Free Essay

Spanish Inquisition

In: Historical Events

Submitted By dag53
Words 5419
Pages 22
The Spanish Inquisition
In 1469, the marriage of Ferdinand V of Aragon to his cousin Isabella of Castile united the two most powerful provinces of Spain (Hauben, 23). During this time, Spain was becoming one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Much of Spain’s wealth was contributed by the Jewish population, which was very successful during this time period because of Christian church laws against usury, which is an illegal practice of charging unfair rates on loans. Prejudice against the Jews and strong feelings of anti-Semitism had also grown during this time, especially after a riot on Ash
Wednesday (March 15,1391), started by a Spanish archdeacon named Martinez. Martinez called out to all Spanish citizens to “purge themselves of the filthy Jews”. Martinez incited his congregation to riot. The crowd moved enmasse towards the Juderia (Jewish quarter). Some of the participants were captured by the police and flogged or beaten, but that was not enough to stop the mob. Although they did not succeed that day to destroy the Jews, the feelings that Martinez had evoked lay simmering until June 6th when the mob sacked the Juderia of Seville. It is believed that the victims numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands (C. Roth, 1964). The estimated number of victims for the riot is said to be a little over one thousand. After this ordeal, a number of Jews, called conversos, professed themselves as Christians to escape persecution. Many Christians were questioning the validity of these conversos as they began to grow in Spanish society. Many Christians believed that the conversos were not true to the faith and were acting blasphemous and deserved expulsion from Spain. In 1478, the Christians of Spain received the proof that they had wanted all along. A young man was courting a young Jewish girl. The young man was going to visit the young girl when he happened to stumble upon a congregation of Jews and conversos partaking in a “mysterious celebration”. This celebration was, in fact, the Jewish Passover. This issue was made even worse because the Passover occurred at the same time as the Catholic Holy Week. A few months later, after strong pleas from the Spanish Church, Pope Sixtus issued a Papal Bull, a letter from the pope to all Christian countries, giving authority to an Inquisition (Slade, 3); however, the Spanish Crown was given authorization (Lea, The Inquistion 443).
The expulsion of Judaism was only a pretext, not the true reason of the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition; Ferdinand and Isabella had ulterior motives (Slade, 3). Ferdinand was a devious king and wished to destroy local autonomy throughout Spain. He saw the Inquisition as a vehicle for furthering centralization and extending his political control. Ferdinand also saw the opportunity to force those imprisoned during the Inquisition to hard labor. The Spanish crown also had the chance to accumulate more wealth by retaking goods and property of the accused peoples. Both Ferdinand and Isabella had a strong religious piety and supported religious reform in Spain. They saw Jews, Muslims, and Protestants as big threats against the Catholic Church and its well being (Hauben, 17-18). Isabella was even to have vowed during her youth to eliminate the entire Jewish population in Spain if given the crown. This thought and idea of racial purity was very popular with Spanish Catholics who were fed up with Jews earning most of Spain’s income and establishing themselves in society. In 1478, Isabella I and Ferdinand officially established the Spanish Inquisition and went on their intense manhunt to rid Spain of all heretics.
The Inquisition was run by the Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition, also known as the Suprema. They had jurisdiction in all matters of heresy and blasphemy. An Inquisitor General was selected by the crown to supervise the meetings of the Suprema and lead the entire inquisition. In 1483, Isabella I elected the Dominican monk Tomas de Torquemada as the Inquisitor General. Torquemada was a fervent Catholic who had a very paranoid and bold belief that non-Catholics posed a threat to destroy the Church and the country of Spain. (Hauben, 19-21).
Thirteen local tribunals were set up all around Spain and were controlled by the Suprema. In each of these tribunals, there were two or three inquisitor-judges, a prosecutor, secretaries, and theological consultants. These local tribunals had dual duties of being judicial and enforcement. Unlike judicial courts, these tribunals had the right of investigation. Inquisitors issued Edicts of Faith, which were miniature questionnaires given to Christians under the threat of excommunication in order to denunciate heretics that visited each tribunal every year. When the tribunal saw something suspicious or something suspicious was reported, it would publish an Edict of Grace, which allowed a period of thirty to forty days to all those who wished to come forward to confess their sin. Confessors were usually pardoned or only given a light sentence. There was a catch, however: those who confessed must reveal his or her accomplices (23-25). This tactic essentially made the Christian society spies for the tribunals, which ended up creating less work for the tribunal. Once the period of the Edict of Grace ended, those who were accused had their possessions taken by the state and were brought to trial (Lea, Religious History 445).
The tribunal followed a strict “guilty until proven innocent” policy in court. The only way a person could save oneself from being convicted is if he or she made a list of personal enemies, and if it contained any of the accusers, then their evidence was discontinued. However, the biggest problem in thos legal procedure was that the accused never knew the identity his accusers and their witnesses. The accused was given a court appointed counselor, whose purpose was to convince the accused to make a sincere confession (25). If a confession was made, a punishment was dependent on the gravity of the offence. For example, in a case in Sevilla, a smith had the habit of saying: “May all of the apostles and their chief die in Heaven and six miles around it if anyone should happen to have gone out for asparagus, or whatever he might get a hold of.” This was considered blasphemy and he was sentenced to a public flogging, which was surprisingly only considered a mild punishment (Henningsen, Gustav, and Amiel 103). The most serious offense would be the practice of Judaism, Protestantism, Islam, or anything non-Catholic. A person accused of practicing these religions would be killed or expelled from the country. In 1492, Spain issued an Edict of Expulsion, which allowed for the expulsion of all Jews from Spain (Slade, 3). If any Jews were left in the country, they were instantly persecuted or imprisoned. Interestingly enough, many of the Jews that were imprisoned were sent to work on Christopher Columbus’ armada of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, which is commonly known for its discovery of America in 1492.
Very often, if the accused did not confess, the court would use torture to garner one. These torture tactics were administered by Torquemada in 1483 and are the most famous aspects of the Inquisition. The two most popular torture devices were the strappado or pulley and the aselli or water torture. The strappado was a device that used ropes to strap a person by their arms and legs, and then weights were attached to the ends of these ropes. The person was raised to a certain level and then the ropes were released. This would make the body stretch painfully, sometimes enough to produce death. The aselli was when as a person was brought to lay down on a trestle with sharp edged spikes and strapped with an iron band. Their feet would be above their heads. Using a jar, water would be poured into the mouth and nose, producing a state of near-suffocation. Then, the cords binding the person to the trestle would be tightened until it seemed that the tortured person’s veins would explode (4). If a confession after torture is heinous enough then that person was sent to die at an auto de fe, Portuguese for “act of faith.” An auto de fe was a public execution, in which the sentence of the accused was announced along with a large celebration. The heretic was then burned at the stake to instill shock, awe, and fear of the Inquisition into the minds of the Faithful. The auto de fe’s became a depressing favorite with the public (Hauben, 25).
The auto de fe had an concealed motive, however. The purpose of the auto de fe was the church law that forbid the church to have a direct involvement in death or even the slightest shedding of blood (Lea, Religious History 345). As a result, the church “relaxed” or handed over the guilty to the secular authorities. Once handed over to secular authorities, they would be killed almost immediately. The victim’s families were also constantly harassed and were not safe from threats until they left the country (Sheriden, 268).
It is truly amazing that the Inquisition lasted over three hundred years and nine monarchs came into power during that span. Charles V, grandson of Ferdinand I, was convinced that the Inquisition was the only way to “prevent the heresy of Luther from penetrating into Spain.” Charles II kept the Inquisition because during his reign, Spain and Portugal briefly reunited. Working together they were successful in rounding up thousands of Jews who fled to Portugal. Lastly, Charles IV supported the Inquisition because it was a means of suppressing the possibility of a revolution. He greatly feared a revolution, like the one that took place in France during his reign (Hauben, 34). The Spanish Inquisition was broken up in 1808, however, when the French invaded Spain, but it was not completely suppressed until 1834 (37).
The Spanish Inquisition is generally a morbid and ignored part of Spanish and Catholic history for good reason. The actual statistics of those who died in the Inquisition is startling; before recent research found old manuscripts and recordings of the number of cases, the number hovered around three hundred thousand, with eighty-four thousand of these burned at the stake. Juan Antonio Llorente, a Spanish historian and self-professed liar, gave these figures to the Church (“The Spanish Inquistion, 3). Historians have found that the total number of cases is around forty-five thousand (Henningsen, Gustav, and Amiel 111-20). Either way you look at it, the Inquisition was a dark point of history in an otherwise rather glorious past for Spain. Approximately 200,000 Jews left Spain and its territories during the 320 years the Spanish Inquisition spanned. As a result, Spain lost a very large percentage of its population. The expulsion of the Jews also expelled most of Spain’s wealthiest taxpayers. As a result, Spain suffered a great financial loss, which they have yet to recover completely recover from. Not only that, Spain was one of the few diverse European countries, housing Jews, Moors, and many other ethnicities. After the ethnic purging of the Inquisition, however, Spain has become a very homogenous state (Peers, 54).
Not only did Spain lose its greatest source of income, it also suffered a great lose in the arts. The Inquisition slowed progress in arts and technology due to the general public’s fear of the repercussions of the creation of an invention or idea that was looked negatively by the crown (Henningsen, Gustav, and Amiel 134). When the majority of the Moors and Jews left Spain, they brought their pottery and glass-welding skills with them. Much of the beautiful and renowned Moorish architecture is no more in Spain, but much of it can be found places east of Spain such as Sicily and also in the West with some in Portugal. After the Inquisition, the Jews, Moors, and Muslims made a mass exodus to countries east of Spain, especially since the brief reunification of Spain and Portugal made it unsafe to reside in Portugal. The exiled ethnic groups, Moors and Jews in particular, flourished in Italy and other Eastern European countries. In fact, the Moorish glass-welding technique has been a staple in Italian art and jewelry for more than five hundred years (Peers, 113).
Many of the racial overtones that fueled the Spanish Inquisition still exist in Spain today. There have even been reports of small towns conducting “mini-Inquisitions” in which the townspeople torture and kill those who ere accused of heresy, especially Protestantism (“The Spanish Inquisition, 3). The Catholic Church declines to acknowledge these rumors, but it does argue that since Spain is 99% Catholic. It should be expected that bigotry will occur between Catholics and a conflicting religion. The Church, however, does acknowledge that the Inquisition was a grave mistake, but it also states that many of the statistics and reports of torture were greatly falsified and exaggerated (Sheridan, 259-60).
Many historians agree with the Church’s claim that the statistics are exaggerated. Some even say that there were not enough Jews, Moors and Protestants in Spain to account for the number of them tortured and killed. Recently, the Nation of Islam, a radical sect of the Muslim religion, published a book that questions the actual existence of the Spanish Inquisition. They further contend that the Spanish Crown and the Jews were on amicable terms and even traded Black slaves with each other. The book also accuses the Jews of bigotry and racism against Africans and the black race (Hunt, 1).
The Inquisition proved to be Spain’s biggest mistake, as its wealth has ceased since its suppression in the 19th century. It is one of the darkest periods in Spanish history. By far, the greatest number of cases tried was for Judaism (Peers, 54). These were also the cases that were tried the most severely. Although, it can be said that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella executed the Spanish Inquisition for the purity of faith and state, the materialistic and religious desires of the crown, aristocracy, and church certainly factor into the reasons for the perpetuation of the Inquisition (Slade, 3). If there is one lesson to be learned from the Inquisition, it is to never tolerate prejudice, bigotry, and greed in any form. In retrospect, it seems very naïve and ignorant to allow for Spain to let its pride overshadow simple humanity. Hopefully, Spain would have learned its lesson by now, but judging from the utter hatred that modern Spain had practiced against different religions, it seems that they have not. The Spanish Inquisition is known for the terror it caused the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula. Although the Inquisition originally began to purify the nation from heretics, it came to have more materialistic, racial, and political motives, instead of just purification. The beginning of the Inquisition is generally credited to the reign of Ferdinand V and Isabella. In truth, it began before that time, and carried on long after Ferdinand and Isabella passed away. In order to better understand the Inquisition and the reasons behind it, it is necessary to first examine the events that led up to it. They are often associated with wealth and with being a plague to the society to which they belong. Fourteenth-century Spain was no different. When Ferdinand V and Isabellawere married, it united Aragon and Castille, the two most powerful states in Spain. At the time, Spain was on the verge of becoming one of the wealthiest nations of the period. A large part of that was due to the Jewish community. After their ordeal with Archdeacon Martinez, many Jews had professed to believe in Christianity to free themselves from persecution. It is doubtful, however, that many of the conversos, as they were to become known, were truly converted to the Christian faith. However, these conversos came to enrich and perhaps dominate almost every aspect of Spanish society (Roth, 1964). The problem was that the Jews were getting all of the things the non-Jewish, Catholic people wanted. The Jews were able to gain wealth and positions of power and authority in the kingdom as new Christians. The Catholics, however, could not do anything to them because these new Christians were at least in profession Christian. The hierarchy of the Spanish church became concerned with the reports of heresy of some of its new members. Then in 1478, the time came that the "true Christians" had been waiting for. A young cavalier, who was trying to court a Jewish girl, went to meet the girl and came upon a group of Jews and conversos in some mysterious celebration. That night was the Jewish Passover, and the assembled had come together to celebrate it. The problem was further exacerbated because that week was also the Holy Week for the Catholic church. News spread quickly of the blaspheme that had been done. A few months later, at the urging of the heads of the Spanish church, Pope Sixtus issued a Papal Bull giving authority for an Inquisition. However, the authorization was actually given to the Spanish crown. They were to be the ones who would appoint the bishops to complete the Inquisition. Thus, the Spanish Inquisition was founded to purify the nation from heretics (Roth, 1964). Although purification was the original intent for the Inquisition, it came to have more materialistic, racial, and political motives, which led to the terror for which it is infamous. The Spanish Inquisition was executed at the request of Isabella. She was a very pious and devout Catholic. One of her advisors, who would later become the first General Inquisitor, was Thomas de Torquemada. A rumor exists that while advising the queen in her youth, Thomas had her take a vow that should she ever reach the throne, she would devote herself to the termination of heresy and the persecution of the Jews (Roth, 1964), which at the time seemed unlikely. Now, however, she was in a position to do what she had vowed to do. Besides, the queen had already said she wanted "one country, one ruler, one faith" (N. Dirksen and M. Johnson, The Spanish Inquisition's Effect on the Church, 1996).the Catholic sovereigns were determined to have a united country, and they did not believe this ambition could be achieved unless all their subjects accepted one religion. This they were determined to bring about through persuasion, ifpossible, and if not, by force. Spain under Isabella and Ferdinand was ripe for the Inquisition; that was why the cruel institution was embraced so heartily and continued to survive until the nineteenth century (J. Plaidy, The Spanish Inquisition, 1967, p.86).
It is likely that Isabella truly wanted to end heresy within the Catholic faith. Ferdinand, however, was not as pious as his wife and probably saw the opportunity for wealth. It is highly likely that some of Spain's early triumphs abroad and at home were financed through the Spanish Inquisition. This idea of financing without increasing taxes could be seen as Machiavellian in nature. Machiavelli suggested that in order for a ruler to hold his principality, he must not overburden his people with taxes, yet he must not spendall of his funds either, or he would risk not being able to finance the maintenance of his kingdom (N. Machiavelli, The Prince, 1965). It is not likely, however, that Machiavelli would have been pleased with the attitude that the "Catholic Kings" had produced in their subjects.The Spanish Inquisition was particularly terrifying because of its inherent characteristics. The accused never knew who their accusers were. Once arrested, the accused heretic's properties were seized. These properties were then administered at first by the Crown, and later by the General Inquisitor. This fostered the means for anyone to accuse for personal reasons, or to get gain. In many areas, ". . . men began to wonder whether a man's worldly wealth, as well as his descent, was now become [sic] an incriminating circumstance" (Roth, 1964, p. 60). The Inquisition certainly did not limit itself to purifying only those of the Jewish faith. This was especially true if the accused was found to have any Jewish blood in his ancestry. Even if the accused was now a devout Christian, he was tried as severely as possible because of his roots. The accused was also not allowed to have a lawyer or counsel for his defense, and the names of all witnesses were kept secret from him (Roth, 1964).The punishments and tortures used to gain confessions are the most famous parts of the Inquisition. Because the trials were for spiritual matters, the Church handled them. However, the punishments were usually very much physical, so they were handled by the state. There were many means of this physical torture for confession. The two most famous or infamous were the strappado or pulley, and the aselli or water torment. The strappado was a device that used ropes to strap a person in by their arms and legs, and then weights were attached to the ends of these ropes. The person was raised to a certain level and then the ropes were released. This created a situation where the body would be stretched painfully, sometimes enough to produce death (see Figure 1). The aselli was accomplished as a person was brought to lay down on a trestle with sharp-edged rungs and secured with an iron band. Their feet would be elevated above their heads. The accused then had a small piece of linen forced into the gullet. Using a jar (jarra), water would be poured into the mouth and nose producing a state of semi suffocation. The process would be done repeatedly. While doing that process, the cords binding the limbs would be tightened until it would seem the very veins would explode (Roth, 1964). The torture would not be stopped, but a break could be taken. The difference is that if the torture were stopped, it could not be started again according to church law. But, if the torture was only suspended, it could be resumed at a later time.
The tortures were used on old and young alike to get confessions and to learn of accomplices. In this way, the Spanish tried to ensure they would be pure. Once a confession was reached, if it was heinous enough, the perpetrator would be sentenced to death.The sentence of death was carried out as the accused was thrown into a fire as an auto de fe (act of faith). The fire was reserved for those who would not admit their heresy, those who relapsed in their heresies, and to other dissenters. The guilty were burned because the church believed they (the church) should not be a direct party in the shedding of blood. To remain free of blood, the church "relaxed" or handed over the guilty to the secular arm. Once handed over, the church would recommend mercy with the qualifier that if the accused was guilty, they be punished by death. It was understood that the secular authorities would immediately condemn those with "relaxed" status to death (Roth, 1964). If the guilty were fortunate enough to die in the prisons instead, they and their families were still not safe. Their dead bodies, along with effigies of those that had escaped to other lands, would be taken along with the living and thrown into the fire. This allowed the lands of all of those people to be confiscated, if that had not already been done. There truly was no escape from the fanaticism of the Spanish Inquisition.It has been suggested that this was an ethnic, as well as religious, purification. The difference between the Spanish Inquisition and the Papal Inquisition was that the Spanish Inquisition was turned over to secular authorities. The secular authorities were the ones who were in charge of the maintenance and perpetuation of the Inquisition. It was therefore a primary instrument of Spanish absolutism. Moreover, its independent status enabled it to amass wealth, heaped up by repeated confiscations, and this in itself rendered it a force to be reckoned with in the affairs of the country (Roth, 1964, p. 73). From the actions of the Spanish Inquisition, it is apparent it was an ethnic cleansing. The Spanish Inquisition and its actions caused 200,000 loyal, but Jewish, Spaniards to leave the country. Surely, the Spanish Inquisition was about more than just religious purity.The crown gained in many ways due to the SpanishInquisition. Ferdinand and later monarchs were able to use the guilty as rowers for their war ships. Also, besides increasing in wealth because of the Inquisition, the Spanish crown gained a certain amount of control over the Catholic church in Spain. Because Pope Sixtus gave the authority to the crown, the Catholic church lost some authority and control of Spain.In summary, the Inquisition in Spain began in 1478 and officially ended in 1808. During that time, 323,362 people were burned and 17,659 were burned in effigy. It is one of the darkest periods in Spanish history. By far, the greatest number of cases tried were for Judaising (Roth, 1964). These were also the cases that were tried the most severely. There were other minorities, of course, that were persecuted, but the majority were Jews. The Inquisition definitely had racial overtones. Although, it can be said that Queen Isabella officially initiated the Spanish Inquisition for the purity of faith, nation, and people, this is probably not the case. The materialistic desires of the aristocracy certainly factor into the reasons for the perpetuation of the Inquisition.The inquisition is likemost other dark periods of history. It was primarily brought on because of prejudices and greed. When one people excel within a society and they make up the minority, they historically are labeled as scapegoats for the problems of the rest of society. The Renaissance period was obviously the same. It seems strange that in the history of man we still have not found a way to deal with our own petty jealousies.
The Spanish Inquisition persecuted and discriminated against minorities in the Iberia Peninsula who opposed to the practice and ideologies of the Catholic Church. Between 1480 to 1834, the Spanish Inquisition was placed under the authority of the royal power in Spain; the Inquisition was created in order to resolve the particular problem presented by the presence of thousands of converted Jews in the Iberian Peninsula. At the same time, the inquisition extended its authority to other minorities and become implanted in other geographical regions. This “institution” operated and was expanded to other territories under the crown of Castile—the Canaries and the territories ruled by viceroys and Peru (24, 25). Joseph Pérez not only described by summarizing the contents of this “regime,” but also his main thesis and interpretation are based on criticizing the origins of anti-Semitism, how the Spanish Inquisition “defended” against Jews, Muslims, Protestantism, and witchcraft. Also, Pérez continues his thesis and interpretations when he argued against the trials and organization of “the Holy Office”—the Inquisition. Finally, Pérez reinforced his main thesis by arguing and comparing the Spanish Inquisition with modern regimes, such as Nazi Germany and Communist regimes that used similar procedures of “torture” and “persecution” to those who opposed Nazism and Communism ideologies. Therefore, Pérez’s interpretation and explanation not only make sense, but they are well presented.
To initiate, Pérez’s thesis began by introducing the creation of the “anti-Semitism” against Jews; as well as discrimination against Muslims who opposed to the Catholic doctrine during the beginnings the Spanish Inquisition. First, Pérez criticized and analyzed the procedures and manipulations that the Inquisitions imposed to Jews and Muslims to convert them to Catholicism; these procedures and manipulations that Pérez criticized were the oppression to converted these two groups to Catholicism or expel them out from Spain if they remained their faith—many chose the exile (35). Also, Pérez admired the resistance that the majority of Jews had to preserve their faith in “secret” and maintained loyal to their faith even though they faced persecution, discrimination, oppression, and expulsion during the Inquisition (51).
Then, Pérez continued to develop his thesis and interpretation by arguing that the Inquisition expanded their injustices by applying their policies not only to Jews and Muslims, but also to against Protestants, Illuminists, and witchcrafts. Pérez, argued that the Inquisition justified their atrocities against Protestants and Illuminist because they were introducing new ideologies that were against the Catholic Church. Pérez, described these injustices that the Inquisition committed by criticizing the different methods of persecutions and executions on Protestants and Illuminist; these methods were also imposed to those who practiced witchcraft during the Inquisition. However, these examples that Pérez described was to reinforce his interpretation that the Inquisition was concerned with what people believed, not what they did; with faith, not with behavior (85). In other words, Pérez interpretation on the injustices and the procedures that the Inquisition committed were base on “autos de fe”—defending the Catholic faith, and there were not base on how the Inquisition’s victims behaved.
Subsequently, Pérez emphasized in his thesis and interpretations by continuing to criticizing the organization of “the Holy Office”—the Spanish Inquisition—as an ecclesiastical court placed under the authority of the State; but most important, Pérez’s criticism are based on how corrupted the Inquisition was in terms of the finances and privileges. Pérez mentioned some cases in which the Inquisitors took advantages of their “administrative positions” to get some of their victims’ wealth (109). Also, Pérez interpreted and affirmed that the Inquisition’s trials were corrupt because in some cases charges against clerics were quite different and the Inquisition showed far greater indulgence: the penalties for soliciting priests, for instance, were extremely discreet (170). Overall, the trials and the administrative apparatus of the Holy Office are analyzed by Pérez’s thesis as “infamous procedures against humanity” (192).
At the same time, Pérez expanded his thesis and interpretation when he concluded that the Spanish Inquisition had in some ways constituted an anticipation of modern totalitarianism. Pérez argued the following comparison:
In Nazi Germany and in the Communist regimes, to be considered a good citizen it was not enough to pay one’s taxes and obey the country’s laws; it was also necessary to adhere to the dominant ideology, on pain of being regarded as suspect. Similarly, in the Spain of the Ancient Regime—the Spanish Inquisition, it was inadvisable to stray from Catholic doctrine. A good Spaniard obviously had to be a good Catholic; woe betides anyone who forgot that! (Pérez, 222)

Then, Pérez continued his interpretation by comparing the Spanish Inquisition to the Soviet secret police known as the GPU (an earlier form of the NKVD, which later became the KGB. Consequently, Pérez compared the anti-Semitism that the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Germany had on Jews. Moreover, Pérez compared and contrasted the atrocities that the Waffen-SS and the Spanish Inquisition made against Jews and other opponents of these two regimes; he even compared the inquisitors with Heinrich Himmler head of the Schutzstaffel (SS) who coordinated the killing of millions of Jews and many prisoners of war (225).
To conclude, even though most of the Joseph Pérez’s book summarized the main events the Spanish Inquisition performed against Jews, Muslims, Protestants and those who opposed to Catholicism in Spain and the territories that were governed by the Spanish Crown, Pérez’s interpretation on the Spanish Inquisition is very simple; he make very clear his thoughts against this regime. He criticized and analyzed the anti-Semitism against Jews. Also, Pérez criticized how the Inquisition condemned Muslims, Protestants, and those who practiced witchcraft.
Furthermore, it seems that Pérez holds a strong opposition on how the Holy Office tortured their victims in trials. Then, his conclusion is very interesting because he wanted to compare the Inquisition with modern totalitarianism, such as Nazi Germany and Communist regimes that used similar procedures of “torture” and “persecution” to those who opposed Nazism and Communism ideologies. Although Pérez gave few examples on how the Inquisition was similar with these two regimes, he gave specific examples on how these regimes were similar in terms of torture, persecution, and oppression against their victims. Overall, Joseph Pérez was clear, organized and his presentation make sense because the evidences that he presented did not contradicts his interpretation on how the Spanish Inquisition imposed not only Catholicism, but also how the Inquisition imposed discrimination, cruelty, and terror.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

The Spanish Inquisition

...This paper will attempt to accurately examine the development of the Spanish Inquisition, from the spread of the Inquisition into the Spanish territories through the ultimate upheaval, and the initial dissolvement, of the authority it held over the public who feared it. It will endeavor to show the implications of the Spanish Inquisition and how it was ultimately used as a device in its own undoing. Such an examination helps to explain the use of Church authority in secular governing, and later the separating of the Church from the crown. The paper will also take a closer look at this racial injustice in an attempt helping to see just how this may happen again if not understood and foreseen. The Church since its origins has suffered from the attack of heretics and their heresies, which have, caused many controversies and schisms within it. The Spanish Inquisition was independent of the medieval Inquisition, which evolved in the Middle Ages as an effective means of coping with the problem of heresy, which became a serious menace to the Catholic Church in the twelfth century. The fame of the Spanish Inquisition, as Ferdinand and Isabella established it at the close of the fifteenth century, was directed at Jewish merchant and Muslim traders, even under reluctant approval of Sixtus IV. The literal meaning of the word heretics is choosing, selecting beliefs outside or of different religions instead of accepting obediently the whole faith of the Catholic Church. Although, no......

Words: 582 - Pages: 3

Free Essay


...Conversos in the Inquisition Spain had an enormous Jewish community in the middle ages and toward the end of the fourteenth century large numbers of them were converted to Catholicism.  A “converso” is a person who converted to Catholicism, under either duress or out of social convenience, and was suspected of secretly practicing the Jewish faith.  These individuals converted for a variety of reasons. Some of them were forced while some of them went willingly into Catholicism. The term converso was applied not only to the generation that converted but also to their children and their grandchildren and on down through the generations.  People often question whether or not the intensions of coversos was correct because of the danger they put themselves and their families in.  This proposes the issue of why society creates such violent circumstances in which individuals must lie about private matters, like religion, in order to save their lives. In 1391 there were terrible riots sweeping across southern Spain. People were offered the choice of converting or being killed. Some 20,000 Jews converted under those circumstances. They had no intention of becoming Catholic. They were not educated in Catholicism and they went on living their Jewish lives as they had previously done. Twenty years later there were a series of preaching campaigns run by the Dominicans, which converted many tens of thousands of Jews, largely by persuasion. These people were interested in becoming......

Words: 1878 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

History of Al-Andulus

...Vengeance There is much of the debate going on about the history of Al-Andalus or Muslim Spain. Many historians David Fintz Altabé, Mark R. Cohen, Henry Kamen, Erin Morris, Mary Elizabeth Perry, Rukhsana Qamber, Saey, Tina Hesman Saey, Matthew E. Falagas, Effie A. Zarkadoulia, George Samonis, Hugh Kennedy and Maya Soifer, with their different views have tried to solve the mystery to what exactly happened? What were the conditions in Al-Andalus? Did people of different religious faiths coexisted at that time under Muslims’ rule? What caused the massacre and conversion of Jews and Christians into Islam? What led to the Spanish Inquisition? This paper is focused on the Spanish Inquisition, its causes and its consequences which includes the conquest of Spain by Muslims, the co-existence of Muslims, Christians and Jews, the fall of Al-Andalus leading to the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Muslims from Spain beginning in 1478. This paper will also distinguish between religion and the wrongdoings of men, staining it for their ulterior motives. This paper will include different views of historians and their arguments about all of the incidents stated above. The central argument of this paper is, history of Al-Andalus, through many historians is biased; with little evidence, many of historians blames Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, for the eradication of Muslims from Spain, whereas Muslims (Almohads) did in fact, exterminate Jews in communities and forced......

Words: 4726 - Pages: 19

Premium Essay

Enlightenment of Society and the Death Peantly

...executions became a private practice. It also evolved from being an arbitrary punishment against minorities, to a consistent and steady punishment for anyone who broke the law, eventually morphing into the punishment system of today. As history has progressed, a complete difference has been seen in regards to the rights of the minorities and the poor in the courts of law. The stark difference in the courts opinion toward minorities can be seen if you compare the way that they were tried during the colonization of Mexico with the way that they were treated in English society after the Enlightenment. As Martinez talks about in her essay, blacks were heavily discriminated against. This social tension carried over into the High Courts of Spanish society, which caused them to be extremely biased against the blacks. The courts bias can be easily observed in the Translated Documents from New Spain, in which the courts, under the façade of a trial, punish a group of blacks simply to make an example of them. The effect of the deterrence was undermined by the fact that these punishments were often inconsistent. These punishments were especially cruel, as Martinez describes when she says, “They were being paraded on horseback, shamed before the residents of the vice-regal capital, before all were summarily hanged in front of a large crowd in the [1]central plaza facing the church and palace. The bodies of some of the victims remained suspended in the air through the next...

Words: 1612 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay


...What in your view was the short significance of the religious policies of Ferdinand and Isabella 1480-1504? Catholicism was a major importance in the Spanish society. Ferdinand and Isabella ruled Spain with the persuasion of their faith and majority of their policies was influenced through religion. The tradition of ‘Convivencia’ is cultural ideas between the three religious groups and ideas of religious tolerance. This played a huge part of Spanish society as there were three religions during this time period which were Islam, Christianity and Judaism. * Royal control over the church The royal had major control over the church. Ferdinand and Isabella managed to gain control over the church. The Roman Catholic Church in Spain had been quite independent of royal authority and also had great influence over the people. Ferdinand and Isabella understood they had to have control over the Church if they wanted complete control in governing Spain. They knew that to control the Church, they needed to be able to place individuals of their own choosing in important Church positions. These choices had usually been made by the pope. ‘ * Military orders The Cortes was established in the 8th century to keep the power of the monarchs under control. The Cortes controlled the national treasury, and the king or queen were required to get approval for all major expenditures. Over time, the members of the Cortes, made up of the aristocrats, became very power. Although......

Words: 373 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

The Pit and the Pendulum. to survive. Many very fascinating ideas strike him and he manages to pull things that he would not have dreamed. For instance, when he puts a mark on the wall to make sure he is not going round and round when he could touch the walls. He had the presence of mind to know that he will go round and round till infinity if the pit was circular and he hence left a mark on the wall. He similarly decided to jump off the pit than being squashed to death. That as a choice he would have never had to make in any other circumstance. In this story, Poe shows an irony- an irony where a person becomes that what he hate the most. The captors of the narrator were the Spanish and in the time of the Spanish inquisition the church was against science and hence no scientific activities were tolerated. The main reason of the Spanish inquisition was to make sure science does not get over the church and the church maintains its respect and authority. Through the passage of the story however, the way they treat the narrator is very much similar to a scientific experiment. Throughout the time frame that he is captured; there has always been a way for him to get out. He is firstly given food. Even though...

Words: 1231 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Reconquista and the Jews

...with the inherent hatred toward Jews simply because they have differing theological and religious practices are not Christian, not because they are specifically Jewish. Anti-Judaism began with the crucifixion of Christ – it became commonly believed that the Jewish people were responsible for the crucifixion which caused initial discriminatory writings against the Jews as a people, as well as societal misunderstanding and distrust. The Jewish people were exposed to severe persecution under Visigoth control in the Mediterranean and more Christian control in Spain. It is therefore not surprising that the Jewish people helped the Muslims invade and conquer the Iberian Peninsula in 711 C.E. from the Christians, ushering in the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry. Not long after the conquest, the Jews integrated themselves into Muslim society. Massive migration waves – of both Jewish and Muslim – toward Spain created a political, cultural, and powerful region, running from Barcelona in the...

Words: 2143 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Hum 130

.... Maria Lourdes A.Berrey Effects of Religion HUM 130 John GreenLee November 17th 2011 The effects that religion has had on the world and society is never more prevalent than the Spanish Inquisition, which lasted more than 356 years. The Spanish Inquisition was one of the most deadly inquisitions in history. There was a struggle between different religious beliefs such as Islam, Protestantism, Judaism, and Catholicism. These political and religious reasons pressed the leaders of Spain to unify this country into a strong and powerful nation. King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castilla made the choice to establish Catholicism as the religion to unite Spain in 1478. Once Catholicism was chosen the King and Queen then petitioned the pope to begin the Spanish Inquisition (Kreger, 1996-1999). The Inquisition was to purify the person of Spain from any other religion driving out anyone who was not Catholic. Rules and procedures created by Tomas de Torquemada remained intact for more than 15 years. During this period it is thought that around 5,000 Spaniards lead to the gallows (Parker, 2003). Later the Pope and the Catholic Church tried to stop the bloody reign of terror but was unsuccessful. The Inquisition lasted until 1834 when it was abolished because of concerns for the citizens of Spain (Parker, 2003). Another struggle that lead people to a new world was the freedom of religion. Around 1629 to 1642 an influx of about 21,000......

Words: 473 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Effects of Religion

...the past, it was war between the Christians and Moslems. According to “The Crusades” (n.d.), “The Crusades were great military expeditions undertaken by the Christian nations of Europe for the purpose of rescuing the holy places of the Palestine from the hands of the Mohammedans” (The Crusades – What were the Crusades). Each religion thought that they had the right to have the holy places which resulted in wars between these religions. Wars have happened because one religion feels they are godlier than the other so try to have all authority or power over the people. Another event was the Spanish Inquisition. According to “Freeman” (2012), “Reasons for the Inquisition included a desire to create religious unity and weaken local political authorities and familial alliances” (How Stuff Works: The Beginnings of the Spanish Inquisition). This led to the people involved in the Spanish Inquisition to kill people who refused to become a Catholic. Organized religion was a way to control or have power over people. This led to people hating each other because of their belief or their...

Words: 539 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Renaissance Punishment/Torture

...Torture reached its peak around the 12th century. From the mid-18th century it was the most common method used and was allowed by the Roman Catholic Church. Torture wasn’t exclusively for criminals, it was also used by the Knights Templar, a member of a religious and military order founded by Crusaders in Jerusalem about 1118 and suppressed in 1312; the Spanish inquisition to punish a person who speaks disrespectfully of sacred things, and liars. The well-known torture devices are the Head Crusher, Cat’s Paw (or Spanish Tickler), Knee Splitter, Scavenger’s Daughter, Judas Chair, Spanish Donkey, Choke Pear, Lead Sprinkler, Breast Ripper, and Crocodile Shears. With the Head Crusher the device was a helmet like hat they placed on top of the victims head and the chin was placed above a metal bar, then the device would slowly turn compressing the skull tightly. First the teeth are destroyed, shattering and splintering into the jaw. Then the eyes are squeezed from the sockets. Lastly the skull fractures and the contents of the head are forced out. This torture device was used widely during the middle ages especially in the inquisition. Some of the torture devices for women were the Brank, Pear, Breast Ripper, and The Saw Torture. Women were tortured for miscarriages, adultery, dishonesty, nagging to their husbands, and gossiping untruthfully. The Breast Ripper did just as its name promotes, often used to punish women...

Words: 684 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Spanish Cinema

...Cultural Project 2 – Spanish Cinema For the Cultural Project 2 assignment I decided to continue my exploration of Spanish cinema. I searched for a movie that would include historical events that could broaden my knowledge of the Spanish culture. I chose the Spanish-American film entitled “Goya’s Ghosts” because of the historical relevance the time period had on Spanish culture. The film included references to the Spanish Monarchy, the influence of the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition, French Revolution, and a renowned Spanish painter named Francisco Goya. “Although the historical setting of the movie was based on actual historical events, the movie itself is a work of fiction”(Goya’s). The setting for Goya’s Ghosts begins in Spain in the year 1792. The Catholic Church is “disturbed by prints, created by an artist named Francisco Goya, that are being circulated around the country depicting the clergy using unflattering imagery”(Francisco). There is a long discussion on how the Church should handle the situation, when Brother Lorenzo intervenes. He suggests that “the artist’s depiction is insight into a bigger problem and should be handled by increasing the pressure the church applies to finding people who do not believe in their faith”(Spanish). “The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Spanish: Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition (Inquisición española), was a tribunal established...

Words: 1051 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Mysticism and Diabolic Witchcraft

...History 200 14 December 2010   1   Mysticism and Diabolic Witchcraft: Female Susceptibility of the Italian Renaissance During the Italian Renaissance, Christianity experienced a heavy resurgence in mysticism. Mysticism was a type of devout faith or spirituality found throughout the convents in Italy and primarily exercised by Christian Italian women (Sheldrake 93-95). These women underwent vivid connections with God which involved an awakening of consciousness and awareness for God’s divine will. In extreme cases, women fell into a transcendental union with God in which they experienced ultimate illumination. In these rare occurrences, women could encounter faith miracles such as stigmatas, ecstasies, or the re-living of Christ’s Passion. During this period, Italy also experienced another intense spiritual movement labeled diabolic witchcraft (Tavuzzi 150). In the case of diabolic witchcraft, again experienced primarily by females, women underwent a concentrated level of worship and contractual relations with Satan. Historical examples show these women developing sexual relations with Satan, as well as maleficia or harmful magic (Tavuzzi 153). The women involved in diabolic witchcraft were pursued by the Church’s legal arm, the Dominican Inquisitors. They were put on trial, accused of heresy, and either imprisoned or killed. Similarly, the Dominican Inquisitors investigated women who were involved in mysticism and upon the examinations performed by the......

Words: 5189 - Pages: 21

Premium Essay

How Did the Catholic Church Attempt to Repress Heresy in Christendom?

...As a student with a keen interest in medieval history, I have always been intrigued by the concept of heresy and how the Roman Catholic Church attempted to rid Christendom of heretics. To be frank all of us, in some form or quantity, have come across heresy in books, popular media, and music. It is a defining term of medieval Europe and the twelfth and thirteenth century see crusades against heretics and the power and means by which the Roman Church aimed to repress the many heretical ideologies that existed. This is both an interesting and extensive topic and throughout this essay I will be focusing on the term ‘Heresy’ itself, why the church sought to repress heretics and lastly how they managed to do the same. In a very general term, heresy can be termed as a disagreement with the Church or the teachings and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and a heretic someone who’s faith, beliefs and practices are in contradiction with that of the Church. Not all heretics believed in the same principle concepts and not all heretical concepts were popular. The Cathars, a heretic group in Languedoc, south of France believed that the world was a creation of the devil and that the sacraments of the Church were not true, but were devilish frauds of an evil church. It is worth noting though that heresy existed in every age, as it is but natural that popular beliefs and ideologies had contradicting and opposing ones, but it was only between the late eleventh and thirteenth century......

Words: 2003 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

How Important Was the Part Played by the Catholic Rulers of Europe in the Struggle Against Protestant in the Years to 1600

...played by the Catholic rulers of Europe in the struggle against Protestant in the years to 1600? It is not unreasonable to state that the Catholic rulers of Europe played an important part in the struggle against Protestantism as rulers like Philip II of Spain can be seen to be fighting against Protestantism very strongly, with events taking place such as the Spanish Armada in 1588. However, whether the most important part in the struggle against Protestantism was played by Catholic rulers is still to be determined as orders such as the Jesuits also contributed. On the one hand, it can be argued that Philip II played a pivotal role in combating Protestantism due to his strong belief in Catholicism. He saw himself as the ‘protector’ of Protestantism and went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that he did this well. This can be seen in his full support of the Spanish Inquisition of 1588. Although his motives for the inquisition may not have been entirely for the good of Catholicism, it is clear that Philip felt that Spain benefited from this and that Catholicism was important to Spain. Philip also ordered the Spanish bishops at the Council of Trent to refuse the Protestants of any accommodation whatsoever which gives an impression of his attitude towards protestants. In this way, Philip II did play an important part in the struggle against Protestantism as through his efforts, Spain remained very Catholic. To add to this, Henry of Navarre of France played a vital role in......

Words: 580 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Why the Jews

...HOMEJewish Holidays Tisha B'Av Anti-Semitism & Suffering Why the Jews – Part 1 Understanding the root of the world's longest hatred. by Raphael Shore Prejudice, it seems, is a standard fare of life. In his folksong entitled "National Brotherhood Week," Tom Lehrer sings: Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants, and the Hindus hate the Muslims and everybody hates the Jews. In this song, Lehrer expresses the truism that hatred for the Jew is uniquely commonplace. The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, blood libels, pogroms, countless expulsions and the systematic murder of 6 million. The question is: Why? What lies behind these millennium of hatred? Why has the undercurrent of anti-Semitism bubbled and boiled and exploded against Jews everywhere, time and again throughout history? In this 8-part seminar, we will examine the root reason for the world's longest hatred. Causes versus Excuses – How Can We Tell the Difference? When we study any theory, it is important to distinguish between a "cause" and an "excuse." The difference is not difficult to recognize: When one thing causes another, if we remove the cause, the effect should vanish. If, on the other hand, one thing is an excuse for another, then even after taking away the excuse, the effect will remain. A child who is chronically late to school may say in his defense, "But I don’t have a watch. How do you expect me to get to school in time if I don’t have......

Words: 262 - Pages: 2