Inquisizione spagnola: numero di vittime

Dizionario di eretici, dissidenti e inquisitori nel mondo mediterraneo
Edizioni CLORI | Firenze | ISBN 978-8894241600 | DOI 10.5281/zenodo.1309444

Spanish Inquisition: number of victims
by Tomasz Karlikowski

The number of the people tried and executed by the Spanish Inquisition is one of the most controversial topic in the historiography about this institution.

The first one who had tried to calculate the number of victims of Spanish Inquisition was Juan Antonio Llorente. He proposed the following numbers: 31.912 executions in persona, 17.659 in effigie and 291.450 penanced between 1481 and 1808 throughout all Spain, but excluding the tribunals in America and Italy [Llorente, IV: 242-273]. During the 19th century, some historians accepted or slightly modified these numbers, but many have criticized them. Pius Bonifatius Gams OFM estimated 2.000 executions for heresy between 1481 and 1504, and then another 2.000 for the period up to 1758. Henry Charles Lea, writing in 1906, severely criticized Llorente’s statistics as arbitrary and exaggerated, but felt himself unable to propose his own numbers due to incompleteness of inquisitorial archives, especially for the first century of Inquisition. He only expressed the hope, that „researches of future students will doubtless in time compile tolerably complete statistics for the second and third centuries of the Inquisition, after the Suprema had compelled the tribunals to render periodical reports” [Lea, IV: 523-524].

Lea’s hopes have been realised in 1970s by Gustav Henningsen and Jaime Contreras. They based their reaserches on relaciones de causas (annual reports for Suprema) and published the following statistics for the period 1540–1700: 44.674 recorded formal trials, with 1.604 death sentences, including 826 executions in persona and 778 in effigie. These figures have been widely cited in the literature and formed a start point for some modern estimates of the total number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition. However, they are often wrongly presented as complete statistics for the period 1540–1700, although the authors themselves noted several gaps in the series of relaciones de causas. Contreras in his study about the tribunal of Galicia suggested ca. 69.000 trials [Contreras 1982: 449], while Henningsen in later revision of the initial statistics calculated around 87.269 trials in this period.

Some modern estimates of the total number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition have been summarized by Andrea Del Col in Dizionario Storico dell’Inquisizione, vol. III, p. 1699:
*Ricardo Garcia Carcel estimated 120.000–150.000 trials with 3,5% rate of executions (4.200–5.250);
*Jean Pierre Dedieu estimated 200.000 trials, 1/3 of them before 1530, with no more than 10.000 executions, 4/5 of them in the first 30 years (1480–1510) [Dedieu 1987: 85]
*Joseph Perez estimated 125.000 trials with fewer than 10.000 executions [Joseph Perez, The Spanish Inquisition. A History, Yale University Press 2006: 173].

Del Col himself accepted the estimation of Dedieu with regard to the number of trials (200.000, including 70.000 before 1530; he accepted also the Henningsen’s calculation of 87.269 trials in 1540–1700), but believed that the number of executions was higher. He assumed the 15% rate of executions in persona before 1530 and accepted 1,8% rate of executions for the period 1540–1700. This would mean 10.500 executions in the first period and 1.600 in the second period, bringing the total to 12.100. However, Del Col’s calculation seems to ignore well over a hundred executions that took place after 1700 as well as unknown and difficult to estimate number of executions in 1530s.

Some historians limited their estimations to the executions alone, without estimating the number of trials:
*Jaime Contreras in the BBC film Myth of the Spanish Inquisition (1994) gave the number of between 3.000 and 5.000 executions;
*William Monter in Frontiers of Heresy. The Spanish Inquisition from the Basque Land to Sicily proposed even lower number: 2.750, including 1.500 until 1530, 1.000 between 1530 and 1630 and 250 between 1630 and 1730. However, in one later article Monter raised the estimate for the earliest period to around 2.000 [cf. Monter 2008: 266].
*Henry Kamen indicates that no more than 3.000 persons were executed by the Spanish Inquisition, and ca. 2.000 died in the first forty years [Kamen: ch. 9]

One may add also the estimates restricted to the first 50 years of the activity of Spanish Inquisition (cited from David Martin Gitlitz, Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews, p. 75). Caro Baroja estimated 50.000 trials, while Dominguez Ortiz – 25.000 trials. William Monter estimated 50.000 trials with 2.000 executions in persona and 2.000 condemned to death in absentia [Monter 2008: 266]. These are substantially lower numbers than 70.000 trials and between 8.000 and 10.500 executions proposed by Dedieu and Del Col.

To evaluate these various estimates, one has to begin with collecting all available statistics and all available information about executions. For the purpose of this review, the history of the Spanish Inquisition can be divided into three periods:
*Initial phase (1480–1530s)
*Period of relaciones de causas (1540–1699)
*the final phase (1700–1820), further subdivided into the periods 1700–1746 and 1746–1820.

Initial phase (1480–1530s)

Initial phase is most difficult to estimate. Most of the trial records are lost and majority of the available statistics are based on the accounts of autos da fe. Although for some tribunals (e.g. Zaragoza, Toledo, Barcelona) we’ve got reach collections of such accounts, for some others there are only fragmentary or none at all.

Kingdom of Castile

Seville – according to contemporary reports, several hundred conversos were burned and several thousand penanced. Bernaldez gives the number of over 600 burned and 5.000 penanced up to 1488, the declaration in the statute of limpieza de sangre of the Seville’s cathedral chapter of 1515 gives the number of 600 burned and over 6.000 penanced in the years 1481–1515, the anonymous inscription dated 1524 gives the number of ca. 1.000 burned and 20.000 penanced, while Geronimo Zurita – over 4.000 burned and over 30.000 penanced up to 1524. These early accounts have been partially verified by modern historians Klaus Wagner and Beatrice Perez. The latter historian concluded, that between 1481 and 1524 Inquisition of Seville pronounced 4.924 sentences. Among them, there were 659 death sentences, including 613 in persona and 46 in effigie. Klaus Wagner, basing solely on the accounts of autos da fe in notarial archives, found only 248 executions out of 954 sentences up to 1524 [Béatrice Pérez, Inquisition, pouvoir, société. La province de Séville et ses judéo-convers sous les Rois Catholiques, Paris, Champion, 2007; Wagner 1981].
We know also, that in the years 1494–1496 as many as 6.204 people were pardoned in the whole archdiocese of Seville, though it must be remembered that among them were not only defendants but also the heirs of the burned conversos or of the dead penitents and those who had been reconciled under Edicts of Grace and not subject to the formal trials [Martz: 66].

Cordoba – there are fragmentary sources referring to the activity of Inquisition between 1483 and 1516. We know about 264 executions in persona, 24 executions in effigie, 14 other sentences and at least 10 reconciliations under Edicts of Grace. However, in 1497 as many as 1.519 conversos sought commutations of the previous penances, although this number includes also the heirs of the deceased as well as those reconciled under Edicts of Grace [Cuadro García; Martz: 66].

Ciudad Real and Toledo – according to 16th century historian Luis Paramo, Inquisition at Ciudad Real between 1483 and 1485 condemned to death 272 persons, including 52 condemnations in persona and 220 in effigie, in addition to 183 reconciliations under Edict of Grace. The context suggests that these numbers refer to the years 1483-85, when Ciudad Real was the main seat of the tribunal for archdiocese of Toledo. There exist an alphabetical list of the persons condemned by the Inquisition at Ciudad Real between 1483 and 1535, which confirm 39 relaxations in persona and 119 in effigie during these two first years. However, the same list includes at least 48 burnings in in Ciudad Real (33 in persona and 15 in effigie) during visitations of inquisitors of Toledo between 1485 and 1535, as well as 39 burnings (20 in persona and 19 in effigie) at unknown date between 1484 and 1535. [cf. Fita 1892; Delgado Merchán]
After moving the main seat of the court from Ciudad Real to Toledo, it reconciled at least 5.200 people under Edicts of Grace between 1485 and 1487. The account of autos da fe celebrated in that city between 1486 and 1501 recorded 247 executions in persona, well over 500 executions in effigie and probably over 200 condemnations to imprisonment. [Fita 1887; Martz: 63-64]
Adding up these numbers, we would achieve the number of at least 339 executions in persona and perhaps ca. 800 in effigie, but it should be considered as minimal estimate. According to Jean Pierre Dedieu, this tribunal between 1483 and 1530 conducted 2.874 formal trials. [Dedieu 1992: 242]

Jaen – the archive of this tribunal is entirely lost. However, we know that in the subdistrict of Ubeda 256 persons were reconciled and 53 burned. We know also about the one execution in effigy in 1488. Between 1503 and 1508, over 200 people were arrested and some of them were burned. At least one additional burning took place in 1510. There are also reports of great number of condemnations post mortem in this district but the exact numbers remain unknown [Luis Coronas Tejada, Judíos y judeoconversos en el reino de Jaén, Jaén 2003: 95; Roth: 240]

Cuenca and Siguenza – there were 2.932 trials up to 1550, in addition to 471 reconciliations under Edicts of Grace. There were 257 executions in person and 341 in effigie [Jiménez Monteserín & Martínez López].

Avila – during ten years of its activity (1490–1500) this tribunal burned in persona 68 defendants (including two Jews), burned in effigie another 37 (including 36 dead and 1 absentee) and reconciled 72 persons [Fita 1889: 332-346].

Salamanca – contemporary sources mention only one execution in persona in 1488 and several condemnations to various penances in 1490 [Roth: 249]

Segovia – we know of at least one execution in persona in 1490 [Roth: 248-249]

Burgos – there were at least 32 executions in persona and 5 in effigie, and at least 10 reconciliations, before 1551, including 20 in persona and 5 in effigie in the auto da fe celebrated ca. 1493 [Munoz Solla]

Murcia – catalogue of trials of this tribunal prepared by Juan Blazquez Miguel mentions only eleven trials before 1540, including one execution in persona, nine in effigie and one condemnation to a fine. Without doubt, this catalogue is dramatically incomplete [Blazquez Miguel 1987]. Besides, between 1488 and 1491 as many as 239 conversos were reconciled under Edicts of Grace, and between 1495 and 1497 several hundred people were absolved of some sanctions imposed on them due to their condemnations or condemnations of their parents by the Inquisition (some of them were referred to as children of those executed) [Diego Antonio Reinaldos Miñarro, “Los judeoconversos y las primeras intervenciones inquisitoriales en el obispado de Cartagena a fines del siglo XV”, available on].

Osma – book of denunciations of this short-lived tribunal (1486–1491) have been partially preserved. 318 conversos were denounced during the periods of Grace. We know that there were some executions at Aranda, allegedly on the basis of false testimonies, but their number is not known [John Edwards, Religious Faith and Doubt in Late Medieval Spain: Soria circa 1450-1500 in: Past and Present, No. 120., Aug. 1988, 3-25].

Diocese of Calahorra – according to the account of Llorente this tribunal burned about thirty witches in 1507. More recent research established, that probably only eleven witches were burned, seven others were burned in effigy and six were reconciled in 1507–1508 [Iñaki BAZÁN DÍAZ, Superstición y brujería en el Duranguesado a fines de la Edad Media: ¿Amboto 1507?, Clio & Crimen, no. 8 (2011): 191-224]. We know also of the execution of English Protestant in Bilbao in 1539 [Monter 1990: 146].

Valladolid – there is a contemporary account of the first auto da fe, that took place in 1489. Eighteen conversos were burned in persona while four others were burned in effigie. The often ascribed to the Inquisition of Valladolid auto da fe of 5 January 1492 was actually celebrated by the Inquisition of Cordoba [see Cronicón de Valladolid, ed. Pedro Sáinz de Baranda, Imp. de la Viuda de Calero 1848: 179-180, 187].

Canaries – up to 1540, eight persons were burned in persona and ten others in effigie, out of 330 trials [Lea SD: 155 n. 2-3]

District of Estremadura – tribunal for this district was initially an itinerary one and conducted investigations in very different locations. In Guadalupe (1485) 71 persons were burned in person, 45 were burned in effigie (including 13 condemned in absentia and 32 post mortem) , 17 persons were condemned to imprisonment, 38 were banished, 18 received spiritual penances, 3 were reconciled and 4 absolved, while for thirty others the sentence is not recorded [Starr-LeBeau 2003: 169; Starr LeBeau 2017: 59; cf. Dedieu in Bennassar: 34]. In Belalcazar (1486) 323 persons were reconciled under Edicts of Grace, while 110 were subject to formal trials. 31 persons were burned in person, 76 in effigie (including 60 dead and 16 absentees) and 3 were probably penanced though their sentences are not recorded [Dedieu in Bennassar: 34; Starr LeBeau 2003: 172]. In auto da fe celebrated in Ciudad Rodrigo in 1491 at least three persons were burned in persona, six in effigie and at least three were reconciled [Huerga Criado: 666-667]. In Fregenal (1491–1511) 360 persons were reconciled, 26 burned in persona and 169 burned in effigie (including 161 dead and 8 absentees) [Mayorga 2007]. Finally, in the diocese of Badajoz 28 persons were burned in persona, 87 in effigie and 50 were penanced before 1540 [Kurtz]. This brings the total of 159 burnings in person, 383 burnings in effigie, 815 reconciliations and condemnations to various penances and at least four declarations of innocence, but these numbers surely represent only a part of the activity of this tribunal.

Kingdom of Aragon

Zaragoza – 130 executions in persona and 116 in effigie up to 1530 [Monter 1990: 15, 21]. At least four additional executions in persona took place in 1530s.

Valencia (incl. Teruel and Tortosa) – according to the most recent research, there were 3059 trials before 1530 and 446 in 1530s. As many as 1128 of them ended with death sentences up to 1530. At least 323 of these sentences were actually executed, while 555 were condemnations in effigie. For the rest (250 sentences), we’ve got no specific information; however, there are good reasons to believe that all (or almost all) of them were executions in persona. In addition, at least 73 executions in persona and 7 in effigie took place between 1531 and 1539, which would give a total of 646 executions in persona and 562 in effigie [Baneres: passim; cf. Haliczer: 86-87; Lea, III: 561-562; Monter: 15, 21].

Lerida - 5 were burned in persona and 118 in effigie in 1486/87. 2 more persons were burned in 1492 [Carbonell: 140]

Barcelona – this tribunal celebrated numerous autos da fe between 1487 and 1507 in Barcelona, Tarragona, Gerona, Perpignan and Balaguer, burning in persona 50 persons, in effigie as many as 661 persons and condemning to imprisonment or lesser penances 573. There are recorded also four declarations of innocence and in one case the suspect died in prison; a total of 1.291 proceedings [Carbonell]. One trial is recorded for the year 1531 (sentence unknown see Blazquez Miguel 1990: 83), and 49 penitents appeared in 1539 [Blazquez Miguel 1990]. In auto da fe celebrated in Perpignan in 1524 four persons were burned out of seventeen defendants, and at least one woman was burned in 1522 [Monter: 24]

Mallorca – 540 executions took place up to 1534, including 91 in persona and 449 in effige [Colom Palmer: 25]. Five living moriscos and four dead were burned in 1535 and one judaizer was condemned in absentia in 1536 [H. Ch. Lea, The Moriscos of Spain: Their Conversion and Expulsion, Lea Brothers & Company, 1901, p. 99; Colom Palmer: 113]
247 persons were condemned to penances. In addition, 559 conversos were reconciled under Edict of Grace from 1488 until 1491.

Sicily – 207 executions in persona and 257 in effigie took place before 1540 [Andrea Del Col, Inquisizione in Italia dal XII al XXI secolo, Milano 2006: 243; cf. Monter 1990: 39].

Sardinia – no less than 100 judeoconversos were brought to trial up to 1513. 39 of them were reconciled and 61 relaxed to the secular arm [Cecilia Tasca, Ebrei e Conversos nella Sardegna Catalana: fra convivenzia "forzata" e integrazione sociala, in: Identidades cuestionadas: Coexistencia y conflictos interreligiosos en el Mediterráneo (ss. XIV-XVIII), Valencia 2016, pp. 21-38]. In addition, at least fifteen witches were burned in 1526-27 []

Period of relaciones de causas (1540–1700)

The best documented is the period between 1540 and 1700 due to well preserved series of relaciones de causas, yearly reports on completed trials sent to Suprema by the local inquisitors. The numbers resulted from these reports have been presented at first by Jaime Contreras and Gustav Henningsen, with 44.674 trials, 826 executions in persona and 778 executions in effigie (1986).

Statistics of trials and executions in relaciones de causa for the period 1540–1700 according to 1986 calculation [Contreras-Henningsen]:
Tribunal Number of trials reported in relaciones de causas [Contreras-Henningsen] Executions in persona [Contreras-Henningsen] Executions in effigie [Contreras-Henningsen]
Barcelona 3.047 37 27
Navarre 4.296 85 59
Mallorca 1.260 37 25
Sardinia 767 8 2
Zaragoza 5.967 200 19
Sicily 3.188 25 25
Valencia 4.540 78 75
Cartagena de Indias 699 3 1
Lima 1.176 30 16
Mexico 950 17 42
Subtotal (Aragon) 25.890 520 291
Canaries 695 1 78
Cordoba 883 8 26
Cuenca 0 0 0
Galicia 2.203 19 44
Granada 4.157 33 102
Llerena 2.851 47 89
Murcia 1.735 56 20
Seville 1.962 96 67
Toledo 3.740 40 53
Valladolid 558 6 8
Subtotal (Castile) 18.784 306 487
Total 44.674 826 778

Seven years later, however, Gustav Henningsen has partially revised these figures, excluding the cases resolved in summary procedure and adding some new findings. He ended also on the year 1699, although there were some relaciones the causas also in the early 1700s (initial statistics of Contreras and Henningsen included also the year 1700). The achieved number of trials was slightly higher and amounted to 45.003. He also tried to estimate the actual total number of trials during this period by filling the gaps in the series of relaciones de causas with the same yearly number of trials as for the years with preserved reports and achieved the number of ca. 87.269 trials. However, he makes no revision regarding the number of death sentences.

Statistics for the period 1540–1699 in the 1993 recalculation [Henningsen 1993]:
Tribunal Number of years with preserved relaciones de causas for the period 1540–1699/Number of activity years (%) [Henningsen 1993] Number of trials reported in relaciones de causas [Contreras-Henningsen] Number of trials reported in relaciones de causas [Henningsen 1993] Calculation of the total number of trials [Henningsen 1993]
Barcelona 94/160 (58,75%) 3.047 2.945 5.013
Navarre 130/160 (81,25%) 4.296 4.234 5.211
Mallorca 96/160 (60%) 1.260 1.260 2.100
Sardinia 49/160 (30,62%) 767 820 2.677
Zaragoza 126/160 (78,75%) 5.967 6.015 7.638
Sicily 101/160 (63,12%) 3.188 4.057 6.426
Valencia 128/160 (80%) 4.540 4.529 5.661
Cartagena de Indias 62/90 (68,89%) 699 706 1.125
Lima 92/130 (70,77%) 1.176 1.574 2.224
Mexico 52/130 (40%) 950 956 2.390
Subtotal (Aragon) 930/1.470 (62,27%) 25.890 27.096 40.465
Canaries 66/160 (41,25%) 695 646 1.555
Cordoba 28/160 (17,5%) 883 884 5.051
Cuenca 0/160 (0%) 0 0 4.696
Galicia 83/136 (61,03%) 2.203 1.573 2.577
Granada 79/160 (49,38%) 4.157 4.009 8.119
Llerena 84/160 (52,5%) 2.851 2.758 5.253
Murcia 66/160 (41,25%) 1.735 1.791 4.341
Seville 47/160 (29,38%) 1.962 1.969 6.702
Toledo 108/160 (67,5%) 3.740 3.740 5.541
Valladolid 29/160 (18,12%) 558 537 2.962
Subtotal (Castile) 590/1.576 (37,43%) 18.784 17.907 46.808
Total 1.520/3.046 (49,90%) 44.674 45.003 87.269

The Henningsen’s calculation of 87.269 trials for these twenty tribunals, however, need to be slightly corrected due to some inaccuracies regarding the numbers of activity years and number of reported years, as well as some mathematical miscalculations:
*tribunal of Barcelona was suspended in the years 1640 until 1652, so its correct number of activity years is 149, not 160,
*tribunal of Galicia was created in 1561 (not 1560), then was abolished in 1567 and reopened in 1574, its number of activity years is 133, not 136 or 140,
*tribunal of Mexico was actually established in 1571 (not 1570, its correct number of activity years is 129 and not 130,
*tribunal of Sardinia was vacant between 1555 and 1562, therefore, its number of activity years should be taken as 154 (not 160),
*tribunal of Canaries was vacant between 1563 and 1568, therefore, its number of activity years should be taken as 156 (not 160),
*Henningsen counted for Mallorca, Sicily and Valencia respectively 96, 101 and 128 of reported years, but from the table and graphics presented on the pp. 83-84, appears, that the numbers of reported years per each quinquenium for these tribunals add up to 99, 103 and 108 respectively,
*correct evaluation for Cartagena de Indias is 1.025 (not 1.125)
*his numbers for Aragon and Castile (excluding Cuenca) add up to 82.577 (or rather 82.477 after correcting the number for Cartagena), not 82.573, and the total number also need to be corrected to 87.173 instead of 87.269.

Taking into account the above mentioned corrections, we would achieve the following results:

Statistics for the period 1540–1699 basing on Henningsen 1993 recalculation, with corrections:
Tribunal Number of years with preserved relaciones de causas for the period 1540–1699/Number of activity years (%) Number of trials reported in relaciones de causas Calculation of the total number of trials
Barcelona 94/149 (63,09%) 2.945 4.668
Navarre 130/160 (81,25%) 4.234 5.211
Mallorca 99/160 (61,88%) 1.260 2.036
Sardinia 49/154 (31,82%) 820 2.577
Zaragoza 126/160 (78,75%) 6.015 7.638
Sicily 103/160 (64,38%) 4.057 6.302
Valencia 108/160 (67,5%) 4.529 6.710
Cartagena de Indias 62/90 (68,89%) 706 1.025
Lima 92/130 (70,77%) 1.574 2.224
Mexico 52/129 (40,31%) 956 2.372
Subtotal (Aragon) 915/1.458 (62,75%) 27.096 40.763
Canaries 66/156 (42,31%) 646 1.527
Cordoba 28/160 (17,5%) 884 5.051
Cuenca 0/160 (0%) 0 4.669
Galicia 83/133 (62,40%) 1.573 2.521
Granada 79/160 (49,38%) 4.009 8.119
Llerena 84/160 (52,5%) 2.758 5.253
Murcia 66/160 (41,25%) 1.791 4.342
Seville 47/160 (29,38%) 1.969 6.703
Toledo 108/160 (67,5%) 3.740 5.541
Valladolid 29/160 (18,12%) 537 2.963
Subtotal (Castile) 590/1.569 (37,60%) 17.907 46.689
Total 1.505/3.027 (49,72%) 45.003 87.452

However, even with these small corrections it’s seems reasonable to assume ca. 90.000 trials in the period 1540–1700. Assuming the same percent of the execution for this adjusted figure (1,8%), there would have been ca. 1.600 executions in persona and almost an equal number in effigie.

Collecting all available information about executions in persona during the years 1540–1700, we can present the following results for the respective tribunals:

Barcelona – 53 executions in persona are documented for the whole this period, and all took place before 1640 [Monter 1990: 326-327]

Navarre – 90 executions in persona took place in the period in question, but the documentation of auto da fe of 1562 is not available [Monter 1990: 326-327]

Mallorca – one Judaizer was burned in 1675 [Monter 1990: 309]. In the great auto da fe of 1691 as many as 37 Chuetas were burned, in addition to those burned in effigie [Monter 1990: 309, 327]

Sardinia – Contreras and Henningsen reported eight executions between 1572 and 1614. However, we know that as many as thirteen people were burned in 1566 []

Zaragoza – there were 250 executions in persona in the period in question, but the sentences issued on one auto da fe celebrated in 1562 are not known [Monter 1990: 326-327]

Sicilia – this tribunal executed 52 persons between 1540 and 1700 [Monter 1990: 326-327]

Valencia – at least 93 defendants were executed by this tribunal during this period, but the documentation of one auto da fe of 1554 is only fragmentary while that of four others celebrated between 1540 and 1560 is entirely lost [Monter 1990: 326-327].

Cartagena de Indias – three executions in persona and one in effigie, according to relaciones de causas.

Lima – 31 executions took place between 1570 and 1700 []

Mexico – the executions in persona in the period in question took place in 1574 (2 executed), 1575 (1), 1579 (1), 1596 (9), 1601 (3), 1606 (1), 1648 (1), 1649 (13), 1659 (7), 1679 (1) and 1699 (1), a total of 40 executions until 1700 [García-Molina Riquelme: 215-222; cf. Lea SD: 204n.]

Canaries – the well preserved archive of this tribunal confirm three executions in persona after 1540, two more than reported in relaciones de causas [Lea SD: 155 n. 2-3]

Cordoba – we know that one execution took place in 1567 [Schäfer, II: 41-42], thirteen more people were burned in 1570–1625 [Monter 1990: 48-49], five in 1627, five more in 1655 [Kamen: Ch. 14] and three in 1665 [Miriam Bodian, Dying in the law of Moses, Indiana Univ. Press 2007: 219]; a total of 27 confirmed executions in persona

Cuenca – five persons were burned from 1553 until 1561 [Monter 1990: 37-38 n. 22, 233], nineteen between 1570 and 1625 [Monter 1990: 48-49] and four at the autos da fe in 1654 and 1656 [Eulogio Fernandez Carrasco, Autos de fe en Cuenca durante el reinado
de Felipe IV (años: 1654 y 1656)
in: Revista de la Inquisición 2005, 11: 279-317]; a total of 28 executions.
Note: Relaciones de causas for this tribunal are entirely lost, but its own archive has been preserved and documented proceedings against 5.203 persons between 1540 and 1700; however, Henningsen reduced this number to 4.696, assuming that some of them were not subject to formal trials.

Galicia – 19 executions in persona reported in relaciones de causas.

Granada – we know about at least 79 executions in persona, including seven in 1545 [Lea, III: 189], thirty in the years 1550–1569 [Garrad], twenty four from 1570 until 1625 [Monter 1990: 44, 48, 233], twelve in the auto da fe of 1654 [ Heinrich Graetz, History of Jews, vol. V, reprint 2009: 92] and six in the auto da fe in 1672 [A. J. Saraiva, H. P. Salomon, I. S. D. Sassoon, The Marrano Factory: The Portuguese Inquisition and Its New Christians 1536–1765, BRILL, 2001: 217 n. 62]

Llerena – two executions in the district of Badajoz (one in 1540 and another in 1544) may be added to 47 reported in relaciones de causas [Kurtz].

Murcia – 165 executions took place in 1550s and 1560s [Monter 2008: 258-259], 25 between 1570 and 1683 [Blazquez Miguel 1987; statistics given by Monter 1990: 48, are incomplete] and 25 between 1686 and 1699 [Maqueda Abreu: 97]; a total of 215 executions

Seville – at least 138 executions took place from 1540 until 1700, including: ten in 1540 [see The Conversos and Moriscos in Late Medieval Spain and Beyond, Vol. II, BRILL 2012: 85], two in 1545 [Monter 1990: 38], one hundred and fourteen in the years 1559–1660 [González de Caldas: 528] and twelve between 1666 and 1695 [Maqueda Abreu: 99-100]

Toledo and Madrid – two moriscos from Daimiel were burned in 1541, thirteen defendants were burned in the years 1555–1569 (Schäffer, II: 79-91], twenty five in the years 1570–1625 [Monter 1990: 48-49], two more between 1648 and 1700 [Lea, IV: 524]. One may add also seven persons burned in the auto da fe in Madrid in 1632 as well as nineteen more burned in the same city in 1680 [Lea, III: 228]. This would bring to a total of 68 executions.

Valladolidrelaciones de causas for this tribunal have been preserved only for the twenty nine years in the period between 1620 and late 1660s and inform about merely six executions in persona. However, we know that as many as forty three persons (mainly Protestants) were burned between 1559 and 1567 [Monter 1990: 41, 44, 233; Schäfer, II: 131], at least three Moriscos died in the auto da fe in 1588 [DSI: 1640] and five judaizers were executed in 1691 [Lea, III: 197]. A total of a minimum of 57 executions.

The results described above may be presented in the table:
Tribunal Executions in persona reported in relaciones de causas [Contreras-Henningsen] Total number of the confirmed executions in persona
Barcelona 37 53
Navarre 85 90
Mallorca 37 38
Sardinia 8 21
Zaragoza 200 250
Sicily 25 52
Valencia 78 93
Cartagena de Indias 3 3
Lima 30 31
Mexico 17 40
Subtotal (Aragon) 520 671
Canaries 1 3
Cordoba 8 27
Cuenca 0 28
Galicia 19 19
Granada 33 79
Llerena 47 49
Murcia 56 215
Seville 96 138
Toledo 40 68
Valladolid 6 57
Subtotal (Castile) 306 683
Total 826 1.354

The final phase (1700–1820)

In 18th century relaciones de causas virtually disappeared. They were partially replaced by alegaciones fiscales, but their collection is much less complete. Morover, the alegaciones fiscales seem to have been provided by the tribunals on Iberian Peninsula, but not by the tribunals in Latin America. Basing on alegaciones fiscales and accounts of autos da fe, Teofano Egido provided the following statistics for the reign of Philip V 1701–1746 (here completed with the statistics for American tribunals):

Tribunal Number of autos da fe Executions in persona Executions in effigie Penanced Total
Barcelona 4 1 1 15 17
Navarre 1 1 0? 0? 1?
Mallorca 3 0 0 11 11
Zaragoza 1 0 0 3 3
Valencia 4 2 0 49 51
Canaries 0 0 0 0 0
Cordoba 13 17 19 125 161
Cuenca 7 7 10 35 52
Galicia 4 0 0 13 13
Granada 15 36 47 369 452
Llerena 5 1 0 45 46
Madrid (Corte) 4 11 13 46 70
Murcia 6 4 1 106 111
Seville 15 16 10 220 246
Toledo 33 6 14 128 148
Valladolid 10 9 2 70 81
Subtotal (Spain) 125 111 117 1.235 1.463
Mexico 5 1 0 36 37
Lima 9 1 4 69? 74?
Cartagena de Indias 12? 0 0 26 26
Subtotal (Latin America) 26 2 4 131 137
Total 151 113 121 1.366 1.600

These numbers should be treated as minimal, for there were several autos da fe overlooked by Teofano Egido, or for which no specific data could be provided. Micheal Alpert found 123 autos da fe in these years. In 107 of them 123 persons were burned in persona, 129 in effigie and 1239 were penanced, while for sixteen others he could not find any information about the number of defendants [Alpert: 164-167]. It is clear that some autos da fe listed by Alpert had not been taken into account by Teofano Egido, and vice versa. Alpert estmated that the true numbers were probably higher by one third.

For the later period (1746–1808) the following statistics for autos da fe can be provided, basing on data given by Llorente [IV, 51 and 93], completed with the data for American tribunals:

Region/Tribunal Number of autos da fe Executions of both types Penanced Total
Spain 44 14 226 240
Mexico 3 1 25 26
Lima 2 0 6 6
Cartagena de Indias 1? 1? 0? 1?
Total 50 16 257 273

Data for Spain provided by Llorente has not been verified by modern scholars. It may be correct, but this is far from certain. Up to date, only eleven executions can be identified with certainity in Spain after 1746, including ten between 1746 and 1759 and only one after 1759:

  • 1747, Logroño – execution in effigie of Sebastiano Lopez, who had died in prison before the conclusion of his trial [Marina Torres Arce: Un tribunal de la fe en el reinado de Felipe V: reos, delitos y procesos en el Santo Oficio de Logroño (1700-1746), Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2002, p. 69]
  • 1752, Llerena – seven executions in effigie [Lea, III: 91]
  • 1753, Valencia – one execution in effigie [Lea, III: 479]
  • 1753, Barcelona – one execution in persona [Blazquez Miguel 1990: 84]
  • 1781, Seville – one execution in persona [Lea, IV: 90]

Possibly another execution in effigy took place in Cuenca in 1802 and concerned beata Isabel Maria Herraiz, who had died in inquisitorial prison [Llorente IV: 125; and Lea, III: 208]. However, most recent study on the case indicates that she had actually repented before her death and her case was suspended [Dionisio A. Perona Tomás: El ocaso de la inquisición en Cuenca: Evolución y personal, Madrid 2022, 30-33].

Another two or three executions, lacking to the number of fourteen given by Llorente, might have occured in 1763. According to Jean-François Bourgoing, Modern state of Spain, v. 1, London 1808, p. 350, in this year "some obstinate heretics were commited to the flames" in private auto-da-fe celebrated in Llerena, and this corresponds with Llorente's statements about two executions under Inquisitor General Manuel Quintano Bonifaz (1755-1774), and the total of four executions after 1759. However, most recent research on the activity of the tribunal of Llerena do not confirm it. It seems that the last execution in persona occured in Llerena in 1723, and the last executions in effigie took place in 1752 [Testón Núñez & Sánchez Rubio]. It's quite probable that Bourgoing actually misdated the auto-da-fe of 1752.

One additional execution in effigie took place in 1795 auto da fe in Mexico [Lea SD: 273], and one execution in persona took place in Cartagena de Indias in 1777 [Abascal Infante: 699-700].

However, the data presented above for 18th and 19th centuries include only the sentences provided on the public autos da fe. At that time, the great majority of the defendants received penances privately (intra muros). The preserved alegaciones fiscales provided by the Spanish tribunals (excluding America) inform of less than 4.000 cases during the 18th century [see Dedieu in Bennassar: 32, but completed with data for Canaries provided by Sarrión Mora: 104; and for Mallorca provided by Rafael Ramis Barceló, Las Alegaciones Fiscales del Tribunal de la Inquisición de Mallorca, Cuadernos de Historia del Derecho 2011, no. 18: 285-299]:

Tribunal Number of cases reported in alegaciones fiscales after 1700
Barcelona 220
Navarre 295
Mallorca 74
Zaragoza 330
Valencia 259
Canaries 3
Cordoba 163
Cuenca 236
Galicia 208
Granada 262
Llerena 239
Madrid (Corte) 268
Murcia 361
Seville 541
Toledo 186
Valladolid 186
Total 3.831

There are more complete data for some tribunals, which include also the cases without public sentence in auto da fe and apparently also those resolved in summary procedure:

Valladolid - 1.223 cases from 1700 until 1820 [DSI: 1640],
Valencia - 1.323 cases between 1700 and 1750 and 2.795 after 1750 up to 1820 [Haliczer: 87, 332],
Toledo - 1.027 cases between 1701–1820 [Galende Diaz]
Madrid - 1.391 cases in the years 1700-1820 [Blazquez Miguel 1994]
Navarre - 956 cases in the period 1701-1808 [Tomás A. Mantecón y Marina Torres: Hogueras, demonios y brujas: significaciones del drama social de Zugarramurdi y Urdax, in: Clio & Crimen, vol. 8, 2011: 247-288, esp. 272]
Barcelona - 639 cases in the period 1706-1820 [Blazquez Miguel 1990]
Cuenca - 1.293 cases from 1700 until 1820 [Sarrión Mora: 100]
Granada - 356 cases in the years 1700-1740 [González de Caldas: 120]
Seville - 537 cases in the years 1700-1740 [González de Caldas: 120]
Canaries - 78 trials after 1740 [Francisco Fajardo Spínola: La actividad procesal del Santo Oficio. Algunas consideraciones sobre su estudio, in: Manuscrits, vol. 17, 1999: 97-117]
Cartagena de Indias - 184 cases in 18th century [Abascal Infante: 699]
Lima - 370 trials from 1700 until 1820 []
Mexico - 869 trials from 1701 until 1820 []

According to Legajo 100, cited by H. Ch. Lea, all Spanish tribunals (excluding tribunals in Latin America) proceeded against 6.569 persons between 1780 and 1820 [Lea, IV, 177].


Looking at the data presented above, it quickly becomes clear that the estimation of the number of executions made by Monter (2.750–3.250) and Kamen (max. 3.000) are certainly too low, while those of Garcia Carcel (4.200–5.250) and of Contreras (3.000–5.000) have little margin for the gaps in the documentation, because there are ca. 4.500 confirmed executions in persona between 1481 and 1820, including ca. 3.000 before 1540 and ca. 1.500 in the later period.

On the other hand, it seems equally hard to accept Del Col's estimate of at least 12.100 executions up to 1700, including 10.500 in the first fifty years. The latter number Del Col has established in the following way: he assumed the number of at least 70.000 formal trials until 1530 basing of Dedieu’s estimate and assumed, that the rate of executions in persona during this period was 15% (=10.500). However, Dedieu actually did not specify, whether the total number of 200.000 cases refers to the formal trials only, or perhaps also to summary proceedings and possibly even to reconciliations under Edicts of Grace. Besides, Dedieu himself greatly reduced his initial calculation of the number of trials by the Inquisition of Toledo from 15.988 to 9.567. Several thousand cases he moved to the category of "summary proceedings" [cf. Bethencourt: 337-339]. Aplying the same recalculation to the whole Spain, we would achieve ca. 120.000–130.000 trials. Also the available data for Toledo, Valencia and Cuenca do not support the thesis that as many as 70.000 formal trials took place before 1530. According to most recent research, up to the 1530 Toledo had 2.874 trials, Valencia 3.059 trials , Cuenca (incl. the short-lived tribunal of Siguenza) had 2.932 trials up to 1550, while Canaries only 428 up to 1560. Only Seville is likely to have has over five or six thousand. One may safely assume, that average number of trials between 1480 and 1540 for the fifteen districts that were formed in Spain by the beggining of 16th century (Seville, Canaries, Cordoba, Jaen-Granada, Toledo, Cuenca, Murcia, Extremadura, northern districts united under tribunal of Valladolid ca. 1503, Valencia, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Mallorca, Navarre, Sardinia, Sicilia) is around 3.000. This would mean ca. 45.000 trials.

The number of executions up to 1540 can be estimated in the following way. In the Kingdom of Aragon there are more than 1.200 confirmed executions and the available data do not seem to have serious gaps. The margin of error is perhaps only 10–12% [cf. Monter 1990: 22]. This would bring a total of less than 1.500 executions in persona in Aragon.

In Castile, on the other hand, there are ca. 1.800 confirmed executions in persona, but the data is much more fragmentary. During the initial period there were a total of around twenty tribunals in the Kingdom of Castile, that were finally grouped into eight districts by the beggining of 16th century: Seville (including short-lived tribunal of Jerez de la Frontera), Cordoba, Canaries, Jaen-Granada, Cuenca (incl. short-lived tribunal in Siguenza), Toledo, Extremadura and Valladolid (formed of several short-lived tribunals in the northern provinces). Only data for Cuenca-Siguenza (at least 257 executions up to 1550) and for Canaries (8 executions), may be considered as nearly complete, but we know that some other tribunals executed much more defendants than these two ones, e.g. Seville (at least 613 up to 1524, without counting executions in Jerez), Cordoba (at least 264 up to 1516) or Toledo (at least 339). These fragmentary data suggest ca. 10-15% rate of executions in persona. Assuming an average number of executions per tribunal as ca. 500, there would have been ca. 4.000 executions in Castile up to 1540. Therefore, the total number of executions in persona in the early period of activity of Spanish Inquisition seems to amount to ca. 5.500 (ca. 12%).

The later period is much less problematic. There are ca. 1.500 confirmed executions in persona from 1540 until 1781, and this number is probably very close to reality. For the period 1540–1700 there were probably ca. 90.000 trials, and the preserved relaciones de causas suggest that a rate of executions in persona was 1,8%. This would mean ca. 1.600 executions, with very little margin of error, which is very close to over 1.350 confirmed executions during this period and listed above.

For the 18th century our list of executions is probably nearly complete, because autos da fe became very rare in this period and most of them are well documented. They amount to more than 130 executions in persona and it does not seem likely that a true number could be higher than two hundred. More difficult is to estimate the number of trials. Dedieu suggests that only one Spaniard per one hundred thousand was put on trial during 18th century [Dedieu 1987: 85]. The number of 1.463 trials up to 1746 given by Teofano Egido refers only to the public sentences on autos da fe; many more cases were resolved intra muros. Alpert estimated ca. 2.000 trials ended with the sentence in auto da fe. Much more representative is the catalogue for the period 1780–1820, cited by Lea, which mentions 6.569 cases, an average of ca. 164 per year. Moreover, the data available for a few tribunals indicates that an avarage number of initiated trials was less than 1.500 per tribunal. The estimate of ca. 25.000 trials in 18th and 19th centuries seems to be realistic.

Adding up all these estimates, we would achieve the following numbers:
Period Number of formal trials Executions in persona Percent of the executed
1480–1539 45.000 5.500 12,2%
1540–1699 90.000 1.600 1,8%
1700–1820 25.000 200 0,8%
Total 1480–1820 160.000 7.300 4,5%


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See also

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