Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/479

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CHAPTER XII.

THE SENTENCE.

The penal functions of the Inquisition were based upon a fiction which must be comprehended in order rightly to appreciate much of its action. Theoretically it had no power to inflict punishment. Its mission was to save men's souls; to recall them to the way of salvation, and to assign salutary penance to those who sought it, like a father-confessor with his penitents. Its sentences, therefore, were not, like those of an earthly judge, the retaliation of society on the wrong-doer, or deterrent examples to prevent the spread of crime; they were simply imposed for the benefit of the erring soul, to wash away its sin. The inquisitors themselves habitually speak of their ministrations in this sense. When they condemned a poor wretch to lifelong imprisonment, the formula in use, after the procedure of the Holy Office had become systematized, was a simple injunction on him to betake himself to the jail and confine himself there, performing penance on bread and water, with a warning that he was not to leave it under pain of excommunication, and of being regarded as a perjured and impenitent heretic. If he broke jail and escaped, the requisition for his recapture under a foreign jurisdiction describes him, with a singular lack of humor, as one insanely led to reject the salutary medicine offered for his cure, and to spurn the wine and oil which were soothing his wounds.[1]

Technically, therefore, the list of penalties available to the in-


  1. Guid. Fulcod. Quaestt. xiii., xv. — Ripoll, I. 254. —Archives de I'lnq. de Carcassonne (Doat, XXXI. 139).— Archives de Vtv(ich6 d'Albi (Doat, XXXV. G9). — Lib. Sententt. Inq. Tolosan. p. 32. — Eymeric. Direct. Inquis. pp. 4G5, 643, — Zanchini Tract, de Hacrct. c. xx.
    In the sentences of Bernard de Caux, 1246-8, though imprisonment is treated as a penance, the expression is more mandatory than in later proceedings (MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, 9902).