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Queen Regent María Cristina de Borbón Abolishes the Spanish Inquisition, 1834

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

On This Day in Jewish History: July 15th, 1834




Pictured here is Queen Regent María Cristina de Borbón of Spain. #OnThisDay she issues a decree abolishing the Spanish Inquisition, 342 years after it began.


During the 14th and 15th centuries, many Jews in Europe converted to Christianity for social reasons since at the time, there were restrictions on the jobs that could be held by Jews. This caused a class of "conversos" to exist in Spain. Many conversos and openly Jewish folk alike were very successful and held positions of power.


In 1477, a Dominican from Seville convinced Queen Isabella that many of the conversos in Seville (which had a large Jewish population) were still practicing Judaism in secret. This caused Queen Isabella to request permission from the Pope to start an Inquisition in order to find these fake converts.


Pope Sixtus IV issued a Papal Bull on November 1, 1478 granting permission for an Inquisition in Seville. He ultimately gave permission to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to create tribunals in their entire kingdom. On March 31, 1492, it was decreed that all Jews had to leave Spain by July 31 because they were causing conversos to "relapse." Portugal and France would soon conduct their own versions of the Inquisition and expulsions.


It is believed that as many as 350,000 may have been tried by these torturous tribunals where even after "confessing" and converting, the Jewish subjects were held under suspicion. Sometimes even after their death where graves of conversos were dug up and burnt as punishment. Trials continued until the early 1800’s across continents, countries and regions.


Wherever the Spanish Kingdom went, the Inquisition followed. Although much protest was received during the Enlightenment, the persecution of Jews persisted.


Finally, #onthisday in 1834, it was finally and rightly abolished. Yet, the lasting effects of hundreds of years of persecution, torture, discrimination, and forced conversion completely altered what was once of the greatest Jewish communities in Spanish Jewry.



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