Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/454

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tice; but to the inquisitor it appeared a wrong to God and man that any one should escape against whose orthodoxy there rested a shadow of a doubt. Like much else taught by the Inquisition, this found its way into general criminal law, which it perverted for centuries.[1]

Two witnesses were usually assumed to be necessary for the condemnation of a man of good repute, though some authorities demanded more. Yet when a case threatened to fail for lack of testimony, the discretion of the inquisitor was the ultimate arbitrator; and it was agreed that if two witnesses to the same fact could not be had, single witnesses to two separate facts of the same general character would suffice. When there was only one witness in all, the accused was still put on his purgation. With the same determination to remove all obstacles in the way of conviction, if a witness revoked his testimony it was held that if his evidence had been favorable to the accused, the revocation annulled it; if adverse, the revocation was null.[2]

The same disposition to construe everything in favor of the faith governed the admissibility of witnesses of evil character. The Roman law rejected the evidence of accomplices, and the Church had adopted the rule. In the False Decretals it had ordered that no one should be admitted as an accuser who was a heretic or suspected of heresy, was excommunicate, a homicide, a thief, a sorcerer, a diviner, a ravisher, an adulterer, a bearer of false witness, or a consulter of diviners and soothsayers. Yet when it came to prosecuting heresy all these prohibitions were thrown to the winds. As early as the time of Gratian, infamous and heretical witnesses were receivable against heretics. The edicts of Frederic II. rendered heretics incapable of giving testimony, but this disability was removed when they testified against heretics.

  1. Bymeric. Direct. Inq. pp. 376-81.-Zanchini Tract. de Heret. c. ii
  2. Archidiaconi Gloss. super e. xi. §1 Sexto v. 2.-Toann. Andree Gloss. sup. c. xiii. 7 Extra v. 7.-Eymeric. Direct, Inquis. pp. 445, 615-10.-Guid. Fulcodii Qust. xTV.-Zanchini Tract. de Hæret. c. xiii., xiv.-Bern. Guidon. Practica P. Y. (Doat, XXX.)
    In the lay courts, if a witness swore to the innocence of the accused and subsequently changed his testimony, the first statement was held good and the second was rejected, but in cases of hercsy the incriminating evidence was always received.-Ponzinibii de Lamiis c. 84