FOX'S BOOK OF MARTYRS
An Account of the Inquisition
When the reformed religion began to diffuse the Gospel light throughout
Europe, Pope Innocent III entertained great fear for the Romish Church. He
accordingly instituted a number of inquisitors, or persons who were to make
inquiry after, apprehend, and punish, heretics, as the reformed were called by
At the head of these inquisitors was one Dominic, who had been canonized
by the pope, in order to render his authority the more respectable. Dominic,
and the other inquisitors, spread themselves into various Roman Catholic
countries, and treated the Protestants with the utmost severity. In process of
time, the pope, not finding these roving inquisitors so useful as he had
imagined, resolved upon the establishment of fixed and regular courts of
Inquisition. After the order for these regular courts, the first office of
Inquisition was established in the city of Toulouse, and Dominic became the
first regular inquisitor, as he had before been the first roving inquisitor.
Courts of Inquisition were now erected in several countries; but the
Spanish Inquisition became the most powerful, and the most dreaded of any. Even
the kings of Spain themselves, though arbitrary in all other respects, were
taught to dread the power of the lords of the Inquisition; and the horrid
cruelties they exercised compelled multitudes, who differed in opinion from the
Roman Catholics, carefully to conceal their sentiments.
The most zealous of all the popish monks, and those who most implicitly
obeyed the Church of Rome, were the Dominicans and Franciscans: these,
therefore, the pope thought proper to invest with an exclusive right of
presiding over the different courts of Inquisition, and gave them the most
unlimited powers, as judges delegated by him, and immediately representing his
person: they were permitted to excommunicate, or sentence to death whom they
thought proper, upon the most slight information of heresy. They were allowed
to publish crusades against all whom they deemed heretics, and enter into
leagues with sovereign princes, to join their crusades with their forces.
In 1244, their power was further increased by the emperor Frederic II, who
declared himself the protector and friend of all the inquisitors, and published
the cruel edicts, viz., 1. That all heretics who continue obstinate, should be
burnt. 2. That all heretics who repented, should be imprisoned for life.
This zeal in the emperor, for the inquisitors of the Roman Catholic
persuasion, arose from a report which had been propagated throughout Europe,
that he intended to renounce Christianity, and turn Mahometan; the emperor
therefore, attempted, by the height of bigotry, to contradict the report, and
to show his attachment to popery by cruelty.
The officers of the Inquisition are three inquisitors, or judges, a fiscal
proctor, two secretaries, a magistrate, a messenger, a receiver, a jailer, an
agent of confiscated possessions; several assessors, counsellors, executioners,
physicians, surgeons, doorkeepers, familiars, and visitors, who are sworn to
The principal accusation against those who are subject to this tribunal is
heresy, which comprises all that is spoken, or written, against any of the
articles of the creed, or the traditions of the Roman Church. The inquisition
likewise takes cognizance of such as are accused of being magicians, and of
such who read the Bible in the common language, the Talmud of the Jews, or the
Alcoran of the Mahometans.
Upon all occasions the inquisitors carry on their processes with the
utmost severity, and punish those who offend them with the most unparalleled
cruelty. A Protestant has seldom any mercy shown him, and a Jew, who turns
Christian, is far from being secure.
A defence in the Inquisition is of little use to the prisoner, for a
suspicion only is deemed sufficient cause of condemnation, and the greater his
wealth the greater his danger. The principal part of the inquisitors' cruelties
is owing to their rapacity: they destroy the life to possess the property; and,
under the pretence of zeal, plunder each obnoxious individual.
A prisoner in the Inquisition is never allowed to see the face of his
accuser, or of the witnesses against him, but every method is taken by threats
and tortures, to oblige him to accuse himself, and by that means corroborate
their evidence. If the jurisdiction of the Inquisition is not fully allowed,
vengeance is denounced against such as call it in question for if any of its
officers are opposed, those who oppose them are almost certain to be sufferers
for the temerity; the maxim of the Inquisition being to strike terror, and awe
those who are the objects of its power into obedience. High birth,
distinguished rank, great dignity, or eminent employments, are no protection
from its severities; and the lowest officers of the Inquisition can make the
highest characters tremble.
When the person impeached is condemned, he is either severely whipped,
violently tortured, sent to the galleys, or sentenced to death; and in either
case the effects are confiscated. After judgment, a procession is performed to
the place of execution, which ceremony is called an auto da fe, or act of
The following is an account of an auto da fe, performed at Madrid in the
The officers of the Inquisition, preceded by trumpets, kettledrums, and
their banner, marched on the thirtieth of May, in cavalcade, to the palace of
the great square, where they declared by proclamation, that, on the thirtieth
of June, the sentence of the prisoners would be put in execution.
Of these prisoners, twenty men and women, with one renegade Mahometan,
were ordered to be burned; fifty Jews and Jewesses, having never before been
imprisoned, and repenting of their crimes, were sentenced to a long
confinement, and to wear a yellow cap. The whole court of Spain was present on
this occasion. The grand inquisitor's chair was placed in a sort of tribunal
far above that of the king.
Among those who were to suffer, was a young Jewess of exquisite beauty,
and but seventeen years of age. Being on the same side of the scaffold where
the queen was seated, she addressed her, in hopes of obtaining a pardon, in the
following pathetic speech: "Great queen, will not your royal presence be of
some service to me in my miserable condition? Have regard to my youth; and, oh!
consider, that I am about to die for professing a religion imbibed from my
earliest infancy!" Her majesty seemed greatly to pity her distress, but turned
away her eyes, as she did not dare to speak a word in behalf of a person who
had been declared a heretic.
Now Mass began, in the midst of which the priest came from the altar,
placed himself near the scaffold, and seated himself in a chair prepared for
The chief inquisitor then descended from the amphitheater, dressed in his
cope, and having a miter on his head. After having bowed to the altar, he
advanced towards the king's balcony, and went up to it, attended by some of his
officers, carrying a cross and the Gospels, with a book containing the oath by
which the kings of Spain oblige themselves to protect the Catholic faith, to
extirpate heretics, and to support with all their power and force the
prosecutions and decrees of the Inquisition: a like oath was administered to
the counsellors and whole assembly. The Mass was begun about twelve at noon,
and did not end until nine in the evening, being protracted by a proclamation
of the sentence of the several criminals, which were already separately
rehearsed aloud one after the other.
After this followed the burnings of the twenty-one men and women, whose
intrepidity in suffering that horrid death was truly astonishing. The king's
near situation to the criminals rendered their dying groans very audible to
him; he could not, however, be absent from this dreadful scene, as it is
esteemed a religious one; and his coronation oath obliged him to give a
sanction by his presence to all the acts of the tribunal.
What we have already said may be applied to inquisitions in general, as
well as to that of Spain in particular. The Inquisition belonging to Portugal
is exactly upon a similar plan to that of Spain, having been instituted much
about the same time, and put under the same regulations. The inquisitors allow
the torture to be used only three times, but during those times it is so
severely inflicted, that the prisoner either dies under it, or continues always
after a cripple, and suffers the severest pains upon every change of weather.
We shall give an ample description of the severe torments occasioned by the
torture, from the account of one who suffered it the three respective times,
but happily survived the cruelties he underwent.
At the first time of torturing, six executioners entered, stripped him
naked to his drawers, and laid him upon his back on a kind of stand, elevated a
few feet from the floor. The operation commenced by putting an iron collar
round his neck, and a ring to each foot, which fastened him to the stand. His
limbs being thus stretched out, they wound two ropes round each thigh; which
ropes being passed under the scaffold, through holes made for that purpose,
were all drawn tight at the same instant of time, by four of the men, on a
It is easy to conceive that the pains which immediately succeeded were
intolerable; the ropes, which were of a small size, cut through the prisoner's
flesh to the bone, making the blood to gush out at eight different places thus
bound at a time. As the prisoner persisted in not making any confession of what
the inquisitors required, the ropes were drawn in this manner four times
The manner of inflicting the second torture was as follows: they forced
his arms backwards so that the palms of his hands were turned outward behind
him; when, by means of a rope that fastened them together at the wrists, and
which was turned by an engine, they drew them by degrees nearer each other, in
such a manner that the back of each hand touched, and stood exactly parallel to
each other. In consequence of this violent contortion, both his shoulders
became dislocated, and a considerable quantity of blood issued from his mouth.
This torture was repeated thrice; after which he was again taken to the
dungeon, and the surgeon set the dislocated bones.
Two months after the second torture, the prisoner being a little
recovered, was again ordered to the torture room, and there, for the last time,
made to undergo another kind of punishment, which was inflicted twice without
any intermission. The executioners fastened a thick iron chain round his body,
which crossing at the breast, terminated at the wrists. They then placed him
with his back against a thick board, at each extremity whereof was a pulley,
through which there ran a rope that caught the end of the chain at his wrists.
The executioner then, stretching the end of his rope by means of a roller,
placed at a distance behind him, pressed or bruised his stomach in proportion
as the ends of the chains were drawn tighter. They tortured him in this manner
to such a degree, that his wrists, as well as his shoulders, were quite
dislocated. They were, however, soon set by the surgeons; but the barbarians,
not yet satisfied with this species of cruelty, made him immediately undergo
the like torture a second time, which he sustained (though, if possible,
attended with keener pains,) with equal constancy and resolution. After this,
he was again remanded to the dungeon, attended by the surgeon to dress his
bruises and adjust the part dislocated, and here he continued until their auto
da fe, or jail delivery, when he was discharged, crippled and diseased for
An Account of the Cruel Handling and Burning of Nicholas Burton, an English
Merchant, in Spain
The fifth day of November, about the year of our Lord 1560, Mr. Nicholas
Burton, citizen sometime of London, and merchant, dwelling in the parish of
Little St. Bartholomew, peaceably and quietly, following his traffic in the
trade of merchandise, and being in the city of Cadiz, in the party of
Andalusia, in Spain, there came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they term
them, a familiar of the fathers of Inquisition; who asking for the said
Nicholas Burton, feigned that he had a letter to deliver into his own hands; by
which means he spake with him immediately. And having no letter to deliver to
him, then the said promoter, or familiar, at the motion of the devil his
master, whose messenger he was, invented another lie, and said he would take
lading for London in such ships as the said Nicholas Burton had freighted to
lade, if he would let any; which was partly to know where he loaded his goods,
that they might attach them, and chiefly to protract the time until the
sergeant of the Inquisition might come and apprehend the body of the said
Nicholas Burton; which they did incontinently.
He then well perceiving that they were not able to burden or charge him
that he had written, spoken, or done any thing there in that country against
the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm, boldly asked them what
they had to lay to his charge that they did so arrest him, and bade them to
declare the cause, and he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered
nothing, but commanded him with threatening words to hold his peace, and not
speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town of Cadiz
where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves.
All which time he so instructed the poor prisoners in the Word of God,
according to the good talent which God had given him in that behalf, and also
in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in that short space he had well
reclaimed several of those superstitiuous and ignorant Spaniards to embrace the
Word of God, and to reject their popish traditions.
Which being known unto the officers of the Inquisition, they conveyed him
laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into a more cruel and
straiter prison called Triana, where the said fathers of the Inquisition
proceeded against him secretly according to their accustomable cruel tyranny,
that never after he could be suffered to write or speak to any of his nation:
so that to this day it is unknown who was his accuser.
Afterward, the twentieth of December, they brought the said Nicholas
Burton, with a great number of other prisoners, for professing the true
Christian religion, into the city of Seville, to a place where the said
inquisitors sat in judgment which they called auto, with a canvas coat,
whereupon in divers parts was painted the figure of a huge devil, tormenting a
soul in a flame of fire, and on his head a copping tank of the same work.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon
it, that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people, and so he
was set with another Englishman of Southampton, and divers other condemned men
for religion, as well Frenchmen as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the
said Inquisition, where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced
And immediately after the said sentences given, they were carried from
there to the place of execution without the city, where they most cruelly
burned them, for whose constant faith, God is praised.
This Nicholas Burton by the way, and in the flames of fire, had so
cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness, that
the tormentors and enemies which stood by, said, that the devil had his soul
before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses of feeling were
It happened that after the arrest of Nicholas Burton aforesaid,
immediately all the goods and merchandise which he brought with him into Spain
by the way of traffic, were (according to their common usage) seized, and taken
into the sequester; among which they also rolled up much that appertained to
another English merchant, wherewith he was credited as factor. Whereof as soon
as news was brought to the merchant as well of the imprisonment of his factor,
as of the arrest made upon his goods, he sent his attorney into Spain, with
authority from him to make claim to his goods, and to demand them; whose name
was John Fronton, citizen of Bristol.
When his attorney was landed at Seville, and had shown all his letters and
writings to the holy house, requiring them that such goods might be delivered
into his possession, answer was made to him that he must sue by bill, and
retain an advocate (but all was doubtless to delay him,) and they forsooth of
courtesy assigned him one to frame his supplication for him, and other such
bills of petition, as he had to exhibit into their holy court, demanding for
each bill eight reals, albeit they stood him in no more stead than if he had
put up none at all. And for the space of three or four months this fellow
missed not twice a day attending every morning and afternoon at the
inquisitors' palace, suing unto them upon his knees for his despatch, but
especially to the bishop of Tarracon, who was at that very time chief of the
Inquisition at Seville, that he of his absolute authority would command
restitution to be made thereof; but the booty was so good and great that it was
very hard to come by it again.
At length, after he had spent four whole months in suits and requests, and
also to no purpose, he received this answer from them, that he must show better
evidence, and bring more sufficient certificates out of England for proof of
this matter, than those which he had already presented to the court. Whereupon
the party forthwith posted to London, and with all speed returned to Seville
again with more ample and large letters testimonial, and certificates,
according to their requests, and exhibited them to the court.
Notwithstanding, the inquisitors still shifted him off, excusing
themselves by lack of leisure, and for that they were occupied in more weighty
affairs, and with such answers put him off, four months after.
At last, when the party had well nigh spent all his money, and therefore
sued the more earnestly for his despatch, they referred the matter wholly to
the bishop, of whom, when he repaired unto him, he made answer, 'That for
himself, he knew what he had to do, howbeit he was but one man, and the
determination appertained to the other commissioners as well as unto him;' and
thus by posting and passing it from one to another, the party could obtain no
end of his suit. Yet for his importunity's sake, they were resolved to despatch
him: it was on this sort: one of the inquisitors, called Gasco, a man very well
experienced in these practices, willed the party to resort unto him after
The fellow being glad to hear this news, and supposing that his goods
should be restored unto him, and that he was called in for that purpose to talk
with the other that was in prison to confer with him about their accounts,
rather through a little misunderstanding, hearing the inquisitors cast out a
word, that it should be needful for him to talk with the prisoner, and being
thereupon more than half persuaded, that at length they meant good faith, did
so, and repaired thither about the evening. Immediately upon his coming, the
jailer was forthwith charged with him, to shut him up close in such a prison
where they appointed him.
The party, hoping at the first that he had been called for about some
other matter, and seeing himself, contrary to his expectation, cast into a dark
dungeon, perceived at length that the world went with him far otherwise than he
supposed it would have done.
But within two or three days after, he was brought into the court, where
he began to demand his goods: and because it was a device that well served
their turn without any more circumstance, they bid him say his Ave Maria: Ave
Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus
fructus ventris tui Jesus Amen.
The same was written word by word as he spake it, and without any more
talk of claiming his goods, because it was needless, they commanded him to
prison again, and entered an action against him as a heretic, forasmuch as he
did not say his Ave Maria after the Romish fashion, but ended it very
suspiciously, for he should have added moreover; Sancta Maria mater Dei, ora
pro nobis peccatoribus: by abbreviating whereof, it was evident enough (said
they) that he did not allow the mediation of saints.
Thus they picked a quarrel to detain him in prison a longer season, and
afterward brought him forth upon their stage disguised after their manner;
where sentence was given, that he should lose all the goods which he sued for,
though they were not his own, and besides this, suffer a year's imprisonment.
Mark Brughes, an Englishman, master of an English ship called the Minion,
was burned in a city in Portugal.
William Hoker, a young man about the age of sixteen years, being an
Englishman, was stoned to death by certain young men in the city of Seville,
for the same righteous cause.
Some Private Enormities of the Inquisition Laid Open, by a Very Singular
When the crown of Spain was contested for in the beginning of the present
century, by two princes, who equally pretended to the sovereignty, France
espoused the cause of one competitor, and England of the other.
The duke of Berwick, a natural son of James II who abdicated England,
commanded the Spanish and French forces, and defeated the English at the
celebrated battle of Almanza. The army was then divided into two parts; the one
consisting of Spaniards and French, headed by the duke of Berwick, advanced
towards Catalonia; the other body, consisting of French troops only, commanded
by the duke of Orleans, proceeded to the conquest of Arragon.
As the troops drew near to the city of Arragon, the magistrates came to
offer the keys to the duke of Orleans; but he told them haughtily that they
were rebels, and that he would not accept the keys, for he had orders to enter
the city through a breach.
He accordingly made a breach in the walls with his cannon, and then
entered the city through it, together with his whole army. When he had made
every necessary regulation here, he departed to subdue other places, leaving a
strong garrison at once to overawe and defend, under the command of his
lieutenant-general M. de Legal. This gentleman, though brought up a Roman
Catholic, was totally free from superstition; he united great talents with
great bravery; and was the skilful officer, and accomplished gentleman.
The duke, before his departure, had ordered that heavy contributions
should be levied upon the city in the following manner:
1. That the magistrates and principal inhabitants should pay a thousand
crowns per month for the duke's table.
2. That every house should pay one pistole, which would monthly amount to
3. That every convent and monastery should pay a donative, proportionable
to its riches and rents.
The two last contributions to be appropriated to the maintenance of the
The money levied upon the magistrates and principal inhabitants, and upon
every house, was paid as soon as demanded; but when the persons applied to the
heads of convents and monasteries, they found that the ecclesiastics were not
so willing, as other people, to part with their cash.
Of the donatives to be raised by the clergy:
The College of Jesuits to pay - 2000 pistoles.
Carmelites, - 1000
Augustins, - 1000
Dominicans, - 1000
M. de Legal sent to the Jesuits a peremptory order to pay the money
immediately. The superior of the Jesuits returned for answer that for the
clergy to pay money for the army was against all ecclesiastical immunities; and
that he knew of no argument which could authorize such a procedure. M. de Legal
then sent four companies of dragoons to quarter themselves in the college, with
this sarcastic message. "To convince you of the necessity of paying the money,
I have sent four substantial arguments to your college, drawn from the system
of military logic; and, therefore, hope you will not need any further
admonition to direct your conduct."
These proceedings greatly perplexed the Jesuits, who despatched an express
to court to the king's confessor, who was of their order; but the dragoons were
much more expeditious in plundering and doing mischief, than the courier in his
journey: so that the Jesuits, seeing everything going to wreck and ruin,
thought proper to adjust the matter amicably, and paid the money before the
return of their messenger. The Augustins and Carmelites, taking warning by what
had happened to the Jesuits, prudently went and paid the money, and by that
means escaped the study of military arguments, and of being taught logic by
But the Dominicans, who were all familiars of, or agents dependent on, the
Inquisition, imagined that that very circumstance would be their protection;
but they were mistaken, for M. de Legal neither feared nor respected the
Inquisition. The chief of the Dominicans sent word to the military commander
that his order was poor, and had not any money whatever to pay the donative;
for, says he, "The whole wealth of the Dominicans consists only in the silver
images of the apostles and saints, as large as life, which are placed in our
church, and which it would be sacrilege to remove."
This insinuation was meant to terrify the French commander, whom the
inquisitors imagined would not dare to be so profane as to wish for the
possession of the precious idols.
He, however, sent word that the silver images would make admirable
substitutes for money, and would be more in character in his possession, than
in that of the Dominicans themselves, "For [said he] while you possess them in
the manner you do at present, they stand up in niches, useless and motionless,
without being of the least benefit to mankind in general, or even to
yourselves; but, when they come into my possession, they shall be useful; I
will put them in motion; for I intend to have them coined, when they may travel
like the apostles, be beneficial in various places, and circulate for the
universal service of mankind."
The inquisitors were astonished at this treatment, which they never
expected to receive, even from crowned heads; they therefore determined to
deliver their precious images in a solemn procession, that they might excite
the people to an insurrection. The Dominican friars were accordingly ordered to
march to de Legal's house, with the silver apostles and saints, in a mournful
manner, having lighted tapers with them and bitterly crying all the way,
M. de Legal, hearing these proceedings, ordered four companies of
grenadiers to line the street which led to his house; each grenadier was
ordered to have his loaded fuzee in one hand, and a lighted taper in the other;
so that the troops might either repel force with force, or do honor to the
The friars did all they could to raise the tumult, but the common people
were too much afraid of the troops under arms to obey them; the silver images
were, therefore, of necessity delivered up to M. de Legal, who sent them to the
mint, and ordered them to be coined immediately.
The project of raising an insurrection having failed, the inquisitors
determined to excommunicate M. de Legal, unless he would release their precious
silver saints from imprisonment in the mint, before they were melted down, or
otherwise mutilated. The French commander absolutely refused to release the
images, but said they should certainly travel and do good; upon which the
inquisitors drew up the form of excommunication, and ordered their secretary to
go and read it to M. de Legal.
The secretary punctually performed his commission, and read the
excommunication deliberately and distinctly. The French commander heard it
with great patience, and politely told the secretary that he would answer it
the next day.
When the secretary of the Inquisition was gone, M. de Legal ordered his
own secretary to prepare a form of excommunication, exactly like that sent by
the Inquisition; but to make this alteration, instead of his name to put in
those of the inquisitors.
The next morning he ordered four regiments under arms, and commanded them
to accompany his secretary, and act as he directed.
The secretary went to the Inquisition, and insisted upon admittance,
which, after a great deal of altercation, was granted. As soon as he entered,
he read, in an audible voice, the excommunication sent by M. de Legal against
the inquisitors. The inquisitors were all present, and heard it with
astonishment, never having before met with any individual who dared to behave
so boldly. They loudly cried out against de Legal, as a heretic; and said,
"This was a most daring insult against the Catholic faith." But to surprise
them still more, the French secretary told them that they must remove from
their present lodgings; for the French commander wanted to quarter the troops
in the Inquisition, as it was the most commodious place in the whole city.
The inquisitors exclaimed loudly upon this occasion, when the secretary
put them under a strong guard, and sent them to a place appointed by M. de
Legal to receive them. The inquisitors, finding how things went, begged that
they might be permitted to take their private property, which was granted; and
they immediately set out for Madrid, where they made the most bitter complaints
to the king; but the monarch told them that he could not grant them any
redress, as the injuries they had received were from his grandfather, the king
of France's troops, by whose assistance alone he could be firmly established in
his kingdom. "Had it been my own troops, [said he] I would have punished them;
but as it is, I cannot pretend to exert any authority."
In the mean time, M. de Legal's secretary set open all the doors of the
Inquisition, and released the prisoners, who amounted in the whole to four
hundred; and among these were sixty beautiful young women, who appeared to form
a seraglio for the three principal inquisitors.
This discovery, which laid the enormity of the inquisitors so open,
greatly alarmed the archbishop, who desired M. de Legal to send the women to
his palace, and he would take proper care of them; and at the same time he
published an ecclesiastical censure against all such as should ridicule, or
blame, the holy office of the Inquisition.
The French commander sent word to the archbishop, that the prisoners had
either run away, or were so securely concealed by their friends, or even by his
own officers, that it was impossible for him to send them back again; and,
therefore, the Inquisition having committed such atrocious actions, must now
put up with their exposure.
Some may suggest, that it is strange crowned heads and eminent nobles did
not attempt to crush the power of the Inquisition, and reduce the authority of
those ecclesiastical tyrants, from whose merciless fangs neither their families
nor themselves were secure.
But astonishing as it is, superstition hath, in this case, always overcome
common sense, and custom operated against reason. One prince, indeed, intended
to abolish the Inquisition, but he lost his life before he became king, and
consequently before he had the power so to do; for the very intimation of his
design procured his destruction.
This was that amiable prince Don Carlos, son of Philip the Second, king of
Spain, and grandson of the celebrated emperor Charles V. Don Carlos possessed
all the good qualities of his grandfather, without any of the bad ones of his
father; and was a prince of great vivacity, admirable learning, and the most
amiable disposition. He had sense enough to see into the errors of popery, and
abhorred the very name of the Inquisition. He inveighed publicly against the
institution, ridiculed the affected piety of the inquisitors, did all he could
to expose their atrocious deeds, and even declared, that if he ever came to the
crown, he would abolish the Inquisition, and exterminate its agents.
These things were sufficient to irritate the inquisitors against the
prince: they, accordingly, bent their minds to vengeance, and determined on his
The inquisitors now employed all their agents and emissaries to spread
abroad the most artful insinuations against the prince; and, at length raised
such a spirit of discontent among the people that the king was under the
necessity of removing Don Carlos from court. Not content with this, they
pursued even his friends, and obliged the king likewise to banish Don John,
duke of Austria, his own brother, and consequently uncle to the prince;
together with the prince of Parma, nephew to the king, and cousin to the
prince, because they well knew that both the duke of Austria, and the prince of
Parma, had a most sincere and inviolable attachment to Don Carlos.
Some few years after, the prince having shown great lenity and favor to
the Protestants in the Netherlands, the Inquisition loudly exclaimed against
him, declaring, that as the persons in question were heretics, the prince
himself must necessarily be one, since he gave them countenance. In short, they
gained so great an ascendency over the mind of the king, who was absolutely a
slave to superstition, that, shocking to relate, he sacrificed the feelings of
nature to the force of bigotry, and, for fear of incurring the anger of the
Inquisition, gave up his only son, passing the sentence of death on him
The prince, indeed, had what was termed an indulgence; that is, he was
permitted to choose the manner of his death. Roman-like, the unfortunate young
hero chose bleeding and the hot bath; when the veins of his arms and legs were
opened, he expired gradually, falling a martyr to the malice of the
inquisitors, and the stupid bigotry of his father.
The Persecution of Dr. Aegidio
Dr. Aegidio was educated at the university of Alcala, where he took his
several degrees, and particularly applied himself to the study of the sacred
Scriptures and school divinity. When the professor of theology died, he was
elected into his place, and acted so much to the satisfaction of every one that
his reputation for learning and piety was circulated throughout Europe.
Aegidio, however, had his enemies, and these laid a complaint against him
to the inquisitors, who sent him a citation, and when he appeared to it, cast
him into a dungeon.
As the greatest part of those who belonged to the cathedral church at
Seville, and many persons belonging to the bishopric of Dortois highly approved
of the doctrines of Aegidio, which they thought perfectly consonant with true
religion, they petitioned the emperor in his behalf. Though the monarch had
been educated a Roman Catholic, he had too much sense to be a bigot, and
therefore sent an immediate order for his enlargement.
He soon after visited the church of Valladolid, and did every thing he
could to promote the cause of religion. Returning home he soon after fell sick,
and died in an extreme old age.
The inquisitors having been disappointed of gratifying their malice
against him while living, determined (as the emperor's whole thoughts were
engrossed by a military expedition) to wreak their vengeance on him when dead.
Therefore, soon after he was buried, they ordered his remains to be dug out of
the grave; and a legal process being carried on, they were condemned to be
burnt, which was executed accordingly.
The Persecution of Dr. Constantine
Dr. Constantine, an intimate acquaintance of the already mentioned Dr.
Aegidio, was a man of uncommon natural abilities and profound learning;
exclusive of several modern tongues, he was acquainted with the Latin, Greek,
and Hebrew languages, and perfectly well knew not only the sciences called
abstruse, but those arts which come under the denomination of polite
His eloquence rendered him pleasing, and the soundness of his doctrines a
profitable preacher; and he was so popular that he never preached but to a
crowded audience. He had many opportunities of rising in the Church, but never
would take advantage of them; for if a living of greater value than his own was
offered him, he would refuse it, saying, "I am content with what I have"; and
he frequently preached so forcibly against simony, that many of his superiors,
who were not so delicate upon the subject, took umbrage at his doctrines upon
Having been fully confirmed in Protestantism by Dr. Aegidio, he preached
boldly such doctrines only as were agreeable to Gospel purity, and
uncontaminated by the errors which had at various times crept into the Romish
Church. For these reasons he had many enemies among the Roman Catholics, and
some of them were fully determined on his destruction.
A worthy gentleman named Scobaria, having erected a school for divinity
lectures, appointed Dr. Constantine to be reader therein. He immediately
undertook the task, and read lectures, by portions, on the Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and was beginning to expound the Book of Job, when
he was seized by the inquisitors.
Being brought to examination, he answered with such precaution that they
could not find any explicit charge against him, but remained doubtful in what
manner to proceed, when the following circumstances occurred to determine them.
Dr. Constantine had deposited with a woman named Isabella Martin, several
books, which to him were very valuable, but which he knew, in the eyes of the
Inquisition, were exceptionable.
This woman having been informed against as a Protestant, was apprehended,
and, after a small process, her goods were ordered to be confiscated. Previous,
however, to the officers coming to her house, the woman's son had removed away
several chests full of the most valuable articles; among these were Dr.
A treacherous servant gave intelligence of this to the inquisitors, and an
officer was despatched to the son to demand the chests. The son, supposing the
officer only came for Constantine's books, said, "I know what you come for, and
I will fetch them to you immediately." He then fetched Dr. Constantine's books
and papers, when the officer was greatly surprised to find what he did not look
for. He, however, told the young man that he was glad these books and papers
were produced, but nevertheless he must fulfill the end of his commission,
which was to carry him and the goods he had embezzled before the inquisitors,
which he did accordingly; for the young man knew it would be in vain to
expostulate, or resist, and therefore quietly submitted to his fate.
The inquisitors being thus possessed of Constantine's books and writings,
now found matter sufficient to form charges against him. When he was brought to
a re-examination, they presented one of his papers, and asked him if he knew
the handwriting? Perceiving it was his own, he guessed the whole matter,
confessed the writing, and justified the doctrine it contained: saying, "In
that, and all my other writings, I have never departed from the truth of the
Gospel, but have always kept in view the pure precepts of Christ, as He
delivered them to mankind."
After being detained upwards of two years in prison, Dr. Constantine was
seized with a bloody flux, which put an end to his miseries in this world. The
process, however, was carried on against his body, which, at the ensuing auto
da fe, was publicly burnt.
The Life of William Gardiner
William Gardiner was born at Bristol, received a tolerable education, and
was, at a proper age, placed under the care of a merchant, named Paget.
At the age of twenty-six years, he was, by his master, sent to Lisbon to
act as factor. Here he applied himself to the study of the Portuguese language,
executed his business with assiduity and despatch, and behaved with the most
engaging affability to all persons with whom he had the least concern. He
conversed privately with a few, whom he knew to be zealous Protestants; and, at
the same time cautiously avoided giving the least offence to any who were Roman
Catholics; he had not, however, hitherto gone into any of the popish churches.
A marriage being concluded between the king of Portugal's son, and the
Infanta of Spain, upon the wedding-day the bridegroom, bride, and the whole
court went to the cathedral church, attended by multitudes of all ranks of
people, and among the rest William Gardiner, who stayed during the whole
ceremony, and was greatly shocked at the superstitions he saw.
The erroneous worship which he had seen ran strongly in his mind; he was
miserable to see a whole country sunk into such idolatry, when the truth of the
Gospel might be so easily obtained. He, therefore, took the inconsiderate,
though laudable design, into his head, of making a reform in Portugal, or
perishing in the attempt; and determined to sacrifice his prudence to his zeal,
though he became a martyr upon the occasion.
To this end, he settled all his worldly affairs, paid his debts, closed
his books, and consigned over his merchandise. On the ensuing Sunday he went
again to the cathedral church, with a New Testament in his hand, and placed
himself near the altar.
The king and the court soon appeared, and a cardinal began Mass, at that
part of the ceremony in which the people adore the wafer. Gardiner could hold
out no longer, but springing towards the cardinal, he snatched the host from
him, and trampled it under his feet.
This action amazed the whole congregation, and one person, drawing a
dagger, wounded Gardiner in the shoulder, and would, by repeating the blow,
have finished him, had not the king called to him to desist.
Gardiner, being carried before the king, the monarch asked him what
countryman he was: to which he replied, "I am an Englishman by birth, a
Protestant by religion, and a merchant by occupation. What I have done is not
out of contempt to your royal person, God forbid it should, but out of an
honest indignation, to see the ridiculous superstitious and gross idolatries
The king, thinking that he had been stimulated by some other person to act
as he had done, demanded who was his abetter, to which he replied, "My own
conscience alone. I would not hazard what I have done for any man living, but I
owe that and all other services to God."
Gardiner was sent to prison, and a general order issued to apprehend all
Englishmen in Lisbon. This order was in a great measure put into execution,
(some few escaping) and many innocent persons were tortured to make them
confess if they knew any thing of the matter; in particular, a person who
resided in the same house with Gardiner was treated with unparalleled barbarity
to make him confess something which might throw a light upon the affair.
Gardiner himself was then tormented in the most excruciating manner; but
in the midst of all his torments he gloried in the deed. Being ordered for
death, a large fire was kindled near a gibbet, Gardiner was drawn up to the
gibbet by pulleys, and then let down near the fire, but not so close as to
touch it; for they burnt or rather roasted him by slow degrees. Yet he bore his
sufferings patiently and resigned his soul to the Lord cheerfully.
It is observable that some of the sparks that were blown from the fire,
(which consumed Gardiner) towards the haven, burnt one of the king's ships of
war, and did other considerable damage. The Englishmen who were taken up on
this occasion were, soon after Gardiner's death, all discharged, except the
person who resided in the same house with him, who was detained two years
before he could procure his liberty.
An Account of the Life and Sufferings of Mr. William Lithgow, a Native of
This gentleman was descended from a good family, and having a natural
propensity for travelling, he rambled, when very young, over the northern and
western islands; after which he visited France, Germany, Switzerland, and
Spain. He set out on his travels in the month of March, 1609, and the first
place he went to was Paris, where he stayed for some time. He then prosecuted
his travels through Germany and other parts, and at length arrived at Malaga,
in Spain, the seat of all his misfortunes.
During his residence here, he contracted with the master of a French ship
for his passage to Alexandria, but was prevented from going by the following
circumstances. In the evening of the seventeenth of October, 1620, the English
fleet, at that time on a cruise against the Algerine rovers, came to anchor
before Malaga, which threw the people of the town into the greatest
consternation, as they imagined them to be Turks. The morning, however,
discovered the mistake, and the governor of Malaga, perceiving the cross of
England in their colors, went on board Sir Robert Mansel's ship, who commanded
on that expedition, and after staying some time returned, and silenced the
fears of the people.
The next day many persons from on board the fleet came ashore. Among these
were several well known by Mr. Lithgow, who, after reciprocal compliments,
spent some days together in festivity and the amusements of the town. They then
invited Mr. Lithgow to go on board, and pay his respects to the admiral. He
accordingly accepted the invitation, was kindly received by him, and detained
till the next day when the fleet sailed. The admiral would willingly have taken
Mr. Lithgow with him to Algiers; but having contracted for his passage to
Alexandria, and his baggage, etc., being in the town, he could not accept the
As soon as Mr. Lithgow got on shore, he proceeded towards his lodgings by
a private way, (being to embark the same night for Alexandria) when, in passing
through a narrow uninhabited street, he found himself suddenly surrounded by
nine sergeants, or officers, who threw a black cloak over him, and forcibly
conducted him to the governor's house. After some little time the governor
appeared when Mr. Lithgow earnestly begged he might be informed of the cause of
such violent treatment. The governor only answered by shaking his head, and
gave orders that the prisoner should be strictly watched until he (the
governor) returned from his devotions; directing, at the same time, that the
captain of the town, the alcade major, and town notary, should be summoned to
appear at his examination, and that all this should be done with the greatest
secrecy, to prevent the knowledge reaching the ears of the English merchants
then residing in the town.
These orders were strictly discharged, and on the governor's return, he,
with the officers, having seated themselves, Mr. Lithgow was brought before
them for examination. The governor began by asking several questions, namely,
of what country he was, whither bound, and how long he had been in Spain. The
prisoner, after answering these and other questions, was conducted to a closet,
where, in a short space of time, he was visited by the town captain, who
inquired whether he had ever been at Seville, or was lately come from thence;
and patting his cheeks with an air of friendship, conjured him to tell the
truth, "For (said he) your very countenance shows there is some hidden matter
in your mind, which prudence should direct you to disclose." Finding himself,
however, unable to extort any thing from the prisoner, he left him, and
reported the same to the governor and the other officers; on which Mr. Lithgow
was again brought before them, a general accusation was laid against him, and
he was compelled to swear that he would give true answers to such questions as
should be asked him.
The governor proceeded to inquire the quality of the English commander,
and the prisoner's opinion what were the motives that prevented his accepting
an invitation from him to come on shore. He demanded, likewise, the names of
the English captains in the squadron, and what knowledge he had of the
embarkation, or preparation for it before his departure from England. The
answers given to the several questions asked were set down in writing by the
notary; but the junto seemed surprised at his denying any knowledge of the
fitting out of the fleet, particularly the governor, who said he lied; that he
was a traitor and a spy, and came directly from England to favor and assist the
designs that were projected against Spain, and that he had been for that
purpose nine months in Seville, in order to procure intelligence of the time
the Spanish navy was expected from the Indies. They exclaimed against his
familiarity with the officers of the fleet, and many other English gentlemen,
between whom, they said, unusual civilities had passed, but all these
transactions had been carefully noticed.
Besides to sum up the whole, and put the truth past all doubt, they said
he came from a council of war, held that morning on board the admiral's ship,
in order to put in execution the orders assigned him. They upbraided him with
being accessory to the burning of the island of St. Thomas, in the West Indies.
"Wherefore (said they) these Lutherans, and sons of the devil, ought to have no
credit given to what they say or swear."
In vain did Mr. Lithgow endeavor to obviate every accusation laid against
him, and to obtain belief from his prejudiced judges. He begged permission to
send for his cloak bag which contained his papers, and might serve to show his
innocence. This request they complied with, thinking it would discover some
things of which they were ignorant. The cloak bag was accordingly brought, and
being opened, among other things, was found a license from King James the
First, under the sign manual, setting forth the bearer's intention to travel
into Egypt; which was treated by the haughty Spaniards with great contempt. The
other papers consisted of passports, testimonials, etc., of persons of quality.
All these credentials, however, seemed rather to confirm than abate the
suspicions of these prejudiced judges, who, after seizing all the prisoner's
papers, ordered him again to withdraw.