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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/317

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THE JEWS IN EUROPE.

a trade, nor could he any more take up with traffic in money, and his only resource was to become a barterer and dealer in small wares. The worst and most horrible thing was that the new convert fell a prey to the power of the Court of Inquisition, and, wherever there was an inquisitor, he was liable to arrest and torture on a mere suspicion, and could be sentenced either to money-fines or to imprisonment. That the inquisitor could impose fines upon merely suspected persons was already, in 1330, the teaching of the canonical writers, and nothing was easier or more tempting than the discovery of some cause of suspicion against a rich Israelite, baptized or unbaptized.

While the Spaniards were striving to root out Israel from the Peninsula, they prepared for themselves a most fearful scourge, under whose lashes they were to bleed for centuries. For, since they drove so many Jews into the Church through fear of death, and forced them to continuous hypocrisy, they caused the establishment of the Holy Office, which was directed at first against this secret retention of the Jewish faith. The majority of educated Spaniards at the present day doubtless acknowledge the Inquisition to have been the sorest national misfortune; it was an institution which has served to dishonor the Spanish name, and has been a source of manifold misery and a school of hypocrisy to the Spanish people. But that this institution maintained itself so long in Spain, and for over two hundred years found continually new victims for its "acts of faith," is owing to the events of 1328, 1391, and 1492, along with the distinction, contrived by the Church, between absolute and relative coercion in baptism.

Many thousands of Jews were then forced to be baptized; they were often allowed no other alternative than that of death or entrance into the Church. In many cases they preferred death, and perished either by their own hands or at the hands of their oppressors, and the example of some who were steadfast inspired whole hosts to copy after them. At the same time, there was a considerable number who, in fear of death, or to escape banishment and loss of property, suffered themselves to be baptized; and it was just as natural that, when they breathed free, again, they should renounce Christianity and turn back to the cult of their fathers.

The doctrine was indeed continuously taught and accepted that a baptism forced upon one was null and invalid, and it would hence seem self-evident that he who had been coerced should be free to turn back to his ancestral religion. But, as early as 633, the Spanish Visigothic bishops had declared that those forcibly baptized should be held in the Church. This had passed over into Gratian's book of doctrines and statutes, and now no one was any longer permitted to surrender the Christian faith once confessed, or return to the practices of Judaism. He was once for all a Christian, and, as such, subject to the jurisdiction of the religious court; if he went back to the faith of his fathers he must suffer, as every heretic and apostate, the death