A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages.
By Henry Charles Lea - 1888

Chapter IX. The Inquisitorial Process

The procedure of the episcopal courts, as described in a former chapter, was based on the principles of the Roman law, and whatever may have been its abuses in practice, it was equitable in theory, and its processes were limited by strictly defined rules. In the Inquisition all this was changed, and if we would rightly appreciate its methods we must understand the relations which the inquisitor conceived to exist between himself and the offenders brought before his tribunal.

As a judge, he was vindicating the faith and avenging God for the wrongs inflicted on him by misbelief. He was more than a judge, however, he was a father-confessor striving for the salvation of the wretched souls perversely bent on perdition. In both capacities he acted with an authority far higher than that of an earthly judge. If his sacred mission was accomplished, it mattered little what methods were used. If the offender asked mercy for his unpardonable crime it must be through the most unreserved submission to the spiritual father who was seeking to save him from the endless torment of hell. The first thing demanded of him when he appeared before the tribunal was an oath to stand to the mandates of the Church, to answer truly all questions asked of him, to betray all heretics known to him, and to perform whatever penance might be imposed on him; and refusal to take this oath was to proclaim himself at once a defiant and obstinate heretic.

In the Cismontane Inquisition the preliminary oath seems only to pledge the accused to tell the truth as to himself and others (Eymeric. p. 421). In Italy, however, it was the more elaborate affair described in the text. In the trials of the Guglielmites at Milan, in 1300, the accused were, in addition, made to impose.

The duty of the inquisitor, moreover, was distinguished from that of the ordinary judge by the fact that the task assigned to him was the impossible one of ascertaining the secret thoughts and opinions of the prisoner. External acts were to him only of value as indications of belief, to be accepted or rejected as he might deem them conclusive or illusory. The crime he sought to suppress by punishment was purely a mental one--acts, however criminal, were beyond his jurisdiction. The murderers of St. Peter Martyr were prosecuted, not as assassins, but as fautors of heresy and impeders of the Inquisition.

The usurer only came within his purview when he asserted or showed by his acts that he considered usury no sin; the sorcerer when his incantations proved that he preferred to rely on the powers of demons rather than those of God, or that he entertained wrongful notions upon the sacraments. Zanghino tells us that he witnessed the condemnation of a concubinary priest by the Inquisition, who was punished not for his licentiousness, but because while thus polluted he celebrated daily mass and urged in excuse that he considered himself purified by putting on the sacred vestments.

Then, too, even doubt was heresy; the believer must have fixed and unwavering faith, and it was the inquisitor's business to ascertain this condition of his mind. External acts and verbal professions were as naught. The accused might be regular in his attendance at mass; he might be liberal in his oblations, punctual in confession and communion, and yet be a heretic at heart. When brought before the tribunal he might profess the most unbounded submission to the decisions of the Holy See, the strictest adherence to orthodox doctrine, the freest readiness to subscribe to whatever was demanded of him, and yet be secretly a Catharan or a Vaudois, fit only for the stake.

Other Forms Of Action Discouraged

Few, indeed, were there who courageously admitted their heresy when brought before the tribunal, and to the conscientious judge, eager to destroy the foxes which ravaged the vineyard of the Lord, the task of exploring the secret heart of man was no easy one. We cannot wonder that he speedily emancipated himself from the trammels of recognized judicial procedure which, in preventing him from committing injustice, would have rendered his labors futile. Still less can we be surprised that fanatic zeal, arbitrary cruelty, and insatiable cupidity rivalled each other in building up a system unspeakably atrocious. Omniscience alone was capable of solving with justice the problems which were the daily routine of the inquisitor; human frailty, resolved to accomplish a predetermined end, inevitably reached the practical conclusion that the sacrifice of a hundred innocent men were better than the escape of one guilty.

Thus of the three forms of criminal actions, accusation, denunciation, and inquisition, the latter necessarily became, in place of an exception, the invariable rule, and at the same time it was stripped of the safeguards by which its dangerous tendencies had been in some degree neutralized. If a formal accuser presented himself, the inquisitor was instructed to discourage him by pointing out the danger of the talio to which he was exposed by inscribing himself; and by general consent this form of action was rejected in consequence of its being "litigious"--that is, because it afforded the accused some opportunities of defence. That there was danger to the accuser, and that the Inquisition practically discouraged the process, was shown in 1304, when an inquisitor, Frà Landulfo, imposed a fine of one hundred and fifty ounces of gold on the town of Theate because it had officially accused a man of heresy and had failed in the proof. The action by denunciation was less objectionable, because in it the inquisitor acted ex officio; but it was unusual, and the inquisitorial process at an early period became substantially the only one followed.

To appreciate the contrast between the processes of the Inquisition and of the secular courts, it will suffice to allude to the practice of the latter in Milan in the first half of the fourteenth century.

Not only, as we shall see, were its safeguards withdrawn, but virtually the presumption of guilt was assumed in advance. About 1278 an experienced inquisitor lays down the rule as one generally received, that in places much suspected of heresy every inhabitant must be cited to appear, must be forced to abjure heresy and to tell the truth, and be subjected to a detailed interrogatory about himself and others, in which any lack of frankness will subject him hereafter to the dreadful penalties of relapse. That this was not a mere theoretical proposition appears from the great inquests held by Bernard de Caux and Jean de Saint-Pierre in 1245 and 1246, when there are recorded two hundred and thirty interrogatories of inhabitants of the little town of Avignonet, one hundred of those of Fanjeaux, and four hundred and twenty of Mas-Saintes-Puelles.

From this responsibility there was no escape for any one who had reached the age at which the Church held him able to answer for his own acts. What this age was, however, was a subject of dispute. The Councils of Toulouse, Béziers, and Albi assumed it to be fourteen for males and twelve for females, when they prescribed the oath of abjuration to be taken by the whole population, and this rule was adopted by some authorities.

Minors And Absentees

Others contented themselves with the definition that the child must be old enough to understand the purport of an oath, while there were not wanting high authorities who reduced the age of responsibility to seven years, and those who more charitably fixed it at nine and a half for girls and ten and a half for boys.

It is true that in Latin countries, where minority did not cease until the age of twenty-five, no one beneath that age had a standing in court, but this was readily evaded by appointing for him a "curator," under whose shadow he could be tortured and condemned; and when we are told that no one below the age of fourteen should be tortured, we are left to conjecture the minimum age of responsibility for heresy.

Nor could the offender escape by absenting himself. Absence was contumacy and only increased his guilt, by adding a fresh and unpardonable offence, besides being technically tantamount to confession. In fact, before the Inquisition was thought of, the inquisitorial process was rendered absolute in ecclesiastical jurisprudence precisely to meet such cases, as when Innocent III. degraded the Bishop of Coire on evidence taken ex parte by his commissioners, after the bishop had repeatedly refused to appear before them; and the importance of this decision is shown by the fact that Raymond of Pennaforte embodied it in the canon law to prove that in cases of contumacy the testimony taken in an inquisitio was valid ground for condemnation without a litis contestatio or contest between the prosecution and the defence.

Accordingly, when a party failed to appear, after due citation published in his parish church and proper delay, there was no hesitation in proceeding against him to conviction in absentia--the absence of the culprit being piously supplied by "the presence of God and the Gospels" when the sentence was rendered. Contumacious absence, in fact, was in itself enough.

Frederic II. in his earliest edict, in 1220, following the Lateran Council of 1215, had declared that the suspect who did not clear himself within twelve months was to be condemned as a heretic, and this was applied to the absent, who were ordered to be sentenced after a year's excommunication, whether anything was proved against them or not. Enduring excommunication for a year without seeking its removal was evidence of heresy as to the sacraments and the power of the keys, if as to nothing else; and some authorities were so rigid with regard to this that the Council of Béziers denounced the punishment of heresy for all who remained excommunicate for forty days.

Even the delay of a twelvemonth, however, was evaded, for inquisitors were instructed when citing the absent to summon them, not only to appear, but to purge themselves within a given time, and then as soon as it had elapsed the accused was held to be convicted. Yet the extreme penalty of relaxation was rarely enforced in such cases, and the Inquisition contented itself generally with imprisoning for life those against whom no offence was proved save contumacy, unless, indeed, when caught they refused to submit and abjure.

As little was there any escape by death. It mattered not that the sinner had been called to the judgment-seat of God, the faith must be vindicated by his condemnation and the faithful be edified by his punishment. If he had incurred only imprisonment or the lighter penalties, his bones were simply dug up and cast out. If his heresy had deserved the stake, they were solemnly burned. A simulacrum of defence was allowed to heirs and descendants, on whom were visited the heavy penalties of confiscation and personal disabilities. How unflagging was the zeal with which these mortuary prosecutions were sometimes carried on is visible in the case of Armanno Pongilupo of Ferrara, over whose remains war was waged between the Bishop and the Inquisitor of Ferrara for thirty-two years after his death, in 1269, ending with the triumph of the Inquisition in 1301. No prescription of time barred the Church in these matters, as the heirs and descendants of Gherardo of Florence found when, in 1313, Frà Grimaldo the inquisitor commenced a successful prosecution against their ancestor who had died prior to 1250.

Disregard Of Forms

At best the inquisitorial process was a dangerous one in its conjunction of prosecutor with judge, and when it was first introduced in ecclesiastical jurisprudence careful limitations to prevent abuse were felt to be absolutely essential. The danger was doubled when the prosecuting judge was an earnest zealot bent on upholding the faith and predetermined on seeing in every prisoner before him a heretic to be convicted at any cost; nor was the danger lessened when he was merely rapacious and eager for fines and confiscations. Yet the theory of the Church was that the inquisitor was an impartial spiritual father whose functions in the salvation of souls should be fettered by no rules.

All the safeguards which human experience had shown to be necessary in judicial proceedings of the most trivial character were deliberately cast aside in these cases, where life and reputation and property through three generations were involved. Every doubtful point was decided "in favor of the faith." The inquisitor, with endless iteration, was empowered and instructed to proceed summarily, to disregard forms, to permit no impediments arising from judicial rules or the wrangling of advocates, to shorten the proceedings as much as possible by depriving the accused of the ordinary facilities of defence, and by rejecting all appeals and dilatory exceptions. The validity of the result was not to be vitiated by the omission at any stage of the trial of the forms which had been devised to prevent injustice and subject the judge to responsibility.

Had the proceedings been public, there might have been some check upon this hideous system, but the Inquisition shrouded itself in the awful mystery of secrecy until after sentence had been awarded and it was ready to impress the multitude with the fearful solemnities of the auto de fé. Unless proclamation were to be made for an absentee, the citation of a suspected heretic was made in secret.

All knowledge of what took place after he presented himself was confined to the few discreet men selected by his judge, who were sworn to inviolable silence, and even the experts assembled to consult over his fate were subjected to similar oaths. The secrets of that dismal tribunal were guarded with the same caution, and we are told by Bernard Gui that extracts from the records were to be furnished rarely and only with the most careful discretion. Paramo, in the quaint pedantry with which he ingeniously proves that God was the first inquisitor and the condemnation of Adam and Eve the first model of the inquisitorial process, triumphantly points out that he judged them in secret, thus setting the example which the Inquisition is bound to follow, and avoiding the subtleties which the criminals would have raised in their defence, especially at the suggestion of the crafty serpent. That he called no witnesses is explained by the confession of the accused, and ample legal authority is cited to show that these confessions were sufficient to justify the conviction and punishment.

If this blasphemous absurdity raises a smile, it has also its melancholy side, for it reveals to us the view which the inquisitors themselves took of their functions, assimilating themselves to God and wielding an irresponsible power which nothing short of divine wisdom could prevent from being turned by human passions into an engine of the most deadly injustice. Released from all the restraint of publicity and unrestricted by the formalities of law, the procedure of the Inquisition, as Zanghino tells us, was purely arbitrary. How the inquisitors construed their powers and what use they made of their discretion we shall have abundant opportunity of seeing hereafter.

Usual Course of Trial

The ordinary course of a trial by the Inquisition was this. A man would be reported to the inquisitor as of ill-repute for heresy, or his name would occur in the confessions of other prisoners.

A secret inquisition would be made and all accessible evidence against him would be collected. He would then be secretly cited to appear at a given time, and bail taken to secure his obedience, or if he were suspected of flight, he would be suddenly arrested and confined until the tribunal was ready to give him a hearing. Legally there required to be three citations, but this was eluded by making the summons "one for three;" when the prosecution was based on common report the witnesses were called apparently at random, making a sort of drag-net, and when the mass of surmises and gossip, exaggerated and distorted by the natural fear of the witnesses, eager to save themselves from suspicion of favoring heretics, grew sufficient for action, the blow would fall. The accused was thus prejudged. He was assumed to be guilty, or he would not have been put on trial, and virtually his only mode of escape was by confessing the charges made against him, abjuring heresy, and accepting whatever punishment might be imposed on him in the shape of penance. Persistent denial of guilt and assertion of orthodoxy, when there was evidence against him, rendered him an impenitent, obstinate heretic, to be abandoned to the secular arm and consigned to the stake.

The process thus was an exceedingly simple one, and is aptly summarized by an inquisitor of the fifteenth century in an argument against admitting the accused to bail. If one is caught in heresy, by his own confession, and is impenitent, he is to be delivered to the secular arm to be put to death; if penitent, he is to be thrust in prison for life, and therefore is not to be let loose on bail; if he denies, and is legitimately convicted by witnesses, he is, as an impenitent, to be delivered to the secular court to be executed.

The contrast between this and the secular jurisprudence of the thirteenth century is illustrated in the charter granted by Alphonse of Poitiers to the town of Auzon (Auvergne), about 1260.

Yet many reasons led the inquisitor earnestly to desire to secure confession. In numerous cases--indeed, no doubt in a majority--the evidence, while possibly justifying suspicion, was of too loose and undefined a character to justify condemnation, for every idle rumor was taken up, and any flimsy pretext which led to prosecution assumed importance when the inquisitor found himself bound to show that he had not acted unadvisedly, or when he had in prospect fines and confiscations for the benefit of the faith. Even when the evidence was sufficient, there were motives equally strong to induce the inquisitor to labor with his prisoner in the hope of leading him to withdraw his denial and throw himself upon the mercy of the tribunal. Except in the somewhat rare cases of defiant heretics, confession was always accompanied with professions of conversion and repentance. Not only thus was a soul snatched from Satan, but the new convert was bound to prove his sincerity by denouncing all whom he knew or might suspect to be heretic, thus opening fresh avenues for the extirpation of heresy.

Bernard Gui, copying an earlier inquisitor, tells us eloquently that when the external evidence was insufficient for conviction, the mind of the inquisitor was torn with anxious cares. On the one side, his conscience pained him if he punished one who was neither confessed nor convicted; but he suffered still more, knowing by constant experience the falsity and cunning and malice of these men, if he allowed them to escape through their vulpine astuteness, to the damage of the faith. In such case they were strengthened and multiplied, and rendered keener than ever, while the laity were scandalized at seeing the inefficiency of the Inquisition, baffled in its undertakings, and its most learned men played with and defied by rude and illiterate persons, for they believed the inquisitors to have all the proofs and arguments of the faith so ready at hand that no heretic could elude them or prevent their converting him. From this it is easy to see how the self-conceit of the inquisitor led him inevitably to conviction.

Delation Indispensable

In another passage he points out how greatly profitable to the faith was the conversion of such persons, because not only were they obliged to betray their fellows and the hiding-places and conventicles of darkness, but those whom they had influenced were more ready to acknowledge their errors and seek in turn to be converted. As early as 1246 the Council of Béziers had pointed out the utility of such conversions, and had instructed the inquisitors to spare no pains in procuring them, and all subsequent authorities evidently regarded this as the first of their duties. They all agree, moreover, in holding delation of accomplices as the indispensable evidence of true conversion. Without this the repentant heretic in vain might ask for reconciliation and mercy; his refusal to betray his friends and kindred was proof that he was unrepentant, and he was forthwith handed over to the secular arm, exactly as in the Roman law a converted Manichæan who consorted with Manichæans without denouncing them to the authorities was punishable with death.

How useful this was is seen in the case of Saurine Rigaud, whose confession is recorded at Toulouse in 1254, where it is followed by a list of one hundred and sixty-nine persons incriminated by her, their names being carefully tabulated with their places of residence for immediate action. How strictly, moreover, the duty of the reconciled heretic was construed is seen in the fate of Guillem Sicrède at Toulouse in 1312. He had abjured and been reconciled in 1262. Fifty years afterwards, in 1311, he had been present at the death-bed of his brother, where heretication had been performed, and he had failed to betray it, though he had vainly objected to it.

When asked for his reasons, he simply said that he had not wished to injure his nephews, and for this, in 1312, he was imprisoned for life. Delation was so indispensable to the Inquisition that it was to be secured by rewards as well as by punishments. Bernard Gui tells us that those who voluntarily come forward and prove their zeal by confession and by betraying all their associates are not only to be pardoned, but their livelihood must be secured at the hands of princes and prelates; while betraying a single "perfected" heretic insured immunity and perhaps additional reward.

The inquisitor's anxiety to secure confession was well grounded, not only through the advantages thus secured, but to satisfy his own conscience. In ordinary crimes, a judge was usually certain that an offence had been committed before he undertook to prosecute a prisoner accused of murder or theft. In many cases, however, the inquisitor could have no assurance that there had been any crime.

A man might be reasonably suspected, he might have been seen conversing with those subsequently proved to be heretics, he might have given them alms or other assistance, he might even have attended a meeting of heretics, and yet be thoroughly orthodox at heart; or he might be a bitter heretic and yet have given no outward sign. His own assertion of orthodoxy, his willingness to subscribe to the faith of Rome, went for nothing, for experience had proved that most heretics were willing to subscribe to anything, and that they had been trained by persecution to conceal their beliefs under the mask of rigid orthodoxy.

Confession of heresy thus became a matter of vital importance, and no effort was deemed too great, no means too repulsive, to secure it. This became the centre of the inquisitorial process, and it is deserving of detailed consideration, not only because it formed the basis of procedure in the Holy Office, but also because of the vast and deplorable influence which it exercised for five centuries on the whole judicial system of Continental Europe.

The first and readiest means was, of course, the examination of the accused. For this the inquisitor prepared himself by collecting and studying all the adverse evidence that could be procured, while the prisoner was kept in sedulous ignorance of the charges against him. Skill in interrogation was the one pre-eminent requisite of the inquisitor, and manuals prepared by experienced brethren for the benefit of the younger officials are full of details with regard to it and of carefully prepared forms of interrogations suited for every heretical sect. Constant training developed a class of acute and subtle minds, practised to read the thoughts of the accused, skilled to lay pitfalls for the incautious, versed in every art to confuse, prompt to detect ambiguities, and quick to take advanage of hesitation or contradiction.

Even in the infancy of the institution the consuls of Narbonne complained to those of Nimes that the inquisitors, in their efforts to entrap the unwary, did not hesitate to make use of dialectics as sophistical as those with which students encountered each other in scholastic diversion. Nothing more ludicrous can well be imagined than the complaints of these veteran examiners, restricted by no rules, of the shrewd duplicity of their victims, who struggled, occasionally with success, to avoid criminating themselves, and they sought to explain it by asserting that wicked and shameless priests instructed them how to equivocate on points of faith.

The Interragatory

An experienced inquisitor drew up for the guidance of his successors a specimen examination of a heretic, to show them the quibbles and tergiversations for which they must be prepared when dealing with those who shrank from boldly denying their faith. Its fidelity is attested by Bernard Gui reproducing it fifty years later in his "Practica," and it is too characteristic an illustration of the encounter between the trained intellect of the inquisitor and the untutored shrewdness of the peasant struggling to save his life and his conscience, to be omitted.

"When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, 'Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.'

"I. 'You are accused as a heretic, and that you believe and teach otherwise than Holy Church believes.'

"A. (Raising his eyes to heaven, with an air of the greatest faith) 'Lord, thou knowest that I am innocent of this, and that I never held any faith other than that of true Christianity.'

"I. 'You call your faith Christian, for you consider ours as false and heretical. But I ask whether you have ever believed as true another faith than that which the Roman Church holds to be true.

"A. 'I believe the true faith which the Roman Church believes, and which you openly preach to us.'

"I. 'Perhaps you have some of your sect at Rome whom you call the Roman Church. I, when I preach, say many things, some of which are common to us both, as that God liveth, and you believe some of what I preach. Nevertheless you may be a heretic in not believing other matters which are to be believed.'

"A. 'I believe all things that a Christian should believe.'

"I. 'I know your tricks. What the members of your sect believe you hold to be that which a Christian should believe. But we waste time in this fencing. Say simply, Do you believe in one God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost?'

"A. 'I believe.'

"I. 'Do you believe in Christ born of the Virgin, suffered, risen, and ascended to heaven?'

"A. (Briskly) 'I believe.'

"I. 'Do you believe the bread and wine in the mass performed by the priests to be changed into the body and blood of Christ by divine virtue?'

"A. 'Ought I not to believe this?'

"I. 'I don't ask if you ought to believe, but if you do believe.'

"A. 'I believe whatever you and other good doctors order me to believe.'

"I. 'Those good doctors are the masters of your sect; if I accord with them you believe with me; if not, not.'

"A. 'I willingly believe with you if you teach what is good to me.'

"I. 'You consider it good to you if I teach what your other masters teach. Say, then, do you believe the body of our Lord Jesus Christ to be in the altar?'

"A. (Promptly) 'I believe.'

"I. 'You know that a body is there, and that all bodies are of our Lord. I ask whether the body there is of the Lord who was born of the Virgin, hung on the cross, arose from the dead, ascended, etc.?'

"A. 'And you, sir, do you not believe it?'

"I. 'I believe it wholly.'

"A. 'I believe likewise.' <429.png' proofer1='tenorcnj' proofer2='the Senior Gravedigger'/>

"I. 'You believe that I believe it, which is not what I ask, but whether you believe it.'

"A. 'If you wish to interpret all that I say otherwise than simply and plainly, then I don't know what to say. I am a simple and ignorant man. Pray don't catch me in my words.'

"I. 'If you are simple, answer simply, without evasions.'

"A. 'Willingly.'

"I. 'Will you then swear that you have never learned anything contrary to the faith which we hold to be true?'

"A. (Growing pale) 'If I ought to swear, I will willingly swear.'

"I. 'I don't ask whether you ought, but whether you will swear.'

"A. 'If you order me to swear, I will swear.'

"I. 'I don't force you to swear, because as you believe oaths to be unlawful, you will transfer the sin to me who forced you; but if you will swear, I will hear it.'

"A. 'Why should I swear if you do not order me to?'

"I. 'So that you may remove the suspicion of being a heretic.'

"A. 'Sir, I do not know how unless you teach me.'

"I. 'If I had to swear, I would raise my hand and spread my fingers and say, "So help me God, I have never learned heresy or believed what is contrary to the true faith."'

"Then trembling as if he cannot repeat the form, he will stumble along as though speaking for himself or for another, so that there is not an absolute form of oath and yet he may be thought to have sworn. If the words are there, they are so turned around that he does not swear and yet appears to have sworn. Or he converts the oath into a form of prayer, as as 'God help me that I am not a heretic or the like;' and when asked whether he had sworn, he will say: 'Did you not hear me swear?' And when further hard pressed he will appeal, saying 'Sir, if I have done amiss in aught, I will willingly bear the penance, only help me to avoid the infamy of which I am accused through malice and without fault of mine.' But a vigorous inquisitor must not allow himself to be worked upon in this way, but proceed firmly till he makes these people confess their error, or at least publicly abjure heresy, so that if they are subsequently found to have sworn falsely, he can, without further hearing, abandon them to the secular arm. If one consents to swear that he is not a heretic, I say to him, 'If you wish to swear so as to escape the stake, one oath will not suffice for me, nor ten, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, because you dispense each other for a certain number of oaths taken under necessity, but I will require a countless number. Moreover, if I have, as I presume, adverse witnesses against you, your oaths will not save you from being burned. You will only stain your conscience without escaping death. But if you will simply confess your error, you may find mercy.' Under this anxiety, I have seen some confess."

The same inquisitor illustrates the ease with which the cunning of these simple folk fenced and played with the best-trained men of the Holy Office by a case in which he saw a serving-wench elude the questions of picked examiners for several days together, and she would have escaped had there not by chance been found in her chest the fragment of a bone of a heretic recently burned, which she had preserved as a relic, according to one of her companions who had collected the bones with her. But the inquisitor does not tell us how many thousand good Catholics, confused by the awful game which they were playing, mystified with the intricacies of scholastic theology, ignorant how to answer the dangerous questions put to them so searchingly, and terrified with the threats of burning for persistent denial, despairingly confessed the crime of which they were so confidently assumed to be guilty, and ratified their conversion by inventing tales about their neighbors, while expiating the wrong by suffering confiscation and lifelong imprisonment.

Yet the inquisitor was frequently baffled in this intellectual digladiation by the innocence or astuteness of the accused. His resources, however, were by no means exhausted, and here we approach one of the darkest and most repulsive aspects of our theme. Human inconsistency, in its manifold development, has never exhibited itself in more deplorable fashion than in the instructions on this subject transmitted to their younger brethren by the veterans of the Holy Office--instructions intended for none but official eyes, and therefore framed with the utmost unreserve. Trained through long experience in an accurate knowledge of all that can move the human breast; skilled not only to detect the subtle evasions of the intellect, but to seek and find the tenderest point through which to assail the conscience and the heart; relentless in inflicting agony on body and brain, whether through the mouldering wretchedness of the hopeless dungeon protracted through uncounted years, the sharper pain of the torture-chamber, or by coldly playing on the affections; using without scruple the most violent alternatives of hope and fear; employing with cynical openness every resource of guile and fraud on wretches purposely starved to render them incapable of self-defence, the counsels which these men utter might well seem the promptings of fiends exulting in the unlimited power to wreak their evil passions on helpless mortals. Yet through all this there shines the evident conviction that they are doing the work of God. No labor is too great if they can win a soul from perdition; no toil too repulsive if they can bring a fellow-creature to an acknowledgment of his wrong-doing and a genuine repentance that will wipe out his sins; no patience too prolonged if it will avoid the unjust conviction of the innocent.

All the cunning fence between judge and culprit, all the fraud, all the torture of body and mind so ruthlessly employed to extort unwilling confessions, were not necessarily used for the mere purpose of securing a victim, for the inquisitor was taught to be as earnest with the recalcitrants against whom he had sufficient testimony as with the cases in which evidence was deficient. With the former he was seeking to save a soul from immolating itself in the pride of obstinacy; with the latter he was laboring to preserve the sheep by not liberating an infected one to spread pestilence among the flock. It mattered little to the victim what were the motives actuating his persecutor, for conscientious cruelty is apt to be more cold-blooded and calculating, more relentless and effective, than passionate wrath, but the impartial student must needs recognize that while many inquisitors were doubtless dullards who followed unthinkingly a prescribed routine as a vocation, and others were covetous or sanguinary tyrants actuated only by self-interest or ambition, yet among them were not a few who believed themselves to be discharging a high and holy duty, whether they abandoned the impenitent to the flames, or by methods of unspeakable baseness rescued from Satan a soul which he had reckoned as his own. They were instructed that it was better to let the guilty escape than to condemn the innocent, and, therefore, that they must have either clear proofs or confession. In the absence of absolute evidence, therefore, the very conscientiousness of the judge, under such a system, led him to resort to any means to satisfy himself by wringing an acknowledgment from his victim.

The resources for procuring unwilling confession, at command of the inquisitor, may be roughly divided into two classes--deceit and torture, the latter comprehending both mental and physical pain, however administered. Both classes were resorted to freely and without scruple, and there was ample variety to suit the idiosyncrasies of all judges and prisoners.

Perhaps the mildest form of the devices to entrap an unwary prisoner was the recommendation that the examiner should always assume the fact of which he was in quest and ask about the details, as, for instance, "How often have you confessed as a heretic?" "In what chamber of yours did they lie?" Going a step further, the inquisitor is advised during the examination to turn over the pages of evidence as though referring to it, and then boldly inform the prisoner that he is not telling the truth, for it is thus and thus; or to pick up a paper and pretend to read from it whatever is necessary to deceive him; or he can be told circumstantially that some of the masters of the sect have incriminated him in their revelations. To render these devices more effective, the jailer was instructed to worm himself into the confidence of the prisoners, with feigned interest and compassion, and urge them to confess at once, because the inquisitor is a merciful man who will take pity on them. Then the inquisitor was to pretend that he had conclusive evidence, and that if the accused would confess and point out those who had led him astray, he should be allowed to go home forthwith, with any other blandishments likely to prove effective.

A more elaborate trap was that of treating the prisoner with kindness in place of rigor; sending trusty agents to his cell to gain his confidence, and then urge him to confess, with promises of mercy and that they would intercede for him. When everything was ripe, the inquisitor himself would appear and confirm these promises, with the mental reservation that all which is done for the conversion of heretics is merciful, that penances are mercies and spiritual remedies, so that when the unlucky wretch was prevailed upon to ask for mercy in return for his revelations, he was to be led on with the general expression that more would be done for him than he asked.

That spies should play a prominent part in such a system was inevitable. The trusty agents who were admitted to the prisoner's cell were instructed to lead him graduallv on from one confession to another until they should gain sufficient evidence to incriminate him, without his realizing it. Converted heretics, we are told, were very useful in this business. One would be sent to visit him and say that he had only pretended conversion through fear, and after repeated visits overstay his time and be locked up. Confidential talk would follow in the darkness, while witnesses with a notary were crouching within earshot to take down all that might fall from the lips of the unconscious victim. Fellow-prisoners were utilized whenever possible, and were duly rewarded for treachery. In the sentence of a Carmelite monk, January 17, 1329, guilty of the most infamous sorceries, it is recorded in extenuation of his black catalogue of guilt, that while in prison with sundry heretics he had aided greatly in making them confess and had revealed many important matters which they had confided to him, from which the Inquisition had derived great advantage and hoped to gain more.

These artifices were diversified with appeals to force. The heretic, whether acknowledged or suspected, had no rights. His body was at the mercy of the Church, and if through tribulation of the flesh he could be led to see the error of his ways, there was no hesitation in employing whatever means were readiest to save his soul and advance the faith. Among the miracles for which St. Francis was canonized it is related that a certain Pietro of Assisi was captured in Rome on an accusation of heresy, and confided for conversion to the Bishop of Todi, who loaded him with chains and fed him on measured quantities of bread and water in a dark dungeon. Thus brought through suffering to repentance, on the vigil of St. Francis he invoked the saint for help with passionate tears. Moved by his zeal, St. Francis appeared to him and ordered him forth.

His chains fell off and the doors flew open, but the poor wretch was so crazed by the sudden answer to his prayer that he clung to the doorpost with cries which brought the jailers running to him. The pious bishop hastened to the prison, and reverently acknowledging the power of God, sent the shivered fetters to the pope in token of the miracle. Even more illustrative and better authenticated is a case related with much gratulation by Nider as occurring when he was teaching in the University of Vienna. A heretic priest, thrown into prison by his bishop, proved obstinate, and the most eminent theologians who labored for his conversion found him their match in disputation. Believing that vexation brings understanding, they at length ordered him to be bound tightly to a pillar. The cords eating into the swelling flesh caused such exquisite torture that when they visited him the next day he begged piteously to be taken out and burned. Coldly refusing, they left him for another twenty-four hours, by which time physical pain and exhaustion had broken his spirit. He humbly recanted, retired to a Paulite monastery, and lived an exemplary life.

It will readily be believed that there was scant hesitation in employing any methods likely to crush the obduracy of the prisoner who refused the confession and recantation demanded of him. If he were likely to be reached through the affections, his wife and children were admitted to his cell in hopes that their tears and pleadings might work on his feelings and overcome his convictions.

Alternate threats and blandishments were tried; he would be removed from his foul and dismal dungeon to commodious quarters, with liberal diet and a show of kindness, to see if his resolution would be weakened by alternations of hope and despair. Master of the art of playing upon the human heart, the trained inquisitor left no method untried which promised victory in the struggle between him and the helpless wretch abandoned to his experiments. Among these, one of the most efficient was the slow torture of delay. The prisoner who refused to confess, or whose confession was deemed imperfect, was remanded to his cell, and left to ponder in solitude and darkness. Except in rare cases time was no object with the Inquisition, and it could afford to wait.

Perhaps in a few weeks his resolution might break down, and he might ask to be heard. If not, six months might elapse before he was again called up for hearing. If still obstinate he would be again sent back. Months would lengthen into years, perhaps years into decades, and find him still unconvicted and still a prisoner, hopeless and despairing. Should friendly death not intervene, the terrible patience of the Inquisition was nearly certain to triumph in the end, and the authorities all agree upon the effectiveness of delay. This explains what otherwise would be hard to understand--the immense protraction of so many of the inquisitorial trials whose records have reached us. Three, five, or ten years are common enough as intervals between the first audience of a prisoner and his final conviction, nor are instances wanting of even greater delays. Bernalde, wife of Guillem de Montaigu, was imprisoned at Toulouse in 1297, and made a confession the same year, yet she was not formally sentenced to imprisonment until the auto of 1310. I have already alluded to the case of Guillem Garric, brought to confess at Carcassonne in 1321 after a detention of nearly thirty years. In the auto de fé of 1319, at Toulouse, Guillem Salavert was sentenced, who had made an unsatisfactory confession in 1299 and another in 1316; to the latter he had unwaveringly adhered, and at last Bernard Gui, overcome by his obstinacy, let him off with the penance of wearing crosses, in consideration of his twenty years' imprisonment without conviction. At the same auto were sentenced six wretches who had recently died in prison, two of whom had made their first confession in 1305, one in 1306, two in 1311, and one in 1315. Nor was this hideous torture of suspense peculiar to any special tribunal. Guillem Salavert was one of those implicated in the troubles of Albi in 1299, when many of the accused were speedily tried and sentenced by the bishop, Bernard de Castenet, and Nicholas d'Abbeville, inquisitor of Carcassonne, but some were reserved for the harder fate of detention without trial. The intervention of the pope was sought, and in 1310 Clement V. wrote to the bishop and the inquisitor, giving the names of ten of them, including some of the most respectable citizens of Albi, who had lain for eight years or more in jail awaiting judgment, many of them in chains and all in narrow, dark cells. His order for their immediate trial was disobeyed, and in a subsequent letter he speaks of several of them having died before his previous epistle, and reiterated his command for the prompt disposal of the survivors. The Inquisition was a law unto itself, however, and again his mandate was disregarded. In 1319, besides Guillem Salavert, two others, Guillem Calverie and Isarn Colli, were brought from their dungeon and retracted their confessions which had been extorted from them by torture. Calverie figured with Salavert in the auto of Toulouse in the same year. When Colli was sentenced we do not know, but in the accounts of Arnaud Assalit, royal steward of confiscations, for 1322-3, there appears the property of "Isarnus Colli condemnatus," showing his ultimate fate. In the auto of 1319, moreover, occur the names of two citizens of Cordes, Durand Boissa and Bernard Ouvrier (then deceased), whose confessions date respectively from 1301 and 1300, doubtless belonging to the same unfortunate group, who had eaten their hearts in despair and misery for a score of years.

When it was desired to hasten this slow torture, the object was easily accomplished by rendering the imprisonment unendurably harsh. As we shall see hereafter, the dungeons of the Inquisition at best were abodes of fearful misery, but when there was reason for increasing their terrors there was no difficulty in increasing the hardships. The "durus career et arcta vita"--chains and starvation in a stifling hole--was a favorite device for extracting confession from unwilling lips. We shall meet hereafter an atrocious instance of this inflicted on a witness, as early as 1263, when the ruin of the great house of Foix was sought.

Extortion Of Confessions

Introduction Of Torture

It was pointed out that judicious restriction of diet not only reduced the body but weakened the will, and rendered the prisoner less able to resist alternate threats of death and promises of mercy. Starvation, in fact, was reckoned as one of the regular and most efficient methods to subdue unwilling witnesses and defendants. In 1306 Clement V. declared, after an official investigation, that at Carcassonne prisoners were habitually constrained to confession by the harshness of the prison, the lack of beds, and the deficiency of food, as well as by torture.

With all these resources at their command, it might seem superfluous for inquisitors to have recourse to the vulgar and ruder implements of the torture-chamber. The rack and strappado, in fact, were in such violent antagonism, not only with the principles of Christianity, but with the practices of the Church, that their use by the Inquisition, as a means of furthering the faith, is one of the saddest anomalies of that dismal period. I have elsewhere shown how consistently the Church opposed the use of torture, so that, in the barbarism of the twelfth century, Gratian lays it down as an accepted rule of the canon law that no confession is to be extorted by torment.

Torture, moreover, except among the Wisigoths, had been unknown among the barbarians who founded the commonwealths of Europe, and their system of jurisprudence had grown up free from its contamination. It was not until the study of the revived Roman law, and the prohibition of ordeals by the Lateran Council of 1215, which was gradually enforced during the first half of the thirteenth century, that jurists began to feel the need of torture and accustom themselves to the idea of its introduction. The earliest instances with which I have met occur in the Veronese Code of 1228 and the Sicilian Constitutions of Frederic II. in 1231, and in both of these the references to it show how sparingly and hesitatingly it was employed. Even Frederic, in his ruthless edicts, from 1220 to 1239, makes no allusion to it, but, in accordance with the Verona decree of Lucius III., prescribes the recognized form of canonical purgation for the trial of all suspected heretics. Yet it rapidly won its way in Italy, and when Innocent IV., in 1252, published his bull Ad extirpanda, he adopted it, and authorized its use for the discovery of heresy.

A decent respect for the old-time prejudices of the Church, however, forbade him to allow its administration by the inquisitors themselves or their servitors. It was the secular authorities who were ordered to force all captured heretics to confess and accuse their accomplices, by torture which should not imperil life or injure limb, "just as thieves and robbers are forced to confess their crimes and accuse their accomplices." The unrepealed canons of the Church, in fact, prohibited all ecclesiastics from being concerned in such acts, and even from being present where torture was administered, so that the inquisitor whose zeal should lead him to take part in it was thereby rendered "irregular" and unfit for sacred functions until he could be "dispensed" or purified. This did not suit the policy of the institution.

Possibly outside of Italy, where torture was as yet virtually unknown, it found difficulty in securing the co-operation of the public officials; everywhere it complained that this cumbrous mode of administration interfered with the profound secrecy which was an essential characteristic of its operations. But four years after the bull of Innocent IV., Alexander IV., in 1256, removed the difficulty with characteristic indirection by authorizing inquisitors and their associates to absolve each other, and mutually grant dispensations for irregularities--a permission which was repeatedly reiterated, and which was held to remove all impediment to the use of torture under the direct supervision of the inquisitor and his ministers. In Naples, where the Inquisition was but slenderly organized, we find the public officials used by it as torturers until the end of the century, but elsewhere it speedily arrogated the administration of torment to its own officials.

Even in Naples, however, Frà Tomaso d'Aversa is seen, in 1305, personalty inflicting the most brutal tortures on the Spiritual Franciscans; and when he found it impossible in this manner to make them convict themselves, he employed the ingenious expedient of starving for a few days one of the younger brethren, and then giving him strong wine to drink; when the poor wretch was fuddled there was no difficulty in getting him to admit that he and his twoscore comrades were all heretics.

Torture saved the trouble and expense of prolonged imprisonment; it was a speedy and effective method of obtaining what revelations might be desired, and it grew rapidly in favor with the Inquisition, while its extension throughout secular jurisprudence was remarkably slow. In 1260 the charter granted by Alphonse of Poitiers to the town of Auzon specially exempts the accused from torture, no matter what the crime involved. This shows that its use was gradually spreading, and already, in 1291, Philippe le Bel felt himself called upon to restrain its abuses; in letters to the seneschal of Carcassonne he alludes to the newly-introduced methods of torture in the Inquisition, whereby the innocent were convicted and scandal and desolation pervaded the land.

He could not interfere with the internal management of the Holy Office, but he sought a corrective in forbidding indiscriminate arrests at the sole bidding of the inquisitors. As might be expected, this was only a palliative; callous indifference to human suffering grows by habit, and the misuse of this terrible method of coercion continued to increase. When the despairing cry of the population induced Clement V. to order an investigation into the iniquities of the Inquisition of Carcassonne, the commission issued to the cardinals sent thither in 1306 recites that confessions were extorted by torture so severe that the unfortunates subjected to it had only the alternative of death; and in the proceedings before the commissioners the use of torture is so frequently alluded to as to leave no doubt of its habitual employment. It is a noteworthy fact, however, that in the fragmentary documents of inquisitorial proceedings which have reached us the references to torture are singularly few. Apparently it was felt that to record its use would in some sort invalidate the force of the testimony.

Thus, in the cases of Isarn Colli and Guillem Calverie, mentioned above, it happens to be stated that they retracted their confessions made under torture, but in the confessions themselves there is nothing to indicate that it had been used. In the six hundred and thirty-six sentences borne upon the register of Toulouse from 1309 to 1323 the only allusion to torture is in the recital of the case of Calverie, but there are numerous instances in which the information wrung from the convicts who had no hope of escape could scarce have been procured in any other manner. Bernard Gui, who conducted the Inquisition of Toulouse during this period, has too emphatically expressed his sense of the utility of torture on both principals and witnesses for us to doubt his readiness in its employment.

The result of Clement's investigation in 1306 led to an effort at reform which was agreed to in the Council of Vienne in 1311, but with customary indecision Clement delayed the publication of the considerable body of legislation adopted by the council until his death, and it was not issued till October, 1317, by his successor John XXII. Among the abuses which he sought to limit was that of torture, and to this end he ordered that it should not be administered without the concurrent action of bishop and inquisitor if this could be had within the space of eight days. Bernard Gui emphatically remonstrated against this as seriously crippling the efficiency of the Inquisition, and he proposed to substitute for it the meaningless phrase that torture should only be used with mature and careful deliberation, but his suggestion was unheeded, and the Clementine regulation remained the law of the Church.

The inquisitors, however, were too little accustomed to restraint in any form to submit long to this infringement on their privileges. It is true that disobedience rendered the proceedings void, and the unhappy wretch who was unlawfully tortured without episcopal consultation could appeal to the pope, but this did not undo the work; Rome was distant, and the victims of the Inquisition for the most part were too friendless and too helpless to protect themselves in such illusory fashion.

In Bernard Gui's "Practica," written probably about 1328 or 1330, he only speaks of consultation with experts, making no allusions to bishops; Eymerich adheres to the Clementines, but his instructions as to what is to be done in case of their disregard shows how frequent was such action; while Zanghino boldly affirms that the canon is to be construed as permitting torture by either bishop or inquisitor. In some proceedings against the Waldenses of Piedmont in 1387, if the accused did not confess freely on a first examination an entry was made that the inquisitor was not content, and twenty-four hours were given the prisoner to amend his statements; he would be tortured and brought back next morning in a more complying frame of mind, when a careful record would be made that his confession was without torture and aloof from the torture-chamber.

Cunning casuists, moreover, discovered that Clement had only spoken of torture in general and had not specifically alluded to witnesses, whence they concluded that one of the most shocking abuses of the system, the torture of witnesses, was left to the sole discretion of the inquisitor, and this became the accepted rule. It only required an additional step to show that after the accused had been convicted by evidence or had confessed as to himself, he became a witness as to the guilt of his friends and thus could be arbitrarily tortured to betray them. Even when the Clementines were observed, the limit of eight days enabled the inquisitor to proceed independently after waiting for that length of time.

While witnesses who were supposed to be concealing the truth could be tortured as a matter of course, there was some discussion among jurists as to the amount of adverse evidence that would justify placing the accused on the rack. Unless there was some colorable reason to believe that the crime of heresy had been committed, evidently there was no excuse for the employment of such means of investigation. Eymerich tells us that when there are two incriminating witnesses, a man of good reputation can be tortured to ascertain the truth, while if he is of evil repute he can be condemned without it or can be tortured on the evidence of a single witness. could be tortured as a matter of courseZanghino, on the other hand, asserts that the evidence of a single witness of good character is sufficient for the authorization of torture, without distinction of persons, while Bernardo di Como says that common report is enough. In time elaborate instructions were drawn up for the guidance of inquisitors in this matter, but their uselessness was confessed in the admission that, after all, the decision was to be left to the discretion of the judge. How little sufficed to justify the exercise of this discretion is seen when jurists held it to be sufficient if the accused, on examination, was frightened and stammered and varied in his answers, without any external evidence against him.

Application Of Torture

In the administration of torture the rules adopted by the Inquisition became those of the secular courts of Christendom at large, and therefore are worth brief attention. Eymerich, whose instructions on the subject are the fullest we have, admits the grave difficulties which surrounded the question, and the notorious uncertainty of the result. Torture should be moderate, and effusion of blood be scrupulously avoided, but then, what was moderation? Some prisoners were so weak that at the first turn of the pulleys they would concede anything asked them; others so obstinate that they would endure all things rather than confess the truth. Those who had previously undergone the experience might be either the stronger or the weaker for it, for with some the arms were hardened, while with others they were permanently weakened. In short, the discretion of the judge was the only rule.

Both bishop and inquisitor ought rightfully to be present. The prisoner was shown the implements of torment and urged to confess. On his refusal he was stripped and bound by the executioners and again entreated to speak, with promises of mercy in all cases in which mercy could be shown. This frequently produced the desired result, and we may be assured that the efficacy of torture lay not so much in what was extracted by its use as in the innumerable cases in which its dread, near or remote, paralyzed the resolution with agonizing expectations. If this proved ineffectual, the torture was applied with gradually increased severity.

In the case of continued obstinacy additional implements of torment were exhibited and the sufferer was told that he would be subjected to them all in turn. If still undaunted, he was unbound, and the next or third day was appointed for renewal of the infliction. According to rule, torture could be applied but once, but this, like all other rules for the protection of the accused, was easily eluded. It was only necessary to order, not a repetition, but a "continuance" of the torture, and no matter how long the interval, the holy casuists were able to continue it indefinitely; or a further excuse would be found in alleging that additional evidence had been discovered, which required a second torturing to purge it away. During the interval fresh solicitations were made to elicit confession, and these being unavailing, the accused was again subjected to torment either of the same kind as before or to others likely to prove more efficacious. If he remained silent after torture, deemed sufficient by his judges, some authorities say that he should be discharged and that a declaration was to be given him that nothing had been proved against him; others, however, order that he should be remanded to prison and be kept there.

The trial of Bernard Délicieux, in 1319, reveals another device to elude the prohibition of repeated torture, for the examiners could at any moment order the torture to satisfy their curiosity about a single point, and thus could go on indefinitely with others.

Any confession made under torture required to be confirmed after removal from the torture-chamber. Usually the procedure appears to be that the torture was continued until the accused signified his readiness to confess, when he was unbound and carried into another room where his confession was made. If, however, the confession was extracted during the torture, it was read over subsequently to the prisoner and he was asked if it were true: there was, indeed, a rule that there should be an interval of twenty-four hours between the torture and the confession, or its confirmation, but this was commonly disregarded.

Silence indicated assent, and the length of silence to be allowed for was, as usual, left to the discretion of the judge, with warning to consider the condition of the prisoner, whether young or old, male or female, simple or learned. In any case the record was carefully made that the confession was free and spontaneous, without the pressure of force or fear. If the confession was retracted, the accused could be taken back for a continuance of the torture--not, as we are carefully told, for a repetition--provided always that he had not been "sufficiently" tortured before.

Retraction Of Confessions

The question as to the retraction of confession was one which exercised to no small degree the inquisitorial jurists, and practice was not wholly uniform. It placed the inquisitor in a disagreeable position, and, in view of the methods adopted to secure confession, it was so likely to occur that naturally stringent measures were adopted to prevent it. Some authorities draw a distinction between confessions made "spontaneously" and those extorted by torture or its threat, but in practice the difference was disregarded. The most merciful view taken of revocation is that of Eymerich, who says that if the torture had been sufficient, the accused who persistently revokes is entitled to a discharge.

In this Eymerich is alone. Some authorities recommend that the accused be forced to withdraw his revocation by repetition of torture. Others content themselves with regarding it as impeding the Inquisition, and as such including it in the excommunication regularly published by parish priests and at the opening of every auto de fé, and this excommunication included notaries who might wickedly aid in drawing up such revocations. The general presumption of law, however, was that the confession was true and the retraction a perjury, and the view taken of such cases was that the retraction proved the accused to be an impenitent heretic, who had relapsed after confession and asking for penance. As such there was nothing to be done with him but to hand him over to the secular arm for punishment without a hearing.

It is true, that in the case of Guillem Calverie, thus condemned in 1319 by Bernard Gui for withdrawing his confession, the culprit was mercifully allowed fifteen days in which to revoke his revocation, but this was a mere exercise of the discretion customarily lodged with the inquisitor. How strictly the rule was construed which regarded revocation as relapse is seen in the remark of Zanghino, that if a man had confessed and abjured and been set free under penance, and if he subsequently remarked in public that he had confessed under fear of expense or to avoid heavier punishment, he was to be regarded as an impenitent heretic, liable to be burned as a relapsed. We shall see hereafter the full significance of this point in its application to the Templars. There was an additional question of some nicety which arose when the retracted confession incriminated others besides the accused; in this case the most merciful view taken was that, if it was not to be held good against them, the one who confessed was liable to punishment for false-witness. As no confession was sufficient which did not reveal the names of partners in guilt, those inquisitors who did not regard revocation as relapse could at least imprison the accused for life as a false witness.

The inquisitorial process as thus perfected was sure of its victim. No one whom a judge wished to condemn could escape. The form in which it became naturalized in secular jurisprudence was less arbitrary and effective, yet Sir John Fortescue, the chancellor of Henry VI., who in his exile had ample opportunity to observe its working, declares that it placed every man's life or limb at the mercy of any enemy who could suborn two unknown witnesses to swear against him.

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