666 Christian Crimes

1225 - 1299


Pope Gregory IX excommunicated the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, for not beginning his promised crusade. The fact that most of his army had been destroyed by disease apparently did not influence the pope's decision. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Frederick II"]


"The Inquisition in Toulouse forbids Bible reading by all laymen." [Grun, 168]

This is not mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Inquisition," although Toulouse is mentioned many times.


"In 1229-1230 a couple of unfortunates who ventured to doubt [the Donation of Constantine's] authenticity were burned alive at Strasburg." [Richardson, Chapter IV.4]

The Donation is now generally believed to be a forgery.


The bull Excommunicamus issued by Pope Gregory IX denied legal counsel to defendants on trial by the Inquisition.[Kirsch, 79]

A church council convened by Pope Gregory IX ordered every man fifteen and older and every woman thirteen and older to swear that they would denounce heretics. They also set the precedent of refusing to let defendants know who had accused them. [Engh, 132]


The excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, crowned himself King of Jerusalem after making a deal with Sultan al-Kamul of Egypt. No blood was shed on either side. Pope Gregory IX was so incensed that he suspended all religious services for everyone in Jerusalem. After William returned to Europe, his success forced the Pope to lift his excommunication. [Williams, 2002, 256; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Frederick II"]


Pope Gregory IX established the Holy Office of Inquisition as a separate tribunal answerable only to the Pope. Its law was "guilty until proven innocent." A papal statute decreed burning as a standard penalty. But executions were carried out by civil authorities, not priests, to preserve the church's "sanctity." [Ellerbe, 78; Haught, 1990, 74; McBrien, 212]


"'We would gladly burn a hundred,' boasted an unapologetic Conrad [of Marburg, Inquisitor of Germany], 'if just one among them were guilty.'" [Cohn, Norman, Europe's Inner Demons, New York: Basic Books, 1975. Cited in Kirsch, 59]


Before the Albigensian Crusade, local bishops were responsible for finding heretics and punishing them. During this crusade, Pope Gregory IX sent out delegates with special powers, who were independent of the local bishops. In 1233 he made the Inquisition a permanent body and staffed it primarily with Dominicans and Franciscans. [Bokenkotter, 132]


Dominican inquisitors at Montpelier burned the books written by the Jewish philosopher Maimonides. [Kirsch, 168]


Pope Gregory IX produced "the heads of the apostles Peter and Paul." Also alleged to be kept in the Lateran basilica: "the Ark of the Covenant, the Tablets of Moses, the Rod of Aaron, an urn of manna, the Virgin's tunic, John the Baptist's hair shirt, the five loaves and two fishes from the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the dining-table used at the Last Supper. The nearby chapel of St. Lawrence in the Lateran Palace boasted the foreskin and umbilical cord of Christ...." [Johnson, 1976, 200]


In 1228, Frederick finally brought his crusaders to the Holy Land. There he made a deal with his good friend the sultan al-Kamul. Frederick received Jerusalem, among other things; al-Kamul got permission for Muslims to worship at the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. All this was accomplished without bloodshed.

In 1239, Pope Gregory IX rejected the pact that Emperor Frederick II had made and excommunicated him a second time. He then began a new crusade, this one against the Emperor himself. To get public support for this crusade, the pope displayed the alleged heads of Sts. Peter and Paul. The purpose of the crusade against the emperor was to take over his holdings in Sicily and southern Italy. Latin Christians wondered why they were being taxed to pay for the killing of other Christians.

The pope chose to conduct another crusade to free Jerusalem at the same time. To pay for the two crusades, Gregory doubled the taxes. In addition to the exorbitant taxes, the pope forced those physically unable to go on crusade to pay the full cost for someone else to go. The homes, properties and possessions of those unable to pay were confiscated. Both crusades were unsuccessful. [Williams, 2002, 254-256, 259-261; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Frederick II"]


Pope Gregory IX ferociously persecuted antinomians and other heretics. He also claimed that moral law did not apply to his conduct toward Emperor Frederick II, because he was answerable only to God. [Johnson, 1976, 200]

Of course this position of Gregory's was itself antinomian.


Robert le Bougre, a former Cathar who became a fanatical Dominican, burnt about 180 people at Montwimer in Champagne after a trial lasting less than a week. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Inquisition" and "Cathari"]

A contemporary chronicler praised le Bougre's executions as "a holocaust, very great and pleasing to God." Le Bougre earned the nickname "Hammer of Heretics" from his admiring fellow inquisitors. [Kirsch, 67]


Pope Gregory IX banned the Jewish Talmud. He ordered all European secular authorities to seize all Jewish manuscripts for the Inquisition on the first Saturday in Lent, because the Jews would then be in their synagogues. The inquisitors decided that the Talmud and its commentaries were "perversely heretical" and should be burned.[Kirsch, 168; Johnson, 1987, 217]


Jews were burned at the stake for host desecration in Belitz, Germany. [Haught, 1990, 50]


Innocent IV was elected pope. He was the first pope to authorize torture by the Inquisition, acted on the principle "the end justifies the means" committed nepotism frequently, and used church revenues as if they belonged to him; he also believed popes had authority over the temporal realm "by right." [McBrien, 215]


After the Albigensian crusade, some of the last Cathari in southern France holed up in the fortress of Montségur in the Pyrenees. They resisted a siege by the crusaders for many years, but the fortress finally fell to the Catholic army in 1244. The remaining Cathari survivors (about two hundred) were marched to an open field and burned alive. [Kirsch, 51; Oldenbourg, 362-364]


During the papacy of Innocent IV, a Council at Narbonne decided against leniency or mitigating factors when sentencing heretics. Sickness, old age, children to be orphaned, or leaving families destitute could not be considered. Flagellation of the guilty was mandatory, irrespective of any other punishment that might be imposed. [Ellerbe, 81-82]


Pope Innocent IV granted inquisitors and their underlings absolution for any acts of violence. This made them free from either secular or ecclesiastical jurisdiction. [Ellerbe, 78-79]

Eventually, the Inquisition would defy even a pope (see 1559, below).

Innocent again excommunicated Emperor Frederick II for trying to conquer northern Italy. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Frederick II"]. (McBrien (215) says it was 1248.)


Pope Innocent IV continued Gregory IX's war against Emperor Frederick II. He was probably part of a failed conspiracy to assassinate Frederick. "... the conspirators were blinded, mutilated and burned alive," but that did not deter the pope from continuing to try to get rid of the emperor. [Johnson, 1976, 200]


Possession of a copy of the Jewish Talmud was a crime. [Kirsch, 168]


The seventh crusade was launched by King [St.] Louis IX against Egypt. The crusade failed in its objective, the king was captured and ransomed. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Crusades"]


"Count Raymond VII of Toulouse caused eighty confessed heretics to be burned in his presence without permitting them to recant." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Inquisition"]


From "the speech which Cardinal Hugo made... on the occasion of the departure of [Pope] Innocent IV in 1251 from [Lyons], after a residence of eight years - 'Friends, since our arrival here, we have done much for your city. When we came, we found here three or four brothels. We leave behind us but one. We must own, however, that it extends without interruption from the eastern to the western gate.'" [Lea, 1907, 290-291]


Pope Innocent IV issued the bull Ad extirpanda, which authorized torture. This authorization was not rescinded until 1917, 665 years later. The accused had no rights. Victims were required to implicate family and friends. Even if repentant, their property was confiscated and they spent the rest of their lives in prison. Others were burned at the stake in a ceremony called auto-da-fé ("act of the faith"). [Haught, 1990, 61; Bokenkotter, 132; McBrien, 215]


"Pope Alexander IV (1254-61) ... continued Innocent IV's policy of a war of extermination against the progeny of Frederick II ... and the people rose against the Holy See ... the unity of Christendom was a thing of the past." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Alexander IV"]


The body of an 8-year-old boy was found in the well of a Jew in Lincoln, England. Hysteria was spread by such as the chronicler Matthew Paris, who wrote: "The child was first fattened for 10 days with white bread and milk and then almost all the Jews of England were invited to the crucifixion." 18 Jews were tortured and hanged. [Haught, 1990, 46]


Pope Alexander IV "empowered any inquisitor to absolve any other inquisitor from 'canonical irregularities occurring in the performance of their duties.'" [Kirsch, 83]


Pope Alexander IV, in a bull, "bemoans the fact that the laity were not reformed but corrupted by the clergy." [DeRosa, 410]


Pope Clement IV reigned. He was a widower, even though celibacy for Latin Rite clergy had been required from 1139 on. [McTavish, 93]


"With regard to heretics ... they deserve ... to be severed from the world by death. ... heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.... if heretics be altogether uprooted by death, this is not contrary to Our Lord's command ...."[(St.) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: "Of Heresy" (Article 3)]

"... nothing misbegotten or defective should have been in the first production of things. Therefore woman should not have been made at that first production.

Further, occasions of sin should be cut off. But God foresaw that the woman would be an occasion of sin to man. Therefore He should not have made woman." [(St.) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: "The Production of the Woman" (Article 1)]

It's instructive that a man who wrote that God made a big mistake should achieve sainthood. In 1757 (see below) a Massachusetts Puritan was whipped for saying much the same thing.


The eighth crusade was begun by the king of France, [St.] Louis IX. He landed at Carthage and soon died of disease there. The crusade was a failure. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Crusades"; Wikipedia, "Eighth Crusade"]


Under Pope Gregory X "discussion of any purely theological matter was forbidden." [Ellerbe, 55]


The first witch sentenced by an inquisitor (Hugues de Baniol) was burned to death at Toulouse ("the hot-bed of Catharan infection"). [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Witchcraft"]


"When disputes over tribute payments arose in 1275, the Pope [Gregory X] excommunicated the whole town of Florence." [Ellerbe, 71; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Gregory X"]


Four popes reigned during this year: Gregory X, Innocent V, Hadrian (Adrian) V, and John XXI. [Grun, 178; New American Bible, front matter, no page number]


Roger Bacon, an early scientist, was imprisoned for publishing books and pamphlets containing "suspect innovation" (heresy). [Grun, 178; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Roger Bacon"]


180 Jews were burned in Munich. [Haught, 1990, 46]


King Edward I expelled all Jews from England. [Engh, 137; Kirsch, 242]


The church was without a pope for two years and three months, because the cardinals were split between the Colonna faction and the Orsinis. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Celestine V"]

The "List of the Popes" in the New American Bible (1987) shows that Nicholas IV died in 1291, not 1292 as the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 has it. That would mean the church was without a pope for more than three years.


All Jews in Bern, Switzerland were killed or expelled based on a rumor. [Haught, 1990, 46]


Pope Boniface VIII issued the bull Clericis laicos "which declared all clerical and monastic property in the world to be under his protection and sternly bade secular rulers respect it." [McCabe, 1916, 203]

(This bull was later withdrawn by Pope Clement V, c.1306.)


Pope Boniface VIII destroyed the city of Palestrina, breaking his promise to the Colonna family to preserve it if they surrendered to him. This pope also diverted funds for the crusades to his private war. [Chamberlin, 102-104, 116]


A Nuremberg priest spread a host-nailing story. 628 Jews (including the famous Rabbi Mordecai Hillel) were killed. Rindfliesch, a Bavarian knight, led a brigade which exterminated 146 Jewish villages in six months. [Haught, 1990, 50]




© R. Paul Buchman 2011