The Spanish Inquisition

Facts and Fictions

by John F. Chuchiak IV


While popular belief holds that many people were tortured and put to death during the Inquisition, historians now argue that it was not as violent as tradition suggests.

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Cover image for The Spanish Inquisition

February 2022


Pages 237
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/History
  World History/Religion
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This book looks at popular misconceptions about the Inquisition and what historians now believe to be the historical facts behind those myths.

Mention of the Inquisition conjures up images of torture and executions conducted under the auspices of the Catholic Church in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the popular imagination, hooded Inquisitors violently questioned thousands of people, and thousands were put to death for disagreeing with the Church. Antisemitism supposedly flourished, along with hostility toward Moors. In truth, the Inquisition, as an ecclesiastical court, only had authority over Christians, was primarily concerned with combating public heresy, and was less violent that is customarily believed.

This book examines some of the major controversies related to the Inquisition. The book begins with an introduction that places the Inquisition in its historical context. This is followed by chapters on popular misconceptions related to the Inquisition, with each chapter discussing how the misconception developed and spread, along with what is now believed to be the historical truth behind the myth. Excerpts from primary source documents help readers to understand why people believed the misconceptions and show what evidence we now have for the historical truths. The book closes with suggested resources for further research.


  • Includes an introduction that places the Inquisition in historical context
  • Examines examine misconceptions related to the Inquisition
  • Considers how a misconception developed and spread, along with what is now considered to be the historical truth behind the myth
  • Excerpts from primary source documents to show why people believed the misconceptions and now believe the historical truths
  • Features a bibliography for further reading
Series Description

Historical Facts and Fictions

Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? Did the Egyptians really worship animals and gods with animal heads? History is full of misconceptions that have been passed down as historical facts and become rooted in the popular imagination. This series explores historical fictions and what we now believe to be historical truths. Each book focuses on a particular topic, such as a period, event, civilization, movement, religion, or person, and explores roughly 10 misconceptions. Chapters summarize the misconception, discuss how it arose and was propagated, and explain what is now taken as historical fact. The series helps readers think critically about the past and prepares them to be equally critical of the present.
Author Info

John F. Chuchiak IV is professor of history, director of the Honors College, director of the Latin American, Caribbean, and Hispanic Studies program, and Rich and Doris Young professor in the Honors College at Missouri State University. His many publications include The Inquisition in New Spain, 1536-1819: A Documentary History.

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