Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/147

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
127
RAPID DEVELOPMENT OF HERESY.

It is true that in 1195 another papal legate, Michael, held a provincial council at Montpellier, where he commanded the enforcement of the Lateran canons on all heretics and Mainatae, or brigands, whose property was to be confiscated and whose persons reduced to slavery;[1] but all this fell dead upon the indifference of the nobles, who, involved in perpetual war with each other, preferred to risk the anathemas of the Church rather than to complicate their troubles by attempting the extermination of a majority of their subjects at the behest of a hierarchy which no longer inspired respect or reverence. Perhaps, also, the fall of Jerusalem, in 1186, in arousing an unprecedented fervor of fanaticism, directed it towards Palestine, and left little for the vindication of the faith nearer home. Be this as it may, no effective persecution was undertaken until the vigorous ability of Innocent III., after vainly trying milder measures, organized overwhelming war against heresy. During this interval the Poor Men of Lyons arose, and were forced to make common cause with the Cathari ; the proselyting zeal which had been so successful in secrecy and tribulation had free scope for its development, and had no effective antagonism to dread from a negligent and disheartened clergy. The heretics preached and made converts, while the priests were glad if they could save a fraction of their tithes and revenues from rapacious nobles and rebellious or indifferent parishioners. Heresy throve accordingly. Innocent III. admitted the humiliating fact that the heretics were allowed to preach and teach and make converts in public, and that unless speedy measures were taken for their suppression there was danger that the infection would spread to the whole Church. William of Tudela says that the heretics possessed the Albigeois, the Carcasses, and the Lauragais, and that to describe them as numerous throughout the whole district from Beziers to Bordeaux is not saying enough. Walter Mapes asserts that there were none of them in Britanny, but that they abounded in Anjou, while in Aquitaine and Burgundy their number was infinite. William of Puy-Laurens assures us that Satan possessed in peace the greater part of southern France ; the clergy were so despised that they were accustomed to conceal the tonsure through very shame, and the bishops were obliged to admit to holy orders whoever was


  1. Lucii PP. III. Epist. 171.— Concil. Monspeliens. ann. 1195.