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In the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries the Medieval Church was at its greatest and most powerful; yet these centuries witnessed the appearance of various heresies, which in certain parts of Europe were a serious menace to the Church’s hold upon the people. While some of the heterodoxies of the period were essentially philosophic and academic, others there were which made a wider appeal direct to the masses; and while the former may have been potentially as dangerous to the Church, it was the latter that inspired most apprehension and that were consequently most vigorously repressed.

While less metaphysical than the heresies of the early Church, those of the later Middle Ages had certain broad characteristics in common with them. Thus the dualism of the Cathari was Marcionite, the anti­sacerdotalism of many of the Waldenses was Donatist, the mystic enthusiasms of Ortlieb, Marguerite de la Porète, and their followers was Gnostic, the ascetic zeal of the Fraticelli was Montanist. This rather obvious parallelism constitutes one of the difficulties in studying the later heresies, for it clouds the evidence. Thus, Catholic writers, convinced that the Albigenses were Manichaeans, were content to go to the works of St Augustine against the Manichaeans and to attribute indiscriminately to the Albigenses all the errors enumerated in those pages. Such a procedure, not necessarily adopted in any spirit of conscious unfairness, was so obviously unscientific that it makes it difficult to use the evidence of these writers with any confidence. In addition to this there is a fundamental difficulty in dealing with any of the great popular heresies of the Middle Ages in the fact that nearly all our knowledge of them is derived in one way or another from their adversaries—either from the treatises of hostile theologians or from confessions and depositions recorded in the archives of the Inquisition. With the academic heretics it is quite a different matter. They have left their own writings behind them, and we can come into direct contact with their thought unclouded by the gloss of the hostile commentator.

The great popular heresies of the Middle Ages constitute so remarkable a phenomenon that they call for a general explanation. It is undoubtedly true that the popularity of heresy was due in considerable measure to the Church’s failure to satisfy certain instincts and aspirations in a period which was essentially restless and curious. The crude violence of the time quickened Utopian visions, which were not only hopes of a better future but criticisms of an evil present. A sense of disappointment, or even of disillusion, is apparent after the failure of the earlier crusades. Genuine spiritual fervour had been aroused, it seemed, to no purpose, and no new stimulus to the spiritual imagination presented itself. The exalted mysticism of a Hugh of St Victor or a Peter the Venerable possessed no popular appeal, and it was not until the appearance of St Francis with his extraordinary personal magnetism that the Church was able to provide a powerful answer to the urgent demand for religious inspiration. The saint and the ascetic invariably attracted veneration in the Middle Ages, when the ordinary priesthood, if lacking in personal holiness, only elicited fear, indifference, or dislike. There could be no more prolific encouragement to heresy than clerical abuses. This was clearly the opinion of Innocent III, who, while seeking to eradicate heresy in southern France, also delivered a tremendous indictment against the conduct of the clergy there. St Dominic ascribed the success of the Albigenses to what he regarded as their affectation of holiness and of evangelical poverty which misled the people. And quite clearly the people of Languedoc drew a forceful comparison, all to the advantage of the heretics, between their zeal, simplicity, and austerity, and the wealth, ostentation, and love of temporal power displayed by the accredited envoys of a God who had been poor, humble, and despised. Anti-sacerdotalism is a marked feature, as it was often a predisposing cause, of medieval heresy. Some of the heresies were to begin with not doctrinal at all, but distinctively evangelical, arising from dissatisfaction with existing conditions in the Church, and aiming at a higher standard of faith and conduct.

For the forms which heresy assumed the East was largely responsible. It is but a partial view of medieval history which focuses attention solely upon the purely indigenous aspects of European civilisation and fails to appreciate the force and the significance of the impress upon Europe of the oriental world, the influence of the great trade-routes into Asia as disseminators not only of wealth but of ideas. The intercommunication, already fostered by the merchant and the traveller, was quickened still further by the Crusades. The Christian warriors set forth vowed to hold no other intercourse with the infidel but that of the sword. Yet the later crusaders were not of the temper of those whom the eloquence of Urban II and his coadjutors first enlisted, of those who had pursued their Muslim enemies into the Temple itself with relentless slaughter when they captured the Holy City. Frederick II’s crusade of 1229 was the expedition of a diplomatist, not of a warrior, and it was characterised by the friendliness of its leader’s relations with the Sultan of Egypt. To the vivid imagination of Frederick the culture of Baghdad made a powerful appeal; the religion of Islam, the speculations of Arabian philosophers, were to him a matter of intense intellectual curiosity, not of abhorrence; and an atmosphere of rationalism prevailed at a court where Greek, Jew, or Arab were all alike welcome. So it was that Gregory IX could with a certain plausibility assign to his abhorred imperial enemy the authorship of the famous blasphemy, that the world had been deceived by three impostors, Moses, Mahomet, Christ. Increasing acquaintance with, and knowledge of, the religion of the Koran made possible at any rate an elementary comparative study of religions, a realisation of their common elements, and such a conception of religious toleration as we find suggested in Boccaccio’s famous tale of The Three Kings, or in the pseudo-gospel of Barnabas, a strange conglomeration of the Koran with the four canonical gospels, the essential feature of which is a latitudinarian conception that God’s message of salvation is for all. “As God liveth, even as the fire burneth dry things and converteth them into fire, making no difference between olive and cypress and palm; even so our God hath mercy on every one that worketh righteously, making no difference between Jew, Scythian, Greek, or Ishmaelite.” The possibility of an unholy sympathy between the Christian and the infidel was the basic idea of the dreadful allegations brought against the Templars, whatever their origin in fact may have been. Among the indictments was the charge of practising a ceremony of initiation which included the worship of a black cat, or Baphomet, which is but another name for Mahomet. But it was not necessary to go outside Europe to come into contact with oriental influences. The East had penetrated into Europe; the culture of the Caliphate had been planted in Andalusia, and mainly from Cordova and Toledo its influence was disseminated abroad through Sicily and southern France—its architecture, its medicine, its mathematics, its philosophy. Long after the extinction of the glories of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordova, the splendour of Moorish learning remained, and in the twelfth century Muslim Spain still eclipsed Catholic Europe in the arts and sciences. There was a certain Moorish element in that brilliant exotic civilisation of Languedoc, where the problem of heresy became most acute. In such a soil any hostility to the Catholic Church, any dissatisfaction with its ministrations, was likely to generate alien doctrine. The heresy of Languedoc was not Moorish, but it was certainly of oriental origin, coming through the Balkans out of Asia.

In the days of the Carolingian Empire, if we except the predestinarian opinions of Gottschalk and the pantheism of the amazing Irish genius, John Scotus Eriugena, there was little heresy of consequence. But it is clear that as a popular force it must have been quietly growing, probably among the common people for the most part, before the opening of the eleventh century. It had already become a serious danger before the Papacy, immersed in other cares, had awakened to its gravity. It is significant that certain heretics were condemned at Orleans, in 1017, for holding Docetic views, and that these ideas were traced to Italy. We hear of tke execution of heretics in 1022 at Toulouse, in 1051 at Goslar in Saxony. It is not easy to establish the identity of these early heretics. Medieval chroniclers are not exact in their nomenclature. We find a large variety of designations in use. Thus the Cathari are variously known as Albigenses, Albanenses, Bagnolenses, Bagnaroli, Bulgari, Publicani, Patarini, Textores; the Waldenses as Humiliati, Pauperes de Lugduno, Leonistes. Thus the term Albigenses is used in Languedoc, the terms Patarini, Albanense, Concorricci in Italy, textores and texerantes in Germany. But the words Bulgari or bougres are used indiscriminately in France to mean heretics generally, though their derivation as indicating one particular type of heretic is obvious enough. The two dominant heresies were Catharism and Waldensianism, but a number of minor contemporary heterodoxies, having some element or other in common with these, were apt to be closely associated or confused with them, at all events in the popular mind. Thus the Arnoldists, following Arnold of Brescia, from being originally simple opponents of the Pope’s temporal power in Rome, developed into opponents of the secularism of the Church as a whole, and so came to have much in common with the Waldenses. Again, the adherents of Peter de Bruys, whose teaching was that there was no efficacy in images, the symbol of the Cross, or in paedobaptism, were liable to identification with the Cathari, for these were also Catharan doctrines. Henry of Lausanne combined the principles of the Arnoldists and the Petrobrusians. The devastation wrought among the faithful of southern France by this heresiarch was the despair of St Bernard at a time when Catharism and Waldensianism were also rampant in the same district. In short, all attacks upon the Catholic Church, however different their origins and however discrepant their fundamental theses, were likely to have a certain affinity and to give a very similar impression to the ordinary undiscerning observer. Among other early twelfth-century heretics were some who were zealots, either partly or wholly insane. Such were Tanchelm of Antwerp, who, starting with the Donatist theory that the sacraments had lost their efficacy owing to clerical degeneracy, is said later to have claimed for himself a divine nature equal with Christ’s; and lion de l’litoile, who, discovering a refer­ence to his own name in the words of Scripture, “Per Eum qui venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos,” declared himself to be the Son of God,

Donatism is perhaps the most notable doctrinal feature of these essentially anti-hierarchical minor heresies. In Catharism there is something much more revolutionary. The connexion between the Cathari of Western Europe and the Bogomiles and Paulicians of the Balkan peninsula can be said to have been established. The use of the term Bulgar as synonymous with heretic in the common parlance of France is significant; so also is the fact that Bulgarian delegates attended a great representative council of Cathari held in 1167 near Toulouse; and so again is the close resemblance of the brief Albigensian ritual which has come down to us, namely, the Ritual of Lyons, with that of the Bosnian Patarini, and with the more elaborate manual of the Paulician Church in Armenia, known as The Key of Truth. Matthew Paris tells us of a complaint made in 1233 by the papal legate Conrad, of the direct relations existing between the Albigenses and the Armenian Paulicians, and Rainerius Saccho, a Catharan apostate, writing a little later, states that the Catharan churches in other parts of the world, were the offspring of a parent Church in Bulgaria. The ancient, Paulicians of Armenia, holding themselves to be the one true Church, were adoptionistsi.c. they considered that Christ had been born a man but, having fulfilled all righteousness, had at the time of his baptism in Jordan been chosen by God as Messiah and as the eternal Son of God. They rejected paedobaptism, the idea of purgatory, the invocation of saints, the use of images, the doctrine of the Trinity. Between the eighth and tenth centuries this Greek sect had crossed over in large numbers into Thrace. Leo the Isaurian, and later Theodora, attempted their extirpation, but they were protected by John Tzimisces, in whose reign some hundred thousand of them migrated northward into the region of the Danube. Here they seem to have attempted the conversion of the Bulgars, and here also the pure doctrine of Paulicianism would appear to have become adulterated by an infiltration of Manichaeism, or at all events of ideas of a gnostic and dualist character; and hence arose the sect of the Bogomiles. The connexion between the Paulicians and the western Cathari is clear; but it is probable that the corrupted Paulicianism of the Bulgarians, rather than the original Paulicianism of Armenia, was the origin of western Catharism, and that, helped no doubt by the agencies of the scholar, the merchant, and the crusader, the heresy travelled from Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Dalmatia into Hungary and Italy. It found an easy settlement in Apulia and Lombardy, but an even more favourable atmosphere in France, especially south of the Loire.

The new creed clearly possessed a strong attraction for common people desirous of a novel spiritual stimulus, and for a pleasure-loving nobility, such as existed notably in the south, who were only too glad to seize an excuse for despoiling the wealthy Catholic hierarchy. In the comforting rejection of the doctrine of purgatory, and the convenient distinction drawn between the fully initiated and the simple adherent, Catharism seemed to offer an easier road to salvation than did the Catholic Church, while, at the same time, the zeal and energy of the preachers of this gospel established factories and workshops, where apprenticeship to craft or trade was combined with instruction in the Catharan faith. The fulminations of ecclesiastical councils such as those of Toulouse in 1056 and 1119 were fruitless, and missionary enterprises were no more successful. In 1165 Catholic clergy had to submit to the humiliation of entering into a joint synod with Albigensian representatives. The general Catharan congress of 1167, already mentioned, met undisturbed. Particularly during the reign of William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, the heretics enjoyed full protection, if not positive encouragement, from the secular authority.

To the faithful Catholic, Catharism no doubt appeared to be a body of belief wholly foreign to Christianity, and in the points of similarity between the Catharan ritual and that of the Catholic Church he could discern nothing better than an impious mockery. Nevertheless, in so far as its origin was Paulician, the story of this heresy takes us back into that early era of Christianity prior to the definite formulation of Catholic dogma and the full establishment of the great organisation which we know as the Catholic Church, to the period when it was as yet uncertain to what extent foreign, yet not wholly alien, systems, Neo­Platonic and Gnostic, might be assimilated to Christian theology, and similarly uncertain how far the Church would be prepared to make terms with the world, as represented by the Roman Empire. In this formative period, when Christian doctors were seeking for philosophical explanations of the Gospel revelation and of the relation of Christ to the Godhead, Marcion, in an endeavour to free Christian theology from the taint of Judaism by a reaffirmation of what he conceived to be the message of the Pauline epistles, issued a work called the Antithesis in which an elaborate distinction was drawn between the God of the Old Testament, the God of the Law, on the one hand, and on the other the God of the New Testament, the God of reconciliation. While there is certainly enough dualism in St Paul to warrant this line of argument, on the other hand the features of resemblance between such an explanation of the Christian theophany and an entirely non-Christian dualist system like the Mazdeist rendered possible such a hodge-podge of Marcionitism and Persian magism as the mystic theology of Mani, and also rendered later adherents of Marcionitism liable to corruption by non­Christian influences of that type. It is thus easy to understand how any heresy which unduly stressed the dualist element in Christian dogma was exposed to the imputation of Manichaeism. There were, no doubt, wide theological divergencies between different branches of the Catharan community—some of them more akin to the original Paulicians, others more tainted by Gnostic and exotic influences; yet to the Catholic of the twelfth century all would appear one and the same, manifestly Manichaean.

To the Catharan, as to the Catholic, human existence was a struggle between the opposing forces of good and evil, in which the person of Christ alone provided salvation, but the Catharan laid excessive emphasis upon the inherent evil of the material world. The several picturesque variants of the fundamental Catharan conception are relatively unimportant; what is essential is the idea of a contest between an evil potentate, who ruled over the material universe, and who was sometimes identified with Jehovah, the violent sanguinary deity of the Old Testament, and his adversary, the God of the New Testament, the God of mercy and forgiveness, whose kingdom is not of this world, but a wholly spiritual kingdom. While not entirely rejecting the Old Testament—the Lyons ritual quotes the Book of Solomon—the Cathari repudiated all portions of it which presented matter in a favourable light. The whole purpose of earthly existence they held to be the overcoming of the evil god or Satan. Inasmuch as the material world and the flesh were the dominion of the Devil, nothing worse was imaginable, and there was therefore no hell or purgatory. The object of Christ’s work was to reclaim the soul from the thraldom of the flesh, and his servants were the Cathari, who alone had kept the true baptism, which is of fire and of the spirit. There was no such thing as the resurrection of the body. He that had become reconciled with God through membership of the Catharan church was enabled at once to leave his corporeal integument and enter into the celestial body which awaited him in heaven. The soul of the unreconciled passed into another material body, generally that of the animal to which in its human existence it had borne the closest resemblance. The mortal sin was worldliness, because it was devotion to those essentially transitory and evil things which are Satan’s. This asceticism had one curious and extreme consequence. The chief weapon in the Devil’s armoury was the propagation of the species, because that meant the continuance of his power. Sex was his device. “O Lord,” runs the Lyons ritual, “judge and condemn the sins of the. flesh, have no pity upon the flesh born in corruption, but have pity on the spirit which is imprisoned.” The love of the sexes, whatever its nature, had the same consequence and was service of Satan. Marriage, was no better than adultery and incest—indeed by some Cathari it was regarded as worse, being lasting and viewed with complacency instead of temporary and viewed with shame. Because of their belief in metempsychosis the Cathari were necessarily vegetarians, abjuring all meats, eggs, cheese, and milk. They would use nothing for food that was sexually begotten; the exception made in favour of fish being due to the current belief that they were generated in some other way. It is significant that a suspect summoned before the Inquisition of Toulouse on a charge of Catharism vigorously protested against so unwarranted an imputation, seeing that he had a wife and children, ate meat, lied and swore, and was a faithful Christian.

So intense was their conviction of the sanctity of the imprisoned human spirit that the Cathari showed with regard to the shedding of blood the same uncompromising consistency as they did in the matter of sex, condemning both the judge who pronounced sentence of death and the soldier who slew his enemy in battle as no better than murderers. On the other hand, suicide—regarded as a legitimate hastening of the time of his deliverance from the bondage of the flesh by the fully initiated, and known as the Endura—would appear to have been allowed, if not indeed encouraged. It has to be remembered in partial explanation that the Endura was practised in days of relentless persecution, when voluntary self-destruction might well seem preferable to falling into the hands of ruthless crusader or inquisitor.

Austerity is the outstanding characteristic of the Catharan existence, but then it was practised only by the “perfected,” or boni homines, whose ranks were small. The severe asceticism enjoined upon the perfected, the arduous nature of the period of preparation, the menace of persecution, which rendered the postponement of initiation to the last possible moment a measure of security—seeing that the mere credens could lawfully disavow membership of the community—all these factors combined to restrict the numbers of the perfected. The simple adherent or credens was not required necessarily to order his life on strict Catharan principles; he might even eat meat and marry. His sole obligation was to venerate the “perfected.” In the reverence which had to be paid to the initiated by the mere believers, or auditores, there is a point of resemblance to Manichaeism, as there is also in certain features of the all-important Catharan rite, the ritual of initiation, known as the Consolamentum. This was exceedingly simple, and in otheir features is reminiscent of the primitive Church. It may be said to have been a combination of the Christian baptism, ordination, eucharist and absolution, all in one. The Lord's Prayer was explained to the postulant, sentence by sentence; he then renounced the works of Satan and the “harlot” Catholic Church, made confession, and received pardon. One of the elders next explained what the life of the bon chretien involved— the abjuration of the flesh in every way and of the shedding of blood, the modelling of life onthe principle of turning the other cheek to the smiter. The precise act of Consolamentum was the placing of the gospel and of the hands of the boni homines present upon the head of the novice, who was thereby admitted into the ranks, in token whereof he was lastly girt with a sacred thread round his naked body and invested with a black gown.

Catharism was clearly a strange amalgam of asceticism and laxity, of some lofty ideals with aberrations which were perverse and unhealthy. We cannot wonder that the Catholic, ever prone to suspect the heretic of immoral practices, should do so with conviction in the case of a sect whose fanatical attitude towards material existence was plainly inconsistent with the elementary facts of life. We enter a purer atmosphere when we turn from the Cathari to the Waldenses. The origin of the name and of the sect has been disputed, but it is probably safe to attribute both to a certain rich merchant of Lyons, named Peter Waldo, a man of no learning but of native goodness of heart, who started a crusade in 1170 for the furtherance of the law of Christ, which seemed nowhere to be obeyed. Distributing his wealth among the poor, he began to preach the gospel in the streets and in private houses, and he soon obtained a following, who came to be known as the Poor Men of Lyons. At first their work had papal approval, their vow and their preaching being expressly commended by Alexander III, with the proviso that they secured the sanction of the clergy in their districts for whatever ministering activities they undertook. In course of time this condition came to be disregarded. The Poor Men used to inveigh zealously against the low moral standard of the clergy. This naturally gave umbrage to the clergy, who refused any longer to countenance the movement, which was formally condemned by the Council of Verona in 1184. The result was that a sect which had originally been perfectly orthodox tended to become heretical. To the two characteristic doctrines that poverty is the true way of life for the sincere Christian and that Holy Scripture is an infallible guide in matters of religion, they added the essentially heretical tenet that every good man is inherently competent to preach and expound Holy Writ. The right of preaching being denied them, they embraced the theory that personal merit avails more than the rite of ordination, and they proceeded to appoint ministers among themselves, thus becoming schismatics. Like other opponents of the Catholic hierarchy, they soon developed Donatist ideas. Uniformity and conservatism of doctrine, which might have been continued in the main by the preservation of a close organisation, tended to disappear when persecution destroyed central control.

Although Bernard Gui brings charges of immorality against them, the purity of the lives of the Waldenses was generally manifest. Even from inquisitorial sources testimony is forthcoming to their simple piety and goodness, and it is noteworthy that Walter Map, while repeating in lurid detail the usual stories of gross immorality brought against the Albigenses—similar to those narrated by Caesarius of Haisterbach—speaks with obvious respect of the Poor Men, with some of whom he came in contact at Rome, being indeed deputed to examine them. He seems to have thought their zeal rather ridiculous, but their austerity admirable.

The name Poor Men or Humiliati is also applied to a sect which seems to have had a separate origin from the Poor Men of Lyons, but which in course of time came to be identified with the followers of Waldo, and whose habitation was Lombardy. The Humiliati of Provence and those Alexander III’s approval at the same time; they in 1217, and there came to a general agreement in doctrine. But subsequently they tended to drift apart in matters of dogma, the Italian party becoming more unorthodox in their views. Waldensianism soon became widespread, penetrating into Spain, Hungary, Germany, Bohemia. The original adherents of southern France suffered together with the Cathari in the thirteenth century, and many were driven into the Piedmontese valleys. But Waldensianism was never suppressed as Catharism was. The zeal of authority against the more pernicious and dangerous Albigenses was outside Languedoc a protection. In Piedmont, in spite of the massacres of the seventeenth century, they have lingered to the present day, and the leaven of Waldensianism in central Europe helped the rise of Anabaptism and Hussitism.

Peter Waldo’s persuasion that the law of Christ was nowhere obeyed and that radical reformation was needed was shared by a remarkable contemporary, Joachim of Flora, whose surprising expositions of Scripture and still more surprising vaticinations introduce us to a series of heresies of a different character. In 1254 appeared the extraordinary work known as The Everlasting Gospel, consisting of Joachim’s authentic works together with exegetical notes and a lengthy introduction, the author of which was either John of Parma, or, more probably, Gerard da Borgo San Donnino—in either case a Franciscan. The burden of Abbot Joachim’s prophetic message had been that the world would pass through three eras—that of the Father or of the Law, that of the Son or of the Crucifixion, that of the Holy Ghost or of Love. The first had been a period of obedience; the second a period of study and wisdom; the third would be one of mystic comprehension and ecstatic contemplation. But while Joachim only claimed to be an interpreter of the Scriptures, the author of the Introductorius discovered in this conception a new evangel, as much in advance of the gospels as they were in advance of the Old Testament, so that Joachim figured as the apostle of the final era of human history. It was computed that the third cycle would commence in the year 1260; it would be inaugurated by a new mendicant order. Clearly the startling feature of the book was the assumption that the Christian dispensation was not complete in itself, that a new and a higher revelation of the Divine nature was necessary for the salvation of the world. Such a theory rested upon a profound conviction of the corruption of the time and the insufficiency of the Catholic Church. Like all Utopian visions it was essentially a criticism of the existing order.

The revolutionary idea of a new dispensation of the Holy Ghost dangerous was the appearance in the fateful year 1260 of a very ignorant madman of Parma, by name Segarelli, who aimed at outdoing St Francis in the literal reproduction of the life of Christ. His followers were mainly peasants and swineherds, but they soon spread beyond Italy into Germany. This enthusiast dreamed of proselytising the entire world, but he was seized in 1300 and executed. Yet the mischief was by no means over. Fra Dolcino, fanatic or charlatan, to whom Dante in the Inferno conceives Mahomet sending a warning message as to a companion spirit, perceived in the original appearance of Segarelli in 1260 the fulfilment of the prophecies of The Everlasting Gospel, and by 1304 he had collected a considerable following in Milan, Brescia, and other northern Italian cities, and in the Italian Alps. In 1305 Clement V organised a crusade against this son of Belial,and after a desperate resistance these self-appointed emissaries of the Holy Ghost were overcome, their leader being subsequently put to death with the acme of cruelty.

To the followers both of Segarelli and of Dolcino the term Fraticelli is sometimes applied; it came indeed to be used to denote any unauthorised or irregular brotherhood; for, as Salimbene tells us, “all who desired to found a new rule borrowed something from the Franciscan rule, the sandals or the habit.” Thus a name derived from St Francis came to be associated with many heretical sects. The author of the Introductorius ad Evangelium Eternum was certainly one of the Spiritual Franciscans, those members of the Minorite order who would hear of no compromise with the complete austerity of the founder’s system, and who saw in the possession of property of any sort a repudiation of the essential principles of their communion. To a minority consisting of intense enthusiasts, who felt that the whole cause and life-work of St Francis were betrayed by the worldly attitude of the conventual party on the subject of Poverty, The Everlasting Gospel appeared as a direct reference to themselves, the only true disciples of that saint, surely somewhat more than man, upon whom the marks of Christ had been imprinted. When in course of time the Papacy declared in favour of the moderate party, mystical and exalted conceptions of the place of Francis in human history were encouraged, and the man who, by enlisting his extraordinary spiritual power and attractiveness on the side of the Church, did more than any other to save the medieval Church against the assaults of heresy, became himself the inspiration of heresies of a pantheist and “illuminist” character. The two principal leaders of the Spirituals in France and in Italy, Pierre Jean Olivi, a brilliant and a beautiful character, regarded by some as the successor of Joachim and of Francis, and the Catalan Arnold of Villanova, denouncing the worldliness of the clergy with as much energy and eloquence as any Waldensian, became suspect of heresy, and after their deaths their followers were vigorously persecuted in the pontificate of John XXII, in whose days the Spirituals generally were in frank revolt, and they were dealt with as manifest heretics. The poet Jacopone da Todi delighted to draw a glaring contrast between the corrupt and carnal Church presided over by the Popes and the true spiritual Church, wed to the principle of poverty, between a Church of mere outward show and one of inward reality.

There were mystics, to whom the term Fraticelli is applied, much more extreme in their views than the Spiritual Franciscans. Whether Francis' own conception of the worship of God in nature was more than lyrical or not, it contained at all events a suggestion of pantheism, and some of the independent communities which adopted one feature or another of the Minorite rule, even if only the outward semblance, were certainly pantheists. In the thirteenth century, inspired by the mendicant idea, there sprang up a number of brotherhoods devoted to religious contemplation and to such good works as the care of the sick and attendance on the dead. While these voluntary associations had no necessary connexion with the Grey Friars, beyond perhaps spiritual sympathy, they came to be regarded as Fraticelli. To such brotherhoods or sisterhoods the words Beghards and Beguines are sometimes applied. The term beguinage is older than the mendicant orders. Pious associations of laymen under that name had existed in the twelfth century, enjoying virtually complete autonomy until the inauguration of Innocent III’s movement of centralisation. Large permanent houses, named beguinages, were established in such cities as Paris, Cologne, and Ghent for the protection of widows and orphans. Such houses could be controlled by proper authority, but it was otherwise with the later vagrant associations of beghards or beguines. Over these it was not possible to maintain discipline; neithei’ could their intellectual atmosphere be controlled, and irregular views were apt to flourish in associations which were unauthorised. The medieval vagrant had ever a tendency to become a rebel against authority, as well doctrinal as political; witness the wandering students of the Carmina Burana.

Two tendencies developed in the fourteenth century. Heretics of illuminist and pantheist views took to wearing the beghard’s garb; beghards adopted illuminist and pantheist doctrines. Among them were the so-called Brethren of the Free Spirit, the disciples of Ortlieb of Strasbourg, who taught that men must be guided solely by the inner light within them. The Brethren held that all sacred history was but the record of their communion. Adam had founded it, Noah had built his ark expressly to preserve it, and after a period of obscurity Christ had re-established it. The sect were sometimes called Luciferans, because they held that Satan was included in the Divine essence. Holding such a theory as this, they were perhaps inevitably—though probably with no justification—credited with devil-worship and the perpetration of horrid obscenities at the ceremony of initiation into their confraternity. Pantheism and antinonmanism are often allied. Another of the medieval pantheists, Marguerite de la Porète, held that the soul overwhelmed in love of its creator can and indeed ought to give to nature whatsoever it craves for or desires without the rebuke of conscience or remorse. The illuminist movement was particularly strong in Germany, where the great Dominican, Master Eckehart—predecessor of Tauler, Nicholas of Cusa, and Giordano Bruno in the history of modern mysticism—explained that in the eyes of the Deity sin and virtue were alike. Thus mysticism, normally one of the most powerful forces of which the Church was possessed, its greatest security against the onslaughts of the heterodox, was capable of itself assuming a heretical shape: in the same way that the perfectly orthodox belief in the efficacy of the scourge as a means and an outward sign of repentance could degenerate into a depraved and animal delight in self-torture, combined with a mystic and wholly unlawful belief that flagellation was not only a sacrament but the only effective sacrament. Bands of flagellants, who when they first made their appearance about 1260 were regarded with ecclesiastical approval and popular veneration, in the following century were anathematised as manifest heretics.

Alike in their extravagant and often fanatical mysticism, all the sectaries to whom the term Fraticelli was applied and other similar mendicant associations were alike also in their vagrancy. Sooner or later such roamers in the Middle Ages were apt to become suspect, to be regarded as undesirables; perhaps their unchartered liberty was productive of wild and ecstatic speculations which authority could but regard as dangerous to the faith and to the constitution of the world order.

While Catharism and Waldensianism were essentially popular creeds, whose chief importance lay in their anti-sacerdotalism, the interest of the illuminist heresies lies largely in their philosophic aspect. It is here, in their possession of a common mystical element, that the popular and academic heresies meet. The record of the latter belongs most appropriately to that of the anti-scholastic movements in the history of medieval thought; but at the same time they cannot be omitted from any general consideration of medieval heresy. Philosophy and theology have a natural inclination to invade each other’s territories, and while the scholastic philosophers endeavoured to keep them apart, being aided in this by the largely formal pattern of their dialectic, still there arose from time to time venturesome spirits whose philosophic speculations ran counter to correct theology. Hugh of St Victor and, later, Abelard’s pupil Peter Lombard were able with great success to utilise philosophy as the handmaid of religion, to glorify God by the rational justification of faith; Anselm, requested by his pupils for a rational explanation of Christian doctrine, duly gave one, premising however that while the Catholic faith could be made clear to the eye of the intellect, it was not dependent upon its reasonableness for its claim to acceptance. On the other hand, Abelard, also endeavouring to use philosophy as a theodicaea, exposed himself to the suspicion of heresy. Combating the tritheism of Roscellinus, he seemed to some of his critics to run into the opposite error of Sabellianism. But it was his whole habit of thought that was wrong in their eyes. He could deliberately make a jumble of the contradictions of the Fathers—as he did in Sic et Non—in a way most disturbing to a simple belief in tiieir uniform inspiration. His cast of mind was that of the free-thinker. The basis of his reasoning was the conviction that it is by doubting that we are led to inquiry, by inquiry that we perceive the truth. Such a point of view was an abomination to St Bernard with his magnificent affirmation: “Faith is not an opinion, but a certitude.” When the appeal to the reason, even for the elucidation of truth, led to a deification of man’s finite understanding, devout minds, such as those of Bernard and Peter Bamiani, could find in philosophy only an enemy of the faith. He who uses the eye of the intellect overmuch may overcloud the far keener vision of his spiritual sensitiveness; his preference for the former is no better than profane arrogance. It is precisely this attitude, the inclination to trust to the fallible judgment of the individual, in a word self-will, that constituted in the eyes of the pious Catholic of the Middle Ages the heinousness of heresy.

Just as Eriugena, who had pronounced the superiority of reason over authority, had proved that this was the path of error by himself falling into pantheism, so Berengar of Tours, a reckless dialectician like Abelard, in the eleventh century found that his reason could not accept the doctrine of Transubstantiation, on the ground that the continuance of such properties as colour, form, and taste in the bread and wine after the consecration could not exist without permanence of substance. So again the reliance of Roscellinus upon fallible reason led to his rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity—there was not one God, but three Gods, sharing, however, a common will and purpose. Philosophy, then, was not always the handmaiden of true religion!

The thirteenth century witnessed a revival of interest in the earlier pantheists, and Eriugena’s De Division Naturae was resurrected. Already Amaury of Bène had been propounding the thesis that all things are one, because whatever is is God, that God is immanent in all creation. He had also been maintaining the antinomian principle that no man filled with the Holy Ghost can sin, because sin is of the flesh, whereas the Holy Ghost is spirit. These opinions Amaury retracted before his death c. 1207; they were formally condemned by a council of the ecclesiastical province of Sens held at Paris in 1210. This same council, it is interesting to note, at the same time prohibited the use of the recently discovered works of Aristotle or of his commentators on pain of excommunication.. The capture of Constantinople in 1204 had brought Latin Europe more closely into contact with Greek thought than heretofore; still Western Europe knew Aristotle best in the Arabic version and in the expositions of his Saracen interpreters, especially Averroes. Probably the Averroists were never very numerous or widely influential; yet in the thirteenth century they presented to the Church a problem of no little intricacy, raising in an acute degree the question of the relations between philosophy and theology. Catholic theology had been able to make abundant use of Plato from the earliest days of the Church onwards; the medieval discovery of Aristotle brought the query how far it could go in absorbing the peripatetic philosophy too. The newly-discovered writings on the physical sciences contained conceptions of the eternity of matter and the unity of the intellect, which made God only the primordial element in creation and denied the immortality of the individual soul. It soon became apparent that intellectual curiosity was too keen to be repressed by such a prohibition as that of the council of 1210. It became obvious that Aristotle must not be tabooed, but turned to account. Gregory IX, accordingly, ordered the examination and expurgation of the peripatetic philosophy, and in 1255 the two prohibited books, the Physics and the Metaphysics., were definitely prescribed for the Arts course of the University of Paris. In 1261 Thomas Aquinas and William of Moerbeke, under papal commission, commenced the great undertaking, which lasted eight years, of making a translation and a commentary upon Aristotle. This labour exposed St Thomas to criticism from two opposed quarters: on the one hand he was accused (by the Franciscans) of being an Averroist, on the other of misinterpreting Aristotle because he was not one. The Dominicans as a whole were accused by their Minorite rivals of being too purely scientific and intellectualist, but the attempt to discredit Aquinas by identifying him with the Averroists, whose interpretation of Aristotle was definitely declared heretical, completely failed, and the successful separation of Aristotle from Averroes, the capture of the Aristotelian scientific method for the service of orthodoxy, must be accounted one of the greatest achievements of the scholastics.

The view that Albertus Magnus and Aquinas, in seeking to reconcile the wisdom of Aristotle with revealed religion, were simply perverting their original was championed in the University of Paris, the centre of all these academic contentions, by a certain Siger of Brabant and his associate Boethius of Dacia. Averroes, while honouring religion, had poured contempt on theology. Religion was a genuine thing, a matter for the soul and for the emotions; theology was a hybrid, endeavouring with lamentably poor results to apply the methods of exact science to the sphere of the spiritual imagination. Aristotle, the supreme thinker of all time, had taught the eternity of matter and the unity of the intellect; there could be no equivocation about these principles—they were true. They were contrary to Christian truth, was the orthodox retort, and in 1270 Stephen Tempier, Bishop of Paris, solemnly condemned thirteen Averroist propositions as erroneous. Undismayed, the Parisian Averroists, having come into conflict with the rector of the university, organised themselves into a separate community apart from the rest of the Arts faculty. But in 1277, under papal injunction to search out dangerous errors in doctrine, Tempier tabulated no fewer than 219, and pronounced the penalty of excommunication against those who harboured any of these heresies. Shortly afterwards Siger and Boethius were cited to appear before the Inquisitor of France, from whom they apparently appealed on the ground of their university privilege. Later they seem to have set off for Rome to defend themselves, to have been tried before the Tuscan Inquisition, and to have been condemned to perpetual imprisonment. The nature of their defence against the charge of heresy is interesting, because it was a pure equivocation. There is, they declared, such a thing as a double truth. What is true in philosophy may not be true in theology and vice versa; they exist on entirely different planes. They had no quarrel with the Church’s teaching, no desire to impugn its authority, to embarrass its ministers; on the other hand, they were not prepared to abandon, as philosophers, theories of whose truth they were convinced, simply because they clashed with current theology. They stood in reality for the cause of intellectual freedom, seeking to escape from the embarrassments of a world unable to accept that principle by a subterfuge which they hoped might satisfy the scruples of the Church. For the Church was not hostile to speculative thought as such, but only stipulated that it should be shewn not to be opposed to the essential tenets of the Christian faith.

But in refusing to countenance the Averroist contention the Church stood on firm ground. The denial of absolute truth, of any correspondence between the concepts of philosophy and of theology, either meant that philosophy was reduced to a mere mental gymnastic, or else was a fundamental cynicism. A man’s sincere belief regarding ultimate reality constitutes his religion and is bound to affect his conduct. Acceptance of the Aristotelian theory of matter and of the active and passive intellect was bound to colour a man’s ethical ideas as well. It is notable, for example, that the Averroist Farinata degli Uberti was also an Epicurean, holding that the soul perishes with the body and that human felicity is confined to this temporal world.

Despite the fate of Siger, Averroism still continued to exist throughout the fourteenth century, its most outstanding exponent in Paris being John of Jandun; but its most important centre became Padua, where the leader was Peter of Abano. As a rule the Averroist was unpopular, some like Raymond Lull seeing in him a dangerous corrupter of Christian truth by Muslim impurities, others like Petrarch and Gerson hating him for his self-confident dogmatism. Like the Italian humanist after him, the Averroist seldom fell into serious trouble; he had not the slightest desire to apostatise or to criticise the Church in any way; he would cheerfully subscribe to each and every article in all the creeds; his interests and his influence were confined to the class-room. Thus he was seldom regarded as dangerous, though the whole tenour of his teaching might inherently be as destructive of orthodox doctrine as that of the most fanatical Albigensian or Fraticello.

Heresy was defined by Grosseteste as “an opinion chosen by human sense, contrary to Holy Scripture, openly taught, pertinaciously defended.” There was never any doubt in the medieval Church as to its culpability; but there was at first difference of opinion as to its appropriate punishment. The early fathers could be quoted, some in favour of leniency, others of severity. The Emperors Theodosius II and Valentinian II had decreed exile and confiscation of property with loss of civil rights for heretics generally, but death for disturbers of the public peace, under which designation Donatists and Manichaeans were included. It is noteworthy that, when Priscillian was executed by the Emperor Maximus, St Leo, though declaring that the Church must never put a heretic to death, still confessed that the severity of Christian princes was to be welcomed, because the fear of punishment won some heretics back to the faith. The Church’s own penances at this time were those of flogging and imprisonment.

At the opening of the eleventh century we find the secular arm meting out the punishment of death. In 1022 in the presence of Robert II of France thirteen Cathari were burnt at Orleans; in 1051 other Cathari were hanged in the presence of the Emperor Henry III at Goslar. Neither in France nor in the Empire was there a secular law prescribing the death penalty for heresy, but the executions evidently had public approval. Sometimes indeed the people acted on their own authority. There are cases of this in 1076 at Cambrai, in 1114 in the diocese of Strasbourg, in 1144 at Liege, in 1163 at Cologne. In one instance we are told that the crowd burnt the heretics through fear of clerical leniency. Clearly the greatest zeal against heretics in this period came from the populace; clearly also they were persuaded that the stake was the appropriate retribution. Ecclesiastical councils of this century, while adjuring the secular authority to apprehend heretics, speak only of excommunication as their punishment. As to the desirability of the Church’s handing over heretics to the State for drastic treatment, opinions differed. Wazo, Bishop of Liege (1042-48), disapproved of this, his successor Theoduin favoured it. St Bernard preferred the method of persuasion to coercion, yet ominously quoted with reference to heretics the words of St Paul, “For he beareth not the sword in vain.” In 1157 a council at Rheims, in calling upon the secular arm to award life-imprisonment to Cathari, seems also to hint at the punishment of death in the vague phrase, “nisi gravius aliquid fieri debet visum.” Hugh, Bishop of Auxerre (1183-1206), took upon himself the task of expelling or burning heretics as seemed best in particular cases, and about the same time the Archbishop of Rheims co-operated with the Count of Flanders in stamping out heresy in his diocese by means of the stake. Clearly during the twelfth century there was a tendency towards increasing severity in the Church’s attitude.

The evolution of the Canon Law is largely the explanation. In a treatise possibly by Ivo of Chartres, De edicto imperatorum in damnatione hacreticorum, part of a law of Justinian meting out death to the Manichaeans is incorporated. At this time the Cathari were universally regarded as Manichaeans. Although the Decretum of Gratian does not mention the death penalty for heretics, certain of his commentators state that impenitent heretics may bo put to death. The earliest secular law in the Middle Ages relating to heresy is the Assize of Clarendon, which orders that any house in which heretics have been harboured is to be destroyed. Shortly before this two Cathari brought before Henry II at Oxford had been whipped, branded, and banished. In 1184 Pope Lucius III and Frederick Barbarossa had a momentous meeting at Verona, at which it was arranged, on the one hand, that bishops should make diligent inquiry for heretics and excommunicate the obdurate, while, on the other hand, the secular authority should enforce the penalties of the imperial ban, namely, exile, infamy, the demolition of tainted houses, the confiscation of property. In 1194 the Emperor Henry VI reissued these instructions, adding the penalty of a fine on any individual or community neglecting opportunities for the apprehension of heretics. The first undoubted instance of the death penalty occurring in medieval secular legislation against heresy appears in an edict of Peter II of Aragon in 1197, prescribing banishment for all heretics, but the stake for any that might remain in defiance of the edict. This legislation is important, but it relates only to Aragon and the death penalty is only contingent.

At the best, the measures taken against heretics up to the close of the twelfth century had been half-hearted and spasmodic. It does not appear that the decrees of Verona had been effectively carried out. Emperors and Popes had been in the main so much absorbed in their quarrels that they had not given serious attention to the problem of heresy. Then in 1198 came the accession to the papal throne of Innocent III, at once a lawyer and a man of action. In the first capacity, in a letter addressed to the magistrates of Viterbo, he propounded a most important analogy between heresy and treason, for which the just requital was death. Though he did not here draw the conclusion, the logical outcome of the argument is that treason to Jesus Christ is worthy at least of death. Innocent was much perturbed by heresy in certain Italian cities—Viterbo itself, Orvieto, Verona. But even worse was the open prosperity of Catharism in the lands of Raymond VI of Toulouse. It was a challenge to the new Pope’s masterful spirit. His first remedy was the sending of special missionaries, armed with legatine powers. Their total failure and the murder of one of them, Peter de Castelnau, were the signals for the adoption of his second remedy—the crusade. The Albigensian wars are the most notorious example of sustained and successful persecution in history. But they represent only the first stage in suppression. Catharism was rooted out because they were followed up by the unremitting labour of inquisitors for generations after. To the method of indiscriminate slaughter succeeded procedure by means of an efficient tribunal, specially fitted for the task.

Though the Inquisition may be said to have started soon after the Albigensian wars, it did not arise directly out of them; its origin takes us further back. Heresy, being essentially a spiritual offence, had always come within the purview of every diocesan, like any other ecclesiastical offence. But heresy cases became in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries so numerous that it proved impossible for the bishops to deal adequately with them and at the same time carry on their multifarious other duties with efficiency. When experience shewed this to be undeniably the case, a special new. machinery was created—a court existing expressly for the trial of heresy cases, namely, the Inquisition. This process would have taken place even had there never been any Albigensian crusades.

The peculiar features of inquisitorial procedure arose largely from the difficulty experienced in a heretic-infested country in securing evidence. The ordinary methods of initiating a prosecution in a spiritual court, just as in a civil court, were those of denuntiatio and accusatio. By the former the archdeacon introduced a case from his own personal knowledge; by the latter proceedings were taken upon evidence proffered by an individual informer. The archdeacon having many other duties to attend to, the Church had in the main to rely upon the second method. But when heresy was popular and protected by those in high places, it was not easy to induce private persons to play the part of delator. The Council of Verona (1184) suggested another system. It directed that bishops should make periodical circuits of their dioceses with the express purpose of inquiring into, of ferreting out, heresy; that they should compel trustworthy persons to denounce all those whose manner of life differed from that of good Catholics, and that they should take judicial action based upon the common report or difiamatio of the locality obtained in this manner. The system thus mapped out is an inquisitorial system. It is a supplement to the usual methods of originating a judicial action, intended to surmount the particular difficulty of securing evidence in cases of heresy. But there is as yet no suggestion of the setting up of a new tribunal. Cases of heresy are still tried by the bishop in the ordinary episcopal court.

The Councils of Avignon (1209) and Montpellier and the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) recommended the same procedure. It was not found to be sufficiently effective, and in 1227 the Council of Narbonne endeavoured to improve upon it by the device of entrusting certain persons described as testes synodales with the duty of making diligent inquiry concerning the heretics of their several neighbourhoods. These synodal witnesses—though the term is new—may be merely the trustworthy persons referred to by the earlier Councils, but in any case they are now allotted a new task. They have not merely to denounce, they have to search out. In the literal sense of the word these witnesses are local inquisitors. In the creation of an organised system of delation one characteristic feature of inquisitorial practice has now been evolved, although the tribunal known as the Holy Office has not yet come into existence.

But the new devices of collecting together the material for the creation of a diffamatio and of launching judicial proceedings for heresy upon a diffamatio still left the machinery of persecution inadequate. Experience seemed to show that there was something inherently defective for the trial of heretics in the existing spiritual courts, and that it was desirable to entrust both the process of thoroughly organising the search for heretics and that of actually trying them to experts specifically appointed and exclusively employed in that work. Delegates expressly nominated by the Pope to combat heresy, entrusted with special powers and more or less independent of ordinary episcopal authority, there had already been—such, for example, as Peter de Castelnau, Arnold of Citeaux, and St Dominic himself. Dominic has indeed been hailed as the first inquisitor, though the Inquisition properly speaking was not founded till ten years after his death. But neither in the wider sense of a simple investigator nor in the more technical sense of a judge in cases of heresy is it true that St Dominic was a pioneer. In the wider sense all the envoys employed to combat the errors of the Albigenses and to bring the culprits to justice may be called inquisitors. The conversion of the haphazard and occasional papal delegation in matters of heresy into a properly organised and permanent system was the work of Gregory IX, who may therefore be legitimately accounted the founder of the tribunal of the Inquisition. He was responsible for the institution of the permanent judge-delegate for heretical causes, who, at first acting as advisory colleague to the bishop, in course of time came to oust the bishop from effective control in these cases.

The first and perhaps the most notorious delegate selected by Gregory IX was Conrad of Marburg, the brutal torturer of St Elizabeth of Hungary, who harried the heretics of Germany with the utmost vigour. Another was Robert le Bougre, an apostate Catharan, appointed Inquisitor of France in 1235. But, generally speaking, the Pope found that members of the two great Mendicant Orders were best fitted for his purpose. Both had already rendered most zealous and conspicuous service in combating heresy; they were, moreover, bound by peculiar ties to the Holy See and could therefore be appropriately used for work which to a large extent must involve the supersession of ordinary episcopal authority. Accordingly from the outset there was a close association between the Friars and the Inquisition. The inauguration of the new system may be taken as dating from April 1233 when Gregory addressed two bulls, the first to the bishops, the second to the Dominicans, of southern France. In the first he refers to the bishops as being “engrossed in a whirlwind of cares, scarce able to breathe in the pressure of overwhelming anxieties.” Their burdens must be eased, and he has therefore decided to help them by sending the Preaching Friars against the heretics of France. He therefore orders the bishops, as they reverence the Holy See, to receive the friars kindly, to treat them well, and to give them all possible assistance in the fulfilment of their office. In the second bull the friars are empowered to proceed against all, laymen and clerks, without appeal, calling in the aid of the secular arm when necessary and coercing opposition, if need be, by the censures of the Church. It is possibly true that in publishing these bulls Gregory did not intend to create a new tribunal, that he did not envisage the matured system which was undoubtedly the direct consequence of his action; it is also unquestionably true that he did not contemplate relieving the bishops of their existing authority in cases of heresy—indeed next year he is found angrily threatening the bishops of the province of Narbonne with his serious displeasure if they do not show greater energy against the heretics. But whatever may have been Gregory’s ultimate intentions, certain it is that the bulls of 1233 were decisive in virtually inaugurating the career of the Holy Office. In the subsequent development of its organisation and procedure the greatest part was taken by Innocent IV, Alexander IV, Urban IV, Clement IV, Clement V, and John XXII, aided by the rules of a number of ecclesiastical councils, from that of Beziers in 1233 to that of Albi in 1254.

To begin with, the friars-inquisitors were itinerant, just as their predecessors had been, but gradually, as the advantages of regularly employing the Mendicants in the war against heresy became more and more obvious, the practice was evolved of partitioning different countries and districts between them, and so of instituting permanent local tribunals, Thus in the West, Provence, Dauphiné, and Savoy were allotted to the Franciscans; northern France, Lorraine, and Flanders to the Dominicans. Germany became a Dominican sphere; Bohemia and Dalmatia Franciscan. In theory the inquisitors continued to co-operate with the bishops—in the middle of the thirteenth century Innocent IV still regards the bishops as the judges, the friars only as expert assistants; but as time went on and heresy was recognised as being a constant, not merely a passing, menace, and as the inquisitor became more and more experienced, more and more skilled, so the presence of the inquisitor in any heresy trial became indispensable, that of the diocesan purely formal and perfunctory. There is abundant evidence of much episcopal jealousy and of a good deal of friction between bishop and inquisitor, which, in view of the special privileges and immunities of the latter, is not surprising. Released from obedience to provincials and generals, inquisitors could not be interfered with even by papal legates. At first their commissions were regarded as expiring with the life of the Popes who issued them; from 1267, however, they were regarded as being continuously valid. While some medieval inquisitors were looked upon as wantonly cruel even by their contemporaries and appear to a more liberally-minded age as monsters, as a whole they were picked men, and high qualities of courage, probity, zeal, and sagacity were repeatedly demanded by the Popes. Bernard Gui’s description of the model inquisitor is a very fine one, even according to modern standards.

In addition to bishop and inquisitor there were present at all heresy trials the notary and certain councillors, known as viri boni or viri periti. The notary was an official of importance, as all the proceedings of the court were minutely recorded. It often happened that evidence which was irrelevant and unimportant, so far as concerned the case actually being tried, proved to be of the utmost value in some other case, perhaps in a different country and many years later. The sinister and dreadful reputation that the tribunal acquired, the impression of its inexorable, unescapable power, was due largely to the fact that it was secret and ubiquitous, but also in no small measure to the fact that its records were exact and elaborate. The viris periti might be either clerks or laymen; quite frequently they were civil lawyers. There might be as many as twenty or thirty of these councillors present at a trial. The inquisitor was under no obligation to accept their advice, and often no doubt their presence was merely formal; the fact remains that the system did provide these assessors—a sort of consultant jury—often consisting of expert civil lawyers, who kept a watch upon the proceedings and wereat least a potential check upon arbitrary action. Others who accompanied the inquisitor and might be present in the tribunal were the inquisitor’s vicar or lieutenant, who sometimes acted as his deputy and customarily assisted in the examination of witnesses, and the inquisitor’s socius, who appears to have had no official functions, but only the social duty of attending upon the inquisitor on his journeys. More important were the familiars, a band of petty officials, ever tending to become more numerous, who acted as a personal body-guard for the inquisitor, visited prisons, officiated at autos-da-fe, and. often played the part of special agents and spies.

Casuistry tended to flourish in a tribunal existing for the trial of an offence which was specifically in intellectu, a matter of wrong thinking and believing, not necessarily revealed by any overt act. The manuals of inquisitors abound in nice and subtle distinctions, such as were apt to be produced by an attempt to deal consistently and scientifically with an offence by its very nature complex. A careful classification was made of various types of heretic. Affirmative were those who openly avowed their errors, negative those who denied or prevaricated; perfected heretics were those who not only held erroneous opinion but modelled their lives in accordance with it, imperfect those who simply held the opinion but did not conform their behaviour to it. In addition to undoubted heretics the court took cognisance of those who had in greater or less degree exposed themselves to suspicion of heresy. Thus, to have saluted a heretic or listened to his discourse on a single occasion was to become lightly suspect; to have done so twice or thrice to become vehemently suspect; to have done so often to become violently suspect. The idea was that for a good Catholic to have acted in such a way as to have incurred the bare suspicion of heretical contamination was in itself a misdemeanour, for which penance must be imposed. Fautorship or the defence of heretics, either in the shape of positive aid or even the most trivial kindness or courtesy or in the shape of neglect to bring them to justice when opportunity offered, was a more serious offence. Sometimes a crime which was not primarily one of heresy was dealt with by the Inquisition, because it resulted from some erroneous belief. Usury, adultery, clerical concubinage did not come under inquisitorial cognisance as such; only if the guilty persons committed those offences with the heretical opinion that they were not sinful. In the fifteenth century much of the tribunal's attention was occupied by cases of sorcery and witchcraft. Alexander IV had exhorted inquisitors not to be deflected from their proper work by such cases; but Bernard of Como in 1250 championed the view that the magic arts were a form of heresy, and this interpretation easily prevailed.

The commencement of inquisitorial proceedings was preceded by the announcement of a time of grace, and a promise of mild treatment for those who voluntarily surrendered themselves before its expiration, and the promulgation of an edict of faith, calling upon good Catholics to denounce the guilty. The actual trial resolved itself largely into a prolonged interrogatory of the accused either by the inquisitor himself or his vicar. If the accused did not at once make confession and throw himself upon the mercy of the court, he had to try to explain away the diffamatio against him. This was no easy matter. To invalidate the diffamatio it was necessary to prove that the witnesses were actuated by mortal enmity, for it was assumed that no motive less strong could induce any one to launch so terrible a false accusation. As the accused was never confronted with the witnesses, and was never informed who had defamed him, all he could do was to give a list by guess-work of his possible enemies. These disabilities to the defence existed for the protection of informers against the chance of vengeance. The Inquisition was quite indiscriminate in its 46 acceptance of evidence, readily accepting the depositions of one heretic against another (though never in his favour), of husband against wife, of child against parent, of servant against master. Even the evidence of murderers, proved perjurers, and excommunicates was not excluded. At first this type of evidence had not been allowed, but in 1261 Alexander IV declared it to be valid in heretical causes. The interrogatory based on such testimony was apt to be long, baffling, and involved. Seeing that heretics were credited with great acuteness, begotten of the evil one, it was held to be perfectly legitimate to harass the accused with the most intricate and disconcerting examination. The inquisitor, piously regarding himself as engaged in a holy warfare against the powers of darkness, felt he had to put forth all his energy in opposing the craft and subtleties of the Devil. No doubt some heretics had such knowledge and dialectical skill as to put the examiner upon his mettle, but in the majority of cases the duel of wits was quite unequal, the accused, an illiterate man, too much scared to make full use of such faculties as he possessed. At one time defending counsel were allowed, but as inquisitors, such as Bernard Gui, were apt to take the view that the defence of one suspect of heresy rendered the advocate open to the charge of fautorship, such assistance was hard to get, and the ruling of the Council of Albi (1254) that advocates were not to be allowed was soon generally adopted.

If the interrogatory did not by itself suffice to secure what the inquisitor was always aiming at—voluntary confession—torture was employed. Technically foreign though it was to the Canon Law, the use of torture came in with the study of Roman Law and the prohibition of the ordeal. It was sanctioned by the Lateran Council of 1215 and definitely ordered by the great bull of Innocent IV published in 1252, Ad extirpanda. At first it was laid down that the actual infliction must be carried out by the civil authority, but this salutary rule being found irksome, Alexander IV in 1256 permitted inquisitors and their officers to absolve one another for such canonical irregularities. Another salutary rule was that torture could be administered to a prisoner only once. This restraint also was found troublesome and it was easily evaded by another subterfuge. While torture could not be repeated, it was argued that it might be continued. This convenient verbal distinction made it possible to torture a prisoner repeatedly without contravening the letter of the law. A third awkward regulation was that a confession was only valid when voluntary. The device adopted to overcome this difficulty was to have the confession which had actually been wrung by pain confirmed three days after the torture had been applied, not in the torture chamber, and officially to regard the confirmation as the true confession. Clement V endeavoured to moderate the use of torture in a number of canons published among the Clementines (1312), which Bernard Gui complained of bitterly.

Strictly speaking, the Inquisition did not punish; it only inflicted penances. Those meted out for a trivial case of suspicion might be light enough—the hearing of so many masses for example. But even for the mere suspect the penalty was usually more serious than this. One of the most frequent forms of penance was that of pilgrimage, either to a shrine in the penitent’s own country in mild cases or to far distant ones in a foreign country in more serious cases. Long absence from home, loss of employment, and considerable hardship on the journey might be involved. Flogging indicted with due ceremony publicly in church, often as an interlude during the celebration of mass, was another penance. Another infliction—one originally suggested by St Dominic—was the compulsory wearing of crosses or some other emblem emblazoned in saffron on front and back. This penance was one of the hardest to bear, as it exposed the sufferer to the jeers and sometimes the violence of the mob, and its evasion was often attempted. At length it became clear that some measure of protection for cross-wearers was needful, and the Council of Beziers (1246) ordained that they were not to be subjected to ridicule or driven away from their business. Pecuniary penalties were often exacted. From the point of view of the penitent, the payment of a fine was perhaps preferable to other forms of penance, but the temptation to extortion is obvious, and in 1249 Innocent IV is found denouncing inquisitors for their exactions. Confiscation of property was not a penalty in itself, but the automatic outcome of a conviction of actual heresy; nor was the Inquisition strictly responsible, for the secular authority stepped in and sequestrated the property. But the Inquisition aggravated what had been the rule of Roman Law, that the heretic’s possessions should pass to orthodox sons, and made the confiscation absolute. The division of the proceeds varied in different countries. Part went to the prince, part to the Church; but sometimes a portion went to the heretic’s immediate lord, and sometimes, as latterly in France, the Crown took all. Confiscations made heretic­hunting profitable to the State, and undoubtedly they formed a strong inducement to the lay power to be zealous. Nevertheless, it is an error to ascribe medieval persecutions to mere cupidity. Most heretics belonged to the poorer classes. The most severe of all penances was imprisonment, often employed as the recompense for failure to carry out some lighter penance, and on those who failed to surrender themselves during the time of grace, but who made voluntary confession of their iniquity afterwards. Imprisonment might be comparatively tolerable, or it might be very terrible. The form termed murus largus allowed of the prisoner’s leaving his cell at certain intervals and holding converse with other prisoners similarly privileged and with friends from the outside world; murus strictus on the other hand meant rigorous solitary confinement. The penalty of perpetual imprisonment in a dark and noisome cell was probably more frightful even than death at the stake.

Nevertheless, it is the spectacular burnings that are associated most vividly in the popular mind with the Inquisition. That being so, it is important to realise that in proportion to the total number of inquisitorial sentences that of relaxation to the secular arm was relatively very small. An analysis of the sentences of Bernard Gui extending over a period of seventeen years shows that out of a total of 613 there were 307 of imprisonment, only 45 of relaxation. This penalty was reserved for only two types of offenders—the obdurate who refused to recant and those who after reconciliation relapsed. The Church did not desire the death of the heretic. The martyr does infinitely less damage to his cause than the apostate. Thus relaxation to the secular arm, with its inevitable consequence—the stake—was always a confession of failure. The inquisitor was above all things a missionary, a father-confessor, ready to welcome back truant sheep to the fold, only requiring as the price of forgiveness a confession of sin and the performance of penance as proof of sincere contrition.

In handing over the impenitent and the relapsed to the secular arm, the Inquisition invariably made use of a formula praying that the death or mutilation of the prisoner might be avoided. This adjuration was invariably disregarded, and the Church knew that it always would be. The formula freed the Church from the irregularity of being responsible for the shedding of blood; but moral responsibility is not so easily evaded. The secular authority certainly had seldom any qualms about putting the heretic to death. Apart from the edict of Peter II of Aragon, there are the more important constitutions of Frederick II. In the constitution published at Catania for Lombardy in 1224 the punishment for heresy was declared to be the stake or (at the discretion of the judge) loss of the tongue; in the constitutions of Melfi, which applied to Sicily, there is no mention of an alternative to the stake; in 1238 this regulation was extended to the whole Empire. The use of the stake was customary in France during the contemporary reign of St Louis and it was recognised as legal in the établissements of 1270. When heretics perished in the flames they perished in accordance with civil, not canon, law. But it is clear that the Church approved. Heresy was primarily a spiritual offence, investigated in a spiritual court; the State’s appreciation of its enormity was due to clerical exhortations, which likened heresy to treason. There is evidence that Frederick II’s constitutions had ecclesiastical influence behind them, that of 1224 the influence of Albert, Archbishop of Magdeburg, that of 1231 the influence of the two Spanish Dominicans, Guala, Bishop of Brescia, and Raymond of Peñafort, confessor to Gregory IX and later general of the Predicant Order. Both these men were exceedingly energetic in the campaign against heresy. In 1229 the very important Council of Toulouse (using language which occurs in Frederick’s constitutions and which was repeated by the subsequent Council of Arles in 1234) ordered that all heretics should be brought before the lay or the ecclesiastical authority ut animadversione debita puniantur, and added significantly that those who through fear of death or other cause returned to the faith should be imprisoned to prevent their contaminating others. The phrase “merited penalty” clearly means death, and is used by Gregory IX in his bull Excommunicamus, when, while mentioning every other kind of requital for various degrees of guilt short of obduracy, he orders that the impenitent should be handed over to the secular arm for punishment; it is also used by the Senator Anibaldi when introducing the imperial constitution into Rome, which he ruled under the Pope’s authority and where in the same year several obdurate heretics were executed. In 1245 Innocent IV included Frederick’s constitutions verbatim in a bull Cum adversus haereticam pravitatem. In a later bull of 1252, addressed to the secular rulers of Italy, Ad extirpanda de medio populi Chrintiani pravitatis zizania, the duty of doing their part in uprooting heresy was forcibly enjoined upon those princes by Innocent, under pain of their being accounted fautors of heretics in case of non-compliance. All civil magistrates were commanded to co-operate with the friars in bringing heretics to justice. With slight modifications this bull was reissued by Alexander IV in 1259 and by Clement IV in 1265. Failure to co-operate with the Church and to carry out its own legislation involved the secular authority in the pain of excommunication. It was easy to justify the Church’s attitude towards the death penalty, as Thomas Aquinas did, by the argument of analogy —one of his theses is that the falsification of true doctrine is worse than the issue of false coin, yet the coiner justly merits death. It could also be defended from Scripture—did not Christ speak of the branch that is gathered, cast into the fire, and burnt? So thoroughly did the Church believe in burning as the right fate for the heretic, that when a man’s heresy was discovered only after his death, it ordained that his bones should be exhumed and solemnly burnt.

The Inquisition did not penetrate much beyond the central and western parts of Europe. It found no home in the British Isles or in Scandinavia and it made small headway east of the Adriatic, though there was the original home of Catharism. The papal arm rarely stretched so far with effect. Dominicans penetrated into those lands, but with disappointing results, and there were massacres of the Black Friars in Bosnia. After the coming of the Ottoman Turks, Cathari were converted to Islam, never to Christianity. In Germany the tribunal was most vigorous in its earliest days—those of Conrad of Marburg and Conrad Tors. Thereafter there came a lull. It became more influential in the fourteenth century, but the papal schism caused a great reduction in its authority. In Bohemia, though tkere was much activity against heretics, it appears to have been that of the ordinary episcopal courts, not of the Inquisition. In Italy the legislation of Frederick II and Gregory IX introduced an era of persecution in which the Papacy shewed a marked tendency to translate Ghibelline into heretic, finding the Inquisition a very useful weapon in waging war against the rival faction. On the other hand, certain Ghibellines, such as Ezzelin da Romano, deliberately supported heretics in order to embarrass the Papacy. The Church was able to enlist a considerable amount of lay enthusiasm in support of the inquisitors, for example in the organisation of the Crocesegnati and the Compagnia della Fede which Peter Martyr, a great hammer of heretics, raised in Florence. In southern Italy the Inquisition was not very active. Charles of Anjou established it in Sicily, but when the island after the Sicilian Vespers passed into the hands of the house of Aragon persecution ceased.

Spain, most intimately associated in later days with the Inquisition because of the activities of the tribunal as it was organised in close touch with the monarchy by Ferdinand and Isabella, was not inherently a specially intolerant country—the reconquered Muslim population was well treated in the main—and the medieval Inquisition does not play an important part in the country’s history. In the reign of James I and during the powerful influence of Raymond of Peñaforte the Inquisition flourished in Aragon, and a thorough system of persecution was established by the decrees of the Councils of Tarragona of 1232 and 1242. But it had fallen on evil days before the end of the fourteenth century and was sadly lacking in funds, as its great inquisitor, Nicholas Eymcric, laments. In Castile and Portugal the tribunal was practically unknown. It was in France that the Inquisition was most active and most efficacious, not only in the south-east but also north of the Loire. But bitter complaints of the cruelties and extortion of inquisitors reaching his ears, Philip the Fair chose to adopt the cause of the complainants, especially during his quarrel with Boniface VIII, when he took the drastic step of removing on his own authority the two inquisitors most bitterly aspersed, and deprived inquisitors generally of the power to make arbitrary arrests. When King and Pope became reconciled in 1304, a compromise was arranged, whereby the aid of the secular arm was unreservedly placed at the disposal of the friars, but it was stipulated that royal officials were to visit their prisons to prevent abuses. In doing its work so zealously and thoroughly, in bringing Languedoc into complete subjection to the Papacy, the Inquisition bad also brought the country into subjection to the King of France. It had, in so doing, helped the aggrandisement of the French monarchy and indirectly enabled it to look on inquisitors as little more than State officials, on the tribunal as but a profitable piece of State machinery.