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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 4. 1962.

The History of the Inquisition

page 3

The History of the Inquisition

Part I

The material collected for these forthcoming articles is taken from authentic sources without exaggeration. in an endeavour to give a clear account of the year referred to as the dark ages.

This is not meant to be a smear against Religion as practised today by the modern or western world; but a view of humanity's struggle to rise out of the dark and step forward into their future. It is only one view of the happenings of the past. On the spiritual struggles that took place then, all else hung, Including the spiritual philosophy and happenings of today.

With extremely few exceptions, the information can be found in the original manuals and books printed at that time, or English translations which are now available. For example, The Laws and Customs of the Inquisition taken directly from Eymeric and his continuator.

The Inquisition, and its history as we know it today, deals completely with the Church of Rome. While all Churches are supposed to have lost the spirit of Christ, no Church on Earth, except the Church of Rome, has given itself to persecution. No other Church has ever had a separate department for the persecution and punishment of Christians or non-Christians, with a code of law, appointed courts, and judges.

The Beginning

The organised persecution of Christians by Christians may be found in the records of history. One of the earliest and prominent records to be found is the Theodosian Code, a record of the heretic laws passed by Constantine the Great. In time his Edicts became part of the civil laws of Europe. They show how diversities of religious opinion were prevented, and how those who had opinions were treated and punished.


It would be interesting to note at this time what type of torture was applied and how it was carried out. Here then is a brief description of torture as taken from "Libro Nero." (The Black Book).

The victim was stripped of all clothing and his hair cut off' after being examined by a doctor and surgeon, who In their medical office, voiced any objection to the victim being tortured. If labelled fit, they were laid upon the rack, asked to tell the truth, and then stretched to the required length. If the victim was incapable of undergoing torture in any part of his body, they were usually sentenced to be burned.

Thus did the guardians of the (true) faith protect themselves against those who would think for themselves.

The Inquisition did not originate in any single mind. It was not intended to meet a merely local or temporary exigency but grew out of the mutual jealousies of the people, and the overbearing tyranny of over lords. Something in this time of history was needed, some institution for the suppression of discontent, some all-pervading agency, everywhere active, but no where conspicuous, which would subdue each opponent as he rose and put every complaining voice to silence. So rose this shield of defence against political, as well as religious rebels. At its height of power, the protection from heretics seemed to come last.

In our next article, we will place in some detail, the workings of the various courts throughout Europe, and the Laws dealing with the examination of the prisoner, defence, prison and privileges. We will also discuss the preparations for the "Auto-de-Fe." —Meha.