Date of Graduation

Spring 2009


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

John Chuchiak


Spain, inquisition, Germany, Netherlands, protestants

Subject Categories



With the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in the 1520s, the emphasis of the Spanish Inquisition shifted away from prosecuting crypto-Jews and focused for the first time on persecuting Protestants. The increase in prosecution of suspected Protestants from the years 1520 to 1570 can be considered the Inquisition's Protestant phase. Nevertheless, this religious prosecution ran contrary to contemporary Spanish Imperial policy, which began to permit the residence of northern European foreigners (especially Germans and residents of the Spanish Netherlands) in both Spain and its New World possessions. Paradoxically, a 1526 edict from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared that all his Habsburg subjects were free to travel to and from the New World. Based on this tacit permission, Charles's Netherlandish subjects became accustomed to traveling in Spain and the New World at first unmolested by the Inquisition. The reality of the Inquisition's stepped up prosecution of foreign Protestants during the years 1520-1570 presented a sharp contrast to this supposed official policy of toleration. This relative freedom for Germans and Netherlanders in Spain quickly ended after the accession of Charles's son, Philip II, to the Spanish throne. Philip's hatred for those originating from Germany and the Low Countries translated directly into the direct persecution of Germans and Netherlanders by the Holy Office of the Inquisition. By examining surviving Inquisition records, Philip's hatred is revealed and it is quite clear that Germans and Netherlanders were singled out for unfair persecution by the Spanish monarchy and apparently the Spanish Inquisition served as Philip II's best weapon in his war against "the German nation."


© Samantha Louise Rohaus

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