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Message  Javier Jeu 01 Aoû 2019, 11:00 am

XII - THE CHURCH’S ENEMIES — THE CATHARI—THE ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE INQUISITION


“Inquisition”—a terrifying word! In its original Latin it signified “an inquiry,” “a formal investigation.” But to the modern ear it has become a discord full of sinister overtones, some vague, perhaps, but undeniably sinister. It suggests torture-chambers, flames, persecution, unjustifiable cruelty, fiendish injustice. How could those people, we ask, have done such things? And yet they were men like us. They were our own ancestors. Look at the effigies on some of those orange-tinted marble tombs in Spain.1 They are not the faces of yellow Tartars or brown Bushmen or black voodoo doctors. They are the faces of our own western European stock, some of them fine, noble and sensitive; such faces as you might meet in Italy, in France, in Germany, in Poland, in Great Britain or Ireland; among professional men or business men in London or New York clubs. It is difficult when musing on those profiles to retain much of the self-satisfied complacency with which one age looks down upon another. If faces tell anything, these bishops, these cavaliers, these stately ladies lying so silent on pillows of exquisite lace cut marvellously out of stone, were by no means our moral or intellectual inferiors. How then, did they govern by methods so incomprehensible to us? How could a woman such as we know Isabel to have been given even serious consideration to the proposal that she should have people condemned to the stake for offences against the Church that she believed God had established for their salvation? And how did such a court as the Inquisition ever become associated with the Church founded by Jesus and propagated by a few Hebrew fishermen persecuted by their fellow-Jews? The answers to these questions will be veiled to us, and Queen Isabel must remain the enigma of her many biographies, remote from the humanity we know, unless we stand in imagination at the curious cross-roads in history where she paused, and try to see, through those blue-green eyes of hers, the actualities from which arose her problems.

The world to her was a vast battle-ground on which invisible powers and principalities had been locked for centuries in a titanic strife for the possession of men’s souls. To her the central and significant fact of history was the Crucifixion. All that had happened in the fifteen centuries since then was explained in her philosophy of history by men’s acceptance or rejection of the Crucified, and the key to many riddles lay in two of His utterances : “I came not to send peace, but the sword,” and “He who is not with Me, is against Me.” The peace promised to His children was in their souls, not in the world around them. The Church seemed to her like a beleaguered city, hated and misunderstood by “the world,” even as He had predicted, but unconquerable. This view was an easy one to accept in a country where a crusade had been in progress for eight centuries, nor was it difficult anywhere in Europe for those who knew the strange story of Europe as it appeared in the medieval songs and chronicles. For Christendom actually had been involved for nearly fifteen centuries in a mortal conflict against enemies within and without; chiefly Mohammedanism without, and heresy and Judaism within.

It seemed to her that whenever the Jews had been strong enough, they had persecuted Christians, from the Crucifixion on, and when they were too weak to do so they had fought the Gospel secretly by encouraging those Christian rebellions and secessions that were called heresies. They had stoned Saint Stephen and clamoured for the blood of Saint Paul. They had cut out of the Old Testament the prophecies that seemed to Christians to refer so definitely to Jesus. Because of their turbulence against the first Christian converts, they had been expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius. 2 They had slain 90,000 Christians when the Persians took Jerusalem in 615, and had caused 35,000 others to be dragged into slavery. And whatever sympathy Isabel’s human nature might have prompted her to feel for the cruel persecutions that Jews suffered later at the hands of Christians was tempered by her conviction that the children of Israel actually had called down upon themselves at the Crucifixion a very real and tangible curse, from which they must suffer until they acknowledged the Messiah who had been born to them. One can imagine her nodding with approval as she read Saint Luke’s account of the labours of Saint Paul at Corinth : “Paul was earnest in preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But they gainsaying and blaspheming, lie shook his garments, and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.’ ” 3 And Paul, the Jew, was in some ways the prototype of those Christian Jews who were so close to Isabel’s throne throughout her reign. The dialogues of Pablo (Paul) de Santa Maria, a converted Jew who was Bishop of Burgos under Isabel’s father, show vehemently the common attitude toward the historic Jew in her time. The Jews, he wrote, had climbed to wealth and high offices “by Satanic persuasion”; the massacres of 1391 had fallen upon them “because God stirred up the multitudes to avenge the blood of Christ”; and by these massacres He had “touched the hearts of certain Jews, who examined the Scriptures anew and abjured their errors.”4

TBC...

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Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Sam 03 Aoû 2019, 6:31 am

For the most part, however, the Jews had continued “gainsaying and blaspheming" through the fifteen weary centuries. When the collapse of Roman Imperial authority left to the Church the enormous task of assimilating and civilizing the barbarian millions, they had already spread through Europe, winning material wealth and influence among people whom they despised as less intelligent, and who hated them as aliens and creditors, and sometimes as extortioners. Their presence increased the difficulties of a Faith which was yet only a leaven in a mass of paganism. The Church, however, did succeed in her gigantic mission of imposing order and harmony upon the barbarians; in fact, by the time she had created the many-sided life of the thirteenth century, she had become virtually identified with society. This was inevitable, unless she was to remain a mere teacher, a clique, an élite group holding aloof from the masses—a conception obviously at variance with the wishes of her Founder. It was inevitable, but it carried with it the penalty of sharing in some measure in the fate of a society made up of human beings with all their follies and weaknesses. And one problem she had never solved was the one involving the children of Israel.

Meanwhile from without fell three great scourges: the Vikings, the Magyars, and the Moslems. The menace of Islam was by all odds the most dangerous and enduring. Like the later Calvinism, it stood nearer to Judaism, in many respects, than to the Catholic Church; in fact, its doctrine, though under such obvious obligations to Christianity that it has been classified by some students as a heretical Christian sect, was partially an imitation of Judaism, having had its inception in the mind of a man influenced by the Jews of Mecca. It was to be expected that the Jews would be more friendly to this cult than to Christianity; and conversely, the Moslems, though they sometimes persecuted Jews, were generallv more tolerant of them than Christians were.

Fierce, warlike, intolerant, the cult of Islam spread with incredible rapidity among the despairing peoples of the East. It was in some ways easier to accept than Christianity, for it flattered human nature where Christianity rebuked and disciplined it. It appealed to barbarian warriors because it made women their slaves and because it frankly preached conversion by the sword. Like a fire in a forest of dead trees, it swept over southern and western Asia, penetrated the interior and east of Africa, and ran along the northern coast until it commanded the Mediterranean, facing to the north a Christendom still wrestling with the task of civilizing the barbarians. The nearest, most vulnerable sector in the defence of Christendom was Spain, populous, rich, pacifically inclined, ruled by Christian Visigothic kings. Early in the eighth century, the Spanish Jews, through their brethren in Africa, invited the Moors to come and occupy the country. 5 Divided by civil disputes, the Goths were easily conquered by an invading army of Saracens.

Like a great dark tidal wave, the Moslem hosts now advanced northward over the whole peninsula. Some of the natives of the conquered territory remained there and became Mohammedans. The loyal Christians, however, driven into the mountains of the extreme north, united there in poverty to face the long and bitter prospect of winning back their lands by centuries of war. It was inevitable that they should link with the hated Moors the Jews who lived so prosperously under Abd er Rahman and other caliphs, serving them faithfully, and especially “trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting the material prosperity of the country.” 6

But the Moslems did not stop at the Pyrenees. While Muza, their African governor, stood high on the mountain passes of Navarre and imagined himself adding all Europe to the empire that extended from the Oxus to the Atlantic, his men were carrying fire and sword into southern France. They took Carcassonne, Béziers, Agde, Lodève. They held Arles and Avignon for three years. Their raiding parties ascended the Rhone, the Saône, and burned Autun. Though Toulouse repelled them, they marched boldly on Tours. Charles Martel saved Christendom.

TBC...

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Javier
Javier

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Date d'inscription : 26/02/2009

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Message  Javier Mar 06 Aoû 2019, 4:12 am

In the train of the victorious Arabs, the Jews inevitably followed and, wherever they went, their uncompromising individuality began to influence their environment. An Archbishop of Lyon in the eighth century complained of their “aggressive prosperity” in southern Gaul. There, too, the Moslem culture long persisted. Negro slaves from Africa were sold there long after the Church had done away with slavery or elevated it to serfdom in most parts of Europe. In fact, the society that the troubadours sang for— rich, artistic, devoted to the good things of this world— had many Asiatic characteristics, derived from both Moslem and Jew. So numerous and influential were the Jews in Languedoc that some of the chroniclers called it “Judea Secunda” 7

In such a society, antagonistic as it was in so many ways to orthodox Christianity, the so-called Albigensian heresy took root. It is important to know who the Albigenses were and what they believed and taught; for the Inquisition, as a permanent tribunal, was called into being to meet the questions they raised. Had there been no Albigenses, there would probably have been no organized Inquisition for Isabel to introduce into Castile.

Up to that time, except for the scattered acts of intolerance by individuals and mobs here and there, the Catholic Church had been committed on the whole for twelve centuries to the principle of toleration. Saint Paul had invoked excommunication only against heretics. Tertullian declared that no Christian could be an executioner, or serve as an officer in the army. Saint Leo, Saint Martin, and others agreed that nothing could justify the Church in shedding blood. There was some disagreement as to how far the Church might be justified in accepting the aid of the State in coercing heretics, but Saint John Chrysostom probably expressed the opinion of most of the bishops of his time when he said, “To put a heretic to death is an unpardonable crime.”

Up to the eleventh century, heretics, unless they belonged to the Manicheans or other sects believed to be antisocial, were seldom persecuted; and, if they were, it was the State, not the Church, which punished them. The use of force as an instrument of intolerance seems to have begun with the Emperor Constantine and his Christian successors, who, true to the Roman imperial tradition, treated heresy as a political crime, a form of high treason. Theodosius laid down the principle that “the just duty of the imperial majesty was to protect the true religion, whose worship was intimately connected with the prosperity of human undertakings.” 8 Heretics were exiled and their property confiscated by the State; but the death penalty was enforced, generally, only against those who in some way were disturbers of the public peace, such as the Donatists, who organized riots and destroyed Catholic churches.

TBC...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Ven 09 Aoû 2019, 5:00 am

A change occurred about the year 1000. It was then that the Manicheans, under various names, spread from Bulgaria —hence their nicknames: Bulgars, Bougres and later Buggers—to all parts of Europe. Public resentment against them was strong, and in many places they were lynched by mobs. King Robert had thirteen of them burned at Orleans in 1022. Peter of Bruys, who burned some crosses on Good Friday and roasted meat in the flames, was burned at St. Giles in 1126. But at this time one frequently reads of bishops pleading for the lives of the heretics, and the civil authorities and the mob insisting upon “justice.” In the middle of the eleventh century Pope Leo IX and the Council of Rheims affirmed the historic Catholic principle that the
only punishment for heresy must be excommunication. They did, however, approve of imprisonment or banishment by the State, since in their opinion heretics were likely to corrupt the prevailing morality—as in fact many of them did.

It is interesting to note how men under stress of circumstances shift gradually from one point of view to another, believing all the while that they are consistent. In the twelfth century, with its development of canon law—the revival of Roman law that the Renaissance had helped to bring about —there was definite change of Catholic sentiment. From 1140 we find the executions “secundum canonicas et legitimas sanctiones"; the canon law has added its authority to the civil; in short, the clergy become perceptibly involved in the persecutions. The Abbot of Vezelay and several bishops condemned nine heretics, of whom seven were burned at the stake. The archbishop of Rheims, Guillaume aux Blanche-Mains, sent two heretical women to the stake.

But it was the pontificate of the great and able Pope Innocent III, commencing in 1198, that marked the real beginning of a general rigour on the part of the Church toward heresy—the rigour that was to find its final and most extreme expression in Spain under Isabel. “Use against heretics the spiritual sword of excommunication, and if this does not prove effective, use the material sword," he wrote to the French bishops. “The civil laws decree banishment and confiscation: see that they are carried out."

Why the new sternness? Why such words as these from the learned and benevolent statesman who was then the father of Christendom? Fr. Vermeersch, S.J., considers the “material sword" a figure of speech, and cites a similar opinion of Luchaire, the Pope’s non-Catholic biographer, who concluded, after a study of Innocent’s letters, that he referred to nothing more than “the use of such force as is necessary for the measures of expulsion and expatriation prescribed by his penal code. This code, which appears to us so unmerciful, constituted in comparison with the custom of the time a real progress in a humanitarian direction.”

Innocent and the men of his time thought themselves justified by the nature and magnitude of the injury they were preventing the heretics of southern France from doing to society. In the year 1200 the various sects of Manichees, influenced originally by the orientals driven westward by the persecutions of the Empress Theodora, were prospering in a thousand cities and towns of Lombardy and Languedoc. They were especially numerous in Languedoc. Why were they so disliked by orthodox Christians?

Generally they called themselves Cathari, or the Pure, to indicate their abhorrence of all sexual relations. They were dualists, asserting that the evil spirit had marred the work of the Creator, so that all matter was an instrument of evil. Human life, therefore, was evil, and its propagation the work of the devil. The Church of Rome was not the Church of Christ. The Popes were not the successors of St. Peter, for he never went to Rome, but of Constantine. The Church of Rome was the Scarlet Woman of Babylon, the Pope was antichrist. They had only one sacrament, a combination of baptism, confirmation, penance and Holy Eucharist; this they called the consolamentum. Christ was not present in the Eucharist, and Transubstantiation was the worst of abominations, since matter in any form was the work of the Evil Spirit. The Mass was idolatry, and the Cross should be hated, not revered; love for Jesus should make his followers despise and spit upon the instrument of His torture. Such were the tenets of the Cathari.

They virtually repudiated the State as well as the Church. They refused to take oaths—a position which alone was sure to draw persecution in a feudal age when all loyalty rested upon the oath of allegiance. Some denied the authority of the State, some would not pay taxes, some justified stealing from “unbelievers,” others denied the right of the State to inflict capital punishment. They opposed all war. The soldier who defended his country was a murderer.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Mar 13 Aoû 2019, 5:00 am

To join the Cathari—the True Church, they called it—one promised to renounce the Catholic Faith and to receive the consolamentum before death. Thus one became a believer. The chief duty of a believer was to venerate the Perfected, or the Cathari, who were entitled to veneration by virtue of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, A believer became one of the Cathari by receiving the consolamentum. After a year’s probation he made this promise: “I promise to devote my life to God and to the Gospel, never to lie or swear, never to touch a woman, never to kill an animal, never to eat meat, eggs or milk food; never to eat anything but fish and vegetables, never to do anything without first saying the Lord’s prayer, never to eat, travel or pass the night without a socius. If I fall into the hands of my enemies or happen to be separated from my socius, I promise to spend three days without food or drink. I will never take off my clothes on retiring, nor will I deny my faith even when threatened with death.” The Perfected then gave their new brother the kiss of peace, kissing him twice on the mouth, after which he kissed the next man, who passed on the pax to all others. If the candidate was a woman, the minister merely touched her shoulder with a book of the Gospels, since he was forbidden to touch women. 9

The Cathari avoided meat partly because they believed in metempsychosis. But the tenet that chiefly drew on them the wrath and derision of the masses was their condemnation of all marital relations. Carnal intercourse, they held, was the real sin of Adam and Eve; and it was a sin, because it begot children. A woman with child was possessed of the devil, and if she died enceinte or in childbirth, she would surely go to Hell. “Pray God,” said one of the Perfected to the wife of a Toulouse lumber-merchant, “that He deliver you from the devil within you.” Marriage was nothing but a perpetual state of sin; it was as great a sin, they declared, as incest with one’s mother or daughter or sister; in fact, marriage was merely prostitution. They argued that cohabitation with one’s wife was a worse crime than adultery, because it was not a temporary weakness to which a man surrendered in secret, but one that caused no shame, hence men did not realize how wicked it was. In times of persecution, however, men and women of the Perfected would live together to avoid detection, sleeping in the same bed while travelling, but never undressing, to avoid contact with each other.

Suicide was another dogma of the Cathari that did not increase their popularity with their Catholic neighbours. The endura, as they called it, had two forms: suffocation and fasting. The candidate for death was asked whether he wished to be a martyr or a confessor. If he chose to be a martyr, they placed a handkerchief or a pillow over his mouth, until he died of suffocation. If he desired to be a confessor, the Cathari left him without food, and sometimes without drink, until he perished of starvation. A sick man who asked for the consolamentum was urged to make his salvation sure by receiving the endura. In the middle of the thirteenth century, the endura was applied even to infants. A woman of Toulouse, named Guillemette, began the endura by bloodletting, then weakened herself by taking long baths, finally drank poison and, finding herself still alive, swallowed ground glass to perforate her intestines. The records of the Inquisition of Toulouse and Carcassonne show that the endura killed more victims than the public courts of the Inquisition. 10 “Had Catharism become dominant, or even had it been allowed to exist on equal terms, its influence could not have failed to become disastrous,” admits Lea. . . . “The conscientious belief in such a creed could only lead man back in time to his original condition of savagism.”

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mer 14 Aoû 2019, 11:36 am

Such beliefs were a serious challenge to both Church and State, and Church and State met them with stern measures. The infidel Emperor Frederick II, influenced perhaps by Innocent’s comparison of heretics to traitors, had them burned. It was to prevent the Emperor from usurping the spiritual powers of the Church, as Vermeersch points out, that Pope Gregory IX established “an extraordinary and permanent tribunal for heresy trials”—the institution which became known as the Inquisition. The first attempts to ferret out the Cathari through inquiries by bishops and legates failed because of the secrecy of the sect. At that juncture, the establishment of the two great mendicant orders of Saint Dominic and Saint Francis of Assisi appeared to be “a providential interposition to supply the Church of Christ with what it most sorely needed.” 11 To the Dominicans, in particular, since they were learned and skilled in theology, the work of inquiry was committed. 12 The organization they perfected was substantially the one that Isabel was urged to establish in Castile.

When the Inquisitors arrived in a city, they would summon every heretic to appear within a certain time, usually thirty days, known as “the term of grace,” and confess. Those who abjured during this period were treated leniently and “reconciled.” If the heresy was secret, a secret penance was imposed; if public, a short pilgrimage, or one of the usual canonical penances. Heretics who failed to come forward were to be denounced by good Catholics. The number of necessary witnesses was not specified at first. Later, two were required. At the start, only witnesses of good repute could testify, but later the Inquisitors, in their eagerness to uncover such a difficult quarry as heresy, took the depositions of criminals and heretics.

The defendant had no witnesses—naturally such persons would themselves be suspected as accomplices. “For the same reason the accused were practically denied the help of counsel. Innocent III had forbidden advocates and scriveners to lend aid or counsel to heretics and their abettors. This prohibition, which in the mind of the Pope was intended only for defiant and acknowledged heretics, was gradually extended to every suspect who was striving to prove his innocence. Heretics or suspects, therefore, denounced to the Inquisition, generally found themselves without counsel before their judge.” 13

To protect witnesses from being slain by the friends of the accused—and this frequently happened—their names were withheld from the prisoner. The only protection he had against this obvious injustice was that he was allowed to name all his mortal enemies, and if his accusers' names happened to be among them, their testimony was thrown out. Otherwise he must prove the falsity of the accusation against him—“practically an impossible undertaking. For if two witnesses, considered of good repute by the Inquisitor, agreed in accusing the prisoner, his fate was of course settled: whether he confessed or not, he was declared a heretic.”

To be convicted of heresy meant death, in practice, in about one case out of ten. A prisoner found guilty could abjure his errors and accept a penance, or he could persist in his denial or in his opinion, and take the consequences. If he abjured, the Inquisitor dealt with him as he would with any other type of penitent, imposing a penance not as a punishment, but as “a salutary discipline to strengthen the weak soul and wash away its sin." He considered himself, in fact, the friend of the penitent—a point of view that the penitent must have found it difficult at times to share. The penance varied according to the degree of the offence: first, prayers, visiting churches, the “discipline," fasting, pilgrimages and fines; for more serious errors, the wearing of a yellow cross sewed on the garments —this was originally imposed on penitent heretics by Saint Dominic in all kindness to save them from being massacred by the mob— and finally, imprisonment for as long a time as was deemed necessary. One must remember that no stigma was attached to penance in the Middle Ages. Even kings who had sinned sometimes did penance in public, as did Henry II at the tomb of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, and were honoured for it.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Jeu 22 Aoû 2019, 1:19 pm

*Nota: No me agradan en absoluto las siguientes líneas, muy críticas con el Tribunal de la Santa Inquisición. Las transcribo literalmente, sin estar de acuerdo con ellas. La Inquisición pudo probablemente haber cometido errores, errores que el Buen Dios sabrá juzgar como corresponde, pero es innegable que también extirpó muchos males que amenazaban con corromper y pervertir la fe y la moral de las gentes, por lo que durante siglos ella fue un baluarte inexpugnable y una seria advertencia contra aquellos herejes impíos que merodeaban en tantos lugares.

The Inquisitor never condemned anyone to death. If a prisoner refused to abjure, the Inquisitor pronounced him a hardened and impenitent sinner, a heretic with no hope of conversion, and handed him over to the State, “the secular arm”; and the secular judge, to whom heresy was a major crime similar to treason, sentenced him to be burned. Thus by a legal fiction the Inquisitors persuaded themselves that they had nothing to do with taking the life of the heretic. A similar train of sophistical reasoning has enabled some Catholic writers to argue, as Joseph de Maistre did, that all the cruelty of the Inquisition was the State’s and all the clemency the Church’s. The truth is, however, that certain Popes threatened to excommunicate princes who refused to burn heretics handed over to them by the Inquisition. “It is therefore erroneous,” says Father Vacandard, “to pretend that the Church had absolutely no part in the condemnation of heretics to death. It is true that this participation of hers was not direct and immediate; but, even though indirect, it was none the less real and efficacious.” 14

Evidently the Inquisitors felt uneasy about their own logic, and attempted to free themselves of the responsibility. In abandoning a heretic to the secular arm, they were careful to use the following formula: “We dismiss you from our ecclesiastical forum, and abandon you to the secular arm. But we strongly beseech the secular court to mitigate its sentence in such a way as to avoid bloodshed or danger of death.”

Merciful words, these, and in accord with the best Catholic traditions of the age. “We regret to state, however," observes Vacandard, “that the civil judges were not supposed to take these words literally. If they were at all inclined to do so, they would have been quickly called to a sense of duty by being excommunicated." In the beginning the formula was undoubtedly sincere, and Vermeersch believes that it long remained so. 15

If a heretic repented, but later returned to his errors, he was considered “relapsed" and forthwith handed over to the secular arm for burning. Even if he repented before he reached the stake the only mercy shown him was the privilege of being strangled before he was burned.

In general the Church, recognizing the frightful responsibility of the Inquisition, chose the Inquisitors with great care. As far as personnel went, the Inquisition was better than the State courts. Bernard Gui, a famous Inquisitor of the early fourteenth century, declared that an Inquisitor should be “diligent and fervent in his zeal for religious truth, for the salvation of souls, and for the destruction of heresy. He should always be calm in times of trial and difficulty, and never give way to outbursts of anger or temper. He should be a brave man, ready to face death if necessary, but while never cowardly, running from danger, he should never be foolhardy, rushing into it. He should be unmoved by the entreaties or the bribes of those who appear before his tribunal; still he must not harden his heart to the point of refusing to delay or mitigate punishment, as circumstances may require from time to time. In doubtful cases, lie should be very careful not to believe too easily what may appear probable, and yet in reality is false; nor, on the other hand, should he stubbornly refuse to believe what may appear improbable, and yet is frequently true. He should zealously discuss and examine every case, to be sure to make a just decision. . . . Let the love of truth and mercy, the special qualities of every good judge, shine in his countenance, and let his sentences never be prompted by avarice or cruelty.”

The Inquisitors dealt with murder, sodomy, rape, blasphemy and other crimes as well as simple heresy; and the offender generally fared better than if the State had tried him.

In their attempts to make the procedure just, the Popes encouraged the Inquisitors to call in experts to consult with them, periti and boni viri Sometimes as many as forty or fifty, including lawyers and other learned men, would hear evidence and give their verdict. This system, in which appear the beginnings of the modern jury, was unable to dispense true justice in that the jurymen did not have data enough to enable them to decide fairly, since only summaries of the evidence were read to them, and the name of the accused withheld, to avoid prejudice. Evidently it had not occurred to the Inquisitors that a crime must be judged with reference to the mentality and general character of the offender.

Even before trial the accused were sometimes treated with great cruelty. The cells in France were frequently narrow, dark, full of disease, unfit for human habitation; and though the Papal orders were that life should not be endangered, in practice the accused sometimes died as a result of their solitary confinement. On learning of this situation, the Popes attempted to remedy it.

TBC...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Sam 24 Aoû 2019, 4:40 am

The burning of impenitent heretics is neither medieval nor
Christian in origin, as is commonly believed, but is more
likely an inheritance from antiquity, either a survival or a
revival. Theoris, the Lemnian woman, as Demosthenes
calls her, was publicly tried for witchcraft in Athens, and
burned. And in the Middle Ages the heretic was so frequently
a witch (actually a devil-worshipper, given to
obscene rites and often an adept at poisoning) that the two
were almost identical in the popular mind.

The use of torture was one of the most sickening abuses of
the Inquisition. Perhaps the early Christians remembered
Roman torture too painfully to use it against others; at any rate, it was not used until the revival of Roman law restored it during the Renaissance to courts that had known nothing of it during the so-called Dark Ages. “The earliest instances with which I have met,” says Lea,16 “occur in the Veronese code of 1228 and the Sicilian constitutions, and in both of these the references to it show how sparingly and hesitatingly it was employed.” Innocent IV, in his bull Ad Extirpanda, defends the use of torture by classifying heretics with thieves and murderers.

The commonest forms of torture were the rack and the strappado. The rack was a triangular frame on which the prisoner was stretched and bound so that he could not move. Cords, attached to his arms and legs, were connected with a windlass, which when turned dislocated the wrist and ankle joints of the victim. The strappado hoisted the prisoner by a rope tied to his wrists behind his back and attached to a pulley and windlass. After he was raised by the wrists to the top of a gallows, or near the ceiling of the torture chamber, he was suddenly let fall. The rope was pulled taut when he was within a few inches of the ground. Weights were sometimes tied to his feet to increase the shock of the fall.

As the canons of the Church forbade ecclesiastics to take any part in torture, lest they incur “irregularity” and be suspended until they had done penance and were pardoned, the torturing in the early days of the Inquisition was always performed by a civil officer. This scrupulous policy, however, caused so many delays that Alexander IV authorized the Inquisitors and their assistants to grant each other any necessary dispensations for “irregularities.” From that time on—1260—the Inquisitor did not scruple to appear in the torture chamber.

The investigation ordered by Pope Clement V into the iniquities of the Inquisition at Carcassonne demonstrated that torture was used frequently. True, it was seldom mentioned in the records of the Inquisition, but only because a confession wrung from a victim by torture was invalid. This just provision the Inquisitors managed to evade by reasoning which men of our day find it difficult to follow. The prisoner was shown the instruments of torture and urged to confess. If he refused, mild tortures were used; if he persisted, more painful ones. When at last he confessed, he was unbound and carried into another room, where his confession, made under torture, was read to him, and he was asked to confirm it. If he did not, he was taken back and tortured again. If he did, the confession passed as “a free and spontaneous confession, without the pressure of force or fear.”

Another merciful regulation was that torture was not to be applied to any prisoner for more than half an hour, and never more than once. But in practice, “usually the procedure appears to be that the torture was continued until the accused signified his readiness to confess,” says Vacandard, and as for torturing the victim only once, some Inquisitors evidently tortured him as many times as they thought necessary, explaining that the second torture was not a repetition but a continuance of the first, which had merely been suspended. “This quibbling,” adds Vacandard, “of course gave full scope to the cruelty and the indiscreet zeal of the Inquisitors.”

On the other hand, as Vermeersch remarks, torture “could only be applied to persons already half convicted, and it was only permissible in such moderation as to do no lasting harm. We may add that under the penal laws then in force, judges were anxious not to convict a man except on his own admission. Even then the disadvantages of torture were not disregarded; Eymeric (who prepared a manual for inquisitors) recommends that it should be employed only after careful consideration, describing it as an unsafe and ineffective method of discovering the truth. . . Finally, torture was at least an improvement on the system formerly followed, namely, trial by ordeal.”

Vacandard probably sums up the view of many modern Catholics when he says, after his frank statement of facts, that even if the Church today “were to denounce the Inquisition, she would not thereby compromise her divine authority. Her office on earth is to transmit to generation after generation the deposit of revealed truths necessary for man’s salvation. That to safeguard this treasure she used means in one age, which a later age denounces, merely proves that she follows the customs and ideas in vogue around her. But she takes good care that men shall not consider her attitude the infallible and eternal rule of absolute justice.”

Such, at any rate, was the cruel weapon that thirteenth-century European society used to protect its integrity from a cruel and insidious propaganda. A crusade ended the Albigensian heresy in southern France. When some of the Cathari fled across the Pyrenees to Aragon, the Inquisition followed them there. But it had never been tried in Castile. Isabel did not believe that in its traditional form it could operate successfully there. For in the canonical Inquisition, so called, the bishops exercised a strong restraint over the Inquisitors, and she was inclined to believe that in Castile, where many bishops were Conversos, or related to Conversos, the tribunal would be allowed to die a natural death. She considered various means of preventing this as she rode along the river from Seville to Cordoba.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Mar 27 Aoû 2019, 12:12 pm

XIII - REORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT—THE TREATY OF ST. JEAN DE LUZ—THE MOHAMMEDAN ADVANCE THROUGH THE MEDITERRANEAN—THE MASSACRE OF OTRANTO


Isabel found Córdoba, like Seville, in a state of anarchy. Horrible crimes went unpunished. Noblemen fought battles in the streets. The warfare between the Conversos under Don Alonzo and the Old Christians under the Count of Cabra blazed forth intermittently. Industry was paralysed. The poor starved, or took to crime. To all these ills the Queen applied the same remedy that she had found so useful at Seville, though with a restraint born of experience.

Not long after she had established her Friday audiencias, the Queen found it necessary to look for a new confessor; and she summoned a certain Jeronymite whom Cardinal Mendoza had recommended: Fray Hernando de Talavera, Prior of the convent of Santa María, a pious and learned man whose grandparents had been converted Jews.

The monk sat in a chair and respectfully motioned to the Queen to kneel, as a penitent ought, by his side. Isabel was startled. Her confessors had always knelt beside her, by way of showing deference to her rank.

“Reverend Father,” she said, “it is customary for both to kneel.”

Fray Hernando replied, “The confessional, my daughter, is God’s tribunal, in which there are no kings or queens, but only human sinners; and I, unworthy as I am, am His minister. It is right that I sit and you kneel.”

The Queen knelt, and confessed her sins. Afterward she said, “This is the confessor I have been looking for,” and for several years she retained Talavera as her spiritual adviser.

From this generally accepted tradition some rather grotesque conclusions have been drawn by many solemn historians. It has furnished them with an easy way of explaining how a woman so kind, so conscientious and so enlightened, could have entertained the ugly thought of establishing the Inquisition. Now that it appears the Queen was like a humble child in the confessional, all is solved. She was “misled by monks,” “priest-ridden,” “dominated by prelates,” “blinded by bigots of the cloister.” 1 Such are the phrases that Prescott, Irving and a score of others have repeated one after another without proof, and in the face of much evidence on the other side. It would be interesting to know how these investigators would make their theory fit this undeniable fact:

The two priests who had most influence with the Queen at this period—1478 to 1480—were both opposed to the Inquisition. They were Cardinal Mendoza and Fray Hernando de Talavera.

It may be that the Queen never even mentioned the Inquisition in the confessional. A penitent confesses his sins, not his problems in general; and we must remember that Isabel, living in a society that took it for granted that heresy was a sin worse than murder, and that the ruler had not only the right but the duty to take life if the public welfare demanded it, considered the Inquisition anything but sinful. In her public capacity, as Queen, she occasionally withstood the highest dignitaries of the Church, when she believed them mistaken. As a woman, a private person, she was the humblest of penitents.

Months passed, and still she delayed her final decision. There were so many other problems besides the one in Seville. About this time, for example, she was incensed by reports she had concerning Carrillo. It appeared that the old conspirator was urging Alfonso V to make a second invasion of Castile. The Queen retaliated by placing an embargo on his revenues, and proclaiming in Toledo that she intended asking the Pope to remove him. At that his friends deserted him, and he was driven to seek a second reconciliation, through the archdeacon of Toledo, a learned and holy man whom the Queen esteemed. This time she pardoned Carrillo only on condition that he surrendered to her seven towns belonging to the Crown that she had not felt strong enough to demand in 1476. Their delivery left the old archbishop helpless. The remaining four years of his life were wasted on alchemy and astrology.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Sam 31 Aoû 2019, 6:45 am

There was no immediate prospect of peace with Portugal. Alfonso V had gone to France with every hope that he could persuade Louis XI to give him money and troops for the conquest of Castile. But Louis had other business in hand, including a war with the Duke of Burgundy. While he gave banquets to his “brother” of Portugal, and allowed him to take the keys of the cities and to free prisoners as if he were monarch of France, he was secretly poring over confidential letters from Cardinal Mendoza urging him to make an alliance with Fernando and Isabel. He was probably not long in seeing through Alfonso. De Comines wrote: “I am of the opinion that if our king had assisted him, as he was sometimes inclined to do, the King of Portugal might have succeeded in his designs; but by degrees the King’s mind became changed, and so the King of Portugal was kept amused with fair words, and fed with hopes for a year or more.”

Alfonso’s growing disillusionment blackened into despair when he learned at the end of 1479 that Louis had concluded a treaty of peace with Isabel and Fernando. In February of that year Louis sent the Bishop of Lumbres to Isabel to tell her of the great pleasure it gave him to see her on the throne of her father, King Juan II, and to ask a renewal of their ancient friendship. A treaty was drawn up in which the high contracting parties agreed to be “amigos de amigos, y enemigos de enemigos," against all persons in the world, except the Holy Father. The question of the return of Roussillon and Cerdagne to Fernando’s father was to be arbitrated within five years.

The Treaty of St. Jean de Luz was such gall and wormwood to Alfonso that he wrote a letter to his son, Dom Joâo, abdicating the throne and announcing that he would retire to a monastery. The Count of Faro argued him out of that determination, and he sailed with a heavy heart for Portugal, arriving just in time to see the fêtes in honour of the coronation of his son, who had taken him at his word. But Dom Joâo dutifully permitted his father to remount his uncomfortable throne.

The fat king’s ignominious home-coming gave impetus to a peace party led by his sister-in-law, the Infanta Doña Beatriz, aunt both to Dom Joâo and to the Queen of Castile, and a most discreet woman. At this juncture she wrote secretly to Isabel, asking for a meeting, in which perchance, “with the aid of God and of the glorious Virgin His Mother, they would find a way to restore peace and concord” to the two kingdoms. Pope Sixtus assisted the peace faction by revoking the dispensation to Alfonso V to marry La Beltraneja, explaining that it had been obtained by misrepresentation of the facts. The marriage had never been consummated.

Isabel agreed to a meeting at Alcántara near the Portuguese border. But on the eve of her departure for that place, the war flamed up anew in Extremadura, where the Countess of Medellin, an illegitimate daughter of the elder Marqués of Villena, joined the enemies of the Queen.

Meanwhile Alfonso, having obtained funds from the confiscation of one of the Castilian fleets returning loaded with gold from St. George La Mina, equipped a new expedition under the Bishop of Evora, who crossed into Castile while Isabel was laying siege to Medellin. Alonso de Cárdenas met the invaders at Mérida and, after a bloody battle of three hours, defeated them. Isabel’s situation was precarious. Supplies having given out, her army fought for days on bread and water.

To complicate matters further, the Queen found herself with child for the second time within a year. Prince Juan was hardly eight months old, and the third baby was expected in November. Fernando was obliged to go to Aragon, where his father’s death in January had left him a crown and therefore new responsibilities. It was June before Isabel could go to Alcántara to meet Doña Beatriz, taking with her only a secretary and Doctor Maldonado of her Council.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mar 03 Sep 2019, 6:01 am

After several days of conversation, the two women arrived at a complete understanding. Doña Beatriz had always considered her brother-in-law’s invasion of Castile a chimerical piece of folly. She admired her niece. The treaty, therefore, was virtually Isabel’s dictation. Alfonso would give up his title to Castile and remove the arms of Castile from his escutcheon. He would never marry La Beltraneja. That unfortunate Princess was to be free to do as she might please for six months, at the end of which time she must agree to marry Prince Juan when he became old enough (he was then a year old) or enter a convent. Prince Alfonso, younger son of Alfonso V, would marry the Infanta Isabel, then nine years old, both to remain during the interim in the custody of Doña Beatriz at Mora. The Mina del Oro would remain Portuguese. No subjects of Fernando and Isabel would go there for gold. The Castilian rebels were to be freely pardoned, with no loss of property. The treaty was to be binding for five years.

It took Doña Beatriz nine months to persuade Alfonso to ratify so humiliating a document. She did so only with the help of Dom Joao, who bluntly told his father that the war had been unjust, and his misfortunes a punishment from God.2 Alfonso consented at last, and the blare of trumpets in all the cities of both kingdoms announced peace after a war of four years and nine months. Juana La Beltraneja, rather than wait for Prince Juan, chose to enter a convent. Fray Hernando de Talavera was present when she took her vows. Her mother, Queen Juana, had died four years before, at Madrid, forsaken and prematurely old, and had been buried in a tomb of white marble near the high altar in the Church of St. Francis at Madrid. Even in death, poor Juana had been embarrassing to others. To make room for her, the bones of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, who had gone as ambassador to Tamerlane,3 and after his return had erected this great chapel of St. Francis for his own burial place, were transferred elsewhere.

Isabel meanwhile had gone to Toledo. There in the old Moorish city of seven hills, where the steep narrow streets are cluttered with churches, convents and hospitals interspersed with quiet shaded patios, she gave birth to her third child, the ill-fated Juana the Mad, on the sixth of November. The King, his business in Aragon concluded, hastened to his wife’s bedside; and some days later they went together, as was their custom, to present the Infanta to God in the Cathedral.

As soon as her strength returned, Isabel began preparing the programme she intended to submit to the Cortes when it met at Toledo in the spring of 1480. The moment had come, she felt, to draw the last strands of authority into her own hands. When the delegates assembled, she went before them, won them with her beauty and the graciousness of her speech, and proceeded with disarming frankness to take away from the upper classes some of the privileges that they had guarded so jealously against her ancestors.

The Hermandad, though still vigorously resisted by certain nobles, had proved on the whole so successful that the delegates voted to continue it and expand its functions.

The currency was stabilized by restricting all coining to the royal mint. More than a hundred aristocrats had been melting their own metal. When Isabel ascended her brother’s throne, money was almost worthless in Castile.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Sam 07 Sep 2019, 5:20 am

Relentlessly, but with infinite tact and patience, the Queen forced her will upon the Cortes, playing off one estate against another, and especially using the good will of the commons and the clergy to lop off the privileges of the tyrannical nobles and increase the powers of the Crown. It was an immense programme that she laid before the procuradores: nothing less than a complete revision of the entire executive and judicial systems of the kingdom. In the reorganization of the royal council, “nuestro consejo,” she introduced a strong representation of the middle classes. As the government became more specialized and complex, it was important to take it out of the hands of great nobles who felt themselves rather above petty details and arduous labour, and give it to men accustomed to toil. The lawyers, mostly from the humbler orders, seemed to Isabel the most useful for her purpose. With all her exploitation of the popular reverence for royalty, the Queen was too intelligent to have much respect for “blood” alone. It was ability she looked for, and she used it and encouraged it wherever she found it. In consequence, the new royal council consisted of one bishop, three cavaliers, and eight or nine lawyers. A tremendous revolution. Chiefly consultative, it had also administrative and judicial functions. The Cortes passed laws to prevent its encroaching upon the courts of justice.


Isabel divided her government into five departments: first, the Council of Justice, over which the King and Queen, and in their absence a President, officiated; second, a Council of State, dealing with foreign affairs, including the negotiations with the Court of Rome; third, the Supreme Court of the Holy Brotherhood; fourth, a Council of Finance; fifth, a Council for purely Aragonese matters. These departments maintained contacts with local governments through pesquisidores or inspectors, who made frequent visits to cities and towns, inquired into the execution of the laws, and reported abuses by governors and others. In this system, so useful at the time, Isabel was unconsciously sowing the seeds of the ponderous bureaucracy of later centuries.


From her own considerable experience as a judge, she realized the need of a new legal code to replace the cumbersome one based on the Visigothic fueros, those local privileges wrung from needy kings, and on the Siete Partidas of Alfonso X, which followed the Roman code of Justinian. The enormous task of compiling the new code was committed to Doctor Alfonso Diaz de Montalvo, who laboured for four years compiling his eight thick tomes of Ordenanzas Reales. There were many mistakes, repetitions, and omissions, and Isabel ordered the jurist to do his work over again. She was never completely satisfied with it—even in her will she left a request for still further revision of the laws.


By far the most unpopular task she imposed on the Cortes was the recovery of revenues illegally transferred from the Crown to various nobles by Enrique IV. In the days when the wealth of the Kings of Castile had been given to any who asked for it, there was hardly a noble house that had not been enriched by alienation of royal lands or revenues. Yet Isabel made the daring proposal that the Cortes should command the restitution of a large part of this wealth to the Crown. She carried the measure with the powerful support of Cardinal Mendoza, whose disinterestedness was the more conspicuous, since his own family had been among the chief beneficiaries of Enrique’s folly. At the Queen’s request, the odious and intricate task of apportioning the wealth to be returned to the Crown was entrusted to her new confessor, Fray Hernando de Talavera, a man of courage and cool judgment. Fortified by the Queen’s instructions to show no favouritism, he did what no man in Castile had hitherto dared to attempt: he assessed the Admiral of Castile, Fernando’s grandfather, at 240,000 maravedís in yearly rents; the Duke of Alba, 575,000 maravedís; the Duke of Medina Sidonia, 18,000; Don Beltran, Duke of Albuquerque, 1,400,000. Altogether the royal treasury was enriched by some 30,000,000 maravedís. The heaviest exactions were levied on the family of Cardinal Mendoza, with his approval.


There was much grumbling, but the complacency of the great feudatories under such heavy demands showed how great a revolution had been accomplished. The same measure, in 1474, would have been the signal for rebellion. But Isabel and Fernando had become absolute monarchs in the five melodramatic years since that December day when the herald in Segovia proclaimed the death of Enrique IV.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Lun 09 Sep 2019, 5:53 am

The Queen was as solicitous for Fernando’s pre-eminence as she was for her own. She always referred to him with great respect as “my lord the King,” and compelled even his relatives to show him a ceremonious deference. One evening when she had retired early, while the King in the next room was playing a long game of chess with his uncle, the Admiral Don Fadrique, she heard that nobleman exclaim with delight:

“Aha! I have beaten my nephew!”

Hastily throwing a wrap about her, Isabel thrust her head through the opening in the tapestry at the door, and said with frigid politeness: “Don Fadrique, my lord the King has no relatives or friends; he has only servants and vassals.”

The times of King Enrique were past and Isabel had no intention that any remotely similar should return while she occupied the throne. She addressed even her old and intimate friend Beatriz Bobadilla by no more familiar term than “hija marquesa”—“daughter Marquesa.” And the Admiral had another evidence of her impartiality about a year after the reform of Toledo, when the court was at Valladolid. His son, also named Don Fadrique, had a dispute in the Queen’s palace with young Ramiro Núñez de Guzman over the beauty of women, and one word led to another, until Don Fadrique felt himself injured. The Queen, hearing of the quarrel, asked her maestresala, Garcilaso de la Vega, to take charge of Ramiro while she herself commanded Don Fadrique to remain in his father’s house and not leave without her permission. To Don Ramiro, who was less robust than the King’s cousin, she gave a safe-conduct, a more useful document, generally, than in the days when the Count of Benavente taunted her. But a few days later, as Ramiro was riding on a mule through the plaza of Valladolid, full of faith in the royal paper in his pocket, three men with masked faces suddenly appeared and gave him a beating with sticks. The Queen had no doubt who had instigated the assault. Although it was pouring rain, she mounted a horse and took the road for Simancas, where the Admiral’s residence was, without waiting for even a servant or a squire.

When the Admiral came to the gate of his fortress, he was greatly surprised to hear a familiar imperious voice in the rainy darkness: “Almirante, dadme luego a Don Fadrique vuestro hijo, para hacer justicia del, ¡porque quebrantó mi seguro!” 4

“Señora,” said the Admiral, “he is not here, and I do not know where he is.”

The Queen: “Since you cannot deliver your son, deliver to me this fortress of Simancas, and the fortress of Rioseco.”

The Admiral gave the Queen the keys of both places, “since he did not dare do anything else.” The Queen, after a futile search of the castle, returned to Valladolid, a distance of twenty miles, in the driving rain.

Next day she was so ill that she could not get out of bed. Asked by her doctor what symptoms or pains she had, the Queen said, “This body of mine aches from the blows that Don Fadrique gave yesterday to my safe-conduct.”

Her anger increased every day, until Don Fadrique’s uncle, fearful lest the whole family suffer from her displeasure, urged the Admiral to give him up; in fact he took the young cavalier to the palace and, after representing that Don Fadrique was too young to understand the obedience due to kings and the sanctity of a royal safe-conduct, begged her to receive him and to pardon him.

The Queen said shortly, “I do not wish to see Don Fadrique.” She commanded an alcalde of her court to take charge of him, and to lead him publicly, like an ordinary criminal, through the plaza of Valladolid, and thence to the fortress of Arevalo, to be kept in solitary confinement with only the barest necessaries. Even King Fernando, when he returned from Aragon, could obtain no concession from her but a commutation of Fadrique’s sentence to exile in Sicily.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mer 11 Sep 2019, 8:20 am

Don Ramiro de Guzman seems to have been strangely unable to profit by the experience of others. The blows of the sticks still smarted in his soul until he conceived the insane idea of taking a second vengeance on Fadrique’s father, the Admiral of Castile. The four horsemen he employed to beat that dignitary at Medina del Campo were repulsed by servants, and he himself fled to Portugal from the long arm of Isabel, who confiscated all his estates.

As Isabel sat sewing the buttons on her husband’s shirts— for if we may believe Florez he never wore any but those her skilful hands stitched for relaxation between dictating letters and other cares of State—she had every reason to feel satisfied with the first five years of her reign. For the first time she was reasonably secure on her throne. Portugal was defeated; civil peace had returned to Castile; the Cortes had granted her the absolute powers she required; she had three children to guarantee the succession to her own blood. But she seemed aware that all this was but a beginning. Greater events were impending.

The universal uneasiness, the expectancy of new shocks and conflicts, was reflected in one of the historic ceremonies during the Cortes of Toledo. Four hundred comendadores and caballeros of the Order of Santiago marched in their white mantles surmounted by red crosses and cockle-shells down the aisles of the Cathedral, bearing their banners to be blessed for the Moorish war. Cárdenas, the Master, knelt before the King and Queen and delivered to them the flags and ensigns of Santiago.

“Master,” they said, “God give you good fortune against the Moors, enemies of our Holy Catholic Faith.”

In taking back the flags and kissing the royal hands, Cárdenas was only following an old custom; but on this occasion he did something more: he turned and impulsively asked permission to renew the war against the Infidel.

King Fernando replied, “We must first drive the Turks off the shores of Italy.”

He referred to what all men knew, the imminent danger that overshadowed all Christendom as the conquering Mohammedans advanced through the Mediterranean. Something like a chill spread through Europe when it became known in 1479 that the Grand Turk, Mohammed
II, was besieging Rhodes.

Since Venice had abandoned the crusade in 1479, sacrificing Christian Albania in the treaty of Stamboul to preserve her own trade with the Levant, the only remaining Christian naval power that offered any obstacle to the Turkish mastery of the Mediterranean was that of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, who had withstood the Moslems on the Island of Rhodes for a century, and had made themselves the terror of the Infidel pirates. In 1480 Mohammed II brought all his thunderbolts to bear on Rhodes with the intent of ridding himself of so troublesome an enemy; but all his armament could not prevail against the heroism of Pierre d’Aubusson and his knights, who fought off the invaders for two months and at last repulsed them after a furious battle in the great breach opened by the Moslem artillery.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 15 Sep 2019, 5:16 am

Having failed at Rhodes, the Great Turk dispatched his ships to Italy. They sailed along the coast of Apulia, and on August 11, 1480, actually took by storm the city of Otranto in the Kingdom of Naples. Of the 22,000 inhabitants, the barbarians bound 12,000 with ropes and put them to death, thus helpless, with terrible tortures. They slew all the priests in the city. They sawed in two the aged Archbishop of Otranto, whom they found praying before the altar. On a hill outside the city, now known as Martyrs' Hill, they butchered many captives who refused to become Mohammedans, and threw their corpses to the dogs.

The consternation of Italy was indescribable. “In Rome the alarm was as great as if the enemy had been already encamped outside the walls,” wrote Sigismondo de Conti... “Even the Pope meditated flight,” and preparations were made at Avignon to receive him. He appealed to the Italian powers in these terms:

“If the faithful, especially the Italians, wish to preserve their lands, their houses, their wives, their children, their liberty, and their lives; if they wish to maintain that Faith into which we have been baptized, and through which we are regenerated, let them at last trust in our word, let them take up their arms and fight.” King Ferrante of Naples was at war with Florence, and his son Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, whose subjects the Turks were slaughtering, was 150 leagues away in Tuscany, fighting in the Tuscan War. Alfonso frantically marched to the defence of his dominions. Almost unaided, save by the Pope, who had even the sacred vessels melted to obtain money, he besieged the Turks in Otranto, and after six months recaptured the city.

The apathy of the Italian princes was incredible. Not until Ferrante threatened to join the Sultan in destroying them all did they bestir themselves with any vigour. The Pope, according to Sigismondo de Conti, “would have witnessed with great indifference the misfortunes and losses of his faithless ally, had Ferrante’s enemy been anyone but the Sultan; but it was a very different matter when the common foe of Christendom had actually got a footing on Italian soil.”

Of the foreign rulers, Isabel and Fernando were almost alone in perceiving that the peril of Italy was the peril of all Christendom. They immediately dispatched the whole Castilian fleet of twenty-two vessels to Italian waters to assist in the recapture of Otranto and to protect Fernando’s kingdom of Sicily. But it was characteristic of Isabel to stop at nothing short of her utmost. At a moment when she had need of her new revenues to complete her programme of reform and to prepare for the war with Granada that all men expected to be resumed when the truce expired in 1481, she generously threw all her energies and material resources into the major struggle for the safety of Christendom. She formed the audacious design of raising a fleet powerful enough not only to defend Italy and Spain, but if necessary to defeat the Turks on the high seas and smash their whole offensive. Castile having done its best for the present, she decided to equip the armada from the northern provinces and launch it in one of the northern ports. From merchants at Burgos she ordered huge supplies of artillery, munitions, food, clothing, all manner of naval stores.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Lun 16 Sep 2019, 9:08 am

The effort was tremendous, all the more so since public opinion among the mountains and along the protected northern coast had to be whipped into enthusiasm. The men of Galicia and Guipúzcoa had suffered less from the Moorish wars than the southern provinces had; yet they had contributed much to the man-power of Castile in the War of the Succession, and they were tired of wars and rumours of wars. Sicily to them seemed very remote, Otranto only a word, the massacring Turks like mythical goblins or werewolves. The Queen therefore commissioned Alonso de Quintanilla, who had been so successful in organizing the Hermandad, to direct a vigorous propaganda in the north, to let the mountaineers and sailors know that, if the Turks mastered Italy, their next logical stopping-place would be Spain. But at first the royal officers were badly received; there was rioting in several towns, and they barely escaped from the mob with their lives. 5


As the story of Otranto became generally known, the panic that Castile and Aragon shared with Italy spread to every comer of the peninsula. Men were asking, what would become of the Christian kingdoms if the Turks came from the east, and the Moors of Granada, their co-religionists, took the offensive in the south against Andalusia? In such a case the situation of Castile would be perilous. But with secret enemies within her gates, allied with the terrible foe without, her plight would be hopeless. In wartime, every nation considers unity the indispensable condition of self-preservation. The doom of the Conversos in Castile, as a nation within the nation, was sealed with the landing of the Turks in Italy.


Otranto fell on August 11. The news reached Spain some time in September. Isabel had carefully kept in reserve the Papal bull of November 1, 1478, authorizing her to establish the Inquisition in her kingdoms. On September 26, 1480, she issued the order that made it effective. The double signature—“Yo, el Rey; Yo, la Reyna”—marked the beginning of the last chapter in the slow resurrection of Christian Spain, and of a new and sad one in the weary annals of the children of Israel.


TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 22 Sep 2019, 12:46 pm

XIV - THE JEWS’ ACTIVITIES IN SPAIN—THEIR PERSECUTION IN EUROPE—THE CONVERSOS—ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SPANISH INQUISITION


In medieval Spain the Jews came nearer to building a New Jerusalem than at any time or place since their dispersion after the Crucifixion. Had they succeeded—and several times they came perilously near success—they might conceivably have managed, with Mohammedan aid, to destroy the Christian civilization of Europe. Their ultimate failure was caused chiefly by the life-work of Isabel.


The date of their first migrations to the peninsula is disputed; but the evidence appears to indicate that they arrived not long after Saint James the Greater first preached the gospel of Christianity in Saragossa in a.d. 42. Some of those expelled from Rome by Claudius may have settled in Spain. Certain it is that they spread through the country very early in the Christian era, and multiplied so rapidly that their presence constituted a serious problem for the Arian (unorthodox Christian) Visigoths. They were not at first persecuted by the Christians; but, after the discovery that they were plotting to bring the Arabs from Africa for the overthrow of the Gothic kingdom, they were condemned to slavery by one of the councils of Toledo. Nevertheless by the beginning of the eighth century they were numerous in all the chief cities, enjoyed power and wealth, and even obtained through bribery certain privileges denied to Christians.


That they played an important part in bringing the Saracens from Africa in 709 is certain. In the invading army there were many African Jews. Everywhere the Spanish Jews opened the gates of cities to the conquerors, and the Moslems rewarded them by turning over to them the government of Granada, Seville and Cordoba. “Without any love for the soil where they lived, without any of those affections that ennoble a people, and finally without sentiments of generosity,” says Amador de los Rios,1 “they aspired only to feed their avarice and to accomplish the ruin of the Goths; taking the opportunity to manifest their rancour, and boasting of the hatreds that they had hoarded up so many centuries.” This is a severe indictment, and it would be most unfair to place all the blame for the Mussulman invasion at the door of the Jews. Neither their intrigues nor the Moorish arms could have prevailed, perhaps, if the Christian Visigoth monarchy had not fallen first into heresy and then into decadence. King Witiza led an unsavoury life, published an edict permitting priests to marry, and so far flouted the Christian beliefs of his subjects that he denied the authority of the Pope. His successor, Roderigo, violated the daughter of Count Julian, who thereupon crossed into Africa and joined the Jews in prevailing upon the Moors to conquer Spain. The sons of Witiza, persecuted by Roderigo, also joined the enemy. And at the critical moment of the battle of Jerez de la Frontera, Bishop Oppas, who had a grudge against Roderigo, went over to the Saracens and gave them the victory.


In the new Moslem state the Jews found themselves highly esteemed. It was under the caliphs that they attained the height of their prosperity. They studied and taught in the Arab universities, excelling particularly in astrology and medicine. Through their connections with Asiatic Jews, they were able to get the best drugs (medicine) and spices; and through their wealth, acquired chiefly through usury, barter and the huge traffic in slaves, they obtained leisure for the pursuit and diffusion of culture. They expounded the philosophy of Aristotle, which flourished among the Arabs, before the Stagirite was known in Christian Europe.2


To be continued...

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