DISSINET’s article on sentencing in early inquisition trials published in Historical Methods

Despite the popular image of heretics being sent to be burnt at the stake, patterns of sentencing in medieval inquisition processes were much more varied, with a wide array of sanctions employed. Inquisitors themselves, however, left very little in the way of sentencing guidelines. In a recently published open access article, DISSINET authors use computational methods to reveal how sentences were decided in one of the earliest inquisitions for which records survive.

9 Nov 2023

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Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, ranking in the first decile in Web of Science (Social Sciences Citation Index / History) has published our article Modeling systems of sentencing in early inquisition trials: Crime, social connectivity, and punishment in the register of Peter Seila (1241–2), available online in open access. In this piece, we apply formal methods to the Languedocian inquisition register of Peter Seila (1241-2), captured as structured data via Computer-Assisted Semantic Text Modelling (CASTEMO), to show how different forms of action and social contact influenced the sentencing of medieval religious dissidents. Bringing together multiple analytical perspectives, including those provided by Qualitative Comparative Analysis and multiple linear regression, we demonstrate that the early inquisitor Peter Seila weighed criminal actions and interactions with dissident ministers systematically when applying penances. It also shows that “guilt by association” – i.e., accomplicity and kinship among the sentenced – did not sway his decision-making.

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