Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/501

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481
DESTRUCTION OF HOUSES.

depended for support. It was only in rare cases that the victims dared to raise a cry, and rarer still were those in which that cry was heard ; but sufficient instances have reached us to prove what a scourge was the institution, in this aspect alone, on all the populations cursed by its presence. At a very early period the wealthy already recognized that well-timed liberality was advisable towards those who held such power in the hollow of their hands. In 1244 the Dominican Chapter of Cahors lifted a warning voice and ordered inquisitors not to aUow their brethren to receive presents which would expose the whole Order to disrepute ; but this scrupulousness wore off, and even a man of high character like Eymerich could argue that inquisitors may properly be the recipients of gifts, though he dubiously adds that they ought to be refused from those under trial, except in special circumstances. As the accounts of the Inquisition were rendered only to the papal camera, it will be seen how little the officials had to dread investigation and exposure. As little had they to fear the divine wrath, for their very functions, while thus engaged, insured them plenary indulgence for all sins confessed and repented. Thus secure, here and hereafter, they were virtually relieved from all restraint.[1]

There was one purely temporal penalty which came within the competence of the Inquisition — the designation of the houses which were to be destroyed in consequence of the contamination of heresy. The origin of this curious practice is not readily traced. Under the Koman law, buildings in which heretics held their conventicles with the owner's consent were not torn down, but were forfeited to the Church. Yet as soon as heresy began to be formidable we find their destruction commanded by secular rulers with singular unanimity. The earhest provision I have met with occurs in the assizes of Clarendon in 1166, which order the razing of all houses in which heretics were received. The example was followed by the Emperor Henry VI. in the edict of Prato, in 1194, by Otho IV. in 1210, and by Frederic II. in the edict of Eavenna, in 1232, as an addition to his coronation - edict of 1220, from which it had been omitted. It had already been adopted in the code of Verona in 1228 in all cases in which the owner, after eight days' notice,


  1. Molinier, op. cit. p. 307.— Eymeric. Direct. Inq. p. 650, 685.