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Aula 25 (29-10) - Texto Complementar CROMPTON (Capítulos 6 e 7)

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of particular ages, of-
ten lending them a factitious air of philosophical respectability.
✦ The Inquisition and Its Allies ✦
In the early thirteenth century the church undertook a religious crusade
against the Albigensians of southern France. The sect was annihilated, but
heresy was still regarded as a threat. Accordingly, in 1233 Pope Gregory IX
set up the formal machinery of the Papal Inquisition. Hitherto, heresy had
been dealt with by individual bishops, but Gregory thought bishops too lax
in hunting down heretics and wanted a tribunal immune to local sympa-
thies. To this end, he enlisted the services of the new preaching orders, the
Dominican Friars (who specialized in theology) and the Franciscans. Thus
was born the most powerful and the most feared organ for the enforcement
of religious conformity Europe and its dependencies were ever to know. The
main task of the Inquisition was, of course, to stamp out heresy, but on occa-
sion it also undertook to enforce Christian sexual morality. Thus, the Span-
t h e m e d i e va l w o r l d 1 8 9
ish Inquisition, three hundred years later, would seek out homosexuals, and,
as we shall see, at certain times and in certain jurisdictions more sodomites
than heretics would be sent to the stake. But was the Inquisition, in its origi-
nal thirteenth-century “papal” form, involved in such persecutions from its
beginning? It appears that it was.
In this era heresy and sodomy came to be closely associated in the popular
mind. So much so, indeed, that the same terms covered both. In France and
England, bougre or “bugger” might signify either, so that in some thirteenth-
century French laws we are left guessing which sense is meant. In Germany
the same ambiguity attended the word Ketzer (from “Cathar”); one could
speak of Ketzerei (heresy) of the spirit or Ketzerei of the flesh. The epithet
“bugger” derived from Bulgari, a reference to the Balkan origin of a heresy
whose followers, when they appeared in northern Italy and Provence, were
also known as Albigensians or Cathars. As dualists who believed that the ma-
terial world had been created by Satan, the Cathars repudiated many Catho-
lic tenets, including baptism, the Eucharist, and allegiance to the priesthood.
And because procreation imprisoned souls in material bodies, they objected
to marriage and pregnancy. Since this meant the rejection of the one sexual
outlet traditionally sanctioned by the church, it was popularly supposed that
they must be indulging in non-procreative forms of sexual release, including
Men and women came to the attention of the Inquisition by various
routes: through self-accusation (to avoid harsher penalties), through local
gossip about suspicious speech or behavior, through denunciations by secret
enemies or intimidated friends or relatives. Of course, under ordinary cir-
cumstances consenting partners in sexual affairs were not likely to be ex-
posed unless determined efforts were made to seek them out. Were such
efforts made? Michael Goodich has found evidence that they were. Confra-
ternities of pious laymen associated with the Dominicans were organized in
Italy early in the thirteenth century. One of these, the Society of the Blessed
Mary, made a special attempt to hunt down not just heretics but sodomites
as well. In 1255 Humbert of Romans, the head of the Dominican order,
urged its members in Bologna to be diligent in its pursuit both of heretics
and sodomites, and similar letters were dispatched to other Italian cities. In
the 1260s the laws of Bologna made the society officially responsible for such
duties. How well-organized such man-hunts were in Italy is indicated by the
1242 statutes of the city of Perugia, which appointed forty men (eight from
each of the city’s five districts) to seek out sodomites. Since a branch of the
Society of the Blessed Mary had existed in the city since 1233, we may as-
sume that its members worked together with the civic investigators. “Essen-
tially,” Goodich has concluded, “the officials of the confraternity were the lo-
cal agents of the Inquisition.”51
It may be instructive at this point to remind ourselves what falling into
1 9 0 h o m o s e x u a l i t y a n d c i v i l i z at i o n
the hands of the Inquisition meant. For the accused, it was a terrifying fate
from which any chance of escape was slight. The inquisitor was both prose-
cutor and judge, and the prisoner was presumed guilty simply because he
had been accused. Frightened witnesses were easily induced to testify in such
a way as to confirm the judges’ suspicions. The trial was conducted in secret,
without a defense attorney, and prisoners were not told the names of their
accusers; hence, they could not confront or cross-examine them. Harassed
with threats and tempted by offers of more lenient treatment, they might be
cajoled or tricked into betraying their friends. If a sodomite had been fortu-
nate enough, in the unfavorable circumstances of the age, to find support
among others of his kind, he was expected to name and testify against them.
Refusal to do this met with dire threats of reprisal.
Sentence was pronounced in public before the assembled dignitaries of
state and church. The Inquisition maintained the pretense that it was not it-
self condemning men or women to death by formally “relaxing” them “to the
secular arm.” But as the judges well knew, “relaxation” usually meant execu-
tion, often burning alive. Lesser punishments included life imprisonment or
wearing the “cross of infamy” publicly. Any sodomite condemned in this way
would, of course, be marked for life. To associate with a former lover or
friend would have seriously endangered that person’s life. For men or women
so stigmatized to band together for practical assistance would have been all
but unthinkable. Not surprisingly, the thin stream of literary works on the
theme of male love now disappears. The crime which the fathers of the
church had denounced as unmentionable now became truly so through pal-
pable danger. In literature, sodomites had to be shown as hellbound or, as in
Dante’s “Inferno,” already among the flames.
The danger of conviction by the Inquisition was much increased by the
use of torture. If someone accused of heresy or sodomy was unwilling to ad-
mit to the crime, severe pain might be inflicted to prompt a confession. Ex-
cept for the Visigoths, torture had been unknown to the barbarians who
founded the nations of modern Europe. Gratian’s Decretum had forbidden it
and denied it any place in canon law. But in 1252 Innocent IV in his bull Ad
extirpandum allowed it in inquisitorial trials, though he forbade clerics to ap-
ply it themselves and required them to call in secular agents for the job.
Then, in 1256, Alexander IV allowed inquisitors freely to absolve each other
if they had tortured prisoners. This dispensation removed the barriers so
that priests and monks dedicated to a life of Christian holiness could now
turn the screws on the rack, burn prisoners’ feet, or suspend them on the
strappado with the tacit permission of their superiors. The merciful provi-
sion that torture could only be applied once was obviated by the pretense
that sessions were not ended but merely suspended. Under such circum-
stances almost anyone could be induced to confess to almost anything.
According to contemporary law, heretics and sodomites, if convicted, lost
t h e m e d i e va l w o r l d 1 9 1
their property to their judges and accusers. Here, as under Justinian, the
temptation to press for convictions was strengthened by the lure of financial
gain. “The multiplication of trials for the sake of the spoils was occasionally
denounced by popes,” we are told. “But since they took no measures to cut
the evil tree at its roots it continued to flourish and grow.”52 Large sums were
pocketed by friars vowed to monastic poverty. “It was this,” says Henry