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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Among them Cardinals Caraffa and Toledo


stern, relentless, and autocratic;

and he stamped his nature on the institution over which he presided. The Holy Office was permitted to frame its own rules. The permission made it practically independent, while all the resources of the State were placed at its command. When an Inquisitor came to assume his functions, the officials took an oath to assist him to exterminate all whom he might designate as heretics, and to observe, and compel the observance by all, of the decretals _Ad abolendum, Excommunicamus, Ut officium Inquisitionis_, and _Ut Inquisitionis negotium_--the papal legislation of the thirteenth century, which made the State wholly subservient to the Holy Office, and rendered incapable of official position any one suspect in the faith or who favoured heretics. Besides this, all the population was assembled to listen to a sermon by the Inquisitor, after which all were required to swear on the cross and the Gospels to help the Holy Office, and not to impede it in any manner or on any pretext. The methods of work and procedure were also taken from the papal Inquisition. The Inquisitors were furnished with letters patent. They travelled from town to town, attended by guards and notaries public. Their expenses were defrayed by taxes laid on the towns and districts through which they passed. Spies and informers, guaranteed State protection, brought forward their information. The Court was opened; witnesses were examined; and the accused were acquitted or found guilty. The sentence was pronounced; the secular
assessor gave a formal assent; and the accused was handed over to the civil authorities for punishment. When Torquemada reorganised the Spanish Inquisition, a series of rules were framed for its procedure which enforced secrecy to the extent of depriving the accused of any rational means of defence; which elaborated the judicial method so as to leave no loop-hole even for those who expressed a wish to recant; and which multiplied the charges under which suspected heretics, even after death, might be treated as impenitent and their property confiscated. The Spanish Inquisition differed from the papal in its close relation to the civil authorities, its terrible secrecy, its relentlessness, and its exclusion of Bishops from even a nominal participation in its work. Thus organised, it became the most terrible of curses to unhappy Spain. During the first hundred and thirty-nine years of its existence the country was depopulated to the extent of three millions of people. It had become strong enough to overawe the monarchy, to insult the episcopate, and to defy the Pope. The number of its victims can only be conjectured. Llorente has calculated that during the eighteen years of Torquemada's presidency 114,000 persons were accused, of whom 10,220 were burnt alive, and 97,000 were condemned to perpetual imprisonment or to public penitence. This was the terrible instrument used relentlessly to bring the Spanish people into conformity with the Spanish Reformation, and to crush the growing Protestantism of the Low Countries. It was extended to Corsica and Sardinia; but the people of Naples and Sicily successfully resisted its introduction when proposed by the Spanish Viceroys.

Sec. 2. _The Inquisition in Italy._

Cardinal Caraffa (afterwards Pope Paul IV.), the relentless enemy of the Reformation, seeing the success of this Spanish Inquisition in its extermination of heretics, induced Pope Paul III. to consent to a reorganisation of the papal Inquisition in Italy on the Spanish model, in 1542. The Curia had become alarmed at the progress of the Reformation in Italy. They had received information that small Protestant communities had been formed in several of the Italian towns, and that heresy was spreading in an alarming fashion. Caraffa declared that "the whole of Italy was infected with the Lutheran heresy, which had been extensively embraced both by statesmen and ecclesiastics." Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits highly approved of the suggestion, and they were all-powerful with the Cardinal Borromeo, the pious and trusted nephew of the Pope. In 1542 the Congregation of the Holy Office was founded at Rome, and six Cardinals, among them Cardinals Caraffa and Toledo, were named Inquisitors-General, with authority on both sides of the Alps to try all cases of heresy, to apprehend and imprison suspected persons, and to appoint inferior tribunals with the same or more limited powers. The intention was to introduce into this remodelled papal Inquisition most of the features which marked the thoroughness of the Spanish institution. But the jealousy of the Popes prevented the Holy Office from exercising the same independent action in Italy as in Spain. The new institution began its work at once within the States of the Church, and was introduced after some negotiations into most of the Italian principalities. Venice refused, until it was arranged that the Holy Office there should be strictly subject to the civil authorities.


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