Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/44

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24
THE CHURCH.

frequently and diligently than heretofore, and, when opportunity offered, to cause preaching to be done by honest and discreet persons. In 1215 the great Council of Lateran admitted the impracticability of bishops attending to this among so many more pressing avocations, and directed them to provide and pay proper persons to visit their parishes and edify the people by word and example. Yet little improvement could be expected from exhortations such as these, and the heretics had the field virtually to themselves until the Preaching Friars arose and were steadily rebuffed by those whose negligence they replaced. The Troubadour Inquisitor Izarn does not hesitate to declare that heresy never could have spread had there been good preachers to oppose it, and that it never could have been subdued but for the Dominicans."[1]

The character of the lower orders of ecclesiastics could not be reasonably expected to be better than that of their prelates. Benefices were mostly in the gift of the bishops, though, of course, advowsons were frequently held by the laity; special rights of patronage were held by religious bodies, and many of these latter filled vacancies in their own ranks by co-optation. Whatever was the nominating power, however, the result was apt to be the same. It is the universal complaint of the age that benefices were openly sold, or were bestowed through favor, without examination into the qualifications of the appointee, or the slightest regard as to his fitness. Even the rigid virtue of St. Bernard did not prevent him, in 1151, Tom soliciting a provostship for a graceless youth, the nephew of his friend the Bishop of Auxerre, though repentance induced by cooller reflection led him to withdraw his application, which he could the more easily do on learning that his friend, in dying, had left no less than seven churches to his beloved nephew. In the same year he was more cautious in refusing Count Thibaut of Champagne some preferment which he had asked for his son, a child of tender years ; but the mere request for it shows how benefices, when not sold, were wont to be distributed ; and it is safe to say that there were few like St. Bernard, with courage and conviction to reject the solicitations of the powerful. It is true that the


  1. Concil. Lemovicens. ann. 1031.— Concil. Avenionens. ann. 1209 c. 1. — Concil. Lateranens. ann. 1215 c. 10. — Millot, Hist. Litt. des Troubadours, H. 61.