Bloodline Racism - Who chooses the DNA - Who decides the Truth - The Spanish Inquisition 1478-1834

St Paul in Brittain

Antisemitism Jewish  Survival

'Purity of Blood' and The Spanish Inquisition (1492)




The Inquisition, intended to root out Catholic heresies and heretics, was created through a papal bull at the end of the 12th century. Although the Inquisition of Spain is most well known, the bull was intended to track down and put an end to heresy throughout all the lands of Christendom.


The Jews of Europe were under constant pressure to convert, were forced to wear identifying clothing, to sit in church as observers of Catholic services. Since conversion was typically coerced, sometimes at the point of a sword, the converts were always suspected of insincerity. 

Those “Jews” most likely to be targeted by the Inquisition were the Conversos, suspected of secretly remaining Jews, of practicing the religion secretly at home while passing as Catholic in the street. But this was not always the case. The head of Poland’s Inquisition, St. John Capistrano, also known as the “Scourge of the Jews,” targeted both Jews and converts (See, Grosser, Paul and Halperin, Edwin, 1978, Antisemitism: Causes and Effects, p. 136).

Two Baskets of FIGS... Spirit of Slumber... PAIN

 Torture Chamber of the Inquisition  In addition to its mission to track down heresy, the Spanish Inquisition was also used to unify Spain and consolidate Catholic power under the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella.

Its primary target was the expulsion of the Moors from Spain. The Jews, that other foreign population, were given the choice of expulsion or conversion.
 
In the early years the Inquisition was most concerned with establishing the credibility of those conversions. As the years went by and some Conversos rose to positions of authority within the church bureaucracy, including, according to some sources, the head of the Inquisition, 

Tomas de Torquemada. Fear of “Jewish influence” increased as more Jews converted, which attracted the attention of the inquisitors. The Conversos were tortured to extract a confession, and then burned at the stake for “confessing.” 


 
Estimates vary regarding the actual number of Conversos who died in the fires of the Inquisition. Based on statistics drawn from the records of Autos da fe, as many as 8,000 may have been burned at the stake. Jewish Virtual Library estimates that, in addition to “Conversos” directly murdered by the Spanish Inquisition, “[t]ens of thousands of refugees [expelled from Spain by the 1492 edict] died while trying to reach safety.”
 
In response to fear of the “Jewish Influence” posed by the Conversos, the Inquisition took a step beyond determining the degree of sincerity of the new Catholics by extending their investigation into Catholic pedigree back generations. Purity of blood, or limpieza de sangre, became the hallmark of who was, and not, a Catholic.
 
“Now Jewishness is… a permanent inborn characteristic that even baptism does not remove,” (Nicholls, William, 1993, Christian Antisemitism, A History of Hate, p. xxi). “Those who wished to hold public office had to present a certificate … showing that there were no Jews in their lineage, that they were free of… mala sangre, bad blood (ibid. pp. xx-xxi).
  
 
Most recent in this series, Antisemitism and Jewish Survival:
 

Spanish Inquisition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Spain
Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición
Spanish Inquisition
Coat of arms or logo
Seal for the Tribunal in Spain.
Type
TypeTribunal under the election of theSpanish monarchy, for upholding religious orthodoxy in their realm
History
Established27 September 1480
Disbanded15 July 1834
SeatsConsisted of a Grand Inquisitor, who headed the Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition, made up of six members. Under it were up to 21 tribunals in the empire.
Elections
Voting systemGrand Inquisitor and Suprema designated by the crown
Meeting place
Spanish Empire
Footnotes
See also:
Medieval Inquisition
Portuguese Inquisition

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Spanish: Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition(Inquisición española), was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic MonarchsFerdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval Inquisition which was under Papal control. It became the most substantive of the three different manifestations of the wider Christian Inquisition along with the Roman Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition.

The Inquisition was originally intended in large part to ensure the orthodoxy 

of those who converted from 


Judaism and Islam. This regulation of the faith of the newly

 converted was intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1501 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert or leave.

The Spanish Inquisition

1478-1834

The concepts of an inquisition and inquisitorial procedure lie deep in the roots of world history. Inquisitions were used during the decline of the Roman Empire until the Spanish Inquisition's decline in the early 1800s. An inquisition can be run by both civil and church authorities in order to root out non-believers from a nation or religion. The Spanish Inquisition was one of the most deadly inquisitions in history.

Back to "Age of Hapsburgs" Chronology

The Spanish Inquisition was used for both political and religious reasons. Spain is a nation-state that was born out of religious struggle between numerous different belief systems including Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Judaism. Following the Crusades and the Reconquest of Spain by the Christian Spaniards the leaders of Spain needed a way to unify the country into a strong nation. Ferdinand and Isabella chose Catholicism to unite Spain and in 1478 asked permission of the pope to begin the Spanish Inquisition to purify the people of Spain. They began by driving out Jews, Protestants and other non-believers.

In 1483 Tomas de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain. He was responsible for establishing the rules of inquisitorial procedure and creating branches of the Inquisition in various cities. He remained the leader of the Spanish Inquisition for fifteen years and is believed to be responsible for the execution of around 2,000 Spaniards. The Catholic Church and the Pope attempted to intervene in the bloody Spanish Inquisition but were unable to wrench the extremely useful political tool from the hands of the Spanish rulers.

The Inquisition was run procedurally by the inquisitor-general who established local tribunals of the Inquisition. Accused heretics were identified by the general population and brought before the tribunal. The were given a chance to confess their heresy against the Catholic Church and were also encouraged to indict other heretics. If they admitted their wrongs and turned in other aggressors against the church they were either released or sentenced to a prison penalty. If they would not admit their heresy or indict others the accused were publicly introduced in a large ceremony before they were publicly killed or sentenced to a life in prison. Around the 1540s the Spanish Inquisition turned its fire on the Protestants in Spain in an attempt to further unify the nation. The Spanish Inquisition's reign of terror was finally suppressed in 1834.

Edited by: Kristian A. Werling
Researched by: Chad E. Anderson
Written by: Kristin Kreger
May 5, 1997

Text copyright 1996-1999 by David W. Koeller. All rights reserved.

http://supremacyandsurvival.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-son-rise-morning-show-blessed.html

Supremacy & Survival English Reformation

Author: Akins, Thomas B., 1809-1891 Subject: Church of EnglandChurch of EnglandMissionsMissions
Publisher: [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.] Language: English Digitizing sponsor: University of Alberta Libraries
Book contributor: Canadiana.org Collection: microfilmadditional_collections 
[Open Library icon]This book has an editable web page on Open Library.

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THE LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE
A History of the Inquistion of Spain
Volume Four
Henry Charles Lea

Contents
  
 

BOOK VIII--SPHERES OF ACTION (CONTINUED).

CHAPTER V--MYSTICISM.

Antiquity of Mystic Aspirations .......... 1 
Dangers--Impeccability--Independence ....... 2 
Illuminism and Quietism--Confusion with Protestantism-- 
Uncertainty as to Source of Visions--Contempt for Theology .............. 4 
Development in Spain ............ 6 
Commencement of Persecution--The Mystics of Guadalajara ........ 7 
Francisca Hernández ............. 9 
Maria Cazalla--The Group in Toledo--Ignatius Loyola ... 13 
Archbishop Carranza--San Francisco de Borja--Luis de Granada--the Jesuits ............. 15 
Fray Alonso de la Fuente--his struggle with Jesuitism ... 19 
The Alumbrados of Llerena ........... 23 
Hostility of the Inquisition to Mysticism ....... 24 
Padre Gerónimo de la Madre de Dios ........ 26 
Mística Theología of Fernando de Caldera ....... 29 
Prosecution of the Mystics of Seville--Condemnation of Alumbrado Errors ............. 29 
Illuminism becomes formal Heresy--Procedure ..... 34 
Madre Luisa de Carrion ............ 36 
Influence of Mystics--Sor María de Agreda. ...... 39 
Mysticism in Italy--

    Canon Pandolfo Ricasoli 
    The Impostor Giuseppe Borri 
    The Sequere me ....... 42 
    The Pelagini of Lombardy .......... 46 
    Miguel de Molinos--Condemnation of Mysticism .... 49 
    The Beccarellisti ............. 61
Mysticism in France--Condemnation of Fénelon ..... 62 
Molinism in Spain--Persecution .......... 68 
Bishop Toro of Oviedo ............ 71 
Madre Agueda de Luna ............ 76 
Fray Eusebio de Villaroja--abusive Methods ...... 77 
Mysticism regarded as delusion .......... 79 
Prevalence of Imposture ............ 81
    Magdalena de la Cruz ........... 82 
    Madre María de la Visitacion ......... 83 
    Variable Treatment of Imposture ........ 86 
    The Beata Dolores--The Beata de Cuenca--The Beata Clara ............... 89 
    Sor Patrocinio ............. 92

CHAPTER VI--SOLICITATION.

Frequency of Seduction in the Confessional ...... 95 
Invention of the Confessional Stall ......... 96 
Leniency of Spiritual Courts ........... 97 
The Inquisition indirectly seeks Jurisdiction ...... 98 
Paul IV and Pius IV grant Jurisdiction ....... 99 
The Regular Clergy endeavor to obtain Exemption .... 100 
Legislation of Gregory XV--Struggle with Bishops over Jurisdiction ............... 100 
Solicitation included in Edict of Faith ........ 105 
Difficulty of inducing Women to denounce Culprits .... 106 
Solicitation a technical Offence against the Sacrament, not against Morals ............. 109 
Difficulty of practical Definition .......... 110 
Passive Solicitation .............111 
Absolution of the Partner in Guilt ......... 113 
Facility of evading Penalty ...........114 
Flagellation--Connection with Illuminism ....... 116 
Procedure--Tenderness for Delinquents. ....... 119

    Two Denunciations required ......... 123 
    Registers kept of Soliciting Confessors ....... 125
Moderation of Penalties ............ 126 
Self-Denunciation--It finally secures immunity ..... 130 
Statistics of Cases--Predominance of the Regular Orders . . 134

CHAPTER VII--PROPOSITIONS.

Growth of Jurisdiction over Utterances, public and private . . 138 
Influence of habitual Delation .......... 138 
Danger incurred by trivial Remarks ........ 140 
Severity of Penalties--Question of Belief and Intention . . . 142 
Special Propositions--Marriage better than Celibacy .... 144

    Fornication between the Unmarried no Sin ..... 145
Theological Propositions--Case of Fray Luis de Leon . . . 148
    Scholastic Disputation, its Dangers ....... 150 
    Fray Luis accused of Disrespect for the Vulgate .... 151 
    Arrested and imprisoned March 27, 1572 ...... 153 
    Endless Debates over multiplying Articles of Accusation . 154 
    Vote in discordia, September 18, 1576 ....... 156 
    Acquitted by the Suprema, December 7, 1576 .... 157 
    Second trial in 1582 for Utterances in Debate--Acquittal . 159
Francisco Sánchez, his Contempt for Theology. ..... 162
    He is summoned and reprimanded, September 24, 1584 . 164 
    Again summoned and imprisoned, September 25, 1600--his Death ............... 166
Fray Joseph de Sigiienza--Plot against him in his Order . . 168
    Prefers Trial by the Inquisition--is acquitted .... 170
Case of Padre Alonso Romero, S. J. ........ 171 
Prosecutions of incautious Preachers ........ 172 
Increasing Proportion of Cases of Propositions, continuing to the last ............... 176

CHAPTER VIII--SORCERY AND OCCULT ARTS.

Accumulation of Superstitious Beliefs in Spain ..... 179 
Toleration in the early Middle Ages ......... 180 
John XXII orders Persecution of Sorcery ....... 181 
Persistent Toleration in Spain .......... 182 
The Inquisition obtains Jurisdiction ........ 183 
Question as to Heresy--Pact with the Demon ...... 184 
The Demon omnipresent in Superstitious Practices--Hermaphrodites ............... 186 
Belief thus strengthened in Divination and Magic .... 189 
The Inquisition thus obtains exclusive Jurisdiction .... 190 
Astrology--Its Teaching suppressed in the University of Salamanca ............... 192 
Procedure--Directed to prove Pact with the Demon .... 195 
Penalties--Less severe than in secular Courts ...... 197 
Rationalistic Treatment in Portuguese Inquisition .... 202 
Prosecuted as a Reality in Spain, to the last ...... 203 
Increase in the Number of Cases ......... 204 
Belief remains undiminished to the present time ..... 205

CHAPTER IX--WITCHCRAFT.

Distinctive Character of Witchcraft--The Sabbat .... 206 
Origin in the 14th Century--Rapid Development in the 15th . 207 
Genesis of Belief in the Sabbat--The Canon Episcopi . . . 208 
Discussion as to Delusion or Reality--Witch-Burnings . . . 209 
Congregation of 1526 deliberates on the Subject ..... 212 
Witch Epidemics--Active Persecution ........ 214 
The Suprema restrains the Zeal of the Tribunals ..... 216 
Enlightened Instructions ............ 219 
Auto-suggestive Hypnotism of confessed Witches ..... 220 
Conflict with secular Courts over Jurisdiction ...... 222 
Lenient Punishment ............. 223 
Retrogression--The Logroño Auto of 1610 ....... 225 
Revulsion of Feeling--Pedro de Valencia ....... 228 
Alonso de Salazar Frias commissioned to investigate .... 230

    His rationalistic Report ........... 231
Instructions of 1614 virtually put an end to Persecution . . . 235 
Persistent Belief--Torreblanca .......... 239 
Witchcraft Epidemics disappear .......... 240 
Witchcraft in the Roman Inquisition ........ 242 
The Witchcraft Craze throughout Europe ....... 246

CHAPTER X--POLITICAL ACTIVITY.

Assertion that the Inquisition was a political Instrument . . . 248 
No Trace of its Agency in the Development ef Absolutism . . 249 
Rarely called upon for extraneous Service ....... 251 
Case of Antonio Pérez ............ 253

    Assassination of Juan de Escobedo ........ 254 
    Pérez replaced by Granvelle--is imprisoned--escapes to Saragossa--is condemned in Madrid ...... 255 
    Futile Attempts to prosecute him before the Justicia of Aragon ............... 258 
    The Inquisition called in and prosecutes him for Blasphemy . 258 
    He is surrendered to the Tribunal--the City rises and rescues him ................ 259 
    Philip's Army occupies Saragossa--Pérez escapes to France--Execution of the Justicia Lanuza .... . 263 
    Prosecutions by the Inquisition in opposition to the policy of Philip II--Auto de fe of October 20, 1592 ... 267 
    Córtes of Tarazona in 1592 curtail the Liberties of Aragon 269 
    Death of Pérez in 1611--his memory absolved in 1615 . . 272
Sporadic Cases of Intervention by the Inquisition .... 273 
It is used in the War of Succession ......... 275 
Gradually becomes subservient under the Bourbons .... 276 
Is a political Instrument under the Restoration ..... 277 
Sometimes used to enforce secular Law--The Export of Horses . 278

CHAPTER XI--JANSENISM.

Indefinable Character of Jansenism, except as opposed to Ultra-montanism .............. 284 
Struggle in Spanish Flanders ........... 286 
Quarrel with Rome over the Condemnation of Cardinal Noris in the Index of 1747 ............ 288 
Opposition to Ultramontanism and Jesuitism persecuted as Jansenism .............. 292 
Expulsion of the Jesuits--Reaction under Godoy ..... 294

CHAPTER XII--FREE-MASONRY

Development of Masonry--Condemned by the Holy See . . . 298 
Persecuted by the Inquisition and the Crown ...... 300 
It becomes revolutionary in Character ........ 303 
Persecution under the Restoration ......... 304 
Its pernicious Activity in the Constitutional Period .... 306

CHAPTER XIII--PHILOSOPHISM.

Growth of Incredulity towards the End of the Eighteenth Century 307 
Olavide selected as a Victim ........... 308 
Impression produced by his Trial . . . . . . . . .311 
Struggle between Conservatism and Progress ...... 312

CHAPTER XIV--BIGAMY.

Assumption of Jurisdiction over Bigamy ....... 316 
Based on inferential Heresy ........... 318 
The Civil and Spiritual Courts strive to preserve their Jurisdiction 319 
Penalties ................ 321 
Contest over Jurisdiction revived--Carlos III subdivides it into three ............... 323 
The Inquisition reasserts it under the Restoration. .... 326 
Number of Cases .............. 327

CHAPTER XV--BLASPHEMY.

Distinction between heretical and non-heretical Blasphemy . . 328 
Contests over Jurisdiction with the spiritual and secular Courts . 329 
Attempts at Definition of heretical Blasphemy ..... 330 
Cumulative Jurisdiction ............ 333 
Moderation of Penalties ............ 334 
Number of Cases .............. 335

CHAPTER XVI--MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS.

Marriage in Orders ............. 336 
Personation of Priesthood............ 339

    Roman Severity and Spanish Leniency ...... 340 
    Hearing of Confessions by Laymen ....... 344
Personation of Officials ............ 344 
Demoniacal Possession ............ 348 
Insults to Images .............. 352 
Uncanonized Saints ............. 355
    The Plomos del Sacromonte ......... 357
The Immaculate Conception ........... 359 
Unnatural Crime .............. 361
    Jurisdiction conferred in the Kingdoms of Aragon . . . 363 
    The Portuguese Inquisition obtains Jurisdiction .... 365 
    Trials conducted under secular Procedure ...... 366 
    Penalties ............... 367 
    Case of Don Pedro Luis Galceran de Borja ..... 370
Usury ................. 371 
Jurisdiction abandoned ........... 374 
Morals ................. 375 
The Seal of Confession. ............ 377 
General Utility ............... 378

BOOK IX--CONCLUSION.

CHAPTER I--DECADENCE AND EXTINCTION.

Independence of the Inquisition in the XVII Century .... 385

THE BOURBONS.

Increased Control exercised by Philip V ....... 386 
Gradual Diffusion of Enlightenment ........ 387 
Progress under Carlos III--he limits Inquisitorial Privilege . . 389 
Influence of the French Revolution ......... 390 
Diminished Respect--Increasing Moderation ...... 392 
Projects of Reform--Jovellanos--Urquijo ....... 394 
Growth of Opposition--Bishop Grégoire and his Opponents . . 397

THE CORTES.

The Napoleonic Invasion and the Uprising of Spain .... 399 
The Inquisition supports the Intrusive Government .... 400 
Its desultory Functions during the War of Liberation . . . 402 
The Extraordinary Cortes assemble, September 24, 1810 . . . 403 
Freedom of the Press decreed--Controversy on the Inquisition . 404 
The Constitution adopted ........... 406 
Prolonged Struggle over the Suppression of the Inquisition--Carried January 26, 1813 .......... 407 
Resistance of the Clergy ............ 414 
Reaction preceding the Return of Fernando VII ..... 418

THE RESTORATION.

Character of Fernando VII ........... 420 
Proscription of the Liberals ........... 421 
The Inquisition re-established .......... 424 
Its Reconstruction and financial Embarrassments .... 426 
Resumption of Functions ............ 429 
Its diminished Authority--Its Moderation ....... 430

THE REVOLUTION OF 1820.

Growing Disaffection culminates in successful Revolution . . . 434 
Fernando compelled to abolish the Inquisition, March 9,1820 . . 436 
Suicide of Liberalism ............. 438 
Quarrel with the Church--Increasing Anarchy ..... 440 
The Congress of Verona orders Intervention ...... 444 
The French Invasion--Ferdinand carried to Cádiz .... 446 
Proscription of the Liberals ........... 448 
Fernando released and returns to Power ....... 449

TEN YEARS OF REACTION.

Absolutism revenges itself on Liberalism ....... 450 
Fernando refuses to revive the Inquisition ....... 453 
Discontent of the Extremists--Rising in Catalonia .... 456 
Dormant Condition of the Inquisition ........ 458 
Episcopal juntas de fe--Execution of Cayetano Ripoll . . . 460

CRISTINA.

The Question of Succession causes Reversal of Policy . . . 462 
Death of Fernando VII--The Carlist War--Alliance of the Regent Cristina with the Liberals ......... 466 
The Inquisition definitely abolished, July 15, 1834 .... 467 
Gradual Development of Toleration ........ 469

CHAPTER II--RETROSPECT.

Vicissitudes in the History of Spain ........ 472 
Causes of Decadence--Misgovernment of the Hapsburgs . . . 473

    Industry crushed by Taxation ......... 478 
    Lack of Means of Intercommunication--The Mesta . . . 480 
    Debasement of the Coinage . . ........ 482 
    Aversion for Labor ............ 483 
    Multiplication of Offices--Empleomanía ...... 485 
    Gradual Recuperation under the Bourbons ..... 486
Inordinate Growth of the Church in Numbers and Wealth . . 488 
Demoralization of the Clergy .......... 496 
Clerical Influence--Development of Intolerance ..... 498 
Superficial Character of Religion ......... 502 
Results of Intolerance ............ 504 
Influence of the Inquisition on the People ....... 507 
Contemporary opinion of its Services ........ 508 
Indifference to Morals ............ 509 
Disregard for Law--Aspirations to Domination . . . . .511 
Suppression of adverse Opinion .......... 513 
Statistics of its Operations ........... 516 
Conscientious Cruelty ............. 525 
Persecution Profitable ............ 527 
Influence on Intellectual Development ........ 528 
Result of seeking to control the Human Conscience .... 531

APPENDIX OF DOCUMENTS ............ 535

NOTE: Material from this volume may be cited by URL or by using the pagination of the original print edition. Page numbers have been inserted in the text in boldface, set off by brackets, as in [98].

The Ancient PeriodThe Peripheral Period

The Center Period

The Global Period

  • Age of World Wars
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    It was the monarch the Church had called Defender of the Faith, Henry VIII that ... The first tentative steps toward actual reformation was a liturgy in English and ...Protestantism and England became an increasingly Protestant country, but will a ...
  9. Ch. 14 The Renaissance & Reformation flashcards | Quizlet

    quizlet.com/.../ch-14-the-renaissance-reformation-flash-cards/
    Apr 18, 2012 – In their effort to achieve realism, Renaissance painters and sculptors..... Describe the steps by which England became a Protestant country.
  10. Henry VIII and the Reformation - Seeds - LivingLutheran.com

    www.livinglutheran.com/.../henry-viii-and-the-reformation.ht...
    In an instant, England became a Protestant country, and with Henry VIII as itsleader, there was no way that the English Reformation could be overturned.

    Dear Friend,

    I am hoping you are able to join two of our Ligonier Teaching Fellows, Drs. Sinclair Ferguson and Steven Lawson, on a trip to England & Scotland to study the British Reformation, from August 25, 2013 through September 2, 2013. 

    We are anticipating a large response to this trip; however we want to keep the size of our group manageable and are limiting it to 130 people.

    We have had a number of requests to do a British Reformation tour and because of space limitations Ligonier Ministries is hosting another trip, preceding this one, that begins August 15, 2013 and ends August 23, 2013, with Ligonier teaching fellow, Dr. Robert Godfrey, and me. Each tour will feature almost all of the same sites but the first tour will use different priced hotels and restaurants to offer another price point.

    Please seriously consider joining Ligonier Ministries for this time of fellowship and teaching. Space is limited and bookings will be taken in the order they are received. Many friendships have been forged on our previous trips. We are looking forward to deepening these relationships and to building new ones. Due the limited size of our group we regret that we cannot accommodate children under the age of sixteen.

    Sovereign will be facilitating our trip. They will handle all reservations and other necessary arrangements. Please contact them at 877-768-2784, ext. 100 to reserve your space.

    In His Service,

    R.C. Sproul

    For more information and to register for the 2013 British Reformation Study Tour, please register online or call Sovereign Cruises and Tours toll-free at 877-768-2784, ext. 100.


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Henry VIII and the Reformation

Painting of Henry VIII by Northern Renaissance painter Hans ll Giovane (German 1497-1543).

The words “Protestant Reformation” usually trigger a vision of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. Most of the theses were biblical and faith-based refutations of the widespread sale of indulgences in European Christendom.

The sale of indulgences (the absolution of sins) worked very much like a modern-day franchise, such as McDonald’s. Instead of a corporate headquarters, the franchisee would pay a fee to the papacy in Rome in return for a document recognizing the indulgence seller as approved by the pope to forgive sin.

Unlike a modern-day franchise, however, the franchisee would sell the forgiveness of sins on a “sliding scale.” In other words, a rich man would pay a great deal more than a poor man to have an adulterous escapade forgiven. The seller would then kick back a portion of his sales to Rome and then pocket the rest.

Unfortunately, there is no support for this practice anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, it is contrary to the oft-repeated tenet of being “saved by grace.” This is what compelled Luther to do what he did, thus provoking an earthshaking split in the Roman church.

The easy part

As it turned out, nailing the documents to a church door was the easy part of starting the Reformation. During the next two centuries bloody strife would claim the lives of over a million people, mostly Protestants.

Although the Reformation was contained geographically in northern Germany and the “low countries”—Holland and Flanders—the drive to exterminate the “heretics” by the Catholics was hampered by a long-standing rift in the Roman ranks between the “guelfi” (supporters of the pope) and the “ghibellini” (supporters of the Roman emperor).

The conflict between Pope Clement VII and Emperor Charles V came to a head in 1527 when Rome was sacked by the imperial army. Clement was imprisoned and was completely under the sway of the emperor.

If things had remained as they were at this point, it is possible that the Reformation could have been crushed out of existence. In those Renaissance days, there were only three large nation states in Western Europe — Spain, France and England — and they were all Catholic.

Spain, with its terrifying Inquisition, never tolerated even the slightest move toward Reformation. France had a substantial number of Protestants, called Huguenots, but all their leaders would be massacred on St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572. England was solidly Catholic. Henry VIII had been dubbed “Defender of the Faith” by the pope for sending an army to help the Spanish wipe out Protestants in Holland and Flanders.

The English Reformation

The possibility of an English Reformation seemed out of the question, but it happened, crucially shaping world history from that point on. The English Reformation occurred not for theological or philosophical reasons, as was the case with Martin Luther, but because of simple human nature, although who’s to say that the hand of God was not instrumental?

King Henry VIII was a vital, energetic man. His amorous exploits were not limited to his Spanish queen, Catherine of Aragon. He was known to have a number of mistresses, the exact number is unknown. He rationalized this behavior by pointing out that Catherine, in many years of marriage, had been unable to bear him a son, and he had a powerful desire for his line to continue.

After carrying on an affair with Mary Boleyn, in 1525, Henry became enamored of her sister, Anne. This vivacious and intelligent woman, however, refused to go to bed with him. She declared that the only way she would ever sleep with the king was if he married her.

This stipulation presented Henry with a vexing problem. There was no divorce allowed, nor would Catherine go away quietly. In 1529 he sent his private secretary to Rome to ask Clement to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine freeing him to marry Anne Boleyn.

Under normal circumstances, Clement would have probably granted a powerful monarch of a Catholic ally anything he wanted. But Henry was in England and Clement was in Rome, under the powerful influence of Charles V, who happened to be the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. The annulment was not granted.

Henry, by this time was absolutely obsessed with having sex with Anne. So in 1532 he married her, was duly excommunicated by Rome, and in 1534 he established the Church of England with himself as its head. In an instant, England became a Protestant country, and with Henry VIII as its leader, there was no way that the English Reformation could be overturned.

Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn, she did not bear Henry a male heir and he now trained the royal eye on another young girl, Jane Seymour, so charges of adultery and incest were trumped up against the queen and on May 19, 1536, her head was cut off. She had failed to produce a son, but she did have one daughter, Elizabeth, who would be a great queen of England and would put the idea of ending the Reformation started by Martin Luther to rest forever.

You might also want to read: The Reformation lives | Living in the midst of reformation | A toast to the Reformation | 

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