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Useful Notes / The Spanish Inquisition
aka: Spanish Inquisition

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Bet he didn't expect that.

"The Inquisition, what a show
The Inquisition, here we go
We know you're wishing that we'd go away!
So c'mon you Moslems and you Jews
We got big news for all of yous
You better change your point of views today!
Cuz the Inquisition's here
And it's Here To Stay!"

The Spanish Inquisition (known among Spaniards as "the Holy Inquisition" or "la Santa Inquisición") was a State Sec of the Catholic Church in the Spanish Kingdom of Castile-Leon founded by Queen Isabella in 1478. It was later given jurisdiction over the Crown of Aragon (a union of the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and the pricipality of Catalonia) and the Lordship of Navarra as well and eventuallynote  the unified Kingdom of Spain. It was disbanded in 1834, a relatively late era, although by that point the Inquisition had become mostly vestigial a long time ago.


The Inquisition was founded by Isabella of Castile, assisted by Tomás de Torquemada and backed by Pope Sixtus IV, to stamp out heresy and enforce religious orthodoxy amongst her subjects, particularly in Granada — the not-quite-complete conquest and subjugation of which was used as something of a rallying point which she used to smooth over the cracks caused by the somewhat-unexpected union of the Spanish Kingdoms brought about by her marriage to Ferdinand, King of Aragon (whom we'll mention in passing just long enough to make it clear who wore the pants, though he did come in handy at times and by all accounts was a decent husband who could be trusted to get things done). Ferdinand and Isabella are still Spain's most popular historical monarchs.

Granada was the last remnant of the Muslim kingdom of Al-Andalus, which had once spanned nearly the entire Iberian peninsula. With its conquest, the Reconquista — the reclamation of Spain for Christianity — was complete. Shortly afterwards, the Muslim population of Spain was given a choice: convert to Christianity, or leave for North Africa. Many tens of thousands left, or were forcibly evicted. The Jewish population was later given the same choice. Isabella thought that it was only fair that those subjects who had effectively agreed to be loyal, Christian subjects would take a generation or so to learn the new ways. After that, the Inquisition could be used to educate the ethnically Moorish population about Catholic orthodoxy if need be. Until then, the Inquisition got started handling its standard fare of cases, the bread and butter it would chew on for the next three hundred years. That is to say, the Inquisition would tour around the cities and larger towns and address the issues that were generally the reserve of Ordinaries (church courts) everywhere — blasphemy, immorality, sexual immorality, and religious ignorance generally, and ignorance, illiteracy, corruption, and (sexual) immorality amongst the clergy.

By the end of the grace period, a significant minority of Moorish and Jewish subjects were Christian in name only, using 'conversion' as an excuse to stay on in Spain. The degree to which this minority bothered to maintain this illusion varied, but in some areas of central Granada, Church attendance could be measured by the dozens per annum, and ignorance of the basic tenets of Catholicism was rife. The Inquisition more or less gave up on ever addressing the huge numbers of Moorish and Jewish people living in the villages and hamlets of Granada and under the protection of Estate Lords who used them as cheap labour in Aragon. Lobbying instead for a further expulsion, they eventually got it a century on from the first expulsion and there was a second expulsion of all Moors from Granada. Most of those expelled went on to become urban poor in Spain's towns and cities, though those that could afford it generally went back to Moorish Africa. There was a third and final expulsion of all Moorish subjects from Castile-Leon after this, when it became clear that the Moorish minorities were not being assimilated and were in fact causing trouble in the locales they had migrated to.

Books and burnings

The Inquisition's surveillance exclusively focused on people in urban centres, particularly people of prominence or importance — a strategy of limited resources more than anything else. The Inquisition was to some extent used as a political weapon by the Crown, which had few other means of dealing with its political enemies amongst the clergy and the civic authorities, who administered over two-thirds of the urban population of Spain virtually independently from the Crown. To this end, cultural hang-overs like daily bathing (a Moorish custom) or not eating pork were (infamously) used as the basis for accusations of false conversion. In the same manner, the possession of certain texts — a list of banned books was eventually drawn up to this end — was used to support accusations of heresy, Protestantism and anti-monarchism. This had the effect of getting many relatively harmless intellectuals into trouble, although few of them would actually get in serious trouble solely by this, as you can read below. Note the Inquisition's role in preventing the outbreak of Protestantism in Spain has been called everything from "marginal but useful" to "critical and essential".

Most of these people brought up on charges of heresy, heretical ideas and dangerous ideas, were asked to recant their sins and accept some religious re-education. The afterlife and one's (subjects') place(s) in it being prized above all else — what's an earthly life of thirty years to eternity? — this was big stuff. Contrary to pop belief, however, large-scale book-burning campaigns are mostly a myth, as the Inquisition was obssessed precisely with confiscating and classifying evidence. The stuff of their list of banned books was in fact widely available, as prohibition was practically symbolic due to a mix of little capability and little interest to enforce it to its last consequences, and books often were even officially released by the Inquisition with just some expurgations or a stamped seal warning that the book you were going to read was something to judge carefully because it had been written by a condemned heretic. Most Protestant works from the Scientific Revolution would be read in Spanish universities with its appropriate label.

The Inquisition witnessed very few witch trials. This is not just because they dealt only with a small proportion of the peninsula's minority urban population at intervals of decades or more (some towns for which there exist records were not visited more than a few times during the entire period of the Inquisition's existence), but because the Inquisition ruled, at the time, that so-called witchcraft did not exist and that anyone claiming to possess "magical powers" was lying or insane. Actual self-professed "witches", who typically dealt in love philters, magic amulets and such, were seen as mere charlatans and punished accordingly, i.e. by whipping and public shame rather than burning. Historically, witch hunts were much more common in Protestant countries, and the Inquisition ironically denounced them as backward and unorthodox — the Inquisition was not so much interested in enforcing 'old' Catholicism as it was in promoting the 'new' Catholicism of the Catholic Reformation or Counter-Reformation. Unlike in the old Europe, where accusing someone of witchcraft could get them in serious trouble, in the Spain of the time accusing someone of being a witch might get you in trouble as a Protestant suspect.

Unfortunately, this did not stop civic authorities — who had their own court systems independent of the Church and the Crown — and groups of angry villagers from rounding up 'witches' and hanging them anyway. Said authorities and mobs did not, sadly, keep records, so the actual number of Spanish people killed as witches remains unknown. That said, the inquisition's it is generally assumed to be lower than that in, say, France, at least because the Spanish Inquisition actively worked to prevent such things from happening in Catholic Europe, or at least prevented mass executions of those found guilty. At one point in 1619, the Spanish Inquisition actually barged in and prevented secular authorities from hanging over 300 convicted witches.

The Spanish Inquistion held one proper witch trial in 1610, the famous Zugarramurdi Witch Trials. The auto-da-fé of the supposed witches, promoted by two Inquisitors who basically went rogue and worsened by the Inquisition's failure at reacting quick enough, whipped up such a witch hunt hysteria in Navarre that the Inquisition ultimately had to ask one skeptical Inquisitor involved to reexamine the case. His results were so scathing of everyone involved, especially himself for having let them convince him not to act earlier, that not only did the Spanish Inquisition adopt his findings for any future witch trials, the Catholic Church itself did to.

Another common misconception is that the Spanish Inquisition was deployed overseas — it was not. There are contemporary, sensationalist, rumours of the Spanish Inquisition burning people left, right, and center in the Netherlands during the course of the Reformation and Eighty Years' war, but this the work of the Dutch Inquisition in the Spanish Netherlands, whose members, usually Dutch and Central Europeans rather than Spaniards, were again in many cases using heresy as an excuse to deal with Dutch nationalists and other politically troublesome individuals. In the Indies, the local Inquisition could not legally judge indigenous, only Spaniards, as it was understood that the natives were essentially Christian newbies who might have not absorbed the religion well enough yet. This had the amusing consequence that mestizos often resorted to pretend to be full-blooded natives in order to get immunity (and in turn, they would often pretend to be full-blooded Spaniards because those sometimes paid less taxes). It should also be pointed out that the Inquisition under Torquemada argued to save the books and documents taken in the Conquest of Mexico and South America, to sadly little avail.

Other trivia facts that might surprise the reader

  • Compared to the secular courts of the time both in Spain and abroad, and especially contrary to pop belief, the Spanish Inquisition was actually fairer and more progressive, not the opposite. Even if its premises and procedures were aberrant by modern standards, their courts still had a decent Burden of Proof standard and investigative measures, and even gave the accused access to free legal defense in the form of a lawman who would assist him throughout the process, if not defending him outright, at least informing him of his best options. The result was that, even if prosecutions were common, a large majority of cases were either dismissed by insufficient evidence (though not usually acquitted, but suspended, which was an euphemistic way to release people without admitting they were innocent) or imposed small punishments (again, to keep up appearances and spread the warning).
  • The auto de fe was actually only a public penance of heretics and didn't actually feature torture or burning at the stake as commonly depicted — the last part came later on, and while it was public (as all executions were at the time), it wasn't made a show of. However, the two were seen as the same process.
  • Torture was never commonly employed, reportedly having happened in just 3% of all prosecutions, and it was generally used only to extract a confession not given freely when the inquisitors had lots of proof of guilt (especially when they suspected about accomplices or a bigger picture). It was limited to three methods, namely rack, water cure and strappado, none of them original to the Inquisition or unknown in lay justice, and they could be used in a limited number of sessions of less than 15 minutes each, with the presence of doctors to ensure the thing didn't get out of hand (even merely bleeding could make them stop); children and pregnant women couldn't be tortured at all. Inquisitors were way fonder of psychological pressure, with prisoners being informed that they might be subjected to torture, as confession under torture was actually not admissible as a proof of guilt if the prisoner didn't also give it under normal conditions. An extra limitation was imposed in 1533, it being that nobody could be tortured if the suspected crime was mild enough that torture would be worse than the real punishment. Those measures were quite revolutionary for the time and basically unthinkable in most courts everywhere else, where there few if any limitations in the ways, amounts and legal implications you could be tortured.
  • Inquisitions and witch hunts always become an easy way to screw your personal enemies by slandering them to the authority in charge, but the Spanish Inquisition took reasonable efforts to impede this. Accusations weren't automatically accepted, with a special official in the task of formally checking them up, and if he deemed the thing irrelevant or obviously false, the accuser would get in trouble for wasting their time. Even if the accusation was greenlit, the accused was offered the option to dictate a list of personal enemies or people who might gain something from slandering him; accusers or witnesses among those would be removed, and if they carried the weight of the accusation, the whole process could be terminated right there.
  • Execution was actually the rarest form of punishment, usually reserved only for the cases where there was an orgy of evidence against the accused and he still refused to confess (if he did, he got out with comparatively minor punishment) or if the accused was declared guilty of a really grave heresy and it was not the first time (at this second time, repenting would only earn you being garroted so you would not burn alive). Historians now estimate that of all trials, only 2% may have actually ended with execution — a study of the timeframe 1540 to 1700 found documents for 44,674 cases with roughly 1,500 death sentences. Furthermore, as trials tended to be lengthy and security not very tight, a surprising number of the sentenced either died in unrelated ways or managed to flee the country before being sentenced, and so many executions resulted in burning in effigie, that is, burning a strawman because the convict was unavailable. Estimates for the total number of executions range between 1,500 and 5,000, with the real number being probably closer to the former than the latter, to the point historian Henry Kamen would synthesize it stating that for every 100 death sentences issued by European tribunals at the time, the Spanish Inquisition issued one.
  • The Inquisition's popular reception varied heavily depending who you asked at the time, but it was generally not seen as a sort of absolute reign of terror - the majority of Spaniards at the time were Christians and/or had it relatively easy to pass as Christians, so common people often agreed with the ideas spoused by the Inquisition and voluntarily crowded the autos de fe to see them enforced. Moreover, the Inquisition's relative commodity for the accuser compared to lay justice was widely acknowledged even in Spain. It was common for those arrested by civile justice to start shouting blasphemy or confessing one solely to get transferred over to the Inquisition, where they would usually obtain much better conditions.
  • Unusually among the multiple Inquisitions established in different parts of Europe, final authority and control rested with the monarchs rather than the Church hierarchy. The Holy Office everywhere else reported directly to the Pope, while the Spanish branch reported to El Escorial first. It quite often functioned as a simple tool of repression, a sort of medieval secret police working for the Crown rather than a religious tribunal. This rather ironically means you could argue it was the least religiously motivated of the Inquisitions, despite its image and reputation being the opposite.
  • The Holy Office of the Inquisition is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Amongst the most recent Prefects of this office was one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger... known from April 2005 to February 2013 as Pope Benedict XVI. In fact, he was Prefect when he was elected Pope.
  • One of the main reasons for the villain status of the Inquisition: their host country was nearly continually at war with primarily Protestant nations such as England and the Netherlands, where printing presses and popular literature were much more common. This meant that at the beginning they criticized the Spanish Inquisition's poor job on executions and conversions, and when the Inquisition became a bit harsher, they went downright apeshit and exaggerated its reputation of being a blood-thirsty totalitarian organization. Then the Spanish Empire lost ground to the British Empire, France, its former South American colonies and the USA - the result of this meant that this demonization was immortalized as the "Spanish Black Legend."

Note the "Dunce Cap" being worn by the heretic in the picture. This was standard practice to identify the heretic on his/her way to the stake, and lived on as the "dunce's cap" of schoolroom legend — punishment for a classroom nonconformist.

The Spanish Inquisition in fiction:

Anime & Manga

  • The Holy See of Berserk has an Inquisition dedicated to rooting out heretics. Much like Anima: Beyond Fantasy, the Black Legend has full influence here — many people are horribly tortured in the Inquisition's dungeons, and a major character nearly gets burned at the stake as a witch (though this is mainly because she has a mark on her that draws The Legions of Hell to her, which the protagonist also has). The most notorious figure of the Holy See's Inquisition is Bishop and High Inquisitor Mozgus, who is quite the nasty piece of work.
  • In Radiant the Inquisition was made to fight sorcerers hundreds of years ago in the world of Pharenos when it was ruled by magic users, but its influence itself has contributed to the negative view of the infected by Nemeses in the present day acting as a ruthless army even against innocents, curiously while their armor and ships look medieval, their home kingdom Bome is based on ancient Greece.

Comic Books

  • A Batman episode actually plays a version of the famous Monty Python sketch completely straight.
  • Features prominently in any of Jack Chick's Chick Tracts about the Catholic Church and, like the life of Jesus is treated as if almost no one has ever heard of it.
  • Marvel 1602 features Magneto as the Grand Inquisitor, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch as his two assistants. While he publicly advances the Pope's agenda, he secretly kills only "witchbreed" whose mutations are obvious, such as Angel's. Those who are less obvious he inducts into his "Brotherhood of those who will inherit the earth".
  • While Requiem Vampire Knight doesn't have an actual Inquisition, some of the more notorious Inquisitors show up as werewolves (including Torquemada himself), which are what people who do horrible things to people in the name of religious fanaticism are reborn as in the world of Resurrection.


  • In the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project, the Assembly of the Eight Sacrament department of the Nasuverse of the Inquisition features prominently, with the Inquisition at large eventually taking back the historical name of "Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition."



  • Mentioned in the early books of Eric Flint and David Weber's 1632 series, but comes to the fore in 1634: The Galileo Affair.
  • Spanish series of novels The Adventures of Captain Alatriste (and the movie, simply Alatriste) feature the Inquisition as an antagonistic organization, represented mostly in Fray Emilio Bocanegra ("Black-Mouth") and his conspiracies.
  • Briefly mentioned in the backstory in Atlas Shrugged. Francisco's distant ancestor, Sebastian d'Anconia, was a Spanish noble at the height of Spain's power. At a banquet, the lord of the Inquisition told d'Anconia he did not approve of his way of thinking and suggested he change it. d'Anconia responded by throwing the contents of his wineglass in the inquisitor's face and escaping. Leaving everything behind, he fled to the colonies in Argentina where he set about rebuilding his fortune.
  • A parable told by Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov is set in the Spanish Inquisition.
  • In Voltaire's Candide, the title character and his friend Pangloss fall into the hands of the Inquisition of Portugal due to Pangloss' optimistic philosophy getting them branded as heretics. They are put to the torture and Pangloss is hanged, but an earthquake allows Candide to escape. Afterward, he learns that his Love Interest, Lady Cunegonde, is still alive, but has fallen into the hands of a corrupt Jewish merchant and the even more corrupt Grand Inquisitor, who have treated her horribly. Candide kills both her captors, but has to flee when an alcalde (Spanish fortress commander) comes after him for killing the Grand Inquisitor.
  • Subverted in the Conrad Starsgard series by Leo Frankowski. Conrad, a Polish engineer from the 20th century, travels back in time to the 13th century. He confesses his predicament to a Franciscan priest, who sends a report to Rome so an inquisition can be held over whether Conrad is an agent of God or the Devil. Thanks to an excessively slow bureaucracy, the report spends years getting bounced around by the Church hierarchy, then sent back to the authorities in Poland for verification because no-one believes it. Meanwhile, Conrad is advancing in rank and wealth because he's Giving Radio to the Romans, and as a consequence the priest also advances because he's the personal confessor of such a powerful man, so the report keeps being submitted to him (as said higher authority) for verification!
  • Don Quixote:
    • The novel is the only contemporary example by an Spanish author (Miguel de Cervantes) that shows the Spanish Inquisition as an institution responsible for ensuring that the Spanish captives by the Moors who returned to Spain did not show traces of having converted to Islam, and as a Moral Guardian full of Condescending Compassion for the masses in their charge when a noble makes a Practical Joke with an enchanted head. However, the book would never have been published if the institution was shown in a worse light.
      ... this marvelous contrivance stood for some ten or twelve days; but that, as it became noised abroad through the city that he had in his house an enchanted head that answered all who asked questions of it, Don Antonio, fearing it might come to the ears of the watchful sentinels of our faith, explained the matter to the inquisitors, who commanded him to break it up and have done with it, lest the ignorant vulgar should be scandalized.
    • Cervantes may have had some personal history with the Inquisition to work through: it's been suggested by a few historians that he may have been the anonymous author of the earlier picaresque novel, Lazarillo de Tormes, and if Cervantes didn't write it, he almost certainly read it, as it's mentioned by name in Quixote and was clearly a big influence on that book's plot structure and satirical sensibilities. Lazarillo was banned by the Inquisition and many copies of it were burnt due to its unflattering depiction of church hypocrisy. Whoever the author was, they likely predicted this backlash, hence the decision to publish anonymously. In short, the writer of Lazarillo de Tormes probably expected the Spanish Inquisition.
  • The Inquisition is still around in The Dresden Files. Good Shepherd Father Forthill is even a member. Nowadays, though their primary goal is dealing with dangerous supernatural threats and helping the Knights of the Cross. They're really very sorry about what happened in Spain, and have sworn off political power because of it.
  • Also mentioned in Good Omens, which has the Them playing at being the Spanish Inquisition. We also learn that Hell congratulated Crowley for the Inquisition, despite him having no involvement whatsoever in bringing it about. When he went to see what all the fuss was about, he stayed drunk for a week. Even Evil Has Standards.
  • In Robert Anton Wilson's trilogy of novels The Historical Illuminatus, part of the education of young Sigismundo Celine is his attendance at an Inquisition where an elderly landowner of good character is put on public display and, humiliatingly, has to "confess" to a catalogue of sins invented for him by his torturers, under threat of renewed torture. Celine realises the purpose of the trial is not so much to enforce compliance through fear, as for the Church to grab his land and possessions after he dies. Later on he witnesses the French Inquisition doing exactly the same to a minor noble who has displeased them. Corruption and greed, he realises, drives the Church in the 18th century.
  • Kage Baker's novel In the Garden of Iden has its immortal cyborg protagonist, Mendoza, rescued as a child from the Spanish Inquisition. She is not above using this to try to squeeze sympathy and better job postings from her superiors.
  • The Monk takes place in Spain during this era.
  • In the Nasuverse, a number of characters work are Executors of the Church, and actually work for the Assembly of the Eight Sacrament, a department of the Inquisition dedicated to supervise supernatural phenomena and holy relics and eradicate vampires, with the Burial Agency as a further sub-department dedicated specifically to eradicate the worst and most dangerous vampires. The date of foundation of the Assembly of the Eight Sacrament and the Burial Agency coincide with the foundation of the Episcopal Inquisitions.
  • In the Norwegian fantasy book series Phenomena, Torquemada is one of the antagonists and a truly evil man. First he tortures kills his brother, then proceeds to do that to said brother's wife and still baby daughter some years after, even implied that many horrid things happened to the wife as she died protecting her daughter to the end.
  • The protagonist of the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a prisoner of the Spanish Inqusition. It's worth noting that at no time during the Inquisition did the Inquisitors subject any of their condemned to the sadistic Death Traps (including the eponymous Pendulum of Death) employed against the protagonist. It's also noted for taking place during the Peninsular War of 1807-14, centuries after the height of the Inquisition, due to the protagonist being rescued at literally the last second by the French, who have taken Toledo and rounded up the forces of the Inqusition.
  • Inspired the Quisition in the Discworld novel Small Gods.
  • Main antagonist in the Mexican Novelette "El Inquisidor De Mexico", set in the Viceroy of New Spain, as is common.

Live-Action TV

  • Henry was pursued by a priest in Blood Ties (2007). In two different eras.
  • One episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus has a Running Gag where a frustrated character would grumble, "I didn't expect some kind of/this kind of/the Spanish Inquisition!" After a "jarring chord", several anachronistic Spanish Inquisitors would burst in and seize control of the skit. Initially riffing on a common figure of speech in England, the gag eventually wound up becoming one of the show's biggest memes ever.
  • La peste (The Plague), a Spanish series created in 2018. At the time of a bubonic plague outbreak in Seville in 1597, the protagonist, Mateo, is persecuted by the Inquisition for printing forbidden books and condemned to be burned at the stake. He is promised a pardon in exchange for solving a series of crimes of diabolic overtones.
  • In True Blood, the Inquisition is the work of vampires and was primarily used to eliminate witches. The Big Bad of Series 4 is the vengeful spirit of one such witch who was burned at the stake 400 years previously.
  • In the first episode of Ultraviolet (1998), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is assumed by a vampire to be behind the secret Vampire Hunter squad. It turns out to be the British Government instead.


Role-Playing Games

  • Open Blue has the Three Inquisitional Orders, which served as the Avelian Empire's Spanish Inquisition. When the inquisition ended, they continued to train their priests (and nuns) in the art of swinging swords around as they were frequently assigned as chaplains aboard Avelian warships, which usually went off hunting pirates. Additionally, these priests and nuns are responsible for training the spies and State Sec agents working for the Empire's intelligence service.

Tabletop Games

  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy also has an Inquisition, a fanatic branch of the Church of Abel whose mission is to hunt down and kill heretics and demons (read: people with supernatural powers as magic or psyonic abilities and non-humans respectively). They've everything from the Black Legend mentioned above: burning heretics at the stake, tortures, etc. and are not very nice, Given how much stuff in Anima has been inspired (or simply taken more or less changed) from different anime and manga, it's very likely its Inquisition is actually based on the Holy See of Berserk, mentioned above.
  • They're also still around in Hunter: The Vigil. The Malleus Malefictorum are also dedicated to only fighting supernatural threats, particularly vampires. Their leader is a ghoul, as in someone who survives on vampire blood. He's also gay, but surprisingly not a Pedophile Priest.
  • In Mutant Chronicles, The Brotherhood's Second Directorate is the Inquisition. The Inquisition is pretty much the common view of the Spanish one taken up to eleven. However the grimdark nature of the world makes the Inquisition come off as harsh but justified more than anything else. Inquisitors not only conduct interrogations and torture heretics, but also investigate heresy-related crime and fight heretics and demons in the field, and are generally (though not without exception) heroic figures.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Inquisition, a religious paramilitary security force that protects the Imperium from its enemies within and enemies without. One branch (Ordo Malleus) deals with daemons of Chaos, another (Ordo Hereticus) with rogue psykers or outbreaks of heresy, and a third (Ordo Xenos) from alien corruption. Every full-fledged Inquisitor infamously has the authority to practically order an Earth-Shattering Kaboom (technically, the actual planet will remain intact, but literally all life on it will be extinguished) if they deem it necessary, and will be almost definitely be torturing the entire way before-hand. The Inquisition's members also have a fondness for broad-brimmed hats (when they're not in full-blown Power Armor), and helped provide most of the 40K contributions on the Quotes Wiki on the subject of Hanging Judge.
    • And by extension, the Inquisition is the main organization of Exterminatus Now. There are also two references to the Monty Python sketch.
  • Warhammer Fantasy, way before Warhammer 40K, had the Witch Hunters, agents who hunted down Chaos activities, unlicensed magic users, mutants, and whatever else they don't like much. Their authority might come from local authorities, the official State Cult, or simply be acting on their own. The broad-brimmed hats are also there.


  • The opera Don Carlo, and the play by Friedrich von Schiller on which it is based.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, a major supporting character is Don Alhambra del Bolero, Grand Inquisitor of Spain. Modern productions will often throw in a few lines about not expecting him in a given scene.
  • The classic musical Man of La Mancha is the story of Don Quixote as told by Miguel de Cervantes to a group of inmates while he awaits trial by the Inquisition. An underplayed but important arc involves Miguel building up his courage to face the Inquisition, running parallel to Quixote's seeming fearlessness.

Video Games

  • Implied to be happening off-screen during the events of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (set in 1479), as a witch named Julia tells protagonist Hector that she was persecuted in "the western lands" and then fled to Wallachia as her kin were "hunted like vermin." Furthermore, the plot and setting of the game suggest that the Spanish Inquisition and all other witch hunts throughout Western Europe at the time were caused by Dracula's Dying Curse that he unleashed upon the world three years prior.
  • Paul Luther is detained by the Inquisition in Eternal Darkness; his chapter is even titled "Heresy!


Western Animation

  • Codename: Kids Next Door had the Spinach Inquisition from the land of Spinachia, who forced kids to eat spinach so they didn't have to (and sang about it as well). Upon saying "Nobody expects the spinach inquisition!", a rim shot plays.
  • Depicted as a torturous game show sketch, "Convert or Die!", in the Histeria! episode "Megalomaniacs". The sketch was replaced with a new sketch about "Custer's Last Stand" in reruns, but restored when the episode appeared on In2TV.

What a show!

Alternative Title(s): Spanish Inquisition