The coat of arms of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition | (c)

After 1391, there was an upsurge of Jews who converted to Christianity. This group of people is known to be conversos. This allowed them to suddenly have access to everything that was denied from them when they were a Jew. A lot of these conversos were still in correspondence with their Jewish communities and have still been observing Jewish traditions and rituals. Due to the fact that they have gained more advantages than the rest, there was a huge swell in resentment against these conversos. This sparked the Spanish Inquisition in 1478.

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The Start of The Inquisition

In 1478, Pope Sixtus IV gave permission to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to establish the Spanish inquisition. This inquisition targeted False conversos who were still observing Jewish behaviors and attitudes. The inquisition aimed to eradicate these false converts and penalize them accordingly in order to discourage other potential converts. This punishment would include the confiscation of the converts’ wealth which was what Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand were particularly interested in.

Thomas de Torquemada was known as the grand inquisitor and he was engaged in a savage overturn of Iberian society. During this time, the inquisition convinced Christian neighbors to betray and turn in their converso neighbors to the authorities. Once arrested by the authorities, the conversos are to be tortured and asked to give out the names of other conversos that they know.

The Aftermath

The situation rapidly spun out of control and Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand were left with a large number of deaths that they had to deal with. The inquisition transferred the authority of handling the conversos to the secular authorities and this gave way to an even more savage approach. The secular authorities would organize these mass burnings of Jews all throughout Spain and the new world which attracted huge mobs to watch these Jews burned alive.

Though the Jewish community was not being directly targeted, they were still under a lot of suspicion because of the possibility that they were aiding and assisting conversos. One particular case revealed that some conversos were plotting the murder of one of the inquisitors, Pedro de Arbués. Because of this, the conversos gained more resentment from mainstream society.

Ultimately, the inquisition had failed to collect the amount of cash that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella needed, and there were still conversos in Jews that have not been arrested yet. Torquemada had appealed and explained that the reason why he had trouble putting the inquisition to a close is due to the fact that Jews are still allowed to live in Spain and while they are still in Spain, they can still influence others to do the same as them. Therefore, Torquemeda pushed that the Jews must simply be expelled from the Iberian peninsula.