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The Inquisition A Critical and Historical Study of the Coercive Power of the Church   By: (1849-1927)

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THE INQUISITION

A CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL STUDY OF THE COERCIVE POWER OF THE CHURCH

BY E. VACANDARD

TRANSLATED FROM THE SECOND EDITION BY BERTRAND L. CONWAY, C.S.P.

NEW EDITION

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK LONDON, BOMBAY, CALCUTTA AND MADRAS 1915

Nihil Obstat. THOMAS J. SHAHAN, S.T.D.

Imprimatur. JOHN M. FARLEY, D.D Archbishop of New York.

NEW YORK, June 24, 1907.

Copyright, 1907, by BERTRAND L. CONWAY

All Rights Reserved

First Edition, February, 1908 Registered, May, 1908 New and Cheaper Edition, September, 1915

NOTE TO THIS ELECTRONIC EDITION

In the print edition of this book, footnote numbers began with 1 on each page, and the footnotes appeared at the bottom of each page. In this electronic edition, the footnotes have been re numbered beginning with 1 for each paragraph, and they appear directly below the paragraph that refers to them. A very few ascertainable errors have been caught and corrected. All else is intended to correspond as closely as possible to the contents of the print edition.

PREFACE

THERE are very few Catholic apologists who feel inclined to boast of the annals of the Inquisition. The boldest of them defend this institution against the attacks of modern liberalism, as if they distrusted the force of their own arguments. Indeed they have hardly answered the first objection of their opponents, when they instantly endeavor to prove that the Protestant and Rationalistic critics of the Inquisition have themselves been guilty of heinous crimes. "Why," they ask, "do you denounce our Inquisition, when you are responsible for Inquisitions of your own?"

No good can be accomplished by such a false method of reasoning. It seems practically to admit that the cause of the Church cannot be defended. The accusation of wrongdoing made against the enemies they are trying to reduce to silence comes back with equal force against the friends they are trying to defend.

It does not follow that because the Inquisition of Calvin and the French Revolutionists merits the reprobation of mankind, the Inquisition of the Catholic Church must needs escape all censure. On the contrary, the unfortunate comparison made between them naturally leads one to think that both deserve equal blame. To our mind, there is only one way of defending the attitude of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages toward the Inquisition. We must examine and judge this institution objectively, from the standpoint of morality, justice, and religion, instead of comparing its excesses with the blameworthy actions of other tribunals.

No historian worthy of the name has as yet undertaken to treat the Inquisition from this objective standpoint. In the seventeenth century, a scholarly priest, Jacques Marsollier, canon of the Uzès, published at Cologne (Paris), in 1693, a Histoire de l'Inquisition et de son Origine . But his work, as a critic has pointed out, is "not so much a history of the Inquisition, as a thesis written with a strong Gallican bias, which details with evident delight the cruelties of the Holy Office." The illustrations are taken from Philip Limborch's Historia Inquisitionis .[1]

[1] Paul Fredericq, Historiographie de l'Inquisition , p. xiv. Introduction to the French translation of Lea's book on the Inquisition.

Henry Charles Lea, already known by his other works on religious history, published in New York, in 1888, three large volumes entitled A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. This work has received as a rule a most flattering reception at the hands of the European press, and has been translated into French.[1] One can say without exaggeration that it is "the most extensive, the most profound, and the most thorough history of the Inquisition that we possess."[2]

[1] Histoire de l'Inquisition au moyen âge , Solomon Reinach. Paris, Fischbacher, 1900 1903.

[2] Paul Fredericq, loc. cit., p. xxiv.

It is far, however, from being the last word of historical criticism. And I am not speaking here of the changes in detail that may result from the discovery of new documents... Continue reading book >>




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