Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 224 pages of information about Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031).

    [4] Prescott, “Ferd. and Isab.,” p. 26, n.

That fatal instrument of religious bigotry, the cause of more unmerited suffering and more unmixed evil than any other devised by man, whereby more innocent people passed through the fire than were perhaps ever sacrificed at the altar of Moloch, was first put into action in September 1480, during the reign of the pious and noble-minded Isabella.[1] The festival of Epiphany in the following year was selected as an appropriate date for the manifestation of the first auto da fe, when six Jews were burnt at Seville; for it was against that unfortunate people that this inhuman persecution was devised, or at least first used.  That one year witnessed the martyrdom of 2000 persons, and the infliction on 17,000 others of punishments only less than death itself.  During the administration of Thomas of Torquemada, which lasted eighteen years, more than 10,000 persons perished at the stake, nearly 100,000 were, as the phrase went, reconciled.[2] The confiscation of property which accompanied all this burning and imprisoning brought in enormous sums into the coffers of the Inquisitors.

The Jews being burnt, converted, or expelled the country, the Inquisition was turned upon the wretched Moriscoes, as the Moors under Christian government were called, who were oppressed and persecuted in the same way as the Jews, and finally driven from Spain.

But a more important conquest than these—­more important, that is, to the supremacy of the Roman See—­was the undoubted conquest achieved by the Inquisition over the reforming doctrines which in the sixteenth century began to find their way into Spain from Germany and England.  Finding a congenial soil, the reformation began to spread in Spain with wonderful rapidity.  The divines sent by Charles V. into England were themselves converted, and returned full of zeal for the Protestant faith—­“Their success,” says Geddes,[3] “was such that had not a speedy and full stop been put to their pious labours by the merciless Inquisition, the whole kingdom of Spain had in all likelihood been converted to the Protestant religion, in less time than any other country had ever been before."[4] So untrue is it to say that persecution always fails of its object!  In Spain it has riveted the fetters, which the weakness and superstition of the earlier kings of Leon and Castile, together with the piety and misdirected enthusiasm of Isabella, placed upon a proud and once peculiarly independent people.  Plunged in the depths of ignorance and imbecility, social, religious, and political, Spain affords a melancholy but instructive spectacle to the nations.

    [1] The inquisitional code was drawn up in 1233, and introduced
    into Spain, 1242.  Prescott.

    [2] Prescott, “Ferd. and Isab.,” p. 146.

    [3] Miscell.  Tracts.  Pref. to “Spanish Martyrs,” pp. 1, ff.

[4] Geddes, Pref. to “Spanish Martyrs,” p. 3, 4, quotes a Romanist author, who says:  “the number of converts was so great that had the stop which was put to that evil been delayed but two or three months longer, I am persuaded that all Spain had been put into a flame by them.”


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