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Cross of Toulouse
Documents: Ad extirpanda, Bull of Pope Innocent IV, 15
An English translation of the Papal Bull, Ad extirpanda
A Proclamation of the Laws and Regulations to be Followed
by Magistrates and Secular Officials against Heretics
and their Accomplices and Protectors
Innocent, the Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God,
to his beloved sons, the heads of state or rulers, ministers
and citizens established in the states and districts of
Lombardy, Riviera di Romagnola, and Marchia Tervisina,
salvation and an apostolic benediction.
To root up from the midst of Christian people the weed
of heretical wickedness, which infests the healthy plants
more than it formerly did, pouring out licentiousness
through the offices of the enemy of mankind in this age
the more eagerly (as we address ourselves to the sweated
labour of the task assigned us) the more dangerously we
overlook the manner in which this weed runs riot among
the Catholic growth. Desiring, then, that the sons of
the Church, and fervent adherents of the orthodox faith,
rise up and make their stand against the artificers of
this kind of evildoing, we hereby bring forth to be followed
by you as by the loyal defenders of the faith, with exact
care, these regulations, contained serially in the following
document, for the rooting-up of the plague of heresy.
1. In what we gave to your community in apostolic writings,
amounting to regulations that we wrote for your legal
codes, never at any time to be repealed, making war according
to these regulations against all heresy, which rears its
head above this holy church, you have gone forward without
stint. However, I have sent a letter to my beloved sons,
the Dominican priors, provincials and Inquisitors into
heretical wickedness in Lombardy, Marchia Tervisina and
Riviera DI Romagnola, commanding each of you that you
compel recalcitrant individuals by your excommunication
and countries by your interdict to submit (sc. to the
The Laws and Regulations then Are as Follows:
2. We decree that the head of state, whatever his rank
or title, in each dominion, whether he is so situated
at present, or to be so in the future, in Lombardy, Riviera
DI Romagnola, or Marchia Tervisina must unequivocally
and unhesitatingly swear that he will inviolably preserve,
and during his entire term of office see to it that everybody,
both in his diocese or administrative domain and the lands
subject to his power, shall observe, both what is written
herein, and other regulations and laws both ecclesiastical
and civil, that are published against heretical wickedness.
And the oaths concerning these precisely-observed regulations
and laws are to be accepted by whoever succeeds to the
monarchical or gubernatorial dignity. Whoever defaults
in this regard shall lose the character of head of state
or governor. Heads of state and rulers so acting will
lose absolutely all guarantees of non-aggression from
other governments. No one is obliged to offer fealty to
such persons, or ought to do so, even if, afterwards,
they submit by swearing the oath. If any head of state
or ruler refuses to obey, each and all, these statutes,
or neglects them, besides the stigma of forswearing, and
the disaster of eternal infamy, he shall undergo the penalty
of seeing his country lose its borders, which penalty
shall be imposed on him irrecoverably; the country will
be converted to common use, because, specifically, a man
forsworn and infamous, and, in effect, a protector of
heretics, his faith compromised, has usurped the dignity
and honour of governmental power; nor shall another head
of state or ruler from anywhere replace him, or in any
way, by any means, take to himself the vacated dignity
or public office.
Failure to persecute "heretics" is regarded as
protecting heretics - a crime in itself. Innocent is again
claiming the right to dispossess rulers of their lands and
titles, in line with the precedent established by Pope Innocent
3. At the commencement of his term of office, at the
assembly of citizens convoked as is the custom, by the
authority of the city or feudal domain, the head of state
or ruler of the city or feudal domain shall accuse of
criminal conduct all heretics of both sexes, no matter
by what name they appear on the rolls of citizens. And
he will confirm his right to the office inherited from
his predecessor in this manner. And furthermore, that
no heretical man or woman may dwell, sojourn, or maintain
a bare subsistence in the country, or any kind of jurisdiction
or district belonging to it, whoever shall find the heretical
man or woman shall boldly seize, with impunity, all his
or their goods, and freely carry them off, to belong to
the remover with full right, unless this kind of removing
is restricted to persons designated by law.
This head of state or ruler, by the third day of his
term of office, must appoint twelve upright and Catholic
men, and two notaries and two servants, or as many as
may be needed, selected by the Diocesan bishop if there
is one and he wishes to take part; and two Dominicans
and two Franciscans
selected for this work by their priors, if the region
has religious houses of those orders.
Those who are thus appointed may and should seize the
heretical men and women and carry off their possessions
and cause these to be carried off by others, and take
the heretics, or cause them to be taken, into the custody
of the Diocesan bishop or his surrogates, and see to it
that these things are fully accomplished as well in the
diocese as in its entire jurisdiction and district.
All the work is to be done by the secular authorities,
but the victims are held in the custody of the Church.
6. The head of state, or whatever ruler stands foremost
in the public esteem, must cause the heretics who have
been arrested in this manner to be taken to whatever jurisdiction
the Diocesan, or his surrogate, is in, or whatever district,
or city, or place the Diocesan bishop wishes to take them
7. The utterances of the aforementioned officials are
to be faithfully accepted in every matter that regards
their office, specially in the aforementioned oath; arguments
tending to the contrary are not allowed, where two, three,
or more of those present are such officials.
"Arguments tending to the contrary are not allowed"
- the accused are assumed to be guilty, so there is no point
in the Inquisitors hearing a defence.
8. Moreover, when these officials are chosen, they shall
swear to execute faithfully all these laws, and to the
best of their ability, to tell nothing but the truth,
in all those commitments, which as they belong to their
office, they fully carry out.
9. And both the aforesaid twelve men and their aforesaid
servants and notaries, whether acting as a group, or singly,
shall, in all that belongs to their office, have full
command, backed by the executive and punitive power of
10. The head of state or ruler is obliged to treat as
fixed and unrepealable all precepts which their office
shall require them to utter, and to punish those who fail
to conform to these precepts.
The significance of this is that it prohibits rulers from
exercising mercy. Anyone condemned by the Inquisitors must
be punished as indicated. Normal practice was for Inquisitors
to "relax" victims to the secular arm with a request
for mercy - in the full knowledge that the ruler could not
act on that recommendation, without himself breaking the
law. Some commentators regard this as particularly cynical.
(In practice proceedings were brought against the few rulers
who did try to exercise mercy)
11. If the said officials shall at any time receive any
damage either in their persons or their goods as a result
of the performance of their duties, they shall be saved
harmless by means of a full restitution.
12. Neither these officials, nor their successors, are
permitted at any time to reach an agreement about what
they are doing, or of what their duties consist, unless
this agreement is dictated by the aforesaid Diocesan and
13. The term of office of these officials shall last
only six months, which when they have completed, the head
of state is obliged to substitute for them according to
the prescribed form, an equal number of officials who
shall serve the aforesaid term in the same form in the
following six-month period.
14. These officials shall receive out of the state treasury,
or that of the district, when they leave them for the
purpose of performing these duties, each of them 18 gold
coins, which the head of state or ruler is obliged to
give them or cause to be given them; if not then, before
the third day after their return to the same city or district.
15. And beyond that they shall seize one-third of the
heretics' property; one-third of the fines to which the
heretics shall be sentenced shall go to the lesser officials
who must content themselves with this pay.
Human nature being what it is, this provision encouraged
Inquisitors to proceed against particularly rich individuals
- a fact often commented upon by rich victims.
16. But they shall not be, in any way, required to perform
any other duty or work which interferes with, or might
interfere with, this duty.
17. No legislation, passed or yet to be passed, shall
have force to interfere with any of these official functions.
18. And if one of these officials, through incompetence,
sloth, preoccupation with another task, or exceeding o
the limits of his authority, is removed from office by
the aforesaid Diocesan bishop and religious orders, the
head of state or ruler must remove him by their command
or word and, according to the prescribed form, substitute
19. If one of these officials, faithlessly and falsely,
exceeds the limits of his authority to give aid and comfort
to persons in custody on heresy charges, besides everlasting
infamy, which, as a protector of heretics, he shall incur,
he shall be punished by the head of state or ruler according
to the sentence of the aforesaid Diocesan and monastic
orders of the place.
20. When the Diocesan, or his surrogate, or the Inquisitors
commissioned by the Apostolic See, arrive on their missions,
the head of state and his vassals and other assistants
will lend aid and will faithfully perform their duty with
them. Anyone, moreover, whether he is present in the country
or sent for to obtain his assistance there, whether in
the state or in its jurisdiction, or any district of any
kind, will be bound to give the aforesaid officials and
their assistants counsel and help when they are trying
to arrest a male or female heretic, or seize such a person's
belongings, or gather evidence; or enter a house, or a
manor, or a hideaway to arrest heretics, on pain of paying
25 pounds in Imperials as a penalty or fine on their former
loyalty changing, in whatever manner, to dereliction;
the government of a city shall pay a hundred pounds, a
manorial domain fifty imperials in coin.
21. Whoever shall have the audacity to arrange the escape
from custody of a male or female heretic, or shall try
to prevent the arrest of such a person: or shall prevent
the entry of an official into any house, or tower, or
any place to hinder arrest, or prevent the gathering of
evidence concerning such persons, shall have all his goods,
according to the law at Padua when Frederick was emperor
there, consigned to the state in perpetuity, and the house
that was barred against the official shall be levelled
with the ground and its rebuilding prohibited, and the
belongings found therein shall be awarded to the officials
making the arrest; and if the heretics are found as a
result of this prohibition or special preventive measure,
the borough shall forfeit to the state two hundred pounds;
localities both of the boroughs and the state fifty Imperials,
unless within three days the would-be liberator or liberators
of the heretics are brought before the head of state for
a personal interview.
22. Above all, the head of state or ruler must hold all
male and female heretics who shall be arrested from this
date, in the custody of Catholic men appointed by the
Diocesan if there is one, and the avove mentioned monastic
orders, in a safe and secure prison set aside for them,
in which only they will be held, away from thieves and
violators of the secular criminal code, till their cases
are decided; expenses to be paid by the state or the administrative
Although the Church derives a massive income from fines
extracted from its victims, all of the costs are borne by
23. If at any time a non-heretical man or woman state
that heretics in custody, who have already confessed,
are no heretics; or if perhaps the non-heretics demand
that the aforesaid fraudulent persons should be released
from life imprisonment, though they are nevertheless convicted
heretics and must be acknowledged such; the persons who
create this snare, accordingly to the aforesaid law shall
resign all their property to the state in perpetuity.
This clause makes it virtually impossible for any honest
Catholic to point out a miscarriage of justice. To do so
is to ensure one's own ruin.
24. The head of state and ruler of whatever kind are
especially obliged to present all male and female heretics,
under whatever name they are accused, within fifteen days
after their arrest, to the Diocesan or his surrogate,
or to the Inquisitors of heresy, to perform the examination
of themselves and their heresies.
Those convicted of heresy by the aforesaid Diocesan Bishop
,surrogate or Inquisitors, shall be taken in shackles
to the head of state or ruler or his special representative,
instantly, or at least within five days, and the latter
shall apply the regulations promulgated against such persons.
26. The head of state or ruler must force all the heretics
whom he has in custody, provided he does so without killing
them or breaking their arms or legs, as actual robbers
and murderers of souls and thieves of the sacraments of
God and Christian faith, to confess their errors and accuse
other heretics whom they know, and specify their motives,
and those whom they have seduced, and those who have lodged
them and defended them, as thieves and robbers of material
goods are made to accuse their accomplices and confess
the crimes they have committed.
"must force all the heretics ..." The translation
is slightly euphemistic. What the text clearly says is that
everyone in custody accused of heresy is to be tortured.
27. And the house, in which a male or female heretic
shall be discovered, shall be levelled with the ground,
never to be rebuilt; unless it is the master of the house
who shall have arranged the discovery of the heretics.
And if the master of the house owns other houses in the
same neighbourhood, all of the other houses shall in like
manner be destroyed, and the goods that shall be found
in the house and the others related to it shall be dispersed
to the populace, and shall belong to whoever carries them
off, unless the removers shall be appointed by law. Above
all, the master of the house, besides incurring eternal
infamy, must pay the government or locality fifty pounds
Imperial in coin; if unable to pay, he shall suffer life
imprisonment. The borough where the heretics are arrested
or discovered shall pay the government of the state a
hundred pounds; and a manor shall pay fifty, and the regions
adjoining manors and states, fifty.
Levelling people's houses and not permitting rebuilding,
like many other punishments inflicted by the Inquisition,
has been emulated by police states around the world - and
is still routinely used by oppressive regimes.
28. Whoever shall be caught giving any male or female
heretic counsel, help, or favour, besides the other punishments
mentioned duly in their logical places in other passages
of this decree, shall become infamous by that same law,
and shall be admitted neither to public office, nor public
affairs, nor the election of persons to these, nor may
he testify in a legal process; to that extent shall his
incapacity to testify go, that he shall neither bequeath
legacies to heirs nor inherit them himself. No one shall
be compelled to respond to any business dealings initiated
by him but he shall be so compelled by others. If he be
by chance a judge, his sentence shall prove nothing, nor
shall he hear any case. If he be an attorney, his defence
in court will never be allowed to prevail. If he be a
notary, the legal documents drawn up by him shall be utterly
without validity. Those who give ear to the false doctrines
of heretics shall be punished like heretics.
Denial of civil rights is another technique widely adopted
by oppressive regimes around the world - denial of public
office, or public life, denial of legal rights (to bring
or defend legal actions, to inherit or make a will, etc)
Merely to listen to "heretical" opinions is also
29. The head of state or ruler must cause the names of
all men rendered infamous by heresy, or under a statute
of outlawry for it, to be written in a consistent form
and manner in four books, of which one shall go to the
state or local government, another to the Diocesan bishop,
the third to the Dominican friars, and the fourth to the
and the names of these persons are to be read aloud three
times a year in a solemn public ceremony.
Very few of the four copies of Inquisition records have
30. The head of state or ruler must carefully investigate
the sons and grandsons of heretics and those who have
lodged them, defended them, and given them aid, and in
the future admit them to no public affairs or public office.
As in the bible, sons and grandsons are to be punished
for a person's supposed crimes.
31. The head of state or ruler must send one of his aides,
chosen by the Diocesan if there is one, with the aforesaid
Inquisitors obtained from the Apostolic See, as often
as they shall wish, into the jurisdiction of the state
and the district. This aide, as the aforesaid Inquisitors
shall have determined, will compel three men or more,
reliable witnesses, or, if it seem good to them, the whole
neighbourhood, to testify to the aforesaid Inquisitors
if they have detected any heretics, or want to expose
their motives, whether the heretics celebrate rites in
secret gatherings, or scoff at the common life of the
faithful, and their customs; or if the witnesses want
to expose those the heretics have seduced, or their defenders,
or those who lodge them, or those who give the heretics
help. The head of state shall proceed against the accused
according to the laws of the Emperor Frederick when he
32. The head of state or ruler must, within ten days
after the accusation, complete the following tasks: the
destruction of the houses, the imposition of the fines,
the consigning and dividing-up of the valuables that have
been found or seized, all of which have already been described
in this decree. He must obtain all fines in coin within
three months, and divide them up in the manner to be set
forth hereafter, and convict of crime those who cannot
pay, and hold them in prison until they can. However,
he shall be subject to investigation for all and each
of these things, as it shall be described hereunder, and
moreover he must designate one of the assistants, chosen
by the Diocesan bishop or his surrogate and the aforesaid
Inquisitors, to carefully complete all these tasks; another
assistant shall be substituted if they so decide.
33. None of these sentences or punishments imposed on
account of heresy, shall, either by the motion of any
public gathering, the advice of counsellors, or any kind
of popular outcry, or the innate humanity of those in
authority, be in any way waived or pardoned.
34. The head of state or ruler must divide up all the
property of the heretics that is seized or discovered
by the aforesaid officials, and the fines exacted from
these heretics, in the form and manner following: one-third
shall go to the government of the state or district. The
second as a reward of the industry of the office shall
go to the officials who handled this particular case.
The third shall be deposited in some secure place to be
kept by the aforesaid Diocesan bishop and Inquisitors,
and spent as they shall think fit to promote the faith
and extirpate heretics, this policy prevailing in spite
of any statute that has been or shall be enacted against
this dividing-up of the heretics' property.
35. If anyone tries to abolish, reduce or change any
of these statutes, without particular authority from the
Apostolic See, the head of state or ruler presiding at
that time over the state or district, must, according
to the prescribed form, render him infamous, as a public
advocate and patron of heretics, and fine him fifty Imperials
in coin, which if the head of state is unable to collect,
he shall declare him an outlaw, a brand not to be removed
till twice the sum is paid over.
36. The head of state, or ruler, during the first ten
days of his term of office, by employing three faithful
Catholic men, chosen for this purpose by the Diocesan
bishop, if there is one, and the Dominican and Franciscan
friars, must investigate the most recent occupant of his
post, and the latter's aides, concerning everything that
is written in these statutes or regulations and laws against
heretics and their accomplices, and punish those who have
overstepped the bounds of their authority for each and
every particular they have neglected to perform, and compel
the present government to restore the lost function; nor
shall any departure from the regular procedure cause anyone
in the government to be exempted from the investigation.
37. The aforesaid three men shall swear that they have
acted in good faith in investigating the previous government
concerning everything in these laws and regulations.
38. In addition, the head of state or ruler of any city
or district must delete or erase completely whatever,
in any statute or legal code, is found to contradict or
hinder, in any way, these regulations, statutes, or laws;
and in the beginning and the middle of his term of office,
he shall cause these statutes, regulations, and laws to
be solemnly read aloud in a public assembly; and even
in places outside his jurisdiction or district, they shall
be set forth if it seem good to the aforesaid Diocesan,
or Inquisitors and friars aforementioned.
Implicit here is the assumption that Church Law overrides
secular state law.
39. Finally, all these statutes, regulations, and laws,
and whatever shall be enacted at any time by the Apostolic
See against heretics and their accomplices, must be written
in a consistent format in four books, of which the first
shall be deposited in the legal archives of the state,
the second with the Diocesan bishop, the third with the
Dominicans, the fourth with the Franciscans,
all kept with the greatest care, that they may in no way
be violated by forgers.
Given at Perusio, 15 May, in the ninth year of our pontificate.