Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/523

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503
ENFORCED BY THE CHURCH.

of heresy. If he recanted, it might be restored to him purely in mercy. When the ecclesiastical tribunals declared him to be, or to have been, a heretic, confiscation operated itself; the act of seizing the property was a matter for the secular power to whom it inured, and the mercy which might spare it could only be shown by that power. All this it is requisite to keep in mind if we would correctly appreciate some points which have frequently been misunderstood.

Innocent's decretal further illustrates the fact that at the commencement of the struggle with heresy the chief difficulty encountered by the Church in relation to confiscation was to persuade or coerce the temporal rulers to do what it held to be their duty in taking possession of heretical property. This was one of the principal offences which Raymond VI. of Toulouse expiated so bitterly, as explained to him by Innocent in 1210. His son proclaimed it as the law in his statutes of 1234, and included in its provisions, in accordance with the Ordonnance of Louis VIII., in 1226, and that of Louis IX., in 1229, all who favored heretics in any way or refused to aid in their capture ; but his policy did not always comport with its enforcement, and he sometimes had to be sternly rebuked for non-feasance. After all danger of armed resistance had disappeared, however, sovereigns, as a rule, eagerly welcomed the opportunity of recruiting their slender revenues, and the confiscation of the property of heretics and of fautors of heresy was generally recognized in European law, although the Church was occasionally obliged to repeat its injunctions and threats, and though there were some regions in which they were slackly obeyed.[1]


  1. Innoc. PP. in. Regest. xii. 154 (Cap. 26 Extra v. xl. ). — Isambert, Anc. Loir Fran^aises I. 328, 232.— Harduin. VII. 203-8.— Vaissette, III. Pr. 385.— Concil. Albiens. ann. 1254 c. 26.— Innoc. PP. IV. Bull. Cum fratres, ann. 1252 (Mag. Bull. Roman. I. 90).
    Confiscation was an ordinary resource of mediaeval law. In England, from the time of Alfred, property, as well as life, was forfeited for treason (Alfred's Dooms 4— Thorpe I. 63), a penalty which remained until 1870 (Low and Pulling'a Dictionary of English History, p. 409). In France murder, false-witness, treachery, homicide, and rape were all punished with death and confiscation (Beaumanoir, Coutumes du Beauvoisis xxx. 2-5). By the German feudal law the fief might be forfeited for a vast number of offences, but the distinction was drawn that, if the offence was against the lord, the fief reverted to him; if simply a