Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/151

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131
POPULAR VERSIONS OF SCRIPTURE.

ing that Rome was regarded as more indulgent than the local courts; and the papal decisions continue to manifest a laudable desire to prevent injustice. All this proved inefficient, and it was one of the first places to which, in 1233, an inquisitor was sent. At Troyes, in 1200, five male and three female Catharans were burned; and at Braisne, in 1204, a number were similarly put to death, among whom was Nicholas, the most renowned painter in France.[1]

In 1199 another danger threatened the Church in Metz, where Waldensian sectaries were found in possession of French translations of the New Testament, the Psalter, Job, and other portions of Scripture, which they contumaciously studied with unwearied perseverance and refused to abandon at the command of their parish priests ; nay, they were hardy enough to assert that they knew more of Holy Writ than their pastors, and that they had a right to the consolation which they found in its perusal. The case was somewhat puzzling, since the Church as yet had had no occasion to interdict formally the popular reading of the Bible, and these poor folk were not accused of any definite heretical tenets. Innocent, therefore, when applied to, admitted that there was nothing condemnable in the desire to understand Scripture, but he added that such is its profundity that even the learned and wise are unequal to its comprehension, and consequently it is far beyond the grasp of the simple and illiterate. The people of Metz were therefore exhorted to abandon these reprehensible practices and return to a proper degree of respect for their pastors if they wished pardon for their sins, with a significant threat of compulsion in case of further obstinacy ; and when the simple and illiterate folk proved deaf to this command, a commission was sent to the Abbot of Citeaux and two others, to proceed to Metz and put a stop, without appeal, to these unlawful studies — with what success we may infer from the fact that in 1231 the heretics of Treves were found in possession of German versions of Holy Writ.[2]


  1. Roberti Autissiodor. Chron. ann. 1198-1201. — Hist. Episcopp. Autissiodor. (D. Bouquet, XVIII. 725-6, 729).— Petri Sarnens. Hist. Albigens. c. 3.— Innoc. PP. III. Regest. II. 63, 99 ; v. 36 ; vi. 63, 239 ; ix. 110 ; x. 206.— Potthast, No. 9152.— Alberic. Trium Font. Chron. ann. 1200. — Chron. Canon. Laudunens. ann. 1204 (D. Bouquet, XVIII. 713).
  2. Regest. II. 141, 142, 235.— Gesta Treviror. c. 104.