Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/294

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274
THE MENDICANT ORDERS.

bulls in which, following his predecessors, the Mendicants were formally released from all episcopal jurisdiction, and the statutes of the Orders were declared to be the only laws by which they were to be judged, all provisions of the canon law to the contrary notwithstanding. At the same time, by a new issue of the bull Virtute cmispicuos, commonly known as the Mare Magnum, he codified and confirmed all the privileges conferred by his predecessors.[1]

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


  1. Potthast Regest. No. 8334, 8326, 9775, 10905, 11169, 11296, 11319, 11399, 11415.— RipoU. I. 99.— Matt. Paris ann. 1234 (pp. 274-6).— Wadding. Annal. ann. 1295, No. 18.— Mag. Bull. Roman. I. 174.— Ripoll II. 40.
    The exemption of the Mendicants from all local jurisdiction save that of their own Orders was a source of almost inconceivable trouble in every portion of Christendom. When, for instance, in 1435, the legates of the Council of Basle were on their way to Briinn to settle the terms of pacification with the Hussites, they were called upon in Vienna to silence a Franciscan whose abusive sermons created disorder, and it was with much trouble that they forced him to admit that, as representing a general council, they had authority to discipline him. On their arrival at Briinn they found the public agitated over a dreadful scandal, the Dominican provincial having seduced a nun of his own order. The woman had borne a child to him, and no steps had been taken against him. The ordinary judicial machinery of the Church was utterly powerless to deal with him, and the precautions which the legates deemed it prudent to take before they ventured to commence proceedings show how arduous and dangerous they felt the task to be, though when they got to work they sentenced him to deposition and imprisonment for life on bread and water. — Ægidii Carlerii Liber de Legationibus (Monument. Concil. General. Ssec. XV. T. I. pp. 544-8, 553, 555, 557, 563-6, 572, 577, 587, 590, 595). This, however, seems to have been a mere brutum fuhnen, as there is no allusion to any attempt to execute the sentence.