The Middle Ages in Europe are considered to be one of the darkest eras in history. A major contributor to this is an institution called the Grand Inquisition or just Inquisition. Today, the name of this institution is a catchphrase associated with violence and torture.
The Inquisition is one of the institutions of the Catholic Church whose purpose is to investigate cases of heresy and punish them. It was introduced as an independent institution by Pope Innocent III and operated in Catholic countries from 1204 to 1834, when it was officially abolished.
The order of Dominican friars is charged with the task of holding this institution in its hands because of its devotion to the throne of the Pope. In Spain, the Inquisition is best known because in 1480 it was tied to the royal institution. The position of Grand Inquisitor is created and the first appointed to this position in Spain is Tomas de Torquemada. Who is this person and how did he get to this position? What is he famous for in history?
Grand Inquisitor Thomas de Torquemada
The first grand inquisitor of Spain was born in 1420 in the family of an official of the Dominican order. The probable birthplace is the town of Torquemada or Valladolid. It is believed that his ancestors were converted Jews.
Since the boy's father and uncle - a cardinal and a theologian - are in the Catholic institution, his path is predetermined. In 1451, Thomas was already in the Dominican order and immediately stood out as an orator. This helps to appoint him as the governor of the monastery of the Holy Cross in Segovia.
Nearby is one of the residences of the royal family, where the Infanta Isabella was raised. After a visit to the convent, her mother approved Torquemada as the spiritual mentor of Infanta and he remained that, until her death.
As close to the future queen, Torquemada played a role in the unification of Spain. He abandoned all other posts to remain Isabella's mentor and maintain his influence over her. With his active participation, the marriage of Isabella of Castile with Ferdinand II of Aragon was organized in 1569.
Five years later, the legitimate king and Isabella's brother, King Henry IV, died, and this became the cause of fierce struggles for the throne. Isabella of Castile won them and after the death of Ferdinand of Aragon's father, who was succeeded by his son, the two parts of Spain were united.
For his faithful service to the monarchs, Torquemada was appointed Grand Inquisitor.
He is reviving this already established institution, but without a particular role so far. Torquemada begins by using his influence over Isabella of Castile to force the suggestion that the elevation of Catholicism's influence could only be done through the Inquisition.
According to Torquemada, the struggle for faith goes through the persecution of heretics.
They are accompanied by confessions extracted by torture, confiscation of property, burning at the stake.
First, many Jews and Muslims were driven out and their properties and valuables were confiscated. After that, they were all baptized into the Catholic faith. However, the persecutions do not stop. The converted, called Moriscos and Marrano, were accused of false Christianity and tortured to confess their sins. This leads to mass emigration to neighboring countries.
During the time of Torquemada, more than ten thousand people were burned at the stake, others were thrown into prisons, most of them had their properties confiscated.
Thousands of books and manuscripts were destroyed, also burned at the stake.
Torquemada's activity benefited the royal institution, to which the property of the repressed passed. This is an auspicious moment for Spain, which needs funds to successfully wage wars to redistribute the new lands.
The Last Years and Death of the Grand Inquisitor
Torquemada reached an enviable age and died in 1498 at the age of 78.
He instills fear, but he himself is subject to fear. Spain hates him and he understands it well, so he only goes with guards and does not take unnecessary trips. He lived, until the end of his days, locked in his fortress-like home, waiting for retribution to overtake him.