The Spanish Inquisition

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The word "inquisition" means to examine. Inquisitors would "examine" suspected Heretics, people whose ideas do not match those of the Roman Catholic Church, and punish them accordingly. This meant torture and burning was involved. The great inquisitional movement that took place in Hispania (before Spain was unified, the area was known as Hispania), and it was called The Spanish Inquisition. It took place for approximately five-hundred years, from the late 15th century to the mid 19th century. Many ironic elements were involved in the history of the Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition lasted longer than any other preceding it and was the most cruel, bloodthirsty, and festive of all. The objective of the inquisition, in its early state, was to convert all Jews into Christians, but later it contradicted itself by making the new objective to rid the country of the newly converted Christians. In an age where the close bond between church and state existed, opposition to the church was intolerable. The Inquisition caused Spain to become intellectually backward, and economically and industrially damaged. The powerful influence of the Inquisition forbiddened social influences, such as books, from other parts of Europe to enter Spain. Because of this, the universities remained stagnant from the lack of understanding about other civilizations in the rest of Europe. They were unable to keep up with the rest of the early modern world. As a result of this, they came into the 20th century intellectually inferior and bankrupt. With the banished, tortured, and persecuted heretics in mind, it is possible that the Spanish Inquisition is perhaps one of the most cruel acts performed on innocent people in the name of religion. Before the Spanish Inquisition took place, several other inquisitional movements appeared, but none quite so barbaric and brutal as the Spaniard's. Waves of opposition towards the church swept Europe in the Middle Ages. In the 12th century it was a modern belief that a peaceful, utopian government could be obtained if all of the population of the society were "pure" and Catholic. The Medieval Inquisition was famous inquisitional movement also. It started in France and Italy. During this time a group of people called the Albigensies lived in northern Italy and southern France. They had established a religion called Manichaeanism which was the belief in two gods, one for good and one for evil. Pope Gregory IX felt that it was right to establish the Inquisition as a church law to rid the Holy Roman Empire from the Albigensies in 1231 AD. This was the start of the first inquisition. After that it was a common practice in much of Europe to take Heretics before a trial, then inflict torture on them forcing them to convert. Those that did not convert were sent to a public burning or hanging. In 1252 AD, Pope Innocent IV agreed to use inquisitors to torture sinners who would not repent their sins and confess. By the fifteen hundreds, the Inquisition became wealthy, powerful, and greedy. In the late 15th century, Spain gained its freedom from the Moors. They were North African people that were Islamic and controlled much of Spain. The wealthy, educated Jewish population financially assisted the monarchy to take back Spain from the Moors. Large prosperous Jewish communities existed in Spain where they were respected, unlike other areas of Europe where the Jews were hated, persecuted and were victims of organized massacres in the late Middle Ages. In Spain they remained the financial and scientific leaders in the 15th century. Many of the Jews married into Catholic families, and as a result, many of Spain's Christian leaders were of Jewish descent. As Spain became a unified country, many Hispanics forgot the services from which the Jewish had provided them. All of the sudden, the economy was not in as good of a shape as it was before, and the Jews became the center of blame for everything that went wrong. They became targets for bigotry. False legends were made up about them. A couple of them included Jews murdering innocent Christian children. These such legends fueled the expulsion of the Jews from France and England, and then later the eventual expulsion from Spain in 1492 AD. In fear of persecution, thousands of Jews flocked to churches to convert to Christianity. The government of Spain started raiding Jewish communities, in search of wealth to steal. The new group of newly converted Christians were called Marranos. They made up another large portion of the Hispanic population. For a while the Marranos had their full rights restored again. Many of them still practiced Judaism at home though, out of view of the government. The Jews had to convert to Christianity, if they did not, they had the choice of leaving the country or dying. After the Jews were banned from Spain and the Inquisition was constituted, the Marranos became the object of attack for the inquisitors. If someone was suspected of having a tad of Jewish blood, which was ironic since everyone did, they had the choice of leaving Spain or dying. During the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Inquisition was established for the first time in Spain in the Kingdom of Aragon. This was before the unification of Spain took place. The office of Grand Inquisitor was appointed by the monarchy with the approval of the Pope. The first and most notorious Grand Inquisitor was a Dominican Monk named Tamas de Torquemada. Even though he was of Jewish descent, he was obsessed in the act of making heretics confess through torturous, inquisitorial methods. After the unification of Spain, he convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to extend the Inquisition to the entire Kingdom of Spain. Torquemada told the King and Queen that the government can obtain great wealth from confiscating the property of the Jews and Morranos. As a result, the spread of the Inquisition through the rest of Spain was more in the act of greed than in the act of the religious purification of the nation. There were many accounts leading up to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, but the major reason is described as the La Guardia Case. It is a case about a Jewish man, by the name of Garcia, who was dragged into an Inquisitorial Court to be examined. Under extreme torture, the inquisitors lead the Jewish man into confessing that he, along with other Jews, took a four year old Christian boy and crucified him to a wooden cross, which was not true. Although nobody was ever found or reported missing, it still fueled an outrage in thee Christian community. Torquemada took advantage of this situation by persuading the King and Queen to expel the Jews from Spain. Because of bribery and gifts from the Jews, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were hesitant to expel them, but Torquemada's overwhelming influence on them lead to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 AD. The summer of 1492 was a sad one by which the Jews were given four months to leave. The loss of the Jew's social, commercial, economical, scientific, and educational skills, did immense damage onto Spain as a whole, but nobody realized it. The people of Spain thought that they were actually better off without the Jews. Once the Inquisition was established all throughout Spain in 1478 AD, an effective way of governing was needed. The main office of the Inquisition, located in Madrid, was called the Suprema. It was named as a branch of government in Spain. In every major city of the Spanish Empire there consisted an Inquisitorial Court who reported to the Suprema. The Grand Inquisitor governed the Inquisitorial Courts from the Suprema. At the time, the Spanish government was very unstable and unorganized. It was said that the Suprema was the only effective branch of the Spanish government. Because of this, the Suprema rose to great power. At times, the power of the Grand Inquisitor rivaled and overpowered the monarchy. With the establishment of the Suprema and the Inquisitorial Courts, the Inquisition became very effective and the death tole of heretics and morranos sky-rocketed. Along with the spread of the Spanish Empire to the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Inquisition also spread. Inquisitorial Courts were set up all over Mexico, Central America, the Caribbeans, and South America. The new world offered a new variety of victims to fill its prisons, since the amount of Jewish and Morrano victims were growing scarce. Because Spanish women were not allowed to colonize in the new world, the men interacted with native women. This sin was called cohabitation and the church viewed it with extreme disfavor. It then became the major crime to be dealt with in the Inquisitorial Courts. Through the strength of the Spanish Empire, the Inquisition became the most dominant in Spanish society. By this point, when the Suprema challenged the authority of the monarch, the Grand Inquisitors were appointed by the Suprema instead of the monarches. The Suprema had great power and took out political and criminal cases just as the state would. The remaining heretics left were dealt in mass burnings in festival type atmospheres. The way the Inquisitors dealt with executions were in carnival type occ

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