Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/461

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441
FALSE WITNESS.

tion he speedily forced the accuser to confess that he had fabricated the story to injure his son. Creditable as is this case to the inquisitor, it is hideously suggestive of the pitfalls which lay around the feet of every man; and no less so is an instance in which Henri de Chamay, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, in 1329, resolutely traced out a conspiracy to ruin an innocent man, and had the satisfaction of forcing five false-witnesses to confess their guilt. Rare instances such as these, however, offered but a feeble palliation for the inherent vices of the system, and in spite of the severe punishment meted out to those who were discovered, the crime was of very frequent occurrence. The security with which it could be committed renders it safe to assume that detection occurred in a very small proportion of the cases; so when among the scanty documents that have reached us we see six false-witnesses (of whom two were priests and one a clerk), sentenced at an auto de fé held at Pamiers in 1323; four at Narbonne in December, 1328; one, a few weeks after, at Pamiers; four more at Pamiers in January, 1329, and seven (one of whom was a notary) at Carcassonne in September, 1329, we may conclude that if the full records of the Inquisition were accessible, the list would be a frightful one, and would suggest an incalculable amout of injustice which remained undiscovered. We do not need the admission of Eymerich that witnesses are found frequently to conspire together to ruin an innocent man, and we may well doubt his assurance that persistent scrutiny by the inquisitor will detect the wrong. There is, perhaps, only a consistent exhibition of inquisitorial logic in the dictum of Zanghino, that a witness who withdraws testimony adverse to a prisoner is to be punished for false-witness, while his testimony is to stand, and to receive full weight in rendering judgment.[1]

A false-witness, when detected, was treated with as little mercy as a heretic. As a symbol of his crime two pieces of red cloth in the shape of tongues were affixed to his breast and two to his back, to be worn through life. He was exhibited at the church-doors on a scaffolding during divine service on Sundays, and was

  1. Lib. Confess. Inq. Albiens. (MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, 11847).-Lib. Sententt. lnq. Tolosan. pp. 96-7, 180, 398.-Arch. de l'Inq. de Carcass. (Doat, XXVII 118, 133, 140, 149, 178, 204-16)-Eymeric. Direct. Inq. p. 521.--Zanchini Tract. de Heret, c. xiv