What made the Spanish Inquisition so terrible

The heretic

But Delibes surprised with his new novel "The Heretic" - not only because of the 350,000 copies that were sold in Spain. He binds the ingredients of a good novel in a tightly knotted narrative carpet: gripping plot, intense dialogues, richly pictorial, poetic and dramatic scenes; rolled up on a historical theme with the revealing, fictional biography of a man who had to become a heretic. The title already suggests: On the darkest side of Spain: the Inquisition, the narrator directs his gaze. Depicted on events that posed no danger at all for deeply religious, Catholic Spain: the discovery and destruction of a small Lutheran circle in Valladolid, in the middle of the 16th century, near the court. The Castilian kings have resided there since the middle of the 15th century. Miguel Delibes dedicated the novel The Heretic to his city, Valladolid, where he was born in 1920 and where he still lives today. It is not the location alone, as we shall see, that explains his interest in the subject of heresy.

The Spanish Inquisition not only has the odium of special wickedness, it also lasted the longest in Europe - until the death of the last Grand Inquisitor in 1835. It was not just this religious and state terror to which the people were subjected, but the isolation from them Modernism that drove Spain into isolation. Charles V and then his son Philip II were convinced that the unity of faith was just as much human happiness as the iron foundation of the absolutist state. They did not understand the fundamental change in the world and the living conditions that had begun with the Reformation in the 16th century, the attempt to form national states and the transformation of economic life. Originally the Inquisition had turned against the Conversos, the baptized Jews who played a prominent role as financiers in economic life. Their property was confiscated and those declared "inadmissible" were burned. Historians speak of lynching. After that, the persecution was directed at the baptized Muslims, the so-called Moriscos. When Conversos and Moriscos were largely exterminated, the machinery of the Inquisition seemed to have done its work; their story could be considered closed. But the horror, skilfully staged by the Grand Inquisitor Valdés, Archbishop of Seville, who was already threatened with disfavour and banishment by Emperor Charles, was able to regain new status and strengthen its power.

Charles V was finally broken in the Wars of Religion; they had thwarted his policy, overthrown him and forced him to abdicate in 1556. Thereupon he retired to the monastery in San Yuste in Estreamdura, and now this "riot" in Valladolid, near the court. Valdés received orders: Karl demanded:

"Hurry, severity and harsh punishments, so that this great evil be put to an end and the guilty, without exception, condemned and punished in the severest possible way." A historical quote in italics in Delibes' novel.

Because of the fear of heresy, the influence of foreign ideas, the progress in science and culture, the Inquisition, and thus the country of Spain, faced the modern age like a bulwark and was still in the Middle Ages in the middle of the 19th century. The fact that the small Protestant movement of around 60 members triggered this is its real significance. In this respect, Delibes' theme has nothing accidental; in his choice he exemplifies why Spain was not familiar with terms such as "enlightenment" and "tolerance" when the rest of Europe struggled for them. The prologue chapter alludes to this. A boat trip from Hamburg to Laredo on the Spanish Atlantic coast serves Delibes to focus on the intellectual and historical background of the novel. Captain Berger is a Lutheran like his passenger, the successful businessman and tenant Cipriano Salcedo; he had been sent to Germany by his insecure congregation in Valladolid in order to get courage and consolation from Melanchthon - and to bring books with dangerous content; writings by Luther, Melanchthon, Erasmus, two Bibles. When talking about the censorship, Salcedo justifies his bookload to the captain:

"'Did you know that because of the biblical censorship introduced in Valladolid three years ago, over a hundred different editions of the Book of Books have had to be withdrawn, mostly by Protestant authors ??' Captain Berger smiled and his teeth shone in the dark. "We ship captains are experts in this field. We have lived in constant fear for the last twenty years. In 1528 I have two hundred copies of one of these Bibles you speak of in two barrels Taken hidden to Santona. Nothing happened. At that time barrels were still unsuspicious. Today a book in a barrel is like a bomb. " 'And when did the situation change?' 'In 1530, ten large barrels of books on board three Venetian galleries reached Valencia, intercepted, and the find attracted the attention of the Inquisition. Among the writings were dozens of Luther's hottest works, everything he found in the Wartburg The Inquisition put on a veritable auto-dafe. The captains of the galeas were arrested, and hundreds of books went up in flames on a gigantic pyre in the town's market square to the cheering of the unfamiliar people. The Inquisition is always out for great smuggling parties to turn it into a folk drama. ' The quiet, starry night invited intimate conversation. Salcedo did not move. He waited for Captain Berger to continue. He was certain of this and waited while he looked into his eyes. "Book burns have become the norm in Spain '; says this one finally.' The one of Salamanca is still talked about today. The most cultured city in the world burns the mediators of culture - that is and remains a contradiction ... Salcedo smiled faintly. "The Inquisition," he said, "is becoming more and more relentless. Now the priests are supposed to Encourage the faithful at confession to denounce those who hide forbidden books. Those who refuse will not receive absolution. Neither the bishops nor the king are exempted. "

What is alluded to here and elsewhere in the novel or what constitutes its special political background can also be checked in the still unsurpassed three-volume history of the Spanish Inquisition by the American Henry Charles Lea, which was first published in German in 1908. It is a sui generis crime story. The members of the Lutheran sect named in Lea and how they were discovered and executed is taken over by Miguel Delibes.

The history is fixed. But telling a story always means speaking exemplarily about fates, about people brought closer to us. In this way, integrated into the historical process, the novel differs from the relevant textbook or the purely historical account. Delibes is able to fuse both history and fiction very skillfully. At the end of the novel, he thanks a number of historians named by name whose books helped him to "reconstruct" an epoch of the 16th century.

The events, which develop in three parts, are headed: "First Years", "The Heresy", "The Heretic". The reader is first introduced to life in Valladolid using the example of the Salcedo family.

The son Cipriano, who later became a heretic, was born after ten years of marriage, his mother died in childbirth, which is why the father Don Bernardo called the son "little mother murderer" and rejected him all his life. The narrator Delibes indicates that Cipriano Sacedo's fate is predisposed with his date of birth: October 31, 1517, the day when Luther posted his 95 theses on the gate of the castle church in Wittenberg.

A wet nurse, the young Minervina, who comes from a village where school and religious instruction are the same, brings up Cipriano and she will accompany him to the stake in his last, terrible hour. She teaches the child the religious exercises that the Church believes are human happiness:

"Communication with God and learning were the same for Minervina. This equation was so deeply rooted in the girl that even before Cipriano was seven she devoted an hour every morning to the religious formation of the little one. Initially, the boy saw innovation as a pastime. Minervina instructed." him at the little table under the skylight in which Cipriano slept. At first she taught him to make the sign of the cross, a sign of faith that Minervina had learned with great difficulty twenty years ago, but which Cipriano had no difficulty with. "

Cipriano's above-average comprehension is already indicated here. The foundling school in which the father puts him, to the horror of the relatives, awakens his social conscience: he now hates the father, whom he feared as a child, because of his wealth. His primal fears do not allow him to find peace of mind, which also indicates his later search for inner liberation. But he also gets to know the religious struggle, as the pupils clash in two parties in the schoolyard. These young supporters and opponents of the Erasmus of Rotterdam know nothing about it.

When his father dies of the plague, his uncle becomes Cipriano's guardian and takes him into his house:

"Contrary to what I expected, it was not the ostentatious home of a bourgeoisie, but the cozy, friendly home of an educated man. Cipriano spent hours in the library, which contained more than five hundred volumes, some of which had been printed in Valladolid, vernacular translations of Juvenal, Sallust and the Iliad. The Latin poets were almost completely assembled, and in time Cipriano discovered the pleasure of reading, of the intimate, silent process of leafing through a book ... "

The first part of the novel closes with the discovery of the physical love of 14-year-old Cipriano for his former wet nurse Minervina, who was brought into his uncle's house as a maid.

The irritation of the grown-up boy, the tender approach, the mixture of childlike security and desire are subtly developed by Delibes. The love scenes end in a key scene that should be decisive for the adult, self-confessed Lutheran, his steadfastness in the face of the sacraments of the church, which he later questioned:

"When they were ... alone, he and Minervina sank into one another, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. Without admitting it, they had waited impatiently for this moment. Instinctively she gave him her breast again, suckled him, and he clung to her like a miraculous image. They lay naked on Minerva's narrow bed, and the anxious concerns only increased the need for union. He loved her three times, and when it was over he felt a kind of disgust at himself at the thought, that he dishonored the girl. He confessed his love to her, the purity of his affection for her, but he could not stop seeing behind it all the filthy adventure of the young gentleman who was having it with the maid. He was looking for another, unknown Confessor in San Gregorio.

'I plead guilty to having Father attended my wet nurse, but I have no remorse. My love is stronger than my will. ' 'Do you love her or do you desire her?' 'I want her, father, because I love her. I've never loved anyone like her, but you're still a boy. You won't be able to marry her ... "I'm fourteen, Father. My guardian wouldn't understand. ' The priest hesitated. Finally he said, 'But if you do not repent, my son, I cannot give you absolution.' 'I understand that, father. I will come back another time. '"

Delibe's descriptions of everyday life in the Middle Ages in Valladolid, in which he tells the success story of young Cipriano Salcedo from doctor of law to ingenious entrepreneur in a fur workshop, read as an exciting mirror of manners.

Salcedo even succeeds in being elected as the tax-exempt Hidalgo. At the same time, however, he strives for economic reforms, wants to increase the wages of his workers, and finally, he wants the employees to participate in his company. The uncle advises him to be careful.

Cipriano's restlessness and his feeling of guilt because of his marriage, which remained childless, - his wife finally dies in an asylum in derogation - lets him come into contact with the circle of Lutherans.

The people who now appear from the 2nd part are all historically documented, but it is the great achievement of Miguel Delibes to bring them closer to the reader as living figures. The main character is Doctor Agustino Cazalla, court chaplain and royal chaplain, who was known far beyond Spain for his sermons. Charles V had therefore taken him on a trip to Germany in 1543, where the quarrels with the heretics may at first unconsciously shake his faith:

"He preached on Fridays in the overcrowded Jacob's Church, a spirited, soulful, delicate man. With a weak, suffering constitution, he had moments of real ecstasy, followed by somewhat unpredictable emotional outbursts. Cipriano listened entranced, but a certain uneasiness crept over him at home In general, he could easily follow Cazalla's calm, short, and well-structured Bible sermons, and in the end there remained one basic thought, one single clear conclusion so not in the essence of his sermons. It was not in what he said, but perhaps what he kept quiet or hinted at in more or less extravagant subordinate clauses. "

The whole of the second part of the novel Heresy is not a dry treatise in Delibes; On the one hand, Cipriano's life is overshadowed by the futility of married love life, which ends painfully and brutally. On the other hand, he is carefully led into the circle of heretics, e.g. on an exciting partridge hunting party with Cazalla's brother, who is the village pastor.

Delibes knows the countryside well and has written a lot about the hunting trade in other stories and reports.

The climax of the novel is the last part, The Heretic. In terms of the drama as well as the form of presentation.

Some of the simpler members of the conventicles that took place in the house of Doctor Callaza's sister gave themselves away, be it through thoughtless utterances or through forced, ill-considered zeal. The converts were compelled in confession to report their seducers. So the group was discovered in 1558. Three, including Cipriano Salcedo, tried to flee. They were arrested a few days' ride from Valladolid and taken back to the Inquisition prison; en route they were exposed to the hatred of the people who wanted to lynch them. Now the hour of Grand Inquisitor Valdés struck:

"As Salcedo had planned, it was inevitable to keep the prisoners in pairs. The Inquisition dungeons on Calle Pedro Barrueco, which in normal times were sufficient for the occasional accommodation of arrested Conversos, or Moriskos, turned out to be too small for the influx of the Protestants. Given the large number of arrests, the Inquisition had a prison with only twenty-five cells and a new building in the San Pedro neighborhood, of which the foundations were just being built. Valdés had no choice but to refrain from separating the prisoners and separating them as a couple or three or, in the case of the nuns from the Belén monastery, even five in one cell. "

A nice trick of the narrator makes the progress of the events in the prison even more dramatic. When Cipriano was arrested, only his weapon was taken from him, not his money; With this he bribed a receptive prison guard who got him extracts from the interrogation protocols of the Inquisition and who also brought letters to a young Lutheran inmate with whom Cipriano had fallen in love. So Cipriano Salcedo is always up to date; But for him it becomes a frightening realization that all of them renounce their new faith in the face of the threat of torture and report the others. He is particularly depressed about the first confession of the doctor's sister, Dona Beatritz:

"Stunned, he sat motionless while a strange inner cold crept up inside him. His stomach felt as if a wild animal was raging in it. Never before could so few lines have caused so much harm. Despair took over him. With everything had Cipriano Salcedo reckoned, just not with betrayal within the community.The fraternity he had dreamed of cracked, turned out to be a pure illusion, had never existed, could not have existed at all.He thought of the conventicles, of the solemn final oath of the congregation never to betray their fellow believers in the distress. Was it true what it said on this note? Was it possible that the gentle Beatrice had betrayed so many people without hesitation, starting with her own siblings? "

Cipriano himself is questioned twice. The interrogation is a tactical and intellectual one of the author Delibes, not to let his hero lie without, however, telling the truth to the inquisitor and betraying himself and others:

"Who instigated you to visit Germany?" "I am a trader, Your Reverend, the creator of Ciprianos Zamorros, which you may have heard of. I have friends and business partners abroad with whom I am in constant contact." 'Weren't there any religious reasons for this trip?' "It seems to me that Your Honor wants to know what my faith is, isn't it? If I tell you that I am fascinated by the doctrine of the mercy of Christ, we can save a few words. And if that doctrine is followed, we must." one inevitably also accepts other things that infer from it. ' 'So you admit that you have been mistaken for the past few years?' "Error is not the right word, Your Honor. I sincerely believe in what I believe." "You try to evade my questions, but remember that I have effective methods to loosen your tongue. Have you heard of torture?" "Unfortunately, Your Honor." And from purgatory? " "Your honor too. Do you believe that?" 'If I believe and acknowledge that Christ suffered and died for me, there is no need for any temporal punishment. Anything else would be to doubt his sacrifice. "

Since Cipriano remains steadfast, he is subjected to torture a little later. The pulley system doesn't dislocate his limbs because his body is light and small. Then the stretch bed is applied.

It is astonishing how Delibe succeeds in such and other gruesome scenes - which, now that the machinery of the Inquisition is underway, piles up to the point of auto-da-fe and death at the stake. What Delibes describes there is reminiscent of Kafka's prose In the Penal Colony. Of course, if the latter describes from the point of view of the executioner, who then makes himself a victim, Delibes describes the effects of torture from the point of view of the victim; he describes his feelings very nuanced and thus prevents cheap horror effects:

"Cipriano found the first turns almost pleasant. The device stretched his limbs, which had become stiff in the last few months. But the hangman, who was not concerned about his well-being, turned the wheel until his arms and legs were stretched out At that point the inquisitor stopped the torture. "For the last time," he said. "Can you tell me who brought you to the cursed Lutheran sect?" Cipriano was silent. The inquisitor repeated his question again, but since the prisoner was stubbornly silent, he nodded cautiously to the executioner. The man in the gown stepped up to the tortured man while the executioner turned the wheels and stretched the prisoner's limbs. The only one The advantage of this method of torture, thought Cipriano, was that it increased gradually so that the body could relax a little between turns of the wheel and get used to the condition, but as the tension increased, Cipriano felt a piercing pain Shoulders and ankles. It was as if a tremendous, slowly increasing force was trying to dislocate his bones, to tear them apart. But in accordance with his old philosophy of life he suddenly gave in to the pain, accepted it. He believed that it was Pain, as severe as it was, would no longer touch it and would be softer and more bearable when it was touched once revealed. But in addition to the violent first pain, there was more in the spine, in the elbows and knee joints, in the attachments of muscles and tendons. He opened his eyes a little when the hangman interrupted the torture to give the inquisitor the opportunity to ask his questions one more time, but in the face of his stubborn silence he began to turn the wheels again until the sum of all the pain became one Pain that split his spine and tore him to pieces. The tense nerves converging in his brain conveyed a terrible boring pain that intensified until it reached an unbearable point. That was the moment when he lost consciousness, he let out a terrible scream, and his head sank on his chest. "

The only historically guaranteed martyr was named Bakkalaureus Herrezuelo, who could only be shown gagged because he hurled his abuse and contempt in everyone's faces. It also occurs in Delibes; but as one who has become insane through torture.

On May 21, 1559, the first of three auto-cafés took place in Valladolid; Delibes also refers to this. 14 days earlier, the gruesome spectacle had been advertised and a wooden stage with 2000 seats had been erected on the Plaza Mayor. There, in the face of the king's representative, the car dairy took place, the pyres were outside the Puerta del Campo. When the convicts are brought together in prison to be taken to the place of execution, Delibes records the historical circumstance of mutual treason:

"A large number of those present had betrayed each other, had sworn false and tried to save themselves at the other's expense, and now they avoided encounters, looks and explanations. Pedro Cazalla also avoided Cipriano. When he discovered him, he moved he went back to a dark corner of the anteroom, where he could go unnoticed. Like his sister Beatriz's, Pedro's testimony had been ruthless. She had denounced around ten prisoners. Nevertheless, Pedro Cazalla also wore the penitent shirt with the sewn-on flames and devils , by which one recognized those condemned to death ... He and his brother Agustín, leaders of the sect, were undoubtedly the ones who in this hell met with the most contempt out of prejudice and suspicion.

The mad eyes of Bachelor Herrezuelo jumped from one to the other with boundless contempt. He couldn't spit at her or slap her on the face, but his mad look said it all. His hands had been tied behind his back to prevent him from tearing the gag out ... "

Miguel Delibes is not interested in turning Cipriano into a hero by having the rest of the weak and unsubstantiated renounce their beliefs and betray one another. The strength of the novel lies not least in the fact that the author has succeeded in showing historical figures as people with all weaknesses. Few are born to be heroes and martyrs. The fictional character Cipriano Salcedo, although credibly predisposed to her fate, is shown with all his talents and peculiarities, but also with all human inadequacies. In this respect, despite his steadfastness, which made him a martyr, Cipriano is more of a "mean hero", to use a romantic term from Georg Lukács. Middle hero insofar as he can enter into relationships with the most varied of layers of society due to his characteristics, his origin, his activity. Indeed, Miguel Delibes' novel The Heretic reflects a social totality of dark medieval Spain, the negative effects of which continued into modern times. The last 25 pages alone, the description of the car dairy and the stake, are not only a dramatic climax, but a shameful testimony to the despotic unity of state and church.

The Spaniards felt once again under Franco what this sinister relationship meant. To this day, the Spanish Church has not asked forgiveness for its role at the time.

If a novelist still presents a work in his late seventies, then one likes to speak of an old work somewhat disrespectfully, if the book stays within the scope of expectations. In the case of the heretic, however, Delibes has combined all the registers of his ability and with his novel has written an impressive portrait of morals that virtuously transcends the patterns of the historical novel.