Inquisition spread throughout it almost contemporaneously with the Catholic faith. Ferdinand IV. decreed the establishment of the Inquisition in America, and Jimenes in Spanish and Portuguese Colonies. 1516 appointed Juan Quevedo, bishop of Cuba, inquisitor-general delegate with discretionary powers. Excesses having been committed by the agents of the Holy Office, Charles V. decreed (October 15, 1538) that only the European colonists should be subject to the jurisdiction of the Inquisition; but Philip II. increased the powers of the inquisitors’ delegate and, in 1541, established on a permanent basis three new provinces of the Inquisition at Lima, Mexico and Cartagena. The first auto-da-fé took place at Mexico in 1574, the year in which Hernando Cortez died. The Inquisition of Portugal was no less careful to ensure the orthodoxy of the Portuguese colonies. An Inquisition of the East Indies was established at Goa, with jurisdiction over all the dominions of the king of Portugal beyond the Cape of Good Hope. Finally Philip II. even wished to establish an itinerant Inquisition, and at his request the pope created, by a brief of the 21st of July 1571, the “Inquisition of the galleys,” or “of fleets and armies.”
After the expulsion of the Jews under Isabella the Catholic (1492), followed under Philip III. by that of the Moriscoes (1609), the Inquisition attacked especially Catholics descended from infidels, the Marranes and Conversos, who were, Other activities of the Spanish Inquisition. not without reason, suspected of often practising in secret the rites of their ancestral religions. As late as 1715 a secret association was discovered at Madrid, consisting of twenty families, having a rabbi and a synagogue. In 1727 a whole community of Moriscoes was denounced at Granada, and prosecuted with the utmost rigour. Again, a great number of people were denounced, sent to the galleys, or burnt, for having returned to their ancestral religion, on the flimsiest of evidence, such as making ablutions during the day time, abstaining from swine’s flesh or wine, using henna, singing Moorish songs, or possessing Arabic manuscripts. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Inquisition in Spain was directed against Protestantism. The inquisitor-general, Fernando de Valdés, archbishop of Seville, asked the pope to condemn the Lutherans to be burnt even if they were not backsliders, or wished to be reconciled, while in 1560 three foreign Protestants, two Englishmen and a Frenchman were burnt in defiance of all international law. But the Reformation never had enough supporters in Spain to occupy the attention of the Inquisition for long. After the Marranes the mystics of all kinds furnished the greatest number of victims to the terrible tribunal. Here again we should not lose sight of the tradition of the medieval Inquisition; the mysticism of the Beghards, the Brethren of the Free Spirit and the innumerable pantheist sects had been pitilessly persecuted by the inquisitors of Germany and France during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Illuminati (alumbrados), who were very much akin to the medieval sectaries, and the mystics of Castile and Aragon were ruthlessly examined, judged and executed. Not even the most famous persons could escape the suspicious zeal of the inquisitors Valdés and Melchior Cano. The writings of Luis de Granada were censured as containing cosas de alumbrados. St Ignatius de Loyola was twice imprisoned at the beginning of his career; St Theresa was accused of misconduct, and several times denounced; one of her works, Conceptos del amor divino, was prohibited by the Inquisition, and she was only saved by the personal influence of Philip II. Countless numbers of obscure visionaries, devotees both men and women, clerks and laymen, were accused of Illuminism and perished in the fires or the dungeons of the Inquisition. From its earliest appearance Molinosism was persecuted with almost equal rigour. Molinos himself was arrested and condemned to perpetual imprisonment (1685-1687), and during the 18th century, till 1781, several Molinosists were burnt. The Inquisition also attacked Jansenism, freemasonry (from 1738 onwards; cf. the bull In eminenti) and “philosophism,” the learned naturalist José Clavigo y Faxarcho (1730-1806), the mathematician Benito Bails (1730-1797), the poet Tomas de Iriarte, the ministers Clavigo Ricla, Aranda and others being prosecuted as “philosophers.” Subject also to the tribunal of the Holy Office were bigamists, blasphemers, usurers, sodomites, priests who had married or broken the secrecy of the confessional, laymen who assumed ecclesiastical costume, &c. “In all these matters, though the Inquisition may have been indiscreet in meddling with affairs which did not concern it, it must be confessed that it was not cruel, and that it was always preferable to fall into the hands of the Inquisition rather than those of the secular judges, or even the Roman inquisitors” (S. Reinach). Apart from certain exceptional cruelties such as those of the Inquisition of Calahorra, perhaps the greatest number of executions of sorcerers took place in the colonies, in the Philippines and Mexico. In Spain the persecution was only moderate; at certain times it disappeared almost completely, especially in the time of the clear-sighted inquisitor Salazar.
Two features of the Spanish Inquisition are especially noteworthy: the prosecutions for “speeches suspected of heresy” and the censure of books. The great scholar Pedro de Lerma, who after fifty years at Paris (where he was dean of the faculty of theology) had returned to Spain as abbot of Compluto, was called upon in 1537 to abjure eleven “Erasmian” propositions, and was forced to return to Paris to die. Juan de Vergara and his brother were summoned before the Inquisition for favouring Erasmus and his writings, and detained several years before they were acquitted. Fray Alonso de Virues, chaplain to Charles V., was imprisoned on an absurd charge of depreciating the monastic state, and was only released by the pope at the instance of the emperor. Mateo Pascual, professor of theology at Alcala, who had in a public lecture expressed a doubt as to purgatory, suffered imprisonment and the confiscation of his goods. A similar fate befell Montemayor, Las Brozas and Luis de la Cadena.
The censure of books was established in 1502 by Ferdinand and Isabella as a state institution. All books had to pass through the hands of the bishops; in 1521 the Inquisition took upon itself the examination of books suspected of Lutheran heresy. In 1554 Charles V. divided the responsibility for the censorship between the Royal Council, whose duty it was to grant or refuse the imprimatur to manuscripts and the Inquisition, which retained the right of prohibiting books which it judged to be pernicious; but after 1527 it also gave the licence to print. In 1547 the Suprema produced an Index of prohibited books, drawn up in 1546 by the university of Louvain; it was completed especially as regards Spanish books, in 1551, and several later editions were published. Moreover, the revisores de libros might present themselves in the name of the Holy Office in any private library or bookshop and confiscate prohibited books. In 1558 the penalty of death and confiscation of property was decreed against any bookseller or individual who should keep in his possession condemned books. The censure of books was eventually abolished in 1812.
Bibliography.—A critical bibliography was drawn up by P. Fredericq in the preface to the French translation (1900) of H. C. Lea’s important standard work: History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages (3 vols., London, 1888). See also J. Havet, L’Hérésie et le bras séculier au moyen âge jusqu’au XIIIe siècle in the Œuvres complètes, vol. ii. (Paris, 1896); Ch. V. Langlois, L’Inquisition d’après des travaux récents (Paris, 1901); Douais, L’Inquisition (Paris, 1907); E. Vacandard, L’Inquisition (Paris, 1907); Douais, Documents pour servir à l’histoire de l’inquisition dans le Languedoc (2 vols., Paris, 1900); Döllinger, Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters (2 vols., Munich, 1890. The second volume is composed of documents); Molinier, L’Inquisition dans le midi de la France au XIIIe et au XIVe siècle. Étude sur les sources de son histoire (Paris, 1880); P. Fredericq, Corpus documentorum inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis neerlandicae (1205-1525) (4 vols., Ghent, 1889-1900); Tanon, Histoire des tribunaux de l’inquisition en France (Paris, 1893); Hansen, Inquisition, Hexenwahn und Hexenverfolgung (Munich, 1900); Llorente, Histoire critique de l’inquisition d’Espagne (4 vols., Paris, 1818); H. C. Lea, History of the Inquisition of Spain (5 vols., London, 1905-1908); S. Reinach, articles on Lea’s History of the Inquisition of Spain in the Revue critique (1906, 1907, 1908) and Cultes, mythes et religions (Paris, 1908), tome iii.
- (P. A.)