Alfonso de Espina°

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ALFONSO DE ESPINA ° (or de Spina, D'espina ; second half of 15th century), principal originator of the Spanish Inquisition and its ideological and methodological program. Few details are known about his life. A Franciscan friar, possibly of Jewish birth or descent, he became rector of the University of Salamanca, and was confessor of the powerful Alvaro de Luna. Espina's most important work is Fortalitium fidei contra Judeos, Saracenos et alios Christianae fidei inimicos, written in 1458–59 and circulated in 1460. It was frequently printed (Nuremberg [1485–98], Lyons [1511]). The title, "Fortress of the Faith to give comfort to believers and defend the holy faith," indicates his object. The Fortalitium fidei consists of five sections, divided into chapters (Considerationes) and subdivided into Haereses ("heresies"); the second and third sections, De bello hereticorum and De bello Judeorum, contain his original views. The second section furnishes minute particulars of the sins committed by Jewish converts to Christianity (see *Conversos) and the means they adopted to continue observance of Mosaic Law. This seems for the most part to be based on accurate observation and is supported by various historical sources, including the Inquisitional records. Espina derived his knowledge of Jewish matters from his predecessors, such as Raymond *Martini and *Abner of Burgos, as well as from first-hand information. He recommends the establishment of an Inquisition in Spain and a detailed program. In the third section, tales about the *blood libel are revived. Here Espina explicitly suggests expelling the Jews from Spain, on the lines of the expulsion from England in 1290, implying that since England had managed to exist without the Jews, Spain could do likewise. The only way in which Spain can be converted into a truly Christian state, Espina states in this hate-obsessed work, is by extirpating the "Jewish heresy," expelling the Jews, and conquering the Muslims remaining on its soil.


T. de Azcona, Isabel la Católica (1964), 377ff.; Baer, Spain, index; A.A. Sicroff, Les Controverses des statuts de "pureté de sang"… (1960), 74–76; H. Beinart, Anusim be-Din Ha-Inkviziẓyah (1965), index; H. Kamen, Spanish Inquisition (1965), 30f., 42.

[Haim Beinart]