Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/505

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
485
PENANCE OF IMPRISONMENT.

specifically declared that, except when special indulgence could be procured from the Holy See, no husband was to be spared on account of his wife, or wife on account of her husband, or parent in consideration of helpless children; neither sickness nor old age should claim mitigation. Every one who did not come forward within the time of grace and confess and denounce his acquaintances was liable to this penance, which in all cases was to be life-long ; but the prevalence of heresy in Languedoc was so great, and the terror inspired by the activity of the inquisitors grew so strong, that those who had allowed the allotted period to elapse flocked in, begging for reconciUation, in such multitudes that the good bishops declare not only that funds for the support of such crowds of prisoners were lacking, but even that it would be impossible to find stones and mortar sufficient to build prisons for them. The inquisitors are therefore instructed to delay incarceration in these cases, unless impenitence, relapse, or flight, is to be apprehended, until the pleasure of the pope can be learned. Apparently Innocent IV. was not disposed to leniency, for in 1246 the Council of Béziers sternly orders the imprisonment of all who have overstayed the time of grace, while counselling commutation when it would entail evident peril of death on parents or children. Imprisonment thus became the usual punishment, except of obstinate heretics, who were burned. In a single sentence of Feburary 19, 1237, at Toulouse, some twenty or thirty penitents are thus condemned, and are ordered to confine themselves in a house until prisons can be built. In a fragment which has been preserved of the register of sentences in the Inquisition of Toulouse from 1216 to 1248, comprising one hundred and ninety-two cases, with the exception of forty -three contumacious absentees, the sentence is invariably imprisonment. Of these, one hundred and twenty-seven are perpetual, six are for ten years, and sixteen for an indefinite period, as may seem expedient to the Church. It apparently was not till a later period that the order of the Council of Narbonne was obeyed, and the sentence always was for life. In the later periods this proportion will not hold good, for all inquisitors were not like the fierce Bernard de Caux, who then ruled the Holy Office in Toulouse ; but perpetual imprisonment remained to the last the principal penance indicted on penitents, although the decrees of Frederic and the canons of the councils of Toulouse and Narbonne