Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/411

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391
THE AUTO DE FÉ.

cretion, paid attention or not to the decisions of the experts, as best suited them. In the sentences which follow the reports of these assemblies it is by no means unusual to find names which had never been laid before them. After the assembly of Pamiers, for instance, which showed so much disposition to act for itself, there is a sentence condemning five defuncts, only two of whom are named in the proceedings. On the same occasion, another culprit, Ermessende, daughter of Raymond Monier, was condemned by the assembly for false-witness to the "murus largus'' or simple prison, and was sentenced by the inquisitor to "murus strictus" or imprisonment in chains, which was a very different penalty. In fact, it was a disputed point whether the inquisitor was bound to obey the counsel of the assembly, and though Eymerich decides in the affirmative, Bernardo di Como positively asserts the negative.[1]

From the necessity of these consultations with bishops and experts it is easy to understand the origin of the "Sermo generalis" or auto de fé. It was evidently impossible to bring all parties together to consult over each individual case, and convenience was not only served by allowing the cases to accumulate, but opportunity was also afforded of arranging an impressive solemnity which should strike terror on the heretic and comfort the hearts of the faithful. In the rudimentary Inquisition of Florence, in 1245, where the inquisitor Euggieri Calcagni and Bishop Ardingho were zealously co-operating, and no assembly of experts was required, we find the heretics sentenced and executed day by day, singly or in twos or threes, but the form was already adopted of assembling the people in the cathedral and reading the sentence to them, when doubtless the occasion was improved of delivering a discourse upon the wickedness of dissent and the duty of all citizens to persecute the children of Satan. In Toulouse the fragment of the register of sentences of Bernard de Caux and Jean de Saint-Pierre, from March, 1246, to June, 1248, shows a similar disregard of form. The autos or Sermones are sometimes held every few days — there are five in May, 1246 — and often there are only one or two heretics to be sentenced, rendering it exceedingly proba-


  1. Coll. Doat, XXVII. 118, 131, 133.— Eymerici Direct. Inq. p. 630.— Bernard. Comcns. Lucerna Inquisitor, s. v. Advocatiis.