Variation and order in the stories of guilt in Peter Seila's register: From Seeing to Belief

The inquisitional register of Peter Seila (1241-2, Languedoc, 9 regional trials) is evidence of a thorough investigation trying to weigh the extent of guilt carefully.  The following visualisation offers global insight into the preserved text of guilt summaries, which contains narrative sequences of individual misdeeds of specific interaction with dissident ministers for 649 persons. We have modelled the crimes in 6 categories of contact. Surprisingly high variation within these sequences reflects careful attention to the individual cases, yet there is also visible underlying order in the sequentiality of the crime. Most of it starts with the narration of physical contact event ("saw heretics") and continues to information exchange ("listen to heretics"), while a substantial amount of guilt summaries end with a socio-moral belief state ("believed heretics are good men"). This suggests a theory in Seila’s mind, an organizing schema - a narrative of descent into heresy.

21 May 2024

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