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The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition took place between 1478 and 1834 in Spain. The inquisition was supposed to consolidate power in the monarchy however this was achieved through brutal means. The Spanish Inquisition was started by Ferdinand II a Catholic Monarch. The inquisition’s primary purpose was to replace the medieval inquisitions and also maintain Catholic conformity within the kingdom. It was also meant to identify heretics among the population who converted from Islam and Judaism to Catholicism ("The Spanish Inquisition - History Of Spain - Don Quijote").

Methods used to enforce Inquisition

As mentioned earlier, the Spanish Inquisition was achieved through brutal means which included torture. Torture was used to get a confession and not punish the accused. Some of the torture used was starvation where the individuals were denied food until they confessed. The other means of torture was through forcing the accused to drink and hold a vast amount of fluids including water. Some were tortured through the use of burning coals on their bodies. The methods, however, did not always work.

The other means of torture was Strappado. It is a form of torture that began in the Medieval Inquisition where the hands of the accused were tied behind their back with a rope that would be attached to a pulley or looped to the ceiling. The individual would them be raised such that he would be hanging on his hands. The hanging would force the shoulders out of their sockets. The torture would also add a series of jerking the individual up and down and adding some weights on the ankles which would magnify the pain (Freeman).

Other than Strappado, the rack was another known torture method. An individual would be tired both hands and legs to rollers at both ends of the frame. The handle then would be rolled with a handle which in turn would increase the stretch, and if more rolling continued, the individual being tortured would be dislocated and torn at the joints. An individual watching this process would confess even before being touched (Freeman).

The Inquisitors extracted confessions because they had a belief that it was their duty to do so. If an individual finally confessed truthfully, they would be forgiven, but he would be forced to perform penances like wearing multiple and heavy crosses and also pilgrimages. In case the individual refused to confess he would be imprisoned for life. If an individual confessed then retracted their confession and return to the heretical ways, they were to be abandoned to the secular arm where anyone could execute the heretics (Freeman).

Consequences of the inquisition

The inquisition had several implications and most of which were negative. One of the effects was a 0.11% lower annual population growth. The average yearly population is 0.3%, but during the 300 years’ period, the population growth decreased (Vidal-Robert 31).

The other consequence was the hindrance to the economic growth. The Inquisition played a considerable role in censorship which curbed scientific inquiries. As a result, the literary creativity dampened. One of a few notable individuals who faced the consequences after going against the censorship and inquisitiveness was Galileo Galilei. Galileo was summoned by the Roman Inquisition in 1632 to answer for the Copernican system which had been deemed by the church as heretical. As punishment, he was placed under house arrest and to never speak about the issue again (Madden).

Another consequence of the Inquisition was one faith-based nation. The whole process aimed to unite the individuals to practice Roman Catholic, and if they did not do so, they were ejected out of the society through various means. As a result, pure Roman Catholicism was achieved and support from the pope. The inquisition also ensured that the education in Spain was controlled and that no Spaniard was allowed to study abroad. The result of this was a poor understanding between the Spaniards and foreigners. The inadequate knowledge could be attributed to a difference in mindset, culture, and lack of interaction (Madden).

Finally, the Spaniards feared being falsely accused of heresy. Therefore, any change that took place in the country took a very long time to adapt. The fear also explains the reasons as to why, even in the present day, Spaniards may be the first to see a change on the way, but they are usually the last one to adapt to this change (Vidal-Robert 31).

Comparison with a recent event in history

The Spanish Inquisition could be put into contrast with the Islamic State (IS) which started to gain recognition in 2014. The Spanish Inquisition involved brutal torture on the accused who were forced to act by the system or get faced out. The same is seen with the IS where they are a religious based organization, looking to form spread their Islamic ideologies, and if one does not conform to them, they are tortured. The two also share a common characteristic where they used complex systems to administer and to rely more on bureaucrats (Anthony). They are intolerant to heretics and instead advocate for the oppression of the alternative religions.

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