Some Private Enormities of the Inquisition Laid Open, by a Very Singular Occurrence
Some Private Enormities of the Inquisition Laid Open, by a Very Singular Occurrence
When the crown of Spain was contested for in the beginning of the present century, by two princes, who equally pretended to the sovereignty, France espoused the cause of one competitor, and England of the other.
The duke of Berwick, a natural son of James II who abdicated England, commanded the Spanish and French forces, and defeated the English at the celebrated battle of Almanza. The army was then divided into two parts; the one consisting of Spaniards and French, headed by the duke of Berwick, advanced towards Catalonia; the other body, consisting of French troops only, commanded by the duke of Orleans, proceeded to the conquest of Arragon.
As the troops drew near to the city of Arragon, the magistrates came to offer the keys to the duke of Orleans; but he told them haughtily that they were rebels, and that he would not accept the keys, for he had orders to enter the city through a breach.
He accordingly made a breach in the walls with his cannon, and then entered the city through it, together with his whole army. When he had made every necessary regulation here, he departed to subdue other places, leaving a strong garrison at once to overawe and defend, under the command of his lieutenant-general M. de Legal. This gentleman, though brought up a Roman Catholic, was totally free from superstition; he united great talents with great bravery; and was the skilful officer, and accomplished gentleman.
The duke, before his departure, had ordered that heavy contributions should be levied upon the city in the following manner:
\\1. That the magistrates and principal inhabitants should pay a thousand crowns per month for the duke's table.
\\2. That every house should pay one pistole, which would monthly amount to 18,000 pistoles.
\\3. That every convent and monastery should pay a donative, proportionable to its riches and rents.
The two last contributions to be appropriated to the maintenance of the army.
The money levied upon the magistrates and principal inhabitants, and upon every house, was paid as soon as demanded; but when the persons applied to the heads of convents and monasteries, they found that the ecclesiastics were not so willing, as other people, to part with their cash.
Of the donatives to be raised by the clergy:
The College of Jesuits to pay - 2000 pistoles.
Carmelites, - 1000
Augustins, - 1000
Dominicans, - 1000
M. de Legal sent to the Jesuits a peremptory order to pay the money immediately. The superior of the Jesuits returned for answer that for the clergy to pay money for the army was against all ecclesiastical immunities; and that he knew of no argument which could authorize such a procedure. M. de Legal then sent four companies of dragoons to quarter themselves in the college, with this sarcastic message. "To convince you of the necessity of paying the money, I have sent four substantial arguments to your college, drawn from the system of military logic; and, therefore, hope you will not need any further admonition to direct your conduct."
These proceedings greatly perplexed the Jesuits, who despatched an express to court to the king's confessor, who was of their order; but the dragoons were much more expeditious in plundering and doing mischief, than the courier in his journey: so that the Jesuits, seeing everything going to wreck and ruin, thought proper to adjust the matter amicably, and paid the money before the return of their messenger. The Augustins and Carmelites, taking warning by what had happened to the Jesuits, prudently went and paid the money, and by that means escaped the study of military arguments, and of being taught logic by dragoons.
But the Dominicans, who were all familiars of, or agents dependent on, the Inquisition, imagined that that very circumstance would be their protection; but they were mistaken, for M. de Legal neither feared nor respected the Inquisition. The chief of the Dominicans sent word to the military commander that his order was poor, and had not any money whatever to pay the donative; for, says he, "The whole wealth of the Dominicans consists only in the silver images of the apostles and saints, as large as life, which are placed in our church, and which it would be sacrilege to remove."
This insinuation was meant to terrify the French commander, whom the inquisitors imagined would not dare to be so profane as to wish for the possession of the precious idols.
He, however, sent word that the silver images would make admirable substitutes for money, and would be more in character in his possession, than in that of the Dominicans themselves, "For [said he] while you possess them in the manner you do at present, they stand up in niches, useless and motionless, without being of the least benefit to mankind in general, or even to yourselves; but, when they come into my possession, they shall be useful; I will put them in motion; for I intend to have them coined, when they may travel like the apostles, be beneficial in various places, and circulate for the universal service of mankind."
The inquisitors were astonished at this treatment, which they never expected to receive, even from crowned heads; they therefore determined to deliver their precious images in a solemn procession, that they might excite the people to an insurrection. The Dominican friars were accordingly ordered to march to de Legal's house, with the silver apostles and saints, in a mournful manner, having lighted tapers with them and bitterly crying all the way, "heresy, heresy."
M. de Legal, hearing these proceedings, ordered four companies of grenadiers to line the street which led to his house; each grenadier was ordered to have his loaded fuzee in one hand, and a lighted taper in the other; so that the troops might either repel force with force, or do honor to the farcical solemnity.
The friars did all they could to raise the tumult, but the common people were too much afraid of the troops under arms to obey them; the silver images were, therefore, of necessity delivered up to M. de Legal, who sent them to the mint, and ordered them to be coined immediately.
The project of raising an insurrection having failed, the inquisitors determined to excommunicate M. de Legal, unless he would release their precious silver saints from imprisonment in the mint, before they were melted down, or otherwise mutilated. The French commander absolutely refused to release the images, but said they should certainly travel and do good; upon which the inquisitors drew up the form of excommunication, and ordered their secretary to go and read it to M. de Legal.
The secretary punctually performed his commission, and read the excommunication deliberately and distinctly. The French commander heard it with great patience, and politely told the secretary that he would answer it the next day.
When the secretary of the Inquisition was gone, M. de Legal ordered his own secretary to prepare a form of excommunication, exactly like that sent by the Inquisition; but to make this alteration, instead of his name to put in those of the inquisitors.
The next morning he ordered four regiments under arms, and commanded them to accompany his secretary, and act as he directed.
The secretary went to the Inquisition, and insisted upon admittance, which, after a great deal of altercation, was granted. As soon as he entered, he read, in an audible voice, the excommunication sent by M. de Legal against the inquisitors. The inquisitors were all present, and heard it with astonishment, never having before met with any individual who dared to behave so boldly. They loudly cried out against de Legal, as a heretic; and said, "This was a most daring insult against the Catholic faith." But to surprise them still more, the French secretary told them that they must remove from their present lodgings; for the French commander wanted to quarter the troops in the Inquisition, as it was the most commodious place in the whole city.
The inquisitors exclaimed loudly upon this occasion, when the secretary put them under a strong guard, and sent them to a place appointed by M. de Legal to receive them. The inquisitors, finding how things went, begged that they might be permitted to take their private property, which was granted; and they immediately set out for Madrid, where they made the most bitter complaints to the king; but the monarch told them that he could not grant them any redress, as the injuries they had received were from his grandfather, the king of France's troops, by whose assistance alone he could be firmly established in his kingdom. "Had it been my own troops, [said he] I would have punished them; but as it is, I cannot pretend to exert any authority."
In the mean time, M. de Legal's secretary set open all the doors of the Inquisition, and released the prisoners, who amounted in the whole to four hundred; and among these were sixty beautiful young women, who appeared to form a seraglio for the three principal inquisitors.
This discovery, which laid the enormity of the inquisitors so open, greatly alarmed the archbishop, who desired M. de Legal to send the women to his palace, and he would take proper care of them; and at the same time he published an ecclesiastical censure against all such as should ridicule, or blame, the holy office of the Inquisition.
The French commander sent word to the archbishop, that the prisoners had either run away, or were so securely concealed by their friends, or even by his own officers, that it was impossible for him to send them back again; and, therefore, the Inquisition having committed such atrocious actions, must now put up with their exposure.
Some may suggest, that it is strange crowned heads and eminent nobles did not attempt to crush the power of the Inquisition, and reduce the authority of those ecclesiastical tyrants, from whose merciless fangs neither their families nor themselves were secure.
But astonishing as it is, superstition hath, in this case, always overcome common sense, and custom operated against reason. One prince, indeed, intended to abolish the Inquisition, but he lost his life before he became king, and consequently before he had the power so to do; for the very intimation of his design procured his destruction.
This was that amiable prince Don Carlos, son of Philip the Second, king of Spain, and grandson of the celebrated emperor Charles V. Don Carlos possessed all the good qualities of his grandfather, without any of the bad ones of his father; and was a prince of great vivacity, admirable learning, and the most amiable disposition. He had sense enough to see into the errors of popery, and abhorred the very name of the Inquisition. He inveighed publicly against the institution, ridiculed the affected piety of the inquisitors, did all he could to expose their atrocious deeds, and even declared, that if he ever came to the crown, he would abolish the Inquisition, and exterminate its agents.
These things were sufficient to irritate the inquisitors against the prince: they, accordingly, bent their minds to vengeance, and determined on his destruction.
The inquisitors now employed all their agents and emissaries to spread abroad the most artful insinuations against the prince; and, at length raised such a spirit of discontent among the people that the king was under the necessity of removing Don Carlos from court. Not content with this, they pursued even his friends, and obliged the king likewise to banish Don John, duke of Austria, his own brother, and consequently uncle to the prince; together with the prince of Parma, nephew to the king, and cousin to the prince, because they well knew that both the duke of Austria, and the prince of Parma, had a most sincere and inviolable attachment to Don Carlos.
Some few years after, the prince having shown great lenity and favor to the Protestants in the Netherlands, the Inquisition loudly exclaimed against him, declaring, that as the persons in question were heretics, the prince himself must necessarily be one, since he gave them countenance. In short, they gained so great an ascendency over the mind of the king, who was absolutely a slave to superstition, that, shocking to relate, he sacrificed the feelings of nature to the force of bigotry, and, for fear of incurring the anger of the Inquisition, gave up his only son, passing the sentence of death on him himself.
The prince, indeed, had what was termed an indulgence; that is, he was permitted to choose the manner of his death. Roman-like, the unfortunate young hero chose bleeding and the hot bath; when the veins of his arms and legs were opened, he expired gradually, falling a martyr to the malice of the inquisitors, and the stupid bigotry of his father.