With Dr. Duke meeting patriots in Spain we thought we would dust off this classic 2005 interview with legendary activist Pedro Varela, Dr. Duke and Pedro discuss Spain’s heroic struggle for independence from Moorish, Jewish and Marxist power, an incredible story of perseverance and ultimate victory. Complimenting Pedro’s interview is a surprisingly frank chapter from William Walsh’s master work; ‘Isabella of Spain’ which was published in 1930 back in the days before Zionist control and political correctness demanded that writers obfuscate or sugarcoat their subject matter — admin:
The Jews’ Activities In Spain – Their Persecution In Europe – The Conversos – Establishment Of The Spanish Inquisition
By William Thomas Walsh
Pedro Varela Interview
In MEDIEVAL Spain the Jews came nearer to building a New Jerusalem than at any time or place since their dispersion after the Crucifixion. Had they succeeded ?- and several times they came perilously near success ?- they might conceivably have managed, with Mohammedan aid, to destroy the Christian civilization of Europe. Their ultimate failure was caused chiefly by the life?work of Isabel.
The date of their first migrations to the peninsula is disputed; but the evidence appears to indicate that they arrived not long after Saint James the Greater first preached the gospel of Christianity in Saragossa in A.D. 42. Some of those expelled from Rome by Claudius may have settled in Spain. Certain it is that they spread through the country very early in the Christian era, and multiplied so rapidly that their presence constituted a serious problem for the Arian (unorthodox Christian) Visigoths. They were not at first persecuted by the Christians; but, after the discovery that they were plotting to bring the Arabs from Africa for the overthrow of the Gothic kingdom, they were condemned to slavery by one of the councils of Toledo.
Nevertheless by the beginning of the eighth century they were numerous in all the chief cities, enjoyed power and wealth, and even obtained through bribery certain privileges denied to Christians.
That they played an important part in bringing the Saracens from Africa in 709 is certain. In the invading army there were many African Jews. Everywhere the Spanish Jews opened the gates of cities to the conquerors, and the Moslems rewarded them by turning over to them the government of Granada, Seville and Córdoba. “Without any love for the soil where they lived, without any of those affections that ennoble a people, and finally without sentiments of generosity,” says Amador de los Rios,1 “they aspired only to feed their avarice and to accomplish the ruin of the Goths; taking the opportunity to manifest their rancour, and boasting of the hatreds that they had hoarded up so many centuries.” This is a severe indictment, and it would be most unfair to place all the blame for the Mussulman invasion at the door of the Jews. Neither their intrigues nor the Moorish arms could have prevailed, perhaps, if the Christian Visigoth monarchy had not fallen first into heresy and then into decadence. King Witiza led an unsavoury life, published an edict permitting priests to marry, and so far flouted the Christian beliefs of his subjects that he denied the authority of the Pope. His successor, Roderigo, violated the daughter of Count Julian, who thereupon crossed into Africa and joined the Jews in prevailing upon the Moors to conquer Spain. The sons of Witiza, persecuted by Roderigo, also joined the enemy. And at the critical moment of the battle of Jerez de la Frontera, Bishop Oppas, who had a grudge against Roderigo, went over to the Saracens and gave them the victory.
In the new Moslem state the Jews found themselves highly esteemed. It was under the caliphs that they attained the height of their prosperity. They studied and taught in the Arab universities, excelling particularly in astrology and medicine. Through their connections with Asiatic Jews, they were able to get the best drugs and spices; and through their wealth, acquired chiefly through usury, barter and the huge traffic in slaves, they obtained leisure for the pursuit and diffusion of culture. They expounded the philosophy of Aristotle, which flourished among the Arabs, before the Stagirite was known in Christian Europe.2
In Granada the Jews became so numerous that it was called “the city of the Jews.” But the Saracens persecuted them at times. On December 30, 1066, the Moslems of Granada, in*furiated by their exploitations, arose against them and slew 4,000. One of the caliphs expelled all Jews from Granada.
The gradual reconquest of the peninsula by the Christians did not at first trouble their marvellous prosperity. When Saint Fernando took Seville in 1224, he gave the Jews four Moorish mosques to convert into synagogues; he allowed them one of the pleasantest sections for their homes, and imposed no conditions except to refrain from proselytizing among Christians and from insulting the Christian religion.3 The Jews observed neither of these conditions. Yet several of the later kings, usually those of lukewarm faith or those especially in need of money, showed them high favour. Alfonso VIII made one of them his treasurer.
In spite of persecution now and then, they multiplied and prospered until, toward the end of the thirteenth century, they were a power, almost a state within the State, gradually retarding the reconquest. In Castile alone they paid a poll-tax of 2,561,855 maravedis in 1284.4 As each adult male Jew was taxed three gold maravedis, there must have been 853,951 men alone; hence the total Jewish population may well have been from four to five millions ?- and this leaves out of account large communities in Aragon and other sections. There are no accurate figures for the total population of Spain, but most of the estimates generally accepted are ridiculously low. More probably there were at least 25,000,000 and perhaps as many as 30,000,000 people in all the Spanish kingdoms at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Probably a fifth, or even a fourth were Jews ?- a large minority, and they possessed an influence out of proportion to their numbers. They became so powerful that the laws against blasphemy could not be enforced against them. It was so plain that they were above the law that the Cathari of Leon used to circumcize themselves that they might freely teach as Jews the heresy for which they would be punished as Christians.5
The capital and commerce of the country were largely in their hands, for they were almost the only bankers and money?lenders in an age when usury was forbidden by the Church. In Aragon they generally charged twenty per cent., in Castile thirty?three and one?third percent. During the famine of 1326 the Jewish alhama of Cuenca refused to lend money or wheat for sowing, unless they received forty per cent. interest, and the town council was compelled by the distress of the people to pay it. Carlos III of Navarre paid thirty?five per cent. for a loan of 2,000 florins in 1401, and in 1402 his wife, Queen Leona, paid her Jewish physician four florins a month for a loan of seventy florins, giving him her silver plate as security. As the interest on the seventy florins amounted to eighty?four florins after twenty?one months, she protested, and the Jew accepted thirty florins.5 The citizen with taxes to pay, the farmer with no money to buy seed for his planting, the burgher held for ransom by a turbulent noble, turned in desperation to the Jewish money?lender and became his economic slave.
The government gradually passed into Jewish hands. Though the common people, the debtor class, hated them, the kings and great feudatories protected them, since it was convenient at times to borrow from them. Whenever the Jews made a loan, however, they asked for security, and frequently for some political concession. For example, a Jew would ask the King to “farm out” to him the taxes of a certain city or district; or the King, in desperate need of funds, would offer the privilege to the highest bidder, and a Jew usually got it. The profit of farming the taxes depended on the amount that the collectors could extort from the people. Isabel’s brother Enrique carried the hated policy so far that he gave two of his Jewish tax collectors the power of life and death over the citizens whom they exploited. The Church in vain attempted to prevent the employment of Jews in public offices. The services they rendered to the monarchs as money?lenders, administrators, physicians and scientists made them indispensable. The people protested; the kings promised relief, but seldom gave it.
Confident and secure, the Jews lived with all the oriental ostentation of which their luxurious nature is capable. They took no particular pains to conceal their contempt for the lesser breeds without the law, who paid them tribute; they overdressed, they lived in grand houses, they entertained lavishly. Alfonso V of Portugal once said to Rabbi Ibn Yachia, “Why do you not stop your people from displaying a magnificence that Christians attribute to thefts committed at their expense? But you need not answer me! I know that nothing but a massacre can cure them of that fatal pride of theirs.”
With the reign of Pedro the Cruel in the middle of the fourteenth century, the history of the Jews in Castile enters on a new phase. Pedro, who was intensely hated, was popularly believed to have been a Jewish child, substituted in the cradle for the lawful heiress by Queen María, whose husband had threatened to kill her if she did not bear a boy. He was denounced by Pope Urban I as a rebel to the Church, “a fautor of Jews and Moors, a propagator of infidelity, and a slayer of Christians.” He gave the Jews complete control of his government. They financed his war with his bastard brother Henry of Trastamara, Isabel’s great-great?grandfather. The Moors also recognized a friend in Pedro, for 87,000 of them marched from Granada to help him in 1368. When Henry slew him ?- calling him el fi de **** judio ?- it was an unlucky day for both Jews and Moors.
As if their wealth and ostentation were not sure sooner or later to cause a repetition of their sad history, there fell on the Israelites a terrible misfortune such as no man could have predicted. All men suffered from it, but the Jews more cruelly than the rest.
The Black Death, which slew at least half the entire population of Europe within two years, was probably the worst catastrophe that had ever befallen Christendom. But the Jews suffered doubly. For they had hardly buried their dead when the populace, half crazed with fear and grief, revived the old cry, “Down with the Jews! The Jews did it! The Jews poisoned the wells!”
Straightway, all over Europe, the Israelites were put to the sword. In vain did Pope Clement VI attempt by pleadings and threats of excommunication to stay the fanatics, particularly in Germany. Following the example, as he said, of Calixtus II, Eugenius III, Alexander III, Clement III, Celestine III, Innocent III, Gregory IX, Nicholas III, Honorius IV and Nicholas IV, he denounced the tales attributing the calamity to the Jews as lies, and pointed out that the plague had been just as virulent in lands where no Jews lived. The massacres, however, continued.6
In Castile, the Jews escaped the major persecution until the Archdeacon of Ecija, Ferran Martinez, preached against them. In June, 1391, there was a general uprising in Seville; the mob rushed into the juderia, slew 4,000 and compelled the survivors to accept baptism. The furore spread to other cities. The total number of victims has been estimated as high as 50,000, probably, as Lea says, an exaggeration.7
These massacres created a new class of citizens: the Conversos, who were referred to derisively as Marranos. Thirty?five thousand were converted by the eloquence of Saint Vincent Ferrer, 4,000 being baptized in Toledo in one day. What his sermons and his miracles failed to accomplish, the fear of further atrocities effected. The Jewish population in Isabel’s time had shrunk from some 5,000,000 or more to about 200,000.
What had become of the 4,800,000? If the Black Death slew, say 2,000,000, another two and a half million, at least, had become New Christians. Some conversions were sincere; more of them were actuated by fear under persecution, or by motives of self?interest. “Their conversion was, however, only external, or feigned; at heart they adhered loyally to their ancestral religion. Though outwardly Christians, they secretly practised the rites of the Jewish faith.”8 With the intelligence of their race, they saw that as acknowledged Jews they would be segregated, forced to wear a badge of inferiority and pay a poll?tax, forbidden to have social or business relations with Christians, or to hold office in Church or State. But as professing Christians who heard Mass on Sunday, even though they privately attended the synagogue on Saturday, they could hold office, they could follow any career for which their abilities fitted them, they could even intermarry with the noble (but sometimes needy) families of Spain.
By the time of Isabel and Fernando, a great many of the ancient houses of the peninsula had Jewish relatives. Limpia sangre, “clean blood,” was a distinction which many claimed but not all had. The de Lunas, the Mendozas, the Guzmans, the Villahermosas, all had Hebrew strains. Certain Jewish traditions have gone so far as to include even the maternal grandmother of King Fernando; but the claim is based upon a misunderstanding, as Zurita and Mariana clearly prove.
What cannot be questioned, however, is that Conversos and their kin everywhere controlled business, government, taxation, all that was valuable, just as their ancestors had as Jews. Thus the massacres had only substituted for one problem another and much more intricate one. For as Conversos, the Jews were now capable of doing greater injury to Christianity through their influence upon the Old Christians with whom they mingled.
Even the Catholic Church in Spain was being directed and exploited to an astonishing extent by Jews when Isabel became Queen. As “Christians” they could now become priests, if otherwise eligible. A Jewish “convert” anxious to show his loyalty to his new religion, would dedicate one of his sons to the Church. And in the Church the Jews excelled just as they did in other fields; they mounted the hierarchy so rapidly that in Isabel’s reign an impressive number of the bishops were of Jewish descent. Every church, every chapter, every monastery had influential Jewish connections; and in some dioceses Jews collected the ecclesiastical revenues.
To attribute all the corruption in the Church to them, as their enemies did, was of course unfair. Clerical discipline had broken down in other countries where the Jews were few; the Church had had to lower the standard of her priest*hood after the Black Death; and the seventy?five years’ exile of the Popes at Avignon as prisoners of the French Kings, had paralysed the whole structure. But in Spain there was an additional cause of laxity and immorality, of cynicism and hypocrisy, in the presence of so many priests who did not believe the doctrines they taught.
It is not difficult to understand the indignation of Catholics against priests who made a mockery of the sacraments they pretended to administer. “No man could tell how many priests there were like Andres Gomalz, parish priest of San Martin de Talavera, who, on his trial at Toledo in 1486, confessed that for fourteen years he had been secretly a Jew, that he had no ‘intention’ when he celebrated Mass, nor had he granted absolution to the penitents who confessed to him.”9
And there were others like Fray Garcia de Tapate, prior of the Jeronymite monastery of Toledo, who, when he elevated the Host at Mass, used to say, “Get up, little Peter, and let the people look at you,” instead of the words of consecration; and who always turned his back on his penitents while he pretended to give them absolution.
The New Christians, by another irony, became the bitterest persecutors of the poor despised Jews who had clung to the law of Moses at the risk of their lives. The Cortes of 1405, directed by ambitious Conversos, passed new and cruel laws against the people of the juderias. All bonds of Christians held by Jews were declared void; debts due them were reduced one half; they must wear red circles on their clothing except when travelling. The ordinance of Queen Catalina in 1412forbade them to shave or cut the hair round, to change abodes, to be farmers or collectors of taxes, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, pedlars, blacksmiths, furriers, carpenters, tailors, barbers, or builders; to carry arms; to hire Christians; to cat with or bathe with Christians. “From the earliest times,” says Lea, “the hardest blows endured by Judaism had always been dealt by its apostate children whose training had taught them the weakest points to assail, and whose necessity of self*justification led them to attack these mercilessly.” Converted Jews had egged on the mobs in 1391. Conversos would be found high in the council of the Inquisition, directing its activities. Sometimes the Jews avenged themselves on the New Christians by falsely testifying against them before the Inquisition, and getting them burned as heretics. Isabel proceeded against such false witnesses with the utmost rigour. As an example she had eight of them executed, their flesh having been torn first with red?hot pincers.
The Conversos were hated by the Old Christians even more than the Jews were. Bernaldez expresses his aversion to them in a famous passage that is, no doubt, a faithful reflection of the public opinion of his time.10
“Those who can avoid baptizing their children, do so, and those who have them baptized wash them as soon as they return home. . . . You must know that the customs of the common people before the Inquisition were neither more nor less those of the ill?smelling Jews, on account of the continual communication they have with them; thus they are gluttons and feeders, who never lose the Judaical habit of eating delicacies of onions and garlic fried in oil, and they cook their meat in oil, using it in place of lard or fat, to avoid pork; and oil with meat is a thing that makes the breath smell very bad, and so their houses and doorways smell most offensively from those tit?bits; and hence they have the odour of the Jews, as a result of their food and their not being baptized. And not withstanding that some have been baptized, yet the virtue of the baptism having been destroyed in them by their credulity and by Judaizing, they smell like Jews. They do not eat pork unless they are compelled; they eat meat in Lent and on the vigils of feasts and on ember days; they keep the Passover and the Sabbath as best they can. They send oil to the synagogues for the lamps. They have Jews who preach to them secretly in their houses, especially to the women very secretly; and they have Jewish rabbis whose occupation is to slaughter their beasts and fowls for them. They eat unleavened bread during the Jewish holidays, and meat chopped up. They follow all the Judaical ceremonies secretly so far as they can. “The men as well as the women always avoid receiving the sacraments of Holy Church voluntarily. When they confess, they never tell the truth; and it happened that one confessor asked a person of this tribe to cut off a piece of his garment for him, saying, ‘Since you have never sinned, I should like to have a bit of your garment for a relic to heal the sick.’ There was a time in Seville when it was commanded that no meat be weighed on Saturday, because all the Conversos ate it on Saturday night, and they ordered it to be weighed on Sunday morning.
“Not without reason did Our Redeemer call them a wicked and adulterous generation. They do not believe that God rewards virginity and chastity. All their endeavour is to increase and multiply. And in the time when this heretical iniquity flourished, many monasteries were violated by their wealthy men and merchants, and many professed nuns were ravished and mocked, some through gifts and some through the lures of panders, they not believing in or fearing excommunications; but they did it to injure Jesus Christ and the Church. And usually, for the most part, they were usurious people, of many wiles and deceits, for they all live by easy occupations and offices, and in buying and selling they have no conscience where Christians are concerned. Never would they undertake the occupations of tilling the soil or digging or cattle?raising, nor would they teach their children any except holding public offices, and sitting down to earn enough to eat with little labour. Many of them in these realms in a short time acquired very great fortunes and estates, since they had no conscience in their profits and usuries, saying that they only gained at the expense of their enemies, according to the command of God in the departure of the people of Israel to spoil the Egyptians. . . . Of all this the King and Queen were assured while they were at Seville.”11
To some extent, at least, Isabel must have shared these views, so that in yielding to an overwhelming pressure of public opinion in the early autumn of 1480 she was doing no violence to her own convictions. Mendoza’s catechism had failed to accomplish the miracle he had hoped for; it had only stirred the Conversos to new laughter and blasphemies, and the Cardinal was compelled to agree that no way remained but force.
Finally, on a cool day in September, the Queen unlocked one of the cunningly carved wooden chests in which her State papers were kept, and drew from it a document that had reposed there in profound secrecy since the last days of 1478. It was a piece of parchment, with a leaden seal hung on threads of coloured silk. It was a bull issued at Rome on November 1, 1478, by Pope Sixtus IV. From its text it is possible to form an intelligent conjecture as to how the Spanish envoy at Rome had represented the situation to the Holy Father. After the usual preamble, the Pope wrote:
“The genuine devotion and sound faith manifested in your reverence for us and the Roman Church demand that, as far as we can in the sight of God, we grant your requests, particularly those which concern the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the salvation of souls. We learn from your letter recently shown to us that in various cities, sections and regions of the Spanish kingdoms, many of those who of their own accord were born anew in Christ in the sacred waters of Baptism, while continuing to comport themselves externally as Christians, yet have secretly adopted or returned to the religious observances and customs of the Jews, and are living according to the principles and ordinances of Jewish superstition and falsehood, thus renouncing the truths of the orthodox faith, its worship, and belief in its doctrines, and incurring, without hesitation or fear, the censures and penalties pronounced against followers of heretical perversity, in accordance with the constitutions of Pope Boniface VIII, our predecessor of happy memory. Not only do they persist in their blindness but their children and their associates are infected with the same perfidy, and thus their numbers increase not a little. Owing to the crimes of these men and, as is piously believed, to the forbearance of this Holy See and of those ecclesiastical prelates whose duty it is to examine into such matters, with God’s permission, war and homicide and other misfortunes are oppressing those same regions to the offence of the Divine Majesty, the contempt of the aforesaid Faith, the danger of souls and the scandal of many. On this account you have humbly implored our apostolic kindness to extirpate this dangerous sect root and branch from out your kingdoms. . . .
“We rejoice in the Lord over your praiseworthy zeal for the Faith and for the salvation of souls and express the hope that you will exert every effort not only to drive this perfidy, from your realms, but also in our own times to subject to your rule the kingdom of Granada and the territories that border on it. We likewise trust that you will strive through the workings of Divine Mercy to bring about the conversion to the true faith of the infidels who are in these territories. Thus, what your predecessors, owing to various obstacles, found impossible of accomplishment, you will bring to pass unto the prosperity of the same true faith, the salvation of souls, your own great glory, and the assurance of eternal happiness, for which you so earnestly pray. We wish to grant your petitions and to apply suitable remedies to the evils you mention. Yielding therefore to your entreaties, we willingly permit the appointment of three, or at least two, bishops or archbishops or other approved men, who are secular priests, or religious of the mendicant or the non?mendicant orders, above forty years of age, of good conscience and exemplary life, masters or bachelors in theology, or doctors in canon law or licentiates carefully examined, God?fearing men, whom you shall consider worthy to be chosen, for the time being, in each city and diocese of the aforesaid kingdoms according to the needs of the places. . . . Furthermore to the men thus designated we grant, in regard to those accused of these crimes, and in regard to all who aid and abet them, the same judicial authority, peculiar rights and jurisdiction as law and custom allow to Ordinaries and Inquisitors of heretical perversity.”12
This text makes it clear that Isabel’s agent in Rome had represented the Inquisition to the Pope as a necessary war measure during a crusade; a temporary one ?- “for the time being”; and one that would be conducted in co?operation with the bishops, according to the practice that experience had taught was needed to prevent abuses. As the royal petition reached the Pope, the only new feature of it appeared to be the request that he permit the sovereigns to name the Inquisitors. That was unusual, but so were the conditions in Spain. Sixtus could have had no idea that the Spanish tribunal would exist for three centuries to come.
During the panic over the fall of Otranto ?- on September 26, 1480 ?- the King and Queen published the bull as part of an edict establishing the Inquisition in Castile. The text of this document shows that their purpose was not merely to punish or to persecute for the sake of intolerance; it was in part at least to prevent a repetition of the ghastly massacres of the Conversos. The aim of the new court, the edict stated, was not only to punish the Judaizers who sought to draw simple?minded Christians from the true faith, but also “to protect faithful Christians” among the Conversos “from unjust suspicion and persecution.” Two Inquisitors were appointed: Fray Juan de San Martin, bachelor of theology, and Fray Miguel de Morillo, master of theology. They were given to understand in the plain language of the edict that their responsibility was no longer to the Pope but to the royal Crown. “We command you,” said the edict, “to accept this office.” Failure on their part to carry out the royal commands would be punished by the confiscation of their goods, and the loss of their citizenship; they could be removed at any time by the King and Queen.13
Isabel, and Fernando may not have been aware at this stage that their ambassador at Rome had in reality tricked the Pope into granting them powers that would be used to the glory of the State and the discredit of the Church. Isabel, at least, despised all double?dealing; and it may be significant that her name appears less frequently than the King’s on the correspondence with Sixtus. “Fernando had so contrived that the duty, which the Church was bound to perform, and which the Pope could neither refuse nor evade, of declaring where errors in faith existed, should be made subservient to the State purpose of detecting high treason, then identical with Judaism; while the Church itself could exercise no controlling influence whatsoever to stay the terrible retributions awarded by the criminal courts of the realm.”14 In short, the Inquisition, as Fernando arranged matters, was religious in form only; in spirit and purpose it was the instrument of the new Caesarism to which events had gradually led him. Its judges were to be Dominican friars; but the friars were servants of the State, not of the Church.
It is entirely possible that Fernando carried Isabel, as well as Sixtus, into deeper waters than she realized. Nevertheless, the Queen never shirked her share of the responsibility for the Holy Office. And there is no contemporary evidence to support the theory by which most of her biographers, anxious to reconcile her natural kindness and rectitude with her severity against the Conversos, have attributed her long delay to what would now be called “humanitarian.” motives. All such well?intentioned efforts arise from a failure to understand the perilous conditions in which, she laboured ?- the war psychology of Spain, the challenge of the secret Jews allied to a nation within the new nation, the intensity of the popular distrust of them, and the extent to which the Queen probably shared it. She was, after all, the daughter of that uncompromising Queen who had pur*sued de Luna, the friend of Jews and Conversos, to his doom. She was the girl who had turned with disgust from the immoralities of Enrique’s court where the Conversos held the palm, who had shuddered at the bare thought of being embraced by that lecherous Converso Don Pedro Giron, who had sickened on hearing men accuse that other Converso Juan Pacheco of poisoning her brother Alfonso. She had in her, after all, the blood of those Plantagenets who were so ruthless that men called them devils, of William the Con*queror, who, when his wife reminded him once too often of his bastardy, was said to have tied her long hair to the tail of his horse and to have dragged her about, to teach her the duty of a wife. Isabel, the maid, had resolved to complete the reconquest and rehabilitation of Spain, and only the Moors and the Conversos stood in her way. And the mature woman who had calmly ordered the executions of so many thieves and mur*derers in the Jew?ridden city of Seville would hardly hesitate to exact conformity from those who were guilty of an offence which she considered even worse than theft or murder — heresy. To most people of the twentieth century the word “heresy” connotes merely an independence of thought, a difference of opinion. We are likely to forget that the mass of men in the Middle Ages nearly always associated it with some group whose tenets and activities appeared antisocial. In a dominantly Christian society, as Europe once was, heresy seemed something monstrous, diabolical. Men thought of heretics as respectable middle?class folk of our day thinkof militant anarchists. Even so gentle and charitable a woman as Saint Teresa of Ávila considered heresy worse than any other sin. Comparing the human soul to a mirror, she, wrote, “When a soul is in mortal sin, this mirror becomes clouded with a thick vapour, and utterly obscured, so that Our Lord is neither visible nor present, though He is always present in the conservation of its being. In heretics, the mirror is, as it were, broken in pieces, and that is worse thanbeing dimmed.”15 Isabel would have agreed with this is statement; it would have seemed to her only a logical conclusion from the premises contained in the teachings of Christ in her hand?illuminated New Testament.
In associating Conversos with the traditional foes, the sensual Mussulmans, Spanish Christians even to this day have imputed to them certain vices against which Christian communities have always reacted with severity. A modern Spanish scholar writes that “these unworthy practices, always existent, have epochs of recrudescence, as in the fifteenth century through contact with the Moors, making necessary the cedula of the Catholic Queen, with the terrible chastisement of the bonfire.”16 A popular tract written by a converted Jew during the first years of the Inquisition went so far as to make the ridiculous assertion that “the Marranos invented sodomy.” In the very nature of the case it was impossible for the Spanish Christian to be fair to the Converso; he saw in him only the ally of his ancient enemy. And it must be said that the deeds of the Conversos and of the Jews from time to time lent some colour to the popular prejudices. After the massacres of 1473 the Conversos of C6rdoba had attempted to purchase Gibraltar from King Enrique. It was generally believed that they intended to use it as a base for bringing hordes of Moors from Africa to reconquer all Spain.
Another reason for Isabel’s delay was probably the simple fact that she did not feel herself quite strong enough to proceed until after the conclusion of peace with Portugal and the Cortes of Toledo. And it may be inferred that the Conversos who were so powerfully entrenched in her court did not see the royal hand raised above their heads without making strenuous efforts to avert the blow. Her closest friend, Beatriz, had married a Converso. Her confessor was of Jewish descent. Almost all her privy councillors and secretaries had Jewish ancestors on one side or the other — or both. Fernando’s escribano de racion, a sort of treasurer, wasthe acute lawyer Luis de Santángel, one of a great family with ramifications all over Aragon and Castile. He was descended from the Jewish rabbi Azarias Zinello; an uncle, Pedro Martin, had been Bishop of Mallorca; other members of the family were farmers of taxes and of the royal salt works. King Fernando’s government, in fact, was virtually in the hands of the Conversos. His maestre racional or Chief Treasurer, Sancho de Paternoy, his confidential friends and advisers, Jaime de la Caballeria and Juan de Cabrera; his cup?bearer Guilleo Sanchez, his steward Francisco Sanchez, his treasurer Gabriel Sanchez — all were of the seed of Abraham. It would have been strange if these shrewd and powerful politicians had not made every effort to dissuade the King and Queen from the step they were contemplating.
NOTES (p. 621)
1 Amador de los Rios, Estudios sobre los Judíos de España, p.21.
2 Although the Catholic Church owes a debt to both Arabs and Jews for the Hellenic thought they transmitted to her, it must be said that Aristotelianism in Islam and Judah remained sterile, whereas the Catholic philosophers of the Middle Ages made it the point of departure for a new synthesis which was brilliant, original and profound. In view of the familiar charge that the Church stifled independent thinking, it is interesting to notice that the greatest Jewish and Mohammedan philosophers were usually laymen, often opposed and persecuted by the rabbis and priests. In Catholic Europe, on the other hand, the most daring philosophers were commonly priests and monks, often of high station in the hierarchy, and much honoured by the official Church ?- Thomas Aquinas, for example, was canonized. The vitality of Saint Thomas’s thought is indicated by the fact that in our day it has been reconciled to modern science by the late Cardinal Mercier and other neo?Thomists. See McNabb, The Catholic Church and Philosophy, in the Calvert Series, pp. 33 et seq.; also Olgiati?Zybura, The Key to the Study of St. Thomas. St. Louis, 1925.*
3 Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI.
4 Lea, The Inquisition of Spain.
5 Lea, The Inquisition of Spain.
6 Lea, The Inquisition of Spain.
7 Lea, The Inquisition of Spain.
8 Dr. Meyer Kayserling, Christopher Columbus and the Participa*tion of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries.
9 Lea, The Inquisition of Spain.
10 Sabatini gives a somewhat garbled translation of this passage in his Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition. For example, he translates the word manjarejos, which means “delicacies,” as “garbage”; and oler, which has a neutral connotation like our word “smell,” as “stink.”
11 Bernaldez, Historia, cap. x1iii.
12 The complete Latin text is given in the Boletin, Vol. IX, p. 172.
13 The Spanish text of this edict is published in the Boletin, Vol. XV, p. 448 et seq.
14 Dublin Review, Vol. IX, p. 172.
15 Autobiography, chap. xl, par. 9.
16 Paz y Melia, El Cronista Alonso de Palencia.
Article Source: JRBooksOnline.com
The less proof my mentor has to support his violent and gratuitous assertions, the more angry he is. My “crass credulity” in believing that Jews of the first Christian centuries “had cut out of the Old Testament the prophecies that seemed to Christians to refer so definitely to Jesus” grievously offends his crass incredulity. It does not require a very credulous mind, I think, to believe as I do, when one considers the astonishing hatred with which Jews, even to this day, attempt to explain away the teachings and miracles of Our Divine Lord, if not His very existence. However, I can give authority for my statement. Saint Jerome declared that the Septuagint suppressed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Osee xi, 1, Isaias xl, 1, Zach. xii, 10, Prov. xvii, 1, Isaias lxiv, 4. Saint Justin mentions passages from Esdras and Jeremias that the Jews had cut out of the Scriptures. When Dr. Roth offers only his unsupported word against the testimony of saints, he will not consider me discourteous, I hope, if I declare myself, to borrow a phrase from Disraeli, on the side of the angels.
He accuses me of showing “a strange want of proportion” (p. 264) in placing the number of Conversos, or converted Jews in Spain, at three millions. He ignores my explanation on page 260: In Castile the Jews alone “paid a poll-tax of 2,561,855 maravedis in 1284. As each adult male Jew was taxed three gold maravedis, there must have been 853,951 men alone; hence the total Jewish population may well have been from four to five millions—and this leaves out of account large communities in Aragon and other sections.” Allowing for the growth of the Jewish population during the following century, and their losses by the Black Death and other misfortunes, the estimate seems very moderate.
Dr. Roth blandly repeats the old Jewish error of attributing Jewish blood to King Ferdinand the Catholic, in spite of the fact that I demonstrate clearly on page 214 of my book that contemporary sources refute the theory. The Jewish ancestry of Cardinal Torquemada is questionable. Luis de Santángel, who financed Columbus’s first voyage—and out of public finds, as I have shown in my book—was, to be sure, a powerful secret Jew; it was in his house that the conspiracy to murder St. Peter Arbues was organized, and he later did public penance as an abjuring heretic. Even the Jewish writer, Jacob Wassermann, admits that his interest in Columbus is still to be accounted for! And it is, unhappily, a fact that, in writing to the great Marranos of the court, Columbus mentioned, among the advantages of the islands, that he had discovered a supply of slaves. However, far from “putting forward” the “fantastic theory” that Marranos supported Columbus in the hope of profit from the slave trade, I state (page 433) that proof is lacking!
As for the derivation of Marrano, I am not willing to accept, without further investigation, the opinion of Dr. Roth, that the hypothesis I mentioned is the most remote and discreditable. In any event, the point raised is one of academic interest only. By way of illustrating his otherwise unsupported statement that “Mr. Walsh . . . accepts unquestioningly, with the utmost naivety, all accounts, however improbable, which reflect the prevailing popular prejudice against the Jews and conversos”, Dr. Roth accuses me of recounting “with horror” how “the Jews of Spain encouraged, or even invited, the Arab invasion of 709″. He must have noticed that my authority for the statement is the Jewish Encyclopaedia (vol. xi, p.485). Far from “recounting with horror”, I merely quote this Jewish authority verbatim as follows (page 17): “It remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their coreligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain.” Dr. Roth says there were no professing Jews in Spain at the period. I am convinced that there were. “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.” Again he says that I “regard the decadence of Spain in the seventeenth century as the result of the deliberate machinations of the Marranos”. I gave the machinations of the secret Jews as only one of the causes, though probably an important one; and here again my authority, as I stated (page 586), was the Jewish Encyclopaedia, which I quoted as follows:
There can be no doubt that the decline of Spanish commerce in the seventeenth century was due in large measure to the activities of the Marranos of Holland, Italy, and England, who diverted trade from Spain to those countries …. When Spain was at war with any of these countries, Jewish intermediation was utilized to obtain knowledge of Spanish naval activity. (vol. xi, page 501) Furthermore (vol. v, page 168):
They formed an important link in the network of trade spread especially throughout the Spanish and Portuguese world by the Marranos or secret Jews. Their position enabled them to give Cromwell and his secretary, Thurloe, important information as to the plans of Charles Stuart in Holland and of the Spaniards in the New World. Outwardly they passed as Spaniards and Catholics; but they held prayer meetings at Cree Church Lane and became known to the government as Jews by faith.
Here we have a Jewish authority boasting of the part the crypto-Jews played in ruining the nation that had rejected them; but when a Christian writer repeats it, it is evidence of his uncritical naivety, if not of his mediaeval ignorance and credulity! Yes, Dr. Roth, I do realize “that the sole cause for the Marrano emigration was the persecutions of the Inquisition”, but I do not grant that these persecutions “sent myriads of inoffensive persons to the stake for no other crime than practising in secret a few harmless ancestral rites”. Of the 2,000 persons burned during the lifetime of Isabella many were criminals who would have been sentenced to death in any case by the State courts. The Inquisition punished bigamists, blasphemers, church robbers, usurers, religious impostors, pseudo-mystics. Granting, however, that many of the Conversos were executed for their opinions alone, it is unfair to ignore the fact, as Dr. Roth does, that those opinions at that time were considered treasonable, if not worse, by a large majority of the people. The Spanish were at war with a brutal, remorseless Oriental enemy, whose successes and atrocities were reported daily. They had been defending Christendom from that enemy for seven hundred years. The Jews within their borders, having incited the Mohammedan conquest in the first place, still sympathized with the enemy, sharing their hatred of the Church of Christ, and desiring the destruction of Christian civilization—facts amply attested by Jewish writers. The Jews and Conversos had angered the people, moreover, by their ostentatious display of wealth, by their turbulence, by their usury, by their immorality, by their corrupting of Church and State, by their purchase of the taxing privilege and their abuse of it, by their open gibes and foul blasphemies against the Christian faith, and particularly against the Blessed Sacrament and against Mary the Mother of God. Does Dr. Roth ask us to attribute these charges to “mediaeval bigotry” alone, in face of all the evidence supporting them? And does he seriously expect the historian to reject them as slanders, when it is obvious to any well-informed person that the Jews (as a race) are playing the same part in history today that they played in the Middle Ages? From the time they caused the crucifixion of their Redeemer and called down upon themselves the curse that so unmistakably has followed them, they have been the persistent enemies of Christian culture. Jewish writers boast of it. They boast that the Jews not only incited the terrible ravages of the Moslems, with the consequent shedding of so much innocent Christian blood, but actually bored from within so successfully that they had something to do with setting in motion most of the great heresies that have divided and corrupted the Western world; they boast that the Jews encouraged the pernicious Albigensian sect and fostered or instigated Protestantism. And today, when the atheistic tyranny of Communism assumes the place that Mohammedanism once held as the arch-foe of Christian liberty and decency, we find that it was a Jew, Marx, who laid down its principles, that it was a Jew, Trotsky, who, with Lenin, translated it into action, and that nearly all its active apologists in Western Europe and America are Jews, who look forward to the destruction of the present social order because they conceive that under Communism the Jew will rule openly at last over the races he considers inferior. In America the Jews are becoming as insolently assertive as in fifteenth-century Spain. The New York Times of 7 December, 1930, quoted Rabbi Stephen S. Wise as demanding, in a sermon, “Is Western civilization with its grimmest, grimiest social injustice and wrong, worth saving? Or is it not the function of the Jew to bring about the supercession of that decrepit, degenerate, and inevitably perishing civilization, so-called?” What is really at the bottom of Jewish hatred against our civilization is revealed every now and then in attacks by Jewish rabbis on Christ and the Church of Christ in the principal American magazines; and only last year Jewish publishers brought forth a foul and blasphemous book by a Chicago Jew, Ben Hecht, in which one of the Jewish characters is made to say something that I set down with great reluctance, and only because I believe the cause of truth demands it: “One of the finest things ever done by the mob was the crucifixion of Christ. Intellectually it was a splendid gesture. But trust the mob to bungle it. If I’d been there, if I’d had charge of executing Christ, I’d have handled it differently. You see, what I would have done was had him shipped to Rome and fed to the lions. They could never had made a saviour out of mincemeat.” And he, Roth would have us believe that the Jews in the Middle Ages did nothing to earn the resentment of the populace!
“Any person who plays a discreditable part in the history of the period is ipso facto set down by the author as a New Christian,” says Dr. Roth. This is not so. I did not say that the degenerate King Enrique IV was a New Christian; nor the quarrelsome Archbishop Carrillo; nor the fatuous Charles VIII of France; nor the insane Juan de Canamas, who stabbed King Ferdinand—I could multiply instances. But to most of Dr. Roth’s gratuitous charges a gratuitous denial on my part must suffice. I did not suggest (page 182) that the Jews and Conversos had a “monopoly” of bribery in Spain. I did not say that “it was by their Converso brethren” that the Jewish exiles were despoiled. And surely I do not “condone the pogroms of inoffensive citizens of Segovia, Toledo, and elsewhere”; whoever says that I do, whether a Times reviewer or Dr. Roth, says what is not. First, I do not grant that they were inoffensive; even the Jewish Encyclopaedia says that the “Spanish Jews were quarrelsome and inclined to robbery, and often attacked and insulted one another even in their synagogues and prayer houses, frequently inflicting wounds with the rapier or sword they were accustomed to carry”.
In Segovia the most brutal of the massacres of Conversos was perpetrated by soldiers paid by Don Juan Pacheco, Marqués of Villena, a Converso descended on both sides from the Jew Ruy Capon; and I said (page 125) that this massacre “brought upon his memory the just scorn of Christians and Jews alike”. Is this condoning the massacre?
The Córdoba massacre was occasioned by the throwing of a bucketful of dirty water from the upper window of a rich Converso’s house upon a statue of the Blessed Virgin which was being carried past. The mob retaliated by massacring the secret Jews. This incident I related (page 124) objectively; adding (page 125) that even more deplorable was the reaction in other cities. Is this condoning the massacres?
The massacre of Conversos in Toledo in 1467 was the result of the oppression of the poor by Jews. They had bought up the obnoxious privilege of taxing bread. On page 74 I related the consequences:
A Christian of influence named Alvar Gomez ordered an alcade to beat the Jews and drive them out of the city. This was done. The canons had the alcade arrested, but while they were deliberating as to his punishment and the settlement of the whole dispute, Fernando de la Torre, a wealthy leader of the Conversos, decided to take the law into his own hands. A rash and violent man, he announced that the Conversos had secretly assembled 4000 well-armed fighting men, six times as many as the Old Christians could muster; and on July 21, he led his forces to attack the Cathedral. The crypto-Jews burst through the great doors of the church, crying, “Kill them! Kill them! This is no church, but a congregation of evil and vile men!” The Christians in the church drew swords and defended themselves. Others ran to their aid, and a bloody battle was fought before the high altar. Christians came from neighbouring towns, hanged Fernando, and massacred the Conversos.
Is this “condoning” the massacre, and were those massacred all “inoffensive” persons?
Furthermore, on page 128 I speak of the proposed massacre in Valladolid as “nefarious work”. And I went to some pains to demonstrate that one of Queen Isabel’s aims in establishing the Inquisition was to put an end to the massacres, in which innocent Conversos so often perished with the guilty. It was her purpose to establish a tribunal with legal sanction, from which hypocritical Conversos, immune from the secular courts, which they controlled or corrupted, might be brought to justice. The Inquisition did in fact put an end to the massacres. When, in 1485, during the most critical period of Queen Isabella’s ten-year struggle against the Moors, the Jews and Conversos of Toledo conspired to seize the city and slay the leading Christians, the plot was discovered by the Inquisition. The ringleaders were executed, but there was no massacre.
Dr. Roth is equally inaccurate when he accuses me of accepting, tacitly or otherwise, the story of the ritual desecration of the Host in 1405. The point I wished to make was that the Spanish people implicitly believed the Jews guilty of this and other crimes. The Spanish people have been found guilty by Jewish and other anti-Catholic historians of butchering the secret Jews and driving the professing Jews wholesale out of the country, without cause or justification. Yet it is plain that the Spanish believed themselves justified. They pointed to certain crimes which they ascribed to Jews. There devolves upon the historian, then, the difficult task of judging whether or not the alleged crimes were committed. The record usually says that certain Jews were executed; they were found guilty of such and such a crime. Jewish writers generally admit the fact of the execution, but deny that the crime was committed. Why admit part of the record and reject the rest? At any rate, there is no escape from this dilemma: either the Jews were guilty, or their judges sent innocent men to a cruel death.
I am not willing to give the Jews a general acquittal, four or five centuries later, on a priori grounds. I will not commit myself to the principle that Jews are incapable of committing detestable crimes, when I see evidence in the world about me that Jews do commit detestable crimes; when I see a Chicago judge convicting two young Jews, sons of two of the wealthiest Jews in the United States, of the fiendish and cold-blooded murder of a boy; and when I see a jury in the town of my birth convict a Jew of having his store burned by another Jew to collect insurance, and causing two little Christian boys, who lived over the store, to be burned to death in the night. I am not willing to admit, without a critical study of the facts, that, when a Christian judge or a Christian bishop in the Middle Ages condemned certain Jews to death, the judge or the bishop must always of necessity be guilty of barbarous injustice, and the Jews must be innocent. It is a question of fact, and those glib historians who have assured us, after several centuries, that certain accused persons, such as Alguadés and his companions, were innocent, and their judges guilty of heinous and perhaps deliberate wrong, seem to me quite as presumptuous as he who categorically maintains the contrary. I do not assert the guilt of the accused; neither will I venture to proclaim them innocent. My book gives no account of the alleged desecration of the Host in Segovia in 1405 and the consequent trial and execution of Mayr Alguadés (the Dr., by the way, was a misprint for the Don which appears in the text of the source document). I devoted only one sentence to it, and the context shows that my purpose was to explain the bitter feeling against Jews that existed among the citizens of Segovia.
Dr. Roth does not mention the source of his version of the alleged crime. I assume that it was the usual one, the Fortalitium fidei (fo. 223) of Fray Alonso de Espina. He wrote his account in 1458, fifty-four years after the occurrence, so that there must have been men living who remembered the occurrence and could contradict any errors in the principal features of the story. He was a man of great learning, noted as a preacher. His unusual judgment and ability are indicated by the fact that he was for many years superior of the house of studies of the Franciscans at Salamanca, and in 1491 was made Bishop of Thermopylae in Greece. Incidentally, he was a Jewish convert to the Catholic faith.
Now, turning to this learned Jewish priest’s account of the alleged desecration of the Host, I find the discovery of the sacrilege attributed to a “supernatural feature”, indeed; but not to the one which Dr. Roth mentions. The text relates a miracle that may astonish and scandalize him even more. It appears that the Jews plunged the Host into boiling water, and that it arose and stood in the air before them.
Tunc indeus quidam medicus emit sacratissimum corpus christi a quodam cupido sacrista ecclesie sancti facundi eiusdem civitatis. Judeus ergo ille sacramentum illud accipiens et suis immundis manibus pertractans ad synagogam cum aliis suis complicibus perduxerunt, et in bullientem aquam sepe projicientes, in altum elevabatur ante oculos eorum.
The Jews in terror took It to the prior of the Dominican convent. The Bishop investigated. The physician and several other Jews confessed under torture, and were executed. Of the synagogue Fray Alonso simply records:
Synagoga vero ubi accidit, facta fuit ecclessia (sic) et vocatur corpus christi.
No one can deny that this story contains improbable elements. But only a mind blinded by rationalistic prejudice will deny a fact, if it is a fact, merely because it is improbable or even supernatural. The sole question is whether or not the evidence is adequate; otherwise no value is to be attached to any human testimony, and all history, including even the alleged birth of Dr. Roth and his alleged election to the Royal Historical Society, must be set down as unproved and unprovable. The curious intellectual perversity which denies the miraculous by appealing to a general principle which is a universal negative—”miracles never happen”—is as unscientific as if a man were to deny that any electric fishes have been found in the Atlantic, because “there are no electric fishes”. Many miracles, modern as well as mediaeval, are as amply supported by trustworthy testimony as any fact in history. And among these are numerous miracles by which God, at His own chosen times, has confirmed faith in His great mystery of the Eucharist, and confounded those who desecrated it. Incidentally several of the occurrences clearly demonstrate that Dr. Roth’s rationalistic explanation, based upon “recent researches” into the habits of the micrococcus prodigiosus, falls ridiculously short of covering the facts of the case. In 1273, at Bolsena, a Bohemian priest, celebrating Mass, saw not merely stains resembling blood, but as many as twenty-two drops of blood fall from the Host upon the corporal. He took the corporal to Pope Urban IV, who in the following year instituted the feast of Corpus Domini; and twenty-seven years later Pope Nicholas IV laid the first stone of the Duomo of Orvieto, where the corporal is preserved to this day, with the miraculous bloodstains still visible upon it. Drops of blood fell from the Host in the Church of Saint Mark of Astip in Piedmont, in 1533, and Pope Paul III, who investigated the miracle and made certain of its truth, granted special indulgences to those who should visit the church. Sometimes the miracle has occurred to expose the guilty, as in Paris in 1290, when a Jew, filled with diabolical hatred of the Sacrament, bought a consecrated Host from a woman, stabbed it with a penknife, and saw blood gush forth. In 1608, while the Blessed Sacrament was being exposed in the chapel of the Benedictine Abbey at Faverney, a fire consumed the tabernacle, the linens, and the entire altar, but the ostensorium remained suspended in air, without support, for thirty-three hours, during which period it was witnessed by thousands of persons. One of the two Hosts in the ostensorium is still preserved in the parish church at Faverney. This undeniable miracle is of particular interest here, because the suspension of the Host recalls that of the Host in the affair at Segovia in 1405.
Equally inept is Dr. Roth’s argument that the desecration of a Host by a Jew would be “completely paradoxical”. To say nothing of the possibility that a Jew, having no faith in the presence of the body of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, might yet insult the Host as representing Christ, whom Jews often so bitterly hate and blame for their misfortunes, the question again is one of fact; and the evidence that Jews have, in many places and in many centuries, desecrated the Host is overwhelming. Human conduct, moreover, is full of paradoxes. It is paradoxical for a man to lay down his life for others, but many have done so. It was a gigantic paradox for the Jews to expect the Messias for centuries, and then, when He appeared at the time and place and in the manner predicted by their own prophets, to have Him crucified. The history of the Jews ever since has been a paradox, and every thinking Jew knows this in his heart.
The rabbinical oath denying the blood-accusation is, as Dr. Roth quotes it, most solemn and impressive, and I, for one, have no wish or reason to doubt its sincerity. Its value as evidence in the present discussion would appear greater to me, however, if I did not recall that the Kol Nidrei, a prayer of Talmudic origin, has for centuries been recited in the synagogues each year on the eve of the Day of Atonement. The Jewish Encyclopaedia (vol. vii, p. 539) gives the text of this prayer as follows:
All vows, obligations, oaths and anathemas, whether called “konam”, “konas”, or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths. The Jewish Encyclopaedia explains that it cannot be denied that, according to the usual wording of the formula, an unscrupulous man might think that it offers a means of escape from the obligations and promises which he had assumed and made in regard to others. The teachers of the synagogues, however, have never failed to point out to their co-believers that the dispensation from vows in the “Kol Nidre” refers only to those which an individual voluntarily assumes for himself alone and in which no other persons or their interests are involved. In other words, the formula is restricted to those vows which concern only the relation of man to his conscience or to his Heavenly Judge. Whether the oath of the two rabbis falls in one category or the other I leave it to my learned critic to explain.
The Colmenares passage to which Dr. Roth objects so violently has been omitted, to be sure, from some Spanish editions, most probably through the influence of the descendants of Jews remaining in Spain. But that is no reason why I should refrain from quoting it, and I make no apologies for so doing. I quoted it as an example of the crimes imputed to the Jews. I did not accept it as a fact. However, since Dr. Roth raises the question, I am equally reluctant to dismiss it as a fable, especially when I consider that the judge who condemned the seventeen Jews to death was himself the son of converted Jews. Dr. Roth says this makes no difference, since the New Christians often attempted to avert suspicion by a special display of zeal for the faith. Yet I cannot believe that such zeal would carry a sane man of any principle so far as to condemn seventeen innocent men to be burned. History gives Don Juan Árias de Ávila quite a different character. So loyal was he to the memory of his parents and grandparents that he dug up their bones, when there was danger of their being disturbed by the Inquisition, and hid them away. Denounced in consequence by the Inquisitors, he defied them, and fled to Rome, where he lived under the kindly protection of Pope Alexander VI for several years. He was a man of courage and conviction, whose Catholic faith was as sound as his filial devotion. Yet it was he who passed sentence of death, as a judge, on the seventeen Jews. If he was mistaken—and there is no doubt that torture sometimes extorted false confessions, though not invariably, as Dr. Roth appears to assume—what new evidence have we on which to reverse his judgment after five centuries?
So much, as Dr. Roth says, for the general question.
His account of the La Guardia case is just such a piece of misrepresentation and evasion as I exposed in Lea—precisely the sort of thing that made it necessary for me to summarize the evidence as fully and objectively as possible, that the reader might judge for himself. And it is precisely because my book gives the most adequate version of the trial yet published in English that Dr. Roth goes to such pains to seek to discredit it. He has the effrontery to mention the work of Dr. Lea, Mr. Sabatini, and M. Loeb, as though I had not demonstrated how much even the lengthy account of Mr. Sabatini left to be desired, and how utterly misleading were the other two. The case may have been a commonplace in Jewish circles, but the reading public in English-speaking countries knew little or nothing about it, and Dr. Roth knows this to be true. It is a piece of insufferable impudence on his part to object to the publication and examination of the evidence in a case of such crucial importance, historically, that it not only furnishes the best information we have on the actual working of the Spanish Inquisition, but provided the final argument that moved so enlightened, just, and capable a ruler as Queen Isabella the Catholic to decide, rightly or wrongly, upon the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. It is a piece of impudence paralleled only by his accusation that I had revived the ritual murder charges against the Jews, when the very passage he quotes from my book shows that in considering the crimes confessed by certain Jews I took care not to indict the whole race.
The charge seems to have travelled a long distance, unhappily, before the printing of my book. The “ignorant police official” who revived it in a Middle Western state, according to Dr. Roth, is not an isolated phenomenon. The accusation was made in the State of New York in 1928; in the State of California, where a twelve-year-old girl was found mutilated during Lent, in 1931; and, lest Christian bigotry alone be blamed, among the Arabs in Palestine within the last year or two. This I deplore. The fact that Jews have been massacred on account of the blood-accusation I deplore. But so have myriad innocent Catholics been put to death by people who believed false accounts of the Inquisition circulated by Jews; and yet I know of no reputable Catholic scholar who would object to the publication of a single fact concerning the Inquisition or any other historical subject.
Dr. Roth has no such devotion, so far as I can discern from his article, to the cause of abstract truth. He does not even attempt, he does not dare, to meet the issue I raised about Lea’s intellectual honesty. Instead, he shifts his ground, and tries to throw dust in the reader’s eyes by stooping to the tu quoque argument, which is no argument at all. My mistranslation of a subjunctive verb as if it were indicative, thereby changing the meaning of a clause, is obviously unintentional, obviously such a slip as any man is bound to make somewhere in the course of a 600-page book, and one that fortunately does not concern the major issues of the La Guardia case. This is the only point he makes in all his long tirade to which I must say, “Mea culpa.“The slip will be corrected in the next edition of my book, and I will thank Dr. Roth to point out any other errata that may have escaped my eye. But the “slip” of “that superb historical craftsman”, Dr. Lea, is of an entirely different sort, and Dr. Roth knows it.
In his four-volume work on The Inquisition of Spain, Dr. Lea, far from “amply” discussing so crucial a test-case, dismisses it with a sneer in two pages, as “evidently the creation of the torture chamber”. Here is a false statement to begin with. The record of the trial of Yucé Franco, made by a notary, shows clearly that he confessed without torture. The notary seems to have had no compunction about recording the tormentos when they were used; in one place he says that Yucé was threatened with the “water cure”, and the threat sufficed to draw further confessions from him. He describes the torturing of other prisoners. Dr. Lea says further that when Benito Garcia, a Converso, was arrested in June 1490, with a stolen consecrated Host in his possession, the story of the crucifixion of a Christian boy emerged only after another year spent in torturing the accused. This too is false. In the following month (July 1490) Yucé Franco, one of the Jews implicated in Benito’s confession, and held in ignorance of the accusation against him, confided to a supposed rabbi that he must have been arrested for the murder of a boy after the manner of “that man”—a term used among Jews to designate Christ.
In a footnote Lea refers his readers to his Chapters from the Religious History of Spain, and there he devotes twenty pages to belittling the evidence. He says (p. 452) that the Prosecutor, or Fiscal, Guevara, on December 17,1490, accused Yucé merely of “a conspiracy to procure a consecrated Host with which, and the heart of a child, a magic conjuration was to be wrought”. Lea then adds:
Curiously enough, up to this time, the crucifixion of the victim and the insults offered to Christ, which ultimately formed so prominent a part of the story, seem not to have been thought of …. It was not until the close of the trial …. that on October 21, 1491, the Promotor Fiscal asked permission to make to his denunciation an addition which charged the crucifixion of child, with the blasphemies addressed to Christ.
This can be called a “slip” only by one who sees no difference between a slip and a falsehood. For the record plainly shows that on 17 December, 1490, Promotor Fiscal Guevara swore a solemn oath in court that he believed that Yucé “was associated with others in crucifying a Christian boy one Good Friday . . . mocking him and spitting upon him and giving him many blows and other injuries to scorn and ridicule our holy Catholic Faith and the Passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ”. The crime was committed, he said, “somewhat in the way, and with the same enmity and cruelty with which the Jews, his ancestors, crucified our Redeemer Jesus Christ (—”quasi de la formaé con aquella enemiga é crueldad que los judios sus antepasados crucificaron á nuestro Redentor ihesu christo,” etc.). He demanded sentence of death, saying, “And I swear before God and before this cross, on which I place my right hand, that I do not make this demand and accusation against the said Yucé Franco maliciously, but believe him to have committed all that I have said.”
Two lawyers were assigned by the Inquisitors to defend Yucé, and a third, of his own selection, was added at his request. He made his confession voluntarily, hoping to put the blame on certain Conversos. Unfortunately their confessions incriminated him. After the various defendants had confessed separately, they were confronted, and confirmed their depositions. Some of them were tortured. All repeated their confessions at the stake before death.
If Torquemada’s inferiors were deceiving him, they certainly went about their work in a strange way. For they took the pains to submit the evidence not merely to one, but to two separate juries; first to a jury of seven of the most distinguished professors at the University of Salamanca, and later to five of the most learned men of Ávila. Now it seems to me that in trying to get at the truth of this matter we should allow considerable weight to the fact that, besides the Inquisitors, twelve men of more than average intelligence reviewed the evidence, not only the process of Yucé which is available to us, but several others as well, and that these twelve men, living at the time and near the scene, found the accused guilty and worthy of death. It is quite as improbable that twelve such men should conspire to send several innocent men to a horrible death as that several Jews and Conversos should murder a child and desecrate a Host in hatred of Christ and with the superstitious hope of some gain. Yet of the two juries Dr. Lea has not even a word, either in his major work or in the twenty pages of his “separate study”.
As for M. Loeb’s contentions, they have been refuted long since by Father Fita (who, by the way, is quite as erudite as the Abbé Vacandard, and better informed on Spanish matters), and even by that indifferent scholar Mr. Rafael Sabatini. No one, to my knowledge, has ever disputed M. Loeb’s assertion that the wretches who confessed that they had planned to make a charm by using a consecrated Host with the heart of a Christian boy, in order to cause the Inquisitors to die andall the Christians in Spain to go insane, so that the Jews might possess the land, were, if guilty, involved in black magic. It is not true, however, that the outrage “had nothing to do with any religious question”. If by that M. Loeb meant that the foul ceremony is not a part of the Jewish religion, and cannot be charged against Jews as Jews, I grant the argument, as I plainly did, and as Dr. Roth admits, in my book. But when the prisoners confessed to having scourged, crucified, and mocked a boy of some four years of age, to injure Jesus Christ through him, and all Christians as well; when they called the Blessed Virgin “a corrupt woman”, and cried, “Death to this little traitor, our enemy who goes deceiving the world and calls himself the Saviour of the world and the King of the Jews!”—it can hardly be claimed that this “had nothing to do with any religious question”, call it ritual murder or black magic or what you please. And as for the assertion that the perpetrators were “baptized Christians, and not Jews”, it is demonstrably false. Five of the alleged conspirators were New Christians; and five, including the ringleaders, were Jews. Tazarte, the physician who performed the filthy rite and related a vile anecdote about the person of Jesus Christ, was a Jew. Yucé Franco, who admitted without torture having shared in the crucifixion of the innocent victim, was a Jew. His father, Ca Franco, was a Jew. His dead brother was a Jew. “The name of the child remained unknown”, says Dr. Roth, “until nearly one hundred years after the event.” The Memorial in which the boy’s name is given as Christopher was written in 1544, seventy-four years after the alleged crime. It professed to be based on the process of Benito Garcia; hence the author seems to have had access to information not available to us. It cannot be said with certainty that the name remained unknown until that time. The discrepancies as to the boy’s place of origin are easily reconciled, if one remembers that certain of the prisoners were trying to incriminate one another. They all agreed at last; and one of them admitted having brought the boy from one of the gates of the Cathedral at Toledo. “No body was ever found.” The record shows that one of the accused took the Inquisitors to a place where they found a hole, in which he said the body had been buried. It is possible that it had been removed by friends or relatives of the accused. Nor can it be proved that “no enquiry was ever made to ascertain whether any child who answered to the description had actually disappeared”. From the assiduous questioning of Yucé on the subject of the child, it is evident that the Inquisitors were highly curious as to his origin and identity; and it would be strange if they did not enquire elsewhere. When M. Loeb declared that no body had ever been found, and that the “pretended martyr never existed”, he questioned with equal boldness the existence of Rabbi Moses Abenamias, to whom one of the wretches confessed a Host had been sent for conjuration purposes. But another document found in the archives of the Inquisition at Valencia shows that the rabbi did exist! Documents still hidden may shed further light upon the boy. And the discrepancy as to the provenance of the Host is more apparent than real. The evidence indicates that two, and perhaps three, Hosts had been stolen, at various times and places. The sacristan of the Church at La Guardia, nephew of one of the accused, later confessed to having provided one of the Hosts, thus confirming the testimony of Yucé. The discrepancy as to the time of the alleged crime likewise appears less formidable upon examination. Dr. Roth has already said that “a priest posing as a rabbi had obtained a confession” from Yucé. He does not tell us that this priest was a learned master of theology, Fray Alonso Enriquez, himself a converted Jew whose name originally was Abraham Shesheth. Meanwhile the Inquisitors had a physician, Antonio de Ávila, listening; and it is in his sworn deposition as to what he had overheard that the apparent discrepancy occurs. He said he heard Yucé tell the “rabbi” that the crime had happened eleven years before. Now it must be admitted that a man overhearing a conversation, perhaps, from another room might easily have made a mistake. Yucé certainly would not have shouted such a damaging confession, and, as Father Fita suggests, the physician might even have been somewhat deaf. The ear of unbelief must be dull indeed if it cannot discern a certain similarity between Shte (two) and one of the elements of a word for eleven, Ngashte-Ngassre. It is quite conceivable that a preceding word, imperfectly heard with Shte following, may have conveyed the impression of “eleven” to a man in the next room. The record, moreover, does not say that they spoke in classical Hebrew, but in a jumble of Hebrew and Romance, a dialect of the Jews in Spain.
All these discrepancies together are not weighty enough to destroy the probability that a crime was committed, but they do effectually dispose of the hypothesis of some Jewish critics that the Inquisitors manufactured the story to justify the expulsion of the Jews. They do demonstrate that Torquemada could not possibly have made it up out of whole cloth. They are the naive discrepancies of actual life, the discrepancies that are inevitable whenever half a dozen men attempt to relate the same happening. They are like the apparent discrepancies in the four Gospels, which, while they resist the efforts of some Jews to prove their history inconsistent, refute the claim of others that it is an invention, and leave it standing like a rock before the winds of unbelief. This is not to claim divine inspiration for the Inquisitors of Ávila; but their story does read like the artless and sometimes puzzling account of something that did happen. If it is not quite consistent enough to be an invention, it is far too consistent to have been wrung from separate imaginations by torture. Men may have bad dreams, but seldom do several have the same nightmare. And if any further argument were needed to justify the printing of this evidence, the long and successful attempts to suppress it, and the persistent distortions of it by those who have discussed it, would indicate a fear that is highly significant—a fear that, if the complete story were told, it might be believed.
For the rest, my book itself must remain the refutation of the false charge that I have striven to stir up prejudice among Catholics. I have sought, with God’s help, only to clarify one small portion of the vast field of historical truth, believing, as I do, that truth, strong truth, however unpleasant for some to look upon, and not the sort of sentimental “tolerance” that flatters and cajoles while it secretly waits to destroy, is the only ground, the only rock, on which Jews and Christians can ever stand in true and lasting amity. It is a pleasure therefore, to read his paragraph, omitted from his original article in a Jewish paper, about his efforts to bring about a better appreciation of the noble ideals and traditions of the Catholic Faith among his coreligionists. I sincerely hope that, continuing to walk in the direction of truth he will at last be able to interpret it a little more accurately to them from the clearer perspective of one within its walls, and that when that joyful day comes he will confer on them the immeasurable benefit of turning their faces toward the Light they have refused to see, and to demonstrate to them what is so clearly written in the pages of history, that all their miseries, for which I could weep, are not the result, fundamentally, of the hatred and misunderstanding of others, but the consequence of their own stubborn rejection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who predicted in unmistakable language exactly what has befallen them.
WILLIAM THOMAS WALSH
Article Source: JRBooksOnline.com