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Tomás de Torquemada[a] (October 14, 1420 - September 16, 1498), also anglicized as Thomas of Torquemada, was a Castilian Dominicanfriar 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.
Torquemada was born on October 14, 1420, either in Valladolid, in the Kingdom of Castile, or in the nearby village of Torquemada.  He came from a family of conversos (converts from Judaism); his uncle, Juan de Torquemada, was a celebrated theologian and cardinal, whose grandmother was a conversa. The 15th Century chronicler Hernando del Pulgar, 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.
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, remained her closest ally and supporter and even advised her to marry King Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 to consolidate their kingdoms and form a power base he could draw on for his own purposes.
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. The Crown of Aragon had Dominican inquisitors almost continuously throughout much of the 14th and the 15th 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.
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. 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 and then hung in the parish church.[clarification needed]
The Treaty of Granada (1491), as negotiated at the final surrender of the Muslim state of Al-Andalus, clearly mandated protection of religious rights, 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. Approximately 50,000 other Jews received a Christian baptism to remain in Spain. Many of them, derogatorily dubbed "Marranos" by the Old Christian majority, secretly kept some of their Jewish traditions. 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. 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.
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 in the same manner as an auto-da-fé.
50 Fathoms, a tabletop RPG setting, featured Torquemada as its antagonist. After being sucked into an alternate dimension while on a boat, like many 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 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.
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.
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 by Gomez: When discussing an antique chair with Mal Beineke, Gomez states: "Fifteenth Century. 'The Heretic's Chair,' once owned by Tomas de Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor of Madrid."
Torquemada was also regularly referenced in comedy sketches by Monty Python with the line "nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" said by a red befrocked cardinal leaping into an unrelated comedy sketch once the line "I wasn't expecting that" was innocently delivered. He first appeared in the episode "The Spanish Inquisition" in season 2 aired in 1970 by BBC.