The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition was directed at ridding the country of the so-called Judaising Christians. These were termed Marranos (or pigs). From the terms of the Inquisition and the comments we know that they not only kept the Sabbath but that they denied the Trinity, kept the Holy Days including Atonement and also kept the food laws. The Edict of the Faith shows the means by which the heretics could be identified. Jews and Muslims were also caught up in this persecution but the persecution was not directed at them but at the Church of God which they also called Sabbatati, Insabbatati or Insabathi. The edict of Alphonse king of Aragon etc., expelling the Waldensians or Insabbatati from Spain is given at page 20 of the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122).

Cecil Roth in his work The Spanish Inquisition, Robert Hale Ltd, London, 1937, issued a warning in the Preface that history repeats itself and the book was not intended as a satire on what was then happening in Europe. The Jewish scholars sought to develop the Spanish Inquisition as a form of Jewish persecution. Perhaps the worst of these distortions, despite its complete thoroughness, is the recent work by B. Netanyahu (The Origins of the Spanish Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, Random House, NewYork, 1995). Netanyahu attempts to persuade the reader that the object of the Inquisitions was the Jewish community when that is manifestly untrue and the scholars have publicly attacked his position. The Rabbis of the time stated unequivocally that they were not Jews but Christians. They were not Jews masquerading as Christians. They were in fact the Church of God.

The number of Tribunals of the Holy Office in Spain ultimately numbered fifteen. They existed with full complements of officials and equipment at Barcelona, Cordova, Cuenca, Granada, Llerana, Logrono, Madrid, Murcia, Santiago, Seville, Toledo, Valencia, Valladolid and Sargossa. Another for the Balearic Islands was situated at Palma, Majorca.

The more horrific and active areas were Madrid, Seville and Toledo because of the larger numbers of New Christians (as Roth refers to them), with activity greatest in Old Castille and Andalusia, and diminished after the first frenzied outburst to least in Catalonia (Roth, ibid., Ch. The Unholy Office, p. 73). It was finally co-ordinated at the close of the fifteenth century under the authority of the central council El Consejo de la Suprema y General Inquisición referred to as La Suprema, which was initially confined to Castille. With the four great Councils of State under Ferdinand and Isabella, namely the Councils of State, of Finance, of Castille and of Aragon, the Council of the Inquisition took its place as the not most insignificant exercise of royal power (Roth, ibid., p. 74). In 1647 it was ordered that all the sentences of all tribunals be submitted to it for control. This appears to have been ultimately to curb the indescribable severity of the local persecutions. The severity stemmed from a basic error of understanding. Netanyahu refers to the error (The Origins of the Spanish Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, pp. 440-459) where all errors of the mind were judged as heresy contrary to Augustine's statement I can err but I am not a heretic (De Trinitate, c, 3, n. 5-6). Juan de Torquemada, the Inquisitor, attacked the Toledan trials because of their manifest irregularity and deliberate non-biblical anti-Semitism. He viewed the matter as being on the same level as that of Haman against Mordecai and the Jews (ibid., p. 449). He was then faced with the problem of the nature of God as viewed by the Vallenses. The Toledans had stated, as was evident elsewhere, as a matter of public knowledge (publica fama) (and also in Valencia as we shall see) that the heretics, practice circumcision, deny the true divinity of Christ, deny, in addition, the presence of his body in the Eucharist, etc. (ibid., p. 444). The Toledans had not shown, according to Torquemada, that the converts could not be shown either by his own voluntary confession or by statements of innocent witnesses, ever to have said, after receiving baptism, that he believed in anything except what is believed by the Mother Church herself (cf. Netanyahu, p. 444). Torquemada branded this accusation false mendacious and malicious and demonstrated by itself the nullity of the whole trial (ibid., p. 445). Why should this be so? We know beyond doubt that the Vallenses practised Unitarianism for centuries. The distinction lay in the subordinate divinity of Christ. Thus the divinity of Christ was not denied. But there was something more at stake here. Torquemada saw that the Toledan trials were simply anti-Semitic and that there was no biblical basis for this racism. He, thus, had to denounce this error in the strongest possible terms. The problem also lay in the fact that the suspicion and the interrogation extended to the fourth generation of the conversions. He attacked this premise from the point of view, of the conversions of the other elements of the anti-Trinitarians, from what he described as Manichean errors among the Bosnians. He was faced with the problem of the conversion of royalty within the Holy Roman Empire. Torquemada says:
In our own time there were converted from paganism to Christianity the illustrious king of Poland, the father of the present king, with a large number of nobles and a countless multitude [Wladislaw II, formerly Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania, converted when made king in 1386. He was father of Casimir IV who ascended the throne in 1447]. Later, in the days of Pope Eugene IV, the king of Bosnia, his Queen, and many other nobles were converted to Christianity from the Manichean errors [king Stephanus Thomas was converted to Catholicism in 1445]. In addition, almost daily many of the Mahommedans are being convinced [of the Christian truth]. It would be a major scandal and intolerable sacrilege to say that all these people would have to be suspected, at least until the fourth generation, of idolatry and the errors which they and their fathers had upheld at some time (Tractatus, pp. 54-55; cf. Netanyahu, p. 452).
Torquemada had written a tract against Bosnian Bogomilism (Symbolum pro imformatione Manichaeorum, ed. N Lopez Martinez and V Proano Gil, 1958, p. 23, n. 68 and Netanyahu, n. 119). Here we see the effects of the intermix of the Manichean dualism where the Paulicians had established the Unitarian faith. The Church at this time was forced into Herzegovina and on into the north (see also the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). The problem is obvious, but not to Netanyahu. By the fifteenth century the Vallenses had been driven so far underground that it was all but visibly exterminated by the persecution. The Toledans among others had become so excessive and tyrannical that they were using the Inquisition for systematic Semitic extermination. This would undermine the position of the activities of the church in consolidating the empire. Torquemada was faced with limiting those excesses so that some stable interaction within the empire could be effected, and conversion could be seen to be some benefit to those that were targeted for conversion. The racism and avarice of the Inquisition were placing this carrot and, hence, the expansion in jeopardy. Torquemada was shrewd enough to know what the judgment of history would be. He thus had to curb the Inquisition. In the event, the church allowed it to continue for another three centuries against the very processes and doctrines whose existence was being denied, ultimately destroying its own power (see Malachi Martin Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, Secker and Warburg, London, pp. 254 ff.).

The evidence from the Edicts
In the establishment of an area Inquisition, a procedure of Edicts was followed. After an Edict of Grace had been published encouraging the heretics to come forward and confess, usually covering some thirty or forty days (Roth, p. 75), the Inquisition would then purge the area. This set in chain a process of incrimination. The next phase was the periodic publication of an Edict of the Faith, which helped identify the types or indicators of the heresies, which had to be denounced. The Confessional system then enforced this evil.

The Edict of the Faith was issued at Valencia in 1519 by Andres de Palacio, Inquisitor to Valencia, and has been published by Roth. It can be seen from that Edict that there were a general series of facts and superstitions listed which identified three groups of people. The first was the Christians who held to the so-called Judaising tendencies. The second group was the Jews themselves and the third group were the Muslims. It is obvious from the Edict that the heresy had penetrated the church itself as the words spoken over the Eucharist were specifically identified as an indicator of the heresy in the Edict. Also the Cross, or the Sign of the Cross, was not used by the Sabbatati. From an examination of the Edict it seems that the group denied the Soul and the doctrines of Heaven and Hell. They observed the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday doing no labour on the Sabbath. They celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover with bitter herbs. They fasted on Atonement (Roth, pp. 77 ff.).

The general views and observance of the Jews were included in the list as shown in the Edict so that the systems were run together making it difficult to identify exactly the distinctions between them. They kept the food laws and also buried their dead according to the Jewish custom. Much of the Edict includes superstitions attributed to the sects (e.g. p. 78). They denied Mariolatry and this was grouped with the Judaic denial of the Messiah.

The doctrine of Transubstantiation was denied as was the Catholic form of the doctrine of Omnipresence, which was Platonic Animism (p. 78). The priests seemed to be involved and were identified from the consecration. The Christians seemed to dress as Jews adhering to the laws governing fabrics (p. 79). They met in house churches and read Bibles out of the vernacular. The property of the heretics was confiscated and this no doubt helped the zeal of the Inquisitors.

Roth records the opening of the Office in Lisbon before it was made into the Opera House. The accounts from eyewitnesses (printed in the Annual Register of 1821) show beyond doubt, that there were human remains found in the dungeons, which were in use (from an inscription on a dungeon wall) as late as 1809. These included monks whose garments were found among the human and other remains lying in the tiers of dungeons and among the evidence of murder both old and recent, committed there (Roth, pp. 84-85).

Intervals of three to four years between arrest and sentence were commonplace and in one recorded case fourteen years elapsed. Pregnant women were dragged to the stake and the abuse of prisoners, or perhaps interaction with them, prompted Cardinal Ximenes in 1512 to threaten with death any official found carrying on intrigues with their prisoners. The expense of the imprisonment was borne by the accused no matter how long. One example of expenses incurred in the four year incarceration of a nun in Sicily, acquitted and released in 1703, was still being paid off by her heirs as late as 1872 (Roth, p. 87). Normally, the assets were confiscated at the time of arrest.

Marranos or New Christians could not be accepted as witnesses in any proceedings. The withholding of the names of witnesses was introduced in the thirteenth century ostensibly to protect the weak against the powerful accused but this became the norm and none could find out the names of their accusers. (Roth correctly points out that even up to 1836 in England accused felons could not have counsel or see copies of the depositions made against them). The times themselves were barbaric and the Inquisition was the worst of the barbarism.

The European Inquisitions began in the south of France in the thirteenth century and ended in the Papal States in 1846. Between 1823 and 1846, 200,000 people in the Papal States alone were sentenced to death, life imprisonment, exile or the galleys, with another 1.5 million placed under surveillance (see Malachi Martin The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, p. 254 and the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122), p. 29 for quotes). Roth quotes the despair of the individuals from the outset in the thirteenth century in the south of France.
Hear me, my lords! I am no heretic: for I have a wife and cohabit with her and have children; and I eat flesh and lie and swear and am a faithful Christian (Roth, p. 90).
This denial of the elements of celibacy and vegetarian asceticism was necessary because the Manichaean dualists known as Cathari or Puritians, who sought purification by asceticism, were an heretical sect which eventually drew persecution on the Vallenses or Sabbatati. The Manichaean dualists were distinct from the Vallenses and this is the Cathar-Vallenses distinction acknowledged but incorrectly identified by Weber. The biblical laws were continually kept by the Sabbatati. Their worship was in secret and so it is difficult to identify with precision. However, we know they kept the Sabbath and the full extent of their worship is identified from the eastern branches of the Sabbatati.
(cf. Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170) pp. 8-11).


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