Montesquieu, contested the matter and finally obtained a decision in his favor.
Equal care was exercised in recovering alienated property. As, in obedience to the Roman law of majestas, forfeiture occurred ipso facto as soon as the crime of heresy was committed, the heretic could convey no legal title, and any assignments which he might have made were void, no matter through how many hands the property might have passed. The holder was forced to surrender it, nor could he demand restitution of what he had paid, unless the money or other consideration were found among the goods of the heretic. The eagerness with which, in such cases, the rigor of the law was enforced may be estimated from one occurring in 1272. Charles of Anjou had written from Naples to his viguier and sous-viguier at Marseilles telling them that a certain Maria Roberta, before condemnation to prison for heresy, had sold a house which was subject to confiscation ; this he ordered them to seize, to sell by auction, and to report the proceeds ; but they neglected to do so. The viguiers were changed, and now the unforgetful Charles writes to the new officials, repeating his orders and holding them person- ally responsible for obedience. At the same time he writes to his seneschal with instructions to look after the matter, as it lies very near to his heart.
The cruelty of the process of confiscation was enhanced by the pitiless methods employed. As soon as a man was arrested for suspicion of heresy his property was sequestrated and seized by the officials, to be returned to him in the rare cases in which his guilt might be declared not proven. This rule was enforced in the most rigorous manner, every article of his household gear and provisions being inventoried, as well as his real estate. Thus, whether innocent or guilty, his family were turned out-of-doors to starve or to depend upon the precarious charity of others — a charity
- Archives de I'Évêché d'Albi (Doat, XXXIII. 207-72).— Coll. Doat, XXXV. 93.— Les Olim, II. 111.
- Bernard! Comens. Lucerna Inquis. s. v. Bona hoereticor. — Archidiac. Gloss, sup. c. 19 Sexto V. 2.— Archivio di Napoli, Regist. 15, Lett. C, fol. 77, 78.
The English law of felony was also retroactive, and all alienations subsequent to the commission of the crime were void (Bracton, Lib. iii. Tract, ii. cap. 13, No. 8).
- Coll. Doat, XXXII. 309, 316.