The Spanish Inquisition officially started in the mid- to late- fourteen hundreds. The Spanish Inquisition was a country wide persecution of Jews for which there are several different reasons as to why it began. The actual reason, or reasons, that motivated the King and Queen are not known at this time, and may never be known for sure. Depending on whom you ask, there are different reasons of that vary in importance for the start of the Spanish Inquisition. Most historians seem to stress three important reasons which are: Politics, Economics, and Religion. My own opinion as to which of these reasons is correct is that it was a combination of Religious and Economic reasons.
This thought will be expanded on at a later time. Religion was one of the most predominant reasons given for the start of the Spanish Inquisition. The Jews and Christians already hated each other prior to the start of the Inquisition : “It is inevitable that there has been disagreement between Jews and Christians: The Christians hating the Jews on account of the Crucifixion; the Jews contemptuous of a sect which had taken their Religion and grafted a new one on it.” The Christians were angry because the Jews crucified Christ. The Jews were angry because the Christians took their religion, changed some ideas and principles, and called the outcome Christianity. The Jews and Christians were never friendly after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and this was just the climax of their hate for each other.
However, the Christians were the ones that were in the position to get revenge, and they did, by persecuting the Jews to a murderous extent, and calling it the Inquisition. Those who did the persecuting and the killing of the Jews were called Inquisitors. These people did not mind doing the killing or torturing. Some thought that the Jews were causing sicknesses and the Black Plague. Others thought that what they were doing was God’s work: “It has been said that the zealots of the Inquisition, even in their greatest cruelty, believed themselves to be justified in what they did.
We are asked to accept as a fact that they were deeply religious men who honestly and sincerely believed that they were serving God in what they did. We are told that they believed Jews were destined for damnation, and that it was their duty to save them from that no matter what pain they inflicted on the bodies of the Jews here on Earth.” The Inquisitors believed that they were saving the Jews for a hideous fate in the Underworld. They believed that since the Jews were dying at the hands of one of God’s children who was a follower of God, that they would get the Wisdom and knowledge of this person, and therefore go to heaven. Although now, this may incomprehensible, at the time of the Inquisition, the Inquisitors were not educated in any manner other than a religious one, and had become highly religious individuals. This added up to what we would now call blind faith.
This means believing in something for no reason other than religious custom or tradition. The Government and its religious officials wanted to maintain Limpeza de Sangre or Purity of Blood. They wanted to have a pure and unified Spanish-Christian race and community, and in order to do so, they founit necessary to prevent any more intermarriage between Christians and conversos or Jews that would destroy the possibility of Limpieza de Sangre. They saw that the only way of ahieving this goal through the Inquisition. They would kill or drive out all of the Jews from Spain, and therefore achieve Limpieza de Sangre, or so they thought.
The killed many Jews, but after the three-hundred and fifty year period of the Inquisitionwas over, many thousands of practicing Jews were still living in Spain. Aside from religious reasons, there were also some very strong political reasons for the Spanish Inquisition. The main political reason for the Spanish Inquisition was that there was a threat to the monarchy. The Christians of Spain, who at the time were the majority, were outraged at the Jews for many reasons, some which refer back to the religious reasons. The Monarchs of Spain, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, began to realize that if the tension of the citizens increased a little more, riots and mass killing would break out, possibly leading to a religious civil war. The method they used to control the citizens was the Spanish Inquisition.
Using the Inquisition, they were able to soothe and calm the majority of the Spanish citizens. At the same time, they believed they were removing the source of the problem. The King, Queen, and the rest of the rest of the entire government was able to secure their positions in the Monarchy. The officials were also able to use the Inquisition as a way to fulfill their personal desires: “It is to solve their problems and theirs alone that the Spanish Inquisition was started.” There were many officials who wanted governmental position that were held by Jews. After many futile attempts to get these Jews thrown out of office, the officials had to devise a plan to get the Jews out of office.
The method that they devised was to introduce the Inquisition to Spain. The officials started to spread rumors that the Jews were the cause of all misfortunes including any bad weather, crop, or any other mishap. This was a brilliant plan, since the first Jews that the public wanted to be killed were the popular and high ranking officials. This immediately opened up the positions that the officials desired. The Government officials were also fearful of these powerful Jews.
Many Jews had risen up in the political rankings through the years, and this caused other s to fear the potential power of the Jews. They were assuming that if the Jews became too powerful, that they would be a threat to Spain, either by threatening the Monarchy as previously mentioned , or by revolting against the Christian officials and try and take over or overthrow the government, or even by starting a religious Holy War with the Christians. The officials needed to stop this uprising of the Jews. They knew that just rallying the people for their cause would not be enough, something more powerful was needed. Their solution is what is now known as the Inquisition.
Another principle reason for the start of the Inquisition was economics and money. When the idea of the Inquisition was becoming more widely known of, Spain was not in a very prosperous time. Spain had used a lot of money and resources during the reconquest of Granada, and the wars in Spain and Italy. The government began to realize that they were low on money, and that they needed to replenish their financial funds, before their signs of weakness were evident to the public. If that ever happened, the people might take advantage of the weakness and try to overthrow the government.
Therefore, the officials and monarchs needed to find a way to acquire money. They were able to get the necessary money using the Inquisition. They killed hundreds of thousands of Jews and took their possessions, their money, and anything else they could find. They used these things to replenish the wealth of the government. The government officials of the time were also a bit low on money. They were very greedy, and wanted to be rich as they once were. They were able to use the Inquisition as a manner of attaining money and riches.
They would hire people or go themselves, and ransack the houses of Jews. They would kill the inhabitants of the houses, and take anything they could find, including money, furniture, and jewelry. The King and Queen had the same selfish desires as the officials had. They wanted to get more money for themselves, and they had to find a quick source it. They did the same thing as the officials did. They hired people to pillage the houses of the Jews, and to take their money and possessions.
The Jews were becoming a powerful and rich group in Spain, and had always been the type of people who wanted to be wealthy and let everyone know it: “The Jews..were a people who not only wished to make fortunes but to flaunt their wealth… As it was, not only did they rouse the righteous indignation of Christians on account of the murder of Jesus Christ, but the envy of those Christians who were less successful.” The Jews were successful, and everyone in Spain knew that they were. The Christians were constantly seeing the wealth of the Jews and became very jealous. The Jews were more important in Spanish Society than the Christians, and this made some Christians insanely jealous. The Inquisition was once again used as a method of getting revenge.
My belief as to which of the above reasons was the reason for the Spanish Inquisition is that it was started for both religious and economic reasons. One must take into consideration the fact that money is a tremendously strong force that can drive people to do just about anything to get it including lie, steal, cheat, and yes, even kill. This is what took over and controlled the government for three-hundred and fifty years. The government was money hungry, and had no steady source of money, so they started to persecuting the Jews. The reason that the common people started to persecute the Jews was different.
The commoners truly believed in their hearts that the Jews were sinners against God and that they were destined for eternal damnation unless they were killed by a Christian. There were many possible reasons for the start of the Inquisition. However, as no one knows exactly what was going through the heads of the King and Queen, or the government officials, or the religious officials at the start of the Spanish Inquisition, no one can know for sure the true reason for the start of the Inquisition.