Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/464

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It is true that, in 1246, the Council of Béziers lays down the rule that the accused shall have proper opportunities for defence, including necessary delays and the admission of exceptions and legitimate replies; but if this were intended as a check on the arbitrary operations which already characterized the Inquisition, it was wholly disregarded. In the first place, the secrecy of the tribunal enabled the judge to do as he might think best. In the second place, the only possible remaining check to arbitrary action was removed by denying to the accused the advantage of counsel. Then, as now, the intricacy of legal forms rendered the trained advocate a necessity to every man on trial ; the layman, ignorant of his rights, and of the method of enforcing them, was utterly helpless. So thoroughly was this understood that in the ecclesiastical courts it was frequently a custom to furnish advocates gratuitously to poor men unable to employ them, and in the charter granted by Simon de Montfort, in 1212, to his newly-acquired territories, it was provided that justice should always be gratuitous, and that counsel should be provided by the court for pleaders too poor to retain them. When this right thus was recognized in the most trifling cases, to refuse it to those who were battling for their lives before a tribunal in which the judge was also prosecutor, was more than the Church at first dared openly to do, but it practically reached the result by indirection. Innocent III., in a decretal embodied in the canon law, had ordered advocates and scriveners to lend no aid or counsel to heretics and their defenders, or to undertake their causes in litigation. This, which was presumably intended as one of the disabilities inflicted on defiant and acknowledged heretics, was readily applied to the suspect who were not yet convicted, and who were struggling to prove their innocence, for their guilt was always assumed in advance. The councils of Yalence and Albi, in 1248 and 1254, while ordering inquisitors not to embarrass themselves with the vain jangling of lawyers in the conduct of the prosecution, significantly make reference to this provision of the canon law as applicable to counsel who might be so hardy as to aid the defence. That this became a settled and recognized principle is shown by Bernard Gui's assertion that advocates who excuse and defend heretics are to be held guilty of fautorship of heresy — a crime which became heresy itself if satisfaction at the discretion of the