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INQUISITION

general of Aragon established inquisitors at Saragossa, Barcelona, Valencia, Majorca, Sardinia, Sicily and Pampeluna (moved later to Calahorra). From the very beginning the papacy strengthened this organization by depriving the Spanish metropolitans, by the bull of the 25th of September 1487, of the right of receiving appeals from the decisions given jointly by the bishops of the various dioceses, their suffragans and the apostolic inquisitors, and by investing the inquisitor-general with this right. And, more than this, Torquemada actually took proceedings against bishops, for example, the accusation of heresy against Don Pedro Aranda, bishop of Calahorra (1498); while the inquisitor Lucero prosecuted the first archbishop of Granada, Don Ferdinando de Talavera. Further, when once the Inquisition was closely allied to the crown, no Spaniard, whether clerk or layman, could escape its power. Even the Jesuits, though not till after 1660, were put under the authority of the Suprema. The highest nobles were kept constantly under observation; during the reigns of Charles III. and Charles IV. the duke of Almodovar, the count of Aranda, the great writer Campomanes, and the two ministers Melchior de Jovellanos and the count of Florida-Alanca, were attacked by the Suprema. But the descendants of Moors and Jews, though they were good Christians, or even nobles, were most held in suspicion. Even during the middle ages the descendants of the Paterenes were known, observed and denounced. In the eyes of the Inquisition the taint of heresy was even more indelible. A family into which a forced conversion or a mixed marriage had introduced Moorish or Jewish blood was almost entirely deprived of any chance of public office, and was bound, in order to disarm suspicion, to furnish agents or spies to the Holy Office. The Spaniards were very quick to accept the idea of the Inquisition to such an extent as to look upon heresy as a national scourge to be destroyed at all costs, and they consequently considered the Inquisition as a powerful and indispensable agent of public protection; it would be going too far to state that this conception is unknown to orthodox present-day historians of the Inquisition, and especially certain Spanish historians (cf. the preface to Menendez y Pelayo’s Heterodoxos españoles). As had happened among the Albigenses, commerce and industry were rapidly paralysed in Spain by this odious régime of suspicion, especially as the Conversos, who inherited the industrial and commercial capacity of the Moors and Jews, represented one of the most active elements of the population. Besides, this system of wholesale confiscations might reduce a family to beggary in a single day, so that all transactions were liable to extraordinary risks. It was in vain that the counsellors of Charles V., and on several occasions the Cortes, demanded that the inquisitors and their countless agents should be appointed on a fixed system by the state; the state, and above all the Inquisition, refused to make any such change. The Inquisition preferred to draw its revenues from heresy, and this is not surprising if we think of the economic aspect of the Albigensian Inquisition; the system of encours was simply made general in Spain, and managed to exist there for three centuries. In the case of the Inquisition in Languedoc, there still remained the possibility of an appeal to the king, the inquisitors, or more rarely the pope, against these extortions; but there was nothing of the kind in Spain. The Inquisition and the Crown could refuse each other nothing, and appeals to the pope met with their united resistance. As early as the reign of Ferdinand certain rich Conversos who had bought letters of indulgence from the Holy See were nevertheless prosecuted by Ferdinand and Torquemada, in spite of the protests of Sixtus IV. The papacy met with the most serious checks under the Bourbons. Philip V. forbade all his subjects to carry appeals to Rome, or to make public any papal briefs without the royal exequatur.

The political aspect of the work and character of the Inquisition has been very diversely estimated; it is a serious error to attribute to it, as has too often been done, extreme ideas of equality, or even to represent it as having favoured centralization and a royal absolutism to the same extent as the Inquisition of the 13th and 14th centuries in Languedoc. “It was a mere coincidence,” says H. C. Lea, “that the Inquisition and absolutism developed side by side in Spain.” The Suprema did not attack all nobles as nobles; it attacked certain of them as Conversos, and the Spanish feudal nobles were sure enough of their limpieza to have nothing to fear from it. But it is undeniable that it frequently tended to constitute a state within the state. At the time of their greatest power, the inquisitors paid no taxes, and gave no account of the confiscations which they effected; they claimed for themselves and their agents the right of bearing arms, and it is well known that their declared adversaries, or even those who blamed them in some respects, were without fail prosecuted for heresy. But that was not the limit to their pretensions. In 1574, under Philip II., there was an idea of instituting a military order, that of Santa Maria de la Espada Blanca, having as its head the grand inquisitor, and to him all the members of the order, i.e. all Spaniards distinguished by limpieza of blood, were to swear obedience in peace and in war. Moreover, they were to recognize his jurisdiction and give up to him the reversion of their property. Nine provinces had already consented, when Philip II. put a stop to this theocratic movement, which threatened his authority. It was, however, only the Bourbons, who had imbibed Gallican ideas, who by dint of perseverance managed to make the Inquisition subservient to the Crown, and Charles III., “the philosopher king,” openly set limits to the privileges of the inquisitors. Napoleon, on his entry into Madrid (December 1808), at once suppressed the Inquisition, and the extraordinary general Cortes on the 12th of February 1813 declared it to be incompatible with the constitution, in spite of the protests of Rome. Ferdinand VII. restored it (July 21, 1814) on his return from exile, but it was impoverished and almost powerless. It was again abolished as a result of the Liberal revolution of 1820, was restored temporarily in 1823 after the French military intervention under the duc d’Angoulême, and finally disappeared on the 15th of July 1834, when Queen Christina allied herself with the Liberals. “It was not, however, till the 8th of May 1869 that the principle of religious liberty was proclaimed in the peninsula; and even since then it has been limited by the constitution of 1876, which forbids the public celebration of dissident religions” (S. Reinach). In 1816 the pope abolished torture in all the tribunals of the Inquisition. It is a too frequent practice to represent as peculiar to the Spanish Inquisition modes of procedure in use for a long time in the inquisitorial tribunals of the rest of Europe. There are no special manuals, or practica, for the inquisitorial procedure in Spain; but the few distinctive characteristics of this procedure may be mentioned. The Suprema allowed the accused an advocate chosen from among the members or familiars of the Holy Office; this privilege was obviously illusory, for the advocate was chosen and paid by the tribunal, and could only interview the accused in presence of an inquisitor and a secretary. The theological examination was a delicate and minute proceeding; the “qualificators of the Holy Office,” special functionaries, whose equivalent can, however, easily be found in the medieval Inquisition, charged those books or speeches which had incurred “theological censures,” with “slight, severe or violent” suspicion. There was no challenging of witnesses; on the contrary, witnesses who were objected to were allowed to give evidence on the most important points of the case. The torture, to the practice of which the Spanish Inquisition certainly added new refinements, was originally very much objected to by the Spaniards, and Alphonso X. prohibited it in Aragon; later, especially in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries it was applied quite shamelessly on the least suspicion. But by the end of the 18th century, according to Llorente, it had not been employed for a long time; the fiscal, however, habitually demanded it, and the accused always went in dread of it. The punishment of death by burning was much more often employed by the Spanish than by the medieval Inquisition; about 2000 persons were burnt in Torquemada’s day. Penitents were not always reconciled, as they were in the middle ages, but those condemned to be burnt were as a rule strangled previously.

With the extension of the Spanish colonial empire the