måndag 28 januari 2013

The Royal Inquisition, England, Compared to Others

"Discover how the Word was preserved through the 1,000 year period of the Dark and Middle Ages, when possession of scripture in any language other than Latin meant certain death at the hands of the organized church."

source of quote:

It did not.

Possession in English might have meant death during the anti-Lollard Inquisition, decided by one law of the English Parliament, for about one hundred years.

This is what wikipedia states:

The De heretico comburendo (2 Hen.4 c.15) was a law passed by Parliament under King Henry IV of England in 1401, punishing heretics with burning at the stake. This law was one of the strictest religious censorship statutes ever enacted in England.

The statute declared there were "...divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect...they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people...and commit subversion of the said catholic faith".[1] The sect alluded to is the Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe.

De heretico comburendo urged "...that this wicked sect, preachings, doctrines, and opinions, should from henceforth cease and be utterly destroyed...", and declared "...that all and singular having such books or any writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions, shall really with effect deliver or cause to be delivered all such books and writings to the diocesan of the same place within forty days from the time of the proclamation of this ordinance and statute."[1]

"And if any person...such books in the form aforesaid do not deliver, then the diocesan of the same place in his diocese such person or persons in this behalf defamed or evidently suspected and every of them may by the authority of the said ordinance and statute cause to be arrested...". If they failed to abjure their "heretical" beliefs, or relapsed after an initial abjuration, they would "...be burnt, that such punishment may strike fear into the minds of others...".[1]

Section 6 of the Act of Supremacy (1 Eliz.1 c.1) (1559) repealed the statutes but it was not until March 1677 that a bill to take away the Crown's right to the writ was introduced in the House of Commons. It passed in that session.

Footnote 1 links to full text of the Royal - not Papal! - decree, English version:

De Hæretico Comburendo (1401)

Continued: While we are speaking about Lollards: they petitioned the parliament in 1395. It seems they wanted the Parliament to force their ways on the Catholic Church in England, which was at the time the only Church there, the Church of everyone, except, recently, these Lollards. Now, 1401 Henry IV decides they shall be burned. What happened? Did the Parliament listen to their demands, make a decision, that the Pope wanted the King to override, and did the King dissolve the Parliament in order to push this, in obedience to the Pope?

No, you will happen to recall that 1401 was during the period of 39 years when there were two Popes.

One was in the Holy Roman Empire of Germanic Nation (a part of it that was Roman enough to speak Provençal), namely in Avignon, close to the French border (it became Spanish briefly during Thirty Years War and was conquered by France under Louis XIV). Not in England. The other one was in Rome. Not in England either. It seems the English decision has something to do with English independence from either Pope rather than with Papal decisions.

It seems that the Parliament debated the Lollard petition and came to the conclusion that the Lollards were wicked and dangerous. They took the decision to persecute heresy in those particular ways (burning was staple rather than as elsewhere rare, inquiry was free rather than regulated - i e torture was elsewhere limited to maximum three days - and it was in the hand of a bishop rather than of Friars like Franciscans or Dominicans depending on the Pope). And Henry IV ratified it in 1401.

When John Foxe started writing his Booke of Martyrs, he was writing about that one, not about the French or Spanish or Italian Inquisitions. For some reason, maybe that Mary Tudor persecuted him out of England (under that English law, since Cardinal Reginald Pole had advised her not to burn any heretics, but she insisted), and he was given shelter on the continent, the heretics there saw an opportunity to achieve a book about their glorious past, as they mythologised it. And John Foxe widened the scope of his book.

Had anything like the English Inquisition gone on on the Continent? Yes. In France. In the parts where English King was recognised as the French one too. After 1401.

I will now turn to a better historian than John Foxe, and "as good an Inquisition hater as he", namely Henry Charles Lea. Since I read a French translation, I will backtranslate to English, beside the official French translation of the work. Histoire de l'Inquisition au Moyen-Age has been translated to French in 1900 and reedited in 1986, the text is by one Salomon Reinach. "American" original 1887. Page references are to original English (or "American") edition, which are given in the margin, this is 139 and Pope Martin V finds the Inquisition needs financing, it had no money to fulfill its functions any more:

Peut-être trouverait-on une réponse à cette question dans une pétition signée, en cette même année 1418, par les citoyens d'Avignon en faveur des Juifs.
 Maybe one would find an answer to this question in a petition signed, this same year 1418, by the burghers of Avignon in favour of the Jews.
La protection accordé par les papes avignonnais à la race proscrite avait fait de la ville un centre juif.
 The protection accorded by the Popes of Avignon to the proscribed race had made the city a Jewish centre.
Ils y rendaient des services que la population appréciait, mais ils étaient sans cesse molestés par les inquisiteurs, qui entamaient, contre eux des poursuites sans motifs, mais non, peut-être, sans profits.
 They there rendered services appreciated by the population, but they were unceasingly molested by the Inquisitors, who began pursuits against them without any motive, but not, perhaps, without any gain.

Note that the assessment of Jewish innocence here is his, not mine. In religious matters they were quite offensive now and then. A bit more than Lollards, perhaps even. And I suspect H-C Lea to be more than a bit obtuse about that.

Martin écouta avec bienveillance la requête.
 Martin heard the request favourably.
Telle était la déchéance de l'Inquisition que le pape donna aux Juifs le droit de nommer un assesseur, chargé de siéger à côté de l'inquisiteur en toute affaire les concernant.
 Such was the downfall of the Inquisition that the Pope gave the Jews the right to name an assessor, charged to sit beside the Inquisitor in every proceeding where they were concerned.

Compare Jews and Lollards, or the English Parliament from 1395 to 1401 with the burghers of Avignon in 1418, and compare Henry IV, King of England, with Martin V, Pope of Rome (he was, I recall, the first one Pope after the Schism).

Now, Dr. Craig Lampe pretended that Julius II and Leo X "began Holy Wars against the Jews" ... well, no. They succeeded a century after Martin V, and the habit of protecting Jews was strong with Papacy. Here, fortunately, I found a source not favourable to Popes or to Inquisition, who documents this.

Henry-Charles Lea however considered the presence of assessors a downfall of Inquisition. On the contrary, one brag of the Inquisition over centuries was being more fairminded than secular courts. In Spain people would commit some religious offense - not on burning-at-the-stake-level, but something like swearing, which was considered blasphemy (and to be fair, it was). The Inquisitor would hear their confession of the crime, hear their extenuating circumstances, and thereby give them a fair hearing in the case tha really concerned them. He would then give them a penance for swearing, which penance was a pilgrimage to Santiago - during which time of course the secular court could not pursue them. Besides, they could not pursue them because the Inquisition was a higher court, simple as that.

Why were the Lollards hated? Look here:


Unlike what you may think, until the times when the martyrdoms inflicted on them by the English Inquisition had given them a halo of sainthood, Lollards may have been thought of as creepy odd-balls.

Number four blasphemes the Blessed Sacrament, and number eight the Holy Cross and other relics. And that in the land of Glastonbury, proud of having, somewhere hidden, the relic which is as holy as cross and lance, namely chalice. Thanks to St Joseph of Arimathea.

But can even St Joan of Arc have been executed as suspect of being a Lollard? Look at nr 10 "That. manslaughter in war, or by pretended law of justice for a temporal cause, without spiritual revelation, is expressly contrary to the New Testament, which indeed is the law of grace and full of mercies." Now, St Joan had precisely a spiritual revelation about her war against the English in France. Did she believe such a one was necessary for a war not to be sinful? No, of course not. She was Catholic. As Catholic as any Protestant in the Spanish-American War, on that point. But the fact remains, the charge of heresy in context with a spiritual revelation about a war, as well as the fact that the proceedings were like Inquisitorial proceedings in England rather than the usual ones in France, makes my point. I have not yet read H-C Lea's account of Saint Joan of Arc's process./HGL

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