friars - There was very little the Church could do to...

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There was very little the Church could do to attack the underlying problems that had given rise to the popular heresies of the twelfth century. Innocent III and his immediate successors attacked the symptoms of these problems, and used the weapons of the Inquisition and the crusade to crush anti-clericalism and heresy wherever possible. One should note that the evil reputation of the Inquisition is largely undeserved. In 16th-century Spain, the monarchs gained control of the Inquisition and used it as a thought police and as a way of attacking enemies who were guilty of no crimes under secular law. The medieval Inquisition, formally organized at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, was a repressive institution, but was not guilty of the excesses characteristic of the early modern period. Bishops had always had the power to question and try alleged heretics in their episcopal courts, but the Inquisition brought this function under a single organization that developed a standard procedure and regulations. Alleged heretics were interviewed at length and, if they were found to hold beliefs contrary to the "revealed truth" taught by the Church, were instructed in correct doctrine and allowed to recant (renounce) that belief and accept the Church's teaching. They were then allowed to go free, although often required to perform heavy penance. If they were charged with having returned to their old beliefs, they were subjected to a much more intensive questioning (although torture was not employed). If it was found that they had in fact returned to their error, they could be declared heretics and excommunicated , or expelled from the community of the faithful. They were then turned over to secular authorities, and usually imprisoned or executed, the latter often being done in savage and cruel ways. Although the Inquisition was in many ways hypocritical and unjust, it was an effective tool against heretical movements. In the long run, however, it was an admission of moral failure and buttressed the Church's position by instilling fear rather than promoting faith. It was a negative solution. The rise of the mendicant friars provided the positive answer to the challenge presented by the popular heresies. THE DOMINICANS Dominic His organization took the name of the Order of Preaching Friars and adopted the Augustinian Rule modified to meet his special aims. The Order followed the example of the Albigensians and Waldensians. Although its members took monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they were to work in the secular world, traveling about in pairs, preaching in the vernacular, and -- in order to avoid the suspicion that they represented the wealth and power of the Church -- to beg their food from the laity. They were also expected to be learned, and, to achieve this end, Dominic began to set up training centers and bases from which his followers could operate. The movement proved quite attractive to men with high ideals, and, by 1221, there were some sixty Dominican centers in operation.
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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friars - There was very little the Church could do to...

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