By Ted Belman
My reading through out my adult life usually centered on Jewish History. The issues that interested me the most were the holocaust, the inquisition and the first century C.E. With respect to the inquisition, one book remains etched in my mind, namely Cecil Roth’s The Spanish Inquisition. One reviewer said of it
“This was one of the most repugnant histories I have ever read. But it’s also a necessary one. Cecil Roth’s effort was written in 1937, when the darkness falling over Europe was unmistakable. Clearly, Roth was writing both a history and sounding an alarm.”
During the Fifteenth Century, Jews in Spain and later in Portugal were force to convert to Catholocism to avoid death. Many did. But secretly they continued to practise Judaism. The Spanish Inquisition, which began in 1492, burned these secret Jews, Marranos, at the stake and this continued until after the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
I remember well that part of the book that described the tortures Marranos were were put to. You see the Church, like the Nazis, were meticulous. They had a scribe in the torture rooms to record every question and answer even if it was only a scream, and every torture they were put to. Roths quotes from their records which the Church preserved all these years. The torture was to acheive a confession thereby resulting in death by garroting. If the Jews didn’t confess they were burned at the stake. Theses “Auto da fes” were like a Roman Circus, they were attended by all the nobility of Europe. Quite a festive occasion. Talk about the banality of evil.
What brings this to mind now is an article in JPOST, On the trail of the Jews of Portugal . Do read the article and then Roth’s book. Everyone should know about the reality and the brutality of the Catholic Church.