Roger Whittaker

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Europe's Inner Demons

Saturday 12th March 2005

The Guardian today has a review by Nicholas Lezard of the reprint of Norman Cohn's "Europe's Inner Demons".

From the review:

One does not want to force the issue, but it is hard, in the light of recent events, not to feel a frisson when we read of how torture was used to obtain the answers required by the powers that be. When someone in Guantanamo confesses to buying surface-to-air missiles in Tipton, he is the latest in a long line of precedent whose early points are witches confessing, under torture, to eating the flesh of unbaptised babies and kissing the devil's anus. And when we read of King Philip the Fair of France and his decision to suppress the Knights Templar (they were too rich and stood in the way of his own imperial ambitions), we may find ourselves raising an eyebrow at this: "Philip could not, however, rely on the operation of ordinary criminal law to produce the desired result; for that, he had to have recourse to the 'inquisitorial' procedure which had been developed for dealing with heretics and which had been perfected by the Inquisition during the previous century."