List of Plates

Tomás de Torquemada, the first inquisitor-general of Spain, who presided over the expansion of the Spanish Inquisition and developed rules stigmatizing the descendants of heretics.

The Castle of Triana, headquarters of the Inquisition in Seville. When the first autos-da-fé of the Spanish Inquisition began here in 1481, there were so many prisoners that they would not all fit into the castle.

A Spanish auto-da-fé of the sixteenth century. The prisoners are led out of the city gates into the meadows beyond, where they are transferred to the secular authorities to be burnt (above right).

As one of the first inquisitors of Cartagena (Colombia), and later of Lima and Mexico, Juan de Mañozca presided over some of the most violent autos-da-fé in the history of the Inquisition in the Americas.

Interrogating a suspect. The Inquisition was an intensely hierarchical institution: note how the chairs of the inquisitors are higher than that of the subject.

The Court of the Inquisition by Francisco Goya. Painted following his career as a court artist, Goya’s dark portraits of the Inquisition are among the most famous visual representations.

Torture by the Inquisition. In contrast to this engraving, torturers were usually masked. Often water was poured down the throat of a victim strapped to a hard table or potro.

This engraving dates from the early nineteenth century when torture by the Inquisition was a thing of the past. However, such was the success of the propagandists against the Inquisition, and of the Inquisition itself in sewing the idea of its power, that the popular perception was that torture continued.

Victims were hoisted into the air using pulleys and let drop a little way during interrogation.

Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros. As inquisitor-general of Spain in the early sixteenth century, Cisneros safeguarded the institution after its brutal excesses in Cordoba, under Inquisitor Lucero, had threatened its very survival.

A penitent wearing the fuego revolto. These were given to those who had been condemned for execution, but had confessed and accepted Christian communion. They were then garrotted rather than burnt.

Lisbon, c.1553. The Inquisition had been granted full powers in Portugal following papal bulls of 1536 and 1547. At autos-da-fé, stakes were erected along the waterfront (foreground, centre).

Scene of an auto-da-fé on the waterfront in Lisbon, with the royal palace in the background.

The Inquisition in New Spain (Mexico). The first trials led under inquisitorial authority outside Europe occurred in Mexico City in 1528, before spreading throughout Latin America, to Goa and to some Portuguese settlements in Africa, such as Cape Verde, Luanda (Angola) and São Tomé.

Standard of the Spanish Inquisition

Standard of the Inquisition of Goa

Portrait of Sir John Hawkins. Survivors from Hawkins’ stricken ship, the Jesus of Lubeck, were later convicted as Lutheran heretics, becoming the first victims of the court of the Inquisition in Mexico.

A sixteenth-century map of Goa. This colony became the bloodiest of all the Portuguese tribunals, concentrating most on crypto-Hindus’ - secret Hindus who pretended to be Catholics.


Isabel de Carvajal being tortured prior to her death at the 1596 auto-da-fé in Mexico City.

Mariana de Carvajal was burnt at the stake during the same auto-da-fé in which her sister Isabel and brother Luis perished. They were the nieces and nephew of the Governor of Nuevo León, Luis de Carvajal y la Cueva.

Depiction of the Grand Auto-da-Fé in Madrid 1680, one of the most ostentatious ever staged in Spain. By the latter seventeenth century, autos-da-fé had become vast elaborate affairs, but the costs involved in staging them meant that they became increasingly infrequent.

An artist’s impression of an exorcism in Spain, a practice that had become commonplace by the seventeenth century.

An auto-da-fé in Lisbon in the eighteenth century. The Inquisition remained very powerful in Portugal in the first half of the century with autos-da-fé continuing to ‘relax’ penitents to death in large numbers, generally for the crime of crypto-Judaism.

The destruction of the Inquisition in Barcelona on 10 March 1820. As the Inquisition had sanctioned violence for so long, the destruction of Inquisition offices and archives quickly became a popular activity.

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