Inquisition in the Middle Ages
Written by Simon Newman
History - Middle Ages
Many people used to fear the Inquisition in the Middle Ages. They did not express remorse or offer deals to anyone that they were investigating for they felt that they were on a mission from God and were created in order to seek out those that committed Heresy in regards to the Catholic church.
There were many rather well known hearings, and many people did not learn of their torturous ways until long after they were disbanded. The Inquisition in the Middle Ages used any means necessary to receive a confession from those charged, and were able to change the ways of certain practices that were being done in several different countries.
There were many Inquisitions that presented themselves through the Middle Ages, but the original one was that of the Catholic Church. They search out anyone that committed acts that publically went against the laws of Christianity. Many of these people were severely punished with some even resulting in their death.
The Medieval Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition was the most common name for the Inquisition that was created by the Catholic Church. Originally it was the only Inquisition, so it would have actually just been referred to as the Inquisition, but when you read about it in history books it is referred to as the Medieval Inquisition so that you can easily separate it from the Episcopal, Spanish, Roman, or one of the many other types of Inquisitions.
The reason that there were so many Inquisitions was simply because each area needed their own local Inquisition in order to review cases and make decision. Think about it like how law enforcement is divided. You have the state troopers that are responsible for crimes committed throughout the state, but more often than not there are not enough troopers signed to a single city or town and that is why most cities have city police or a sheriff’s department that can handle a lot of the local crimes. Consider the different Inquisitions to be like the sheriff’s department, they are in charge of taking care of any Heresy claims that happen in their area.
The Inquisition’s Main Goal
The Inquisition was created in order to draw out heretics and punish them for their wrong doings. There are many situations throughout history that have provided the same situations as the Inquisition accomplished. The Inquisition in the Middle Ages did not have the most logical format for finding their heretics. Most of the information they collected was hearsay at best, and the majority of the time it was idol gossip or even fear.
The Inquisition would come into a town and call a town meeting. While they would not require everyone to be there if you did not show up it would make them question your motives. They would often give an opportunity for anyone to confess their sins. A person who willingly would confess their sins were to receive a much less severe punishment than those that the Inquisition had to search and find.
They would also expect the confessors to list the people in which were involved with them. The only problem with this arrangement is that some people may confess because they feared being labeled by someone else even though they were not guilty of anything. Then they would often list people that they knew were innocent just to simply get the Inquisition off of their back. This led to a great deal of wasted time since the majority of the people that were to go on trial with the Inquisition were not actually guilty of anything. The Inquisition truly believed that they were cleaning up these countries and were leading those that strayed back to the church by simply removing temptation.
How the Inquisition Changed a Country
During the Middle Ages Italy was known for its sexual awareness, and even turned its head away from the free love that was being practiced throughout their country. Courtesans were extremely popular during this time period, and they were in extremely high demand.
A courtesan is a well educated woman that would provide the wealthier male members of society with companionship and sexual services. Many of these women were permitted where other women were not such as libraries and other fine establishments for education that were thought only to be strictly for males. Many of the men that sought companionship from these courtesans were married men with families that paid a great deal of money in order to acquire certain courtesans.
There were many reasons for why the Inquisition sought out these courtesans. They felt that the women were giving a bad reputation to the country, and many of the wives were extremely displeased with their husband’s public displays of affection towards these courtesans. The Inquisition tried many of these women, and eventually scared all of the courtesans from remaining in the public eye. The free love that once spread through the country would die off.
Trial & Torture
The Inquisition in the Middle Ages was much like a lot of law enforcement was at that time extremely brutal. The church always felt that they had God in their corner, so that they were able to do whatever it took in order to rid their countries of the distasteful individuals that would ever dare to go up against the almighty church. Many people feared the Inquisition simply because they felt they had the freedom to treat the individual in question in any manner that they would choose. This means that many people were tortured quite brutally in an effort to try and drive a confession from them.
The punishment once convicted could range anywhere from prayer to long term imprisonment. The imprisonment could basically be never ending, and there were families that saw some of their family members sent to prison by the Inquisition only for them to die there later on. There are many reasons for why the church felt that the Inquisition was successful, but eventually the church realized that the Inquisition was little more than a giant bully and it was eventually disbanded, but their reputation will live on in the history books forever.