The Inquisition

The Inquisition : A Global History 1478-1834

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The Inquisition was the most powerful disciplinary institution in the early modern world, responsible for 300,000 trials and over 1.5 million denunciations. How did it root itself in different social and ethnic environments? Why did it last for three centuries? What cultural, social and political changes led to its abolition? In this first global comparative study, Francisco Bethencourt examines the Inquisition's activities in Spain, Italy, Portugal and overseas Iberian colonies. He demonstrates that the Inquisition played a crucial role in the Catholic Reformation, imposing its own members in papal elections, reshaping ecclesiastical hierarchy, defining orthodoxy, controlling information and knowledge, influencing politics and framing daily life. He challenges both traditionalist and revisionist perceptions of the tribunal. Bethencourt shows the Inquisition as an ever evolving body, eager to enlarge jurisdiction and obtain political support to implement its system of values, but also vulnerable to manipulation by rulers, cardinals, and local social elites.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 504 pages
  • 147.32 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 907.18g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 46 b/w illus. 3 maps 11 tables
  • 0521847931
  • 9780521847933
  • 2,199,103

Review quote

'Until now, we have lacked a comprehensive, reliable, comparative study of the broad range of inquisitorial systems; we have even lacked an agreed-on methodology for writing such a study. Francisco Bethencourt has solved both problems in a remarkably successful single volume.' Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania '... a genuine landmark in early European history. ... Organizing his book around four areas (ritual and etiquette; forms of organisation; modes of action; and systems of representation), Bethencourt ventures into such virtually-unknown subjects, as inquisitorial emblems or forms of protocol with the flair of an anthropologist.' William Monter, Northwestern University, Illinois 'Bethencourt's book is one of the best global works on the Inquisition published in the past twenty five years.' Jaime Contreras, University of Alcala de Henares 'Bethencourt's scope is undeniably broad: he has worked in archives in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and has an enviable command of the vast secondary literature in several languages ... there is also much that is valuable and persuasive in [his] analysis of the institutional culture of the Inquisition(s).' Peter Marshall, The Times Literary Supplement
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Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Foundation; 2. Organisation; 3. Presentation; 4. Appointments; 5. The edicts; 6. The visits; 7. The auto-da-fe; 8. Status; 9. Representations; 10. Abolition; Conclusion.
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About Francisco Bethencourt

Francisco Bethencourt is Charles Boxer Professor of History at King's College London. His previous publications include (as co-editor) Portuguese Oceanic Expansion, 1400-1800 (2007) and Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, Volume 3: Correspondence and Cultural Exchange in Europe, 1400-1700 (2007).
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