An instance of the calumnies of some Inquisitors.


THE account given by an Inquisitor, in one of the foregoing chapters, of the belief and conduct of the Waldenses, clearly proves the intolerable impudence of those who have charged them with horrid and detestable calumnies, both as to faith and manners. But because some may be imposed upon by the informations against the Waldenses, where their aim was to expose them, and to make them odious; I am willing to give here an instance of the honesty and upright dealing of those cruel Inquisitors, as of a second kind of persecution against them. And though these following informations, which I am to describe, were taken in Dauphind, yet they wholly respect the Waldenses, because it is an acknowledged truth, that the inhabitants of Dauphind were a colony of those of Piedmont; as was evident to the Sieur du Bellay Langey, when he went thither to take informations concerning the massacre committed by the president D’Opede, by order from Francis I.

See here an extract of two examinations taken in the year 1492; let the reader compare them, and judge if the Inquisitors have not perfectly imitated the way of the old persecutors, in calumniating the primitive Christians.

In the year of our Lord 1492, the 2nd of August, at Ulcy, the venerable Bartholomew Pasohal, Canon, and Pidancerius, and Vicar of the Reverend Travellis, Vicar General of the most Reverend Father in God, and Lord John Michael, by Divine mercy Bishop of Praeneste, Cardinal of St. Angelo, Administrator and Commendator of the famous monastery of Ulcy, in company of the worthy and worshipful Poncius, of Ponci, Counsellor to the Lord of Dauphind, and Orancius Eme, Judge of Embrun, did proceed to the examination of Francis de Girondino, of Spoleto, called Barba Martinus, at that time a prisoner in the prison of Ulcy in Dauphine. First, he said, that about sixteen years ago, Girondinus, his father, taught him the faith and heresy of the Waldenses, and began to lead him up and down the countries.

Being asked through what countries he led him, he answered, through these several countries of Italy, Genoua, Bononia, Lucca, Monte Martio, and Ancona; and that his father himself, who was a Barba, went to teach and preach to the inhabitants of those mountains.

Being farther asked, with whom he associated, and in what places, and with whom he continued and conversed, he said, that after the second year he went to learn the said doctrine of the Waldenses, in company of another Barba, called Barnovo, who was originally of the country about the lake of Perugia, in the lordship of Camarino, who led him up and down the aforesaid places for two or three years together.

Being asked, whether after that the said Barnovo had left him he still followed the same doctrine, he said, that afterwards he kept company with another Barba, called Josue, of Saneto Loeo, in the said lordship of Camarino, about three miles distant from Charretto; saying further, that after he had accompanied the said Josue, to profess and preach the said sect in the aforesaid places, another Barba, called Andreas, led him to their great master, who was called John Anthony, who has his residence in the town of Cambro, belonging to the Pope’s dominions.

Being asked what the said great master had said to him, saith, that he enjoined him to take an oath, according to their faith, and commanded him further, that he should not, for any thing of the world, reveal or manifest what he should say to him, telling him, that to manifest or reveal their faith was an unpardonable sin; adding, that if he would keep firm to that sect, and follow it, he would do much good.

Being asked, whether there were any more of those they called Barbae, he said, there were; and that their great master himself was called Barba, and said, that they all held the same sect, and that very secretly. And he further said, that their great master, who exhorted them to keep their faith, and they should be saved, also preached to them, that all who should follow their faith were saved; but that those who did not follow it were damned.

Being demanded which was the chief foundation of their sect, he said, that their great master declared, and that their Barbae found it so in wandering up and down the world; that because of the wicked and most profligate lives of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, religious, and all other ecclesiastical persons, the Barbas follow this their faith, and meet with an infinite number of followers; because the said Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and ecclesiastics are leaders, and the people follow them in avarice, luxury, pride, pomp, gluttony, and anger, and that this is the life of all ecclesiastics; and that the wicked and profligate lives of the Clergy was the chiefest motive of their separation.

Saying further, that the Clergy living thus in mortal sin, cannot administer the sacraments; and that whatever they do is of no efficacy; for when they are made Priests, they swear chastity, purity, and virginity; but committing the aforesaid sins, they break their faith and oath, and so become the enemies of faith, and lose all virtue and power; because, when a burning candle is put out and dead, it can no more enlighten and quicken another.

He saith further, that there is not a Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, or other Clergyman, that keeps not his miss, or his regesco, to lie with him. Saying further, that his said great master charged them to preach and enlarge their faith, and to draw the people as much as in them lay to it, because in so doing they should gain eternal life, because all of their faith were saved, and the rest damned.

He saith, that when their great master, having called together the community, has made them Barbie, and given them power, he changeth their names; and that before that he was made a Barba by their aforesaid community, he was called Francis, but that afterwards he was called Martin.

He saith further, that the Barbra are made or constituted, and there is an office or charge belonging to them; and that as soon as any one dies, another is substituted in his room.

Being asked, whether they had any particular provinces in which they exercised their office, he answered, no; but that they go up and down the world preaching.

Being asked what further charge their great master laid upon them, and what the Barbie were used to preach in their journeyings up and down, he answered, that he said, and they were wont to preach, that one God alone is to be worshipped, who created heaven and earth, the sun, moon, and stars, and water: and that

Being asked what their great master told them [the Barbrae] concerning the saints, and what they preach concerning them, he said, that they believe in St. Peter, and next him in St. Gregory, and St. Sylvester, and in St. John the Evangelist; but in St. Paul they do not believe, because he was an assassin.

Being asked why they rather believe in St. Peter than in St. Paul, he saith, because God hath made the said St. Peter his Vicar or Vicegerent, and given him the power of loosing and binding; and because St. Peter in his lifetime wrought miracles, therefore they believe in him amongst the rest. Being asked what miracles St. Peter wrought, he saith, that when St. Peter caused the church of St. Peter to be built at Rome, the Devil came to him, and said, I will cause a fairer building to be built than you can, and in shorter time, and that he would do it by the next day; and a little while after, the Devil came to St. Peter, and said, Come to the house that I have made ..... but when you enter, be sure you do not make the sign of the cross. And so St. Peter came to take a view of the said house, and when he was in sight of the said house, which is now called Sancta Maria de rotunda, with caution he made the sign of the cross, laying his hand on his beard, and saying, By this holy beard; and then laying his hand on his stomach, and saying, By this holy fountain; and then on his right and left arm, saying, By these shoulders, this is a fair building; and having, as was said just now, made the sign of the cross, the Devil would have destroyed the house, but St. Peter hindered him, and adjured him; and because St. Peter was got within the doors of the church, the Devil could not get out by the door, but striking his feet against the ground he left the mark of his footsteps, and went out by a hole which he made in the top of the church, which hole is there still, and could never since be closed: and for the said miracle, which he wrought openly to the eye, they believe in St. Peter, but do not believe in the other saints, because they were sinners, and because they have not seen any of their miracles.

Concerning St. John the Baptist, he said, that because he did not desire grace of the Lord, he is expected, and that in the day of judgment he shall intercede for all; and that it is not known whether he be in heaven or on earth, but that he believed he was in the terrestrial paradise.

He saith further, that they believe in the angels, archangels, cherubims, and seraphims because they were created of God the Father in eternal life. Concerning the Virgin Mary, he saith, that. because God alone is to be worshipped, and that we are not sure that the Virgin Mary hears our prayers, because she was a human creature, and because Hail Mary is not a prayer, but an annunciation and salutation, therefore they do not impose it for a penance on those who are of their sect. And, that the Lord’s Prayer is the only true prayer, as being a prayer made by God himself.

Concerning purgatory, he saith, that there is no such place, but the Clergy, out of covetousness, have invented it, to extort money from the people for masses and prayers for the dead, which are of no profit, because as soon as a man is dead, he is either saved or damned.

Concerning holy water, he saith, that they do preach, say, and believe, that every year, in the month of May, on Ascension-day, God blesseth the heaven, earth, water, herbs, rivers, fountains, and all fruits; and that this blessing may be more securely relied on than that which proceeds from the Priest, because their blessing is of no force, except they be pure, and free from sin, and because for the most part Priests are sinners, as he said before. For these reasons they have no faith in the sacraments administered by Clergymen.

Saying moreover, that one may as well pray in a stable as in the church, because God is everywhere.

Concerning holydays, he saith, that such as are appointed by God, as the Lord’s day, our Savior’s Nativity, Easter, Ascension, and Whit-Sunday, are to be kept; but as for the feasts of the blessed Virgin, and of the saints, no man is obliged to observe them, except he please, because they are not enjoined by God: nor is any one bound to fast upon the vigils of those holydays.

Concerning the body of Christ, they say, that because the Clergy are wicked, of most profligate lives, and great sinners, they cannot consecrate the body of our Lord, nor is their consecration of any virtue. Therefore the Barbie of their sect do not receive the Eucharist, but instead thereof, they bless the bread, and say, that this blessing is of greater virtue and efficacy than the consecration of the Priests, because as much goodness and holiness as a man hath, so much virtue and power he hath, and no more. Concerning the sin of the flesh, he saith, that as they go up and down the world preaching, they frequent nocturnal meetings and assemblies, where, after that their Barbra have preached, they begin to feast and make merry, and dance, running up and down through one another, without holding hands together, and this by candlelight. That after their feasting and merriment, some one of the company, though it be not known who, puts out the candle; whereupon they all apply themselves to act filthiness with whomsoever they first meet with, without any regard had to father, mother, daughter, or any thing else. And they say, that in case in this filthy action any sons be begotten, that they will be the fitter to discharge the duty and function of Barbae, and of preachers and confessors, than others, as being begot in their assemblies. This done, every one leaves the assembly.

Saying moreover, that such assemblies as these are kept every year in every parish; and that the Barba, who is of the parish in which the meeting is held, is present at it, because his parents are of the same. But if he be not of the same parish, then he preacheth, and afterwards leaves them to make their synagogue between them, because he should not mingle with his parents, neither doth he settle himself in that parish, except his parents go away.

The rest I have not set down, as being very frivolous things; as, what he said concerning swearing, that nobody ought to swear, and that they never swear amongst themselves, neither truly nor falsely, as accounting it a mortal sin.

He saith moreover, that no man ought to be put to death for any fault, how great soever it may be, except for murder.

He saith further, that when their Barbae are created by their companions, the great master assembling the rest of the Barbae together, as was said before, they then take this oath as follows: Thou (such an one) swear upon thy faith to maintain, multiply, and increase our law, and not to discover the same to any person in the world; and here promise that thou wilt not swear by God in any manner, but observe the Lords day; and that thou wilt not do any thing to thy neighbor, which thou wouldest not have him do to thee; and that thou dost believe in, God, who has made the sun and moon, cherubim and seraphim, and all that thou seest, etc. I have put this whole interrogatory at the end of this book.

The other instance of the sincerity of those honest Inquisitors is to be seen in the process of Peironetta, a widow; of which I judged fit to give here this extract to the reader.

Peironetta, the relict of Peter Beraud, made her appearance before Anthony Fabri, Doctor of the Canon of Embrun, Inquisitor General after heresy throughout all Dauphine, and the counties of Vienne, Valence, and Die, specially thereto deputed by the holy apostolic see; and Christopher de Sabien, Doctor of Laws, Canon, Vicar, and Official of Valence, at the instance and prosecution of the worshipful Valetrinus de, Professor of Laws, Solicitor and Fiscal of Valence, being in this case a promoter in favor of the holy Catholic faith, and of the deputies of the office of Inquisition, against Peironetta, etc.

To the first interrogatory she answered nothings and therefore I have only set down what she answered to the second and third interrogatories.

To the second interrogatory she said and confessed, “That about twenty-five years ago or thereabouts, there came to the house of Peter Fornerius, her husband, two strangers, in gray clothes, who, as it seemed to her, spake Italian, or the language of Lombardy, whom her husband received into his house for the love of God. That whilst they were there at night after supper, one of them began to read a godly book, which he carried about with him, saying, that therein were contained the Gospels, and other precepts of the law; and said, that he would expound and preach the same in the presence of all that were present; saying, that he was sent by God to reform the Catholic faith, going up and down the world, like the Apostles, to preach to good and simple people the manner and way how they ought to worship God, and live according to his commands. And that amongst other things they declared, that nobody ought to do any thing to others, which he would not be willing they should do to him.”

“Also, That God alone is to be served, worshipped, and prayed to, because it is he alone that can help us.”

“That to swear upon any occasion whatsoever, whether for truth or falsehood, or any oath whatsoever, wherein the word by is used, was a great sin.”

“That the sacrament of matrimony was to be faithfully and firmly kept.”

“That the good works which are done before death, are of far greater profit and advantage, than those that are done after death.”

“That no saints whatever, whether men or women, were to be prayed to for help, because none could assist us in any thing, but God alone.”

“That the Lord’s day ought to be solemnly kept and observed above all other holydays, because all other holydays were enjoined by the Church, which therefore were not of absolute necessity to be observed; yea, that a man might work on them, except the festivals of the Apostles, and other greater saints, which they did not particularly express.”

“That the Clergy possessed money, riches, and goods, beyond what they ought to do, and that they committed many evils; and that by reason of the superfluity of their riches some of them were fornicators, others usurers, proud, and covetous; others again lived dissolutely and dishonestly, kept whores in their houses publicly and openly, and by this means gave a bad example to the people.” “That these Priests, by reason of their wicked lives, had no greater power to absolve, than the preachers and masters of that sect had; yea, that their masters and preachers, though laymen, had as much power as the Priests.”

“That the holy Pope, because he did not observe the holiness he ought, had no power at all, saying of him, that he was as bad as any of the rest, and consequently had no power at all.”

“That there was no purgatory in the other world, saying, that when any one dies, his soul immediately goes to paradise, if he have lived well and justly; but if wickedly, to hell.”

“That consequently all prayers and intercessions for the dead were in vain; and that all that the Priests did, signified nothing; as their sprinkling holy water on the graves, and saying, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison; Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.”

“That God, in the beginning of the world, blessed all waters, and all other things that he had made; and that therefore there was no need for the Priests to bless them a second time, which indeed was then no better than other water.”

“That the said Priests had invented purgatory, that by singing and praying for the dead, they might get store of money to maintain their dissolute and luxurious lives.”

“That it is better and more meritorious to give alms to the poor, sick, and leprous, than to offer it in the church to the Priests, who had too much already.”

“That it was as good, and equally advantageous, to pray to God in a house or elsewhere, as in the church, because God is everywhere.”

“That though holy men and women were for their good works placed in paradise, yet had they no power to assist or help us in any thing; and that therefore they ought not to be prayed unto to help us.”

“That it was a vain thing to have recourse to the images of the saints, by praying before them, as having no power at all, being only material things, or pictures made upon walls.”

“That for the same reason it was a vain thing to go on pilgrimage to Rome, or elsewhere, to pray there before the images of holy men and women, as not being able to help us.”

“That it was not necessary to fast upon the vigils of any holydays, except those of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, and some other greater festivals; and that on Fridays especially they ought to fast.”

“That the preachers, and masters of their sect, and the Priests, or Clergymen, were formerly of one and the same order and degree; but that when the Clergy began to follow after covetousness and the vanities of this world, and their preachers resolved to continue in their first poverty; by this means a division and separation happened amongst them, and the Clergy became their enemies. That therefore, because the number of their preachers, and others of their sect, was as yet but very small, they were obliged to walk up and down secretly, as Christ and his Apostles did, because if the preachers should not walk cautiously and obscurely, they would be in danger of being persecuted and ill entreated by others.” It appears, that these processes were in the year 1494, which date is found at the beginning of these examinations.

The foresaid process or examination was taken by me, notary, who have subscribed my name, GOBAUD.”

This extract is faithfully transcribed out of a MS. in the public library of Cambridge, where it is to be seen in the original. But I thought fit to make it public at the end of this work, that the reader may compare those processes, in which the Inquisitors’ faithfulness is justly to be suspected, since we see that there is very little of the first sumptum from the mouth of the Barba, in the process that was written afterwards by the notary of the Inquisitors, according to their pleasure, to expose them to the hatred of all the world.


Home | Previous | Next