Episode 8 – The hounds of God – medieval heretics and inquisitors

From the High Middle Ages, Europe developed into a “persecuting society,” obsessed with stamping out the “cancer” of heresy. But questions about how this was accomplished — and the consequences of these developments — abound:

  • Why did popes and secular rulers shift from persuasion to persecution of heretics?
  • Why was human choice in matters of religious belief considered a mortal threat to Christendom itself?
  • Why did bookish inquisitors armed with legal procedure, interrogation manuals, data and archives succeed where bloody crusades and mass slaughter failed?
  • How did the “machinery of persecution” developed in the Late Middle Ages affect other minority groups such as Jews?
  • Are inquisitions a thing of a past and dark hyper-religious age, or a timeless instrument with appeal to the “righteous mind” whether secular or religious?
  • What are the similarities between medieval laws against heresy and modern laws against hate speech?

We try to answer these questions — and more — in the latest episode of our Clear and Present Danger podcast.

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Literature: Episode 8

  • Ames, C.C. (2015): Medieval Heresies: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks). Cambridge University Press.
  • Berman, Harold J. (1983) Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. Harvard University Press
  • Deane, J.K. (ed.) (2011): A History of Medieval Heresy and Inquisition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Given, J.B. (1997): Inquisition and Medieval Society: Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc. Cornell University Press.
  • Haidt, Jonathan (2013), The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Penguin Books Ltd
  • Haskins, C.H. (1902), Robert Le Bougre and the Beginnings of the Inquisition in Northern France, The American Historical Review Vol. 7, No. 4 (Jul., 1902), pp. 631-652
  • Kamen, Henry. The Spanish Inquisition. Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
  • Macculloch, D (2009) A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Viking
  • Moore, R.I. (2012): The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe. London, UK: Profile Books.
  • Moore, R.I. (2007): The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance in Western Europe 950-1250. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Murphy, C. (2013): God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  • Ormeroda, P, and Roach, A.P. (2003) The Medieval inquisition: scale-free networks and the suppression of heresy, Physica
  • Pegg, Mark Gregory (2008) A Most Holy War: the Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom, Oxford Univ. Press
  • Peters, E. (1989) California University Press

Online sources