I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition

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.



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3 responses to “I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition

  1. Well, well, it’s curious that now these things begin to be discovered. We, Spaniards, have been labelled as cruel and vicious for centuries, when religious persecution (and ideological control) was something tragically normal.

    Anyway, the truth is that Ferdinand was really interested in establishing Inquisition in Castille (the tribunal was not established in a place before and had very rarely come to Castille, while it had been more normal in Aragon), as he knew that the political control would be much greater if the Church helped him. The reality is that Inquisition inspired fear, so the people would never do something against the orthodox beliefs of the Church.

  2. Nora,

    Yes Spain and the Catholic Church have been unfairly tarred over the Inquisition, which was a reaction to being occupied by Muslim invaders for 700 years. Now that other countries are experiencing the tiny beginnings of what that occupation was like the people are beginning to realize that their own traditions were not so bad after all. Yes, even the Inquisition.

    In your estimation, are the Spanish awakening to the danger that faces them enough that they may overthrow the politically correct socialist government they voted in after 3/11?

  3. Well, I have been writing about that. Just as terrible as it would seem, people are getting angry with the Government because of the economic situation, that’s worsening by the day. Other things are not terribly important as the MSM conveniently silence them.

    You know, here there are no riots and Muslims tend to be very quiet because they know that the confrontation could be, at least be now, very wrong for them. There are two things happening:

    a) firstly, more and more people are getting concerned about immigration in general (absolutely uncontrolled): not only Muslims/Islamists, but South-American, Eastern-countries nationals, Eastern Asian… are entering Spain and some of them are extremelly violent (though an important percentage come here only to work). So the positions are beginning to be more extremist everyday, because measures weren’t taken in the moment they should have.

    And b) political bodies have not been worried about this phenomenon till the last months, just as dim as it sounds. So we can appreciate a total divorce between normal people (mostly in poor or low-class suburbs who are fed up with the situation) and political correct politicians.

    That is going to be the subject of one of the next posts on the subject…

    If Zapatero wins again (something we can’t rule out) this is going to be terrible. Leftist MSM (90% of all) are doing a very interesting and good job for him… 😦

    About the Inquisition: well, for me, you know, this is another proof that the human beings are (we are) very egocentric. If something happens to us, then we understand it. Of course, there are dimmwits that not even in that case… 😉 But you know, the worst thing about this, is, for me, that we have lost five centuries to fight Islamism and its North African domination with stupid battles over Europe. Charles V of Germany (king of Spain) wanted to conquer North Africa in XVIth century. In fact, he aimed at what it was called then “Argel”, modern Algeria (he conquered the important fortress of La Goleta, 1529). But the Protestant reform stopped him for conquering the whole of it.

    You know, I am not saying the Protestant reform wasn’t justified. I am saying that the danger was NOT Spain or the Catholic Church. But of course, in this case, to know the danger, you must have suffered it. And countries such as France (Catholic …) allied themselves with the Turks to fight Spain. It’s that stupid vision what angers me… 👿