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The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision Hardcover – Mar 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st ed thus edition (Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300075227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300075229
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.7 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,229,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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London published History

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In the west: Portugal, a small but expanding society of under a million people, their energies directed to the sea and the first fruits of trade and colonisation in Asia. Read the first page
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on 19 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Henry Kamen's The Spanish Inquisition is an amazing experience. It is a highly detailed, supremely scholarly and ultimately enlightening account of an historical phenomenon whose identity and reputation have become iconic. So much has been written about it, so many words have been spoken that one might think that there is not too much new to be learned. But this is precisely where Kamen's book really comes into its own, for it reveals the popular understanding of the Inquisition as little more than myth.

He explodes the notion that the busy-bodies of inquisitors had their nose in everyone's business. It was actually quite a rare event for someone to be called before it. And in addition, if you lived away from a small number of population centres, the chances were that that you would hardly even have known of its existence.

Also exploded is the myth of large numbers of heretics being burned at the stake. Yes, it happened, but in nowhere near the numbers that popular misconceptions might claim. Indeed, the more common practice was to burn the convicted in effigy, since the accused had fled sometimes years before the judgment, or they might have died in prison while waiting for the case to reach its conclusion. The intention is not to suggest that the inquisition's methods were anything but brutal, but merely to point out that perceptions of how commonly they were applied are often false.

Henry Kamen skilfully describes how the focus of interest changed over the years. Initially the main targets were conversos, converts to Christianity, families that were once Jewish or Muslim who converted to Christianity during the decades that preceded the completion in 1492 of Ferdinand and Isabella's reconquest.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J A Buchanan on 12 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
As a newcomer to the subject I found this a well written and apparently balanced approach to the subject. It shows an awareness of the stereotyped image of the inquisition but doesn't become obsessed with attacking or defending it. Instead it offers an overall survey, complete with helpful rather than cumbersome figures and an excellent use of colourful quotes.
Having presented this overall introduction it then goes on to describe how the stereotype has been produced over the decades. This works well as the final chapter - giving a background to Kamen's account and the image of the Inquisition but avoiding the 'for and against' argument dominating the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my History A Level course of many years ago the 'Golden Age" of Spain did not enjoy a good press. From the perspective of the very angloc-centric view of history that was served to us, the Spanish along with 'Bloody Mary' threatened to plunge England back into medieval darkness and were of course the unrepentant villains of the Armada, from which we were rescued by 'Good Queen Bess'. Beyond Britain the arrival and efficient use of the printing press in the Protestant Northern Europe of this time, ensured that the 'Black Legend' was shared by all right thinking people. Within this received view it was hardly surprising that the dark deeds of the Spanish Inquisition only served to confirm all our worst fears, as was made iconically clear for a whole generation by the Monty Python team.

But History is surely interesting precisely because time moves on and we are eventually forced to take a longer view. Henry Kamen needs little introduction as one of the great scholars of Spanish history. The history of the Catholic Church in Spain is still painfully intertwined with recent history , so it is good that it is an outsider who approaches this difficult subject. This is revisionist history but is not an attempt at whitewash. It would be difficult to claim too positive a re-reading of the Inquisition, and he does not in my opinion try to seduce us with this. What Kamen does seek to do is to set his subject in the context of the excessive religiously inspired violence going on at this time throughout Europe in both Catholic and Protestant countries. Nowhere is this a pretty picture. The study does not just deal with punishment.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book arrived in just a few days after purchase.
It is a lovely book with a very nice hard backed sleeve to keep it in.
An excellent price, and it actually looks brand new.
Great service all round - Thank You
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By Andrew Coates on 7 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book in good condition
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