Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/425

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405
DISREGARD OF FORMS.

thirty-two years after his death, in 1269, ending with the triumph of the Inquisition in 1301. No prescription of time barred the Church in these matters, as the heirs and descendants of Gherardo of Florence found when, in 1313, Frà Grimaldo the inquisitor commenced a successful prosecution against their ancestor who had died prior to 1250.[1]

At best the inquisitorial process was a dangerous one in its conjunction of prosecutor with judge, and when it was first introduced in ecclesiastical jurisprudence careful limitations to prevent abuse were felt to be absolutely essential. The danger was doubled when the prosecuting judge was an earnest zealot bent on upholding the faith and predetermined on seeing in every prisoner before him a heretic to be convicted at any cost; nor was the danger lessened when he was merely rapacious and eager for fines and confiscations. Yet the theory of the Church was that the inquisitor was an impartial spiritual father whose functions in the salvation of souls should be fettered by no rules. All the safeguards which human experience had shown to be necessary in judicial proceedings of the most trivial character were deliberately cast aside in these cases, where life and reputation and property through three generations were involved. Every doubtful point was decided "in favor of the faith." The inquisitor, with endless iteration, was empowered and instructed to proceed summarily, to disregard forms, to permit no impediments arising from judicial rules or the wrangling of advocates, to shorten the proceedings as much as possible by depriving the accused of the ordinary facilities of defence, and by rejecting all appeals and dilatory exceptions. The validity of the result was not to be vitiated by the omission at any stage of the trial of the forms which had been devised to prevent injustice and subject the judge to responsibility.[2]

  1. Muratori, Antiquitat. Ital. Dissert. 60.-Zanchini Tract. de Heret. c. xxiv. xl.-Lami, Antichità Toscane, p. 497
  2. Alex. PP. IV. Bull. Pra cunctis, § 11, 9 Nov. 1256.-Ejusd. Tull Cupientes, 10 Dec. 1357 4 Mart. 1264.-Urbani PP. IV. Bull. Iicet co omnibus, 1262 (Mag. Bull Rom. I. 122).-Ejusd. Bull. Pre cunctis, 2 Aug. 1264.-Clement. PP. IV Bull. Pra cunetis, 23 Feb. 1206.-C. 20 Sexto v. 2.-Jonn. Andree Gloss, sup. eod.-C. 2 Clement. v. 11.-Bernardi Guidonis Practica P. Iv. (Doat, XXX.). Eymeric. Direct. Inq. p. 583.