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TOP-13 questions about the Inquisition
TOP-13 questions about the Inquisition

Who are the medieval inquisitors? Who were they hunting? Did witches really exist? Have they been burned at the stake? How many people were killed?

1. What does the word "inquisition" mean and who invented it?


Pope Lucius III. Chromolithography from the book "Ritratti e biografie dei romani pontefici: da S. Pietro a Leone 13". Rome, 1879 (Biblioteca comunale di Trento)

This is the Latin word inquisitio, which means "investigation", "search", "search". The Inquisition is known to us as a church institution, but initially this concept denoted the type of criminal procedure. Unlike accusation (accusatio) and denunciation (denunciatio), when the case was opened as a result of, respectively, open accusation or secret denunciation, in the case of inquisitio, the court itself began the process on the basis of obvious suspicions and asked the population for corroborating information. This term was invented by lawyers in the late Roman Empire, and in the Middle Ages it was established in connection with the reception, that is, the discovery, study and assimilation in the XII century, of the main monuments of Roman law.

The judicial search was practiced both by the royal court - for example, in England - and by the Church, moreover, in the fight not only against heresy, but also against other crimes that were within the jurisdiction of church courts, including fornication and bigamy. But the most powerful, stable and well-known form of ecclesiastical inquisitio became inquisitio hereticae pravitatis, that is, the search for heretical filth. In this sense, the Inquisition was invented by Pope Lucius III, who at the end of the 12th century ordered the bishops to look for heretics, several times a year touring his diocese and asking trustworthy local residents about the suspicious behavior of their neighbors.

2. Why is she called a saint?


Expulsion from paradise. Painting by Giovanni di Paolo. 1445 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Inquisition was not always and everywhere called a saint. This epithet is not in the above phrase "search for heretical filth", just as it is not in the official name of the highest body of the Spanish Inquisition - the Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition. The central office of the papal inquisition, created during the reform of the papal curia in the middle of the 16th century, was indeed called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Ecumenical Inquisition, but the word "sacred" was also included in the full names of other congregations, or departments, curia - for example, Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments or Sacred Congregation of the Index.

At the same time, in everyday life and in various documents, the Inquisition is beginning to be called Sanctum officium - in Spain Santo oficio - which translates as "holy office" or "department" or "service". In the first half of the twentieth century, this phrase entered the name of the Roman congregation, and in this context, this epithet is not surprising: the Inquisition obeyed the holy throne and was engaged in the defense of the holy Catholic faith, a matter not only holy, but practically divine.

So, for example, the first historian of the Inquisition - the Sicilian inquisitor himself - Luis de Paramo begins the story of a religious investigation with expulsion from paradise, making the Lord himself the first inquisitor: he investigated the sin of Adam and punished him accordingly.

3. What kind of people became inquisitors and to whom did they obey?


Tribunal of the Inquisition. Painting by Francisco Goya. 1812-1819 years (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando)

At first, for several decades, the popes tried to entrust the inquisition to bishops and even threatened to remove from office those who would be negligent in cleansing their diocese of heretical infection. But the bishops turned out to be not very adapted to this task: they were busy with their routine duties, and most importantly, their well-established social ties, primarily with the local nobility, which sometimes openly patronized heretics, prevented them from fighting heresy.

Then, in the early 1230s, the Pope instructed the search for heretics to the monks of mendicant orders - the Dominicans and Franciscans. They possessed a number of advantages necessary in this matter: they were devoted to the pope, did not depend on the local clergy and lords, and were liked by the people for their exemplary poverty and non-acquisitiveness. The monks competed with heretical preachers and provided assistance to the population in the capture of heretics. The inquisitors were endowed with extensive powers and did not depend on either local ecclesiastical authorities or papal envoys - legates.

They were directly subordinate only to the Pope, they received their powers for life and in any force majeure situations they could go to Rome to appeal to the Pope. In addition, the inquisitors could justify each other, so that it was almost impossible to remove the inquisitor, let alone excommunicate him from the Church.

4. Where did the Inquisition exist?


Inquisition. Drawing by Mark Antokolsky. Until 1906 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Inquisition - episcopal from the end of the 12th century, and from the 1230s - papal, or Dominican - appeared in southern France. It was introduced at about the same time in the neighboring Crown of Aragon. Both here and there there was the problem of eradicating the heresy of the Cathars: this dualistic teaching, which came from the Balkans and spread almost throughout Western Europe, was especially popular on both sides of the Pyrenees. After the anti-heretical Crusade of 1215, the Cathars went underground - and here the sword was powerless, it took the long and tenacious hand of the church's investigation.

Throughout the 13th century, on the papal initiative, the Inquisition was introduced in various Italian states, with the Dominicans in charge of the Inquisition in Lombardy and Genoa, and the Franciscans in Central and Southern Italy. Towards the end of the century, the Inquisition was established in the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily and Venice. In the 16th century, in the era of the Counter-Reformation, the Italian Inquisition, led by the first congregation of the papal curia, began to work with renewed vigor, fighting Protestants and all kinds of free-thinkers.

In the German Empire, from time to time, Dominican inquisitors operated, but there were no permanent tribunals - due to the centuries-old conflict between emperors and popes and the administrative fragmentation of the empire, which impeded any initiatives at the national level. In Bohemia, there was an episcopal inquisition, but, apparently, it was not very effective - at least, experts were sent from Italy to eradicate the heresy of the Hussites, the followers of Jan Hus, who was burned to death in 1415 by the Czech reformer of the Church.

At the end of the 15th century, a new, or royal, Inquisition arose in united Spain - for the first time in Castile and again in Aragon, at the beginning of the 16th century - in Portugal, and in the 1570s in the colonies - Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Goa.

5. Why is the most famous Inquisition - the Spanish?


The emblem of the Spanish Inquisition. Illustration from Enciclopedia Española. 1571 (Wikimedia Commons)

Probably because of black PR. The fact is that the Inquisition became the central element of the so-called "black legend" about Habsburg Spain as a backward and obscurantist country ruled by arrogant grandees and fanatical Dominicans. The Black Legend was spread both by the political opponents of the Habsburgs and by victims - or potential victims - of the Inquisition.

Among them were baptized Jews - the Marranos, who emigrated from the Iberian Peninsula, for example, to Holland and cultivated there the memory of their brothers, the martyrs of the Inquisition; Spanish Protestant émigrés and foreign Protestants; residents of the non-Spanish possessions of the Spanish crown: Sicily, Naples, the Netherlands, as well as England during the marriage of Mary Tudor and Philip II, who either resented the introduction of the Inquisition on the Spanish model, or only feared it; French enlighteners who saw in the Inquisition the embodiment of medieval obscurantism and Catholic dominance.

All of them in their numerous works - from newspaper pamphlets to historical treatises - long and persistently created the image of the Spanish Inquisition as a terrible monster that threatens all of Europe. Finally, by the end of the 19th century, after the abolition of the Inquisition and during the collapse of the colonial empire and a deep crisis in the country, the Spaniards themselves adopted the demonic image of the holy office and began to blame the Inquisition for all their problems. The conservative Catholic thinker Marcelino Menendez y Pelayo parodied this line of liberal thought: “Why is there no industry in Spain? Because of the Inquisition. Why are Spaniards lazy? Because of the Inquisition. Why siesta? Because of the Inquisition. Why bullfight? Because of the Inquisition."

6. Who was being hunted for and how was it determined who to be executed?


Galileo before the court of the Inquisition. Painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury. 1847 (Musee du Luxembourg)

In different periods and in different countries, the Inquisition was interested in different groups of the population. They were united by the fact that they all, in one way or another, deviated from the Catholic faith, thereby destroying their souls and causing "damage and insult" to this very faith. In southern France, these were the Cathars, or Albigensians, in northern France, the Waldensians, or the Lyons poor, another anti-clerical heresy that aimed at apostolic poverty and righteousness.

In addition, the French Inquisition persecuted apostates and spiritualists - radical Franciscans who took the vow of poverty very seriously and critically - of the Church. Sometimes the Inquisition was involved in political trials, such as the trial of the Knights Templar, accused of heresy and devil worship, or Jeanne d'Arc, accused of about the same; in fact, they both posed a political hindrance or threat to the king and the English occupiers, respectively.

Italy had its own Cathars, Waldensians and Spirituals, later the heresy of the Dolchinists, or the apostolic brothers, spread: they expected the second coming in the near future and preached poverty and repentance. The Spanish Inquisition was primarily concerned with the "new Christians" of predominantly Jewish and Muslim origins, a few Protestants, humanists from universities, witches and witches and mystics from the Alumbrado ("enlightened") movement, who sought to unite with God according to their own method, rejecting church practice. The Inquisition of the Counter-Reformation era persecuted Protestants and various freethinkers, as well as women suspected of witchcraft.

Whom to execute - more precisely, whom to judge - was determined by collecting information from the population. Starting a search in a new place, the inquisitors announced the so-called period of mercy, usually a month, when the heretics themselves could repent and betray their accomplices, and the "good Christians", under pain of excommunication, were obliged to report everything they knew. Having received enough information, the inquisitors began to call suspects, who had to prove their innocence (there was a presumption of guilt); as a rule, they did not succeed, and they ended up in a dungeon, where they were interrogated and tortured.

They were executed far from immediately and not so often. The acquittal was practically impossible and was replaced by the “charge not proven” verdict. Most of the confessed and repentant convicts received the so-called "reconciliation" with the Church, that is, they remained alive, atoning for their sins with fasting and prayers, wearing disgraceful clothes (in Spain, the so-called sanbenito - scapular - a yellow monastic cape with the image of Santiago's crosses), sometimes going forced labor or jail, often forfeiting property.

Only a small percentage of those convicted - in Spain, for example, from 1 to 5% - were “released”, that is, they were handed over into the hands of the secular authorities, which executed them. The Inquisition itself, as a church institution, did not pass death sentences, for "the Church does not know blood."They “released” to execution heretics who persisted in their delusions, that is, who did not repent and did not give confessionary statements, did not slander other people. Or "repeat offenders" who fell into heresy for the second time.

7. Could the inquisitors blame the king or, for example, the cardinal?


The Pope and the Inquisitor. Painting by Jean-Paul Laurent. 1882 (Depicts Pope Sixtus IV and Torquemada, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux)

The Inquisition had jurisdiction over everything: in case of suspicion of heresy, the immunity of monarchs or church hierarchs did not work, but only the pope himself could condemn people of this rank. There are known cases of high-ranking defendants appealing to the Pope and attempts to withdraw the case from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. For example, Don Sancho de la Caballeria, an Aragonese grandee of Jewish origin, known for his hostility to the Inquisition, violating the immunities of the nobility, was arrested on charges of sodomy.

He enlisted the support of the Archbishop of Zaragoza and complained about the Aragonese Inquisition to the Suprema - the supreme council of the Spanish Inquisition, and then to Rome. Don Sancho insisted that sodomy was not within the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, and tried to transfer his case to the court of the Archbishop, but the Inquisition received the appropriate powers from the Pope and did not release him. The process lasted several years and ended in nothing - Don Sancho died in captivity.

8. Did witches really exist or just burn beautiful women?


Inquisition. Painting by Edouard Moise. After 1872 (The Jewish Museum, New York)

The question of the reality of witchcraft is obviously beyond the competence of the historian. Let's just say that many - both persecutors and victims and their contemporaries - believed in the reality and effectiveness of sorcery. And Renaissance misogynism considered it to be a typically female activity. The most famous anti-Vedic treatise, The Hammer of the Witches, explains that women are overly emotional and not intelligent enough. Firstly, they often deviate from the faith and succumb to the influence of the devil, and secondly, they easily get involved in quarrels and squabbles and, due to their physical and legal weakness, resort to witchcraft as a defense.

Witches were "appointed" not necessarily young and beautiful, although young and beautiful too - in this case, the accusation of witchcraft reflected the fear of men (especially, probably, monks) of female charms. Elderly midwives and healers were also tried for conspiracy with the devil - here the reason could be the fear of the clerics before the knowledge and authority that was alien to them, which such women enjoyed among the people. Finally, the witches turned out to be single and poor women - the weakest members of the community.

According to the theory of British anthropologist Alan MacFarlane, the witch-hunt in England under the Tudors and Stuarts, that is, in the 16th-17th centuries, was caused by social changes - the disintegration of the community, individualization and property stratification in the village, when the rich, in order to justify their wealth against the background of poverty fellow villagers, in particular single women, began to accuse them of witchcraft. The witch hunt was a means of resolving communal conflicts and reducing social tensions in general. The Spanish Inquisition hunted witches much less often - there the function of the scapegoat was performed by the "new Christians", and more often "new Christians", who, in addition to Judaism, casually, sometimes, were accused of quarrelsomeness and witchcraft.

9. Why were witches burned?


Burning witches in the Harz. 1555 (Wikimedia Commons)

The church, as you know, should not shed blood, therefore burning after suffocation looked preferable, and besides, it illustrated the gospel verse: “Whoever does not abide in Me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; but such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, and they are consumed. " In reality, the Inquisition did not carry out executions with its own hands, but “released” irreconcilable heretics into the hands of the secular authorities. And according to the secular laws adopted in Italy, and then in Germany and France during the 13th century, heresy was punishable by deprivation of rights, confiscation of property and burning at the stake.

10.Is it true that the defendants were constantly tortured until they confessed?


Torture by the Spanish Inquisition. End of the 18th century (Wellcome Collection)

Not without it. Although canon law prohibited the use of torture in ecclesiastical proceedings, in the middle of the 13th century Pope Innocent IV legitimized torture in the investigation of heresy with a special bull, equating heretics with robbers who were tortured in secular courts.

As we have already said, the Church was not supposed to shed blood, in addition, it was forbidden to inflict grievous mutilations, therefore they chose torture to stretch the body and tear the muscles, to pinch certain parts of the body, to crush joints, as well as torture with water, fire and hot iron. Torture was allowed to be applied only once, but this rule was circumvented, declaring each new torture a renewal of the previous one.

11. How many people were burned in total?


Auto-da-fe at Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Painting by Francisco Risi. 1685 (Museo Nacional del Prado)

Apparently, not as many as one might think, but the number of victims is difficult to calculate. If we talk about the Spanish Inquisition, its first historian Juan Antonio Llorente, the secretary general of the Madrid Inquisition himself, calculated that in more than three centuries of its existence, the Holy Chancellery accused 340 thousand people, and sent 30 thousand to the burning, that is, about 10%. These numbers have already been revised many times, mostly downward.

Statistical research is hampered by the fact that the archives of the Tribunals have suffered, not all have survived, and in part. The archive of the Suprema with the reports on the cases considered, which were sent annually to all the tribunals, is better preserved. As a rule, there is data for some tribunals for certain periods, and this data is extrapolated to other tribunals and for the rest of the time. However, when extrapolating, the accuracy decreases, because, most likely, the bloodlust changed downward.

Based on reports sent to the Suprema, it is estimated that from the middle of the 16th to the end of the 17th centuries, the inquisitors in Castile and Aragon, Sicily and Sardinia, Peru and Mexico considered 45 thousand cases and burned at least one and a half thousand people, that is, about 3%, but half of them are in the image. No less - because information on many tribunals is available only for a part of this period, but an idea of ​​the order can be formed. Even if we double this figure and assume that in the first 60 and the last 130 years of its activity, the Inquisition destroyed the same amount, up to 30 thousand, named by Llorente, will be far away.

The Roman Inquisition of the early modern era considered, it is believed, 50-70 thousand cases, while sending about 1300 people to execution. The witch hunt was more destructive - there are tens of thousands of people burned here. But on the whole, the inquisitors tried to "reconcile", not "let go."

12. How did the common people feel about the Inquisition?


Convicted by the Inquisition. Painting by Eugenio Lucas Velazquez. Around 1833-1866 (Museo Nacional del Prado)

The accusers of the Inquisition, of course, believed that it enslaves the people, fetters them with fear, and in return they hate her. “In Spain, numb from fear, / Ferdinand and Isabella reigned, / And reigned with an iron hand / The Grand Inquisitor over the country,” wrote the American poet Henry Longfellow.

Modern researchers-revisionists refute such a vision of the Inquisition, including the idea of ​​violence against the Spanish people, pointing out that in its bloodthirstiness it was noticeably inferior to the German and English secular courts that dealt with heretics and witches, or the French persecutors of the Huguenots, as well as the fact that the Spaniards themselves never, until the revolution of 1820, seemed to have nothing against the Inquisition.

There are known cases when people tried to spread themselves under its jurisdiction, considering it preferable to a secular court, and indeed, if you look at the cases not of the Marrans and Moriscos, but of “old Christians” from among the common people, accused, for example, of blasphemy due to ignorance, uncouthness or drunkenness, the punishment was rather mild: some lashes, expulsion from the diocese for several years, imprisonment in a monastery.

13. When did the Inquisition end?


The abolition of the Inquisition in Spain during the reign of Joseph Bonaparte in 1808. Engraving from Histoire de France. 1866 (© Leemage / Corbis / Getty Images)

And it didn’t end - it just changed the sign.The Congregation of the Inquisition (in the first half of the twentieth century - the Congregation of the Sacred Chancellery) at the Second Vatican Council in 1965 was renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which exists to this day and is engaged in the protection of the faith and morality of Catholics, in particular, it investigates the sexual crimes of the clergy and censors the writings of Catholic theologians, contradicting church doctrine.

If we talk about the Spanish Inquisition, then in the 18th century its activity began to decline, in 1808 Joseph Bonaparte abolished the Inquisition. During the restoration of the Spanish Bourbons after the French occupation, it was restored, canceled during the "free three years" of 1820-1823, reintroduced by the king who returned on French bayonets, and already finally abolished in 1834.

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