Tuesday 12 February 2008

For sale: The Manual of Inquisitors by Nicholas Eymerich

A copy of The Manual of Inquisitors, written in the 14th century by Nicholas Eymerich and published in Portuguese by Edições Afrodite in 1972, recently came up for sale for Euro 40.

Interestingly, it was classified under: "Portuguese-Jewish culture, Marranism, History". As the juxtaposition of culture/persecution reveals, Jews were routinely treated with the most horrendous cruelty in Europe. And to illustrate the point, this is how the booksellers casually present the book: "This volume contains some basic texts for the study of the Inquisitorial Institution. At its base there is the text of the Manual of the Inquisitors, whose first printed publication was of 1578 (but two centuries before it was already famous and celebrated) and it is presented as an important work in all the legal literature that was in force in the Peninsula. Initially it is a result of the work of Friar Nicolau Emérico (1320-1399) of the Order of the Preachers and the grand inquisitor of Aragão, where he became famous for his great competence in the subject and where he began building his Directorium Inquisitorum". How extraordinary: "famous for his great competence in the subject"!

Biographical details from Answers.com
Nicholas Eymerich (c. 1320 - 4 January, 1399) was a Roman Catholic theologian and inquisitor general of the Inquisition of the Crown of Aragon in the later half of the 14th century. He is best known for authoring the Directorium Inquisitorum.

He entered the local monastery of the Dominican Order on 4 August, 1334.In 1357, Eymerich replaced Nicola Roselli as the Inquisitor General of Aragon, as Roselli had been raised to a cardinal. A year after obtaining the position, Eymerich was given the honorific Chaplain of the Pope as a recognition of his diligence in pursuing heretics and blasphemers. However, the zeal he displayed as inquisitor general earned him many enemies, including King Peter IV of Aragon. Peter IV sought to have Eymerich removed from office in 1360 when the inquisition interrogated the Franciscan spiritualist, Nicholas of Calabria.

A further example of Eymerich as inquisitor general is his sentence of the Jew, Astruc Dapiera in 1370. Dapiera was a native of Barcelona accused of sorcery. He was sentenced to publicly repent in a cathedral, and then to life imprisonment. Eymerich also ordered the piercing of heretics' tongues with a nail so they could not blaspheme. He was the first inquisitor to get around the Church's prohibition against torturing a subject twice by interpreting directive very liberally, permitting a separate instance of torture for a separate charge of heresy.

His epitaph describes him as praedicator veridicus, inquisitor intrepidus, doctor egregius.

Eymerich's most prominent and enduring work was the Directorium Inquisitorum, which he had composed as early as 1376. It defined witchcraft, and described means for discovering witches. In compiling the book, Eymerich used many of the magic texts he had previously confiscated from accused sorcerers. The Directorium Inquisitorum was to become the definitive handbook of procedure for the Spanish Inquisition until into the seventeenth century.

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