Tomás de Torquemada

Tomás de Torquemada[a] OP (October 14, 1420 – September 16, 1498) was a Castilian Dominican friar and first Grand Inquisitor in Spain's movement to homogenize religious practices with those of the Catholic Church in the late 15th century, otherwise known as the Spanish Inquisition, which resulted in the expulsion from Spain of thousands of people of Jewish and Muslim faith and heritage.

Mainly because of persecution, Muslims and Jews in Spain at that time found it socially, politically, and economically expedient to convert to Catholicism (see Converso, Morisco, and Marrano).[1] The existence of superficial converts (i.e., Crypto-Jews)[2] was perceived by the Spanish monarchs of that time (King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella) as a threat to the religious and social life of Spain.[3] This led Torquemada, who himself had converso ancestors,[4][5][6] to be one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree that expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492.

Tomás de Torquemada
Tomás de Torquemada
BornOctober 14, 1420
DiedSeptember 16, 1498 (aged 77)
Ávila, Kingdom of Castile
OccupationGrand Inquisitor
  • Don Pedro Ferdinando, lord of Torquemada (father)
RelativesJuan de Torquemada (cardinal) (uncle)


Early life

Torquemada was born on October 14, 1420, either in Valladolid, in the Kingdom of Castile,[7] or in the nearby village of Torquemada[8][9] He came from a family of conversos (converts from Judaism); his uncle, Juan de Torquemada, was a celebrated theologian and cardinal,[4] whose grandmother was a conversa. The 15th Century chronicler, Hernando del Pulgar, who was a contemporary to de Torquemada, and himself a converso, recorded that Tomás de Torquemada's uncle, Juan de Torquemada, had an ancestor, Álvar Fernández de Torquemada, who was married to a first-generation conversa.[5][6]

Torquemada entered the local San Pablo Dominican monastery at a very young age. As a zealous advocate of church orthodoxy, he earned a solid reputation for learning, piety, and austerity. As a result, he was promoted to prior of the monastery of Santa Cruz at Segovia. Around this time, he met the young Princess Isabella I, and the two immediately established religious and ideological rapport. For a number of years, Torquemada served as her regular confessor and personal advisor. He was present at Isabella's coronation in 1474, and remained her closest ally and supporter. He even advised her to marry King Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469, in order to consolidate their kingdoms and form a power base he could draw on for his own purposes.[10]

Establishment of the Holy Office of the Inquisition

Torquemada deeply feared the Marranos and Moriscos as a menace to Spain's welfare by both their increasing religious influence, and their economic domination of Spain.[5] The Crown of Aragon had Dominican inquisitors almost continuously throughout much of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella petitioned Pope Sixtus IV to grant their request for a Holy Office to administer an inquisition in Spain. The Pope granted their request, and established the Holy Office for the Propagation of the Faith in late 1478. The papal bull gave the sovereigns full powers to name inquisitors. Rome retained the right to formally appoint the royal nominees. Henry Charles Lea observed that the Spanish Inquisition in both Castile and Aragon remained firmly under Ferdinand's direction throughout the joint reign.[11]

Grand Inquisitor

The Pope went on to appoint a number of inquisitors for the Spanish Kingdoms in early 1482, including Torquemada. A year later he was named Grand Inquisitor of Spain, which he remained until his death in 1498. In the fifteen years under his direction, the Spanish Inquisition grew from the single tribunal at Seville to a network of two dozen Holy Offices.[12] As Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada reorganized the Spanish Inquisition (originally based in Castile in 1478), establishing tribunals in Sevilla, Jaén, Córdoba, Ciudad Real, and (later) Saragossa. His quest was to rid Spain of all heresy. The Spanish chronicler, Sebastián de Olmedo, called him "the hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the savior of his country, the honor of his order."

Torquemada saw that the condemned were made to wear a sanbenito, a penitential garment worn over clothing, bearing a design that specified the type of penitence, if any. One type, worn by those sentenced to death, had designs of hell's flames, or sometimes demons, dragons, and/or snakes on it. Another type had a cross, and was worn instead of imprisonment, then hung in the parish church.

The Treaty of Granada (1491), as negotiated at the final surrender of the Muslim state of Al-Andalus, clearly mandated protection of religious rights,[13] but this was reversed just over 3 months later by the Alhambra Decree of March 31, 1492. Under the new Decree, approximately 40,000 Jews were expelled from Spain with only their personal possessions. Another approximately 50,000 Jews received a Christian baptism so as to remain in Spain; many of these, derogatorily dubbed "Marranos" by the Old Christian majority, secretly kept some of their Jewish traditions.[14]They were one of the chief targets of the Inquisition, but it also pursued anyone who would criticize it.

There are various estimates of the number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition during Torquemada's reign as Grand Inquisitor. It is thought unlikely that there were more than 2,000 executed for heresy. Hernando del Pulgar, Queen Isabella's secretary, wrote that 2,000 executions took place throughout the entirety of her reign, which extended well beyond Torquemada's death.[15]


During his final years, Torquemada's failing health, coupled with widespread complaints, caused Pope Alexander VI to appoint four assistant inquisitors in June 1494 to restrain the Spanish Inquisition. After fifteen years as Spain's Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada died in the monastery of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ávila on September 16, 1498, and was interred there. His tomb was ransacked in 1832—only two years before the Inquisition was finally disbanded. His bones were allegedly stolen and ritually incinerated as though an auto-da-fé took place.[16]

In fiction

  • 50 Fathoms, a tabletop RPG setting, featured Torquemada as its antagonist. After being sucked into an alternate dimension while on a boat, like may other humans of earth from the golden age of sail, Torquemada re-establishes the inquisition and ruthlessly hunts down mages across the drowning fantasy land of the Caribdus.
  • Torquemada, a historical novel by Howard Fast.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov features a parable involving Christ coming back to Seville in the days of the Spanish Inquisition, and being confronted by Torquemada as the Grand Inquisitor.
  • Torquemada, a play by Victor Hugo.
  • Tomás de Torquemada is one of the main protagonists of Jerzy Andrzejewski's novel And Darkness Covered the Earth (also translated as The Inquisitors).
  • Tomás de Torquemada is one of the main characters of Gilbert Sinoué's novel Le livre de saphir.
  • Mel Brooks portrayed Torquemada in the musical number "The Inquisition" in the 1981 comedy film History of the World, Part I.
  • Torquemada is the name of the primary antagonist in the comic series Nemesis the Warlock by Pat Mills. This future Torquemada is later revealed to be an incarnation of the original Torquemada. Mills also featured Torquemada in the graphic novel series Requiem Chevalier Vampire.
  • Lance Henriksen portrays a fictionalized Torquemada in the 1991 horror film The Pit and the Pendulum.
  • Marlon Brando portrayed Torquemada in the 1992 film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.
  • Torquemada appears on chapter 4 of the Spanish historical fiction television series El Ministerio del Tiempo.
  • Tomás de Torquemada is one of the main antagonists of a movie based on the video game franchise Assassin's Creed, portrayed by the Spanish actor Javier Gutierrez. He is also the main antagonist of the 2009 Nintendo DS and iOS spin-off game Assassin's Creed II: Discovery.
  • In Requiem Chevalier Vampire (Requiem the Vampire Knight in the English version), Grand Inquisitor Torquemada is featured as the leader of the Werewolves—religious fanatics in life, their hatred incarnates them as wild beasts upon Resurrection.
  • Torquemada makes a short but important appearance in Chapter Seventeen of The Black Castle, Book One of the "Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles" by Les Daniels.
  • God Emperor of Dune, Leto II Atreides, God Emperor speaks of Torquemada to his Major Domo Moneo Atreides: "In the shadow of every religion lurks a Torquemada," Leto said. "You have never encountered that name because I caused it to be expunged from all records." "Why was that, Lord?" "He was an obscenity. He made living torches out of people who disagreed with him." ..."Torquemada, however, delighted in commending to his god the agonized screams of his burning victims."
  • Tom Torquemada is the name taken by the devil, in the form of a game show host, in Brooke McEldowney's comic series Pibgorn.
  • Referenced in 'The Addams Family Musical in Act 1, Scene 7: "Fifteenth Century. 'The Heretic's Chair,' once owned by Tomas de Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor of Madrid."


  1. ^ English: Thomas of Torquemada. Pronounced /ˌtɔːrkəˈmɑːdə/ Spanish: [toɾkeˈmaða].



  1. ^ "Marrano", Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^ "Crypto-Jews", My Jewish Learning Archived 2014-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Ott, Michael (1912). "Tomás de Torquemada" . In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ a b "Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout". World Digital Library. 1479. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  5. ^ a b c Falk, Avner. A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996, p.508 ISBN 0838636608
  6. ^ a b "Tomas de Torquemada", Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2004
  7. ^ von Dehsen, Christian (2013). Philosophers and Religious Leaders. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 9781135951023.
  8. ^ Gerli, E. Michael (2013). Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 794. ISBN 9781136771620.
  9. ^ Whitechapel, Simon (2003). Flesh Inferno: Atrocities of Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition. Creation Books. p. 52. ISBN 9781840681055.
  10. ^ Fernando del Pulgar (1789). Claros varones de Castilla. G. Ortega.
  11. ^ Lea, Henry Charles. A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1906-07), 1:27-28
  12. ^ The Age of Torquemada, by John Edward Longhurst (1962), from (European University Institute)
  13. ^ Carr, Matthew (2009). Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain. New Press. pp. 51–57. ISBN 978-1-59558-361-1.
  14. ^ Wolf, A (1909). Life of Spinoza (Spinoza's Short Treatise on God, Man and his Well Being. London: Adam and Charles Black. pp. 4–5.
  15. ^ Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997), 60
  16. ^ Cullen Murphy, God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012


Catholic Church titles
New title
Office established
Grand Inquisitor
of Spain

Succeeded by
Diego Deza
Assassin's Creed (film)

Assassin's Creed is a 2016 American action film based on the video game franchise of the same name. The film is directed by Justin Kurzel, written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, and stars Michael Fassbender (who also produced), Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams.

The film is set in the same universe as the video games but features an original story that expands the series' mythology, taking place during the Spanish Inquisition. Filming began in late August 2015 and concluded in January 2016. Assassin's Creed was released on December 21, 2016, in the United States and France. It received negative reviews from critics, though some cited it as of higher quality than most videogame film adaptations. It grossed over $240 million worldwide against its $125 million budget.

Diego Deza

Diego de Deza (1444 – 9 June 1523) was a theologian and inquisitor of Spain. He was one of the more notable figures in the Spanish Inquisition, and succeeded Tomás de Torquemada to the post of Grand Inquisitor.

El Ministerio del Tiempo

El Ministerio del Tiempo, or The Ministry of Time, is a Spanish fantasy television series created by Javier and Pablo Olivares and produced by Onza Partners and Cliffhanger for Televisión Española. It premiered on 24 February 2015 on TVE's main channel La 1. The series follows the exploits of a patrol of the fictional Ministry of Time, which deals with incidents caused by time travel.

On 24 March 2015, it was confirmed that TVE had renewed the series for a second season. The show was renewed for a third season on 22 September 2016. On 29 December 2016 it was announced that RTVE had sold the rights to Netflix to broadcast the third series internationally, outside of Spain, resulting in a bigger production budget.At the Fun & Serious festival in December 2017, Javier Olivares reported that the show was not renewed for a fourth season. However, actor Jaime Blanch confirmed on December 30, 2018 about a new, fourth season being green lighted for broadcast sometime in 2019.

Grand Inquisitor

Grand Inquisitor (Latin: Inquisitor Generalis, literally Inquisitor General or General Inquisitor) was the lead official of the Inquisition. The title usually refers to the chief inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, even after the reunification of the inquisitions. Secretaries-general of the Roman Inquisition were often styled as Grand Inquisitor but the role and functions were different.

The most famous Inquisitor General was the Spanish Dominican Tomás de Torquemada, who spearheaded the Spanish Inquisition.

History of the World, Part I

History of the World, Part I is a 1981 American anthology comedy film written, produced, and directed by Mel Brooks. Brooks also stars in the film, playing five roles: Moses, Comicus the stand-up philosopher, Tomás de Torquemada, King Louis XVI, and Jacques, le garçon de pisse. The large ensemble cast also features Sid Caesar, Shecky Greene, Gregory Hines (in his film debut), Charlie Callas; and Brooks regulars Ron Carey, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Andreas Voutsinas, and Spike Milligan.

The film also has cameo appearances by Royce D. Applegate, Beatrice Arthur, Hugh Hefner, John Hurt, Phil Leeds, Barry Levinson, Jackie Mason, Paul Mazursky, Andrew Sachs and Henny Youngman, among others. Orson Welles narrates each story.

Despite carrying the title Part 1, there is no sequel; the title is a play on The History of the World, Volume 1 by Sir Walter Raleigh, as detailed below.


An inquisitor was an official (usually with judicial or investigative functions) in an Inquisition; an organization or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things contrary to the doctrine or teachings of the Catholic faith. Literally, an inquisitor is one who "searches out" or "inquires" (Latin inquirere < quaerere, "to seek").

Inri Cristo

Álvaro Thais (Portuguese: [ˈaɫvɐɾu ˈtajs], March 22, 1948), religious leader (although not taken seriously by many), called by his nickname Inri Cristo ([ˈĩʁi ˈkɾistu]). Álvaro is a Brazilian sometimes eccentric known in different parts of Brazil who is presented as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, even discredited by the media and churches. Before continuing his artistic career, Álvaro was created in the interior of Blumenau to the point that he became an audio operator on a radio in the region. Later went to Curitiba when it became famous by the action of its personage in humoristic television programs, getting to participate in an advertising campaign. The youngest son of his Theiss (original spelling) worked from an early age and by his descendant of Germans ended up inserting the accent while acting as Inri.Inri Cristo regularly participates in lively debates with religious figures, such as priest Óscar González-Quevedo (Cristo claims Fr Quevedo is the reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada), and also appears in interviews and comedy shows. His provocative statements about evolutionism, vegetarianism, overpopulation, birth control, abortion, atheism, socialism and capitalism, growth of overall disillusionment, and a potential World War Z have stirred much commentary and controversy.

Javier Gutiérrez Álvarez

Javier Gutiérrez Álvarez (born 17 January 1971) is a Spanish actor. He has appeared in more than fifty films since 1997.

He portaryed Falconetti in Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica (2013). He portrayed Tomás de Torquemada in Assassin's Creed (2016). He first declined it because he was filming El olivo, by Icíar Bollaín, but then he was convinced by the director Justin Kurzel in a Skype call. He portrayed the fictional character Sergeant Jimeno Costa in 1898: Los últimos de Filipinas (2016). He portrayed Álvaro in El autor (2017), for which he received the Goya Award for Best Actor.

Juan de Torquemada

Juan de Torquemada may refer to:

Juan de Torquemada (cardinal) (1388—1468), Spanish cardinal and ecclesiastical author; uncle to Inquisitor, Tomás de Torquemada

Fray Juan de Torquemada (ca. 1562—1624), Spanish Franciscan friar, missionary and historian of the New World

Llanto De Un Héroe

Llanto De Un Héroe ("Cry Of A Hero") is an album by the power metal band Avalanch, and the first one featuring Víctor García as the lead vocals. The lyrics talk about epic themes, such as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, Don Pelayo or Tomás de Torquemada the inquisitor. Also talks about Asturian leyends like "Cambaral" and echologist thematic like "Vientos del Sur", dedicadted to Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Nemesis the Warlock

Nemesis the Warlock is a comic series created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O'Neill which appeared in the pages of the British weekly comics anthology 2000 AD. The title character, a fire-breathing demonic alien, fights against the fanatical Torquemada, Grand Master of the Terran Empire in Earth's distant future, and his attempts to exterminate all alien life.

Sebastián de Olmedo

Sebastián de Olmedo was a contemporary Spanish chronicler during the early stages of the Spanish Inquisition. He is credited with describing Tomás de Torquemada as "The hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the honour of his order."

The Pit and the Pendulum (1991 film)

The Pit and the Pendulum (released on DVD in the United States as The Inquisitor) is a 1991 American horror film directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the eponymous short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The film is an amalgamation of the aforementioned story with other Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", and it also appropriates the anecdote of "The Sword of Damocles", reassigning it to the character of Torquemada.

Torquemada (comics)

Tomás de Torquemada is the fictional main villain in the comic strip Nemesis the Warlock, published in the British comic anthology 2000 AD. He eventually appeared in 7 episodes of spin-off adventures of his own. He is named after and inspired by the real life Tomás de Torquemada.

Torquemada (play)

Torquemada is an 1869 play by Victor Hugo about Tomás de Torquemada and the Inquisition in Spain. It criticized religious fanaticism and fanatical catholicism. It was first published in 1882, as a protest against antisemitic pogroms in Russia at the time.

Van Loon's Lives

Van Loon's Lives is a book by the Dutch-American writer Hendrik Willem van Loon published in 1942. Its full title, deliberately written in a manner already archaic at the time of writing, is Van Loon's Lives: Being a true and faithful account of a number of highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucius and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as dinner guests in a bygone year.Loosely based on the classical Plutarch's Lives, it recounts the biographies of various famous historical characters, and like Plutarch often pairing together characters from different times and places whose life, careers or personalities seemed to Van Loon to bear a similarity to each other (e.g. William the Silent and George Washington who led the Wars of Independence of their respective countries; the philosophers Descartes and Emerson; Empress Theodora of Byzantium and Queen Elizabeth I of England; Torquemada and Robespierre, of both of whom Van Loon had less than a flattering view...).

In the book the author imagines he is living in his summer home in the town of Veere on the island of Walcheren in the Dutch province of Zealand. He has the ability to summon the famous (and sometimes infamous) great men and women of history to come to dinner. The summoning is done in the prosaic way of leaving under a specific stone a note with the names of the persons they wish to meet that weekend, who duly make their appearance. This magical aspect places the book within the category of contemporary fantasy, though the term did not yet exist at the time it was published.

Chapters in the book typically start with Van Loon describing the lives of the people invited that week, with many digressions and idiosyncratic comments, opinions and comparisons with actual 20th century events - particularly with the doings of Hitler and Nazi Germany in general and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in particular, which was clearly very much on Van Loon's mind. This is followed by these people appearing in the 1930s provincial Netherlands and their interaction with modern people, in some cases consisting of polite and intellectually stimulating conversations, in other cases leading to humorous or hilarious results. (For example, the Archbishop of Bithynia and Archbishop of Cyrenaica, who were staunch theological foes during the 4th century Council of Nicea, wildly assault each other as soon as they are resurrected in the 20th century and run out into the streets of Veere, shouting abuse. A local policeman locks them up in separate cells, but by the next morning they had mysteriously disappeared...)

The book was written at the time when Veere, like the rest of the Netherlands, lay under Nazi occupation. Despite its light-hearted tone, the book clearly indicates the longing of the writer for his homeland whose liberation he was doomed never to see, having died in 1944. This is especially indicated in the book's dedication to the exiled Queen Juliana. Also, the book's plot is set in the late 1930s with the clouds of impending war clearly visible, and in its end the protagonists must flee the German invasion, bringing to an end their meetings with the people from the past.

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