Publication details

The inquisitorial punishment of belief : a statistical analysis of the effects of social and theological beliefs in Peter Seila’s register of sentences (1241-2)

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SHAW Robert Laurence John HAMPEJS Tomáš ZBÍRAL David

Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description How much did inquisitors actually consider the specifics of the beliefs voiced by alleged religious dissidents in judging guilt? While one might presume that this was a central consideration, it is a relatively common historiographical view that early inquisitors were much more interested in actions - especially ritual actions - than actual statements of belief, and that the latter only gradually gained weight in the minds of those repressing heresy. This paper seeks to put this theory to the test, by subjecting the record of one of the earliest inquisitions - the register of Peter Seila’s inquisition in the Quercy region of Languedoc (1241-2) - to computational analyses. WIth every sentence of the register captured as structured data via Computer-Assisted Semantic Text Modelling (CASTEMO), the relationship between crimes (including beliefs) and penances was evaluated by way of Qualitative Comparative Analysis and multiple regression modelling. The results show that, while ritual actions appear the most powerful drivers of punishment, strong theological statements of belief generated harsher penances than positive social views concerning dissident ministers or their general potential to save souls.
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