Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/577

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
557
INFLUENCE ON THE CHURCH

This is not the place for us to consider the influence of the Inquisition in all its beardth, but while yet we have its procedure in view it may not be amiss to glance cursorily at some of the effects immediately resulting from its mode of dealing with those whom it tried and condemned or absolved.

On the Church the processes invented and recommended to respect by the Inquisition had a most unfortunate effect. The ordinary episcopal courts employed them in dealing with heretics, and found their arbitrary violence too efficient not to extend it over other matters coming within their jurisdiction. Thus the spiritual tribunals rapidly came to employ inquisitorial methods. Already, in 1317, Bernard Gui speaks of the use of torture being habitual in them; and in complaining of the Clementine restrictions, he asks why the bishops should be limited in applying torture to heretics, while they could employ it without limit in everything else.[1]

Thus habituated to the harshest measures, the Church grew harder and crueller and more unchristian. The worst popes of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could scarce have dared to shock the world with such an exhibition as that with which John XXII. glutted his hatred of Hugues Gerold, Bishop of Cahors. John was the son of an humble mechanic of Cahors, and possibly some ancient grudge may have existed between him and Hugues. Certain it is that no sooner did he mount the pontifical throne than he lost no time in assailing his enemy. May 4, 1317, the unfortunate prelate was solemnly degraded at Avignon and condemned to perpetual imprisonment. This was not enough. On a charge of conspiring against the life of the pope he was delivered to the secular arm, and in July of the same year he was partially flayed alive and then dragged to the stake and burned.[2]

This hardening process went on until the quarrels of the loftiest prelates were conducted with a savage ferocity which would have shamed a band of buccaneers. When, in 1385, six cardinals were accused of conspiring against Urban VI. the angry pontiff had them seized as they left the consistory and thrust into an

  1. Bern. Guidon. Gravam. (Doat, XXX. 101).
  2. Extray. Commun. Lib. v. Tit. viii. c. 1.-Amalrici Augerii Vit. Pontif. ann. 1316-17.-Bern. Guidon. Vit, Joann. XXI.