Contradictions Of Benzion Netanyahu's Origins Of The Inquisition

1344 Words 6 Pages
Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros has occupied a shifting and uncertain place in the history of Western Europe in the sixteenth century. Historians have experienced considerable difficulty trying to pin him down in broad historical categories: he was a humanist, except for when he burned Muslim books in order to suppress their text-based philosophy. He was an ecclesiastical reformer, except for his unwillingness to create serious change within the Spanish Inquisition. The contradictions above are created by the focuses of scholarship, as traditional histories attempt to understand (and often, glorify) his character, while revisions focus on his (often suppressive) influences on others. One can identify a nascent post-revisionism, which attempts …show more content…
Benzion Netanyahu’s Origins of the Inquisition lays the groundwork for this revision. He first shows that Cisneros’ attempt to unify Spain’s religion could only have come from events of the previous decade. Netanyahu then describes how the project of unifying Spain’s religion only held appeal to the church, not the monarchs or nobility. This places responsibility for forced conversions firmly on Cisneros as primate of the Church in Spain. Henry Kamen’s excellent survey of the revisionist position shows how historians have expanded on Netanyahu’s base. Rather than attribute Cisneros’ campaign of conversion in Grenada to orders from the Queen, Kamen suggests that he requested permission for the trip unprompted. He doesn’t provide any direct evidence for a reason to prefer his interpretation, but Netanyahu’s foundation gives Kamen’s hypothesis some degree of legitimacy. Kamen’s revision completes analyses like Mullett’s when he expands Cisneros’ influence to include later book-burnings by the Inquisition, allowing a historical view of the Cardinal’s impact as both a humanist and an Inquisitor. Kamen also adds more nuance to the image of Cisneros as a reformer by describing his resistance to reforming the Inquisition after his initial changes. That’s not to say that Kamen neglects Cisneros the humanist either, he includes significant discussion of Cisneros’ contributions to humanism. …show more content…
In some cases, criticism of Cisneros ignores the reforms that built his reputation in the first place. Erika Rummel specifically avoids this in Jiménez de Cisneros: On the Threshold of Spain’s Golden Age. She does this by increasing attention on Cisneros’ early years as Archbishop of Toledo, during which he reformed Spain’s monastic orders. Cisneros’ reformation is important to understand in light of the increasingly vital role of monks during the Spain’s colonial efforts. A similar appreciation for Cisneros’ reforms allows an empowering study of women in relation to Cisneros. Jodi Bilinkoff’s article “A Spanish Prophetess and Her Patrons: The Case of Maria de Santo Domingo” utilizes the importance of Cisneros’ reforms to study more closely the role of beatas in boosting the legitimacy of those efforts. Bilinkoff argues that Cisneros’ own legitimacy relied on the endorsements of beatas, who both assisted his reforms and advised his decision-making.Because these studies utilize aspects of both revisionist and traditional views of Cisneros, it is useful to categorize post-revisionist interpretations as those recognizing Cisneros as influential to efforts of both religious-based repression through the Inquisition and liberation through the critical study and reform of the orthodox

Related Documents