“A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages - Volume 1 , by Henry Charles Lea. Finished reading 16 Aug 2008. 4/5 stars
During the span of roughly 600 years, the Catholic Church of western Europe tortured, fined and killed unknown millions of people whom she deemed as 'heretics'. This book describes, in painstaking detail, what political events lead to the Inquisition, what the Catholic Church believed to be heresy, who the 'heretics' were and what they generally believed, and the legal processes involved in their interrogations, trials and executions.
Reading this book, I was struck more often than not at the brutal living conditions, and the constant witch hunts that were conducted during this time. The Middle Ages, no matter what beliefs one held, must have been pure hell on earth.
Lea first published volume 1 of this book in 1887. I have now read several scholarly historical books from the 19th century, and there is something about the style of the times that I resonate with. Lea, like most of his contemporaries, is certainly not afraid of using huge vocabularies or long sentences. It is a style that takes some getting used to, but I quite like it as opposed to many modern authors. Lea sometimes assumes much from his readers, for instance he describes the differences in legal procedures for the Papal Inquisition as oppossed to the Ecclesiastical Inquisition assuming his reader could already draw these distinctions. I could not, and portions of this book left me confused due to my ignorance. Lea thoroughly references his details with sources, but unfortunately nearly all source material is in Latin. Similarly, several papal bulls are included as appendices, but they are also printed in Latin.
If it were not for these deficeincies, I would have given this book 5/5 stars. Otherwise, Lea is highly recommended for those interested in medieval church history.
This book, along with volumes 2 and 3, are available in their entirety on archive.org”
HeIsSailing wrote this review Saturday, August 16, 2008.