Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/474

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

victing any one, or acting either for or against the accused through love, hate, or the hopes of gain, under penalty of ipso facto excommunication, removable only by the Holy See. Bernard Gui hotly denied these assertions, which he declared to be precisely those with which the heretics defamed the Holy Office to its great damage. To impute heresy to the innocent, he said, is worthy of damnation, but none the less so is it to slander the Inquisition. In spite, he adds, of the refutation of the accusations brought against it, this canon assumes their truth and the heretics exult over its disgrace. If the heretics exulted, their rejoicings were premature. The Inquisition went its way in the accustomed paths, and Clement's well-meant effort at reform proved wholly unavailing.[1]

The erection of suspicion into a crime gave ample opportunity for the habitual avoidance of acquittal. This took its origin in the customs of the barbarian and mediæval codes, which required the accused, against whom a probable case was made out, to demonstrate his innocence either by the ordeal, or by the form of purgation known in England as the Wager of Law, in which he produced a prescribed number of his friends to share with him the oath of denial. In the coronation-edict of Frederic II. those who were suspected of heresy were required to purge themselves in this manner, as the Church might demand, under pain of being outlawed, and, if they remained so for a year, of being condemned as heretics. This gave a peculiar and sinister significance to suspicion of heresy which was carefully elaborated and turned to account. Suspicion might arise from many causes, the chief of which was popular rumor and belief. Omission to take the oath abjuring heresy imposed on all the inhabitants of Languedoc, within the term prescribed, was sufficient, or neglect to reveal heretics, or the possession of heretical books. The intricate questions to which this extension of criminality gave rise are fairly illustrated in the discussion of an inquisitor whether those who listened to the instructions of the Waldenses, "Do not lie, nor swear, nor commit fornication, but give to every man his due ; go to church, pay your tithes, and the perquisites of the priests," and, knowing this to be good advice, conclude the utterers to be good men — whether such

  1. C. 1 Clement, v. 3.— Bern. Guidon. Gravamina (Doat, XXX. 112),