I'm going to share what I'm learning while I read “The Spanish Inquisitioin” by Joseph Perez, published by Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11982-8 I'm reading this more out of curiosity about they psychology of it than I am out of religion bashing and intend to just note the facts here for those interested in the short-story. Truth is, I'm finding it interesting, but can't quite keep track of all the facts in my head, so…

The Prelude

(11th Century:)

It started out in Spain (duh) where there was a majority Christian population, and a few small Muslim camps. As Jews immigrated to Spain they basically had a choice between moving in areas that were Christian, or those that were Muslim. Since the Christian majority had laws that considered Jews less favorably than Christians (higher taxes, etc) and the Muslims held Jews as being equal (in matters of the law) to Muslims, the choice was fairly easy, the Jews moved in with the Muslims and learned Arabic. Jews settling into Muslim areas were often given unfavorable work, like tax collection, which made people generally dislike them when times got tough.

(The end of 11th & early 12th Century:)

When a second wave of Muslim immigrants, who were much less tolerant of people of other faiths, moved into Spain, they persecuted the Jews and drove them to seek refuge in the Christian areas of Spain. These Jews were welcomed by the Christian areas in the north because they spoke Arabic and understood the politics and culture of the Muslim territories, and they were familiar with the most advanced commercial techniques of the time. The church, however, did not like Christians and Jews mixing for anything but economic reasons. So, in law Jews were treated as second class citizens, they were not permitted to hold positions of authority over Christians, they could not eat with Christians, mixed marriages were illegal, etc.

Eventually, Jewish settlements were established (called aljamas) where they set up their own laws and culture. They had official status that guaranteed them a legal existence and, at least in theory, some protection from acts of aggression. Most of the Jews earned modest living as shopkeepers or artisans, but a few grew rich enough to lend money, even to royalty. Some Jews continued the tradition of collecting taxes and other dues. This, obviously, didn't do much to help the anti-semitism of the times.

(14th Century:)

The Black Death occurred and the economy was suffering. Christians and Jews hadn't had to compete in the job market before, but now that was changing. The anti-Judaism of the church went mostly unnoticed until now. Now that the conditions had changed, the people's opinions were changing as well. In the face of hardship and with the horrors of the Black Death, which they could not understand, people started thinking the disease was a result of a curse for their sins. The church urged people to repent and turn back to God. Jews were publicly scorned and in some cases even blamed for spreading plague by poisoning wells, etc.

The first wave of persecutions, the Pastoureaux crusade, started it all in France in 1321. In Pamplona, Jews were assasinated. In Estella, in 1328, sermons provoked a riot and the houses of Jews were ransacked and the Jews were killed. 20 years later they spread to Barcelona. Eventually things calmed down, but the general opinion of Jews would continued changed for quite some time. In 1355 and 1366, political issues sparked Jewish massacres in Toledo and Briviesca respectively.

Starting in 1378, Fernand Martinez, the archdeacon of Ecija, in Andalusia, began preaching anti-semitic sermons in the midst of an economic depression. Without the support of the church or state, he urged people to break off all ties with Jews and to destroy their synagogues. The King (King John I) ordered him to moderate his behavior, but he ignored the warnings thinking that they didn't reflect the king's true intentions. Eventually, the archbishop decided to suspend Martinez and to lay charges against him, but at that point (July 1390) the prelate died, leaving Martinez as the new provisional administrator of the diocese. A few months later, the king died as well, leaving a young child (Henry III) as his heir.

This gave the archdeacon a free pass. He ordered synagogues demolished and confiscated Jewish prayer books. In January, 1391 the authorities were able to repress a riot, but a second in June could not be stopped. Houses were looted, synagogues were turned into churches, and the Jews who wee not killed either asked to be baptized or fled. Eventually it spread from Seville to Castile, and then to Cordova, Ubeda, Baeza, and so on, each time with the same effects. The Jews were killed, they got baptized, or they fled. In August of 1391 the riots spread to Saragossa, Barcelona (where 400 Jews were assassinated), Lerida (where 78 Jews were killed), Gerona, Valencia (where 250 Jews died).

(The 15th Century:)

In 1412, Catherine, the Queen Mother, in charge of Castile until Henry III came of age, decided to confine the Jews to ghettos. They were required to grow their beards long and sew a red disc onto their clothing. Outside of the ghetto, the could no longer be doctors, chemists, drug-sellers, blacksmiths, carpenters, tailors, butchers, cobblers, traders, or tax collectors. In 1415 these laws extended to Aragon with an extra law banning possession of the Talmud added in for good measure. Jews were only allowed one synagogue per aljama and had to attend 3 Christian sermons every year: one on the 2nd Sunday in Advent, Easter Monday, and a third on a day left up to the discretion of local authorities. In reality, these laws were not applied, but they are a good indication of the direction people were taking when it came to Jews. It was clear they wanted them to convert. And convert they did, by the thousands. It's said that over half the Jews in Spain were converted between 1391 and 1415. It's believed that no more than 100,000 individuals still faithful to Judaism remained on the entire Iberian peninsula.

Between 1419 and 1422, the kings of Castile and Aragon retracted most of the discriminatory measures taken by their predecessors and Jews began repossessing the synagogues that had been taken from them, taking up the professions they had been banned from, and no longer had to display the red disc on their clothing. The aljamas were officially sanctioned in 1420 and while they were fairly successful internally, Jews played only minimal roles in political and economic life in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon as a whole.

Outside of the aljamas, Jews who had converted to Christianity were called conversos or New Christians. The converted were drawn to large towns by business and largely belonged to the emerging middle class. Many conversos came to hold high posisitons in Burgos where the center of the wool trade was located. Professions that were closed to Jews were open to conversos, so many also came to hold public posts as well. Others even entered the clergy, where some rose to high positions, becoming canons, and priors and such.

The aristocracy encouraged the assimilation of the conversos, but the general population grew more and more hostile as they watched (former) Jews take over such high posts. It seemed that long standing antisemitism now condemned Jews and New Christians alike. As a result of these tensions, riots broke out in Toledo in 1449, then again in 1474 in Castile and soon some were calling for the exclusion of conversos from positions of power. Such posts should be reserved for Old Christians, it was argued, and thus began the statutes on blood purity that discriminated between Christians based on the date of their baptism. Theologians condemned this discrimination and maintained that whatever the date when they became Christians, all the faithful formed a single flock and all had equal rights.

Order was restored in Toledo, but in 1467 riots broke out again. Conversos were massacred, their houses were looted and burned to the ground. In 1473, and several years before, there were food shortages and the undernourished population was struck by a series of plague epidemics. The poor rose up against the wealthy, who they accused of stockpiling wheat to force higher prices. The hatred was deflected onto the conversos, and in 1473, Cordova once again saw rioting and looting. The authorities risked their lives standing up for the conversos, leaving Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon with a need to take action.

2 laws were enacted that had been in place since 1412, but never applied. Jews were to live in seperate quarters for one -they could leave in the daytime, but must be back home for their meals at night. The other one required them to wear a red disc upon their clothing. As compensation for the discriminatory laws, the Catholic sovereigns guaranteed the security of the Jews. In this way, order was restored, but it did little to change people's attitudes.

Animosity towards all Jews remained, but grew particularly worse for the conversos. They were accused of acting Christian only for economic and social reasons while still practicing Judaism fairly openly. This was more than just a social problem because during this time it was deemed that if you had been baptized, even if it was against your will, it was irreversible. You belonged to the Church from that moment on. Those who reverted back to Judaism (called marranos) after being baptized were, therefore, guilty of heresy and the Church was able to then call on the State for assistance in punishing the crime.

In the mid-15th Century, people began calling for the exile of Jews who hadn't converted as well as the false conversos on the basis that their influence was corrupting the true conversos. As this movement gained ground, in 1475, it was brought to the queen's attention. The fact that there were Jews claiming to be Christians for personal gain, but actually practicing Judaism fairly openly, was a scandal at the time and as more and more reports rolled in, and the people demanded measures be taken against the false conversos, the Queen knew something had to be done.

In 1477-78 she sent Catholic sovereigns to survey the situation in Extremadura, Adalusia, and Seville, but despite the fact that their findings confirmed the reports, the Queen did not feel that violence was necessary. Ferdinand, on the other hand, was convinced it was, and he was eventually able to persuade her as well.

The Beginning of the Spanish Inquisition:

(Still the 15th Century:)

The Catholic sovereigns went to Pope Sixtus IV, who authorized them to appoint inquisitors in their kingdoms. The Queen, however, did not make use of this power for 2 years. Instead, she sent her confessor to warn the conversos of the persecution that threatened them as well as to help the local priests educate the Jews in the Christian religion and ways. This was necessary because the act of being converted did not include instruction in Christianity, so even if the newly converted Jew wanted to be a true Christian, they often simply didn't know how to go about it.

The Jews, however, did not heed the warning and the program eventually failed. On September 1, 1480 the first inquisitors were appointed and they decided to start in Seville. It was believed that the inquisition would force the Jews to convert and assimilate, and once it was over and they were all converted, all the previous problems would go away. That, of course, did not happen.

The inquisitor's arrival provoked panic among the conversos. It's estimated that some 3,000 converso families left for Portugal, France or North Africa where most of them reverted back to Judaism. Another ~8,000 individuals sought refuge in more friendly areas of the region. On January 2, 1481, the inquisitors demanded that these nobles stop protecting the conversos or they, themselves, would be charged with complicity and obstruction of the work of the Holy Office. Other conversos stayed and tried to resist the inquisitors.

Between 1481 and 1488 about 700 executions and thousands of other sentences (mostly life imprisonment) were recorded in Seville. At this time there were cries for instruction of Christian faith as well as the ability to appeal to the Pope after a sentence was handed down. The Pope was actually horrified by what was happening and admitted that his decision to begin the inquisition was hasty. On January 29, 1482, he said that he didn't realize the scope of the concession he was giving to the sovereigns. He had thought that this inquisition would work like those before it, with the bishops in charge, and he denouced the attitude of the inquisitors, saying that they were abusing their ppower by not allowing those whom they condemned to appeal to the court of Rome. But, because of diplomatic pressures, as of February 11, 1482, the Pope agreed to allow the inquisitors to remain in their posts with some conditions: They were to provide the bishops with reports of their activites, the Holy Office was to no longer keep names secret, and those sentenced should be allowed to appeal to the court of Rome. Ferdinand, however, would not accept any of the conditions. In 1483, the Pope bowed to the demands of the sovereigns and won only the right of the guilty to appeal to the archbishop of Seville.

Ferdinand attempted to extend the Inquisition into the kingdom of Aragon in 1481, but on April 18, 1482, the Pope reacted violently to this. In fact, in October of 1482, he suspended all inquisitorial activities in Aragon (the medevil inquisition, lead by the bishops rather than the sovereigns, had already been in place there for sometime but it wasn't effective enough for Ferdinand). The standoff went on until October 17, 1483 when Sixtus IV agreed to appoint Torquemada as the supreme head of the Holy Office in the Kingdom of Aragon with the authority to appoint inquisitors.

On August 12, 1484, Pope Sixtus IV died and the sovereigns pressured his sucessor (Pope Innocent VIII) to renew the existing dispositions regarding the Inquisition. He did, and on September 25, 1486 he took it a step further by granting the grand inquisitor, Torquemada, the right to receive the appeals of those sentenced instead of the archbishop of Seville (with the exception that bishops that were found guilty could appeal to Rome). In 1488 Pope Innocent VIII gave the sovereigns the power to choose Torquemada's replacement as well, whenever that time should come. …And so, the power shifted from the papacy to the sovereigns.

Tomas de Torquemoda was once a confessor to Fedinand and Isabella and he was renowned for his dedication to his faith. As grand inquisitor, it was he who structured the Spanish Inquisition, making it centralized and introducing a code of procedure. He also extended the competence of the Holy Office by creating permanent courts in all the principal towns in the kingdom of Castile. Carrillo, the archbishop of Toledo, resisted this in his diocese, but his sucessor, Cardinal Mendoza did not and in 1485 the Inquisition was established in Toledo as well. The citizens of Toledo attempted to resist, but they were hung for their efforts.

There were some road bumps in Aragon, such as the laws that limited sovereign's powers to confiscate property and the fact that foreigners (including Castillians, which most of the inquisitors were) were nnot allowed to occupy posts of authority. In 1513, however, Ferdinand argued that because the Pope had began the inquisition, certainly canon law took precedent over local laws and the right of faith was above all else. And with this logic, he eventually got his way.

In Valencia (in Aragon), however, the inquisition was met with riots provoked by local nobility. In fact, the first 2 inquisitors that came to the kingdom quickly died. One of suspected poisoning and one was stabbed in the neck (because he wore armor everywhere else) while praying! The stabbing, however, outraged the faithful and Ferdinand made sure their anger was turned towards the conversos in order to gain support for the inquisition.

All-in-all, about 2000 people perished at the stake throughout Spain between 1450 and 1500. As many as 500 executions happened in Andalusia, 150 in Avila, about 50 in Valladolid, and several hundred in Valencia.

In 1492, the sovereigns demanded that all Jews who refused to convert be expelled -for they were the ones tempting the true conversos back to the path of Judaism, but because they had never been baptized, they could not be charged with heresy. Therefore, expulsion was their only option. It's suspected that the political reason for ridding the country of Jews was to make Spain more like other western European countries who had already become 100% Catholic. In fact, it seemed to be a condition of becoming a modern State. Having islands of Jewish citizens with separate laws and special status weakened the government.

And so, the Jews were given 4 months to leave the country. In the meantime, they could sell their possessions, but they were not allowed to take any gold or silver with them. Instead, they'd have to negotiate with bankers for bills of exchange that could be cashed abroad. But, 4 months wasn't enough time for the Jews to negotiate fair prices so they were often taken advantage of. And those who had lent money out found it very hard, if not impossible, to collect the debts owed to them. So, many Jews opted to convert and stay in Spain rather than loose all of their possessions and much of their money. But between 50,000 and 100,000 others (and probably more than expected) chose their faith above their home, their possessions, and their money and did, indeed, choose exile. Most fled to the Ottoman Empire (in Thessalonika, Constantinople, or the Greek Islands), but others went to Portugal, Italy, or North Africa. This was the origin of the Sephardic communities to the East.

After the expulsion, the number of persecutions diminished. The number of marranos (Jews passing themselves off as Catholics) probably stayed the same, but they now knew they had to be much more careful about it.

16th and 17th Centuries:

After the expulsion, records of charges against Judaisers grow increasingly rare.

In 1580 the kingdoms of Castile and Portugal were both under the authority of a single sovereign, Philip II, who passed them onto Philip III and Philip IV through 1640. During this time many of the Jews who had fled to Portugal when they were expelled from Spain took this opportunity to return to their homeland. There were good economic reasons for them to move and so, many moved into the highly developed regions of Andalusia and Madrid. This movement began in 1598-1621 under Philip III who was paid 1,860,000 ducats by Portuguese marranos who also paid 50,000 cruzados to his friend, the duke of Lerma, plus more to the council of the Inquisition for Philip III to go to the Holy Office seeking amnesty for them for their past Judaising. On August 23, 1604 the Pope authorized the Portuguese grand inquisitor to reconcile New Christians of Portuguese origin as long as their sentences were no more harsh than spiritual penances.

By law marranos were not allowed to leave Portugal, but Philip III would take 200,000 ducats for their right to emigrate to the new Portuguese and Spanish colonies. This authori

the_spanish_inquisition.txt · Last modified: 2010/06/16 13:42 (external edit)
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