Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/455

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435
CHARACTER AND AGE OF WITNESSES.

That there was some hesitation on this point we see in the Legatine Inquisition held in Toulouse in 1229, where it is recorded that Guillem Solier, a converted heretic, was restored in fame in order to enable him to bear witness against his former associates, and even as late as 1260 Alexander IV. was obliged to reassure the French inquisitors that they could safely use the evidence of heretics; but the principle became a settled one, adopted in the canon law, and constantly enforced in practice. Without it, in fact, the Inquisition would have beed deprived of its most fruitful means of tracking heretics. It was the same with excommunicates, perjurers, infamous persons, usurers, harlots, and all those who, in the ordinary criminal jurisprudence of the age, were regarded as incapable of bearing witness, yet whose evidence was receivable against heretics. All legal exceptions were declared inoperative except that of mortal enmity.[1]

In the ordinary criminal law of Italy no evidence was received from a witness under twenty, but in cases of heresy such testimony was taken, and, though not legal, it sufficed to justify torture. In France the distinction seems to have been less rigidly defined, and the matter probably was left, like so much else, to the discretion of the inquisitors. As the Coucil of Albi specifies seven years as the period at which all children were ordered to be made to attend church and learn the Creed, Paternoster, and Salutation to the Virgin, it may be safely assumed that below that age they would hardly be admitted to give testimony. In the records of the Inquisition the age of the witness is rarely stated, but I have met with one case, in 1244, after the capture of the pestilent nest of heretics at Montségur, where the Inquisition gathered so goodly a

  1. C. 17 Cod. x. ii. (Honor. 423).--Pscudo-Julii Epist. I1. c. 18 (Gratiani Decret. P. IT. caus. v. Q. 8, c. 5.-Pseudo-Eutychiani Epist. ad Episcopp. Sicilire.-Gratiani Comment. in Decret. P. II. caus. 1L Q. 7, c. 22; caus. VI. Q. 1, e. 19.-Hist. Diplom. Frid. II. T. IV. pp. 209-300.-Guill. Pod. Taur, c. 40.-Alex. PP. IV. Bull. Consuluit, 6 Mai. 1260 (Doat, XXXI. 205); Ejusd. Bull. Quod super nonnullis, 9 Dec. 1257 15 Dc. 1258.-C. 5 Sexto v. 2,-C. 8 8 Sexto v. 2.-Concil. Biter rens, ann. 1216 c. 12.-Jacob. Laudun,, Orat. in Cone. Constant. (Von der Hardt III. G0).-MSS. Bib. Nat., fods latin, No. 14930, fol. 221.-Zanehini Tract. de Heret. c. xi., xiii-Eymeric. Dircct. Inq. pp. 602-6.
    Under the contemporary English law, criminals and accomplices were rejected as accusers, cven in high-treason (Bracton, Lib. III. Tract, ii. cap. 3, No. 1)