During the 13th and through to the 14th century catholic church authorities turned their focus to creating a united religiously bound civilization, acting only upon the fundamental principles of Christianity. The 14th century church enforced religious unity through the inquisition, and was mostly successful in doing so.
The author Christine Caldwell Ames1 showed that the church used the inquisition as a force to create a cohesive religious civilization during the 13th and 14th century. Further evidence of the use of the inquisition to enforce religious uniformity is found in the contemporary account of Bernard Gui, a Dominican inquisitor.2 The Inquisition was operated by a religious order known as the Dominicans, who were a part of the Catholic Church answerable only to the Pope. “Adopted by the church as one of several responses to heretical movements that emerged in the high Middle Ages, heresy inquisitions authorized bishops, or other papally delegated clerics, to seek out supposed religious deviants and their supporters”. 3 The alternative religions that fell under the term of “religious deviant” was quite vast, the inquisition pursued peoples such as: Cathar’s, Waldensian’s, Jews, and eventually even the Knights Templar, purely to gain supremacy by suppressing what the inquisition defined as “religious deviants”. The historical record seems to show that other methods apart from the inquisition had little or no success as none are documented as the success of the inquisition. The inquisition ruled through the use of fear and intimidation, one of the ways in which they effectively used fear was the vigorous examination of heretics where the inquisitor would firmly proceed until he had extracted some sort of confession of error or abjure heresy.4 Essentially someone accused of being a heretic was considered a heretic while they were being examined, in this situation it is impossible to determine someone who is innocent...
Bibliography: 1. Christine Caldwell Ames: Author of “Does Inquisition belong to Religious History?” American Historical Review 110 no.1 (2005). (11-17), (27-37)
2. Bernard Gui: Author of “Inquisitorial Techniques” (c. 1307-1323).
3. Wikipedia “Catholic church by country” survey. Taken directly from CIA World-fact book information taken directly from the table of information showing countries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_by_country
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