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History of the Inquisition of Spain, Vol. 2

IT were difficult to exaggerate the disorder pervading the Castilian kingdoms, when the Spanish monarchy found its origin in the union of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. Many causes had contributed to prolong and intensify the evils of the feudal system and to neutralize such advantages as it possessed. The struggles of the reconquest from the Saracen, continued at intervals through seven hundred years and varied by constant civil broils, had bred a race of fierce and turbulent nobles as eager to attack a neighbor or their sovereign as the Moor.

The contemptuous manner in which the Cid is represented, in the earliest ballads, as treating his king, shows what was, in the twelf THE belief that, by prolonged meditation and abstraction from the phenomenal world, the soul can elevate itself to the Creator, and can even attain union with the Godhead, has existed from the earliest times and among many races. Passing through ecstasy into trance, it was admitted to the secrets of God, it enjoyed revelations of the invisible universe, it acquired foreknowledge and wielded supernatural powers.

Paul gave to these beliefs the sanction of his own experience; Tertullian describes the influence of the Holy Spirit on the devotee in manifestations which bear a curious similitude to those which we shall meet in Spain, and the anchorites of the Nitrian desert were adepts of t THE Inquisition was organized for the eradication of heresy and the enforcement of uniformity of belief.

And the Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies

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The distinction at first attempted between the mysticism that was praiseworthy and that which was dangerous was complicated by the recognized fact that, while visions and revelations and ecstasies might be special favors from God, they might also be the work of demons, and there was no test that could be applied to differentiate them. The Church was in the unfortunate position of being committed to the belief in special manifestations of supernatural power, while it was confessedly unable to determine whether they came from heaven or from hell.

History of the Inquisition of Spain, Vol 1 Part 1/3 Full Audiobook by Henry Charles LEA

The Church broke definitely with Mysticism, and by implication gave the faithful to understand that salvation was to be sought in the beaten track, through the prescribed observances and under the guidance of the hierarchical organization. Modern science, with its materialism, may weaken or even eradicate this in the majority, and may explain psychologically much of what seems to be marvellous, but the success in our own land of the curious superstition known as Christian Science shows us how superficial is latter-day enlightenment, and should teach us sympathy rather than disdain for the fantastic exhibitions of credulity which we have passed in review.

We have seen that, in ordinary trials, while two witnesses were required as to each fact yet, in practice, a single witness sufficed, not only for arrest but for torture and that the testimony of the vilest persons was welcomed without discrimination.

In solicitation, it was self-evident that there could be but one witness to each specific act, so that perforce the tribunals were instructed that they must be content with "singular" witnesses. No land was more exposed to the contagion of this insanity than Spain where, for more than a hundred years, it was constantly threatening to break forth.

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That it was repressed and rendered comparatively harmless was due to the wisdom and firmness of the Inquisition. This witch-madness was essentially a disease of the imagination, created and stimulated by the persecution of witchcraft. Whereever the inquisitor or civil magistrate went to destroy it by fire, a harvest of witches sprang up around his footsteps.

If some old crone repaid ill-treatment with a curse, and the cow of the offender chanced to die or his child to fall sick, she was marked as a witch; the judge had no difficulty in compelling such confession as he desired and in obtaining a goodly list of accomplices; everyone who had met with ill-luck hurried forward with his suspicions and accusations. The more the writings of the fashionable philosophers of France were denounced, the greater became the curiosity to examine them.

A History of the Inquisition of Spain; vol. 1 by Henry Charles Lea

If any other body in the State felt that its rights were invaded, the only recourse was to the sovereign and we have seen how, under the Hapsburgs, the crown, with scarce an exception, decided in its favor. One is that the main assaults on the ecclesiastical system of Spain, its members and its temporalities, were committed before toleration was extended to the heretic, for the secularization of church property, the abrogation of tithes and first fruits and the suppression of the regular Orders were chiefly effected by measures adopted between and Together they demonstrate that the terrors of the Inquisition were superfluous, and that the injuries which it inflicted on Spain were not compensated by any corresponding benefits, even from the stand-point of the Church.

As we have seen, it paid no attention to morals and thus taught the lesson that they were unimportant in comparison with accuracy of belief. No matter how dissolute was the conduct of the confessor with his spiritual daughters, he was safe so long as he did not commit a technical transgression inferring suspicion of misbelief as to the sacrament, and even when he neglected these precautions we have seen how benignant was the treatment extended to him.

History affords no parallel to such a skilfully organized system, working relentlessly through centuries.

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  • The inquisitors were men, not demons or angels, and when injustice and oppression were rife in the secular courts it would be folly not to expect them in the impenetrable recesses of the Holy Office. Never has the attempt been made so thoroughly, so continuously or with such means of success as in Spain, and never has the consequent retribution been so palpable and so severe. Book 1, Chapter 1, part 3.

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    Book 1, Chapter 2, part 1. Book 1, Chapter 2, part 2. Book 1, Chapter 2, part 3. Book 1, Chapter 2, part 4. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 1. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 2. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 3. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 4. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 5. Book 1, Chapter 3, part 6. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 1. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 2. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 3. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 4. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 5. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 6.

    ‎History of the Inquisition of Spain, Vol. 2 by LEA, Henry Charles on Apple Podcasts

    Book 1, Chapter 4, part 7. Book 1, Chapter 4, part 8. Book 1, Chapter 5, part 1. Book 1, Chapter 5, part 2.