Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/453

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433
SUSPICION OF HERESY.

everything was left to the discretion of the inquisitor, whose temper had more to do with the result than the proof of guilt or its absence. How insignificant were the tokens on which a man's fate might depend may be understood by a single instance. In 1234 Accursio Aldobrandini, a Florentine merchant in Paris, made the acquaintance of some strangers with whom he conversed several times, giving their servant on one occasion ten sols, and bowing to them when they met, out of politeness. This latter act was equivalent to the "veneration" which was the crucial test of heresy, and when he chanced to learn that his new acquaintances were heretics he felt himself lost. Hastening to Rome, he laid the matter before Gregory IX., who exacted bail of him and sent a commission to the Bishop of Florence to investigate the antecedents of Accursio. The report was examined by the cardinals of Ostia and Preneste and found to be emphatic in commending his orthodoxy, so he escaped with a penance prescribed by Raymond of Pennaforte, the papal penitentiary, and Gregory wrote to the inquisitors of Paris not to molest him. Under such a system the most devout Catholic could never feel safe for a moment.[1]

Yet in spite of all these efforts to define the indefinable, it was in the very nature of things that absolute certitude could not, in a vast range of cases, be reached except through confession. In order, therefore, to avert the misfortune of acquitting those who could not be brought to confess, it became necessary to invent a new crime - that known as "suspicion of heresy." This opened a wide field for the endless subtleties and refinements in which the jurists of the schools delighted, rendering their so-called science of law a worthy rival of scholastic theology. Suspicion thus was primarily divided into three grades, designated as light, vehement, and violent, and the glossators revel in defining the amount and quality of evidence which renders the accused guilty of either of these, with the usual result that practically the matter was left to the discretion of the tribunal. That a man against whom nothing substantial was proved should be punished merely because he was suspected of guilt may seem to modern eyes a scant measure of jus-

  1. Concil. Albiens. ann. 1254 c. 27.-Guid. Fulcod. Qust. Ix.-Bern. Guidon Practica P. Iv. (Doat, XXX.).-Lib. Confess. Inq. Albiens. (3ISS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, 11847)-Ripoll, I. 72