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Re^6: A Level Playing Field

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Nov 02, 2005 at 07:48 UTC ( #504858=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^5: A Level Playing Field
in thread A Level Playing Field

A historical correction for you. The Inquisition did not exile the Jews from Spain. The Spanish government did so. But admittedly they did this at the request of the Inquisition, though it may well be that they would have done so regardless.

I believe that the Jewish expulsion from Portugal was similar.

Note that a major factor behind various Jewish expulsions in the late 1400s was Italian moneylenders. The Biblical prohibition against usery was understood by the Jews to prohibit Jews lending at interest to Jews, but Jews could lend to gentiles. Christians could not so lend, which meant that Christians couldn't get rid of Jews because they needed to borrow money from them. But in the 1400s the fluid state of Italian currencies allowed Christian moneylenders to operate - they didn't charge interest, they just lent in one currency and accepted payment in another. It was a "gamble" because the currency could move and the lender could lose money. However the house odds were...pretty good.

For a long time I was curious what happened to the historically important ban on usery which is so obviously ignored today. The answer turned out to be that Martin Luther thought that it was one of many prohibitions in the Old Testament that didn't apply to Christians. In the Counter-Reformation the Catholic Church agreed (in part because they didn't want to leave Protestant countries with such a large economic advantage).


Comment on Re^6: A Level Playing Field
Re^7: A Level Playing Field
by jZed (Prior) on Nov 02, 2005 at 14:27 UTC
    Tilly, thank you so much for giving a level-headed reply to this nonsense. I was evidently too emotional to do so. The only things I would add to your summary are that a) the exact number of deaths and the exact extent of torture is pretty irrelevant to the climate of fear that the inquisition created. If the government and church announce that they are setting up tribunals to find heretics and kill even one person a year, people who are born into heresy (by being Jews or Muslims or women of any ethnicity) are going to live in fear. If you then start confiscating their property, burning effigies, etc. that fear will increase regardless of the relative cruelty of the tribunals. b) The excuse "that's how people thought back then" does not apply since there had been some six hundred years of mutual Jewish-Muslim-Christian tolerance in Spain prior to the inquisition.

    Personally, I don't really care if there is a PM level named "Grand Inquisitor", it just makes me think of Mel Brooks' "History of the World". It's different though when someone seriously claims they would be proud to be an Inquisitor. Sheesh, well, the job is still open, though these days you only get to persecute Muslims. Apply at the Department of Homeland Security.

      the exact number of deaths and the exact extent of torture is pretty irrelevant to the climate of fear that the inquisition created. If the government and church announce that they are setting up tribunals to find heretics and kill even one person a year, people who are born into heresy (by being Jews or Muslims or women of any ethnicity) are going to live in fear.
      A clarification: the Inquisition had no authority over non-Christians. A purpose of the Expulsion was to ensure that every Jew remaining in Spain was in fact baptized and subject to the Inquisition thereafter. I've heard that how the Expulsion was implemented varied from area to area and case to case: Some were able to leave with property or money, some weren't. Some were not allowed to leave at all, but given the choice of conversion or death. Some were forcibly baptized with no such choice. Some were allowed to leave, but not with their children :(
        Thanks, Tilly also pointed out my overstatements in a private message. I guess for me it's like saying that a) the U.S. Senate had no direct authority over Hollywood hiring practices and therefore b) the McCarthy hearings were not to blame for writers, directors, and actors getting blacklisted. In my view, "a" is true and "b" is not and the situation with the Inquisition strikes me as similar in this regard. Also, I guess it depends on one's definition of a Converso - outwardly they were Christians and one of the prime targets of the Inquisition. I would regard the persecution of the Conversos as persecution of Jews regardless of their pretended (or in some cases, real) conversion to Christianity.

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