Spanish Inquisition

Let’s take the Spanish Inquisition. Now no legal system of 500 years ago anywhere on the planet is going to challenge what we do today after 500 years of development. But in many universities we have an unbalanced view of the Spanish Inquisition and many run around thinking that the misrepresentation is somehow what religion produces. There is the fairy tale that the Catholic Church led by the Vatican wanted to forcibly convert all to the Catholic faith and torture and murder in the most gruesome way all who would not acquiesce to ‘their’ truth. That is the fairy tale that has largely been created by our education system. A system that prides itself on being tolerant, pluralistic and progressive. Let’s look at the Spanish Inquisition in a little more depth than the fairy tale above :
Firstly the Inquisition was designed and run by the civil authorities of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. This was after centuries of Muslim colonization and domination. Two years before the Inquisition was set up Muslim pirates ransacked Spanish coastal villages. In one of those town attacks alone more than 10,000 peasants were slain and the Mayor of the town was sawed open while still alive. In comparison for the next 350 years that the Spanish Inquisition was set up from Spain to the Americas less than half that number were executed. This accounts for a legal system where on average there was one execution per month. The Spanish civil authorities were very concerned that Spanish Muslims and Jews were working in sympathy with the Muslim pirates from North Africa.
Spain petitioned the Papacy to set up the Inquisition and the Papacy refused. The Spanish then threatened that unless they set it up the Spanish would not come to the aid of Rome when it was attacked by Muslim armies. Rome had already been sacked by Muslim armies previously and southern Italy occupied. The Pope set up the inquisition and limited it to only be in place for Christians and mandated that under no circumstance was torture to be used. We still have those letters today. Over time this directive was ignored and torture was used. The Vatican sent by letter their concerns and stipulated a compromise that torture was not to be done more than once, was not to threaten life, was not to draw blood or leave disfigurement or disability and was not to be practiced for more than 15 minutes. On some occasions there was Spanish transgressions by the lawyers who were responsible for overseeing this system. Many of the lawyers were priests but it was not stipulated to be a priest they had to be a lawyer. The Spanish during a brief period at the end of the 15th century decided to interpret the directive as being able to stop before the 15 minutes and then start again for another 15 minutes and to do this multiple times.

Now we have to look at other legal systems of the time. In England for example if you were convicted of public begging you had a limb chopped off. If you damaged trees on public property you could be hanged. If you were a Catholic priest in England saying mass or teaching school you were executed. In comparison the Spanish inquisition had some quite humane standards and many Spanish in the non Inquisition legal system would curse and blaspheme to be transferred to the more humane Spanish Inquisition. Of all the prisoners that went through the Spanish inquisition only 1% were executed. 99% were not executed and well over 80% were let go with little more than a penance of saying a few prayers.
There were heavy penalties for bringing false witness against someone before the Spanish Inquisition. There had to be at least two accusers for someone to be tried and their testimony was barred from the subsequent court hearing. If the person was found guilty they had the option to repent and not be executed – hence the eagerness for Spanish prisoners to be transferred to the Spanish Inquisition. When the ‘Burning Witch’ craze swept through Europe and was responsible for killing 30 times more people than theentire Spanish Inquisition, that inquisition found that witchcraft was n illusion and so nobody could be tried for that. There was in essence, no proof for witchcraft.
As I said previously Western society has progressed and a legal system of 500 years ago is not what is needed today, even if it was relatively progressive at the time. The fairy tale though told by our Universities regarding the Spanish Inquisition is to garner political support against the Catholic Church today and bears little attempt to be accurate in historical terms.
We could likewise judge the modern Western legal system by the Texas legal system where about 1 a month was executed. We could judge it by what happens in Abu Ghraib or Guantamano Bay or Northern Ireland over the last few decades. Such judgments would not be representative of course of modern Western legal system but if you wanted to portray it as such you could.
The Marxist bent in our Universities have chosen to misrepresent the Spanish Inquisition.

The very secular BBC Production on the Myth of the Spanish Inquisition.


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