Monday, June 21, 2004

A little boy did it and ran away*

The Guardian reports on research suggesting that the numbers executed by the Inquisition were far lower than its bloody image has led us to believe - perhaps only 1% of those tried. Actually, I can believe that. Careful research into the use of capital punishment in early modern England and Wales over the last 30 years has shown that the 'Bloody Code' was less bloody than its image too, what with the extensive use of pardons and other legal loopholes, juries' discretionary verdicts and so on. But I thought this part of the researchers' apologia was a bit rich:

"Other experts told journalists at the Vatican yesterday that many of the thousands of executions conventionally attributed to the church were in fact carried out by non-church tribunals.

"What the church initiated as a strictly regulated process, in which torture was allowed for only 15 minutes and in the presence of a doctor, got out of hand when other bodies were involved."

Do they really think that blaming others, little people, lets the Church off the hook? This was still done under the auspices, the authority, and the legitimising influence, of the Inquisition. (I will not say anything about modern parallels re torture. You can work those out for yourselves.)

*One for Scottish readers and Christopher Brookmyre fans...

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