The Inquisition on trial

Caterina Bruschi

The history of Medieval Inquisition is experiencing a new revival in the recent years thanks to the media, and to renewed interest shown by academics and religious institutions alike.

In 2000 pope John Paul II has promoted a wide-ranging campaign of the self-criticism within the Catholic Church, and officially (and controversially) apologised for the crimes committed by the Inquisition throughout the centuries. This gesture has therefore encouraged Catholic institutions to do the same. Both the religious orders that most of all participated in the Medieval Inquisition as papal officials, Dominicans and Franciscans, have promoted meetings and conferences focussed on their respective role and responsibilities. This has triggered new research, which benefits greatly from a renewed awareness both of the period, and of the methodologies related to text criticism.

Dr Bruschi has contributed to this in several ways: co-organising a conference on ‘Texts and the repression of Medieval heresy’ (York, May 2000, with Peter Biller); studying and publishing new material on the inquisitorial activities in Languedoc and Italy (co-editing a volume of trial records with Peter Biller and Shelagh Sneddon - forthcoming, and preparing a monography on the relationships between Italian and French Cathars - forthcoming -), and enquiring some specific aspects and episodes of Franciscan and Dominican Inquisition in the c. XIII (‘Gli inquisitori Raoul de Plassac e Pons de Parnac e l'inchiesta Tolosana degli anni 1273-80’, in Praedicatores Inquisitores. The Dominicans and the Medieval Inquisition, Acts of the 1st International Seminar on the Dominicans the Inquisition - Rome 23-25 February 2002, (Roma, Dominican Historical Institute, 2004), pp. 471-493; ‘Decostruzione testuale nel ‘consilium’ del 1330 agli inquisitori di Carcassonne (Doat 32)’, in Ovidio Capitani: quaranta anni per la storia medioevale, ed. M.C. De Matteis, (Bologna, Patron, 2003), pp. 137-150; Inquisizione francescana in Toscana fino al pontificato di Giovanni XXII, in Frati Minori e Inquisizione, XXXIII Convegno Internazionale di Studi Francescani, Assisi 6-8 October 2005 - forthcoming -)