From: Encyclopedia Americana

1954 edition --- INQUISITION --- page 147

................... Bernard writes clearly that Multa sunt specialia in Inquisitorial procedure. He specifies a concrete instance: whereas other courts demanded a minimum of two witnesses against the suspect, the Inquisition often acted upon a single testimony. Its main characteristics were, briefly, as follows:

(I) The fundamental bias has already been described, the man was defamatus, and bore the burden of proving his innocence.

(2) His judges were purely ecclesiastical, and therefore prejudiced against him: the civil power strove vainly to secure even the right of consulting the documents.

(3) The procedure was secret.

(4) As a rule, the names of witnesses were also concealed; they might be partial or even infamous persons, yet the suspect had no chance of challenging them but at random.

(5) In fact, infamous persons were explicitlY admitted to testify though in other courts their testimony was altogether refused.

(6) So, again, children were admitted to testify adversely, whereas neither the infamous person nor the child might speak in defence.

(7) Advocates were at first allowed, but if the person was proved guilty, the advocate had to share his punishment, this was so shamelessly exploited that, finally, even the pretense of advocates for the defense was abandoned.

(8) It was equally hopeless to re]y upon favorable witnesses; for they were pretty sure to get into trouble as abettors of heresy.

(9) Torture might be inflicted not only on the suspect, but also upon any witnesses whom it was hoped to enlist for the prosecution.

(10) This had, in practice, no legal limits. It was indeed forbidden to repeat torture; but the man who had been racked on Monday might be racked again on Tuesday under the excuse of ‘continuation’

(11) A very small nonconformity might be magnified into a deadly crime.

(12) The medieval Inquisitor pushed in where the pagan of ancient Rome had disdained to tread. When Trajan commissioned Pliny to persecute, he forbade the seeking-out of secret Christians. Yet the medieval heretic had no such immunity. Every man was bound in strict conscience to spy upon and denounce his neighbor.

(13) There were other rigors, of which the result is that an acquittal, pure and simple, is almost unheard of in these records. Very seldom was there less punishment than the yellow Crosses of Infamy, about a foot long, to be worn night and day upon every garment but the shirt, which held the victim up to the mockery of the multitude. In Bernard Gui's ‘Register’ (between 1249 and 1258), among 200 suspects, there is not a single acquittal. In his whole lifetime he convicted 930, of whom 42 were burned. Of the rest, 307 were condemned to prison; and all 930 were liable to total confiscation of their goods. A word must be added concerning those two items, prison and confiscation. The former was frequently used as a most serviceable weapon in the war of nerves. "Confess, or you shall go to prison," was generally effective with men who knew very well what sort of dungeon this was. As to confiscation, it will be seen how far this went to supply the sinews of war.

One most important point must be noted because it is so frequently alleged by apologists. The Church, it is argued. explicitly repudiates the shedding of blood; she only condemned the heretic as a theological question undoubtedly within her competence. Then she handed on the condemned man [person] to the civil power, "the Secular Arm." The latter, however, had no option but to burn him. Any magistrate who refused would himself be liable to be burned alive. So the hierarchy could preach Ecclesia abhorret a sanguine. "Let us call it a legal fiction," writes Abbe' Vacandard apologetically. Most people probably will give it a more invidious name.

Here then , was a lethal weapon, an invention as elaborate and as devastating in its own way, as gunpowder. It was inevitable that despotism should seize upon it as a ready tool. Even its spectacular sides, its cross of infamy and campaigns of blood and flame, were not so deeply operative as the leaden pressure, ubiquitous and unrelaxing of centuries of tyranny.

History shows us this, in the rule of the Arian anti-Catholic invaders of Africa, and in the far milder, but still very regrettable, rule of Elizabeth in England and in Ireland.

From the year 1239 onwards, most Europeans lived under a terror which was not less harmful for being so often unconscious.

England, it is true, with her greater political freedom than the Continent, suffered only twice from the Inquisition proper. In 1311, Philippe-le-Bel of France, with Pope Clement V as his uneasy partner, used it as a tool for disreputable political ends: the destruction and pillage of the Templars. The unscrupulous use of torture in France, produced a series of confessions which nobody believes now, and which, indeed, were often revoked by the victims themselves outside the torture-chamber. In England, no cogent evidence could be found, because the English courts permitted no torture. Therefore Clement approached Edward II with a bribe and a threat: Obey, and we give you plenary absolution for past sins; disobey, and you fall under excommunication. Edward yielded "out of reverence for the Holy See," and enough evidence was scraped together to justify the desired confiscation and pillage.

During Mary's reign, again, the Inquisition was revived in England for a few months. There are three other outstanding instances of the Inquisition used as a political weapon in the middle Ages. In 1318, Pope John XXII let it loose upon the "Spiritual" Franciscans, so that his inquisitors condemned and burned, as impenitent heretics, four men whose recorded offenses amounted only to this, that they clung obstinately to the primitive simplicity of Franciscan garb and manners, even in face of the pope and the Franciscan officialdom of that day. Again, in 1430, Joan of Arc was condemned for witchcraft (her real crime being her noble patriotism) by a judge who was a tool of the English conquerors. It was not until our own days that she was formally sainted by her own church. Once more, in 1498, the friar Savonarola was burned for his political and social opposition to the Medici family and the notorious Pope Alexander VI. He was put seven times to torture with slender results. "It would be easy," writes Abbe' Vacandard, "to cite many instances of the same kind, especially in Spain."

THE INQUISITION IN SPAIN - Medieval Spain was almost equally divided between three religions - Christian [Roman Catholic jp] , Moslem and Hebrew. Paradoxically, this led on the whole to tolerance, since none of the three saw any proximate chance of "liquidating" completely the other two. There were occasional resorts to formal Inquisitorial methods, and sometimes anti-Semitic explosions even on an extensive scale, and the Moslem population formed standing political difficulties; but these were mostly dealt with on the 'solvitur ambulando' principle. Jews and Moslems arrived at some of the highest positions in State and even in Church;and on all hands the quiet infiltration was enormous. This very fact of Semitic ascendancy largely motivated the great anti-Semitic movement of the 15th century, in which many thousands of Moslems and Jews had no choice but between "conversion" and death,.....

...........and where St. Vincent Ferrer, for instance, is recorded by his partisans to have baptized four thousand in a single day. Hence came a dizzy multiplication of "New Christians" (conversos, popularly labeled Marranos, swine) who dominated the laboring and professional classes of Spain. Pogroms became frequent; and here, as elsewhere at earlier dates, the Inquisition substituted some sort of legal regularity for mere lynch-law. Queen Isabella of Castile, "The Catholic," obtained the formal foundation of the Inquisition from Pope Sixtus IV. It began operations in 1480; her husband, "Ferdinand the Catholic," joined her whole-heartedly; and gradually the institution struck root throughout the peninsula. Sixtus did indeed send another bull severely criticizing its methods; but his objections were ignored. The two sovereigns, from the first, used it as the foundation of their political despotism. Thenceforward, from century to century until 1834, it was the most characteristic of Spanish institutions.

Its methods were medieval, "writ large." Church and State were here in complete fundamental accord; kings and popes might quarrel over details, but those were the quarrels of lovers. An able Roman Catholic writes very truly: "No church could be more arrogantly national than the Spanish, fenced around as it was with exemptions, royal, episcopal, monastic. But none was ever more Catholic. It bred neither heresy nor schism."

Confiscations, beyond even the medieval scale ensured enormous revenues which supported both royal splendor and the Roman religion to an extent never surpassed in history. In the 16th century, when Spain gathered also immense revenues in bullion from the New World, she bade fair to dominate Europe. That was her Golden Age in literature and art, the age of Cervantes and Velasquez. But this was at the cost of a royal and aristocratic extravagance, of an unabashed financial corruption, and of a burden upon the working classes, which have seldom been equaled for so long and on so large a scale. Inquisitorial statistics have often been handled in irresponsible fashion; in most cases of wide divergence it is safe to take the lower figures. At the first Auto de Fe (Seville, 1481), six persons (men and women) were burned. Within the next eight months, 292 more were burned, 98 imprisoned for life; many more were torn from their graves in order to justify confiscation of their property. Under Tomas de Torquemada (q.v.) the tempo rose considerably. He was appointed Grand Inquisitor in 1483, making this institution "the first act of United Spain." Under Philip II (1569) the principles of the Inquisition were transplanted to Mexico. where 879 trials took place in the next quarter of a century. Meanwhile, the revolt of the Low Countries, costing a murderous war before Belgium was brought to heel and Holland finally severed from Spain, must be put down mainly to the score of the Inquisition. In Portugal a little later (1651-1673) the records show 184 burned alive, 59 burned in effigy with confiscation, and 4,793 penanced. As many as 1500 "penitents" were paraded on one single occasion. Within those postulates of Spanish political thought, it was only logical to carry out persecutions or deportations of Jews and Moors, sometimes piecemeal or again on an enormous scale. The Jews were banished by law in 1492, from which time onwards the country was filled with Jewish Marranos. Those who remained constantly fed the 'Autos de Fe', while those who escaped enriched the commercial and cultural life of other countries: everywhere they founded respected communities, as in Amsterdam, Hamburg, London and New York. The Moriscos, on the other hand, finally added to their minor and continual political sufferings one of the most picturesque tragedies of all time, the mass-deportation of the whole Moorish population, insofar as such completeness was fully possible, between 1609 and 1615. The few who remained were strictly forbidden all use of their ancient language and customs. National life was thus impoverished by the loss of its most laborious factor.

By a strange irony of history, the most recent victory of physical force in Spain was won by an orthodox [Roman Catholic jp] general (Francisco Franco) commanding an enormous proportion of Moorish [MOSLEM jp] soldiers and foreign mercenaries.

The 18th century showed gradual decay of the Inquisition, but only in proportion to the decay of the whole country, which is calculated to have lost 50 per cent of its population since the days of Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1808 Napoleon abolished it, and its resurrection lasted only until 1834. But there remained an incalculable debt for past errors and crimes. The Comte de Montalembert, a fervent Catholic, contrasted the racial virtues of Spain with her political and social decadence in 1800; "She has fallen from gulf to gulf, from despot to despot, from favorite to favorite."

Modern apologists avoid dealing with the reluctant confessions of many among the most eminent Roman Catholic historians. Cardinal Richelieu, a realistic statesman who shrank from few deeds that his policy demanded, described the expulsion of the Moriscos, in his 'Memoirs', as "the boldest and most barbarous counsel recorded in the history of all preceding ages."

Montalembert wrote "I grant indeed that the Inquisition in Spain destroyed Protestantism in its germ; but I defy anyone to prove that it has not given it throughout Europe the support of public opinion and the sympathies of outraged humanity. It has created in both worlds inexhaustible nourishment for impiety, and for the hatred and discredit of Catholicism."

Lord [Roman Catholic] Acton, his contemporary and a far greater historian, was even more emphatic.

"The Inquisition is peculiarly the weapon and peculiarly the work of the Popes......

No other institution, no doctrine, no ceremony is so distinctly the individual creation of the Papacy, except the Dispensing Power.......

It was the negation not only of religious liberty, which is the mainspring of civil, but equally of civil liberty, because a government armed with the machinery of the Inquisition is necessarily absolute."