What did the Spanish Inquisition demonstrate about the strengths of the Jewish people in the face of persecution?
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The Spanish Inquisition, formally The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, was initiated in 1478 by Pope Innocent III. By the time it ended in 1834, the Inquisition had resulted in the torture and deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews and the forced conversions of tens of thousands more. Initially established as a system for investigating allegations of heresy among Christians, the Spanish Inquisition soon evolved into a massive and brutal persecution of non-Christian peoples, with the wholesale destruction of any and all evidence supporting the history and explaining the doctrines of Judaism. The persecution of the Jews of Spain was complete with their forced expulsion in 1492.
As the Inquisition spread beyond Spain, Jews were forced to flee the Iberian Peninsula and began yet another diaspora to follow that which was resulting from the initiation of the Crusades.
Judaism, of course, would survive the Spanish Inquisition, although centuries of oppression, characterized by periodic pogroms and culminating in the mid-20th Century Holocaust, would shrink the population of Jews considerably. As with the First Crusade (1096-1099), the movement by Pope Urban II to seize Jerusalem from Muslims, which resulted in persecution of Jews and forced conversions, the Inquisition drove Jews from their homes but failed to destroy their belief in Judaism. Many converted Jews continued to practice their faith in secret, at the risk of torture and death if caught, and others bequeathed their religious beliefs to future generations.
What the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, centuries of persecution throughout Europe and the Middle East, and eventually the Holocaust taught the Jews was the need for their own state, and a strong military to defend it.
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