Christian Cyclopedia

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(from Lat. inquiro, “inquire; search for”). 1. Special permanent RC tribunal est. ca. 1231 to detect and punish those guilty of dissent from accepted teachings and rites of the ch. Called Cong. of the Holy Office by Pius X (see Popes, 30). Directed by Gregory IX (see Popes, 11) to combat Cathari* and Waldenses,* its activity was later extended to others (e.g., Beguines [see Beghards and Beguines], witches, diviners, blasphemers, and sacrilegious people). Its name is derived from its power to make inquiries in search of heresy. Inquisitors became known as severe oppressors.

2. Historical antecedents. Theodosius* I persecuted heathen and deprived heretics of civil rights. Intolerance appears in the codes of Theodosius* II and Justinian* I. Charlemagne* “converted” the Saxons by force.

3. In the later Middle Ages an organized inquisitorial system to guard against inroads of heresy was developed. Popes, councils, syns., and secular rulers provided legislative and administrative machinery. Lateran* Council II (1139) required secular princes to prosecute heretics. Alexander III (see Popes, 9) ordered imprisonment and confiscation of property of convicted heretics 1162–63. At the 1229 Syn. of Toulouse (see also Toulouse, Synods of) bps. were ordered to appoint a priest and 2 or more laymen to hunt heretics in their sees and bring them to trial before the episcopal tribunal (hence called Episcopal Inquisition). Gregory IX ordered life imprisonment for repentant heretics and capital punishment by state for obstinate heretics 1231 (Constitution Excommunicamus).

4. Because he felt that bps. were lax in enforcing these regulations, Gregory IX entrusted trial and punishment of heretics to Konrad* von Marburg, who used esp. Dominicans* for this purpose. This inquisition was first limited primarily to Ger., extended to Aragon 1232, made gen. 1233.

5. Thereafter inquisitors or judges were selected almost exclusively from Dominicans and Franciscans.* Each tribunal was to have 2 inquisitors who received their power directly from the pope. Responsible only to the pope, many inquisitors were cruel and ruthless. At times there was lawless retaliation against them; K. v. Marburg was murdered 1233.

6. The Sp. Inquisition was peculiar to Sp. and its colonies. It was est. at the request of Ferdinand V of Castile (Ferdinand II of Aragon; “the Catholic”; 1452–1516; b. Sos, Aragon; king of Sicily 1468–1516, of Castile as Ferdinand V with Isabella 1474–1504, of Aragon as Ferdinand II 1479–1516) and Isabella I (Sp.: Isabel; “the Catholic”; 1451–1504; m. Ferdinand II of Aragon 1469; ruled with him as Ferdinand V of Castile and Aragon 1479–1504) to eradicate heresy, to deal with conversos or Marranos (Jews and Moors who professed Christianity, but in some cases only halfheartedly or to escape persecution), to consolidate their realm, to share in spoils. Sixtus IV (see Popes, 16) gave RC kings right to appoint 2 or 3 doctors of theol., as inquisitors 1478. Inquisitors were appointed 1480, installed 1481; in 1483 Ferdinand raised this tribunal to the dignity of the 5th council of the state and called it Concejo de la Suprema y General lnquisicion (Council of the Supreme and Gen. Inquisition). The whole Sp. Inquisition was put under T. de Torquemada,* who became known as a cruel, uncouth persecutor. Suppressed 1808, reest. 1813, it was abolished 1834.

7. A permanent cong. of cardinals with headquarters at Rome and supreme and universal competence in matters concerning heretics and suspected heretics was est. 1542 by Paul* III and further defined by subsequent popes. Paul VI (see Popes, 35) reorganized it 1965 into the Sacred Cong. for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is to condemn error and promote orthodox doctrine. EL

H. C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, 3 vols. (London, 1888), A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 4 vols. (New York, 1906–07), and The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies (New York, 1908); A. H. Verrill, The Inquisition (New York, 1931); E. van der Vekené, Bibliographie der Inquisition (Hildesheim, Ger., 1963); A. S. Turberville, Mediaeval Heresy & the Inquisition (London, 1920) and The Spanish Inquisition (Hamden, Connecticut, 1968).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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