Renaissance Inquisitors: Dominican Inquisitors and by Michael Tavuzzi

By Michael Tavuzzi

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The chapter held in Vicenza in 1501 prescribed that the friars of the Congregation could not accept appointments as inquisitorial vicars from inquisitors belonging to the conventual provinces. The chapter held in Mantua in 1516 ordered that inquisitors were to render an account of their personal expenses to their conventual priors and of the expenses incurred in their inquisitorial activities to the vicar general. The chapter held in Ferrara in 1524 insisted that friars appointed as inquisitors had to be efficacious preachers.

105 The continuing haphazard character of inquisitorial facilities is well illustrated, however, by the intriguing case of Vito Beggiami, inquisitor of Savigliano during 1495–1502. In early 1500, Beggiami’s inquisitorial quarters in the convent of San Domenico in Savigliano were broken into, some of his personal belongings stolen, and his garden, stable and jail dishevelled. 106 The most important content of an inquisitor’s quarters was the inquisitorial archive, for it was the archive that enabled the prosecution of heretics to be carried out persistently and effectively by a succession of inquisitors in the same post.

125 Marcaccioli Castiglioni 1999. 126 Merlo, Comba and Nicolini 2004. 120 121 inquisitors and inquisitorial districts 37 judicial torture of their suspects. Furthermore, if the suspects were indeed found guilty, the inquisitors themselves could not administer to them any kind of punishment other than salutary spiritual penances or, at the very most, brief terms of imprisonment, for as clerics they were forbidden by canon law from shedding blood. Punishments such as the confiscation of goods, banishment, long-term imprisonment, execution by burning at the stake, could only be administered by secular officials, to whom the inquisitors “released” the indicted at the end of their trials, usually with the customary, formal recommendation that they be treated compassionately.

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