Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/367

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347
UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION.

to have little hesitation in prosecuting his superior. His jurisdiction, in fact, was almost unlimited, for the dread suspicion of heresy brought, with few exceptions, all mankind to a common level, and suspicion of heresy was to be technically inferred from anything which affected the dignity or crossed the purposes of those who carried on the Inquisition. Even the jealously-guarded right of asylum in the churches was waived in its favor, and the immunities of the Mendicant Orders gave them no exemption from its jurisdiction. Kings, themselves, were subject to this jurisdiction, though Eymerich discreetly observes that in their case it is more prudent to inform the pope and await his instructions. Yet one exception there was. The episcopal office still retained enough of its earlier dignity to render its possessor exempt unless the inquisitor was furnished with special papal letters. It was his duty, however, in case a bishop was suspected of vacillating in the faith, to collect with diligence all the evidence procurable, and to forward it to Rome for examination and decision — a duty in the exercise of which he could render himself abundantly disagreeable, and even dangerous. The choleric John XXII., in 1327, introduced another exemption when provoked by the arrogance of the Sicilian inquisitor, Matthieu de Pontigny, who dared to excommunicate Guillaume de Balet, archdeacon of Frejus, papal chaplain and representative of the Avignonese papacy in the Campagna and Maritima. The angry pope issued a decretal forbidding all judges and inquisitors to attack in any way the officials and nuncios of the Holy See without special letters of authority — but the mere audacity of the attempt shows the height of presumption to which the members of the Holy Office had attained. That laymen learned to address them as "your religious majesty" shows the impression made on the popular mind by their irresponsible supremacy.[1]

If bishops were exempt from judgment by the Inquisition they were not released from obedience to the inquisitors. In the ordinary papal commission issued to the latter, archbishops, bishops,


  1. Eymerici Direct. Inquis. p. 559.— Greg. PP. X. Bull. 20 Apr. 1273 (Martene Thes. V. 1821).— Zanchini de Haeret. c. viii.— Johann. PP. XXII. Bull. Ex parte vestra, 3 Jul. 1322 (Wadding. HI. 291).— C. 16 Sexto v. 2.— C. 3 Extrav. Commuri. V. 3. — Arch, de I'lnq. de Carcassonne (Doat, XXVII. 204).