Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/329

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309
EPISCOPAL JURISDICTION.

dioceses making strict inquiry as to all sins abhorred of God, and thus a considerable jurisdiction was placed in their hands, although strictly subordinated to the State. During the troubles which followed the division of the empire, as the feudal system arose on the ruins of the monarchy, gradually the bishops threw off not only dependence on the crown, but acquired extensive rights and powers in the administration of the canon law, which now no longer depended on the civil or municipal law, but assumed to be its superior. Thus came to be founded the spiritual courts which were attached to every episcopate and which exercised exclusive jurisdiction over a constantly widening field of jurisprudence. Of course all errors of faith necessarily came within their purview.[1]

The organization and functions of these courts received a powerful impetus through the study of the Roman law after the middle of the twelfth century. Ecclesiastics, in fact, monopolized to such an extent the educated intelligence of the age that at first there were few besides themselves to penetrate into the mysteries of the Code and Digest. Even in the second half of the thirteenth century Roger Bacon complains that a civil lawyer, even if wholly untrained in canon law and theology, had a much better chance of high preferment than a theologian, and he exclaims in bitterness that the Church is governed by lawyers to the great injury of all Christian folk. Thus long before the feudal and seignorial courts felt the influence of the imperial jurisprudence, it had profoundly modified the principles and practice of ecclesiastical procedure. The old archdeacon gave way, not without vituperation, before the formal episcopal judge, known as the Official or Ordinary, who was usually a doctor of both laws — an LL.D. in fact — learned in both civil and canon law ; and the effect of this was soon seen in a systematizing of ecclesiastical jurisprudence which gave it an immense advantage over the rude processes of the feudal and customary law. These episcopal courts, moreover, were soon sur-


  1. Hartzheim Concil. German. I. 76, 85-6.— Capit. Car. Mag. ann. 769, c. 6; Capit. II. ann. 813, c. 1.— Gratiani Decret. P. I. Dist. x. I have elsewhere considered in some detail the growth of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, through the False Decretals, in the anarchy accompanying the fall of the Carlovingian empire. See " Studies in Church History," 2(1 Ed. pp. 81-7, 326-39.