The Spanish Inquisition

Hertics executed at a Lisbon (CC)
Introduction: The Spanish Inquisition started during the late 1400's by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the king and queen of Spain. The Spanish Inquisition was an organization of priests that looked for and punished anyone in Spain suspected of secretly practicing their old religion or not being Catholic Christians. The people they looked for were known as heretics, or people who opposed or questioned Catholic teachings. These people included Muslims, Jews or the non religious. Many of those found guilty were tortured, fined, or killed. Records show about 2,000 people were sentenced to die in Spain alone and over the course of the inquisition thousands were killed. Many things caused the Inquisition, and there were many lasting effects.


There were many causes to the Spanish Inquisition. The first cause was that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella wanted an all-Catholic kingdom. They did this by
Spanish push the Moors out! The Reconquista
making people admit they were heretics and then publicly killing them. People who did not admit were found guilty and killed, so either way you lost.
Another cause was the fight with the Moors (Islam). In 711, the Moors, who are African Muslims, invaded the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain) and took control of much of the peninsula (as the map shows Green=Moors land).
The Europeans tried to regain Spain and Portugal from the Moors in what was called the Christian Reconquista . As a result, they had harsh feeling for the Muslims. A third cause of the Spanish Inquisition was the post-crusade feelings against heretics. The pope tried to rid Europe of all people who were against Catholic teachings. These people were called heretics. These particular people were Jews and Muslims. Heresy and the inquisition was happening all over Europe, but most often associated with what happened in Spain. The last cause was the rise of Portugal and Spain on the world stage, and a desire for power. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sent Christopher Columbus to carry on the Inquisition in the new world, as will be discussed later in this book.

Persecution: How the Inquisition work?

Vatican Inquisition: (CC)
The Spanish Inquisition was the prosecuting, trying, and conviction of all Heretics in Spain.
Clergyman from the Catholic Church went around and persecuted anybody that questioned the Church’s teachings or practiced any other religion. These people were put on trial, so the Inquisition was a trail about your beliefs, run by the church, but controlled by the King. If the accused admitted to being a heretic, they could be killed or fined for going against the Catholic Church. If they didn’t admit to being heretic, then they would be tortured until they admitted guilt and would then be killed. The religions in Spain other than Catholicism were mainly Islam and Judaism. The Jews and Muslim had choices to make: leave the country, convert to Catholicism, face the Inquisition, or try to hide their religion and risk being found by the Inquisition.

These priests demand a heretic to confess as he is being tortured (CC)

Because of the Inquisitions brutality, there were many effects that took place. One effect was that
most of the Jews and Muslims in Spain left or were killed. This made Spain a predominantly Catholic society, which changed many aspects of their country and impacted the life in Spanish colonies in the new world (the Inquisition would be used for 200 years in the New World, in particular South America). The church also banned some books, to keep people from reading material they did not agree with or that questioned the church or power of the King. If anybody questioned the church or the Kings power, they were called a heretic and put on trial. Many people had fear of the powerful Inquisition and King of Spain. The inquisition made many people fear and resent the Church and it’s teachings, which affects society later on during the Reformation . The Spanish Inquisition also led to the 20 Year War in France. Today Spain is still a predominantly Catholic country.
Clergy also destroyed books (CC)


The Spanish Inquisition was a very important event in European history. It was the first of its kind. It was important because it rid Spain of all heretics (?) and it shows the power of the King to use Fear to control society. The Spanish Inquisition changed many lives of people back then and still impacts our world today.

The ideas behind this event can be seen in the Salem Witch Trails in the Americas.

If you would like to learn more about the Spanish Inquisition you can listen to the podcast below.
By: Alex, Marc, and Mitchell
Submitted on 6/2/09

The following quote is referring to something.
What do you think it is referring to?

First they came for the communists
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Martin Niemöller

Edited by Molly (2012)

Cartoon added 6/4/10