Today I have a guest post from author, Tarn Richardson. The second book in his ‘Darkest Hand Trilogy’ is released on the 14th March. Tarn talks about the Catholic Inquisition and Werewolves! Were these savage beasts a product of ex-communication from the Catholic faith? Read on and draw your own conclusions. I always appreciate guest posts, so thanks to Tarn for this great essay! Make sure you pick up this book. It sounds like a doozy!!
Monsters we are, lest monsters we become.
You don’t need to search too far into our past to discover real life horror. Indescribable violence, it’s woven into the fabric of our psyche like the DNA in our genes. It seems that, as a race, we are pre-programmed with this inordinate desire to hurt, hate and discriminate against those we suspect or despise. Our history, both short and long, is littered with the terrible persecution of enemies, miscreants, the discredited and mistrusted.
Among the worst of these offenders was the Catholic Inquisition. By the year 1834 (yes, really that recently!), when the Catholic faith finally drew a line under nearly 700 years of inquisitional persecution and barbaric behaviour by this most cruel of movements, it had targeted and corrected, as a rough guide (the real number is probably much larger), three quarters of a million individuals, all deemed to have fallen from the faith; the heretics, the unclean and the damned.
This persecution ran to, but was not limited to, murder, dismemberment, dislocation, flogging, breaking of limbs, burning by brand and at the stake, beating, suffocation, rape, gouging of eyes, disembowelment, drowning in boiling water, tearing of flesh, butchery of bodies and jellification of limbs by beating.
Correction was rarely limited to the individual under interrogation. To ensure that the impurity of heresy was removed entirely, retribution was often applied to the wider family members of the suspect as well. ‘Root and branch’, the inquisition called it. You didn’t just pluck off the bad seed, you removed the entire plant from producing any more heretics.
We look back on their savagery and barbarity now with revulsion and disbelief, but the Inquisition never saw anything wrong in the way they behaved or the processes they applied. Indeed, it seemed as if most within the Inquisition delighted in the power their rank and position afforded them over their enemies, honoured to act as they did, safe under the assurances they received from their god that these most brutal of actions were demanded by him against those who attempted to lessen his name and corrupt the flock. In essence, monsters they were, lest monsters they became.
This real life savagery is what both terrifies and intrigues and why I love to investigate this mindless (or perhaps it is mindful?) violence in my writing, to look at how quickly we can turn from rational caring human beings to monsters drunk on power and ignorance. This is a horror that doesn’t require an imagination or belief in the unreal or the supernatural. These aren’t wicked spirits summoned from the underworld we are expected to believe in, or rabid beasts from hell, loaded with teeth and claws and a thirst for blood. These are human beings, empowered with a sense of authority, tainted with the bitter taste of injustice and commanded by superiority to commit the most heinous and callous of crimes against their fellow man.
And to then rejoice in the dominance it provides. This misplacement of power, this celebration in ruthless might, this, to me, is true horror.
700 years of Inquisitional rigour sought and burned out heresy and malpractice wherever it was found within Europe and beyond. My idea for the Darkest Hand trilogy was to suggest that the inquisition never in fact ended, but simply went underground, to carry on their work in secret, unmolested or challenged. And during my investigations into the Inquisition, I came upon a startling fact, one that linked the monsters within the Inquisition with monsters within those terrible dark places of the world and our imagination.
Folklore suggests that the Catholic faith had a hand in creating exactly these fantastical horrifying beasts that haunt our nightmares. The theory is that werewolves are the product of Catholic excommunication of high ranking Catholic officials and non-believers, cast down forever into a life of ravenous rage, terror and madness, always snagged by the movements of the moon, trapped within the insatiable blood lust it commands, driven to insanity in penance for the failings of their excommunicated lives when they lived within them.
700 years, 900 if you accept the suggestions that the Inquisition never did end in 1834, is a long time for these monsters to have been created, never dying, ever hungry, clans of werewolves, cast out by civilisation, lurking on the very edges of society, waiting for the moon to rise, shadows to close in and the feeding to begin. For those Inquisitors tasked with cleaning up their masters’ handiwork, their hands are now forever busy. Too busy to be of use for the devil? Maybe, or maybe not?
Tarn Richardson was brought up in a remote house, rumoured to be haunted, in Somerset. He has worked as a copywriter, written mystery murder dinner party games and worked in digital media for nearly twenty years. He lives near Salisbury in England. The Fallen is his follow-up to his debut novel, The Damned, and the second in a series of three featuring tortured Inquisitor Poldek Tacit. It will be published March 14, 2017.
THE FALLEN: The Darkest Hand, Book II by Tarn Richardson
March 14, 2017
Hardcover, $26.95, 320 pages