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The history and romance of crime from the earliest time to the present day (Volume 9) online

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Late Inspector of Prhons in Czcr.i RrHain ;

Author o'
"Che Mt/stertet of Police ana i^iime |

" Fifiu Yeart of Public Service," etc. I

Tfie Inquisitor-General and the Catholic

The mandate of expulsion of the Jews from Spain was
issued by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. This edict no doubt
originated with Torquemada, who was very bitter against the
Jews. When he learned that a number of their leaders were
in conference with the King and Queen, and offering an im-
mense ransom, Torquemada rushed into the presence bearing
a crucifix on high and crying in stentorian tones that the
sovereigns were about to act the part of Judas Iscariot.
'■ Here He is ! " he exclaimed. " Sell Him again, not for
thirty pieces of silver, but for thirty thousand ! " and flinging
the crucifix on the table he ran out in a frenzy. This turned
the tables and the decree for expulsion was confirmed.


M\\\ \0'\^>»Wi


^pontsli Prisons



Late Inspector of Prisons in Great Britain

Author of

"Che Mysteries of Police and Crime

"Fifty Years of Public Service," etc.



Limited to one thousand registered and numbered sets.

NDMRRR *^U » ,




A CONSIDERABLE portion of this volume is de-
voted to the Spanish Inquisition, which was, for
three centuries, the most important force in Spain.
Thousands were condemned by its tribunals, and its
prisons and punishments make up a large part of the
penal history of that country. Much exaggeration
has crept into the popular accounts, but the simple
truth must cause a shudder, when read to-day.

The institution was created to deal with heresy,
that is, with a departure from the accepted canons.
The idea that there can be unity in diversity was
not understood. The spiritual and the temporal
powers were closely related, and bishop and king,
pope and emperor, all believed that uniformity was
necessary. Hence, heresy was everywhere treated
as high treason not only to the Church but to the
State as well. The Spanish Inquisition was a state
affair as well as an ecclesiastical court.

We shall see that the jurisdiction of the Inquisi-
tion was not confined to the suppression of heresy.
Many crimes which to-day are purely state concerns,
were then punished by it, including bigamy, blas-
phemy, perjury, unnatural crimes, and witchcraft.





The Spanish Inquisition deserves credit for discour-
aging persecution of the last named offence, and
thereby saved the Hves of thousands, who, in any
other state would have been executed.

The adaptation to penal purposes of ancient build-
ings, to be found throughout the length and breadth
of Spain, was very common, as these were immedi-
ately available although generally unsuitable. Chief
among them are the many monastic buildings va-
cated when the laws broke up religious houses in
Spain and which were mostly converted into prisons,
but little deserving the name. Some of these houses
have been utilised as gaols pure and simple; some
have served two or more purposes as at Huelva,
where the convent-prison was also a barrack.

Spain has been slow in conforming to the move-
ments towards prison reform. She could not afford
to spend money on new constructions along modern
lines, and the introduction of the cellular system is
only of recent date. The model prison of Madrid,
which has replaced the hideous Saladero, was only
begun in 1887. But a few separate prisons had al-
ready been created, such as those of Loja, Ponteve-
dra, Barcelona, Vittoria and Naval Carnero. These
establishments are new to Spain but their methods
and aims are too well known to call for fresh de-
scription. More interest attaches to the older forms
that have so long served as places of durance.



I. The Inquisition in Spain .

II. Persecution of Jews and Moors

III. Prisons and Punishments .

IV. The Inquisition Abroad
V. The Inquisition in Portugal and India

VI. Early Prisons and Prisoners .

VII. Presidios at Home and Abroad

VIII. Life in Ceuta

IX. Brigands and Brigandage .

X. A Bright Page in Prison History







List of Illustrations

The Grand Inquisitor and the Catholic

Sovereigns Frontispiece

The Alhambra Palace, Granada . . . Page 52

The Question " ii6

Castel dell' Ovo "150




Beginning and growth of religious persecution — Temporal
power of the Papacy — Pope Innocent III creates the first
" Inquisitors " — Domingo de Guzman founder of the In-
quisition — Founder of the Dominican Order of Friars —
The " ancient " Inquisition — Penances inflicted — Perse-
cution of the Jews in Spain — Institution of the " modern "
Inquisition under Ferdinand and Isabella — Headquarters
at Seville — Frequent autos da fe — Thomas de Torque-
mada the first Inquisitor-General — The privileges of the
office — Torquemada's life and character — Sufferings of
accused persons.

The record of religious persecution furnishes
some of the saddest pages in the world's history.
It began with the immediate successors of Constan-
tine the Great, the first Christian prince. They pro-
mulgated severe edicts against heretics with such
penalties as confiscation, banishment and death
against breaches of Catholic unity. In this present
tolerant age when every one may worship God after
his own fashion, it is difficult to realise how recent
a growth is toleration. For more than six centuries
the flames of persecution burned fiercely throughout


Oiristendom, lighted by the strong arm of the law,
and soldiers were constantly engaged to extirpate
dissent from the accepted dogmas with fire and
sword. The growth of the papacy and the assump-
tion of the temporal power exalted heresy into trea-
son; independence of thought was deemed opposi-
tion to authority and resistance to the universal su-
premacy of the Church. The popes fighting in self-
defence stimulated the zeal of their followers un-
ceasingly to stamp out heresy. Alexander III in
the 1 2th century solemnly declared that every secu-
lar prince who spared heretics should be classed as
a heretic himself and involved in the one common

When the temporal power of the popes was
fully established and acknowledged, the papacy
claimed universal sovereignty over all countries and
peoples and was in a position to enforce it by sys-
tematic procedure against its foes. Pope Innocent
III, consumed with the fervour of his intolerant
faith, determined to crush heresy. His first step
was to appoint two " inquisitors " (the first use of
the name) and two learned and devout friars, who
were really travelling commissioners, were sent to
perambulate Christendom to discover heresy. They
were commended to all bishops, who were strictly
charged to receive them with kindness, treat them
with affection, and " help them to turn heretics from
the error of their way or else drive them out of the
country." The same assistance was expected from


the rulers of states who were to aid the inquisitors
with equal kindness.

The mission began in the south of France and a
crusade was undertaken against the Albigensians
and Waldensians, those early dissidents from the
Church of Rome, who drew down on themselves the
unappeasable animosity of the orthodox. The cam-
paign against these original heretics raged fiercely,
but persecution slackened and might have died out
but for the appearance of one devoted zealot whose
intense hatred of heresy, backed by his uncompro-
mising energy, revived the illiberal spirit and or-
ganised fresh methods of attack. This was Do-
mingo de Guzman, a Spanish monk who accom-
panied Foulques, Bishop of Toulouse, when he left
his desolated diocese to take part in the fourth
Lateran Council, assembled at Rome in 12 15. This
Domingo, historically known as St. Dominic, was
the founder of the Dominican order of friars.

Though generally accepted as such by Church
historians, it is now argued that St. Dominic was
not really the founder of the Inquisition ^ and that
although he spent the best years of his life in com-
bating heresy he took no more prominent part in
persecution than hundreds of others. His eulogistic
biographer describes him as ** a man of earnest,
resolute purpose, of deep and unalterable convic-
tions, full of burning zeal for the propagation of the
faith, yet kindly in heart, cheerful in temper and

*Lea. History of the Inquisition. Vol. I. p. 299.


winning in manner. . . . He was as severe with
himself as with his fellows. . . . His endless
scourgings, his tireless vigils, his almost uninter-
rupted prayer, his superhuman fasts, are probably
only harmless exaggerations of the truth." The
Dominicans boasted that their founder exhaled " an
odour of sanctity " and, when his tomb was opened,
a delicious scent issued forth, so penetrating that it
permeated the whole land, and so persistent that
those who touched the holy relics had their hands
perfumed for years.

Whatever the personal character of Dominic and
whether or no he laboured to carry out the work
himself, there can be no doubt that his Order was
closely identified with the Inquisition from the first.
Its members were appointed inquisitors, they served
in the prisons as confessors, they assisted the tri-
bunals as " qualificators," or persons appointed to
seek out proof of guilt, or estimate the extent or
quality of the heretical opinions charged against the
accused ; the great ceremonials and autos da fe were
organised by them ; they worked the " censure "
and prepared the " Index " of prohibited books.
The Dominicans were undoubtedly the most active
agents in the Inquisition and they owed their exist-
ence to him, even if he did not personally take part
in its proceedings.

The following quotation from Prescott's " His-
tory of Ferdinand and Isabella " may well be in-
serted here. " Some Catholic writers would fain


excuse St. Dominic from the imputation of having
founded the Inquisition. It is true he died some
years before the perfect organisation of that tri-
bunal ; but as he estabhshed the principles on which,
and the monkish militia by whom it was adminis-
tered, it is doing him no injustice to regard him as
its real author." The Sicilian writer. Paramo, in-
deed, in his heavy quarto, traces it up to a much
more remote antiquity. According to him God was
the first inquisitor and his condemnation of Adam
and Eve furnished the models of the judicial forms
observed in the trials of the Holy Office. The sen-
tence of Adam was the type of the Inquisitional
" reconciliation," his subsequent raiment of skins of
animals was the type of the sanbenito, and the ex-
pulsion from Paradise, the precedent for the con-
fiscation of the goods of heretics. This learned per-
sonage deduces a succession of inquisitors through
the patriarchs, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, and King
David, down to John the Baptist, and he even in-
cludes our Saviour in whose precepts and conduct
he finds abundant authority for the tribunal.

The " Ancient Inquisition," as that first estab-
lished in Spain is generally called, had many of the
features of the " modern " which dates from the
reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and which will
presently be described at some length. Its proceed-
ings were shrouded in the same impenetrable se-
crecy, it used the same insidious modes of accusa-
tion, supported them by similar tortures, and pun-


ished them with similar penalties. A manual drawn
up in the fourteenth century for the guidance of
judges of the Holy Office prescribes the familiar
forms of artful interrogation employed to catch the
unwary, and sometimes innocent victim. The an-
cient Inquisition worked on principles less repug-
nant to justice than the better known, but equally
cruel modern institution, but was less extensive in
its operations because in the earlier days there were
fewer heretics to persecute.

The ancient Inquisition was so unsparing in its
actions that it almost extirpated the Albigensian
heresy. The punishments it inflicted were even
more severe than in the modern. Upon such as es-
caped the stake and were " reconciled," as it was
styled, a terrible " penance " was imposed. One is
cited by Llorente ^ as laid down in the ordinances
of St. Dominic. The penitent, it was commanded,
should be stripped of his clothes and beaten by a
priest three Sundays in succession from the gate of
the city to the door of the church ; he must not eat
any kind of meat during his whole life; must ab-
stain from fish, oil and wine three days in the week
during life, except in case of sickness or excessive
labour; must wear a religious dress with a small
cross embroidered on each breast ; must attend mass
every day, if he has the means of doing so, and
vespers on Sundays and festivals; must recite the
service for the day and night and repeat the pater-

* History of the Inquisition.


noster seven times in the day, ten times in the eve-
ning, and twenty times at midnight. If he failed in
any of these requirements, he was to be burned as a
" relapsed heretic."

Chief among the causes that produced the new
or *' modern " Inquisition was the envy and hatred
of the Jews in Spain. Fresh material was supplied
by the unfortunate race of Israel, long established
in the country, and greatly prosperous. They had
come in great numbers after the Saracenic invasion,
which indeed they are said to have facilitated, and
were accepted by some of the Moorish rulers on
nearly equal terms, and were treated with a toler-
ance seldom seen among Mahometans, though oc-
casional outbursts of fanaticism rendered their posi-
tion not quite secure. Under these generally fa-
vourable auspices the Jews developed in numbers
and importance. Their remarkable instinct for
money making and their unstinting diligence
brought them great wealth. Their love of letters
and high intelligence gave them preeminence in the
schools of the Moorish cities of Cordova, Toledo
and Granada, where they helped to keep the flame
of learning bright and shining through the darkest
ages. They became noted mathematicians, learned
astronomers, devoted labourers in the fields of prac-
tical and experimental science. Their shrewdness
in public affairs and their financial abilities com-
mended them to the service of the state, and many
lose to the highest civic dignities at both Christian


and Moorish courts. Often, despite prohibitory-
laws, they collected the revenues and supervised the
treasuries of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon,
while in private life they had nearly unlimited con-
trol of commerce and owned most of the capital in

After the Christian conquest, their success drew
down upon them the envy and hatred of their less
flourishing fellow subjects, who resented also that
profuse ostentation of apparel and equipage to
which the Jewish character has always inclined.
Their widespread practice of usury was a still more
fruitful cause for detestation. Often large sums
were loaned, for which exorbitant rates of interest
were charged, owing to the scarcity of specie and
the great risk of loss inherent to the business. As
much as twenty, thirty-three, and even forty per
cent, per annum was exacted and paid. The general
animosity was such that a fanatical populace, smart-
ing under a sense of wrong, and urged on by a no
less fanatical clergy broke out at times into violence,
and fiercely attacked the Jews in the principal cities.
The Juderias, or Jewish quarters, were sacked, the
houses robbed of their valuable contents, pre-
cious collections, jewels and furniture were scattered
abroad, and the wretched proprietors were mas-
sacred wholesale, irrespective of sex and age. Ac-
cording to the historian, Mariana, fifty thousand
Jews were sacrificed to the popular fury in one year,
1 39 1, alone.


This was the turning point in Spanish history.
Fanaticism once aroused, did not die until all Jews
were driven out of Spain. It brought into being
another class also, the Conversos, or " New Chris-
tians," i. e. Jews who accepted Christian baptism,
though generally without any spiritual change. At
heart and in habits they remained Jews.

The law was invoked, too, to aggravate their con-
dition. Legislative enactments of a cruel and op-
pressive kind were passed. Jews were forbidden tO'
mix freely with Christians, their residence restricted
to certain limited quarters, they were subject to irk-
some, sumptuary regulations, debarred from all dis-
play in dress, forbidden to carry valuable ornaments
or wear expensive clothes, and they were held up to
public scorn by being compelled to appear in a dis-
tinctive, unbecoming garb, the badge or emblem of
their social inferiority. They were also interdicted
from following certain professions and callings.
They might not study or practise medicine, might
not be apothecaries, nurses, vintners, grocers or
tavern keepers, were forbidden to act as stewards
to the nobility or as farmers or collectors of the
public revenues, although judging from repeated re-
enactments, these laws were evidently not strictly
enforced, and often in some districts were not en-
forced at all.

Fresh fuel was added to the fiery passions vented
on the Jews by the unceasing denunciation of their
heresy and dangerous irreligion, and public feeling


was further inflamed by grossly exag-gerated stories
of their hideous and unchristian malpractices. The
curate of Los Palacios has detailed some of these in
his " Chronicle," and they will serve, when quoted,
to show what charges were brought against the Jew
in his time. " This accursed race (the Israelites),"
he says, speaking of the proceedings taken to bring
about their conversion, " were either unwilling to
bring their children to be baptised, or if they did,
they washed away the stain on the way home. They
dressed their stews and other dishes with oil instead
of lard, abstained from pork, kept the passover, ate
meat in Lent, and sent oil to replenish the lamps of
their synagogues, with many other abominable cere-
monies of their religion. They entertained no re-
spect for monastic life, and frequently profaned the
sanctity of religious houses by the violation or se-
duction of their inmates. They were an exceedingly
politic and ambitious people, engrossing the most
lucrative municipal ofifices, and preferring to gain
their livelihood by traffic, in which they made exor-
bitant gains, rather than by manual labour or me-
chanical arts. They considered themselves in the
hands of the Egyptians whom it was a merit to de-
ceive and rob. By their wicked contrivances they
amassed great wealth, and thus were able often to
ally themselves by marriage with noble Christian

The outcry against the Jews steadily increased in
volume. The clergy were the loudest in their pro-


tests against the alleged abominations, and one
Dominican priest, Alonso de Hojeda, prior of the
monastery of San Pablo in Seville, with another
priest, Diego de Merlo, vigorously denounced the
" Jewish leprosy " so alarmingly on the increase and
besought the Catholic sovereigns to revive the Holy
Office with extended powers as the only effective
means of healing it. The appeal was strongly sup-
ported by the papal nuncio at the Court of Castile.
Ferdinand and Isabella, as devout Catholics, de-
plored the prevalence of heresy, which they acknowl-
edged to be rampant, and yet they hesitated to sur-
render any of their independence. No other state
in Europe was so free from papal control or inter-
ference. Some of the Converses held high places
about the court and they, of course, used every ef-
fort to strengthen the reluctance of the queen, par-
ticularly. On the other hand, the Dominican monk,
Thomas de Torquemada, her confessor in her youth,
strove to instil the same spirit of unyielding fanati-
cism that possessed himself, and earnestly entreated
her to devote herself to the " extirpation of heresy
for the glory of God and the glorification of the
Catholic faith." She long resisted but yielded at
last to the unceasing importunities of the priests
around her, and consented to solicit a bull from the
pope, Sixtus IV, to introduce the Modern Inquisi-
tion into Castile. It was issued, under the date of
November ist, 1478, and authorised the appoint-
ment of two or three ecclesiastical inquisitors for


the detection and suppression of heresy throughout

One difference from the usual form establishing
such tribunals was the location of the power of ap-
pointment of inquisitors, which was vested in the
king and queen instead of in Provincials of the
Dominican or Franciscan Orders. Heretofore the
appointment of inquisitors had been considered a
delegation of the authority of the Holy See, some-
thing entirely independent of the secular power.
But so jealous of outside interference were the
Spanish rulers and the Spanish people, that the pope
was forced to give way. Though he and his suc-
cessors vainly strove to recover the power thus
granted, they were never entirely successful, and the
Spanish Inquisition remained to a large extent a
state affair, and this fact explains much which other-
wise is inexplicable. For example the confiscations
passed into the royal instead of into the papal treas-

At first mild measures were to be tried. Cardinal
Mendoza, Archbishop of Seville, had drawn up a
catechism instructing his clergy to spare no pains in
illuminating the benighted Israelites by a candid
exposition of the true principles of Christianity.
Progress was slow, and after two years the results
were so meagre that it was thought necessary to
proceed to the nomination of inquisitors, and two
Dominican monks, Fra Miguel de Morillo, and Juan


de San Martin, were appointed with full powers,
assisted by an assessor and a procurator fiscal.

The Jews played into the hands of their torment-
ors. Great numbers had been terrified into apostasy
by the unrelenting hostility of the people. Their
only escape from the furious attacks made upon
them had been conversion to Christianity, often
quite feigned and unreal. The proselytising priests,
however, claimed to have done wonders; one, St.
Vincent Ferrer, a Dominican of Valencia, had by
means of his eloquence and the miraculous power
vouchsafed him, " changed the hearts of no less
than thirty-five thousand of house of Judah." These
numerous converts were of course unlikely to be
very tenacious in their profession of the new faith,
and not strangely laid themselves open to constant
suspicion. Many were denounced and charged with
backsliding, many more boldly reverted to Judaism,
or secretly performed their old rites. Now uncom-
promising war was to be waged against the back-
sliding " new Christians " or Conversos.

The inquisitors installed themselves in Seville,
and made the Dominican convent of San Pablo their
first headquarters, but this soon proved quite in-
sufficient in size and they were allowed to occupy
the fortress of the Triana, the great fortress of
Seville, on the right bank of the Guadalquivir, the
immense size and gloomy dungeons of which were
especially suitable. This part of the city was much


exposed to inundations, and when, in 1626, it was
threatened with destruction by an unusually high
flood, the seat of the tribunal was removed to the
palace of the Caballeros Tellos Taveros in the parish
of San Marco. In 1639 it returned to the Triana
which had been repaired, and remained there till
1789, when further encroachments of the river
caused it to be finally transferred to the College of
Las Beccas. The Triana is now a low suburb, in-
habited principally by gipsies and the lower classes.
It was at one time the potters' quarter where the

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Online LibraryArthur GriffithsThe history and romance of crime from the earliest time to the present day (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 16)