Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/456

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harvest, when the age of a witness, Arnaud Olivier, happens to be mentioned as ten years. He admitted having been a Catharan "believer" since he had reached the age of discretion, and thus was responsible for himself and others. His evidence is gravely recorded against his father, his sister, and nearly seventy others; and in it he is made to give the names of sixty-six persons who were present about a year before at the sermon of a Catharan bishop. The wonderful exercise of so young a memory does not seem to have excited any doubts as to the validity of his testimony, which must have been held conclusive against the unfortunates enumerated, as he stated that they all "venerated" their prelate.[1]

Wives and children and servants were not admitted to give evidence in favor of the accused, but their testimony if adverse to him was welcomed, and was considered peculiarly strong. It was the same with the heretic, who, as we have seen, was freely admitted as an adverse witness, but who was rejected if appearing for the defence. In short, the only exception which could be taken to an accusing witness was malignity. If he was a mortal enemy of the prisoner it was presumed that his testimony was rather the prompting of hate than zeal for the faith, and it was required to be thrown out. In the case of the dead, the evidence of a priest that he had shriven the defunct and administered the viaticum went for nothing; but if he testified that the departed had confessed to being a heretic, had recanted, and had received absolution, then his bones were not exhumed and burned, but the heirs had to endure such penance of fine or confiscation as would have been inflicted on him if alive.[2]

Of course no witness could refuse to give evidence. No privilege or vow or oath released him from the duty. If he was unwilling and paltered or prevaricated and equivocated, there was the gentle persuasion of the torture-chamber, which, as we have seen,

  1. Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquisit. s. v. Testis, No. 14.-Concil AIlbiens. ann. 1254 c. 18.-Coll. Doat, XXII. 237 sqq
    In the German feudal law of the period no witness was admitted below the age of eighteen.-Sächsischcs Lehenrechtbuch, c. 49 (Daniels, Berlin, 1863, p. 113)
  2. Eymeric. Direct. Inq. pp. 611-13.-Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1244 c. 25.-Concil. Biterrens, ann, 1246 c. 14.-Arch, de 1'Inq. de Carcass. (Doat, XXXI 149).