Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/407

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387
EPISCOPAL CO-OPERATION.

empowered to appoint in every parish a priest and one or two laymen, whose duty it should be to search for heretics, examining all houses, inside and out, and especially all secret hiding-places. In addition to this they were instructed to watch over penitents and enforce the faithful observance of the sentences of the Inquisition, and a manual of practice of the period instructs inquisitors to see that this system is thoroughly carried out. In fact, the whole resources of the land, public and private, were freely placed at the disposal of the Holy Office, so that nothing should be wanting in its sacred mission of extirpating heresy.[1]

An important feature in the organization of the Inquisition was the assembly in which the fate of the accused was finally determined. The inquisitor had technically no power to pass sentence by himself. We have seen how, after various fluctuations of policy, the co-operation of the bishops was established as indispensable. As in everything else, the inquisitors contemptuously neglected this limitation on their powers, and when Clement Y. endeavored to reform abuses he pronounced null and void any sentences rendered independently, yet to avert delays he permitted consent to be expressed in writing if after eight days a meeting could not be arranged. If, indeed, we may judge from some specimens of these written consultations which have reached us, they were perfunctory to the last degree and placed no real check upon the discretion of the inquisitor. Still Bernard Gui complained bitterly even of this restriction in terms which show how little respect had previously been paid to the rule, and he adds, in justification, that one bishop kept the trials of some persons of his diocese from being finished for two years and more, while another delayed the celebration of an auto de fé for six months. He himself observed the regulation scrupulously, both before and after the publication of the Clementines, and in the reports of the autos held by him in Toulouse the participation of the bishops of the prisoners, or of episcopal delegates, is always carefully specified. Yet how easy was the evasion of this, as of all other regulations for the protec-


  1. Zanchini Tract, de Haeret. c. 5.— Coll. Doat, XXI. 226, 308.— Bern. Guidon. Practica P. iv. (Doat, XXX.).— Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1244 c. 8.— Concil. Biterrens. ann. 1246 c. 34.— Practica super luquisit. (MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 14930, fol. 223-4).