Spanish Inquisition

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The seal of the Spanish Inquisition depicts the cross, the branch and the sword.

The Spanish Inquisition was a tribunal started in 1478 in Spain. It was started by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. During the Spanish Inquisition many people were burnt in front of crowds in the streets. Anyone who was not loyal to the Roman Catholic church was in danger of being called a heretic and being put to death by being burnt at the stake. Not only were Protestants put to death, but many Jews were also killed. A ceremony at which heretics were burnt was called an auto-da-fé. The first was in 1481. The judge was called the Inquisitor.

The rulers of Spain asked the Pope to start the Inquisition to catch Jews who pretended to be Christians. In 1492 they commanded all Jews and Muslims to leave Spain. Many left, but many stayed and said they were Christians. The Inquisition became busy deciding which ones were lying. When Protestants appeared, the Inquisition said they were pretending to be Christians. Most trials ended with the defendant simply giving up his beliefs and being let go. The Inquisition became less active in later years and was completely abolished in 1834.