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"In this completely updated edition of Henry Kamen's classic survey of the Spanish Inquisition, the author incorporates the latest research in multiple languages to offer a new-and thought-provoking-view of this fascinating period. Kamen sets the notorious Christian tribunal into the broader context of Islamic and Jewish culture in the Mediterranean, reassesses its consequences for Jewish culture, measures its impact on Spain's intellectual life, and firmly rebuts a variety of myths and exaggerations that have distorted understandings of the Inquisition. He concludes with disturbing reflections on the impact of state security organizations in our own time"-- Mention the Spanish Inquisition and immediately thoughts of brutal torture and callous witch-hunts spring to mind. Popular belief holds up this infamous institution as a symbol of religious and political intolerance--against the Protestants, Jews, Catholic heretics, and political orders such as the Knights Templar. Yet when Henry Kamen first wrote The Spanish Inquisition in 1965, he argued that the Inquisition was not as powerful or cruel as commonly conceived.
This updated version of Kamen's hypothesis continues and reaffirms his original arguments. In this edition, Kamen provides additional evidence derived mostly from monographic studies conducted by other scholars that separates myth from reality; Kamen suggests that the Inquisition did not enjoy widespread popularity, in Spain or the rest of Europe, and that it was used as a device to scare off enemies. He also concludes that the failure of the Spanish populace to accept Lutheran principles had more to do with popular indifference toward Protestantism than interference from the Inquisition. Though Kamen's book is occasionally lacking in social analysis, this revisionist overview of the Inquisition's impact on Europe is rich in detail and will appeal to anyone who has an interest in this period.