The Spanish Inquisition: To Maintain Ethnic Purity or Merely Religious Orthodoxy?

The Spanish Inquisition: To Maintain Ethnic Purity or Merely Religious Orthodoxy?

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Racism is the belief that ethnicity is the primary determinant of human traits and that racial differences produce an inherent or natural superiority of a particular race over another.
While racism is a more modern term, the prejudice beliefs behind it have been apart of history since the beginning of time. In the 15th and 16th centuries Spain enacted one of the most studied inquisitions in history. The Spanish Inquisition consisted of some of the darkest days in Jewish history and contains some of Christianities most shameful chapters. Extensive research has revolved around this particular inquisition in the attempts to understand how a seemingly tolerant society could take such a radical turn. There are numerous ongoing debates as to whether or not this inquisition was an instrument used to maintain a certain ethnic purity within the empire or whether it was simply an attempt to create a more religiously orthodox society.
The Spanish were not the first to forcibly convert Muslims and Jews and they were certainly not the last. In 1095 the Pope called for the first crusades, which involved Christian militants and missionaries to travel long distances in order to attack the infidels. While their main target was initially Islamic communities, every crusade came with attacks on Jewish communities as well. The crusaders mission was to wipe out the so called ‘other’ while Christian missionaries attempted to convince the ‘other’ to convert to the only true religion, Christianity. Although conversion is not nearly as horrific as slaughter, they were still attempting to erase an entire culture and turn them into something they believed to be
superior, themselves. While the crusaders attempted to purge other nations of its infide...


... middle of paper ...


...eded that of all others. In its attempt to redefine their society Spain became one of Europe’s most racialized societies and to this day the Spain’s history is tainted by the racism of The Spanish Inquisition.



Works Cited
Homza, Lu Ann. The Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1614: An Anthology of Sources.
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 2006. 4-5.
Lea, Henry C. A History of The Inquisition of Spain Vol. II. London: Macmillan CO., Ltd,
1922. 1.
Rae, Heather. State Identities and the Homogenization of Peoples. Cambridge, United
Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 56.
Root, Deborah. “Speaking Christian: Orthodoxy and Difference in Sixteenth-Century Spain”
Representation No. 23 (1988): 118-134.
Pick, Lucy k. Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo and the Muslims and Jews in
Medieval Spain. University of Michigan, 2004. 7.

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