During this period, the middle and late thirteenth century, the legal punishment for heretics was death at the stake, apparently a symbolic act to purge the world of the stain of heresy. It had been employed by irate mobs from time to time without benefit of any judicial condemnation. The Romans had earlier applied the flames for a number of crimes (e.g. the burning of many Christians by the Emperor Galerius.) Finally, the already mentioned laws of Frederick II as well as the customary law of the middle of the thirteenth century made the stake the ordinary punishment for heretics. William of Pelhisson, a contemporary chronicler, mentions a number of burnings in the area of Toulouse. In the inquisitorial courts themselves the number of condemned heretics surrendered to the secular arm was rather small in comparison with the number of people convicted of heretical activity. Of the 930 sentences of Bernard Gui in the following century only forty-two were abandoned to the state. By a strange quirk, Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, shortly before he died in 1249, suddenly burned eighty heretics on his own authority!

Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)


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