Voltaire's Candide Look At The Spanish (Holy) Inquisition

2156 words - 9 pages

Voltaire once said, “Of all religions, the Christian [religion] should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.” The quote was once true for the Catholic Church. Catholics have the ten commandments, one of them being, “Thou shalt not kill.” As long as the commandments are followed, it would guarantee a one way ticket to heaven. However, what if the Catholic Church and the Pope grant permission for thousands of innocent people to be killed or punished just because they have their own beliefs that do not follow those of the Catholic religion? In 1472, the Spanish rulers and the Catholic Church started the Spanish (Holy) Inquisition in Western Europe (mainly Spain and Portugal) to gain more political and religious power. Any heretics and non-believers were executed, tortured, or driven away. Thousands of innocent people were killed or harmed all because they did not follow the Catholic belief system. Voltaire is a famous enlightenment writer who wrote many well known poems, plays, and books. One of his most famous literary works is Candide. Candide is written by Voltaire to criticise the events that took place during the Spanish Inquisition. The fictional characters in the book make real life decisions and were stuck in realistic life situations. Voltaire wrote about actual things that happened in history and incorporated his views and opinions into the story (Barnes). Voltaire disagreed with the methods used by the Spanish rulers and the beliefs of the Catholic Church during the Spanish (Holy) Inquisition.
Voltaire and the Catholic church and Spanish rulers had very different beliefs and opinions. The Catholic Church rejected all ideas and philosophies that were different from the Catholic beliefs and philosophies (Voltaire 67). The Catholic Church called people who were baptised in the Catholic Church, but no longer followed the beliefs system, heretics (Freeman). True heretics refused to renounce their beliefs, even after being captured, tried, and punished (Freeman). The Catholic churches reason for granting permission to start the Holy Inquisition was to ‘purify’ the people and to gain more religious power (History Review). Pope Sixtus IV was the current Pope of the Catholic Church that granted permission to the Spanish Rulers to carry out the Spanish (Holy) Inquisition (Durant). He was elected in August 25, 1471 and reintroduced nepotism and appointed six of his nephews as Cardinals (“Influential People”). Pope Sixtus IV was known for transforming Rome from a medieval city to a Renaissance city by introducing brothels and taxing prostitutes (Wilcock). In 1472, he established the Spanish Inquisition after the Spanish rulers, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella requested it. They requested the Inquisition to gain more political power and ability to control using religion (Kreger). Thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Protestants were murdered because of the Inquisition (“Influential...

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