But while Ferdinand, Isabella, Torquemada, and the nuncio were concerting their plans and preparing death for heretics, what said Spain to it?
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.
Under the jurisdiction of the supreme council were four subordinate tribunals, and eventually several others were added, while some inquisitors, hitherto holding special powers from the Pope, were stripped of their independence, that the court of Rome might have one uniform action throughout Spain. As the Holy Office advanced in labor and experience, the supreme council was enlarged, and at last it consisted of a president — inquisitor-general for the time being; six counsellors with the title of apostolic; a fiscal; a secretary of the chamber; two secretaries of the council; an alguazil-in-chief, or sheriff; one receiver; two reporters; four apparitors; one solicitor; and as many consulters as circumstances might require. Of course these were all maintained in a style worthy of their office. The Inquisitor-general, or president of the council, exerted an absolute power over every Spanish subject, so that he almost ceased to be himself a subject. He alone consulted with the King concerning the appointment of inquisitors to preside over all the provincial tribunals. Each of those inferior inquisitions was managed by three inquisitors, two secretaries, one under-sheriff, one receiver, and a certain number of triers and consulters. Their functions were considerably restricted, leaving all capital cases and ultimate decisions in the hands of the Madrid “Supreme.”
But while Ferdinand, Isabella, Torquemada, and the nuncio were concerting their plans and preparing death for heretics, what said Spain to it? Neither was clergy nor laity content. After the bull of Sixtus IV empowering the King to name inquisitors furnished with absolute authority, and to remove them at pleasure, had arrived, but lay unpublished in consequence of the Queen’s repugnance, a provincial synod sat at Seville, where the regal court then was, 1478. Had the clergy of Castile desired the Inquisition, the synod would have said so; but so far were they from approving of such a tribunal, to which every bishop would be subject, but where no bishop would any longer have a voice, that they passed over the affair of heresy in silence, not consenting to accept the Inquisition, yet not presuming to remonstrate against it. Then would have been the time for the clergy to add their power to that of the throne for the suppression of false doctrine, believing, as they did believe, that forcible suppression was not only lawful, but meritorious in the sight of God; and so they would probably have done if inquisitor and bishop were to have had coördinate jurisdiction, as in the first inquisition of Toulouse, and in the early Italian inquisition; but they saw, with alarm, that the episcopate was to be despoiled of its authority at a stroke.
A few months before the publication of the bull, but long after every person in Spain knew the purport of its contents, and in the certainty that it would be carried into execution, the Cortes of Toledo met; but, instead of avoiding any act that would interfere with the new jurisdiction then to be introduced, they made several provisions for separating Jews and Christians by the enclosure of Jewries in the towns, and for compelling the former to wear a peculiar garb, and abstain from exercising the vocation of surgeon or physician or innkeeper or barber or apothecary among Christians. The parliament plainly ignored the Inquisition in making this enactment on their own authority.
And what said the magistracy and the people? Seville represented the general state of feeling at the time. There, when a company of inquisitors presented themselves, conducted into the city by men and horses which had been impressed for the purpose by royal order, the civil authorities refused to help them, notwithstanding the injunctions of the bull, the obligations of canon law, and a mandate from the Crown. The new inquisitors found themselves unable to act for want of help; meanwhile the objects of their mission forsook the city, and found shelter in the neighboring districts; and Ferdinand had to issue specific orders to overpower the hostility of all the classes of the people and to compel the magistrates to assist the new set of officers ecclesiastic. These orders were most reluctantly obeyed.
Thus fortified, the inquisitors took up their abode in the Dominican convent of St. Paul, and issued their first mandate January 2, 1481. They said that they were aware of the flight of the New Christians, and commanded the Marquis of Cadiz, the Count of Arcos, and all the dukes, marquises, counts, gentlemen, rich men, and others of the kingdom of Castile to arrest the fugitives and send them to Seville within a fortnight, sequestrating their property. All who failed to do this were excommunicated as abettors of heresy, deposed from their dignities, and deprived of their estates; and their subjects were to be absolved from homage and obedience. Crowds of fugitives were driven back into Seville, bound like felons; the dungeons and apartments of the convent overflowed with prisoners; and the King assigned the castle of Triana, on the opposite bank of the Guadalquiver, to the “New and Holy Tribunal,” to be a place of safe custody. There the inquisitors, elate with triumph over the reluctant magistrates and panic-stricken people, shortly afterward erected a tablet with an inscription in memory of the first establishment of the modern Inquisition in Western Europe. The concluding sentences of the inscription were: “God grant that, for the protection and augmentation of the faith, it may abide unto the end of time! — Arise, O Lord, judge thy cause! — Catch ye the foxes!”
Their second edict was one of “grace.” It summoned all who had apostatized to present themselves before the inquisitors within a term appointed, promising that all who did so, with true contrition and purpose of amendment, should be exempted from confiscation of their property — it was understood that they should be punished in some other way — but threatening that, if they allowed that term to pass over without repentance, they should be dealt with according to the utmost rigor of the law. Many ran to the convent of St. Paul, hoping to merit some small measure of indulgence. But the inquisitors would not absolve them until they had disclosed the names, calling, residence, and given a description of all others whom they had seen, heard, or understood to have apostatized in like manner. After getting this information, they bound the terrified informers to secrecy. This first object being accomplished, they sent out a third monition, requiring all who knew any that had apostatized into the Jewish heresy to inform against them within six days, under the usual penalties. But they had already marked the very men; and those suspected converts suddenly saw the apparitors inside their houses, and were dragged away to the dungeons. New Christians who had preserved any of the familiar usages of their forefathers, such as putting on clean clothes on Saturday, who stripped the fat from beef or mutton, who killed poultry with a sharp knife, covered the blood, and muttered a few Hebrew words, who had eaten flesh in Lent, blessed their children, laying hands on their heads, who observed any peculiarity of diet or distinction of feast or fast, mourned for the dead after their ancient manner, or whose friends had presumed to turn the face toward a wall when in the agony of death, all such being vehemently suspected of apostasy, were to be punished accordingly. Thirty-six elaborate articles were furnished whereby everyone was instructed how to ensnare his neighbor.
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