Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/330

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rounded by a crowd of clerkly advocates, whose zeal for their clients often outran their discretion, furnishing the first mediaeval representatives of the legal profession.[1]

Following in the traces of the civil law, there were three forms of action in criminal cases — accusatio, denunciatio, and inquisitio. In accusatio there was an accuser who formally inscribed himself as responsible and was subject to the talio in case of failure. Denunciatio was the official act of the public officer, such as the testis synodalis or archdeacon, who summoned the court to take action against offenders coming within his official knowledge. In inquisitio the Ordinary cited the suspected criminal, imprisoning him if necessary ; the indictment, or capitula inquisitionis, was communicated to him, and he was interrogated thereupon, with the proviso that nothing extraneous to the indictment could be subsequently brought into the case to aggravate it. If the defendant could not be made to confess, the Ordinary proceeded to take testimony, and though the examination of witnesses was not conducted in the defendant's presence, their names and evidence were communicated to him, he could summon witnesses in rebuttal, and his advocate had full opportunity to defend him by argument, exception, and appeal. The Ordinary finally gave the verdict; if uncertain as to guilt, he prescribed the purgatio canonica, or oath of denial shared by a given number of peers of the accused, more or less, according to the nature of the charge and degree of suspicion. In all cases of conviction by the inquisitorial process, the penalty inflicted was lighter than in accusation or denunciation. The danger was recognized of a procedure in which the judge was also the accuser; a man must be popularly reputed as guilty before the Ordinary could commence inquisition against him, and this not by merely a few men or by his enemies, or those unworthy of belief. There must be ample ground for esteeming him guilty before this extraordinary power vested in the judge could be exercised. It is important to bear in mind the equitable provisions of all this episcopal jurisdiction when we come to consider the

  1. S. Bernardi de Consideratione Lib. i. c. 4. — Rogeri Bacon Op. Tert. c. xxiv.— Pet. Blesens. Epist. 202.— Concil. Rotomag. ann. 1231 c. 48. For the rapidity with which the Church assimilated the Roman law see the collection of decretals by Alexander III. post Concil. Lateran.