Two contributions of Spain to the Catholic Counter-Reformation include the establishment of the Jesuit Order and the Spanish Inquisition.
1. The Jesuit Order, also known as the Society of Jesus - Although the Catholic Church attempted to respond to the Protestant Reformation, its response was fragile and in the form of internal reform. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a Spanish reformer, started a new religious order, the Jesuits in 1534. Ignatius Loyola endeavored to merge the attributes of the “humanist tradition of the Renaissance with a reformed Catholicism.” Ignatius proved to be an alluring leader under whose leadership the Society of Jesus grew and became an important factor in the Catholic or Counter-Reformation. The Jesuit ideals of teaching and preaching while abhorring corruption held them steadfast in their work. Jesuit missionaries reached out to Protestants throughout Europe, especially those who had converted, and were able to covert many back to Catholicism.
2. The Spanish Inquisition – The Spanish Inquisition was initiated by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to root out heretics, those who left the Catholic Church. An inquisition is a tribunal or court where heretics, in the case of the Spanish Inquisition, Jews and conversos were tried. Conversos were Jews of Spanish or Portuguese heritage who openly converted to Catholicism but secretly adhered to the Jewish faith. Spain was very tolerant to those of the Jewish religion until the King and Queen felt threatened by their success and realized that many who were thought to be Catholic were not. At first the King was reluctant to convene an inquisition but later he appointed to two men to lead the tribunals and the Inquisition advanced.