Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/338

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The public opinion of the ruling classes of Europe demanded that heresy should be exterminated at whatever cost, and yet with the suppression of open resistance the desired end seemed as far off as ever. Bishop and legate were alike unequal to the task of discovering those who carefully shrouded themselves under the cloak of the most orthodox observance ; and when by chance a nest of heretics was brought to light, the learning and skill of the average Ordinary failed to elicit a confession from those who professed the most entire accord with the teachings of Rome. In the absence of overt acts it was difficult to reach the secret thoughts of the sectary. Trained experts were needed whose sole business it should be to unearth the offenders and extort a confession of their guilt. As this necessity became more and more apparent two new factors contributed to the solution of the long-vexed problem.

The first of these was the organization of the Mendicant Orders, whose peculiar fitness for the work which had outgrown the capacity of the episcopal courts might well make their establishment seem a providential interposition to supply the Church of Christ with what it most sorely needed. As the necessity grew apparent of special and permanent tribunals devoted exclusively to the widespread sin of heresy, there was every reason why they should be wholly free from the local jealousies and enmities which might tend to the prejudice of the innocent, or the local favoritism which might connive at the escape of the guilty. If, in addition to this freedom from local partialities, the examiners and judges were men specially trained to the detection and conversion of the heretic ; if, also, they had by irrevocable vows renounced the world; if they could acquire no wealth and were dead to the enticements of pleasure, every guarantee seemed to be afforded that their momentous duties would be fulfilled with the strictest justice — that while the purity of the faith would be protected, there would be no unnecessary oppression or cruelty or persecution dictated by private interests and personal revenge. Their unlimited popularity was also a warrant that they would receive far more efficient assistance in their arduous labors than could be expected by the [1]

  1. nal. ann. 1237, No. 33. — Archives de France, J. 430, No. 19-20. — Archivio di Firenze, Riformagioni, Classe v. fol. 80.— Archives de Tlnq. de Carcassonne (Doat, XXXI. 239).