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The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision [Paperback]

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Item description for The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision by Henry Arthur Francis Kamen...

Thirty-five years ago, Kamen wrote a study of the Inquisition that received high praise. This present work, based on over 30 years of new research, is not simply a complete revision of the earlier book. Innovative in its presentation, point of view, information, and themes, it will revolutionize further study in the field.

Publishers Description
Since the sixteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition has been synonymous with terror, bigotry, and persecution. In this book, a renowned historian sweeps away old misconceptions and presents a new view of this notorious and fascinating period.

Henry Kamen reassesses the significance and consequences of the expulsion of the Jews and also argues that there is little evidence for the alleged Jewishness of the conversos who were the Inquisition's first victims. He presents a major revision of the impact of blood purity prejudices on Spanish society, revises the figures given for execution of heretics by the tribunal, and examines the amount of Spanish persecution in the context of executions in neighboring countries. He gives a completely new picture of the infamous censorship system, showing it to be much less effective than is often presented, and he investigates the role played by foreign propaganda in the creation of the diabolic image of the Inquisition. Kamen reconstructs the atmosphere of fear and oppression that typified the period, relating it to the fear generated by community tensions. He also demonstrates for the first time that the famous auto-da-fe was not a product of traditional Spanish piety but a deliberate tool of the inquisitors, invented in the sixteenth century in order to boost their political standing.

Thirty-five years ago Kamen wrote a study of the Inquisition that received high praise. This present work, based on over thirty years of new research, is not simply a complete revision of the earlier book. Innovative in its presentation, point of view, information, and themes, it will revolutionize further study in the field.

"An excellent, up-to-date overview ofthe Spanish Inquisition. It is certainly the best book on the subject currently available in English". -- Geoffrey Parker

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision by Henry Arthur Francis Kamen has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 115
  • New York Times - 08/29/1999 page 32
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1999 page 18
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 87

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   340
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 11, 1999
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300078803  
ISBN13  9780300078800  

Availability  0 units.

More About Henry Arthur Francis Kamen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Henry Kamen was until recently professor of the Higher Council for Scientific Research, Spain, and is Visiting Professor in the University of ChicagoAs programme in Barcelona. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. A leading authority on Spanish history, he is author of over twenty studies in the field, some of them best-sellers that have been translated into several languages. Recent well-known works by him include "The Spanish Inquisition (Yale University Press, 1999)," "Philip of Spain (Yale University Press, 1998), "and "Spain""As Road to Empire (Allen Lane, 2002)."

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Spain
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Western
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General
5Books > Subjects > History > World
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Church History
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Reviews - What do customers think about The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision?

revisionist scholarship  Jun 6, 2008
It's been some time since I read this book but it is one of the tomes I used in researching my novels--"Skull Rack" and "Hummingbird God"--covering the Italian Wars, the Second Inquisition and, most importantly, the Conquest of Mexico. Judging by the way I've marked up my copy, I found it adequate to my purposes. The history is also readable and not overly turgid.

On the other hand, revisionism is rightly suspect. You know how it goes...Tyrannosaurs and sabre-tooths were lazy carrion eaters; Davy Crockett chickened out at the Alamo; Jesus was black; Churchill was a homosexual pedophile; sharks and wolves never actually bite people etc. etc. etc. One of the best ways to get recognized is to come up with a theory--no matter how ridiculous--that flies in the face of common belief.

At the same time, much of what we think we know, is clearly incorrect. The Second Inquisition was probably not quite as lethal as most of us have come to believe. It really didn't have to. There's an old Spanish proverb: "Punish one and a hundred are punished." The Inquisition operated on this principle. Only a few died but thousands were terrified. In the end, Islamic and Jewish practices were all but totally wiped out; "witchcraft" was suppressed and protestantism kept a safe distance.

Santo Oficio lasted centuries, permeated every segment of society and assumed forms that Torquemada could have never imagined. At the same time, subsequent political systems eclipsed the Inquisition in terms of torture, terror and slaughter.

Ron Braithwaite
Excellent history book  Apr 8, 2008
Contrary to some prejudiced reviewers who erroneously think that Kamen is attempting to justify or downplay the Spanish Inquisition, this book is actually a major work of historical scholarship. It is fascinating to learn the real story of what happened (and yes, it is quite barbaric by modern standards, though not nearly so horrific as the Black Legend would have us believe) since the Spanish Inquisition holds such a place of horror in the minds of average people today, who don't read history books. The book is very long and erudite, but if you are interested in learning about the facts of the Spanish Inquisition, you pretty much have to read this book.

As for putting to death the Black Legend, I'm afraid this book will do little, because mostly only scholars are going to read it. Certainly not anti-Catholics who twist history to suit their agenda.
superior  Nov 3, 2006
the votes for how helpful this review is are for a previous review that i have since deleted. this book is simply fascinating. especially for the reader with a generalized understanding of the spanish inquisition, it offers innumerable corrections to common misconceptions about the roles jews played in spain, the history of the new christians and the conversos and many other details. i guarantee that any student of history, after reading this book, will rank it among their favorites.
Crimes of faith  Aug 29, 2004
I read this book about six months ago and as I recall it was very informative. However I should say it is important to not base one's beliefes on just one source. The inquistion is serious subject that deserves indepth research. This book source I felt was more to do with appologetics than showing how religious dogma can be used to justify crimes against humanity.
Fine Starter for Bewildering Period  Jun 18, 2004
I own a reprint of Kamen's original book of this title and the revised history book and they are superb starters for the period in question. Previous histories of the Spanish Inquisition focused on the more salacious anecdotal evidence. Lea's masterful book, long the standard, is terribly flawed because of his research. Lea's sources were largely English and French. England was a Protestant country that was at war with Catholic Spain and France, an emerging (Catholic) power was envious of Spain and needed to drive it down for colonial purposes in the new world. Therefore, Lea's sources were largely based on the propaganda of rivals. A previous review recommended books by Jean Plaidy, but Plaidy (aka Victoria Holt, etc) is a novelist. I have not read Plaidy's works so cannot assess them. I don't even know if they are novels. And in the past novelists have written servicable histories. But a novelist will still have his eye on the salacious, trying to shape raw facts into a story (if they use primary sources at all). There is no conflict of interest in using Vatican sources for the Inquisition as the Spanish Inquisition was Catholic, although a case may be made that it was guided more by "secular" governmental authorities (Torquemada was the confessor of Isabella of Aragon before being head of the inquisition). It's always hard to find that things one always believed are incorrect, and Kamen's presentation of the Spanish Inquisition may shatter long-held illusions. (I'm surprised the reviewer who recommended the Plaidy book didn't say Kamen was wrong because he didn't say Inquisitors had to be clad in red, wear flight goggles, and that Kamen never mentioned the dreaded Comfy Chair. Kamen presents a Spanish Inquisition Nobody Expects!

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