The Spanish Inquisition.

Madrid for kids


The Spanish Inquisition was a religious court created to ensure everyone in Spain was Catholic.   A heretic was a person found guilty of not following the Catholic faith.   The accused was never told of the charges and did not receive legal representation.   Sometimes they were even tortured to obtain confessions so long as the torture methods did not shed blood.

If you were guilty you could look forward to, at best, public shame or imprisonment or at worst, death by garroting strangulation, hanging or being burnt at the stake.

The Spanish inquisition lasted until the 18th century.

The inquisition also happened in other European countries like France and Italy.

The painting to the right by Francisco Rizi, 1683, depicts a tial in Plaza Mayor on 30 June 1680.  

You can see a protestant heretic being brought before the royal family for his last chance to repent.   You can also see a convicted heretic being taken away in the red sanbenito robe to prison.   If you were convicted you were executed before nightfall

Details from paintings by Francisco Goya of penitents [the people wearing tall peaked hats].   In Easter parades even today people walk in penitents hats, barefot and sometimes whipping themselves as they ask for Gods forgiveness.   These paintings are at the Beaux Artes in Sol.

One of the most common forms of medieval inquisition torture was known as strappado.  

Weights could be added to the legs dislocating those joints as well.  Other torture methods could include the rack
(stretching the victims joints to breaking point), the thumbscrew, the boot(crushing the foot and leg) ,water (massive quantities of water forcibly ingested), and the medieval red-hot pincers, although it was technically against church policy to mutilate a persons body.  If stronger methods were needed the person was handed over to the secular authorities who were not bound by any restrictions.  Sadly, torture is still used in some countries despite being a violation of Human Rights.
The hands were bound behind the back with a rope, and the accused was suspended this way, dislocating the joints painfully in both arms.  


1. This person in the penitent hat is awaiting sentencing

In the Middle Ages torture was considered an OK way to obtain confessions from suspects.  

2. a convicted defendent led to prison or death
The torture methods used by inquisitors were milder compared to secular courts, because they were forbidden to use methods that resulted in bloodshed, mutilation or death.  

3. the royal family & a heretic being brought before them

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