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Inquisition in the Netherlands

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The Inquisition in the Netherlands was an extension of the Papal Inquisition[1] in the Netherlands, established during the reign of Charles V. Although it was widely believed at the time that the government intended to introduce the Spanish Inquisition into the Netherlands, the Inquisition in the Netherlands remained separate from that of Spain.[2]

Apart from the short-lived attempt by Charles V to establish a special court for the pursuit of heretics in 1522 (possibly revived in 1550), there never was any scheme to establish a Holy Office of the sort known in Castile in the Netherlands.

— Duke (1997, p. 143)

On 23 April 1523, Charles V appointed Frans Van der Hulst the first inquisitor general of the Seventeen Provinces, an appointment ratified by Pope Adrian VI.[3][4] He and his successors were empowered by the imperial edict to actively search out and rigorously punish all those guilty or even suspected of heresy, or of aiding a heretic in any way. He was appointed inquisitor for County of Flanders in 1545 and was in office until the operation of the inquisition was suspended in 1566.[5] Between 1523 and 1566, more than 1,300 people were executed as heretics, far more relative to the overall population than, for instance, in France.

Before the death of Charles V, the Netherlands were mainly Catholic and thus the Inquisition did not have a very drastic impact on people's lives in general. However, with the rapid spread of Calvinism in the early years of the reign of his son, Philip II, its scope widened vastly. The Edicts of 1521 had banned all preaching or practice of the reformed religion, even in private dwellings, and this power was now brought into full swing. On 2 June 1545 Pieter Titelmans was appointed as Inquisitor.

The Inquisition in the Netherlands should be understood as an office held by individual, successive inquisitors rather than as a tribunal. Individual inquisitors were called upon as specialized judges in cases dealing with offending clerics. They were also involved in judicial procedures related to heresy but these were conducted by laymen, not the inquisitors. Inquisitors were often appointed ad hoc after the death of the previous holder of the function and there were not many of them in total.[6]


  1. ^ Joseph Blötzer, "Inquisition", in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910). Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  2. ^ Van Nierop 2007, p. 83.
  3. ^ J. I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: its rise, greatness, and fall (Oxford University Press) 1995, 82.
  4. ^ Herman J. Selderhuis and Peter Nissen, "The Sixteenth Century", in Handbook of Dutch Church History (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), p. 189.
  5. ^ J. I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: its rise, greatness, and fall (Oxford University Press) 1995, 99 144-6.
  6. ^ G. Gielis & V. Soen, "The Inquisitorial Office in the Sixteenth-Century Habsburg Low Countries: A Dynamic Perspective" in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 66 (1), 2015, p.66. doi:10.1017/s0022046914001286

Further reading[edit]

  • Balzani, U. (1889). "The early history of the inquisition in the Netherlands". The Academy and Literature (886): 283.
  • Beemon, F. E. (1994). "The myth of the Spanish Inquisition and the preconditions for the Dutch Revolt". Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte. 85: 246–264. doi:10.14315/arg-1994-jg13. ISSN 0003-9381. S2CID 191407101.
  • Broderick, T. (2013). "New Amsterdam and the Great Dutch Toleration Debates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2015.
  • Christman, Victoria (2005). Orthodoxy and Opposition: The Creation of a Secular Inquisition in Early Modern Brabant (Thesis).
  • van Dixhoorn, A. (2012). "The making of a public issue in early modern Europe: the Spanish inquisition and public opinion in the Netherlands". In Rospocher, Massimo (ed.). Beyond the public sphere: Opinions, publics, spaces in early modern Europe. Bologna Berlin: Il Mulino Duncker & Humblot. pp. 249–270. hdl:1854/LU-1856623. ISBN 978-88-15-24028-6. OCLC 817744703.
  • Duke, A. (1997). "A legend in the making: News of the 'Spanish Inquisition' in the Low Countries in German evangelical pamphlets, 1546–1550". Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis/Dutch Review of Church History. 77 (2): 125–144. doi:10.1163/002820397X00225. JSTOR 24011467.
  • Duke, A. (2003). "The Inquisition and the Repression of Religious Dissent in the Habsburg Netherlands, 1521–1566". In L'inquisizione (pp. 419–443). Biblioteca apostolica vaticana.
  • "Fredericq's (dr. P.) corpus documentorum inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis neerlandicae (book review)". The Academy. 35 (886): 283. 1889. ProQuest 1298616001.
  • GIELIS, GERT; SOEN, VIOLET (2015). "The Inquisitorial Office in the Sixteenth-Century Habsburg Low Countries: A Dynamic Perspective". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 66 (1). Cambridge University Press (CUP): 47–66. doi:10.1017/s0022046914001286. ISSN 0022-0469. S2CID 159667630.
  • Muchembled, Robert (2000). "Review of Les Inquisitions modernes dans les Pays-Bas Méridionaux, 1520-1633". Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine. 47 (3): 627–631. JSTOR 20530591.
  • Van Nierop, Henk (2007). "'And Ye Shall Hear Of Wars And Rumours Of Wars'. Rumour And The Revolt Of The Netherlands". Public Opinion and Changing Identities in the Early Modern Netherlands. Brill. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004155275.i-310.11. ISBN 978-90-04-15527-5.
  • Koenigsberger, H.G. (1998). "Reviews : Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1997; ISBN 0-300-07081-0; xvi + 384 pp.; £25". European History Quarterly. 28 (4). SAGE Publications: 568–571. doi:10.1177/026569149802800411. ISSN 0265-6914. S2CID 144637260.
  • "The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies: Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Milan, the Canaries, Mexico, Peru, New Granada. By Henry Charles Lea, LL.D., S.T.D. (New York and London: The Macmillan Company. 1908. Pp. xvi, 564.)". The American Historical Review. Oxford University Press. 1908. doi:10.1086/ahr/13.4.847. ISSN 1937-5239.
  • Lea, H.C. (2010). The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies: Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Milan, the Canaries, Mexico, Peru, New Granada. Cambridge Library Collection – European History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-01458-8.
  • Shepherd, William R.; Lea, Henry Charles (1908). "The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies". Political Science Quarterly. 23 (2). Wiley: 328. doi:10.2307/2141330. ISSN 0032-3195. JSTOR 2141330.
  • Thon, Peter (1968). "Bruegel's The Triumph of Death Reconsidered". Renaissance Quarterly. 21 (3): 289–299. doi:10.2307/2859416. JSTOR 2859416. S2CID 155357940.
  • Young, A. (1895). History of the Netherlands (Holland and Belgium). The Werner school and family library. Werner Company. pp. 67ff.