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Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Cruelties Exercised by the Inquisitions of Spain and Portugal, From the Most Authenticated Records.

Francis Romanus, a native of Spain, was employed by the merchants of Antwerp to transact some business for them at Bremen. He had been educated in the Romish persuasion, but going one day into a protestant church, he was struck with the truths which he heard, and beginning to discern the errors of popery, he determined to search farther into the matter. Perusing the sacred scriptures, and the writings of some protestant divines, he perceived the falsehood of the principles he had formerly embraced; and soon renounced the impositions of popery for the doctrines of the reformed church, in which religion appeared in its genuine purity. Resolving to think only of his eternal salvation, he studied religious truth more than earthly trade, and purchased books rather than merchandize, convinced that the riches of the body are trifling to those of the soul. He resigned his agency to the merchants of Antwerp, giving them an account at the same time of his conversion; and then, resolved on the conversion of his parents, he returned without delay to Spain for that purpose. But the Antwerp merchants writing to the inquisitors, he was seized, imprisoned for some time, and then condemned to the flames as a heretic. He was led to the place of execution in a garment painted with demon figures, and had a paper mitre put on his head by way of derision. As he passed by a wooden cross, one of the priests bade him kneel to it; but he absolutely refused to do so, saying, "It is not for Christians to worship wood." Having been placed on a pile of fagots, the fire quickly reached him, when he suddenly lifted up his head; the priests thinking he meant to recant, ordered him to be taken down. Finding, however, that they were mistaken, and that he still retained his constancy, he was placed again upon the pile, where, as long as he had life and voice remaining, he kept repeating these verses of the seventh psalm-- "O Lord my God, in thee I put my trust! O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish thou the just. My defence is of God, who saveth the upright in heart. I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high!"

At St. Lucar, in Spain, resided a carver named Rochus, whose principal business was to make images of saints and other popish idols. Becoming, however, convinced of the errors of the Romish persuasion, he embraced the protestant faith, left off carving images, and for subsistence followed the business of a seal engraver only. But he had retained one image of the Virgin Mary for a sign; when an inquisitor passing by, asked if he would sell it. Rochus mentioned a price; the inquisitor objected to it, and offered half the money. Rochus replied, "I would rather break it to pieces than take such a trifle."--"Break it to pieces," said the inquisitor, "break it to pieces if you dare!" Rochus being provoked at this expression, snatched up a chisel, and cut off the nose of the image. This was sufficient; the inquisitor went away in a rage, and soon after sent to have him apprehended. In vain did he plead that what he defaced was his own property; and that if it was not proper to do as he would with his own, it was not proper for the inquisitor to bargain for the image in the way of trade. Nothing, however, availed him; his fate was decided; he was condemned to be burnt, and the sentence was executed without delay.

A doctor Cacalla, his brother Francis and sister Blanche, were burnt at Valladolid, for having spoken against the inquisitors. A gentlewoman with two daughters and niece, were apprehended at Seville, professing the protestant religion. They were all put to the torture: and when that was over, one of the inquisitors sent for the youngest daughter, pretended to sympathize with her, and pity her sufferings; then binding himself with a solemn oath not to betray her, he said,

"If you will disclose all to me, I promise you I will procure the discharge of your mother, sister, cousin, and yourself." Rendered confident by this oath, and ensnared by specious promises, she revealed all the tenets they professed; when the perjured wretch, instead of acting as he had sworn, immediately ordered her to be put to the rack, saying, "Now you have revealed so much, I will make you reveal more." Refusing, however, to say any thing further, the whole family were condemned to the flames, and the horrid sentence was executed at the next Auto da Fe.

The keeper of the castle of Triano, belonging to the inquisitors of Seville, happened to be of a more mild and humane temper than is usual with persons in his situation. He gave all the indulgence he could to the prisoners, and shewed them every favour in his power with as much secrecy as possible. At length the inquisitors became acquainted with his kindness, and determined to punish him severely for it, that the gaolers might be deterred from shewing the least trace of that compassion which ought to glow in the breast of every human being. With this view they superseded him, threw him into a dismal dungeon, and used him with such dreadful barbarity that he lost his senses. His deplorable situation, however, procured him no favour; for, frantic as he was, they brought him from prison at an Auto da Fe to the usual place of punishment, with a sanbenito (or garment worn by criminals) on him, and a rope about his neck. His sentence was then read--that he should be placed upon an ass, led through the city, receive 200 stripes, and then be condemned six years to the galleys. The unhappy frantic wretch, just as they were about to begin his punishment, suddenly sprang from the back of the ass, broke the cords that bound him, snatched a sword from one of the guards, and dangerously wounded an officer of the inquisition. Being overpowered, he was prevented from doing further mischief, seized, bound more securely to the ass, and treated according to his sentence. So inexorable were the inquisitors, that for the rash effects of his madness, which they had caused, four years were added to his slavery in the galleys.

A maid-servant to another gaoler belonging to the inquisition was accused of humanity, and detected in bidding the prisoners keep up their spirits. For this heinous crime, as it was called, she was publicly whipped, banished her native place for ten years, and had her forehead branded by red hot irons with these words, "A favourer and aider of heretics."

John Pontic, a Spanish gentleman and a protestant, was, principally on account of his great estate, apprehended by the inquisitors, and charged with heresy. On this charge all his effects were confiscated to the use of the inquisitors, and his body was burnt to ashes. John Gonsalvo, originally a priest, but who now embraced the reformed religion, was, with his mother, brother, and two sisters, seized by the inquisitors. Being condemned, they were led to execution singing part of the 106 psalm. At the place of execution they were ordered to repeat the creed, which they immediately complied with, but coming to these words, "the holy catholic church," they were commanded to add the monosyllables "of Rome," which absolutely refusing, one of the inquisitors said, "Put an end to their lives directly," when the executioners obeyed, and strangled them.

Four protestant women were seized at Seville, tortured, and afterwards ordered for execution. On the way they began to sing psalms; but the officers thinking that the words of the psalms reflected on themselves, used the most cruel means to silence them. They were then burnt, and the houses they resided in ordered to be demolished. A protestant schoolmaster of the name of Ferdinando, was apprehended by order of the inquisition, for instructing his pupils in the principles of protestantism; and after being severely tortured, committed to the flames.

A monk, who had abjured the errors of popery, was imprisoned at the same time as Ferdinando; but through the fear of death, he said he was willing to embrace his former communion. Ferdinando hearing of this, obtained an opportunity to speak to him, reproached him with his weakness, and threatened him with eternal perdition; when the monk, sensible of his crime, re-embraced and promised to continue in the protestant faith, and declared to the inquisitors that he solemnly renounced his intended recantation. Sentence of death was therefore passed upon him, and he was burned at the same stake with his friend.

A Spanish Roman catholic, named Juliano, travelling into Germany, became a convert to the protestant religion; and undertook to convey to his own country a great number of Bibles, concealed in casks, and packed up like Rhenish wine. He succeeded so far as to distribute the books. A pretended protestant, however, who had purchased one of the Bibles, betrayed him, and laid an account of the affair before the inquisition. Juliano was seized, and means being used to find out the purchasers of the Bibles, 800 persons were apprehended. They were indiscriminately tortured, and then most of them were sentenced to various punishments. Juliano was burnt, twenty were publicly whipped, many sent to the galleys, and a small number were acquitted.

A protestant tailor of Spain, named John Leon, travelled to Germany, and from thence to Geneva, where hearing that a number of English protestants were returning to their native country, he and some other Spaniards determined to go with them. The Spanish inquisitors being apprised of their intentions, sent a number of familiars in pursuit of them, who overtook them at a sea-port in Zealand. The prisoners were heavily fettered, handcuffed, had their heads and necks covered with a kind of iron net-work, and in this miserable condition they were conveyed to Spain, thrown into a dungeon, almost famished, barbarously tortured, and then burnt.

A young lady having been forced into a convent, absolutely refused to take the veil; and on leaving the cloister she embraced the protestant faith, on which she was apprehended and condemned to the flames. An eminent physician and philosopher of the name of Christopher Losada, became obnoxious to the inquisitors, on account of exposing the errors of popery, and professing the tenets of protestantism. He was apprehended, imprisoned, and racked; but these severities not making him confess the Roman catholic church to be the only true one, he was sentenced to the fire; which he bore with exemplary patience, and resigned his soul to his Creator.

Arias, a monk of St. Isidore's monastery at Seville, was a man of great abilities, but of a vicious disposition. He sometimes pretended to forsake the errors of the church of Rome, and become a protestant, and soon after turned Roman catholic. Thus he continued a long time wavering between both persuasions, till God thought proper to touch his heart. He now became a true protestant; and the sincerity of his conversion soon after becoming known, he was seized by the officers of the inquisition, severely tortured, and afterwards burned at an Auto da Fe.

A young lady named Maria de Coccicao, who resided with her brother at Lisbon, was taken up by the inquisitors, and ordered be put to the rack. The torments she felt made her confess the charges against her. The cords were then slackened, and she was re-conducted to her cell, where she remained till she had recovered the use of her limbs; she was then brought again before the tribunal, and ordered to ratify her confession. This she absolutely refused to do, telling them, that what she had said was forced from her by the excessive pain she underwent. The inquisitors, incensed at this reply, ordered her again to be put to the rack, when the weakness of nature once more prevailed, and she repeated her former confession. She was immediately remanded to her cell; and being a third time brought before the inquisitors they ordered her to sign her first and second confessions. She answered as before, but added, "I have twice given way to the frailty of the flesh, and perhaps may, while on the rack, be weak enough to do so again: but depend upon it, if you torture me a hundred times, as soon as I am released from the rack I shall deny what was extorted from me by pain." The inquisitors then ordered her to be racked a third time; and, during this last trial, she bore the torments with the utmost fortitude, and could not be persuaded to answer any of the questions put to her. As her courage and constancy increased, the inquisitors, instead of putting her to death, condemned her to a severe whipping through the public streets, and banishment for ten years.

A lady of a noble family of seville, named Jane Bohorquia, was apprehended on the information of her sister, who had been tortured and burnt for professing the protestant religion. While on the rack, she confessed she had frequently conversed with her sister concerning protestantism, and upon this extorted confession Jane was seized and ordered to be racked, which was done with such severity, that she expired a week after of the wounds and bruises. Upon this occasion the inquisitors affected some remorse, and in one of the printed acts of the inquisition, which they always publish at an Auto da Fe, this young lady is thus mentioned: "Jane Bohorquia was found dead in prison; after which, upon reviving her prosecution, the inquisitors discovered she was innocent. Be it therefore known, that no further prosecution shall be carried on against her; and that her effects, which were confiscated, shall be given to the heirs at law." One sentence in this passage is as remarkable as it is ridiculous, that no further prosecution shall be carried on against her. This alludes to the absurd custom of prosecuting and burning the bones of the dead: for when a prisoner dies in the inquisition, the process continues the same as if he was living; the bones are deposited in a chest, and if sentence of guilt is passed they are brought out at the next Auto da Fe; the sentence is read against them with as much solemnity as against a living prisoner, and they are at length committed to the flames. In a similar manner are prosecutions carried on against prisoners who escape; and when their persons are far beyond the reach of the inquisitors, they are burnt in effigy.

Isaac Orobio, a learned physician, having beaten a Moorish servant for stealing, was accused of him of professing Judaism, and the inquisitor seized the master upon the charge. He was kept three years in prison before he had the least intimation of what he was to undergo, and then suffered the following modes of torture:--A coarse coat was put upon him, and drawn so tight that the circulation of the blood was nearly stopped, and the breath almost pressed out of his body. After this the strings were suddenly loosened, when the air forcing its way hastily into his stomach, and the blood rushing into its channels, he suffered the most incredible pain. He was seated on a bench with his back against a wall to which iron pullies were fixed. Ropes being fastened to several parts of his body and limbs, were passed through the pulleys, and being suddenly drawn with great violence, his whole frame was forced into a distorted mass. After having suffered for a considerable time the pains of this position, the seat was suddenly removed and he was left suspended against the wall. The executioners fastened ropes round his wrists, and then drew them about his body. Placing him on his back with his feet against the wall, they pulled with the utmost violence, till the cord had penetrated to the bone. He suffered the last torture three times, and then lay seventy days before his wounds were healed. He was afterwards banished, and in his exile wrote the account of his sufferings.

A protestant author of Toledo was fond of producing fine specimens of writings, and having them framed to adorn the different apartments of his house. Among other curious examples of penmanship, was a large piece containing the Lord's prayer, creed, and ten commandments, in verse. This piece, which hung in a conspicuous part of the house, was one day seen by a person belonging to the inquisition, who observed that the numerical arrangement of the commandments was not according to the church of Rome, but according to the protestant church; for the protestants retain the whole ten commandments as they stand in the bible, but the papist omit the second which forbids the worship of images. The inquisition soon had information of the circumstance, and this gentleman was seized, prosecuted, and burnt, only for adorning his house with a specimen of his skill.