[Buddha-l] Inquisition

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 17 15:16:29 MDT 2013

From: "Dog of Mars" <caodemarte at yahoo.com>
>In Spain, for example, the Catholic Inquisition was interested in souls and
>therefore a convincing or sincere conversion and repentance could
>sometimes get you out.

Technically the inquisition in Spain was not aimed at non-Catholics. One had 
to be Catholic (or a convert already) in order to be subject to inquisition. 
So there was no escape clause. There was paranoic distrust of converts, and 
impossible to determine who had "sincerely" converted (the actual number 
would have been close to zero), so the inquisition followed the expulsions 
and conversions to continue to purge the impurities. *Every* case was a 
lesson -- of intimidation and totalitarian oppression.

> It is worth remembering that Jews and others had rebelled against
>local leaders in some cities in order to open the gates to the Moors,
>who were far more liberal rulers than their competitors.

There is too much distorted information  to sort that out fully in an email. 
The Moors, with a brief exception, were *not* liberal. The notion of the 
golden age in Spain, prior to Christian domination, where Jews and Muslims 
danced merrily arm in arm in mutual joy and splendor is a myth that badly 
conceals the reality of those times. The Iberian peninsula had been under 
the rule of various Islamic groups (moor is a catchall term, but there were 
different groups from different regions in N. Africa who competed for 
control at various times). Jews were caught in the middle, but they weren't 
being persecuted for simply political reasons. The stories you are spinning 
sound like the self-serving faux histoire spun in hispanic textbooks. If you 
are interested in a more accurate picture of the times, two fairly recent 
books I would highly recommend are:

Joel Kraemer, _Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's 
Greatest Minds_, NY: Doubleday, 2008.

Sarah Stroumsa, _Maimonides in his World: Portrait of a Mediterranean 
Thinker_ Princeton Univ. Press, 2009.

There is no reason to cast this as a purely political matter ("treason") 
rather than religious aside from a desire for face-saving of Catholicism and 
its Holy institutions. The Church was (and is) a political institution.

>Many Jews later fled to Muslim lands

Yes, and to Italy and Amsterdam, since very few European countries allowed 
Jews to live there, much less grant them citizenship. (e.g. Jews were 
expelled from England in 1290, and not permitted back on English soil until 
1657; they were not granted citizenship, and not admitted to any English 
universities until the late 1800s -- University of London was the first to 
admit them).
See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Expulsion

Sefardic Jews in many places have maintained Ladino to this day, just as 
certain Ashkenazic groups still use Yiddish. A couple of decades ago (don't 
remember the precise date) a satellite hookup between Israel and Spain 
featured a telecast in which the Jews on the Israel side spoke to the 
Spaniards in Ladino, surprising the Spaniards who realized they could 
understand most of it with little effort.

> The colonies, where many also fled the Inquisitions, showed a different 
> view of what made a citizen or subject. When the Catholic Inquisition 
> opened in Bogota, it quickly arrested a "heretic." The Royal Governor 
> raided the office, freed the prisoner, and told the Inquisitors that they 
> would be in their own cells if they ever bothered anyone again.  This 
> policy was continued by all his successors.

A moment of sanity in the New World.


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