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Torquemada, Tomás de


Grand inquisitor of the Spanish inquisition; b. Valladolid, 1420; d. Avila, Spain, Sept. 16, 1498. The son of Pedro Fernández de Torquemada and nephew of Cardinal Juan de torquemada, Tomás De Torquemada entered San Pablo Dominican convent at Valladolid, from which he graduated in theology. He became prior of Santa Cruz convent, Segovia (1452), confessor to the royal treasurer Hernán Núñz, and confessor (1474) to Queen isabella i and King Ferdinand V.

Although of Jewish descent, Torquemada probably encouraged the monarchs to attack both the orthodox Jews and those crypto-Jews who had been insincerely or forcibly converted to Christianity but continued to practice Judaism in secret. He helped draft the first royal request for an inquisition into the crypto-Jews (1478) and was one of eight Dominicans appointed (Feb. 11, 1482) to moderate the unjust inquisitors first appointed. On the advise of Cardinal Pedro González de mendoza, Isabella persuaded Pope sixtus iv to unify the whole Inquisition for Castile (Aug. 2, 1483) and Aragon (Oct. 17, 1483) under Torquemada's control, giving him power to appoint, dismiss, and hear appeals from other inquisitors. Thus empowered, Torquemada organized the Inquisition under five territorial tribunals, with one supreme appellate council under himself; he issued (Seville, Nov. 29, 1484) the Ordinances, which, as supplemented in 1484, 1485, 1488, and 1498, regulated inquisitorial procedure in spain for the three succeeding centuries.

From 1483 on, Torquemada used this efficient police instrument to investigate and punish crypto-Jews, apostates, witches, and other spiritual offenders on an unprecedented scale; approximately 2,000 people were executed and vast numbers otherwise punished. Complaints to the Pope were ineffective since Isabella and Ferdinand supported Torquemada. Pope alexander vi actually appointed four extra inquisitors general to try to restrain him (June 23, 1494), but Torquemada remained in control even during his retirement (149498) in the convent of Santo Tomás that he had built at Avila. Exceptionally intolerant even for his times, Torquemada publicized an alleged ritual murder at La Guardia to encourage the expulsion of the Jews (1492) and tried far more suspects than any of his successors. But even though his successors reduced actual arrests, the spiritual police system Torquemada had organized effectively guarded Spanish thought throughout succeeding generations.

Bibliography: f. fita, "La inquisición de Torquemada," Boletín de la Real Academia de la historia, Madrid 23 (1893) 369434. h. c. lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 4 v. (New York 190607). e. lucka, Torquemada und die spanische Inquisition (Leipzig 1926). t. hope, Torquemada, Scourge of the Jews (London 1939). w. t. walsh, Characters of the Inquisition (New York 1940). h. del pulgar, Crónica de los reyes católicos, ed. j. de m. carriazo, 2 v. (Madrid 1943). n. lÓpez martÍnez, Los judaizantes castellanos y la Inquisición en tiempo de Isabel la católica (Burgos 1954). m. de la pinta llorente, La Inquisición española y los problemas de la cultura y de la intolerancia, 2 v. (Madrid 195358).

[d. w. lomax]

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