Torquemada’s name, with clouds o’ercast,
Looms in the distant landscape of the past
Like a burnt tower upon a blackened heath,
Lit by the fires of burning woods beneath.
The Inquisition of Spain is one of the bywords of history. The horrors it perpetrated have cast a dark shadow over the pages of Spanish annals. Organized to rid the Spanish kingdoms of the infection of heresy, it extended its methods to the Spanish dependencies in Europe, Sicily and Holland and to the Spanish colonies of the new world. After the marriage of Philip II. with Mary Tudor it secured a temporary recognition in England. In its bloody sacrifices, Jews, Moors, Protestants and the practitioners of the dark arts were included. No country in the world was more concerned to maintain the Catholic faith pure than was Spain from the 15th to the 18th century, and to no Church organization was a more unrestricted authority given than to the Spanish Inquisition. Agreeing with the papal Inquisition established by Innocent III. in its ultimate aim, the eradication of heresy, it differed from that earlier institution by being under the direction of a tribunal appointed by the Spanish sovereign, immediately amenable to him and acting independently of the bishops. The papal Inquisition was controlled by the Apostolic see, which appointed agents to carry its rules into effect and whose agency was to a certain extent subject to the assent of the bishops.
Engaged in the wars for the dispossession of the Pagan Moors, the Spanish kingdoms had shown little disposition to yield to the intrusion of Catharan and other heresy from the North. The menace to its orthodox repose came from the Jews, Jews who held firmly to their ancestral faith and Jews who had of their own impulse or through compulsion adopted the Christian rites. In no part of Europe was the number of Jews so large and nowhere had they been more prosperous in trade and reached such positions of eminence as physicians and as counsellors at court. The Jewish literature of medieval Spain forms a distinct and notable chapter in Hebrew literary history. To rid the land of the Jews who persisted in their ancestral belief was not within the jurisdiction of the Church. That belonged to the state, and, according to the canon law, the Jew was not to be molested in the practice of his religion. But the moment Jews or Moors submitted to baptism they became amenable to ecclesiastical discipline. Converted Jews in Spain were called conversos, or maranos — the newly converted — and it was with them, in its first period, that the Spanish Inquisition had chiefly to do. After Luther’s doctrines began to spread it addressed itself to the extirpation of Protestants, but, until the close of its history, in 1834, the Jewish Christians constituted most of its victims.
From an early time Spanish legislation was directed to the humiliation of the Jews and their segregation from the Christian population. The ecumenical Council of Vienne, 1312, denounced the liberality of the Spanish law which made a Jewish witness necessary to the conviction of a Jew. Spanish synods, as those of Valladolid and Tarragona, 1322, 1329, gave strong expression to the spirit of intolerance with which the Spanish church regarded the Jewish people. The sacking and wholesale massacre of their communities, which lived apart in quarters of their own called Juderias, were matters of frequent occurrence, and their synagogues were often destroyed or turned into churches. It is estimated that in 1391, 50,000 Jews were murdered in Castile, and the mania spread to Aragon.
The explanation of this bitter feeling is to be sought in the haughty pride of the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, their persistent observance of their traditions and the exorbitant rates of usury which they charged. Not content with the legal rate, which in Aragon was 20% and in Castile 33 1/3 % they often compelled municipalities to pay even higher rates. The prejudice and fears of the Christian population charged them with sacrilege in the use of the wafer and the murder of baptized children, whose blood was used in preparations made for purposes of sorcery. Legislation was made more exacting. The old rules were enforced enjoining a distinctive dress and forbidding them to shave their beards or to have their hair cut round. All employment in Christian households, the practice of medicine and the occupation of agriculture were denied them. Scarcely any trade was left to their hand except the loaning of money, and that by canon law was illegal for Christians.
The joint reign of Ferdinand, 1452-1516, and Isabella, 1451-1504, marked an epoch in the history of the Jews in Spain, both those who remained true to their ancestral faith and the large class which professed conversion to the Christian Church.
In conferring the title “Catholic” upon Ferdinand and Isabella, 1495, Alexander VI. gave as one of the reasons the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, 1492. The institution of the Spanish Inquisition, which began its work twelve years before, was directed primarily against the conversos, people of Jewish blood and members of the Church who in heart and secret usage remained Jews.
The papal Inquisition was never organized in Castile, and in Aragon it had a feeble existence. With the council of Tortosa, 1429, complaints began to be made that the conversos neglected to have their children baptized, and by attending the synagogues and observing the Jewish feasts were putting contempt upon their Christian faith. That such hypocrisy was practised cannot be doubted in view of the action of the Council of Basel which put its brand upon it. In 1451 Juan II. applied to the papal court to appoint a commission to investigate the situation. At the same time the popular feeling was intensified by the frantic appeals of clerics such as Friar Alfonso de Espina who in his Fortalicium fidei — the Fortification of the Faith — brought together a number of alleged cases of children murdered by Jews and argued for the Church’s right to baptize Jewish children in the absence of the parents’ consent. The story ran that before Isabella’s accession her confessor Torquemada, that hammer of heretics, secured from her a vow to leave no measure untried for the extirpation of heresy from her realm. Sometime later, listening to this same ecclesiastic’s appeal, Ferdinand and his consort applied to the papal see for the establishment of the Inquisition in Castile.
Sixtus IV., who was then occupying the chair of St. Peter, did not hesitate in a matter so important, and on Nov. 1, 1478, issued the bull sanctioning the fell Spanish tribunal. It authorized the Spanish sovereigns to appoint three bishops or other ecclesiastics to proceed against heretics and at the same time empowered them to remove and replace these officials as they thought fit. After a delay of two years, the commission was constituted, 1480, and consisted of two Dominican theologians, Michael de Morillo and John of St. Martin, and a friar of St. Pablo, Seville. A public reception was given to the commission by the municipal council of Seville. The number of prisoners was soon too large for the capacity of St. Pablo, where the court first established itself, and it was removed to the chief stronghold of the city, the fortress of Triana, whose ample spaces and gloomy dungeons were well fitted for the dark work for which it had been chosen.
Once organized, the Inquisition began its work by issuing the so-called Edict of Grace which gave heretics a period of 30 or 40 days in which to announce themselves and, on making confession, assured them of pardon. Humane as this measure was, it was also used as a device for detecting other spiritual criminals, those confessing, called penitentes, being placed under a vow to reveal the names of heretics. The humiliations to which the penitents were subjected had exhibition at the first auto de fe held in Toledo, 1486, when 750 penitents of both sexes were obliged to march through the city carrying candles and bare-headed; and, on entering the cathedral, were informed that one-fifth of their property had been confiscated, and that they were thenceforth incapacitated to hold public office. The first auto de fe was held in Seville, Feb. 6, 1481, six months after the appointment of the tribunal, when six men and women were cremated alive. The ghastly spectacle was introduced with a sermon, preached by Friar Alfonso de Hojeda. A disastrous plague, which broke out in the city, did not interrupt the sittings of the tribunal, which established itself temporarily at Aracena, where the first holocaust included 23 men and women. According to a contemporary, by Nov. 4, 1491, 298 persons had been committed to the flames and 79 condemned to perpetual imprisonment. The tribunal established at Ciudad Real, 1483, burnt 52 heretics within two years, when it was removed, in 1485, to Toledo. In Avila, from 1490-1500, 75 were burnt alive, and 26 dead bodies exhumed and cast into the flames. In cases, the entire conversos population was banished, as in Guadalupe, by the order of the inquisitor-general, Deza, in 1500. From Castile, the Inquisition extended its operations to Aragon, where its three chief centres were Valencia, Barcelona and Saragossa, and then to the Balearic Islands, where it was especially active. The first burning in Saragossa took place, 1484, when two men were burnt alive and one woman in effigy, and at Barcelona in 1488, when four persons were consumed alive.
The interest of Sixtus IV. continued to follow the tribunal he had authorized and, in a letter addressed to Isabella, Feb. 13, 1483, he assured the queen that its work lay close to his heart. The same year, to render the tribunal more efficient, it was raised by Ferdinand to the dignity of the fifth council of the state with the title, Concejo de la Suprema y General Inquisicion. Usually called the suprema, this body was to have charge of the Holy Office throughout the realm. The same end was promoted by the creation of the office of inquisitor-general, 1483, to which the power was consigned of removing and appointing inquisitorial functionaries. The first incumbent was Thomas de Torquemada, at that time prior of Santa Cruz in Segovia. This fanatical ecclesiastic, whose name is a synonym of uncompromising religious intolerance and heartless cruelty, had already been appointed, in 1482, an inquisitor by the pope. He brought to his duties a rare energy and formulated the rules characteristic of the Spanish Inquisition.
With Torquemada at its head, the Holy Office became, next to royalty itself, the strongest power in Spain. Its decisions fell like the blow of a great iron hammer, and there was no power beneath the sovereign that dared to offer them resistance. In 1507, at the death of Deza, third inquisitor-general, Castile and Aragon were placed under distinct tribunals. Cardinal Ximenes, 1436-1517, a member of the Franciscan order and one of the foremost figures in Spanish church history, was elevated to the office of supreme inquisitor of Castile. His distinction as archbishop of Toledo pales before his fame as a scholar and patron of letters. He likewise was unyielding in the prosecution of the work of ridding his country of the taint of heresy, but he never gave way to the temptation of using his office for his own advantage and enriching himself from the sequestrated property of the conversos, as Torquemada was charged with doing.
Under Adrian of Utrecht, at first inquisitor-general of Aragon, the tribunals of the two kingdoms were again united in 1518, and, by the addition of Navarre, which Ferdinand had conquered, the whole Iberian peninsula, with the exception of Portugal, came under the jurisdiction of a single supreme official. Adrian had acted as tutor to Charles V., and was to succeed Leo X. on the papal throne. From his administration, the succession of inquisitors-general continued unbroken till 1835, when the last occupant of the office died, Geronimo Castellan y Salas, bishop of Tarazona.
The interesting question has been warmly discussed, whether the Inquisition of Spain was a papal institution or an institution of the state, and the attempt has been made to lift the responsibility for its organization and administration from the supreme pontiff. The answer is, that it was predominantly an ecclesiastical institution, created by the authority of Sixtus IV. and continuously supported by pontifical sanction. On the other hand, its establishment was sought after by Ferdinand and Isabella, and its operations, after the papal authorization had been secured, was under the control of the Spanish sovereign. So far as we know, the popes never uttered a word in protest against the inhuman measures which were practised by the Spanish tribunals. Their only dissent arose from the persistence with which Ferdinand kept the administrative agency in his own hands and refused to allow any interference with his disposition of the sequestrated estates. The hearty approbation of the Apostolic see is vouched for in many documents, and the responsibility for the Spanish tribunal was distinctly assumed by Sixtus V., Jan. 22, 1588, as an institution established by its authority. Sixtus IV. and his successors sought again and again to get its full management into their own hands, but were foiled by the firmness of Ferdinand. When, for example, in a bull dated April 18, 1482, the pope ordered the names of the witnesses and accusers to be communicated to the suspects, that the imprisonments should be in episcopal gaols, that appeal might be taken to the Apostolic chair and that confessions to the bishop should stop all prosecution, Ferdinand sharply resented the interference and hinted that the suggestion had started with the use of conversos gold in the curia. This papal action was only a stage in the battle for the control of the Holy Office. Ferdinand was ready to proceed to the point of rupture with Rome rather than allow the principle of appeals which would have reduced the power of the suprema to impotence. Sixtus wrote a compromising reply, and a year later, October, 1483, Ferdinand got all he asked for, and the appointment of Torquemada was confirmed.
The royal management of the Inquisition was also in danger of being fatally hampered by letters of absolution, issued according to custom by the papal penitentiary, which were valid not only in the court of conscience but in stopping public trials. Ferdinand entered a vigorous protest against their use in Spain, when Sixtus, 1484, confirmed the penitentiary’s right; but here also Sixtus was obliged to retreat, at least in part, and Alexander VI. and later Clement VII., 1524, made such letters invalid when they conflicted with the jurisdiction of the Spanish tribunal. Spain was bent on doing things in its own way and won practical independence of the curia.
The principle, whereby in the old Inquisition the bishops were co-ordinate in authority with the inquisitors or superior to them, had to be abandoned in Spain in spite of the pope’s repeated attempts to apply it. Innocent VIII., 1487, completely subjected the bishops to the inquisitorial organization, and when Alexander, 1494, annulled this bull and required the inquisitors to act in conjunction with the bishop, Ferdinand would not brook the change and, under his protection, the suprema and its agents asserted their independence to Ferdinand.
Likewise, in the matter of confiscations of property, the sovereign claimed the right to dictate their distribution, now applying them for the payment of salaries to the inquisitors and their agents, now appropriating them for the national exchequer, now for his own use or for gifts to his favorites.
No concern of his reign, except the extension of his dominions, received from Ferdinand more constant and sympathetic attention than the deletion of heresy. With keen delight he witnessed the public burnings as adapted to advance the Catholic faith. He scrutinized the reports sent him by inquisitors and, at times, he expressed his satisfaction with their services by gifts of money. In his will, dated the day before his death, he enjoined his heir, Charles V., to be strenuous in supporting the tribunal. As all other virtues, so this testament ran, “are nothing without faith by which and in which we are saved, we command the illustrious prince, our grandson, to labor with all his strength to destroy and extirpate heresy from our kingdoms and lordships, appointing ministers, God-fearing and of good conscience, who will conduct the Inquisition justly and properly for the service of God and the exaltation of the Catholic faith, and who will also have a great zeal for the destruction of the sect of Mohammed.” Without doubt, the primary motive in the establishment of the tribunal was with Ferdinand, and certainly with Isabella, religious.
There seems at no time to have been any widespread revolt against the procedure of the Inquisition. In Aragon, some mitigation of its rigors and rules was proposed by the Cortes of Barcelona, 1512, such as the withdrawal from the inquisitors of the right to carry weapons and the exemption of women from the seizure of their property, in cases where a husband or father was declared a heretic, but Ferdinand and Bishop Enguera, the Aragonese inquisitor-general, were dispensed by Leo X., 1514, from keeping the oath they had taken to observe the rules. At Charles V.’s accession, an effort was made to have some of the more offensive evils abolished, such as the keeping of the names of witnesses secret, and in 1520 the Cortes of Valladolid and Corunna made open appeal for the amendment of some of the rules. Four hundred thousand ducats were offered, presumably by conversos, to the young king if he would give his assent, and, as late as 1528, the kingdom of Granada, in the same interest, offered him 50,000 ducats. But the appeals received no favorable action and, under the influence of Ximines, in 1517, the council of Castile represented to Charles that the very peace of Spain depended upon the maintenance of the Inquisition. The cardinal wrote a personal letter to the king, declaring that interference on his part would cover his name with infamy.
The most serious attempt to check the workings of the Inquisition occurred in Saragossa and resulted in the assassination of the chief inquisitor, Peter Arbues, an act of despair laid at the door of the conversos. Arbues was murdered in the cathedral Jan. 25, 1485, the fatal blow being struck from behind, while the priest was on his knees engaged in prayer. He knew his life was threatened and not only wore a coat of mail and cap of steel, but carried a lance. He lingered twenty-four hours. Miracles wrought at the coffin vouched for the sanctity of the murdered ecclesiastic. The sacred bell of Villela tolled unmoved by hands. Arbues’ blood liquefied on the cathedral floor two weeks after the deed. Within two years, the popular veneration showed itself in the erection of a splendid tomb to the martyr’s memory and the Catholic Church, by the bull of Pius IX., June 29, 1867, has given him the honors of canonization. As the assassination of the papal delegate, Peter of Castelnau, at the opening of the crusade against the Albigenses, 1208, wrought to strengthen Innocent in his purpose to wipe out heresy, even with the sword, likewise the taking off of Arbues only tightened the grip of the Spanish Inquisition in Aragon. His murderers and all in any way accessory to the crime were hunted down, their hands were cut off at the portal of the cathedral and their bodies dragged to the market-place, where they were beheaded and quartered or burnt alive.
Next to the judicial murders perpetrated by the Inquisition, its chief evil was the confiscation of estates. The property of the conversos offered a tempting prize to the cupidity of the inquisitors and to the crown. The tribunal was expected to live from the spoils of the heretics. Torquemada’s Instructions of 1484 contained specific rules governing the disposition of goods held by heretics. There was no limit put upon their despoilment, except that lands transferred before 1479 were exempted from seizure, a precaution to avoid the disturbance of titles. The property of dead heretics, though they had lain in their graves fifty years, was within the power of the tribunal. The dowries of wives were mercifully exempted whose husbands were adjudged heretical, but wives whose fathers were found to be heretics lost their dowries. The claims of the children of heretic fathers might have been expected to call for merciful consideration, but the righteousness of their dispossession had no more vigorous advocates than the clergy. To such property, as the bishop of Simancas argued, the old Christian population had a valid moral claim. The Instructions of 1484 direct that, if the children were under age at the time of the confiscation, they were to be distributed among pious families, and announced it as the king’s intention, in case they grew up good Christians, so to endow them with alms, especially the girls, that they might marry or enter religion.
The practice of confiscation extended to the bedding and wearing apparel of the victims. One gracious provision was that the slaves of condemned heretics should receive freedom. Lands were sold at auction 30 days after their sequestration, but the low price which they often brought indicates that purchasers enjoyed special privileges of acquisition. Ferdinand and his successor, Charles, were profuse in their disposition of such property. Had the moneys been used for the wars against the Moors, as at first proposed by Torquemada, the plea might be made that the tribunal was moved by unselfish considerations, but they were not. Not only did Ferdinand take money for his bankrupt treasury, but he appropriated hunting horses, pearls and other objects for his own use. The Flemish favorites of Charles V., in less than ten months, sent home 1,100,000 ducats largely made up of bequests derived from the exactions of the sacred court. Dr. Lea, whose merit it is to have shown the vast extent to which the sequestration of estates was carried, describes the money transactions of the Inquisition as “a carnival of plunder.” It was even found to be not incompatible with a purpose to maintain the purity of the faith to enter into arrangements whereby, for a sufficient consideration, communities received protection from inquisitorial charges. The first such bargain was made at Valencia, 1482. The king, however, did not hesitate on occasion to violate his pact and allow unfortunate conversos, who had paid for exemption, to be arraigned and condemned. No law existed requiring faith to be kept with a heretic. It also happened that condemned conversos purchased freedom from serving in the galleys or wearing the badge of heresy, the sanbenito.
As early as 1485, Ferdinand and Isabella were able to erect a royal palace at Guadalupe, costing 2,732,333 maravedis, with the proceeds of sequestrated property and, in a memorial address to Charles V., 1524, Tristan de Leon asserted that these sovereigns had received from the possessions of heretics no less than 10,000,000 ducats. Torquemada also was able to spend vast sums upon his enterprises, such as the conventual building of St. Thomas at Avila, which it was supposed were drawn from the victims whom his religious fervor condemned to the loss of their goods and often of their lives. When the heretical mine was showing signs of exhaustion in Spain, the Spanish colonies of Mexico and Peru poured in their spoils to enable the Holy Office to maintain the state to which it had been accustomed. At an early period, it began to take care for its own perpetuation by making investments on a large scale.
After Ferdinand’s death, the suprema’s power increased, and it demanded a respect only less than that which was yielded to the crown. Its arrogance and insolence in administration kept pace with the high pretension it made to sacredness of aim and divine authority. The institution was known as the Holy Office, the building it occupied was the holy house, casa santa, and the public solemnity at which the tribunal appeared officially before the public and announced its decisions was called the act of faith, auto de fe.
The suprema acted upon the principle started by Paramo, that the inquisitor was the chief personage in his district. He represented both the pope and king. On the one hand, he claimed the right to arrest at will and without restriction from the civil authority; on the other, he demanded freedom for his officials from all arrest and violence.
In trading and making exports, the Holy Office claimed exemption from the usual duties levied upon the people at large. Immunity from military service and the right to carry deadly weapons by day and night were among other privileges to which it laid claim. A deliverance of the Apostolic see, 1515, confirmed it in its right to arrest the highest noble in the land who dared to attack its prerogatives or agents and, in case of need, to protect itself by resort to bloodshed. Its jurisdiction extended not only to the lower orders of the clergy, but also to members of the orders, a claim which, after a long struggle, was confirmed by the edicts of Pius IV. and V., 1559, 1561. A single class was exempted from the rules of its procedure, the bishops. However, the exemption was rather apparent than real, for the Holy Office exercised the right of arraigning bishops under suspicion before the papal chair. The first cases of this kind were prelates of Jewish extraction, Davila of Segovia, 1490, and Aranda of Calahorra, 1498. Both were tried in Rome, the former being exonerated, and Aranda kept in prison in S. Angelo, where he is supposed to have died, 1500. The most famous of the episcopal suspects, the archbishop of Toledo, Bartholomew of Carranza, 1503-1576, was kept in prison for 17 years, partly in Spain and partly in Rome. The case enjoyed a European reputation.
Carranza had the distinction of administering the last rites to Charles V. and was for a time a favorite of Philip II., but that sinister prince turned against him. Partly from jealousy of Carranza’s honors, as has been surmised, and chiefly on account of his indiscretions of speech, the inquisitor-general Valdes decided upon the archbishop’s prosecution, and when his Commentary on the Catechism appeared in Spanish, he was seized under authorization from the Apostolic see, 1559. For two years the prelate was kept in a secret prison and then brought to trial. After delay, Pius IV., 1564, appointed a distinguished commission to investigate the case and Pius V. forced his transfer in 1567 to Rome, where he was confined in S. Angelo for nine years. Under Pius V.’s successor, Gregory XIII., Carranza was compelled to abjure alleged errors, suspended from his seat for five years and remanded to confinement in a Roman convent, where he afterwards died. The boldness and vast power of the Inquisition could have no better proof than the indignity and punishment placed upon a primate of Spain,
The procedure of the Holy Office followed the rules drawn by Torquemada, 1484, 1485, called the Instructions of Seville, and the Instructions of Valladolid prepared by the same hand, 1488 and 1498. These early codes were afterwards known as the Instructiones antiguas, and remained in force until superseded by the code of 1561 prepared by the inquisitor-general, Valdes.
Torquemada lodged the control of the Inquisition in the suprema, to which all district tribunals were subordinated. Permanent tribunals were located at Seville, Toledo, Valladolid, Madrid (Corte), Granada, Cordova, Murcia Llerena, Cuenca, Santiago, Logroño and the Canaries under the crown of Castile and at Saragossa, Valencia, Barcelona and Majorca under the crown of Aragon.
The officials included two inquisitors an assessor or consulter on modes of canonical procedure, an alguazil or executive officer, who executed the sentences of the tribunal, notaries who kept the records, and censors or califadores who pronounced elaborate opinions on points of dispute. To these was added an official who appraised and took charge of confiscated property. A large body of subordinates, such as the familiars or confidential agents, complete the list of officials. Laymen were eligible to the office of inquisitor, provided they were unmarried, and a condition made for holding any of these places was parity of blood, limpieza, freedom from all stain of Morisco, Jewish or heretic parentage and of ancestral illegitimacy. This peculiar provision led to endless investigation of genealogical records before appointments were made.
Each tribunal had a house of its own, containing the audience chamber, rooms for the inquisitors, a library for the records, le secreto de la Inquisicion, — a chamber of torture and secret prisons. The familiars have a dark fame. They acted as a body of spies to detect and report cases of heresy. Their zeal made them the terror of the land, and the Cortes of Monzon, 1512, called for the reduction of their number.
In its procedure, the Inquisition went on the presumption that a person accused was guilty until he had made out his innocence. The grounds of arrest were rumor or personal denunciation. Informing on suspects was represented to the people as a meritorious act and inculcated even upon children as a duty. The instructions of 1484 prescribed a mitigated punishment for minors who informed on heretical fathers, and Bishop Simancas declared it to be the sacred obligation of a son to bring his father, if guilty, to justice. The spiritual offender was allowed an advocate. Secrecy was a prime feature in the procedure. After his arrest, the prisoner was placed in one of the secret prisons, — carceres secretas, — and rigidly deprived of all intercourse with friends. All papers bearing upon his case were kept from him. The names of his accusers and of witnesses for his prosecution were withheld. In the choice of its witnesses the Inquisition allowed itself great liberty, even accepting the testimony of persons under the Church’s sentence of excommunication, of Jews who remained in the Hebrew faith and of heretics. Witnesses for the accused were limited to persons zealous for the orthodox faith, and none of his relatives to the fourth generation were allowed to testify. Heresy was regarded as a desperate disorder and to be removed at all costs. On the other hand, the age of amenability was fixed at 12 for girls and 14 for boys. The age of fourscore gave no immunity from the grim rigors of the exacting tribunal.
The charges, on which victims were arraigned, included the slightest deflection in word or act from strict Catholic usage, such as the refusal to eat pork on a single occasion, visiting a house where Moorish notions were taught, as well as saying that the Virgin herself and not her image effected cures, and that Jews and Moors would be saved if they sincerely, believed the Jewish and the Moorish doctrines to be true. Recourse was had to torture, not only to secure evidence of guilt. Even when the testimony of witnesses was sufficient to establish guilt, resort was had to torture to extract a confession from the accused that thereby his soul might be delivered from the burden of secret guilt, to extract information of accomplices, and that a wholesome influence might be exerted in deterring others from heresy by giving them an example of punishment. The modes of torture most in use were the water ordeal and the garruche. In the water-cure, the victim, tightly bound, was stretched upon a rack or bed, and with the body in an inclined position, the head downward. The jaws were distended, a linen cloth was thrust down the victim’s throat and water from a quart jar allowed to trickle through it into his inward parts. On occasion, seven or eight such jars were slowly emptied. The garrucha, otherwise known as the strappade, has already been described. In its application in Spain it was customary to attach weights to the feet and to suspend the body in such a manner that the toes alone touched the ground, and the Spanish rule required that the body be raised and lowered leisurely so as to increase the pain.
The final penalties for heresy included, in addition to the spiritual impositions of fasting and pilgrimage, confiscation of goods, imprisonment, public scourging, the galleys, exile and death. Confiscation and burning extended to the dead, against whom the charge of heresy could be made out. At Toledo, July 25, 1485, more than 400 dead were burnt in effigy. Frequently at the autos no living victims suffered. In cases of the dead their names were effaced from their tombstones, that “no memory of them should remain on the face of the earth except as recorded in our sentence.” Their male descendants, including the grandchildren, were incapacitated from occupying benefices and public positions, from riding on horseback, carrying weapons and wearing silk or ornaments.
The penalty of scourging was executed in public on the bodies of the victims, bared to the waist, by the public executioner. Women of 86 to girls of 13 were subjected to such treatment. Galley labor as a mode of punishment was sanctioned by Alexander VI., 1503. The sentence of perpetual imprisonment was often relaxed, either from considerations of mercy or for financial reasons. Up to 1488, there had been 5000 condemnations to lasting imprisonment.
The saco bendito, or sanbenito, another characteristic feature of the Spanish Inquisition, was a jacket of gray or yellow texture, furnished before and behind with a large cross as prescribed by Torquemada. This galling humiliation was aggravated by the rule that, after they were laid aside, the sanbenitos should be hung up in the churches, together with a record of the wearer’s name inscribed and his sentence. To avoid the shame of this public display, descendants often sought to change their names, a practice the law soon checked. The precedent for the sanbenito was found in the covering our first parents wore to hide their nakedness, or in the sackcloth worn in the early Church as a mark of penance.
The auto de fe, the final act in the procedure of the Inquisition, shows the relentlessness of this tribunal, and gave the spectators a foretaste of the solemnities of the day of judgment. There heretics, after being tried by the inquisitorial court, were exposed to public view, and received the first official notice of their sentence. The ceremonial took place on the public squares, where platforms and staging were erected at municipal expense, and such occasions were treated as public holidays. On the day appointed, the prisoners marched in procession, led by Dominicans and others bearing green and white crosses, and followed by the officials of the Holy Office. Arrived at the square, they were assigned seats on benches. A sermon was then preached and an oath taken from the people and also from the king, if present, to support the Inquisition. The sentences were then announced. Unrepentant heretics were turned over to the civil officers. Wearing benitos, inscribed with their name, they were conducted on asses to the brasero, or place of burning, which was usually outside the city limits, and consigned to the flames. The other heretics were then taken back to the prisons of the Inquisition. Inquisitorial agents were present at the burnings and made a record of them for the use of the religious tribunal. The solemnities of the auto de fe were usually begun at 6 in the morning and often lasted into the afternoon.
Theoretically, the tribunal did not pass the sentence of blood. The ancient custom of the Church and the canon law forbade such a decision. Its authority ceased with the abandonment — or, to use the technical expression, the relaxation — of the offender to the secular arm. By an old custom in passing sentence of incorrigible heresy, it even prayed the secular officer to avoid the spilling of blood and to exercise mercy. The prayer was an empty form. The state well understood its duty, and its failure to punish with death heretics convicted by the spiritual court was punishable with excommunication. It did not presume to review the case, to take new evidence or even to require a statement of the evidence on which the sentence of heresy was reached. The duty of the secular officer was ministerial, not judicial. The sentence of heresy was synonymous with burning at the stake. The Inquisition, however, did not stop with turning heretics over to the state, but, as even Vacandard admits, at times pronounced the sentence of burning.
So honorable to the state and to religion were the autos de fe regarded that kings attended them and they were appointed to commemorate the marriage of princes or their recovery from sickness. Ferdinand was in the habit of attending them. On the visit of Charles V. to Valencia, 1528, public exhibition was given at which 13 were relaxed in person and 10 in effigy. Philip II.’s marriage, in 1560, to Isabella of Valois was celebrated by an auto in Toledo and, in 1564, when this sovereign was in Barcelona, a public exhibition was arranged in his honor, at which eight were sentenced to death. Such spectacles continued to be witnessed by royal personages till 1701, when Philip V. set an example of better things by refusing to be present at one.
The last case of an execution by the Spanish Inquisition was a schoolmaster, Cayetano Ripoll, July 26, 1826. His trial lasted nearly two years. He was accused of being a deist, and substituting in his school the words “Praise be to God” for “Ave Maria purissima.” He died calmly on the gibbet after repeating the words, “I die reconciled to God and to man.”
Not satisfied with putting heretical men out of the world, the Inquisition also directed its attention to noxious writings. At Seville, in 1490, Torquemada burnt a large number of Hebrew copies of the Bible, and a little later, at Salamanca, he burnt 6000 copies. Ten years later, 1502, Ferdinand and Isabella promulgated a law forbidding books being printed, imported and sold which did not have the license of a bishop or certain specified royal judges. All Lutheran writings were ordered by Adrian, in 1521, delivered up to the Inquisition. Thenceforth the Spanish tribunal proved itself a vigorous guardian of the purity of the press. The first formal Index, compiled by the University of Louvain, 1546, was approved by the inquisitor-general Valdes and the suprema, and ordered printed with a supplement. This was the first Index Expurgatorius printed in Spain. All copies of the Scriptures in Spanish were seized and burnt, and the ferocious law of 1558 ordered booksellers keeping or selling prohibited books punished with confiscation of goods or death. Strict inquisitorial supervision was had over all libraries in Spain down into the 19th century. Of the effect of this censorship upon Spanish culture, Dr. Lea says: “The intellectual development which in the 16th century promised to render Spanish literature and learning the most illustrious in Europe was stunted and starved into atrophy, the arts and sciences were neglected, and the character which Spain acquired among the nations was tersely expressed in the current saying that Africa began at the Pyrenees.”
The “ghastly total” of the victims consigned by the Spanish Inquisition to the flames or other punishments has been differently stated. Precise tables of statistics are of modern creation, but that it was large is beyond question. The historian, Llorente, gives the following figures: From 1480-1498, the date of Torquemada’s death, 8800 were burnt alive, 6500 in effigy and 90,004 subjected to other punishments. From 1499-1506, 1664 were burnt alive, 832 in effigy and 32,456 subjected to other punishments. From 1507-1517, during the term of Cardinal Ximines, 2536 were burnt alive, 1368 in effigy and 47,263 subjected to other penalties. This writer gives the grand totals up to 1524 as 14,344 burnt alive, 9372 in effigy and 195,937 condemned to other penalties or released as penitents. In 1524, an inscription was placed on the fortress of Triana Seville, running: “In the year 1481, under the pontificate of Sixtus IV. and the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Inquisition was begun here. Up to 1524, 20,000 heretics and more abjured their awful crime on this spot and nearly 1000 were burnt.” From records still extant, the victims in Toledo before 1501 are found to have numbered 297 burnt alive and 600 in effigy, and 5400 condemned to other punishment or reconciled. The documents, however, are not preserved or, at any rate, not known from which a full estimate could be made. In any case the numbers included thousands of victims burnt alive and tens of thousands subjected to other punishments.
The rise of the Spanish Inquisition was contemporary with Spain’s advance to a foremost place among the nations of Europe. After eight centuries, her territory was for the first time completely free from the government of the Mohammedan. The renown of her regiments was soon to be unequalled. Spanish ships opened the highways of the sea and returned from the New World freighted with its wealth. Spanish diplomacy was in the ascendant in Italy. But the decay of her vital forces her religious zeal did not check. Spain’s Catholic orthodoxy was assured, but Spain placed herself outside the current of modern culture and progress. By her policy of religious seclusion and pride, she crushed independence of thought and virility of moral purpose. One by one, she lost her territorial acquisitions, from the Netherlands and Sicily to Cuba and the Philippines in the far Pacific. Heresy she consumed inside of her own precincts, but the paralysis of stagnation settled down upon her national life and institutions, and peoples professing Protestantism, which she still calls heresy, long since have taken her crown in the world of commerce and culture, invention and nautical enterprise. The present map of the world has faint traces of that empire on which it was the boast of the Spaniard of the 16th century that the sun never set. This reduction of territory and resources calls forth no spirit of denunciation. Nay, it attracts a sympathetic consideration which hopes for the renewed greatness of the land of Ferdinand and Isabella, through the introduction of that intellectual and religious freedom which has stirred the energies of other European peoples and kept them in the path of progress and new achievement.