PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FB - TWITTER - GR VIDEOS - GR FORUMS - GR YOUTUBE
SUPPRESSION OF THE REFORMATION IN SPAIN WE cannot condemn, either upon the principles of nature or revelation, those individuals who, finding themselves in the utmost peril of their lives, chose to forsake their native country, and to seek abroad for a place in which they were at liberty to worship God according to their consciences.
Yet it was this step on the part of some of the Spanish protestants which led to the discovery of their brethren who remained behind. Their sudden disappearance led to inquiries as to the cause, and the knowledge of this excited suspicions that they were not the only persons who were disaffected to the religion of their country. The divines attached to the court of Philip II. at Brussels kept a strict watch upon the refugees from Spain who had settled in Geneva and different places of Germany; and, having got possession of their secrets by means of spies, conveyed information to the inquisitors, that a large quantity of heretical books had been sent to Spain, and that the protestant doctrine was spreading rapidly in the kingdom. This intelligence was received in the close of the year 1557. f395 Roused from their security, the inquisitors instantly put their extensive police in motion, and were not long in discovering the individual who had been active in introducing the heretical books. Juan Hernandez, in consequence of information received from a smith, to whom he had shown a copy of the New Testament, was apprehended and thrown into prison. f396 He did not seek to conceal his sentiments, and gloried in the fact that he had contributed to the illumination of his countrymen by furnishing them with the scriptures in their native tongue. But the inquisitors were disappointed in their expectations that they had formed from his apprehension. His life indeed was in their hands, and they could dispose of it according to their pleasure; but the blood of an obscure individual appeared, in their eyes, altogether inadequate to wash away the disgrace which they had incurred by their failure in point of vigilance, or to expiate the enormous crime which had defiled the land. What they aimed at was, to obtain from the prisoner such information respecting his associates as would enable them “at once to crush the viper’s nest,” (to use their own words) and set them at ease for the future. But they found themselves mortifyingly baffled in all their attempts to accomplish this object. In vain they had recourse to those arts of deceit in which they were so deeply practiced, in order to draw from Hernandez his secret. In vain they employed promises and threats, examinations and cross-examinations, sometimes in the hall of audience, and at other times in his cell, into which they sent alternately their avowed agents, and persons who “feigned themselves just men,” and friendly to the reformed doctrine. When questioned concerning his own faith, he answered frankly; and though destitute of the advantages of a liberal education, he defended himself with boldness, silencing, by his knowledge of the scriptures alone, his judges, together with the learned men whom they brought to confute him. But when asked to declare who were his religious instructors and companions, he refused to utter a word. Nor were they more successful when they had recourse to that horrid engine which had often wrung secrets from the stoutest hearts, and made them betray their nearest and best-beloved friends. Hernandez displayed a firmness and heroism altogether above his physical strength and his station in life. During the three years complete that he was kept in prison, he was frequently put to the torture, in every form and with all the aggravations of cruelty which his persecutors, incensed at his obstinacy, could inflict or devise; but, on every fresh occasion, he appeared before them with unsubdued fortitude; and when led, or rather dragged, from the place of torment to his cell, he returned with an air of triumph, chanting this refrain , in his native tongue: Vencidos van los frayles, vencidos van:
Corridos van los lobos, corridos van.f397 Conquered return the friars, conquered return:
Scattered return the wolves, scattered return.
At length the inquisitors got possession of the secret which they were so eager to know. This was obtained at Seville, by means of the superstitious fears of one member of the protestant church, and the treachery of another, who had for some time acted as a concealed emissary of the Inquisition. f398 At Valladolid, it was obtained by one of those infernal arts, which that tribunal, whenever it served its purposes, has never scrupled to employ.
Juan Garcia, a goldsmith, who had been in the habit of summoning the protestants to sermon; and aware of the influence which superstition exerted over the mind of his wife, he concealed from her the place and times of assembling. Being gained by her confessor, this demon in woman’s shape dogged her husband one night, and having ascertained the place of meeting, communicated the fact to the Inquisition. The traitress received her earthly reward in an annuity for life, paid from the public funds! f399 Having made these important discoveries, the council of the Supreme dispatched messengers to the several tribunals of inquisition through the kingdom, directing them to make inquiries with all secrecy within their respective jurisdictions, and to be prepared, on receiving further instructions, to act in concert. The familiars were employed in tracing out the remoter ramifications of heresy; and guards were planted at convenient places, to intercept and seize such persons as might attempt to escape.
These precautions having been taken, orders were issued to the proper agents; and by a simultaneous movement, the protestants were seized at the same time in Seville, in Valladolid, and in all the surrounding country.
In Seville and its neighborhood two hundred persons were apprehended in one day; and, in consequence of information resulting from their examinations, the number soon increased to eight hundred. The castle of Triana, the common prisons, the convents, and even private houses, were crowded with the victims. Eighty persons were committed to prison in Valladolid, and the number of individuals seized by the other tribunals was in proportion. When the alarm was first given, many were so thunderstruck and appalled as to be unable to take the least step for securing their safety. Some ran to the house of the Inquisition, and informed against themselves, without knowing what they were doing; like persons who, rushing out of a house which has taken fire in the night-time, precipitate themselves into a devouring flood. Others, in attempting to make their escape, were pursued and overtaken; and some, who had reached a protestant country, becoming secure, fell into the snares laid for them by the spies of the Holy Office, were forcibly carried off, and brought back to Spain. Among those who made good their retreat, was the licentiate Zafra, formerly mentioned, who was peculiarly obnoxious to the inquisitors. He was apprehended among the first, but, during the confusion caused by want of room to contain the prisoners, contrived to make his escape, and to conceal himself, until he found a favorable opportunity of retiring into Germany. f401 The reader will recollect the reform which the monks of San Isidro had introduced into their convent. Desirable as this change was in itself, and commendable as was their conduct in adopting it, it brought them into a situation both delicate and painful. They could not throw off the monastic forms entirely, without exposing themselves to the fury of their enemies; nor yet could they retain them, without being conscious of acting to a certain degree hypocritically, and giving countenance to a pernicious system of superstition, by which their country was at once deluded and oppressed. In this dilemma, they held a consultation on the propriety of deserting the convent, and retiring to some foreign land, in which, at the expense of sacrificing their worldly emoluments and spending their lives in poverty, they might enjoy peace of mind and the freedom of religious worship. The attempt was of the most hazardous kind, and difficulties presented themselves to any plan which could be suggested for carrying it into execution. How could so many persons, well known in Seville and all around it, after having left one of the most celebrated monasteries in Spain deserted, expect to accomplish so long a journey, without being discovered? If, on the other hand, a few of them should make the attempt and succeed, would not this step bring the lives of the remainder into the greatest jeopardy; especially as the suspicions of the inquisitors, which had for a considerable time been laid asleep, had been lately aroused? This last consideration appeared so strong that they unanimously resolved to remain where they were, and commit themselves to the disposal of an all-powerful and gracious providence. But the aspect of matters becoming hourly darker and more alarming, another chapter was held, at which it was agreed that it would be tempting instead of trusting providence to adhere to their former resolution, and that therefore every one should be left at liberty to adopt that course which in the emergency appeared to his own mind best and most advisable. Accordingly, twelve of their number left the monastery, and taking different routes, got safely out of Spain, and at the end of twelve months met in Geneva, which they had previously agreed upon as the place of their rendezvous. They were gone only a few days when the storm of persecution burst on the heads not only of their brethren who remained in San Isidro, but of all their religious connexions in Spain. f403 It was in the beginning of the year 1558 that this calamitous event befell Spain. Previously to that period Charles V., having relinquished his schemes of worldly ambition, and resigned the empire in favor of his brother Ferdinand, and his hereditary dominions to his son Philip, had retired into the convent of St. Juste, situated in the province of Estremadura, where he spent the remainder of his days in the society and devotional exercises of monks. Several historians of no inconsiderable reputation have asserted, that Charles, during his retreat, became favorable to the sentiments of the protestants of Germany, that he died in their faith, that Philip charged the Holy Office to investigate the truth of this report, and that he had at one time serious thoughts of disinterring the bones of his father as those of a heretic. Various causes may be assigned for the currency of these rumors. Charles had three years before been involved in a dispute with Paul IV., who had threatened him with excommunication; Constantine Ponce and Augustin Cazalla, two of his chaplains, had embraced the protestant opinions; his confessor De Regla had been forced to abjure them; and Carranza and Villalba, who exhorted him on his deathbed, were soon after denounced to the Inquisition. To these presumptions it may be added, that the manner in which Philip treated his son Don Carlos, and the known fact that he never scrupled to employ the Inquisition as an engine for accomplishing purposes purely political, if not domestic also, have induced historians, from supposing him capable of any crime, to impute to him those of which he was never guilty. There is the best reason for believing that Charles, instead of being more favorably disposed, became more averse to the protestants in his latter days, and that, so far from repenting of the conduct which he had pursued towards them, his only regret was that he had not treated them with greater severity. When informed that Lutheranism was spreading in Spain, and that a number of persons had been apprehended under suspicion of being infected with it, he wrote letters, from the monastery of St. Juste, to his daughter Joanna, governess of Spain, to Juan de Vega, president of the council of Castile, and to the inquisitor general, charging them to exert their respective powers with all possible vigor “in seizing the whole party, and causing them all to be burnt, after using every means to make them Christians before their punishment; for he was persuaded that none of them would become sincere catholics, so irresistible was their propensity to dogmatize.” He afterwards sent Luis Quixada, his major-domo, to urge the execution of these measures. In conversation with the prior and monks of the convent, he took great credit to himself for having resisted the pressing solicitations of the protestant princes to read their books and admit their divines to an audience; although they promised on that condition to march with all their forces, at one time against the king of France, and at another against the Turk. The only thing for which he blamed himself was his leniency to them, and particularly keeping faith with the heresiarch. Speaking of the charge he had given to the inquisitors respecting the heretics in Spain, “If they do not condemn them to the fire,” said he, “they will commit a great fault, as I did in permitting Luther to live. Though I spared him solely on the ground of the safe-conduct I had sent him, and the promise I had made at a time when I expected to suppress the heretics by other means, I confess nevertheless that I did wrong in this, because I was not bound to keep my promise to that heretic, as he had offended a master greater than I, even God himself. I was at liberty then, yea I ought, to have forgotten my word, and avenged the injury he had done to God. If he had injured me only, I should have kept my promise faithful; but, in consequence of my not having taken away his life, heresy continued to make progress, whereas his death, I am persuaded, would have stifled it in its birth.” Nor does this rest merely on the evidence of reported conversations. In his testament, made in the Low countries, he charged his son “to be obedient to the commandments of holy mother church, and especially to favor and countenance the holy office of the Inquisition against heretical pravity and apostasy.” And in a codicil to it, executed in the convent of St. Juste a few weeks before his death, after mentioning the instructions he had formerly given on this subject, and the confidence which he placed in his son for carrying them into execution, he adds; “Therefore I entreat him and recommend to him with all possible and due earnestness, and moreover command him as a father, and by the obedience which he owes me, carefully to attend to this, as an object which is essential and nearly concerns him, that heretics be pursued and punished as their crime deserves, without excepting any who are guilty, and without showing any regard to entreaties, or to rank or quality. And that my intentions may be carried into full effect, I charge him to favour and cause to be favoured the holy Inquisition, which is the means of preventing and correcting so many evils, as I have enjoined in my testament; that so he may fulfil his duty as a prince, and that our Lord may prosper him in his reign, and protect him against his enemies, to my great peace and contentment.” f409 But though it appears from these facts that the imprisoned protestants had nothing to hope from Charles V., yet their calamities were aggravated by his retirement and the succession of Philip II. That bigotry which in the father was paralysed by the incipient dotage which had inflamed it, was combined in the son with all the vigor of youth, and with a temper naturally gloomy and unrelenting. Other circumstances conspired to seal the doom of the reformers in Spain. The wars which had so long raged between that country and France were terminated by the treaty of Chateau Cambresis, and the peace between the rival kingdoms was ratified by the marriage of Philip to the eldest daughter of the French king. Previously to that event the dissension between the Spanish monarch and the court of Rome had been amicably adjusted. The papal throne was filled at this time by Paul IV., a furious persecutor, and determined supporter of the Inquisition. And the office of inquisitor general in Spain was held by Francisco Valdes, a prelate who had already distinguished himself from his two immediate predecessors by the severity of his administration, and whose worldly passions were unmitigated by the advanced age to which he had arrived.
The supreme pontiff, the inquisitor general, and the monarch, were alike disposed to adopt the most illegal and sanguinary measures for extinguishing heresy in the Peninsula.
When only sixteen years of age, Philip gave a proof of his extreme devotion to the Inquisition, and of the principles on which his future reign was to be conducted. In the year 1543 the marquis de Terranova, viceroy of Sicily, ordered two familiars of the Holy Office to be brought before the ordinary tribunals, for certain crimes of which they were guilty. Though this was in perfect accordance with a law which, at the request of the inhabitants, Charles V. had promulgated, suspending for ten years the powers of the inquisitors to judge in such causes within the island, yet a complaint was made, on the part of the familiars, to Philip, then acting as regent of the Spanish dominions, who addressed a letter to the viceroy, exhorting him, as an obedient son of the church, to give satisfaction to the holy fathers whom he had offended. The consequence was, that the marquis, who was grand constable and admiral of Naples, one of the first peers of Spain, and sprung from the royal stock of Aragon, felt himself obliged to do penance in the church of the Dominican monastery, and to pay a hundred ducats to the catchpolls of the Inquisition, whose vices he had presumed to correct. During the regency of the prince, the Spanish inquisitors in more than one instance obtained the revival of those powers which had been suspended, as at once injurious to the civil judicatures and to the liberties of the subject. f411 During the negotiation in 1557 between the court of Spain and the Roman see, which ended so disgracefully to the former, Philip wrote to his general, the duke of Alva, “that Rome was a prey to great calamities at the time of his birth, and it would be wrong in him to subject it to similar evils at the commencement of his reign; it was therefore his will that peace should be speedily concluded on terms no way dishonorable to his Holiness; for he would rather part with the rights of his crown than touch in the slightest degree those of the holy see.” In pursuance of these instructions, Alva, as viceroy of Naples, was obliged to fall on his knees, and, in his own name, as well as that of his master and the emperor, to beg pardon of the pope for all the offenses specified in the treaty of peace; upon which they were absolved from the censures which they had respectively incurred.
After this ceremony was over, the haughty and gratified pontiff, turning to the cardinals, told them “that he had now rendered to the holy see the most important service it would ever receive; and that the example which the Spanish monarch had just given would teach popes henceforth how to abase the pride of kings, who knew not the extent of that obeisance which they legitimately owed to the heads of the church.” With good reason might Charles V. say in his testament, when leaving his dying charge to extirpate heresy, “that he was persuaded the king his son would use every possible effort to crush so great an evil with all the severity and promptitude which it required.” f414 Paul IV. acceded with the utmost readiness to the applications which were now addressed to him by Philip, in concurrence with Valdes, the inquisitor general, for such enlargements of the authority of the Holy Office as would enable it to compass the condemnation of the heretics who were in prison, and to seize and convict others. On the 15th of February 1558 he issued a summary brief, renewing all the decisions of councils and sovereign pontiffs against heretics and schismatics; declaring that this measure was rendered necessary by the information he had received of the daily and increasing progress of heresy; and charging Valdes to prosecute the guilty, and inflict upon them the punishments decreed by the constitutions, particularly that which deprived them of all their dignities and functions, “whether they were bishops, archbishops, patriarchs, cardinals or legates,—barons, counts, marquises, dukes, princes, kings or emperors.” This sweeping brief, from whose operation none was exempted but his Holiness, was made public in Spain with the approbation of the monarch, soon after he himself and his father had been threatened with excommunication and dethronement. Valdes, in concurrence with the council of the Supreme, prepared instructions to all the tribunals of the Inquisition, directing them, among other things, to search for heretical books, and to make a public auto-de-fe of such as they should discover, including many works not mentioned in any former prohibitory index. f416 This was also the epoch of that terrible law of Philip which ordained the punishment of death, with confiscation of goods, against all who sold, bought, read, or possessed any book that was forbidden by the Holy Office. To ferret the poor heretics from their lurking-places, and to drive them into the toils of the bloody statute, Paul IV., on the 6th of January 1559, issued a bull, enjoining all confessors strictly to examine their penitents of whatever rank, from the lowest to that of cardinal or king, and to charge them to denounce all whom they know to be guilty of this offence, under the pain of the greater excommunication, from which none but the pope or the inquisitor general could release them; and subjecting such confessors as neglected this duty to the same punishment that was threatened against their penitents. On the following day the pope declared, in full consistory, that the heresy of Luther and other innovators being propagated in Spain, he had reasons to suspect that it had been embraced by some bishops; on which account he authorized the grand inquisitor, during two years from that day, to hold an inquest on all bishops, archbishops, patriarchs, and primates of that kingdom, to commence their processes, and, in case he had grounds to suspect that they intended to make their escape, to seize and detain them, on condition of his giving notice of this immediately to the sovereign pontiff, and conveying the prisoners, as soon as possible, to Rome. f419 As if these measures had not been calculated sufficiently to multiply denunciations, Philip seconded them by an edict renewing a royal ordinance, which had fallen into desuetude or been suspended, and which entitled informers to the fourth part of the property of those found guilty of heresy. But the existing code of laws, even after those which had been long disabled or forgotten were revived, was too mild for the rulers of this period. Statutes still more barbarous and unjust were enacted. At the request of Philip and Valdes, the pope, on the 4th of February 1559, gave forth a brief, authorizing the council of the Supreme, in derogation of the standing laws of the Inquisition, to deliver over to the secular arm those who were convicted of having taught the Lutheran opinions, even though they had not relapsed, and were willing to recant. It has been justly observed, that though history had had nothing else with which to reproach Philip II. and the inquisitor general Valdes, than their having solicited this bull, it would have been sufficient to consign their names to infamy.
Neither Ferdinand V. and Torquemada, nor Charles V. and Manriquez, had pushed matters to this length. They never thought of burning alive, or subjecting to capital punishment, persons who were convicted of falling into heresy for the first time, and who confessed their errors; nor did they think themselves warranted to proceed to this extremity by the suspicion that such confessions were dictated by the fear of death. This was the last invention of tyranny, inflamed into madness by hatred and dread of the truth. Were it necessary to point out aggravations of this iniquity, we might state that the punishment was to be inflicted for actions done before the law was enacted; and that it was unblushingly applied to those who had long been immured in the cells of the Inquisition. f421 The next object was to find fit agents for carrying these sanguinary statutes into execution. It is one of the wise arrangements of a merciful providence for thwarting designs hurtful to human society, and for inspiring their authors with the dread of ultimate discomfiture, that wicked men and tyrants are disposed to suspect the most slavish and devoted instruments of their will. The individuals at the head of the inquisitorial tribunals of Seville and Valladolid had incurred the suspicions of Valdes, as guilty of culpable negligence, if not of connivance at the protestants, who had held their conventicles in the two principal cities of the kingdom, almost with open doors. To guard against any thing of this kind for the future, and to provide for the multiplicity of business which the late disclosures had created, he delegated his powers of inquisitor general to two individuals, in whom he could place entire confidence, Gonzales Munebrega, archbishop of Tarragona, and Pedro de la Gasca, archbishop of Palencia, who fixed their residence, the former at Seville, and the latter at Valladolid, in the character of vice-inquisitors general. Both substitutes proved themselves worthy of the trust reposed in them; but the conduct of Munebrega gratified the highest expectations of Valdes and Philip. When engaged in superintending the examinations of the prisoners, and giving directions as to the torture which to which they should be put, he was accustomed to indulge in the most profane and cruel raillery, saying that these heretics had the commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” so deeply seated in their hearts, that it was necessary to tear the flesh from their bones, to make them inform against their brethren. During the intervals of business, he was to be seen sailing in his barge on the river, or walking in the gardens of the Triana, dressed in purple and silk, accompanied with a train of servants, surrounded by wretched poetasters, and followed by hired crowds, who at one time saluted him with their huzzas, and at another insulted the protestants, whom they descried through the grated windows of the castle. An anecdote which is told of him, though trifling compared with the horrors of that time, deserves to be repeated as a proof of the insolence of office, and one among many instances of the shameless manner in which the inquisitors converted their authority into an instrument of gratifying their meanest passions. A servant of the vice-inquisitor general snatched a stick one day from the gardener’s son, who was amusing himself in one of the avenues. The father, attracted by the cries of his child, came to the spot, and having in vain desired the servant to restore the stick, wrested it from his hand, which was slightly injured in the struggle. A complaint was instantly made to Munebrega; and the conduct of the gardener being found sufficient to fasten on him a suspicion of heresy de levi , he was thrown into prison, where he lay nine months heavily ironed. f424 The reader will mistake very much, if he suppose that the holy fathers undertook all these extraordinary services from pure zeal for the truth, or under the idea that their superabundant and supererogatory labors would secure to them an unseen and future recompense. If heretics were visited in this life with exemplary punishment for the sins of which they had been guilty, why should not the defenders of the faith have “their good things” in this life? To meet the expenses of this domestic crusade, the pope, at the request of the inquisitors, authorized them to appropriate to their use certain ecclesiastical revenues, and granted them, in addition, an extraordinary subsidy of a hundred thousand ducats of gold, to be raised by the clergy. The bull issued for that purpose stated, that the heresy of Luther had made an alarming progress in Spain, where it was embraced by many rich and powerful individuals; that, with the view of putting a stop to it, the inquisitor general had been obliged to commit to prison a multitude of suspected persons, to increase the number of judges in the provincial tribunals, to employ supernumerary familiars, and to purchase and keep in readiness a supply of horses in the different parts of the kingdom for the pursuit of fugitives; and that the ordinary revenue of the Holy Office was quite insufficient to defray the expenses of so enlarged an establishment, and at the same time to maintain such of the prisoners as were destitute of means to support themselves. Zealous as the clergy in general were against heresy, they fretted exceedingly against this tax on their income; and after the Inquisition had succeeded in exterminating the Lutherans, it needed to direct its thunders, and even to call in the assistance of the secular arm, against certain refractory canons, who resisted the payment of the sums in which they had been assessed. f425 While these preparations were going on, it is not easy to conceive, but easier to conceive than describe, the situation and feelings of the captive protestants. To have had the prospect of an open trial, though accompanied with the certainty of being convicted and doomed to an ignominious death, would have been relief to their minds. But, instead of this, they were condemned to a protracted confinement, during which their melancholy solitude was only broken in upon by attempts to bereave them of their best consolation; distracted, on the one hand, by the entreaties of their disconsolate friends, who besought them to purchase their lives by an early recantation, and harassed, on the other, by the endless examinations to which they were subjected by their persecutors; assured to-day that they would escape provided they made an ingenuous confession of all they knew, and told to-morrow that the confessions which they had made in confidence had only served to confirm the suspicions entertained of their sincerity; hearing, at one time, of some unhappy individual who was added to their number, and receiving, at another time, the still more distressing intelligence that a fellow-prisoner, entangled by sophistry, or overcome by torments, had consented to abjure the truth. A milder tribunal would have been satisfied with making an example of the ringleaders, or would have brought out the guilty for execution as soon as their trials could be overtaken. The policy of Philip II. and his inquisitors was different. They wished to strike terror into the minds of the whole nation, and exhibit to Europe a grand spectacle of zeal for the catholic faith, and vengeance against heresy. Filled with those fears which ever haunt the minds of tyrants, they imagined that heresy had spread more extensively than was really the case, and therefore sought to extort from their prisoners such confessions as would lead to the discovery of those who still remained concealed, or who might be in the slightest degree infected with the new opinions. While they had not the most distant intention of extending mercy to those who professed themselves penitent, and had already procured a law which warranted them to withhold it, they were nevertheless anxious to secure a triumph to the catholic faith, by having it in their power to read, in the public auto-de-fe, the forced retractions of those who had embraced the truth. With this view, the greater part of the protestants were detained in prison for two, and some of them for three years, during which their bodily health was broken, or their spirit subdued, by the rigor of confinement and the severity of torture. The consequence of this treatment was, that the constancy of some of them was shaken, while others ended their days by a lingering and secret martyrdom.
Among those of the last class was Constantine Ponce de la Fuente.
Exposed as he was to the hatred of those who envied his popularity, and the jealousy of those who looked upon him as the ablest supporter of the new opinions, it is not to be supposed that this learned man could escape the storm that overwhelmed the reformed church in Spain. He was among the first who were apprehended, when the familiars were let loose on the protestants of Seville. When information was conveyed to Charles V. in the monastery of St. Juste, that his favorite chaplain was thrown into prison, he exclaimed, “If Constantine be a heretic, he is a great one!” and when assured, at a subsequent period, by one of his inquisitors, that he had been found guilty, he replied with a sigh, “You cannot condemn a greater!” f428 The joy which the inquisitors felt at obtaining possession of the person of a man whom they had long eyed with jealousy, was in no small degree abated by the difficulties which they found in the way of procuring his conviction. Knowing the perilous circumstances in which he was placed, he had for some time back exercised the utmost circumspection over his words and actions. His confidential friends, as we have already stated, were always few and select. His penetration enabled him with a single glance to detect the traitor under his mask; and his knowledge of human nature kept him from committing himself to the weak though honest partisans of the reformed faith. The veneration and esteem in which he was held by his friends was so great, that they would have died sooner than compromise his safety by their confessions. When brought before his judges, he maintained his innocence, challenged the public prosecutor to show that he had done any thing criminal, and repelled the charges brought against him with such ability and success as threw his adversaries into the greatest perplexity. There was every probability that he would finally baffle their efforts to convict him of heresy, when an unforeseen occurrence obliged him to abandon the line of defence which he had hitherto pursued. Dona Isabella Martinia, a widow lady of respectability and opulence, had been thrown into prison as a suspected heretic, and her property confiscated.
The inquisitors being informed, by the treachery of a servant in the family, that her son, Francisco Bertran, had contrived, before the inventory was taken, to secrete certain coffers containing valuable effects, sent their alguazil, Luis Sotelo, to demand them. As soon as the alguazil entered the house, Bertran, in great trepidation, told him he knew his errand, and would deliver up what he wanted, on condition that he screened him from the vengeance of the Inquisition. Conducting the alguazil to a retired part of the building, and breaking down a thin partition-wall, he disclosed a quantity of books which Constantine Ponce had deposited with his mother for the purpose of security, some time before his imprisonment. Sotelo signified that these were not exactly what he was in search of, but that he would take charge of them, along with the coffers which he was instructed to carry to the Holy Office. Dazzling as were the jewels of Isabella Martinia, the eyes of the inquisitors glistened still more at the sight of the books of Constantine. On examining them, they found, beside various heretical works, a volume of his own handwriting, in which the points of controversy between the church of Rome and the protestants were discussed at considerable length. In it the author treated of the true church according to the principles of Luther and Calvin, and, by an application of the different marks which the scriptures gave for discriminating it, showed that the papal church had no claim to the title. In a similar way he decided the questions respecting justification, the merit of good works, the sacraments, indulgences, and purgatory; calling this last the wolf’s head, and an invention of the monks to feed idle bellies. When the volume was shown to Constantine, he acknowledged at once that it was in his handwriting, and contained his sentiments. “It is unnecessary for you (added he) to produce further evidence: you have there a candid and full confession of my belief. I am in your hands; do with me as seemeth to you good.” f429 No arts or threatenings could prevail on him to give any information respecting his associates. With the view of inducing the other prisoners to plead guilty, the agents of the Holy Office circulated the report that he had informed against them when put to the question; and they even suborned witnesses to depone that they had heard his cries on the rack, though he never endured that inhuman mode of examination. By what motives the judges were restrained from subjecting him to it, is uncertain. I can only conjecture that it proceeded from respect to the feelings of the emperor; for, soon after his death, Constantine was removed from the apartment which he had hitherto occupied, and thrust into a low, damp, and noisome vault, where he endured more than his brethren did from the application of the engines of torture. Oppressed and worn out with a mode of living so different from what he had been used to, he was heard to exclaim, “O my God, were there no Scythians, or cannibals, or pagans still more savage, that thou hast permitted me to fall into the hands of these baptized fiends?”
He could not remain long in such a situation. Putrid air and unwholesome diet, together with grief for the ruin of the reformed cause in his native country, brought on a dysentery, which put an end to his days, after he had been nearly two years in confinement. f430 Not satisfied with wreaking their vengeance on him when alive, his adversaries circulated the report that he had put an end to his own life by opening a vein with a piece of broken glass; and ballads grounded on this fabricated story, and containing other slanders, were indecently hawked through the streets of Seville. Had there been the least foundation for this report, we may be sure the inquisitors would have taken care to verify it, by ordering an inquest to be held on the dead body. But the calumny was refuted by the testimony of a young monk of San Isidro, named Fernando, who being providentially confined in the same cell with Constantine, ministered to him during his sickness, and closed his eyes in peace. f431 The slanders which were at this time so industriously propagated against him, only serve to show the anxiety of the inquisitors to blast his fame, and the dread which they felt lest the reformed opinions should gain credit from the circumstance of their having been embraced by a person of so great eminence and popularity. In this object, however, they did not succeed altogether to their wish. This appeared when his effigy and bones were brought out in the public auto-de-fe celebrated at Seville on the 22d of December 1560. The effigies of such heretics as had escaped from justice, by flight or by death, usually consisted of a shapeless piece of patch-work surmounted by a head; that of Constantine Ponce consisted of a regular human figure, complete in all its parts, dressed after the manner in which he appeared in public, and representing him in his most common attitude of preaching, with one arm resting on the pulpit and the other elevated. The production of this figure in the spectacle, when his sentence was about to be read, excited a lively recollection of a preacher so popular, and drew from the spectators an expression of feeling by no means pleasing to the inquisitors. In consequence of this they caused it to be withdrawn from the prominent situation which it occupied, and to be brought near to their own platform, where they commenced the reading of the articles of the libel on which Constantine had been condemned. The people, displeased at this step, and not hearing what was read, began to murmur; upon which Calderon, who, as mayor of the city, presided on the occasion, desired the acting secretary to go to the pulpit provided for that part of the ceremony.
This intimation being disregarded, the murmurs were renewed, and the mayor, raising his voice, ordered the service to be suspended. The inquisitors were obliged to restore the effigy to its former place, and to recommence the reading of the sentence in the audience of the people; but the secretary was instructed, after naming a few of the errors into which the deceased had fallen, to conclude by saying, that he had vented others so horrible and impious that they could not be heard without pollution by vulgar ears. After this the effigy was sent to the house of the Inquisition, and another of ordinary construction was conveyed to the stake to be burnt along with the bones of Constantine. The inquisitors were not a little puzzled how to act respecting his works, which had already been printed by their approbation; but they at last agreed to prohibit them, “not because they had found any thing in them worthy of condemnation,” as their sentence runs, “but because it was not fit that any honorable memorial of a man doomed to infamy should be transmitted to posterity.” But they had a still more delicate task to perform. The history of a voyage to Flanders by Philip II. when prince of Asturias, had been printed at Madrid by royal authority, in which his chaplain Constantine was described as “the greatest philosopher, the pro-foundest divine, and the most eloquent preacher, who has been in Spain for many ages.” Whether Philip himself gave information of this work, we know not; but there can be no doubt that he would have run the risk of excommunication by retaining it in his library, after it was stigmatized by the inquisitorial censors of the press. They ordered all the copies of the book to be delivered to them, that they might delete the obnoxious panegyric; “and on this passage,” says one who afterwards procured a copy of the History in Spain, “the expurgator of the book, which is in my hands, was so liberal of his ink, that I had much ado to read it.” f434 Constantine Ponce was not the only protestant who fell a sacrifice to the noxious vapors and ordure of the inquisitorial prisons. This was also the fate of Olmedo, a man distinguished for his learning and piety, who fell into the hands of the inquisitors of Seville, and was often heard to exclaim, that there was no species of torture which he would not endure in preference to the horrors of his present situation. Considering the treatment which the prisoners received, it is wonderful that many of them were not driven to distraction. One individual only, a female, had recourse to the desperate remedy of shortening her days. Juana Sanchez, a beata , after having long kept in prison at Valladolid, was found guilty of heresy. Coming to the knowledge of her sentence before it was formally intimated to her, she cut her throat with a pair of scissors, and died of the wound in the course of a few days. During the interval every effort was employed by the friars to induce her, not to repent of her suicide, but to recant the errors which she had cherished. She repulsed them with indignation, as monsters equally devoid of humanity and religion. f436 I must again refer my readers to the common histories of the Inquisition, for information as to the modes of torture and other cruel devices used for procuring evidence to convict those who were imprisoned on a charge of heresy. One or two instances, however, are of such a character that it would be unpardonable to omit them in this place. Among the protestants seized at Seville was the widow of Fernando Nugnez, a native of the town of Lepe, with three of her daughters and a married sister. As there was no evidence against them, they were put to the torture, but refused to inform against one another. Upon this the presiding inquisitor called one of the young women into the audience-chamber, and after conversing with her for some time, professed an attachment to her person. Having repeated this at another interview, he told her, that he could be of no service to her unless she imparted to him the whole facts of her case; but if she intrusted him with these, he would manage the affair in such a way as that she and all her friends should be set at liberty. Falling into the snare, the unsuspecting girl confessed to him that she had at different times conversed with her mother, sisters, and aunt, on the Lutheran doctrines. The wretch immediately brought her into court, and obliged her to declare judicially what she had owned to him in private. Nor was this all: under the pretence that her confession was not sufficiently ample and ingenuous, she was put to the torture by the most excruciating engines, the pulley and the wooden horse; by which means evidence was extorted from her, which led, not only to the condemnation of herself and her relations, but also to the seizure and conviction of others who afterwards perished in the flames. Another instance relates to a young countryman of our own. An English vessel, which had entered the port of St. Lucar, was visited by the familiars of the Inquisition, and several of her crew, who, with the frankness of British seamen, avowed themselves protestants, were seized before they came on shore. Along with them the familiars conveyed to prison a boy of twelve years of age, the son of a respectable merchant to whom the principal part of the cargo belonged. The pretext for his apprehension was, that an English psalm-book was found in his portmanteau; but there is reason to believe that the real ground was the hope of extorting from the father a rich ransom for his son’s liberation. Having been piously educated, the youth was observed to be regular in his devotions, and to relieve the irksomeness of his confinement by occasionally singing one of the psalms which he had committed to memory. Both of these were high offenses; for every piece of devotion not conducted under the direction of its ghostly agents, and even every mark of cheerfulness on the part of the prisoners, is strictly prohibited within the gloomy walls of the Holy Office. On the report of the jailer, the boy’s confinement was rendered more severe; in consequence of which he lost the use of both his limbs, and it was found necessary, for the preservation of his life, to remove him to the public hospital. f439 So shameful were the measures taken for procuring the conviction of the prisoners at this time, that a legal investigation of the procedure in the inquisitorial tribunals was afterwards demanded by persons of great respectability in the church. In 1560, Senor Enriquez, an ecclesiastic of rank in the collegiate church of Valladolid, presented to Philip a remonstrance against the inquisition of that city, in which he charged it with tyranny and avarice. Among other things he asserted, that in the cause of Cazalla the officers had allowed the nuns, who like him were imprisoned for Lutheranism, to converse together, that, by confirming one another in their errors, the judged might have it in their power to condemn them, and thus to confiscate their property. Having accomplished the object which they had in view, they changed their measures, kept the prisoners apart, and, by examinations and visits, promises and threatenings, tried every method to induce them to recant and die in the bosom of the church. f440 Nearly two years having been spent in the previous steps, the time was considered as come, according to Spanish ideas of unity of action, for the exhibition of the last scene of the horrible tragedy. Orders were accordingly issued by the council of the Supreme for the celebration of public autos-de-fe, under the direction of the several tribunals of inquisition through the kingdom. Those which took place in Seville and Valladolid were the most noted for the pomp with which they were solemnized, and for the number and rank of their victims. Before describing these, it may be proper to give the reader a general idea of the nature of these exhibitions, and the order in which they were usually conducted.
An auto-de-fe , or act of faith , was either particular or general. In the particular auto, or autillo , as it is called, the offender appeared before the inquisitors in their hall, either alone or in the presence of a select number of witnesses, and had his sentence intimated to him. A general auto, in which a number of heretics were brought out, was performed with the most imposing solemnity, and formed an imitation of an ancient Roman triumph, combined with the last judgment. It was always celebrated on a Sunday or holyday, in the largest church, but more frequently in the most spacious square, of the town in which it happened to be held. Intimation of it was publicly made beforehand in all the churches and religious houses in the neighbourhood. The attendance of the civil authorities as well as of the clergy, secular and regular, was required; and, with the view of attracting the multitude, an indulgence of forty days was proclaimed to all who should witness the ceremonies of the act.
On the evening preceding the auto, such of the prisoners as were penitent, and were to suffer a punishment milder than death, were assembled, the males in one apartment of the prison, and the females in another, when they had their respective sentences intimated to them. At midnight a confessor entered the cell of the prisoners who were sentenced to the stake, and intimated to them for the first time the fate which awaited them, accompanying the intimation with earnest exhortations to recant their errors, and die reconciled to the church; in which case they obtained the favor of being strangled before their bodies were committed to the flames.
On such occasions the most heart-rending scenes sometimes took place.
Early on the following morning the bells of all the churches began to toll, when the officials of the Inquisition repaired to the prison, and having assembled the prisoners, clothed them in the several dresses in which they were to make their appearance at the spectacle. Those who were found suspected of having erred in a slight degree were simply clothed in black.
The other prisoners wore a sanbenito, or species of loose vest of yellow cloth, called zamarra in Spanish. On the sanbenito of those who were to be strangled were painted flames burning downwards, which the Spaniards call fuego revolto, to intimate that they had escaped the fire. The sanbenito of those who were doomed to be burnt alive was covered with figures of flames burning upwards, around which were painted devils carrying fagots, or fanning the fire. Similar marks of infamy appeared on the pasteboard cap, called coroza , which was put on their heads. After this ceremony was over, they were desired to partake of a sumptuous breakfast, which, on their refusal, was devoured by the menials of the office.
The persons who were to take part in the ceremony being all assembled in the court of the prison, the procession moved on, generally in the following order. Preceded by a band of soldiers to clear the way, came a certain number of priests in their surplices, attended by a company of young persons, such as the boys of the college of Doctrine in Seville, who chanted the liturgy in alternate choruses. They were followed by the prisoners, arranged in different classes according to the degrees of their supposed delinquencies, the most guilty being place last, having either extinguished torches or else crosses in their hands, and halters suspended from their necks. Every prisoner was guarded by two familiars, and, in addition to this, those who were condemned to die were attended each by two friars.
After the prisoners came the local magistrates, the judges, and officers of state, accompanied by a train of nobility on horseback. They were succeeded by the secular and monastic clergy. At some distance from these were to be seen moving forward, in slow and solemn pomp, the members of the Holy Office, the persons who principally shared the triumph of the day, preceded by their fiscal, bearing the standard of the Inquisition, composed of red silk damask, on which the names and insignia of pope Sixtus IV. and Ferdinand the Catholic, the founders of the tribunal, were conspicuous, and surmounted by a crucifix of massive silver, overlaid with gold, which was held in the highest veneration by the populace. They were followed by the familiars on horseback, forming their body-guard, and including many of the principal gentry of the country as honorary members.
The procession was closed by an immense concourse of the common people, who advanced without any regular order.
Having arrived at the place of the auto, the inquisitors ascended the platform erected for their reception, and the prisoners were conducted to another which was placed opposite to it. The service commenced with a sermon, usually preached by some distinguished prelate; after which the clerk of the tribunal read the sentences of the penitents, who, on their knees, and with hands laid on the missal, repeated their confessions. The presiding inquisitor then descended from the throne on which he sat, and advancing to the altar, absolved the penitents a culpa , leaving them under the obligation to bear the several punishments to which they had been adjudged, whether these consisted of penances, banishment, whipping, hard labour, or imprisonment. He then administered an oath to all who were present at the spectacle, binding them to live and die in the communion of the Roman church, and to uphold and defend, against all its adversaries, the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition; during which ceremony the people were to be seen all at once on their knees in the streets. The more tragical part of the scene now followed. The sentences of those who were doomed to die having been publicly read, such of them as were in holy orders were publicly degraded, by being stripped, piece by piece, of their priestly vestments; a ceremony which was performed with every circumstance calculated to expose them to ignominy and execration in the eyes of the superstitious beholders. After this they were formally delivered over to the secular judges, to suffer the punishment awarded to heretics by the civil law. It was on this occasion that the inquisitors performed that impious farce which has excited the indignation of all in whose breasts fanaticism, or some worse principle, has not extinguished every sentiment of common feeling. When they delivered the prisoner into the hands of the secular judges whom they had summoned to receive him, they besought them to treat him with clemency and compassion. This they did to escape falling under the censure of irregularity , which the canons of the church had denounced against ecclesiastics who should be accessory to the inflicting of any bodily injury. Yet they not only knew what would be the consequence of their act, but had taken all the precautions necessary for securing it. Five days before the auto-de-fe, they acquainted the ordinary royal judge with the number of prisoners to be delivered over to him, in order that the proper quantity of stakes, wood, and every thing else requisite for the execution, might be in readiness. The prisoners once declared by the inquisitors to be impenitent or relapsed heretics, nothing was competent to the magistrate but to pronounce the sentence adjudging them to the flames; and had he presumed in any instance to change the sentence of death into perpetual imprisonment, though it were in one of the remotest forts of Asia, Africa, or America, he would soon have felt the vengeance of the Holy Office. Besides, the statutes adjudging heretics to the fire had been confirmed by numerous bulls of popes, which commanded the inquisitors to watch over their exact observance. And in accordance with this, they, at every auto-de-fe, required the magistrates to swear that they would faithfully execute the sentences against the persons of heretics, without delay, “in the way and manner prescribed by the sacred canons, and the laws which treated on the subject. Were it necessary to say more on this topic, we might add that the very appearance of the prisoners, when brought out in the public spectacle, proclaimed the unblushing hypocrisy of the inquisitors. They implored the secular judge to treat with lenity and compassion persons whom they themselves had worn to skeletons by a cruel incarceration,—not to shed the blood of him from whose body they had often made the blood to spring, nor to break a bone of her whose tender limbs were already distorted and mangled by their hellish tortures! f446 The penitents having been remanded to their several prisons, the other prisoners were led away to execution. Some writers have spoken as if they were executed on the spot where their sentence was read, and in the presence of all who had witnessed the preceding parts of the spectacle.
This however is a mistake. The stakes were erected without the walls of the town where the auto-de-fe was celebrated; but though the last act was deemed too horrid to be exhibited on the same stage with those which we have described, yet it was performed publicly, and was witnessed, not only by the mob, but by persons who from their rank and station might have been expected to turn with disgust from so revolting a spectacle.
Seville contained by far the greatest number of protestants under confinement; and the long period during which its prisons has been crowded gave it a claim to the benefit of the first jail-delivery. Valla-dolid, however, was preferred; for no other reason, apparently, than that it afforded the Inquisition the opportunity of exhibiting the greatest proportion of criminals of whom it could boast as converts from heresy.
The first public auto-de-fe of protestants was accordingly celebrated in Valladolid on the 21st of May 1559, being Trinity Sunday, in the presence of Don Carlos the heir apparent to the crown, and his aunt Juana, queen dowager of Portugal and governess of the kingdom during the absence of her brother Philip II.; attended by a great concourse of persons of all ranks.
It was performed in the grand square between the church of St. Francis and the house of the Consistory. In the front of the town-house, and by the side of the platform occupied by the inquisitors, a box was erected, which the royal family could enter without interruption from the crowd, and in which they had a full view of the prisoners. The spectacle continued from six o’clock in the morning till two in the afternoon, during which the people exhibited no symptoms of impatience, nor did the queen retire until the whole was concluded. The sermon was preached by the celebrated Melchior Cano, bishop of the Canaries; the bishop of Palencia, to whose diocese Valladolid at that time belonged, performed the ceremony of degrading such of the victims as were in holy orders. When the company were assembled and had taken their places, Francisco Baca, the presiding inquisitor, advancing to the bed of state on which the prince and his aunt were seated, administered to them the oath to support the Holy Office, and to reveal to it every thing contrary to the faith which might come to their knowledge, without respect of persons. This was the first time that such an oath had been exacted from any of the royal family; and Don Carlos, who was then only fourteen years of age, is said from that moment to have vowed an implacable hatred to the Inquisition.
The prisoners brought forth on this occasion amounted to thirty, of whom sixteen were reconciled, and fourteen were “relaxed,” or delivered over to the secular arm. Of the last class, two were thrown alive into the flames, while the remainder were previously strangled.
The greater part of the first class were persons distinguished by their rank and connections. Don Pedro Sarmiento de Roxas, son of the first marquis de Poza, and of a daughter of the conde de Salinas y Ribadeo, was stripped of his ornaments as chevalier of St. James, deprived of his office as commander of Quintana, and condemned to wear a perpetual sanbenito, to be imprisoned for life, and to have his memory declared infamous. His wife Dona Mercia de Figueroa, dame of honor to the queen, was sentenced to wear the coat of infamy, and to be confined during the remainder of her life. His nephew don Luis de Roxas, eldest son of the second marquis de Poza, and grandson of the marquis d’Alcagnizes, was exiled from the cities of Madrid, Valladolid, and Palencia, forbidden to leave the kingdom, and declared incapable of succeeding to the honors or estates of his father. Dona Ana Henriquez de Roxas, daughter of the marquis d’Alcagnizes, and wife of Don Juan Alonso de Fonseca Mexia, was a lady of great accomplishments, understood the Latin language perfectly, and though only twenty-four years of age, was familiar with the writings of the reformers, particularly those of Calvin. She appeared in the sanbenito, and was condemned to be separated from her husband and spend her days in a monastery. Her aunt Dona Maria de Roxas, a nun of St. Catherine in Valladolid, and forty years of age, received sentence of perpetual penance and imprisonment, from which, however, she was released by an influence which the inquisitors did not choose to resist. f450 Don Juan de Ulloa Pereira, brother to the marquis de la Mota, was subjected to the same punishment as the first-mentioned nobleman. This brave chevalier had distinguished himself in many engagements against the Turks both by sea and land, and performed so great feats of valor in the expeditions to Algiers, Bugia, and other parts of Africa, that Charles the Fifth had advanced him to the rank of first captain, and afterwards of general. Having appealed to Rome against the sentence of the inquisitors, and represented the services which he had done to Christendom, De Ulloa was eventually restored to his rank as commander of the order of St. John of Jerusalem. Juan de Vibero Cazalla, his wife Dona Silva de Ribera, his sister Dona Constanza, Dona Francisca Zunega de Baeza, Marina de Saavedra the widow of a hidalgo named Juan Cisneros de Soto, and Leanor de Cisneros, (whose husband Antonio Herezuelo was doomed to a severer punishment) with four others of inferior condition, were condemned to wear the sanbenito, and be imprisoned for life. The imprisonment of Anthony Wasor, an Englishman, and servant to Don Luis de Roxas, was restricted to one year’s confinement in a convent.
Confiscation of property was an article in the sentence of all these persons. f451 Among those who were delivered over to the secular arm, one of the most celebrated was Doctor Augustin Cazalla. His reputation, and the office he had held as chaplain to the late emperor, made him an object of particular attention to the inquisitors. During his confinement he underwent frequent examinations, with the view of establishing the charges against himself and his fellow-prisoners. Cazalla was deficient in the courage which was requisite for the situation into which he had brought himself. On the 4th of March 1559 he was conducted into the place of torture, when he shrunk from the trial, and promising to submit to his judges, made a declaration, in which he confessed that he had embraced the Lutheran doctrine, but denied that he had ever taught it, except to those who were of the same sentiments with himself. This answered all the wishes of the inquisitors, who were determined that he should expiate his offence by death, at the same time that they kept him in suspense as to his fate, with the view of procuring from him additional information. On the evening before the auto-de-fe, Antonio de Carrera, a monk of St. Jerome, being sent to acquaint him with his sentence, Cazalla begged earnestly to know, if he might entertain hopes of escaping capital punishment; to which Carrera replied, that the inquisitors could not rely on his declaration, but that, if he would confess all that the witnesses had deponed against him, mercy might perhaps be extended to him. This cautious reply convinced Cazalla that his doom was fixed. “Well, then,” said he, “I must prepare to die in the grace of God; for it is impossible for me to add to what I have said, without falsehood.” He confessed himself to Carrera that night, and next morning. On the scaffold, seeing his sister Constanza passing among those who were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, he pointed to her, and said to the princess Juana, “I beseech your highness, have compassion on this unfortunate woman, who has thirteen orphan children!” At the place of execution, he addressed a few words to his fellow-prisoners in the character of a penitent, in virtue of which he obtained the poor favor of being strangled before his body was committed to the fire. His confessor was so pleased with his behavior as to say, he had no doubt Cazalla was in heaven. His sister Dona Beatriz de Vibero, Doctor Alonso Perez, a priest of Palencia, Don Christobal de Ocampo, chevalier of the order of St.
John of Jerusalem, and almoner to the grand prior of Castile, Don Christobal de Padilla, and seven others, shared the same fate as Cazalla.
Among these were the husband of the woman who had informed against the protestant conventicle in Valladolid, and four females, one of whom, Dona Catalina de Ortega, was daughter-in-law to the fiscal of the royal council of Castile. They were all protestants, except Gonzales Baez, a Portuguese, who was condemned as a relapsed Jew. f455 The two individuals who on this occasion had the honor to endure the flames were Francisco de Vibero Cazalla, parish priest of Hormigos, and Antonio Herezuelo, an advocate of Toro. Some writers say that the former begged, when under the torture, to be admitted to reconciliation; but it is certain that he gave no sign of weakness or a wish to recant on the day of the auto-de-fe. Seeing his brother Augustin Cazalla, not at the stake, but on the adjoining scaffold among the penitents, and being prevented from speaking by the gag, he signified his sorrow by an expressive motion of his hands; after which he bore the fire without shrinking. Herezuelo conducted himself with surpassing intrepidity. From the moment of his apprehension to that of his death, he never exhibited the least symptom of a wish to save his life, or to mitigate his sufferings, by compromising his principles. His courage remained unshaken amidst the horrors of the torture, the ignominy of the public spectacle, and the terrors of the stake. The only thing that moved him, on the day of the auto-de-fe, was the sight of his wife in the garb of a penitent; and the look which he gave, (for he could not speak) as he passed her to go to the place of execution, seemed to say, “This is hard to bear!” He listened without emotion to the friars who teazed him with their importunate exhortations to repent, as they conducted him to the stake; but when, at their instigation, his former associate and instructor, Doctor Cazalla, began to address him in the same strain, he threw upon him a glance of disdain, which froze the words on his recreant lips. “The bachelor Herezuelo (says the popish author of the Pontifical History) suffered himself to be burnt alive with unparalleled hardihood. I stood so near him that I had a complete view of his person, and observed all his motions and gestures. He could not speak, for his mouth was gagged on account of the blasphemies which he had uttered; but his whole behaviour showed him to be a most resolute and hardened person, who, rather than yield to believe with his companions, was determined to die in the flames.
Though I marked him narrowly, I could not observe the least symptom of fear, or expression of pain; only, there was a sadness in his countenance beyond any thing I had ever seen. It was frightful to look in his face, when one considered that in a moment he would be in hell with his associate and master, Luther.” Enraged to see such courage in a heretic, one of the guards plunged his lance into the body of Herezuelo, whose blood was licked up by the flames with which he was already enveloped. f458 Herezuelo and his wife, Leanor de Cisneros, were divided in their death, but it was in the time of it only, not the kind or manner; and their memory must not be divided in our pages. Leanor was only twenty-two years of age when she was thrown into the Inquisition; and when we consider that, during her imprisonment, she was precluded from all intercourse with her husband, kept in ignorance of his resolutions, and perhaps deceived into the belief that she would find him among the class of penitents in the auto, we need not wonder that one of her tender sex and age should have fainted in the day of trial, suffered herself to be overcome by the persuasions of the monks, or, yielding to the feelings of nature, consented to renounce with the hand that truth which she continued to believe with the heart. Such assaults have shaken, and threatened to throw to the ground, pillars in the church. But Leanor was not long in recovering from the shock. The parting look of her husband never departed from her eyes; the reflection that she had inflicted a pang on his heart, during the arduous conflict which he had to maintain, fanned the flame of attachment to the reformed religion which secretly burned in her breast; and having resolved, in dependence on that strength which is made perfect in weakness, to emulate the example of constancy set by one in every respect so dear to her, she resolutely broke off the course of penance on which she had entered. The consequence of this was, that she was again thrown into the secret prisons. During eight years that she was kept in confinement, every effort was made in vain to induce her to renew her recantation. At last she was brought out in a public auto-de-fe celebrated at Valladolid; and we have the account of her behavior from the same pen which so graphically described that of her husband. “In the year 1568, on the 26th of September, justice was executed on Leanor de Cisneros, widow of the bachelor Herezuelo. She suffered herself to be burnt alive, notwithstanding the great and repeated exertions made to bring her to a conviction of her errors. Finally, she resisted, what was sufficient to melt a stone, an admirable sermon preached, at the auto of that day, by his excellency Don Juan Manuel, bishop of Zamora, a man no less learned and eloquent in the pulpit than illustrious in blood. But nothing could move the impenetrable heart of that obstinate woman.” f460 One part of the solemnities in the first auto at Valladolid, though not so shocking to the feelings as some others which have been related, was nevertheless a flagrant violation both of justice and humanity. Dona Leanor de Vibero, the mother of Doctor Cazalla and of four other children who appeared as criminals in this auto-de-fe, had died some years before, and was buried in a sepulchral chapel of which she was the proprietress. No suspicion of heresy attached to her at the time of her death; but, on the imprisonment of her children, the fiscal of the inquisition at Valladolid commenced a process against her; and certain witnesses under the torture having deponed that her house was used as a temple for the Lutherans, sentence was passed, declaring her to have died in a state of heresy, her memory to be infamous, and her property confiscated; and ordering her bones to be dug up, and, together with her effigy, publicly committed to the flames; her house to be razed, the ground on which it stood to be sown with salt, and a pillar, with an inscription stating the cause of its demolition, to be erected on the spot. All this was done, and the lastmentioned monument of fanaticism and ferocity against the dead was to be seen until the year 1809, when it was removed during the occupation of Spain by the French. f461 There were still a great number of protestant prisoners in Valladolid; but though the processes of most of them were terminated, they were kept in confinement, to afford a gratifying spectacle to the monarch on his arrival from the Low Countries. The second auto-de-fe in this city was celebrated on the 8th of October 1559. Philip II. appeared at it, attended by his son, his sister, the prince of Parma, three ambassadors from France, with a numerous assemblage of prelates, and nobility of both sexes. The inquisitor general Valdes administered the oath to the king; on which occasion Philip, rising from his seat, and drawing his sword in token of his readiness to use it in support of the Holy Office, swore and subscribed the oath, which was afterwards read aloud to the people by one of the officers of the Inquisition.
Twenty-nine prisoners appeared on the scaffold, of whom sixteen wore the garb of penitents, while the flames painted on the sanbenitos and corozas of the remainder marked them out for the stake. Among the former were Dona Isabella de Castilla, wife of Don Carlos de Seso, her niece Dona Catalina, and three nuns of St. Belen. The first two were condemned to lose all their property, to wear the sanbenito, and be imprisoned during life.
To the Lutherans subjected to penances were added two men, one of whom was convicted of having sworn falsely that a child had been circumcised, with the view of bringing the father to the stake; the other of having personated an alguazil of the Holy Office. The former was sentenced to receive two hundred lashes, to lose the half of his property, and to work in the galleys for five years; the latter to receive four hundred lashes, to lose the whole of his property, and to work in the galleys for life;—a striking specimen of the comparative estimate which the Inquisition forms of meditated murder, and an insult on its own prerogatives.
At the head of those devoted to death was Don Carlos de Seso, with whose name the reader is already acquainted. Arrested at Logrono, he was thrown into the secret prisons of the inquisition of Valladolid; and, on the 28th of June 1558, answered the interrogatories of the fiscal. His conduct during the whole of his imprisonment, and in the formidable scene by which it terminated, was worthy of his character, and the active part he had taken in the cause of religious reform. In the examinations which he underwent, he never varied, nor sought to excuse himself by affixing blame to those whom he knew his judges were anxious to condemn. When informed of his sentence on the night before his execution, he called for pen, ink, and paper, and having written a confession of his faith, gave it to the officer, saying, “This is the true faith of the gospel, as opposed to that of the church of Rome which has been corrupted for ages: in this faith I wish to die, and in the remembrance and lively belief of the passion of Jesus Christ, to offer to God my body now reduced so low.” “It would be difficult (says one who read this document in the archives of the Inquisition) to convey an idea of the uncommon vigor of sentiment with which he filled two sheets of paper, though he was then in the presence of death.” The whole of that night and next morning was spent by the friars in ineffectual attempts to induce him to recant. He appeared in the procession with a gag in his mouth, which remained while he was in the auto-de-fe, and on the way to the place of execution. It was removed after he was bound to the stake, and the friars began again to exhort him to confess. He replied, in a loud voice, and with great firmness, “I could demonstrate to you that you ruin yourselves by not imitating my example; but there is no time. Executioners, light the pile which is to consume me.”
They obeyed, and De Seso expired in the flames without a struggle or a groan. He died in the forty-third year of his age. f466 Pedro de Cazalla, parish priest of Pedrosa, when arrested on the 25th of April 1558, confessed that he had embraced the protestant doctrines.
Having afterwards supplicated reconciliation, he could obtain only two votes of the court of Inquisition for a punishment milder than death, and the decision of the majority was confirmed by the council of the Supreme.
He refused to make confession to the priest sent to intimate his sentence, and appeared in the auto with a gag; but after he was bound to the stake, having asked, or the attendant monks having represented him as asking a confessor, he was strangled and then cast into the fire. He was only in the thirty-fourth year of his age.
Domingo de Roxas, son of the marquis de Poza, two of whose children appeared in the former auto, was seized, in the garb of a laic, at Calahorra, where he had stopped, in his flight to the Low Countries, in order to have an interview with his friend De Seso. Subsequently to the 13th of May 1558, when he made his first appearance before the Inquisition, he underwent frequent examinations. The inquisitors having ordered the torture to be administered with a view of extorting from him certain facts which they were anxious to possess, he promised to tell all he knew, provided they would spare him the horrors of the question, which he dreaded more than death. Deluded by the prospect of a merciful sentence which was held out to him, he was induced to make certain professions of sorrow, and to throw out insinuations unfavorable to the cause of archbishop Carranza; but as soon as he was undeceived, he craved an audience of the inquisitors, at which he did ample justice to that prelate, without asking any mitigation of his own punishment. On the night before his execution he refused the services of the priest appointed to wait on him.
When the ceremonies of the auto were finished, and the secular judge had pronounced sentence on the prisoners delivered over to him, De Roxas, in passing the royal box, made an appeal to the mercy of the king. “Canst thou, Sire, thus witness the torments of thy innocent subjects? Save us from so cruel a death.” “No,” replied Philip sternly; “I would myself carry wood to burn my own son, were he such a wretch as thou.” De Roxas was about to say something in defence of himself and his fellow-sufferers, when, the unrelenting despot waving his hand, the officers instantly thrust the gag into the martyr’s mouth. It remained, contrary to the usual custom, after he was bound to the stake; so much were his judges irritated at his boldness, or afraid of the liberties he would use. Yet we are told, that when the fire was about to be applied to the pile, his courage failed, he begged a confessor, and having received absolution, was strangled. Such appears to be the account of his last moments inserted in the records of the Inquisition; but private letters, written from Spain at the time, give a different representation: “They carried him from the scaffold accompanied with a number of monks, about a hundred, flocking about him, railing and making exclamations against him, and some of them urging him to recant; but he, notwithstanding, answered them with a bold spirit, that he would never renounce the doctrine of Christ.” f469 Juan Sanchez, at the commencement of the persecution of the protestants in Valladolid, had made his escape to the Low Countries, under the assumed name of Juan de Vibar. Thinking himself safe, he wrote letters, dated from Castrourdiales in the month of May 1558, and addressed to Dona Catalina Hortega, in whose family he had formerly resided. That lady having been seized as a suspected Lutheran, the letters fell into the hands of the inquisitors, who sent information to Philip, then at Brussels. Sanchez was apprehended at Turlingen, conveyed to Valladolid, and delivered over to the secular magistrate as a dogmatising and impenitent heretic. The gag was taken from his mouth at the place of execution, but as he did not ask for a confessor, the pile was kindled. When the fire had consumed the ropes by which he was bound, he darted from the stake and unconsciously leaped on the scaffold used for receiving the confessions of those who recanted in their last moments. The friars instantly collected to the spot, and urged him to retract his errors. Recovering from his momentary delirium, and looking around him, he saw on the one side some of his fellow-prisoners on their knees doing penance, and on the other Don Carlos de Seso standing unmoved in the midst of the flames, upon which he walked deliberately back to the stake, and calling for more fuel, said, “I will die like De Seso.” Incensed at what they considered as a proof of audacious impiety, the archers and executioners strove who should first comply with his request. He died in the thirty-third year of his age.
The case of Dona Marina Guevara, a nun of St. Belen, presents some singular features which are worthy of observation. When first denounced to the Inquisition, she owned that she had given entertainment to certain Lutheran opinions, but with hesitation, and in ignorance of their import and tendency. Her petition to be reconciled to the church was refused, because she would not acknowledge some things which the witnesses had deponed against her, and because she persisted in her assertion, that she had not yielded a cordial and complete assent to the heresies with which her mind had been tainted. When the depositions were communicated to her by order of the inquisitors, she replied, that it seemed as if they wished to instil into her mind errors of which she was ignorant, rather than induce her to abandon those to which she had incautiously given ear; and that the oath she had taken would not permit her to add to her confession, or to acknowledge crimes of which she was not conscious, and facts which she did not recollect. The whole of the proceedings, while they display the honorable feelings of Marina, and the firmness of her character, depict, in strong colors, the sternness with which the Holy Office adhered to its tyrannical principles. She was connected with persons of high rank, including Valdes the grand inquisitor, who used every means for her deliverance. But the ordinary judges lent a deaf ear to the applications made by their superior in her behalf, which they resisted as an interference with their jurisdiction, and a proof of partiality and weakness, unworthy of one whose office required him to be insensible to the calls of nature and friendship. Valdes was obliged to procure an order from the council of the Supreme, authorizing Don Tellez Giron de Montalban, the cousin of the prisoner, to have a final interview with her, in the presence of the leading members of the tribunal, with the view of inducing her to yield to their demands. But the attempt was unsuccessful. Dona Marina resisted all the entreaties of her noble relative, and refused to purchase her life by telling a falsehood. The inquisitors, inflexible to their former purpose, proceeded to pronounce sentence against her; and on the day of the auto she was delivered to the secular arm, and being strangled at the place of execution, her body was given to the flames. This act proclaimed, more decidedly than even the reply made by Philip to the son of the marquis de Poza, that there was no safety in Spain for any one who harbored a thought at variance with the Roman faith, or who was not prepared to yield the most implicit and absolute obedience to the dictates of the Inquisition. f470 The autos-de-fe celebrated at Seville were still more memorable than those at Valladolid, if not for the rank of the spectators, at least for the number of prisoners exhibited on the scaffold. The first of these was solemnized on the 24th of September 1559, in the square of St. Francis. It was attended by four bishops, the members of the royal court of justice, the chapter of the cathedral, and a great assemblage of nobility and gentry. Twenty-one persons were delivered over to the secular arm, and eighty were condemned to lesser punishments.
The most distinguished individual, in point of rank, who suffered death on the present occasion, was Don Juan Ponce de Leon, son of the count de Baylen, and a near relation of the duchess de Bejar, who was present at the spectacle. None had given more decided proofs of attachment to the reformed cause, and none had more diligently prepared himself for suffering martyrdom for it than this nobleman. For years he had avoided giving countenance to the superstitions of the country, and had made it a practice to visit the spot where the confessors of the truth suffered, with the view of habituating his mind to its horrors, and abating the terror which it was calculated to inspire. But the stoutest heart will sometimes faint in the hour of trial. The rank of Don Juan inspired the inquisitors with a strong desire to triumph over his constancy. After extorting from him, by means of the rack, a confession of some of the articles laid to his charge, they employed their secret emissaries to persuade him that he would consult his own safety, and that of his brethren, by confessing the whole.
He had scarcely given his consent to this when he repented. On the night before his execution he complained bitterly of the deceit which had been practised towards him, and having made an undisguised profession of his faith, rejected the services of the priest appointed to wait upon him. De Montes asserts that he preserved his constancy to the last, and, in support of this statement, appeals to the official account of the auto, and to his sanbenito which was hung up in one of the churches, with the inscription “Juan Ponce de Leon, burnt as an obstinate Lutheran heretic.” But Llorente says, that this epithet was applied to all who were sentenced to capital punishment, and that Don Juan, after he was bound to the stake and saw the fire about to be kindled, confessed himself to one of the attendant priests, and was strangled. His doom entailed infamy, and the forfeiture of every civil right, on his posterity; but the issue of his elder brother failing, Don Pedro, his son, after great opposition, obtained a decision from the royal chancery of Granada in favor of his claims, and was restored by letters from Philip III., to the earldom of Baylen. f472 No such doubt hangs over the constancy of the persons to be named.
Doctor Juan Gonzalez was descended of Moorish ancestors, and at twelve years of age had been imprisoned on suspicion of Mahometanism. He afterwards became one of the most celebrated preachers in Andalusia, and a protestant. In the midst of the torture, which he bore with unshrinking fortitude, he told the inquisitors, that his sentiments, though opposite to those of the church of Rome, rested on plain and express declarations of the word of God, and that nothing would induce him to inform against his brethren. When brought out on the morning of the auto, he appeared with a cheerful and undaunted air, though he had left his mother and two brothers behind him in prison, and was accompanied by two sisters, who, like himself, were doomed to the flames. At the door of the Triana he began to sing the hundred and ninth psalm; and on the scaffold he addressed a few words of consolation to one of his sisters, who seemed to him to wear a look of dejection; upon which the gag was instantly thrust into his mouth. With unaltered mien he listened to the sentence adjudging him to the flames, and submitted to the humiliating ceremonies by which he was degraded from the priesthood. When they were brought to the place of execution, the friars urged the females, in repeating the creed, to insert the word Roman in the clause relating to the catholic church. Wishing to procure liberty to him to bear his dying testimony, they said they would do as their brother did. The gag being removed, Juan Gonzalez exhorted them to add nothing to the good confession which they had already made.
Instantly the executioners were ordered to strangle them, and one of the friars, turning to the crowd, exclaimed that they had died in the Roman faith; a falsehood which the inquisitors did not choose to repeat in their narrative of the proceedings.
The same constancy was evinced by four monks of the convent of San Isidro. Among these was the celebrated Garcia de Arias. whose character had undergone a complete revolution. From the moment of his imprisonment he renounced that system of cautiousness and tergiversation on which he had formerly acted. He made an explicit profession of his faith, agreeing, in every point, with the sentiments of the reformers; expressed his sorrow that he had concealed it so long; and offered to prove that the opposite opinions were grossly erroneous and superstitious. On his trial he mocked the inquisitors, as persons who presumed to give judgment on matters of which they were utterly ignorant, and reminded them of instances in which they, as well as the qualificators whom they called to their assistance, were forced to confess their incapacity to interpret the scriptures. The priests, as a necessary point of form, visited his cell, but none of them durst enter the lists in argument with him. Being advanced in years, he ascended the scaffold, on the day of the auto, leaning on his staff, but went to the stake with a countenance expressive of joy and readiness to meet the flames.
Christobal d’Arellano, a member of the same convent, was distinguished by his learning, the inquisitors themselves being judges. Among the articles in his process, read in the auto, he was charged with having said, “that the mother of God was no more a virgin than he was.” At hearing this, D’Arellano, rising from his seat, exclaimed, “It is a falsehood; I never advanced such a blasphemy; I have always maintained the contrary, and at this moment am ready to prove, with the gospel in my hand, the virginity of Mary.” The inquisitors were so confounded at this public contradiction, and the tone in which it was uttered, that they did not even order him to be gagged. On arriving at the stake, he was thrown into some degree of perturbation at seeing one of the monks of his convent who had come there to insult over his fate; but he soon recovered his former serenity of mind, and expired amidst the flames, encouraging Juan Chrisostomo, who had been his pupil, and was now his fellow-sufferer.
The fate of Juan de Leon was peculiarly hard. He had resided for some time as an artisan at Mexico, and on his return to Spain was led, under the influence of a superstitious feeling general among his countrymen, to take the vow in the convent of San Isidro, near Seville. This happened about the time that the knowledge of the truth began to be introduced into that monastery. Having imbibed the protestant doctrine, Juan lost his relish for the monastic life, and quitted the convent on the pretext of bad health; but the regret which he felt at losing the religious instructions of the good fathers determined him to rejoin their society. On his return to San Isidro he found it deserted by its principal inhabitants, whom he followed to Geneva. During his residence in this city, intelligence came that Elizabeth had succeeded to the throne of England; and Juan de Leon, with some of his countrymen resolved to accompany the English exiles who were preparing to return home. The Spanish court, in concert with the Inquisition, had planted spies on the road from Milan to Geneva, and at Frankfort, Cologne, and Antwerp, to waylay such Italians or Spaniards as left their native country for the sake of religion. Aware of this fact, Juan de Leon and another Spaniard took a different road, but at Strasburg they were betrayed to a spy, who pursued their route to a port in Zealand, and having procured a warrant, seized them as they were stepping on board a vessel for England. As soon as the officers presented themselves, Juan, aware of their intentions, turned to his companion, and said, “Let us go; God will be with us.” After being severely tortured to make them discover their fellow-exiles, they were sent to Spain. During the voyage and the journey by land, they were not only heavily chained like felons, but each of them had his head and face covered with a species of helmet, made of iron, having a piece of the same metal, shapen like a tongue, which was inserted into his mouth, to prevent him from speaking. While his companion was sent to Valladolid, Juan was delivered to the inquisitors at Seville. The sufferings which he endured, from torture and imprisonment, had brought on a consumption; and his appearance, on the day of the auto, was such as would have melted the heart of any human being but an inquisitor. He was attended at the stake by a monk who had passed his noviciate along with him, and who disturbed his last moments, by reminding him of those things of which he was now ashamed. His mouth being relieved from the gag, he, with much composure and graveness, made a declaration of his faith in few but emphatic words, and then welcomed the flames which were to put an end to his sufferings, and to convey him to the spirits of just men made perfect. f475 Fernando de San Juan, master of the college of Doctrine, and Doctor Christobal Losada, pastor to the protestant church in Seville, suffered with the same fortitude and constancy. The latter, after he had reached the place of burning, was engaged in a theological dispute by the importunity of the friars, who flattered themselves with being able to convince him of his errors; but perceiving that the people listened eagerly to what was said, they began to speak in Latin, and were followed by Losada, who continued for a considerable time to carry on the conversation with propriety and elegance in a foreign tongue, at the foot of that stake which was about to consume him to ashes. f476 This auto-de-fe furnished examples of Christian heroism, equally noble, in those of the tender sex, several of whom “were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Among these were Dona Isabel de Baena, Maria de Virves, Maria de Cornel, and Maria de Bohorques. The first was a rich matron of Seville, who had permitted the protestants to meet for worship in her house, which on that account was laid under the same sentence of execration as that of Leanor de Vibero at Valladolid. The rest were young ladies, and connected with the most distinguished families in Spain. The story of Maria de Bohorques became celebrated, both from its interesting circumstances, and from its having been made the foundation of an historical novel by a Spanish writer. She was a natural daughter of Don Pedro Garcia de Xeres y Bohorques, a Spanish grandee of the first class, and had not completed her twenty-first year when she fell into the hands of the Inquisition. Great care had been bestowed on her education, and being able to read the Bible, and expositions of it, in the Latin tongue, she acquired a knowledge of the scriptures which was possessed by few men, or even clergymen, in her native country. Egidio, whose pupil she was, used to say he always felt himself wiser from an interview with Maria de Bohorques. When brought before the inquisitors she avowed her faith; defended it as the ancient truth, which Luther and his associates had recovered from the rubbish by which it had been hid for ages; and told her judges, that it was their duty to embrace it, instead of punishing her and others for maintaining it. She was severely tortured, in consequence of her refusal to answer certain questions calculated to implicate her friends. From deference to the intercession of her relations, or from the desire of making a convert of one so accomplished, the inquisitors, contrary to their usual custom, sent first two Jesuits, and afterwards two Dominicans, to her cell, to persuade her to relinquish her heretical opinions. They returned full of chagrin at their ill success, but of admiration at the dexterity with which she repelled their arguments. On the night before the auto at which she was to suffer, they repeated their visit, in company with two other priests. She received them with great politeness, but at the same time told them very plainly, that they might have saved themselves the trouble which they had taken, for she felt more concern about her salvation than they could possibly feel; she would have renounced her sentiments if she had entertained any doubt of their truth, but was more confirmed in them than she was when first thrown into prison, inasmuch as the popish divines, after many attempts, had opposed nothing to them but what she had anticipated, and to which she was able to return an easy and satisfactory answer. On the morning of the auto-de-fe she made her appearance with a cheerful countenance. During the time that the line of the procession was forming, she comforted her female companions, and engaged them to join with her in singing a psalm suitable to the occasion, upon which a gag was put into her mouth. It was taken out after her sentence was read, and she was asked, if she would now confess those errors to which she had hitherto adhered with such obstinacy. She replied with a distinct and audible voice, “I neither can nor will recant.” When the prisoners arrived at the place of execution, Don Juan Ponce, who began to waver at the sight of the preparations for the fiery trial, admonished her not to be too confident in the new doctrines, but to weigh the arguments of those who attended to give them advice. Dona Maria upbraided him for his irresolution and cowardice; adding that it was not a time for reasoning, but that all of them ought to employ their few remaining moments in meditating on the death of that Redeemer for whom they were about to suffer. Her constancy was yet put to a further trial.
After she was bound to the stake, the attending priests, having prevailed on the presiding magistrate to delay the lighting of the pile, and professing to feel for her youth and talents, requested her merely to repeat the creed.
This she did not refuse, but immediately began to explain some of its articles in the Lutheran sense. She was not permitted to finish her commentary; and the executioner having received orders to strangle her, she was consumed in the fire. f479 The effigy of the licentiate Zafra, whose providential escape has been mentioned, was burnt at this auto-de-fe. Among the penitents who appeared on the present occasion, one deserves to be mentioned as a specimen of the lenity with which the inquisitors punished a crime which, in Spain, ought to have been visited with the most exemplary vengeance. The servant of a gentleman in Puerto de Santa Maria having fastened a rope to a crucifix, concealed it, along with a whip, in the bottom of a chest, and going to the Triana, informed the holy fathers that his master was in the habit of scourging the image every day. The crucifix was found in the place and situation described by the informer, and the gentleman was thrown into the secret prisons. Happily for him, he recollected a quarrel which he had had with his servant, and succeeded in proving that the accusation had its origin in personal revenge. According to the regulations of the Holy Office the servant ought to have suffered death; but he was merely sentenced to receive four hundred strokes with the whip, and to be confined six years in the galleys. The execution appears to have been confined to the first part of the sentence, which, upon a principle of retaliation worthy of the ingenuity of the Inquisition, was considered as expiatory of the supposed indignity done the crucifix. f481 The second grand auto-de-fe in Seville took place on the 22d of December 1560, after it had been delayed in the hopes of the arrival of the monarch.
It was on this occasion that the effigies of the deceased doctors Egidius and Constantine, together with that of Juan Perez, who had fled, were produced and burnt. Fourteen persons were delivered to the secular arm, and thirty-four were sentenced to inferior punishments. f483 Julian Hernandez was in the first class, and the closing scene of his life did not disgrace his former daring and fortitude. When brought out to the court of the Triana on the morning of the auto, he said to his fellowprisoners, “Courage, comrades! This is the hour in which we must show ourselves valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ. Let us now bear faithful testimony to his truth before men, and within a few hours we shall receive the testimony of his approbation before angels, and triumph with him in heaven.” He was silenced by the gag, but continued to encourage his companions by his gestures, during the whole of the spectacle. On arriving at the stake he knelt down and kissed the stone on which it was erected; then rising he thrust his naked head once and again among the faggots, in token of his welcoming that death which was so dreadful to others. Being bound to the stake, he composed himself to prayer, when Doctor Fernando Rodriguez, one of the attending priests, interpreting his attitude as a mark of abated courage, prevailed with the judge to remove the gag from his mouth. Having delivered a succinct confession of his belief, Julian began to accuse Rodriguez, with whom he had been formerly acquainted, of hypocrisy in concealing his real sentiments through fear of man. The galled priest exclaimed, “Shall Spain, the conqueror and mistress of nations, have her peace disturbed by a dwarf? Executioner, do your office.” The pile was instantly kindled; and the guards, envying the unshaken firmness of the martyr, terminated his sufferings by plunging their lances into his body. f485 No fewer than eight females, of irreproachable character, and some of them distinguished by their rank and education, suffered the most cruel of deaths at this auto-de-fe. Among these was Maria Gomez, who, having recovered from the mental disorder by which she was overtaken had been received back into the protestant fellowship, and fell into the hands of the Inquisition. She appeared on the scaffold along with her three daughters and a sister. After the reading of the sentence which doomed them to the flames, one of the young women went up to her aunt, from whom she had imbibed the protestant doctrine, and, on her knees, thanked her for all the religious instructions she had received from her, implored her forgiveness for any offence she might have given her, and begged her dying blessing.
Raising her up, and assuring her that she had never given her a moment’s uneasiness, the old woman proceeded to encourage her dutiful niece, by reminding her of that support which their divine Redeemer had promised them in the hour of trial, and of those joys which awaited them at the termination of their momentary sufferings. The five friends then took leave of one another with tender embraces and words of mutual comfort. The interview between these devoted females was beheld by the members of the Holy Tribunal with a rigid composure of countenance, undisturbed even by a glance of displeasure; and so completely had superstition and habit subdued the strongest emotions of the human breast, that not a single expression of sympathy escaped from the multitude at witnessing a scene which, in other circumstances, would have harrowed up the feelings of the spectators, and driven them into mutiny. f487 Three foreigners, two of whom were Englishmen, perished in this auto.
Nicolas Burton, a merchant of London, having visited Spain with a vessel laden with goods, fell into the hands of the Inquisition, and refusing to abjure the protestant faith, was burnt alive. The remarks of Llorente on this transaction are extremely just. “Let it be granted, if you will have it so, that Burton was guilty of an imprudence, by posting up his religious sentiments at San Lucar de Barrameda, and at Seville, in contempt of the faith of the Spaniards; it is no less true that both charity and justice required, that in the case of a stranger who had not fixed his abode in Spain, they should have contented themselves with warning him to abstain from all marks of disrespect to the religion and laws of the country, and threatening him with punishment if he repeated the offence. The Holy Office had nothing to do with his private sentiments; having been established, not for strangers, but solely for the people of Spain. That the charge against Burton was a mere pretext, if not a fabrication, is evident from the fact that William Burke, a mariner of Southampton, and a Frenchman of Bayonne, named Fabianne, who had come to Spain in the course of trade, were burnt at the same stake with him, although not accused of any insult on the religion of the country. f490 Part of the goods in Burton’s ship, which was confiscated by the inquisitors, belonged to a merchant in London, who sent John Frampton of Bristol to Seville, with a power of attorney, to reclaim his property. The Holy Office had recourse to every obstacle in opposing his claim, and after fruitless labor during four months he found it necessary to repair to England to obtain ampler powers. Upon his landing the second time in Spain, he was seized by two familiars, and conveyed in chains to Seville, where he was thrown into the secret prisons of the Triana. The only pretext for his apprehension was, that a book of Cato in English was found in his portmanteau. Being unable to substantiate a charge on this ground, the inquisitors interrogated him on his religious opinions, and insisted that he should clear himself of the suspicion of heresy by repeating the Ave Maria .
In doing this, he omitted the words, “Mother of God, pray for us;” upon which he was put to the torture. After enduring three shocks of the pulley, and while he “lay flat on the ground, half-dead and half-alive,” he agreed to confess whatever his tormentors chose to dictate. In consequence of this, he was found violently suspected of Lutheranism, and the property which he had come to recover was confiscated. He appeared among the penitents at the auto at which Burton suffered, and after being kept in prison for more than two years was set at liberty. f491 Among those who appeared as penitents were several ladies of family and monks of different orders. Others were severely punished on the most trivial grounds. Diego de Virves, a member of the municipality of Seville, was fined in a hundred ducats for having said, on occasion of the preparations for Maunday-Thursday, “Would it not be more acceptable to God to expend the money lavished on this ceremony in relieving poor families?” Bartolome Fuentes having received an injury from a certain priest, exclaimed, “I cannot believe that God will descend from heaven into the hands of such a worthless person;” for which offence he appeared on the scaffold with a gag in his mouth. Two young students were punished for “Lutheran acts,” in having copied into their album some anonymous verses, which contained either a eulogium or a satire on Luther, according to the manner in which they were read. f492 Gaspar de Benavides, alcayde, or head jailer, of the inquisition at Seville, was convicted of a course of malversation in his office. There was no species of oppression which this miscreant had not committed in his treatment of the prisoners, before a riot excited by his insufferable cruelties led to a discovery of his guilt. He was merely declared “to have failed in zeal and attention to his charge,” and condemned to lose his situation, to appear in the auto with a torch in his hand, and be banished from Seville.
Compare this sentence with the punishments inflicted on those who were the means of bringing his knavery to light. For conspiring against him, and inflicting a wound on one of his assistants which proved mortal, Melchior del Salto was burnt alive. A mulatto of fourteen years of age, named Luis, suspected of being an accomplice in the riot, received two hundred lashes, and was condemned to hard labor in the galleys for life; while Maria Gonzalez and Pedro Herrera, servants of the alcayde, were sentenced to the same number of lashes, and confinement in the galleys for ten years, merely because they had treated the prisoners with kindness, and permitted such of them as were relations to see one another occasionally for a few minutes. f493 The treatment of one individual, who was pronounced innocent in this auto-de-fe, affords more damning evidence against the inquisitors than that of any whom they devoted quick to the flames. Dona Juana de Bohorques was a daughter of Don Pedro Garcia de Xeres y Bohorques, and the wife of Don Francisco de Vargas, baron of Higuera. She had been apprehended in consequence of a confession extorted by the rack from her sister Maria de Bohorques, who owned that she had conversed with her on the Lutheran tenets without exciting any marks of disapprobation. Being six months gone in pregnancy, Dona Juana was permitted to occupy one of the public prisons until the time of her delivery; but eight days after that event the child was taken from her, and she was thrust into a secret cell. A young female, who was afterwards brought to the stake as a Lutheran, was confined along with her, and did every thing in her power to promote her recovery. Dona Juana had soon an opportunity of repaying the kind attentions of her fellow-prisoner, who, having been called before the inquisitors, was brought back into her dungeon faint and mangled. Scarcely had the latter acquired sufficient strength to rise from her bed of flags, when Dona Juana was conducted in her turn to the place of torture.
Refusing to confess, she was put into the engine del burro , which was applied with such violence, that the cords penetrated to the bone of her arms and legs; and some of the internal vessels being burst, the blood flowed in streams from her mouth and nostrils. She was conveyed to her cell in a state of insensibility, and expired in the course of a few days. The inquisitors would fain have concealed the cause of her death, but it was impossible; and they thought to expiate the crime of this execrable murder, in the eyes of men at least, by pronouncing Juana de Bohorques innocent on the day of the auto-de-fe, vindicating her reputation, and restoring her property to her heirs. “Under what an overwhelming responsibility (exclaims one of their countrymen) must these cannibals appear one day before the tribunal of the Deity!” But may we not hesitate in deciding the question, Whose was the greatest responsibility? that of the cannibals, or of those who permitted them thus to gorge themselves with human blood?
Surely the spirit of chivalry had fled from the breasts of the Spanish nobility, else they never would have suffered their wives and daughters to be abused in this manner by an ignoble junto of priests and friars, supported by a monarch equally base and unprincipled. f494 Having discharged the painful task of describing the four great autos in Valladolid and Seville, it may be proper, before proceeding with the narrative of the extermination of the protestants, to advert to the severe measures adopted against certain dignified ecclesiastics who fell under the suspicion of favoring heresy.
We have had occasion repeatedly to mention the name, and allude to the trial of Bartolome de Carranza y Miranda, archbishop of Toledo. After sitting in the council of Trent, and accompanying Philip II. to England, where he took an active part in the examination of the protestants who were led to the stake, this learned man was rewarded in 1558 with the primacy; but he had not been many months in his diocese when he was denounced to the Inquisition and thrown into prison at Valladolid. Some historians have ascribed this prosecution entirely to the envy and personal hatred of his brethren, particularly Melchior Cano, bishop of the Canaries, and the inquisitor general Valdes. It is unquestionable that the proceedings were exasperated by such base motives; but there were grounds of jealousy, distinct from these, which operated against the primate. Several of the leading persons among the Spanish protestants had received their education under Carranza, who continued to maintain a friendly correspondence with them, and, though he signified his disapprobation of their sentiments in private, did not give information against them to the Holy Office. His theological ideas were more enlarged than those of his brethren, and he appears to have agreed with the reformers on justification and several collateral points of doctrine. In these respects his mode of thinking resembled that of Marco Antonio Flaminio, cardinals Pole and Morone, and other learned Italians. Indeed his intimacy with these distinguished individuals formed part of the evidence against him. His Catechism, which was made the primary article of charge against him, besides its presumed leaning on some points to Lutheranism, was offensive to the Inquisition, because it was published in the vulgar tongue, and inculcated the doctrines of the Bible more than the traditions of the church. At the end of seven years, the cause was transferred to Rome, whither the primate was conveyed; and after various intrigues and delays, pope Gregory XIII. pronounced a definitive sentence on the 14th of April 1576, finding Carranza violently suspected of heresy, confirming the prohibition of his Catechism, and ordaining him to abjure sixteen Lutheran propositions, and to be suspended for five years from the exercise of his archiepiscopal functions. The sentence had scarcely passed when the primate sickened and died, having been eighteen years under process and in a state of confinement. f498 The prosecution of the primate gave rise to others. Eight bishops, the most of whom had assisted at the council of Trent, and twenty-five doctors of theology, including the men of greatest learning in Spain, were denounced to the Holy Office; and few of them escaped without making some humiliating acknowledgment or retractation. Mancio de Corpus Christi, professor of theology at Alcala, had given a favorable opinion of the Catechism of Carranza, to which he had procured the subscriptions of the divines of his university; but hearing that a prosecution was commenced against him, he saved himself from being thrown into the secret prisons by transmitting to the inquisitors another opinion, in which he condemned three hundred and thirty-one propositions in the works of that prelate, whom he had a little before pronounced most orthodox. Luis de la Cruz, a favorite disciple of Carranza, was thrown into the secret prisons, in consequence of certain papers of his master being found in his possession, and the intercourse which he had held with Doctor Cazalla and other reformers. Confinement and anxiety produced a tendency of blood to his head, accompanied with fits of delirium, which rendered it necessary, for the preservation of his life, to remove him to the episcopal prison.
Notwithstanding this and the failure of the proof brought against him, La Cruz was kept in confinement for five years, in the hopes that he would purchase his liberty by blasting the reputation and betraying the life of his patron. Before Carranza was formally accused, the inquisitors had extracted a number of propositions from his Catechism, and without naming the author, submitted them to the judgment of Juan de Pegna, professor at Salamanca, who pronounced them all catholic, or at least susceptible of a good sense. De Pegna became alarmed, and sent an apology to the Holy Office, in which he acknowledged himself guilty of concealing the favorable opinion which Carranza had entertained of Don Carlos de Seso. This did not pacify the holy fathers, who condemned him to undergo different penances for his faults, among which they reckoned the following: that he did not censure the proposition, “that we cannot say that a person falls from a state of grace by committing a mortal sin;” and that he had given it as his private opinion, “that even although the primate was a heretic, the Holy Office should wink at the fact, lest the Lutherans of Germany should canonize him as a martyr, as they had done others who had been punished.” f502 In the mean time the persecution against the Lutherans in Valladolid and Seville had not relaxed. Every means was used to excite the popular odium against them. The abominable calumnies propagated by the pagans of Rome against the primitive Christians were revived; and it was believed by the credulous vulgar, that the protestants, in their nightly assemblies, extinguished the candles and abandoned themselves to the grossest vices. On the feast of St. Matthew, in the year 1561, a destructive fire broke out at Valladolid, which consumed upwards of four hundred houses, including some of the richest manufactories and stores in the city. This was ascribed to a conspiracy of the Lutherans; and every year afterwards, on the day of St. Matthew, the inhabitants observed a solemn procession, accompanied with prayers to our Lord, through the intervention of his holy apostle, to preserve them from this plague and calamity. In the course of the same year, the pope sent Spain a bull, authorizing a jubilee, with plenary indulgences. Among other things, it gave authority to confessors to absolve those who had involved themselves in the Lutheran heresy, upon their professing sorrow for their errors. Though the object of the court of Rome was to amass money, this measure tended to mitigate the persecution which had raged for some years; but the inquisitors, determined that their prey should not escape them, prohibited the bull from being published within the kingdom. f505 The four autos-de-fe which we have already described, although the most celebrated, were not the only spectacles at which the protestants suffered in Valladolid and Seville. It required many years to empty their prisons, from which adherents to the reformed faith continued, at short intervals, to be brought out to the scaffold and the stake. On the 10th of July 1563, a public auto was celebrated in Seville, at which six persons were committed to the flames as Lutherans. Domingo de Guzman appeared among the penitents on this occasion. The hope of an archbishopric had been held out to induce him to recant; and his brother, the duke of Medina Sidonia, exerted himself to procure his release, upon undergoing such a slight penance as would not interfere with his future prospects. But the inquisitors were resolved to prevent the advancement of one who had embraced the reformed tenets; and after causing his books, which exceeded a thousand volumes, to be burnt before his eyes, they condemned him to perpetual imprisonment. f507 An occurrence which took place at Seville in 1564 diverted for a little the attention of the public, and even of the inquisitors, from the adherents of the reformed doctrine. In consequence of complaints that the confessional was abused to lewd purposes, edicts were repeatedly procured from Rome to correct the evil. Several scandalous discoveries having been made by private investigation, and the public clamor increasing, the inquisition of Seville came to a resolution, of which they had reason to repent, that an edict of denunciation should be published in all the churches of the province, requiring, under a severe penalty, those who had been solicited by priests in the confessional to criminal intercourse, or who knew of this having been done, to give information to the Holy Office within thirty days.
In consequence of this intimation, such numbers flocked to the Triana, that the inquisitors were forced once and again to prolong the period of denunciation, until it extended to a hundred and twenty days. Among the informers were women of illustrious birth and excellent character, who repaired to the inquisitors with their veils, and under disguise, for fear of being met and recognized by their husbands. The priests were thrown into the greatest alarm; the peace of families was broken; and the whole city rang with scandal. At last, the council of the Supreme, perceiving the odium which it brought on the church, and its tendency to prejudice the people against auricular confession, interposed their authority, by quashing the investigation, and prohibiting the edict of denunciation from being repeated. f509 Valladolid and Seville were not the only cities whose prisons were crowded with friends to the reformed doctrine. From 1560 to 1570, one public auto-de-fe at least was celebrated annually in all the twelve cities in which provincial tribunals of the Inquisition were then established; and at each of these, adherents to the new faith made their appearance. On the 8th of September 1560, the inquisition of Murcia solemnized an auto, at which five persons were sentenced to different punishments for embracing Lutheranism; and three years after, eleven appeared as penitents in that city on the same charge. It was in the last-mentioned auto, that a son of the emperor of Morocco, who had submitted to baptism in his youth, was brought on the scaffold for relapsing to Mahometanism, and was condemned to confinement for three years, and to banishment from the kingdoms of Valencia, Aragon, Murcia, and Granada. On the 25th of February 1560, the inquisition of Toledo prepared a grand auto-de-fe for the entertainment of their young queen, Elizabeth de Valois, the daughter of Henry II. of France. To render it the more solemn, a general assembly of the cortes of the kingdom was held there at the same time, to take the oath of fidelity to Don Carlos, the heir apparent to the throne. Several Lutherans appeared among those who were condemned to the flames and to other punishments. On this occasion the duke of Brunswick delivered up one of his retinue to the flames, to testify his hatred of the reformed cause, and to strike terror into the minds of the Germans, Flemings, and French, who were present, and were greatly suspected of heresy. At the same place in the subsequent year, four priests, Spanish and French, were burnt alive for Lutheranism, and nineteen persons of the same persuasion were reconciled. Among the latter was one of the royal pages, whose release was granted by Philip and Valdes, at the intercession of the queen. In 1565, the same inquisition celebrated another auto, at which a number or protestants were condemned to the fire and to penances, under the several designations of Lutherans, faithful, and huguenaos, or hugonots. The metropolitan city of Spain was so eager to signalize its zeal against heresy, that in 1571, not to mention other examples, an auto was held in it, at which two persons were burnt alive, and one in effigy, while no fewer than thirty-one were sentenced to different punishments, as Lutherans. One of the two who perished in the flames was Doctor Sigismond Archel, a native of Cagliari in Sardinia. He had been arrested at Madrid in 1562, and after suffering for many years in the prisons of Toledo, had contrived to make his escape; but his portrait having been sent to the principal passes of the frontier, he was seized before he got out of the kingdom, and delivered again into the hands of his judges. When the depositions of the witnesses were communicated to him, Sigismond acknowledged all that was laid to his charge, but pleaded, that so far from being a heretic he was a better catholic than the papists; in proof of which he read, to the great mortification of the court, a long apology which he had composed in prison. He derided the ignorance of the priests who were sent to convert him, in consequence of which he was condemned to wear the gag on the scaffold and at the stake; and the guards, envying him the glory of a protracted martyrdom, pierced his body with their lances, while the executioners were kindling the pile, so that he perished at the same time by fire and sword. Though the greater part of the prisoners exhibited in the autos-de-fe of Granada and Valencia were Jews or Mohametans, yet protestants suffered along with them from time to time; among whom our attention is particularly fixed upon Don Miguel de Vera y Santangel, a Carthusian monk of Portaceli, as belonging to the convent in which the first translation of the Bible into the Spanish language was composed. f513 None of the provincial tribunals was so much occupied in suppressing the Reformation as those of Logrono, Saragossa, and Barcelona. In the numerous autos celebrated in these cities, a great part of those who appeared on the scaffolds were protestants. But the chief employment of the inquisitors in the eastern provinces consisted in searching for and seizing heretical books, which were introduced from the frontiers of France or by sea. In 1568 the council of the Supreme addressed letters to them, communicating alarming information received from England and France.
Don Diego de Guzman, the Spanish ambassador at London, had written that the English were boasting of the converts which their doctrine was making in Spain, and particularly at Navarre. At the same time advertisement was given by the ambassador at Vienne, that the Calvinists of France were felicitating themselves on the signing of the treaty of peace between the French and Spanish monarchs, and entertained hopes that their religion would make as great progress in Spain as it had done in Flanders, England and other countries, because the Spaniards, who had already embraced it secretly, would now have an easy communication through Aragon with the protestants of Bearn. From Castres and from Paris the inquisitor general had received certain information that large quantities of books, in the Castilian tongue, were destined for Spain. These were in some instances put into casks of Champagne and Burgundy wine, with such address that they passed through the hands of the custom-house officers without detection. In this way many copies of the Spanish Bible, published by Cassiodoro de Reyna at Basle in 1569, made their way into Spain, notwithstanding the severest denunciations of the Holy Office, and the utmost vigilance of the familiars. f514 But the Inquisition was not satisfied with preventing heretical men and books from coming into Spain; it exerted itself with equal zeal in preventing orthodox horses from being exported out of the kingdom.
Incredible or ludicrous as this may appear to the reader, nothing can be more unquestionable than the fact, and nothing demonstrates more decidedly the unprincipled character of the inquisitors, as well of those who had recourse to its agency to promote their political schemes. As early as the fourteenth century it had been declared illegal to transport horses from Spain to France. This prohibition originated entirely in the views of political economy, and it was the business of the officers of the customs to prevent the contraband trade. But on occasion of the wars which arose between the papists and hugonots of France, and the increase of the latter on the Spanish borders, it occurred to Philip, as an excellent expedient for putting down the prohibited commerce, to commit the task to the Inquisition, whose services would be more effective than those of a hundred thousand frontier guards. With this view he procured a bull from the pope, which, with a special reference to the hugonots of France, and the inhabitants of Bearn in particular, declared all to be suspected of heresy who should furnish arms, munitions, or other instruments of war to heretics. In consequence of this, the council of the Supreme in 1569 added to the annual edict of denunciations a clause obliging all, under the pain of excommunication, to inform against any who had bought or transported horses for the use of the French protestants; which was afterwards extended to all who sent them across the Pyrenees. For this offence numbers were fined, whipped, and condemned to the galleys, by the inquisitorial tribunals on the frontiers. Always bent on extending their jurisdiction, the inquisitors sought to bring under their cognizance all questions respecting the contraband trade in saltpetre, sulphur, and powder. Philip, however, diverted their attention from this encroachment on the civil administration, by engaging them in the pursuit of royal game. Ferdinand the catholic, availing himself of favorable circumstances, had added the greater part of the kingdom of Navarre to his dominions; and Charles V., in a fit of devotion, had, by his testament, enjoined his son to examine the claim which the Spanish monarchy had to these territories, and, if it should be found invalid, to restore them to the original proprietor. So far from doing this act of justice, Philip intended to annex the whole of that kingdom to his crown. At his instigation pope Pius IV. in 1563 issued a bull, excommunicating Jeanne d’Albret, the hereditary queen of Navarre, and offering her dominions to the first catholic prince who should undertake to clear them of heresy. With characteristic duplicity Philip professed to the French court his disapprobation of the step taken by his Holiness, while, in concert with the inquisitor general Espinosa and the house of Guise, he was concerting measures to seize the person of the queen of Navarre, and of her son, afterwards Henry IV. of France, with the view of carrying them by force into Spain, and delivering them to the Inquisition. This disgraceful conspiracy, formed in 1565, was defeated only by the sudden illness of the officer in whom its execution had been intrusted. f517 The public is not unacquainted with the cruelties perpetrated by the inquisition of Goa, within the settlements of the Portuguese in the East Indies. Similar atrocities were committed by the Spaniards in the New World, in which the tribunal of the Inquisition was erected at Mexico, Lima, and Carthagena. At Mexico, in the year 1574, an Englishman and a Frenchman were burnt alive as impenitent Lutherans, while others were subjected to penances for embracing the opinions of Luther and Calvin. f519 In the close of the seventeenth century, Louis Rame, French protestant, was detained as a prisoner for four years by the inquisitors of Mexico; and several natives of England and its colonies were forced to abjure their religion, and submit to rebaptization. A splendid auto-de-fe was celebrated at the same place in 1659, at which William Lamport, an Irishman, was condemned to the flames, “for being infected with the errors of Luther, Calvin, Pelagius, Wicliff, and John Huss; in a word, because he was guilty of all imaginable heresies.” He was the author of two writings, in one of which, to use the language of the indictment, “things were said against the Holy Office, its erection, style, mode of process, &c. in such a manner, that in the whole of it not a word was to be found that was not deserving of reprenhension, not only as being injurious, but also insulting to our holy catholic faith.” Of the other writing the procurator fiscal says, “that it contained detestable bitterness of language, and contumelies so filled with poison, as to manifest the heretical spirit of the author, and his bitter hatred against the Holy Office.” On the day of execution, being desirous of testifying the readiness with which he met death, he was no sooner seated at the foot of the stake, and his neck placed in the ring, than he let himself fall and broke his neck. According to the official report of the auto-de-fe, Lamport trusted “that the devil, his familiar, would relieve him,” and as he walked through the streets to the place of execution, continued looking up to the clouds to see if the superior power he expected was coming; but finding all his hopes in vain, he strangled himself. f521 The year 1570 may be fixed upon as the period of the suppression of the reformed religion in Spain. After that date, protestants were still discovered at intervals by the Inquisition, and brought out in the autos-defe; but they were “as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.”
Several of these were foreigners, and especially Englishmen. The punishment of Burton and others produced remonstrances from foreign powers, which were long disregarded by the Spanish government. All that Mann, the English ambassador at the court of Madrid, could obtain, was a personal protection on the head of religion, while those of his retinue were compelled to go to mass; and having caused the English service to be performed in his house, he was for some time excluded from the court, and obliged to quit Madrid. The circumstances in which Elizabeth was then placed, obliged her to act cautiously; but she wrote to Mann, desiring him to remonstrate with his catholic majesty against treatment so dishonorable to her crown, and so opposite to that which the Spanish ambassador received at London; and intimating that she would recall him, unless the privilege of private worship, according to the rites of their country, were granted to his servants. At a subsequent period, the injury done to commerce by persecution obliged the government to issue orders, that strangers visiting Spain for the purpose of trade should not be molested on account of their religion. The inquisitors, however, made no scruple of transgressing the ordinances of the court on this point, by proceeding from time to time against foreigners, under the pretext that they propagated heresy by books or conversation. Among many others, William Lithgow, the well-known traveller, was in 1620 imprisoned and put to the torture at Malaga; and in 1714 Isaac Martin was subjected to the same treatment at Granada. f525 Of fifty-seven persons, whose sentences were read at an auto held in Cuenca in 1654, one only was charged with Lutheranism. In 1680, an auto-de-fe was celebrated at Madrid, in honor of the marriage of the Spanish monarch, Don Carlos II., to Marie Louise de Bourbon, the niece of Louis XIV. of France; and as a proof of the taste of the nation, a minute account of the whole procedure on that occasion was published to the world, with the approbation of all the authorities, civil and ecclesiastical.
Among a hundred and eighteen victims produced on the scaffold, we meet with the name of only one protestant, whose effigy and bones were given to the flames. This was Marcos de Segura, a native of Villa de Ubrique, in Granada, whose sentence bears, that he had formerly been ‘reconciled’ by the inquisition of Llerena, as a heretic who denied purgatory, but who, having relapsed into this and other errors, was again thrown into prison, where he died in a state of impenitence and contumacy. f527 Although upwards of sixteen hundred victims were burnt alive in the course of the eighteenth century, we do not perceive that any of them were protestants. But the reformed faith can number among its confessors a Spaniard who suffered in the nineteenth century. Don Miguel Juan Antonio Solano, a native of Verdun in Aragon, was vicar of Esco in the diocese of Jaca. He was educated according to the Aristotelian system of philosophy and scholastic divinity; but the natural strength of his mind enabled him to throw off his early prejudices, and he made great proficiency in mathematics and mechanics. His benevolence led him to employ his inventive powers for the benefit of his parishioners, by improving their implements of husbandry, and fertilizing their soil. A long and severe illness, which made him a cripple for life, withdrew the good vicar of Esco from active pursuits, and induced him to apply himself to theological studies more closely than he had hitherto done. His small library happened to contain a Bible; and by perusing this with impartiality and attention, he gradually formed for himself a system of doctrine, which agreed in the main with the leading doctrines of the protestant churches. The candid and honorable mind of Solano would not permit him either to conceal his sentiments, or to disseminate them covertly among his people. Having drawn up a statement of his new views, he laid it before the bishop of the diocese for his judgment, and receiving no answer from him, submitted it to the theological faculty of the university of Saragossa. The consequence was, that he was seized and thrown into the prison of the holy tribunal at Saragossa, which, in the infirm state of his health, was the same as sending him to the grave. He contrived, however, by the assistance of some kind friends, to make his escape, and to reach Oleron, the nearest French town; but after seriously deliberating on the course which he should pursue, he came to the resolution of asserting the truth in the very face of death, and actually returned of his own accord to the inquisitorial prison. On appearing before the tribunal, he acknowledged the opinions laid to his charge, but pleaded in his defence, that after long meditation, with the utmost desire to discover the truth, and without any other help than the Bible, he had come to these conclusions. He avowed his conviction, that all saving truth was contained in the holy scriptures; that whatever the church of Rome had decreed to the contrary, by departing from the proper and literal sense of the sacred text, was false; that the idea of a purgatory and limbus patrum was a mere human invention; that it was a sin to receive money for saying mass; that tithes were fraudulently introduced into the Christian church by the priests; that the exaction of them was as dishonorable on their part, as it was impolitic and injurious to the cultivators of the soil; and that the ministers of religion should be paid by the state for their labors, in the same manner as judges were. The tribunal, after going through the ordinary forms, decided that Solano should be delivered over to the secular arm. The inquisitor general at that time was Arce, archbishop of Saragossa, the intimate friend of the Prince of Peace, and suspected of secret infidelity. Averse to the idea of an execution by fire during his administration, he prevailed on the council of the Supreme to order a fresh examination of the witnesses. This was carried into execution, and the inquisitors renewed their former sentence. Arce next ordered an inquiry into the mental sanity of the prisoner. A physician was found to give an opinion favorable to the known wishes of the grand inquisitor; but the sole ground on which it rested was, that the prisoner had vented opinions different from those of his brethren. The only thing that remained was, to endeavor to persuade Solano to retract those opinions which had been condemned by so many popes and general councils. But this attempt was altogether fruitless. To all the arguments drawn from such topics, he replied, that money was the god worshipped at Rome, and that, in all the councils which had been held of late, the papal influence had decided theological questions, and rendered useless the good intentions of some respectable men. In the mean time, his confinement brought on a fever, during which the inquisitors redoubled their efforts for his conversion. He expressed himself thankful for their attention, but told them, that he could not retract his sentiments without offending God and betraying the truth.
On the twentieth day of his sickness, the physician informed him of his danger, and exhorted him to avail himself of the few moments which remained. “I am in the hands of God,” said Solano, “and have nothing more to do.” Thus died, in 1805, the vicar of Esco. He was refused ecclesiastical sepulture, and his body was privately interred within the enclosure of the Inquisition, near the back gate, towards the Ebro. His death was reported to the council of the Supreme, who stopped further proceedings, to avoid the necessity of burning him in effigy. f529 Such are the details of the unsuccessful, but interesting, attempt to reform religion in Spain during the sixteenth century. Melancholy as the results were, they present nothing which reflects discredit on the cause, or on those by whom it was espoused. It did not miscarry through the imprudence or the infidelity of its leading friends. On the contrary, we have met with examples of the power of religion, of enlightened and pure love to truth, and of invincible fortitude, combined with meekness, scarcely inferior to any which are to be found in the annals of Christianity. To fall by such weapons as we have described, can be disgraceful to no cause. The fate of the Reformation in Spain, as well as in Italy, teaches us not to form hasty and rash conclusions respecting the course of proceedings on which Providence, for inscrutable reasons, may sometimes be pleased to frown. The common maxim, that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” was remarkably verified in the primitive ages of Christianity; but we must distinguish what is effected by the special interposition and extraordinary blessing of heaven, from what will happen according to the ordinary course of events. In the nature of things, it cannot but operate as a great, and with multitudes as an insuperable, obstacle to the reception of the truth, that, in following the dictates of their conscience, they must expose themselves to every species of worldly evil; and persecution may be carried to such a pitch as will, without a miracle, crush the best of causes; for, though it cannot eradicate the truth from the minds of those by whom it has been cordially embraced, it may cut off all the ordinary means of communication by which it is propagated. Accordingly history shows that true religion has been not only excluded, but banished for ages from extensive regions of the globe, by oppressive laws and a tyrannical administration.
But we are not on this account to conclude that the Spanish martyrs threw away their lives, and spilt their blood in vain. They offered to God a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour. Their blood is precious in his sight; he has avenged it, and may yet more signally avenge it. They left their testimony for truth in a country where it had been eminently opposed and outraged. That testimony has not altogether perished. Who knows what effects the record of what they dared and suffered may yet, through the divine blessing, produce upon that unhappy nation, which counted them as the filth and offscouring of all things, but was not worthy of them? Though hitherto lost on Spain, it has not been without all fruit elsewhere. The knowledge of the exertions made by Spaniards, and of the barbarous measures adopted to put them down, provoked many in other countries to throw off the Roman yoke, and to secure themselves against similar cruelties. In particular, it inspired their fellow-subjects in the Low Countries with a determination not to permit their soil to be polluted by the odious tribunal of the Inquisition, and consolidated that resistance which terminated in the establishment of civil liberty, in connection with the reformed religion, in the United Provinces. While we bow with reverence to those providential arrangements which permitted the standard of truth to fall in one part of the world, we cannot but reflect with gratitude on the signal success vouchsafed to it in others. It was during the years 1559 and 1569 that the death-blow was given to the reformed religion in Spain; and during the same period the religious liberties of the protestants of Germany were finally secured, the reformed church was regularly organized in the kingdom of France, England was freed from popery by the accession of Elizabeth, and the cause of the Reformation, after struggling long for existence, attained to a happy and permanent establishment in Scotland.