De Luna, Gabriel

    The Spanish Inquisition began as a campaign by the Spanish Catholic monarchy, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, to ensure the populace was adherent to orthodox Catholicism. A primary motivation for the Inquisition was the suspicion of Queen Isabella that converted civilians in Andalusia were still practicing Judaism in secret. With papal approval, the Spanish monarchy created a government body to carry out the will of the monarchy in enforcing religious compliance. In 1483, Jewish civilians were expelled from the city of Andalusia. (1) After news of the excessive punishment, with approximately 2,000 burned at the cross, reached Pope Sixtus IV sought to reprimand the monarchy. However, King Ferdinand threatened to separate from the church should the Pope not renew the papal bull. Pope Sixtus IV thus conceded. (2)

    The government, backed by the Catholic authority, effectively outlawed the practice of religion and beliefs that did not conform to orthodox Catholicism. The tribunals caused an immediate shift in demographics by expelling open Jews as well as forcing those of questionable belief to identify publicly as Catholic or face a number of penalties including death. This social structure imposed a chilling effect on its citizens henceforth. By force, the dominant ideology without competition became Catholicism. Morality by extension was policed. Acts of sodomy, bigamy, and blasphemy, were all against the teachings in Catholicism and were punished accordingly. The existence of this institution lasted for another three centuries. The influence of the Inquisition waned but was not a trivial institution yet. The last known execution sanctioned by the Inquisition took place in 1826 against Cayetano Ripoll, a schoolteacher. Ripoll had been spreading the ideas of Deism in the classroom and was accused of heresy. He was then hung after two years in prison. (3) The tribunals were formally abolished in July 15, 1834 by the Queen Consort of Spain Maria Christina, partly as a result of international perceptions from other European countries in the Age of Enlightenment. The Inquisition imposed on its citizens to abide by Catholic beliefs for nearly 350 years.

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2. Mathew, Arnold Harris, The Life and Times of Rodrigo Borgia, New York : Brentano’s,  pp. 52-53