What did it mean for a person to be called a heretic in the 14th century?
The Church had a great influence over a person’s life in the 14th century, especially in Europe. Most people were religious and obeyed the Bible and the Church completely. A heretic was considered during those times as being a person who opposed the teachings of the Bible and who was against the Church and thus that person was seen as a threat by the Church and by the state. Being considered a heretic was dangerous then because a person could be sentenced to death because of it. When the Church called the Emperor a heretic, the implications were far greater since the Church had the power to turn the people against the Emperor through this label.
What was the Inquisition?
The Inquisition was the name given to a group of people who starting from the 12th century, tried to combat heretics in various countries in Europe, including France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The Inquisition questioned those who converted to Catholicism from various other faiths and who were suspected of still practicing their old religion in secret. The Inquisition also conducted the witch trials during which women who were accused of being witches were questioned and sometimes torture. If a person was found guilty, then the person in question risked being killed or sent to prison for life.
Who were the Spiritualists?
On the first day, Adso mentions a man named Ubertino of Casale, a person who sought refuge in the unnamed abbey where the action takes place. The reason why Ubertino of Casale lived in the abbey was because he was hunted by the Pope who wanted to kill him. The reason why the Pope wanted to kill him was because he was a Spiritualist. A Spiritualist was a person who did not agreed with the opulent life-style of the Church and who believed that the Church should be simple and not over ornamented like it ended up being in the time when the action takes place. The reason why Ubertino’s life was in danger was because through his ideas, he contested the authority of the Church while also questioning the Pope’s motives for acting the way he did.
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