How Much Do You Know About the Spanish Inquisition?

Isadora Teich

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About This Quiz

Think you know Spanish history? Then get inquisitive with this quiz on one of the most controversial and bloody events in all of the Old World.

The Catholic monarchs of Spain sought to consolidate their power through religion by exposing, exiling, punishing and murdering those who did not fall perfectly in line with their ideals. It was truly a terrifying time in history, which is probably part of the reason why so many people are fascinated by it to this day. The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, according to some estimates, is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people around the world. Whether people were believed to be witchcraft practitioners or insincere converts, many suffered at the hands of inquisitors and their famously cruel torture devices.     

The Spanish Inquisition, while at its height for a short time, was not actually abolished for centuries. Known for corruption, religious fervor and torture, there is more to this turbulent time than meets the eye. There were actually inquisitions in a few European countries and around the world. If you have what it takes to take on one of the darkest eras in Spanish history, see if you can pray your way through this Spanish Inquisition quiz. 

What was the Spanish Inquisition supposed to uphold?

The Spanish Inquisition started in 1478 by Spanish Catholic monarchs. They wanted to retain religious control of their kingdom.

During which century did the Spanish Inquisition begin?

The Spanish Inquisition was established in 1478 by Catholic Spanish monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castille. The first-ever Inquisition occurred in 12th-century France.

Was witchcraft a large focus of the Spanish Inquisition?

While witch hunts raged in other European countries, in some cases significantly depopulating villages, they were not so popular in Spain. In general, the Inquisition was too skeptical of witchcraft to consider witches a genuine threat.

Why were many of those who came under fire in the Inquisition most likely innocent?

When the Inquisition arrived in a city, people could anonymously accuse anyone they wanted of heresy, blasphemy or being an insincere convert. Denunciations were most likely often made due to rivalries, dislike, and other personal reasons.

Which of these were punishments for those found guilty by the Inquisition?

While the Inquisition is famous for burning heretics at the stake, there were also a number of minor punishments for less serious crimes. For example, male bigamists could be sentenced to a number of years serving as an oarsman in royal galleys.

Why did the Spanish Inquisition occur around the world?

Spain had colonies and territories off the coast of Africa, within Europe and throughout the Americas. Many became a part of the Inquisition.

Who did the Spanish Inquisition never persecute?

Scientists were never arrested and tried for heresy in Spain. While The Inquisition was largely concerned with censoring heretical books, it didn't censor them effectively and none of the banned books were science-oriented.

What was the most common instrument of torture used during the Inquisition?

The rack, known in Spain as el potro, was the most common torture device of the Inquisition. Victims would be chained to a wooden frame and stretched until they either confessed or their joints and muscles were permanently damaged.

Who were the original targets of the Spanish Inquisition?

The Inquisition was meant to identify Muslims and Jews who had converted to Catholicism under pressure but maintained "heretical" practices. These people were called conversos.

What were new Jewish-born converts to Catholicism in Spain called?

Jewish people were barred from many professions and at risk of violence in Spain, even before the Inquisition. As newly converted Catholics, or conversos, many were able to attain positions of influence.

Which of these were methods of Inquisition courts?

Inquisitor General Tomas de Torquemada set up procedures for the Inquisition. An accused person would have a 30-day grace period to confess while evidence was gathered against them from neighbors.

Why did the Inquisition torture people?

Torture was commonly used throughout European tribunals at the time to get confessions. Compared to the courts of other European countries, the Inquisition actually tortured fewer people.

Which of these was the part of the Inquisition where condemned people underwent public acts of penance?

Auto-da-fe was a penance ritual that was part of the Portuguese, Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions. Prisoners would be led on a massive procession to perform penitence. At the end, some would be freed and others would be burned at the stake.

Who was mostly killed in the Spanish Inquisition?

The Inquisition was highly active and influential in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. According to the documentation of executions, there were over 2,000 that took place and over 90% of them were of Jewish-born conversos.

During which century was the last Jewish-born person tried by the Spanish Inquisition for being a false convert?

The last converso tried for secretly continuing to practice Judaism was tried in Cordoba in the early 1800s. His name was Manuel Santiago Vivar.

Which group rebelled against the Inquisition?

Muslim Moriscos were often suspected of still practicing Islam despite conversion to Catholicism. They rebelled against Spanish Catholic rule and the Inquisition several times throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.

Jewish converts to Catholicism were called Conversos by Spanish authority, but Muslim converts to Catholicism were called ___________.

Spanish Muslims initially faced the same threats of expulsion and forced conversion as Jews, without being tortured by the Inquisition. This is because in certain areas of Spain, many Moriscos were under the dominion of nobility.

Were those accused of heresy acquitted often?

There were a few sentences an accused person could receive from the Inquisition, which had to be decided on in a unanimous vote by inquisitors and religious officials. People were rarely acquitted.

Which group was not actually actively persecuted in Spain in huge numbers?

While it is a popular myth that the Spanish Inquisition sought out Protestants in huge numbers, this is not true. Even before the Inquisition, there were very few Protestants in Spain.

Blasphemy could get a person in trouble with the Inquisition. What is blasphemy?

Those committing blasphemy are actively disrespecting a deity, religious figure or ideal through speech. This was a punishable crime during the Inquisition.

After a denunciation, an accused person would often be:

Those accused of heresy would often be detained until their case could be examined by calificadores. Unfortunately, in some cases, it took years for the Inquisition courts to start investigating, and the accused would spend all of that time incarcerated.

What was unique about being accused of heresy during the Inquisition?

The entire process occurred under complete secrecy. Accused people could go months or years in prison without knowing what they had been accused of, and might never learn who had accused them.

During Auto-da-fe, the condemned were publicly paraded and their sentences were read. How did Spanish citizens react?

Auto-da-fe was largely held in public squares on holidays. Over time they became large events that crowds would gather to witness, with ceremonies that could last an entire night and day.

Who was mostly tortured by the Inquisition?

While the Inquisition made use of torture to get the accused to confess, they did not use torture on most of the accused. It was mostly used on those accused of practicing Judaism or Protestantism.

If an accused person's trial was suspended, what would happen to them?

If an accused person's trial was suspended, it could mean a number of things. Some were set free with the understanding that their trial could continue at any time, but that they were unofficially acquitted, and others were imprisoned until their trial could continue.

Could those found guilty possibly be forgiven by the Church?

The condemned could be reconciled by taking part in a public ceremony and more severe punishments. These included whipping, jail time and having all of their property confiscated in the name of forgiveness.

Who was burned at the stake?

Those found guilty could repent and avoid being burned at the stake. However, those caught again after repenting would also be burned.

The last public Auto-da-fe was during which century?

Various inquisitions stretched across Europe and the globe, lasting for centuries in Spain. The last public Auto-da-fe in Spain was in 1691.

Why was the Spanish Inquisition eventually abolished?

After being established in 1478, The Spanish Inquisition was not legally abolished until 1834. Over the centuries, its power dwindled to almost nothing, and it was horribly unpopular before being abolished.

What ultimately weakened the Inquisition in Spain?

The Enlightenment swept Europe in the 18th century and threatened the Inquisition. This ideological movement championed personal freedom, progress, reason and the separation of church and state.

In its dying years, what was the Inquisition mostly concerned with?

Without much power and increasingly unpopular, the Inquisition turned its attention to banning works which would be thought to inspire rebellion against the crown and church. The last person was executed by the Spanish Inquisition was a school teacher condemned to death in 1826.

The act of ___________, or entering a marriage while still legally married to someone else, was a punishable offense during the Inquisition.

Bigamy was common in Spain during this time, as it was a Catholic country which did not permit divorce under most circumstances. Men would receive harsh sentences, possibly even death, for this.

Which group was mostly extinguished within Spain?

In some areas of Spain, the expulsion of Muslims damaged local economies and led to significant depopulation. It is thought that by the end of the 1700s, there were almost no native Muslims left in Spain.

The 1492 Alhambra decree ordered the _________ of Spanish Jews.

Despite all the efforts of the Inquisition, the Spanish monarchy formally forced all Jews to leave Spain in 1492. They said it was because Christians and conversos allegedly suffered so much spiritual harm from interacting with Jewish people.

Who would the Inquisition not torture?

There were no gender or age limits on who the Inquisition would torture to obtain confessions. All those accused were at risk of it.

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