In the months of May and June, 1485, two acts of faith were celebrated in Saragossa, capital of Aragon, and a large number of New Christians burned alive.
Continuing Spanish Inquisition Established,
with a selection from History of the Inquisition by William H. Rule published in 1868. This selection is presented in 6 installments, each one 5 minutes long.
Previously in Spanish Inquisition Established.
Place: Sargossa, Spain
But what shall we say of a faith that could only hope to be kept alive in the world by the extinction of charity, honor, pity, and humanity? Llorente describes the immediate issue:
Such opportune measures for multiplying victims could not but produce the desired effect. Hence, on January 6, 1481, there were burned six unhappy persons; sixteen on March 26th; many on April 21st; and by November 4th, two hundred ninety-eight in all. Besides these, the inquisitors condemned seventy-nine to perpetual imprisonment. And all this in the city of Seville only; since, as regards the territories of this archbishopric and of the bishopric of Cadiz, Juan de Mariana says that, in the single year of 1481, two thousand Judaizers were burned in person, and very many in effigy, of whom the number is not known, besides seventeen thousand subjected to cruel penance. Among those burned were many principal persons and rich inhabitants, whose property went into the treasury.
As so many persons were to be put to death by fire, the Governor of Seville caused a permanent raised pavement, or platform of masonry, to be constructed outside the city, which has lasted to our time [until the French invasion, if not later], retaining its name of Quemadero (‘Burning-place’); and at the four corners four large hollow statues of limestone, within which they used to place the impenitent alive, that they might die by slow heat. I leave my readers to consider whether this punishment of an error of the understanding was consistent or not with the doctrine of the Gospel?
Fear caused an immense multitude of others of the same class of New Christians to emigrate to France, Portugal, and even Africa. But many others, whose effigies had been burned, appealed to Rome, complaining of the injustice of those proceedings; in consequence of which appeals the Pope wrote, on January 29, 1482, to Ferdinand and Isabella, saying that there were innumerable complaints against the inquisitors, Fray Miguel Morillo and Fray Juan de San Martin especially, because they had not confined themselves to canon law, but declared many to be heretics that were not. His holiness said that, but for the royal nomination, he would have deprived them of their office; but that he revoked the power he had given to the sovereign to nominate others, supposing that fit persons would be found among those nominated by the general or the provincial of the Dominicans, to whom the privilege belonged, and in prejudice of whose privilege the former nomination by Ferdinand and Isabella had been allowed.”
So adroitly did the Pope take the absolute control of the Inquisition into his own hands under pretense of impartial justice, and leave the weaker tyrant to eat the fruit of his doings. But since that time pope and king have been again united in the management of the Holy Office, the latter, however, in abject subservience to the former. Neither in the appeals nor in the brief was there anything that could divert Torquemada from the prosecution of his purposes; and therefore he hastened to bring Aragon under his jurisdiction. Ferdinand convened the cortes of that kingdom in the city of Tarragona, April, 1484; in that assembly appointed a junta to prepare measures for the establishment of another tribunal; and then Torquemada, in pursuance of the latest pontifical decision, created Friar Caspar Inglar, a preacher of the Dominican community, and Pedro Arbues de Epila, a canon of the metropolitan church, inquisitors. The King gave a mandate to the civil authorities — a firman, it might be called — compelling them to lend aid to the new officers; and, on September 13th following, the Grand Justice of Aragon, with his five lieutenants of the long robe and various other magistrates, swore upon the holy Gospels that they would give men and arms to defend and to enforce the authority of the Holy Inquisition. And as they swore thus, the King’s chief secretary for Aragon, the prothonotary, the vice-chancellor, the royal treasurer — whose own father and grandfather were Jews, and persecuted by the old inquisitors — together with a multitude of persons of high rank and office, in whose veins flowed Jewish blood, and whose descendants are now among the first families in Spain, looked on with dismay, and sent a deputation to Rome, bearing remonstrance against the newly created Inquisition; and deputed others to present their appeal to the same effect at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. All these deputies were afterward proceeded against as hinderers of the Holy Office; and meanwhile the inquisitors, in contempt of opposition, set themselves to work without delay.
In the months of May and June, 1485, two acts of faith were celebrated in Saragossa, capital of Aragon, and a large number of New Christians burned alive. The public was enraged, certainly, but helpless; yet not so helpless but that many awoke to a conviction that, since the inquisitors had resorted to terror for the conservation of the faith, they ought to be restrained by terror in their turn.
In the night of September 14, 1485, one of the inquisitors, Pedro Arbues, covered as usual with a coat of mail under his robes, and wearing a steel skull-cap under his hat — for he was every moment conscious of guilt and apprehensive of retribution — took a lantern in one hand and a bludgeon in the other; and, like a sturdy soldier of his peculiar Church, walked from his house to the cathedral of that same Saragossa, to join in matins. He knelt down by one of the pillars, setting his lantern on the pavement. His right hand held the weapon of defense, yet stealthily half covered with the cloak. The canons, in their places, were chanting hymns. Two men came and knelt down near him. They understood, as most Spaniards do, how most effectually to attack a man, and how to kill him quickest. Therefore one of them suddenly disabled him on one side by a blow on the left arm. The other swung his cudgel at the back of his head, just below the edge of the steel cap, and laid him prone. He never spoke again, but expired in a few hours. This murder, as might be expected, was well made use of by the priests, serving them to plead the necessity of an inquisition to repress violence; and the inhabitants of the city were instantly overawed by a display of high judicial authority which they had no power to resist.
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