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Familia inquisitionis: a study on the inquisitors’ entourage (XIII-XIV centuries)

Familia inquisitionis: a study on the inquisitors’ entourage (XIII-XIV centuries)

By Caterina Bruschi

Mélanges de l’École française de Rome – Moyen Âge, Vol. 125:2 (2013)

Abstract: This study enquires into the topic of the familia inquisitionis/inquisitoris – the entourage operating alongside inquisitors, during inquiries into matters of faith (XIII-XIV c.). Through a review of primary sources coming from authorities (papal documents) and practitioners (manuals and financial records), it tries to uncover the varied makeup of this group of collaborators. By a reading of the terminology, it wishes to overturn the common opinion of ‘inconsistency’ of recording practices, and to highlight shades and meaning of the words used by notaries to indicate people and their functions.

A parallel between Italian and French tribunals helps understanding how political issues and differences in practice had shaped the way in which these collaborators were employed, and their numbers. This has shown the main role played by the confiscation of heretical goods (bona hereticorum): where they were handled by the inquisitors themselves, inflation in number of collaborators occurred; where – instead – these goods benefited only the lay authorities, there was additional pressure to keep expenses and numbers of officers down.

Introduction: It is inquisitors that sell, these days: marketing builds upon visual imagination and curiosity, but is also driven by some sort of fascination with these controversial and ultimately incomprehensible individuals who pursued religious non-conformity as a crime. As the trend impacts upon academic research, this has begun to focus on individuals, investigating prosopographically the medieval officers of faith. It is, in both cases, an attempt to give them a voice, a face, perhaps with the purpose of unearthing and understanding the hidden, inaccessible recess of their minds, what made their belief compatible with their choices, and ultimately their actions.

Click here to read this article from Mélanges de l’École française de Rome – Moyen Âge

Top Image: Imprisonment – BNF Arsenal 3481 Ci commence li livres de Lancelot du Lac fol. 65r

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