Known for the terror it caused the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, The Spanish Inquisition was one of the most deadly inquisitions in history. Used for both political and religious reasons, the time period between the 1400's and the 1800's belonged to the Catholic Roman Empire (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1994). In order to better understand the Inquisition, the reasons behind it, and the phenomenal worldwide effect, it is indispensable to examine its preceding events. In 14th century Spain, Jewish people are often associated with wealth, being a epidemic to the general public. When Aragon united with Castille in the marriage of Ferdinand V and Isabella, Spain was on the verge of becoming one of the wealthiest nations of the period. A large part of that prosperity was due to the Jewish community. Archdeacon Martinez of Seville continually tried to motivate the people to cleanse themselves of the Jewish citizens, finally succeeding on Ash Wednesday (March 15), 1391. Mobs flogged and beat the Jewish civilians to renounce their religion and become Christian. The victims of that day amount to hundreds, if not thousands, of unsuspecting people (C. Roth, The Spanish Inquisition, 1964). Although the Jews had become Christian to avoid persecution, they still celebrated their beliefs in secrecy. In 1487, their behavior was discovered during Jewish Passover, which was the same week as the Holy Week for the Catholic Church. Thus, the Spanish Inquisition was founded to sanitize the unifying Catholic nation from heretics (Roth, 1964). "The Catholic sovereigns were determined to have a united country, and they did not believe this ambition could be achieved unless all their subjects accepted one religion. This they were determined to bring about through persuasion, if not, by force. Spain under Isabella and Ferdinand was ripe for the Inquisition; that was why the cruel institution was embraced so heartily and continued to survive until the nineteenth century" (J. Plaidy,...
Cited: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. (1994). The New Encyclopedia Britannica.
Roth, Cecil. (1964). The Spanish Inquisition. United States of America: W. W. Norton
& Company, Inc.
Alastair, Hamilton. (1992). Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain:
The Alumbrados. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. Ltd.
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