Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/543

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523
ESTATES OF THE DEAD.

Prosecution of the dead, as we have seen, was a mockery in which virtually defence was impossible and confiscation inevitable. How unexpectedly the blow might fall is seen in the case of Gherardo of Florence. He was rich and powerful, a member of one of the noblest and oldest houses, and was consul of the city in 1218. Secretly a heretic, he was hereticated on his death-bed between 1246 and 1250, but the matter lay dormant until 1313, when Fra Grimaldo, the Inquisitor of Florence, brought a successful prosecution against his memory. In the condemnation were included his children Ugolino, Cante, Nerlo, and Bertuccio, and his grandchildren, Goccia, Coppo, Fra Giovanni, Gherardo, prior of S. Quirico, Goccino, Baldino, and Marco — not that they were heretics, but that they were disinherited and subjected to the disabilities of descendants of heretics. When such proceedings were hailed as pre-eminent exhibitions of holy zeal, no man could feel secure in his possessions, whether derived from descent or purchase.[1]

An instance of a different character, but equally illustrative, is furnished by the case of Geraud de Puy-Germer. His father had been condemned for heresy in the times of Eaymond YII. of Toulouse, who generously restored the confiscated estates. Yet, twenty years after the death of the count, in 1268, the zealous agents of Alphonse seized them as still liable to forfeiture. Géraud there-


    this concession to justice, that a felon had to be convicted in his lifetime ; his death before conviction thus prevented confiscation (Bracton, Lib. iii. Tract, ii. cap. 13, No. 17).

  1. Lami, Antichita Toscane, pp. 497, 536-7. — It is true that when, in 1335, Henri de Chamay, Inquisitor of Carcassonne, sent to the papal court the depositions against the memory of eighteen persons accused of heretical acts committed between 1284 and 1290, and asked for instructions, the decision was that no reliance was to be placed on the testimony of witnesses who mostly contradicted themselves, and who only swore to what they had heard long before. Three previous investigations against the same persons had been held without reaching a conclusion, and the papal advisers assumed that there had been good reasons for dropping the matter. — Vaissette, Éd. Privat, IX. 401.
    How the system worked is seen in the complaint made in 1247 to St. Louis, by Guillem Pierre de Vintrou, that the royal seneschal of Carcassonne had seized his property derived through his mother, because his grandfather, seventeen years after death, had been accused of heresy. St. Louis thereupon ordered an examination and report. — Vaissette, Éd. Privat, VIII. 1190.