In the course of the sixteenth century it became the practice increasingly for Rome to be kept minutely informed about developments in the outlying inquisitions, and it was customary for the latter to send detailed reports of trials in progress or completed – and then await instructions before passing sentence. The central tribunal’s quest for uniformity resulted in a series of measures which assigned the final disposition of all but the most ordinary cases to Rome. There are many letters, almost sarcastic in tone, in which members of the Congregation attempt to differentiate for the benefit of the local officials what is ordinary from what is not.

John Tedeschi, The Prosecution of Heresy (1991)


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