RCC between 578 and 1798

I keep coming across a figure that I find very distressing - that between the above dates the RCC killed over 50 million Christians who would not accept Papal authority.

Is this true?

A cursory Google search lead me to this page,

It should be stated that some writers now believe that the combined deaths of both world wars would be only slightly less than the massacres at the hands of the catholic church from the 4th century up until the 19th century. Several historians have offered figures of 50 million people being murdered during this period. Catholic writer John Cornwell also states how 1-10 million people were murdered during the Inquisition period alone, with 10,000 females (many under the age of ten) perishing in Germany, according to the Sunday Times, 23 August 1998. Only the Russian Darwinist dictator Joseph Stalin would come anywhere near to matching this figure, for he would exterminate around 35 million of his own people.

:rolleyes: Funny how weasel words are applied, “Several historians”, that apparently have no name, as if it were accepted history and general knowledge.

Digging a bit deeper, I found this, on this very forum.

There goes that. :smiley:

This is the first time I’ve ever seen the expression “Darwinist dictator”, whether applied to Stalin or anybody else. It’s a giveaway. Whoever is capable of writing a thing like that cannot possibly be a reliable source of information about anything at all.

If it were true, they would present verifiable, historical sources. Did they?

How is it you “keep coming across” this figure? I have NEVER come across such a figure and I have read MANY history books. Two of my siblings have degrees in history, and so did my grandfather.

So, what is your source?

You realize that 50 million people was the entire population of Europe during that time, right?

So, you do the math.

Well I can’t find an exact figure for this period, but 50 million people died from the black death across Europe in the 14th century, representing 60% of the population in that century alone, so 50 million could not have been the entire population of Europe over the period in question.

This article, which is one of many, quotes numerous sources: cs.unc.edu/~plaisted/estimates.html quoes many refernces.


The Inquisition number is definitely wrong, however, if you add up various Catholic/Protestant wars in Europe (some of these fought at the direct incitement of the papacy) then the 50 million figure would be in the right ballpark.

I’ve often heard the reasoning that the Church didn’t kill anyone. They didn’t have the authority (like the Jews telling Pilate they had no authority to put anyone to death …well, other than stoning sinners I guess?), but that governments put people to death, fought wars etc…and that it was just how things were done in those cultures.

I have no idea on the actual numbers though.

It’s a ridiculous slur.

Even during the “evil” Inquisition, which lasted 350 years, maybe 3,000-5,000 people were executed.

Prior to the Inquisition, there was no vehicle by which the Church would be able to cause anyone’s death.

Are you reading from that “Trail of Blood” baloney?

Doesn’t seem plausible for a couple of reasons. First, the population of Europe, including the non-Catholic areas (Orthodoxy) was about 70 million in 1500. A loss of 50 million during the relatively short period of the religious wars is just not credible.

Second, the population of Europe grew continuously from that point on, at a rate similar to that prior to 1500, dipping sharply only during the plague years.



It’s not.

The author is a professor of computer science.

the data he uses are risible.

Most of them are ‘Protestant scholars’ who themselves worked with flawed data (“Trail of blood” anybody?), the actual sources are not given, pretty much just ‘so-and-so said X’. . .I mean, he says that Robert Bellarmine said "infinite numbers were killed’ when one can see actual physical tangible records from the times that give population numbers and records that prove that this ‘taken out of context’ quote is simply put in to ‘swell’ data. . . and that’s just one example.

Would you accept as evidence of the history of say the number of deaths in Stalinist Russia the work of a computer science professor in Russia who quoted names of ‘historians’ who said that most of the deaths ‘attributed’ were from natural causes because he just lists out x number of ‘scholars’ and ‘historians’ who said, “this is what I claim?”

How about the evidence of Holocaust deaths by a computer science professor who was given a whole list of Holocaust deniers and thereby ‘proved’ there were only say a couple of hundred deaths?

Oh, why stop at 1798, anyway? What’s magic about that date? And why start at 578? Google those dates and see what comes up. . .

The worst religious war in Europe was indisputably the Thirty Years War, in which about 7.5 million are believed to have died. It did begin as a religious war, but quickly turned into a war to determine who would control Europe, having nothing to do with religion. Mostly it was a war between Catholic France and the Catholic Holy Roman Empire, and religion was not the issue in that struggle.

The problem with many of the Inquisition figures is that some of the historians in past centuries saw the word “victim of the Inquisition,” and mistakenly thought the person had been killed. For an example, if I was brought before the Inquisition, even if I was cleared, or recanted my “evil” ways, and went on with my life, the history books listed me as a victim, and for years many people equated that with death. And yes the figure of less than 10,000 seems to be the one accepted by most serious historians.

No, it’s propaganda.


I don’t know, I haven’t seen the figures and until I do, it remains in the category of baseless polemic accusation. You shouldn’t be credulous about unfounded accusations either.

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