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Why did the Inquisition emerge in the 13th century?

What were the causes of the Inquisition? And please don't give answers like, "The Roman Catholic church wanted power," which is simply a generality and a theory.

Merci bien!

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A 1578 handbook for inquisitors spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties: ... "... for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit."

    Key word: that others may become terrified . . . . . . . thus the inquisition was actually a reign of terror to convert others into the religion, or to remove enemies/heretics. With such a broad outline, especially when it was hard for victims to prove that they were not "heretics", most of Christendom Europe was under the reign of terror with the sole motive of bringing the subjects under control.

    The inquisition originated in 12th century to counter spread of Catharism (Chritianity with dualistic and gnostic doctrines). Subsequently, it was employed frequently against "heretics" in most parts of Europe till the 19th century.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    To counter heretical movements like the Cathars, Bogumils and Waldensians, which started spreading rapidly at that time.

    The Cathars were a particular problem for the church because they were creating their own territory and culture in southern France. The church felt extremely threatened by this.

    The inquisition had both doctrinal and political roots. The church was not only interested in doctrinal purity, but political power as well, both secular and ecclesiastical (to stop Christendom from splintering; to maintain discipline in the ranks). This is particularly true for the 13th century, when the Catholic church was at the peak of its power (see Pope Innocent III).

    While it would be wrong to attribute the emergence of the inquisition sole to political goals, it would also be wrong to say that these goals did not play a very important role. Both the "Black Legend" and revisionist white-washing are useless simplifications.

    The Church (and the world as a whole) in the early 13th century was something very different from the present-day church. Many of the things that seem shocking to us were perfectly logical and natural to them in the context of their world view. You have to read up on European and Catholic history to understand the mentality of the the people who created the inquisition before you try to understand their motives.

    Read more about the history of Church, about its decline in the second part of the 9th century, its absolute low point during the pornocracy (900-950), its rebirth under Hildebrand (Gregory VII), its absolute peak under Innocent III, its subsequent decline, the Avignon years, the Schism of the West, and the Council of Constance.

    The history of the church is fascinating. I'm constantly dumbstruck by the fact that so few Catholics, even clergymen, know anything about it, or even seem to care.

    By the way, I'm a 15 year old agnostic- if I could take the time and trouble to learn a little about church history, it's a travesty that Catholics themselves don't.

  • 1 decade ago

    Since you're looking for a factual, non-biased answer, I suggest you re-post this in the history section.

    From what little I know, the inquisition began as a response to the Black Plague which decimated the population of Europe. With no working theory of germs, people (including the clergy) believed that it was God's response to Catholic infidelity. The answer? Religious revivalism, and what better way to start than by public scourging (which actually facilitated the spread of the plague) and systematic antisemitism?



    It seems I (along with everyone else here so far [the first four answers]) are all WRONG. On top of that, the last two of the four answers have factually inconsistent parts. Pope Innocent III lived in the 12th and 13th centuries; Protestantism didn't even exist until the 16th century. Unless Innocent III lived to be 300 and some odd years old, it's impossible for him to have been the one who called "The Roman Inquisition" (16th century) which initially combated Protestantism.

    As per my original, false answer: The Black Plague (which caused Europeans to scapegoat Jews as the cause) and the Papal Inquisition of the 13th century are two separate events that were occurring at the same time. It seems all of the four inquisitions only dealt with baptized members of the Catholic Church, and so the inquisition never dealt with non-baptized Jews or Muslims. The Spanish Inquisition dealt with Jews who were usually coerced into converting to Christianity who subsequently continued to practice their Jewish faith secretly. Since these individuals were baptized Catholic (even though by coercion) the Church in Spain felt that she was justified in carrying out the inquisition on such Jews. Either way, the Spanish Inquisition did not occur in the 13th century.

    You asked about the 13th century inquisition, which was neither the Spanish Inquisition (15th Century) nor the Inquisition called to combat Protestantism (16th Century), rather it was the inquisition that historians call "the Medieval Inquisition" which began as a means to combat the "heresies" of Catharism and Waldensianism

    Seriously, for credible answers, post this in "History".

  • 1 decade ago

    When the reformed religion began to diffuse the Gospel light throughout Europe, Pope Innocent III entertained great fear for the Romish Church. He accordingly instituted a number of inquisitors, or persons who were to make inquiry after, apprehend, and punish, heretics, as the reformed were called by the papists.

    At the head of these inquisitors was one Dominic, who had been canonized by the pope, in order to render his authority the more respectable. Dominic, and the other inquisitors, spread themselves into various Roman Catholic countries, and treated the Protestants with the utmost severity. In process of time, the pope, not finding these roving inquisitors so useful as he had imagined, resolved upon the establishment of fixed and regular courts of Inquisition. After the order for these regular courts, the first office of Inquisition was established in the city of Toulouse, and Dominic became the first regular inquisitor, as he had before been the first roving inquisitor.


    Pope Innocent III

    Pope Innocent III was born in either 1160 or 1161, and died on July 16, 1216 at Perugia.[1] He was born with the name Lotario de Conti, and he was pope from January 8, 1198 until his death.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Alright, well this isn't my area of expertise but I have a general idea. The Spanish Inquisition, set out by (duh) Spain, was... okay I don't know who's idea it was, but I am going to go with the royals of Spain (I mean not the Popes idea). Spain was always kind of a control freak, and their constant inbreeding of royals made some {most} of the royals a bit loopy.. you know. The Inquisition kind of began when Colombus first "discovered" teh New World, and claimed it for Spain. Obviously theres a whole lot of not-catholic people there, so it may have been pressure to keep control of what they had. Convert or die, you see? Also the Inquisiiton was Spains way of saying "haha suckers I'm in charge! What now!". Since of course everyone had to address the King as "His Most Catholic Majesty" (seriously), Catholicism was kinda Spains thing. Sorry I'm really not that much help am I... anyway... good luck on whatever you need the info for!

  • 1 decade ago

    The Spanish Inquisition was a series of trials and courts that started in 1478 by the King and Queen of Spain, who were attempting to ensure orthodox Catholic teaching in their kingdom.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    To me it looks very similar to nazism or that sort of dictatorial regime. Any excuse to murder and steal.

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