Dominicans
and the Spanish Inquisition.
 

Background: All from Wikipedia.

The Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711, and dominated the country until the thirteenth century. Following the Christian victory at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), and the fall of Cordoba (1236) and Seville (1248), most of Peninsula, including most of the south, came under Christian rule. Only the small region of Granada remained under Muslim rule, which was ended by a final Christian victory of 1492.

The Spanish Inquisition was a response to the multi-religious nature of Spanish society.

However, in the medieval period the Reconquista did not result in the expulsion of Muslims from Spain, since they, along with Jews, were tolerated, although treated as inferiors, by the ruling Catholic elite. Big cities, especially Seville, Valladolid, and Barcelona, had large Jewish populations centred in "Judería".

Post-reconquest medieval Spain has been characterized by Americo Castro and some other Iberianists as a society of "convivencia," that is relatively peaceful co-existence, albeit punctuated by occasional conflict among the ruling Catholics, and the subject Jews and Muslims. However, as Kamen notes "so-called convivencia was always a relationship between unequals."

Despite their legal inequality, there was a long tradition of Jewish service to the crown of Aragon. Ferdinand's father John II named the Jewish Abiathar Crescas to be Court Astronomer. Jews occupied many important posts, religious and political. Castile itself had an unofficial rabbi.

Nevertheless, in some parts of Spain towards the end of the 14th century, there was a wave of violent anti-Judaism, encouraged by the preaching of Ferrant Martinez, Archdeacon of Ecija. The pogroms of June 1391 were especially bloody: in Seville, hundreds of Jews were killed, and the synagogue was completely destroyed. The number of people killed was also high in other cities, such as Córdoba, Valencia and Barcelona.
One of the consequences of these pogroms was the mass conversion of Jews. Although the f
orcibly baptized could legally return to Judaism, in many places the converted "felt it safer to remain in their new religion."
 

Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragón.    Spain 1987, Mi 2800, Sc 2532. 


Thus after 1391 a new social group appeared: conversos, also called New Christians, who were distrusted by Jews and Christians alike for their religious beliefs and practices, which were seen as a mixture between the two religions. Many conversos attained important positions in 15th century Spain. Among many others, physicians Andrés Laguna and Francisco Lopez Villalobos (Ferdinand's court physician), writers Juan del Enzina, Juan d
e Mena, Diego de Valera and Alonso de Palencia, and bankers Luis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez (who financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus) were all conversos.
Conversos - not without opposition - managed to attain high positions in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, at times becoming severe detractors of Judaism. Some even received titles of nobility, and as a result, during the following century some works attempted to demonstrate that virtually all of the nobles of Spain were descended from Israelites.

Motives for instituting the Spanish Inquisition. Source:  Wikipedia

There is no unanimity among historians about Ferdinand and Isabella's motives for introducing the Inquisition. Historians have suggested a number of possible reasons.

1. To establish political and religious unity. The Inquisition allowed the monarchy to intervene actively in religious affairs, without the interference of the Pope. At the same time, Ferdinand and Isabella's objective was the creation of efficient state machinery; thus, one of their priorities was to achieve religious unity to promote more centralized political authority.

2. To weaken local political opposition to the Catholic Monarchs. Strengthening centralized political authority also entailed weakening local political opposition. Resistance to the installation of the Inquisition in the Kingdom of Aragon, for example, was often couched in terms of local legal privileges (fueros).

3. To do away with the powerful conversos minority. Many members of influential families such as the Santa Fes, the Santangels, the Caballerias and the Sanchezes, were prosecuted in the Kingdom of Aragon. This is contradicted, to an extent, by the fact that Ferdinand, King of Aragon, continued to employ many conversos in his administration.

4. Economic support. Given that one of the measures used with those tried was the confiscation of property, this possibility cannot be discarded.

The start of the Inquisition.

The Dominican Alonso de Hojeda, prior of the priory at Seville, convinced Queen Isabel of the existence of Crypto-Judaism among Andalusian conversos during her stay in Seville between 1477 and 1478. A report, produced at the request of the Monarchs by Pedro González de Mendoza, Archbishop of Seville, and by the Segovian Dominican Tomás de Torquemada, corroborated this assertion.
The Monarchs decided to introduce the Inquisition to Castile to uncover and do away with false converts, and requested the Pope's assent.

This altarpiece 'Madonna of the Catholic Kings', (tempera on panel,123x112 cm.,1490-1495) was originally in the St Thomas priory in Avila, founded by Thomas de Torquemada in 1482.

On the right of the Madonna King Ferdinand V is kneeling at the feet of his patron Saint Thomas, who presented the model of the priory's church  in Avila. Beside the King the Infant Don Juan, behind them the Chief Inquisitor Thomas de Torquemada can be seen.

 

In the opposite group Queen Isabelle is adoring the Madonna with her
patron saint St Dominic, the Italian-Spanish chronicler Peter Martyr of Anghiera or (Latin) de Angleria, and Princess Isabelle.

As painter is named Michel Sittow (Zittoz), 1469-24.12.1525, from Reval (Tallin), pupil of Hans Memling and appointed court painter of the Catholic Kings in 1492 till 1514. But the attribution of this painting is debated. Recently it is assumed that it was created by a follower of Fernando Gallego (+1507 in Salamanca). The painting is now preserved in Museo del Prado, Madrid.
On stamps: Grenada 2000, Mi 4455, Sc 3001,a; Guyana 1987, Mi 1930, Sc 1789.

The inquisition in the Kingdom of Castile.

 On November 1, 1478, Pope Sixtus IV promulgated the bull ‘Exigit sinceras devotionis affectus’, establishing the Inquisition in the Kingdom of Castile. The bull gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors.


The first two inquisitors, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martín were not named, however, until two years later, on September 27, 1480 in Medina del Campo.

Pope Sixtus IV (Pope 1471-1484) in old wooden press,
from Latin Vatican Codex 2044.

Vatican City 1975, Mi 668, Sc 583.

At first, the activity of the Inquisition was limited to the dioceses of Seville and Cordoba, where Alonso de Hojeda, O.P. had detected converso activity. The first Auto de Fé was celebrated in Seville on February 6, 1481: six people were burned alive. Alonso de Hojeda himself gave the sermon. The Inquisition then grew rapidly. By 1492, tribunals existed in eight Castilian cities: Ávila, Cordoba, Jaén, Medina del Campo, Segovia, Sigüenza, Toledo and Valladolid.

The inquisition in the Kingdom of Aragón.

Establishing the new Inquisition in the Kingdom of Aragón was more difficult. Ferdinand did not resort to new appointments; he resuscitated the old Pontifical Inquisition, submitting it to his direct control. The population of Aragón was obstinately opposed to the Inquisition. In addition, differences between Ferdinand and Sixtus IV prompted the latter to promulgate a new bull categorically prohibiting the Inquisition's extension to Aragon. In this bull, the Pope unambiguously criticized the procedures of the inquisitorial court, affirming that, many true and faithful Christians, because of the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves and other low people—and still less appropriate—without tests of any kind, have been locked up in secular prisons, tortured and condemned like relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and properties, and given over to the secular arm to be executed, at great danger to their souls, giving a pernicious example and causing scandal to many.[5].

The Bull of 17 October  1483, and naming Thomás de Torquemada, O.P.

October 17, 1483 the Pope Sixtus IV promulgated another bull, naming Tomás de Torquemada, O.P.(1420-16 September 1498), Inquisidor General of Aragón, Valencia and Catalonia. This made the Inquisition the only institution with authority throughout all the kingdoms of the Spanish monarchy, and, in all of them, a useful mechanism at the service of the crown.
The cities of Aragón continued resisting, and even saw periods of revolt, like in Teruel from 1484 to 1485. However, the murder of the inquisidor Pedro Arbués in Zaragoza on September 15, 1485, caused public opinion to turn against the conversos in favour of the Inquisition. In Aragón, the inquisitorial courts focused specifically on members of the powerful converso minority, ending their influence in the Aragonese administration.

Intense activity from 1480 until 1530.

Between the years 1480 and 1530, the Inquisition saw a period of intense activity. The exact number of trials and executions is debated. Henry Kamen risks an approximate number of 2000 executed based on the documentation of the Autos de Fé. The majority of victims were conversos (Maranos) of Jewish origin.

Life and activities of Thomas de Torquemada, O.P., click here.

Dominicans in the Peruvian Inquisition, click here.


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