Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/431

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411
THE INTERROGATORY.

tage of hesitation or contradiction. Even in the infancy of the institution the consuls of Narbonne complained to those of Nimes that the inquisitors, in their efforts to entrap the unwary, did not hesitate to make use of dialectics as sophistical as those with which students encountered each other in scholastic diversion. Nothing more ludicrous can well be imagined than the complaints of these veteran examiners, restricted by no rules, of the shrewd duplicity of their victims, who struggled, occasionally with success, to avoid criminating themselves, and they sought to explain it by asserting that wicked and shameless priests instructed them how to equivocate on points of faith.[1]

An experienced inquisitor drew up for the guidance of his successors a specimen examination of a heretic, to show them the quibbles and tergiversations for which they must be prepared when dealing with those who shrank from boldly denying their faith. Its fidelity is attested by Bernard Gui reproducing it fifty years later in his "Practica," and it is too characteristic an illustration of the encounter between the trained intellect of the inquisitor and the untutored shrewdness of the peasant struggling to save his life and his conscience, to be omitted.

"When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, 'Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.'

"I. 'You are accused as a heretic, and that you believe and teach otherwise than Holy Church believes.'

"A. (Raising his eyes to heaven, with an air of the greatest faith) 'Lord, thou knowest that I am innocent of this, and that I never held any faith other than that of true Christianity.'

"I. 'You call your faith Christian, for you consider ours as false and heretical. But I ask whether you have ever believed as true another faith than that which the Roman Church holds to be true?’

  1. Bernard. Guidon. Practica P. v. (Doat, XXX.)-Modus examinandi Hareticos (Mag. Bi. Pat. XIII. 342)-Tractat, de Paup. de Jugd. (Martene Thesaur. V 1798-4)-MS. Vatican, No. 8608 (Ricchiui, Prolog, ad Monetam, p. xxiii.).-Anon Passay. (Mag. Bib. Pat. XIII. 301)-Molinier, L'Inq. dans le midi de la France, p. 234.-Alcx, PP. IV. Bull. Quod super nonnullis, § 10, 15 Dec. 1258