Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/542

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of the sorcerers of Arras, when the movables were confiscated to the episcopal treasury, and he seized the landed property in spite of the privileges alleged by the city.[1]

In addition to the misery inflicted by these wholesale confiscations on the thousands of innocent and helpless women and children thus stripped of everything, it would be almost impossible to exaggerate the evil which they entailed upon all classes in the business of daily life. All safeguards were withdrawn from every transaction. No creditor or purchaser could be sure of the orthodoxy of him with whom he was dealing; and, even more than the principle that ownership was forfeited as soon as heresy had been committed by the living, the practice of proceeding against the memory of the dead after an interval virtually unlimited, rendered it impossible for any man to feel secure in the possession of property, whether it had descended in his family for generations, or had been acquired within an ordinary lifetime.

The prescription of time against the Church had to be at least forty years — against the Roman Church, a hundred, and this prescription ran, not from the commission of the crime, but from its detection. Though some legists held that proceedings against the deceased had to be commenced within five years after death, others asserted that there was no limit, and the practice of the Inquisition shows that the latter opinion was followed. The prescription of forty years' possession by good Catholics was further hmited by the conditions that they must at no time have had a knowledge that the former owner was a heretic, and, moreover, he must have died with an unsullied reputation for orthodoxy — both points which might cast a grave doubt on titles. [2]

  1. Archives Générales de Belgique, Papiers d'État, v. 405. — Mémoires de Jacques du Clercq, Liv. iv. ch. 4, 14.
    In Arras a charter of 1335, confirmed by Charles V. in 1369, protected the burghers from confiscation when condemned for crime by any competent tribunal. — Duverger, La Vauderie dans les ^tltats de Philippe le Bon, Al-ras, 1885, p. 60.
  2. C. 6, 8, 9, 14, Sexto xii. 26.— Bernardi Comensis Lucerna Inquis. s. v. Bona hareticorum. — Eymeric. Direct. Inquis. pp. 570-2.— Zanchini Tract, de Haeret, c. xxiv. — J. F. Ponzinib. de Lamiis c. 76.
    Severe as was the contemporary English law against felony, it had at least