History of the Spanish Inquisition

holy week spainOne of the darker periods of Spanish history was the 350-year Spanish Inquition, the beginning of which overlapped with the final years of the Reconquest. It was an epoch of severe censorship, paranoia, torture, autos-da-fé, death and the general persecution of "heretics"- in other words, pretty much anybody who allegedly disagreed with the principles of the Catholic church.

spanish inquisitionFollowing their marriage, Fernando and Isabel had quite the project ahead of them. The unification of Aragón and Castilla was met with mixed opinions along with the imminent defeat of the Moors meant that the religious duo needed to take measures to manage, unite and strengthen their expanding and culturally diverse kingdom. The Inquisition began in 1480, aiming to establish religious purity and national unity by rooting out heretics. Fearing Jewish and Moorish revolts or reinforcements from abroad, non-Catholics were forced to choose between converting to national religion or facing expulsion from the country.

The Inquisition morphed into a paranoid witch hunt during the 16th century, as unfounded suspicions often led to the persecution and even execution of anyone suspected of practicing Protestantism, non-Catholic-approved sexual acts, black magic or pretty much anything else that the monarchy saw as a possible threat. Eventually, suspicions that Jews and Muslims continued to secretly practice in secret led to the expulsion of Spain's conversos - or converts. In the 17th century, the expulsion of such a huge portion of the country's talented populace backfired, as a huge gap in the labor force took its toll and yielded an enormous strain upon Spain's resources.