Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/39

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19
FORGERY OF PAPAL LETTERS.

chancery is not wronged, were freely sold to all able to pay for them. Europe thus was traversed by multitudes of men armed with these weapons, which they used without remorse for extortion and oppression. Bishops, too, were not backward in thus farming out their more United jurisdictions, and, in the confusion thus arising, it was not difficult for reckless adventurers to pretend to the possession of these delegated powers and use them likewise for the basest purposes, no one daring to risk the possible consequences of resistance. These letters thus afforded a carte hlanche through which injustice could be perpetrated and malignity gratified to the fullest extent. An additional complication which not unnaturally followed was the fabrication and falsification of these letters. It was not easy to refer to distant Rome to ascertain the genuineness of a papal brief confidently produced by its bearer, and the impunity with which powers so tremendous could be assumed was irresistibly attractive. When Innocent III. ascended the throne he found a factory of forged letters in full operation in Rome, and although this was suppressed, the business was too profitable to be broken up by even his vigilance. To the end of his pontificate the detection of fraudulent briefs was a constant preoccupation. Nor was this industry confined to Rome. About the same period Stephen, Bishop of Tournay, discovered in his episcopal city a similar nest of counterfeiters, who had invented an ingenious instrument for the fabrication of the papal seals. To the people, however, it mattered little whether they were genuine or fictitious ; the suffering was the same whether the papal chancery had received its fee or not.[1]


  1. Can. 48, Extra Lib. . tit. ii-Petri Exoniens. Summula Exigendi Confessionis (IIarduin. VII. 1126)-Concil. ITerhipolens. ann. 1187 c. 87.-Concil. apud Campinacuun ann. 1283 c. 1, 2, 7.Conci apud Custrum Gonterii ann. 1353 can. unic. C. Nugariolens. ann. 1200 c. 8.-C. Avenionens. ann. 1326 c. 49; ann. 1337 c. 59,-C. Bituricens, ann. 1330 c. .C. Vaurens. ann. 1368 c, 10, 11-Lucii. PP. III, Epist. 252.-Innocent, PP. III. Regest. Lib, I. Epist. 236, 849, 405 456, 530, 540; I. 20; . 37; vI. 120, 288, 234; vI. 26; x. 15,79, 93; xI. 144, 161, 275; xv. 218, 223; Supplem. 234.-Berger, Rogistre d'Innocent IV. pp. lxxvi-lxxvii., No. 2591, 3214, 8812, 4086.-Theiner Vet. Monument. Hibern. et Scotor. No. 196, p. 75.-Dc Reiffcnberg, Chron. de Plh. ouskes, I. coxxv
    When the comprehensive annual curse, known as the Bul in Cena Domini, came in fashion, falsifiers of papal letters were included in its anathemas, until the abrogation of the custom in 1773.