A state within the state: The Inquisition in enlightenment thought

Autores: Domínguez Fernández, Juan Pablo
Título de la revista: HISTORY OF EUROPEAN IDEAS
ISSN: 0191-6599
Volumen: 43
Número: 4
Páginas: 376 - 388
Fecha de publicación: 2017
Enlightenment thinkers wrote many pages against the Inquisition. In particular, they widely criticized the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions, which they regarded as the epitomes of cruelty and fanaticism. Both inquisitions were established at royal request and remained subjected to the authority of the kings until they were abolished at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Indeed, therein the kings nominated the grand inquisitors, who were invested with civil jurisdiction for reasons that were at least as much political as religious. However, Enlightenment writers almost always portrayed the Inquisition as the ultimate example of the many ills derived from clerical authority, ecclesiastical autonomy and monastic despotism. Kings and civil magistrates were, in fact, usually depicted as victims of inquisitorial power. This common portrayal of the Inquisition reveals that the Enlightenment idea of toleration was essentially constructed for reducing the power of churches to disturb public peace and challenge civil authority. Thus, this idea of toleration was in effect less capable of denouncing political intolerance, let alone of promoting the separation of church and state.