Inquisition (Western Church)
(This page describes the Inquisition of the Unified Western Church. See Lunar Inquisition for the organization of the similar name in the Lunar Empire)
Role & Responsibility
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who shall watch the watchers themselves?)
The Inquisition is charged to stand vigilant outside the the Sects and Orders of the Unified Western Church, investigating and reviewing the creeds and doctrines of the many and varied groups, ensuring doctrinal harmony, and guarding against corruption within the Church itself.
In a few areas where the Church possesses strong temporal authority the Inquisition's role may extend to more generally assuring harmony within the community at large, and the prosecution of acts of black magic, but its major focus is still the internal policing of the Church, and many in the Inquisition prefer to leave external matters to other Church groups.
The Inquisition is accorded the same status and dignity as a normal Order, but because of its unique role it is structured in a less traditional manner.
The leader of the Inquisition (who bears the title Inquisitor-General), is selected by the Conclave of Bishops and reports directly to the Archbishop. Historically the master of the Inquisition has most often been by a Senior Chapter Master or Bishop of the Gabrielite or Urielite Sect.
Most members of the Inquisition are seconded from the major Sects of the Church, serving for 1-2 years before returning to their own Sect and Order. Some serve as investigators, others as prosecutors, interrogators, lawyers, and doctrinal philosophers, with the Michaeline and Raphaelite orders also contributing guards and soldiers. In recent times a few Sammaelites have been admitted to the Inquisition, something that has helped integrate the young sect, but is still an area of contention with some of the more extreme Michaeline Orders.
The Inquisition was created by the Council of Vallon in 405 WK at the time when the the Gabrielites joined the Triple-Church (comprising the Urielites, Michaelines and Raphaelites), creating the Unified Western Church.
Much of the poor reputation that seems to dog the Inquisition dates from its early years following the death of Frederick Aladar, and the ascension of the two Norden Kings: Eirikir Bloodaxe and his son Sigurd the Mage-Hater. Both used the Church, and the Inquisition in particular, to suppress opposition to their rule and draconian policies.
This oppression reached its height in 421 WK, when with the death of his father, (and blaming the king's demise on malefic magics cast by Eirikir's enemies), Sigurd passed the so-called Black Edict banning all "wiccecræft and wǣrlogaia, necyomancy, dæmonology, astrology, alkemie, occultism, herbalism, mummery, and all other yfel magicks and unholy powers" within the Western Kingdom on pain of death, and charging the Inquisition to enforce the ban.
In the less than 30 months of Sigurd's reign some 10,000 magical adepts, hedge witches, alchemists, apothecaries, healers, charlatans, and mimes were arrested, tried, and executed by agents of the Inquisition.
With the overthrow of Sigurd in 423 WK and the repeal of the Black Edict by Albert Vladislav, the Inquisition (and Church as a whole) entered a considerable period of restructuring and reflection, with a number of senior clergy (many of whom had been appointed to positions of power under the previous kings) being expelled from the Order. It took many years for the Inquisition to regain their reputation and dark rumours of disappearances and overly zealous interrogation have followed the Order ever since.
Since the time of Sigurd the Inquisition has usually concentrated more on internal church matters and less on secular concerns, although in some areas (such as Mordeaux) they are still involved in the prosecution of Black Mages. Much of the internal resistance within the Inquisition to prosecuting matters external to the Church stems from this period, and a desire never to return to the days of the Black Edict.
After the breakup of the Old Kingdom, and throughout the Interregnum they were an important cohesive force in the fractured church, providing communication between the groups and attempting to minimize doctrinal divergence. Much of the credit for the rapid resurgence of the Church in the New Kingdom can be credited to the Inquisition's efforts to ensure the Church remain a single structure despite its Sects and Orders lying within various sovereign domains and at times even finding themselves in conflict when secular allegiances were at odds with religious ones.
Despite their best efforts rumours and suspicion dog the Order even today, and not always without cause. During the War against the Dark Circle, with many Church knights stationed in Carzala, reports arose of people being abducted by Inquisition agents and troops (who had no secular authority in Carzala) and transported to Mordeaux for trial. Some of those taken were Carzalan citizens, and after Duke Leto became involved the matter was swiftly resolved. This activity does not appear to have been sanctioned by the head of the Inquisition, and is believed to have been the work of a very small number of Inquisitors, acting well outside their authority, and who were severely censured for it.