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Inquisition

INQUISITION

INQUISITION. Scholars distinguish between the medieval, or papal, Inquisition, which evolved in the thirteenth century to combat the Cathar heresy in southern France, and the modern Inquisition, reestablished in parts of Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

FOUNDATIONS

The first two modern Inquisitions were established in Spain (1478) and Portugal (1536) to deal with a heresy peculiar to the Iberian Peninsula, Cryptojudaism, or a reversion to Judaism among converts to Christianity (conversos). To punish this form of apostasy, the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella obtained authorization in 1478 from Pope Sixtus IV to establish a new Inquisition in Castile, and later, in 1483, to revive Aragón's medieval tribunals. Nonetheless, cases of Judaizing continued to occur, so the Catholic monarchs took the extreme decision in 1492 of ordering all Jews to either convert to Christianity or leave Castile. Many Jews crossed the border to Portugal to join the large numbers of conversos who had already fled there from Spain. In 1496, the king of Portugal, John II, ordered the expulsion of Jews from his territory, and in 1497, the conversion of any who remained, who joined ranks with the Spanish refugees. The presence of this group of New Christians eventually forced John III to bring the Inquisition to Portugal in 1536.

Pope Paul III, who had authorized the foundation of the Portuguese Inquisition, six years later (1542) revived the Holy Office of the Inquisition in the Italian Papal States. Here, however, the Roman Inquisition's concern was not Judaizing, but the threat to Italy from Protestantism. Soon, other states in the Italian peninsula reinstated local tribunals of the Inquisition: Naples and Venice in 1547, and Milan in 1562.

INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE AND PROCEDURE

The modern Inquisitions generally followed the body of jurisprudence developed by the medieval Inquisition, compiled in 1376 by Nicolau Eimeric into the Directorium inquisitorum, revised in the late sixteenth century by Francisco Peña. Unlike their medieval predecessor, however, the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions were controlled by the crown, and in Italy, there was considerable secular oversight as well, except in the Papal States. In Spain, Ferdinand created a government board, the Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition, which established policies and procedures, oversaw the appointment of officials and functioning of tribunals throughout the Spanish realms, and served as the court of appeals. Until 1560, the number and territories of the Spanish districts fluctuated considerably; thereafter they remained stable at fourteen peninsular tribunals and four island tribunals (Mallorca, Sardinia, Sicily, and the Canaries). Additional tribunals were added as the empire expanded: Mexico, Lima, Cartagena de Indias, Manila, and finally, the royal court at Madrid.

Portugal's Inquisition was also placed under the direction of a royal board, known as the General Council. Ultimately, there were tribunals in Lisbon, Coimbra, and Evora, plus another in Goa, the Portuguese colony in India.

In Italy, the papacy attempted to exert some control over the Inquisitions outside the Papal States; this process culminated in the establishment of the Congregazione del Sant' Ufficio in 1588. As was the case in Portugal and Spain, the Congregation functioned as the supreme appellate court for the tribunals in Italy. In each of the states with Inquisitions, the network of local tribunals followed the preexisting structure of bishoprics. For example, in the Republic of Venice, aside from the head tribunal in Venice itself, there were tribunals at Brescia, Padua, Udine, Treviso, Cyprus, Rovigo, Picenza, Bergamo, Vicenza, Verona, and Capo d'Istria.

Thanks to a shared legal tradition, the operation of the Inquisition in each area was similar. In Spain each tribunal consisted of one or two inquisitors, a fiscal prosecutor, defense attorney, various employees who were charged with record keeping and care of the prisoners, unpaid theological and legal consultants, and a network of local legal representatives (comisarios) and messengers/jailors (familiars), also unpaid, who created an inquisitorial presence in the hinterland. Strict guidelines established the qualifications for various members of the tribunal. Inquisitors had to be at least forty years old, licentiates or doctors in theology or canon law. After the fifteenth century, few Spanish inquisitors were drawn from the religious orders such as the Dominicans, who had once dominated the medieval institution. Comisarios were drawn from the local secular clergy, and familiars were laymen of uncontested Christian ancestry. Portugal's tribunals were structured along the same lines, while in Italy, often only one inquisitor led the court (in Iberia there were two), while the local legal representatives, known as vicarii, held more power than their Iberian counterparts. Unlike their Iberian counterparts, both the inquisitors and the vicars came from the ranks of the regular religious orders, primarily the Dominicans and Franciscans.

A tribunal generated its cases in a variety of ways. The standard method was for the inquisitor to go on a visitation of his district. First, the inquisitor would issue the Edict of Grace, a sermon that defined the heresies sought after and promised leniency for those who confessed within thirty days. The follow-up sermon, the Edict of Faith, offered no leniency but continued the exhortations to confess. Voting members of the tribunal would examine the resulting confessions and issue a warrant for arrest. Once detained, the prisoner disappeared to the outside world: in order to inspire fear and prevent reprisals, the courts attempted to conduct their business in the strictest secrecy. Similar secrecy within the proceedings kept the prisoner at a disadvantage. Not until well into the trial did the prisoner learn the charges against him, and never was the accused allowed to know who had given evidence against himor, once freed, to speak about his experiences. With the inquisitor acting as both judge and investigator, the prosecution presented its case first, and the defendant, with the aid of a court-appointed lawyer, could respond. At this point, if the defendant's confession was not seen as sufficient, the tribunal would vote on the question of torture: what kind and how much. In reality, torture was employed rarely (in less than 3 percent of cases) and frequently was overcome. The large majority of cases ended in guilty verdicts. In Spain and Portugal, the final act in the trial was the public auto-da-fé, where prisoners were sentenced amid great ceremony; actual punishments were carried out separately. An important tool of the Iberian Inquisition was public humiliation: those convicted of serious offenses were required to wear the sanbenito, a distinctive outer tunic that was also displayed in the convict's parish church.

Abolition came slowly, with the advance of the Enlightenment and then French troops to southern Europe. Generally, the Italian tribunals were disbanded between 1774 and 1800, and the Iberian ones disappeared between 1812 and 1834, although the Spanish and American tribunals effectively ended operation in 1820. The fate of each tribunal's archives is capricious: some survive virtually intact, while others disappeared during the Napoleonic Wars. Major repositories exist in the Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico), Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon), Archivo Histórico Nacional (Madrid), and in the Archivi dell'Inquisizione Romana (The Vatican, opened in 1998), but substantial numbers of trials and other papers remain outside these repositories.

Considerable controversy exists over how many individuals were tried and executed by the courts, but the loss of so many records makes precise accounting impossible. A survey of nineteen Spanish tribunals from 1540 to 1700 yielded 49,092 cases. The Portuguese Inquisition tried 44,817 cases between 1536 and 1767, the most active court being Goa. Naples between 1564 and 1740 tried 3,038 cases, and Venice between 1547 and 1794 tried 3,592 cases. The death sentence was invoked in less than 5 percent of all trials. In Spain and Portugal the first victims were conversos, many of whom were sentenced to death (often in absentia), while the Italian courts pursued Protestants. With time, the tribunals changed their focus and moderated their severity: in Spain, converted Muslims (Moriscos), homosexuals, Protestants, witches, and ordinary Spaniards guilty of making crude theological statements all at some point became the focus of the tribunals' attention. Indeed, relatively minor crimes such as blasphemy accounted for much of the Spanish Inquisition's caseload. In addition to punishing religious crimes, all of the Inquisitions were responsible for enforcing censorship of printed materials and searching for contraband.

IMPACT AND LASTING SIGNIFICANCE

Because of the Inquisition's role in censorship, many have accused the institution of curbing scientific inquiry, dampening literary creativity, and even hindering economic growth. Historians now reject these charges. A few cases achieved notoriety in their day and continue to define the image of the Inquisition in the public's mind. Most infamous is the case of Galileo Galilei (15641642), who was summoned before the Roman Inquisition in 1632 to account for his public defense of the Copernican system, earlier deemed heretical by the church. He was condemned to perpetual house arrest and silence on the issue. For many, this trial epitomizes the conflict between scientific reason and free speech on the one hand, and religious fanaticism on the other. The philosopher Giordano Bruno (15481600) was not so lucky as Galileo; he was burned at the stake for his radical ideas about revealed religion and the possibility of an infinite universe with multiple worlds. In Spain, fear of religious experimentation led the inquisitors to target some of the leading mystics of the sixteenth centurySt. Theresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, and Luis de Leónalthough none was executed. Such cases, added to the Inquisition's role in censorship, the stream of Protestant propaganda directed against the papacy, and the Enlightenment's championship of basic freedoms, combined to create a lasting image of an arbitrarily cruel and inhumane institution. In the last twenty-five years, however, new scholarship has done much to mitigate the fearsome image of the Inquisition and to place the institution in its proper historical context.

See also Censorship ; Conversos ; Ferdinand of Aragón ; Galileo Galilei ; Index of Prohibited Books ; Isabella of Castile ; Moriscos ; Papacy and Papal States ; Persecution .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Del Col, Andrea, ed. Domenico Scandella Known as Menocchio: His Trials before the Inquisition (15831599). Translated by John Tedeschi and Anne C. Tedeschi. Binghamton, N.Y., 1996.

Eimeric, Nicolau, and Francisco Peña. Le manuel des inquisiteurs. Translated and with introduction by Louis Sala-Molins. Paris, 1973.

Firpo, Massimo, and Dario Marcatto, eds. Il processo inquisitoriale del Cardinal Giovanni Morone: Edizione critica. 6 vols. Rome, 19811995.

Simancas, Diego de. Institutiones catholicae quibus ordine ac brevitate discritur quicquid ad praecavendas et extirpandas haereses necessariium est. Valladolid, 1552.

Secondary Sources

Bethencourt, Francisco. La Inquisición en la época moderna: España, Portugal, e Italia, siglos XVXIX. Madrid, 1997.

Grendler, Paul F. The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press, 15401605. Princeton, 1977.

Henningsen, Gustav, and John Tedeschi in association with Charles Amiel, eds. The Inquisition in Early Modern Europe: Studies on Sources and Methods. De Kalb, Ill., 1986.

Kamen, Henry. The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision. London, 1997.

Lea, Henry Charles. A History of the Inquisition of Spain. 4 vols. New York, 19061908.

. The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies. New York, 1908.

Netanyahu, Benzion. The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. New York, 1995.

Perry, Mary Elizabeth, and Anne J. Cruz, eds. Cultural Encounters: The Impact of the Inquisition in Spain and the New World. Berkeley, 1991.

Peters, Edward. Inquisition. New York and London, 1988.

Vekene, Emil van der. Bibliotheca bibliographica historiae sanctae Inquisitionis. Bibliographisches Verzeichnis des gedruckten Schrifftums zur Geschichte und Literatur der Inquisition. 3 vols. Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 19821992.

Sara Tilghman Nalle

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"Inquisition." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Inquisition

Inquisition

When Christianity became the state religion of Rome in the fourth century, those who held dissenting or differing views from the established church were condemned as heretics and excommunicated from church membership. Most of the early church fathers, such as St. Augustine (d. 604), were displeased by any action taken by the state toward heretics, but the clergy generally gave their reluctant approval, stressing that the church abhorred any kind of physical mistreatment of dissenters.

In 906, the Canon Episcopi by Abbot Regino of Prum (d. c. 915) condemned as heretical any belief in witchcraft or in the power of sorcerers to transform people into animals. The consensus of the Christian clergy was that those individuals who believed that they could fly through the air or work evil magic on another person were allowing Satan to deceive them. The clergy was more concerned with stamping out all allegiance to the goddess Diana and any other regional deities, and they regarded as primitive superstition any suggestion that witches possessed any kind of magical powers. In 1000, Deacon Burchard (d. 1025), later archbishop of Worms, published Corrector, which updated Regino's Canon Episcopi and stressed that God alone had the kind of power that the untutored masses were attributing to witches. In 1022 there occurred the first fully attested burning of a heretic, in the city of Orleans.

By the twelfth century, the Cathar sect had become so popular among the people that Pope Innocent III (1160 or 11611216) considered it a greater menace to Christianity than the Islamic warriors who pummeled the crusaders and who threatened all of Europe. To satisfy his outrage, he ordered the only Crusade ever launched by Christians against fellow Christians, declaring as heretics the Albigensians, as the Cathars of southern France were known.

The Inquisition came into existence in 1231 with the Excommunicamus of Pope Gregory IX (c. 11701241), who at first urged local bishops to become more vigorous in ridding Europe of heretics, then lessened their responsibility for determining orthodoxy by establishing inquisitors under the special jurisdiction of the papacy. The office of inquisitor was entrusted primarily to the Franciscans and the Dominicans, because of their reputation for superior knowledge of theology and their declared freedom from worldly ambition. Each tribunal was ordered to include two inquisitors of equal authority, who would be assisted by notaries, police, and counselors. Because they had the power to excommunicate even members of royal houses, the inquisitors were formidable figures with whom to reckon.


In 1246 Montsegur, the center of Albigensian resistance, fell, and hundreds of Cathars were burned at the stake. The headquarters of the Inquisition was established in Toulouse, and in 1252, Pope Innocent IV (d. 1254) issued a papal bull that placed inquisitors above the law. Another decree within the bull demanded that all civil rulers and all commoners must assist the work of the Inquisition or face excommunication. In 1257, the church officially sanctioned torture as a means of forcing witches, sorcerers, shapeshifters, and other heretics to confess their alliance with Satan.

The inquisitors would stay in a particular location for weeks or months, from which they would bring suit against any person suspected of heresy. Lesser penalties were levied against those who came forward of their own volition and confessed their heresy than against those who ignored the summons and had to be placed on trial. The tribunal allowed a grace period of about a month for the accused to come to them and confess before the heretic would be arrested and brought to trial. The penances and sentences for those who confessed or were found guilty during the trial were pronounced by the inquisitors at a public ceremony known as the sermo generalis or auto-da-fe and might consist of a public whipping, a pilgrimage to a holy shrine, a monetary fine, or the wearing of a cross. The most severe penalty that the inquisitors could pronounce was life imprisonment; therefore, when they turned over a confessed heretic to the civil authorities, it was quite likely that person would be put to death at the stake.

The wealthy and powerful Knights Templar were accused of heretical acts, such as invoking Satan and worshipping demons that appeared as large black cats. In spite of a lengthy trial and 573 witnesses for their defense, the arrested Templars were tortured en masse, burned at the stake, and their order was disbanded by Pope Clement V (c. 12601314). In 1313 as he was being burned to death on a scaffold built for the occasion in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, Jacques de Molay (12431314), the Knights Templar grand master, recanted the confession produced by torture and proclaimed his innocence to the pope and the kingand he invited them to meet him at heaven's gate. When both dignitaries died soon after de Molay's execution, it seemed to the public at large to be a sign that the grand master had been innocent of the charges of heresy.

With the Albigensian heresy destroyed, the Inquisition began to direct more of its attention toward witches. In 1320 Bernard Gui (c. 12611331) published Practica, an influential instructional manual for inquisitors, in which he urged them to pay particular heed to arresting those women who cavorted with the goddess Diana. Four years later, in 1324, Ireland's first witchcraft trial convened when Alice Kyteler was found guilty of consorting with a demon.

Separate from the Inquisition that extended its jurisdiction over all the rest of Europe, in 1478, at the request of King Ferdinand II (14521516) and Queen Isabella I (14511504), papal permission was granted to establish the Spanish Inquisition. More a political, than a religious, weapon, this Inquisition persecuted the Marranos or conversos, those Jews suspected of insincerely converting to Christianity; converts from Islam, similarly thought to be insincere in practicing the Christian faith; and, in the 1520s, those individuals who were believed to have converted to Protestantism. The support of Spain's royal house enabled Tomas de Torquemada (14201498) to become the single grand inquisitor whose name has become synonymous with the Inquisition's most cruel acts and excesses. Torquemada is known to have ordered the deaths by torture and burning of thousands of heretics and witches.

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII (14321492) became so angered by the apparent spread of witchcraft in Germany that he issued the papal bull Summis Desiderantes Affectibus and authorized two trusted Dominican inquisitors, Heinrich Institoris (Henry Kramer) (14301505) and Jakob Sprenger (c. 14351495), to stamp out demonology in the Rhineland. In 1486, Kramer and Sprenger published Malleus Maleficarum, the "Hammer for Witches," which quickly became the "bible" of heretic and witch hunters. The book earnestly refuted all those who would claim that the works of demons existed only in troubled human minds. Certain angels fell from heaven, and to believe otherwise was to believe contrary to the true faith. And now these fallen angels, these demons, were intent upon destroying the human race. Any persons who consorted with demons and became witches must recant their evil ways or be put to death.

By the late sixteenth century, the power of the Inquisition was beginning to wane. In 1563, Johann Weyer (Weir) (15151588), a critic of the Inquisition, managed to publish De praestigus daemonum, in which he argued that while Satan does seek to ensnare and destroy human beings, the charge that accused witches, werewolves, and vampires possessed supernatural powers was false. Such abilities existed only in their minds and imaginations. As if to provide an antidote to Weyer's call for a rational approach to dealing with accusations of witchcraft, in 1580 the respected intellectual Jean Bodin (15301596), often referred to as the Aristotle of the sixteenth century, wrote De La demonomanie des sorciers, a book that caused the flames once again to burn high around thousands of heretics' stakes.


With the spread of Protestantism throughout Europe, in 1542 Pope Paul III (14681549) established the Congregation of the Inquisition (also known as the Roman Inquisition and the Holy Office), which consisted of six cardinals, including the reformer Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa (14761559). Although their powers extended to the whole church, the Holy Office was less concerned about heresies and false beliefs of church members than they were with misstatements of orthodoxy in the academic writings of its theologians. When Carafa became Pope Paul IV in 1555, he approved the first Index of Forbidden Books (1559) and vigorously sought out any academics who were prompted any thought that offended church doctrine or favored Protestantism.

Although organized witchcraft trials continued to be held throughout Europe, and even the American colonies, until the late seventeenth century, they were most often civil affairs and the Inquisition had little part in such ordeals. However, the Holy Office continued to serve as the instrument by which the papal government regulated church order and doctrine, and it did try and condemn Galileo (15641642) in 1633. In 1965, Pope Paul VI (18971978) reorganized the Holy Office and renamed it the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Delving Deeper

Netanyahu, B. The Origins of the Inquisition. New York: Random House, 1995.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Seligmann, Kurt. The History of Magic. New York: Pantheon Books, 1948.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

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Inquisition

Inquisition (Ĭn´kwĬzĬsh´ən), tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church established for the investigation of heresy.

The Medieval Inquisition

In the early Middle Ages investigation of heresy was a duty of the bishops. Alarmed especially by the spread of Albigensianism (see Albigenses), the popes issued increasingly stringent instructions as to the methods for dealing with heretics. Finally, in 1233, Pope Gregory IX established the papal Inquisition, dispatching Dominican friars to S France to conduct inquests.

When an inquisitor arrived, a month of grace was allowed to all who wished to confess to heresy and to recant; these were given a light penance, which was intended to confirm their faith. After the period of grace, persons accused of heresy who had not abjured were brought to trial. The defendants were not given the names of their accusers, but they could name their enemies and thus nullify any testimony by these persons. After 1254 the accused had no right to counsel, but those found guilty could appeal to the pope. The trials were conducted secretly in the presence of a representative of the bishop and of a stipulated number of local laymen. Torture of the accused and his witnesses soon became customary and notorious, despite the long-standing papal condemnation of torture (e.g., by Nicholas I); Innocent IV ultimately permitted torture in cases of heresy.

Most trials resulted in a guilty verdict, and the church handed the condemned over to the secular authorities for punishment. Burning at the stake was thought to be the fitting punishment for unrecanted heresy, probably through analogy with the Roman law on treason. However, the burning of heretics was not common in the Middle Ages; the usual punishments were penance, fine, and imprisonment. A verdict of guilty also meant the confiscation of property by the civil ruler, who might turn over part of it to the church. This practice led to graft, blackmail, and simony and also created suspicion of some of the inquests. Generally the inquisitors were eager to receive abjurations of heresy and to avoid trials. Secular rulers came to use the persecution of heresy as a weapon of state, as in the case of the suppression of the Knights Templars.

The Inquisition was an emergency device and was employed mainly in S France, N Italy, and Germany. In 1542, Paul III assigned the medieval Inquisition to the Congregation of the Inquisition, or Holy Office. This institution, which became known as the Roman Inquisition, was intended to combat Protestantism, but it is perhaps best known historically for its condemnation of Galileo. After the Second Vatican Conference, it was replaced (1965) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which governs vigilance in matters of faith.

The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition was independent of the medieval Inquisition. It was established (1478) by Ferdinand and Isabella with the reluctant approval of Sixtus IV. One of the first and most notorious heads was Tomas de Torquemada. It was entirely controlled by the Spanish kings, and the pope's only hold over it was in naming the inquisitor general. The popes were never reconciled to the institution, which they regarded as usurping a church prerogative.

The purpose of the Spanish Inquisition was to discover and punish converted Jews (and later Muslims) who were insincere. However, soon no Spaniard could feel safe from it; thus, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Theresa of Ávila were investigated for heresy. The censorship policy even condemned books approved by the Holy See. The Spanish Inquisition was much harsher, more highly organized, and far freer with the death penalty than the medieval Inquisition; its autos-da-fé became notorious. The Spanish government tried to establish the Inquisition in all its dominions; but in the Spanish Netherlands the local officials did not cooperate, and the inquisitors were chased (1510) out of Naples, apparently with the pope's connivance. The Spanish Inquisition was finally abolished in 1834.

Bibliography

See E. M. Peters, Torture (1985) and Inquisition (1988); C. Murphy, God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World (2012); J. F. Chuchiak 4th, The Inquisition in New Spain, 1536–1820 (2012). For the Spanish Inquisition, see studies by A. S. Tuberville (1932, repr. 1968), C. Roth (1938, repr. 1964), R. E. Greenleaf (1969), P. J. Hauber (1969), H. A. F. Kamen (1965 and 1998), and E. Peters (1989).

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Inquisition

Inquisition

Although there were many violent controversies over Christian doctrine, until the Middle Ages, the church had no organized courts to try religious crimes, such as impiety, blasphemy, and heresy. In the thirteenth century, however, the rise of the new sect of Cathars seemed to pose a mortal danger to the organized church. The Cathars defied the authority of the pope and the entire Catholic church hierarchy, and were gaining followers throughout southern France. The church responded by establishing its first courts of Inquisition to try and then punish its opponents and those who strayed by preaching false doctrine. Most of these medieval Inquisitions were operated by members of the religious orders, particularly the Dominicans.

The first Inquisition of Renaissance times was established by Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain, in 1478 on the authorization of Pope Sixtus IV. These courts were created to find and punish conversos, or Jews that had falsely professed to have converted to Christianity. In the years that followed, many Jews fled Spain to the neighboring kingdom of Portugal; the Spanish monarchs then ordered all Jews to convert sincerely or leave Spain. The Spanish Inquisition would eventually found new courts in Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines. In 1536, King John III would establish the Inquisition in Portugal. Six years later, Pope Paul III decreed the founding of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in lands controlled by the Papacy in Italy. The papal Inquisition was established to seek out and eradicate Protestantism, the new branch of Christianity that was spreading across northern Europe and dividing the Christian church. A supreme court of appeals, known as the Congregation of the Holy Office, was organized by the Papacy in 1588.

The Inquisitions had a strict hierarchy and rules of procedure. The inquisitors were experts in canon law, or the law of the church, and presided over large staffs of theological experts, bailiffs, clerks, lawyers for the defendants, and jailers. Inquisitors made regular visits to the cities in their districts. They issued an Edict of Grace that listed the heresies they were seeking out, and invited those with any information to come forward. They offered a short grace period, in which those accused could repent of their crimes and be rewarded with light sentences. The Edict of Faith, that followed, threatened more severe punishment for those who would not confess. The tribunal then made arrests, jailing their prisoners and offering them no chance to defend themselves or face their accusers. Secret trials then examined the confessions and any evidence, decreed torture if necessary to gain more information, and then passed sentence in public in an elaborate ceremony known as the auto-da-fé (act of faith). Those found guilty had to publicly repent and humiliate themselves by wearing a distinctive garment that marked them as penitents. The most serious offenses were punished by execution; the Inquisition would hand over the prisoners to the public authorities, who would ceremoniously burn them at the stake. All property of condemned prisoners was forfeited to the church.

The Inquisition arrested and tried a great range of people, from commoners to nobles to church leaders with suspect opinions, including Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Theresa of Avila. Its most famous defendant was the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, who was condemned to renounce his ideas on astronomy and cease publishing his writings.

The institution gradually died out in the eighteenth century, an age of rising skepticism toward religious doctrine and greater tolerance of competing religious ideologies. The Spanish Inquisition was officially abolished in 1834. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, however, survives to this day as one of the largest departments of the Vatican, with its mission the rooting out of incorrect doctrine and religious heresy among members of the church.

See Also: Index; Reformation, Catholic; Reformation, Protestant; Torquemada, Tomás de

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Inquisition

Inquisition. A Roman Catholic tribunal for the suppression of heresy and punishment of heretics. Strictly speaking, one should speak of ‘inquisitions’, since there was no single institution. The Inquisition came into being under Pope Gregory IX in 1232, with papal inquisitors selected chiefly from among Dominicans and Franciscans because of their (theoretical) detachment from the world. In 1542 the Congregation of the Holy Office was established, being reorganized in 1587 into the Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition to supervise faith and morals in the entire church. After a further reorganization in 1908, in 1965 it became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its role in censuring wrong belief has again become prominent.

The ‘Spanish Inquisition’ was a separate national institution, set up in 1478 (endorsed by Sixtus IV in 1483) against the Marranos and Moriscos but later directed against Protestants. The number of persons burnt under the first Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada, was c.2,000. It was finally abolished in Portugal in 1821 and in Spain in 1834.

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"Inquisition." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/inquisition

inquisition

in·qui·si·tion / ˌinkwiˈzishən; ˌing-/ • n. 1. a period of prolonged and intensive questioning or investigation: she relented in her determined inquisition and offered help. ∎  hist. a judicial or official inquiry. ∎  the verdict or finding of an official inquiry. 2. (the Inquisition) an ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX c.1232 for the suppression of heresy. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was reinstituted to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government. See also Spanish Inquisition. DERIVATIVES: in·qui·si·tion·al / -shənl/ adj.

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"inquisition." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Inquisition

Inquisition Court set up by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages to seek out and punish heresy. The accused were sometimes interrogated under torture. Punishments for the guilty ranged from penances to banishment and death. Kings and nobles supported the organized persecution of Jews, Protestants, and others considered enemies of church and state. The medieval Inquisition was active in Europe from the 12th to the 15th centuries. A later tribunal, the Spanish Inquisition, was instituted in 1483 at the request of the rulers of Spain and was not formally abolished until 1834. In 1542, a Roman Inquisition was set up to check the growth of Protestantism.

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Inquisition, the

Inquisition, the an ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX c.1232 for the suppression of heresy, at a time when certain heretical groups were regarded by the Church as enemies of society. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture; condemned heretics who refused to recant were handed over to the civil authorities and could be burned at the stake. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was reinstituted to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government.
Inquisitor General the head of the Spanish Inquisition.

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inquisition

inquisition inquiry, investigation; judicial inquiry XIV; (R.C.Ch.) ecclesiastical tribunal (the Holy Office) XVI. — (O)F. — L. inquīsītiō, -ōn- (legal) examination, f. inquīsīt-, pp. stem of inquīrere INQUIRE; see -ITION.
So inquisitive XIV. — OF. — late L. inquisitor XVI.

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"inquisition." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Inquisition

Inquisition (Islam): see MIḤNA.

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