Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/53

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

propensities. At the same time it attracted to the Church vast numbers of worthless men, who, without abandoning their worldly pursuits, entered the lower grades and enjoyed the irresponsibility of their position, to the injury of its character and the detriment of all who came in contact with them. How, in maintaining its privileges, the Church habitually threw its aegis over those least deserving of sympathy, is well illustrated by the intervention of Innocent III. in favor of Waldemar, Bishop of Sleswick. He was the natural son of Cnut V. of Denmark, and had Leaded an armed insurrection against Waldemar II., the reigning king, on the suppression of which he was cast into prison. Innocent demanded his Uberation, as his incarceration was a violation of the immunities of the Church. Waldemar naturally hesitated thus to expose his kingdom to the repetition of revolt, and Innocent at first modified his command in so far as to order the offender conveyed to Hungary and liberated there, promising that he should not be permitted again to disturb the realm; but he subsequently evoked the case to Rome, where, in spite of the bishop being the offspring of a double adultery and thus ineligible to holy orders, and in spite of the representations of the Danish envoys that he had been guilty of perjury, adultery, apostasy, and dilapidation. Innocent, in behalf of the liberties of the Church, restored him to his bishopric and patrimony, with the special privilege of administering it by deputy if he feared that residence would endanger his personal safety. When requested to decide whether laymen could arrest and bring before the episcopal court a clerk caught red-handed in the commission of gross wickedness. Innocent replied that they could only do so under the special command of a prelate — which was tantamount to granting virtual impunity in such cases. A sacerdotal body, whose class-privileges of wrong-doing were so tenderly guarded, was not likely to prove itself a desirable element of society; and when the orderly enforcement of law gradually established itself throughout Christendom, the courts of justice found in the immunity of the ecclesiastic a more formidable enemy to order than in the pretensions of the feudal seigniory. Indeed, when malefactors were arrested, their first effort habitually was to prove their clergy, that they wore the tonsure, and that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the secular courts, while zeal for ecclesiastical rights, and possibly