Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/579

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559
INFLUENCE ON SECULAR LAW.

Geneva, he exercised legatine functions for Gregory XI., he led a band of Free Companions to vindicate the papal territorial claims. The terrible cold-blooded massacre of Cesena was his most conspicuous exploit, but equally characteristic of the man was his threat to the citizens of Bologna that he would wash his hands and feet in their blood. Such was the retroactive influence of the inquisitorial methods on the Church which had invented them to plague the heretic. If Bernabo and Galeazzo Visconti caused ecclesiastics to be tortured and burned to death over slow fires, they were merely improving on the lessons which the Church itself had taught.[1]

On secular jurisprudence the example of the Inquisition worked even more deplorably. It came at a time when the old order of things was giving way to the new - when the ancient customs of the barbarians, the ordeal, the wager of law, the wer-gild, were growing obsolete in the increasing intelligence of the age, when a new system was springing into life under the revived study of the Roman law, and when the administration of justice by the local feudal lord was becoming swallowed up in the widening jurisdiction of the crown. The whole judicial system of the European monarchies was undergoing reconstruction, and the happiness of future generations depended on the character of the new institutions. That in this reorganization the worst features of the imperial jurisprudence - the use of torture and the inquisitorial process - should be eagerly, nay, almost exclusively, adopted, should be divested of the safeguards which in Rome had restricted their abuse, should be exaggerated in all their evil tendencies, and should, for five centuries, become the prominent characteristic of the criminal jurisprudence of Europe, may safely be ascribed to the fact that they received the sanction of the Church. Thus recommended, they penetrated everywhere along with the Inquisition; while most of the nations to whom the Holy Office was unknown maintained their ancestral customs, developing into various

  1. Theod. a Niem de Schistuate Lib. I. c. 42, 45, 48. 50, 51, 52, 56, 57, 60. Gobelin. Persona Cosmodrom. Aet. VI. c. 78.-Chronik des J. v. Königslhofen (Chron. der Deutschen Stidue, IX. 59).-Raynuld. ann. 1302, No. 13; 1872, No. 10. Poggii List. Florentin. Lib. II. ann. 1376.