SPAIN AND ITS INQUISITION


From the time of the eighth-century Muslim conquests in Iberia until the last decade of the 15 th century, Spain was neither a unified country nor wholly governed by Christian monarchs. In 1492, however, with the fall of Granada — the last Muslim kingdom in the peninsula - the Catholic nation of Spain was born, under the rule of King Ferdinand II (1452-1516) and Queen Isabella I (1451-1504), who had already by their marriage forged a union between the independent kingdoms of Aragon and Castile.


Spain had been for centuries the most diverse country in Europe, with large populations of Christians, Jews and Muslims living - if not always in perfect harmony — at least in peaceful and remarkably tolerant concord. Ferdinand's ambition to convert Spain into a unified and powerful nation, however, prompted him to adopt a policy of enforced religious uniformity; and for this purpose he required the services of an Inquisition.


['We further order in this edict that all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age that reside in our domain and territories, leave with their sons and daughters, servants and relatives, large or small, of all ages, by the end of July if this year, and that they dare not return to our lands and that they do not take a step across, such that if any Jew who does not accept this edict is found in our kingdom and domains or returns will be sentenced to death and confiscation of all their belongings']


FERDINAND OF ARAGON AND ISABELLA OF CASTILE, ALHAMBER DECREE, 31 MARCH 1492



The Catholic Monarchs


Prince Ferdinand of Aragon married Princess Isabella of Castile in 1469. When Isabella's father died in 1474, her right of succession was disputed by some, but she proclaimed herself queen, and Ferdinand joined her in Castile, first as the king consort and then, in 1479, as king of Castile. That same year, Ferdinand succeeded his father as king of Aragon. In this way, the joint reign of the 'Catholic monarchs' of Spain began — though the two kingdoms were governed and administered separately. And in the spring of 1482, the campaign for Granada commenced.


Ferdinand and Isabella made Spain into a powerful and wealthy nation. Having financed Columbus' voyage in 1492, they even had possessions in the Americas. In 1512, Ferdinand annexed the kingdom of Navarre. None of this, though, required the imposition of a single faith on all Spanish subjects. Nevertheless, it was political anxiety, and not personal animosity or prejudice, that led them to issue the notorious 'Alhambra Decree' of March 1492, which obliged all Jews living in their dominions to accept Christian baptism or to depart the country.


(WELL  NICE  TO  THINK  IT  WAS  "POLITICAL  ANXIETY" - BUT THE  WORDS  SPEAK  FOR  THEMSELVES.  CHRISTIANITY  THAT  WAS  WILLING  TO  KILL  OTHERS  IF  NOT  FOLLOWING  THEIR  DICTATES  -  Keith Hunt)


Aside from being cruel, pointless and economically harmful to Spain, this policy was contrary to the traditions of both kingdoms; the court of Aragon, in particular, had long admitted Jews into its service and protected the rights of their community. But the birth of Spain as a nation-state, and as an incipient empire, gave shape to a new ideology of religious and racial unity — an ideal ultimately known by the name of 'blood purity' (limpieza de sangre), despite the absurdity of such a concept after centuries of intermarriage among Christians, Jews and Muslims. Even those Jews and Muslims who converted to Christianity were not accorded the full dignities and rights of 'pure' Spaniards; and now, as baptized Christians, they fell under the authority of the Inquisition.


The Inquisition


Most of our impressions of the Spanish Inquisition are exaggerations, and can be traced back to a number of anti-Spanish legends of the 16th and 17th centuries. For most of its history, the Inquisition was a relatively weak institution, and in some times and places actually functioned as a benign and even lenient stay upon the more capricious and brutal practices of secular courts. Even so, it was an institution guilty of many gross injustices — especially in its first several decades - and one that used imprisonment, confiscation and even limited torture (usually chastisement with rods) to obtain the information it sought. It also, obviously, was willing to surrender those it condemned to the 'secular arm' to be killed in the name of doctrinal orthodoxy.


(AGAIN  SUGAR  COATING  IT  ALL  DOES  NOT  TAKE  AWAY  THE  BASIC  BRUTALITY  EVEN  TO  HAVING  OTHERS  KILLED  -  Keith Hunt)



One should note, though, that the Inquisition was an office primarily of the Spanish crown. This does not entirely exculpate the papacy, of course. It was, after all, Pope Sixtus IV (1414-84) who authorized the early Inquisition. But he did so under pressure from Ferdinand, who threatened to withhold Spanish military protection against the Turks unless the pope agreed to give him licence to install an Inquisition in Castile and to appoint inquisitors. In 1478, the pope complied, and in February 1481 six 'heretics' of Seville became the first victims of the new office.


(NO  MATTER  WHAT,  CHURCH,  STATE,  IT  WAS  ALL  EVIL  -  Keith Hunt)


The Inquisition soon proved so harsh and corrupt, however, that Sixtus attempted to interfere in its operations. In a papal bull of April 1482, he uncompromisingly denounced its incarceration, torture, and condemnation of innocent persons and its theft of property (though he did not in principle object to the execution of real 'heretics'). 


(DID  YOU  SEE  IT?  POPE  SIXTUS  DID  NOT  IN  PRINCIPLE  OBJECT  TO  THE  DEATH  OF  WHAT  ROME  CONSIDERED  "REAL  HERETICS"  -  Keith Hunt)


Ferdinand, however, refused to recognize the bull, and in 1483 forced Sixtus to concede complete control of the Inquisition to the Spanish crown and to consent to the royal appointment of a 'Grand Inquisitor'. Sixtus did not, however, relent entirely. In 1484, for instance, he supported the Aragonese city of Teruel when it refused to allow the Inquisition entry — a refusal Ferdinand overcame the following year by force of arms.


(THOSE  THAT  LIVE  BY  THE  SWORD  SHALL  DIE  BY  THE  SWORD  -  JESUS'  WORDS  -  Keith Hunt)


The first Grand Inquisitor was the notorious Tomas de Torquemada (1420-98), a devout but brutish Dominican priest, who harboured a deep hostility towards Jewish and Muslim conversos whom he suspected of secret adherence to their original faiths. He was almost certainly the principal architect of the Alhambra Decree, and he presided over the Inquisition's most violent period. Before he was finally reined in by Pope AlexanderVI (1431-1503), he was responsible for the expulsion of at least 40,000 Jews from their homes in Spain and for the execution of perhaps 2000 'heretics'.


(AND  ALL  DONE  UNDER  THE  NAME  OF  "CHRIST"  -  WHAT  "RELIGION"  DOES  TO  SOME  MINDS  IS  HORRIFIC  AT  TIMES  -  Keith Hunt)


St Ignatius and the Jesuits


Although Sixtus and his successor Innocent VIII (1432-92) continued to issue sporadic demands that the Inquisition exercise greater leniency, and attempted to intervene on behalf of conversos when the opportunity arose, their efforts were too feeble — and the national politics of limpieza de sangre too pervasive - to allow for any marked amelioration of the condition of convert families. Not even monks, priests or archbishops of Jewish descent could escape suspicion and harassment. There were, however, certain prominent Spaniards who rejected this new racialism - most conspicuously, perhaps, St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Jesuits, who went so far as to proclaim that he would have counted it a cause for pride had he been of Jewish extraction.


[St Ignatius of Loyola was destined for a military career, but was inspired by the ideal of the 'chivalry' of holiness to become a priest]


Ignatius was a son of the nobility who, in his youth, was intent upon achieving military glory; in 1521, however, while recovering in his family's castle from wounds sustained in battle, his readings in the lives of the saints led him to abandon the military life and his family's wealth. He devoted a year to penitential asceticism, and began writing his classic manual, the Spiritual Exercises. Then, after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1523, he embarked on formal studies in Barcelona and Alcala. He was briefly suspected of heresy, however, and imprisoned by the Inquisition, but was released on the condition he would not teach while still uncertified. So he went abroad to complete his studies, and it was in Paris in 1534 that the Society of Jesus was formed. He was ordained in 1537.


The Jesuits received papal approval of their rule in 1540, and Ignatius spent most of the last 15 years of his life in Rome. The new order soon attracted many of the most talented young men of western Europe; its emphasis upon scholarship in every field of learning, its missions to the farthest-flung regions of the world, its stated aim of making Christ known in every quarter of the globe — all these things imbued the Society of Jesus with a quality of what one can only call romance.


(WELL  WHAT  IS  NOT  TOLD  YOU  IS  THE  FACT  THAT  IN  THE  NEW  WORLD  THEY  WOULD  ALSO  GO  AS  FAR  AS  TORTURE  AND  KILLING,  IF  NEEDS  BE  TO  DOMINATE  "THEIR  CHRISTIAN"  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt)


THE INQUISITION AND THE WITCH-HUNTS




The disorienting truth about the Spanish Inquisition is that, for most of its history, it was more scrupulous in its attention to the rules of evidence, more likely to acquit and more lenient in its sentences than were the secular courts. For this reason, persons accused by their neighbours of witchcraft were generally fortunate if they lived in lands where the Inquisition was strong. From the time of Torquemada onwards, the Inquisition had the right to investigate 'superstitions,' and sorcery fell into this category. And there were rare instances in which the inquisitorial court did condemn persons for practising sorcery.


Nevertheless, Church courts almost invariably treated accusations of witchcraft and of Satanism with incredulity; where secular courts were inclined to consign the accused to the public executioner, ecclesial inquisitions were prone to demand hard evidence and, in its absence, to dismiss charges. In Spain, in the whole of the 14th and 15th centuries, we have evidence of only two prosecutions going to trial. In the mid-16th century, the Catalonian office of the Inquisition argued forcefully against all further prosecutions for witchcraft; and soon other Iberian tribunals added their voices to the recommendation.


In or around 1610, after a spasm of witch-hunting-panic in Basque country - which had led to the execution of six people - the Spanish Inquisition actually went so far as to forbid even the discussion of witchcraft. The bishop of Pamplona wrote to the Inquisition to protest the injustices of these condemnations, and the inquisitor sent to investigate concluded that 'There were neither witches nor anyone bewitched before they were talked and written about'.


More than once, though, in following years, Iberian inquisitions were obliged to intervene when secular courts renewed prosecutions.


(WELL  IT  MAY  GIVE  SOME  A  FEELING  OF  RELIEF  THAT  THE  CHURCH  OF  ROME  WAS  NOT  ALL,  AND  ENTIRELY,  WITHOUT  MERCY.  BUT  THE  FACTS  OVERALL,  AND  IN  THE  NEW  WORLD,  SHOW  TORTURE  AND  KILLING  WAS  DONE  UNDER  THE  NAME  OF  "CHRIST"  AND  A  SO-CALLED  "CHRISTIAN"  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt)


TO  BE  CONTINUED