Vox Day talks about the real Spanish Inquisition, that killed about 800 people over 300 years.
The Spanish Inquisition, which began in 1481, cannot be understood without recognizing the significance of this epic 771-year struggle between Christians and Muslims over the Spanish peninsula. What took the great Berber Gen. Tariq ibn Zayid only eight years to conquer on behalf of the Umayyad Caliphate required almost 100 times as long to regain, and neither King Ferdinand II of Aragon nor his wife, Queen Isabella of Castile, was inclined to risk any possibility of having to repeat the grand endeavor. Isabella, in particular, was concerned about reports of conversos, purported Christians who had pretended to convert from Judaism but were still practicing their former religion. This was troubling, as it was reasonable to assume that those who were lying about their religious conversion were also lying about their loyalty to the united crowns and it was widely feared that Jews were again encouraging Muslim leaders to attempt the recapture of al-Andalus, as they had its original capture eight centuries before. (“It remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their coreligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain.” The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). Vol XI, 485.)
An investigation was commissioned, and the reports were verified, at which point the Spanish monarchs asked Pope Sixtus IV to create a branch of the Roman Inquisition that would report to the Spanish crown. The pope initially refused, but when Ferdinand threatened to leave Rome to its own devices should the Turks attack, he reluctantly acceded and issued “Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus” on Nov. 1, 1478, a papal bull establishing an inquisition in Isabella’s Kingdom of Castile. One tends to get the impression that Ferdinand was less than deeply concerned about the potential converso threat and may have even been acting primarily to mollify his wife, as he promptly made use of this hard-won new authority to do absolutely nothing for the next two years. Then, on Sept. 27, 1480, the first two inquisitors, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martín, were named, the first tribunal was created, and by Feb. 6, 1481, six false Christians had been accused, tried, convicted and burned in the Spanish Inquisition’s first auto da fé.
What happened in between November 1478 and September 1480 to inspire this sudden burst of action? While historians such as Henry Kamen pronounce themselves baffled as to what could have provoked the Spanish crown, the most likely impetus was that on July 28, three months before Ferdinand’s decision to appoint the two inquisitors, a Turkish fleet led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha attacked the Aragonese city of Otranto. Otranto fell on Aug. 11, and more than half of the city’s 20,000 people were slaughtered during the sack of the city. The archbishop was killed in the cathedral, and the garrison commander was killed by being sawed in half, alive, as was a bishop named Stephen Pendinelli. But the most infamous event was when the captured men of Otranto were given the choice to convert to Islam or die; 800 of them held to their Christian faith and were beheaded en masse at a place now known as the Hill of the Martyrs. The Turkish fleet then went on to attack the cities of Vieste, Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi and destroyed the great library at the Monastero di San Nicholas di Casole before returning to Ottoman territory in November.
It is one of the great ironies of history that three times more people died in the forgotten event that almost surely inspired the Spanish Inquisition than died in the famous flames of the inquisition itself.
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Faultline USA, Allie is Wired, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, Big Dog’s Weblog, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, , and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.