Roman Inquisition

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The Roman Inquisition, formally the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, was a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church, during the second half of the 16th century, responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes relating to religious doctrine or alternative religious doctrine or alternative religious beliefs. In the period after the Medieval Inquisition, it was one of three different manifestations of the wider Catholic Inquisition along with the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition

Contents

Function

Typically, the pope appointed one cardinal to preside over meetings of the Congregation. Though often referred to in historical literature as Grand Inquisitors, the role was substantially different from the formally appointed Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. There were usually ten other cardinals who were members of the Congregation, as well as a prelate and two assistants all chosen from the Dominican Order. The Holy Office also had an international group of consultants; experienced scholars of theology and canon law who advised on specific questions. The congregation, in turn, presided over the activity of local tribunals.

History

The Roman Inquisition began in 1542 as part of the Catholic Church's Counter-Reformation against the spread of Protestantism, but it represented a less harsh affair than the previously established Spanish Inquisition. [1] In 1588, [2] Pope Sixtus V established 15 congregations of the Roman Curia of which the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition was one. In 1908, the congregation was renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and in 1965 it was renamed again and is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

While the Roman Inquisition was originally designed to combat the spread of Protestantism in Italy, the institution outlived that original purpose and the system of tribunals lasted until the mid 18th century, when pre-unification Italian states began to suppress the local inquisitions, effectively eliminating the power of the church to prosecute heretical crimes.

Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus published a formulated model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), in 1543. The book was dedicated to Pope Paul III, who was known for his interests in astronomy.

In 1616, the Roman Inquisition's consultants judged the proposition that the sun is immobile and at the center of the universe and that the Earth moves around it, to be "foolish and absurd in philosophy" and that the first was "formally heretical" while the second was "at least erroneous in faith". (The original assessment document from the Inquisition was made widely available in 2014.) [3]

This assessment led to Copernicus's On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres being placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books).

Galileo

Galileo Galilei revised the Copernican theories and was admonished for his views on heliocentrism in 1615. The Roman Inquisition concluded that his theory could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact. [4] Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point. [4]

He was tried by the Inquisition in 1633. Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books). He spent the rest of his life under house arrest at his villa in Arcetri near Florence. [5]

Others

Among the subjects of this Inquisition were Franciscus Patricius, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella, Gerolamo Cardano, and Cesare Cremonini. Of these, only Bruno was executed, in 1600. The miller Domenico Scandella was also burned at the stake on the orders of Pope Clement VIII in 1599 for his belief that God was created from chaos. [6] The friar Fulgenzio Manfredi, who had preached against the pope, was tried by the Inquisition and executed in 1610.

The Inquisition also concerned itself with the Benandanti in the Friuli region, but considered them a lesser danger than the Protestant Reformation and only handed out light sentences.

17th century traveler and author, John Bargrave, gave an account of his interactions with the Roman Inquisition. [7] Arriving in the city of Reggio (having travelled from Modena), Bargrave was stopped by the city guard who inspected his books on suspicion some may have been on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Bargrave was brought before the city's chief inquisitor who suggested they converse in Latin rather than Italian so that the guards might be prevented from understanding them. The inquisitor told him that the inquisition were not accustomed to stopping visitors or travellers unless someone had suggested they do so (Bargrave suspected that Jesuits in Rome had made accusations against him). Nonetheless, Bargrave was told he was required to hold a license from the inquisition. Even with a license, Bargrave was prohibited from carrying any books "printed at any heretical city, as Geneva, Amsterdam, Leyden, London, or the like". [7] Bargrave provided a catalogue of his books to the inquisition and was provided with a license to carry them for the rest of his journey.

The Inquisition in Malta (1561 to 1798) is generally considered to have been gentler. [8]

Italian historian Andrea Del Col estimates that out of 51,000–75,000 cases judged by Inquisition in Italy after 1542, around 1,250 resulted in a death sentence. [9]

Historiography of the Roman Inquisition and early modern witchcraft accusations

The Inquisitions have long been one of the primary subjects in the scholarly debates regarding witchcraft accusations of the early modern period. Historian Henry Charles Lea places an emphasis on torture methods employed to force confessions from the convicted. [10] Carlo Ginzburg, in The Night Battles, discussed how Inquisitorial propaganda of demonology distorted popular folk beliefs. [11] In similar light, Elliott P. Currie saw the Inquisitions as one singular, ongoing phenomenon, which drove the witch-hunt to its peak. Currie argued that the methods pioneered by the Inquisition indirectly guided continental Europe to a series of persecutions motivated by profit. Second-wave feminism also saw a surge of historical interpretation of the witch-hunt. [12] A number of 100,000 to 9,000,000 executions was given, all of which was attributed to the Inquisition. Feminist scholars Claudia Honeger and Nelly Moia saw the early modern witch-craze as a product of Inquisitorial influence, namely the Malleus Maleficarum . [13] [14] Feminist writers Mary Daly, Barbara Walker, and Witch Starhawk argued that the Inquisitions were responsible for countless, "hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions", deaths, most of them women. This notion was similarly echoed by Third-wave feminist writer Elizabeth Connor, who agreed with the notion of "gynocide", or "woman hunting", inaugurated by the Malleus. [10] The same sentiment regarding the Inquisition's notorious reputation of torture was shared by American writer and attorney Jonathan Kirsch. In his book, The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God, Kirsch argued that the Inquisition's use of torture not only applied to the witch-craze which peaked in early 17th century, but also to the Salem witch trials. This model of repressive system, Kirsch argued, was also applied in Nazism, Soviet Russia, Japanese internment camps, McCarthyism, and most recently, the War on Terror. [15]

Historiography of the Roman Inquisition and its relation to witch-hunting. "A" and "B" stand for Articles and Books The Roman Inquisition.pdf
Historiography of the Roman Inquisition and its relation to witch-hunting. "A" and "B" stand for Articles and Books

Through further research and available evidence, the Roman Inquisition was seen in a different light. In contrast with feminist arguments, historians like Clarke Garrett, Brian Levack, John Tedeschi, Matteo Duni, and Diane Purkiss pointed out that most witch trials and executions were conducted by local and secular authorities. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] Clarke Garrett mentioned the quick decline and insignificance of the Malleus Maleficarum. In-depth historical research regarding minor details of different types of magic, theological heresies, and political climate of The Reformation further revealed that Inquisitorial procedures greatly restrained witch hunting in Italy. Scholars specializing in the Renaissance and Early Modern period such as Guido Ruggiero, Christopher F. Black, and Mary O'Neil also discussed the importance of proper procedures and sparse use of torture. The low rate of torture and lawful interrogation, Black argued, means that trials tended to focus more on individual accusation, instead of groups. For the same reason, the notion of the Black Sabbath was much less accepted in contemporary Italian popular culture. [21] [22] [23] The Holy Office's function in the disenchantment of popular culture also helped advance rationalism by getting rid of superstitions. Jeffrey R. Watt refutes the feminist claim that the Inquisition was responsible for the death of so many women. Watt points out that in 1588 the Roman Curia stated it would only allow testimony about participation in a Sabbath by the practitioners themselves and not by outside witnesses. Additionally, the Inquisition would eventually ban torture for the procurement of a witchcraft confession. [ when? ] The Holy Office also began seeking less harsh punishment for witches and viewed witches as those who had simply lost their way and who could be redeemed, not as apostates deserving death.[ when? ] [24]

Historians who leaned toward the witch-hunt-restraining argument were more inclined to differentiate different Inquisitions, and often drew contrast between Italy versus Central Europe. The number of executed witches is also greatly lowered, to between 45,000 and 60,000. Those who argued for the fault of the Inquisition in the witch-craze are more likely to contrast continental Europe to England, as well as seeing the Inquisitions as one singular event which lasted 600 years since its founding in the 11th or 12th century. The significance and emphasis of the Malleus Maleficarum is seen more frequently in arguments which hold the Inquisition accountable for the witch-craze.

Later history

The last notable action[ according to whom? ] of the Roman Inquisition occurred in 1858, in Bologna, Papal States, when Inquisition agents legally removed a 6-year-old Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, from his family. [25] The local inquisitor had learned that the boy had been secretly baptized by his nursemaid when he was in danger of death. It was illegal for a Catholic child in the Papal States to be raised by Jews. Pope Pius IX raised the boy as a Catholic in Rome and he went on to become a priest. The boy's father, Momolo Mortara, spent years seeking help in all quarters, including internationally, to try to reclaim his son. These efforts availed him none at all. The case received international attention and fueled the anti-papal sentiments that helped the Italian nationalism movement and culminated in the 1870 Capture of Rome. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Inquisition System of tribunals enforcing Catholic orthodoxy

The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical terminology, also referred to as the "Holy Inquisition", was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. Studies of the records have found that the overwhelming majority of sentences consisted of penances, except in cases of repeat unrepentant heretics, who were handed over to the secular courts, which generally resulted in execution or a life sentence. The Inquisition had its start in 12th-century France, with the aim of combating religious dissent, particularly among the Cathars and the Waldensians. The inquisitorial courts from this time until the mid-15th century are together known as the Medieval Inquisition. Other groups investigated during the Medieval Inquisition, which primarily took place in France and Italy, including the Spiritual Franciscans, the Hussites, and the Beguines. Beginning in the 1250s, inquisitors were generally chosen from members of the Dominican Order, replacing the earlier practice of using local clergy as judges.

Medieval Inquisition system of tribunals enforcing Catholic orthodoxy

The Medieval Inquisition was a series of Inquisitions from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184–1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). The Medieval Inquisition was established in response to movements considered apostate or heretical to Roman Catholicism, in particular Catharism and Waldensians in Southern France and Northern Italy. These were the first inquisition movements of many that would follow.

<i>Malleus Maleficarum</i> Treatise on the prosecution of witches

The Malleus Maleficarum, usually translated as the Hammer of Witches, is the best known treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1486. It endorses extermination of witches and for this purpose develops a detailed legal and theological theory. It has been described as the compendium of literature in demonology of the 15th century. The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.

Pope Paul IV 16th-century Catholic pope

Pope Paul IV, C.R., born Gian Pietro Carafa, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 23 May 1555 to his death in 1559. While serving as papal nuncio in Spain, he developed an anti-Spanish outlook that later coloured his papacy. In response to an invasion of part of the Papal States by Spain during his papacy, he called for a French military intervention. After a defeat of the French and with Spanish troops at the edge of Rome, the Papacy and Spain reached a compromise: French and Spanish forces left the Papal States and the Pope thereafter adopted a neutral stance between France and Spain.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum Books prohibited by the Catholic Church (16th–20th centuries)

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of publications deemed heretical or contrary to morality by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, and Catholics were forbidden to read them without permission.

Heinrich Kramer German churchman and inquisitor

Heinrich Kramer, also known under the Latinized name Henricus Institor, was a German churchman and inquisitor. With his widely distributed book Malleus Maleficarum (1487), which describes witchcraft and endorses detailed processes for the extermination of witches, he was instrumental in establishing the period of witch trials in the early modern period.

Jacob Sprenger Dominican inquisitor

Jacob Sprenger was a Dominican inquisitor and theologian principally known for his association with a well-known guide for witch-hunters from 1486, Malleus Maleficarum. He was born in Rheinfelden, Further Austria, taught at the University of Cologne, and died in 1495 in Strasbourg.

Inquisitor

An inquisitor was an official in an inquisition – an organization or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things contrary to the doctrine or teachings of the Catholic faith. Literally, an inquisitor is one who "searches out" or "inquires". Inquisitors sought out the social networks that people used to spread heresy. There were accounts where the Inquisition could not tell who was a heretic or devout, and they were killed anyway. One of these accounts was Arnaud Amalric at the storming of Béziers. The abbot was recorded as saying “Kill them. For God knows who are his.” This brought up concern about the role the Inquisition was playing and whether or not it was a truly righteous cause.

Witches Sabbath Gathering of those believed to practice witchcraft

A Witches' Sabbath is a purported gathering of those believed to practice witchcraft and other rituals. The phrase became popular in the 20th century.

<i>Summis desiderantes affectibus</i> Papal bull regarding witchcraft

Summis desiderantes affectibus, sometimes abbreviated to Summis desiderantes was a papal bull regarding witchcraft issued by Pope Innocent VIII on 5 December 1484.

<i>Directorium Inquisitorum</i>

The Directorium Inquisitorum is Nicholas Eymerich's most prominent and enduring work, written in Latin and consisting of approximately 800 pages, which he had composed as early as 1376. Eymerich had written an earlier treatise on sorcery, perhaps as early as 1359, which he extensively reworked into the Directorium Inqusitorum. In compiling the book, Eymerich used many of the magic texts he had previously confiscated from accused sorcerers. It can also be considered as an assessment of a century and half of official Inquisition in the "albigensian" country.

The Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (ACDF), commonly referred to as the Archive of the Inquisition, contains the Catholic Church's documents dealing with doctrinal and theological issues related to church teaching. It also contains information on political trials that were carried out when the papacy had temporal power over the Papal States.

Basque witch trials 17th-century process by the Spanish Inquisition against thousands of alleged witches

The Basque witch trials of the 17th century represents the last serious attempt at rooting out witchcraft from Navarre by the Spanish Inquisition, after a series of episodes erupting during all the 16th century following the end of main military operations in the conquest of Iberian Navarre, until 1524. The trial of the Basque witches began in January 1609 at Logroño, near Navarre, bordering on Basque territory.

Prosecutions for the crime of witchcraft reached a highpoint from 1580 to 1630 during the Counter-Reformation and the European wars of religion, when an estimated 50,000 people were burned at the stake, of whom roughly 80% were women, and most often over the age of 40.

Vincenzo Maculani

Vincenzo Maculani was an Italian Catholic Cardinal, inquisitor and military architect. He was known as a severe man, harsh and without compassion, who preferred the black cappa of his order to the brighter purple he was later entitled to wear as a cardinal.

Giovanni Romeo is an Italian historian.

Medieval European magic

During the Middle Ages magic in Europe took on many forms. Instead of being able to identify one type of magician, there were many who practiced several types of magic in these times, including: monks, priests, physicians, surgeons, midwives, folk healers, and diviners.

Strixology is a genre of writing about the reality and dangers of witches, their origins, character and power; often in the context of theology or of demonology.

Helena Scheuberin was an Austrian woman who stood trial accused of witchcraft in 1485. Her trial and acquittal led to the Malleus Maleficarum, which was published two years later.

The Venetian Inquisition, formally the Holy Office, was the tribunal established jointly by the Venetian government and the Roman Catholic Church to repress heresy throughout the Republic of Venice. The inquisition also intervened in cases of sacrilege, apostasy, prohibited books, superstition, and witchcraft. It was established in the 16th-century and was abolished in 1797.

References

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Short bibliography