Spanish Inquisition

Spanish Inquisition

Zhelana Vovkivna

1391 – Mass force conversions cause huge rifts in both the Old Christian and Jewish communities in Spain.

1492 – Unconverted Jews forced to leave Spain or convert, worsening the problem.

Tests for Judaism – largely focus on cultural aspects that everybody knows rather than beliefs or less stereotypical aspects

Tribunal – includes providing a “rabbi” to talk to, cajoling, or 5 types of torture

Punishment – Almost always death, unless you turned yourself in during a grace period and told them other names


Ferdinand and Isabella – known as “the Catholic monarchs” Isabella specifically is known to be very pious. Was a force for equality amongst the classes, but inequality for religious minorities

Torquemada – A converso himself, his hatred of Jews knew no bounds

Spanish Society – Lay people made claims of ritual murder and desecrating the host, which fueled hatred of Jews amongst the common people.


500,000 Jews lived in Spain. Amongst these were conversos. Some of these were sincere converts, while others moved away as quickly as possible to continue living as Jews. Many who left had difficulty melding with the Jewish population.

Jewish Responses

Much debate over whether a converso was a Jew or not. There was never any general agreement.

16th century, some movement from persecuting Jews to persecuting other enemies of the church including bigamists, sodomists, protestants, and muslims.

1808 – Everyone thought the inquisition was ending

1834 – The last tribunals actually held.

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