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The Inquisition was a group of institutions within the judicial system of the Roman Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. It started in 12th-century France to combat the spread of religious sectarianism, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians. This Medieval Inquisition persisted into the 14th century, from the 1250s associated with the Dominican Order. In the early 14th century, two other movements attracted the attention of the Inquisition, the Knights Templar and the Beguines. At the end of the Middle Ages, the concept and scope of the Inquisition was significantly expanded, now in the historical context of the turmoils of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Its geographic scope was expanded to other European countries, as well as throughout the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Its focus now came to include the persecution of sorcery (an aspect almost entirely absent from the Medieval Inquisition), making it one of the agents in the Early Modern witch-hunts. The institution persisted after the end of the witch-trial period in the 18th century, but was abolished outside of the Papal States after the Napoleonic wars. The institution survives as part of the Roman Curia, but it was renamed to Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1904.
Definition and purpose 
The term Inquisition can apply to any one of several institutions which fought against heretics (or other offenders against canon law) within the justice system of the Roman Catholic Church. The term Inquisition is usually applied to that of the Catholic Church. It also refers to:[need quotation to verify]
- an ecclesiastical tribunal,
- the institution of the Catholic Church for combating heresy,
- a number of historical expurgation movements against heresy (orchestrated by some groups/individuals within the Catholic Church or within a Catholic state), or
- the trial of an individual accused of heresy.
Generally, the Inquisition was concerned only with the heretical behaviour of Catholic adherents or converts, and did not concern itself with those outside its jurisdiction, such as Jews or Muslims.[need quotation to verify]
In practice, the Inquisition would not itself pronounce sentence, but handed over convicted heretics to secular authorities for the punishment deemed fitting by the Church. The laws were inclusive of proscriptions against certain religious crimes (heresy, etc.), and the punishments included death by burning, although imprisonment for life or banishment would usually be used. Thus the inquisitors generally knew what would be the fate of anyone so remanded, and cannot be considered to have divorced the means of determining guilt from its effects.
The 1578 handbook for inquisitors spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties: ... quoniam punitio non refertur primo & per se in correctionem & bonum eius qui punitur, sed in bonum publicum ut alij terreantur, & a malis committendis avocentur. Translation from the Latin: "... for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit."
Historical background 
Before 1100, the Catholic Church had already suppressed what they believed to be heresy, usually through a system of ecclesiastical proscription or imprisonment, but without using torture and seldom resorting to executions. Such punishments had a number of ecclesiastical opponents, although some countries punished heresy with the death penalty. 
In the 12th century, to counter the spread of Catharism, prosecution of heretics became more frequent. The Church charged councils composed of bishops and archbishops with establishing inquisitions (see Episcopal Inquisition). The first Inquisition was temporarily established in Languedoc (south of France) in 1184. In 1229 it was permanently established. It was centered under the Dominicans in Rome and later at Carcassonne in Languedoc.
Medieval Inquisition 
Historians use the term "Medieval Inquisition" to describe the various inquisitions that started around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184–1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). These inquisitions responded to large popular movements throughout Europe considered apostate or heretical to Christianity, in particular the Cathars in southern France and the Waldensians in both southern France and northern Italy. Other Inquisitions followed after these first inquisition movements. Legal basis for some inquisitorial activity came from Pope Innocent IV's papal bull Ad extirpanda of 1252, which explicitly authorized (and defined the appropriate circumstances for) the use of torture by the Inquisition for eliciting confessions from heretics. By 1256 inquisitors were given absolution if they used instruments of torture.
In the 13th century, Pope Gregory IX (reigned 1227–1241) assigned the duty of carrying out inquisitions to the Dominican Order. They used inquisitorial procedures, a legal practice common at that time. They judged heresy alone, using the local authorities to establish a tribunal and to prosecute heretics. After 1200, a Grand Inquisitor headed each Inquisition. Grand Inquisitions persisted until the mid 19th century.
Early Modern history 
With the sharpening of debate and of conflict between the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation, Protestant societies came to see/use the Inquisition as a terrifying "Other" trope, while staunch Catholics regarded the Holy Office as a necessary bulwark against the spread of reprehensible heresies.
During what is known as the Little Ice Age, Pope Innocent VIII, in his papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus (5 December 1484) instigated severe measures against magicians and witches in Germany. The grip of freezing weather, failing crops, rising crime, and mass starvation was blamed on witches. He issued the bull to inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacobus Sprenger to systemize the persecution of witches.
- "It has recently come to our ears, not without great pain to us, that in some parts of upper Germany, [...] Mainz, Koin, Trier, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female, and by their incantations, charms, and conjurings, and by other abominable superstitions and sortileges, offences, crimes, and misdeeds, ruin and cause to perish the offspring of women, the foal of animals, the products of the earth, the grapes of vines, and the fruits of trees, as well as men and women, cattle and flocks and herds and animals of every kind, vineyards also and orchards, meadows, pastures, harvests, grains and other fruits of the earth; that they afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting [...]"
Kramer and Sprenger would later write the Malleus Maleficarum in 1486, which stated that witchcraft was to blame for bad weather. These remarks are included in Part 2, Chapter XV, which is entitled: "How they Raise and Stir up Hailstorms and Tempests, and Cause Lightning to Blast both Men and Beasts":
- "Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that, just as easily as they raise hailstorms, so can they cause lightning and storms at sea; and so no doubt at all remains on these points."
Although men as well as women could be open to this charge, the title of the book itself is feminine in gender and Kramer wrote in section I that: "all witchcraft comes from carnal lust which is in women insatiable". In 1490 the Vatican decided that the book was false and in 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned against using it. Spreading from Tyrol, where it originated, to other Germanic States, it helped to fuel the witchhunts in Protestant countries in the seventeenth century as well.
Most of Medieval Western and Central Europe had a long-standing veneer of Catholic standardisation over traditional non-Christian practices,[clarification needed] with intermittent localized occurrences of different ideas (such as Catharism or Platonism) and sometimes recurring anti-Semitic or anti-Judaic activity.
With the Protestant Reformation, Catholic authorities became much more ready to suspect heresy in any new ideas, including those of Renaissance humanism, previously strongly supported by many at the top of the Church hierarchy. The extirpation of heretics became a much broader and more complex enterprise, complicated by the politics of territorial Protestant powers, especially in northern Europe. The Catholic Church could no longer exercise direct influence in the politics and justice-systems of lands which officially adopted Protestantism. Thus war (the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War), massacre (the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre) and the missional and propaganda work (by the Sacra congregatio de propaganda fide) of the Counter-Reformation came to play larger roles in these circumstances, and the roman law type of a "judicial" approach to heresy represented by the Inquisition became less important overall.
Spanish Inquisition 
Portugal and Spain in the late Middle Ages consisted largely of multicultural territories of Muslim and Jewish influence, reconquered from Islamic control, and the new Christian authorities could not assume that all their subjects would suddenly become and remain orthodox Catholics. So the Inquisition in Iberia, in the lands of the Reconquista counties and kingdoms like Leon, Castile and Aragon, had a special socio-political basis as well as more fundamental religious motives.
King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile established the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. In contrast to the previous inquisitions, it operated completely under royal Christian authority, though staffed by clergy and orders, and independently of the Holy See. It operated in Spain and in all Spanish colonies and territories, which included the Canary Islands, the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, and all Spanish possessions in North, Central, and South America. It primarily targeted forced converts from Islam (Moriscos, Conversos and secret Moors) and from Judaism (Conversos, Crypto-Jews and Marranos) — both groups still resided in Spain after the end of the Islamic control of Spain — who came under suspicion of either continuing to adhere to their old religion or of having fallen back into it.
In the Americas, King Philip II set up two tribunals (each formally titled Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición) in 1569, one in Mexico and the other in Peru. The Mexican office administered Mexico (central and southeastern Mexico), Nueva Galicia (northern and western Mexico), the Audiencias of Guatemala (Guatemala, Chiapas, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica), and the Spanish East Indies. The Peruvian Inquisition, based in Lima, administered all the Spanish territories in South America and Panama.
In Spain the institution survived until 1834.
Portuguese Inquisition 
The Portuguese Inquisition formally started in Portugal in 1536 at the request of the King of Portugal, João III. Manuel I had asked Pope Leo X for the installation of the Inquisition in 1515, but only after his death (1521) did Pope Paul III acquiesce. At its head stood a Grande Inquisidor, or General Inquisitor, named by the Pope but selected by the Crown, and always from within the royal family. The Portuguese Inquisition principally targeted the Sephardic Jews, whom the state forced to convert to Christianity. Spain had expelled its Sephardic population in 1492; after 1492 many of these Spanish Jews left Spain for Portugal, but eventually were targeted there as well.
The Portuguese Inquisition held its first auto-da-fé in 1540. The Portuguese inquisitors mostly targeted the Jewish New Christians (i.e. conversos or marranos). The Portuguese Inquisition expanded its scope of operations from Portugal to Portugal's colonial possessions, including Brazil, Cape Verde, and Goa, where it continued as a religious court, investigating and trying cases of breaches of the tenets of orthodox Roman Catholicism until 1821. King João III (reigned 1521–57) extended the activity of the courts to cover censorship, divination, witchcraft and bigamy. Originally oriented for a religious action, the Inquisition had an influence in almost every aspect of Portuguese society: politically, culturally and socially.
The Goa Inquisition, an inquisition largely aimed at Catholic converts from Hinduism or Islam who were thought to have returned to their original ways, started in Goa in 1560. In addition, the Inquisition prosecuted non-converts who broke prohibitions against the observance of Hindu or Muslim rites or interfered with Portuguese attempts to convert non-Christians to Catholicism. Aleixo Dias Falcão and Francisco Marques set it up in the palace of the Sabaio Adil Khan.
According to Henry Charles Lea, between 1540 and 1794, tribunals in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Évora resulted in the burning of 1,175 persons, the burning of another 633 in effigy, and the penancing of 29,590. But documentation of 15 out of 689 autos-da-fé has disappeared, so these numbers may slightly understate the activity. In the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the "General Extraordinary and Constituent Courts of the Portuguese Nation" abolished the Portuguese inquisition in 1821.
Roman Inquisition 
In 1542 Pope Paul III established the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition as a permanent congregation staffed with cardinals and other officials. It had the tasks of maintaining and defending the integrity of the faith and of examining and proscribing errors and false doctrines; it thus became the supervisory body of local Inquisitions. Arguably the most famous case tried by the Roman Inquisition involved Galileo Galilei in 1633.
The penances and sentences for those who confessed or were found guilty were pronounced together in a public ceremony at the end of all the processes. This was the sermo generalis or auto-da-fé. Penances (not matters for the Civil Authorities) might consist of a pilgrimage, a public scourging, a fine, or the wearing of a cross. The wearing of two tongues of red or other brightly colored cloth, sewn onto an outer garment in an "X" pattern, marked those who were under investigation. The penalties in serious cases were confiscation of property to the inquisition or imprisonment. This led to the possibility of false charges over confiscation with those over a certain income, particularly rich maranos.
Following the French invasion of 1798, the new authorities sent 3,000 chests containing over 100,000 Inquisition documents to France from Rome. After the restoration of the Pope as the ruler of the Papal States after 1814, Roman Inquisition activity continued until the mid-19th century, notably in the well-publicised Mortara Affair (1858–1870). In 1908 the name of the Congregation became "The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office", which in 1965 further changed to "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", as retained to the present day[update]. The Pope appoints a cardinal to preside over the Congregation, which usually includes ten other cardinals, as well as a prelate and two assistants, all chosen from the Dominican Order. The "Holy Office" also has an international group of consultants, experienced scholars in theology and canon law, who advise it on specific questions.
See also 
- Black Legend
- Witch-cult hypothesis
- Witch trials in the early modern period
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Historical revision of the Inquisition
- Inquisitorial system
- Marian Persecutions: Roman Catholic heretic-hunting in Tudor England
- Vatican Secret Archives
Documents and works 
Notable inquisitors 
Notable cases 
- Trial of Joan of Arc
- Trial of Galileo Galilei
- Edgardo Mortara's abduction
- Logroño trials against Basque witches.
- Execution of Giordano Bruno
- Lea, Henry Charles (1888). "Chapter VII. The Inquisition Founded". A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages 1. ISBN 1-152-29621-3. "The judicial use of torture was as yet happily unknown..."
- Murphy, Cullen (2012). God's Jury. New York: Mariner Books - Houghton, Miflin, Harcourt. p. 150.
- Medieval Sourcebook: Inquisition - Introduction
- Salomon, H. P. and Sassoon, I. S. D., in Saraiva, Antonio Jose. The Marrano Factory. The Portuguese Inquisition and Its New Christians, 1536-1765 (Brill, 2001), Introduction pp. XXX.
- Lea, Henry Charles. "Chapter VII. The Inquisition Founded". A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages 1. ISBN 1-152-29621-3. Retrieved 2009-10-07. "Obstinate heretics, refusing to abjure and return to the Church with due penance, and those who after abjuration relapsed, were to be abandoned to the secular arm for fitting punishment."
- Kirsch, Jonathan. The Grand Inquisitors Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God. HarperOne. ISBN 0-06-081699-6.
- Directorium Inquisitorum, edition of 1578, Book 3, pg. 137, column 1. Online in the Cornell University Collection; retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Foxe, John. "Chapter V". Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
- Blötzer, J. (1910). "Inquisition". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2012-08-26. "... in this period the more influential ecclesiastical authorities declared that the death penalty was contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, and themselves opposed its execution. For centuries this was the ecclesiastical attitude both in theory and in practice. Thus, in keeping with the civil law, some Manichæans were executed at Ravenna in 556. On the other hand. Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel, the chiefs of Adoptionism and Predestinationism, were condemned by councils, but were otherwise left unmolested. We may note, however, that the monk Gothescalch, after the condemnation of his false doctrine that Christ had not died for all mankind, was by the Synods of Mainz in 848 and Quiercy in 849 sentenced to flogging and imprisonment, punishments then common in monasteries for various infractions of the rule"
- Blötzer, J. (1910). "Inquisition". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2012-08-26. "[...] the occasional executions of heretics during this period must be ascribed partly to the arbitrary action of individual rulers, partly to the fanatic outbreaks of the overzealous populace, and in no wise to ecclesiastical law or the ecclesiastical authorities."
- Lea, Henry Charles. "Chapter VII. The Inquisition Founded". A History of the Inquisition In The Middle Ages 1. ISBN 1-152-29621-3.
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- Bishop, J (2006). Aquinas on Torture New Blackfriars, 87:229.
- Larissa Tracy, Torture and Brutality in Medieval Literature: Negotiations of National Identity, (Boydell and Brewer Ltd, 2012), 22; "In 1252 Innocent IV licensed the use of torture to obtain evidence from suspects, and by 1256 inquisitors were allowed to absolve each other if they used instruments of torture themselves, rather than relying on lay agents for the purpose...".
- Lea, Henry Charles. A History of the Inquisition of Spain, vol. 1, appendix 2
- Compare Haydon, Colin (1993). Anti-Catholicism in eighteenth-century England, c. 1714-80: a political and social study. Studies in imperialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-7190-2859-0. Retrieved 2010-02-28. "The popular fear of Popery focused on the persecution of heretics by the Catholics. It was generally assumed that, whenever it was in their power, Papists would extirpate heresy by force, seeing it as a religious duty. History seemed to show this all too clearly. [...] The Inquisition had suppressed, and continued to check, religious dissent in Spain. Papists, and most of all, the Pope, delighted in the slaughter of heretics. 'I most firmly believed when I was as boy', William Cobbett [born 1763], coming originally from rural Surrey, recalled, 'that the Pope was a prodigious woman, dressed in a dreadful robe, which had been made red by being dipped in the blood of Protestants'."
- Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, (49)
- Heinrich Institoris, Heinrich, Sprenger, Jakob, Summers, Montague; The Malleus maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger; Dover Publications; New edition, 1 June 1971; ISBN 0-486-22802-9
- http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Summis_desiderantes Wikisource, Summis desiderantes, by Pope Innocent VIII.
- Malleus Maleficarum (1486)
- Stokes, Adrian Durham (2002) . Michelangelo: a study in the nature of art. Routledge classics (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-415-26765-6. Retrieved 2009-11-26. "Ludovico is so immediately settled in heaven by the poet that some commentators have divined that Michelangel is voicing heresy, that is to say, the denial of purgatory."
- Erasmus, the arch-Humanist of the Renaissance, came under suspicion of heresy, see Olney, Warren (2009). Desiderius Erasmus; Paper Read Before the Berkeley Club, March 18, 1920.. BiblioBazaar. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-113-40503-6. Retrieved 2009-11-26. "Thomas More, in an elaborate defense of his friend, written to a cleric who accused Erasmus of heresy, seems to admit that Erasmus was probably the author of Julius."
- Vidmar, John C. (2005). The Catholic Church Through the Ages. New York: Paulist Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8091-4234-7.
- Soergel, Philip M. (1993). Wondrous in His Saints: Counter Reformation Propaganda in Bavaria. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 239. ISBN 0-520-08047-5.
- Saint Dominic Presides over an Auto da Fe, Prado Museum. Retrieved 2012-08-26
- H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, vol. 3, Book 8
- Saraiva, António José; Salomon, Herman Prins; Sassoon, I. S. D (2001) [First published in Portuguese in 1969]. The Marrano Factory: the Portuguese Inquisition and its New Christians 1536-1765. Brill. p. 102. ISBN 978-90-04-12080-8. Retrieved 2010-04-13. Unknown parameter
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- "Christianity | The Inquisition". The Galileo Project. Retrieved 2012-08-26
- Blötzer, J. (1910). "Inquisition". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- Adler, E. N. (April 1901). "Auto de fe and Jew". The Jewish Quarterly Review (University of Pennsylvania Press) 13 (3): 392–437. doi:10.2307/1450541. JSTOR 1450541.
- Burman, Edward, The Inquisition: The Hammer of Heresy (Sutton Publishers, 2004) ISBN 0-7509-3722-X. A new edition of a book first published in 1984, a general history based on the main primary sources.
- Carroll, Warren H., Isabel: the Catholic Queen Front Royal, Virginia, 1991 (Christendom Press)
- Foxe, John (1997) . Chadwick, Harold J., ed. The new Foxe's book of martyrs/John Foxe; rewritten and updated by Harold J. Chadwick. Bridge-Logos. ISBN 0-88270-672-1.
- Given, James B, Inquisition and Medieval Society (Cornell University Press, 2001)
- Kamen, Henry, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision. (Yale University Press, 1999); ISBN 0-300-07880-3. This revised edition of his 1965 original contributes to the understanding of the Spanish Inquisition in its local context.
- Lea, Henry Charles, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 4 volumes (New York and London, 1906–7)
- Parker, Geoffrey (1982). "Some Recent Work on the Inquisition in Spain and Italy". Journal of Modern History 54 (3).
- Peters, Edward M., Inquisition (University of California Press, 1989); ISBN 0-520-06630-8
- Twiss, Miranda (2002). The Most Evil Men And Women In History. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85479-488-8.
- Walsh, William Thomas, Characters of the Inquisition (TAN Books and Publishers, Inc, 1940/97); ISBN 0-89555-326-0
- Whitechapel, Simon, Flesh Inferno: Atrocities of Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition (Creation Books, 2003); ISBN 1-84068-105-5
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- Frequently Asked Questions About the Inquisition by James Hannam
- "Inquisition". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
- Jewish Virtual Library on the Spanish Inquisition