The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition provided for centuries of terror, torture and well documented strategies in annihilating mostly innocent people for heresy. Yet when we pull aside the veil, what we see are the original blueprints for the machinery of persecution that was invented in the High Middle Ages and applied to human flesh ever since. Now and then, we need to recall the ordeal of the Jewish 'converso' named Elvira del Campo, stripped naked and put to torture by the Spanish Inquisition in 1568 because eating pork made her sick to the stomach, if only to remind ourselves of the human face of the Inquisition: 'Lord,' she cried, 'bear witness that they are killing me without my being able to confess! To tell what happened and perspectivate to what late happened at the same time. Humans are far from perfect and we continue with an inquisition mindset in our cold, hateful mistreatment towards those who don't see things the way we do but I believe there has been a gradual improvement of empathy and morality. All of these injustices, he says, find their root in the same sense of power and privilege. It is clear that witch-hunters used the techniques of the Inquisition when judging their victims, but the Inquisition itself was not very concerned with witchcraft.
A cadaver decades later could be exhumed and found guilty; its descendants could then be found suspected of heresy. Sprinkled in with the cases of men, women, and children burned and tortured for thought-crimes against the church, glimpses of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and the American 'Red Scare' peek out to remind us of just how far we haven't come. Above and beyond that, Kirsch has little to say about the relative lack of inquisitorial persecution in regions like England, Germany and Scandinavia, where politics and culture made Rome unpopular. It's one of those cases where you don't really need to make the argument. The Roman Catholic Church sought to enforce a religious monopoly. People were prosecuted for thought-crimes, i.
Yet the first rumblings of Western civilization's great engine of persecution provided no indication of the ultimate scope and influence of the inquisitorial toolkit and how the crimes of the first inquisitors were perpetrated again and again into the twentieth century and beyond. It's a sobering reminder that we are often our own worst enemies and the human willingness to murder on a mass scale hasn't changed despite enlightenment, reason, compassion, or faith. As we shall see, an unbroken thread links the friar-inquisitors who set up the rack and the pyre in southern France in the early thirteenth century to the torturers and executioners of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the mid-twentieth century. One of my own ancestors was Samuel Wardwell, a good Christian, hung as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials, and that travesty affected that branch of the family for generations. This book was really engaging for the first few chapters, and then quickly took a nosedive. And this is the book's theme, that these techniques developed by the church torture, the use of informants, guilt by blood relation still reverberate today in Western culture.
Now, as to the latter, I would tend to agree. Music: Bedhead, The Fall, The Gun Club, Hawkwind, High on Fire, Pavement, Roxy Music, Uncle Tupelo, White Fence, Wire. Yet the first rumblings of Western civilization's great engine of persecution provided no indication of the ultimate scope and influence of the inquisitorial toolkit and how the crimes of the first inquisitors were perpetrated again and again into the twentieth century and beyond. And yet, since the witch-hunters were using the same techniques as the Inquisition, and since the Inquisition was later on allowed to prosecute witches, Kirsch seems to argue that the two were linked. What we should learn from this history of the Inquisition, as the author states, is 'the machinery of persecution once switched on, cannot be easily slowed or directed, much less stopped. While the original objective of the Inquisition was the Roman Catholic Church's fear of losing control over the thoughts and beliefs of Christians, the inquisitors, the Church and later, the kings of Spain and France, turned it into a strategy in profiteering and later, genocide. Kirsch insists that, for as long as there are people who wish to control or cleanse the world, for whatever reason, then the Inquisition will never truly die.
The Inquisition itself might no longer be around as it existed in its most infamous forms, but that does not mean the machinery has ceased to exist - it is still there, and was used, and will still be used, when those in power deem it necessary. The Spanish Inquisition was quite similar; the only difference of significance was that it was directed primarily against conversos former Jews and Muslims who had became Catholics and were feared to have relapsed to their old religion. As we shall see, an unbroken thread links the friar-inquisitors who set up the rack and the pyre in southern France in the early thirteenth century to the torturers and executioners of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the mid-twentieth century. Eradication of any rebellion demanded total compliance, for one's own soul and to terrorize one's neighbors and community into submission. What have we learned from this history? Humans are far from perfect and we continue with an inquisition mindset in our cold, hateful mistreatment towards those who don't see things the way we do but I believe there has been a gradual improvement of empathy and morality. Despite the importance of this legacy, the history of the Inquisition remains a subject that has largely been overlooked by general historians.
Such pressure ensured that the eradication of some heresies in medieval Europe was nearly total. Yes, it is primarily about the various inquisitions that swept across across Europe but it is also a cautionary morality tale. Author is definitely not an historian, but if he is, shame on him. The later chapters drawing parallels to McCarthyism, Abu Ghraib, the Salem witch trials, Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany did not need to be broken down in such detail. About the Author Jonathan Kirsch is the author of ten books, including the national bestseller The Harlot by the Side of the Road and his most recent work, the Los Angeles Times bestseller A History of the End of the World.
Alarmingly, the author insists that although the Inquisition is but a memory for us today, the inquisitional mindset is alive and well. Review The twelfth century birthed a new and sinister brand of sanctioned terror, an international network of secret police and courts, an army of inquisitors whose sworn duty was to seek out anyone regarded as an enemy, and a casualty list numbering in the tens of thousands. More interesting to me is I'm not entirely sure this is much more than snuff porn, and given that suspicion, I'm not sure what it says about me that I've read my copy twice. The book is an easy read and seems to get around to the importent parts though I don't know for sure since I don't kno The Grand Inquisitor's Manual takes us from the inception of the Inquisition in the 12th century to it's end in the mid 19th century, and ends with a look forward to events that seem to have their roots in the Inquisition, like the holocaust. Born in Los Angeles but should have been born in my parental Ireland.
Thus he calls the Nazi extermination of the Jews an Inquisition, specifically the kind rooted in the Spanish iteration of the movement. He integrates scholarly predecessors smoothly, and while he may not offer as much original research, he presents in an accessible fashion the best of what's been researched and argued for hundreds of years. This is a sordid, sordid history of the three inquisitions medieval, Roman and Spanish when Holy Mother Church ruled with an iron fist. After years studying holocaust, genocide,etc, this one put it all together. Mention the Inquisition to any informed person and you're likely to garner a response somewhere between horror and disgust. And like a freshman he relies too heavily on the work of others to make his point with little effort at examining those sources with measured skepticism.
Not to forget Michel Faber's ambitious fables, or Michel Houellebecq's infuriatingly thoughtful, misanthropic pisstakes-as-prose. Maybe as an introduction it works but I did feel like I would like some other oppinions to compare with. Yet when we pull aside the veil, what we see are the original blueprints for the machinery of persecution that was invented in the High Middle Ages and applied to human flesh ever since. It got very silly at times, often we would be given some information and then Jonathan had a quote from an other historian's book tell what this ment, this was made worse by the fact that often I could have drawn the conclusion myself. On one hand, it can be read as a guide to understanding the Inquisition, and on the other, it can be read as a testament to the fact that, when given power or the chance to gain it, human beings can and will do whatever they think is necessary to achieve and control that power. The Inquisition, it appears, was more concerned with heretical ideas than with witchcraft. As we shall see, an unbroken thread links the friar-inquisitors who set up the rack and the pyre in southern France in the early thirteenth century to the torturers and executioners of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the mid-twentieth century.