An Account of the Inquisition (9/18)

Aegidio, however, had his enemies, and these laid a complaint against him to the inquisitors, who sent him a citation, and when he appeared to it, cast him into a dungeon.

As the greatest part of those who belonged to the cathedral church at Seville, and many persons belonging to the bishopric of Dortois highly approved of the doctrines of Aegidio, which they thought perfectly consonant with true religion, they petitioned the emperor in his behalf. Though the monarch had been educated a Roman Catholic, he had too much sense to be a bigot, and therefore sent an immediate order for his enlargement.

He soon after visited the church of Valladolid, and did every thing he could to promote the cause of religion. Returning home he soon after fell sick, and died in an extreme old age.

The inquisitors having been disappointed of gratifying their malice against him while living, determined (as the emperor’s whole thoughts were engrossed by a military expedition) to wreak their vengeance on him when dead. Therefore, soon after he was buried, they ordered his remains to be dug out of the grave; and a legal process being carried on, they were condemned to be burnt, which was executed accordingly.

The Persecution of Dr. Constantine

Dr. Constantine, an intimate acquaintance of the already mentioned Dr. Aegidio, was a man of uncommon natural abilities and profound learning; exclusive of several modern tongues, he was acquainted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, and perfectly well knew not only the sciences called abstruse, but those arts which come under the denomination of polite literature.

His eloquence rendered him pleasing, and the soundness of his doctrines a profitable preacher; and he was so popular that he never preached but to a crowded audience. He had many opportunities of rising in the Church, but never would take advantage of them; for if a living of greater value than his own was offered him, he would refuse it, saying, “I am content with what I have”; and he frequently preached so forcibly against simony, that many of his superiors, who were not so delicate upon the subject, took umbrage at his doctrines upon that head.

Having been fully confirmed in Protestantism by Dr. Aegidio, he preached boldly such doctrines only as were agreeable to Gospel purity, and uncontaminated by the errors which had at various times crept into the Romish Church. For these reasons he had many enemies among the Roman Catholics, and some of them were fully determined on his destruction.

A worthy gentleman named Scobaria, having erected a school for divinity lectures, appointed Dr. Constantine to be reader therein. He immediately undertook the task, and read lectures, by portions, on the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and was beginning to expound the Book of Job, when he was seized by the inquisitors.

Being brought to examination, he answered with such precaution that they could not find any explicit charge against him, but remained doubtful in what manner to proceed, when the following circumstances occurred to determine them.

Dr. Constantine had deposited with a woman named Isabella Martin, several books, which to him were very valuable, but which he knew, in the eyes of the Inquisition, were exceptionable.

This woman having been informed against as a Protestant, was apprehended, and, after a small process, her goods were ordered to be confiscated. Previous, however, to the officers coming to her house, the woman’s son had removed away several chests full of the most valuable articles; among these were Dr. Constantine’s books.

A treacherous servant gave intelligence of this to the inquisitors, and an officer was despatched to the son to demand the chests. The son, supposing the officer only came for Constantine’s books, said, “I know what you come for, and I will fetch them to you immediately.” He then fetched Dr. Constantine’s books and papers, when the officer was greatly surprised to find what he did not look for. He, however, told the young man that he was glad these books and papers were produced, but nevertheless he must fulfill the end of his commission, which was to carry him and the goods he had embezzled before the inquisitors, which he did accordingly; for the young man knew it would be in vain to expostulate, or resist, and therefore quietly submitted to his fate.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 5

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