The Ponderings of a Heretic…Part 1

In an errant moment of boastfulness I recently revealed in conversation that I had ‘read’ Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which, as a vital component of S.J. Parris’s novel Heresy, earmarked me as the perfect candidate to write a blog relating to the Inquisition [at least in the eyes of my betters and superiors]. Not that I have any problem with the actual writing of the blog. The difficulty lies more in the realization that assailed me when I first sat down to write; that a book that I had read briefly for a teenage history project had seeped from my memory.

Thus, I must profess that my knowledge of the Inquisition is in fact a rather thread-bare patchwork of knowledge picked up through reading books such as Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Bernard Cornwell’s Grail Quest Trilogy and S.J. Parris’s Heresy, and the crumbs of information that remain from my AS Level History course about Ferdinand and Isabella [the Spanish monarchs responsible for the Spanish – unsurprisingly – variation of the Inquisition].

And when I weighed up what information this left me with, I must admit to having been slightly disturbed by most of it being related to various macabre forms of torture that the Inquisition are purported to have used on those unlucky enough to have been suspected of being heretics.

Subsequently, whilst I have been ‘researching’ this blog entry, my course has repeatedly drifted to torture, and much of the talk with members of the Crime and Thriller department has dissolved into trying to outdo one another with their knowledge of varied vicious tortures [although, I suppose that by dint of the genre in which they operate this familiarity with techniques of torment is unsurprising].

Thus, while this blog will attempt to relay the information I have discovered on the history of the Inquisition, in all probability it will probably end up with me explaining various forms of torture that have caught my eye [not literally] or made me sick.

Thomas Stofer

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