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Tomas De Torquemada

1420-1498. Spanish Grand Inquisitor. Born in Valladolid, he was the nephew of the cardinal and Dominican theologian Juan de Torquemada.* After graduating from the San Pablo Dominican convent he became the prior of Santa Cruz convent in Segovia (1452) and confessor to King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I in 1474. After Pope Sixtus IV* was prodded by the queen into making the Inquisition* a national institution in Spain (1483), Torquemada was given the power to organize the tribunals, and he did so with such effectiveness that the inquisitorial apparatus he set in motion lasted for three centuries. The regulations for the Spanish Inquisition were set down in Torquemada's Ordinances (1484). The victims of his persecution included Moors, Jews, Marranos (Jewish converts), Moriscos (Islamic converts), and other religious deviants from the Catholic norm. Since the Spanish Inquisition was not answerable to the papal Inquisition, complaints to the pope of Torquemada's excesses were usually unfruitful. Torture was used to extract evidence and confessions from prisoners. Some 2,000 executions occurred and numerous other methods of punishment were inflicted during his reign as Grand Inquisitor. His ruthless efficiency in enforcing his own austere religious character on those of other persuasions has left him with a reputation of cruelty and intolerance even for the times in which he lived.

See T. Hope, Torquemada, Scourge of the Jews (1939).

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