Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/574

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the land of pestilent and heretical writings, a matter not without interest as signalizing the commencement of its activity in what subsequently became the censorship of the press. The burning of books displeasing to the authorities was a custom respectable by its antiquity. Constantine, as we have seen, demanded the surrender of all Arian works under penalty of death. In 435 Theodosius II. and Valentinian III. ordered all Nestorian books to be burned, and another law threatens punishment on all who will not deliver up Manichæan writings for the same fate. Justinian condemned the secunda editio, in which the glossators agree in recognizing the Talmud. During the ages of barbarism which followed there was little to call forth this method of repressing the human mind, but with the revival of speculation the ancient measures were speedily again called into use. When, in 1210, the University of Paris was agitated with the heresy of Amaury, the writings of his colleague, David de Dinant, together with the Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle, to which it was attributed, were ordered to be burned. Allusion has already been made to the burning of Romance versions of the Scriptures by Jayme I. of Aragon and to the commands of the Council of Narbonne, in 1229, against the possession of any portion of Holy Writ by laymen, as well as to the burning of William of St. Amour's book, "De periculius." Jewish books, however, and particularly the Talmud, on account of its blasphemous allusions to the Saviour and the Virgin, were the objects of special detestation, in the suppression of which the Church was unwearying. In the middle of the twelfth century Peter the Venerable contented himself with studying the Talmud and holding up to contempt some of the wild imaginings which abound in that curious compound of the sublime and the ridiculous. His argumentative methods were not suited to the impatience of the thirteenth century, which had committed itself to sterner dealings with misbelievers, and the persecution of Jewish literature followed swiftly on that of Albigenses and Waldenses. It was started by a converted Jew named Nicholas de Rupella, who, about 1236, called the attention of Gregory IX. to the blasphemies with which the Hebrew books were filled, and especially the Talmud. In June, 1239, Gregory issued letters to the Kings of England, France, Navarre, Aragon, Castile, and Portugal, and to the prelates in those kingdoms, ordering that on a Sabbath in