Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

F. Thornton Miller


inquisition, Spain, France, Protestant, persecution

Subject Categories



During the years after the Protestant Reformation, which began in 1517, both Catholic France and Catholic Spain dealt with the important issue of Protestant heresy in their realms. The main scope of this thesis is a comparative analysis of Spanish and French persecution of Protestants, mainly focusing on the years 1550-1650. This thesis argues that the Spanish Inquisition was the determining factor in Spain's efficient and relatively bloodless suppression of Protestantism. In comparison, France's failure to institute an inquisition resulted in political destabilization and violence, inefficient persecution of heresy, and the devastating Wars of Religion. This study also explores the political and religious factors which allowed for the creation of an inquisition in Spain, yet prevented the French kings from installing a similar institution. This thesis addresses in detail the political and cultural factors that prevented the installation of an official French Inquisition. The findings of this study revealed that the Inquisition in Spain led to the relatively bloodless prosecution of Protestants, whereas the lack of such an institution in France created an unstable political environment that led to the growth of Protestant movements and the Wars of Religion. This thesis addresses several fields, including Early Modern Europe, religious conflict, the Reformation, the Spanish Inquisition (Spain and New Spain), and legal/constitutional history (dealing with court jurisdiction).


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