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The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  239 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Thirty-five years ago, Kamen wrote a study of the Inquisition that received high praise. This present work, based on over 30 years of new research, is not simply a complete revision of the earlier book. Innovative in its presentation, point of view, information, and themes, it will revolutionize further study in the field.
Paperback, 369 pages
Published July 11th 1998 by Yale University Press (first published 1965)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
If you will read Miguel Delibes's "The Heretic" alone, you'll get the impression that the Spanish Inquisition may have happened only for a limited period of time in the 16th century and had victimized only those who had Protestant leanings. That would be incorrect. The first auto de fe of the Spanish Inquisition was celebrated on February 6, 1481 when six people were burnt at the stake and the sermon at the ceremony was preached by one Fray Alonso de Hojeda. Autos de fe went on being held in Spa ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a very well researched study of a notorious historical event by a repected British historian. In it the author traces the Inquisition's various classes of victims. These included the conversos (recent Jewish converts to Catholicism, who composed the majority of the Inquisition's victims), followers of the humanist Erasmus, Lutherans and other Protestants (including foreigners), Moriscos (recent Muslim converts), and Catholics whom the tribunal deemed ``heretical,'' often on flimsy eviden ...more
Roy Lotz
Oct 20, 2015 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
After two chapters, I'm throwing in the towel on this one. To me it seemed like undigested research. After a clear introduction, Kamen disappears into a forest of quotes, statistics, and other primary sources, without a clear narrative line to guide you through it.

I suppose he is making the point that the Inquisition was not monolithic or simple; but he shies away so completely from generalizations that I wasn't able to retain anything. For example, in his chapter on the expulsion of the Jews,
Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
THE SPANISH INQUISITION: A Historical Revision. (1998). Henry Kamen. ***.
This was a revised reprint from The Folio Society of a book originally released in 1965 and subsequently revised by the author in 1997 based on new research. I’d recommend that you skip the first two chapters, since they give you names of people you never heard of who were involved in the inquisition in some way that really isn’t relevant for the general reader. After this discouraging beginning, you finally get to the chap
Sarah Finch
Sep 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
I had this sitting on my shelf for a full decade and maybe I should have just left it there. Kamen basically argues that just because the Spanish Inquisition wasn't as chock-full of torture as caricaturish propaganda (and Monty Python sketches) would have us believe, that it wasn't really so bad after all. In fact, he even dares to say it arose out of a "national emergency" -- what emergency would that be? The existence of Jews and Muslims? Deeply disappointing and not even particularly well wri ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: European Historians, Grad students, Catholics
Recommended to Michael by: Terrence McIntosh
I find that I have rather mixed feelings about this book. Its flaws are obvious, yet it has profoundly influenced the way I think about the Inquisition and Early Modern history. I’m not an expert in either, and Kamen is really the one author I’ve read about Spain in this period, so I tend to fall back on what I think I know from him. And yet, so much of what he says here seems really questionable when I really analyze it. I suppose this demonstrates the danger of relying on a single source for a ...more
Adam Marischuk
"the malignant influence of an eye that never slumbers, an unseen arm ever raised to strike" (p. 385)

This description of the Spanish Inquisition, from W.H. Prescott, reflects the myth of the Inquisition but unfortunately for fans of historical horror novels, not the reality.

Professor Kamen, the foremost scholar on the Spanish Inquisition, does an admiral job disproving the mythology surrounding the Inquisition with this long, heavy and deep analysis. The seventy pages of endnotes reveal the exte
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have some problems with this book, but I guess I could say that if you want to learn about the Spanish Inquisition just because you are curious about it, then you could turn to Kamen. If you want a general understanding of what the Spanish Inquisition was, beyond knowing that nobody really expected it.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that this is a particular take on the Inquisition. Kamen is arguing that the whole institution has been blown up way out of proportion by slander and ru
According to Henry Kamen, everything you think you learned about the Spanish Inquisition is probably wrong, and he makes a convincing argument to that effect. Without downplaying the actual harm that it caused, he grounds the Inquisition in the religious and political world of the Renaissance/Reformation/Counter-Reformation and makes it clear that it was very much a reflection of the times. More significantly, it was hardly the worst such vehicle in Europe at the time.

Another key element of Kam
Andrew Doohan
This was a long read in terms of time largely, I suspect, because of the subject matter and the way in which historians tend to write. It was, quite simply, not a book you could read from cover to cover without occasionally stopping to absorb the information being conveyed.

And the information contained in this fourth edition of Kamen's work is worth absorbing. The picture often painted of the Spanish Inquisition is one of absolute societal control, of fear and torture, and of an almost pervasive
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
La obra de Henry Kamen es, prácticamente, un libro de cabecera sobre la Inquisición española. Una fuente a la que acudir si queremos conocer cualquier aspecto sobre qué fue realmente la Inquisición en España y qué motivó su aparición.

A pesar de tratar desde su inicio hasta su fin, se echa en falta un mayor (y mejor) estudio sobre la abolición de la Inquisición española y la situación de la misma desde la llegada de José Bonaparte al trono de España.

Randy Morgan
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kamen presents some interesting and captive ideas about how the violence and the amount of torture within the Spanish Inquisition were largely over exaggerated by anti-Spanish propaganda such as the Black Legend. This book was interesting as a first introduction into the Spanish Inquisition, but could prove to be a bit dense and theory laden for the casual reader.
Bob Manning
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
A very well researched history of the Spanish Inquisitions. The author rebuts a lot of the other books on this subject that suggests that the Inquisition was all encompassing of the Spanish population while it existed, and that it was ruthless in its means of torture. But he acknowledges that it put many "heretics" to death by burning at the stake. I thought it was way too detailed. He seemed to put all of his research findings in the book rather than paring it down to make his point.
Handaka mukarta
Apr 10, 2011 is currently reading it
berkali-kali saya mesti menengok kembali apa yg terjadi di semenanjung Iberea abad 15 utk memahami berbagai peristiwa besar di eropa sesudahnya.

dari pertentangan kaum feodal dng golongan kelas menengah yg dikuasai Yahudi, pengusiran 1492, munculnya apa yg disebut gereja sbg 'kekeristenan palsu', inkuisisi, sampai reformasi dan berubahnya tatanan geopolitik setelah itu.

penulis berhasil menyajikan perspektif yg menarik & kredibel thd rangkaian2 peristiwa pada masa itu di semanjung Iberea. 'per
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history students, history buffs, religious scholars
While Kamen's work is certainly detail heavy, it provides a clear understanding of how the Inquisition was organized, how it functioned, and how it was maintained over the course of the late 15th centuries through till the 18th century. Given the common assumption that the Inquisition was a highly feared, terribly destructive institution, a lot of the material within its pages can be a surprise. Ultimately, Kamen argues that the Inquisition rose out of a need to educate and regulate a society th ...more
Tim Weakley
A fairly balanced account of the Holy Office. It stresses how central to continuance of the Inquisition was the presence of the Jews and Conversos within Spain. The Moors, and Moruscos also gave them a target to pit against but they were not nearly as needed as were the Conversos in the later history of the Inquisition.

It was a little bit of a long read, but it was well done for refernce work.
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it
For a first introduction into this event, Kamen's is a great, even overview. While it downplays the stigma of the event, it yet gives lots of primary source material. If you've ever been uncertain about what the Inquisition was, how it began, or how it was run, this is your source.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long over due revivsiting of the basic facts of the Spanish Inquisition. Yes it was flawed, but Kamen takes a proper and dispassionate view of it. Most importantly, he allows the past to judge itself, not he myths that have arisen since the 16th century.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Written in a non-pedantic style, this comprehensive history of the Spanish Inquisition is easily understandable and an enjoyment to read. Overall, Kamen does an impressive job of integrating rich detail into his description of all aspects of the Inquisition.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it
very informative read, recommended to anyone interesting in this historical "event" / combine it with the book about Edgardo Mortara for some more interest
Fr. Peter Mottola
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great place to start for anyone who is interested in the real history behind the caricature.
Ulises Rodriguez Zamarripa
En partes, se torna muy tedioso. No obstante es un estudio muy completo y revelador.
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I read this while doing research for my novel "The Heretic." I found Netanyahu's history much more comprehensive and readable.
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Does an excellent job dispelling the myth of the Black Legend and detailing the history of the Inquisition and how it shifted over time and ultimately became incompatible with Spanish society.
Hanna Skrzypczak
rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2015
Samantha Halligan
rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2018
Leon Argamasilla
rated it it was ok
Jul 24, 2011
rated it it was amazing
May 08, 2015
Jaime Menegus
rated it did not like it
Jan 19, 2016
Alexey Goldin
rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2017
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“The practice of “tolerance,” in the sense of allowing people to dissent, did not of course exist in any part of Christian Europe in the 1500s. It came into being only centuries later, when some states conceded legal rights to religious minorities. But frontier societies having contact with other cultures, as in the Mediterranean and in Eastern Europe, were in a special category. Spain, like them, was a plural (and therefore in some sense forbearing) society long before toleration became a philosophical issue. The same was true of Transylvania and Poland. “There is nothing new about diversity of religion in Poland,” a Polish Lutheran stated in 1592. “In addition to the Greek Christians among us, pagans and Jews have been known for a long time, and faiths other than Roman Catholic have existed for centuries.”46 It was therefore commonplace, within that plural context, to have toleration without a theory of toleration, because there were legal guarantees for each faith.47 The protection given to the aljamas by Christian lords was by nature contractual: in return for protection, the Muslims and Jews paid taxes. Because there was no unitary political authority in Spain, the nobles felt free to allow their Muslims to observe their own cultural customs long after the Spanish crown had officially abolished the legal existence of Islam (in 1500 in Castile, in 1526 in the crown of Aragon). The development can be seen as inherent in the nature of pre-modern political systems in Europe. Before the advent of the modern (“nation”) state, small autonomous cultural groups could exist without being subjected to persecution, thanks to the protection of local authorities. The coming of the centralizing state, in post-Reformation Europe, removed that protection and aggravated intolerance.” 1 likes
“Both defenders and opponents of the Inquisition have often accepted without question the image of an omniscient, omnipotent tribunal whose fingers reached into every corner of the land. The extravagant rhetoric on both sides has been one of the major obstacles to understanding. For the Inquisition to have been as powerful as suggested, the fifty or so inquisitors in Spain would need to have had an extensive bureaucracy, a reliable system of informers, regular income and the cooperation of the secular and ecclesiastical authorities. Seldom if ever did they have any of these.” 0 likes
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