I don’t know much about the inquisition, some say that many people died there, some say, however, that it just an exaggeration, so what are the real facts?
If you seriously want to research this, I’d recommend books over internet forums.
A timeline ^
From the Historian Thomas Madden (who has appeared on CA)
(One theological tidbit…he opens with "When the sins of the Catholic Church are recited " …this is not correct…it should be sins of members of the Catholic Church…anyhow he is a historian not a theologian…I am sure in talking of history…I can make lots of history-language mistakes…:)…and he is speaking colloquially)
There are all kinds of accounts of it, and most are determined by their source. We are English-speakers, so most information available to us is from English sources and histories. As an inveterate enemy of Spain during the era, English sources are not to be trusted.
I am not an expert on the Inquisition, and it varied from place to place. But when most people talk about it, they’re talking about the Spanish inquisition.
When the Christian king and queen of Spain finally ousted Muslim power from the country, there was a lot of political and economic change. Many Muslims and many of the Jews who had previously had high position, lost it. Some converted to Catholicism to retain or regain it. Since the Moors were still very close to Spain and still a military threat, there began to be suspicions concerning those converts. Some of those suspicions were probably valid. Some probably not. Nobody was “tried” by the Inquisition for being a Muslim who had always been a Muslim or a Jew who had always been a Jew.
Charges began with secular authorities, or sometimes simply by mobs. The Inquisition was initially set up to check into those charges, because the secular authorities (and vigilantes) were inclined to execute people on mere suspicion. Keep in mind, it wasn’t a religious thing, exactly. It was more like people being suspected of being secret Al Quaeda sympathizers or agents of some place like Iran or North Korea.
The Church did allow torture in those inquiry sessions. For 15 minutes. It was forbidden to cause lasting injury. Most people “tried” by the Inquisition were acquitted. Some were found to be illigitimate “converts” and were returned to the secular authorities. Of those, some were executed by the government, and would have been executed by the government anyway, Inquisition or no Inquisition. The Inquisition itself executed no one. It may be noted that the Inquisition was the very first tribunal that required that every accused person have a competent lawyer to defend his point of view. No doubt there were abuses, just as there are abuses in every legal system on earth.
Later on, the arm of the state also gathered in some protestants, because it was thought they would have allegiance to protestant England, Spain’s bitter enemy, or enemy Holland.
The numbers are a bit uncertain, but it appears somewhere around 3,000 to 5,000 were executed during the 300 some years it was in operation. That was in Spain. In Spanish America, if I’m not greatly mistaken, there were none, even though the INquisition was there as well. But that wasn’t so strange, because there were undoubtedly far fewer “converts” from Islam or Judaism in the New World. Probably any English or Dutch protestant interlopers were executed out of hand by the colonial governments as “pirates”. English and Dutch piracy in Spanish America were very serious problems.
But again, it is important to remember that most accounts we ever see of it are of English origin. If you read a Spanish source, it will almost certainly be very different. It is also worthwhile remembering that it was a different age from our own; a much rougher one, and one (in Spain at least) where enemies were suspected everywhere. It took Spanish Christians about 300 years to reconquer all of Spain from the Muslims, and that was not conducive to leniency in attitude.