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Alonso de Espina


Franciscan friar and author; b. c. 1412, Palencia, Spain; d. early 1460s. Alonso was most likely a student at the University of Salamanca, where he eventually became regent of studies at the Studium Generale of the Franciscan Order. He is associated with the Franciscan (Observant or Villacretian) reform movement in Spain which stressed the vow of poverty and strict asceticism. He is said to have been present at the death of Alvaro de Luna (1453), the condemned Constable of Juan II, and to have been the confessor of King Enrique IV of Castile (145474). He is best known as a proponent of the Spanish Inquisition. The plan that he set forth in the Fortalitium Fidei, his most important work, for the eradication of heresy, especially heresies associated with Jews and conversos (or "New Christians"), became the basic program for the Spanish National Inquisition. Fortalitium Fidei was written between 1459 and 1461, and was translated into French, German, and Italian in the first half of the 16th century. It is divided into five books: the first addresses general spiritual-theological principles, while the other four address what Alonso considered to be the four principal "enemies" of the Church: heretics, Jews, Muslims, and demons. Each one of these books is encyclopedic in form. For example, Book Three is entitled "de bello Judeorum," ("concerning the war of the Jews") and is made up of 12 chapters or considerations which, viewed in their entirety, constitute an "encyclopedia" of the different types of polemics against the Jews. The first three considerations cover the spiritual blindness, the demonic heritage and the confused statereflected in the great diversity of beliefsof the Jewish people. Considerations four through six address many exegetical, theological and philosophical arguments against the Jews. Considerations seven through 11 treat material that is more historical in nature, such as the laws imposed on the Jews, the expulsions of the Jewish people from various lands, miracles that happened to convince them of the truth of Christianity, etc. The 12th and final consideration discusses the eschatological role of the Jews at the end of time.

Bibliography: a. ginio, La forteresse de la foi: La vision du monde d'Alonso de Espina, moine espagnol (?1466) (Paris 1998); De bello iudaeorum: Fray Alonso de Espina y su Fortalitium fidei, Fontes Iudaeorum Regni Castellae, VIII (Salamanca 1998). a. echevarria, The Fortress of Faith: The Attitude toward Muslims in Fifteenth Century Spain (Leiden 1999). s. j. mcmichael, Was Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah? Alphonso de Espina's Argument Against the Jews in the "Fortalitium Fidei" (c.1464) (Atlanta 1994).

[s. j. mcmichael]

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