Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/442

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heresy. A decent respect for the old-time prejudices of the Chruch, however, forbade him to allow its administration by the inquisitors themselves or their servitors. It was the secular authorities who were ordered to force all captured heretics to confess and accuse their accomplices, by torture which should not imperil life or injure limb, "just as thieves and robbers are forced to confess their crimes and accuse their accomplices." The unrepealed canons of the Church, in fact, prohibited all ecclesiastics from being concerned in such acts, and even from being present where torture was administered, so that the inquisitor whose zeal should lead him to take part in it was thereby rendered "irregular" and unfit for sacred functions until he could be "dispensed" or purified. This did not suit the policy of the institution. Possibly outside of Italy, where torture was as yet virtually unknown, it found difficulty in securing the co-operation of the public officials; everywhere it complained that this cumbrous mode of administration interfered with the profound secrecy which was an essential characterestic of its operations. But four years after the bull of Innocent IV., Alexander IV., in 1256, removed the difficulty with characteristic indirection by authorizing inquisitors and their associates to absolve each other, and mutually grant dispensations for irregularities - a permission which was repeatedly reiterated, and which was held to remove all impediment to the use of torture under the direct supervision of the inquisitor and his ministers. In Naples, where the Inquisition was but slenderly organized, we find the public officials used by it as torturers until the end of the century, but elsewhere it speedily arrogated the administration of torment to its own officials. Even in Naples, however, Frà Tomaso d'Aversa is seen, in 1305, personally inflicting the most brutal tortures on the Spiritual Franciscans; and when he found it impossible in this manner to make them convict themselves, he employed the ingenious expedient of starving for a few days one of the younger brethren, and then giving him strong wine to drink; when the poor wretch was fuddled there was no difficulty in getting him to admit that he and his twoscore comrades were all heretics.[1]

  1. Superstition and Force, 3d Ed. 1878, pp. 419-20. -Lib. Jur. Civ. Verone, ann. 1228, c. 75,-Constit. Sicular. Lib. I. Tit. 27-Frid. I1. Edict. 1220, 5.