Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/560

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

be executed without revision or examination, and that they must enforce these rights with the free use of ecclesiastical censures. The spirit of the age, however, was insubordinate, and Venice had always been peculiarly so in all metters connected with the Holy Office. We shall see hereafter how the Council of Ten undauntedly held its position and asserted the superiority of its jurisdiction in a manner previously unexampled.[1]

In view of this unvarying policy of the Church during the three centuries under consideration, and for a century and a half later, there is a typical instance of the manner in which history is written to order, in the quiet assertion of the latest Catholic historian of the Inquisition that "the Church took no part in the corporal punishment of heretics. Those who perished miserably were only chastised for their crimes, sentenced by judges invested with the royal jurisdiction. The record of the excesses committed by the heretics of Bulgaria, by the Gnostics and Manichæans, is historical, and capital punishment was only inflicted on criminals confessing to robbery, assassination, and violence. The Albigenses were treated with equal benignity; ... the Catholic Church deplored all acts of vengeance, however great was the provocation given by the ferocity of those factious masses." So completely, in truth, was the Church convinced of its duty to see that all heretics were burned that, at the Council of Constance, the eighteenth article of heresy charged against John Huss was that, in his treatise de Ecclesia, he had taught that no heretic ought to be abandoned to secular judgment to be punished with death. In his defence even Huss admitted that a heretic who could not be mildly led from error ought to suffer bodily punishment; and when a passage was read from his book in which those who deliver an unconvicted heretic to the secular arm are compared to the Scribes and Pharisees who delivered Christ to Pilate, the assembly broke out into a storm of objurgation, during which even the sturdy reformer, Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly, was heard to exclaim,

  1. Vaissette, III. 410-Wadding. Annal. ann. 1288, No. xix.-Hoffmann, Geschichte der Inquisition, II. 391.-Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquisit. s. v. Executis, No. 6.-Innoc. PP. VIII. Bull. Dilectus flius, 1486 (Pegnae App. ad Eymeric p. 84)-Leo, PP. X. Bull. IToneatis, 1521 (Mag. Bull. Rom. I. 617)-Albizio, Risposto al P. Paolo Sarpi. pp. 64-70