Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/427

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407
USUAL COURSE OF TRIAL.

The ordinary course of a trial by the Inquisition was this. A man would be reported to the inquisitor as of ill-repute for heresy, or his name would occur in the confessions of other prisoners. A secret inquisition would be made and all accessible evidence against him would be collected. He would then be secretly cited to appear at a given time, and bail taken to secure his obedience, or if he were suspected of flight, he would be suddenly arrested and confined until the tribunal was ready to give him a hearing. Legally there required to be three citations, but this was eluded by making the summons “one for three;” when the prosecution was based on common report the witnesses were called apparently at random, making a sort of drag-net, and when the mass of surmises and gossip, exaggerated and distorted by the natural fear of the witnesses, eager to save themselves from suspicion of favoring heretics, grew sufficient for action, the blow would fall. The accused was thus prejudged. He was assumed to be guilty, or he would not have been put on trial, and virtually his only mode of escape was by confessing the charges made against him, abjuring heresy, and accepting whatever punishment might be imposed on him in the shape of penance. Persistent denial of guilt and assertion of orthodoxy, when there was evidence against him, rendered him an impenitent, obstinate heretic, to be abandoned to the secular arm and consigned to the stake. The process thus was an exceedingly simple one, and is aptly summarized by an inquisitor of the fifteenth century in an argument against admitting the accused to bail. If one is caught in heresy, by his own confession, and is impenitent, he is to be delivered to the secular arm to be put to death; if penitent, he is to be thrust in prison for life, and therefore is not to be let loose on bail; if he denies, and is legitimately convicted by witnesses, he is, as an impenitent, to be delivered to the secular court to be executed. [1]

    Concil. Constant. (Von der Hardt. III. 60)-Paramo de Orig. Ofic. S. Inquis. pp. 32-33.-Zanchini Tract. de Haret. c. ix

  1. Eymeric. Direct. Inq. pp. 413, 418, 423-4, 461-5, 521-4.-Zanchini Tract. de Hæret. c. ix.-Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquisit. s.v. Impanitens.-Albertin. Repert. lnquis. s. v. Cautio.
    The contrast betwecn this and the secular jurisprudence of the thirteenth century is iliustraled in the charter granted by Alphonse of Poiticrs to tho town of Auzon (Auvergne), about 1200. Any one accused of crime by common report