Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/563

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543
RELAPSE.

came heresy if the suspect failed to purge himself with conjurators and remained so for a year. In violent suspicion, refusal to abjure worked the same result in a twelvemonth. A retracted confession was similarly regarded. In short, the stake supplied all defects. It was the ultima ratio, and although not many cases have reached us in which executions actually accurred on these grounds, there is no doubt that such provisions were of the utmost utility in practice, and that the terror which they inspired extorted many a confession, true or false, from unwilling lips.[1]

There was another class of cases, however, which gave the inquisitors much trouble, and in which they were long in settling upon a definite and uniform course of procedure. The innumerable forced conversions wrought by the dungeon and stake filled the prisons and the land with those whose outward conformity left them at heart no less heretics than before. I have elsewhere spoken of the all-pervading police of the Holy Office and of the watchfulness exercised over the converts whose liberation at best was but a ticket-of-leave. That cases of relapse into heresy should be constant was therefore a matter of course. Even in the jails it was impossible to segregate all the prisoners, and complaints are frequent of these wolves in sheep's clothing who infected their more innocent fellow-captives. A man whose solemn conversion had once been proved fraudulent could never again be trusted. He was an incorrigible heretic whom the Church could no longer hope to win over. On him mercy was wasted, and the stake was the only resource. Yet it is creditable to the Inquisition that it was so long in reducing to practice this self-evident proposition.

As early as 1184 the Verona decree of Lucius III. provides that those who, after abjuration, relapse into the abjured heresy shall be delivered to the secular courts, without even the opportunity of being heard. The Ravenn edict of Frederic II., in 1232, prescribed death for all who, by relapse, showed that their conversion had been a pretext to escape the penalty of heresy. In 1244 the Council of Narbonne alludes to the great multitude of such cases, and, following Lucius III., orders them to be relaxed with-

  1. Concil. Narbonn, ann. 1344 c. 26.-Conci. Biterrons. ann. 1246, App. c. 9.-Eymeric. Direct. Inquis. pp. 370-77, 521-4.-ISS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No 0992.-Lib. Sententt. Inq. Tolos. pp. 379-80.-Zanchini Tract. de Hæret. c. xxiii