Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Franciscan and Dominican Inquisitions

Lest we think all that Dominicans and Franciscans did in the medium aevum was synthesize the true synthesis of faith and reason and destroy it (respectively), here are some hair-raising tales from their activities in the inquisition.  From Holly Grieco, "Pastoral Care, Inquisition, and Mendicancy in the Medieval Franciscan Order," in The Origin, Development, and Refinement of Medieval Religious Mendacancies, Brill 2011.

p. 140: Though the historical documentation of Franciscan inquisitions is considerably less plentiful for southeastern France, evidence from one particular inquisitorial trial in Marseille in 1266 suggests that Franciscans successfully established their inquisition there as well.  The two Franciscan inqisitors in that city worked tireless in pursuit of heretics evan as they struggled against the conspiratorial plotting of their local Dominican confreres. A number of Dominican friars in the city sought to reclaim the office of heresy inquisition for their own order by accusing one Franciscan inquisitor of treason against the count of Provence. Over a period of several years, the Dominicans developed an elaborate conspiracy against the Franciscan Inquisitor, going so far as to coerce two local priests into bearing false testimony against him. This dramatic tale resulted in the prosecution of the two priests by the second inquisitor involved, and the transfer of three Dominicans to convents in different provinces. Additionally, to limit future tensions and rivalry between the two orders, Pope Clement IV decreed that Franciscan and Dominican inquisitors were forbidden from proceeding against members of the other order.

p. 144: ... in 1302, Pope Boniface VIII found that he could not ignore complaints agasint the Franciscan inquisitors in the Veneto, and he suspended them from the inquisitorial office in that region. As a result, an investigation was launched into the practices of two Franciscan inqisitors, Boninsegna da Trento and Pietrobono Borsemini, who served in the cities and dioceses of Padua and Vicenza. The inquisitors and their confreres faced a number of charges, detailed in the Liber contractuum: extortion, concealment of documents, and acting without the involvement of local bishops. Boniface replaced the Franciscans with Dominicans, who behaved in a similar manner: in 1307-1308, Pope Clement V opened a second investigation into charges made against the Dominican inquisitors.

p. 145: Still, these abuses point to general challenges faced by any individuals who serveda s inquisitors or who had access to the property seized by them, and say little or nothing about the suitability of Franciscans (or Dominicans, for that matter) for the task. It is important to stress that amidst accusations of corruption andp lentiful documentation attesting to abuses, Franciscans did not question the propriety of their involvement in the office. Even at the beginning of the fourteenth century, at a moment of extreme crisis and groing schism, in which competing factionss truggled to define the true nature adn future course of the order, Franciscans continued to serve as inqisitors, and to do so with intengrity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can see why the Dominicans were so involved in the Inquisition-they were founded because St Dominic crossed through Languedoc and was mortified by heretics.
I am curious as to how sweet gentle followers of St Francis got involved.