Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/515

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
495
MODIFICATION OF SENTENCE.
Delivered to the secular court and burned 40
Bones exhumed and burned 67
Imprisoned 300
Bones exhumed of those who would have been imprisoned 21
Condemned to wear crosses 138
Condemned to perform pilgrimages 16
Banished to Holy Land 1
Fugitives 36
Condemnation of the Talmud 1
Houses to be destroyed 16
636

and this may presumably be taken as a fair measure of the comparative frequency of the several punishments in use.

One peculiarity of the inquisitorial sentence remains to be noted. It always ended with a reservation of power to modify, to mitigate, to increase, and to reimpose at discretion. As early as 1244 the Council of Narbonne instructed the inquisitors always to reserve this power, and it became established as an invariable custom. Even without its formal expression. Innocent IV., in 1245, conferred on the inquisitors, acting with the advice and consent of the bishop of the penitent, authority to modify the penance imposed. The bishop, in fact, usually concurred in these alterations of sentences, but Zanchini informs us that though his assent should be asked, it was not essential, except in the case of clerks. The inquisitor, however, had no power to grant absolute pardons, which was reserved exclusively to the pope. The sin of heresy was so indelible that no authority short of the vicegerent of God could wash it out completely.[1]

This power to mitigate sentences was frequently exercised. It served as a stimulus to the penitents to give evidence by their deportment of the sincerity of their conversion, and, perhaps, also, it was occasionally of benefit as a means of depleting overcrowded jails. Thus in Bernard Gui's Register of Sentences there occur one hundred and nineteen cases of release from prison, with the obligation to wear the crosses, and of these fifty-one were subse-


  1. Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1244 c. 7. — Innoc. PP. IV. Bull. Ut commissum, 20 Jan. 1245 (Doat, XXXI. 68). — Vaissette, III. Pr. 468. —Concil. Biterrens. ann. 1246, Append, c. 20. — Zanchini, Tract, de Haeret. c. xxi., xxxviii.