Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/571

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
551
FREQUENCY OF BURNING.

tors, Guillem Arnaud and Étienne de Saint-Thibery, again took up his case, finding him unremittingly active in protecting heretics and disseminating heresy, spoiling, ransoming, wounding, and slaying priests and clerks, and this time they condemned him in absentia. He became a faydit, or proscribed man, living sword in hand and plundering the orthodox to support himself and his friends. No more aggravated case of obstinate heresy and persistent contumacy can well be imagined, and yet when he acknowledged his errors, January 16, 1248, professed conversion, and asked for penance, a score of years after his first conversion, he was only condemned to imprisonment.[1]

In fact, as we have already seen, the earnest endeavors of the inquisitors were directed much more to obtaining conversion with confiscations and betrayal of friends than to provoking martyrdoms. An occasional burning only was required to maintain a wholesome terror in the minds of the population. With his forty cases of concremation in fifteen years, Bernard Gui managed to crush the last convulsive struggle of Catharism, to keep the Waldenses in check, and repress the zealous ardor of the Spiritual Franciscans. The really effective weapons of the Holy Office, the real curses with which it afflicted the people, can be looked for in its dungeons and its confiscations, in the humiliating penances of the saffron crosses, and in the invisible police with which it benumbed the heart and soul of every man who had once fallen into its hands.

A few words will suffice as to the repulsive subject of the execution itself. When the populace was called together to view the last agonies of the martyrs of heresy, its pious zeal was not mocked by any ill-advised devices of mercy. The culprit was not, as in the later Spanish Inquisition, strangled before the lighting of the fagots; nor had the invention of gunpowder suggest the somewhat less humane expedient of hanging a bag of that explosive around his neck to shorten his torture when the flames should reach it. He was tied living to a post set high enough over a pile

  1. Bern. Guidon. Fund. Conv. Predicat. (Martene Thesaur. VI. 481-3).Coll Doat, XXI, 143, 146.-MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 0992.-Molinicr, L'Inq. dans le midi de la France, pp, 73-4