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  • It's 1481.

  • In the city of Seville,

  • devout Catholics are turning themselves in to the authorities.

  • They're confessing to heresyfailure to follow the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

  • But why?

  • The Spanish Inquisition has arrived in Seville.

  • The Inquisition began in 1478, when Pope Sixtus IV issued a decree

  • authorizing the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella,

  • to root out heresy in the Spanish kingdoms

  • a confederacy of semi-independent kingdoms

  • in the area that would become the modern country of Spain.

  • Though the order came from the church, the monarchs had requested it.

  • When the Inquisition began, the Spanish kingdoms were diverse

  • both ethnically and religiously,

  • with Jews, Muslims, and Christians living in the same regions.

  • The Inquisition quickly turned its attention to ridding the region

  • of people who were not part of the Catholic Church.

  • It would last more than 350 years.

  • On the ground, groups called tribunals ran the Inquisition in each region.

  • Roles on a tribunal could include

  • an arresting constable, a prosecuting attorney,

  • inquisitors to question the accused, and a scribe.

  • A “Grand Inquisitor,” a member of the clergy selected by the king and queen,

  • almost always led a tribunal.

  • The Inquisition marked its arrival in each new place with anEdict of Grace.”

  • Typically lasting 40 days,

  • the Edict of Grace promised mercy to those who confess to heresy.

  • After that, the inquisitors persecuted suspected heretics

  • on the basis of anonymous accusations.

  • So the confessors in Seville probably didn't see themselves as actual heretics

  • instead, they were hedging their bets by reporting themselves

  • when the consequences were low,

  • rather than risking imprisonment or torture

  • if someone else accused them later on.

  • They were right to worry:

  • once the authorities arrested someone, accusations were often vague,

  • so the accused didn't know the reasons for their arrest

  • or the identity of their accuser.

  • Victims were imprisoned for months or even years.

  • Once arrested, their property was confiscated,

  • often leaving their families on the street.

  • Under these conditions, victims confessed to the most mundane forms of heresy

  • like hanging linen to dry on a Saturday.

  • The Inquisition targeted different subsets of the population over time.

  • In 1492, at the brutal Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada's urging,

  • the monarchs issued a decree giving Spanish Jews four months

  • to either convert to Christianity or leave the kingdom.

  • Thousands were expelled and those who stayed risked persecution.

  • Converts to Christianity, known as conversos, weren't even safe,

  • because authorities suspected them of practicing Judaism in secret.

  • The hatred directed at conversos was both religious and economic,

  • as conversos made up a large portion of the upper middle class.

  • The Inquisition eventually shifted its focus to the moriscos,

  • converts to Christianity from Islam.

  • In 1609, an edict passed forcing all moriscos to leave.

  • An estimated 300,000 left.

  • Those who remained became the Inquisition's next targets.

  • The inquisitors announced the punishments of those found guilty of heresy

  • in public gatherings called autos de fé, or acts of faith.

  • Hundreds of people gathered to watch the procession of sinners, mass, sermon,

  • and finally the announcement of punishments.

  • Most of the accused received punishments like imprisonment, exile,

  • or having to wear a sanbenito, a garment that marked them as a sinner.

  • The worst punishment wasrelaxado en persona”—

  • a euphemism for burning at the stake.

  • This punishment was relatively uncommon

  • reserved for unrepentant and relapsed heretics.

  • Over 350 years after Queen Isabella started the Inquisition,

  • her namesake, Queen Isabella II, formally ended it on July 15th, 1834.

  • The Spanish kingdoms' dependence on the Catholic Church had isolated them

  • while the rest of Europe experienced the Enlightenment

  • and embraced the separation of church and state.

  • Historians still debate the number of people killed during the Inquisition.

  • Some suggest over 30,000 but most estimate between 1,000 and 2,000.

  • The consequences of the Inquisition, however, reach far beyond fatalities.

  • In some places, an estimated 1/3 of prisoners were tortured.

  • Hundreds of thousands of members of religious minorities

  • were forced to leave their homes,

  • and those who remained faced discrimination and economic hardship.

  • Smaller inquisitions in Spanish colonial territories

  • in the Americas, especially Mexico, carried their own tolls.

  • Friends turned in friends, neighbors accused neighbors,

  • and even family members reported each other of heresy.

  • Under the Inquisition,

  • people were condemned to live in fear and paranoia for centuries.

It's 1481.

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Ugly History: The Spanish Inquisition - Kayla Wolf

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/23
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