INNOCENTS, FEAST OF THE HOLY: A church festival in honor of the children slain by Herod in Bethlehem (Matt. ii. 16-18). They were very early regarded as Christian martyrs, as Irenæus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and many later authors speak of them in that way. At what time the festival became commonly celebrated is not known. In the fifth century the holy innocents were commemorated in connection with the adoration of the Magi at the feast of Epiphany. The Carthaginian calendar, edited by Mabillon from a manuscript of the seventh century, has the entry opposite Dec. 28 "(the day) of the holy children slain by Herod." This day is still kept by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Episcopal churches, but the Greek Church observes Dec. 29. In course of time the feast received an octave.


In the Saturnalia (II., 4, 11) of Macrobius, the Roman writer in the fifth century, is this anecdote: "When he (Augustus) heard that among the boys whom in Syria Herod, the king of the Jews, had ordered to be killed there were infants of two years and under, he exclaimed: 'I had rather be a pig of Herod's than a son."' As the Saturnalia contains many anecdotes which carry with them indubitable evidence of being of contemporary origin, there is no reason for supposing that this one was the creation of a time subsequent to Augustus, but every probability that it, too, was contemporary, and so is an incidental, undesigned, but striking witness to the truthfulness of the Gospel story.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bingham, Origines, XX., vii. 12; J. C. W. Augusti, Denkwürdigkeiten, i. 304 sqq., Leipsic, 1817; P. Gueranger, L'Année liturgique, i. 366 sqq., Paris, 1880; W. E. Addis and T. Arnold, Catholic Dictionary, pp. 487-488, London, 1903; G. Wissowa, Analecta Macrobiana, in Hermes, xvi. 499 sqq.


  1. In the Older Church.
  2. The Inquisition in the Middle Ages.

      Organization and Competence (§ 1).

      Relation to the Secular Powers (§ 2).

      In Italy (§ 3).

      France (§ 4).

      Spain (§ 5).

      Germany, the Netherlands, and England (§ 6).

  3. The Inquisition and the Counter-Reformation.

      The Reformation Suppressed m Italy (§ 1).

      In Spain and the Netherlands (§ 2).

I. In the Older Church:

The Inquisition (Inquisitio hæreticæ pravitatis) or the "Holy Office" (Sanctum officium) is the name of the spiritual court of the Roman Catholic Church for the detection and punishment of those whose opinions differ from the doctrines of the Church. It was a comparatively late outgrowth of ancient ecclesiastical discipline. "In the primitive Church there was no arrangement that could have borne even a remote resemblance to the Inquisition. . . The whole instinct and the prevailing cast of thought of Christendom in the first four centuries was opposed to compulsion in religious affairs." (J. J. I. von Döllinger, Kleinere Schriften, p. 295, Stuttgart, 1890.) The institution of "elder for repentance" (see PENITENTIARY), which occurs in the third century, bears quite a different character, as the very name denotes. Of course deviations in the sphere of Christian doctrine were combated, but hardly with other than spiritual weapons; and this practise continued until Theodosius (d. 395), before a Christian emperor found it advisable to impose an ultimate death penalty on (Manichean) heresy. Chrysostom repudiated such action: "It is not right to put a heretic to death, since an implacable war would be brought into the world" (Hom. xlvi. on Matt. xiii. 24-30); and still in the neighborhood of 450 the church historian Socrates characterized persecution for heresy as foreign to the orthodox Church. Nevertheless, in the meantime Augustine, in his conflict with the Donatists, had set up the contrary doctrine in the West and had recommended compulsion as well as penalties against heretics (Epist. xciii., clxxxv.), though he did not approve the death penalty. Six centuries more passed before the theory of religious compulsion and of the violent extirpation of heresy came to have universal validity, although Pope Leo I. (Epist. xv., ad Turrtibium) had approved it in the fifth century. This long season of comparative tolerance is the more impressive in view of the circumstance that in Italy under East Gothic and Lombard rule, Catholics and Arians lived whole centuries in close proximity, or even together (as in Ravenna). The impulse to more severe methods came from the decision that the numerous remnants of paganism must be finally rooted out; and certain measures in this direction were devised by the Carolingian legislation (Capitularia Caroli Magni of 769 and 813). The beginnings of episcopal inquisition are thus to be sought in the synodal courts for investigations with reference to heresy (see SYNODAL COURTS; and cf. P. Hinschius, Katholisches Kirchenrecht, v. 427, Berlin, 1895).


II. The Inquisition is the Middle Ages:
1. Organization and Competence.

By the terms of their negotiations at Verona in 1184, Pope Lucius III. and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa converted the episcopal inquisition into a universal institution, to be unconditionally supported by the temporal power. This was the period when a new and dangerous doctrine, commingling Christian and pagan elements in the manner of the ancient Gnostic speculations, diffused itself by way of the East, and lent its aid to popular religious antagonism that was constantly inflamed by the conditions of the worldly fashioned hierarchy (manifested by the Patarenes, Arnold of Brescia, the Waldenses, and others). 1 By 1179, the followers of the new doctrine had become so numerous, especially in southern France (see NEW MANICHEANS) that Alexander III. urged the plan of suppressing them forcibly. Innocent III. (d. 1216) organized a systematic religious war against them; and among the agencies everywhere employed were the episcopal inquisitions, with their modes of operation guaranteed by the agreement at Verona and the ready support of all temporal tribunals. However, this form of the Inquisition appeared even to Honorius III. (d. 1227) subject to obstruction, and not swift or comprehensive enough in its workings, for want of centralization. He and his successor, Gregory IX., grasped the entire procedure in a single hand, thus creating the new form of papal inquisition, which now received the specific name of Sanctum officium in distinction from the episcopal office. The most exact information as to this institution is furnished by Eymerich's Directorium. The officers are accountable directly to the pope. It is not the bishop who stands at their head, but the grand inquisitor, who is reinforced with notaries, consultors on the judicial side, servants and attendants of every sort (e.g., jailers) on the practical side. In the Venetian Republic, each case was tried with a supplementary attendance of three "learned in heresy," who safeguarded the interests of the State. The new institution was accorded important privileges, in fact, full power in the ecclesiastical province; the officers, being commissioned by the pope directly, were independent of the bishops, and, protected by high prerogatives, were inviolable and immune. All their privileges were newly confirmed to them in 1458 by the bull Injunctum nobis, and again in 1570 by the constitution Sacrosanctæ Romanæ ecclesiæ. After the Dominican order had arisen in the thirteenth century, and its adherents had shown themselves exceptionally qualified, the office was transferred to them especially, though not to the exclusion of members of other orders. The inquisitors' official powers were great, including sentence of excommunication and interdict, suspension of those under suspicion, and adjudication of all sorts of Exemption (q.v.). The trial proceedings were held either in special court rooms or in the official diocesan court. For the trial in its different stages, for the imposition of the penalty, and the like, the most exact prescriptions are extant, and these were continually supplemented as occasion demanded. But for all the exceedingly detailed form of procedure, much was left to the inquisitor's discretion. The new papal tribunal encroached in various ways upon the sphere of the episcopal inquisition, and conflicts of jurisdiction arose, which the popes did not always find it easy to adjust, because, in any case, the episcopal inquisition was not to be abrogated. Nevertheless, in a critical case, the higher authority was lodged in the inquisitor, and his executive scope was more extended than that of the episcopal officials. Charges of heresy against bishops, and even nuncios, were subject to the papal inquisitors.

2. Relation to the Secular Powers.

The unconditional support of the secular arm was invoked for the papal inquisition by virtue of the Veronese agreement (though this was not properly made for that end). The secular arm was "executor," or "minister" of the inquisition. The popes constantly strove to get the co-operation of the secular powers embodied in state laws, municipal statutes, and the like. To this end Innocent IV., in the bull Ad exstirpanda, conceded to the State a portion of the property to be confiscated; and the State in return assumed the odium and burden of inflicting the penalty, even to capital execution, if need were. The first instance of an execution under imputation of heresy was supplied in 385 by the usurper Maximus (see PRISCILLIAN)--an event by no means approved by Augustine. While the Veronese agreement left the question open, King Peter of Aragon, as early as 1197, threatened the death penalty against heretics who did not submit to the decree of expulsion; and in the course of the thirteenth century this threat was enforced in the widest terms. Even the Emperor Frederick II., "free-thinking" man though he was reputed to be, decreed the death penalty for Lombardy in 1224; for Sicily in 1230; and, with Gregory IX., for Rome in 1231. The sentence itself was determined, as might be expected, by the ecclesiastical (papal) court; whereupon the execution was committed to the temporal authorities. Hence it is possible for certain apologists of the Roman Church to urge that the Church of Rome has never shed blood (cf. Die Selbstbiographie des Cardinals Bellarmins, ed. J. J. I. von Döllinger and F. H. Reusch, pp. 233 sqq., Bonn, 1887).

3. In Italy.

This new form of the Inquisition was now made effective with iron strictness in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and England. In Italy, which, especially in the north and central regions, was honeycombed with heresy, the situation was managed by Innocent III. At Viterbo, for example, proceedings were instituted with unexampled severity against the Paterenes in 1207 (cf. Muratori, Rerum Italicarum scriptores, iii., 1, Milan 1723). The civil strife that was stirred up led repeatedly--as at Viterbo in 1265, in Parma, 1277--to the expulsion of the inquisitors; they were even slain, as Peter Martyr at Verona in


1245, who thus became the saint of the Inquisition. "But this occasioned frightful vengeance . . . If the complaints became too loud, a pope did indeed now and then serve a note of reproof on the inquisitor; but it does not appear that so much as one pope wished to lop the institution's rankest outcrops" (Döllinger, ut sup.). For the detailed procedure, cf. Lea, vol. ii., chap. iv. A special arrangement prevailed at Venice in the interest of the State, but a milder policy in this case was exceptional. Moreover, the pope appointed the inquisitor whom the Senate classed as an officer of the State by granting him a "provision" or salary; and the extent of his influence on the "learned in heresy" depended entirely on the Roman Curia's influence over the Senate itself.

4. France.

In France the Inquisition's most appalling operation began in the thirteenth century (see NEW MANICHEANS, II.; INNOCENT III.), and did not reach an end with the annihilation of the Albigenses. The people endured the yoke with extreme reluctance; in 1242 a desperately goaded multitude assailed the inquisitors in the territory of Avignon. (Those then slain were canonized by Pius IX. in Sept., 1866; and he did the same thing, in the year following, for the atrocious Spanish inquisitor, Pedro Arbues.) The attitude of the French kings to the Inquisition shows various phases. Louis IX. (Saint Louis) promulgated a mandate in 1228 which binds the temporal sovereignty to unconditional collaboration with the Inquisition; on the other hand, Philip the Fair decreed, in 1290, that due circumspection should be observed in the matter of arresting alleged heretics. The violent reactions of the tortured people and various royal edicts had at last their effect; and in time the complete revolution brought forth by the Great Schism and the growing independence of the French nation made an end of the Inquisition in France sooner than in other lands.

5. Spain.

Meanwhile the Inquisition in Spain blossomed out with peculiar fulness. It is, to be sure, an error to ascribe to it, with Hefele (Cardinal Ximenez, Tübingen, 1844) and Ranke, the character of a royal court of justice; for, as the Jesuits Grisar and Orti y Lara, prove, it is altogether ecclesiastical, having only certain special state privileges and a certain influence being allowed the king in the choice of inquisitors. It developed from the thirteenth century, on the background of persecution of Moors and Jews. Prior to the sixteenth century, its principal operation was against the Maranoa or alleged converts from Judaism to Christianity. The inquisitor-general, Tomas de Torquemada (q.v.), appointed by Pope Sixtus IV., outdid all precedents in the way of executions and confiscations; it was under him, in Saragossa, that Arbues came to his bloody end. To say naught of the fact that the national character was favorable to it, the Spanish Inquisition underwent a peculiar development on three aides: in the first place, it had a royally acknowledged head in the inquisitor-general; in the second place, under the inquisitor-general, the Consejo de la suprema acted uniformly for all Spain, with assistance from the state authorities; in the third place, while the king's influence on the tribunal was undoubtedly large, it was never exerted against the interests of the Church--on the contrary, the presence of the king or of his representative at the autos da fé imparted to these the quality of great spectacles authorized by the State, almost popular festivals. It is impossible to estimate the number of the victims. Llorente's data are questioned, and may be disregarded. However, from the Inquisitor Paramo's treatise De origine et progressu inquisitionis (Madrid, 1598), p. 140, it appears that in forty years (1480-1520), at Seville, 4,000 were burned, and 30,000 "penitents" were sentenced to various penalties.

6. Germany, the Netherlands, and England.

In Germany, Conrad of Marburg (q.v.) was to bring the institution to its flower. But the wrath of the people slew him and his assistant, Droso, just as their activity began to ripen (1233). Hence in Germany the Inquisition, for the most part, failed to attain to thoroughgoing activity. Nevertheless, until the fifteenth century a good many instances of separate procedures occur. The acts collected by Frédéricq show what was ordained for Germany and the Netherlands in common. This author gives the directions of Gregory IX., addressed to the bishops, in 1233, to the effect that they shall catch the "little foxes"--that is, the heretics ostensibly converted; while a whole series of similar ordinances ensues to the time of the bull Summis desiderantes in 1484, by the terms of which the special activity of the Inquisition was directed against Witchcraft (q.v.). It was furthermore directed against the "Waldenses" along the Rhine, in Bavaria and Austria, in Bohemia, and as far as the mark of Brandenburg and Pomerania, as well as against sects of every kind in the Netherlands. It had waged a fearful war of extermination in North Germany, in the district of Bremen, 1233, against the Stedingi (q.v.). From the exact information in Frédéricq's work, it appears that the extent of the bloody doings at Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Utrecht, and other cities was greater than previously known. During the period before the Reformation, England was less affected by the Inquisition. It first became active against the Lollards (q.v.). In 1401 Henry IV. had parliament confirm the statute De hæretico comburendo.

III. The Inquisition and the Counter-Reformation:
1. The Reformation Suppressed in Italy.

In 1542 Cardinal Caraffa, subsequently Pope Paul IV., reorganized the Roman Inquisition after the pattern of the Spanish. He himself assumed the direction of the Holy Office created by the bull Licet ab initio. The executive procedure was to be centralized at Rome, primarily for all Italy; and the outcome was to be guaranteed by uniform, ruthless, and swift operation. The new organization, having at its disposal the entire influence of the Roman Curia over every state of Italy, by the time of Plus V. had made an end of the Reformation in that country (see ITALY, THE REFORMATION IN); its advocates were either incarcerated or killed, or


driven to flight, while literary products were sought out and destroyed, save insignificant remnants. As an example of the Inquisition's operation in Italy, its actions against "Lutherans" or other heretics in Venice may be enumerated: in the sixteenth century, according to the acts still preserved in the state archives, there were 803 trials for "Lutheranism"; five for "Calvinism"; thirty-five for Anabaptism; forty-three for relapse of converts into Judaism; sixty-five for blasphemous speeches; 148 for sorcery; forty-five for contempt of religion (that is, of ecclesiastical ceremonies, etc.); and more of the sort. Later these figures notably vanish. Branches of the new Roman office were organized in all other cities of Italy, Naples excepted. Rome, however, continued the center; and how numerous the trials conducted at that place must have been appears from the circumstance that the single protocol-book accessible records during the three years 1564-67 no fewer than 111 sentences, all involving severe punishment, some the death penalty, and some imprisonment for life.

2. In Spain and the Netherlands.

As in Italy, so in Spain, the reformatory movement of the sixteenth century fell a prey to the Inquisition (see SPAIN, REFORMATION MOVEMENTS OF SIXTEENTH CENTURY IN). At Seville and Valladolid the movement was crushed and obliteriated in the course of four autos da fé, 1559 and 1560 (cf. E. Schäfer, Sevilla und Valladolid, die evangelischenGemeinden Spaniens im Reformationszeitalter, Halle, 1903); and the Inquisition still flourished in all the land until 1700; according to Llorente, 782 more autos occurred under the first Bourbons (1700-46), wherein 14,000 persons were subjected to heavier or lighter penalties. Indeed, Ferdinand VII, restored the Inquisition along with the Restoration in 1814; but it was finally set aside in 1834. The Inquisition persisted long also in Portugal, where it was mainly directed against the Jews; it came to an end there in 1826. In the imperial Netherlands, the Inquisition effectively combated the Reformation in the sixteenth century. From Brussels as a center, it was so actively conducted, or supported, from 1522 downward by the officials of Charles V., then by the two stadtholder princesses, that by 1530 its goal seemed achieved. The spirit, however, it could not subdue, and it raged afresh under Philip II., and anticipated the cruel deeds of Alva. When eventually the north provinces conquered their religious and political freedom, the Inquisition had annihilated the Reformation in the south provinces. Its activity was also carried into the Spanish possessions in America, and into the East Indies by the Portuguese.

The Congregatio sanctae Romanae et universalis inquisitionis is still maintained by the Curia; and the estimate which Rome puts on the institution appeared in 1867 in the canonization of Pedro Arbues, and in 1869 in the constitution Apostolicae, which threatens penalty for every infraction of the Inquisition's activity. Not one of all the regulations which define its action and determine its aims has been repealed.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: In the first rank as a source is the Directorium of Eymerich written at Avignon as a manual of procedure in 1376, edited by Pegna, Rome, 1580, cf. P. H. Denifle in Archiv für Litteratur- und Kirchengeschichte, 1885, p.10. The Liber sententiarum inquisitionis Tholosanæ is reproduced as an addition to P. van Limborch, Historia; Inquisitionis, Amsterdam, 1692, Eng. transl., London, 1731, often abbreviated and republished in England and America. The Practica Inquisitionis of Bernard Guidonis, ed. C. Douais, appeared Paris, 1886. The best collection of sources for the Netherlands is gathered in P. Frédéricq, Corpus documentorum lnquisitionia, 2 vols., The Hague, 1889-96. Early material on Spain and Italy respectively is included in J. A. Llorente, Historia critica de la lnquisicion de España, 10 vols., Madrid, 1822, abridged Eng. transl., Hist. of the Inquisition of Spain from the Time of the Establishment to the Reign of Ferdinand VII., London, 1826, and in E. C. Comba, I nostri Protestanti, vol. ii., Florence, 1897. An index to some sources is found in Catalogue of a Collection of Manuscripts formerly belonging to the Holy Office . . . in the Canary Islands, 1499-1693, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1903.

On the general history of the Inquisition the best work is H. C. Lea, Hist. of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages, revised ed., 3 vols., New York, 1906-07. Consult further: J. Marsollier, Hist. de l'inquisition dès son origine, Cologne, 1693; W. H. Rule, Hist. of the Inquisition in Every Country where its Tribunals have been Established, London, 1874; Orti y Lara, La Inquisixion, Madrid, 1877; J. Havet, L'Hérésie et la bras séculier, Paris, 1881; A. Henner, Beiträge zur Organisation der päpstlichen Ketzergerichte, Leipsic, 1890; J. Hansen, Zauberwesen, Inquisition und Hexenprozess im Mittelalter, Munich, 1900; P. von Hoensbroech, Das Papsttum ins social-kulturellen Wirksamkeit, vol. i., Leipsic, 1900; C. V. Langlois, L'Inquisition d'après des travaux récents, Paris, 1902; E. Schäfer, Beiträge zur Geschichte . . . der Inquisition, 3 vols., Gütersloh, 1902; C. Douais, L'Inquisition, se sorigines, sa procédure, Paris, 1906; E. Vacandard, L'Inquisition; . . . le pouvoir coercitif de l'église, ib. 1906, Eng. transl., Critical and Historical Study of the Coercive Power of the Church, London, 1908; T, de Causons, Les Albigeois et l'inquisition, les Vaudois et l'inquisition, 2 vols., Paris, 1907; Schaff, Christian Church, v. 1, pp. 515 sqq.; the literature under NEW MANICHEANS and in general the treatises on Church history.

For the institution in France, consult: C. Molinier, L'Inquisition dans Ie midi de la France, Paris, 1881; W. Esmein, Hist. . . . de la procédure inquisitoire, ib. 1882; L. Tenon, Hist. de l'inquisition en France, ib. 1893; T. de Cauzons, Hist. de l'inquisition en France; vol. i., Les Origines, Paris, 1909. For Germany consult: H. Haupt, Waldenserthum und Inquisition im süd-östlichen Deutschland, Freiburg, 1890; P. Flade, Das römische Inquisitions-verfahren in Deutschland, Berlin, 1902. For the Netherlands: W. Moll, Kerkgeschiedenis van Nederland, ii., chap, 16, Utrecht 1869; J. G. de Hoop-Scheffer, Geechialenia der Kerkhervorming in Nederland, Amsterdam, 1873; P. Claessens L'Inquisition dans les Pays-Bas, Turnhout, 1886; P. Frédéricq, Geschiedenis der Inquisitie in de Nederlanden, 2 vols., Ghent, 1892-97; J. Frederichs, Twe Verhandelingen over de Inquisitie in de Nederlanden, The Hague, 1897 For Italy: L. Witte, A Glance at the Italian Inquisition, London, 1885; L. Amabile, Il Santo Officio della Inquisizione in Napoli, 2 vols., Citta di Castello, 1892. For Spain: H. C. Lea, The Inquisition in Spain, 4 vols., New York, 1906-07; idem, The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies, ib. 1908; idem, Chapters from the Hist. of Spain connected with the Inquisition, Philadelphia, 1890; É. de Molènes, Torquemada et l'inquisition, Paris, 1897; C. J. von Hefele, Life and Times of Cardinal Ximenez, London, 1885. For South America: B. V. Mackenna, Francesco Moyen; or, the Inquisition as it was in America, London, 1869. J. T. Medina has written a number of volumes in Spanish, on the Inquisition in Lima, Santiago, 1887; in Chile, 3 vols., ib. 1890; in Cartagena, ib. 1899; in De la Plata, ib 1899; in the Philippines, ib. 1899; and in Mexico, ib. 1905.

1 There is no evidence that Arnold of Brescia or the Waldenses commingled pagan elements with Christian. On the contrary, they combated with the utmost decision the pagan elements that had been incorporated in the doctrines and practise of the dominant Church. They appear to have been Absolutely free from Manichean or Gnostic tendencies.

A. H. N.


CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 10/03/03. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely