Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/480

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quisitor was limited. He never condemned to death, but merely withdrew the protection of the Church from the hardened and impenitent sinner who afforded no hope of conversion, or from him who showed by relapse that there was no trust to be placed in his pretended repentance. Except in Italy, he never confiscated the heretic's property ; he merely declared the existence of a crime which, under the secular law, rendered the culprit incapable of possession. At most he could impose a fine, as a penance, to be expended in good works. His tribunal was a spiritual one, and dealt only with the sins and remedies of the spirit, under the inspiration of the Gospels, which always lay open before it. Such, at least, was the theory of the Church, and this must be borne in mind if we would understand what may occasionally seem to be inconsistencies and incongruities — especially in view of the arbitrary discretion which left to the individual inquisitor such opportunity to display his personal characteristics in dealing with the penitents before him. He was a judge in the forum of conscience, bound by no statutes and limited by no rules, with his penitents at his mercy, and no power save that of the Holy See itself could alter one jot of his decrees.[1]

This sometimes led to a lenity which would be otherwise inexplicable, as in the case of the murderers of St. Peter Martyr. Pietro Balsamo, known as Carino, one of the hired assassins, was caught red-handed, and his escape by bribery from prison created a popular excitement leading to a revolution in Milan. Yet, when recaptured, he repented, was forgiven, and allowed to enter the Dominican Order, in which he peacefully died, with the repute of a "beato;" and though the Church never formally recognized his right to the public worship paid to him in some places, still, in one of the stalls of the martyr's own great church of Sant' Eustorgio, he appears, with the title of the blessed Acerinus, in a chiaroscuro of 1505, among the Dominican saints. Not one, indeed, of those concerned in the assassination appears to have been put to death, and the leading instigator of the crime, Stefano Confalo-

  1. Arch, de I'Évêché d'Albi (Doat, XXXV. 69). — Arch, de Tlnq. de Carcassonne (Doat, XXVII. 232). — Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1234 c. 5. — Concil. Biterrens. ann. 1246, Append, c. 29. — Eymeric. Direct. Inq. pp. 506-7. — Zauchini Tract, de Hseret. c. xvi. — Guid. Fulcod. Qusest. xv.