Spanish Inquisition Key Facts
Spanish Inquisition (–), judicial institution ostensibly established to combat heresy in Spain. In practice, the Spanish Inquisition served to consolidate power in the monarchy of the newly unified Spanish kingdom, but it achieved that end through infamously brutal methods. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church.
Iquisition documents are a goldmine for modern historians who have plunged greedily into them. Thus far, the fruits of that research have made one thing abundantly clear — the myth of the Spanish Inquisition has nothing at all to do with the real thing. The scene is a plain-looking room with a door to the left. A pleasant young man, pestered by tedious and irrelevant questions, exclaims in a frustrated tone, "I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition. Our two weapons are fear and surprise Our three weapons wwas fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency Our four Amongst our weapons I'll come in again.
Anyone not living under a rock for the past 30 years will likely recognize this famous scene from Monty Python's Flying Circus. In these sketches three scarlet-clad, inept inquisitors torture their victims with such instruments as pillows and comfy chairs. The whole thing is funny because the audience knows full well that the Spanish Inquisition was neither inept nor comfortable, but ruthless, intolerant, and deadly.
One need not have read Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum to have heard of the dark dungeons, sadistic churchmen, and excruciating tortures of the Spanish Inquisition. The rack, the iron maiden, the bonfires on which the Catholic Church dumped its enemies by the millions: These are all familiar icons of the Spanish Inquisition set firmly into our culture. This image of the Spanish Inquisition is a useful one for those who have little love for the Catholic Church.
Anyone wishing to beat the Church about the head and shoulders will not tarry long before grabbing two favorite clubs: the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Now on to the other club. In order to understand the Spanish Inquisition, which began in the late 15th century, we must look briefly at its predecessor, the medieval Inquisition. Before we how to make mud bricks at home, though, it's worth pointing out that the medieval world was not the modern world.
For medieval people, religion was not something one just did at church. It was their science, their philosophy, their politics, their identity, and their hope for salvation.
It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community. Medieval Europeans were not alone in this view. It was shared by numerous cultures around the world. The modern practice of universal religious toleration is itself quite new and uniquely Western.
Secular and ecclesiastical leaders in medieval Europe approached heresy in different ways. Roman law equated heresy with treason. Because kingship was God-given, thus making heresy an inherent challenge to royal authority. Heretics divided people, causing unrest and rebellion.
Inqquisition Christian doubted that God would punish a community that allowed heresy to take root and spread.
Kings inqhisition commoners, therefore, had good reason to find and destroy heretics wherever they found them — and they did so with gusto. One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church.
Nothing could be more wrong. In truth, the Inquisition brought order, justice, and compassion to combat rampant secular and popular persecutions of heretics. How to play two headed boy on guitar the people of a village rounded up a suspected heretic and brought him before the local lord, how was he to be judged?
How could an illiterate layman determine if the accused's beliefs were heretical or not? And how were witnesses to be heard and examined? The medieval Inquisition began in when Pope Lucius III sent a list of heresies to Europe's bishops and commanded them to take an active role in determining whether those accused thee heresy were, in fact, guilty.
Rather than relying on secular courts, local lords, or just mobs, bishops were to see to it that accused heretics in their dioceses were examined by knowledgeable churchmen using Roman laws of evidence.
In other words, they were to "inquire" — thus, the term "inquisition. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep that had strayed from the flock.
As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to apl those sheep back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death abot return whah the community. Most people accused of heresy by the medieval Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentence suspended.
Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to whag Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep inquizition purposely departed out of hostility to the flock, there was nothing more that could be done.
Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to the secular authorities. Despite inquisitikn myth, the Church did not burn heretics.
It was what is a bystander effect secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent and even not-so-innocent people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule. Inquissition the power of medieval popes grew, so too did the extent and sophistication of the Inquisition.
The introduction of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the early 13th century provided the papacy with thw corps of dedicated religious willing to devote their lives to the salvation of the world.
Because their order had been created to debate with heretics and preach the Catholic faith, the Dominicans became especially active in the Inquisition. Following the most progressive law codes of the day, the Church in the 13th century formed inquisitorial tribunals answerable to Rome rather than local bishops.
To ensure fairness and uniformity, manuals were written for inquisitorial officials. Bernard Gui, best known today how to read an electric meter the fanatical and evil inquisitor in The Name of the Rosewrote a particularly influential manual. There is no reason to believe that Gui was anything like his fictional portrayal. By the 14th century, the Inquisition represented the best legal practices available.
Inquisition officials were university-trained specialists in law and theology. The procedures were similar to those used in secular inquisitions we call them "inquests" today, but it's the same word. The power of kings rose dramatically in the late Middle Ages. Secular rulers strongly supported the Inquisition because they saw it as an how to make dough for baking way to ensure the religious health of their kingdoms.
If anything, kings faulted the Inquisition for being too lenient on heretics. As in other areas of ecclesiastical control, secular authorities in the late Middle Ages began to take over the Inquisition, removing it from papal oversight. In France, for example, royal officials assisted by legal scholars at the University of Paris assumed control of the French Inquisition. Kings justified this on the belief that they knew better than the faraway pope how best to deal with heresy in their own kingdoms.
These dynamics would help to form the Spanish Inquisition — but there were others as well. Spain was in many ways quite different from the rest of Europe. Conquered by Muslim jihad in the eighth century, the Iberian peninsula had been a place of near constant warfare. Because borders between Muslim and Christian kingdoms shifted rapidly over the centuries, it was in most rulers' interest to practice a xpanish degree of tolerance for other religions.
The ability of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together, called convivencia by the Spanish, was a rarity in the Middle Ages. Indeed, Spain was the most diverse and tolerant place in medieval Europe.
England expelled all of its Jews in Inquiistion did the same in Yet in Spain Jews thrived at every level of society. But it was perhaps inevitable that the waves of anti-Semitism that swept across medieval Europe would eventually find their way into Spain.
Envy, greed, and gullibility led to rising tensions between Christians and Jews in the 14th century. During the summer ofurban mobs in Barcelona and other towns poured into Jewish quarters, rounded up Jews, and gave them how to do acrylic painting step by step choice of baptism or death.
Most took baptism. The king of Aragon, who had done his best to stop the attacks, later reminded his subjects of well-established Church doctrine on the matter of forced baptisms — they don't count. He decreed that any Jews who accepted how to view mpo files to avoid death could return to their religion.
But most of these new converts, or conversosdecided to remain Imquisition. There were many reasons for this. Some believed that apostasy made them unfit to be Jewish. Others worried that returning to Judaism would leave them vulnerable to future attacks. Still others saw their baptism as a way to avoid the increasing number of restrictions and taxes imposed on Jews.
As time passed, the conversos settled into their new religion, becoming just as pious as other Catholics. Their children were baptized at birth and raised as Catholics.
But they remained in a cultural netherworld. Although Christian, most conversos still spoke, dressed, and ate like Jews. Many continued to live in Jewish quarters so as to be near family members. The presence of conversos had the effect of Christianizing Spanish Judaism.
This in turn led to a steady stream of voluntary conversions to Catholicism. In a debate was held in Tortosa between Christian and Jewish leaders.
The Inquisition at its peak
The Spanish Inquisition was a judicial institution that lasted between and Its ostensible purpose was to combat heresy in Spain, but, in practice, it resulted in consolidating power in the monarchy of the newly unified Spanish kingdom. Its brutal . Apr 26, · The Spanish Inquisition was a tribunal court system used by the Catholic Church to oppress and punish heretics. Based on Roman Law, the inquisitorial system differed from other court systems as the courts themselves tried the accused. Today, the Spanish Inquisition is remembered as one of the most brutal events in history. Apr 11, · The Spanish Inquisition, just like the whole Catholic Inquisition, was installed to combat heresy. Spain had spent years driving out the Islamic Moors, who had ruled the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. Not only were their still many Muslims in Spain, they also had a large Jewish population, despite their best efforts to persecute them.
In talking with audiences about my new book, " God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World ," I've found that the same questions come up over and over. Here are the Top I know what the word "Inquisition" means, even use the word myself sometimes, but my history is shaky.
What does it refer to? It was a means used by the Church to enforce orthodoxy. Inquisitors would go out into troublesome regions, question people intensively, conduct tribunals and mete out punishments, sometimes harsh ones, like burning at the stake. Depending on the time and place, the targets were heretics, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, rationalists and sometimes people who held superstitious beliefs.
The Inquisition everyone has heard of is the Spanish Inquisition, but there was more than one Inquisition, and the earliest, at the start of the 13th century, wasn't in Spain. And although Jews were sometimes the focus of that first Inquisition, as they primarily were in Spain, the more urgent targets were Christian heretics in the south of France and northern Italy. No one really knows. The inquisitors were excellent record-keepers -- at times truly superb. One surviving document gives the expenses for an execution down to the price of the rope used to tie the victims' hands.
But a lot of the records have been lost. An estimate that has wide credibility among historians is that about 2 percent of those who came before Inquisition tribunals were burned at the stake, which would mean several tens of thousands of people. The rest suffered lesser punishments. Roughly years. The official start is usually given as A. At the outset, the main focus was on Jews and "judaizers" -- Christian converts of Jewish ancestry who were accused of secretly adhering to Judaism.
The Roman Inquisition, created to fight the Reformation, and run from the Vatican, doesn't come to an end until the 20th century. Does it survive in any form? I sometimes hear about theologians today getting into trouble. The Vatican's Congregation of the Inquisition was formally abolished in -- but it may be more correct to say it was renamed. It was turned into the Holy Office, which in the s became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It occupies the palazzo built for the Inquisition in the middle of the 16th century.
And it's still the department that keeps an eye on what theologians write, sometimes calling them on the carpet. Does the Inquisition explain why Spain in some ways took longer to modernize than France or England? Historians do ask this question, but you'll get different opinions. The "yes" answer will point to the wholesale expulsion from Spain in of many thousands of Jews -- people who were often highly educated professionals.
And it will point to the attempted suppression, over centuries, of intellectual inquiry of all kinds. The same kind of suppression occurred in Italy. The problem is figuring out how effective the suppression really was, not to mention disentangling the influence of the Inquisition from other factors.
Bottom line, though: No one argues that the Inquisition was a force for enlightenment. Did Torquemada himself have Jewish ancestry? Historians have looked into this pretty carefully. The consensus seems to be that Tomas de Torquemada, who directed the Spanish Inquisition in its earliest and bloodiest years, did not have Jewish ancestry, but other members of his extended family probably did.
This wouldn't have been unusual in Spain. Over the centuries there was considerable mixing among Christians, Muslims and Jews, especially in the higher ranks. When I think "Inquisition," I think "torture" -- is that real or is it a myth?
Torture was an integral part of the inquisitorial process, mainly to extract confessions -- just as it was part of the systems used by secular courts of the time.
Modern historians explain that the Church tried to regulate torture, establishing clear guidelines for its use. Unfortunately, limitations on torture never really work -- that's one lesson from the Inquisition, and from the recent American experience.
It's never hard to justify applying a little more physical coercion once you've decided that physical coercion is fine to begin with. Medieval inquisitors, limited to one session of torture per person, sometimes conducted a second or third or fourth, arguing that it was just a "continuance" of the first. Is waterboarding torture? Vice President Dick Cheney called waterboarding "a dunk in the water.
The inquisitors believed that waterboarding was torture. That's why they used it. It was created by the Roman Inquisition to deal with the onslaught of books -- many of them advancing ideas the Church didn't like -- made possible by the printing press, and over the centuries the Index grew and grew. It existed for a very long time -- it wasn't abolished until The impulse to criticize still has some life.
A decade ago Josef Ratzinger expressed concern over the "subtle seductions" of Harry Potter. The "Making of the Modern World" part of your title -- what's the argument?
The Inquisition was based on intolerance and moral certainty. It tried to enforce a particular view, often with violent means.
There's nothing new about hatred and persecution; human beings have been very good at this for millennia. What's new about the Inquisition is that persecution is institutionalized. It persists for generation after generation.
That requires organizational tools that were being newly developed in the Middle Ages. How do you create and manage a bureaucracy? How do you collect information and organize it in a way so that you can find what you need? How do you discover what people are doing and thinking?
We take the ability to do all these things for granted. When you look at the Inquisition, you see these capabilities coming into existence. You see the world becoming modern. US Edition U. Coronavirus News U. Politics Joe Biden Congress Extremism. Special Projects Highline. HuffPost Personal Video Horoscopes.
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Circa , Heretics are tortured and nailed to wooden posts during the Inquisition.