The intrepid but ineffectual resistance offered by Zaragoza to the Inquisition was emulated by the principal cities of Aragon; one and all protested against the institution of this tribunal under the new form which Torquemada had given it.

But nowhere was resistance of the least avail against the iron purpose of the Grand Inquisitor, armed with the entire force of civil justice to constrain the people into submission to the ecclesiastical will.

Teruel had been thrown into open revolt by the proposal to appoint inquisitors there; and so fierce and determined was the armed resistance, that not until the King’s troops made their appearance in the streets of that city, in March 1485, were order and obedience restored.

In Valencia, too, there was a vigorous opposition led by the nobles, and throughout Cataluña the resistance was so resolute that it was not until two years later that the Sovereigns were able to reduce the people to submission.

Barcelona urged an ancient right to appoint her own inquisitors, and refused persistently and angrily to recognize the authority of Torquemada or his delegates, in spite of any bulls that might have been issued by Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. Nor was this city’s obstinacy conquered until 1487, after Pope Innocent had issued his second bull, confirming Torquemada in the office of Grand Inquisitor of Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Valencia, and further extending his jurisdiction so that it included all the Spains—in which bull he formally cancelled the ancient rights of Barcelona to appoint her own inquisitors.

It should be sufficiently clear from this that, notwithstanding the racial antipathy between Spaniard and Jew, notwithstanding the religious spirit so very ardent in the people of Spain, serving to aggravate beyond all reason that hatred of the Israelite, the Inquisition—as Torquemada understood and controlled it—was very far from being desired by them. That this grim institution should have contrived so firmly to establish itself upon Spanish soil and to wield there a power such as it wielded in no other Catholic country of Europe, was due entirely to the brothers of St. Dominic and the fanaticism of Torquemada playing upon the bigotry and acquisitiveness of the Sovereigns.

Assailants of the Roman Church have urged that the Inquisition was a religious institution. Defenders of that same Church, in their endeavour to shift so terrible a burden from her shoulders, have sought to show that the Inquisition was a political machine. It was neither, and at the same time it was both. But chiefly and primarily it was just a clerical weapon. And clericalism in the Iberian Peninsula, pervaded by the spirit of Torquemada, converted that institution into an instrument far more dreadful and oppressive than was its character in Italy, or France, or any other Roman Catholic country of the world in which the Holy Office held jurisdiction.

In Spain it had set up in the evening of the fifteenth century an absolute reign of terror, depriving men of all liberty of conscience and of speech and spreading a network of espionage over the face of the land.

And in the meantime, practice having brought to light certain shortcomings in the decrees which he had already issued, Torquemada added a further eleven articles in 1485. In the main, however, these are concerned with the internal affairs of the Holy Office rather than with its attitude towards offenders.

Articles I and II provide for the payment of officers of the Inquisition, and decree that no officer shall receive gifts of any nature under pain of instant dismissal.

Article III disposes that the inquisitors shall keep a permanent agent in Rome, who shall be skilled in the law, so that he may attend to matters appertaining to the Holy Office.

From this it is to be inferred that appeals to the Vatican continued to be numerous, notwithstanding the provisions made by the Pope to constitute Torquemada the supreme arbiter in matters of the Faith.

Articles V to XI are entirely concerned with details relating to confiscations. These would be of no particular interest, but that they serve to show how vast by now was the business of confiscation, since the manner of conducting it and disposing of confiscated property should demand so many decrees to govern it.

Article IV is the only one that may be said to concern the actual jurisprudence of the Holy Office. This is intended not so much to soften the rigour as to remove the inconveniences that might arise out of Article X of the “Instructions” of 1484.

By that article it was decreed that confiscation should be retrospective—i.e. that a heretic’s property should be confiscate not from the day of the discovery of his heresy, but from the date of the offence itself. So that any property that might in the meantime have been alienated—whether in the ordinary way of commerce or otherwise—must be considered as the property of the Holy Office, and was to be seized by the Holy Office, no matter into whose hands it might meanwhile have passed.

Such a decree, as will be seen, was proving a serious hindrance to trade; for it became unsafe to purchase anything from any one, since should either party to the transaction subsequently be discovered to have fallen into the sin of heresy prior to that transaction, the other would be stripped of the acquired property, and might be subjected to the entire loss. Moreover, as proceedings were taken against the dead, and as there was no limit imposed upon the retrospection allowed to inquisitors, no man could account himself safe from confiscations incurred through the sin of some other from whom he or his forbears had acquired the property.

The vagueness of this article urgently demanded amending, and this was the purpose of Article IV of the “Instructions” of 1485. It decreed that all contracts concluded before 1479 should be accounted valid, although it might come to be discovered against either of the contracting parties that he was guilty of heresy at the time of such contract.

This is the only instance in which we find Torquemada promulgating a decree to soften the rigour of any previous enactment, and it is very clear that it is a decree dictated not by clemency but by expediency.

In the event of fraud, or of any one being a party to a fraud to abuse the privilege conferred by this article, Torquemada provided that the offender, if reconciled, should receive a hundred lashes and be branded on the face with a hot iron; whilst, if not reconciled—even though he should be a good Catholic—he must suffer confiscation of all his property.135

To justify the punishment of branding on the face, the case of Cain is urged as a proper precedent, and so modern a historian as Garcia Rodrigo does not hesitate to put this seriously forward.136

Three years later—in 1488—Torquemada found it necessary to add a further fifteen articles to his “Instructions,” and we may anticipate a little by briefly surveying their provisions at this stage.

Complaints to Rome of the injustices and the excessive rigour of the inquisitors—a constant feature of Torquemada’s Grand-Inquisitorship—had by that time become so numerous that the Pope found it necessary to order Torquemada to re-edit what Amador de los Rios very aptly terms his “Code of Terror.”137

The chief ground of these complaints had concerned the delays that so commonly occurred in bringing an accused to trial. When a prisoner’s acquittal ultimately chanced to take place, it was after a long term of imprisonment for which there was no compensation or redress; and when the person so treated was a man of position and influence, it is natural that he would protest strongly against the treatment to which he had been subjected before it was discovered that no charge could be sustained against him. The real reason of these delays must not be supposed to lie in dilatoriness or sluggishness on the part of the inquisitors. Indeed, the excessive dispatch with which they conducted the affairs of their tribunal is a matter to the scandal of which Llorente draws attention more than once—and particularly in the course of chronicling the fact that in the year of its introduction into Toledo this court dealt—as we shall see—with no less than some 3,300 cases, 27 of the accused being burnt and the remainder penanced in various degrees. He protests with reason that it is utterly impossible that at such a rate of procedure evidence can properly have been sifted and any sort of justice done.

Where delays took place they were the result of the extreme reluctance on the part of the Holy Office to allow any to go free upon whom its talons had once fastened. Thus, when even the slight degree or evidence necessary to enable the inquisitors to convict was lacking, they would delay in the daily hope that such evidence might be forthcoming, and by repeated examinations they would meanwhile seek to force the unfortunate prisoner into contradictions that should justify them in resorting to torture.

In view of the explicit pontifical command, Torquemada was compelled to amend this state of things, at least in theory, by decreeing (Article III) that there should be no delays in proceeding to trial through lack of proof. Where proof was lacking, the accused should at once be restored to liberty, since he could at any time—when fresh proof was forthcoming—be rearrested.

Similarly, with a view of expediting trials, he ordered (Article IV) that since in all the courts of the Inquisition there were not the necessary lawyers, henceforth, when a case was completed, the dossier of the proceedings should be sent to the Grand Inquisitor himself, and he would then submit it to the lawyers of the Suprema, who would advise upon it.

But he amply made up for what softening of rigour might be contained in these articles by the greater severity enjoined in some of the other decrees which he embodied in these “Instructions” of 1488.

Finding that the inquisitors of Aragon had been departing from certain of his enactments of 1484, diluting them with the weaker rules that had obtained under the old Inquisition in that kingdom, he commanded that all inquisitors should proceed in strict obedience to the statutes contained in the past “Instructions.”

He provided (Article V) that the inquisitors should themselves visit the prisons once in every fortnight, but that no outsiders should be permitted to communicate with the prisoners, save of course the priests who would go to comfort them. To the end that a still greater secrecy should be observed in the trials, he commanded (Article VI) that when the depositions of the witnesses were being taken none should be present other than those who were by law absolutely necessary; and he enjoined (Article VII) the safe and secret custody of all documents relating to the cases tried.

We are left to gather that the harshness of his enactment concerning the children of heretics had been tempered a little by a natural humane pity which did not at all commend itself to the pitiless Grand Inquisitor; for we now find him (Article XI) enjoining inquisitors to take care that the decree forbidding those unfortunates the use of gold and silver and fine garments, and disqualifying them from honourable employment, should be rigorously enforced.

He provided (Article XIII) that all the expenses of the Holy Office—which must have been enormous by now, considering to what vast proportions he had developed that organization—should be defrayed out of confiscated property before this was surrendered to the Royal treasury; and further (Article XV), that all appointed notaries, fiscals, and constables should discharge their functions in person and not by deputy.

The most interesting of these statutes of 1488, in consequence of the information it conveys on the subject of the activities of the Inquisition and the enormous scale of the prosecutions upon which it was engaged, is contained in Article XIV. The prisons of Spain were becoming so crowded, and the expense of maintaining the prisoners was imposing so heavy a tax upon the Holy Office, that it had become urgently necessary to make some fresh provision that would relieve this burden. Therefore, as this article sets forth, Torquemada enjoined the Sovereigns to order the building in every district of the Inquisition of a quadrangular enclosure of small houses (casillas) for the residence of those sentenced to the penance of imprisonment. These houses were to be so contrived that the penitents might pursue in them their business or trade and earn their own livelihood, thus relieving the Inquisition of the heavy expense of supporting them. Each of these quadrangular penitentiaries—for this is the origin of the term—was to be equipped with its own chapel.138

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