Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/363

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343
IRRESPONSIBILITY OF INQUISITORS.

Viterbo, and they obeyed him by raising an army with which he marched to besiege Capello in his castle of Colle-Casale. Capello had craftily conveyed his lands to a Roman noble named Pietro Giacomo Surdi, and the pious enterprise of the Viterbians was arrested by a command from the senator of Rome forbidding violence to the property of a good Catholic Roman citizen. Then Alexander IV. intervened, ordering Surdi to withdraw from the quarrel, as his claim to the castle was null and void. He likewise commanded the senator to abandon his indefensible position, and warmly thanked the Viterbians for the zeal and alacrity with which they had obeyed the summons of Fra Andrea. Fra Andrea, in fact, had only exercised the power which Zanghino declares to be inherent in the office of inquisitor, of levying open war against heretics and heresy.[1]

In the exercise of this almost limitless authority, inquisitors were practically relieved from all supervision and responsibility. Even a papal legate was not to interfere with them or inquire into heresy within their inquisitorial districts. They were not liable to excommunication while in discharge of their duties, nor could they be suspended by any delegate of the Holy See. If such a thing were attempted, the excommunication or suspension was pronounced void, unless, indeed, it was issued by special command of the pope. Already, in 1245, they were empowered to absolve their familiars for any excesses, and in 1261 they were authorized to absolve each other from excommunication for any cause ; which, as each inquisitor usually had a subordinate associate ready to perform this office for him, rendered them virtually invulnerable. Moreover, they were released from all obedience to their provincials and generals, whom they were even forbidden to obey in anything relating to the business of their office, and they were secured from any attempt to undermine them with the curia by the enormous privilege of being able to go to Rome at any time and to stay there as long as they might see fit, even in spite of prohibition by provincial or general chapters. At first their commissions were thought to expire with the death of the pope who issued them, but in 1267 they were declared to be continuously valid.[2]


  1. Pegnse Append, ad Eymeric. pp. 37-8.— Zunchini Tract, de Haeret. c. xxxvii.
  2. Arch. Nat. de France, J. 431, No. 23.— Innoc. PP. IV. Bull. Devotianis, 2 Mai.