A
number came willingly from the University, whose expenses were paid by
the English government, but it was more difficult to find accomplices
among the local prelates and doctors. In one of the early sessions,
Nicholas de Houppeland plainly told Cauchon that neither he nor the
rest, belonging to the party hostile to Joan, could sit as judges,
especially as she had already been examined by the Archbishop of Reims,
who was the metropolitan of Beauvais. For this Nicholas was imprisoned
in the Castle of Rouen, and was threatened with banishment to England
and with drowning, but his friends eventually procured his liberation.
Undoubtedly every man who sat on the tribunal had the conviction that
any leaning to the accused would expose him to English vengeance, and it
was found necessary to impose a fine on any one who should absent
himself from a single session. Eventually a respectable body of fifty or
sixty theologians and jurists was got together, including such men as
the Abbots of Fécamp, Jumièges, Ste. Catharine, Cormeilles, and Préaux,
the Prior of Longueville, the archdeacon and treasurer of Rouen, and
other men of recognized position. On January 3, 1431, royal
letters-patent were issued ordering Joan to be delivered to Pierre
Cauchon whenever she was wanted for examination, and all officials to
aid him when called upon. As though she were already convicted, the
letters recited the heresies and evil deeds of the culprit, and
significantly concluded with a clause that if she was acquitted she was
not to be liberated, but to be returned to the custody of the king. Yet
it was not until the 9th that Cauchon assembled his experts, at that
time eight in number, and laid before them what had been already done.
They decided that the informations were insufficient and that a further
inquest was necessary, and they also protested ineffectually against
Joan's detention in a state prison. Measures were at once taken to make
the investigations required. Nicholas Bailly was despatched to obtain
the details of Joan's childhood, and as he brought back only favorable
details Cauchon suppressed his report and refused to reimburse his
expenses. The inquisitorial method of making the accused betray herself
was adopted. One of the assessors, Nicholas l'Oyseleur, disguised
himself as a layman and was introduced into her cell, pretending to be a
Lorrainer imprisoned for his loyalty. He gained her confidence, and she
grew into the habit of talking to him without reserve. Then Warwick and
Cauchon with two notaries ensconced themselves in an adjoining cell of
which the partition wall had been pierced, while l'Oyseleur led her on
to talk about her visions; but the scheme failed, for one of the
notaries, unfamiliar with inquisitorial practice, pronounced the whole
proceeding to be unlawful, and courageously refused to act. Then Jean
Estivet, the prosecutor and canon of Beauvais, tried the same expedient,
but without success.[381]

It was not until February 19 that the articles of accusation were ready
for submission to the assessors, and then a new difficulty arose. Thus
far the tribunal had contained no representative of the Inquisition, and
this was recognized as a fatal defect. Frère Jean Graveran was
Inquisitor of France, and had appointed Frère Jean le Maître, in 1424,
as his vicar or deputy for Rouen. Le Maître seems to have had no stomach
for the work, and to have kept aloof, but he was not to be let off, and
at the meeting of February 19 it was resolved to summon him, in the
presence of two notaries, to take part in the proceedings and to hear
read the accusation and the depositions of witnesses. Threats are said
to have been freely employed, and his repugnance was overcome. Another
session was held in the afternoon, at which he appeared, and on being
summoned to act professed himself willing to do so, if the commission
which he held was sufficient authorization. The scruple which he alleged
was ingenious. He was Inquisitor of Rouen, but Cauchon was bishop in a
different province, and, as he was exercising jurisdiction belonging to
Beauvais in the "borrowed territory," le Maître doubted his powers to
take part in it. It was not till the 22d that his doubts were overcome,
and, while awaiting enlarged powers from Graveran, he consented to
assist, for the discharge of his conscience and to prevent the whole
proceedings from being null and void, which by common consent seems to
have been assumed would be the case if carried on without the
participation of the Inquisition. It was not until March 12 that he
received a special commission from Graveran, who declined to come
personally, after which he presided in conjunction with Cauchon;
sentence was rendered in their joint names, and he was duly paid by the
English for his services.[382]

At length, on February 21, Jean Estivet, the prosecutor, demanded that
the prisoner be produced and examined. Before she was introduced Cauchon
explained that she had earnestly begged the privilege of hearing mass,
but, in view of the crimes whereof she was accused and her wearing male
attire, he had refused. This prejudgment of the case was acquiesced in,
and Joan was brought in with fetters on her legs. Of this cruelty she
complained bitterly. Even the Templars, as we have seen, had their irons
removed before examination, but Joan was only nominally in the hands of
the court, and Cauchon accepted the responsibility for the outrage by
telling her that it was because she had repeatedly tried to escape, to
which she replied that she had a right to do so, as she had never given
her parole. Then Cauchon called up the English guard who accompanied her
and went through the farce of swearing them to watch her
strictly--apparently for the futile purpose of asserting some control
over them.[383]

It would be superfluous to follow in detail the examinations to which
she was subjected during the next three months, with an intermission
from April 18 to May 11 on account of sickness which nearly proved
mortal. The untaught peasant girl, enfeebled by the miseries of her
cruel prison, and subjected day after day to the shrewd and searching
cross-questions of the trained and subtle intellects of her carefully
selected judges, never lost her presence of mind or clearness of
intellect. Ingenious pitfalls were constructed for her, which she evaded
almost by instinct. Questions puzzling to a theologian of the schools
were showered upon her; half a dozen eager disputants would assail her
at once and would interrupt her replies; the disorder at times was so
great that the notaries finally declared themselves unable to make an
intelligent record. Her responses would be carefully scrutinized, and
she would be recalled in the afternoon, the same ground would be gone
over in a different manner, and her pursuers would again be foiled. In
the whole series of interrogatories she manifested a marvellous
combination of frank simplicity, shrewdness, presence of mind, and
firmness that would do honor to a veteran diplomat. She utterly refused
to take an unconditional oath to answer the questions put to her,
saying, frankly, "I do not know what you will ask me; perhaps it may be
about things which I will not tell you:" she agreed to reply to all
questions about her faith and matters bearing upon her trial, but to
nothing else. When Cauchon's eagerness over-stepped the limit she would
turn on him and warn him, "You call yourself my judge: I know not if you
are, but take care not to judge wrongfully, for you expose yourself to
great danger, and I warn you, so that if our Lord chastises you I shall
have done my duty." When asked whether St. Michael was naked when he
visited her, she retorted, "Do you think the Lord has not wherewith to
clothe his angels?" When describing a conversation with St. Catharine
about the result of the siege of Compiègne, some chance expression led
her examiner to imagine that he could entrap her, and he interrupted
with the question whether she had said, "Will God so wickedly let the
good folks of Compiègne perish?" but she composedly corrected him by
repeating, "What! will God let these good folks of Compiègne perish, who
have been and are so loyal to their lord?" She could hardly have known
that an attempt to escape from an ecclesiastical court was a sin of the
deepest dye, and yet when tested with the cunning question whether she
would now escape if opportunity offered, she replied that if the door
was opened she would walk out; she would try it only to see if the Lord
so willed it. When an insidious offer was made to her to have a great
procession to entreat God to bring her to the proper frame of mind, she
quietly replied that she wished all good Catholics would pray for her.
When threatened with torture, and told that the executioner was at hand
to administer it, she simply said, "If you extort avowals from me by
pain I will maintain that they are the result of violence." Thus
alternating the horrors of her dungeon with the clamors of the
examination-room, where perhaps a dozen eager questioners would bait her
at once, she never faltered through all those weary weeks.[384]

In this she was sustained by the state of habitual spiritual exaltation
resulting from the daily and nightly visions with which she was favored,
and the unalterable conviction that she was the chosen of the Lord,
under whose inspiration she acted and whose will she was prepared to
endure with resignation. In her prison her ecstatic raptures seem to
have become more frequent than ever. Her heavenly visitants came at her
call, and solved her difficulties. Frequently she refused to answer
questions until she could consult her Voices and learn whether she was
permitted to reveal what was wanted, and then, at a subsequent hearing,
she would say that she had received permission. The responses evidently
sometimes varied with her moods. She would be told that she would be
delivered with triumph, and then again be urged not to mind her
martyrdom, for she would reach paradise. When she reported this she was
cunningly asked if she felt assured of salvation, and on her saying that
she was as certain of heaven as if she was already there, she was led on
with a question whether she held that she could not commit mortal sin.
Instinctively she drew back from the dangerous ground--"I know nothing
about it; I depend on the Lord."[385]

Finally, on one important point her judges succeeded in entrapping her.
She was warned that if she had done anything contrary to the faith she
must submit herself to the determination of the Church. To her the
Church was represented by Cauchon and his tribunal; to submit to them
would be to pronounce her whole life a lie, her intercourse with saints
and angels an invocation of demons, herself a sorceress worthy of the
stake, and only to escape it through the infinite mercy of her
persecutors. She offered to submit to God and the saints, but this, she
was told, was the Church triumphant in heaven, and she must submit to
the Church militant on earth, else she was a heretic, to be inevitably
abandoned to the secular arm for burning. Taking advantage of her
ignorance, the matter was pressed upon her in the most absolute form.
When asked if she would submit to the pope she could only say, "Take me
to him and I will answer to him." At last she was brought to admit that
she would submit to the Church, provided it did not command what was
impossible; but, when asked to define the impossible, it was to abandon
doing what the Lord had commanded, and to revoke what she had asserted
as to the truth of her visions. This she would submit only to God.[386]

The examinations up to March 27 had been merely preparatory. On that day
the formal trial commenced by reading to Joan a long series of articles
of accusation based upon the information obtained. A lively debate
ensued among the experts, but at last it was decided that she must
answer them _seriatim_ and on the spot, which she did with her wonted
clearness and intrepidity, declining the offer of counsel, which Cauchon
proposed to select for her. Sundry further interrogatories followed;
then her sickness delayed the proceedings, and on May 12, twelve members
of the tribunal assembled in Pierre Cauchon's house to determine whether
she should be subjected to torture. Fortunately for the reputation of
her judges this infamy was spared her. One of them voted in favor of
torture to see whether she could be forced to submit to the Church;
another, the spy, Nicholas l'Oyseleur, humanely urged it as a useful
medicine for her; nine were of opinion either that it was not yet
required, or that the case was clear enough without it; Cauchon himself
apparently did not vote. Meanwhile a secret junto, selected by Cauchon,
had reduced the articles of accusation to twelve, which, though grossly
at variance with the truth, were assumed to have been fully proved or
confessed, and these formed the basis of the subsequent deliberations
and sentence. We have seen, in the case of Marguerite la Porete, that
the Inquisition of Paris, in place of calling an assembly of experts,
submitted to the canonists of the University a written statement of what
was assumed to be proved, and that the opinion rendered on this,
although conditioned on its being a true presentation of the case, was
equivalent to a verdict. This precedent was followed in the present
case. Copies of the articles were addressed to fifty-eight learned
experts, in addition to the Chapter of Rouen and the University of
Paris, and their opinions were requested by a certain day. Of all those
appealed to, the University was by far the most important, and a special
mission was despatched to it bearing letters from the royal council and
the Bishop of Beauvais. In view of the tendencies of the University this
might seem a superfluous precaution, and its adoption shows how slender
was the foundation on which the whole prosecution was based. The
University went through an elaborate form of deliberation, and caused
the faculties of theology and law to draw up its decision, which was
adopted May 14 and sent to Rouen.[387]

On May 19 the assessors were assembled to hear the report from the
University, after which their opinions were taken. Some were in favor of
immediate abandonment to the secular arm, which would have been strictly
in accordance with the regular inquisitorial proceedings, but probably
the violent assumption that the articles represented truthfully Joan's
admissions was too much for some of the assessors, and the milder
suggestion prevailed that Joan should have another hearing, in which the
articles should be read to her, with the decision of the University, and
that the verdict should depend upon what she should then say.
Accordingly, on May 23, she was again brought before the tribunal for
the purpose. A brief abstract of the document read to her will show,
from the triviality of many of the charges and the guilt ascribed to
them, how conviction was predetermined. The University, as usual, had
guarded itself by conditioning its decision on the basis of the articles
being fully proved, but no notice was taken of this, and Joan was
addressed as though she had confessed to the articles and had been
solemnly condemned.

I. The visions of angels and saints.--These are pronounced superstitious
and proceeding from evil and diabolical spirits.

II. The sign given to Charles of the crown brought to him by St.
Michael.--After noting her contradictions, the story is declared a lie,
and a presumptuous, seductory, and pernicious thing, derogatory to the
dignity of the angelic Church.

III. Recognizing saints and angels by their teaching and the comfort
they bring, and believing in them as firmly as in the faith of
Christ.--Her reasons have been insufficient, and her belief rash;
comparing faith in them to faith in Christ is an error of faith.

IV. Predictions of future events and recognition of persons not seen
before through the Voices.--This is superstition and divination,
presumptuous assertion, and vain boasting.

V. Wearing men's clothes and short hair, taking the sacrament while in
them, and asserting that it is by command of God.--This is blaspheming
God, despising his sacraments, transgressing the divine law, holy writ,
and canonical ordinances, wherefore, "thou savorest ill in the faith,
thou boastest vainly and art suspect of idolatry, and thou condemnest
thyself in not being willing to wear thy sex's garments and in following
the customs of the heathen and Saracen."

VI. Putting Jesus, Maria, and the sign of the cross on her letters, and
threatening that if they were not obeyed that she would show in battle
who had the best right.--"Thou art murderous and cruel, seeking effusion
of human blood, seditious, provoking to tyranny, and blaspheming God,
his commandments and revelations."

VII. Rendering her father and mother almost crazy by leaving them; also
promising Charles to restore his kingdom, and all by command of
God.--"Thou hast been wicked to thy parents, transgressing the
commandment of God to honor them. Thou hast been scandalous, blaspheming
God, erring in the faith, and hast made a rash and presumptuous promise
to thy king."

VIII. Leaping from the tower of Beaurevoir into the ditch and preferring
death to falling into the hands of the English, after the Voices had
forbidden it.--This was pusillanimity, tending to desperation and
suicide; and in saying that God had forgiven it, "thou savorest ill as
to human free-will."

IX. Saying that St. Catharine and St. Margaret had promised her paradise
if she preserved her virginity, feeling assured of it, and asserting
that if she were in mortal sin they would not visit her.--"Thou savorest
ill as to the Christian faith."

X. Saying that St. Catharine and St. Margaret spoke French and not
English because they were not of the English faction, and that, after
knowing that these Voices were for Charles, she had not loved the
Burgundians.--This is a rash blasphemy against those saints and a
transgression of the divine command to love thy neighbor.

XI. Reverencing the celestial visitants and believing them to come from
God without consulting any churchman; feeling as certain of it as of
Christ and the Passion; and refusing to reveal the sign made to Charles
without the command of God.--"Thou art an idolater, an invoker of
devils, erring in the faith, and hast rashly made an illicit oath."

XII. Refusing to obey the mandate of the Church if contrary to the
pretended command of God, and rejecting the judgment of the Church on
earth.--"Thou art schismatic, believing wrongly as to the truth and
authority of the Church, and up to the present time thou errest
perniciously in the faith of God."[388]

Maître Pierre Maurice, who read to her this extraordinary document,
proceeded to address her with an odious assumption of kindness as
"_Jehanne ma chere amie_" urging her earnestly and argumentatively to
submit herself to the judgment of the Church, without which her soul was
sure of damnation, and he had shrewd fears for her body. She answered
firmly that if the fire was lighted and the executioner ready to cast
her in the flames she would not vary from what she had already said.
Nothing remained but to cite her for the next day to receive her final

On the 24th preparations for an _auto de fé_ were completed in the
cemetery of St. Ouen. The pile was ready for lighting, and on two
scaffolds were assembled the Cardinal of Beaufort and other dignitaries,
while on a third were Pierre Cauchon, Jean le Maître, Joan, and Maître
Guillaume Erard, who preached the customary sermon. In his eloquence he
exclaimed that Charles VII. had been proved a schismatic heretic, when
Joan interrupted him, "Speak of me, but not of the king; he is a good
Christian!" She maintained her courage until the sentence of relaxation
was partly read, when she yielded to the incessant persuasion mingled
with threats and promises to which she had been exposed since the
previous night, and she signified her readiness to submit. A formula of
abjuration was read to her, and after some discussion she allowed her
hand to be guided in scratching the sign of the cross, which represented
her signature. Then another sentence, prepared in advance, was
pronounced, imposing on her, as a matter of course, the customary
penance of perpetual imprisonment on bread and water. Vainly she begged
for an ecclesiastical prison. Had Cauchon wished it he was powerless,
and he ordered the guards to conduct her back whence she came.[390]

The English were naturally furious on finding that they had overreached
themselves. They could have tried Joan summarily in a secular court for
sorcery and burned her out of hand, but to obtain possession of her
they had been obliged to call in the ecclesiastical authorities and the
Inquisition, and they were too little familiar with trials for heresy to
recognize that inquisitorial proceedings were based on the assumption of
seeking the salvation of the soul and not the destruction of the body.
When they saw how the affair was going a great commotion arose at what
they inevitably regarded as a mockery. Joan's death was a political
necessity, and their victim was eluding them though in their grasp. In
spite of the servility which the ecclesiastics had shown, they were
threatened with drawn swords and were glad to leave the cemetery of St.
Ouen in safety.[391]

In the afternoon Jean le Maître and some of the assessors visited her in
her cell, representing the mercy of the Church and the gratitude with
which she should receive her sentence, and warning her to abandon her
revelations and follies, for if she relapsed she could have no hope. She
was humbled, and when urged to wear female apparel she assented. It was
brought and she put it on; her male garments were placed in a bag and
left in her cell.[392]

What followed will never be accurately known. The reports are
untrustworthy and contradictory--mere surmises, doubtless--and the
secret lies buried in the dungeon of Rouen Castle. The brutal guards,
enraged at her escape from the flames, no doubt abused her shamefully;
perhaps, as reported, they beat her, dragged her by the hair, and
offered violence to her, till at last she felt that her man's dress was
her only safety. Perhaps, as other stories go, her Voices reproached her
for her weakness, and she deliberately resumed it. Perhaps, also,
Warwick, resolved to make her commit an act of relapse, had her female
garments removed at night, so that she had no choice but to resume her
male apparel. The fact that it was left within her reach and not
conveyed away shows at least that there was a desire to tempt her to
resume it. Be this as it may, after wearing her woman's dress for two or
three days word was brought to her judges that she had relapsed and
abandoned it. On May 28 they hastened to her prison to verify the fact.
The incoherence of her replies to their examination shows how she was
breaking down under the fearful stress to which she had been subjected.
First she merely said that she had taken the dress; then that it was
more suitable since she was to be with men; nobody had compelled her,
but she denied that she had sworn not to resume it. Then she said that
she had taken it because faith had not been kept with her--she had been
promised that she should hear mass and receive the sacrament, and be
released from her chains; she would rather die than be kept in
fetters--could she hear mass and be relieved of her irons she would do
all that the Church required. She had heard the Voices since her
abjuration, and had been told that she had incurred damnation by
revoking to save her life, for she had only revoked through dread of the
fire. The Voices are of St. Catharine and St. Margaret, and come from
God: she had never revoked that, or, if she had, it was contrary to
truth. She had rather die than endure the torture of her captivity, but
if her judges wish she will resume the woman's dress; as for the rest
she knows nothing more.[393]

These rambling contradictions, these hopeless ejaculations of remorse
and despair, so different from her former intrepid self-confidence, show
that the jailers had understood their work, and that body and soul had
endured more than they could bear. It was enough for the judges; she was
a self-confessed relapsed, with whom the Church could have nothing more
to do except to declare her abandoned to the secular arm without further
hearing. Accordingly, the next day, May 29, Cauchon assembled such of
his assessors as were at hand, reported to them how she had relapsed by
resuming male apparel and declaring, through the suggestion of the
devil, that her Voices had returned. There could be no question as to
her deserts. She was a relapsed, and the only discussion was on the
purely formal question, whether her abjuration should be read over to
her before her judges abandoned her to the secular arm. A majority of
the assessors were in favor of this, but Cauchon and le Maître
disregarded the recommendation.[394]

At dawn on the following day, May 30, Frère Martin l'Advenu and some
other ecclesiastics were sent to her prison to inform her of her
burning that morning. She was overcome with terror, threw herself on the
ground, tore her hair and uttered piercing shrieks, declaring, as she
grew calmer, that it would not have happened had she been placed in an
ecclesiastical prison, which was an admission that only the brutality of
her dungeon had led her to revoke her abjuration. She confessed to
l'Advenu and asked for the sacrament. He was puzzled and sent for
instructions to Cauchon, who gave permission, and it was brought to her
with all due solemnity. It has been mistakenly argued that this was an
admission of her innocence, but the sacrament was never to be denied to
a relapsed who asked for it at the last moment, the mere asking,
preceded by confession, being an evidence of contrition and desire for
reunion to the Church.[395]

The platform for the sermon and the pile for the execution had been
erected in the Viel Marché. Thither she was conveyed amid a surging
crowd which blocked the streets. It is related that on the way Nicholas
l'Oyseleur, the wretched spy, pierced the crowd and the guards and
leaped upon the tumbril to entreat her forgiveness, but before she could
grant it the English dragged him off and would have slain him had not
Warwick rescued him and sent him out of Rouen to save his life. On the
platform Nicholas Midi preached his sermon, the sentence of relaxation
was read, and Joan was handed over to the secular authorities. Cauchon,
le Maître, and the rest left the platform, and the Bailli of Rouen took
her and briefly ordered her to be carried to the place of execution and
burned. It has been assumed that there was an informality in not having
her sentenced by a secular court, but this, as we have seen, was
unnecessary, especially in the case of a relapsed. On her head was
placed a high paper crown inscribed "Heretic, Relapsed, Apostate,
Idolater," and she was carried to the stake. One account states that her
shrieks and lamentations moved the crowd to tears of pity; another that
she was resigned and composed, and that her last utterance was a prayer.
When her clothes were burned off the blazing fagots were dragged aside,
that the crowd might see, from her blackened corpse, that she really was
a woman, and when their curiosity was satisfied the incineration was
completed, the ashes being thrown into the Seine.[396]

It only remained for those who had taken part in the tragedy to justify
themselves by blackening the character of their victim and circulating
false reports as to the proceedings. That the judges felt that, in spite
of sheltering themselves behind the University of Paris, they had
incurred dangerous responsibility is shown by their obtaining royal
letters shielding them from accountability for what they had done, the
king pledging himself to constitute himself a party in any prosecution
which might be brought against them before a general council or the
pope. That the regency felt that justification was needed in the face of
Europe is seen in the letters which were sent to the sovereigns and the
bishops in the name of Henry VI., explaining how Joan had exercised
inhuman cruelties until the divine power had in pity to the suffering
people caused her capture; how, though she could have been punished by
the secular courts for her crimes, she had been handed to the Church,
which had treated her kindly and benignantly, and on her confession had
mercifully imposed on her the penance of imprisonment; how her pride had
burst forth in pestilential flames, and she had relapsed into her errors
and madness; how she had then been abandoned to the secular arm, and,
finding her end approaching, had confessed that the spirits which she
invoked were false and lying, and that she was deceived and mocked by
them, and how she had finally been burned in sight of the people. This
official lying was outdone by the reports which were industriously
circulated about her and her trial. The honest Bourgeois of Paris, in
entering her execution in his journal, details the offences for which
she was condemned, mixing up with the real articles others showing the
exaggerations which were industriously circulated. According to him she
habitually rode armed with a great staff with which she cruelly beat her
people when they displeased her, and in many places she pitilessly slew
men and women who disobeyed her; once, when violence was offered her,
she leaped from the top of a lofty tower without injury, and boasted
that, if she chose, she could bring thunder and other marvels. He
admits, however, that even in Rouen there were many who held her to be
martyred for her lawful lord.[397] It evidently was felt that in her
dreadful death she had fitly crowned her career, and that sympathy for
her fate was continuing her work by arousing popular sentiment, for,
more than a month later, on July 4, an effort was made to counteract it
by a sermon preached in Paris by a Dominican inquisitor--probably our
friend Jean le Maître himself. At great length he expatiated on her
deeds of wickedness, and the mercy which had been shown her. She had
confessed that from the age of fourteen she had dressed like a man, and
her parents would have killed her could they have done so without
wounding their consciences. She had therefore left them, accompanied by
the devil, and had thenceforth lived by the homicide of Christians, full
of fire and blood, till she was burned. She recanted and abjured, and
would have had as penance four years' prison on bread and water, but she
did not suffer this a single day, for she had herself served in prison
like a lady. The devil appeared to her with two demons, fearing greatly
that he would lose her, and said to her, "Wicked creature, who through
fear hast abandoned thy dress, be not afraid, for we will protect thee
from all." Then at once she disrobed and dressed herself in her male
attire, which she had thrust in the straw of her bed, and she so trusted
in Satan that she said she repented of having abandoned it. Then,
seeing that she was obstinate, the masters of the University delivered
her to the secular arm to be burned, and when she saw herself in this
strait she called on the devils, but after she was judged she could not
bring them by any invocation. She then thought better of it, but it was
too late. The reverend orator added that there were four of them, of
whom we have caught three, this Pucelle, and Péronne and her companion,
and one who is with the Armagnacs, named Catharine de la Rochelle, who
says that when the host is consecrated she sees wonders of the highest
secrets of the Lord.[398]

This last allusion is to certain imitators of Joan. The impression which
she produced on the popular mind inevitably led to imitation, whether
through imposture or genuine belief. The Péronne referred to was an old
woman of Britanny who, with a companion, was captured at Corbeil, in
March, 1430, and brought to Paris. She not only asserted that Joan was
inspired, but swore that God often appeared to her in human form, with a
white robe and vermilion cape, ordering her to assist Joan, and she
admitted having received the sacrament twice in one day--Frère Richard
being the person who had given it to her at Jargeau. The two were tried
by the University; the younger woman recanted, but Péronne was
obstinate, and was burned September 3. Catharine de la Rochelle was
another of the _protegées_ of the impressionable Frère Richard, who was
much provoked with Joan for refusing to countenance her. She came to
Joan at Jargeau and again at Montfaucon in Berri, saying that every
night there appeared to her a white woman clad in cloth-of-gold, telling
her that the king would give her horses and trumpets, and she would go
through the cities proclaiming that all who had money or treasure should
bring it forth to pay Joan's men, and if they concealed it she would
discover all that was hidden. Joan's practical sense was not to be
allured by this proposition. She told Catharine to go home to her
husband and children, and on asking counsel of her Voices was told that
it was all folly and falsehood. Still, she wrote to the king on the
subject and accepted Catharine's offer to exhibit to her the nightly
visitant. The first night Joan fell asleep and was told on waking that
the apparition had shown itself during her slumber. Then she took a
precautionary sleep during the day, and lay awake all night without
seeing the white lady. Catharine was probably an impostor rather than an
enthusiast, and seems to have escaped the Inquisition.[399]

During Joan's imprisonment her place for a time was taken by a peasant,
variously known as Pastourel or Guillaume le Berger, who professed to
have had divine revelations ordering him to take up arms in aid of the
royal cause. He demonstrated the truth of his mission by exhibiting
stigmata on hands, side, and feet, like St. Francis, and commanded wide
belief. Pothon de Xaintrailles, Joan's old companion-in-arms, placed
confidence in him and carried him along in his adventurous forays.
Guillaume's career, however, was short. He accompanied an expedition
into Normandy under the lead of the Maréchal de Boussac and Pothon,
which was surprised and scattered by Warwick. Pothon and the shepherd
were both captured and carried in triumph to Rouen. Experience of
inquisitorial delays in the case of Joan probably caused the English to
prefer more summary methods, and the unlucky prophet was tossed into the
Seine and drowned without a trial. His sphere of influence had been too
limited to render him worth making a conspicuous example.[400]

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus Joan passed away, but the spirit which she had aroused was beyond
the reach of bishop or inquisitor. Her judicial murder was a useless
crime. The Treaty of Arras, in 1435, withdrew Burgundy from the English
alliance, and one by one the conquests of Henry V. were wrenched from
the feeble grasp of his son. When, in 1449, Charles VII. obtained
possession of Rouen he ordered an inquest on the spot into the
circumstances of her trial, for it ill comported with the dignity of a
King of France to owe his throne to a witch condemned and burned by the
Church. The time had not come, however, when a sentence of the
Inquisition could be set aside by secular authority, and the attempt was
abandoned. In 1452 another effort was made by Archbishop d'Estouteville
of Rouen, but though he was a cardinal and a papal legate, and though he
adjoined in the matter Jean Brehal, Inquisitor of France, he could do
nothing beyond taking some testimony. The papal intervention was held to
be necessary for the revision of a case of heresy decided by the
Inquisition, and to obtain this the mother and the two brothers of Joan
appealed to Rome as sufferers from the sentence. At length, in 1455,
Calixtus III. appointed as commissioners to hear and judge their
complaints the Archbishop of Rouen, the Bishops of Paris and Coutances,
and the Inquisitor Jean Brehal. Isabelle Darc and her sons appeared as
plaintiffs against Cauchon and le Maître, and the proceedings were
carried on at their expense. Cauchon was dead and le Maître in
hiding--concealed probably by his Dominican brethren, for no trace of
him could be found. Although the University of Paris does not appear in
the case, every precaution was taken to preserve its honor by
emphasizing at every stage the fraudulent character of the twelve
articles submitted to its decision, and in the final judgment special
care was taken to characterize them as false and to order them to be
judicially torn to pieces, though it may well be doubted whether they
were any more deceptive than innumerable reports made habitually by
inquisitors to their assemblies of experts. Finally, on July 7, 1456,
judgment was rendered in favor of the complainants, who were declared to
have incurred no infamy; the whole process was pronounced to be null and
void; the decision was ordered to be published in Rouen and all other
cities of the kingdom; solemn processions were to be made to the place
of her abjuration and that of her execution, and on the latter a cross
was to be erected in perpetual memory of her martyrdom. In its restored
form it still remains there as a memorial of the utility of the
Inquisition as an instrument of statecraft.[401]



Few things are so indestructible as a superstitious belief once fairly
implanted in human credulity. It passes from one race to another and is
handed down through countless generations; it adapts itself successively
to every form of religious faith; persecution may stifle its outward
manifestation, but it continues to be cherished in secret, perhaps the
more earnestly that it is unlawful. Religion may succeed religion, but
the change only multiplies the methods by which man seeks to supplement
his impotence by obtaining control over supernatural powers, and to
guard his weakness by lifting the veil of the future. The sacred rites
of the superseded faith become the forbidden magic of its successor. Its
gods become evil spirits, as the Devas or deities of the Veda became the
Daevas or demons of the Avesta; as the bull-worship of the early Hebrews
became idolatry under the prophets, and as the gods of Greece and Rome
were malignant devils to the Christian Fathers.

Europe thus was the unhappy inheritor of an accumulated mass of
superstitions which colored the life and controlled the actions of every
man. They were vivified with a peculiar intensity by the powerful
conception of the Mazdean Ahriman--the embodiment of the destructive
forces of nature and the evil passions of man--which, transfused through
Judaism and adorned with the imaginings of the Haggadah, became a fixed
article of the creed as the fallen prince of angels, Satan, who drew
with him in rebellion half of the infinite angelic hosts, and
thenceforth devoted powers inferior only to those of God himself to the
spiritual and material perdition of mankind. Omnipresent, and well-nigh
omnipotent and omniscient, Satan and his demons were ever and everywhere
at work to obtain, by cunning arts, control over the souls of men, to
cross their purposes, and to vex their bodies. The food of these beings
was the suffering of the damned, and human salvation their most
exquisite torment. To effect their objects human agents were
indispensable, and Satan was always ready to impart a portion of his
power, or to consign a subordinate demon, to any one who would serve
him. Thus a dualistic system sprang up, less hopeful and inspiring than
that of Zarathustra Spitama, which in its vivid realization of the
ever-present and ever-acting Evil Principle, cast a sombre shadow over
the kindly teachings of Christ. Some even held that human affairs were
governed by demons, and this belief grew sufficiently prevalent to
induce Chrysostom to undertake its refutation. He admitted that they
were inspired with a fierce and irreconcilable hatred for man, with whom
they carried on an immortal war, but he argued that the evil of the
world was the just punishment inflicted by God.[402]

Man thus lived surrounded by an infinite world of spirits, good and bad,
whose sole object was his salvation or his perdition, and who were ever
on the watch to save him or to lure him to destruction. Thus was solved
the eternal problem of the origin of evil, which has perplexed the human
soul since it first began to think, and thus grew up a demonology of
immense detail which formed part of the articles of faith. Almost every
race has shared in such belief, whether the evil spirits were of
supernatural origin, as with the Mazdeans and Assyrians, or whether, as
with the Buddhists and Egyptians, they were the souls of the damned
seeking to gratify their vindictiveness. Although Greece and Rome had no
such distinctive class, yet had they peopled the world with a countless
number of genii and inferior supernatural beings, who were accepted by
Christianity and placed at the service of Satan. As theology grew to be
a science in which every detail of the dealings of God with man was
defined with the most rigid precision, it became necessary to determine
the nature and functions of the spirit world with exactitude, and the
ardent intellects which framed the vast structure of orthodoxy did not
shrink from the task. The numberless references to the character and
attributes of demons in patristic literature show how large a space the
subject occupied in the thoughts of men and the confidence which was
felt in the accuracy of knowledge concerning it.[403]

Origen informs us that every man is surrounded by countless spirits
eager to help or harm him. His virtues and good deeds are attributable
to good angels; his sins and crimes are the work of demons of pride and
lust and wrath, and of all passions and vices. Powerful as these are,
however, the human soul is still superior to them and can destroy their
capacity for evil; if a holy man baffles the spirit of lust who has
tempted him, the conquered demon is cast into outer darkness or into the
abyss, and loses his potency forever. This was received throughout the
Middle Ages as orthodox doctrine. Gregory the Great tells us how the nun
of a convent, walking in the garden, ate a lettuce-leaf without making
the cautionary sign of the cross, and was immediately possessed of a
demon. St. Equitius tortured the spirit with his exorcisms till the
unhappy imp exclaimed, "What have I done? I was sitting on the leaf and
she ate me;" but Equitius would listen to no excuse and forced him to
depart. Cæsarius of Heisterbach relates a vast number of cases proving
the perpetual interference of demons with human affairs, though he
asserts as a well-known fact that Satan drew with him only one tenth of
the hosts of heaven, and he proceeds to show, on the authority of
Gregory the Great, that at the Day of Judgment the saved will be nine
times as numerous as the devils, and of course the damned greatly more
in excess; yet at the death-bed of a monk of Hemmenrode fifteen thousand
demons gathered together, and at that of a Benedictine abbess more
assembled than there are leaves in the forest of Kottinhold. Thomas of
Cantimpré, though less profuse in his illustrative examples, is equally
emphatic in showing that man is surrounded with evil spirits, who lose
no opportunity to tempt, to seduce, to mislead, and to vex him. The
blessed Reichhelm, Abbot of Schöngau, about 1270, had received from God
the gift of being able to discern the aerial bodies of these creatures,
and often saw them as a thick dust, or as motes in a sunbeam, or as
thickly falling rain. He describes their numbers as so great that the
atmosphere is merely a crowd of them; all material sounds, water
falling, stones clashing, winds blowing, are their voices. Sometimes
they would materialize as a woman to tempt him, or as a huge cat or a
bear to terrify him, but their efforts were mostly directed to diverting
the thoughts from pious duties and contemplations, and to inciting to
evil passions, which they could well do, as an innumerable army was
assigned to each individual man. These enemies of man were ever on the
watch to take advantage of every unguarded thought or act. Sprenger
tells us that if an impatient husband says to a pregnant wife, "Devil
take you," the child will be subject to Satan; such children, he says,
are often seen; five nurses will not satisfy the appetite of one, and
yet they are miserably emaciated, while their weight is great. Thus man
was at all times exposed to the assaults of supernatural enemies,
striving to lead him to sin, to torture his body with disease, or to
afflict him with material damage. We cannot understand the motives and
acts of our forefathers unless we take into consideration the mental
condition engendered by the consciousness of this daily and hourly
personal conflict with Satan.[404]

It is true that all demons were not equally malignant. The converted
Barbarians of Europe could not wholly give up their belief in helpful
spirits, and as Christianity classed them all as devils, it was
necessary to find an explanation by suggesting that their characters
varied with the amount of pride and envy of God which they entertained
before the fall. Those who merely followed their companions and have
repented are not always malicious. Cæsarius tells us of one who
faithfully served a knight for a long while, saved him from his enemies,
and cured his wife of a mortal illness by fetching from Arabia lion's
milk with which to anoint her. This aroused the knight's suspicions, and
the demon confessed, explaining that it was a great consolation to him
to be with the children of men. Fearing to retain such a servitor, the
knight dismissed him, offering half of his possessions as a reward, but
the demon would accept only five sous, and these he returned, asking the
knight to purchase with them a bell and hang it on a certain desolate
church, that the faithful might be called to divine service on Sundays.
Froissart's picturesque narrative is well known of the demon Orton, who
served the Sieur de Corasse out of pure love, bringing to him every
night tidings of events from all parts of the world, and finally
abandoning him in consequence of his imprudent demand to see his
nocturnal visitor. Froissart himself was at Ortais in 1385, when the
Count of Foix miraculously had news of the disastrous battle of
Aljubarotta in Portugal the day after it occurred, and the courtiers
explained that he heard of it through the Sieur de Corasse. Thus, for
good or for evil, the barriers which divided the material from the
spiritual world were slight, and intercourse between them was too
frequent to excite incredulity.[405]

It was inevitable that this facility of intercourse should encourage
belief in the Incubi and Succubi who play so large a part in mediæval
sorcery, for such a belief has belonged to superstition in all ages. The
Akkads had their Gelal and Kiel-Gelal, the Assyrians their Lil and
Lilit, and the Gauls their Dusii, lustful spirits of either sex who
gratified their passions with men and women, while the Welsh legends of
the Middle Ages show the continuance of the belief among the Celtic
tribes. The Egyptians drew a distinction and admitted of Incubi but not
of Succubi. The Jews accepted the text concerning the sons of God and
daughters of men (Gen. VI. 1) as proving that fruitful intercourse could
occur between spiritual and human beings, and they had their legends of
the evil spirit Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who bore to him the
innumerable multitude of demons. The anthropomorphic mythology and
hero-worship of Greece consisted of little else, and the name of Satyr
has passed into a proverb. The simpler and purer Latin pantheon had yet
its Sylvans and Fauns, who, as St. Augustin tells us, "are commonly
called Incubi." The medical faculty in vain explained the belief by
Ephialtes or nightmare, and recommended for it belladonna rather than
exorcisms. Though St. Augustin, who did so much to transmit pagan
superstitions to succeeding ages, hesitates to believe in the
possibility of such powers on the part of aerial spirits, even he dares
not deny it, and though Chrysostom ridiculed it, other authorities
accepted it as a matter of course. Thus it came to be received as a
truth which few thought of disputing. In 1249 an incubus child was born
on the Welsh marches, which in half a year had a full set of teeth and
the stature of a youth of seventeen, while the mother wasted away and
died. The belief grew still more definite as perfected processes of
trial enabled judges to extort from their victims whatever confessions
they desired, such as that of Angèle de la Barthe, who, in the
Toulousain in 1275, admitted that she had habitual intercourse with
Satan, to whom, seven years before, at the age of fifty-three, she had
borne a son--a monster with a wolf's head and a serpent's tail, which
she fed for two years on the flesh of year-old babies whom she stole by
night, after which it disappeared; or those of the witches of Arras, in
1460, who were brought to confess that their demon lovers wore the
shapes of hares, or foxes, or bulls. Innocent VIII. asserts the
existence of such connections in the most positive manner, and Silvester
Prierias declares that to deny it is both unorthodox and
unphilosophical, and could only be prompted by sheer wantonness.[406]

Liaisons of this kind would be entered into with demons, and would be
maintained with the utmost fidelity on both sides for thirty or forty
years; and the connection thus established was proof against all the
ordinary arts of the exerciser. Alvaro Pelayo relates that in a nunnery
under his direction it prevailed among the nuns, and he was utterly
powerless to put a stop to it. In fact, it was peculiarly frequent in
such pious establishments. As a special crime it grew to have a special
name, and was known among canonists and casuists as Demoniality; and
Sprenger, whose authority in such matters is supreme, assures us that to
its attractiveness was due the alarming development of witchcraft in the
fifteenth century. The few who, like Ulric Molitoris, while admitting
the existence of Incubi, denied to them the power of procreation, were
silenced by the authority of Thomas Aquinas, who explained how, by
acting alternately as Succubus and Incubus, the demon could accomplish
the object, and by the indubitable facts that the Huns were sprung from
demons, and that an island in Egypt, or, as some said, Cyprus, was
peopled wholly by descendants of Incubi, to say nothing of the popular
legend which attributed such paternity to the prophet and enchanter,
Merlin. Into the physiological speculations by which these possibilities
were proved, it is not worth our while to enter. There is nothing fouler
in all literature than the stories and illustrative examples by which
these theories were supported.[407]

As Satan's principal object in his warfare with God was to seduce human
souls from their divine allegiance, he was ever ready with whatever
temptation seemed most likely to effect his purpose. Some were to be won
by physical indulgence such as that just alluded to; others by
conferring on them powers enabling them apparently to forecast the
future, to discover hidden things, to gratify enmity, and to acquire
wealth, whether through forbidden arts or by the services of a familiar
demon subject to their orders. As the neophyte in receiving baptism
renounced the devil his pomps and his angels,[408] it was necessary for
the Christian who desired the aid of Satan to renounce God. Moreover, as
Satan when he tempted Christ offered him the kingdoms of the earth in
return for adoration--"If thou therefore wilt worship me all shall be
thine" (Luke IV. 7)--there naturally arose the idea that to obtain this
aid it was necessary to render allegiance to the princes of hell. Thence
came the idea, so fruitful in the development of sorcery, of compacts
with Satan by which sorcerers became his slaves, binding themselves to
do all the evil they could encompass and to win over as many converts as
they could to follow their example. Thus the sorcerer or witch was an
enemy of all the human race as well as of God, the most efficient agent
of hell in its sempiternal conflict with heaven. His destruction, by any
method, was therefore the plainest duty of man.

This was the perfected theory of sorcery and witchcraft by which the
gentile superstitions inherited and adopted from all sides were fitted
into the Christian dispensation and formed part of its accepted creed.
From the earliest periods of which records have reached us there have
been practitioners of magic who were credited with the ability of
controlling the spirit world, of divining the future, and of interfering
with the ordinary operations of nature. When this was accomplished by
the ritual of an established religion it was praiseworthy, like the
augural and oracular divination of classic times, or the exorcism of
spirits, the excommunication of caterpillars, and the miraculous cures
wrought by relics or pilgrimages to noted shrines. When it worked
through the invocation of hostile deities, or of a religion which had
been superseded, it was blameworthy and forbidden. The Yatudhana, or
sorcerer of the Vedas, doubtless sought his ends through the invocation
of the Rakshasas and other dethroned divinities of the conquered Dasyu.
His powers were virtually the same as those of the mediæval sorcerer:
with his _yatu_, or magic, he could encompass the death of his enemies
or destroy their harvests and their herds; his _kritya_, or charmed
images and other objects, had an evil influence which could only be
overcome by discovering and removing them, exactly as we find it in the
Europe of the fifteenth century; while the counter-charms and
imprecations employed against him show that there was virtually no
difference between sacred and prohibited magic.[409] The same lesson is
taught by Hebrew tradition, which admitted that wonders could be wrought
by the _Elohim acherim_, or "other gods," as instanced in the contest
between Moses and the Chakamim, or wise men of Egypt. The Talmudists
inform us that when he changed his rod into a serpent Pharaoh laughed at
him for parading such tricks in a land full of magicians, and sent for
some little children who readily performed the same feat, but the
failure of Jannes and Jambres to cope with him when he came to the
plague of the lice was because their art would not extend to the
imitation of things smaller than a barley-corn. The connection between
their magic and the worship of false gods is seen in the legend that it
was Jannes and Jambres who fabricated for Aaron the golden calf. A
similar indication is seen in the Samaritan tradition that the falling
away of the Hebrews from the ancient faith was explicable by the magic
arts of Eli and Samuel, who studied them in the books of Balaam, gaining
thereby wealth and power, and seducing the people from the worship of

How great was the impression produced on the surrounding nations by the
powers of the Egyptian Chakamim is shown by the later Jews, who,
familiar as they were with the mysteries of the Magi and Chaldeans, yet
declared that of the ten portions of magic bestowed upon the earth, nine
had fallen to the lot of Egypt. That kingdom therefore furnishes
naturally enough the oldest record of a trial for sorcery, occurring
about 1300 B.C., showing that the use of magic was not regarded as
criminal of itself, but only when employed by an unauthorized person for
wrongful ends. The proceedings in the case recite that a certain
Penhaiben, a farm superintendent of cattle, when passing by chance the
Khen, or hall in the royal palace where the rolls of mystic lore were
kept, was seized with a desire to obtain access to their secrets for his
personal advantage. Procuring the assistance of a worker in stone named
Atirma, he penetrated into the sacred recesses of the Khen and secured a
book of dangerous formulas belonging to his master, Rameses III.
Mastering their use, he soon was able to perform all the feats of the
doctors of mysteries. He composed charms which, when carried into the
royal palace, corrupted the concubines of the Pharaoh; he caused hatred
between men, fascinated or tormented them, paralyzed their limbs, and in
short, as the report of the tribunal states, "He sought and found the
real way to execute all the abominations and all the wickedness that his
heart conceived, and he performed them, with other great crimes, the
horror of every god and goddess. Consequently he has endured the great
punishment, even unto death, which the divine writings say that he

Hebrew belief, which necessarily served as a standard for orthodox
Christianity, drew from these various sources an ample store of magic
practitioners. There was the _At_, or charmer; the _Asshaph_,
_Kasshaph_, _Mekassheph_, the enchanter or sorcerer; the _Kosem_, or
diviner; the _Ob_, _Shoel Ob_, _Baal Ob_, the consulter with evil
spirits, or necromancer (the Witch of Endor was a _Baalath Ob_); the
_Chober Chaber_, or worker with spells and ligatures; the _Doresh el
Hammathim_, or consulter with the dead; the _Meonen_, or augur, divining
by the drift of clouds or voices of birds--the "observer of times" of
the A. V.; the _Menachesh_, or augur by enchantments; the _Jiddoni_, or
wizard; the _Chakam_, or sage; the _Chartom_, or hierogrammatist; the
_Mahgim_, or mutterers of spells; and in later times there were the
_Istaginen_, or astrologer; the _Charori_, or soothsayer; the _Magush,
Amgosh_, or enchanter; the _Raten_, or magus; the _Negida_, or
necromancer; and the _Pithom_, inspired by evil spirits. There was here
an ample field in which Christian superstition could go astray.

Greece contributed her share, although of strictly Goetic magic--the
invocation of malignant spirits or the use of illicit means for wrongful
ends--there was little need, in a religion of which the deities, great
and small, were subject to all the weaknesses of humanity, were ready at
any moment to inflict on man the direst calamities to gratify their love
or their spleen or their caprice, and could be purchased by a prayer or
a sacrifice to exercise their omnipotence irrespective of justice or
morality. In such a religion the priest exercises the functions which in
purer faiths are relegated to the sorcerer. Yet it is only necessary to
mention the names of Zetheus and Amphion, of Orpheus and Pythagoras, of
Epimenides, Empedocles, and Apollonius of Tyana to show that both
tradition and history taught the existence and power of thaumaturgy and
theurgy.[412] This theurgy was developed to its fullest extent in the
marvels related of the Neo-Platonists, thus directly influencing
Christian thought, which necessarily ascribed its miracles to the
invocations of demons.[413] Yet by the side of all this there was no
lack of Goetic magic, such as the legends attribute to the Cretan
Dactyls or Curetes, to the Telchines, to Medea, and to Circe.[414] This
is said to have received a powerful impetus in the Medic wars, when the
Magian Osthanes, who accompanied Xerxes, scattered the seeds of his
unholy lore throughout Greece. Plato speaks with the strongest
reprobation of the venal sorcerers who hire themselves at slender wages
to those desirous of destroying enemies with magic arts and
incantations, ligatures, and the figurines, or waxen images, which have
always been one of the favorite resources of malignant magic, and which
in Greece wrought their evil work by being set up in the cross-roads, or
affixed to the door of the victim or to the tomb of his ancestors.
Philtres, or love-potions, which would excite or arrest love at will
were among their ordinary resources. Even the triform Hecate was subject
to their spells; they could arrest the course of nature and bring the
moon to earth. The fearful rites which superstition attributed to these
sorcerers are indicated in one of the charges brought against Apollonius
of Tyana when tried before Domitian--that of sacrificing a child.[415]

In Rome the gods of the nether world furnished a link between the sacred
ceremonies of the priest and the incantations of the sorcerer, for while
they were objects of worship to the pious, they were also the customary
sources of the magician's power. Lucan's terrible witch, Erichtho, is a
favorite with Erebus; she wanders among tombs from which she draws their
shades; she works her spells with funeral-torches and with the bones and
ashes of the dead; her incantations are Stygian; gluing her lips to
those of a dying man, she sends her dire messages to the under-world.
Horace's Canidia and Sagana seek their power at the same source, and the
description of their hideous doings bears a curious resemblance to much
that sixteen centuries later occupied the attention of half the courts
in Christendom. It is the same throughout all the allusions to Latin
sorcery--the deities invoked are infernal, and the rites are celebrated
at night,[416] The identity of the means employed with those of modern
sorcery is perfect. When Germanicus Cæsar, the idol of the empire, was
doomed by the secret jealousy of Tiberius; when his subordinate in
command of the East, Cneius Piso, was commissioned to make way with him,
and Germanicus was stricken with mortal illness, it reads like a passage
in Grillandus or Delrio to see that his friends, suspecting Piso's
enmity, dug from the ground and the walls of his house the objects
placed there to effect his destruction--fragments of human bodies,
half-burned ashes smeared with corruption, leaden plates inscribed with
his name, charms, and other accursed things, by which, says Tacitus, it
is believed that souls may be dedicated to the infernal gods. The
ordinary feats of the witch could be more easily performed. A simple
incantation would blight the harvest or dry the running fountain, would
destroy the acorn on the oak and the ripening fruit on the bough. The
figurine, or waxen image, of the person to be assailed, familiar to
Hindu, Egyptian, and Greek sorcery, assumes in Rome the shape in which
we find it in the Middle Ages. Sometimes the name of the victim was
traced on it in letters of red wax. If a mortal disease was to be
induced in any organ, a needle was thrust in the corresponding part of
the image; or if he was to waste away in an incurable malady, it was
melted with incantations at a fire. The victim could moreover be
transformed into a beast--a feat which St. Augustin endeavors to explain
by dæmonic delusion.[417] It is observable that the terrible magician is
almost always an old woman--the _saga_, _strix_, or _volatica_--the
wise-woman or nocturnal bird or night-flyer--corresponding precisely
with the hag who in mediæval Europe almost monopolized sorcery. But the
male sorcerer, like his modern descendant, had the power of transforming
himself into a wolf, and was thus the prototype of the wer-wolves, or
_loups-garoux_, who form so picturesque a feature in the history of

The philtres, charms, and ligatures for exciting desire or preventing
its fruition, or for arousing hatred, which meet us at every step in
modern sorcery, were equally prevalent in that of Rome. The virtual
insanity of Caligula was attributed to powerful drugs administered to
him in a love-potion by Cæsonia, whom he married after the death of his
sister and concubine Drusilla, and so firm was the conviction of this
that when he was assassinated she was likewise put to death for having
thus brought the greatest calamities on the republic. That such a man as
Marcus Aurelius could be supposed to have caused his wife Faustina to
bathe in the blood of the luckless gladiator who was the object of her
affections before seeking his own embraces, while doubtless invented to
account for the character of his son Commodus, shows the profound belief
accorded to such arts. Appuleius found this to his cost when he was
tried for his life on the charge of having by incantations and sorcery
secured the affections of his bride Pudentilla, a woman of mature age
who had been fourteen years a widow. Had the court, like those of the
Middle Ages, enjoyed the infallible resource of torture, he would
readily have been forced to confession, with the attendant
death-penalty; but as there was no charge of treason involved, he was
free to disculpate himself by evidence and argument, and he

The severest penalties of the law, in fact, were traditionally directed
against all practitioners of magic. The surviving fragments of the
Decemviral legislation show that this dated from an early period of the
republic. With the spread of the Roman conquests, the introduction of
Orientalized Hellenism was followed by the magic of the East, more
imposing than the homelier native practices, arousing the liveliest fear
and indignation. In 184 B.C. the praetor L. Nævius was detained for four
months from proceeding to his province of Sardinia, by the duty assigned
to him of prosecuting cases of sorcery. A large portion of these were
scattered through the suburbicarian regions; the culprits had a short
shrift, and he manifested a diligence which Pierre Cella or Bernard de
Caux might envy, if the account be true that he condemned no less than
two thousand sorcerers. Under the empire decrees against magicians,
astrologers, and diviners were frequent, and from the manner in which
accusations of sorcery were brought against prominent personages the
charge would seem to have been then, as it proved in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, one of those convenient ones, easy to make and hard
to disprove, which are welcome in personal and political intrigue. Nero
persecuted magic with such severity that he included philosophers among
magicians, and the cloak or distinctive garment of the philosopher was
sufficient to bring its wearer before the tribunals. Musonius the
Babylonian, who ranked next to Apollonius of Tyana in wisdom and power,
was incarcerated, and would have perished as intended but for the
exceptional robustness which enabled him to endure the rigors of his
prison. Caracalla went even further and punished those who merely wore
on their necks amulets for the cure of tertian and quartan fevers. The
darker practices of magic were repressed with relentless rigor. To
perform or procure the performance of impious nocturnal rites with the
object of bewitching any one was punished with the severest penalties
known to the Roman law--crucifixion or the beasts. For immolating a man
or offering human blood in sacrifices the penalty was simple death or
the beasts, according to the station of the offender. Accomplices in
magic practices were subjected to crucifixion or the beasts, while
magicians themselves were burned alive. The knowledge of the art was
forbidden as well as its exercise; all books of magic were to be burned,
and their owners subjected to deportation or capital punishment,
according to their rank. When the cross became the emblem of salvation,
it of course passed out of use as an instrument of punishment; with the
abolition of the arena the beasts were no longer available; but the
fagot and stake remained, and for long centuries continued to be the
punishment for more or less harmless impostors.[420]

With the triumph of Christianity the circle of forbidden practices was
enormously enlarged. A new sacred magic was introduced which superseded
and condemned as sorcery and demon-worship a vast array of observances
and beliefs, which had become an integral and almost ineradicable part
of popular life. The struggle between the rival thaumaturgies is
indicated already in Tertullian's complaint, that when in droughts the
Christians by prayers and mortifications had extorted rain from God, the
credit was given to the sacrifices offered to Jove; he challenges the
pagans to bring before their own tribunals a demoniac, when a Christian
will force the possessing spirit to confess himself a demon. The triumph
of the new system was typified in the encounter between St. Peter and
Simon Magus, when the flight through the air of the heathen theurgist
was arrested by the prayers of the Christian, and he fell with a
disastrous crash, breaking a hip-bone and both heels. If, as conjectured
by some modern critics, Simon Magus is the Petrine designation of St.
Paul, the partisans of the latter were not behindhand in recounting the
triumph of their leader over the older thaumaturgists, for when he
wrought wonders at Ephesus and the Jewish conjurers were put to shame,
then "many of them also which used curious arts brought their books
together and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of
them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver."[421]

Still more convincing was the incident which occurred to Marcus Aurelius
in the Marcomannic war when, in the territory of the Quadi, he was cut
off from water, so that his army was perishing from thirst. Though he
had persecuted the Christians, he had recourse to the intervention of
Christ, when a sudden tempest supplied the Romans abundantly with water,
while the lightning slew the Teutons and dispersed them, so that they
were readily slaughtered. When, finally, the new faith and the old met
in their death-grapple, Eusebius describes Constantine as preparing for
the struggle by calling around him his most holy priests and marching
under the shade of the sacred Labarum. Licinius on his side collected
diviners and Egyptian prophets and magicians. They offered sacrifices
and endeavored to learn the result from their deities. Oracles
everywhere promised victory; the sacrificial auguries were favorable;
the interpreters of dreams announced success. On the eve of the first
battle Licinius assembled his chief captains in a sacred grove where
there were many idols, and explained to them that this was to be the
decisive test between the gods of their ancestors and the unknown deity
of the barbarians--if they were vanquished it would show that their gods
were dethroned. In the ensuing combat the cross bore down everything
before it; the enemy fled when it appeared, and Constantine seeing this
sent the Labarum as an amulet of victory, wherever his troops were sore
bestead, and at once the battle would be restored. Defeat only hardened
the heart of Licinius, and again he had recourse to his magicians.
Constantine, on the other hand, arranged an oratory in his camp, to
which before battle he would retire to pray with the men of God, and
then sallying forth would give the signal for attack, when his troops
would slay all who dared to stand before them. So complete became the
trust enjoined in the efficacy of the invocation of God, that
enthusiasts denounced it as unworthy a Christian to rely upon human
prudence and sagacity in trouble. St. Nilus tells us that in cases of
sickness recourse is to be had to prayer, rather than to physicians and
physic; and St. Augustin, in his recital of miraculous cures beyond the
reach of science to effect, evidently regards the appeal to God and the
saints as far more trustworthy than all the resources of the medical

It was inevitable that the triumphant theurgy should set to work with
remorseless vigor to extirpate its fallen rival, as soon as it could
fully control the powers of the State. It was not so much the worship
and propitiation of the pagan gods that was first attacked, as the
thousand methods of divination and devices to avert evil which had
become ingrained in daily life--oracles and auguries and portents and
omens and soothsaying. Their efficacy was the work of Satan to deceive
and seduce mankind, and their use was the direct or indirect invocation
of demons. To attempt to foretell the future in any way was sorcery, and
all sorcery was the work of the devil; and it was the same with the
amulets and charms, the observance of lucky and unlucky days, and the
innumerable trivial superstitions which amused the popular imagination.
Zeal for the repression of every species of magic was not only
stimulated by the conviction that it was an essential part of the
conflict with a personal Satan, but by obedience to the commands of God
in the Mosaic law. The awful words, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch
(_Mekasshepha_) to live" have rung through the centuries, and have
served as a justification for probably more judicial slaughter than any
other sentence in the history of human jurisprudence. Rabbinical Judaism
enforced this relentlessly in spite of the kindliness of the rabbis and
their extreme indisposition to shed human blood. One of the first
reforms of the Pharisees on coming into power after the persecution of
Alexander Jannai was the abrogation of the Mosaic penal code in favor of
milder laws. The leader in the revolution was Simon ben Shetach, who in
organizing the Sanhedrin refused the presidency and conferred it on
Judah ben Tabbai. The latter chanced to condemn a man for false witness
on the testimony of a single person, though the law required two, when
Simon reproached him as blood-guilty, and he resigned. Yet this man, so
scrupulous about taking life, had no hesitation in hanging at Ascalon
eighty witches in a single day. According to the Mishna, the Pithom and
the Jiddoni are to be stoned, and false diviners and those who read the
future in the name of idols are to be hanged, while the Talmud adds that
he who learns a single word from a Magus is to be put to death.
Christianity thus derived from Judaism the complete assurance that in
ruthlessly exterminating all thaumaturgy save that of its own priesthood
it was obeying the unquestioned command of God.[423]

The machinery of the Church was therefore early set to work to exhort
and persuade the faithful against a sin so unpardonable and apparently
so ineradicable; and as soon as it gathered its prelates together in
councils it commenced to legislate for the suppression of such
practices.[424] When it grew powerful enough to influence the head of
the State it procured a series of cruel edicts which doubtless were
effective in destroying the remains of tolerated paganism as well as in
suppressing the special practices so offensive in the eyes of the
orthodox. It was not difficult to commence with the time-honored
practices of divination, for, although these had formed part of the
machinery of State, yet when the State was centred in the person of its
master, any inquiry into the future of public affairs was an inquiry
into the fortune and fate of the monarch, and no crime was more
jealously repressed and more promptly punished than this. Even so warm
an admirer of ancestral institutions as Cato the Elder had long before
warned his paterfamilias to forbid his _villicus_, or farm-steward, to
consult any haruspex or augur. These gentry had a way of breeding
trouble, and it boded no good to the master when the slaves were
over-curious and too well-informed. In the same spirit Tiberius
prohibited the secret consultation of haruspices. Constantine was thus
serving a double purpose when, as early as 319, he threatened with
burning the haruspex who ventured to cross another's threshold, even on
pretext of friendship; the man who called him in was punished with
confiscation and deportation, and the informer was rewarded. Priest and
augur were only to celebrate their rites in public. Even this was
withdrawn by Constantius in 357; any consultation with diviners was
punishable with death, and the practitioners themselves, whether of
magic or augury, or the expounding of dreams, when on trial were
deprived of exemption from torture and could be subjected to the rack or
the hooks to extort confession.[425] Under this Constantius organized an
active persecution throughout the East, in which numbers were put to
death upon the slightest pretext; passing among the tombs at night was
evidence of necromancy, and hanging a charm around the neck for the cure
of a quartan was proof of forbidden arts. The witch-trials of modern
times were prefigured and anticipated. Under Julian there was a
reaction, and in 364 Valentinian and Valens proclaimed freedom of
belief; in 371 they included in this the old religious divination, while
capital punishment was restricted to magic arts, but the persecution in
the East under Valens in 374, following the conspiracy of Theodore,
obliterated all distinction. Commencing with those accused of magic, it
extended to all who were noted for letters or philosophy. Terror reigned
throughout the East; all who had libraries burned them. The prisons were
insufficient to contain the prisoners, and in some towns it was said
that fewer were left than were taken. Many were put to death, and the
rest were stripped of their property. In the West, under Valentinian,
persecution was not so sweeping, but the laws were enforced, at least in
Rome, with sufficient energy to reduce greatly the number of sorcerers;
and a law of Honorius, in 409, by its reference to the bishops, shows
that the Church was beginning to participate with the State in the
supervision over such offenders.[426] Yet that even the faithful could
not be restrained from indulging in these forbidden practices is seen in
the earnest exhortations addressed to them by their teachers, and the
elaborate repetition of proofs that all such exhibitions of supernatural
power were the work of demons.[427]

The Eastern Empire maintained its severity of legislation and continued
with more or less success to repress the inextinguishable thirst for
forbidden arts. From some transactions under Manuel and Andronicus
Comnenus in the latter half of the twelfth century we learn that
blinding was a usual punishment for such offences, that the classical
forms of augury had disappeared to be replaced by necromantic formulas,
and that such accusations were a convenient method of disposing of

In the West the Barbarian domination introduced a new element. The
Ostrogoths, who occupied Italy under Theodoric, were, it is true, so
much Romanized that, although Arians, they adopted and enforced the laws
against magic. Divination was classed with paganism and was capitally
punished. About the year 500 we hear of a persecution which drove all
the sorcerers from Rome, and Basilius, the chief thaumaturge among them,
although he escaped at the time, was burned on venturing to return. When
Italy fell back into the hands of the Eastern Empire the prosecution of
these offences seems to have been committed to the Church as a part of
its ever-widening sphere of influence and jurisdiction.[429]

The Wisigoths who took possession of Aquitaine and Spain, although less
civilized than their Eastern brethren, were profoundly influenced by
Roman legislation, and their princes issued repeated enactments to
discourage the forbidden arts. It is significant of the Barbarian
tenderness for human life, however, that the penalties were greatly less
than those of the savage Roman edicts. A law of Recared declares
magicians and diviners and those who consult them to be incapable of
bearing testimony; one of Egiza places these crimes in the class for
which a slave could be tortured against his accused master; and several
edicts of Chindaswind provide, for those who invoke demons or bring hail
upon vineyards, or use ligatures or charms to injure men or cattle or
harvests, scourging with two hundred lashes, shaving, and carrying
around for exhibition in the vicinage, to be followed by imprisonment.
Those who consult diviners about the health of the king or of others are
threatened with scourging and enslavement to the fisc, including
confiscation, if their children are accomplices; judges who have
recourse to divination for guidance in doubtful cases are subjected to
the same penalties, while the simple observation of auguries is visited
with fifty lashes. These provisions, which were mostly carried with
little change into the Fuero Juzgo, remained the law of the Spanish
Peninsula until the Middle Ages were well advanced. They show how
impossible it had been to eradicate the old superstitions, and that the
pagan observances and auguries still flourished among all classes, which
is confirmed by the denunciations of the Spanish councils and
ecclesiastical writers. They have a further significance as presenting a
middle term between the severity of Rome and the laxity of the other
Barbarian tribes.[430]

These latter were ruder and less amenable to Roman influences. In their
conversion the Church rendered an immense service to humanity, and it
did not dare to interfere too rudely with the customs and prejudices of
its unruly neophytes; in fact, it harmonized its own with them as far as
it could, and became considerably modified in consequence. This process
is well symbolized in the instructions of Gregory the Great to Augustin,
his missionary to England, to convert the pagan temples into churches by
sprinkling them with holy water, so that converts might grow accustomed
to their new faith by worshipping in the wonted places, while the
sacrifices to demons were to be replaced by processions in honor of some
saint or martyr, when oxen were to be slaughtered, not to propitiate
idols, but in praise of God, to be eaten by the faithful. In this
assimilation of Christianity to paganism it is not surprising that
Redwald, King of East Anglia, after his conversion set up in his temple
two altars, at one of which he worshipped the true God and at the other
offered sacrifices to demons.[431] The similar adoption by Christian
magic of elements from that which it supplanted is well illustrated by
the hymn, or rather incantation, known as the Lorica of St. Patrick, in
which the forces of nature and the Deity are both summoned as by an
enchanter to the assistance of the thaumaturge. A MS. of the seventh
century assures us that "Every person who sings it every day with all
his attention on God shall not have demons appearing to his face. It
will be a safeguard to him against sudden death. It will be a protection
to him against every poison and envy. It will be an armor to his soul
after his death. Patrick sang this at the time that the snares were set
for him by Loegaire, so that it appeared to those who were lying in
ambush that they were wild deer and a fawn after them."[432]

The Barbarians brought with them their own superstitions, whether
transmitted from the prehistoric Aryan home, or acquired in the course
of their wanderings, and they readily added to these such as they found
among their new subjects, whether they were under the ban of the Church
or not. They had parted from their brethren before the religious
revolution caused by Zoroaster's dualistic conception of Hormazd and
Ahriman, and their religions have no trace of a personification of the
Evil Principle. Loki, its nearest representative, was rather tricky than
incorrigible. It is true that there were evil beings, such as the
Hrimthursar, Trolls, or Jotuns, the Jotun-dragon Fafnir, the wolf
Fenrir, Beowulf's Grendal and others, but they were none of them
analogous to the Mazdean Ahriman or the Christian Satan, and when the
Teutonic races adopted the latter they came to represent him, as Grimm
well points out, rather as the blundering Jotun than as the arch-enemy.
To how late a period the ancestral conceptions of the spirit-world
prevailed in Germany may be seen in the answers of the learned Abbot
John of Trittenheim to the questions of Maximilian I.[433]

The Teutonic tribes had little to learn from the conquered peoples in
the wide circle of the magic arts, for in no race, probably, has the
supernatural formed a larger portion of daily life, or claimed greater
power over both the natural and the spiritual worlds. Divination in all
its forms was universally practised. Gifted beings known as _menn
forspair_ could predict the future either by second sight, or by
incantations, or by expounding dreams. Still more dreaded and respected
was the Vala or prophetess, who was worshipped as superhuman and
regarded as in some way an embodiment of the subordinate Norns or Fates,
as in the case of Veleda, Aurinia, and others who, as Tacitus assures
us, were regarded as goddesses, in accordance with the German custom of
thus venerating their fatidical women; and in the Volüspa the Vala
communes on equal terms with Odin himself.[434] For those not thus
specially gifted there was ample store of means to forecast the future.
The most ordinary method was by necromancy, either by placing under the
tongue of a corpse a piece of wood carved with appropriate runes, or by
raising the shades of the dead precisely as the Witch of Endor did with
Samuel, or as was practised in Rome.[435] The lot was also used
extensively, whether to ascertain the divine will, like the Hebrew Urim
and Thummim, or to ascertain the future with a bundle of sticks,
apparently almost identical with the Chinese trigrams and
hexagrains.[436] As in Greece and Rome, sacrifices were often offered
to the gods in expectation of a response; auguries were drawn from the
flight of birds as carefully as by the Roman augurs, while the sacred
chickens were replaced with white horses consecrated to the gods, whose
motions and actions when harnessed to the sacred chariot were carefully
observed.[437] Saving the Etruscan _haruspicium_ and the omens derived
from sacrificial victims, Hellenic and Italiote divination had little to
distinguish it from that of the Teutons.

As regards magic, scarce any limit can be set to the power of the
sorcerer. In no literature do his marvels fill a larger space, nor are
the feats of wizard or witch received with more unquestioning faith than
in what remains to us of the sagas of the North. Especially were the
lands around the Baltic regarded as the peculiar home and nursery of
sorcerers, whither people from every land, even from distant Greece and
Spain, resorted for instruction or for special aid. In Adam of Bremen's
"Churland" every house was full of diviners and necromancers, while the
people of northern Norway could tell what every man in the world was
doing, and could perform with ease all the evil deeds ascribed to
witches in Holy Writ. Both Saxo Grammaticus and Snorri Sturlason, in
their widely differing Euhemeristic accounts of the origin of the Æsir,
or gods, agree that the founders of the Northern kingdom owed their
deification solely to the magic skill which led their subjects and
descendants to venerate them as divine.[438]

Norse magic was roughly classified into that which was legitimate, or
_galder_, and that which was wicked, or _seid_. To the former belonged
the infinite powers of runes, whether sung as incantations or carved as
talismans and amulets. Their invention was attributed to the ancient
Hrimthursar or Jotuns, and it was his profound knowledge of this magic
lore which enabled Odin to achieve his supremacy. Runes it was that kept
the sun upon his course and maintained the order of nature. All runes
were mingled together in the sacred drink of the Æsir, whence were
derived their supernatural attributes, and some have been allowed to
reach man, which were carefully classified and studied.[439] As an
adjunct of these was the _seidstaf_, or wand, so indispensable to the
magician of all races. The Icelandic Yala Thordis had one of these known
as Hangnud, which would deprive of memory him whom it touched on the
right cheek and restore it with a touch on the left cheek. Philtres and
love-potions, causing irresistible desire or indifference or hatred,
were among the ordinary resources of Norse magic. Pricking with the
sleep-thorn produced magic sleep for an indefinite time. Magicians could
also throw themselves into a deep trance, while the spirit wandered
abroad in some other form: women who were accustomed to do this were
called _hamleypur_, and if the _ham_, or assumed form, were injured, the
hurt would be found on the real body--a belief common to almost all
races.[440] The adept, moreover, could assume any form at will, as in
the historical case of the wizard who in the shape of a whale swam to
Iceland as a spy for Harold Gormsson of Denmark, when the latter was
planning an expedition thither; or two persons could exchange
appearances, as Signy did with a witch-wife, or Sigurd with Gunnar, when
Brynhild was deceived into marrying the latter.[441] Enchanted swords
that nothing could resist, enchanted coats that nothing could penetrate,
caps of darkness which, like the Greek helm of Pluto, rendered the
wearer invisible, are of frequent occurrence in Norse legendary

All this was more or less lawful magic, while the impious sorcery known
as _seid_ or _trolldom_ was based on a knowledge of the evil secrets of
nature or the invocation of malignant spirits, such as the Jotuns and
their troll-wives. _Seid_ is apparently derived from _sjoda_, to seethe
or boil, indicating that its spells were wrought by boiling in a caldron
the ingredients of the witches' hell-broth, as we see it done in
Macbeth. It was deemed infamous, unworthy of men, and was mostly left to
women, known as _seid konur_, or seid wives, and as "riders of the
night." In the oldest text of the Salic law, which shows no trace of
Christian influence, the only allusion to sorcery is a fine imposed for
calling a woman a witch, or for stigmatizing a man as one who carries
the caldron for a witch.[443] Scarce any limit was assigned to the power
of these sorcerers. One of their most ordinary feats was the raising and
allaying of tempests, and to such perfection was this brought that storm
and calm could be enclosed in bags for use by the possessor, like those
which Æolus gave to Ulysses. As Christianity spread, this power gave
rise to trials of strength between the old and the new religion, such as
we have seen when Constantine overcame Licinius. St. Olaf's first
expedition to Finland barely escaped destruction from a dreadful tempest
excited by the Finnish sorcerers. Olaf Tryggvesson was more fortunate in
one of his missionary raids, when he defeated Raud the Strong and drove
him to his fastness on Godo Island in the Salten Fiord--a piece of water
whose fierce tidal currents were more dreaded than the Maelström itself.
Repeated attempts to follow him were vain, for, no matter how fair was
the weather outside, inside Raud maintained a storm in which no ship
could live. At length Olaf invoked the aid of Bishop Sigurd, who
promised to test whether God would vouchsafe to overcome the devil.
Tapers and vestments and holy water and sacred texts were too much for
the evil spirits; the king's ships sailed into the fiord with smooth
water around them, though everywhere else the waves ran high enough to
hide the mountains: Raud was captured, and, as he obstinately refused
baptism, Olaf put him to the most cruel death that his ingenuity could

The sorcerer also had endless power of creating illusions. A beleaguered
wizard could cause a flock of sheep to appear like a band of warriors
hastening to his assistance. Yet this would appear superfluous, since by
his glances alone he could convulse nature and cause instant death.
Gunhild, who married King Eric Blood-Axe, says of the two Lap sorcerers
who taught her magic: "When they are angry the very earth turns away in
terror and whatever living thing they look upon falls dead." When she
betrayed them to Eric she cast them into a deep sleep and drew sealskin
bags over their heads, so that Eric and his men could despatch them in
safety. Similarly when Olaf Pa surprised Stigandi asleep he drew a skin
over the wizard's head. There chanced to be a small hole in it through
which Stigandi's glance fell upon the grassy slope of an opposite
mountain, whereupon the spot was torn up with a whirlwind and living
herb never grew there again.[445]

One of the most terrifying powers of the witch was her fearful
cannibalism, a belief which the Teutons shared with the Romans. This is
referred to in some of the texts of the Salic law and in the legislation
of Charlemagne, and the unlimited extent of popular credulity with
regard to it is seen in an adventure of Thorodd, an envoy of St. Olaf,
who saw a witch-wife tear eleven men to pieces, throw them on the fire,
and commence devouring them, when she was driven off.[446]

The _trolla-thing_, or nocturnal gathering of witches, where they danced
and sang and prepared their unholy brewage in the caldron, was a
customary observance of these wise-women, especially on the first of May
(St. Walpurgis' Night), which was the great festival of pagandom.[447]
We shall see hereafter the portentous growth of this, which developed
into the Witches' Sabbat. It is a feature common to the superstition of
many races, the origin of which cannot be definitely assigned to any.

That the practice of this impious sorcery was deemed infamous is clear
from the provision of the Salic law, already alluded to, imposing a fine
of eighty-nine sols for calling a free woman a witch without being able
to prove it. Yet the mere addiction to it in pagan times was not a penal
offence, and penalties were only inflicted for injuries thus committed
on person or property. In extreme cases, where death was encompassed,
there seems to have been a popular punishment of lapidation, which was
the fate incurred, after due sentence, by three noted sorcerers, Katla
and Kotkel and Grima. The codified laws of the barbarians, however,
never prescribed the death penalty, fines being the universal
retribution for crime, and in a later text of the Salic law two hundred
sols is designated for the witch who eats a man. Yet individual cases
can be found of persecution, such as that by Harald Harfaager, whose
early experience had inspired him with intense hatred of the art. One of
his sons, Rögnvald Rettilbein, received from him the government of
Hadeland, where he learned sorcery and became a great adept; so when
Vitgeir, a noted wizard of Hordeland, was ordered by Harald to abandon
his evil ways he retorted:

    "The danger surely is not great,
     From wizard born of mean estate,
     When Harald's son in Hadeland,
     King Rögnvald, to the art lays hand."

Rögnvald's wrong-doing being thus betrayed, Harald lost no time in
despatching Eric Blood-Axe, his son by another wife, who promptly burned
his half-brother in a house, along with eighty other sorcerers--a piece
of practical justice which we are told met with general popular

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were the beliefs and practices of the races with which the Church
had to do in its efforts to obliterate paganism and sorcery. There was
little difference between the provinces which had belonged to the empire
and the regions over which Christianity began for the first time to
spread, for in the former the conquerors and the conquered were imbued,
as we have just seen, with superstitions nearly akin. The exchange of
imperial for barbarian rule worked the same result as to sorcery as that
related in a former chapter with regard to the persecution of heresy,
though it must be borne in mind that, while heresy almost disappeared in
the intellectual hebetude of the times, sorcery grew ever more vigorous.
Its suppression was practically abandoned. As mentioned above, the
earliest text of the Salic law provides no general penalty for it. In
subsequent recensions, besides the fine imposed for cannibalism, some
MSS. have clauses imposing fines for bewitching with ligatures and
killing men with incantations--in the latter case, with the alternative
of burning alive--but even these disappear in the _Lex Emendata_ of
Charlemagne, possibly in consequence of the legislation of the
Capitularies described below. The Ripuarian code only treats murder by
sorcery like any other homicide, to be compounded for by the ordinary
wer-gild, or blood-money, and for injuries thus inflicted it provides a
fine of one hundred sols, to be avoided by compurgation with six
conjurators. The other codes are absolutely silent on the subject.[449]

As under the Frankish rule laws were personal and not territorial, the
Gallo-Roman population was still governed by the Roman law, but
evidently there was no attempt made to enforce it. Gregory of Tours
relates for us several miracles to prove the superiority of the
Christian magic of relics and invocation of saints over the popular
magic of the conjurer, which indicate that the first impulse of the
people in case of accident or sudden sickness was to send for the
nearest _ariolus_, or practitioner of forbidden arts, and that the
profession was exercised openly and without fear of punishment, in spite
of repeated condemnations by the councils of the period. How little such
persons had to fear is seen in the case of a woman of Verdun, who
professed to be a soothsayer and to discover stolen goods. She was so
successful that she drove a thriving trade, purchased her freedom of her
master, and accumulated a store of money. At length she was brought
before Bishop Ageric, who only treated her for demoniacal possession
with exorcisms and inunctions of holy oil, and finally discharged

Occasionally, of course, cases occurred in which the unrestrained
passions of the Merovingians wreaked savage cruelty on those who had
incurred their ill-will, but these were exceptional and outside of the
law. When Fredegonda lost two children by pestilence, her stepson Clovis
was accused of causing it by sorcery. The woman designated as his
accomplice was tortured until she confessed, and was burned, although
she retracted her confession, after which Chilperic delivered his son
Clovis to Fredegonda, who caused him to be assassinated. When,
subsequently, another son, Thierry, died in 584, Mummolus, the royal
favorite, whom Fredegonda disliked, was accused of having caused it by
incantations. Thereupon she seized some women of Paris, and by scourging
and torture forced them to confess themselves sorceresses who had caused
numerous deaths, including that of Thierry, whose soul was accepted in
place of that of Mummolus. Some of these poor wretches were simply put
to death, others she burned, and others she broke on the wheel.
Chilperic then caused Mummolus to be tortured by suspension with his
arms tied behind his back, but he only confessed to having obtained from
the women philtres and ointments to secure the favor of the king and
queen. Unluckily he said to the executioner on being taken down, "Tell
the king that I feel no ill from what has been done." On hearing this
Chilperic exclaimed, "Is he really a sorcerer that this does not hurt
him?" and had him stretched on a rack and scourged with leathern thongs
till the executioners were exhausted. Mummolus finally begged his life
of Fredegonda, but was stripped of his possessions and sent in a wagon
to his native city, Bordeaux, where he died on his arrival. Cases like
this throw light on the beliefs of the period, but not upon its judicial

The Lombards in Italy fell to a greater degree under Roman influence,
and towards the close of their domination adopted general laws of some
severity against the practice of sorcery, irrespective of the injury
committed. The sorcerer was to be sold as a slave beyond the province,
and the price received was divided between the judge and other
officials, according to their respective merits in the prosecution: if
through bribes or pity the judge refused to condemn, he was mulcted in
his whole wer-gild, or the amount of his blood-money, and half as much
if he neglected to discover a sorcerer who was found out by another. The
penalty for consulting a sorcerer, or for not informing on him, or for
performing incantations, was half the wer-gild of the offender. At the
same time the grosser superstitions were rejected, and Rotharis forbade
putting sorceresses to death, under the popular belief that they could
devour men internally.[452]

In the long anarchy which accompanied the fall of the Merovingians, all
respect for the Church, its precepts and observances, was well-nigh lost
throughout the Frankish kingdoms. One of the incidents of
reconstruction, as the Carlovingian dynasty slowly emerged, and as St.
Boniface, under papal authority, sought to restore the Church, was the
suppression of Bishop Adalbert, who taught the invocation of the angels
Uriel, Raguel, Tubuel, Inias, Tubuas, Sabaoc, and Simiel. Adalbert was
venerated as a saint, and the clippings of his nails and hair were
treasured as relics. Repeated condemnations at home had no effect on
this false worship of angels, and Pope Zachary held, in 745, a synod in
Rome which declared it to be a worship of demons, as the only angels
whose names are known are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Yet this
superstition took so firm a hold upon the people that it was long before
it could be eradicated; indeed, it seems to be alluded to, even in the
middle of the tenth century, by Atto of Vercelli.[453] When such was the
condition of the Church, no suppression of sorcery was to be looked for.

Among the instructions to Boniface and his fellow-missionaries was the
eradication of all pagan observances, including divination, sorcery, and
cognate superstitions. As the Church became reorganized, councils were
held in 742 and 743, in which Church and State united in prohibiting
them, although only a moderate fine was threatened, but the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction over such offences was established by
ordering the bishops to make yearly visitations of their sees to
suppress paganism and the forbidden arts. Boniface, however, complained
to Zachary that when the Frank or German visited Rome he saw there,
openly practised, the things which they were laboriously endeavoring to
suppress at home. The first of January was celebrated with pagan dances;
women wore amulets and ligatures, and publicly offered them for sale.
The pope could only reply that these things had long ago been
prohibited, but as they had broken out afresh he had forbidden them
again--but we may be assured without success.[454]

In the Carlovingian reconstruction which followed, efforts were made to
suppress all superstitious arts, and they were treated with gradually
increasing severity, but still with comparative lenity. The most
vigorous legislation was an edict of Charlemagne in 805, which confides
the matter to the Church, and orders the archpriest of each diocese to
investigate all who were accused of divination or sorcery, apparently
permitting moderate torture to obtain confession, and keeping the
culprits in prison until they amend. In his efforts to christianize
Saxony, on the one hand Charlemagne punished with death all who burned
witches and ate them, under the belief so widely spread that they ate
men, and on the other hand all soothsayers and sorcerers were made over
to the Church as slaves. During this period, moreover, and for a couple
of centuries following, the parallel legislation of the Church,
inflicting spiritual penalties, was singularly mild, although the
different penitentials vary so much that it is impossible to deduce any
system from them. That which passes under the name of Theodore of
Canterbury, and was of general authority, only prescribes a penance of
twoscore days or a year for sorcery, or, if the offender is an
ecclesiastic, three years, but it orders seven years for placing a child
on a roof or in an oven to cure it of fever, and Ecbert of York
indicates five years for the same practice. There evidently was no
settled rule, but the most systematic code is that of Gaerbald, who was
Bishop of Liége about the year 800. He orders all offenders to be
brought before him for trial, and enacts seven years' penance and
liberal almsgiving for committing homicide by means of sorcery, seven
years without almsgiving for rendering the victim insane, five years and
almsgiving for consulting diviners or practising augury from birds,
seven years for sorcerers who bring on tempests, three years and
almsgiving for honoring sorcerers, one year for sorcery to excite love,
provided it did not result in death, but if the offender was a monk, the
penalty was increased to five years. Another penitential of the period
prescribes twoscore days or a year for divination or diabolical
incantations, but seven years if a woman threatens another with sorcery,
to be reduced to four if she is poor. In 829 the Council of Paris
attributes the misfortunes of the empire to the prevalence of crime, and
especially of sorcery; it quotes the savage provisions of the Mosaic
law, and enumerates at considerable length the evil deeds of the
offenders--how men are rendered insane by philtres and love-potions, how
tempests and hail are induced, how harvests and milk and fruits are
transferred from their lawful owners, and how the future is predicted,
but it indicates no penalties, and only asks the secular rulers to
punish these crimes sharply. Similarly Erard, Archbishop of Tours, in
838 uttered a general prohibition, but only threatened public penance
without indicating details. All that we can gather from this confused
legislation, from the collections known as the Capitularies, and from
the speculations and arguments of Rabanus Maurus and Hincmar of Reims,
is that every species of divination and sorcery, Roman and Teutonic, was
rife; that it was held to derive its power directly from Satan; that the
Church was wholly unable to deal with it; that secular legislation
threatened only moderate penalties, and that these were for the most
part wholly unenforced.[455]

Yet, outside of the organized machinery of the Church and State, there
was a rough popular justice--a sort of Lynch law--which handled
individual offenders with scant ceremony. A chance allusion about this
period to Gerberga, who was drowned by the Emperor Lothair in the river
Arar, "as is customary with sorcerers," indicates that much was going on
not provided for in the Capitularies. The same is seen in a curious
statement by St. Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, who waged such
ineffectual battle with many of the superstitions of the time. One of
these, as we have seen, was that tempests could be caused by sorcery--a
belief which the Church at first pronounced heretical because it
inferred the Manichæan dualistic theory, which placed the visible world
under the control of Satan, but which it finally accepted as orthodox,
and Thomas Aquinas proved that, with the permission of God, demons could
bring about perturbations of the air. Agobard tells us that the belief
in his province was universal, among all ranks, that there was a region
named Magonia, whence ships came in the clouds and carried back thither
the harvests destroyed by hail, the Tempestarii, as these sorcerers were
called, being paid by the Magonians for bringing on the storms. Whenever
the rumbling of thunder was heard it was a customary remark that a
sorcerer's wind was coming. These Tempestarii carried on their nefarious
trade in secrecy, but there was a recognized class of practitioners who
professed to be able to neutralize them, and were regularly paid for
doing so with a portion of the crops, which came to be known as the
"canonical portion," and men who paid no tithes and gave nothing in
charity were regular in contributing to these impostors. On one occasion
three men and a woman were seized, charged with being Magonians who had
fallen from one of their aerial ships. A meeting of the people was
summoned, before whom the prisoners were brought in chains, and they
were promptly condemned to be stoned to death, when Agobard himself came
to the rescue, and after prolonged argument succeeded in procuring their
liberation. A similar instance of extra-judicial action was seen when a
destructive murrain invaded the herds, and the story spread that it was
caused by Grimoald, Duke of Benevento, who, out of enmity to
Charlemagne, sent emissaries to scatter a magic powder on the mountains
and fields and streams. As Agobard says, every inhabitant of Benevento,
with three wagons apiece, could not have sprinkled a territory so
extensive as that affected, but nevertheless large numbers of wretches
were captured and put to death on the charge of being concerned in the
matter. When he adds that it was marvellous that these persons confessed
their pretended crime, and could not be prevented from bearing false
witness against themselves, either by scourging, torture, or the fear of
death, we learn the means adopted to secure conviction; and in this
early and irregular instance of the use of torture we see a
foreshadowing of the time when all the extravagant absurdities of the
Witches' Sabbat were, by the same efficacious methods, eagerly
confessed, and the confessions persisted in to the stake. We see also
what an atmosphere of superstitious terror pervaded the life of

Carlovingian civilization was but a brief episode in the darkness of
those dreary centuries. In the disorder which accompanied the
breaking-up of the empire, the organization of feudalism, and the
founding of the European monarchies, although the Church was quietly
attributing to itself the functions and the jurisdiction on which were
based its subsequent claims of theocratic supremacy, it took no
efficient steps to destroy the kingdom of Satan, though his agents the
diviners and sorcerers were as numerous as ever. The Council of Pavia in
850 merely prescribed penance during life for sorceresses who undertook
to provoke love and hatred, leading to the death of many victims. There
may have been an occasional explosion of popular cruelty, such as
indicated by the brief mention in a doubtful MS. of the burning of a
number of sorcerers in Saxony in 914, but in fact the Church came almost
virtually to tolerate them. About the middle of the tenth century Bishop
Atto of Vercelli felt it necessary to revive and publish anew a
forgotten canon of the Fourth Council of Toledo, which threatened with
degradation and perpetual penance in a monastery any bishop, priest,
deacon, or other ecclesiastic who should consult magicians or sorcerers
or augurs. Atto, however, was a puritan, who endeavored to resist the
general demoralization of the age. How little repugnance was felt for
the forbidden arts is seen in the fact that the reputation for
necromantic skill gained in Spain did not prevent the election of
Gerbert of Aurillac to the archiepiscopal sees of Reims and Ravenna, and
finally to the papacy itself; while as late as 1170 we have seen an
archbishop of Besançon have recourse to an ecclesiastic skilled in
necromancy to aid him in detecting some heretics.[457]

In fact, the Church occupied an inconsistent attitude. Occasionally it
took the enlightened view that these beliefs were groundless
superstitions. An Irish council of the ninth century anathematizes any
Christian who believes in the existence of witches, and forces him to
recant before admitting him to reconciliation. Similarly, in 1080,
Gregory VII. in writing to Harold the Simple of Denmark, strongly
reproves the custom of attributing to priests and women all tempests,
sickness, and other bodily misfortunes: these are the judgments of God,
and to wreak vengeance for them on the innocent is only to provoke still
more the divine wrath. More generally, however, the Church admitted
their truth and sought, though with little energy, to repress them with
spiritual censures. This halting position is well illustrated by the
canons of Burchard, Bishop of Worms, in the early part of the eleventh
century, where sometimes it is the belief in the existence of sorcery
that is penanced, and sometimes it is the practice of the art. If
confessors, moreover, followed Burchard's instructions and interrogated
their penitents in detail as to the various magic processes which they
might have performed, it could only result in disseminating a knowledge
of those wicked arts in a most suggestive way. At the same time
Burchard, like the other canonists, Regino of Pruhm and Ivo of Chartres,
gave an ample store of prohibitory canons drawn from the early councils
and the writings of the fathers, showing that the reality of sorcery was
freely admitted as well as the duty of the Church to combat it. So
implicit was the belief in magic powers that the Church conceded the
dissolution of the indissoluble sacrament of matrimony when the
consummation of marriage was prevented by the arts of the sorcerer, and
exorcisms and prayers and almsgiving and other ecclesiastical remedies
proved powerless for three years to overcome the power of Satan. Guibert
of Nogent relates, with pardonable pride, that although this occurred
when his father and mother were married, through the malice of a
stepmother, yet his mother resisted all persuasion to avail herself of a
divorce, although the impediment continued for seven years, and the
spell was broken at last, not by priestly ministrations, but by an
ancient wise-woman. Such a cause was alleged when Philip Augustus
abandoned his bride, Ingeburga of Denmark, on their marriage-day, and
Bishop Durand, in his _Speculum Juris_, tells us that these cases were
of daily occurrence. Even so enlightened a man as John of Salisbury airs
his learning in describing all the varieties of magic, and is careful to
define that if sorcerers kill men with the violence of their spells it
is through the permission of God; while Peter of Blois, if he shows
himself superior to the vulgar belief in omens, admits the potency of
Satanic suggestiveness in the darker forms of magic.[458]

With this universal belief in sorcery and in its diabolic origin, there
seems to have been no thought of enforcing the severity of the laws.
About 1030, Poppo, Archbishop of Trèves, sent to a nun a piece of his
cloak of which to make him a pair of shoes to be worn in saying mass.
She bewitched them so that when he put them on he found himself dying
of love for her. He resisted the desire and gave the shoes to one of his
chief ecclesiastics, who experienced the same effect. The experiment was
tried with like result on all the principal clergy of the cathedral, and
when the evidence was overwhelming the fair offender was condemned
simply to expulsion from the convent, while Poppo himself expiated his
transient passion by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was felt,
however, that the discipline of the nunnery must be dangerously lax, and
the other nuns were given the option of adopting a stricter rule or of
dispersion. They chose the latter, and were replaced with a body of
monks. When, in 1074, a revolt in Cologne forced the archbishop to fly,
it is related among the excesses of the triumphant rebels that they
threw from the walls and killed a woman defamed for having crazed a
number of men by magic arts. That was regarded as a crime which three
centuries later would have been a manifestation of praiseworthy zeal.
About the same time a council in Bohemia warns the faithful not to have
recourse in their troubles to sorcerers; but it only prescribes
confession and repentance and to abstain from a repetition of the

Still, the accusation of sorcery was felt to be damaging, and as it was
easy to bring and hard to disprove, it was bandied about somewhat
recklessly. It was not enough for Berenger of Tours to be compelled to
abjure his notions concerning transubstantiation, but he was stigmatized
as the most expert of necromancers. In the bitter strife of Gregory
VII., with the empire, when, in 1080, the Synod of Brescia deposed him
and elected Wiberto of Ravenna as antipope, one of the reasons alleged
against him was that he was a manifest necromancer--an art which he was
supposed to have learned in Toledo. The manner in which partisanship
availed itself of this method of attack is curiously illustrated by the
opposing accounts given of Liutgarda, niece of Egilbert, Archbishop of
Trèves, at this period. He was a resolute imperialist, and accepted his
pallium from Wiberto, after which he made Liutgarda abbess of a convent
in his diocese. The account of his episcopate is written by a
contemporary; one MS., which is doubtless the genuine one, describes
her as a cultured and exemplary woman, who ruled her nunnery in the
service of God for forty years, leaving a happy memory behind her;
another MS. of the same chronicle calls her a blasphemous witch and
sorceress, under whose government the convent was almost ruined. After
the Church had triumphed over the empire, it is easy to understand why
such an interpolation should have been made.[460]

While thus the ancient laws against sorcery were practically falling
into desuetude on the Continent, the legislation of the Anglo-Saxons
shows that in England _lyblac_ or witchcraft was the object of greater
solicitude. About the year 900 the laws of Edward and Guthrum class
witches and diviners with perjurers, murderers, and strumpets, who are
ordered to be driven from the land, with the alternatives of reforming,
of being executed, or of paying heavy fines--a provision which was
repeatedly re-enacted by succeeding monarchs to the time of Cnut.
Athelstan soon after decreed that when death was caused by _lyblac_, and
the perpetrator confessed it, he should pay with his life; if he denied,
he underwent the triple ordeal: failing in this he was imprisoned for
four months, after which his kinsmen could release him on paying the
wer-gild of the slain, the heavy fine of one hundred and twenty
shillings to the king, and giving security for his good behavior.
Towards the middle of the tenth century, Edward the Elder denounced
perpetual excommunication for _lyblac_ unless the offender repented. In
the compilation known as the Laws of Henry I. murder by sorcery
forfeited the privilege of redemption by paying wer-gild, and the
perpetrator was handed over to the kinsmen of the slain, to be dealt
with at their pleasure. For minor injuries thus caused, redemption was
allowed as in other cases. When the accused denied, he was tried before
the bishop, thus subjecting this offence to ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
This severity seems to have changed with the Norman Conquest, for
William the Conqueror, when besieging the Island of Ely, by advice of
Ivo Taillebois placed at the head of his army a sorceress whose
incantations were expected to paralyze the resistance of the defenders.
Unluckily for the scheme, Hereward of Burgh made a flank attack on the
invaders, and, setting fire to the reeds, burned the sorceress and all
who were with her.[461]

When Olaf Tryggvesson, early in the eleventh century, endeavored to
christianize Norway, he recognized the sorcerers as the most formidable
enemies of the faith, and handled them unsparingly. At a Thing, or
assembly, in Viken, he proclaimed that he would banish all who could be
proved to deal with spirits or in witchcraft, and this he followed up
with proceedings somewhat rigorous. He ransacked the district and had
all the sorcerers brought together; he gave them a great feast with
plenty of liquor, and when they were drunk he had the house fired, so
that none escaped save Eyvind Kellda, a grandson of Harald Harfaager,
and a peculiarly obnoxious wizard, who climbed through the smoke-hole in
the roof. In the spring Olaf celebrated Easter on Kormt Island, when
thither came Eyvind in a long ship fully manned with sorcerers. Landing,
they put on caps of darkness, which rendered them invisible, and
surrounded themselves with a thick mist, but when they came to
Augvaldsness, where King Olaf lay, it became clear day and they were
stricken with blindness, so that they wandered helplessly around till
the king's men seized them and brought them before him. He had them
bound and placed on a rock which was bare only at low water, and Snorri
Sturlason says that in his time it was still known as the Skerry of
Shrieks. Another pious act related of Olaf illustrates both the methods
requisite to spread the gospel among the rugged heroes of Norway and one
of the explanations given by the Christians of the powers of sorcerers.
Olaf captured Eyvind Kinnrif, a noted sorcerer, and sought to convert
him, but in vain. Then a pan of fire was placed upon his belly, which he
stoically endured until he burst asunder before asking its removal.
Regarding this tardy request as a sign of yielding, Olaf asked him
"Eyvind, wilt thou now believe in Christ?" "No," replied Eyvind, "I can
take no baptism, for I am an evil spirit placed in a man's body by
Lapland sorcery, because in no other way could my father and mother
have a child," and with that he died. Yet in the earliest Icelandic
code, the Grágás, compiled probably in 1118, there is no mention of
sorcery, which seems to have been left to the spiritual courts; while in
the contemporary ecclesiastical body of law the punishment of magic arts
is only three years' exile, unless injury or death to man or beast has
been wrought, when it is perpetual. In either case the accused is
entitled to trial before twelve good men and true.[462]

Elsewhere throughout Europe, by the end of the twelfth century, the
repression of sorcery seems to have been well-nigh abandoned by both
secular and ecclesiastical authorities. This was not because its
practice had been either given up or rendered lawful. In 1149 we find
Abbot Wibald of Corvey accusing Walter, one of his monks, of using
diabolical incantations. The cause which led Alexander III., in 1181, to
monopolize for the Holy See the canonization of saints was that the
monks of the Norman abbey of Gristan were addicted to magic, and by its
means endeavored to gain the reputation of working miracles; during the
absence in England of the abbot, the prior one day got drunk at dinner
and struck with a table-knife two of his monks, who retaliated by
beating him to death, and he perished unhouselled, yet by evil arts the
monks succeeded in inducing the people to adore him as a saint until
Bishop Arnoul of Lisieux reported the truth to Alexander. So easily were
such offences condoned that in the case of a priest who, to recover
something stolen from his church, employed a magician and looked into an
astrolabe, Alexander only ordered the punishment of a year's suspension,
and this decision was embodied by Gregory IX. in the canon law as a
precedent to be followed. This method of divination involved the
invocation of spirits, and was wholly unlawful, yet it was employed
without scruple. John of Salisbury, who died in 1181, relates that when
he was a boy he was given to a priest to be taught the psalms. His
instructor mingled with his sacred functions the practice of
catoptromancy, and once made use of his pupil and an older scholar to
look into the polished basin, after due conjurations and the use of the
holy chrism. John could see nothing, and was relieved from further
service of the kind, but his comrade discerned shadowy forms and thus
was a more useful subject. Thus the forbidden arts flourished with but
slender repression, and in this period of virtual toleration they worked
little evil, save perhaps an occasional case of poisoning in a

It might be expected that this toleration would cease as the human mind
awakened and in its gropings began to cultivate with increased assiduity
the occult sciences, in the endeavor to penetrate the secrets of nature;
as scholastic theology developed itself into a system which sought to
frame a theory of the universe; as the revived study of the Roman law
brought again into view the imperial edicts against sorcery, and as the
spiritual courts became effectively organized for their enforcement. Yet
the development of persecution was wonderfully slow. The Church had a
real and a dangerous enemy to combat in the threatening growth of
heresy, and had little thought to bestow on a matter which did not
endanger the power and privileges of the hierarchy. An occasional
council, like those of Rouen in 1189 and of Paris in 1212, denounced the
practitioners of magic, but there was no defined penalty, and only
excommunication was threatened against them. Yet there was a popular
idea that, like heresy, burning was the appropriate punishment, as in
the case, about the same period, of a young cleric of Soest named
Hermann, who, when vainly tempted by an unchaste woman, was accused by
her of magic arts, was condemned and burned. In the flames he sang the
Ave Maria until silenced by a blazing stick thrust into his mouth by a
kinsman of the accuser; but his innocence shone forth in the miracles
wrought at his grave, and a chapel was built over it which stood as a
warning against such inconsiderate zeal.[464]

Cæsarius of Heisterbach, to whom we owe this incident, has an ample
store of marvels which show that superstition was as active as ever,
that men were eager to gain what advantage they could from intercourse
with Satan, and that such practices were virtually unrepressed. He tells
of a certain ecclesiastic named Philip, a celebrated necromancer, dead
only a few years previous, apparently without trouble from Church or
State. A knight named Henry of Falkenstein, who disbelieved in demons,
applied to him to satisfy his doubts. Philip obligingly drew a circle
with a sword at a cross-roads and muttered his spells, when, with a
tumult like rushing waters and roaring tempests, the demon came, taller
than the trees, black, and of a most fearful aspect. The knight kept
within the charmed circle and escaped immediate ill, but lost his color,
and remained pallid during the few years in which he survived. A priest
undertook the same experience, but became frightened and allowed himself
to be dragged out of the circle; he was so injured that he died on the
third day, whereupon Waleran of Luxembourg piously confiscated his
house, showing that immunity was not always to be reckoned on.[465]

Compacts with Satan were also not infrequent. The heretics burned at
Besançon in 1180 were found to have such compacts inscribed on little
rolls of parchment under the skin of their armpits. It would be
difficult to find any historical fact of the period apparently resting
on better authority than the story of Everwach, who was still living as
a monk of St. Nicholas at Stalum when Cæsarius described his adventures
as related by eye-witnesses. He had been steward of Theodoric, Bishop of
Utrecht, whom he served faithfully. Accused of malversation, he found
some of his accounts missing, and in despair he invoked the devil,
saying, "Lord, if thou wilt help me in my necessity I will do homage to
thee and serve thee in all things." The devil appeared, and Everwach
accepted his conditions of renouncing Christ and the Virgin and paying
him homage, after which the accounts were proved without difficulty.
Thenceforth Everwach was in the habit of openly saying, "Those who serve
God are wretched and poor, but they who believe in the devil are
prosperous," and he devoted himself to the study of magic arts. It shows
how lax was the discipline of the time, when, in his zeal for Satan, he
bitterly opposed Master Oliver, the Scholasticus of Cologne, who
preached the cross in Utrecht, and on being reproved sought to slay him,
being only prevented by a sickness of which he died. He was plunged into
hell and subjected to the indescribable torments of the damned, but the
Lord pitied him, and he returned to life on the bier at his own funeral.
Thenceforth he was a changed man. In company with Bishop Otto of Utrecht
he made the pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, inflicting on himself all
manner of austerities, and on his return gave his property to the Church
and entered the convent at Stalum. There is another story, of a
spendthrift young knight near Liége, who, after squandering his fortune,
was induced by one of his peasants to appeal to Satan. On the promise of
wealth and honors he renounced allegiance to God and rendered regular
feudal homage to Satan; the latter, however, required him to also
renounce the Virgin, and this he refused to do, wherefore, on his
repenting, he was pardoned at her intercession.[466]

These instances, which could readily be multiplied, will suffice to show
the tendency of popular thought and belief at this period. It is true
that Roger Bacon, who was in so many things far in advance of the age,
argued that much of magic was simply fraud and delusion; that it is an
error to suppose that man can summon and dismiss malignant spirits at
will, and that it is much simpler to pray directly to God because demons
can influence human affairs only through God's permission. Even Bacon,
however, in asserting the uselessness of charms and spells, gives as his
reason that their efficacy depended on their being made under certain
aspects of the heavens, the determination of which was very difficult
and uncertain. Bacon's partial incredulity only indicates the
universality of the belief in less scientific minds, and, in view of the
activity assigned to Satan in seeking human agents and servitors, and
the ease with which men could evoke him and bind themselves to him, the
supineness of the Church with regard to such offences is remarkable. The
terrible excitement aroused by the persecution of the Stedingers and of
Conrad of Marburg's Luciferans must indubitably have given a stimulus to
the belief in demonic agencies. Thomas of Cantimpré tells us that he had
from Conrad, the Dominican provincial, as happening to one of Conrad of
Marburg's Luciferans, the well-known story that the heretic, endeavoring
to convert a friar, conducted him to a vast palace where the Virgin sat
enthroned in ineffable splendor surrounded by innumerable saints; but
the friar, who had provided himself with a pyx containing a consecrated
host, presented it to the Virgin with a demand that she should adore her
Son, when the whole array vanished in darkness. Yet this excitement left
behind it a reaction which rather created indisposition to further
persecution. Pierre de Colmieu, afterwards Cardinal of Albano, when
Archbishop of Rouen, in 1235, included invoking and sacrificing to
demons and the use of the sacraments in sorcery only among the cases
reserved to the bishops for granting absolution; and the cursory
allusion to the subject by Bishop Durand in his _Speculum Juris_ shows
that, for at least a half-century later, the subject attracted little
attention in the ecclesiastical courts. A synod of Anjou, in 1294,
declares that according to the canons priests should expel from their
parishes all diviners, soothsayers, sorcerers, and the like, and laments
that they were permitted to increase and multiply without hindrance, to
remedy which all who know of such persons are ordered to report them to
the episcopal court, in order that their horrible malignity may be

Still more remarkable is the indifference of secular jurists and
lawgivers during the thirteenth century, when the jurisprudence of
Europe was developing and assuming definite shape. In England there is a
strong contrast with the Anglo-Saxon period in the silence respecting
sorcery in Glanvill, Bracton, the Fleta, and Britton. The latter, in
describing the circuits of the sheriffs, gives an elaborate enumeration
of the offences about which they are to make inquisition, including
renegades and misbelievers, but omitting sorcery, and the same omission
is observable in the minute instructions given by Edward I. to the
sheriffs in the Statute of Ruddlan in 1283, although Peter, Bishop of
Exeter, in his instructions to confessors in 1287, mentions sorcerers
and demon-worshippers among the criminals to whom they are to assign
penance. It is true that Horn's _Myrror of Justice_ classes sorcery and
heresy together as _majestas_, or treason to the King of Heaven, and we
may assume that both were liable to the same penalty, though neither
were actively prosecuted. It is the same with the mediæval laws of
Scotland as collected by Skene. The _Iter Camerarii_ embodies detailed
instructions for the inquests to be held by the royal chamberlain in his
circuits, but in the long list of crimes and misdemeanors requiring
investigation there is no allusion to sorcery or divination.[468]

It is nearly the same in French jurisprudence. The _Conseil_ of Pierre
de Fontaines and the so-called _Établissements_ of St. Louis contain no
references to sorcery. The _Livres de Jostice et de Plet_, though based
on the Roman law, makes no mention of it in its long list of crimes and
penalties, although incidentally an imperial law is said to apply to
those who slay by poisons or enchantments. Beaumanoir, however, though
he seems only to know of sorcery employed to excite love, tells us that
it is wholly under ecclesiastical jurisdiction; its practitioners err in
the faith, and thus are justiciable by the Church, which summons them to
abandon their errors, and in case of refusal condemns them as
misbelievers. Then secular justice lays hold of them and inflicts death
if it appears that their sorcery may bring death on man or woman, while
if there is no danger of this, it imprisons them until they recant. Thus
sorcery is heresy cognizable by the Church only, and punishable when
abjured only by penitence; yet, when the obstinate sorcerer is handed
over to the secular arm, in place of being burned like a Waldensian
refusing to swear, the character of his heresy is weighed by the secular
court, and if its intent be not homicide he is simply imprisoned until
he recants, showing that sorcery was treated as the least dangerous form
of heresy. Beaumanoir's assertion of ecclesiastical jurisdiction is
confirmed by a contemporaneous decision of the Parlement of Paris in
1282, in the case of some women arrested as sorceresses in Senlis and
tried by the maire and jurats. The Bishop of Senlis claimed them, as
their offence pertained to his court; the magistrates asserted their
jurisdiction, especially as there had been cutting of skin and effusion
of blood, and the Parlement, after due deliberation, ordered the women
delivered to the spiritual court. Yet, though this was the law at the
time, it did not long remain so. Under the ancestral systems of criminal
practice, when conviction or acquittal in doubtful cases depended on the
ordeal or the judicial duel or on compurgation, the secular courts were
poorly equipped for determining guilt in a crime so obscure, and they
naturally abandoned it to the encroachments of the spiritual tribunals.
As the use of torture, however, gradually spread, the lay officials
became quite as competent as the ecclesiastical to wring confession and
conviction from the accused, and they speedily arrogated to themselves
the cognizance of such cases. At the South, where the Inquisition had
familiarized them with the use of torture at an earlier period, we
already, in 1274 and 1275, hear of an inquest held and of wizards and
witches put to death by the royal officials in Toulouse. In the North,
the trials of the Templars accustomed the public mind to the use of
torture, and demonstrated its efficiency, so that the lay courts
speedily came to have no hesitation in exercising jurisdiction over
sorcery. In 1314 Petronille de Valette was executed in Paris as a
sorceress. She had implicated Pierre, a merchant of Poitiers, and his
nephew Perrot. They were forthwith put to the ban and their property
sequestrated, but at the place of execution Petronille had exculpated
them, declaring them innocent on the peril of her soul. They hastened to
Paris and purged themselves, and the Parlement, May 8, 1314, ordered the
Seneschal of Poitou to withdraw the proceedings and release the
property. Sorcery was now beginning to be energetically suppressed, and
henceforth we shall see it occupy the peculiar position of a crime
justiciable by both the ecclesiastical and secular courts.[469]

Spain had been exposed to a peculiarly active infection. The fatalistic
belief of the Saracens naturally predisposed them to the arts of
divination; they cultivated the occult sciences more zealously than any
other race, and they were regarded throughout Europe as the most skilled
teachers and practitioners of sorcery. In the school of Cordoba there
were two professors of astrology, three of necromancy, pyromancy, and
geomancy, and one of the _Ars Notoria_, all of whom lectured daily.
Arabic bibliographers enumerate seven thousand seven hundred writers on
the interpretation of dreams, and as many more who won distinction as
expounders of goetic magic. Intercourse with the Saracens naturally
stimulated among the Christians the thirst for forbidden knowledge, and
as the Christian boundaries advanced, there was left in the conquered
territories a large subject population allowed to retain its religion,
and propagate the beliefs which had so irresistible an attraction. It
was in vain that, in 845, Ramiro I. of Asturias burned a large number of
sorcerers, including many Jewish astrologers. Such exhibitions of
severity were spasmodic, while the denunciation of superstitions in the
councils occasionally held indicate the continued prevalence of the evil
without the application of an effective remedy. Queen Urraca of Castile,
in the early part of the twelfth century, describes her former husband,
Alonso el Batallador of Aragon, as wholly given to divination and the
augury of birds, and about 1220, Pedro Muñoz, Archbishop of Santiago,
was so defamed for necromancy that by order of Honorius III. he was
relegated to the hermitage of San Lorenzo. The ancient Wisigothic Law,
or Fuero Juzgo, was for a time almost lost sight of in the innumerable
local _fueros_ which sprang up, until in the eleventh century it was
rehabilitated by Fernando I. of Castile. In Aragon, Jayme I., el
Conquistador, in the thirteenth century, when recasting the Fuero of
Aragon and granting the Fuero of Valencia, introduced penalties for
sorcery similar to those of the Fuero Juzgo.[470] Thus the Wisigothic
legislation was practically in force until, about 1260, Alonzo the Wise,
of Castile, issued his code known as the _Siete Partidas_, in which all
branches of magic are treated as completely under the secular power and
in a fashion singularly rationalistic. There is no allusion to heresy or
to any spiritual offence involved in occult science, which is to be
rewarded or punished as it is employed for good or evil. Astrology is
one of the seven liberal arts; its conclusions are drawn from the
courses of the stars as expounded by Ptolemy and other sages; when an
astrologer is applied to for the recovery of lost or stolen goods, and
designates where they are to be found, the party aggrieved has no
recourse against him for the dishonor inflicted, because he has only
answered in accordance with the rules of his art. But if he is a
deceiver, who pretends to know that whereof he is ignorant, the
complainant can have him punished as a common sorcerer. These sorcerers
and diviners who pretend to reveal the future and the unknown by augury,
or lots, or hydromancy, or crystallomancy, or by the head of a dead man,
or the palm of a virgin, are deceivers. So are necromancers who work by
the invocation of evil spirits, which is displeasing to God and
injurious to man. Philtres and love-potions and figurines, to inspire
desire or aversion, are also condemned as often causing death and
permanent infirmity, and all these practitioners and cheats are to be
put to death when duly convicted, while those who shelter them are to be
banished. But those who use incantations for a good purpose, such as
casting out devils from the possessed, or removing ligatures between
married folk, or for dissolving a hail-cloud or fog which threatens the
harvests, or for destroying locusts or caterpillars, are not to be
punished, but rather to be rewarded.[471]

Italy affords us the earliest example of mediæval legislation on the
subject. In the first half of the twelfth century the Norman king of the
two Sicilies, Roger, threatened punishment for compounding a
love-potion, even though no injury resulted from it. The next recorded
measure is found in the earliest known statutes of Venice, by the Doge
Orlo Malipieri in 1181, which contain provisions for the punishment of
poisoning and sorcery. Frederic II. was accused by his ecclesiastical
adversaries of surrounding himself with Saracenic astrologers and
diviners, whom he employed as counsellors, and who practised for his
benefit all the forbidden arts of augury by the flight of birds and the
entrails of victims, but though Frederic shared the universal belief of
his age in keeping in his service a corps of astrologers with Master
Theodore at their head, and was addicted to the science of physiognomy,
he was too nearly a sceptic to have faith in vulgar sorcery. His
reputation merely shared the fate of that of his _protégé_, Michael
Scot, who translated for him philosophical treatises of Averrhoes and
Avicenna. In his collection of laws known as the Sicilian Constitutions,
he retained indeed the law of King Roger just alluded to, and added to
it a provision that those who administer love-potions, or noxious,
illicit, or exorcised food for such purposes, shall be put to death if
the recipient loses his life or senses, while if no harm ensues they
shall suffer confiscation and a year's imprisonment, but this was merely
a concession to current necessities, and he was careful to accompany it
with a declaration that the influencing of love or hatred by meat or
drink was a fable, and he took no note in his code of any other form of
magic. In the Latin kingdoms of the East the Assises de Jerusalem and
the Assises d'Antioch are silent on the subject, unless it may be deemed
to be comprised in a general clause in the former, declaring that all
malefactors and all bad men and bad women shall be put to death. Yet,
that sorcery was punished throughout Italy, and was regarded as subject
to the secular tribunals, is shown by an expression in the bull _Ad
extirpanda_ of Innocent IV. in 1252, ordering all potentates in public
assembly to put heretics to the ban as though they were sorcerers.[472]

In German legislation the _Treuga Henrici_, about 1224, contains the
earliest reference to sorcery, classing it with heresy and leaving the
punishment to the discretion of the judge; but the Kayser-Recht, the
Sächsische Weichbild, and the Richstich Landrecht contain no allusion to
it. In the Sachsenspiegel it is curtly included with heresy and
poisoning as punishable with burning, and there is the same provision in
the Schwabenspiegel, while in a later recension of the latter the
subject is developed by providing that whoever, man or woman, practises
sorcery or invokes the devil by words or otherwise, shall be burned or
exposed to a harsher death at the discretion of the judge, for he has
renounced Christ and given himself to Satan. In this it is evident that
the spiritual offence is alone kept in view, without regard to evil
attempted or performed, and it would further seem that the matter was
within the competence of the secular courts. The earliest legislation of
the Prussian marches, about 1310, specifies for sorcerers the loss of an
ear, branding on the cheek, exile, or heavy fines, but says nothing of
capital punishment. Among the Norsemen the temper of legislation on the
subject is to be found in the _Jarnsida_, compiled in 1258 by Hako
Hakonsen for his Icelandic subjects, and the almost identical _Leges
Gulathingenses_, issued by his son, Magnus Hakonsen, in 1274, which for
five hundred years remained the common law of Norway. Magic, divination,
and the evocation of the dead are unpardonable crimes, punished with
death and confiscation; but the accused can purge himself with twelve
compurgators, according to the Jarnsida, and with six, according to the
code of Gula, thus showing that the crime was subject to the secular

In Sweden there is no allusion to sorcery in the laws compiled early in
the thirteenth century by Andreas, Archbishop of Lunden; but in those
issued by King Christopher in 1441, attempts on life by poison or
sorcery are punished with the wheel for men and lapidation for women,
and are tried by the _Nämd_--a sort of permanent jury of twelve men
selected in each district as judges. In Denmark the laws in force until
the sixteenth century were singularly mild. The accused had the right of
defence with selected compurgators; the punishment for a first offence
was infamy and withdrawal of the sacraments; for relapse, imprisonment,
and finally death for persistent offending. In Sleswick the ancient code
of the thirteenth century makes no provision for sorcery, nor does that
of the free Frisians in the fourteenth. That this leniency was not the
result of outgrowing the ancient superstitions we learn from Olaus
Magnus, who characterizes the whole Northern regions as literally the
seat of Satan.[474] In all this confused and varying legislation we can
trace a distinct tendency to increased severity after the thirteenth

The slight attention paid in the thirteenth century by the Church to a
crime so abhorrent as sorcery is proved by the fact that when the
Inquisition was organized it was for a considerable time restrained from
jurisdiction over this class of offences. In 1248 the Council of
Valence, while prescribing to inquisitors the course to be pursued with
heretics, directs sorcerers to be delivered to the bishops, to be
imprisoned or otherwise punished. In various councils, moreover, during
the next sixty years the matter is alluded to, showing that it was
constantly becoming an object of increased solicitude, but the penalty
threatened is only excommunication. In that of Trèves, for instance, in
1310, which is very full in its description of the forbidden arts, all
parish priests are ordered to prohibit them; but the penalty proposed
for disobedience is only withdrawal of the sacraments, to be followed,
in case of continued obduracy, by excommunication and other remedies of
the law administered by the Ordinaries; thus manifesting a leniency
almost inexplicable. That the Church, indeed, was disposed to be more
rational than the people, is visible in a case occurring in 1279 at
Ruffach, in Alsace, when a Dominican nun was accused of having baptized
a waxen image after the fashion of those who desired either to destroy
an enemy or to win a lover. The peasants carried her to a field and
would have burned her, had she not been rescued by the friars.[475]

Yet, as the Inquisition perfected its organization and grew conscious of
its strength, it naturally sought to extend its sphere of activity, and
in 1257 the question was put to Alexander IV. whether it ought not to
take cognizance of divination and sorcery. In his bull, _Quod super
nonnullis_, which was repeatedly reissued by his successors, Alexander
replied that inquisitors are not to be diverted from their duties by
other occupations, and are to leave such offenders to their regular
judges, unless there is manifest heresy involved, and this rule, at the
end of the century, was embodied in the canon law by Boniface VIII. The
Inquisition being thus in possession of a portion of the field, rapidly
extended its jurisdiction. There was no limitation expressed when the
pious Alfonse of Toulouse and his wife Jeanne, in 1270, at
Aigues-mortes, when starting on the crusade of Tunis, issued
letters-patent conceding that their servants and household should be
answerable to the Inquisition for abjuration of the faith, heresy,
magic, sorcery, and perjury. It is doubtless to this extension of the
inquisitorial jurisdiction that we may attribute the increasing rigor
which henceforth marked the persecution of sorcery.[476]

Alexander's definition, it is true, had left open for discussion a
tolerably wide and intricate class of questions as to the degree of
heresy involved in the occult arts, but in time these came all to be
decided "in favor of the faith." It was not simply the worship of demons
and making pacts with Satan that were recognized as heretical by the
subtle casuistry of the inquisitors. A figurine to be effective required
to be baptized, and this argued an heretical notion as to the sacrament
of baptism, and the same was the case as to the sacrament of the altar
in the various superstitious uses to which the Eucharist was put. Scarce
any of the arts of the diviner in forecasting the future or in tracing
stolen articles could be exercised without what the inquisitors assumed
to be at least a tacit invocation of demons. For this, in fact, they had
the authority of John of Salisbury, who, as early as the twelfth
century, argued that all divination is an invocation of demons; for if
the operator offers no other sacrifice, he sacrifices his body in
performing the operation. This refinement was not reduced to practice,
but in time the ingenious dilemma was invented that a man who invoked a
demon, thinking it to be no sin, was a manifest heretic; if he knew it
to be a sin he was not a heretic, but was to be classed with heretics,
while to expect a demon to tell the truth is the act of a heretic. To
ask of a demon, even without adoration, that which depends upon the will
of God, or of man, or upon the future, indicated heretical notions as to
the power of demons. In short, as Sylvester Prierias says, it is not
necessary to inquire into the motives of those who invoke demons--they
are all heretics, real or presumptive. Love-potions and philtres, by a
similar system of exegesis, were heretical, and so were spells and
charms to cure disease, the gathering of herbs while kneeling, face to
the east, and repeating the Paternoster, and all the other devices which
fraud and superstition had imposed on popular credulity. Alchemy was one
of the _sept ars demonials_, for the aid of Satan was necessary to the
transmutation of metals, and the Philosopher's Stone was only to be
obtained by spells and charms; although Roger Bacon, in his zeal for
practical science, assumes that both objects could be obtained by purely
natural means, and that human life could be prolonged for several
centuries.[477] In 1328 the Inquisition of Carcassonne condemned the Art
of St. George, through which buried treasure was sought by spreading oil
on a finger-nail with certain conjurations, and making a young child
look upon it and tell what he saw. Then there was the Notory Art,
communicated by God to Solomon, and transmitted through Apollonius of
Tyana, which taught the power of the Names and Words of God, and
operated through prayers and formulas consisting of unknown
polysyllables, by which all knowledge, memory, eloquence, and virtue can
be obtained in the space of a month--a harmless delusion enough, which
Roger Bacon pronounces to be one of the figments of the magicians, but
Thomas Aquinas and Ciruelo prove that it operates solely through the
devil. A monk was seized in Paris in 1323 for possessing a book on the
subject; his book was burned, and he probably escaped with abjuration
and penance.[478]

The most prominent and most puzzling to the lawgiver of all the occult
arts was astrology. This was a purely Eastern science--the product of
the Chaldean plains and of the Nile valley, unknown to any of the
primitive Aryan races, from Hindostan to Scandinavia. When the dominion
of Rome spread beyond the confines of Italy it was not the least of the
Orientalizing influences which so profoundly modified the original Roman
character; and after a struggle it established itself so firmly that in
great measure it superseded the indigenous auguries and haruspicium, and
by the early days of the empire some knowledge of the influences of the
stars formed an ordinary portion of liberal education. The same motives
which led to the prohibition of haruspicium--that the death of the
emperor was the subject most eagerly inquired into--caused the Chaldeans
or astrologers to be the objects of repeated savage edicts, issued even
by monarchs who themselves were addicted to consulting them, but it was
in vain. Human credulity was too profitable a field to remain
uncultivated, and, as Tacitus says, astrologers would always be
prohibited and always retained. Although the complexity of the science
was such that it could be grasped in its details only by minds
exceptionally constituted, through lifelong application, it was brought
in homely fashion within the reach of all by restricting it to the
observation of the moon, and applying the results by means of the
diagram and tables known as the Petosiris, a description of which,
attributed to the Venerable Bede, shows how the superstitions of
pagandom were transmitted to the Northern races, and were eagerly
accepted in spite of the arguments of St. Augustin to prove the nullity
of the influence ascribed to the heavenly bodies.[479]

We have seen astrology classed as one of the liberal arts by Alonso the
Wise of Castile, and the implicit belief universally accorded to it
throughout the Middle Ages caused it to be so generally employed that
its condemnation was difficult. I have alluded above to the confidence
reposed by Frederic II. in the science, and to the Dominican astrologer
who accompanied the Archbishop of Ravenna when as papal legate he led
the crusade against Ezzelin da Romano. Ezzelin himself kept around him a
crowd of astrologers, and was led to his last disastrous enterprise by
their mistaken counsel. So thoroughly accepted were its principles that
when, in 1305, the College of Cardinals wrote to Clement V. to urge his
coming to Rome, they reminded him that every planet is most powerful in
its own house. Savonarola assures us that at the end of the fifteenth
century those who could afford to keep astrologers regulated every
action by their advice: if the question were to mount on horseback or to
go on board ship, to lay the foundation of a house or to put on a new
garment, the astrologer stood by with his astrolabe in hand to announce
the auspicious moment--in fact, he says that the Church itself was
governed by astrology, for every prelate had his astrologer, whose
advice he dared not disregard. It is observable that astrology is not
included, as a forbidden practice, in the inquisitorial formulas of
interrogation during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. No books
on astrology seem to be enumerated in the condemnation pronounced in
1290 by the Inquisitor and Bishop of Paris and the Archbishop of Sens,
aided by the Masters of the University, on all books of divination and
magic--treatises on necromancy, geomancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, and
chiromancy, the book of the Ten Rings of Venus, the books of the Greek
and German Babylon, the book of the Four Mirrors, the book of the Images
of Tobias ben Tricat, the book of the Images of Ptolemy, the book of
Hermes the Magician to Aristotle, which they say Aros, or Gabriel, had
from God, containing horrible incantations and detestable
suffumigations. Astrology does not appear for condemnation in the
Articles of the University of Paris in 1398, and the great learning of
the irreproachable Cardinal Peter d'Ailly was employed in diffusing
belief in its truths. On the other hand, as early as the twelfth
century John of Salisbury, while asserting that the power of the stars
was grossly exaggerated, declares that astrology was forbidden and
punished by the Church, that it deprived man of free-will by inculcating
fatalism, and that it tended to idolatry by transferring omnipotence
from the Creator to his creations. He adds that he had known many
astrologers, but none on whom the hand of God did not inflict divine
vengeance. These views became virtually the accepted doctrine of the
Church as expounded by Thomas Aquinas in the distinction that when
astrology was used to predict natural events, such as drought or rain,
it was lawful; when employed to divine the future acts of men dependent
on free-will, it involved the operation of demons, and was unlawful.
Zanghino says that though it is one of the seven liberal arts and not
prohibited by law, yet it has a tendency to idolatry, and is condemned
by the canonists. There was, in fact, much in both the theories and
practice of astrologers which trenched nearly upon heresy, not only
through demoniac invocations, but because it was impossible that
astrology could be cultivated without denying human free-will and
tacitly admitting fatalism. The very basis of the so-called science lay
in the influence which the signs and planets exercised on the fortunes
and characters of men at the hour of birth, and no ingenious dialectics
could explain away its practical denial of supervision to God and of
responsibility to man. Even Roger Bacon failed in this. He fully
accepted the belief that the stars were the cause of human events, that
the character of every man was shaped by the aspect of the heavens at
his birth, and that the past and future could be read by tables which he
repeatedly and vainly sought to construct, yet he was illogical enough
to think that he could guard against it by nominally reserving human
free-will.[480] All astrologers thus practised their profession under
liability of being at any moment called to account by the Inquisition.
That this did not occur more often may be attributed to the fact that
all classes, in Church and State, from the lowest to the highest,
believed in astrology and protected astrologers, and some special
inducement or unusual indiscretion was required to set in motion the
machinery of prosecution.

We can thus understand the case of the celebrated Peter of Abano or
Apono, irrespective of his reputation as the greatest magician of his
age, earned for him among the vulgar by his marvellous learning and his
unsurpassed skill in medicine. We have no details of the accusations
brought against him by the Inquisition, but we may reasonably assume
that there was little difficulty in finding ample ground for
condemnation. In his _Conciliator Differentium_, written in 1303, he not
only proved that astrology was a necessary part of medicine, but his
estimate of the power of the stars practically eliminated God from the
government of the world. The Deluge took place when the world was
subject to Mars, in consequence of the conjunction of the planets in
Pisces; it was under the lead of the moon when occurred the confusion of
tongues, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the exodus from
Egypt. Even worse was his Averrhoistic indifference to religion
manifested in the statement that the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter
in the head of Aries, which occurs every nine hundred and sixty years,
causes changes in the monarchies and religions of the world, as appears
in the advent of Nebuchadnezzar, Moses, Alexander the Great, Christ, and
Mahomet--a speculation of which the infidelity is even worse than the
chronology.[481] It is not surprising that the Inquisition took hold of
one whose great name was popularizing such doctrines in the University
of Padua, especially as there was a large fortune to be confiscated. We
are told that he at first escaped its clutches, but this probably was
only through confession and abjuration, so that when he was prosecuted a
second time it was for relapse. That he would have been burned there can
be little doubt, had he not evaded the stake by opportunely dying in
1316, before the termination of his trial, for he was posthumously
condemned: according to one account his bones were burned; according to
another his faithful mistress Marietta conveyed them secretly away, and
an effigy was committed to the flames in his place. If Benvenuto da
Imola is to be believed, he lost his faith in the stars on his
death-bed, for he said to his friends that he had devoted his days to
three noble sciences, of which philosophy had made him subtle, medicine
had made him rich, and astrology had made him a liar. His name passed
into history as that of the most expert of necromancers, concerning whom
no marvels were too wild to find belief. It mattered little that Padua
erected a statue to him as to one of her greatest sons, and that
Frederic, Duke of Urbino, paid him the same tribute. Like Solomon and
Hermes and Ptolemy, so long as magic flourished his name served as an
attractive frontispiece to various treatises on incantations and the
occult sciences.[482]

Very similar, but even more illustrative, is the case of Cecco d'Ascoli.
He early distinguished himself as a student of the liberal arts, and
devoted himself to astrology, in which he was reckoned the foremost man
of his time. His vanity led him to proclaim himself the profoundest
adept since Ptolemy, and his caustic and biting humor made him abundance
of enemies. Regarding astrology as a science, he inevitably brought it
within Aquinas's definition of heresy. In his conception the stars ruled
everything. A man born under a certain aspect of the heavens was doomed
to be rich or poor, lucky or unlucky, virtuous or vicious, unless God
should interfere specially to turn aside the course of nature. Cecco
boasted that he could read the thoughts of a man or tell what he
carried in his closed hand by knowing his nativity and comparing it with
the position of the stars at the moment, for no one could help doing or
thinking what the stars at the time rendered inevitable. All this was
incompatible with free-will, it limited the intervention of God, it
relieved man from responsibility for his acts, and it thus was
manifestly heretical. So his numerous predictions, which we are told
were verified, as to the fortunes of Louis of Bavaria, of Castruccio
Castrucani, of Charles of Calabria, eldest son of Robert of Naples, won
him great applause in that stirring time, yet, as they were not revealed
by the divine spirit of prophecy, but were foreseen by astrologic skill,
they implied the forbidden theory of fatalism. Cecco became official
astrologer to Charles of Calabria, but his confidence in his science and
his savage independence unfitted him for a court. On the birth of a
princess (presumably the notorious Joanna I.), he pronounced that the
stars in the ascendant would render her not only inclined, but
absolutely constrained, to sell her honor. The unwelcome truth cost him
his place, and he betook himself to Bologna, where he publicly taught
his science. Unluckily for him, he developed his theories in
commentaries on the _Sphæra_ of Sacrobosco.[483] Villani tells us that
in this he taught how, by incantations under certain constellations,
malignant spirits could be constrained to perform marvels, but this
manifestly is only popular rumor; such practices were wholly
inconsistent with his conceptions, and there is no allusion to them in
the inquisitorial proceedings. Cecco's audacity, however, rendered the
book amply offensive to pious ears. To illustrate his views he cast the
horoscope of Christ, and showed how Libra, ascending in the tenth
degree, rendered his crucifixion inevitable; as Capricorn was at the
angle of the earth, he was necessarily born in a stable; as Scorpio was
in the second degree, he was poor; while Mercury in his own house in the
ninth section of the heavens rendered his wisdom profound. In the same
way he proved that Antichrist would come two thousand years after
Christ, as a great soldier nobly attended, and not surrounded by cowards
as was Christ. This was almost a challenge to the Inquisition, and Frà
Lamberto del Cordiglio, the Bolognese inquisitor, was not slow to take
it up. Cecco was forced to abjure, December 16, 1324, and was mercifully
treated. He was condemned to surrender all his books of astrology and
forbidden to teach the science in Bologna, publicly or privately; he was
deprived of his Master's degree and subjected to certain salutary
penance of fasting and prayer, together with a fine of seventy-five
lire, which latter may possibly explain the lightness of the rest of the
sentence. The most serious feature of the affair for him was that now he
was a penitent heretic who could expect no further mercy; it behooved
him to walk warily, for in case of fresh offence he would be a relapsed,
doomed inevitably to the stake. Cecco's temperament, however, was not
one to brook such constraint. He came to Florence, then under the rule
of Charles of Calabria, and resumed the practice of his art. He
circulated copies of his forbidden work, which he claimed had been
corrected by the Bolognese inquisitor, but which contained the same
erroneous doctrines; he advanced them anew in his philosophical poem,
_L'Acerba_, and he employed them in the responses given to his numerous
clients. In May, 1327, when all Italy was excited at the coming of Louis
of Bavaria, he predicted that Louis would enter Rome and be crowned, he
announced the time and manner of his death, and gave advice, which was
followed, not to attack him when he passed by Florence. Perhaps all this
might have escaped animadversion but for the personal enmity and
jealousy of Charles of Calabria's chancellor, the Bishop of Aversa, and
of Dino del Garbo, a renowned doctor of philosophy, esteemed the best
physician in Italy. Be this as it may, in July, 1327, Frà Accursio, the
Inquisitor of Florence, arrested him. There was ample evidence that he
had continued to teach and act on the fatalistic theories which were
subversive of free-will, but the Inquisition as usual required a
confession, and torture was freely used to obtain it. A copy of the
sentence and abjuration of 1324 was furnished by the Inquisitor of
Bologna, and there was no question as to his relapse. From the beginning
the end was inevitable, but there was a mockery of opportunity for
defence allowed him, and it was not until December 15 that sentence was
pronounced. In accordance with rule, the Bishop of Florence sent a
delegate to act with the inquisitor, and an assembly of high dignitaries
and experts was assembled to participate, including the Cardinal-legate
of Tuscany, the Bishop of Aretino, and Cecco's enemy, the chancellor of
Duke Charles. He was abandoned to the secular arm and delivered to
Charles's vicar, Jacopo da Brescia. All his books and astrological
writings were further ordered to be surrendered within twenty-four hours
to the bishop or inquisitor. Cecco was forthwith conducted to the place
of execution beyond the walls. Tradition relates that he had learned by
his art that he should die between Africa and "Campo Fiore," and so sure
was he of this that on the way to the stake he mocked and ridiculed his
guards; but when the pile was about to be lighted he asked whether there
was any place named Africa in the vicinage, and was told that that was
the name of a neighboring brook flowing from Fiesole to the Arno. Then
he recognized that Florence was the Field of Flowers and that he had
been miserably deceived.[484]

Astrology continued to hold its doubtful position with a growing
tendency to its condemnation. There were few who could take the
common-sense view of Petrarch, that astrologers might be useful if they
confined themselves to predicting eclipses and storms, and heat and
cold, but that when they talked about the fate of men, known only to
God, they simply proved themselves to be liars. Eymerich tells us that
if a man was suspected of necromancy and was found to be an astrologer
it went far to prove him a necromancer, for the two were almost always
conjoined. Gerard Groot denounced astrology as a science hostile to God
and aiming to supersede his laws. In Spain, in the middle of the
fourteenth century, both Pedro the Cruel of Castile and Pedro IV. of
Aragon kept many astrologers whom they constantly consulted, but in 1387
Juan I. of Castile included astrology among other forms of divination
subject to the penalties of the Partidas. Yet it continued to number its
votaries among high dignitaries of both State and Church. The only shade
on the lustre of Cardinal Peter d'Ailly's reputation was his earnest
devotion to the science, and it would have gone hard with him had
justice been meted out to him as to Cecco d'Ascoli, for it was
impossible for the astrologer to avoid fatalism. It was a curiously
erroneous prediction of his, uttered in 1414, that, in consequence of
the retrogression of Jupiter in the first house, the Council of
Constance would result in the destruction of religion, and peace in the
Church would not be obtained; that, in fact, the Great Schism was
probably the prelude to the coming of Antichrist. More fortunate was the
computation by which he arrived at the date of 1789 as that which would
witness great perturbations if the world should so long endure. The
tolerance which spared Cardinal d'Ailly did not proceed from any change
in the theory of the Church as to the heresy of interfering with the
doctrine of free-will. Alonso de Spina points out that the astrological
belief that men born under certain stars cannot avoid sinning is
manifestly heretical. None the less so was the teaching that when the
moon and Jupiter were in conjunction in the head of the Dragon any one
praying to God could obtain whatever he wanted, as Peter of Abano found
when he used this fortunate moment to secure stores of knowledge beyond
the capacity of the unassisted human mind. Sprenger, the highest
authority on demonology, held that in astrology there was a tacit pact
with the demon.[485] All this shows that in the increasing hostility to
occult arts astrology had gradually come under the ban, and the disputed
question as to its position was finally brought to a decision, at least
for France, by the case of Simon Pharees in 1494. He had been condemned
by the archiepiscopal court of Lyons for practising astrology, and was
punished with the light penance of Friday fasting for a year, with the
threat of perpetual imprisonment for relapse, and his books and
astrolabe had been detained. He had the audacity to appeal to the
Parlement, which referred his books to the University. The report of the
latter was that his books ought to be burned, even as others had
recently been to the value of fifty thousand deniers. All astrology
pretending to be prophetic, or ascribing supernatural virtue to rings,
charms, etc., fabricated under certain constellations, was denounced as
false, vain, superstitious, and condemned by both civil and canon law,
as well as the use of the astrolabe for finding things lost or divining
the future, and the Parlement was urged to check the rapid spread of
this art invented by Satan. The Parlement accordingly pronounced a
judgment handing over the unlucky Simon to the Bishop and Inquisitor of
Paris, to be punished for his relapse. Astrology, which is described as
practised openly everywhere, is condemned. All persons are prohibited
from consulting astrologers or diviners about the future, or about
things lost or found; all printers are forbidden to print books on the
subject, and are ordered to deliver whatever copies they may have to
their bishops, and all bishops are instructed to prosecute astrologers.
This was a very emphatic condemnation, but, in the existing condition of
human intelligence, it could do little to check the insatiable thirst
for impossible knowledge. Yet there were some superior minds which
rejected the superstition. The elder Pico della Mirandola and Savonarola
were of these, and Erasmus ridiculed it in the Encomium Moriæ.[486]

The question of oneiroscopy, or divination by dreams, was a puzzling
one. On the one hand there was the formal prohibition of the
Deuteronomist (XVIII. 10), which in the Vulgate included the observer
of dreams in its denunciations; on the other there were the examples of
Joseph and Daniel, and the formal assertion of Job "when deep sleep
falleth upon man, in slumberings upon the bed, then he openeth the ears
of men and sealeth their instruction" (Job XXXIII. 15, 16). In the
twelfth century the expounding of dreams was a recognized profession
which does not seem to have been forbidden. John of Salisbury endeavors
to prove that no reliance is to be placed on them; Joseph and Daniel
were inspired, and short of inspiration no divination from dreams is to
be trusted. This, at least, was a more sensible and practical solution
than the conclusion reached by Thomas Aquinas that divination from
dreams produced by natural causes or divine revelation is licit, but if
the dreams proceed from dæmonic influence it is illicit. Tertullian had
long before ascribed to the pagans the power of sending prophetic dreams
through the agency of demons, but unfortunately, no one could furnish a
criterion to distinguish between the several classes of visions, and as
a rule the dream-expounders were regarded as harmless.[487]

There was another class of cases which puzzled the casuists, for the
bounds which divided sacred from goetic magic were very vague. There was
a practice of celebrating mortuary masses in the name of a living man,
under the belief that it would kill him. As early as 694 the seventeenth
Council of Toledo prohibits this, under pain of degradation for the
officiating priest and perpetual exile for him and for his employer; and
in the middle of the fifteenth century the learned Lope Barrientos,
Bishop of Cuenca, condemns it unreservedly. Yet a MS. of uncertain date,
printed by Wright, while pronouncing it sin if done through private
malice, for which the officiating priest should be deposed unless he
purge himself with due penance, states that for a public object it is
not a sin, because it manifests humility in placating God. Somewhat
similar was a question which arose during a quarrel between Henry,
Bishop of Cambrai, and his chapter in 1500. As a mode of revenge the
dean, provost, and canons suspended divine service, for which they were
excommunicated by the Archbishop of Reims. Under this pressure they
resumed their holy functions, but varied them by introducing in the
canon of the mass a sort of imprecatory litany, composed of comminatory
fragments from the psalms and prophets, recited by the officiating
priest with his back to the altar, while the responses were given by the
boys in the choir. The frightened bishop appealed to the University of
Paris, which, after many months' deliberation, gravely decided that the
position of the priest and the responses of the boys rendered the
services suspect of incantation; that imprecatory services are to be
dreaded by those who give cause for them; that they are not lightly to
be used, especially against a bishop who is ready for settlement in the
courts, and that they ought not to be employed even against a
contumacious bishop except in case of necessity arising from extreme

       *       *       *       *       *

When, towards the close of the thirteenth century, the Inquisition
succeeded in including sorcery within its jurisdiction, its organizing
faculty speedily laid down rules and formulas for the guidance of its
members which aided largely in shaping the uncertain jurisprudence of
the period and gave a decided impulse to the persecution of those who
practised the forbidden arts. A manual of practice, which probably bears
date about the year 1280, contains a form for the interrogation of the
accused covering all the details of sorcery as known at the time. This
served as the foundation on which still more elaborate formulas were
constructed by Bernard Gui and others. If space permitted, a
reproduction of these would present a tolerably complete picture of
current superstitions, but I can only pause to call attention to one
feature in them. The earliest draught contains no allusion to the
nocturnal excursions of the "good women" whence the Witches' Sabbat was
derived, while the later ones introduce an interrogation concerning it,
showing that during the interval it was attracting increased attention.
It is further noteworthy that none of the formulas embrace questions
concerning practices of vulgar witchcraft, which in the fifteenth and
succeeding centuries, as we shall see, furnished nearly the whole basis
of prosecutions for sorcery.[489]

When sorcery thus came under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition it came
simply as heresy, and the whole theory of its treatment was altered. The
Inquisition was concerned exclusively with belief; acts were of interest
to it merely as evidence of the beliefs which they inferred, and all
heresies were equal in guilt, whether they consisted in affirming the
poverty of Christ or led to demon-worship, pacts with Satan, and
attempts on human life. The sorcerer might, therefore, well prefer to
fall into the hands of the Inquisition rather than to be judged by the
secular tribunals, for in the former case he had the benefit of the
invariable rules observed in dealings with heresy. By confession and
abjuration he could always be admitted to penance and escape the stake,
which was the customary secular punishment; while, having no convictions
such as animated the Cathari and Waldenses, it cost his conscience
nothing to make the necessary recantation. In the inquisitorial records,
in so far as they have reached us, we meet with no cases of hardened and
obdurate demon-worshippers. Inquisitorial methods could always secure
confession, and the inquisitorial manuals give us examples of the
carefully drawn formulas of abjuration administered and forms for the
sentences to be pronounced. It may perhaps be questioned whether the
fiery torture of the stake were not preferable to the inquisitorial
mercy which confined its penitents to imprisonment for life in chains
and on bread and water; but few men have resolution to prefer a speedy
termination to their sufferings, and there was always the hope that
exemplary conduct in prison might earn a mitigation of the penalty. It
was probably in consequence of this apparent lenity that Philippe le
Bel, in 1303, forbade the Inquisition to take cognizance of usury,
sorcery, and other offences of the Jews; and we shall see hereafter that
when it was forced to summon all its energies in the epidemics of
witchcraft, it was obliged to abandon the rule and find excuses for
delivering its repentant victims to the stake.[490]

About this time Zanghino gives us the current Italian ecclesiastical
view of the subject. In his detailed description of the various species
of magic, vulgar witchcraft finds no place, showing that it was unknown
in Italy as in France. All such matters are under episcopal
jurisdiction, and the Inquisition cannot meddle with them unless they
savor of manifest heresy. But it is heretical to assert that the future
can be foretold by such means, as this belongs to God alone; to receive
responses from demons is heretical, or to make them offerings, or to
worship sun, moon, or stars, planets or the elements, or to believe that
anything is to be obtained except from God, or that anything can be done
without the command of God, or that anything is proper and lawful which
is disapproved by the Church. All this falls within the jurisdiction of
the Inquisition, and it will be seen that the meshes of the net were
small enough to let little escape. The penalties of death and
confiscation, to be inflicted by the secular judge, doubtless refer to
the impenitent and relapsed, as the cases which savored of heresy were
punished as heresy by the inquisitor. Magic which did not thus savor of
manifest heresy was subject to the episcopal courts, and was punishable
by declaring the offender in mortal sin and debarred from communion; he
and those who employed him were infamous; he was to be warned to
abstain, with excommunication and other penalties, at the episcopal
discretion, in case of disobedience. Yet the secular power by no means
abandoned its jurisdiction over sorcery, which continued to be subject
to the lay as well as to the ecclesiastical courts. The time, moreover,
had not come for the pitiless extermination of all who dabbled in
forbidden arts. By the Milanese law of the period the punishment of the
sorcerer was left to the discretion of the judge, who could inflict
either corporal or pecuniary penalties proportioned to the gravity of
the offence.[491]

Sorcery was one of the aberrations certain to respond to persecution by
more abundant development. So long as its reality was acknowledged and
its professors were punished, not as sharpers, but as the possessors of
evil powers of unknown extent, the more public attention was drawn to it
the more it flourished. As soon as the Inquisition had systematized its
suppression, we begin to find it occupy a larger and larger share of
public attention. In 1303 one of the charges brought against Boniface
VIII., in the Assembly of the Louvre, was that he had a familiar demon
who kept him informed of everything, and that he was a sorcerer who
consulted diviners and soothsayers. About the same time the Bishop of
Coventry and Lichfield, treasurer of Edward I., was accused of murder,
simony, and adultery, to which was added that he consulted the devil, to
whom he had rendered homage and kissed on the posteriors. King Edward
intervened energetically in his behalf, and an inquisition ordered upon
him by Boniface reported that the common fame existing against him
proceeded from his enemies, so that he was allowed to purge himself with
thirty-seven compurgators. In 1308 the Sire d'Ulmet was brought to Paris
on the charge of endeavoring to kill his wife by sorcery, and the women
whom he had employed were burned or buried alive. We have seen how
nearly akin to these accusations were the charges brought against the
Templars, and the success of that attempt was suggestive as to the
effectiveness of the methods employed. When, after the death of Philippe
le Bel, Charles of Valois was resolutely bent on the destruction of
Enguerrand de Marigny, and the long proceedings which he instituted
threatened to prove fruitless, it was opportunely discovered that
Enguerrand had instigated his wife and sister to employ a man and woman
to make certain waxen images which should cause Charles, the young King
Louis Hutin, the Count of Saint-Pol, and other personages to wither and
die. As soon as Charles reported this to Louis, the king withdrew his
protection and the end was speedy. April 26, 1315, Enguerrand was
brought before a selected council of nobles at Vincennes and was
condemned to be hanged, a sentence which was carried out on the 30th;
the sorcerer was hanged with him and the sorceress was burned, the
images being exhibited to the people from the gallows at Montfaucon,
which Enguerrand himself had built, while the Dame de Marigny and her
sister, the Dame de Chantelou, were condemned to imprisonment. Thus
Enguerrand perished by the methods which he and his brother, the
Archbishop of Sens, had used against the Templars, and the further moral
of the story is seen in the remorse of Charles of Valois, ten years
later, when he lay on his death-bed and sent almoners through the
streets of Paris to distribute money among the poor, crying, "Pray for
the soul of Messire Enguerrand de Marigny, and of Messire Charles de
Valois!" One of the accusations against Bernard Délicieux was that he
had attempted the life of Benedict XI. by magic arts, and although this
failed of proof, he confessed under torture that a book of necromancy
found in his chest belonged to him, and that certain marginal notes in
it were in his own handwriting. In this he could not have been alone
among his brethren, for in the general chapter of the Franciscans in
1312 a statute was adopted forbidding, under penalty of excommunication
and prison, any member of the Order from possessing such books, and
dabbling in alchemy, necromancy, divination, incantation, or the
invocation of demons.[492]

The growing importance of sorcery in popular belief received a powerful
impetus from John XXII., who in so many ways exercised on his age an
influence so deplorable. As one of the most learned theologians of the
day, he had full convictions of the reality of all the marvels claimed
for magic, and his own experience led him to entertain a lively dread of
them. The circumstances of his election were such as to render probable
the existence of conspiracies for his removal, and he lent a ready ear
to suggestions concerning them. His barbarity towards the unfortunate
Hugues, Bishop of Cahors, has been already alluded to, and before the
first year of his reign was out he had another group of criminals to
dispose of. In 1317 we find him issuing a commission to Gaillard, Bishop
of Reggio, and several assessors to try a barber-surgeon named Jean
d'Amant and sundry clerks of the Sacred Palace on the charge of
attempting his life. Under the persuasive influence of torture they
confessed that they had at first intended to use poison, but finding no
opportunity for this they had recourse to figurines, in the fabrication
of which they were skilled. They had made them under the invocation of
demons; they could confine demons in rings and thus learn the secrets of
the past and of the future; they could induce sickness, cause death, or
prolong life by incantations, charms, and spells consisting simply of
words. Of course they were condemned and executed, and John set to work
vigorously to extirpate the abhorred race of sorcerers to which he had
so nearly fallen a victim. We hear of proceedings against Robert, Bishop
of Aix, accused of having practised magic arts at Bologna; and John,
regarding the East as the source whence this execrable science spread
over Christendom, sought to attack it in its home. In 1318 he ordered
the Dominican provincial in the Levant to appoint special inquisitors
for the purpose in all places subject to the Latin rite, and he called
upon the Doge of Venice, the Prince of Achaia, and the Latin barons to
lend their effective aid. He even wrote to the Patriarch of
Constantinople and the Oriental archbishops, urging them to assist in
the good work. Not satisfied with the implied jurisdiction conferred on
the Inquisition by Alexander IV., in 1320 he had letters sent out by the
Cardinal of S. Sabina formally conferring it fully on inquisitors and
urging them to exercise it actively. Subsequent bulls stimulated still
further the growing dread of magic by expressing his grief at the
constant increase of the infection which was spreading throughout
Christendom, and by ordering sorcerers to be publicly anathematized and
punished as heretics and all books of magic lore to be burned. When he
warned all baptized Christians not to enter into compacts with hell, or
to imprison demons in rings or mirrors so as to penetrate the secrets of
the future, and threatened all guilty of such practices that, if they
did not reform within eight days, they should be subject to the
penalties of heresy, he took the most effective means to render the
trade of the sorcerer profitable and to increase the number of his
dupes. Apparently he became dissatisfied with the response to these
appeals, for in 1330 he deplored the continued existence of
demon-worship and its affiliated errors; he ordered the prelates and
inquisitors to speedily bring to conclusion all cases on hand and send
the papers under seal to him for decision, and the inquisitors were
commanded to undertake no new cases without a special papal mandate.
Whatever may have been the motive of this last prohibition, it was not
allowed to take effect in France. We have seen how the royal power about
this time was commencing to exercise control over the Inquisition, and
we shall see how, at the close of his life, John XXII. was accused of
heresy as to the Beatific Vision, and was roundly threatened by Philippe
de Valois. It was probably an incident of this quarrel that led the
king, in 1334, to assume that the jurisdiction of the Inquisition over
idolaters, sorcerers, and heretics had been conferred by the crown, and
to order his seneschals to see that no one should interfere with them in
its exercise. This royal rescript seems to have been forgotten with the
circumstances which called it forth, for in 1374 the Inquisitor of
France applied to Gregory XI. to ask whether he should take cognizance
of sorcery, and Gregory replied with instructions to prosecute such
cases vigorously.[493]

The necessary result of all this bustling legislation was to strengthen
the popular confidence in sorcery and to multiply its practice. In
Bernard Gui's book of sentences rendered in the Inquisition of Toulouse
from 1309 to 1323, there are no cases of sorcery, but we meet with
several, tried in 1320 and 1321 in the episcopal Inquisition of Pamiers,
and the fragmentary records of Carcassonne in 1328 and 1329 show quite a
number of convictions. Inquisitors, moreover, commenced to insert a
clause renouncing sorcery in all abjurations administered to repentant
heretics, so that in case they should become addicted to it they could
be promptly burned for relapse.[494]

Under the influence of this efficient advertisement the trade of the
sorcerer flourished. In 1323 a remarkable case attracted much attention
in Paris. The dogs of some shepherds, passing a cross-roads near
Chateau-Landon, commenced scratching at a certain spot and could not be
driven off. The men's suspicions were aroused, and they informed the
authorities, who, on digging, found a box in which was imprisoned a
black cat, with some bread moistened with chrism, blessed oil, and holy
water, two small tubes being arranged to reach the surface and supply
the animal with air. All the carpenters in the village were summoned,
and one identified the box, which he had made for a certain Jean
Prevost. Torture promptly brought a confession inculpating the
Cistercian abbot of Sarcelles, some canons, a sorcerer named Jean de
Persant, and an apostate Cistercian monk, his disciple. The abbot, it
seems, had lost a sum of money, and had employed the sorcerer to recover
it and find the thief. The cat was to remain three days in the box, to
be then killed, and its skin cut into strips, with which a circle was to
be made. In this circle a man standing with the remains of the cat's
food thrust into his rectum was to invoke the demon Berich, who would
make the desired revelation. The Inquisitor of Paris and the episcopal
Ordinary promptly tried the guilty parties. Prevost opportunely died,
but his remains were burned with his accomplice de Persant, while the
ecclesiastics escaped with degradation and perpetual imprisonment. It is
evident that de Persant was not allowed the benefit of abjuration, while
the Cistercians were exposed to a penalty more severe than those imposed
by the rules of their Order. These had been defined in the general
chapter of 1290 to be merely incapacity for promotion, or for taking any
part in the proceedings of the body, the lowest seat in choir and
refectory, and Friday fasting on bread and water until released by the
general chapter. The intervening quarter of a century had, however,
wrought a most significant change in the attitude of the Church towards
this class of offences.[495]

The monastic orders evidently contributed their full share to this class
of criminals. We happen to have the sentence, in 1329, by Henri de
Chamay, of a Carmelite named Pierre Recordi, which illustrates the
effectiveness of inquisitorial methods in obtaining avowals. The trial
lasted for several years, and though the accused tergiversated and
retracted repeatedly, his endurance finally gave way. He adhered at last
to the confession that on five occasions, to obtain possession of women,
he had made wax figurines with invocations of demons, mixing with them
the blood of toads and his own blood and saliva, as a sacrifice to
Satan. He would then place the image under the threshold of the woman,
and if she did not yield to him she would be tormented by a demon. In
three cases this had succeeded; in the other two it would have done so,
had he not been suddenly sent by his superiors to another station. On
one occasion he pricked an image in the belly, when it bled. After the
images had done their work he would cast them into the river and
sacrifice a butterfly to the demon, whose presence would be manifested
by a breath of air. He was condemned to perpetual imprisonment on bread
and water, with chains on hands and feet, in the Carmelite convent of
Toulouse; out of respect to the Order he was not subjected to the
ceremony of degradation, and the sentence was rendered privately in the
episcopal palace of Pamiers. One peculiar feature of the sentence is the
apprehension expressed lest the officials of the convent should allow
him to escape.[496]

The trade of the magician received a further advertisement in the story
current at this time about Frederic of Austria. When, after his defeat
at Mühldorf in 1322, by Louis of Bavaria, he lay a prisoner in the
stronghold of Trausnitz, his brother Leopold sought the services of an
expert necromancer, who promised to release the captive through the aid
of the devil. In response to his invocation, Satan came in the guise of
a pilgrim, and readily promised to bring Frederic to them if he would
agree to follow him; but when he appeared to Frederic and told him to
get into a bag which he carried around his neck and he would bring him
to his brother in safety, Frederic asked him who he was. "Never mind who
I am," he replied: "Will you leave your prison, as I tell you?" Then a
great fear fell upon Frederic; he crossed himself and the devil

Even to distant Ireland the persecution of sorcery was brought in 1325
by that zealous Franciscan, Richard Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory. The Lady
Alice Kyteler of Kilkenny had had four husbands, and their testamentary
dispositions not suiting her children by the last three, the most
efficient means of breaking their wills was to accuse her of having
killed them by sorcery, after bewitching them to leave their property
to her and to her eldest son, William Outlaw. Bishop Ledrede proceeded
vigorously to make inquisition, but Lady Alice and William were allied
to the leading officials in Ireland, who threw every difficulty in the
way, and, as the canons against heresy were unknown in the island, he
had an arduous task, being himself at one time arrested and thrown into
prison. A less indomitable spirit would have succumbed, but he triumphed
at last, though Lady Alice herself escaped his clutches and was conveyed
to England. The trials of her assumed accomplices would seem to have
been conducted without much respect to form, but with ample energy.
Torture being unknown in English law, the bishop might have failed in
eliciting confession had he not found an effective, if illegal,
substitute in the whip. Petronilla, for instance, one of Lady Alice's
women, after being scourged six times could endure no longer the endless
increase of agony, and confessed all that was wanted of her. She
admitted that she was a skilful sorceress, but inferior to her mistress,
who was equal to any in England, or any in the world. She told how, at
Lady Alice's command, she had sacrificed cocks in the cross-roads to a
demon named Robert Artisson, her mistress's incubus or lover, and how
they made from the brains of an unbaptized child, with herbs and worms,
in the skull of a robber who had been beheaded, powders and charms to
afflict the bodies of the faithful, to excite love and hatred, and to
make the faces of certain women, appear horned in the eyes of particular
individuals. She had been the intermediary between her mistress and the
demon; on one occasion he had come to Lady Alice's chamber with two
others, black as Ethiopians, when followed love-scenes of which the
disgusting details may be spared. The case is interesting as developing
a transition state of belief between the earlier magic and the later
witchcraft; and it illustrates one of the most important points in the
criminal jurisprudence of the succeeding centuries, which explains the
unquestioning belief universally entertained as to the marvels of
sorcery. Torture administered with unlimited repetition not only brought
the patient into a condition in which he would confess whatever was
required of him, but the impression produced was such that he would not
risk its renewal by retraction even at the last. It was so with this
poor creature, who persisted to the end with this tissue of absurdities,
and who was burned impenitent. Some others involved in the accusation
likewise perished at the stake, while some were permitted to abjure and
were punished with crosses--probably the only occasion in which this
penance was administered in the British Isles.[498]

While Bishop Ledrede was busy at this good work a trial occurred in
England which illustrates the difference in efficiency between the
ecclesiastical methods of trial by torture and those of the common law.
Twenty-eight persons were accused of employing John of Nottingham and
his assistant, Richard Marshall of Leicester, to make wax figures for
the destruction of Edward II., the two Despensers, and the Prior of
Coventry, with two of his officials who had tyrannized over the people
and had been sustained by the royal favorites. Richard Marshall turned
accuser, and the evidence was complete. The enormous sums of twenty
pounds to Master John and fifteen pounds to Richard had been promised,
and they had been furnished with seven pounds of wax and two ells of
canvas. From September 27, 1324, until June 2, 1325, the two magicians
labored at their work. They made seven images, the extra one being
experimental, to be tried on Richard de Sowe. On April 27 they commenced
operating with this by thrusting a piece of lead into its forehead, when
at once Richard de Sowe lost his reason and cried in misery until May
20, when the lead was transferred to his breast, and he died May 23. The
accused pleaded not guilty and put themselves on the country. An
ordinary jury trial followed, with the result that they were all
acquitted. A similar case came to light at Toulouse in June, 1326, when
some sorcerers were discovered who had undertaken to make way with King
Charles le Bel by means of figurines. They were promptly despatched to
Paris, and the matter was taken in hand by the secular court of the
Châtelet. It had all the resources of torture at its command, and its
speedy and vigorous justice undoubtedly soon consigned them to the
stake, although Pierre de Vic, a favored nephew of John XXII., who had
been inculpated in their confessions, was pronounced innocent. It was
probably not long after this that a similar attempt was made on the life
of John XXII., though the culprits escaped until 1337, when they were
tried and executed by Benedict XII. To shield themselves they implicated
the Bishop of Béziers as their instigator.[499]

Yet organized persecution seems to have died away with the withdrawal of
sorcery from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition by John XXII. in 1330,
while the stimulus which his proclamations had given to the trade of the
magician continued to extend it and render it profitable. The tendency
of popular thought is shown by the attribution, in some places, of the
Black Death to the incantations as well as to the poisons of the Jews.
Such an expedient as that of the Council of Chartres in 1366, which
ordered sorcerers to be excommunicated in mass every Sunday in all
parish churches, would only serve to impress the popular mind with the
reality and importance of their powers. During this period the study and
practice of magic arts were pursued with avidity, and in many cases
almost without concealment. Miguel de Urrea, who was Bishop of Tarazona
from 1309 to 1316, was honored with the title of _el Nigromantico_, and
his portrait in the archiepiscopal palace of Tarragona bears an
inscription describing him as a most skilful necromancer, who even
deluded the devil with his own arts. Gerard Groot himself, claimed by
the Brethren of the Common Life as their revered founder, was in his
youth an earnest student of the occult sciences, but during an illness
he solemnly abandoned them before a priest and burned his books. Many
years later he turned his knowledge to account by exposing a certain
John Heyden, who had long practised on the credulity of the people of
Amsterdam and its vicinity. On his coming to Deventer, Groot examined
him and found him ignorant of necromancy and its allied arts, and
concluded that he operated through a compact with Satan. Not willing to
incur the irregularity of shedding blood, Groot contented himself with
driving him away, and then, on learning that he had settled at
Harderwick, wrote to the brethren there giving them an account of him;
but the whole affair shows that such persons could count on practical
toleration unless some zealot chose to set the laws in motion. The
extent to which this toleration was carried, and the limitless credulity
to which the popular mind had been trained are shown in the accounts
given by grave historians of the feats of Zyto, the favorite magician of
the Emperor Wenceslas, who, in spite of the repeated condemnation of
magic by the Councils of Prague during the latter half of the century,
reckoned among his evil qualities a fondness for forbidden arts. When,
in 1389, he married Sophia, daughter of the Elector of Bavaria, the
latter, knowing his proclivities, brought to Prague a wagon-load of
skilful conjurers and jugglers. While the chief of these was giving an
exhibition of his marvels Zyto quietly walked up to him, opened his
mouth, and swallowed him entire, spitting out his muddy boots, and then
evacuated him into a vessel of water and exhibited him dripping to the
admiring crowd. At the royal banquets Zyto would bother the guests by
changing their hands into the hoofs of horses or oxen so that they could
not handle their food; if something attracted them to look out of the
window he would adorn them with branching antlers, so that they could
not withdraw their heads, while he would leisurely eat their delicacies
and drink their wine. On one occasion he changed a handful of corn into
a drove of fat hogs which he sold to a baker, with a caution not to let
them go to the river, but the purchaser disregarded the warning and they
suddenly became grains of corn floating on the water. Of course such a
character could not end well, and Zyto, when his time came, was carried
off by his demon. Not only are all these marvels recorded as
unquestionable facts by the Bohemian chroniclers, but they are
conscientiously copied by the papal historian Raynaldus.[500]

Although Gregory XI., in 1374, had authorized the Inquisition to
prosecute in all cases of sorcery, in France the Parlement included the
subject within its policy of encroachment upon the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction. In 1390 an occurrence at Laon, where a secular official
named Poulaillier arrested a number of sorcerers, gave it occasion to
intervene. As Bodin says, at that time Satan managed to have it
believed that the stories of sorcery were false, so the Parlement
stopped the proceedings, and thus having its attention drawn to the
matter, decreed that in future cognizance of such offences should be
confined to the secular tribunals, to the exclusion of the spiritual
courts.[501] Secular judges, however, were ready to treat these cases
with abundant sharpness. A case occurring at the Paris Châtelet in 1390
has much interest as affording us an insight into the details of
procedure, and as illustrating the efficacy of torture in securing
conviction. Except as regards the use of this expedient, now universal
in all criminal cases, we see that the process is much fairer to the
accused than that of the Inquisition, and we observe once more the
ineffaceable impression produced by torture, which leads the despairing
victim to adhere to the self-condemnation conducting him inevitably to
the stake. Marion l'Estalée was a young _fille de folle vie_, madly in
love with a man named Hainsselin Planiete, who deserted her, and, about
July 1, 1390, married a woman named Agnesot. Eager to prevent this, if
her confession is to be believed, she had applied to an old procuress
named Margot de la Barre, for a philtre to fix his wandering affection,
and when this failed Margot made for her two enchanted chaplets of
herbs, which she threw where the bride and groom would tread on them
during the festivities of the wedding-day, assured that this would
prevent the consummation of the marriage. The plot was unsuccessful, but
Hainsselin and Agnesot fell sick, leading to the arrest of the two

On July 30 Margot was examined and denied all complicity. She was
promptly tortured on _le petit et le grand tresteau_--which I conjecture
to mean, the former, pouring water down the throat till the stomach was
distended and then forcing it out by paddling the belly; the latter, the
rack. This reduplicated torture produced no confession, and she was
remanded for further hearing. August 17 Marion was taken in hand, when
she denied, and was similarly tortured without result. On the 3d she was
again examined and denied, and on being again ordered to the torture,
she appealed to the Parlement; the appeal was promptly heard and
rejected, and she was tortured as before, then taken to the kitchen and
warmed, after which she was tortured a third time, but to no effect. On
the 4th she was brought in and refused to confess, but the indefinite
repetition of torment without prospect of cessation had produced its
effect on body and mind; the torture had been pitiless, for she is
subsequently alluded to as much crippled and weakened by it, and when
she was again bound on the _tresteau_, and the executioner was about to
commence his work, she yielded and agreed to confess. On being unbound
she detailed the whole story, and in the afternoon, on being brought in
again, she confirmed it "_sans aucune force ou constrainte_." Then
Margot was introduced, and Marion repeated her confession, which Margot
denied and offered the wager of battle, of which no notice was taken.
Margot then asserted her ability to prove an alibi on the day when she
was said to have made the chaplets. The parties whom she named as
witnesses were looked up for her and brought in the next day, when the
evidence proved rather incriminating than otherwise. Marion was then
made to repeat her confession, and not till then was Margot tortured a
second time, but still without result. On the 6th Marion was again made
to repeat her confession, after which Margot was brought in and bound to
the _tresteau_. Marion's youthful vigor had enabled her to endure the
torture thrice. Margot's age had diminished her power of resistance, and
the two applications sufficed. Her resolution gave way, and before the
torture commenced she promised to confess. Her story agreed with that of
Marion, except in some embellishments, which serve to show how
thoroughly untrustworthy were all such confessions, of which the sole
object was to satisfy the merciless ministers of justice. When she
enchanted the chaplets she invoked the demon by thrice repeating
"_Ennemi je te conjures au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint Esperit que
tu viegnes a moy icy;_" then an "ennemi," or demon, promptly appeared,
like those she had seen in the Passion-play, and after she had
instructed him to enter into the bodies of Hainsselin and Agnesot he
flew out of the window in a whirlwind, making a great noise and throwing
her into mortal fear. The evidence was thus complete, and there would
seem to be nothing left but prompt sentence, yet the tribunal manifested
commendable desire to avoid precipitate judgment. Assessors and experts
were called in. On August 7, 8, and 9 Marion was thrice made to repeat
her confession, and Margot twice. On the latter day a consultation was
held, and the decision was unanimous against Margot, who was pilloried
and burned the same day; but three of the experts thought that the
pillory and banishment would suffice for Marion. Her case was postponed
till the 23d, when another consultation was held; opinions remained
unaltered, and as the majority was in favor of condemnation the_prévôt_
condemned her, and she was burned the next day. Both the victims may
have been innocent, and the whole story may have been invented to avoid
the repetition of the intolerable torture; but, inevitable as was the
result under the conditions of the trial, the judges manifested every
disposition to deal fairly with the unfortunates in their hands, and
could entertain no possible doubt as to the reality of the offence and
of the apparition of the demon as described by Margot.[502] It is
necessary to bear this in mind when estimating the conduct of the judges
and inquisitors who sent thousands of unfortunates to the stake in the
next two centuries, for offences which to a modern mind are purely
chimerical, for, according to the jurisprudence of the age, no evidence
could be more absolute than that on which rested the cruelly punished
absurdities of witchcraft.

Simultaneous with this case was the burning of a sorceress named
Jeanette Neuve or Revergade, August 6, 1390, in Velay. Although she was
tried and executed by the court of the Abbey of Saint-Chaffre, this was
in its capacity as _haut-justicier,_ and not as a spiritual tribunal. A
century later we should have found the case embroidered with full
accounts of the Sabbat and of demon-worship, but the time had not yet
arrived for this. Jeanette was a poor wandering crone who had come to
Chadron, within the abbatial jurisdiction, and earned a livelihood by
curing diseases with charms, to which she usually added the prescription
of a pilgrimage to some shrine of local renown. She must have gained
reputation as a wise-woman, for the Sire de Burzet, quarrelling with his
wife and desiring reconciliation, came to her for a philtre. She gave
him a potion of which he died, and her fate was sealed.[503]

About this period may be dated a fresh impulse given to the belief in
sorcery, whose continued growth during the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries was destined to produce results so deplorable, and to present
one of the most curious problems in the history of human error. The
first indication of this new development is found in the action of the
University of Paris. September 19, 1398, the theological faculty held a
general congregation in the Church of St. Mathurin, and adopted a series
of twenty-eight articles which thenceforth became a standard for all
demonologists, and were regarded as an unanswerable argument to sceptics
who questioned the reality of the wickedness of the arts of magic. The
preamble recites that action was necessary in view of the active
emergence of ancient errors which threatened to infect society; the old
evils, which had been well-nigh forgotten, were reviving with renewed
vigor, and some positive definition was required to guard the faithful
from the snares of the enemy. The University then proceeded to declare
that there was an implied contract with Satan in every superstitious
observance, of which the expected result was not reasonably to be
anticipated from God and from Nature, and it condemned as erroneous the
assertion that it was permissible to invoke the aid of demons or to seek
their friendship, or to enter into compacts with them, or to imprison
them in stones, rings, mirrors, and images, or to use sorcery for good
purposes or for the cure of sorcery, or that God could be induced by
magic arts to compel demons to obey invocations, or that the celebration
of masses or other good works used in some forms of thaumaturgy was
permissible, or that the prophets and saints of old performed their
miracles by these means which were taught by God, or that by certain
magic arts we can attain to the sight of the divine essence. These
latter clauses point to a dangerous tendency of coalescence between the
arts of the sorcerer and of the theurgist, and indicate that in the
higher magic of the day there was a claim to be considered as
penetrating to the ineffable mysteries which surrounded the throne of
God; in fact, these adepts declared that their arts were lawful, and
they sought to prove their origin in God by pointing out that good
flowed from them, and that the wishes and prophecies of those using them
were fulfilled. All this the University condemned, and while on the one
hand it denied that images of lead or gold or wax, when baptized,
exorcised, and consecrated on certain days, possessed the powers
ascribed to them in the books of magic, on the other hand it was equally
emphatic in animadverting on the incredulity of those who denied that
sorcery, incantations, and the invocation of demons possessed the powers
claimed for them by sorcerers.[504]

Like all other efforts to repress sorcery, this of course only served to
give it fresh significance and importance. The declaration that it was
erroneous to doubt the reality of sorcery and its effects became a
favorite argument of the demonologists. Gerson declared that to call in
question the existence and activity of demons was not only impious and
heretical, but destructive to all human and political society. Sprenger
concludes that the denial of the existence of witchcraft is not in
itself heresy, as it may proceed from ignorance, but such ignorance in
an ecclesiastic is in itself highly culpable; such denial is sufficient
to justify vehement suspicion of heresy, calling for prosecution, and we
have seen what was the significance of "vehement suspicion" in
inquisitorial practice.[505]

With popular credulity thus stimulated, the insanity of Charles VI.
afforded a tempting opportunity for charlatans to market their wares. In
1397 the Maréchal de Sancerre sent to Paris from Guyenne two Augustinian
hermits who had great reputation for skill in the occult sciences, and
who promised relief. They pronounced the royal patient a victim of
sorcery, and after some incantations he recovered his senses, but it
proved only a lucid interval, and in a week he relapsed. This they
charged upon the royal barber and a porter of the Duke of Orleans, who
were arrested, but nothing could be proved against them, and they were
discharged. For months the two impostors led a joyous life with ample
fees, but at last they were compelled to name the author of the
sorceries, and this time they had the audacity to pitch upon the king's
brother, Louis of Orleans himself. This grew serious, and on being
threatened with torture they confessed themselves sorcerers, apostates,
and invokers of demons. They were accordingly tried, condemned, degraded
from the priesthood, and mercifully beheaded and quartered. Undeterred
by this example, in 1403 a priest named Ives Gilemme, who boasted that
he had three demons in his service, with some other invokers of demons,
the Demoiselle Marie de Blansy, Perrin Hemery, a locksmith, and
Guillaume Floret, a clerk, offered to cure the king, and were given a
trial. They asked to have twelve men loaded with iron chains placed at
their disposal; these they surrounded with an enclosure, and, after
telling them not to be afraid, proceeded with all the invocations they
could muster, but accomplished no results. They excused their failure by
alleging that the men had crossed themselves, but this availed them
nothing. Floret confessed to the Prévôt of Paris that the whole affair
was a deception, and on March 24, 1404, they were all duly burned. It
was probably this case which induced Cardinal Louis of Bourbon, in his
provincial synod of Langres, in 1404, to prohibit strictly all sorcery
and divination, and to warn his flock to place no trust in such arts, as
their practitioners were mostly deceivers whose only object was to trick
them out of their money. Priests, moreover, were strictly ordered, as
had already been done by the Council of Soissons the year before, to
report to the episcopal ordinaries all cases coming to their knowledge
and all persons defamed for such practices. Had this policy been carried
out, of treating sorcerers as sharpers, and of instituting an episcopal
police to replace the Inquisition, at this time rapidly falling into
desuetude, it might have averted the evils which followed, but the
well-meant effort of Cardinal Louis was followed by no results. The
belief in sorcery continued to strengthen, and when Jean Petit undertook
to justify Jean sans Peur for the assassination of the Duke of Orleans,
it was almost a matter of course that he should accuse the murdered
prince of encompassing the king's insanity by magic, of which the most
minute details were given, including the names of the two demons, Hynars
and Astramein, whose assistance had been successfully invoked.[506]

In England, sorcery, as we have seen, had thus far attracted little
attention. Even as late as 1372 a man was arrested in Southwark with the
head and face of a corpse in his possession, and a book of magic was
found in his trunk. Tried before the Inquisition he would infallibly
have confessed under torture a series of misdeeds and have ended at the
stake; but he was brought before Sir J. Knyvet, in the King's Bench. No
indictment even was found against him; he was simply sworn not to
practise sorcery and was discharged, but the head and book were burned
at Tothill at his expense. To the fair and open character of English law
is doubtless to be attributed the comparative exemption of the island
from the terror of sorcery, but when, at last, persecuting excitement
arose in the Lollard troubles, the Church used its influence with the
new Lancastrian dynasty to suppress the emissaries of Satan. In 1407
Henry IV. issued letters to his bishops reciting that sorcerers,
magicians, conjurers, necromancers, and diviners abounded in their
dioceses, perverting the people and perpetrating things horrible and
detestable. The bishops, therefore, were commissioned to imprison all
such malefactors, either with or without trial, until they should recant
their errors or the king's pleasure could be learned respecting them.
The placing of the matter thus in the hands of the Church, and depriving
the accused of all legal safeguards, is most significant as a
recognition that the ordinary forms of English law were not to be
depended upon in such cases, and that public opinion as yet was too
unformed for juries to be trusted. Under the regency the royal council
seems to have assumed jurisdiction over the matter. In 1432 a Dominican
of Worcester, Thomas Northfield, suspected of sorcery, was summoned
before it with all his books of magic. A few days later it heard the
celebrated Witch of Eye, Margery Jourdemayne, with the Dominican John
Ashewell and John Virby, a clerk, who had been confined at Windsor under
charge of sorcery, but they were discharged on giving bonds for good
behavior. The Witch of Eye did not fare so well when, in 1441, she was
implicated in the accusation brought against the Duchess of Gloucester,
of making and melting a wax figurine of Henry VI. The duchess confessed
and escaped with the penance of walking bareheaded thrice through the
streets with wax tapers of two pounds each, and offering them at the
shrines of St. Paul's, Christ Church, and St. Michael's in Cornhill,
after which she was imprisoned and finally banished to Chester. Her
secretary, Roger, was hanged, drawn, and quartered, and Margery was
burned--the whole affair being political. A similar endeavor to take
political advantage of the belief in sorcery occurred in 1464, in
connection with the marriage of Edward IV. and Elizabeth Woodville, when
his constancy to her was attributed to the magic arts of her mother,
Jacquette, widow of the Regent Bedford in first marriage. Jacquette did
not wait to be attacked, but turned upon her accusers, Thomas Wake and
John Daunger, who had talked about her using leaden images of the king
and queen, and had shown one of them broken in two and wired together.
They disclaimed responsibility, and endeavored to shift the burden each
on the other; but in 1483 Richard III. did not fail to make the most of
the matter, and in the act for the settlement of the crown described
Edward's "pretensed marriage" as brought about by "sorcerie and
witchcraft committed by the said Elizabeth and her moder, Jacquette
duchesse of Bedford." Thus England was gradually prepared to share in
the horrors of the witchcraft delusions.[507]

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps the most remarkable trial for sorcery on record is that of the
Maréchal de Rais, in 1440, which has long ranked as a _cause celébre_,
although it is only of late that the publication of the records has
enabled it to be properly understood. The popular belief at the time is
indicated by Monstrelet, who tells us that the marshal was accustomed to
put to death pregnant women and children in order with their blood to
write the conjurations which secured him wealth and honors; Jean
Chartier alludes to his putting children to death and performing strange
things contrary to the faith to attain his ends, and in the next century
Gaguin speaks of his slaying children in order with their blood to
divine the future.[508] Curious as is the case in many aspects, perhaps
its chief interest lies in the psychological study which it affords as
an illustration of the extreme development of the current ecclesiastical
teaching with regard to the remission of sins.

In the France of the fifteenth century there was no career more
promising than that of Gilles de Rais. Born in 1404 of the noble stock
of Montmorency and Craon, grandson of the renowned knight, Brumor de
Laval, grandnephew of du Guesclin, of kindred with the Constable
Clisson, and allied with all that was illustrious in the west of France,
his barony of Rais rendered him the head of the baronage of Britanny.
His territorial possessions were ample, and when, while still a youth,
he married the great heiress, Catharine de Thouars, he might count
himself among the wealthiest nobles of France. His bride is said to have
brought him one hundred thousand livres in gold and movables, and his
revenue was reckoned at fifty thousand. At the age of sixteen he won the
esteem of his suzerain, Jean V., Duke of Britanny, by his courage and
skill in the campaign which ended the ancient rivalry between the houses
of de Montfort and de Penthièvre. At twenty-two, following the duke's
brother, the Constable Artus de Richemont, he entered the desperate
service of Charles VII., with a troop maintained at his own expense, and
he distinguished himself in the seemingly hopeless resistance to the
English arms. When Joan of Arc appeared he was charged with the special
duty of watching over her personal safety, and, from the relief of
Orleans to the repulse at the gates of Paris, he was ever at her side.
In the coronation ceremonies at Reims he received, though but
twenty-five years old, the high dignity of Marshal of France, and in the
September following he was honored with permission to add to his arms a
border of the royal fleurs-de-lis. There was no dignity beneath the
crown to which his ambition might not aspire, for he maintained himself
so skilfully between the opposing factions of the constable and of the
royal favorite, La Trémouille, that when the latter fell, in 1433, his
credit at the court was unimpaired.[509]

He was, moreover, a man of unusual culture. His restless curiosity and
thirst for knowledge led him to accumulate books at a time when it was
rare for knights to be able to sign their names. Chance has preserved to
us the titles of St. Augustin's "City of God,"--"Valerius Maximus,"
Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and "Suetonius," as fragments of his library; and
on his trial one of the reasons he gave for liking an Italian
necromancer was the choice Latinity of his speech. He delighted in rich
bindings and illuminations. On one occasion he is described, but a few
months before his arrest, as engaged in his study in ornamenting with
enamels the cover of a book of ceremonies for his chapel. Of music and
the drama he was also passionately fond. In these pursuits he was a fit
comrade for the good King René, as in the field he was the mate of
Dunois and La Hire.[510]

Yet the life which promised so much in camp and court was blighted by
the fatal errors of his training. The death of his father while he was a
child of eleven left him to the care of a weak and indulgent
grandfather, Jean de Craon, whose authority he soon shook off. His fiery
nature ran riot, and he grew up devoured with the wildest ambition,
abandoned to sensual excesses of every kind, and with passions
unrestrained and untamable. When on trial he repeatedly addressed the
wondering crowd, urging all parents to train their children rigidly in
the ways of virtue, for it was his unbridled youth that had led him to
crime and a shameful death.[511]

Although, in the charges preferred against him, his aberrations are said
to have commenced in 1426, he himself asserted that the fatal plunge was
not made until 1432, after the death of his grandfather. About that time
he began to withdraw from active life, and after 1433 he is no longer
heard of in the field, although the war of liberation offered its prizes
as abundantly as ever.[512]

Then commenced a strange and unexampled dual existence. To the outward
world he was the magnificent seigneur, intent only on display and
frivolity. His immeasurable ambition, diverted from its natural career,
found unworthy gratification in making the vulgar stare with his
gorgeous splendor. He affected a state almost royal. A military
household of over two hundred horsemen accompanied him wherever he went.
He founded a chapter of canons, with service and choir fit for a
cathedral, and this was his private chapel, likewise attached to his
person, costing him immense sums, including portable organs carried on
the shoulders of six stout serving-men. Not less extravagant was his
passion for theatrical displays. The drama of the age, though rude, was
costly, and when he exhibited freely to the multitude spectacular
performances, there were immense structures to be built and hundreds of
actors to be clad in cloths of gold and silver, silks and velvets, and
handsome armor, the whole followed by public banquets to the spectators,
in which rich viands were served in profusion and rare wines and
hippocras flowed like water. These were only items in his expenditure;
his purse and table were open to all and his artistic tastes were
gratified without regard to cost. In one visit to Orleans, where his
retinue filled every inn in the city, he was said to have squandered
eighty thousand gold crowns between March and August, 1435. This ruinous
prodigality was accompanied with the utmost disorder in his affairs. It
was beneath the dignity of a great seigneur to attend to business, and
all details were abandoned to the crowd of pimps and parasites and
flatterers attracted by his lavish recklessness, among whom the
principal were Roger de Briqueville and Gilles de Sillé. Gold must be
raised at any price; his revenues were farmed out in advance, the
produce of field and forest and salt-works was disposed of at low
prices, and he soon began to sell his estates at less than their value,
usually reserving a right of redemption within six years. In a short
time he is estimated to have consumed from this source alone not less
than two hundred thousand crowns. Already, in 1435 or 1436, his family
became alarmed at his mad career; they appealed to Charles VII., who
issued letters, in accordance with a legal custom of the time,
interdicting him from alienating lands and revenues, and all persons
from contracting with him. This was published with sound of trump in
Orleans, Angers, Blois, Machecoul, and elsewhere outside of Britanny.
Within the duchy, Jean V. prohibited its publication. Notwithstanding
his surname of le Bon and le Sage, he was a greedy and unscrupulous
prince, who, as one of the chief purchasers of the marshal's estates,
was interested in the ruin of his subject. He continued to secure
profitable bargains, subject always to the right of redemption, and
manifested for his dupe the greatest friendship, appointing him
lieutenant-general of the duchy, and entering into a brotherhood of arms
with him, while privately mocking and ridiculing him as a fool. As a
last resort, Gilles's younger brother, René de la Suze, and his cousin,
the Admiral de Loheac, captured and garrisoned the castles of Champtocé
and Machecoul, but in 1437 and 1438 Gilles retook them, with the aid of
the duke, to whom he had sold the former.[513]

Such was the external life of Gilles de Rais, to all appearance that of
a liberal, pious noble, whose worst foible was thoughtless extravagance.
Beneath the surface, however, lay an existence of crime more repulsive
than anything chronicled by Tacitus or Suetonius. There are some
subjects so foul that one shrinks from the barest allusion to them, and
of such are the deeds of Gilles de Rais. For the sake of human nature
one might hope that the charges which brought him to the gallows and
stake were invented by those who plotted his ruin, but an attentive
examination of the evidence brings conviction that amid manifest
exaggeration there was substantial foundation of fact. Ordinary
indulgence having palled upon the senses of the youthful voluptuary,
about the year 1432 he abandoned himself to unnatural lusts, selecting
as his victims children, whom he promptly slew to secure their silence.
At first their bodies were thrown into _oubliettes_ at the bottom of
towers in his ordinary places of residence. When Champtocé was about to
be surrendered to the duke, the bones of about forty children were
hastily gathered together and carried off; when René de la Suze was
advancing on Machecoul, the same number were extracted from their
hiding-place and burned. Scared by this narrow escape from detection,
Gilles subsequently had the bodies burned at once in the fireplace of
his chamber and the ashes scattered in the moats. So depraved became his
appetites that he found his chief enjoyment in the death agonies of his
victims, over whose sufferings he gloated as he skilfully mangled them
and protracted their torture. When dead he would criticise their
beauties with his confidential servitors, would compare one with
another, and would kiss with rapture the heads which pleased him most.
Not Caligula, when, to gain fresh appetite for his revels, he caused
criminals to be tortured by the side of his banquet-table, or Nero, when
enjoying the human torches illuminating his unearthly orgies, found
such delirium of delight in inflicting and in watching human agony.[514]

While such were his recreations, his serious pursuit was the search for
the philosopher's stone--the Universal Elixir which should place
unlimited wealth and power in his hands. To this end his agents were on
the watch to bring him skilled professors in the art, and he served as
the dupe of a succession of charlatans, whose promises kept him ever in
the hope that he was on the point of attaining the fulfilment of his
desires. He never ceased to believe that once, at his castle of
Tiffauges, the operation was about to be crowned with success, when the
sudden arrival of the Dauphin Louis forced him to destroy his furnaces;
for though, as we have seen, alchemy was not positively included in the
prohibited arts, its practice was ground for suspicion, and Louis, even
in his youth, was not one to whom he could afford to confide so
dangerous a secret. This confident hope explains the recklessness of his
expenditures and his careless alienations, in which he retained a right
of redemption, for any morrow might see him placed beyond the need of
reckoning with his creditors. Yet, as already stated, although alchemy
assumed to be a science, in practice it was almost universally coupled
with necromancy, and few alchemists pretended to be able to achieve
results without the assistance of demons, whose invocation became a
necessary department of their art. So it was with those employed by
Gilles de Rais, and no more instructive chapter in the history of the
frauds of magic can be found than in his confession and that of his
chief magician, Francesco Prelati. The latter had a familiar demon named
Barron, whom he never had any difficulty in evoking when alone, but who
would never show himself when Gilles was present, and in the naïve
accounts which the pair give of their attempts and failures, one cannot
help admiring the quick-witted ingenuity of the Italian and the facile
credulity of the baron. On one occasion, in answer to Prelati's earnest
prayer for gold, the tantalizing demon spread countless ingots around
the room, but forbade his touching them for some days. When this was
reported to Gilles he naturally desired to feast his eyes upon the
treasure, and Prelati conducted him to the chamber. On opening the door,
however, he cried out that he saw a great green serpent as large as a
dog coiled up on the floor, and both took to their heels. Then Gilles
armed himself with a crucifix containing a particle of the true cross,
and insisted on returning, but Prelati warned him that such expedients
only increased the danger, and he desisted. Finally the malicious demon
changed the gold into tinsel, which, when handled, turned into a tawny
dust. It was in vain that Gilles gave to Prelati compacts signed with
his blood, pledging himself to obedience in return for the three gifts
of knowledge, wealth, and power; Barron would have none of them. The
demon was offended with Gilles for not keeping a promise to make some
offering to him; if a small request were made it should be a trifle,
such as a pullet or a dove; if something greater it must be the member
of a child. Children's bodies were not scarce where Gilles resided, and
he speedily placed in a glass vessel a child's hand, heart, eyes, and
blood, and gave them to Prelati to offer. Still the demon was obdurate,
and Prelati, as he said, buried the rejected offering in consecrated
ground. Gilles has had the reputation of sacrificing unnumbered children
in his necromantic operations, but this is the only case elicited on his
trial, and the number of times it is brought into the evidence shows the
immense importance attached to it by the prosecution.[515]

It was impossible that a career such as this could continue for eight
years without exciting suspicion. Though for the most part Gilles
selected his victims from among the beggars who crowded his castle
gates, attracted by his ostentatious charities--children for whom there
was no one to make inquiry--yet he had his agents out through the land
enticing from parents the offspring whom they would see no more. Two
women, Etiennette Blanchu and Perrine Martin, better known as La
Meffraye, were the most successful of these purveyors, and it came to be
noticed that when he was in Nantes the children who frequented the gates
of his Hôtel de la Suze were apt to disappear unaccountably. His
confidential servants, Henri Griart, known as Henriet, and Étienne
Corillaut, nicknamed Poitou, when they saw a handsome youth would engage
him as a page without concealment, ride off with him, and he would be
heard of no more. It is rather curious, indeed, how tardily suspicion
was aroused, for up to within a year or two of the end there were
mothers who had no hesitation in confiding their children to the
terrible baron. At his castles of Tiffauges and Machecoul there was
little disguise. He was _haut-justicier_ in his lands: between him and
his villeins there was, as de Fontaines says, no judge but God; they
could not fly, for they were attached to the glebe, and they could only
rest silent in dread suspense as to where the next bolt would fall. Even
as far off as St. Jean-d'Angely, Machecoul had the name of a place where
children were eaten, and at Tiffauges they said that for one child that
disappeared at Machecoul there were seven at Tiffauges. Yet so far was
the truth from being guessed that the story ran among the peasantry that
Michel de Sillé, when a prisoner with the English, had been obliged to
promise, as part of his ransom, twenty-four boys to serve as pages, and
that when the tale was complete the disappearances would cease. Still
suspicion grew. One of the marshal's confidants, though not fully
initiated in his secrets, a priest named Eustache Blanchet, grew alarmed
and ran away from Tiffauges, taking up his residence at
Mortagne-sur-Sèvre. Here he learned from Jean Mercier, castellan of La
Roche-sur-Yon, that in Nantes and Clisson and elsewhere it was public
rumor that Gilles killed numbers of children, in order with their blood
to write a necromantic book which, when completed, would enable him to
capture any castle and prevent any one from withstanding him. This grew
to be the popular belief, as recorded by Monstrelet, and so impressed
was Blanchet's imagination with it that, after his return to Tiffauges,
at Easter, 1440, just before the catastrophe, when Gilles invited him
and another priest into his study to exhibit to them his ornamentation
of the binding of the ceremonial book of his chapel, some sheets of
paper written in red, lying on the desk, convinced him that the popular
report was true. In this little scene, the contrast between the peaceful
artistic labors of the marshal and the dread conjurations supposed to be
written with his own hand in innocent blood, is a type of his strange

What was the number of his victims can never be known. With the
exaggeration customary in such cases some writers have estimated them at
seven hundred or eight hundred. In his confession Gilles said that the
number was great, but he kept no count. In the civil process against him
it is stated at over two hundred, but in the articles of accusation in
the ecclesiastical court, which were elaborately drawn up after
obtaining all possible testimony, the figure is given as one hundred and
forty, more or less, and this is probably a full estimate.[517]

Yet, strange as were the crimes of Gilles de Rais, even stranger was his
profound conviction that he had in no way so incurred the wrath of God
that the Church could not readily insure his salvation at the cost of
some of the customary penances. He was solicitous about his soul in a
fashion very uncommon with demon-worshippers, and in all his projected
and rejected compacts with Satan he was careful to insert a clause that
he should not suffer in body or soul. He was regular in the observances
of religion. On the Easter previous to his arrest a witness describes
him as going behind the altar with a priest for confession, and then
taking the communion with the rest of the parishioners, and when these
latter, uneasy at their companionship with so great a lord, desired to
rise he bade them stay, and all remained together until the Eucharist
was administered to all. When he founded his chapter of canons and
dedicated it to the Holy Innocents, there might seem to be a grim
pleasantry in his choice of patron saints, yet there can be no doubt
that he felt that he was thus atoning for the massacre of the innocents
which he himself was constantly perpetrating. More than once he had a
transient emotion of repentance; he took vows to abandon his guilty
life, and by a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre to obtain pardon for the
evil he had wrought--pardon which he never seems to have doubted could
be thus easily won, and reasonably enough, in view of the plenary
indulgences which were so lavishly distributed and sold. After making
his public confession, when he could have no further hope on earth, he
turned to the crowded audience and exhorted them to hold fast to the
Church and to pay her the highest honor. He had always, he said, kept
his heart and his affections on the Church, but for which, in view of
his crimes, he believed that Satan would have strangled him and carried
him off, body and soul. This trust in the saving power of the Church
gave him the absolute confidence in his salvation which is not the least
noteworthy feature in his strange character. When, after he and
Francesco Prelati had corroborated each other's confessions, and they
were about to part, he embraced and kissed his necromancer with sobs and
tears, saying, "_Adieu, Francoys, mon amy_; we shall see each other no
more in this world: I pray God to give you patience and knowledge: be
certain that if you have patience and hope in God we shall meet each
other in the great joy of paradise. Pray God for me, and I will pray for
you." There was none of the agonizing doubt that racked the tender
conscientiousness of the Friends of God, no mental struggle, but the
calm assurance, born of implicit belief in the teachings of the Church,
that a man might lead a life of unimaginable crime and at any moment
purchase his salvation.[518]

How long Gilles might have continued his devastating career it would be
hard to guess, had it not suited the interest of Duke Jean and of his
chancellor, Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes, to bring him to the
stake. Both of them had been purchasers of his squandered estates, and
might wish to free themselves from the equity of redemption, and both
might hope to gain from the confiscation of what remained to him. To
assail so redoubtable a baron was, however, a task not lightly to be
undertaken: the Church must be the leader, for the civil power dared not
risk arousing the susceptibilities of the whole baronage of the duchy.
Gilles's impetuous temper furnished them the excuse.

The marshal had sold the castle and fief of Saint-Étienne de Malemort to
Geoffroi le Ferron, treasurer of the duke--possibly a cover for the duke
himself--and had delivered seizin to Jean le Ferron, brother of the
purchaser, a man who had received the tonsure and wore the habit of a
clerk, thus entitling him to clerical immunity, even though he performed
no clerical functions. Some cause of quarrel subsequently arose, which
Gilles proceeded to settle in the arbitrary fashion customary at the
time. On Pentecost, 1440, he led a troop of some sixty horsemen to
Saint-Étienne, left them in ambush near the castle, and with a few
followers went to the church where Jean was at his devotions. Mass was
about concluded when the intruders rushed in with brandished weapons,
and Gilles addressed Jean: "Ha, scoundrel, thou hast beaten my men and
committed extortions on them; come out or I will kill thee!" It was with
difficulty that the frightened clerk could be reassured. He was dragged
to the gate of the castle and forced to order its surrender, when Gilles
garrisoned it and carried him off, finally imprisoning him in Tiffauges,
chained hand and foot.[519]

The offence was one for which the customs of Britanny provided a remedy
in the civil courts, but the duke zealously took up the cause of his
treasurer and summarily ordered his lieutenant-general to surrender the
castle and the prisoners under a penalty of fifty thousand crowns.
Indignant at this unlooked-for intervention, Gilles maltreated the
messengers of the duke, who promptly raised a force and recaptured the
place in dispute. Tiffauges, where the prisoners lay, was in Poitou,
beyond his jurisdiction, but his brother, the Constable de Richemont,
besieged it, and Gilles was forced to liberate them. Having thus
submitted, he ventured in July to visit the duke at Josselin: he had
some doubts as to his reception, but Prelati consulted his demon and
announced that he could go in safety. He was graciously received, and
imagined that the storm had blown over. So safe did he feel that while
at Josselin he continued his atrocities, putting to death several
children and causing Prelati to evoke his demon.[520]

While the powers of the State thus hesitated to attack the criminal, the
Church was busily preparing his downfall. He had been guilty of
sacrilege in the violence committed in the church of Saint-Étienne, and
he had violated its immunities in the person of Jean le Ferron. Yet, in
that cruel age, when war spared neither church nor cloister, these were
offences too frequent to justify his ruin, and in the earlier stages of
the proceedings they are not even alluded to. On July 30 Jean de
Malestroit, in whose bishopric of Nantes the barony of Rais was
situated, issued privately a declaration reciting that in a recent
visitation he and his commissioners had found that Gilles was publicly
defamed for murdering many children, after gratifying his lust on them,
of invoking the demon with horrid rites, of entering into compacts with
him, and of other enormities. Though in a general way synodal witnesses
were quoted in substantiation of these charges, only eight witnesses
were personally named, seven of them women, all residents of Nantes,
whose subsequent testimony shows us that they had lost children, whose
disappearance they thought they could connect with Gilles. The object of
this paper was doubtless to loosen the tongues of those to whom it might
be shown, but whatever diligence was used in gathering evidence was
fruitless, for when the trial opened, two months later, but two
additional witnesses had been procured, of the same indecisive kind as
the previous ones. The only charge they made was the abduction of
children, and this was in no sense a crime within the competence of the
ecclesiastical court. Evidently the awful secrets of Tiffauges and
Machecoul had not leaked out. It was necessary to hazard something, to
strike boldly, and when Gilles and his retainers were in the hands of
justice its methods could be relied upon to procure from them evidence
sufficient for their own conviction.[521]

The blow fell September 13, when the bishop issued a citation summoning
Gilles to appear for trial before him on the 19th. The recital of his
misdeeds in the previous letter was repeated, with the significant
addition of "other crimes and offences savoring of heresy." This was
served upon him personally the next day, and he made no resistance. Some
rumor of what was impending must have been in the air, for his two chief
instigators and confidants, Gilles de Sillé and Roger de Briqueville,
saved themselves by flight. The rest of his nearest servitors and
procurers, male and female, were seized, including Prelati, and carried
to Nantes. On the 19th he had a private hearing before the bishop. The
prosecuting officer, Guillaume Capeillon, cunningly preferred certain
charges of heresy against him, when he fell into the trap and boldly
offered to purge himself before the bishop or any other ecclesiastical
judge. He was taken at his word, and the 28th was fixed for his
appearance before the bishop and the vice-inquisitor of Nantes, Jean

The records are imperfect, and tell us nothing of what was done with the
followers of Gilles, but we may be sure that during this interval the
methods of the inquisitorial process were not spared to extract
information from them, and that it was spread among the people to create
public opinion, for already, by the 28th, some of the sorrowing parents
who came forward to confirm their previous complaints assert that since
La Meffraye had been in the secular prison they had been told that she
said their children had been delivered to Gilles. At this hearing of the
28th only these ten witnesses were heard, with their vague conjectures
as to the loss of their offspring. Gilles was not present, and
apparently the result of the torture of his servants had not yet been
satisfactory, for further proceedings were adjourned till October

In the succeeding hearings the rule of secrecy seems to have been
abandoned. There evidently was extreme anxiety to create popular opinion
against the prisoner, for the court-room in the Tour Neuve was crowded.
On October 8 proceedings opened with the frantic cries of the bereaved
parents clamoring for justice against him who had despoiled them and had
committed a black catalogue of crimes, which shows that since their last
appearance their ignorance had been carefully enlightened. Like the
chorus of a Greek tragedy, the same dramatic use was made of them on the
11th, after which, as the object was presumably accomplished, they

At the hearing of the 8th the articles of accusation were presented
orally by the prosecutor. Gilles thereupon appealed from the court, but
as his appeal was verbal it was promptly set aside, though no offer was
made to him of counsel, or even of a notary to reduce it to writing. If
anything could move us to commiseration for such a criminal it would be
the mockery of justice in a trial where, alone and unaided, he was
called upon to defend his life without preparation or the means of
defence. He doubtless was guilty, but if he had been innocent the result
would have been the same. Yet the trial was not carried on "_simpliciter
et de plano_" according to the forms of the Inquisition. There was a
semblance of a _litis contestatio_. The prosecutor took the _juramentum
de calumnia_, to tell the truth and avoid deceit, and demanded that
Gilles should do the same, as prescribed by legal form, but the latter
obstinately refused, though summoned four times and threatened with
excommunication. The only notice he would take of the proceedings was to
denounce all the charges as false.[525]

It was worse at the hearing of the 13th, when the accusations had been
reduced to writing in a formidable series of forty-nine articles. When
the bishop and inquisitor asked him what he had to say in defence,
Gilles haughtily retorted that they were not his judges; he had appealed
from them and would make no reply to the charges. Then, giving rein to
his temper, he stigmatized them as simoniacs and scoundrels, before whom
it was degradation for him to appear; he would rather be hanged by the
neck than acknowledge them as his judges; he wondered that Pierre de
l'Hôpital, president or chief judicial officer of Brittany, who was
present, would allow ecclesiastics to meddle with such crimes as were
alleged against him. In spite of his reclamations the indictment was
read, when he simply denounced it as a pack of lies and refused to
answer formally. Then, after repeated warnings, the bishop and
inquisitor pronounced him contumacious and excommunicated him. He again
appealed, but the appeal was rejected as frivolous, and he was given
forty-eight hours in which to frame a defence.[526]

The charges formed a long and most elaborate paper, showing by its
detail of individual cases that by this time Gilles's servitors must
have been induced to make full confessions. For the first time there
appear in it the sacrilege and violation of clerical immunity committed
at Saint-Étienne, and the charge of child-murder only figures as an
accessory to the other crimes to which it was connected. Everything,
however, that could be alleged against him was gathered together, even
to inordinate eating and drinking, which were assumed to have led to his
other excesses. His transient fits of repentance and vows of amendment
were utilized ingeniously to prove that he was a relapsed heretic and
thus deprived of all chance of escape. In the conclusion the prosecutor
apportioned the charges between the two jurisdictions. The bishop and
inquisitor conjointly were prayed to declare him guilty of heretical
apostasy and the invocation of demons, while the bishop alone was to
pronounce sentence on his unnatural crimes and sacrilege, the
Inquisition having no cognizance of these offences. It is worthy of note
that there is no allusion to alchemy; apparently it was not regarded as
an unlawful pursuit.[527]

It is not easy to understand what followed. When two days later, on the
15th, Gilles was brought into court he was a changed man. We have no
means of knowing what influences had meanwhile been brought to bear upon
him, but the only probable explanation would seem to be that he
recognized from the details of the charges that his servants had been
forced to betray him, that further resistance would only subject him to
torture, and, in his earnest care for the salvation of his soul, that
submission to the Church and endurance of the inevitable was the only
path to heaven. Still, he could not at once summon resolution to incur
the humiliation of a detailed public confession. While he humbly
admitted the bishop and inquisitor to be his judges, and on bended knee,
with tears and sighs, craved their pardon for the insults which he had
showered upon them, and begged for absolution from the excommunication
incurred by contumacy; while he took with the prosecutor the _juramentum
de calumnia_; while in general terms he acknowledged that he had no
objection to make to the charges and confessed the crimes alleged
against him, yet when he was required to answer to the articles
_seriatim_ he at once denied that he had invoked, or caused to be
invoked, any malignant spirits; he had, it is true, dabbled in alchemy,
but he freely offered himself to be burned if the witnesses to be
produced, whose testimony he was willing to accept in advance, should
prove that he had invoked demons or entered into pacts with them and
offered them sacrifices. All the rest of the charges he specifically
denied, but he invited the prosecutor to produce what witnesses he
chose, and he (Gilles) would admit their evidence to be conclusive.
Although in all this there is a contradiction which casts doubt upon the
frankness of the official record, it may perhaps be explained by
vacillation not improbable in his terrible position. He did not shrink,
however, when his servants and agents, Henriet, Poitou, Prelati,
Blanchet, and his two procuresses were brought forward and sworn in his
presence; he declined the offer of the bishop and inquisitor to frame
the interrogatories for their examination, and he declared that he would
stand to their depositions and make no exceptions to them or to their
evidence. It was the same when, on the 15th and 19th, additional
witnesses were sworn in his presence. The examinations of these
witnesses, however, were made by notaries in private. The depositions
made by Henriet and Poitou, which have been preserved to us, are hideous
catalogues of the foulest crimes, minute in their specifications, though
the identity between them in trifles, where omissions or discrepancies
would be natural, strongly suggests manipulation either of witnesses or
of records. That of Prelati is equally full in its details of
necromancy, and raises at once the question, not easily answered, why
the necromancer, who had richly earned the stake, seems to have escaped
all punishment; and the same may be said as to Blanchet, La Meffraye and
her colleague, and some others of those involved. It is worthy of note,
that in these confessions or depositions the customary formula that they
are made without fear, force, or favor is conspicuous by its

At the hearing of October 20 Gilles was again asked if he had anything
to propose, and he replied in the negative. He waived all delay as to
the publication of the evidence against him, and when the depositions of
his accomplices were read he said he had no exceptions to make to them;
in fact, that the publication was unnecessary in view of what he had
already said, and what he intended to confess. One would think that this
was quite sufficient, for his guilt was thus proved and admitted, but
the infernal curiosity of the jurisprudence of the time was never
satisfied until it had wrung from the accused a detailed and formal
confession. The prosecutor, therefore, earnestly demanded of the bishop
and inquisitor that Gilles should be tortured, in order, as he said, to
develop the truth more fully. They consulted with the experts and
decided that torture should be applied.[529]

The proud man had hoped to be spared the humiliation of a detailed
confession, but this was not to be allowed. On the next day, October
21, the bishop and inquisitor ordered him to be brought in and tortured.
Everything was in readiness for it, when he humbly begged them to defer
it until the next day, and that meanwhile he would make up his mind so
as to satisfy them and render it unnecessary. He further asked that they
should commission the Bishop of Saint-Brieuc and Pierre de l'Hôpital to
hear his confession in a place apart from the torture. This last prayer
they granted, but they would only give him a respite until two o'clock,
with the promise of a further postponement until the next day, in case
he confessed meanwhile. When the confession made that afternoon, under
these circumstances, is officially declared to have been made "freely
and willingly and without coercion of any kind," it affords another
example of the value of these customary formulas.[530]

Before the commissioners he made no difficulty of accusing himself of
all the crimes wherewith he stood charged. Pierre de l'Hôpital found the
recital hard of credence, and pressed him vigorously to disclose the
motive which had led to their commission. He was not satisfied with
Gilles's declaration that it was simply to gratify his passions, till he
exclaimed, "Truly, there was no other cause, object, or intention than I
have said. I have told you greater things than that--enough to put ten
thousand men to death." The president pressed the matter no further, but
sent for Prelati, when the two accomplices freely confirmed each other's
statements, and they parted in tears with the affectionate farewell
already alluded to.[531]

There was no further talk of torture. Gilles was now fairly embarked in
his new course. Apparently resolved to win heaven by contrition and by
the assistance of the Church, this extraordinary man presents, during
the remainder of the trial, a spectacle which is probably without an
example. When, on the next day, October 22, he was brought before his
judges, the proud and haughty baron desired that his confession should
be read in public, so that his humiliation should aid in winning pardon
from God. Not content with this, he supplemented his confession with
abundant details of his atrocities, as though seeking to make to God an
acceptable oblation of his pride. Finally, after exhorting those
present to honor and obey the Church, he begged with abundant tears
their prayers, and entreated pardon of the parents whose children he had

On the 25th he was brought up for sentence. After the bishop and
inquisitor had duly consulted their assembly of experts, two sentences
were read. The first, in the name of both judges, condemned him as
guilty of heretical apostasy and horrid invocation of demons, for which
he had incurred excommunication and other penalties of the law, and for
which he should be punished according to the canonical sanctions. The
second sentence, rendered by the bishop alone, in the same form,
condemned him for unnatural crime, for sacrilege, and for violating the
immunities of the Church. In neither sentence was there any punishment
indicated. He was not pronounced relapsed, and therefore could not be
abandoned to the secular arm, and it was apparently deemed superfluous
to enjoin on him any penance, as a prosecution had been going on _pari
passu_ in the secular court, of which the result was not in doubt. The
ecclesiastical court had dropped the accusation of murder, after it had
served its purpose in exciting popular odium, and had left it to the
civil authorities to which it belonged. In fact, the whole elaborate
proceedings were a nullity, except so far as they served as a shield for
the civil process, and as a basis for confiscating his estates.[533]

After the reading of the sentences he was asked if he wished
reincorporation in the Church. He replied that he had not known what
heresy was, nor that he had lapsed into it, but as the Church had
declared him guilty, he begged on his knees, with sighs and groans, to
be reincorporated. When this ceremony was accomplished he asked for
absolution, which was granted. It shows the deceptive nature of the
whole proceedings, and how little the bishop and inquisitor thought of
anything but the secret object to be attained, that although Gilles was
condemned for heresy, he was absolved without subjection to the
indispensable ceremony of abjuration, and his request for a confessor
was promptly met by the appointment of Jean Juvenal, a Carmelite of

From the Tour Neuve, where the ecclesiastical court held its sittings,
Gilles was at once hurried before the secular tribunal in the Bouffay.
It had commenced its inquest on September 18, and had been busily
employed in collecting evidence concerning the child-murders, besides
which, its presiding judge, Pierre de l'Hôpital, had been present at
much of the ecclesiastical trial, and had personally received Gilles's
confession. It was thus fully prepared to act, and indeed had already
condemned Henriet and Poitou to be hanged and burned. When Gilles was
brought in and arraigned he immediately confessed. Pierre urged him to
confess in full, and thus obtain alleviation of the penalty due to his
sins, and he freely complied. Then the president took the opinions of
his assessors, who all voted in favor of death, although there was some
difference as to the form. Finally Pierre announced that he had incurred
the "_peines pecunielles_" which were to be levied on his goods and
lands "with moderation of justice." As for his crimes, for these he was
to be hanged and burned, and that he might have opportunity to crave
mercy of God, the time was fixed for one o'clock the next day. Gilles
thanked him for the designation of the hour, adding that as he and his
servants, Henriet and Poitou, had committed the crimes together, he
asked that they might be executed together, so that he who was the cause
of their guilt might admonish them, and show them the example of a good
death, and by the grace of our Lord be the cause of their salvation. If,
he said, they did not see him die they might think that he escaped, and
thus be cast into despair. Not only was this request granted, but he was
told that he might select the place of his burial, when he chose the
Carmelite church, the sepulchre of the dukes, and of all that was most
illustrious in Brittany. As a last prayer, he begged that the bishop and
clergy might be requested to walk in procession prior to his execution
the next day, to pray God to keep him and his servants in firm belief of
salvation. This was granted, and the morning saw the extraordinary
spectacle of the clergy, followed by the whole population of Nantes, who
had been clamoring for his death, marching through the streets and
singing and praying for his salvation.[535]

On the way to execution Gilles devoted himself to comforting the
servants whom he had brought to a shameful death, assuring them that as
soon as their souls should leave their bodies they would all meet in
paradise. The men were as contrite and as sure of salvation as their
master, declaring that they welcomed death in their unbounded trust in
God. They were all mounted on stands over piles of wood, with halters
around their necks attached to the gallows. The stands were pushed
aside, and as they swung the fagots were lighted. Henriet and Poitou
were allowed to burn to ashes, but when Gilles's halter was burned
through and his body fell, the ladies of his kindred rushed forward and
plucked it from the flames. It was honored with a magnificent funeral,
and it is said that some of the bones were kept by his family as relics
of his repentance.[536]

Under the Breton laws execution for crime entailed confiscation of
movables to the seigneur justicier, but not of the landed estates.
Condemnation for heresy, as we have seen, everywhere carried with it
indiscriminate confiscation and inflicted disabilities for two
generations. Gilles was convicted as a heretic, but the secular sentence
is obscure on the subject of confiscation, and in the intricate and
prolonged litigation which arose over his inheritance it is difficult to
determine to what extent confiscation was enforced. Some twenty years
later the "Mémoire des Héritiers" argues that death had expiated his
crimes and removed all cause of confiscation, which would seem to
indicate that it had taken place. Certain it is that, to assist the Duke
of Brittany, René of Anjou in 1450 confiscated Champtocé and Ingrandes,
which were under his jurisdiction, and ceded them to the duke to confirm
his title. Charles VII., on the other side, had already decreed
confiscation in order to help the heirs.[537]

No disabilities were inflicted upon the descendants, and the house