Chapter Five


Why does it bother your Excellency whether he is burnt there or here, since in the end he has got to die?

IT WAS IN SPAIN that fear first began to touch all corners of society. To the north of Seville, where the new Inquisition had originated, lay the baking plains of Extremadura. Here stood settlements of clustered stone houses, angry in their clannish isolation. And it was in Extremadura, in the last days of May 1574, that a remarkable thing happened near the town of Zafra.

The event was widely seen as something of a warning. The most terrible and horrifying snake ‘ever seen in Spain’ appeared. About twenty reliable eyewitnesses declared that they had seen this beast roaming the pastures three miles from the town with ‘its head as big as a bullock and its eyes huge and terrifying, its face thick and twisted, the tail as thick and long as a tree-trunk, the chest high and risen above the earth’. The appetite of this monster was such that it devoured two cows daily yet, curiously, when the whole town of Zafra marched out in search of it together with many people from neighbouring villages, it never emerged except in isolation to one person or two. This terrible portent was taken as an omen ‘and a very timely one’. Twenty days later an inquisitor arrived from Llerena to make inquiries in the town. He stayed for four months, providing tenebrous fuel for the townspeople’s imagination. After his arrival, no one ever saw the beast again.1

It does not take the most unreconstructed cynic to suppose that Zafra’s terror at knowledge of the approaching inquisitorial visit had been displaced onto the story of the serpent. Once the inquisitor, Montoya, arrived, fear of the serpent was transferred to its original and truest target, the figure of the officer of the Inquisition. For in Spain, almost a century after the Inquisition’s formation, the officials of this institution were increasingly the subject of such feelings. It was not hard to see why.

Back in Seville in the 1550s the bishop and first inquisitor of Tarragona walked out one day with his retinue to enjoy himself in the gardens on the banks of the Guadalquivir. Here were brilliant flowers, circling swifts in the sky, views of a city in its pomp. Yet power grabbed at the coat-tails of such elegance.

A son of one of the keepers of the garden, a toddler of two or three, happened to be sitting beside the ornamental pond, playing with a reed. One of the inquisitor’s pages snatched the reed out of the child’s hands. Seeing his son burst into tears, the gardener tried to take the page to task. Could he not see that this was the boy’s toy? What right did he have to behave so selfishly? An argument ensued, and the inquisitor, tiring of this intrusion into his peaceful perambulations, arrested the gardener, who was kept imprisoned for nine months with heavy fetters around his ankles.2

Such stories reveal an institution in which abuse of power came all too easily to its functionaries. The fear of the people of Zafra and the casual punishment of the slightest challenge to an inquisitor’s authority were related. Tensions had not disappeared following the targeting of the conversos. As these victims were burnt, or escaped to Portugal, America and the New World, different targets had to be found. Thus it was that in Spain a new hidden enemy was identified, an enemy which meant that fear would penetrate to the heart of Spanish society.

Valencia 1535–1539

VALENCIA IS SITUATED in a beautiful plain irrigated by rivers and springs. In the 16th century it was an important port city and by some accounts the destination of the ship taken by Jonah before his encounter with the whale.*1 Valencia was a delight, its gardens filled with fruit trees and shaded by the leaves of orange trees.3

Here, the Inquisition had not been idle. In the 1480s the Reyes Católicos had replaced the previous papal inquisitors,*2 and when the German traveller Hieronymus Münzer had visited in the mid-1490s he came across the son of a converso in the madhouse, ‘naked, locked in a cage and chained up. Our companions threw him a few coins for him to pray; but he began to do so in Hebrew and to throw down terrible blasphemies on all Christians, as is the custom of the Jews, for he was the son of a very rich converso,who had brought him up secretly to be a Jew; but the father had been given away through the madness of the son, and burnt for it’.4 After a series of autos in the first years of the 16th century which saw the deaths of some of the converso relatives of the great humanist philosopher Joan-Lluis Vives, the Valenciano Inquisition began to move on from the conversos to other heretics.

Thus on 23 September 1535 depositions were collected in the small town of Cinctorres, skulking in the hills north of Valencia. Accusations had been received concerning one Miguel Costa. Costa had been the schoolteacher in Cinctorres for about a year and a half, and before that had lived in Italy. However his activities were seriously disturbing the villagers, some of whom had given evidence to the Inquisition about this stranger in their midst.5

The first witness was the farm labourer Anthony Gueron, who claimed that Costa said that Martin Luther ‘did not say bad things but good ones’. When a monk had spoken of the bulls issued by the pope, Costa had said, ‘Let the monk and the bulls go to the devil! The money should stay here and the bulls can go to the devil!’ Then, when one Pere Valles had come to give alms to the Virgin Mary and light a candle for St Anthony, Costa had exclaimed how St Anthony himself would not care for the offering.

Soon the evidence mounted. Anthony Gueron’s brother Mikel said that Costa did not cross himself when he entered the church and had said that there was no need to confess. The inquisitorial authorities had heard enough. Costa was arrested and charged with these crimes as well as others: he had claimed that there was no need to say the Ave Maria and that when the soul left the body it already belonged to God or the devil, implying that there was no such thing as purgatory. Costa was indignant. He claimed never to have read any works by Luther – he didn’t even know who Luther was! He was the victim of calumnies and lies. In spite of the inquisitorial code of secrecy, he correctly guessed that his two main accusers were the Gueron brothers. These ingrates were, he said, mortal enemies, since one of their sisters had fallen out with him. Languishing in the inquisitorial jail, Costa wrote moving epistles in Latin of his dedication to the Catholic faith.

There is, even more than in most inquisitorial cases, a terrible pathos to the crumbling parchment which contains the details of Costa’s tragedy. The hand of Costa is firm and upright in its explication of his belief in the principles of the true faith. Yet this steadfastness is marred by his terror; as soon as he heard rumours circulating of his ‘heresies’ in the village of Morella, he jumped onto a horse and rode through the rain to Cinctorres, arriving at nine o’clock in the evening to the astonishment of his friend Antonio Valles. Costa had clearly seen the necessity of scotching the gossip. Rightly, he had feared the consequences of failure. Yet the inquisitors continued with their interrogations, seeing his tongue as ‘a sharp knife, exploding with heretical and blasphemous words, and also with insanity’. But they could not get him to confess his sins. He was, as the inquisitorial phrase put it, relaxed to the secular authorities to be burnt in 1539.

Costa’s death was a terrible waste. Born in Cinctorres in around 1502, he had spent the first ten years of his life there before studying in Valencia and then Aragon. He had been talented enough to be selected to accompany Pope Adrian to Rome in 1522. From Rome he had travelled to Lombardy, where he had spent five or six years before being captured by the king of France. After spending three or four years as a prisoner of the French he had gone to Flanders before returning to Spain.

Spanish villages were in general enormously suspicious of outsiders in these years.6 Costa’s main crime appears to have been that, after his foreign experiences, he seemed different. Thus in getting Costa put to death the gossipers of Cinctorres were repeating the attacks previously directed at the conversos. When that ambiguous group had been purged, a new one had been required. ‘Lutherans’ such as Costa were emblematic of the sort of misfit who could easily be turned on, as the realization dawned of how numerous and perilous the enemy within really was.

These fifth columns were extraordinary resourceful. Something of how their wiles and infernal stratagems had embedded them in Spanish society was revealed twenty years later in a letter written by the inquisitor-general of Spain, Fernando de Valdés, on 14 May 1558. This letter can stand as testament to the terrible events soon to unfold. Valdés explained that he had left Valladolid intending to go to Seville, where he was the archbishop, but that no sooner had he reached Salamanca than problems had overtaken him. Large numbers of Lutheran books had been discovered, and he had received a letter on the problems of the moriscos of Granada. Then the moriscos of Aragon and Castile had petitioned him for edicts of grace. And soon things were to get even worse.

‘Together with this, and at the same time, the law of Moses – which had been thought to be extinguished in these kingdoms – began to renew itself in Murcia, where many guilty people were found, some of whom were punished in a public auto.’ And then the machinations of the enemy accelerated, as large conspiracies of Lutherans were discovered among some of the nobility of Seville and Valladolid. The threats were too great, and Valdés was unable to continue with his journey.7 It can be seen that he did not see himself as short of enemies; on the contrary, they were everywhere: moriscos, Judaizers, Protestants . . .

In these years, it was to be ‘Lutherans’ such as Costa who would emerge as most dangerous. What was especially sinister was that these heretics were not ‘foreign’ like the conversos, but people difficult to distinguish from law-abiding Old Christians.8 They were agitators who came from the very heart of Spanish society. Thus it was that nobody could any longer be deemed free of suspicion.

ON 31 OCTOBER 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the castle in Wittenberg and a revolution took hold of Christendom. Luther challenged the authority of the pope and the merits of the monastic life, and maintained that the individual’s connection to God was of more significance than the rituals of the Catholic Church conducted by its priests. When on 10 December 1520 Luther burnt the papal bull Exsurge Domine in Wittenberg, the die was cast for a split in the Church.

In Spain the challenge posted by Luther was particularly serious. While, as we have seen, the aims of the new Inquisition – though couched in religious terms – had had definite political ends, its effect, combined with the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and the Moors of Granada in 1502, had been to turn the Catholic faith into the unifying national force in Spain. This meant that political and religious interests had become one and the same; thus Luther’s threat to the Catholic Church was taken as an implicit threat to the Spanish nation and the monarchy itself.

For the Inquisition, however, Luther was an opportunity for an institution reeling from scandal. The excesses of inquisitor Lucero in Cordoba*3 had contributed to a strong anti-inquisitorial movement.9 The complaints had led to a council being held in Burgos in the summer of 1508 which had decided that the evidence against many of those condemned by Lucero in Cordoba had been insufficient. Lucero had been released in 1511 after three years in prison and barred from any further inquisitorial activity.10

Lucero’s judge was the inquisitor-general of Spain, Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros. Cisneros was a man of extraordinary influence, provincial of the Franciscan order, founder of the university at Alcalá de Henares near Madrid and champion of a movement that propagated the publication of devotional literature in Castilian as well as in Latin.11 His belief in spiritual renewal however was married to rabid extremism. When he arrived in Granada in 1499, seven years after the fall of the Moorish Kingdom, he ordered unconverted Muslims to be thrown into jail where they were treated with such cruelty by one of his chaplains – nicknamed the lion – that they came forward within four or five days to beg for baptism.12 Then Cisneros ordered the imams to bring him their books of Islamic theology, which he proceeded to burn publicly in spite of their extraordinary beauty and lavishness.13 Later, as inquisitor-general, he persuaded the newly installed king of Spain Charles V not to listen to petitions that witnesses’ names be published in inquisitorial trials.14

Cisneros was, then, a good shepherd for the Inquisition. He dampened down the furore over the Lucero affair by ensuring that final judgement was delayed until 1517. Yet all the same the affair had cast a shadow.15 After forty years of persecution theconversoshad been cowed, and many thought that the persecuting institution should go. They needed to be persuaded to think differently, and with curious good fortune Luther began his heretical activities in the same year. Just two years later the first cases of the new threat surfaced in Spain.

The problems began in Guadalajara, to the north-east of Madrid. Here in 1519 information was received by inquisitors about groups of people who had developed a philosophy which was termed alumbrado, or illuminist. The sect was associated with many scandalous doctrines by the Inquisition: members were accused of holding that prayer should be mental (interior) and not verbal (ritual); of saying that hell did not exist; of having contempt for the cult of the saints and for papal bulls; of showing no deference to the sacrament or to images of saints or the Virgin; and of holding that the ceremonies and fasts of the Church were onerous bonds (ataduras).16

One of its leaders was Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz.17 The grandson of a scribe and the son of a bread merchant, Alcaraz was an accountant and owned a vineyard in Guadalajara.18 He travelled widely around Castile on the business of his patrons, and this gave him the opportunity to meet like-minded people in his search for a new spirituality. One of these was Isabel de la Cruz, attached to the Franciscan order as a tertiary but not living in a nunnery; another was María de Cazalla, whose brother Juan was a bishop and chaplain to Cardinal Cisneros.19

As was so often the case, the interest of the Inquisition originated in jealousy. On 13 May 1519 a secular holy woman – called a beata in Spain*4 – by the name of Mari Núñez, together with her maid and the priest Hernando Díaz, came forward to denounce Alcaraz, Cazalla and Cruz. Mari Núñez was afraid. While she was a holy beata, she was not wholly discreet. Her nickname for Hernando Día z was ‘the ladies’ priest’. She had also been the mistress of a powerful noble, Bernardo Suárez de Figueroa, but desire had trumped tact and intelligence, and she had taunted him with impotence. Alcaraz frowned on this sort of behaviour and he had threatened to destroy Núñez’s reputation for holiness. He and his friends began to gather information against her which they planned to give to the religious authorities. Thus it was that Núñez decided to get her accusation in first.20

At first the Inquisition paid little attention. Alcaraz continued to travel and preach widely, while Isabel de la Cruz gained new followers. It was only after news of the Lutheran rebellion became more alarming that officials re-examined the evidence and decided that the alumbrado sect could prove dangerous. While there was no question of the alumbrados being influenced by Luther – the sect appears to have originated around 1512 – they shared many ideas in common, in particular the notion of the importance of mental prayer, and their mockery of religious institutions. In the spring of 1524 Alcaraz was arrested. During his long trial he was tortured and eventually sentenced in 1529. He and Isabel de la Cruz were flogged and paraded through the streets of the towns where they had preached; Alcaraz remained in prison until 1537, de la Cruz until 1538.21

Stepping back from the case and thinking about the world which it reveals, one touches a reality that is both familiar and strange. Here on the baking plains of the Castilian plateau, people were earnestly visiting one another’s homes, discussing theology and thinking fervidly about the mysteries of prayer and devotion. All this can seem remote and yet violent disagreements about religion and the customs of daily life are not without a certain resonance.

One of the problems for the Inquisition in dealing with the alumbrado group was that it was not exactly sure what sort of heresy this was. But this did not have to be too much of a problem as prurience and sexual frisson could fan the desire to censure. When María de Cazalla was arrested in 1532 she was accused of saying that ‘she was closer to God having sex with her husband than if she had been performing the most high-minded prayer in the world’,22 while a beata and alumbrada of Salamanca, Francisca Hernández, engaged in an unusual type of religious experience with the priest Antonio Medrano, where it was held that ‘male and female devotees could embrace one another naked as well as clothed’.23

The reality was that confusion over the new heresy developed because there was no overarching heretical movement of alumbrados. Alumbrados themselves could be divided into two groups, recogidos, who sought to find peace and union with God through contemplation, and dejados like Francisca Hernández, who held that no thoughts should be refused as giving oneself to God was enough for mystical union.24 The philosophy of alumbramiento in fact was first fully articulated by the Inquisition itself, in its edict of faith of 23 September 1525, and was never discussed in these terms by any of its supposed adepts.25 As such, this was a philosophical schema which, like the ‘Judaizing’ of the conversos, had substantially been invented by the Inquisition. Similarly, there had been no network of alumbrado fifth columnists until the Inquisition had identified it. Though ideas had been circulating which were not orthodox, these had not taken on the characteristics of a movement until the Inquisition had labelled it and started to prosecute it.

Indeed in many ways the perception of heresy in the alumbrados owed much to the perception of the conversos. Alcaraz, Cazalla and Cruz all came from converso families, and some of their relatives had been punished by the Inquisition.26 At first Alcaraz was himself portrayed as a Judaizing converso, being accused of supporting dejamiento as a way of bringing Castile to the Mosaic law.27 When Alcaraz showed himself utterly ignorant of Judaism, the inquisitors decided that this new movement had more in common with Lutheranism. But even though the shape of the accusations changed, some inquisitors stated that the danger was exacerbated because alumbrados were all conversos.28

Thus the old way of conceptualizing heresy became a bridge to the new. When many conversos at the court of Charles V turned to the reformist ideas of Erasmus of Rotterdam, they were labelled by their enemies alumbrados.29 Here was another convenient catch-all phrase, a name which would stick. Such labelling, it turned out, was a prelude to destroying the followers of these new ideas.

FROM HIS BASE in the Low Countries, with its huge skies and burgeoning wool industry, Desiderius Erasmus had produced a string of works which urged the recasting of Christian faith in Europe. Erasmus’s influence had spread rapidly. During the 1520s a veritable fever struck the nobility in Spain as everyone sought to become acquainted with his works. One of his Spanish admirers wrote on 1 September 1526 that the inquisitors had ordered that no one should write against him, and that:

Your enemies went to the houses of the noble ladies, and to those of their daughters of confession, and to the nunneries, persuading them that they should not listen to anyone who has read Erasmus, or even picked up any of his works . . . but as forbidden fruit is a great stimulus to appetite, they managed to use every trick they could to understand Erasmus, looking for people to interpret him, which meant that his works soon became very well known in noble houses and in the nunneries.30

In 1525 Erasmus’s principal works in Latin were published at the University of Alcalá, and in 1527 a conference organized by Inquisitor-General Alonso de Manrique at Valladolid discussed his ideas. The following years saw the publication of numerous translations of his works.31 This early admiration owed much to Flemish influence in the court of Spain’s Habsburg King Charles V, many of whose retinue were personal friends of Erasmus. But there was too a resonance in Erasmus’s emphasis on spiritual renewal and intimacy with God for a nation which, with the defeat of the Moors and the discovery of America, saw itself as burdened with a historic purpose.32 The universalist tendencies of Erasmian thought perfectly suited the universalist ambitions of Spanish rule and its sense of imperial destiny.33

Here one should feel some sympathy for Spain. In the space of fifty years it had moved from a state of permanent civil war to leading the fightback against the Muslims following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and discovering and beginning to settle an entirely new continent. According to the ideas of the time, some sense of religious destiny was inevitable.

In these circumstances, there was ideological ferment. The friars in particular loathed Erasmus and his challenges to monasticism. When Inquisitor-General Manrique confronted the friars in 1527 and ordered them to obey his commands and to stop burning Erasmus’s books, they replied that the wickedness was such that divine authority superseded that of human beings.34 This was a sign of things to come; when Charles V’s court eventually departed Spain for Bologna, where Charles received the imperial crown from Pope Clement VII on 24 February 1530, the anti-Erasmus faction set to work.35

First of all, in 1529 Inquisitor-General Alonso de Manrique was himself sidelined to Seville, where he spent most of the rest of his life in his archbishopric until he died alone and ignored in 1538.36 Then accusations were levelled at some of the Erasmian figureheads in court circles. In 1530 Juan de Vergara, the secretary of Alonso de Fonseca, archbishop of Toledo, was accused of Lutheranism, and an inquisitorial case against him began in July 1533. The Erasmian Mateo Pascual was arrested by the Inquisition in June 1533, and Alonso de Virúes, who had spoken in favour of Erasmus at the 1527 conference at Valladolid, was arrested in 1535. One of Inquisitor-General Manrique’s friends, Juan del Castillo, was burnt to death, and four other friars followed.37 Other cases were pursued; in 1536 Miguel Mezquita, who, like Miguel Costa of Cinctorres, had travelled in Italy, was burnt in Valencia for holding Lutheran opinions which merely derived from the study of Erasmus.38

This was a veritable witch-hunt. Most of these people survived the inquisitorial trials, but their careers were ruined; those who could escape, did so.39 Whether they were genuine Protestants or merely Catholics attracted to the ideas of Erasmus became an increasingly moot point, because both groups were targeted. The Inquisition, having begun its work on converso alumbrados, was now shifting its attention.

Yet the old categories of prejudice persisted. As the 16th century progressed mystical writers increasingly became targets of the inquisitorial authorities. With its mania for bureaucratic legalese, the Inquisition was bound to be hostile to any sense of internal spiritual enlightenment such as was promised by some of the great Spanish mystics of the age.40 Moreover, just as with the alumbrados, many of these writers were themselves of converso lineage. As the Inquisition toyed with investigating Juan de Ávila and Teresa de Ávila – later beatified – and cast Luis de León into its cells for five years in the 1570s, it was taking issue with the ideas of a whole range of converso descendants.41

This was not because conversos were innately heretical. The fact that so many of them developed complex Christian theological ideas shows that for many their original conversion had been voluntary. The predominance of conversos among alumbrados and the controversial theologians of the time was, rather, because the dramatic nature of their turn to Christianity pushed many conversos towards both a more intense and a more personalized sense of Christianity.42 This led to a profound search for meaning, and all too often towards doctrines which were out of step with the orthodoxy. Thus in trying to clamp down on one ideology perceived as dangerous, the Inquisition had created and codified another which it would come to see in the same way.

Murcia 1552–62

THE NUMBER OF ERASMIAN alumbrados and Lutherans tried in the mid-16th century was small. Their significance for the Inquisition lay in the fact that their prosecution opened the way towards an ideology in which repression could move beyond the conversosand become universalized. Yet in order to persuade the population that the enemy could be everywhere and anywhere, it was also sometimes necessary to remind them of the continuing danger of the old enemy. Thus while the notion of the expanding Protestant threat was feeding into Spanish society a terrible crypto-Jewish conspiracy was – as Inquisitor-General Valdés noted in his abovementioned letter of 1558*5 – uncovered in the region of Murcia.

The problems began in 1552 with Inquisitor Sánchez. This individual may have been in Murcia to enforce conformity on the faithful, but there was little that was faithful about him. Sánchez had propositioned a married woman who had gone to him for advice about a civil court case, saying that if she would submit to his desire he would get the case dropped.43 Indeed, Inquisitor Sánchez seemed particularly attracted to married women. He had developed a ‘close friendship’ with the wife of one of his inquisitorial prisoners, ‘closing himself in with her day and night’. When a married woman whose husband was away went to see him regarding an inquisitorial matter, he propositioned her and ordered her to come back to his apartments later on. He had also slept with a marriedconverso woman and had got a young girl pregnant when she had come to ask him for advice. While secrecy was the cornerstone of inquisitorial procedure, Sánchez was so lacking in this faculty that he left the doors of his house open all night for prostitutes to come in and out at their leisure; there they lowered inquisitorial apparel without lowering inquisitorial zeal.

Sánchez’s demands were mirrored by those of his staff. One official, Diego de Valdés, a relative of Inquisitor-General Fernando de Valdés, was accused in 1551 of seeing through his posting in Murcia with his mistress, with whom he had several children.44Meanwhile, one of Sánchez’s messengers, Blas de Vega, was a drunkard who spent his time in brothels and bars and could not read or write. On one of his inquisitorial errands he took a girlfriend with him, who he slept with publicly. All this was the cause of great scandal and not inconsiderable irony, since one of the blasphemies which the Inquisition began to prosecute at the time was the statement, ‘Simple [unmarried] fornication is not a sin’.45

Believing that discretion was the better part of amour, the Suprema replaced Sánchez with a new inquisitor, Dr Cristóbal de Salazar, who had previously been the inquisitor of Granada. But Salazar was not the sort of person who would necessarily make things better. The notary of the Inquisition, Diego de Herrera, wrote a letter on 6 October 1553, noting that in Granada Salazar had a reputation as ‘a man who was a great fan of women’; already in Murcia, he had begun a relationship with Catalina Lopez, the daughter of a widow who lived opposite his apartments.46 Unlike his predecessor, however, Salazar was a determined inquisitor as well as a determined libertine, and he quickly began to interrogate the moriscos of Murcia in such a terrifying manner that they rapidly agreed to all of his insinuations. When some of the notaries protested that charges had been invented, Salazar threatened to throw his colleagues into a cell and clap fetters on them, and they all backed off.

Soon after Salazar’s arrival in Murcia, the morisco Juan de Spuche was arrested for continuing to perform Islamic rites. This was based on the fact that he had been seen washing his face and hands in a fountain.*6 Spuche confessed that he had committed this dastardly act after coming back from chopping wood in the fields. Such a clear sign of heresy required interrogation. Spuche was tortured. He denounced many people but revoked his confession as soon as he was out of the torture chamber. This merely intensified his suspiciousness in Salazar’s eyes, and Spuche was tortured again. This time his hands were damaged so badly that he was unable to dress himself. He died soon afterwards, and his corpse was burnt in statute in an auto.

Thus it was not for nothing that Salazar was described by Herrera as ‘terrible in appearance and . . . excessively rigorous in his procedure and his judgments’. Salazar’s general modus operandi is summed up by the case of a fisherman who did not give as much of his catch to the inquisitor’s page as Salazar had wanted, since the catch that day had been a poor one and there would not otherwise have been enough to satisfy everyone; the fisherman was hauled before Salazar and spent the whole day being interrogated.

Herrera’s accounts of Salazar’s methods came too late to the Suprema. Two months before, Salazar himself had protested about Herrera, who had been stripped of office on 14 August 1553.47 But the accuracy of Herrera’s reports was soon to be amply demonstrated. By 1558 Salazar had become involved in a series of running disputes with the civil authorities of Murcia.48 These people, Salazar complained in a letter of 14 June 1558 to the Suprema, were inspired by those ‘who bear ill will to this Holy Office’ and were his enemies. In a revealing phrase which the ‘crypto-Jews’ of Murcia would soon come to understand all too clearly, Salazar declared that he esteemed his honour ‘more highly than a thousand lives’.

That same summer the plague descended on Murcia. The devotion of the inquisitorial team did not extend as far as putting their own lives at risk for the sake of the truth; they fled the city and descended on the small town of Hellín. Salazar lodged with one Miguel Mateo, who lived with his thirty-year-old widowed daughter Catalina. Salazar quickly insinuated himself into their company, and ensured that he did not have to go hungry; a typical lunch consisted of a leg of bacon, six seasoned chickens followed by twelve roast chickens garnished with bacon, a roast goat, two medium-sized dishes of blancmange, cherries, apricots, all washed down with both white and red wine.49

Such repasts were hardly designed to cool passions, and Salazar rapidly struck up an intimate relationship with the widow Catalina.50 Tongues began to wag, and one resident, Lope Chinchilla, became particularly suspicious of the relationship. Catalina had been seen publicly with Salazar at the window of the building where the inquisitorial court was held, watching bullfights, and Chinchilla let slip his thoughts one evening as Salazar was devoutly playing a game of cards.

On 16 January 1559 Lope de Chinchilla was arrested by the Inquisition on a charge of crypto-Judaism. He had been ‘accused’ by a ‘Jewish friend’ of Juan de Valibrera, and by Juan de Ávila and his wife, who had all been arrested on charges of crypto-Judaism by Salazar. The accuracy of this testimony can be judged by the fact that Salazar went ‘alone on feast days and by night to the jails and persuaded people to testify against others, and got third parties to do the same and even went alone without any companion or pretence of a legal hearing to torture them’. Yet in spite of all this evidence and Salazar’s history, Lope de Chinchilla was burnt on 8 September 1560, largely because he had spoken out about an appalling abuse of power.

The next few years saw a conflagration in Murcia. Numbers are not known in full because of the loss of records but in 1562 nineteen Judaizers and two moriscos were burnt,51 and the following year four more Judaizers.52 In 1569 the people of Murcia complained to Rome that more than 500 people had been burnt, screaming their Catholic faith to the end; when envoys protested to the Suprema at the beginning of the clampdown, they were arrested on their return to Murcia and thrown into the inquisitorial jail, and when a visitor from the Suprema attempted to free some prisoners he was censured by Inquisitor-General Valdés and told never to do this sort of thing again.53

In this ghastly tale of venality and paranoia there is of course more than an echo of the doings of Lucero in Cordoba fifty years before. Yet it is a mark of the changing times that, whereas in Cordoba the city’s protests led to the council at Burgos*7 and a decline in the prestige of the Inquisition, the complaints from Murcia passed more or less unnoticed. Questioning the integrity of the Inquisition was now just not done, and whereas Lucero’s paranoia had been challenged, Salazar’s was in vogue.

WE SHOULD NOW RETURN to this letter of Inquisitor-General Valdés from 1558, and the numerous threats to the faith which he mentioned in it. Among those had been that posed by the converted Muslims, the moriscos,*8 who as we have just seen had been particular targets of Inquisitor Salazar during his early years in Murcia. The morisco problem was one which by the end of the 16th century would be centre stage in Spain.

These moriscos were the descendants of the Moors who had been forced to convert to Christianity in Granada in 1502, and in Aragon and Valencia in the 1520s. The problems posed by the two groups were distinct: in Granada, the moriscos were descended from the population of the last Moorish kingdom of Spain, but in Aragon and Valencia they had been living under Christian rule for centuries, which meant that they ought to have been much easier to assimilate.

However, the way in which the Aragonese and Valenciano moriscos had been converted had got things off to a bad start. Between 1520 and 1522 a civil war had raged across the region. This took the form of a popular rising against the nobility and was led by brotherhoods known as germanías. Since the Muslims of Aragon were overwhelmingly agricultural labourers who worked for the great lords, they were an easy target for the rebels. The Moors constituted a large part of the army of the duke of Segorbe at the battles against the germanías at Oropesa and Almenara in July 1521, and a third of the infantry of Viceroy Mendoza at Gandía on 25 July; in targeting them, the germanías could both defeat their enemies and salve their consciences by claiming a pseudo-religious motivation.54

Thus as the revolt swept eastern Spain in 1521, the Muslims were driven to the fonts and murdered. Some 40,000 people died in the battles, not to mention many others through hunger and epidemics.55 The germanía fighters looked for Muslims wherever they could find them, killing all those who refused to be baptized.56 Mosques were consecrated as churches and mass was said in them.57 In Gandía baptisms were performed by using wet brooms and branches which had been dipped in a spring. In Polop the Moors took refuge in the castle for several days and only emerged when the germanía forces promised to spare them if they would be baptized – ‘and as soon as the baptisms were over they slit the throats of 600 of them, ignoring their promise and saying that this was a way of sending souls into heaven and coins into their pockets’.58

The revolt was finally crushed by the end of 1522. At once Inquisitor Churruca of Valencia demanded powers over the former Muslims, seeking lists of those who had been converted. The problem was that the forced conversions had been so random and disordered that no one knew who had been baptized and who had not. The only solution was seen to be to complete the job in hand, and in February 1524 Churruca was given powers by the Suprema to investigate apostate moriscos. An extraordinary meeting of theSuprema was convoked in Madrid the following spring, and on 11 April Inquisitor-General Manrique ruled that all Muslims were thereafter to be deemed Christians.59 As the congregation put it, ‘since in the conversion and baptism there was not any absolute violence or force, those that were baptized must be compelled to keep the [Catholic] faith’;60 clearly they had decided that, if the conversion had not been forced under the germanías, they needed to ensure that it was so now.

The order for the moriscos to convert or leave was accompanied by a set of provisions which actually made it impossible for them to do anything but remain in the country as ‘Christians’. A series of letters from Aragon made it clear that they were essential to the prosperity of the kingdom, and on 22 December 1525 Charles V issued a decree simply banning them from leaving Aragon. Thus, as the king himself had written to the pope on 14 December 1525, ‘the conversion which was made was not at all voluntary for many of them, and since then they have not been instructed and taught about our Catholic faith’.61

The result of all this was of course that the moriscos had little love for their new ‘faith’. As the Venetian ambassador Andrea Navajero put it in the same year, ‘the moriscos speak their own language and very few of them want to learn Spanish; they are Christians by force and very poorly instructed in our faith, since no effort is made in this direction’;62 they kept their old style of dress and dyed their hair black, and were either secret Muslims or atheists, according to Navajero.63

The complete absence of Christian instruction did not prevent the Inquisition from setting to work examining the orthodoxy of the new converts, however. Though on 6 January 1526 an edict was issued stating that the moriscos should have forty years free of inquisitorial investigation, this was modified a few months later. In Valencia a series of autos between 1533 and 1540 saw fifty people burn at the stake.64 Only in 1542 did Charles V finally order a sixteen-year moratorium on the investigation of moriscos by the Inquisition. This was on the petition of Friar Antonio Ramírez de Haro, who was given the task of instructing the moriscos. Something of the situation at the time was revealed in his first set of ordinances, in which he commanded that moriscos had to inform their priests on giving birth so that the child could be baptized. Clearly, this was not common, and even at this late stage there were moriscos who were never baptized and could not properly be called Christians.65

Such, then, was the sorry condition of the moriscos in much of Spain by the 1550s. After the violence of their first conversion, they had been subjected to a series of bloody autos before belatedly evangelization began. Yet they still retained their customs and wereclearly a community apart. As the conversos had found in the 15th century, this was a dangerous situation in Iberia, and by 1558, as Inquisitor-General Valdés considered their petition for a pardon in Salamanca and recounted his dilemmas in his letter, danger loomed again for the moriscos.

This had been evident for a few years. When the Count of Tendilla tried in 1555 to secure a brief from the papacy absolving and returning any confiscated property to all moriscos who confessed their crimes, he was blocked by Valdés, who suggested that Tendilla himself should be arrested for daring to come up with such a plan.66 Throughout the 1550s the Turks had been making conquests at the expense of the Spaniards in North Africa, and the moriscos were increasingly seen as an Islamic fifth column.67 The scene was set for their persecution as the second half of the 16th century unwound; but before this could begin, Inquisitor-General Valdés would have to deal with the most dangerous enemy of all, one mentioned in his letter, which had struck right at the heart of the Spanish court, at Valladolid.

Valladolid 1558–9

ON 6 JUNE 1554 Charles V drew up his will in Brussels. His reign over the Holy Roman Empire had become bogged down in wars in Germany and the Low Countries with Protestant rebels, and he sensed that he would not be able to maintain his grip on his vast dominions for much longer. His son Philip was already ruling Spain, and was soon to become Philip II. Many issues preoccupied Charles in these his last years, but foremost among them was the imperative to see off the Protestant threat. Thus, as he put it in his will:

Because of the great paternal love that I have for my dearest and beloved son, the serene Prince Philip, and because I desire an even greater increase in his virtues and the saving of his soul . . . I order and request him affectionately that, as a very Catholic prince fearful of God’s commandments, he should be always mindful of matters pertaining to his honour and service, and obey the commandments of the Holy Mother Church. In particular I request that he favours and makes others favour the Holy Office of the Inquisition.68

Philip had been born in May 1527. He had large blue eyes with thick eyebrows, a prominent lower lip, and was held to resemble his father Charles, in particular at the point of his chin. Philip followed a carnivorous diet, refusing to eat fish ‘or any other thing that was not nutritious’, liked to dress elegantly, usually wearing feathers in his cap, and had a very sweet tooth. In spite of the sobriety which he would attempt to impose on Spanish society, as a young man he was attracted to women and liked to wander about disguised by night even in the midst of the most serious affairs of state.69 When his father Charles retired to a monastery at Yuste in Extremadura, early in 1557, Philip II was ready to take on the mantle of defender of the faith; in the two years that followed, opportunities rapidly came his way to win his spurs as a champion of the Inquisition against the Protestant threat.

On 31 May of that year Cardinal Silíceo, archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, died and the most important see in Spain became vacant. Philip II, then in Flanders, decided to nominate the Dominican monk, preacher and theologian Bartolomé de Carranza for the post. This was one of the most significant acts he had made since the retirement of his father. Philip had got to know Carranza well in England as the husband of Mary Tudor; Carranza had been one of his main Spanish allies among the Protestant English.70

Carranza had been chosen for the mission in England in part because of his long inquisitorial experience. For thirty years he had undertaken numerous inquisitorial commissions and, in his own words, had ‘constantly persecuted heretics’.71 In England Carranza insisted on the burning of the Protestant Archbishop Cranmer of Canterbury in 1556; over 30,000 people fled the country in fear.72 Carranza visited Oxford in 1556 and Cambridge in 1557, and in Cambridge ordered the public burning of heretical books and Bibles in English.73 Such was Carranza’s zeal that the English soon came to know him as the ‘black monk’,74 and there were many assassination attempts.75

This pious Dominican, who preferred to believe everything he was told rather than doubt people, who was a byword for modesty, with his large bald head, his eyebrows set close together like Philip II and his hirsute face, was surely one of the least likely targets imaginable for the Inquisition.76 But such was the obsession with hidden enemies, and such the fears coming to convulse Spanish society, that none of his zealous activity against Protestants would be sufficient to protect him.

Carranza’s problems were to begin because of the rivalry which existed between him and Inquisitor-General Fernando Valdés. Valdés was something of a talisman for the Inquisition, without question the most important inquisitor-general in the history of the institution after Torquemada. His was not a will that was easily checked, and the election of his rival Carranza to the see of Toledo was not something he was prepared to observe with equanimity from his inquisitorial eyrie.

Valdés was not without skeletons in his closet, having fathered an illegitimate child as a young man.77 This had not prevented him joining the court of Cisneros in 1516, aged 33. From here his rise had been smooth, appointed to the Suprema by Inquisitor-General Manrique in 1524, before being made president of the chancellery of Valladolid in 1535, archbishop of Seville in 1546 and inquisitor-general in 1547.78 Yet such consummate political and networking skills did not accompany softness and piety of temperament. Valdés was impressively ahead of his time in dismissing stories of witchcraft as fantasies,79 but this in itself may well have been because he had no need of imaginary demons, being quite capable of inventing them among his own adversaries.

As soon as Valdés became inquisitor-general, he made a series of appointments. His nephew Menendo was made inquisitor of Valladolid; other relatives, Diego de Valdés and Diego Meléndez, were appointed to posts in the Inquisitions of Murcia and Granada. One of his closest confidants, Hartuno de Ibargüen, was made secretary of the Suprema, and Ibargüen’s brother Juan appointed receiver of confiscated goods for Asturias, Castile and Galicia. He also promoted his nephew Juan, who by the time of Valdés’s death in 1566 was inquisitor of Zaragoza.80 This manipulation of the inquisitorial bureaucracy was to occupy so much of Valdés’s time that he only spent fourteen months in his see of Seville during the twenty years during which he was its archbishop;81 something which was to be one of the principal sources of his hatred for Carranza.

Prior to being made archbishop of Toledo Carranza had declared that it was the duty of bishops to reside in their dioceses, and that they should not be made presidents of royal courts (audiencias). Valdés was never in Seville and was the president of severalaudiencias so was unlikely to be pleased by such opinions.82 Valdés saw little difference between the private and the public, as his nepotism after his appointment revealed, and was widely regarded as a person of passions and hatreds.83 Well able to make use of the enormous power that he wielded, Valdés determined to bring down the primate of Spain through the Inquisition.

WHAT OF THE MOOD in central Spain at this crucial moment? In Valladolid, home of the Spanish court, the Suprema sat in its palace, increasingly isolated by its embattled mentality from the orchards and plains beyond the city walls. From Valladolid the plateau swept south and then crested the forested slopes of the Gredos mountains. Beyond the hills lay more of the plateau, stretching its aridity out towards the province of the new archbishop, Carranza. The very proximity of the territories of the two adversaries added drama to their conflict.

On accepting his appointment to the see of Toledo, Carranza at once made for Spain. At the same time, however, he published in Antwerp in 1558 his Commentaries on the Christian Catechism,*9 a book designed to remedy the ignorance of the clergy in the Netherlands and to put a halt to the spread of Protestant teachings in England.84 In spite of these noble Catholic aims, however, it was this very same book which was to prove his undoing.

Hearing of the book, Valdés wondered if it was not his chance to ruin the new archbishop, who had not yet even arrived in the country. Although copies were rare in Spain, he obtained one and began to consult it in his apartments. One day the Dominican theologian Melchor Cano entered Valdés’s lodgings and saw Carranza’s Catechism on the table.85 Cano was a longstanding enemy of Carranza, as numerous witnesses were to attest in subsequent proceedings;86 Carranza was the elder, the humbler and indisputably the more successful. Cano, aware that the inquisitor-general had no love for the new archbishop either, sensed his chance. Seeing the book lying there, Cano said to Valdés, ‘In that book there are lots of things which people should not be allowed to read’. Valdés was delighted, asked Cano to show him which things these were and decided there and then to give the book to Cano for a definitive view as to its orthodoxy.87

Prior to coming across the work in Valdés’s apartments, Cano had searched high and low for a copy. So desperate was he to sniff out its heresy and feel righteously appalled by it that he had even broken into the cell of a friar in the monastery of St Paul one night and confiscated a chest containing a copy of the book.88 This desperation was married to his preconceived certainty that the book was heretical. Indeed, as he had told one of Carranza’s friends, Antonio de Salazar, ‘since [Carranza] had not wanted to write in his [Cano’s] favour to the general of the order and the pope, he had read his [Catechism] with a great deal of curiosity and attention’.89

One could not expect such a person to provide an objective opinion. But this did not trouble Valdés, who quickly numbered Cano among his confidants. Cano soon took a trip to the town of Laguna on one of Valdés’s mules, with one of his servants and with his expenses covered by the Suprema.90

By the time Carranza arrived in Valladolid from the Low Countries in August 1558, he knew a storm was brewing. Twice he wrote to Valdés offering to follow the inquisitor-general’s advice in making any corrections that were perceived necessary to hisCatechism. Twice, he was ignored. Carranza then continued his journey south through the northern hills of Extremadura, towards Yuste, where Charles V was entering the last days of his life. On 13 September he met Melchor Cano in the town of San Leonardo de Alba; Cano was en route to Valladolid to begin his censorship of the Catechism. When Carranza asked Cano about the interest which the Inquisition had taken in him, Cano piously replied that he could tell him nothing owing to the secrecy of the Holy Office.91

Eight days later, on 21 September 1558, Charles V died at Yuste. Carranza was present and was said by his companion the friar Diego de Ximenes to have had a perfect comportment.92 However during his presence at Yuste he had given Charles’s confessor Juan de Regla short shrift, and thus in December Regla travelled to Valladolid and declared that Carranza had uttered ‘Lutheran-sounding’ phrases at the emperor’s deathbed.93 The reality was that in the state to which Spain had descended, any phrase was capable of sounding Lutheran if sufficiently twisted.

Personal enmity and paranoia were thus the twin vectors of Carranza’s fall from grace and eventual destruction. While the Inquisition in Valladolid was patiently gathering the evidence, Melchor Cano was hard at work censoring Carranza’s Catechism. His conclusion was that ‘many expressions [in the book] are Lutheran, even though this is not the author’s intention’.94 He cited 141 propositions within the book deserving of censure.95 Carranza’s view that ‘faith and knowledge of Christ the redeemer are the key to the Christian edifice’ had a ‘Lutheran flavour if not Lutheran meaning’, and Cano proceeded to interpret the Catechism in such a tendentious manner that he qualified some of Carranza’s views as Lutheran even though they came verbatim from the Gospels.96Every phrase, and every person, could be open to manipulation.

Cano’s judgement was music to Valdés’s ears; he had told him what he wanted to hear. When other theologians issued opinions saying that there was nothing wrong with the Catechism, he ignored them.97 When one, Juan de la Peña, pointed out that St Augustine himself had said that faith alone could save mankind, and that on this ground alone one could not convict Carranza of heresy, he himself became an object of suspicion, so that his cell was broken into and his papers seized.98 And when in May 1559 Valdés heard that the theologians of the University of Alcalá were planning unanimously to approve the Catechism, he ordered the commissary (local representative) of the Inquisition in Alcalá to decree that no member of the university could publish a theological opinion on any book whatsoever.99

Valdés’s quarry was not going to escape his clutches. While Cano was protesting to Carranza that he could tell him nothing because of the secrecy of the Inquisition, Valdés was happily breaking the very same code of secrecy, preparing the public atmosphere for this most sensational arrest.100 One could accuse others of hypocrisy, but this did not mean that one had to forego hypocrisy entirely, particularly if it could aid the inquisitorial process.

In the midst of this double-dealing, Valdés’s agents were lobbying hard in Rome for a papal brief which would permit the Inquisition to proceed against bishops. The fact that suspicion was now enough to demonstrate guilt was revealed when one of them said in the curia, ‘Why does it bother your Excellency whether he is burnt there or here, since in the end he has got to die?’101 On 9 January 1559 the pope gave the desired brief, and, as one of Valdés’s servants put it, ‘the whole house celebrated as if [Valdés] had been made a cardinal’.102

Carranza did his best to continue work. Ignoring the rumours, he reached his see and began his duties as archbishop. According to his biographer, during the ten months and nine days which he spent there he disbursed over 80,000 ducats on dowries for orphans, sustaining widows, pensions for poor students and alleviating conditions in hospitals and prisons.103 The implacable zeal which he devoted to his activities was testament to a man whose condition meant that he had plenty of spare energy. Yet in spite of the transparency of his good works, on 6 May 1559 the prosecutor of the Inquisition in Valladolid issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of propagating Lutheran errors;104 on 26 June this was confirmed by Philip II.105

Discussions began as to how to bring Carranza to Valladolid. Early in August the archbishop, who was in the university town of Alcalá, received a letter from the regent Doña Juana, requesting his presence in Valladolid for the arrival of Philip II from Flanders.106Meanwhile, the Inquisition sent Don Rodrigo de Castro, a future archbishop of Seville, to be his companion and keep an eye on him, though ostensibly he was his friend.107

Castro arrived in Alcalá on 9 August. He and Carranza left there on the 18th to tour the archbishop’s diocese en route to Valladolid. Soon, in the town of Fuente de Sal, Carranza met his friend Felipe de Meneses, who told him that it was public knowledge in Valladolid that the Inquisition was going to arrest him.108 On Sunday, 20 August 1559 the archbishop came to the small town of Torrelaguna and the scene was set for the denouement.

Two days after Carranza and Castro arrived in Torrelaguna, the inquisitor of Valladolid, Diego Ramírez, reached a spot just two miles outside the town. He was accompanied by a hundred men who hid in the woods on the banks of the River Malacuera. Castro came to consult Ramírez and it was decided to arrest Carranza that evening. For two nights Castro had been plotting with the bailiff of the Inquisition, Hernando Berzosa, who had been in Torrelaguna for four days in disguise; Castro and Berzosa had made twelve residents of the town familiars of the Inquisition (local officials who helped with arrests and collecting evidence), and they were prepared to act.109

That night Ramírez entered Torrelaguna and went to Carranza’s lodgings. Guards were placed at the doors and on the stairs, and Ramírez, Castro and Berzosa went up with around ten armed familiars and hammered on the door to Carranza’s chamber. His page, the monk Antonio Sánchez, called out, ‘Who’s there?’ Those outside responded, ‘Open up for the Inquisition!’ The archbishop hurriedly closed the curtain. His head was resting on his pillow as his enemies burst in and seized him in the candlelight.110

From Torrelaguna there would be no escape; Carranza would be taken under armed guard to Valladolid, there to confront his great enemy Fernando de Valdés in one of the most controversial trials which the Inquisition ever prosecuted.

A CURIOUS consonance developed. Valladolid, home to the royal court, was also the focal point of threats to the Spanish empire. The ruling elite was under attack! Everywhere one turned, there the enemy was. Such was its versatility, could one be surprised if the devil himself was seen dressed in the clothes of these wretched conversos, moriscos and Lutherans? In spite of the difficulties caused by moriscos and the crypto-Jews of Murcia, the real threat came from the Protestants. It had after all always been apparent that Jews and Muslims were dubious, but the Protestant threat came from the very heart of Christianity, and was sewing dangerous discord among the peoples of the Low Countries and Germany.

Matters were increasingly grave. In 1557 the Jeronymite monks of the monastery of San Isidro in Seville had been suspected of Protestantism and had fled to Germany, though eight of them were arrested by the Inquisition in Seville. Then, in the spring of 1558, itwas discovered that Lutheran errors were being preached throughout Castile. Moreover, these heresies, as Inquisitor-General Valdés wrote to Pope Paul IV on 9 September 1558, had ‘taken the form of sedition and mutiny among important nobles, clerics and property owners’. This, Valdés said to the pope, meant that the Inquisition could not use the benign procedures which had hitherto been its wont in dealing with the crypto-Jews and the moriscos.111

The letter showed how inquisitorial circles were thinking their way towards bonfires. It must of course be borne in mind that around this time a terrible purging occurred of Protestants in England under Queen Mary and in France under Henry II, where more Protestants probably died in England and France than in Spain in the years after 1558.112 Nevertheless, Valdés’s marshalling of evidence and destruction of victims provides a sobering preview of the way in which persecuting institutions would so often prove capable of securing the convictions which they desired.

While fifth-columnist Lutherans became apparent in Seville in 1557, in Valladolid the first signs of the conspiracy emerged at the same time. One evening the wife of the silversmith Juan García rose discreetly after she had gone to bed and followed her husband, aware that it was his practice to go out after she had retired. She saw him enter a house. Suspecting adultery she followed him inside, hiding herself behind the door of the room where he could be heard talking. Soon she heard the conversation turn to what seemed to her to be Lutheranism. This was enough for her delicate ears.

Perhaps, indeed, in those sensitive times adultery was almost as bearable as heresy. No doubt she had felt for some time that her marriage was nearing a crisis, and heresy was the final straw. She determined to turn her back on their shared lives and on any sense of mutual responsibility. She left, and the following day went to denounce him to the Inquisition. Two years later, García the silversmith was relaxed to the secular arm.113

Quickly, the chain of denunciations reached the nobility. In April 1558 Ana Enríquez – known as the ‘beautiful maid’ – the daughter of the marquess of Alcañices, told Inquisitor Gulielmo that the Dominican friar Domingo de Rojas had brought her a book in her mother’s orchard written by Luther and declared his doctrines to be holy. Rojas had also convinced the nuns of the convent of Belén, and they had begun to read Luther’s works. The marquis of Alcañices’s servant Cristóbal de Padilla was said to be another important dogmatist, as was the Italian Carlos de Seso. The canon of Salamanca, Agustín de Cazalla, was said to be behind the spread of Lutheran doctrines, and the Lutheran conventicle met in the house of Cazalla’s mother Leonor de Vibero. Another noble involved was Francisca de Zúñiga, the daughter of the royal accountant Alonso de Baeza.114

Here was an ever-growing web of connections, contacts, sedition. All the heretics were communicating with one another. The conspiracy was much greater than had ever been dreamt possible. By 1558 the inquisitorial jails were heaving with prisoners, and Inquisitor-General Valdés noted how ‘each day new witnesses arrive . . . some suspects have not been seized, since there are no cells to keep them in’.115

Terror roasted in Valladolid. The Dominican Domingo de Rojas, accused by ‘the beautiful maid’ and then by others of saying that there was no hell and that it was impossible for a baptized person to sin, asked advice from Francisco de Tordesillas, a fellow friar at the monastery of St Paul in Valladolid: ‘Father, if I am accused before the Inquisition of things which I have said in error and of other errors which I have never committed, what remedy can I have?’ Tordesillas replied that he should simply go and confess everything to the inquisitors. ‘And if it is proved that I have said things that I never have said, and I cannot touch the witnesses who have deposed against me, will I have no remedy?’ Tordesillas replied that in such a case there was nothing for it but to die for the truth. As Rojas put it, ‘realizing the lies and truths that were being said about me, I felt lost’. He tried to flee to Flanders, but was arrested, with his attempted flight taken as an indication of guilt rather than fear.116

The case of the Italian Carlos de Seso was if anything more pathetic. Seso had been born in Verona and by 1554 was the chief magistrate of the town of Toro. There was no question that Seso had picked up some controversial ideas in Italy and had begun to talk about them to a small circle of his intimates; yet this did not mean that he was a Lutheran. Seso was sentenced to burn in the auto of 8 October 1559, and the night before his death he made a declaration, stating, ‘I believe that which the Apostles believed and the doctrine of the Holy Mother Catholic and Apostolic Church’. He was, he stated, dying because he had said that ‘Jesus Christ our Lord had saved his chosen ones through his passion and death and that he was the only one to make peace between God and ourselves’. The story goes that the following day, as he was dragged through the streets of Valladolid in the auto, he saw Philip II and asked him how he could let him be burnt, to which the king replied, ‘I would bring wood to burn my own son if he was as bad as you’.117

There were two autos in Valladolid in 1559, in which twenty-five Lutherans were relaxed. They were given this sentence in spite of their confessions and penitence – contrary to the usual procedure of the Inquisition – after special papal dispensation requested by Valdés.118 Eight days before the first auto, on 21 May, a preacher declared that everyone should attend the ceremony, and people flocked from all over Spain so that over 100,000 crammed into the squares, peering from windows and specially erected stages at the macabre spectacle.119 So great was the audience that two days before the auto it was impossible to walk the streets, and when the fourteen condemned prisoners were taken out of the city to be executed they had to be guarded by four hundred troops.120 At the auto of 8 October there were said to be 300,000 people in attendance – all the townsfolk for forty leagues (c. 125 miles) around had come to Valladolid. This was indeed a ‘spectacle as strange as ever had been seen’.121

In Seville, meanwhile, thirty-two Lutherans were relaxed in 1559 and 1560.122 A further eighteen were relaxed in 1562 (when three moriscos perished as well), with another sixteen burnt in statute.123 Six more died in 1563124 and another six in 1564.125 As late as 1577 three people were relaxed, two of them being English, while seven of the nine Lutherans tried that year were tortured.

Something of the atmosphere of permanent threat that coursed through Spain during these years is revealed by the list of prisoners in the inquisitorial jail of Seville in 1580:

Englishmen, accused of a plot – 19.

Scotsmen, accused of a plot – 23.

Moriscos, accused of a plot – 6.

Moriscos, accused of another plot – 12.

Moriscos, accused of still another plot – 3.

Moriscos, accused of a still further plot – 3.

Moriscos, accused of one more plot – 2.

Cases of prisoners accused of no plot – 32.126

THE LANGUAGE ISthat of a society which perceives threats everywhere.

The concentration of terror in the years 1558 and 1559 was no accident; Philip II, the new king, needed to show that there was no power vacuum and that he was an adequate successor to his father.127 There is no question that some of the people imprisoned or executed did profess beliefs anomalous to Catholic doctrine, but at the same time there can be little doubt that these differences were exaggerated by the inquisitorial procedure – as the evidence of Domingo de Rojas attests. In fact much of what these people held to be true was little different from old Erasmian beliefs.128. Moreover, far from eradicating heresy, the fires of the Inquisition often encouraged it. Many people forced to flee from Seville in the 1560s to northern Europe survived by becoming proselytizing Protestants and circulating terrible stories of Catholic Spain.129 Paranoid Catholicism therefore created targets of which it could genuinely be afraid.

The greatest proof of this creation of the enemy within came from Portugal, where there was no reason for there to be any less infiltration by Lutheranism than in Spain. Yet here there were very few Lutheran trials at this time, apart from one or two show trials like that of the royal chronicler Damião de Goes.130 This was not because that there was any greater danger of Protestantism in Spain than in Portugal, but rather because in Portugal, where the Inquisition had only just been founded, persecution was still being channelled towards the first major targets, conversos. There was no need to create a Lutheran threat when the original converso enemy was still being dealt with.

CARRANZA’S ARREST, so carefully orchestrated by Valdés, was intimately related to the events in Valladolid. At some time in the 1550s Carranza appears to have had one meeting with the prisoner Carlos de Seso, during which he had tried hard to convince Seso ofthe error of his beliefs, but he had not denounced Seso to the Inquisition.131 This was taken as a sign of guilt by the inquisitorial prosecutor even though Carranza, with his long experience of the Inquisition, would have known if a denunciation had been appropriate. Moreover, the hapless Domingo de Rojas who had once been Carranza’s servant, arraigned in the torture chamber on 10 April 1559 and casting around desperately for some means of survival, claimed that Carranza had subscribed to some of the ideas which he was said to have propagated.132 These connections were crucial to Carranza’s arrest.

Not surprisingly, the archbishop of Toledo plunged into depression once he was incarcerated in Valladolid. He suffered from chronic insomnia and did not sleep for nineteen days.133 Then he set about proving that Inquisitor-General Valdés was his enemy and could not be relied on to judge him objectively. In this at least he was successful, and Valdés was removed from responsibility for the case. But none of this sped the trial along.

Carranza spent his years in prison in Spain in terrible conditions. He occupied a cell so cut off from the outside world that when a fire devastated Valladolid on 21 September 1561, burning over 400 houses and lasting for a day and a half, he knew nothing about it and did not find out until years later when he was in Rome.134 His cell had no ventilation and he and his servants had to perform their bodily functions there, which meant that they all fell ill. It was so dark that Carranza sometimes had to light candles at nine in the morning. His jailer, moreover, was Inquisitor Diego González, who had arrested him in Torrelaguna. González humiliated him by bringing his food on broken plates and fruit on the covers of books, and by forcing the archbishop to use his sheets as a tablecloth.135

After over seven years in the jail in Valladolid Carranza was transferred to Rome on the insistence of the new pope, Pius V. Here vast numbers of court papers had to be translated into Italian before the case could proceed, which was not completed until 1570. Even then Carranza’s ordeal was not over. Pius V died and his successor, Gregory XIII, came under intense pressure from Philip II to declare Carranza guilty. On 14 April 1576, almost seventeen years after his first arrest, Carranza was sentenced to abjure heresy and sixteen Lutheran propositions of which he was deemed suspected.136 As his sentence was read in the Vatican, the archbishop shed floods of tears. He died eighteen days later, unable to pass water.137 The repression had come full circle.

There may be some who, remembering Carranza’s zeal in burning the Protestants of England, find it difficult to feel sympathy for such a man. Yet it must be remembered that this was a time of religious warfare in Europe. What his case reveals is not so much a righting of wrongs as the way in which power had adopted an agenda which was utterly its own. Valdés had used hypocrisy, lies and torture to ruin a man who, by the standards of his time and country, was a holy person. If the primate of all Spain could be convicted of heresy, no one could be thought free of suspicion.138 Fear could reap its bitter crop among all the classes of Spain.

The mentality that triumphed in these conditions was conservative, hierarchical and dogmatic, afraid of all novelty. Melchor Cano, who preached at the auto of 21 May 1559 in Valladolid to consolidate his position in the new order, held that the great dangers of translating the scriptures out of Latin could be seen ‘among women and idiots’.139 The secrets of faith were only safe with wise men, people rather like Cano, in fact.

Yet isolation and persecution of the enemy within was not a contradiction to the golden age in Spain; it was in many ways of a piece with the country’s imperial destiny, the counterpoint at home to the global power exerted by Spain in the 16th century. Enemies were focuses for unity as well as violence in both America and Europe, and while the targets were the easily identifiable ‘others’, the crypto-Jews and the moriscos, the tactic worked brilliantly and Spain continued to advance. But the crackdown on the Protestant enemy within marked a turning point. When Philip II continued his father’s policy of imposing the Inquisition on the Low Countries, where there was no Jewish or Moorish ‘problem’, this precipitated rebellion. The Dutch United Provinces seceded from the empire, and came to present one of the major challenges to Spanish power in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.140

Thus in overreaching itself and stretching the concept of the enemy so that it had the potential to cover everyone, the Inquisition and the inquisitorial state of mind helped to sew the seeds of the rebellions which ate away at Spanish power and its role in the world. Yet the institution failed to appreciate the self-destructiveness which was a necessary condition of its existence. Even as the Dutch were launching their first rebellion against the Spanish in the late 1560s, the decision was taken to export the Inquisition to America. With fear pursued – but never vanquished – on all sides at home, it was perhaps inevitable that it would come to be pursued in the same way abroad.

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