How many people did the Catholic church kill during the Spanish Inquisitions?

A question from a reader: It seems that Muslims are always blamed for being the most violent of the religious sects but isn’t it true that the Catholic church ordered inquisitions throughout Europe, Russia, etc. The Cathloic church also aided in some of the destructions to the Aztecs and Incas in Mexico, Central America and south America. Which religious group has killed more over the last 1000 years? How many total killed were there during the spanish inquisitions?

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16 Responses to “How many people did the Catholic church kill during the Spanish Inquisitions?”

  • Persiphone_Hellecat says:

    I dont think that the issue here is who killed more. Any killing is wrong – whether it was by Catholics or Muslims. One thing you failed to mentionj was the Catholic Church’s involvement with Hitler and the Third Reich. They helped MANY war criminals escape. Daniel Silva has written novels based on fact that have a lot to say about the sins of the Catholic Church. Pax – C.

  • bearstirringfromcave says:

    Actually in a perverse twist of fate the Catholics actually thought they were saving people by putting them to the flame. They actually thought that as a person was twisting & writhing in pain they were not only experiencing the pain Christ felt while on the cross but they would also come to accept Christ as their savior, therefore by torturing thousands to death they were saving souls – – – souls that could now enter Heaven instead of being consigned to eternal Hell. Suffer Now and be blessed for all eternity.

    Anyhow – – — the exact number will never be known, the best one can do is guestimate about 3,300 a year from the late 1400’s into the late 1500’s……


  • Pepito111 says:

    i’m sure you can find out after a lot of tiresome research since they kept inscrutabe records on the religious dissidents they killed. but you’ll probably have to do that yourself barring some inquisition expert happening upon your question.

    i’d like to say though, that as terrible as the spanish inquisition was:

    nobody ever suspects the spanish inquisition

  • d3m419s61 says:

    The amount of deaths is officially indeterminable. Estimates of deaths were calculated as between 1500-3000 which is more probable to an amount of 30000-50000 people.
    What matters is the torture of someone to kill them or force anyone to convert to the faith of either Muslim or Christian or any other religion is ethically inexcusable and morally bankrupt.The Inquisition ws wrong and was directed by a scared ignorant but well meaning institution whose religious zeal blinded them to the truth and led themselves into the darkest recesses of evil .

  • miniaras says:

    Whenever a church meddled with secular affairs and politics, trying to impose its rules with force, it caused immense harm to its credibility. The Spanish Inquisition is no exception. In people’s minds nowadays, the stain of that dark episode often overshadows the innumerable splendid and humane achievements of the Catholic Church in its long history.

    On the other hand, let’s not forget that much of the bad publicity was simply protestant propaganda. Let me quote a passage from the relevant Wikipedia article:

    “In the public imagination, the Spanish Inquisition continues as a proverbial example of religious persecution. Some scholars however have opined that the numbers of the Spanish Inquisition’s victims may have been exaggerated, that the Inquisition is one of the features of a Black Legend (see link in sources). Also, some argue that the Spanish Inquisition was responsible in part for averting in Spain the kind of religious wars that plagued France and Germany. Similar arguments are made about averting witch trials in Spain. Whereas tens of thousands of women were executed for witchcraft throughout northern Europe, less than 60 (only 6 documented cases) were executed in Spain throughout the whole period of the Inquisition.”

  • 29 characters to work with...... says:

    Oh, and the Catholic church didn’t condone the treatment of the Aztecs and Incas. Many church leaders spoke against the treatment of the natives. The church even issued a statement affirming what they thought was common sense, the natives have souls and are human beings.

    Most of the information from the inquisition is false protestant propoganda. An earlier poster has it right.

  • imacatholic2 says:

    Modern historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. The Inquisition was actually an attempt by the Catholic Church to stop unjust executions.

    Heresy was a capital offense against the state. Rulers of the state, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw heretics as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath.

    When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig. It was not to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. The lord needed some basic theological training, very few did. The sad result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent judge of the crime.

    The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, an attempt to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges.

    From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

    Most people tried for heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or had their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed.

    If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

    Where did this myth come from? After 1530, the Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from the printing presses of Protestant countries at war with Spain accusing the Spanish Inquisition of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World.

    With love in Christ.

  • The Architect says:

    Good question. I believe any person who tries to explain the inquisition away by saying they were a “myth”, or exaggerated is guilty of a crime as serious as denying the holocaust ever happened. It did and many millions of people died horrible deaths.

    See: The Almanac of Evil for details of the various stages of the Inquisition and its context

    Furthermore, any person who writes as an “expert” and seeks to water down this terrible history of the Popes and the Catholic Church need to reflect in the deepest of their souls whether they are doing “Gods work” in falsifying history, or deliberately or unwittingly supporting evil by their actions.

    For when people claiming to be good people of faith begin to spin and apologise for evil, even hide evil acts, they cross the line.

    In no way does this history reflect on good Catholics today. Nor are they to blame in anyway. It is only those who deliberately spin, twist and disinform that must pray for the forgiveness of God for their evil actions on this subject.

  • fenian1916 says:

    type spanish inquisition in the search part, there are articles that explain in detail the events that surrounded the inquisition not protestant propaganda.

  • Michelle_My_Belle says:

    iamcatholic has it almost right.

    “Untold thousands” is where it all unravels.

    In totality; there were 3000-5000 people who were tried and convicted of heresy by the STATE in their continued obstinancy of denial of the Catholic church. The Catholic church NEVER killed anyone. Get that straight.

    Don’t forget that the Spanish Inquisition lasted 300 years. So…that’s approximately 100 people a year…where’s the bloodbath? Didn’t exsit.

    The question should be focused on the Protestant Inquisitions, there it is well known that there were ‘untold thousands’ killed.

    The fact of the matter that the known amount of people, in some cases as little as 30 in a 100 year span were burned at the stake is known primarily because the Inquisitors themselves kept very detailed notes and these were to never be released publically so why lie on your own notes when they’re not to be released? Furthermore, BBC did a TV special that smashed the known myths of the Inquisition the tortures, etc that is so well known only occurred in 1/2% of all cases…that’s about 10 people.

    By the way; “Inquistion” means to ‘inquire’. The Inquisitors were established to assist those in the State to determine who indeed was a heretic–and in this the person accused is asked to write down all those who may have an ax to grind with them, as a result those people were not allowed to testify against the accused.

    This was for all of Europe. Russia did not have an Inquisition as we’re speaking of. However in Russia they did have a political movement which killed those people who were Catholic….so don’t know where your going there.

    The Catholic Church did not destroy the Aztecs and Incas in Mexico. What occured is simple. In 1517 it is a well known fact that Our Mother appeared to a devout Catholic in a world completely overtaken by the human sacrificing Aztecs and as a result those Aztecs converted to Catholicism, they themselves destroyed their idolotrus culture. The Spanish who came to assist those in conversions intermarried, creating what is Mexican race; part Aztec/Incas Indian and Spanish…something that you’ll NEVER hear from the English as they always felt themselves to be ‘above’ or better than everyone else and intermarriage was frowned upon.

    I think you need to re-read history.

  • Earth to Mars says:

    all religons have killed but Muslims are way out on top

  • nikola s says:

    more than 500 000!
    good question! Nice organisation….

  • bboop says:

    It has always amazed me the number of wars and people who’s lives and homelands have been destroyed all in the name of religion. I became an agnostic several years ago when my mother died but have since rejoined the Catholic faith due to some powerful things that have happened in my own life through the recent years. The Inquisition was a time that was shameful in history but I think that if you look further, there are tons of other episodes that should bring shame to just about people of every faith. The media, movies in general, love to mix a lot of fiction with a small amount of truth and make it palatable for the movie going public, so take everything your read with a grain of salt. The 16th and 17th century Witch persecutions in Europe and in America, where thousands of innocents were killed just for the fact that they couldn’t prove they weren’t witches. All religion works in a lot of ways through fear of the unknown and causes others to protect fiercely what they themselves barely understand but find comfort in because it alows us to explain things that have no explanation. It’s called faith.
    There are some great books and articles regarding the Inquisition , one being ” The Spanish Inquistion: Fact Versus Fiction” by Marvin R. O’Connell.

  • not fair - teiramkia says:

    that was then, this is now i think we should know better this time around.

    I hope

  • Troy Large says:

    The sociologist Rodney Stark, who is well respected in his field, also maintains that most of what we have been taught about the Inquisition is nothing more than dishonest propaganda. In general he was able to show that where the church and state rule was strongest, the burnings and taking of lives where the least – conversely, where local governmental authority was weakest, the deaths where highest. In short, unregulated mod activity geared towards “lynch them now, ask questions later” is what burnt up most “witches”, not “the church”. As a poster above indicated, the church in general worked to suppress such activity, not the other way around. For those interested in the sociological side of these aspects I would recommend you read his easy to follow two part work, “One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism”, and “For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery”.

  • tana says:

    religions are stupid

    christians killed people
    muslims killed people
    people kill people
    anyone who tries to justify their religions killings is a blind follower

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