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The History of the Church 106 Dawn of the Inquisition The Cathar heresy did not disappear with the peace of 1242. Some cells of adepts remained but were mercilessly crushed, as in Montségur where 200 Cathars, men and women, were burned alive in 1244. To carry out the religious dimension of the Albigensian crusade, Gregory IX instituted, in 1233, a special tribunal entrusted to a newly established religious order—the Dominicans, or Friars Preachers. Founded by Saint Dominic, a Castilian nobleman turned friar, the order’s aim was to preach to and convert the heretics. The methods of the Inquisition were both fierce and meticulous: accusation, torture, investigation and gathering of testimonies, trial independent of the secular arm, and public execution (entrusted to the temporal authority) according to strict procedure—all of which signaled great progress in juridical history. It is commonly acknowledged that the Inquisition, according to Saint Dominic, forms the basis of the modern judicial system! But this was not the essence of the work of the Dominicans. Their dominant activity was preaching, and it was preaching that converted the heretics. With the emergence of such “mendicant” orders (orders that lived on alms), including the Franciscans, the face of monasticism was completely changed. Thesefriars, like the secular clergy, had a pastoral vocation, which meant they were not solely dedicated to the contemplative life. This was the most impressive religious innovation of the Middle Ages. One of the first Dominicans, Jacobus de Voragine, wrote The Golden Legend at the end of the thirteenth century, a collection of lives of the saints intended to provide material for sermons. The work profoundly influenced religious art, providing artists with countless themes to illustrate. Pedro Berruguete (ca. 1450–1504) Saint Dominic Burning the Writings of Albigensians Museo del Prado, Madrid ...


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