Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/106

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ance in the examinations of the sectaries under the skilful handling of their persecutors, until in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the inquisitors of Piedmont and Provence found it expedient to extract such confessions from their victims.[1]

There was also objected to them the hypocrisy which led them to conceal their belief under assiduous attendance at mass and confession, and punctual observance of orthodox externalities ; but this, like the ingenious evasions under examination, which so irritated their inquisitorial critics, may readily be pardoned to those with whom it was the necessity of self-preservation, and who, at least during the earlier period, had often no other means of enjoying the sacraments which they deemed essential to salvation. They were also ridiculed for their humble condition in life, being almost wholly peasants, mechanics, and the like — poor and despised folk of whom the Church took little count, except to tax when orthodox and burn when heretic. But their crowning offence was their love and reverence for Scripture, and their burning zeal in making converts. The Inquisitor of Passau informs us that they had translations of the w^hole Bible in the vulgar tongue, which the Church vainly sought to suppress, and which they studied with incredible assiduity. He knew a peasant who could recite the Book of Job word for word ; many of them had the whole of the New Testament by heart, and, simple as they were, were dangerous disputants. As for the missionary spirit, he tells of one who, on a winter night, swam the river Ips in order to gain a chance of converting a Catholic ; and all, men and w^omen, old and young, were ceaseless in learning and teaching. After a hard day's labor they would devote the night to instruction ; they sought the lazar-

  1. Wattenbach, Sitzungsbericlite der Preuss. Akad. 1886, p. 51.--Lib. Sentt. Inq. Tolosan. p. 367. — Anon. Passaviens. cap. 7, 8. — Refutat. Error. Waldens. (Mag. Bib. Pat. XIII. 336).— David Augustens. (Martene Thesaur. V. 1771-1772).— Ar- chivio Storico Italian©, 1865, No. 38, pp. 39, 40. — Rorengo, Memorie Istoriche, Torino, 1649, p. 12. — Even as late as the end of the fourteenth century, in the extensive inquisitions of the Celestinian Peter, from Styria to Pomerania^ there is no allusion to immoral practices. (Preger, Beitrage, pp. 68-72 ; Wattenbach, ubi sup.).
    For the ascetic tendency of the Waldenses, recognizing vows of chastity, and the seduction of nuns as incest, see Montet, pp. 97, 98, 108-110. For the merit of fasting, see p. 99.