Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/333

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313
THE DECREE OF VERONA.

III. was induced to interfere and ordered the sheriffs to put an end to it.[1]

The Church thus possessed an organization well adapted for the discovery and investigation of heretics. All that it lacked were the men who should put that organization to its destined use; and the progress of heresy up to the date of the Albigensian Crusades manifests how utterly neglectful were the ignorant prelates of the day, immersed in worldly cares, for the most part, and thinking only of the methods by which their temporalities could be defended and their revenues increased. Successive popes made fruitless efforts to arouse them to a sense of duty and induce them to use the means at their disposal for a systematic and vigorous onslaught on the sectaries, who daily grew more alarming. From the assembly of prelates who attended, in 1184, the meeting at Verona between Lucius III. and Frederic Barbarossa, the pope issued a decretal at the instance of the emperor and with the assent of the bishops, which if strictly and energetically obeyed might have established an episcopal instead of a papal Inquisition. In addition to the oath — referred to in a previous chapter — prescribed to every ruler, to assist the Church in persecuting heresy, all arch-bishops and bishops were ordered, either personally or by their archdeacons or other fitting persons, once or twice a year to visit every parish where there was suspicion of heresy, and compel two or three men of good character, or the whole vicinage if necessary, to swear to reveal any reputed heretic, or any person holding secret conventicles, or in any way differing in mode of life from the faithful in general. The prelate was to summon to his presence those designated, who, unless they could purge themselves at his discretion, or in accordance with local custom, were to be punished as the bishop might see fit. Similarly, any who refused to swear, through superstition, were to be condemned and punished as heretics ipso facto. Obstinate heretics, refusing to abjure and return to the Church with due penance, and those who after abjuration relapsed, were to be abandoned to the secular arm for fitting punishment. There was nothing organically new in all this — only a


  1. Reginon. de Eccles. Discip. Lib. ii. c. 1-3. — Burcliardi Decrct. Lib. i. c. 91-4.— Gratiani Decret. P. IL c. xxxv. Q. vi. c. 7.— C. 7 Extra ii. xxi. — Matt. Paris ann. 1246 (Ed. 1644, p. 480).