The Inquisitions

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 15th Dec 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

The Inquisitions were notorious for their ability to induce terror in non-Catholic communities and was highly efficient in its mission. It was also known to be incredibly cruel, using torture, murder, arson, and other forms of destruction and control to accomplish its mission.

A large scale witch hunt led by the Catholic Church to find non-Catholics.

So as you can probably gather, the 14th and 15th centuries weren’t a good time to be a non-Christian in Europe. Back then, it was considered normal to commit crimes against non- Christians, and very few people were ever punished for it. To top it off, the rulers of Spain started making laws that were advantageous to Christians and disadvantageous to non-Christians. So, in order to gain the advantages of these laws, many non-Christians started "converting" to Christianity in order to stop being targeted. However, they didn't really believe in Christianity, and continued practicing their own religions in private. This was even more unacceptable than not being Christian, as it was considered heresy.

Now, back in the day (around 1100), the Catholic Church fought heresy by imprisoning people suspected of practicing it, however they never killed or tortured the accused. However, with the rise of other religious beliefs, and the Reformation raging throughout Europe, the Catholic Church set up a group of institutions within governments to combat heresy. Paganism was earlier somewhat accepted but later became an offense when people began blaming practicing pagans for the major events that took place in those years e.g. The Black Death and the Hundred Years War.

These institutions set up courts (with local clergymen as the judges) where people had to prove that recent converts actually believed in Jesus Christ and were good Christians. The courts mostly judged the people by using locals to establish a tribunal the system was later amended to have a Grand Inquisitor in charge. Their motto was "guilty until proven innocent" and used really brutal torture tactics in order to force a confession out of someone. Few people were released once they were brought to these courts, and those that were often permanently disfigured, died of infection, or were shunned.

One of the most famous trials was the Galileo Affair in 1633. Earlier in 1610, Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) which basically described his theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. This caused conflict with ideologies put forward by Aristotle, Ptolemy and the Catholic Church, which were considered truths.

Initially, the Church rubbished it but later declared it heretical, that books promoting heliocentrism were to be banned and that Galileo wasn’t allowed to defend or teach heliocentric ideas.

Galileo went against that and went on to propose:
•His theory that tides were caused by the Earth’s rotation around the sun in 1616
•His theory that comets are an optical illusion in 1619
•That heliocentrism was real with his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in 1632

At this point, questions were being asked about the nature of theology, astronomy, philosophy, and their relationship to man. The theory of Heliocentrism only increased the questions, which led to people beginning to doubt if the Church was the end all and be all.

This undoubtedly caused some panic within the Church, who then decided make a statement of intent by summoning Galileo to court, trying him, finding him guilty, and sentencing him to indefinite imprisonment.

Galileo was kept under house arrest until his death in 1942.

Many Catholics believed that the Inquisition was necessary to curb the spread of these unforgivable heresies.

Surprisingly and ironically, non-Christians were safe from these courts as long as they did not "convert" as a person couldn't be tried for heresy if they weren't a member of the church. But that didn’t mean that they were safe from the communities as earlier mentioned.

Almost all the people targeted by the Inquisition were accused of being Protestant. So early on, the Protestants worked to discredit the campaign. Later on, the Jewish and Muslim communities took up the cause of demonizing the Spanish Inquisition as they were also targeted during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions.

With both the Protestants, Jews, and non - Christians standing up against the Church, the Church was forced to make some concessions.

These courts continued until the early 19th century, during the Renaissance

The usual academic estimate is that roughly 44,678 cases were brought up in the Spanish Inquisition alone.

It was the single largest witch hunt in history and it was all because of religious differences.


Europe, Historical Events, History, Inquisition

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