In 1184, a papal bull was issued in response to the growing number of Cathars. This began the first inquisition, or the Episcopal Inquisition. This attempt to convert the Cathars proved to be unorganized and ineffective. Because the bishops presiding over the inquisitions lived far away from the dioceses over which they governed, the procedures used were futile.
Following the Cathar Crusades, Pope Gregory IX responded to the failures of the previous inquisition with a series of papal bulls in beginning in 1231. Learning from the ineffective disorganization of the preceding inquisition, Gregory resolved to use a thorough and systematic approach, complete with detailed records.
The aftermath of the Cathar Crusade provided an uneasy landscape, and left many with a bitter taste regarding the Catholic Church. Responding to reports that mobs of townspeople had tendencies to burn alleged heretics at the stake with no formal trial, the Pope resolved to change these practices.
The Catholic Church claimed that their purpose for this inquisition was not to harm anyone; rather, they wanted to instruct these heretics and teach the orthodox doctrine – hoping that these individuals would recant and return to the Catholic Church.