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I didn't want to assume any parts of the medieval trials were better.  The purpose of the essay is to put the US in roughly the same place as the Inquisition and I didn't want to be open to charges that I was assuming better processes for the latter or worse ones for the former.  I tried to go strictly by what was reported and not infer anything from it.
by danps (dan at pruningshears (dot) us) on Sat Aug 1st, 2009 at 08:12:05 AM EST
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Ok, fair enough.

But I got curious on the particulars of the medieval inquisition, and checked some for myself. It was not as easy as I thought.

I did find quite some interesting details of interrogations by Jacques Fournier.

Jacques Fournier was a man who ascended from a humble birth (c. 1280) to appointments as Bishop of Pamiers (1317), Bishop of Mirepoix (1326), Cardinal (1327) and finally to election as Pope Benedict XII of Avignon (1334). He made a name for himself by his skill as administrator and inquisitor particuarly during the years 1318-1325 when he conducted an extensive campaign against the last remaining Cathar (Albigensian) heretics in the tiny village of Montaillou (in the Pyrenées, in the medieval region of the Comté de Foix, modern department of Ariège), as well as others who had lapsed from the faith.

Fournier's Inquisition Record is one of the most remarkable and comprehensive documents to survive from the Middle Ages. Fournier was a man of meticulous habits and carefully supervised the keeping of his records. As a result, the records of his inquisitions -- though primarily concerned with matters of faith -- have served as the foundation of one of the classics of modern social history, Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie's magisterial work Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error. This work presents an entire portrait of medieval Occitan village life based on the extensive confessions made to Fournier. Only rarely do those who confessed to Fournier dispute with him over fine points of theology (the Jew Baruch is one noteworthy exception); usually those confessing give an intriguing portrait of themselves, their families and their everyday life.

This WebSite contains selected confessions, mostly by women, and is intended to make accessible these intriguing documents, which are not currently available in English. The manuscript of Jacques Fournier's Inquisition Record is currently found in the Vatican Library, Lat. MS. 4030. and modern editions are available in Latin and French. I have worked from both of these editions. For general historical background and a discussion of Occitan society at this time, see Bray's translation of Ladurie's Montaillou .

Notes on Fournier by Nancy P. Stork that also translated the interrogations.

It is clear from this that there were transcripts, one ending:

Written the same year and day as above, in the presence of my lord Germain de Castelnau, archdeacon of the church of Pamiers, of Brothers David, monk of Fontfroide, Bernard de Centelles, monk of the same order, and Arnaud du Carla of the order of Preachers of the convent of Pamiers, and of us Guillaume Peyre-Barthe and Barthélemy Adalbert, notaries, who have received the above mentioned. And I, Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary, have written all that precedes.

From that ending we can infer that this was not a public proceeding. However this was the interrogations, and wheter the trials and the interrogations was the same thing or seperate events is unclear to me. It is also unclear if the process was the same against the Templars.

So I guess it was prudent of you to err on the side of caution with respect to the point you were making.

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by A swedish kind of death on Sat Aug 1st, 2009 at 09:09:54 AM EST
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Thanks for those links.  I poked around a little while researching for this post and didn't find anything.  I'll have a look now.
by danps (dan at pruningshears (dot) us) on Sat Aug 1st, 2009 at 10:16:06 AM EST
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If you want to read more Practica inquisitionis heretice pravitatis is apparently an instruction manual for inquisitors.

It is in Latin however, making it less then easily accessible.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Aug 1st, 2009 at 11:04:21 AM EST
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A very interesting book and history bestseller, Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324, was written by famous historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie from the interrogation proceedings. I don't remember any torture being mentioned. But the wealth of information that could be found shows an intense will to understand what happened in the village - and allowed Le Roy Ladurie to pretty much build a sociology of the community. I'm not sure American interrogators are close to being able and interested in actually understanding what happens to those they question.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 at 08:54:45 AM EST
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